Permission from police chief among new rules for operating shooting range in McCandless
Opening a public or private shooting range in McCandless in the future will require meeting a series of requirements that include obtaining a permit from the police chief.
Council this week unanimously approved an ordinance designed to ensure that ranges for shooting firearms, bows-and-arrows and throwing weapons such as axes meet a set of criteria to ensure public safety.
The ordinance requires firing range applicants to:Obtain all necessary governmental approvals for the facility.Secure a permit from the chief of police, who will have the power to add conditions if they are needed to protect he public’s “health, safety and welfare. The chief also will have the authority to revoke a permit for failure to comply with the ordinance. A 10-day permit will cost $25. A yearly permit will cost $100. Ranges operated by a government agency such as the one at the Allegheny County police training academy in North Park will not be required to get a permit.Provide on-site supervision by an experienced adult safety officer holding valid certification from a nationally recognized organization. The safety officer will be responsible for the conduct of range employees.Limit on-site firearm classes to instructors certified within the past five years by an approved organization or government agency.Prohibit minors from being in the range unless accompanied at all times by an adult. The rule does not apply to minors participating in a firearm safety class that has adult supervision.Store all firearms and ammunition used at the range in a safe or other secure locking device located in a fireproof area. The rule does not apply to items for sale to the public.Require all shooters complete an an orientation program designed to familiarize them with the specific rules and operations at the range.Prohibit the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances at the site. Staff will be required to get certificates for field sobriety training from the police chief before opening the facility.
The operator also will be responsible for controlling how firearms are handled, which includes making sure they are not discharged in any location on the range other than a set shooting station; shooting at anything other than a mounted target approved by the operator; handling a firearm with “negligent disregard” for the safety of others.
Outdoor shooting ranges will only be allowed to operate between 8 a.m. and sunset.
Requiring people who want to use the range to undergo an orientation program is particularly important because of the lack of training requirements for obtaining a firearm, said Councilman Bill Kirk.
“You can get a gun permit without ever firing a gun,” Kirk said. “It (a gun permit) is nothing more than a background check. That doesn’t work for me.”
Kirk said the intent of the requirement is to ensure that people understand the rules before they begin shooting at the range.
“I certainly don’t want to limit people going to the range,” he said adding that the orientation is simply a way to ensure that participants have some general understanding about the what they are doing.
Town officials noted that some of the provisions in the ordinance were modeled after the application submitted by Inpax Academy, which opened a security training center this month in the McCandless Crossing shopping center that contains an indoor shooting range.