Mount Joy Township supervisors heard from neighbors of the Milton Grove Sportsmen’s Club, who described the club as a noise nuisance as well as a potential safety hazard. Supervisors said they were sympathetic, but were powerless to regulate the club because state law will not let them do so.
Paul and Kay Wendel, who live about half a mile north of the club, addressed supervisors at their meeting on Monday, Sept. 16.
“To say the least, it’s very annoying if you want to sit on your back porch and have a conversation,” Paul Wendel said about the noise from the rifle range. He said it operates until sunset every day but Sunday and uses assault rifles on the gun range.
He said other gun clubs have imposed strict regulations, including fences around club property and swipe cards to ensure that only members get to the gun range. He said Milton Grove lacks such fences.
“Without a fence, there’s no way to keep out people who aren’t members,” he said.
He also said the club lacks proper backstops and berms to prevent stray bullets from leaving the range.
“This is a grave safety issue,” he said.
He said the club is affecting his quality of life.
“I have a right to some kind of peace and quiet in the neighborhood. … God help us if there’s some kind of accident where somebody’s wounded,” he said.
He added that he does not oppose guns, just the way the club operates.
“I was in the military,” he said. “I have nothing against people bearing arms.”
Kay Wendel said she was especially disturbed because police told her the club was under no obligation to follow its own rules.
“It’s insanity to me,” she said.
Supervisors said they were sympathetic, but were powerless to regulate the club because state law will not let them do so.
“We have no legal right to do anything to control them in any way,” Supervisors Chairman Gerald G. Cole said. He added that township officials had tried to talk to club officials, but found they were unwilling to change. Cole suggested contacting state Rep. Mindy Fee with concerns about the club since the state will not let the township do anything to regulate it.
Supervisor David W. Sweigart III agreed that the township’s hands are tied and suggested going to a higher level of government.
“I’d like to see assault rifles banned, period,” Sweigart said, adding that he was not referring to military use. He said some rifle clubs do a good job screening out people with drug abuse problems or mental health issues, but said Milton Grove does not.
The Advocate contacted both the club and Fee immediately after the meeting to invite them to comment for this article. As of early the next afternoon, the club did not respond. Fee’s office manager, Linda Martin, replied via email, “Our district office has received no comments or complaints regarding the club. I will be sure and make Representative Fee is aware should we hear from any of our constituents.”
In other business, supervisors unanimously approved a route for the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mother’s Day truck convoy, which is planned to go through the township before entering Mount Joy Borough. They also approved sending a letter to state legislators asking them to address the funding crisis faced by ambulance companies.
This article has been updated with comment from Rep. Mindy Fee’s office.