School Board Member Says Gun Shop Could Have ‘Emotional Impact’ on Students and Staff

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AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File

The fight over a New Jersey gun store has reached new levels of stupidity now that the local Board of Education has decided to insert itself into the conversation. 

As we’ve previously reported, High Caliber Ordnance is set to open its doors in a Somerville strip mall, but the grand opening is on hold thanks to a lawsuit filed by one local resident who says the store is too close to an elementary school for her liking. Somerville’s mayor insists that the store, which is located about a quarter-mile from an elementary school, meets all current zoning laws and the town’s hands are tied, but a judge is set to hold a hearing on March 7th to determine the fate of Megan Andrews’ request for an injunction that could force High Caliber Ordnance to keep its doors closed or look for another location. 

This week the Somerville Board of Education met and called for a meeting between school officials, local police, and municipal leaders to discuss the gun shop’s location, though what they’re hoping to get out of a sit-down is unclear. 

Board member Mateo Garcia said the school district should learn more about the issue because of the many concerns that parents have voiced.
“I don’t want it to seem like it falls on deaf ears,” Garcia said.
The results of the meeting will then be given to the Board of Education’s Finance, Security and Building and Grounds Committee.
Because the gun shop has raised security issues, Garcia said “we should not leave any stone unturned.”

There are no security issues surrounding the gun shop, at least not any legitimate concerns. The only problem is that the owner of the shop wants to do business where he’s been approved to do so, and a small but vocal number of residents are intent on stopping him. 

“It’s a very big concern for parents,” said Board of Education member Stephanie Dale, adding the store may have “an emotional impact not just for children, but staff as well.”
Board President Derek Jess said residents should understand it’s a municipal issue and residents should “go to city hall and rattle some cages.”

Seriously? The only reason a kid might have an emotional response to the sight of a gun shop is if the adults in their lives are freaking out. And there’s no good reason for an adult to have a meltdown because a firearms retailer is coming to town. 

Attorney Daniel Schmutter, who’s representing the gun store owner in his legal battle, has said that the lawsuit is the result of hateful prejudice on the part of Andrews and others, and it’s hard to disagree when you see comments like Dale’s. If I were a parent of a Somerville student I’d be thinking about taking my child elsewhere; not because of High Caliber Ordnance, but because some members of the Board of Education are acting like children themselves. 

Where are the complaints about the liquor store that’s already doing business nearby, or the marijuana dispensary that’s set to open just down the street? Apparently those businesses are okay with Andrews and her fellow prohibitionists. It’s only the gun shop that has raised their ire. 

Opponents say that the shop “isn’t a good look” for the town, but the bigotry on display over High Caliber Ordnance is what’s truly ugly here. The scolds seeking to stop a small business from operating at its approved location are giving the town a black eye. Here’s hoping the courts will give the green light to the gun shop in a couple of weeks. That won’t stop the fight to change the town’s zoning laws to block any other stores from opening in the future, but it would at least allow High Caliber Ordance to finally welcome customers inside.

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