Newtown officials sought to tighten gun law

Federal agents have visited local gun ranges after learning that Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza and his mother, Nancy, may have practiced shooting together.

Lanza used a rifle to kill 26 people, including 20 children on Friday. Nancy’s mother had collected guns, according to reports, and police found four guns at the scene.

The shooting has led to calls for tighter gun laws. Connecticut already has some of the most stringent restrictions in the country.

In a New York Times report Sunday night, Newtown police commissioner and local attorney Joel Faxon said “something needs to be done,” about the types of guns being used at ranges in the town.

But, the as the Times reports, efforts by police and other officials to strengthen gun laws in Newtown were met by resistance from gun owners.

The Danbury News-Times reported on the proposed ordinance earlier this year.

In August, Newtown police and other officials tried to pass restrictions that would have given police more authority to enforce restrictions on target shooting.

Police Chief Michael Kehoe said the impetus for the proposal comes from an “inordinate amount of calls” in the past year about shooting on private residential properties.

“It seemed like it was every weekend for a while, and in the fall it seemed to intensify,” Kehoe said.

The complaining residents were not only seeking relief from noise disturbance, they feared dangerous conditions near their homes, the chief said.

The law would require the police chief to approve any outdoor target shooting ranges, restrict target shooting to the hours between 9 a.m. and dusk and limit the types of weapons allowed to be fired.

About 60 people came to a public hearing on the ordinance to voice their disapproval.

Legislative Council Member Mary Ann Jacob said in the August article that most attendees feared the town trampling on their Second Amendment rights. “And that is something we have to look at very carefully,” she said at the time.

Jacob is a librarian’s aide at Sandy Hook school. She is credited with protecting students in the school’s library by putting it on lockdown when the shooting started Friday.

In August, said the proposal will be properly vetted, including investigating the types of gun-firing complaints the police department has received and how other towns handle the issue.

A vote on the ordinance was delayed in September.

Some in Newtown still don’t want to see the gun laws changed.

Scott Ostrovsky, who has a gun range on his private property where he and friends shoot automatic weapons, squeezed between two other outdoor ranges and in an area where many of the complaints come from, told the New York Times that he doesn’t want guns to be a “scapegoat,” despite the fact he is distraught over the shooting.

“Guns are why we’re free in this country, and people lose sight of that when tragedies like this happen,” he told the Times. “A gun didn’t kill all those children, a disturbed man killed all those children.”

Tom Cleary