Community conflicted over shooting range

June 8, 2009 3:48:36 PM PDT
Some residents in Upper Bucks County are concerned violence could come to their community, when a now-closed business opens its doors again."Our neighborhood is quite emotional about this issue because of our history of what we went through," said Dorothy Comfort.

Dorothy is talking about the plan from the State Game Commission to re-open a public shooting range a short distance from her home.

Neighbors, along East Sawmill Road, say the shooting range, in and of itself, are not the problem. They say the problem is that it was unsupervised and many people would come with high-powered weapons like assault rifles and semi-automatics.

Folks around here say it's a safety issue and a noise issue.

"Coming in shooting unsupervised it was really at times especially on weekends it sounded like a war zone," said Nadine Quinn.

Game commission officials say they simply do not have the funds to hire full-time range managers. The site is being re-opened after a slew of licensed gun owners complained about the lack of "shooting practice" locations. In fact, there are currently no public firing ranges in Bucks or Montgomery Counties.

And gun shop owner Al Santopietro says having gun owners who are proficient with their weapons is in the public interest.

"The 'carry permits' that we have today there are so many of them, practice makes perfect and we have a lot of progress in the area which means there's more buildings and there's less places to shoot on your own property and it is a good idea to have them," he said.

Now public hearings are scheduled to deal with the concerns of neighbors here but the Game Commission has already rescheduled the opening for this fall.

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