The Coast News Group

Carlsbad may get its first-ever public shooting range

CARLSBAD — The City Council has paved the way for the city’s first-ever public shooting range.

On Tuesday, the council approved a resolution and ordinance for a conditional use permit in Planned Industrial Zones (P-M) to amend the zoning code to include indoor shooting ranges. The holdup, however, may be parking for the city’s only gun store, Gunther Guns, which also plans to open a 16- to 17-lane indoor shooting range.

After debating whether 1.5 or two parking spaces would fit the needs, the council approved (4-1) for the 1.5 parking space per shooting lane requirement. It also allows for shared parking in acceptable areas. Councilman Michael Schumacher dissented.

The other council members, meanwhile, saw fit to approve the 1.5 space per lane issue, which they, along with city staff, said was more appropriate. Staff researched two ranges in Poway, which uses a one space per lane and employee requirement.

However, Mayor Matt Hall said Carlsbad shouldn’t consider competing businesses’ suggestions when making policy.

As for the other requirements for ranges, they must not be within 600 feet of any childcare facility, school (public or private), park and residential areas. In addition, noise levels must not exceed 45 decibels to adjacent or neighboring buildings and cannot surpass 65 decibels within their property line.

Hall and councilwoman Lorraine Wood disclosed they toured Gunther Guns’ store, while councilman Keith Blackburn said he met with owners Lisa and Bill Gunther.

Blackburn, a retired police officer, said allowing an indoor range fills a necessity for gun owners in the city.

Four residents, including Lisa Gunther, spoke in support of the council approving the ordinance, saying it provides individuals a venue to practice shooting and safety.

No residents spoke in opposition.

Gunther Guns, meanwhile, is the city’s first gun store in decades, according to city officials. The Gunthers’ plan to open a range is believed to be the first range open to the public in the city’s history, city staff said.

The City Council began the process of allowing indoor shooting ranges in September in industrial-zoned areas. At the meeting, City Planner Don Neu said the process could take up to six months, while a report from the planning commission on Nov. 4 detailed the new requirements.

The commission recommended approval at its Nov. 18 meeting with one modification — sound. To reduce noise, the commission opted for a measurement based on peak event, rather than an hourly average, decibel level.

The council voted down numerous attempts by Gunther Guns to open the range over the past several years.

Lisa Gunther was denied a conditional use permit in May and a tie vote among the planning commission upheld Neu’s decision, which was based on his interpretation of the past ordinance. Following the meeting, the council directed staff to research changes into the ordinances to allow a range.

During Tuesday’s meeting, meanwhile, Neu outlined the numerous requirements gun range operators must fulfill before opening.

They include that an applicant must submit to a background check with clearance from the Carlsbad Police Department before an application is approved. An applicant cannot have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving a firearm and illegal manufacturing, use, possession or sale of a firearm.

Children 8 and older can use the range as long as they have a parent or guardian present who have signed a release.

At least one range safety officer must be on duty during business hours and be responsible for the operation, maintenance, inspection of firearms, ammunition and “proper function and operation,” enforce safety regulations and ensure all firearms and ammo remain securely stored at all times.

No customer or employee may enter or leave the range with a loaded firearm unless permitted by or exempted by state or federal law. In addition, no one is allowed beyond the firing line.


Matt December 18, 2015 at 7:55 pm

The San Bernardino killers practiced at a “public shooting range”. So did the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer.

Mike Sweeney December 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Maybe you could come visit that day Nate.

James Fuquay December 18, 2015 at 8:56 am

Awesome and well done Carlsbad. a lot of people needed a range near by. I hope they sponsor safety programs and special events, for every age. Again, Thank you

Nate Lan December 17, 2015 at 7:52 pm

With any luck, one of the patrons will go postal and murder a few local gun-toting, redneck trash.

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