W. Marlborough Moves Toward Gunfire Limits The Ordinance At Hand Would Restrict Hours At Shooting Ranges. Noise And Safety Are The Issues.

Posted: August 04, 1994

WEST MARLBOROUGH — After listening to township residents lambaste the noise and safety policies of a local gun club, the West Marlborough Board of Supervisors has indicated it will adopt an ordinance restricting when people can shoot in the township.

Handing the Southern Chester County Sportsmen's and Farmers' Association an apparent defeat, the three-member board voted unanimously Tuesday night to add two measures to the proposed West Marlborough Township Shooting Ordinance, which has been available to residents for a month, and to adopt the ordinance at its next meeting, on Sept. 6.

Although he thanked the club's attorney, William A. George, for his willingness to negotiate the ordinance, Supervisors Chairman Charles C. Brosius said that after three years of negotiation without a resolution it was finally time to make a decision.

"We have a responsibility to our neighbors and friends in the community to treat them the way we would like to be treated," Brosius said.

"This ordinance is not cast in stone.

"If we find that there is an attempt to adhere to the ordinance and that the club members act like the sportsmen they say they are, then we will be open to suggestions for amendments in the future."

For years, township residents, especially those who live on Sportsman Lane adjacent to the club, have complained that "rapid fire" shooting has become an unbearable din seven days a week.

They are also concerned that, while the use of semiautomatic assault weapons has increased on the club's four ranges, safety supervision remains absent.

"Supervision is a major issue," said John Vare, whose 16-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter use the club's fishing pond.

"It's a very rural location, and people can come at any time of the day and shoot whatever they want."

Deryl Calder, a hunting guide and former Marine who boasted that he has a ''cabinet full of guns," said he had ended his 22-year membership in the National Rifle Association because it has fought proposed legislative bans on assault weapons.

"There is no place in our society or sporting ranges for assault weapons," Calder said at the meeting.

"They're killing weapons, and that's all they are good for.

"I am not anti-gun, I am anti-assault gun."

Club officers, however, countered that the residents were overreacting.

"The whole issue with semiautomatics is emotional," said Vickie Prickett, a club vice president and gun enthusiast.

"There certainly is some hysteria here tonight."

Prickett said that except for their ominous appearance, semiautomatic rifles are little different from standard hunting rifles. She added that although Pennsylvania permits automatic rifles to be fired at appropriate ranges, the club's board of directors has not approved their use at the club.

As for supervision, she said the club's members were responsible enough to police themselves. The club says all of its members have to take a two-hour safety course before they can shoot.

Meanwhile, George, the club's attorney, asked the board and the residents to reconsider the restrictions on shooting hours because he said they would be unfair to club members who use the club after work and weekends.

But instead, the board toughened the ordinance by adding a provision that would prohibit shooting on Christmas Day, Easter and Labor Day.

It also clarified another provision to ensure that property owners could use shotguns to protect their property.

The ordinance, to be enforced by the township's zoning officer, would require that the shooting of firearms cease for the day at 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., depending on the season, and at 4 p.m. on Sundays year-round.

Now, the club is open from 10 a.m. to sundown Monday through Saturday and

from noon to sundown on Sundays. Hunting activities would be excepted.

Violators would face a maximum punishment of a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.

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