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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
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Lowville tables firearms discharge law, sets new public hearing


LOWVILLE — Village officials said they anticipated a larger turnout at Wednesday night’s public hearing on a proposed firearm-discharge law.

Despite the crowd of only eight people, trustees received enough feedback and calls for changes to the law that they set another public hearing for September.

The ordinance would forbid the discharge of a firearm within 150 feet of a neighboring structure, although there would be exceptions for law enforcement and defense against an animal or human attack.

Resident Stanley L. Berrus said the law was not specific enough in certain parts. “There’s a lot of gray area,” he said. He asked the board to consider making an exception to allow target practice within lesser distances with written permission from neighbors.

While Mr. Berrus said he could agree with the law if some changes were made, others in attendance voiced opposition to the law in its entirety.

“It seems unnecessary,” said Daniel Jantzi. “If anyone has a gun, they’ve been using it correctly.”

The law was proposed shortly after a resident was ticketed with discharging a firearm in the village to kill a rabid skunk. After research, it was discovered that there was no village law prohibiting discharging a firearm, and the ticket was thrown out.

Trustee Charles W. Truax Jr. said that when he first considered the law, he wanted all firearm use prohibited.

“In a village, I don’t think any firearms should be used,” he said.

After discussions with Mayor Donna M. Smith, Mr. Truax said, he agreed to “ease up” on the law and allow discharge with distance restrictions.

Mr. Truax also said that from his experience as a former judge, he knows the difficulty judges face when laws are not written well or, in some cases, at all.

“It’s never easy if there’s nothing on the books,” he said.

The village will continue to work on drafting the law, including adding the ability to shoot at shorter distances with neighbor permission.

The next public hearing on the issue will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the municipal office building at 5535 Bostwick St.

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