Local property owner promises ceasefire after neighbors complained of constant gunfire
WILDWOOD (KMOV) -- The owner of a shooting range that caused controversy in a local town has now made a written promise to cease fire.
It’s a story News 4 Investigates broke on January 5. Now, News 4 is learning that Wildwood city leaders had previous doubts about the business owner but granted him a license anyway.
Neighbors previously said they were fearful to let their kids outside with the sounds of near-constant gunfire. For months, residents said they tried to plead with officials who had said the gunfire and the weapons sales business on the property were legal. That is until now.
In newly obtained emails, MidAmerica Firearms owner Paul Brown wrote, “at this time, I will not be shooting anymore on the property.”
The response comes after the city sent him a cease and desist regarding the firearms business.
By law, the business must also be Brown’s primary residence. But News 4 obtained public records indicating Brown lived somewhere else. In fact, Wildwood officials originally denied the business license back in 2021 because they believed it was not his residence. Brown told officials he was moving to the business address and, six months later, the city then approved his re-submitted application.
But residents News 4 spoke to say the city should have done more to verify that.
News 4 asked Mayor Jim Bowlin about it. He said, “I think we try to take people at good faith.”
Other emails exchanged between Brown and other city officials show Brown was providing information in the city’s investigation into whether he was violating its ordinances for discharging weapons.
After an evening public safety board meeting recently, Brown sent an email to Mayor Bowlin, which said “I wanted to reach out to you personally and say I am very sorry to have put you and the city through this.”
But he disputed the nearby neighbors’ claims. “I have to say I never heard more untruths than I did tonight at the meeting or on the news,” he said. “Most of the time when I was shooting I was with police officers, police cadets, EMS or fire, or retired military officers,” he said.
The next day, he sent another email to Director of Planning & Parks Joe Vujnich, with an attached voicemail from someone complaining about the gunfire.
Can you please call me after you hear this. I just want to talk to you as a friend.
Vujnich responded in writing, “Given the circumstances with the violation notice, [the city administrator] and I can certainly discuss any items in the future, but the enforcement process needs to conclude first.”
Some neighbors told News 4 they hope to never hear this gunfire again.
“I am very happy the city is taking action on this, it just took a long time,” said Brenda Izen, one of the concerned neighbors.
Brown had reached out to the city on other topics, including recently inquiring about the regulations for mobile home parks. Wildwood currently doesn’t have any, so it’s not exactly clear why he was asking.
Right before Christmas, he inquired why the streets weren’t being plowed in the neighborhood where he wasn’t supposed to be living in anymore. Vujnich responded within a few hours saying he’d advise the street crews.
But after an inquiry from News 4, city officials said “Mr. Vujnich’s relationship with Mr. Brown is the same as it is with all Wildwood residents.”
Meanwhile, there are ongoing discussions about whether Wildwood’s gun laws should change. News 4 will track any updates.
We reached out to Paul Brown for this story and received no comment.
Copyright 2023 KMOV. All rights reserved.