Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lack of Public Shooting Ranges

Arms and the Law posts this news story about a lack of shooting ranges in Colorado. At least there’s a plan to improve the situation.

I’ve probably said this before (given the fact that I’ve said more about guns than I ever thought possible) that New England has a lack of public ranges. There are a handful of commercial ranges open to the public, but there’re not cheap especially if you need to buy ammo. Of course, ammo is getting spendy everywhere.

Yosemite Sam and I joined a couple of shooting clubs. New England actually has a good number of these private organizations. They’re usually called “[insert town name here] Rod and Gun Club” or “[insert town name here] Fish and Game Club” or permutations to that affect. Ironically, both clubs in which we’re members aren’t located in the towns for which they’re named.

We had to pay good money to join initially and we pay dues each year. Still, we have good, safe places to shoot. For us, joining both clubs was a no-brainer. We were already dedicated shooters and hunters. We needed a place to practice, sight in rifles, shoot clay birds, and enjoy the shooting sports. We took the time to find clubs and work through their membership requirements.

What about the person who isn’t sure shooting will be for them, but has bought or inherited a gun? Or the person who decides to buy a revolver just in case they get a visit from Mr. Burglar and his friend Mr. Rapist? They may not take the effort to find a club and become members. They may not want to spend a lot of money and time at a commercial range.

Public ranges are necessary. Local, state or Federal governments should provide an area and facilities in which to shoot. A few such ranges should offer shooting lessons. Being able to learn, to practice, and to improve marksmanship is part of the meaning of “well-regulated militia” (the whole body of the people, not the National Guard).

For most of us, there are relatively few impediments to buying a gun, but it can be difficult to learn how to use one. What do anti-gunnies want? Do they want to have gun owners who barely know which end of the gun the bullet comes from or don’t know gun safety?

Perhaps by ensuring that it’s hard for people to find training and practice and thus gain competence, the anti-gunnies can exaggerate the dangers of guns. Nah, couldn’t be that.

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