A Public Gun Range For Buncombe County?

Buncombe County Commissioner Mike Fryar (R-Buncombe) has proposed the county switch $500,000 from a budget line allocated to the Asheville Art Museum and use it for the development of a public shooting range in the county. He had visited the range that was recently opened in Cleveland County (Shelby, NC) that is run in a partnership between the county and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Photo Credit: WLOS Staff

The range as Commissioner Fryar envisions it would have a 100-yard rifle range with six stations and a 25-yard pistol range with eight stations. I would hope they go further and create a pistol bay that can be configured for more advanced training or IDPA/USPSA competitions.

As might be expected, Fryar’s proposal is not being met with open arms by some of his fellow commissioners. From WLOS:

Commissioner Ellen Frost, also from District 2, called the gun range “absurd”.

She went on to say that it was not an appropriate time to bring up the issue after 49 people were gunned down inside a gay nightclub in Orlando.

“I think it’s incredibly disrespectful to the people of Orlando,” she said.

Fryar says he understands both views.

“Orlando was terrible. It was bad terrible, but as I told my brother 35 years ago, be careful brother. There’s a nightclub here in town called Scandals. He opened it,” he said. “My brother went to gun ranges and shot, in indoor range to shoot his pistol because he always had a pistol at the bar.”

Scandals, by the way, is a gay-friendly nightclub in Asheville.

The issue comes to a vote on Tuesday. Unfortunately, given the left-leaning composition of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners which include Ellen Frost, I don’t expect the proposal to pass.

From the Citizen-Times quoting Commission Chairman David Gantt:

Getting a majority of commissioners to defund the museum and put the money toward a gun range may, however, prove difficult. Fryar had the support of the two other Republicans to put the proposal on the agenda. But Democrats hold a 4-3 majority on the county’s governing body.

Democratic board Chairman David Gantt said he opposed the proposal because it would “leapfrog” over other projects the county has planned for years, including work on the East Asheville Library, the recycling transfer station and the radio system for emergency responders.

“Buncombe County would also have to buy land to build this proposed public outdoor shooting range,” Gantt said, adding a site would be tough to find and that he thought costs would exceed $500,000 for taxpayers.

“I believe that public shooting ranges should be financed by private business, not Buncombe County taxpayers,” he said.

The problem with a range as a private business is zoning. I fully expect the Buncombe County Commissioners to react similarly to the Haywood County Commissioners and put too many restrictions on new private ranges that they would not put on their own range.