To the editor:
I have been a part of Salem since my junior and senior high school work release programs, working at the third-generation machine shop my father and grandfather started 64 years ago. Our building and business has survived a fire and multiple economic ups and downs over the years, yet we have managed to stay the course and continue our operations on a much smaller scale. We have consistently paid industrial taxes on our property -- upward of $18,000 per year, even though the city still has this zoned as a residential property (”Residents say they don’t want gun shop in Salem,” Feb. 18)..
Just a bit of history: This building, now called One Florence Street, has been renamed by the city multiple times. It has been 22 Porter St. and 51 Rear Canal St. Originally, the intention was to continue Porter Street down to where Florence Street is now, but this plan was never carried out by the city. As a result, the residential roads up behind Florence Street have no access to this area. Florence Street is now made up of purely commercial and industrial buildings and businesses. Despite this, my tenants have always had to apply for special permits to operate. This has been a source of increased costs and frustration for my family and our tenants for many years now, and I feel that it is time for this to change, as it is clearly obvious this is not a residential area, and is zoned incorrectly.
As for my purpose for this space. I have been a legal gun owner and collector for many years; so have many of your friends, neighbors and possibly your family members. We are not criminals, we are responsible, upstanding citizens who have passed the extensive federal criminal background check, which is maintained by the FBI and the state police, and have obtained licenses through the proper channels. We are people that have been trained in how to properly and responsibly obtain, sell, use and securely store firearms. We are people with families and children who care about the safety of ourselves and others. I, myself, have two children to whom I have taught the importance of gun safety. The people who are committing crimes in the communities in and around Salem are not legal, responsible gun owners, for certain.
The right to bear arms is still a right, for those of us who choose to legally do so. My goal is to provide a service for those who share the same passion as myself. I realize this is controversial to many, however, the safety of the community, is of the utmost importance to me. I am able to safely do this with no negative impact to the City of Salem.
There is a negative connotation to many that comes with the words “gun store.” This is not my intention. It would simply be a safe place to legally purchase or sell a firearm, on an individual basis, by appointment only. There will be no signage, no advertising, no storefront, no cases or shelves filled with guns, as many are imagining. There will be no shooting range. There will be no change in parking or traffic. Above all, there will be no change to the safety of the citizens of Salem, many of whom have been my friends and neighbors here for years.
Anyone who enters the business will have passed the background checks mentioned above and have a legal license issued to them from the chief of police in the city or town of their residence to carry a firearm.
My building is secure. I have an alarm system, cameras, barred windows, and I have been inspected and approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. My building and its entrance is clearly visible to the Salem Police Station.
Again, I feel that I have done my due diligence, can legally and safely provide a needed service, and have gone through the proper processes to do so. The zoning is my only issue left, thus I am requesting this special permit to provide another retail service in my building.
Anthony Picariello Jr.
Pic’s Screw Machine Inc.