The Recorder – Persistent gunfire on property prompts demand for noise bylaw in Ashfield
ASHFIELD – More than 100 people showed up at City Hall on Monday night for a public forum on gun noise, although some felt the conversation focused more on guns than gun sound. they generate.
Gun noise has been a bone of contention in town because Jacky KD Shi, who owns a property at 620 West Road, used the property for target practice. However, any concerns about gun noise were on the table Monday.
Shi is a full-time resident of Wellesley who visits Ashfield on weekends for recreational activities. Neighbors have complained that Shi repeatedly disrupts their lives by firing high-capacity guns for hours on end.
One such neighbor was Joe Ragan, who said Shi fired AR-15-type rifles “with contempt and reckless abandon”. He mentioned that this disruption happened 12 to 14 times in 2021 and at least twice this year. He said the noise and its duration is unbearable.
Ragan, who said he was a gun owner and still had the first shotgun he bought when he was old enough, said he wanted Ashfield to make a settlement on noise that is reasonable and enforceable.
Lauren Mills then presented a slideshow to detail how gunshot noise has affected her life. She showed photos and a video from her second marriage to her terminally ill husband, Dennis Nolan, who has since died, in which the audio of the video was disrupted by the sound of gunfire.
Mills also said her home should be a sanctuary and her husband was often disturbed in his final days by the incessant gunfire. Mills also released a recording of a 911 call she made about the noise – with gunshots heard in the background.
Mills also proposed a new noise ordinance to regulate noise in Ashfield. The wording of the proposal states that it would be unlawful for anyone “to make, permit, continue or cause to be made or create an unreasonably loud and disturbing noise in Ashfield”. The determination of what was unreasonably loud or disturbing would be based on a variety of factors, including proximity to residential structures, and violations would be subject to $200 fines.
Mills welcomes comments and questions about its proposed settlement. People can visit the public Ashfield Community Proposals Facebook page or email [email protected]
But some who spoke said that problem had resolved itself, citing the sharp reduction in complaints this year.
Former Ashfield resident Keith Harmon Snow, who had left Williamsburg after a neighbor opened a shooting range in an adjacent yard, went to discuss the issue with Shi at his home in Wellesley. According to Harmon Snow, Shi did not realize that his land was near other people’s homes and that his shots were disturbing neighbors. Harmon Snow said Shi, who did not attend the public forum, said he hoped to work with neighbors in the future.
Some residents also objected to other speakers’ focus on the types of firearms used at 620 West Road.
“I find it very hard to believe that someone shoots from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., constantly,” said Mike Dufresne. “Everything they did was completely legal. He was checked by the state police, the Ashfield police. You can own AR-15s. An AR-15 is the most common firearm, sporting firearm, in the country. Contrary to what the mainstream media portrays them to be, they function no differently than any other semi-automatic rifle. Thirty-round magazines are completely legal in the state of Massachusetts, if purchased prior to the 1994 (federal) assault weapons ban.”
He also said Harmon Snow’s situation in Williamsburg was “a whole different animal” and that restricting the use of firearms could leave Ashfield vulnerable to prosecution. He mentioned that test pits in Williamsburg revealed no lead contamination in the city, which people suspected discharged bullets had the potential to create. Defresne told Shi’s neighbors he was sorry they had negative experiences, but he protested that Monday’s discussion unfairly targeted gun ownership.
“Trying to limit what I can do on my property because of your bad experience is just unacceptable to me,” he said.
Isaac Clark, who said he is a gun owner and collector, said more laws and regulations were not the answer. He said noise issues can be reduced with gun suppressors – more commonly known as silencers. However, Massachusetts is one of nine states in the country that bans the devices. Perhaps, Clark suggested, a grassroots effort to overturn the ban could solve the statewide gun noise problems.
The public forum was moderated by City Moderator Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg.
Jamie Young stepped up to the microphone to plead for a respectful and friendly solution to this issue.
“It’s not about guns. No one wants to regulate or take guns away from anyone,” she read in a statement. “My husband and I have guns and we we rarely practice shooting, we just want to allow people to seek help if their life in their own home becomes unbearable because of the noise.
Young said she was riding a horse on West Road when gunshots were heard. She said a horse not as well trained as hers would probably have thrown her out because of her fear. She mentioned that she and her husband, Paul Milani, couldn’t hear the sound of gunfire from their house due to the curve of the nearby hills.
“Ashfield is a beautiful, peaceful town,” she said. “People move here for many reasons, but generally to have a quiet life away from the crowds, traffic and noise of the city. We all deserve to be able to live our lives without fear or disruption to our peaceful day on our own properties.
Young also mentioned that Nolan, Mills’ late husband, was one of the nicest people she had ever met and that the incessant gunshots kept her awake. She also said the noise could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.
Bob Barba said his driveway was half a mile from where Shi was unloading his guns and said the noise level was “really surprisingly loud”.
“It lifts you out of your seat,” he said.
Tom Aurigemma, who said he only owns a pellet gun and a BB gun, warned that the public forum seemed to be turning into a gun control debate and said it could be like letting “a genius out of a bottle”.
He also confirmed that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite Rifle”, not “assault rifle”.