KINGSTON – Dozens of residents packed the City Hall council chamber Tuesday night, to voice their opinions on a proposed indoor shooting range on Price Street in Midtown Kingston.
The shooting range was the hot topic at city hall Tuesday night
The matter was first presented to the planning board in September 2015, which drew a similarly large crowd. It remained on the planning board docket all year with little progress, due to a city ordinance which bans discharge of firearms within city limits.
The prohibition was passed to prevent people from hunting ducks and geese at Kingston Point Park, and neglected to consider other potential unintended violations, such as indoor gun ranges. Ironically, a gun range existed at the Price Street site for several years during the 1990s, with no complaints or enforcement of the law.
Tuesday night’s discussion took place during a meeting of the Law and Rules Committee, which was considering amending the law to allow indoor gun ranges as an exception to the ban on discharging guns in Kingston.
After a half-hour debate, filled with confusion about procedure, the committee voted down the proposal to amend the law, by a 3-2 vote. The matter is expected to be re-introduced, either in committee or on the common council floor.
Roughly 50 people spoke on both sides of the issue. Opponents argued the site is too close to community facilities which cater to children, such as the high school, YMCA, and Murphy Center, among others.
Supporters stood by the Second Amendment, tax revenue, and the need for gun training facilities in the area. The discussion continued for three hours.
“This law as it currently stands would forbid our veterans organizations from giving honors,” noted William Forte of the Kingston Veterans Association. 21-gun salutes are performed by the honor guard every Veteran’s Day outside City Hall, and at military funerals. “It’s just not right,” Forte said.
City resident Matt Coangelo said if a proposed ban is for public safety, cars should be banned because people drive drunk; convenience stores should be banned near schools because they sell cigarettes and beer.
“What we should be discussing why we have a $10 million hole in the ground. Our infrastructure is crumbling,” Coangelo said.
“I do believe that this law needs to be changed, this building needs to be approved, and this business needs to come into the city,” agreed former fire chief John Rhinehart. “It’s sorely needed because there is no place to go and practice and shoot safely. There is no place to go locally and take classes. It’s not the people with the pistol permits that you have to worry about,” he added.
Midtown resident Joan Horton criticized the attitude of Kingston’s gun supporters.
“I’m hearing that the people in Midtown are scumbags,” said Horton. “I don’t want people with guns, who think my neighbors are scumbags, to come to my neighborhood.”