To say the least, there was palpable tension Tuesday night at a Greenburgh Town Hall meeting.
Just two weeks after a woman was struck by fragments of a stray bullet near the private gun range in Ardsley (which is part of Greenburgh), residents gathered to have their voices heard on the issue. During the “public comment” portion of the meeting, they were given three minutes each to voice their opinions—and for the most part, they held nothing back.
From early on in the public comments, it became clear that the issue on everyone’s mind was public safety. According to one of the first speakers, “this is not a pro-gun or anti-gun issue. The issue at hand is the public safety of Greenburgh residents.”
With that notion in mind, the majority of the residents in attendance supported permanently closing down the gun range. Because of its proximity to the Ardsley Middle School as well as multiple playgrounds and school bus routes, many concluded that it was simply the wrong place for guns to be fired. Even one self-proclaimed gun enthusiast and NRA member spoke out against the Ardsley range, rousing massive applause from the audience of residents.
“I do not believe that an open range that close to homes, and that close to a school, and that close to bus travel can be fully guaranteed to be safe,” he said.
But the supporters of the range had their say as well.
Though not as strong in numbers, they were able to get their point across to the town council with equal vehemence. Arguing that the range serves as a valuable training facility for local law enforcement officers, the supporters suggested that closing it down entirely is a drastic and unnecessary measure. They vowed a similar commitment to public safety, but insisted that closing the range permanently was no way to solve a fixable problem.
While most speakers swore to stay apolitical in their assessment of the issue, one supporter of the gun range couldn’t resist making a political statement.
“As a long-time shooting enthusiast, I’ve felt the noose of regulations curl around my neck,” he asserted. “You can’t exercise your rights if there is nowhere to shoot.”
Despite some big differences in opinion, all of the speakers got what they wanted: to be heard. While some supported the gun range and its right to operate, others vowed to return to town hall every week until the see the range close.
One way or another, though, a decision will have to be made.