Long Island town considering restricting gun stores near downtown

Riverhead Town Board members have chosen to schedule a public hearing in a few weeks to allow the community to weigh in on whether retail gun stores and ranges should be able to open along a one-mile stretch on Main Street. 

The new legislation is being considered as the Town continues its multimillion-dollar downtown revitalization project to make Riverhead a destination for families and tourists.

"The idea is as we develop the Town Square, we’re going to determine what zoning is permissible, what we things we want to develop- we want restaurants, retail, ice cream shops next to a fountain," said councilmember Ken Rothwell. 

But this talk of possible change to land laws leaves Joseph Oliver, owner of JJ Armory in limbo. 

"You told us that it’s zoned retail and you’re saying maybe next month, it’s not," he said. 

For the past two years, he has been legally selling guns out of his home in Riverhead - and with steady sales, the 35-year-old hoped to open a retail store. He already signed a lease and started renovating the space.

"We’re not on Main Street, you can’t walk on Main Street and see it, there are no windows, it’s half underground," he said. "It’s the most secure place in Riverhead."

Rothwell acknowledges existing gun shops successfully serve the public safely but says it’s about considering change for the future. 

"It’s more about what we want to see close to our Town Square," he said. 

As for Oliver - he plans to challenge any zoning changes as he wants to set up shop where he grew up.