Peacemaker National Training Center, a veteran-owned gun range in West Virginia, is being sued by residents of Virginia claiming that the gun range was violating noise ordinances. The problem is the ordinance specifically exempts gun ranges from such complaints.
The Journal News reports:
MARTINSBURG — A local gun range near Glengary faced Judge Gray Silver III on Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court to dispute a civil suit that began as a noise ordinance complaint in September 2015.
Ben and Diane Goldstein, Virginia residents, brought a civil action against Peacemaker Properties LLC and Peacemaker National Training Center LLC. The Goldsteins claimed that the multiple gun ranges associated with Peacemaker were violating noise ordinances.
According to a Peacemakers supporter, the Goldsteins bought their Virginia property in December 2011, after the Peacemakers gun range had been established. The Goldsteins didn’t file a complaint until September 2015.
In April 2016, the Goldsteins and their counsel filed an order demanding Peacemakers hand over information about gun range customers. The prosecuting attorney said the information would be used to contact customers and glean information about what time customers shot, how many rounds, what type of weaponry was used and determine what range they had been at.
First, Peacemakers claims that the court’s demand is an overreach of power, and it is. At least one of their customers agrees.
“I consider this a flagrant violation of my right to privacy with respect to personal information,” Douglas Dolan, a customer of Peacemakers said. “I consider the order to be excessive in the extreme in a civil case regarding alleged excessive noise.”
While the Plaintiffs argued on Monday that Peacemakers was making things difficult in obtaining information on their customers, the defense said that they were trying to protect the privacy of their customers.
Court costs have risen to over $30,000 and so the judge in the case recommended the parties mitigate outside the courtroom to reduce costs.
“You get better results by reaching an agreement out court instead of letting a judge decide, but sometimes the court needs to make the tough call.” Silver said.
Second, the county’s own noise ordinance specifically prevents nuisance claims, such as the Goldsteins’, and specifically exempts the shooting range from the ordinance.
Furthermore, this seems to be a case between people from two different states, so I am questioning why it is being held in a county court and not a federal court, which is partially why we have federal courts, to deal with parties between two states. Additionally, since the county’s own ordinance forbids this kind of claim by the Goldsteins, why did the judge not toss it out on that basis alone?
The fact that this noise complaint took years to make in the first place tells us that there is something deeper here. The Goldsteins waited four years to file a complaint!
Something is just not right here. If you would like to help Peacemakers with expenses, they have set-up a GoFundMe page, which you can access here.