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Council OKs use permits allowing shooting ranges

CARLSBAD — A long awaited ordinance is finally here for gun owners.

An amendment to the municipal code and zoning ordinance was approved unanimously Tuesday during the City Council meeting to allow indoor shooting ranges as a conditionally permitted use (CPU) in Planned Industrial Zones.

It allows the city to develop and establish regulations for the ranges.

Currently, there is only one gun store in Carlsbad, Gunther Guns, which has lobbied for the CPU as it aims to expand with the addition of an indoor range.

Gunther Guns plans to open a 16- to 17-lane indoor shooting range, which is believed to be the first in the city’s history, according to city sources.

One issue of discussion during a council meeting in December, however, was parking spaces.

The council approved a 1.5 parking space per shooting lane requirement.

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.

Lisa Gunther, who co-owns the businesses with her husband, said they submitted their application for a CPU before Christmas and is now waiting for comments from the city.

“That ordinance allowed us to resubmit, and we have, so now we are just waiting,” she said. “I feel like we are good on parking. The planning (commission) hasn’t come back to us with anything.”

Gunther said they will conduct a noise study, but has heard no other queries from the city regarding their application.

Carlsbad has 30 days to review the submission, outline concerns, which then Gunther Guns can respond.

From there, the application will be sent to the planning commission and then back to council for approval.

“We are optimistic and grateful for this path,” Gunther said. “We do need to do some kind of noise study. We are trying to figure out what they need from us. It’s kind of in the review process.”

Carlsbad resident Bill Fowler was the lone public speaker, and first asked the council to vote against the ordinance.

He said the events in San Bernardino, where two terrorists killed 14 people and led police on an hours-long manhunt before being killed, was a reason a gun range should be banned.

Fowler said the two shooters were able to exchange weapons illegally at a gun range in the San Bernardino area.

He continued with another tragic example, asking, if approved, no child under 18 be allowed on the premises. Fowler recalled an incident years ago where a friend of his was killed accidentally after the friend’s then 12-year-old shot him in the chest.

Fowler also said nonresidents should be cleared by the Carlsbad Police Department and FBI through background checks and names cross-checked with the federal no-fly list before being allowed to shoot in Carlsbad.

As for requirements of an indoor range, 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 are 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.

The council approved a previous resolution and CPU in December.