Gun club advocates want to use CHS target range

More than 30 people turned out on Tuesday to oppose a plan to prohibit use of Carson High School's indoor shooting range by outsiders.

"We helped build it and have helped maintain it over the years," Chris Hill, vice president of the Carson Rifle and Pistol Club, told Carson City School Board members. "We've put a lot of time, care and love into that facility."

However, Superintendent Jim Parry said the range was built to accommodate the Reserve Officers' Training Corps on campus and should be restricted to that use only.

"We want to return it to its original purpose for the ROTC," Parry said. "We don't want to be in the service of providing a target range to the public."

Mike Mitchell, the director of operations for the school district, said school officials contacted their insurance company in an attempt to meet legislative guidelines restricting firearms on campus.

He said the insurance company was alarmed to learn that outside groups were allowed to use the firing range. The insurance agent said that if a problem was to occur, the school would be held partly liable.

"We didn't feel comfortable with that," Mitchell said.

School officials presented Tuesday a policy to prohibit outside groups from using the range and limit the use to the ROTC, which uses pellet guns.

However, other outside groups are allowed to use school property as long as they provide proof of insurance.

The gun club has a $2 million insurance policy and argued that it is one of the safest activities on the campus.

"It's one of the safest sports there is because we teach safety," said Ken Bobbitt, president of the Carson Rifle and Pistol Club. "No one has ever been hurt."

Hill added, "Basketball probably has a higher accident rate."

Hill said the facility is only used after school hours and guns are always transported unloaded and in a case.

Still, board attorney Todd Russell said it is too much responsibility to place on the principal of the school because ultimately he will be held accountable.

Russell said that he is not opposed to the gun club but there needs to be a tighter control over who can use the range.

"What concerns me more is how do you discriminate between (the gun club) use and any other group that wants to use it?" questioned Russell.

The gun club uses the facility Tuesday nights for pistol practice, Wednesday nights for small-bore guns and Thursday nights are reserved for junior night, including 4-H clubs, the ROTC and young members of the club.

Sarah Smith, a member of the 4-H shooting club, said she has benefited from the program.

"We're learning responsibility, self-control and safety," Smith told the board. "We've learned firearms are dangerous and are not a solution to the world's problems as we've seen in the movies."

She added that her goal is to receive a shooting scholarship to the University of Nevada, Reno.

"If we can't use this range, I'll feel like I've been dreaming an impossible dream," she said.

The range is the only indoor shooting range in the area and shooting advocates argued that without this facility, they would have no alternative.

Norm Scoggin, board member, said that it is not the responsibility of the school to provide this service.

"We're a school and students are our main concern," he said. "We cannot be all things to all people."

Board member John McKenna argued, "What we're doing here is taking away the only facility of its kind in the area."

He suggested that school officials review the possibilities another time and postpone further discussion until then. Both sides agreed.


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