Gun range closed for now

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By David Giuliani

For the time being, the city has closed its shooting range to everyone but law enforcement agencies.

That’s because of vandalism, debris and litter, officials said. Also, some people are shooting at things such as a shack that they’re not supposed to use as targets.

The Police Department has closed the range, which is near the National Guard Armory, until a new policy can be drafted for public use. The police are proposing that all shooters be required to sign in at the department and fill out forms for release of city liability before using the city-owned range.

“No trespassing” signs would be posted at the range, along with a contact number at the Police Department to arrange for access.

The city would then give keys to those who meet the requirements. Police Chief Gary Gold said he realizes that people may copy the keys, but he said that officers from area law enforcement agencies would check the range regularly. Those who are at the range without permission would be charged with trespassing, he said.

The police are proposing the range be accessed only from 8 a.m. to dusk.

“We want a safe place for the community to go and shoot,” the chief said.

The shooting range has often been a subject at City Council meetings. For years, former City Councilman Michael Gallegos used to point out the problems at the range.

At this week’s council meeting, Councilman Morris Madrid said he was unhappy with the irresponsibility of a few.

“What has happened there is disgusting. Responsible people don’t do this kind of thing,” he said.

Madrid said more restrictive policies will only hurt those who are irresponsible.

“The irresponsible will be locked out, as well they should be,” the councilman said. “The public will be hurt if law enforcement can’t train there.”

Gold said he wants to work with hunting organizations and others to fine-tune a policy to help protect the range. He said he looking for their input.