Gun club advocates fight for right to shoot | NevadaAppeal.com

Gun club advocates fight for right to shoot

by Teri Vance

Just when members of the Carson Rifle and Pistol Club thought they had cleared all the hurdles to using the firing range on the high school campus, they ran into another obstacle.

“We’ve been negotiating over the use of the rifle range over the last five months. At times, it’s been a very long very painful process,” said Chris Hill, vice president of the club. “I guess we’re down to the same thing we’ve been all along. All we’re asking is that we’re treated fair as members of this community.”

The Carson City School District drafted a policy that was to be read at the March 14 board meeting that would have allowed outside groups to use the firing range, the only indoor range in Carson City, as long as they underwent a background check and provided insurance.

However, shortly before the meeting, Superintendent Jim Parry said the insurance company backed out, saying it would cover a maximum of $500,000 in claims.

“Everybody was in place for that, but as it went up the chain of command, it ran into problems,” Parry said. “We actually had a policy that we passed among all members.”

The news came as a shock to the gun club as well.

“I got the impression that everything was OK,” Hill said. “Then this dropped on us like a bombshell.”

Coregis Insurance, a Chicago-based company, said the club would have to provide an excess liability insurance of $5 million instead of the $2 million policy it now holds.

Hill said the additional insurance would cost the 80-member club $1,500 a year.

“For a small little club like us, it just breaks the bank,” Hill said.

The club was charted by the National Rifle Association in 1918 as the Carson Home Guard. Over the years, it evolved into the Carson Rifle and Pistol Club,a club that focuses on precision shooting.

Hill said the safety record has been spotless.

“Our club has never had an injury, a claim or an accident in the history of our organization,” he said. “This is a non-issue for us.”

However, the club is hoping to find a compromise. Hill, the school district and Todd Russell, the district’s attorney, will meet with the insurance company Tuesday to try to find a middle ground.

“We need to step back and renegotiate with the insurance company,” Parry said. “Maybe shop for a new carrier if needs be. However, you hate to switch vendors for that one item.”

Parry said the insurance company is reluctant to insure the range because of a recent school shooting in Michigan.

“I don’t think they necessarily understand Carson City and I don’t think they understand our point of view,” he said.

Hill said finding a new insurance carrier may be the best option.

“Our stand is – they’re not the only game in town,” he said. “As a taxpayer, I’d like to see them go to someone more local and someone more sympathetic to Nevada and Nevada’s lifestyle.”

He said the club is doing its part to compromise as well. He said many members of the club did not want to have to undergo a three-point background check in order to use the range.

He said they argued that they are law-abiding citizens and should not have to prove anything. However, they agreed to comply.

The background check consists of three levels – local, state and federal. It will cost each member $60.

Hill said the club has also invested time and money into the range.

“As a club, we have a vested interest in the range. We helped build it,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve helped maintain it. If it needed repairs, we repaired it. If it needed cleaning, we cleaned it.”

However, until the issue is resolved the club has not been able to use the range.

The club is a member of the Sierra League, which holds a postal-league competition in which participants shoot at their home ranges and send in their scores to be totaled.

“We usually knock down 20 percent of the awards, but we had to back out of it this year,” Hill said. “It was the first year we’ve missed it in 15 or 16 years.”

Hill’s wife, Carol, said her husband and other target shooters should not be linked with those who go on killing sprees.

“It’s a shame that these guys are being compared to things that are happening that have nothing to do with them,” she said. “They are competition shooters. Safety is the number-one issue.”

Hill said he is optimistic that the issue will be resolved.

“We have a really good working relationship with the district,” he said.