DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

May 29, 2014

Target shooting in Musquash fires up Council

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — Shooting in the Musquash is still getting some people fired up.

That includes one town councilor.

Town Councilor Jim Butler dumped out a box of trash, spent shell casings, cans, and cigarette butts to let his fellow councilors know target shooting troubles continues to brew in the town-owned Musquash Conservation Area.

“Every citizen has a right to bear arms,” Butler said. “I am a gun owner and have an active gun license.”

But the target shooting taking place in the Musquash is something much different and potentially dangerous, he said.

Butler said he has walked the Musquash numerous times and recently collected the trash he displayed.

“In my opinion, the target shooting is not by responsible gun owners,” he said.

Hunting is allowed on the property and Butler said most people do things correctly, follow the rules and play it safe with their weapons.

“Responsible gun owners are not careless,” he said.

Recent damage done at the Musquash includes target practice at a kiosk sign at the Hickory Hill area. Butler said shooting is also evident across some trails and into trees.

He said there has been evidence of targets placed up against rocks. He has found casings from all sorts of guns, too, including .45-caliber, .38-caliber, .22-caliber, assault rifles and more.

Those who do the target shooting may be putting residents who live near the Musquash borders in danger.

The Musquash is becoming more popular; many trails are being forged and groups use it for birdwatching and other activities.

“We want this to be a safe place,” he said.

Butler said perhaps a town ordinance to ban target shooting might be a solution.

But Town Councilor Tom Freda said target shooting and hunting are both equally dangerous.

“What will we do?” Freda asked. “To me, the far greater danger is from hunting.”

Freda questioned whether an ordinance would make the Musquash any safer.

Complaints about gunfire are nothing new in town.

Residents have appeared before town boards before, hoping something can be done to make the noise stop or at least be reduced.

Councilors will seek information from other communities about how they handle target shooting and gunfire in conservation properties.