Response to Beilstein Letter

Long Island Advance, January 31, 2013

I have to comment on James R. Beilstein’s response to the letter from Elizabeth Schandel regarding the Suffolk County Trap and Skeet range as it illuminates the disconnect between the realities of the range and the misconceptions surrounding its existence. People who support the range are always quick to trot the old, "You shouldn't have moved in next to a shooting range" rant and to be honest if was as simple as that they might actually have a point.  But the reality is that the range was not “there first” (a fact that has been well documented) and has nothing whatsoever to do with the present controversy which is far more complicated.  Furthermore, since the entire area (including the land on which the range itself exists) is zoned as residential and has been since 1947, development was inevitable and Suffolk County should have recognized that and simply moved the range as they have been promising to do for years instead of choosing to create a bigger problem.

Ironically though, the same argument used against the residents applies to the range's Licensee, only in his case there isn’t any complicated back-story.
The simple truth is that the Licensee (as well as Suffolk County) knew that Brookhaven's noise law would prevent him from operating the range legally and this is a fact that was brought up publicly on countless occasions long before he chose to sign on the dotted line.  He clearly understood that signing that agreement bound him (in plain English) to abide by "all existing laws" and since Brookhaven's noise law has been on the books since 1987 that certainly qualifies it as an "existing law".  So that begs the question: "Who in their right mind agrees to operate a shooting range when they know that an existing law would prohibit them from doing so legally and then complain to the courts  about it, hoping to get relief?  What part of "all existing laws” was so difficult to understand? 

Secondly, the remark about putting a citizen out of business doesn’t fly because the Licensee’s “business” is a gun store in Massapequa.  As far as the range is concerned, he doesn’t “own” anything nor is it his primary source of income.

Lastly, I realize that Ms. Schandel’s rhetoric regarding shooting enthusiasts may have been somewhat abrasive, but I can’t say that I blame her for feeling that way.   In the months leading up to the reopening of the range, the Licensee spoke of how he wanted to be a "good neighbor" and wanted to "work with the community" and to have the range become an asset. But the reality is that our concerns have been treated with nothing but contempt and arrogance by him and the “gun owners and shooters” who help him break the law while he jams the courts with pointless lawsuits claiming that the law he acknowledged and knew of is now somehow unfair. 
Are you really surprised that someone feels bitter about that?

John Palasek 
South Yaphank Civic Association