SHARECOMMENTMORE

By Mike Rush

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - Some people living in a Jefferson County neighborhood are afraid flying bullets and constant gun shots may soon be plaguing their community.

They're not afraid of an increase in crime, but rather, a potential new neighbor.

Over the years, Ken Hauck has spent a lot of time and money making his backyard an outdoor oasis.

"We back up to a creek. It's extremely quiet back here," said Hauck.

But he fears his tranquility will be torn apart by constant gunshots.

The man behind the bang is Matt Gumersell, owner of Sovereign Arms, a gun shop and range in Arnold.

"We're bursting at the seams," said Gumersell, who is trying to buy a now abandoned church property in Imperial, owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It's less than half a mile from Hauck's subdivision.

Gumersell's plan involves a larger indoor range, but also outdoor shooting.

"All we're going to hear is gunfire all day, all night," said Hauck.

Hauck and other neighbors in the subdivision contacted 5 on Your Side, fearing the noise would cause their quality of life and property values to plummet.

"Heard a half dozen rounds of high power center fire go off, I'd get back in my car and go away. I wouldn't buy a house a tenth of a mile from a shooting range," said resident Robert Durbin about potential buyers.

And in a neighborhood with lots of children, safety is also a big concern.

"Bullets coming through my house. Bullets coming through my car, bullets hitting my children is the biggest nightmare scenario," said resident Tom Crowder.

Gumersell, who has small children of his own, says safety is his priority. He says strict enforcement of the rules of the range, along with a cliff surrounding part of the property should keep bullets from straying.

As for the gunshots, "There is going to be nuisance noise obviously from a shooting range, but we're not in business to try to upset our neighbors. Right now, we have very reasonable hours because we care."
Gumersell added, "While I'm not trying to go out of my way to upset people, we think it's a good location. We think that if it falls beneath the parameters of what's required, you know, the county put those parameters in place."

For the gun range to happen there, zoning would have to change. There was supposed to be a public hearing on the matter Thursday night, but the Archdiocese called the hearing off because it says it has no purchase agreement with Sovereign Arms.

Gumersell says the issue is not over, he's still pursuing the property.