Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights

By Glenn H. Utter | Go to book overview

S

Safe Range Association (SafeRange)

The Safe Range Association (SafeRange) based in Austin, Texas, advocates passage of additional legislation to improve the safety of shooting ranges and to reduce the noise from such establishments. Claiming that it is not an anti-gun organization, SafeRange notes that many of its members are gun enthusiasts and hunters. The membership wishes to protect homes from stray bullets coming from gun ranges and from the impulse noise originating from these sites. The organization insists that, contrary to the claim of range owners that neighbors are encroaching on them, neighbors should have the right to use their land as they please without being impinged upon by the ranges. The organization reports on injuries that resulted because gun ranges did not institute sufficient safety features. Expressing its desire to work cooperatively with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), SafeRange advocates that ranges follow the safety guidelines contained in the NRA Range Manual.

Focusing its attention on Texas, SafeRange argues that existing laws in that state are insufficient to assure the safety of neighbors of gun ranges. The organization advocates five minimum safety standards: 1) no bullets should ever leave firing ranges; 2) no noise in excess of 55 decibels should emanate from ranges; 3) no significant environmental damage, such as lead contamination, should occur at ranges; 4) ranges should be adequately fenced to prevent inadvertent trespass, particularly by children; and 5) no range should be able to operate without a permit certifying that it meets minimum standards, including overhead baffles, side walls, backstop, and bullet catchers. Among other safety measures for ranges, the organization advocates limiting the hours of operation, prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises, and requiring "realistic" insurance coverage.

SafeRange claims that the Texas law regulating ranges is "poorly drafted and impossible to enforce." As for voluntary compliance with safety regulations, the organization contends that most ranges fail to meet adequate standards, having failed to invest the funds for needed improvements. In addition, the NRA and the TSRA have been ineffective in encouraging safe shooting ranges. Responding to the suggestion that requiring ranges to have liability insurance will lead insurance companies to mandate safer conditions at ranges, SafeRange responds that present law already requires insurance, but this has not resulted in improved safety conditions. SafeRange rejects the argument that actual or threatened lawsuits will foster improved safety measures simply because such improvements have not occurred at most ranges. The organization concludes that "leaving the decision on what is a safe facility to the owner

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