Mar 282008
 
Shooting Range proximities

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Machine Gun Alley – Part 2

Union County TV audiences and newspaper readers have ring-side seats to what promises to be a long drawn out and likely expense affair. The print and video media has covered the story from the homeowners prospective as well as that of Dr. Land.

The completely new gun range has now been showcased on the front page of every paper, including the image of Dr. Land holding a seemingly benign rifle. Considering that all the hubbub is over his machine gun, you’d think he would have given his fans a front page photo with him posing with the Tommy Gun — you know in character.

Above, I have posted a photographic composite to illustrate a few facts that have been lost in all the gun-smoke. First and foremost the specific character, design and nature of the old range ‘backstop’ — before Dr. Land built his new one. For years, this served as only protection from stray bullets the neighbors had. It certainly doesn’t fill me with confidence and had the families in Stonegate realized the truth earlier, the controversy would have started years ago.

Another View from the Edge

Today, I read Ritchie Starnes(1) front page editorial, titled ‘NRA could help defend the gun range’. According to Ritchie, Dr. Land’s case is a slam dunk. Ritchie writes, “Land acknowledges that a number of gun advocate organizations of rally behind his cause. Between a perception of grandfathered property rights and a successful NRA inspection, Land seems to be on solid ground.”

Ritchie continued, “Since he created a target range three years prior to the ’97 Sport Shooting Protection Act, his site enjoys the added insulation of perpetuity as long as he continues to use a range at that location, Land said his rights remain preserved.”

Well there you have it folks — game over!

Not so fast – Bucko

I suppose small matters of nonconforming land use, the lack of a county zoning permit and special use permit and the fact that prior to creation of his new gun range, his old range had not been inspected or licensed by any government entity and questions remain as to whether he even meets the specifications or qualifies for the Sport Shooting Protection Act. Here comes the judge!

I guess I asked the wrong question

Recently I spoke to Curtis Blackwood, NC House of Representatives member for western Union County and asked him, about the Shooting Range Protection Act. It was obvious to me that he’s been reading the papers because he immediately recited many the arguments in favor of Dr. Land. I stressed to Curtis that I wasn’t interested in the act as relates to Dr. Land, but I specifically interested in knowing if Mr. Blackwood felt the lack of any design specifications for what constitutes a sports shooting range was a concern to him.

Mr. Blackwood broke off our conversation and walked away, so I interpreted that to mean that Rep. Blackwood doesn’t have a concern as to the lack of specificity in the ordinance.

Readers should note, that Mr. Blackwood is running for re-election and will be on the ballot in May 6th Republican primary.

As I said before, “Ambiguity” should be the North Carolina State Word.

It seems inevitable that Wesley Chapel’s Village Council will once again be riding the tale of a legal dragon as it tries to protect the quality of life in this fast-growing town.

postscript
On Tuesday evening, April 1st, the Village Council of Wesley Chapel held a public hearing on the proposed Firearms ordinance. A little more than 30 people signed up to speak, two thirds of which indicated they supported the firearms ordinance.

With the exception of two speakers who called subdivision homeowners misplaced Yankees(2) , most were very sincere in their expression of opinion. The Village Council did not vote on the ordinance, how refreshing a change for Wesley Chapel from just a few years ago(3) , they decided to review the ordinance with eye towards refining the terms and making allowances for profession services like dog trainers.

The following are local TV news reports:

WBT-TV Report

WCNC-TV Report

WCNC-TV

WSOC-TV Report

This incident was brought up during the hearing.

WSOCTV

  1. The County Edge 3/28/2008 []
  2. We’ve heard these remarks many a time from a very a small core of Village old-timers, who more often than not have been riled up and misinformed by former Village Council spouses, who lost their seats of power during the clean sweep of the Council in 2005, the last and most bitter one in 2007 — the WBT-TV tape gives a little flavor of it []
  3. In early 2005, the old guard council maniputlated the land use plan to rezone residential land into commercial so a sitting councilmembers property could be sold for $1.5 million and the 3rd shopping center at the corner of Waxhaw-Indian Trail and NC84 []

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  37 Responses to “Putting the machine gun range in factual perspective”

  1. Surprise that I would be the first to comment. Dr. Land has landed himself into a heap of controversy with his machine gun range.
    Even if he didn’t have a neighborhood and a school close by…… would seven acres be enough land to support the use of machine guns?

    Also, I am quite aware this gun range has been there for several years. But, recently Dr. Land has purchased a tommy machine gun and has started shooting it at his range. I’m sure the neighbors noticed the change in sound of this weapon right away.

    I wonder how many complaints have been made against Dr. Land’s gun range since the machine gun shooting started? Were there any complaints before?

    Land shouldn’t be shocked with neighbors not liking the machine gun noise coming from his range.

  2. Dr. Land’s blog directed to me earlier this afternoon landed up in my spam folder. He claims that his use of machine guns is not new to his gun range. He also admits to a lot of noise coming from his gun range and states this is the number one reason why he is getting complaints.

    Also, Land states that he did not contact the media and that they contacted him first. Well, he let them through his gate and finally gave them what they wanted, including an awkward looking photo opp.

    If Land has indeed been shooting machine guns since 1994 and has had complaints in the past from the neighbors in the nearby community before Stonegate was developed, then he shouldn’t be surprised to see himself land in the middle of this mess.

    He has claimed his gun range has been safe from the beginning. If he has been shooting machine guns since 94, why is he just now making improvements to his gun range?

    Is his gun range fenced and gated to keep people out? I hope so.

  3. STONEGATE STEAMROLLER

    The dialog I’ve watched taking place here the past few days is appalling; it’s digressed enough to make anyone’s stomach turn with grief. There are clearly some residents over in Stonegate that have come unhinged, inventing wild stories about everything from the risk of lead poisoning the soil on Dr. Land’s property to bullets raining down on homes in Stonegate to school children and neighbors scattering for cover every time a report echoes through the woods.

    The people of Stonegate knew when they built their homes that a gun range was nearby; now they want to shut it down – plain and simple – and they’re hell bent on doing it. It’s to the point now that they want to revoke the privilege of sport shooting from every current and future resident of the Village – completely, and forever.

    My sons and I have been target practicing in our back yard along Twelve Mile Creek with .22 caliber bolt-action rifles for the past 6 years. The countless hours my sons and I have spent together shooting has instilled in them a sense of responsibility and respect that far exceeds any of their peers. But no matter; the privilege we’ve enjoyed and worked hard to protect for years is now under threat from a few disgruntled home owners – miles away – who, quite frankly, could care less about us.

    If you’re not a sport shooting enthusiast, should you care about all this fuss? The simple answer is yes. The Stonegate Steamroller has more than just Dr. Land in its sites; who’s to say it doesn’t? Today they are simply trying to revoke sport shooting privileges of everyone here in the Village – after that, they’ll encourage others to target the Charlotte Rifle and Pistol Club over in Waxhaw, then loud barking dogs, eating pizza with a fork, smoking in your home, dancing, and anything else you do and they don’t like.

    Please help save a privilege my sons and I and countless others here in the Village enjoy immensely and have worked hard for years to protect. Stand with us against the Stonegate Steamroller, or it won’t be long before they’re at it again – imposing their will on privileges you now have and enjoy and that they know little to nothing about.

    By the way – I don’t know Dr. Land except that he’s been drug through the mud worse than anything I’ve seen and that the same people dragging him are now attacking all of us who enjoy sport shooting on a very personal level.

    So ask yourself, would you want Dr. Land as your friend – a surgeon (an older friend who’s wife once had her checkups with Dr. Land says he’s very nice, by the way) with 6 sons and de facto knows a thing or two about personal responsibility – or those aboard the Stonegate Steamroller who blame everyone else for their problems, have taken the words selfishness and arrogance to new levels, and will very clearly say and do anything – facts be damned! – to impose their will on people.

    If we all don’t keep our eyes on this, these same people will be on City Council in 2 years and then look out! It’ll be little Long Island, New York right here in Union County. Well, maybe they’ll set higher standards for things that pass here for pizza, and that wouldn’t be so bad. ;)

    • Did they know he was going to fire machine guns? NO, of course not! Who would ever be allowed to fire machine guns so close to homes? Anyone in this situation would obviously be Incredulous at the thought that others support Land.

      • Do you support abortion rights? I’m just wondering because if there was a genuine risk of death here then there would have been an issue long ago. Yet abortion causes death. So again I ask, which is a great danger, the machine gun fire (which is only faster semi-automatic weapons fire) or abortion?

  4. Editors Note:

    I realize that issue surrounding Dr. Land’s use of his Wesley Chapel property as a gun range is very emotional. In the original post, I gave more latitude to new posters and to the principals involved.

    I prefer not serve as the referee, but I will not allow the Scribe to descend to internet equivalent of a food fight. It turns readers off and whole point of the time I spend writing, researching, programming and cartooning is to bring MORE people into the discussion of issues that effect us all.

    I posted the previous comment from Elton C since he is a first time poster and I will post a rebuttal should someone from a Stonegate resident choose to respond.

    One final note in case it wasn’t clear, Dr. Land has built a new range backstop, multiple photographs have been printed in numerous newspaper articles and TV reports. It is much more substantial than the backstop in the composite posted above.

    For years prior to his improvements, the safety concerns of neighbors were well founded and by evidence of building a new range backstop. Dr. Land recognized the safety concern as well and said as much.

  5. Mark D,

    I will agree, the previous backstop, as pictured multiple times on this site, was not substantial enough to fire machine guns at. For 200 bucks I once shot several machine guns outside of Las Vegas and to say they have a “kick” is an understatement. (And I’m a 6’4″ 250lb guy) The “tommy gun” design automatic 12 gauge shotgun they let me take a crack at nearly took my shoulder off, and killed my hearing for half an hour even though I was wearing ear protection.

    That kick makes your aiming ability very difficult, and that small backstop you pictured would in no way be acceptable. When I was shooting in Vegas, I shot into the side of an artificial sand/dirt dune that was 30 feet high and about 100 feet wide. A few of my shots were close to the edge of even THAT.

    But of course there was nothing behind the range for miles, and I had absolutely no skill in shooting machine guns before then.

    Dr. Land has updated his backstop to an exceptional size. I may agree with you that his backstop IN THE PAST was not adequate, but it is now.

    The only debate now is of noise, not of safety for neighbors.

    If there was one thing I think Dr. Land should do to cement that safety, it would be to fence in the entire property and post warning signs so no children (or adults) would wander onto his property and put themselves into harm’s way. But there is only so much he can do in that regard- when we had a family farm, if some teenagers had happened to jump the fence and get into our pasture for some cow tipping attempt, they would have a good chance of being trampled by our bull if it was breeding season. Would we have been responsible if that happened? The law is unclear. If some kids climb a fence into an electric substation and get electrocuted, who’s fault is it?

  6. I upgraded my range not because it was unsafe before but for “looks only”. People tend to judge a book by its cover oftentimes and in this case the original backstop was very adequate but unsightly. The picture you have posted was taken from the backside from the Pattterson’s property and did not show the depth of this backstop and the side safety berms of tons of “sandwiched” sand between 5/8 in thick plywood walls. This type of berm is exactly from NRA range technical manual describing construction of side saty berms. Your posted pictures did not show any of these very important and effective safety design features. No projectiles were ever allowed off my property for 16+ years. This “old “backstop was personally inspected by Sheriff Cathey Sept 07 and he found this “old” backstop of 150 railroad ties and 30 tons of sand and dirt to be quite safe and adequate. I made the improvements for “looks” to try to please the Wesley Chapel city council and objecting neighbors.

  7. Dr Land,

    I apologize for saying the backstop picture was inadequate, as the picture did not show any side safety berms and I did not even know they existed.

    Here’s a tip from someone who just sold a bunch of land in western union county for a fortune- perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to sell your land to developers and take the proceeds and buy 5x the acreage of property farther out in eastern union county where you wouldn’t be harassed by local politicians looking to get votes?

    That is, of course, until in another 10 years development reaches out that far and you’ll have a whole new batch of angry mobs coming after your constitutional rights. :-)

  8. I think it’s time for all to step back, take a breadth and look at this situation rationally. “Society” derives from a diverse group of people with different opinions agreeing to some basic rules so that all can live in harmony. It must be created on a foundation of trust and honesty.
    No one doubts that firearms make noise. So do passing trains, the traffic on I-485 and the neighbor’s Harley Davidson, but these are facts of life that are woven into our “Society” and ones we accept, albeit grudgingly at times.
    To maintain our “Society”, we must maintain our trust and honesty. When this is called into question by specious arguments based on lack of knowledge, exaggeration, outright lies, political bias or sympathy with a cause that excludes any opinion except their own, we lose our ability to use our God-given common sense and immediately take sides – creating an adversarial issue such as the one that exists between two landowners – Dr. Land and a resident(s) of Stonegate.
    Dr. Land knows his liability as well as his skills and his decisions reflect his judgment. There is no “hidden agenda”. If the landowner(s) in Stonegate can demonstrate the same, surely rational discussion can reach a reasonable accommodation and our “Society” can move on.
    Adding ‘politics’, ‘more government’, restrictions and rules doesn’t solve the problem. It only reinforces the fact that one or both of these parties has a hidden agenda (Gun Control, The NRA, PETA, etc.) disguised by legitimate concerns, or that they lack the innate intelligence to resolve this issue in a mature, common-sense way. It will be interesting to follow this issue only to see which “agenda’s” appear, how “Society’s” rights are impacted, and if anyone emerges who cannot be trusted, is disingenuous, and has their own private agenda – be it Dr. Land, a Stonegate resident or some politician enlisted to further their own ambitions.

  9. Anywhere else in this state I would not have the protection of the state law “sport shooting range protection act” so I can not move.If I go elsewhere, spend thousands to build a backstop- one local noise law and I’m history-that’s why this law is so important in this case. On another note- I’ve fired machineguns for over 14 years and can keep any full auto especially a Thompson in a 8 inch circle at 50 yards let alone from a lesser distance of 25 yards at my range . Not to boast but shooting select fire is an accurate and skillful sport: I’ve defected agents from the various law enforcement agencies all over the country including CIA and FBI agents trained in class III weaponry. Bottom line I control all my select fire weapons very well and usually can beat someone else firing single shot. As stated previously , my “old” backstop was very adequate for my use. Finally, my property is encircled with hundreds of no treaspassing, keep out,keep off signs.The front of my property is secured with security fencing and soon security gates with fencing around the range.

  10. Dr Land,

    Have you looked into the laws regarding shooting ranges in South Carolina? I admit I am completely uneducated on this aspect of state law.

    I don’t know where you live, but there is plenty of cheap land all along Highway 521 towards lancaster with nobody for miles around.

    I personally want you to keep up the fight, but also consider an exit strategy if the wesley chapel mob votes to kick you out. North Carolina has the weakest private property protection rights of any state (according to the ACLU) in the entire country, so be warned that local towns can do almost anything they want if the mob votes to do it.

  11. I’d like to take a shot at responding to the post of Elton C. I will try to address it section by section so I apologize in advance if this is a lengthy post. Where to start really…

    “Stonegate Steamroller”
    … I know this is an attempt to be clever, but it fails unfortunately. As well, it is inaccurate to portray the endorsement of a Village wide Firearms ordinance as only Stonegate… there are actually plenty of other Wesley Chapel residents that support this.

    “There are clearly some residents over in Stonegate that have come unhinged, inventing wild stories about everything from the risk of lead poisoning the soil on Dr. Land’s property to bullets raining down on homes in Stonegate to school children and neighbors scattering for cover every time a report echoes through the woods.”
    … Again, completely inaccurate and seems to be a display of irrational emotion on your part. Have you spoken with any of the people that have revealed their experiences? I assure you they are real, the incidents are real and I am sure they would be happy to provide further details of them if you were to ask. In addition, there are stories from residents in other neighborhoods regarding random bullets, so it is not just a Stonegate claim. However, since you are “miles away” I would not expect you to understand.

    “The people of Stonegate knew when they built their homes that a gun range was nearby; now they want to shut it down – plain and simple – and they’re hell bent on doing it. It’s to the point now that they want to revoke the privilege of sport shooting from every current and future resident of the Village – completely, and forever.”
    … This is completely untrue. There was no way – I repeat – no way to know Dr. Land had this hobby and to the extent that it was perpetrated. There is no permit, public notification, signage, etc… Once people moved in, that was their discovery – much, much too late for those that bought. Again, it is not just the people of Stonegate who support this Firearms Ordinance – there are plenty of other communities that do. This Ordinance will protect people who live in neighborhoods on ¼ of an acre as well as people who live on more than an acre. I would imagine, as an experienced shooting enthusiast, you would not condone firing weapons in a residential area with homes on ¼ acre lots. That is part of what this ordinance will address.

    “But no matter; the privilege we’ve enjoyed and worked hard to protect for years is now under threat from a few disgruntled home owners – miles away – who, quite frankly, could care less about us.”
    … Well, with all due respect, the manner in which Dr. Land enjoys his “hobby” while the residents around him are unable to enjoy theirs (or their property) could be construed that Dr. Land “could care less about us”.

    “The Stonegate Steamroller has more than just Dr. Land in its sites; who’s to say it doesn’t? Today they are simply trying to revoke sport shooting privileges of everyone here in the Village – after that, they’ll encourage others to target the Charlotte Rifle and Pistol Club over in Waxhaw, then loud barking dogs, eating pizza with a fork, smoking in your home, dancing, and anything else you do and they don’t like.”
    … This is so wildly over the top it’s comical. It is complete hyperbole. All the residents of Stonegate want, as I would imagine all Village residents want, is a safe, secure, and desirable place to live and raise their families. Wesley Chapel is smack in the middle of the 7th fastest growing county in the country… that’s the entire USA. It is surrounded by other municipalities that have enacted the exact same Firearms measures (Weddington, Marvin, and Indian Trail to name a few). Dr. Land should be all too familiar with this. He and his family chose to live in Weddington where he has enjoyed the security and protection that a Firearms Safety ordinance provides. So, the question is… why would the residents of Wesley Chapel deserve anything less? Why would someone who currently lives, and has lived for a great while, under these protections want to deny an entire municipality of people these same protections? While Dr. Land may have been the most visible figure in this debate, the bottom line is that his actions merely shed considerable light on the fact that the Village is woefully behind on enacting legislation that protects the safety and well being of its residents. This issue goes well beyond Dr. Land and it is a shame that the print, TV, and internet media have framed this as a Stonegate vs. Dr. Land battle.

    “Stand with us against the Stonegate Steamroller, or it won’t be long before they’re at it again – imposing their will on privileges you now have and enjoy and that they know little to nothing about.”
    … One could argue that Dr. Land with his “hobby” is in fact today “imposing his (their) will on privileges you now have and enjoy and that they know little to nothing about.” The argument can go both ways.

    “By the way – I don’t know Dr. Land except that he’s been drug through the mud worse than anything I’ve seen and that the same people dragging him are now attacking all of us who enjoy sport shooting on a very personal level.”
    … You do not know Dr. Land yet you accept every word he writes as fact. Similarly you condemn all that have opposed him on this forum, and maybe elsewhere, as evil “Stonegate Steamrollers”. Can you verify that all those on this forum in opposition are actually residents of Stonegate? I’m not in favor of personal attacks from either side, but your post is essentially a personal attack on the entire neighborhood of Stonegate… consisting of people you have never met. Again, you speak of “facts be damned” yet you are in fact “damning” them yourself.

    “So ask yourself, would you want Dr. Land as your friend – a surgeon (an older friend who’s wife once had her checkups with Dr. Land says he’s very nice, by the way) with 6 sons and de facto knows a thing or two about personal responsibility – or those aboard the Stonegate Steamroller who blame everyone else for their problems, have taken the words selfishness and arrogance to new levels, and will very clearly say and do anything – facts be damned! – to impose their will on people.”
    …Again, here you are making assumptions about both sides, praising Dr. Land when all you know is what has been written in a paper or Internet blog, and disparaging an entire community of people without any factual material. In addition, this statement “knows a thing or two about personal responsibility – or those aboard the Stonegate Steamroller who blame everyone else for their problems, have taken the words selfishness and arrogance to new levels, and will very clearly say and do anything – facts be damned! – to impose their will on people” can be turned on Dr. Land as well.

    Despite the back and forth in this debate, the real issue is plain and simple. Is it reasonable and responsible to enact a safety measure that protects the well being of citizens within a vastly growing municipality where residential and commercial growth is bursting to the tune of the 7th fastest in the entire United States? I think yes… and so do Weddington, Marvin, Indian Trail, and 6 other municipalities within Union County. The ordinance is just another measure, similar to adding a traffic light at the intersection of New Town Road and Waxhaw-India Trail Road, and reducing the speed limit in front of New Town Elementary. Nothing more, nothing less.

  12. Solomon,
    Nice post…

    Mark R,
    In the past I have been quick to point out the flaws in your arguments when you have tended to exagerate or play extremely loose with the facts. But your last three posts have been very responsible, well thought out and frankly, a change of pace from what I have read from you before. I just wanted to thank you for not letting your emotions get carried away as they have in the past.

    Dr. Land,
    Noise aside, my main concern with any range is the possibility that rounds could travel outside of a safety area. A berm obviously negates that when the shooter does not make a mistake. However, when an accident happens, and a round goes over the berm (due to everything from a negligent discharge to muzzle rise (caused by either inexperience or even a slip of the left hand on the front hand stock) is there suffiecient area to prevent a round from leaving your property? Based on Mark D’s drawing, given the maximum ranges of the weapons you have mentioned, I think that you will agree that your rounds would land well outside your property. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you are a bad shot, or would ever intentionally shoot over your berm. From everything I have read to date, you have handled weapons for years. But, I have seen the finest shots in the world make a mistake on a range before and shoot over a berm or just as bad, to the side of a safety berm. It does happen. None of us are perfect in anything that we ever do. We are all human. And, for the record, I am all for sport shooting. I am not here to deny your right to bear arms or your enjoyment of shooting. But I also see the oher side of the argument as well. I presume that these parents worry for the safety of their children (among other concerns). My main concern is that I feel that a reasonable person could conclude that your range doesn’t have enough down range area of land beyond your berm should a round clear your berm (rifle or sub-machine gun). Am I being too safety conscious? Maybe. But honestly, I’d rather error on the side of being very safe than to ever take the chance, even if it is a small chance, of firing outside of safe and unintentionally striking someone else when there is a safer alternative (and yes, I know that by taking the route of moving your range to less densly populated areas will cause you a lot of inconvenience, cost and time…none of which I take lightly…and knowing full well that you run the risk of going through all of this again should suburbia encroach on you).

    As far as the safety of your berm, I think that it goes without question that your berm can stop any round that you currently fire on the range as long as the berm is maintained over the years.

    Finally, Dr. Land, thank you for taking the time and trouble of reading and responding to the posts on this web site. I rarely post on here, but do enjoy reading the various posts. I personally don’t know you, but I find it very commendable that your wife and son have spoken out so passionately in your defense. That said, I feel that some have let their passion get the better of our southernly manners. I have found that the vast majority of us in Union County to be very friendly, courteous and respectful. I would hope that you would allow that those who may have come across as rude and insensitive, are just caught up in the passion of the moment and their respective viewpoint. Regardless of the outcome of your particular situation, I would like to wish you and your family well and to hope that a solution could be worked out that is satisfactory for all concerned.

  13. I can understand some of what Elton is trying to say, and I also agree with some of John’s redirection. Elton and John. Ironic.

    Anyway….I think Elton is harboring the same fear that many of us have with regards to how some newcomers tend to get carried away with things. Case in point…the neverending (it finally ended last month) Walmart at Tom Short and Rea. While in the beginning the fight against Walmart was genuine and remained so for most…it was turned into a platform for a few to launch their own little political “kingdom.”

    They still deny it, but that is okay….I still deny going bald at 18. They have just as much a right to get involved as anybody….and if it took the Walmart to stir them to get involved, so be it.

    The problem was that many, including myself, were made out to be something we weren’t simply to further the agenda of the few…which only in part included fighting the Walmart. Because of that, the ability to trust one another has been damaged. Emotions sometimes get in the way and the steamroller just rolls and rolls and nobody can tell truth from ficton anymore.

    Truth is, I have never been a supporter of growth at all costs…but I was made out to be just that. I fear Union County will become a “little New York”…so why in the world would I want it to continue growing at this pace? Go figure. I also thought a Super Walmart on the corner of Tom Short and Rea Rd was not only a dumb idea but completely illegal, but according to some I was apparently Sam Walton’s nephew.

    Okay Mark, sorry I got off topic there just a bit to make my point.

    I am a property rights supporter, and I feel really bad for what the Land family is going through. I agree that much of what has been said from Stonegate is probably inflated. If bullets were flying, somebody would have a hole in something. I haven’t seen that. However, being the parent of a 17 month old, I cannot say I’d be happy living there waiting to be the first to get a hole.

    Ultimately, I hope everyone can end up satisfied in this deal. Dr. Land and his family seem to be good people just caught up in a mess that they didn’t create. And, even if the place is the safest gun range on earth, the folks living out there still have the noise issue which hopefully can be managed in some way to make life a little better.

    I just urge everyone involved to act like adults and avoid making assumptions about everyone else involved. All Yankees aren’t members of the AFL-CIO, and they can’t all make good pizza. All southerners aren’t members of the KKK, and we can’t all make good biscuits.

    “A little peace goes a long, long way when you want it to.”- line from Elton John’s song “A Little Peace”

  14. No one can guarantee that you wouldn’t fall, trip or have a health problem causing you to accidentally turn in an opposite direction and fire. Land is not on very many acres and firing a machine gun, in my opinion on those grounds is unsafe and from a firing perspective, restrictively tight.

    Does Land intend on fencing his property since it is now next door to a neighborhood and other homes?

    I read there is a group that has been formed to ensure the safety of Wesley Chapel residents regarding the firing of ammunition within city limits. I’m happy to learn there is a group out there who have come together to discuss the safety of Wesley Chapel residents.

    I honestly don’t think most people who are concerned over this issue is looking to take away the rights of gun owners. Common sense tells you that with more growth coming into this area, its probably best not to shoot any type of weapon in the city limits.
    Most considerate and experienced hunters understand this already.

    My parents live in the country on ten acres and my Dad has stopped hunting due to the growth that is coming in around them. No one told him to stop. He is responsible and knowledgeable enough to realize this on his own. He still has his guns and can go hunting in unpopulated areas if he wants. These days he likes to stand on his hill and hit golf balls and work on his golf game and tend to his vegetable gardens. He is retired Air Force and my brother who lives on some of their property is former 82nd Airborne. He owns more guns than my dad and he has also stopped hunting on their property.

    Times change and things change. I understand Land is trying to stand up for his rights, but in this case… he is missing the point. It’s no longer safe to shoot guns in this area. I’m sure he has had fun and good memories.

    My frustration has been that Land doesn’t seem to understand this. I’m hoping he is not so blinded about protecting his constitutional right, that he doesn’t see that his gun range probably isn’t in the best place anymore due to recent growth that will only continue around him. The bloggers post about the gun that hit and killed a child at Carowinds from over a 1/2 mile away made me realize that you can’t predict where a bullet will go and you can’t predict human error.

    Dr. Land, please explain why you think you should be able to continue your gun range with all this growth coming into the area. The only way you could guarantee it being 100% safe is if you turned it into an indoor range. Could that be an option?

    PT
    P.s. I was one of the early opponents to Walmart on Tom Short and was party of the early fight against it. We lived in Somerset and eventually moved. I was happy to learn they had won the battle. I’m not thrilled about the growth coming out this way either, but it’s here and we need to get smart about it.

  15. This discussion has become personal and in some cases based on faulty logic. Lets look at the facts:

    This personal gun range is in the town of Wesley Chapel
    Wesley Chapel is considering this ordinance based on the needs of the town.

    The ordinance is an ordinance that the vast majority of towns have and should have. It protects the best interests of the people. That is the responsibility of the elected officials. Dr. Land is identified because he is the most obvious, extreme case that could be impacted by the proposed ordinance. Everyone has the right to bear arms and there are many people shooting weapons in Wesley Chapel that shouldnt be in a town. It is a matter of people being hurt and the noise. You cant compare gunfire to Harleys or anything else. Gunfire arouses alarm and is not expected in a town.

    Wesley Chapel has grown into a healthy town full of growth. We have multi billion dollar companies investing large amounts of money to support and capitalize on the growth. The town needs the ordinance – Dr. Land became the focal point and brought attention to the need. He is the extreme because he doesnt just have a .22 – he has weapons that most people cannot buy. The whole right to bear arms arguement makes no sense here. No one is stopping people from owning weapons, but there are restriction on what you own. I can’t go out and buy a bazooka or tank just to protect my family and house. It is the easy thing for the media to focus on him, vs. the fact that Wesley Chapel needs the ordinance whether he was in this town or not.

    The other arguement is the “I was here first” arguement which also makes no sense. Again elected officials act on the best interests of the people they represent. I am sure there were many people shooting weapons for targets, raising chickens, etc. in towns before ordinances were past. It is because the people did not want the potential hazzards of noise, danger, odor, etc. in a city or town. The town cannot function properly allowing all those exceptions. It is a fact of life. You see it all the time that as growth occurs certain people are impacted – whether it is they cannot shoot at targets, they cant raise chickens, the lose land for easements and roads, etc. They cannot stand up and just say “but I was here first so nanana!”

    Wesley Chapel and other areas are growing because Charlotte and Monroe are growing. People buy out here because there is the potential for larger lots, retail and businesses are here, they offer quality schools, and some people dont want to be in the middle of a large city. People can be bitter all they want or they can accept it. This ordinance should be passed and is needed. Unfortunately Dr. Land’s property should not get an exception just as no one else has in the past. He can make a healthy profit on the land and move. Maybe even set it up as a business or something else to help in allowing him to have protection in another location.

    That will probably not happen and large amounts of money on Land’s part and the Village’s will be tied up fighting the inevitable in court. You know mega companies like Target are not going to be happy if customers are startled by machine gunfire in a city and will try to ensure it stops. If people are unhappy about it they need to be involved in the government and the community to show what the majority wants and what is in everyones best interest. Right now common sense and past history all show that the ordinance is needed without exception. Not every action can occur where everyone is happy and this is an issue where that will definitely happen.

  16. Read the NCGS state law sport shooting range protection act-it was enacted for a reason-to protect ranges such as mine from urban sprawl.

  17. Here’s the referenced Statute in full

    § 14?409.46. Sport shooting range protection.

    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range in this State shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

    (b) A person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution, and a State court shall not enjoin the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution, if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

    (c) Rules adopted by any State department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere shall not apply to a sport shooting range exempted from liability under this Article.

    (d) A person who acquires title to real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved sport shooting range constructed and initially operated prior to the time the person acquires title shall not maintain a nuisance action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the person who owns the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede the use of the range. If there is a substantial change in use of the range after the person acquires title, the person may maintain a nuisance action if the action is brought within one year of the date of a substantial change in use. This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range.

    (e) A sport shooting range that is operated and is not in violation of existing law at the time of the enactment of an ordinance and was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article, shall be permitted to continue in operation even if the operation of the sport shooting range at a later date does not conform to the new ordinance or an amendment to an existing ordinance, provided there has been no substantial change in use. (1997?465, s. 1.)

  18. WC,

    You claim that the idea of “but we were here first” has no merit.

    Have you ever heard the term “grandfathered in” ?

    Farms, in particular, have special status in the North Carolina statutes and can NEVER be forced out of business just because neighbors move in and complain, no matter if it is because of smell, noise, whatever. So you are completely wrong in that regard.

    You seem to be under the impression that property rights are something that can be taken away if enough of your neighbors decide they want to do so. Unfortunately for people with viewpoints like yours, there is something called the US Constitution and the bill of rights which are designed to stop the “mob” from determining who has property rights and who doesn’t.

    Property rights exist for everyone, even people you dislike. Kind of like free speech.

  19. Pat,

    You wrote,

    Mark R,
    In the past I have been quick to point out the flaws in your arguments when you have tended to exagerate or play extremely loose with the facts. But your last three posts have been very responsible, well thought out and frankly, a change of pace from what I have read from you before. I just wanted to thank you for not letting your emotions get carried away as they have in the past.

    I think you jinxed it — he’s back… :grin:

    Mr. T posted the Shooting Range Protection Act, which is something everybody should read.

    I have read it a number of times and my lay interpretation is that Dr. Land’s range is exempt from the Wesley Chapel Noise Ordinance. The law is quite clear, item (a) states “A person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution”.

    There seems to be no question about it.

  20. Dr. Land,

    Let me just say good luck. With the spin exhibited by those that appear to be fearful of and/or ignorant of the lawful practice of marksmanship (a duty prescribed by our nations founders in my humble opinion), the defense of your right appears to be turning towards an uphill battle. For the sake of all of us who proudly exercise our right and duty enumerated in the 2nd amendment of the national constitution and article 1 section 30 of our state constitution, I hope you prevail and thank you for fighting the battle.

    Joe Burgess
    Monroe, NC

  21. The Sports Shooting Act clearly covers noise and nuisance, no debating that. The debate, aside from what really is the definition of a “shooting range” ( I mean can I put a log with a couple tin cans on it in my back yard and call it a shooting range?) is whether Dr. Land can use this Act to avoid being subject to ANY ordinance pertaining to firearm use. I assume he would be hanging his hat on the last section:

    “(e) A sport shooting range that is operated and is not in violation of existing law at the time of the enactment of an ordinance and was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article, shall be permitted to continue in operation even if the operation of the sport shooting range at a later date does not conform to the new ordinance or an amendment to an existing ordinance, provided there has been no substantial change in use.”

    Since this section is very ambiguously written, Dr. Land would like to interpret it to mean he is exempt from ALL new laws. I am not an attorney, but I would think that interpretation would be a significant stretch and not within the “spirit” of the Act which clearly focuses on Noise and Nuisance. But, I suppose that is why we have courtrooms and attorneys – assuming it goes that far.

    Additionally, there are a few sections in that act that could work against Dr. Land – specifically “substantial change in use” and the fact that he has built a brand new target (in a new location I believe) constituting a new range which would not afford him the protections under this particular act. Again, I am not an attorney but to a layman these could be very valid points to argue.

    And to Joe B. – a Firearms Safety Ordinance does not preclude your “right and duty enumerated in the 2nd amendment of the national constitution and article 1 section 30 of our state constitution.” You still may own firearms and use them in protection of self or hunt within a safe and designated distance from homes, schools, churches, etc… That will not change. In fact, if you are from Monroe, you should recognize this as the City of Monroe prohibits the discharge of firearms of any kind, except for self defense. This also includes air rifles.

  22. A younger brother of my mother was a marine who volunteered for the Korean War. He was killed when the Chinese came in waves across the Yalu River. Roy was a machine gunner who dearly loved the life of a farmer, but had a patriotic problem that ended his ability to work with my dad on the farm.
    Dr. Land is a little boy playing with toys. He does not get the label of defender of our rights or any of that other bunk. If he wants anything other than contempt from those of us who believe and promote a harmonious community, then he needs to grow up. Those toys were taken up by people who did not want to use them, but did so for him and the rest of us. He spits in the eye of every one of those men and women.

  23. “Dr. Land is a little boy playing with toys. He does not get the label of defender of our rights or any of that other bunk.”

    Aubrey surely you jest? All firearms owners are defenders of our rights. Without our firearms the yankee socialists would take over. Bunk, that is what you consider The Constitution? I’ll keep my assault rifles to defend these God-given rights from people that think the Constitution is bunk.

  24. Aubrey,

    Your self righteous condescension is unwelcome this time. My grandfather (from whom my son is named) was in Korea as well. My first stepfather was in Vietnam. Both, as you said, took up the weapons not because they wanted to, but to do their duty in the standing army when called to do so. Their special meanings and influences in my life only add to my patriotic love and endearment I hold for all who serve.

    My mention of duty was not to take away from the men and women who have served or currently are serving in our military. You’ll not find me committing such a despicable act.

    Instead the duty I mention was to the one prescribed in the subordinate/supporting clause of the 2nd amendment: “A well regulated militia being necessary to a free state,…”

    While many like to try to use this phrase to infringe upon the individual right “to keep and bear” of American citizens, a more thorough study of historical debates and Supreme Courts cases shows it to be an implied of duty of both patriotic citizens and of the States. The militia was mentioned as being “necessary”. The militia as intended by the founders who abhorred the idea of a standing army has been defined over and over again (until recent, 20th century discussions) in the mentioned debates and cases as “all able-bodied, armed male citizens. The implied mandate upon the citizen was not only to be armed, but to remain proficient with such arms as to carry out militia duties if called. When was the last time you went target shooting :???:

    Dr. Land, in my humble (not so much this time) opinion, is doing to the best of his ability what all of us who consider ourselves patriotic should try to do.

  25. Since this section is very ambiguously written, Dr. Land would like to interpret it to mean he is exempt from ALL new laws.

    John,

    Only someone who is trying to twist the statute or achieve a result other than that which the law was written for could find the section you posted to be ambiguous. :roll:

    You are correct. I am not allowed to shoot in my back yard as I am in the city limits. If I were allowed, I would not due to safety concerns. Safety (not just the modern buzz use of the word) is essential when it comes to exercising the right and carrying out the duty I discussed previously.

    Make no mistake about how serious I take this concern, which is why in earlier posts I conceited that, if all was as it appeared in some of those early discussions, that Dr. Land should move on. Those appearances were later proven to be deceiving.

    As a responsible firearms owner, I would take into consideration all factors necessary to ensure safe handling and operation of such powerful tools that have the ability to and were designed for the purpose of possibly taking life. It appears to me when looking at all the evidence (not just what has been printed by the Scribe) that the same has been done by Dr. Land.

  26. Aubrey:

    I appreciate your point but your tone and attitude are completely out of line.

    Someone with such as Dr. Land who choses to have a personal land for a shooting range is not indicative of a “Rambo mentality”. The desire to own and fire automatic firearms is not childs play and I think it’s clear Dr Land has taken it very seriously. I would call your attitude here uncivil in your presumptions about the situation and about your ideas, as a bystander, who I’d take bets hasn’t met Dr Land and if you have certainly don’t know him well enough to make such a statement.

    The second amendment of the constitution is for the purpose of civilians to own and operate firearms. And protecting our rights from the government, from people who disagree, from people who simply don’t want to let our voices be heard IS our patriotic duty. The entire idea behind this country and the Constitution was the protection of the people and to give rights to the people that could never be intruded upon. So yes, Dr Land fighting for his right to keep his range (which also indirectly includes his ownership of the range and automatic firearms etc) IS his patriotic duty. Without people making this fight our rights as people would disappear slowly, this also means your ability to be uncivil in online discussions.

    Our founding fathers fought a war for the freedom to have the rights laid out in the Constitution, of there are always challenges that come with freedom, there are things we won’t like or agree with, yet through all of that freedom is worth the price.

    Benjamin Franklin said, “He who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither.”
    This is a question of liberties.

    Tom Stephens

  27. Aubrey, you dont think guns are the protectors of our rights?

    Tell me- are you actually serious in that statement?

    Maybe you think “harsh language” is what protects our rights? Are you really that naive?

    Men of peace sleep well at night because men tasked with violence stand vigilant.

    If you can’t understand that statement, then you’re really in over your head.

    And you dare say anyone who believes in the first and second amendment to the constitution are “brats” ?

    I have never stated this to you before- but you seriously need to leave this country and move to a socialist country where you can experience your imaginary utopia of total government control where individuals have no power whatsoever.

    Guess what the first move of the Nazi party was when they took over in Germany? Require gun registration of all citizens. Guess what the second move was? Confiscation of all those guns.

    Tyranny cannot exist while the population has the ability to exterminate their leaders if they go insane. That’s the whole point of individual gun ownership- not even bringing up the question of self defense against local petty thugs.

    You know why switzerland was never invaded in WWI or WWII? It’s because every able man, civilian or otherwise, was given a gun and trained in its use. Also, every third male of age was trained as a sniper and given a 50 caliber sniper rifle that could take out a soldier at 3/4 mile range. All the major bridges in that country, to this day, are loaded with explosives and will be destroyed if anyone tries to invade.

    Do you think they did this because they are just violent people? No, they did it to protect their liberty. Any potential invading army knows that 1/6th of the population has a sniper rifle and is trained to use it is going to think twice before invading.

    (btw, over 80 percent of all deaths in WWII were due to sniper fire, not hand to hand or close combat)

  28. Aubrey,

    Laws that allow people to use those guns in a fashion such as Dr. Land uses them, when the rights of others are clearly being trod upon,

    What rights of others are being trod upon by Dr. Land?

    When civil discourse sinks to the level of elevating firearm ownership and use as evidence of ones “Americanism”, then it is time that someone still grounded in reality speaks up.

    Do you even know why the 2nd amendment was included in the national Constitution and variations of the same idea exists in I believe 42 of 50 state constitutions? It might have something to do with that fact that every tyranny or dictatorship in history thrived on an unarmed population. Again, some study of historical debates might help some you to avoid making statements like that quoted above. When you said, “I have absolutely nothing against the ownership of guns for whatever purpose you choose to own them. did you presume know all of our purposes and were you sure that one might assuredly not be our patriotic sense of duty as a citizen in a free and self responsible society?

    As for the comparison of the abuse of the first amendment and the conveyed results of my ongoing study of the history and civics (including 2nd amendment), I’ll leave you to your opinion, but would suggest again another look at debates of the founders.

    For my previous outburst at you, I do apologize, but know that when you litter your posts with phrases such as the following, others might mistake it for condescension:

    …a little boy playing with toys…, …the result of a Rambo mentality that shows that a large portion of our population will never grow up…., ….those of you full of synthetic testosterone….

    Whether you brush your teeth or not, no one is saying if you choose not to keep and bear arms that you are not patriotic. You inferred that yourself from me giving you the reasons I and many others do. Chances are if you were not patriotic to some degree, you would not take the time to express your views in public forums (I assume with the hopes of bettering the outcomes of future elections by sharing information with other potential voters). What is being said is leave the man to exercise his right, when doing so does not infringe upon anyone else’s rights.

  29. I read the statute and the way it is set up to grandfather those shooting ranges regarding noise.

    Now that I have reviewed all the facts posted here, the main concern I have is now back to safety. I understand that Land has made improvements to his shooting range, but is a little over 5 1/2 acres enough land to operate a shooting range that is shooting machine guns and semi automatic weapons, not to mention there is a new neighborhood beside of him and a school 1/2 mile down the road? Wesley Chapel is growing leaps and bounds and more growth is sure to follow.

    He may be grandfathered due to noise, but what about the growth issue of neighborhoods coming in next door and schools to the grandfathered sporting range and the issue of overall safety.

    Human error /accidents could easily happen on 5 1/2 acres of land where they are shooting, especially with a rapid fire of machine guns.

    One can site statute and amendments, constitution, etc, but that doesn’t change the issue here which is the people’s safety next door and surrounding this range. Something or someone is going to have to change.

    PT

  30. Dr. Land,

    As I stated once before, have you considered putting up a fence surrounding your entire property?

    I spent much of my youth building and repairing fences that trees fell onto, and I would be willing to give you advice to build a nice fence at no charge. Since you aren’t containing animals, the costs would be much smaller to build a fence to keep children out.

    I’m just giving suggestions to help you fight the mob. One of their main concerns is that kids may wander into your property, and if you could stop that risk you’d be ahead of the curve for half the claims wesley chapel has against you. As for the noise, I can’t help you unless you want to enclose the range with sound retardants (ie a roof and walls)

    You can email me at m-raines@hotmail.com and I would be glad to point you to contractors who could erect fences at minimal costs. Judging from the acreage I see on the union county GIS maps it looks like the job could be done in a week for a couple thousand dollars.

    I know according to NC statutes you don’t have to do any of this, but perhaps it would be worth the expense to avoid lengthy lawsuits from your town in the future.

  31. Official NRA Range Evaluation Report recieved 4/17/08 and copies mailed to Sheriff Eddie Cathey, Jared Mccraw-safety officer of Union Co Schools, Village of Wesley Chapel and Charlotte Observer-Union co. Conclusion paragraph of the report “As noted, it is my opinion this range is being operated at a very high level of care and safety. Range design, construction and maintenance meet and in most cases exceed industry standards. The overall design allows this facility to safely continue being used with the variety of firearms including the 50 BMG and fully automatic firearms. It is also my opinion that the safety procedures that Dr. Land utilizes at his range insure that the range is no threat to the neighborhood.”

  32. I was just informed by my lawyer Mr. Tate Helms that the three judge panel of the N.C. state court of appeals has agreed with Judge Spainhour that my shooting range is legal and can remain open. It was a unanimous decision.

  33. Congratulations Doc! I know this has been a long battle but it is a definite victory for property rights as well as the 2nd Amendment.

  34. Congratulations, doc. I am so happy to hear of this decision!

  35. To Dr. Land….as a former patient who dearly loves you and knows first hand how much you love people and children in particular, let me first assure your detractors that I know you would never do anything to put another person in jeopardy! I know that you have taken every precaution to ensure the safety of everyone around you, or you would never operate your range. From my own years of experience with you, both tragic and joyous, I know that you value human life above all else.

    Now let me congratulate you on your hard fought and well deserved victory! I have read this entire blog and I commend you on the way you have conducted yourself in the face of the “angry mob.”

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