Surly cops in Collegedale turn home into war zone; couple takes cover

Joe Manuel, attorney

By David Tulis

Local economy is throwing its weight around, hurtling objects left and right.

To family, it casts a duty to think more in terms of self-preservation and care of its own members, especially the gray ones.

To you, individual and entrepreneur, it tosses the obligation to use God’s gifts and skills more effectually in service to others.

To elected officials and representatives, local economy hurls a caution. Namely, that the magistracy protect the citizen from malefactors — and avoid treading upon the rights of free men in fulfilling that duty.

The innocent use of one’s property has for many years come under cavalier attack in Tennessee and other states. An instance in gunshot range of us is unfolding in Collegedale, Tenn., just east of Chattanooga. The town’s police department has acted incautiously to deprive a couple, Howard and Nancy Reykdal, of the fair use of their home on 6604 Tallant Road.

Bullets fly, uproar prevents ordinary speech

“A couple of years ago the city of Collegedale constructed an outdoor firing range that’s only about 700 or some feet from these folks’ house,” explains Mr. and Mrs. Reykdal’s attorney, Joe Manuel. “And there was nothing done to try to muffle the sound or sound baffling or those sorts of things. The noise is very oppressive, very loud, very, obnoxious, and there is also a real issue of bullets escaping the range. So it’s a real concern for these folks.”

His complaint cites a town ordinance prohibiting discharging firearms within 600 feet of a person’s property without permission. Since the city range is within the city limits, that ordinance “applies to them,” Mr. Manuel says. “It seems clear to us the city is violating that ordinance.”

The petition in circuit court, filed October 2012, says police bullets are sent snapping directly toward the Reykdals’ house. Rifles, pistols and fully automatic weapons are fired at the range, sometimes on Sunday morning, Mr. Manuel says.  “And explosives are detonated on the range.” Firing increased heavily in 2012, and sometimes continues “for hours during a single day.” He says conversation at times is impossible while broadsides are in progress.

“Plaintiffs aver that the discharge *** results in loud, obnoxious, vexatious noise that interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of their property,” the filing states.

Government as ‘nuisance’

In an interview I discount the possibility of a ricochet, but Mr. Manuel says a bounced projectile is a hazard. “You could have an inadvertent discharge, like you’re suggesting. And ricochets are a real problem. Bullets don’t always strike things at a perfect straight on on angle. If they ricochet, no one knows where they go.”

The berm, or wall, between the house and the firing line has no overhead bullet trap or concrete wall to block stray rounds. The berm is 12 feet tall, and the backstop for bullets as walls on either side. The firing line is at the open end of the rectangle.

“All of the range design experts talk in terms of containing the bullets or projectiles within the confines of the range,” Mr. Manuel says. “Because once they leave the range, there is no way to determine where they go.”

Is a 9mm pistol round anything to worry about? Even that can inflict serious injury or death at a distance, he says. The most powerful rounds are the .223-caliber military caliber.

Have any bullets hit walls, yard of the resident’s house? Not yet. “The danger is, once that happens it might strike some one rather than the side of the house.”

Collegedale is a town begun by Adventists in 1968 as residents sought to insulate their ways from outside interference, particularly on the point of Lord’s Day blue laws, over which Seventh-day Adventists stand in conflict with the rest of Christendom.

Plaintiffs pray for relief

The Reykdals — he is a retired military man, 67; she is 55 — are demanding a jury trial over the hazard and nuisance of the range and that the judge permanently block Collegedale from operating the range.

Mr. Manuel says the case is another example of governments’ thinking its people can do whatever they please, while ordinances and rules bind us common folk.

— David Tulis’ show airs weekdays at Hot News Talk Radio 1240 in Soddy-Daisy. Please tune in, and considering supporting yourself by advertising at favorable rates.

One Response

  1. Rob

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