Gun ranges are frequently targeted by left-wing activists in the government, and sadly, one is finally about to be wrongly shut down. This is alarming, because it marks the beginning of a slippery slope leading to forcing other gun ranges out of business. This will ultimately lead to a lack of reputable places for people to learn how to defend themselves with firearms, and a major step backwards for the Second Amendment after years of withstanding progressive attacks.
The Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club in Washington state has been targeted for nearly 20 years now by left-wing activists in government. I covered the events leading up to this previously here and here. KRRC has bravely fought the attacks off so far, mainly due to the efforts of its chief executive officer Marcus Carter, who has represented himself pro se throughout most of the proceedings, forcing himself to learn the law. But this last battle looks insurmountable if something doesn’t change.
The targeting has been going on for so long that local mainstream news sources frequently run political cartoonsabout it. It all began due to a vendetta that gun-grabbing Democrat prosecutor, Russ Hauge, developed against the club. His hatred became so well-known that virtually every attorney who now challenges him in elections – even Democrats – denounce it during their debates and declare that if elected, they will stop running the office based on political vendettas. The Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild issued a strong statement this year announcing it would not endorse Hauge for reelection. Unfortunately, so many people entered the race to challenge Hauge, they split the vote in the primary election, and he may very well end up winning in the general election again.
Hauge, who has been in office since 1995, has apparently been using his influence to convince other government agencies to help him harass KRRC. No doubt afraid of being targeted themselves by a powerful county prosecutor, other government agencies have willingly jumped into the fray to help Hauge shut down KRRC, as I covered here.
The Kitsap County Commissioners passed an ordinance last month requiring shooting ranges, including the 89-year old KRRC, to obtain a five-year operating permit to continue to do the same historic activities they have handled expertly since 1926 – claiming it would somehow increase safety and reduce noise during “recreational and educational shooting activities,” whatever that means. It includes the vaguely worded mandate, “Adequate physical containment requires the use of the appropriate combination of overhead baffles, impact berms and sidewalls or side berms.” Adding all this will easily put a small gun range out of business. There was no reason given to require this onerous requirement, other than referring to lawsuits against the club which are ongoing and have not yet been resolved, which alleged that bullets went beyond the property. Hypocritically, trap and skeet clubs are exempt from the new regulations – more evidence that KRRC is specifically being targeted. If KRRC is compared to numerous other gun ranges around the country – which I’ve featured each month in past monthly issues of Western Shooting Journal over the past 20 months – it is clear that it is at the level of – and in fact surpasses – most shooting ranges when it comes to safety and environmental concerns.
The depth of the absurdity was demonstrated when Carter pointed out to the commissioners that not one single county commissioner, nor any other county employee, has ever visited the range while operational, and the county sheriff himself has brought his family out to use the range. Allowing an anti-gun bureaucrat, who quite frankly wouldn’t know a gun range from a radar range, to fully take over the operations of a private organization, is completely antithetical to common sense or how our Founding Fathers set up this country.
The county spent more than $17,000 on sound studies done from the nearest neighboring residence during a high-power speed shooting contest - the loudest time possible at a range - only to find that data collected “wasn’t useful” to their purposes - wonder why! The county then suggested it be allowed to measure sound on the firing line so officials could “extrapolate the data” to the residential properties, claiming those who had complained about noise would probably not allow them to take measurements from their homes.
As far as safety, the county recruited the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab to do an analysis on the three incidents where a small group of malcontents claimed bullets left the KRRC property over the last 80-plus years (the last of which was found on the deck of a legal clerk for the prosecutor just a couple weeks prior to trial). The Washington State Patrol’s forensic scientist demonstrated in court that none of the trajectories crossed the KRRC ranges, and only after adding a huge “margin for error” could the club property be crossed. Of course, the county doesn’t want to talk about the thousands of acres of park and state lands where anyone can see evidence of irresponsible shooting taking place.
This represents one of the most flagrant, arrogant attacks on the Second Amendment anywhere across the country in recent years. KRRC is a well-respected, established gun club that has been in the community since 1926. It was founded not just as a shooting sports range, but with the dual purpose of supporting our national defense. Located in a military community, it trains our military, law enforcement, and even designs courses of fire for the largest military base in Washington State and most recently for the Air Force Special Forces. The range is so committed to safety that its URL is gunsafety.org.
If this kind of community service public resource can be shut down, what about gun ranges that have no ties to national defense, nor have an advocate willing to devote hundreds of hours to learning the law and defending it? The ordinance will likely go into effect 90 days after it was passed on September 22, which will be December 21st, if the Washington Department of Ecology approves it, or even if it does nothing. The County will require KRRC to apply for a permit by December 21st, which the County also testified under oath it may not grant, regardless of what hoops KRRC jumps through.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” Carter told the commissioners in a loud voice immediately after their vote, as reported by the Kitsap Sun. “What you did here this evening has nothing to do about public safety. You can be held culpable for violating individual rights. What you did was appalling. I wonder if you have even read the Constitution.” To which the overwhelming majority in the room broke out in even louder applause. He then walked out of the commissioners’ chambers, followed by a large number people who also opposed the ordinance.
Don’t let this happen. You can object to Loree Randall at Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600, ecy.wa.gov/forms/comments.html or call (360) 407-6180 and tell them to REJECT Kitsap County’s attempt to usurp state authority and protect our shooting ranges. Otherwise, this is a big slide down the slippery slope to eroding our most important right to keep and bear arms.