Trouble in Windham Twp.

…”and that starts with a T, and that rhymes with Soinski…”

The Outdoor Heritage Preservation Association is Dale Soinski’s DBA. He has 1500 acres (including an old quarry) devoted to shooting, hunting, off-road vehicles, and wildlife appreciation.

Unfortunately, there are a group of people who don’t like Dale to enjoy his land and share it with his friends. One woman, who my wife described as “somebody used to getting what she wants”, showed up at the township trustee meeting last week and waxed hysterical about “fireballs over my soybeans” and not knowing where she can walk without being shot, and the sheriff can’t do anything because “they all have guns there” (and the sheriff doesn’t have a SWAT team?) and “people (kids?) have been putting firebombs in our mailboxes”. (They just used a baseball bat on ours.) They got little comfort from the trustees though.

The hassles have been going on for some years (before 2003 anyway) The new fit has been playing out in the Villager (the local paper), first here (p. 12), and now in this week’s issue (not yet online). One of the odder claims made there was that the Ohio National Guard couldn’t shoot .50 BMG at the RTLS (“Ravenna Arsenal”) because there wasn’t room per military regs. I tried to get a confirmation of that from the ONG Public Affairs office, but never got called back. I finally did find an army manual that suggested that it was at least possibly true, in the configuration the site is in now, given that the largest training area is 1421 acres or 5.75058 km² and the Army requires 6.5km straight-ahead safe distance for .50. But the average Joe will think, “It’s too dangerous to shoot this stuff on 20,000 acres, and they’re doing it on 1500? Divided by a road yet??

Of course I couldn’t resist stirring the pot. Here is the letter I just sent to the Villager:

After the recent letter by “Concerned residents”, I’d like to write in support of Mr. Soinski’s operation. I love to work on my property and hear the music of automatic weapon fire. I feel safer knowing that my fellow citizens are “sharpening their liberty teeth”. My friend, music professor and birder Dr. Lisa Rainsong, was recently there on a field trip, and was amazed at the variety of birds, insects and plants present. Granted, I live east of Colton Rd. , and it may be different on Frazier Rd. Certainly I haven’t heard any ground-rumbling explosions or seen plumes of smoke, and I was here on the Fourth.

The problem as I see it is that everyone wants control of other people’s property and lives. That’s why we have excessive zoning laws in this township, with the threat of worse, and the rabid government we have in Columbus and D.C.. That’s why “concerned residents” are invoking a whole alphabet soup of agencies, in order to stop somebody from doing something they don’t like. Now, there might be a tort here. If bullets are flying onto your property, if “fireballs (tracers?) are burning my soybeans”, if smoke from burning tires drifts through your windows (and you don’t burn plastic in your backyard burn barrel — should we turn those folks in to the EPA too?), then you are being trespassed against, and have an absolute right to legal redress in a court of law, where matters of fact can be weighed and where Mr. Soinski can confront his accusers. That “concerned residents” haven’t united in a lawsuit suggests to me that they have no actual legal grounds for complaint, just a wish to live in a perfectly controlled environment. Well, if I wanted to live in Shaker Heights, I’d live there, and save myself 2 hours commute per day. I value guns; others may value French-manicured toenails. If we get to vote on each others’ values, where does it all end?

And why the obsession with “.50 caliber ammunition”?. Our military snipers use rounds far narrower than that, and they kill from quite far away. At a minimum of $4/round, I doubt Dale and friends are shooting much of that. If they’re enjoined from using .50 ammunition, what’s next? .45? .40? 9mm? A .22 will do if you hit the right place. Is this really about noise, nuisance and danger, or is it just hoplophobia? It is claimed that the 2nd Amendment and the 5th/10th Amendment right to property are trumped by the “constitutional right…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those words appear nowhere in the Constitution, but rather in the Declaration of Independence, which, inspiring though it may be, is not and never was a controlling legal document.

Perhaps everything could be worked out with a little neighborly discussion and compromise. Maybe they don’t need to blow up cars there, but if they just do it on the 4th, maybe neighbors don’t need to take offense either. History has taught us that when basic principles like the right to property are compromised, they cease to exist. If people really can’t stand living in my neighborhood, houses are cheap now, especially in places with lots of laws and lots of lawlessness.

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3 Responses to Trouble in Windham Twp.

  1. Beckie Dean says:

    First, please understand that I do NOT dislike Mr. Soinski! I do NOT
    have a problem with him HAVING guns! I simply KNOW the capabilities
    of a .50 caliber machine gun, the danger that firing one in an area such
    as Mr. Soinski owns can pose. I am not a Yale or Harvard graduate, but
    I have had a lot of inside information about the devastation caused by an
    impact of the .50 cal. I absolutely uphold and will support anyone who hunts
    for recreation and/or to put food on the table!
    I also am the first to admit that I am NOT an expert on the Constitution
    or The Declaration of Independence! I am an avid reader of The Holy
    Bible, however, and one of the RULES of the Bible clearly states that
    we are to not bear false witness against our neighbors. Exodus 20:16.
    That’s why I made sure to only say what I KNEW to be fact!
    The US Army clearly states that the area needed to SAFELY shoot a .50 cal
    is 6100 meters or 20,008 ft. to the north which is the direction he claims
    to be shooting. HE provided this information to me in the Sept. 18, 2009
    issue of the Villager. HE provided the information that the company that
    was doing the testing was contracted through the US Army! HE provided
    the information that he was breaking EPA rules by burning cars! So
    please, before you pass judgement on me. at least meet me in person, and
    know for yourself that I am NOT a waxed hysterical hopo whatever you
    said, and realize that I have family and very close friends that are in what
    the US Army considers the “Safety Danger Zone” you can thank your God
    that you aren’t in it.

  2. jeffreyquick says:

    Hi, Becky,
    My understanding was that he was shooting into the quarry. The Army reg is for straight-ahead, non-backstopped shooting, and he doesn’t have the nearly 4 miles required for that. If in fact that’s what’s going on, then neighbors clearly get to have an opinion. But I can’t imagine that anyone with such an investment in land would be so heedless of liability law as to do that. I could be wrong; I’ve never met the man…nor you. But there are increasingly few places to shoot (or even to breathe without somebody trying to stop it). If there’s a problem, I want to see it worked out in a manner consistent with property rights and the right to bear arms.

    Poke around on the rest of this blog; we may be in agreement on more than you’d think.

  3. Beckie Dean says:

    Thanks for responding respectfully. But, in the
    Army regs it also states that you must have an area
    of 2973 ft high to shoot into. Jeff, I’m not anything but
    concerned for those homes and families in his line of fire.
    Whatever that direction may be. It’s not Dale doing this, but
    it is his property, unfortunately, that makes him responsible.
    I have met Dale, he’s a very nice man. I wish he would have
    heard what I was trying yo say when I talked to him a few months
    back, but unfortunately, it’s all about the mighty green dollar!

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