Mayor Orders Firing Range Closed on School Days

Southampton Village police can no longer target practice at Tuckahoe Woods while students are in class at Tuckahoe School.

After receiving a complaint that students and teachers could hear gunfire from their classrooms at the Tuckahoe School four days after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley has ordered the police firing range closed while school is in session.

Epley said Friday that a group of officers with the Southampton Village Police Department used the range — which is about a half mile from the school — on  Dec. 18 for firearms training. The following day, a Tuckahoe School Board member called him, and he in turn called Police Chief Thomas Cummings and gave the executive order.

"In the wake of the incident in Connecticut, it's very disturbing for children and teachers and parents ..." Epley told Patch Friday. “From a pure community relations standpoint and making kids feel safe in their learning environment, there is no reason that they should use the range while the school is open.”

“Kids are in school 180 days a year," the mayor said. "One-hundred-and-eighty-five days, they can do training."

The range is owned by Southampton Village, though it is located outside of the village's boundaries. Epley said the village acquired the parcel in the 1940s, and it is also used for brush and leaves storage and fire department training. “It's just kind of an out-of-the-way area,” he said.

Epley said he has received complaints about the range in the past, including from neighbors disturbed by the noise on Saturdays. But he has no intention of closing the range. “That firing range has been in place for decades and we're not going to shut it down," he said. "It’s extremely safe.” He added that the firearms instructors are all trained and certified.

Living about a mile from the range, Epley said he has hear "pops" at his house while it is in use.

Two days after the Newtown shooting, Nancy Miller, who lives across the street from the Tuckahoe School, called on the village to stop using the range altogether. "The police budget should be able to bus the officers to a more appropriate facility," she wrote to Patch. A sign was posted at the entrance to the Tuckahoe Woods trails, reading, "Does a firing range belong here? Contact your local representative."

"They have hosted a tri-state automatic weapons class there," Miller said. "Police from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York were there. The loud sounds of guns blasting in the day and through the night could be heard inside the school building. This was during parent-teacher conferences, on a warm day with the windows to the school opened.  It disturbed me at the time that no one took issue with this.  In light of the recent events in Connecticut I am hoping there will be public dissent to having assault rifle sounds near a school."

Epley said that in the past, the range has been used for tri-state training. He explained that East End police departments wanted to have a certain firearms class offered locally, so the village police offered their range.

Tony G January 01, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Why don't we ask the officers that use the range how they feel about it? How about a few officers chime in here, as they are the ones most affected by this ruling. Let's hear it from the horses mouth, as they say ,to get their input and then we'll know their side of the story, if there is one. It may or may not be an issue for them. My sense is that it is important to them.
Tony G January 01, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Why are we (humans) so closed minded about those things we know nothing about? Ignorance only gets in the way. For example, why don't we educate every one of the students at Tuckahoe as to exactly what is going on across the street. Provide an in classroom presentation as to why we have a need to train people that serve our communities, such as police officers, firemen, EMT people, etc. That without training, they would not be able to protect our lives and properties properly. Teach the kids that we need trained professionals in our town to be there when we need them. Then give the kids a guided tour of the range facility, and perhaps, let them bring a parent or friend that has some familiarity with firearms join them for an afternoon of shooting together, with the police officers. Even if it was with BB guns, it might instill respect for the people of our communities that go in harms way each day. It might create an interest in becoming a P.O. or firefighter, as we will always have a need for them and that local people need great jobs too. It also might mitigate the confusion about what a gun range really is. Get out there folks and educate yourselves and your children. I can clearly imagine seeing the eyes of a young kid, once educated about this property next door, having the opportunity to see first hand what our police officers go through to help keep us protected. Something tells me it could be one of those really special moments.
Hazel Wilkonson the First January 01, 2013 at 06:33 PM
What you are really advocating is an indoctrination into the redneck world of gun fetishism.
Tony G January 02, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Wilkonson, Je ne répondrai pas à votre commentaire évidemment pas intelligents. Merci!
Algebra January 02, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Mayor said it right, "school is open 180 days, that leaves 185 other days for use of the range" Done. Fixed ( if it was broken) Don't plan on sleeping in on Saturdays though :P


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »