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Residents take shots on both sides of gun range

February 12, 2020
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Prior to the Feb. 5 Canfield City Council meeting, an extended half-hour public hearing was held on whether or not to allow an indoor gun range to be built within the city limits. The feelings expressed at the hearing were almost half for and half against.

Many of the residents in attendance were under the belief a gun range was requested for Iron Sights Armory on Railroad Street. Council President John Morvay started the meeting by letting people know how the issue came this far.

"We have no petition before us at this time," he said. "This hearing stems from former council person Christine Oliver who wanted this issue addressed."

There were 11 signed to speak on the gun range, but Councilman Bruce Neff was permitted to open the hearing with two Canfield High School Speech and Debate Team members. Students Maggie Carrier and Anna Kan presented the two opposite arguments to kick things off.

Carrier spoke first and pointed out the economic benefits it could bring to the city. She said it would bring dollars and jobs.

"And it will protect Constitutional rights," she said.

Kan represented the opposition and pointed out the risk of lead poisoning from the dust.

"It will affect health and property values," Kan said.

Once the two high school debaters were done, the remaining residents who were signed up, were given their turn.

Speaking in opposition to a range was Ashley Kanod. She said it would be an unnecessary increase in firearm activity.

"My opposition is about having it close to schools and the bike trail," Kanod said. "If council votes for this it is sending a message that businesses are more important than residents. I have a growing list of people in Canfield who are opposed to this."

Pat Sculli spoke to the fact that a gun range has never been mentioned in the city's comprehensive planning.

John Schuler was also opposed and said he grew up in Canfield and later moved to Chicago. He said coming back home with his family made him feel good as he was getting away from the gun violence.

"We moved back here so we could feel safe," he said.

Leslie Schuler, a resident and business owner said she felt the high-capacity weapons that could be used at a range are meant to kill.

"No one has a good reason to own these weapons," she said.

Debbie Parisi, owner of Iron Sight Armory, said that since she opened in 2013, residents and customers have continually asked for an indoor range. She said if she were to build one it would meet or exceed the state and Federal guidelines.

Parisi's son Eric Parisi spoke on the issue and said he feels a range would allow for proper training for youth on how to respect a gun, which is "a good thing."

Greg Parisi also spoke and feels the range would be something to be proud of.

Kathryn Young spoke in favor of the range. She said at the age of 12 she won a turkey shoot and learned the safety and respect for a firearm.

"I am a veteran, but not a member of the NRA (National Rifle Association)," Young said. "I am not an extremist, but I do believe in the Second Amendment."

She said a range would provide a safe and responsible place for young and old alike to learn and enjoy.

One other veteran who spoke on the issue was Frank Micchia. He had collected a lot of details such as the cost of an indoor gun range and how safe it would be. He also stood up for gun ownership.

"Let me remind each of you, without citizens having weapons our country would not be here today," he said. "Aside from defending our country, weapons put food on the table. Weapons kept our country from coming apart and defended freedom all over the world. Their possession and use is not going away. It is part of our heritage."

As the hearing was wrapped up, Morvay again said there are no petitions or requests for zoning changes at this time. It was simply a move that Councilwoman Oliver had requested.

Council did not pursue the matter in regular session and the comments made were noted.



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