WHAT IS THE REAL COST OF HAVING A GUN RANGE? We all know the saying “There’s no such thing as a free horse.” Vet bills, tack, shoeing and boarding costs will far outweigh the savings of that “free” horse.
The City of Minnetrista needs to understand there’s no such thing as a free gun range. Despite the possibility of receiving a grant for the initial build-out, the ongoing operational costs for staffing and maintaining a firing range will far eclipse the initial investment to construct it.
Minnetrista residents were clear when they answered the community survey question, “Should the City of Minnetrista finish the gun range?,” that they did not want taxpayer dollars spent on it. Only 5% supported using tax dollars. 25% indicated support if outside money would pay for it. 62% indicated support if user fees would cover the cost.
What they weren’t told as part of the survey is that firing ranges do not support themselves with user fees. Typically an hour on a gun range only costs about $20. The private sector establishments provide a firing range to attract customers that want to purchase firearms, accessories, ammunition and take training classes. The later are profitable but firing ranges are a loss-leader necessary to draw customers.
Here are just a few things the city would be burdened with if it decided to build a gun range:
- Regular blood testing of all employees working in the building (not just in the gun range) is required to test for lead levels.
- Periodic hearing tests are required for all employees in the building.
- Hazmat disposal of shell casings (they are incredibly heavy) and inspections for lead contamination are required.
- Expensive filters for air filtration systems to purify lead contaminated air require regular replacement.
- Rounds need to be removed from “bullet trap” walls to prolong their integrity/longevity
- Bullet trap walls need to be replaced periodically
- Video surveillance is required for liability reasons should an accident occur.
- The air inside the gun range cannot be heated/cooled and then recycled. Because of contaminants it must be purged. Ongoing utility costs can be thousands of dollars/month.
- Workers compensation costs go up with the liability of working around the public using firearms.
- Many gun ranges have had gun accidents as well as assaults and suicides using firearms at their establishments. Staff training is critical to reduce these incidents, as is continual staff supervision.
The only costs the city is incurring now that would offset the above is officer drive time and range fees (during the winter…they have access to an outdoor range for next to nothing) for using one of the many private sector gun ranges in the twin cities. Considering the ongoing maintenance and liability costs to the city, my vote is to let the private sector establishments conduct their businesses in a cost efficient manner and continue providing range time to public safety officers. That is, unless the city wants to start selling ammo and guns.