Suffolk gun range backers, foes trade accusations

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Emotions flared at a news conference held Saturday at the controversial Suffolk County Trap, Skeet and Sporting Range.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert and Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) addressed a rowdy crowd regarding a long-awaited Pine Barrens Commission decision to assert jurisdiction over the range in Yaphank, giving the commission the power to shutter it.

Browning announced she has introduced a resolution to relocate the county-owned facility - by expanding a gun range in Ridge or by opening a new facility on the North Shore currently the subject of ongoing negotiations. The resolution must be voted on by the county legislature.

"Neighbors are being assaulted by incessant noise," Browning said. "We must be given back the right to live in peace."

Public safety officers were called when there was an altercation between a neighbor and a range supporter. The range has been hotly debated for years.

"This is why you don't understand the issue, because you don't listen," Browning said as the crowd of about 25 began shouting over one another.

Supporters and opponents traded accusations. "A shooter pointed his gun at my car and followed it as I pulled out of the community," said Laura Shahinian, 47, a Yaphank nurse who said she has trouble sleeping during the day when she gets off from work.

Jeff Cooperstock, 60, of Hewlett, complained his sport is not accepted. "You travel out of state and the gun range becomes a family activity," he said.

Helene Sohne, 57, of Shirley, responded: "We understand this is their sport but one's recreation shouldn't take precedent over my home being a peaceful retreat."

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