Monday, January 3, 2011

I'd rather live next door to this guy than to a house full of teenagers

Dr. Michael Land has set up a machine-gun firing range on his property - in accordance with all laws and regulations - and has wound up annoying his neighbors.
Weekend mornings, John Famolari's two young children love to play baseball and soccer in their spacious backyard - at least until their neighbor across the creek breaks out his machine guns.

In a wooded lot about 500 feet away, Dr. Michael Land regularly uses a Thompson submachine gun and other automatic weapons for target practice. The racket often makes it hard for Famolari and his wife to talk - and even harder for them to entertain guests at their 4,500-square-foot brick home.

What's worse, Famolari says, is the worry. When the gunfire starts, he calls his kids inside.

"You can never plan for an accident," says Famolari, a computer technician who in 2002 moved to Union County from New Jersey. "There's always the chance there will be a ricochet or a misfire. And I don't want it to be in my kids' direction when it happens."
Now, here's where it gets a little unbelievable - at least based on my experience.
For Dana Wilson, hopes of a peaceful neighborhood were crushed long ago. Too often, she says, weekend social events turn out like the one in June, when she and her husband had friends over for a cookout. Their friends' 4-year-old son was on the backyard swing set when the machine-gun fire erupted.

The boy ran to the deck "crying hysterically," Wilson said. The party had to be moved indoors.
When my boys were four years old, if they had heard guns going off next door, their first impulse would have been to go have a look. When I was six, I remember Old Paco taking my brother and me to Armed Forces Day at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh (my brother would have been four). We loved the machine guns, and even got to fire them (and they weren't mere tommy guns, either). I'm just wondering how much of this hysteria is being communicated to the kids from their parents (who, like as not, are yankees who moved to North Carolina from states where the attitude toward gun ownership of any kind is a mixture of revulsion and horror).

I'm not saying that the noise factor isn't a legitimate issue. But five will get you ten that a not insignificant number of the children of the people who are now complaining about machine-gun fire will, upon reaching the teen years, turn into the sort of thoughtless little bastards who crank up their car stereos to ear-shattering levels every time they climb into their cars, and their parents won't say a word to 'em.

And, hell, yeah, I am telling you kids to get off my lawn!


Mr. Bingley said...

I would love to hear the sound of machine gun fire from my neighbors.

and I'd make darn sure they became good friends.

JeffS said...

I say the hysteria is contrived. Small arms fire is noisy, but not that noisy. I've been around enough ranges -- near and far away -- to know this. Unless you have some phobia or conditioning (and I think the conditioning is more likely), small arms noise is closer to an annoyance, and not a life shattering incident.

Conditioning (or training) is more likely because small arms fire does not sound threatening. It sounds like......noise. Unless you've been told and/or trained what it means, or have been in combat, there's no reference for most people. Even movies don't do offer a decent imitation.

The best example I can offer for this comes from where I work. Next door were some very dilapidated and run down homes. The city bought the property, and converted the land into parking lots, a definite improvement.

But before that happened, local law enforcement used the old homes for drills.....including the use of blank ammunition. Quite realistic, and quite effective.

This was announced, of course, but many people didn't hear it. Or read it. It was hardly front page news, after all.

They assaulted the buildings, firing freely. The crackle and pop of small arms was very clear and distinct. I knew about the drill, so I didn't worry about it.

But those folks who didn't know about the drill? They were curious about the sounds, and went to that end of the building to check it out. And they stayed to watch the drill.

I had to point out to some people that they had ran towards gun fire. If live ammo had been in use, they might not have liked the show so much. They simply never realized it, and certainly never thought about it -- massed gun fire is that unusual.

People who live in active combat zones no doubt feel differently about this. But they would be used to it, and respond appropriately. Or die.

So I say contrived hysteria. They don't like guns, don't care about the legalities, and are determined to shut the guy down.

Could this be annoying? Certainly. But music played loudly is annoying, yet I hear it all the time, from cars and houses.

Can the noise of a Tommy walk drown out normal speech at a long distance? I doubt it, unless the people were whispering, and had turned down their hearing aids.

Now, if you want noise, hang around artillery and armor. One training area I was at had nearly constant fire from 155mm howitzers, day and nght. If you were in the "right" spot, the muzzle blast would scare the crap out of people, even if you were several hundred meters away. God knows the Germans hated it.

Anonymous said...

The article did not mention if Famolari tried to speak to his neighbor about timing his shooting practice for some quiet at party time, etc. Probably would have been easy and neighborly to arrange. Looks like he went straight to the newspaper instead. Not neighborly.

Paco said...

Jeff: The article specifically mentions a Thompson and other "automatic weapons", but at over 160 yards (more than one and a half football fields away), I'd have to agree with you that that's hardly earth-shattering; not as bad as somebody right next door mowing his lawn in the morning.

Minicapt said...

I blame the AIr Force; pilots complain about everything. And then there's the ground crew!


JeffS said...

The local police range is a couple miles away; I can hear them shooting on a relatively quiet day. But it's faint, and you have to know what to listen for.

Noise decreases intensity over distance (as an inverse square, I think), but objects absorb sound as well -- trees, buildings, etc. So you can still hear gun fire a couple miles away, if the place is relatively quiet. But the sound is muted into a "pop".

A Thompson fires a .45 ACP, normally used as a pistol round. It's not very noisy 160 yards away. Other automatic weapons of a similar nature fire smaller rounds -- 9mm (.38), 5.56mm (.223), and 7.62mm (.308) are the ones that come to mind first. They *might* be louder, but not a lot. I'd guess that's what the good doctor is shooting.

Now, if he shoots a Browning M2 .50 machine gun, his neighbors might have a reason to complain. Especially the ones a couple miles down range; those strays can be a pain!

Paco said...

Jeff: Sweet!

JeffS said...

Oh, and my calculation assumes that a Tommy has a noise measurement of 136 decibels at 1.25 feet. I couldn't find any noise rating data on firearms, not without really digging into the search engine.

Maybe I could do some field measurements? All I'd need is a decibel meter, a Thompson, and lots of ammo........

JeffS said...

OK, Wordpress lost my other post. Maybe I'm hitting the button too much?

Anywho, to repeat....

Sound reduction is an inverse square relation.

A Thompson, fired 500 feet away, would be about 84 decibels.

bruce said...

Kids pick up their parents vibes.

bruce said...

I was in a high mountain valley in Southern India last year for Diwali, mostly a fireworks festival. For nearly a week it was like being in a war zone - from what I know of that only from movies.

And every kid was ecstatic!

bruce said...

I was in a high mountain valley in Southern India last year for Diwali, mostly a fireworks festival. For nearly a week it was like being in a war zone - from what I know of that only from movies.

And every kid was ecstatic!

Anonymous said...

Paco, make sure you lock and load in plain sight of the kids, and then in a low assertive voice say, "Get off my lawn". Oh, and make sure Mable isn't with you. Might not go over as Eastwoodesque otherwise.

Deborah Leigh

RebeccaH said...

What a bunch of ninnyneighbors, Dr. Land has.

Back in the early 70s (early in Mr. H's Army career), we lived in a trailer park backed by a cornfield, a farm road, a line of pine trees, and the Ft. Bragg, NC, mortar range. After we moved in, the wizened old lady who managed the trailer park told me to keep my kids out of the cornfield, as very rarely, mortar rounds were known to overshoot and land there. That didn't happen in the three years we were in that park, but duck hunters in the cornfield did manage to pepper the back of our trailer with buckshot.

Vietnam-era helicopters were also routinely using our horseshoe street for practice (not firing, of course, just flying very low to the end of the horseshoe and back again). Imagine the shrieks of outrage today.

Now, a few miles away from my house, there's a gentleman with some space who has built a firing range (and bulldozed a substantial backstop) on his land). I find the sound of gunfire in practice rather soothing, and if the Schumer hits the fan, that's where we're going, to offer our meager goods, skills, and lone handgun. I bet we get a better welcome than the ninnyneighbors who've been giving him crap about his firing range.

Or maybe not. My son-in-law has a little arsenal of his own, and an RV.

prairiecat55kc said...

I like the sound of practice, whether it's aircraft in the pattern, helos with rescue swimmers, or large caliber stuff we used to hear more often.

RebeccaH, my plan is similar to yours. I'm going to fight my way to Swampie's with my little Mossberg pump, carrying all the supplies I can carry in my lil Bronco. The ol man can tow the camper with the rest of the supplies.

JeffS said...

I wish I had the space for a range on my property, but 1/4 acre lots just aren't built for that sort of thing.

Paco said...

Deb: You're right. Mabel is the anti-Cujo.

Steve Skubinna said...

I like to walk out back of my house to shoot. It's timber company property, but they permit dual use and actually encourage the residents in the area to use the land - I think they figure a bunch of amateur eyes supplement their foresters.

Once I carried a walkie talkie and kept in touch with a neighbor as I went. I'd call in, tell him where I was, and how many rounds I was going to fire. It didn't take much walking before he couldn't hear me at all.

Granted, the area is heavily wooded, and the trees absorb a lot of sound. Although sometimes on still cold nights I can hear the trains running to and from the lumber mill about fifteen miles away.

Regardless, nobody around where I live gets the vapors or the galloping fantods if they hear gunshots in the woods. It's rural America - that's one of the things you hear from time to time.

And every once in a while a neighbor will drop by with some elk steaks or venison for you.

JeffS said...


Minicapt said...


JorgXMcKie said...

from the USMC Rules For Gun Fighting

1. Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns. Bring their friends who have guns.

2. If you can, make friends with those on the crew served weapons. Bring them as well. Borrow money from them, it gives them an added incentive to protect you.

3. Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice. Ammo is cheap. Life is expensive.

Paco said...


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