Neil B. Millens: Firearms Law Must Be Properly Vetted

* The author of this letter wrote in reference to the decision made by members of the Laws and Rules Committee on Tuesday, May 17th 2016.

VIEW the article “Kingston lawmakers advance measure to allow indoor shooting ranges”

I write to voice my disappointment and shock at how the Law and Rules Committee addressed the matter of revising Kingston’s gun law. Given how the Common Council had emphatically voted to send the matter back to the Committee for vetting, it’s inexplicable that the three members of that Committee would so blatantly abdicate that responsibility and immediately turn around to support a proposed law without doing any such vetting. Where was the research, the study, the weighing of interests including health, safety, property values, location (away from places of worship, schools and children’s activities), and economic impact (including business development and tourism)?  It’s readily apparent from the actions of the three aldermen who voted for the proposed law, that this is not about putting in place a well thought out law that takes into account and balances the interests of all the residents of Kingston, but rather is designed to support the proposed gun range without any regard for the consequences. Their actions demonstrate a failure in their duties to their constituents and to the City. I hope the rest of the Council will take their responsibilities more seriously and send the proposal back to Committee or in the alternative, vote NO!

Let me be clear – I am not anti-gun or gun ranges. I understand the economics and the need for training. For me it’s about putting in place a law that makes sense and that includes taking into account location. The question is how to best craft and implement a change in gun law to serve the citizens. And this is where the Committee failed in its mission. The Law and Rules Committee was charged to thoroughly examine the matter of legalizing gun use, taking into account not only the issues raised by the public, but how any such changes to the gun law will impact the City and its residents. And it is clear that no such vetting took place. To the contrary, the Committee members who voted for the proposed law ignored efforts by the other members to engage in such an examination.

On a basic level:
– was any thought given to looking at how other municipalities have enacted such laws?
– was any weight or thought given to the best location for such ranges as it related to places of worship, schools, residences, certain types of commercial businesses?
– was any research done as to the health risks associated with indoor ranges (including those with air purification systems?
– was any research done on how the presence of gun ranges impacts the neighborhood in terms of real estate values, home ownership, attracting or deterring other businesses?

As should be evident to all, Midtown (after many years) is finally in a revitalization stage. People are moving in, setting up businesses, investing in the community. It is clear that the addition of a gun range will impact that development. And it’s also clear that the impact will be negative. As we are also aware, Dr. Soyer is only proposing a range for the Prince Street location because that is where his medical practice was located. He didn’t meet with a consultant, review a map of the city, and then objectively evaluate where the best location for a gun range would be. His focus is his economic gain – nothing else. The City, however, has far different interests than Dr. Soyer. Moreover, and this is something for the Council to consider seriously, if his practice had been on Pearl Street, Fair Street, Lucas Avenue by Washington, Main Street, or in any other neighborhood, would this matter has been handled or voted on in the same manner? I think not.

I look to you to do your duties and satisfy the the responsibilities you have to the City and its residents. I respectfully request that you send the proposed revision back to the Committee and specifically charge them to address certain questions about health, safety, real estate and location. Or in the alternative, I ask that you vote NO.

– Neil B. Millens, Kingston NY


READ: Additional Citizen Opinions and Testimonies on the Proposed Shooting Range

Jennifer Schwartz Berky: Zoning, Code, Comprehensive Plan and Environmental Justice

Pat Courtney Strong: Economic Development

Debra Bresnan: Lead and Background Checks

Rabbi Yael Romer: Public Hearing Testimony

Stephanie Nystrom:  Lead and Lead Poisoning