Gun Debate Was Already Raging in Newtown

Sound of frequent gunshots sparked complaints

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 17, 2012 10:08 AM CST

(Newser) – Guns have long been a fixture in Newtown, Conn., but this year, controversy has boiled over. The months leading to July saw 50 complaints about gunfire, twice the number made throughout 2011, the New York Times reports. The sound of shooting emanated from unusual spots—near homes, for instance, and in the woods near an elementary school. Unlicensed shooting ranges abound in the town; some of the noise echoed from within a few miles of Adam and Nancy Lanza's home. Crowds gathered at town meetings to discuss local gun laws, but proponents of tougher restrictions faced opposition from the National Sports Shooting Foundation, based in the town.

A hunter who's on the town's police commission proposed cutting the number of legal shooting hours and requiring police approval of target ranges. "Something needs to be done," he said. "These are not normal guns, that people need. These are guns for an arsenal ... We live in a town, not in a war." But when residents met to discuss the proposed ordinance, the Shooting Foundation reportedly argued that swimming posed a bigger danger than guns. "No safety concerns exist," said a spokesman. But "right now, if you’re standing on your property and my house is 20 feet away, you can shoot," says a library aide and town official who saved lives during the school attack.

A family listens to a memorial service outside Newtown High School for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.
A family listens to a memorial service outside Newtown High School for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Newtown, Conn.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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