The fight over a gun shop slated to open up in a Somerville, New Jersey strip mall is headed to court after one local resident filed a lawsuit to block it from doing business.
We’ve written about the objections to High Caliber Ordinance before. In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that a handful of anti-gunners showed up at the Borough Council meeting to complain about the store, only to hear the mayor shoot down their objections. Mayor Brian Gallagher pointed out that the store doesn’t violate any of the town’s zoning restrictions, and if officials tried to take away the shop’s permit to operate now they’d be opening themselves up to a lawsuit.
During this week’s Borough Council meeting officials did throw the anti’s a bone by instructing the local planning board to review the current zoning ordinances with an eye towards restricting gun stores from opening in the future, but that’s not nearly enough for one litigious resident.
Superior Court Judge Kevin Shanahan will rule March 7 on the complaint filed Jan. 31 by Megan Andrews that seeks an order not allowing a gun shop to open in the commercial building at the intersection in the same neighborhood as a drug store, bar, liquor store and a state Motor Vehicle Commission office.
Mayor Brian Gallagher, at Monday’s Borough Council meeting, said he was not allowed to comment on the issue because it is pending litigation.
Gallagher, who proposed a review of all zoning in the borough in his New Year’s Day address, encouraged residents who came to the Borough Council meeting to attend Planning Board meetings and give their input.
“I understand the fear, the anger,” Gallagher said Monday. “I absolutely get it.”
The mayor said he lives in the neighborhood and “shares a concern” about the store.
Andrews contends that High Caliber Ordinance’s location is too close to an elementary school (located about 1/3 of a mile away) for her liking, arguing in her complaint that kids will be exposed to the sight of firearms as they walk to and from school and even predicting that the shop could cause parents to yank their kids out of the public school and send them elsewhere.
Does Andrews or the other moms demanding the store be cancelled have any similar concerns about their young ones being exposed to inebriated individuals or the devil’s rum? After all, the same strip mall where High Caliber Ordinance is slated to open is already home to a bar and a liquor store, and the mayor has previously pointed out that the borough has also approved a marijuana dispensary that’s also close to the elementary school. Andrews hasn’t filed any lawsuits over those businesses and their proximity to students. Only the gun store has raised her ire to the point she’s taking the town to court.
Andrews previously told the local press that High Caliber Ordinance “gives our town not a look I think we should have,” which tells me that her real objection isn’t the store’s location, but its mere existence. Even in a state as hostile to the right to keep and bear arms as New Jersey, that shouldn’t be a winning argument in court, but that doesn’t guarantee that a judge won’t go along with her efforts to keep the shop from opening its doors to customers. We’ll be keeping an eye on this lawsuit going forward, and hopefully the legal action won’t delay the shop’s grand opening in the very near future.