Persistent gunfire on property prompts call for noise bylaw in Ashfield 



  • Joe Ragan speaks at a gun noise public forum at Ashfield Town Hall on Monday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Lauren Mills delivers a slideshow presentation in support of a bylaw she has proposed to curb gun noise in town. A public forum on gun noise was held at Ashfield Town Hall on Monday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Ron Coler speaks at a public forum on gun noise held in Ashfield Town Hall on Monday night. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 11/15/2022 9:16:39 PM

ASHFIELD — More than 100 people showed up to Town Hall on Monday night for a public forum on gun noise, though some felt the conversation focused more on firearms than on the sound they generate.

Gun noise has been a bone of contention in town because Jacky K.D. Shi, who owns property at 620 West Road, has used the property for target practice. However, any concerns about gun noise were on the table Monday.

Shi is a full-time Wellesley resident who visits Ashfield on weekends for recreational activities. Neighbors have complained that Shi has repeatedly disrupted their lives by firing high-capacity rifles for hours on end.

One of those neighbors was Joe Ragan, who said Shi discharges AR-15-style rifles “with disregard and reckless abandon.” He mentioned this disturbance occurred 12 to 14 times in 2021 and at least twice this year. He said the noise, and its duration, are unbearable.

Ragan, who said he is a gun owner and still has the first shotgun he purchased when he was old enough, said he wants Ashfield to establish a noise bylaw that is reasonable and enforceable.

Lauren Mills then delivered a slideshow presentation to detail how the gun noise has affected her life. She showed photos and a video from her second wedding to her terminally ill husband, Dennis Nolan, who has since died, in which the video’s audio was disrupted by the gun noise.

Mills also said one’s home should be a sanctuary and that her husband was often disturbed in his final days by the incessant gunfire. Mills also played a recording of a 911 call she made about the noise — with gunshots heard in the background.

Mills also has proposed a new noise ordinance to regulate noise within Ashfield. The proposal’s language states it would be unlawful for anyone “to make, permit, continue, or cause to be made or to create any unreasonably loud and disturbing noise in Ashfield.” The determination of what was unreasonably loud or disturbing would be made based on a variety of factors, including proximity to residential structures, and violations would be punishable by $200 fines.

Mills welcomes comments and questions about her proposed bylaw. People can visit the Ashfield Community Proposals’ public Facebook page or send an email to

But some who spoke said this issue had worked itself out, citing the large reduction in complaints this year.

Former Ashfield resident Keith Harmon Snow, who had moved out of Williamsburg after a neighbor started a gun range in an adjacent backyard, went to discuss the problem with Shi at his Wellesley home. According to Harmon Snow, Shi did not realize his land was in the vicinity of other people’s homes and his gunfire was disturbing neighbors. Harmon Snow said Shi, who did not attend the public forum, said he hoped to work with neighbors in the future.

Some residents also objected to other speakers’ emphasis on the types of guns used at 620 West Road.

“I find it very hard to believe that anyone is shooting from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., constantly,” Mike Dufresne said. “Everything they were doing was totally legal. It was vetted by the State Police, the Ashfield police. You can own AR-15s. An AR-15 is the most common firearm, sporting firearm, in the country. Contrary to what the mainstream media portrays them as, they function no different than any other semiautomatic rifle out there. Thirty-round magazines are completely legal in the state of Massachusetts, if they’re purchased prior to the (federal) ‘94 assault weapons ban.”

He also said Harmon Snow’s Williamsburg situation was “a completely different animal” and restricting gun usage could make Ashfield vulnerable to lawsuits. He mentioned test wells in Williamsburg revealed no lead contamination in town, which people had suspected discharged bullets had the potential to create. Defresne told Shi’s neighbors he is sorry they had negative experiences but he protested that Monday’s discussion was unfairly targeting gun ownership.

“To try to limit what I can do on my property because of your bad experience is just unacceptable to me,” he said.

Isaac Clark, who said he is a gun owner and collector, said more laws and regulations are not the answer. He said noise issues can be reduced with gun suppressors — more commonly known as silencers. However, Massachusetts is one of nine states in the country that ban the devices. Perhaps, Clark suggested, a grassroots effort to overturn the ban could resolve gun noise problems across the state.

The public forum was moderated by Town Moderator Stewart “Buz” Eisenberg.

Jamie Young approached the microphone to advocate for a respectful, neighborly solution to this problem.

“This is not about guns. No one wants to regulate or take away anyone’s guns,” she read from a statement. “My husband and I have guns and we rarely practice shooting. We just want to let people have some recourse for help if their lives in their own homes become unendurable due to noise.”

Young told a story of riding her horse on West Road when gunfire was heard. She said a horse not as well trained as hers would likely have thrown her due to fright. She mentioned she and her husband, Paul Milani, don’t hear the gun noise from their house due to the curve of the nearby hills.

“Ashfield is a beautiful, peaceful hilltown,” she said. “People move here for many reasons, but generally to have a quiet life away from the city crowds, traffic and noise. We all deserve to be able to go about our lives without fear or disturbance of our peaceful day on our own properties.”

Young also mentioned Nolan, Mills’ late husband, was one of the kindest people she has ever met and that the unrelenting gunfire prevented him from sleeping. She also said the noise could trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans.

Bob Barba said his driveway is a half-mile from where Shi discharges his firearms and said the noise level is “really astonishingly loud.”

“It lifts you out of your seat,” he said.

Tom Aurigemma, who said he owns only a pellet gun and a BB gun, warned that the public forum seemed to turn into a gun control debate and said that could be like letting “a genie out of a bottle.”

He also confirmed that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “ArmaLite Rifle,” not “assault rifle.”


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