, Derry, New Hampshire

March 21, 2013

Residents still up in arms about gunfire noise

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Some residents are still up in arms over noise from target shooting.

Town councilors heard more concerns about shooting noise coming from the Musquash Conservation Area and other nearby shooting ranges, including the N.H. Fish and Game firing range and the police firing range.

Steve Homsey, a Royal Lane resident, told councilors he still hears a lot of noise coming from those areas.

“I still have concerns about the shooting activity in the Musquash,” he said.

Complaints about gunfire are nothing new.

Town officials held several meetings last fall to talk about the problems and what could be done. With spring coming, the sounds may get louder. Much of the noise Homsey hears comes from target practice.

“On a nice day, gunfire is heard,” Homsey said. “Once the weather turns, it starts again. To me, it’s become a major issue.”

Homsey said he hears gunfire from early morning until dusk. When it’s a really nice day, it gets louder and more prominent, he said.

It’s not just a handgun making the sounds.

“It’s everything you can imagine,” Homsey said.

Officials said it’s a conversation that may continue for a long time even though they have heard residents’ concerns and are doing all they can to keep the noise under control.

Councilors said the town has no control over what Fish and Game does; they operate under state regulations.

“We’ve taken it seriously,” Town Council Chairman John Farrell said. “We’ve tried to do everything we can under the law.”

Londonderry police Capt. Gerry Dussault reported about 27 shooting calls in the Musquash area alone over the past three years. Another 39 calls could be associated with the town conservation area and shooting complaints.

Police also patrol the areas where shooting concerns are generated, looking for any activity. Often there is no evidence found.

Acting Town Manager and police Chief William Hart said safety information has been posted in the areas where shooting occurs, offering ways to be safe and courses that are offered for gun handling and ownership.

Town Councilor Joe Green said the shooting has been an issue for a long time.

“This is a struggle for us,” he said. “One side are the rights of the people, but people also want to walk and enjoy the property and that has nothing to do with the shooting. We want to make everybody happy, but that is really hard to do.”

Officials say they are doing what they can within the confines of the law.

“We have officers out there at Musquash,” Farrell said. “The Council has been proactive as much as we can. We don’t want anyone to get hurt, but the state makes the rules and we have to follow them.”

For Homsey, that may not be enough.

“These are heavy shots, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. it’s going, it’s not going down,” he said. “It’s a bad situation.”