Preserving Everyone’s Rights

Let’s leave behind for a minute the chest-thumping that seems to go on whenever guns are mentioned, and take a look at target shooting on town land.

The Londonderry Conservation Commission, and occasionally the Town Council, have been fielding complaints about problems with target shooting in the Musquash Conservation Area. Similar issues have surfaced seasonally in other towns as well. Many conservation easements do not prohibit hunting or shooting, but it’s important to note that what goes into an easement is what has been negotiated by the town. That means hunting and/or shooting can be prohibited in the easement if both parties agree, and that’s the case in many conservation lands in our area.

New Hampshire Fish and Game, questioned by both a Londonderry official and a Londonderry Times reporter, emphasized that as the landowner, a town can impose regulations about hunting. It certainly can regulate target shooting.

And whatever regulations are imposed, they have nothing to do with a person’s right to keep guns. You can’t shoot on a crowded sidewalk. And you shouldn’t be allowed to shoot across a trail. But that’s what’s been happening.

Conservation areas are in place in part to encourage residents to enjoy the outdoors. And people walking or biking on designated trails should be able to take for granted that bullets will not be whizzing by their heads.

What of the target shooters? While many towns, including Londonderry, are home to privately run fish and game clubs that offer clearly defined areas for target shooting, they cost money to join. Where does that leave less affluent target shooters?

With shooting already allowed on various properties throughout our towns, officials should be out looking for a suitable spot for designated target shooting. We’d like to see the topic discussed, and if a target shooting area is deemed important, then a berm can be constructed – away from trails – to provide an area to shoot in a way that should not endanger other users of the land.

Right now, if the intensity of target shooting is interfering with the safety of everyone else, as we’re hearing, something is seriously wrong.

And we shouldn’t forget what’s left behind by the less responsible shooters. Picking up spent cartridges and bullets is not much to ask, just as walkers are expected to pack out whatever they pack in. Leaving beer cans and garbage doesn’t speak well of the shooters. And littering is a crime.

Remember, it’s fine to support the Second Amendment – and we hope, everything else in the Constitution as well. But shooting across trails and littering are not part of that mix.