Carson City Gun Range Faces Safety Challenges
A popular free gun range is only open to the public on weekends, temporarily, while officials assess potential safety hazards.
The Carson City Rifle and Pistol Range is a popular place for target shooting in a controlled, safe environment. The safety aspect of the range has come into question though, amid multiple reports of stray bullets landing on the landfill property, nearby. The general public cannot use the gun range, every day, until it is proven to be safe for workers at the landfill.
"Obviously, they want to be safe while at work, but also we have more than 600 trips a day of people going to dump trash at the landfill," Jennifer Budge, Carson City Parks & Recreation Director said. "We want to keep the general public safe as well."
The gun range is still open on weekends from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and some residents are not happy about the changes.
"It's incredibly frustrating," Chris Pattison, Carson City resident said. "Lots of us only have weekdays off and now we can't even go to a safe place to shoot."
Budge says the change in hours is temporary until the NRA can perform a safety assessment on the property. The city does not plan on shutting the gun range down.
"We want to be thoughtful on how we do it," Budge said. "We might just have to have a temporary inconvenience until we get those answers."
The Nevada Department of Wildlife partners with the gun range, so it is hoping for a swift resolution, as well.
"We work with them, collectively, on a lot of educational activities and events," Elizabeth Kenna, Public Information Officer for NDOW said. "We absolutely want to see the range open but we don't want it opening if it's not safe for the public."
NDOW is requesting a second evaluation by a third party group, to compare its results with the NRA's assessment.
"We just want to make sure if there's any gap in either evaluation that we can mitigate those," Kenna said. "Public safety is so important to us that it just makes sense to take that extra step."
Once those evaluations are finished, the parks and recreation division will decide if there needs to be any changes, whether those include quick fixes or long-term investments.
"Everybody's goal is to have this open and available seven days a week for the general public because that's why it was built," Budge said.
The Carson City Rifle and Pistol Range opened in the 1980s, Despite the landfill, slowly inching closer to the property, Pattison says the terrain should stop any bullets that ricochet. The range has berms and there is a mountain between the two properties.
"I don't see a way that a round could magically go through the mountain or over the mountain unless somebody is intentionally doing it," Pattison said.
Pattison says the dump is only about 500 yards away, but illegal shooting has also been reported in the Carson River Canyon, nearby, leading to speculation that the stray bullets may be coming from there.
"There's no tangible proof that those found rounds came from the range," Pattison said. "There's a lot of areas around the landfill that people do shoot from on a regular basis."
Budge says the landfill is working closely with the city and wants to find a safe solution for the gun range. Residents and local agencies agree that the gun range is provides a place that is much better for Nevada's environment, including the prevention of wildfires.
"People are shooting out in the sticks, right now, all over the place," Pattison said. "They're leaving trash and come springtime, there's going to be fires occurring."
"They don't want to go into the desert," Budge said. "They don't want to create trash or potential for fires out in our Nevada desert. They like having a safe environment to be able to go and shoot."
There's no timeline of when the assessments will be completed. In the meantime, range safety officers are on-site to help with any questions and to make sure people are using their guns appropriately. The gun range is closed to the public on weekdays, but it is available for training for officers and the military, as well as a variety of classes and gun clubs that have insurance.