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Taking a shot at a gun range

Published: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 3:28 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 3:47 p.m. CST

SPRING VALLEY — It’s now in the hands of the Spring Valley City Council to approve the recommendations of the planning commission, regarding a downtown shooting range. The commission met Wednesday to discuss their recommendations for a gun range ordinance that could go before the council as soon as Monday.

“This has been more of an academic exercise for me,” planning commission member George Forsa said.

Like many of the commission members, he has little knowledge of guns and gun ranges, but he visited several and looked at more than 15 different city ordinances pertaining to them. They recommended there be no food, drink or alcohol in the range area at any time.

Petitioners must apply for a license through the police department; it will cost $100 and be renewed each year following an inspection by the chief of police. Those using the range may fire both guns from the range itself as well as properly contained guns from outside the range.

External guns can be fired as long as they do not exceed the noise and trap containment levels set by the limits and specs of the buildings construction. The commission also recommended the use of external ammunition. Originally, developers wanted to only use ammunition available at the range, but due to a shortage of ammunition, they wanted to allow for external ammunition as long as it inspected by them personally.

“Ammo is in short supply everywhere,” Forsa said.

The ranges are allowed to be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, but if that becomes an issue, then it can be changed. Many aspects of the range are expected to simply follow National Rifle Association (NRA) guidelines.

Staff training, shooter rules and regulations, hearing protection, internal noise levels and the internal construction specs are simply required to follow the guidelines set by the NRA.

“The government kind of lets the NRA do this,” potential gun range petitioner Craig Parsons said.

External noise guidelines will follow Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. The guidelines are based not just on decibels levels, but on a methodology of not only how loud a sound is, but also for how long as well.

Liquor and drugs will not be allowed on the premises, and should anyone enter the premises under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the range staff can refuse service.

“You can’t take that risk,” Parsons said.

Lead particle containment and cleanup as well as treatment of exhaust and gasses will follow National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health guidelines.

The commission also recommended the chief of police have the right to inspect the range at any time, have the power to close it in an emergency, and to suspend the license. Spring Valley Police Chief Kevin Sangston said he would prefer the city council have the final say of the revocation of the license. Any violations to the ordinance are subject to a $75-$750 fine per violation per day.

On Monday, the city council will likely vote on a zoning ordinance, allowing a shooting range in Zones B1, B2, B4 and M1, and an ordinance for the range guidelines, if everything can be prepared in time.

Parsons along with business partner Ed Zeglis were happy with the committee’s recommendations and are anxious to finally submit their petition. They have been working on this for at least eight months, and the end is in sight.

“As soon as we get approved, we’ll be starting immediately,” Zeglis said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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