OUR VIEW: Range should open; safety should be top priority

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Supporters of a proposed new shooting range as well as residents who live in the area near the proposed development came together this week at a public meeting to discuss whether or not the commission should allow construction.

The new range will be in the old landfill, which is located off County Road 44 about two miles north of Linden. It is on the section of County Road 44 that runs from the U.S. Hwys. 43 and 69 intersection across to AL Hwy 28.

Ray Metzler of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said he was approached about a year ago by Marengo County residents about bringing a shooting range to the area. He hopes to have full cooperation of the partners of the project and the residents in the area before he proceeds with the project.

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There are many benefits to the new shooting range. If constructed to specifications, the range could be used for local law enforcement to achieve weapons qualifications and for hunters to zero in their rifles. It also could be a safe place for adults and children to learn gun safety.

Residents that live within a mile of the area of the range expressed concerns during the meeting about the shooting range, including stray bullets, noise and the safety of their children. They said that some of their children play in the woods that will be designated for the range.

We welcome the new shooting range, but it is our hope that the commission will hold the project to a higher standard than previous shooting ranges in the area, which have also raised concerns.

No plans exist to have a licensed range master oversee the facility, but the project coordinators should reconsider this. The commission should also consider making this a requirement prior to approval. Safety, after all, should remain the top priority.