The Sandy Hook shooting, of course, has spawned a nationwide debate over the use of high-powered firearms. One aspect of that debate had already occurred in Newtown, earlier this year, with Faxon in the middle of it.
Newtown sprawls over 60 square miles, making it one of the largest muncipalities in the state. Even with a population of about 25,000, there is ample open space, wooded areas and rolling hills. The town includes the Pequot Fish and Game Club and the Fairfield County Fish and Game Protective Association, which own land where members can legally fish in ponds and hunt pheasant.
But in recent years, town residents reported hearing shots in other rural parts of town some of what sounded like automatic weapon fire. Eventually, the matter of these "unlicensed" gun ranges came before the police commission. "I've hunted for many years," Faxon told the New York Times, "but the police department was getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening, and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode."
Faxon drafted a proposed ordinance, which he said would have put "reasonable" constraints on the location of ranges and hours of operation. It included a provision that any shooting range, and the firearms used there, would have to be approved by the police chief. The police commission, which included three Republicans, "unanimously" approved the measure, Faxon said.
The measure went before a Town Council committee, which held hearings in August and September.
"There was an overzealous response in opposition," Faxon said. "People from all over the state, purporting to cloak themselves in the Second Amendment, said their rights would be improperly taken from them if we tried to put any kind of safety regulations on a shooting range which is ridiculous. There's no Second Amendment protection for unfettered discharge of weapons anywhere, any time."
The proposed ordinance was rejected. "As it is now, you could walk to the edge of your property and set up a shooting range," he said.
Does he think his ordinance has a better chance of passing now? "It should have had legs then, and it certainly does now," he said. "Safety with weapons should be everyone's concern."
Gaps In Law