The right to keep and bear arms, by necessity, also includes the right to acquire a firearm; either through a retail sale or by building one of your own. But anti-rights activists in Massachusetts are hoping to curtail that right, at least locally, by going after a new gun shop set to open for business in the town of Lawrence.
The issue, according to opponents of the new store, is its proximity to a daycare and charter school, both located a few hundred feet from the base of operations for the New England Training Center.
The red pin is where the New England Training Center is set to open, and you can see that the Community Day Charter Public School and Little Sprouts Early Education and Childcare are not too far away. So too, however, is the longtime location of the Lawrence Rod & Gun Club, so it’s not like this area was “gun free” even before the NETC’s owner decided to set up shop.
Hearing gunshots in the distance has become the norm for students and teachers on Ballard Way, near the Lawrence-Andover line.
“We tell the children it’s fireworks or balloons that are popping, or anything we can make up that makes it fun for them,” Nathalys Ramirez, who is both a teacher and the parent of a student at Little Sprouts Child Care, said.
While the private gun range causing the noise is a safe distance from these schools, she says the new retail gun store is not.
“Beyond upset about it. I’m a mother here as well as a teacher.”
It looks to me like NETC is just as far away from the daycare center as the Rod & Gun Club, at least as the crow flies, and unlike the gun club, it doesn’t appear that NETC will have a gun range on site, though it’s currently offering a four-hour training session that doesn’t feature any live-fire exercises. To make matters even more ridiculous, the local zoning board imposed some seriously silly conditions when it approved NETC’s applications to try to soothe the unreasonable concerns of folks like Ramirez.
The Zoning Board did set safety measures for the shop, including that customers can go into the store during the day but can only pick up merchandise after 6 p.m., when schools are out.
But Kate Canella, executive director of Little Sprouts, says that’s not enough.
“Just the fact that you have a sentence that says we’re going to pick our weapons up after schools have closed, those don’t go together. Schools and guns don’t go together.”
No, the fact that you can utter that sentence is a perfect example of the hoplophobia that’s become endemic to most of Massachusetts. The only folks who’ll be walking out of the gun shop with a firearm are those who are already licensed by local authorities to possess a gun, so why wouldn’t that satisfy the concerns of people like Canella to begin with?
In response to the NBC Boston report on the training center’s location and the outrage on the party of the NIMBYs in Lawrence, the NETC released the following statement on their Facebook page.
New England Training Center LLC, a well-established training facility located within an industrial zone, wishes to clarify its commitment to legal compliance and safety, particularly in its proximity to TCG/CDCPS , located nearby.
The location of New England Training Center LLC has been carefully chosen within a designated industrial zone, in full accordance with the zoning laws and regulations set forth by the Lawrence municipal authorities. We take pride in our adherence to all local, state, and federal laws governing the operation of a firearms retail establishment.
Our commitment to safety extends beyond regulatory compliance. We have implemented several measures to ensure that the presence of our shop near TCG/CDCPS does not pose any threat to the students or staff. These measures include:
1. State-of-the-art Security:
New England Training Center LLC features robust security systems, including 24/7 video surveillance, secure access control, and alarm systems to prevent unauthorized access.
2. Stringent Employee Training: Our staff members undergo rigorous training to ensure responsible firearm sales and to recognize potential red flags in customers.
3. Background Checks: We conduct thorough background checks on all customers to prevent any potential issues.
4. No Ammunition Sales to Minors: As a responsible business, we strictly adhere to age restrictions, ensuring that ammunition is not sold to minors.
5. Strict hours of operation, with sales of firearms conducted after school hours on weekdays.
6. Cooperation with Law Enforcement: We maintain a strong partnership with local law enforcement agencies and promptly report any suspicious activity.
New England Training Center LLC wishes to reiterate its commitment to safety, responsibility, and adherence to the law. We encourage open communication with the local community and are open to addressing any concerns or questions from residents, parents, or school administrators.
Our mission is to provide responsible firearm sales and training to law-abiding citizens, while maintaining a safe and secure environment. We thank the City of Lawrence community for their continued support and trust in our business.
CEO Luis Oliva might want to hold off on thanking the community. While the local zoning board has signed off on NETC’s location, the mayor of Lawrence is making noise about shutting it down.
The mayor said he respects the law but understands his community’s concerns, adding that the city council will be looking into the approval process.
I wish my parents were still alive so I could thank them for moving from the Lawrence/Andover area to Oklahoma when I was a kid. There’s a lot to love about that little spot of Massachusetts, including my all-time favorite bookstore, but the bigotry directed towards gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms is a blight on the community that is going to be hard to erase.
I’ve reached out to Oliva and invited him to join me on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co next week to discuss the latest developments, as well as offering him an opportunity to explain the NETC’s mission and outreach to the community at large. I look forward to that conversation, but I hope that local gun owners are ready to engage in a little dialogue of their own with the Lawrence City Council if local politicians do try to shut down the gun shop’s operations.