SHOOTING RANGES
Marksmanship practice is

a Second Amendment right
.

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"Good Americans are good marksmen."

Shooting facilities around the country are threatened by urban encroachment, anti-gun-rights politicians, hoplophobes (people phobic about firearms), land developers, and old-fashioned anti-gun bigots. In Maryland, reportedly, there are few places left to shoot. The right to keep and bear arms means little if you have nowhere to discharge firearms.

Within the penumbra of the constitutional freedom to keep and bear arms lies the clearly implied right to practice shooting, train children, develop marksmanship skills, learn gun safety rules, increase national preparedness, teach your friends, introduce newcomers and more. Reducing the number and quality of places available to publicly assemble and discharge firearms in pursuit of these constitutional values is an infringement on the civil right to arms, and cannot be allowed.

What follows is a running account of the effort to preserve the 1,635-acre Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, AZ, one of the finest ranges in America. Newest entries appear first (the basic problem and a proposed "Informed Consent" are described in the last entry).



BEN AVERY VERY CLOSE CALL
Range nearly zoned as "a public lodge"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2003
From: Alan Korwin, Author
The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
alan@gunlaws.com

I was bone tired. I had two other events scheduled -- a class and a guitar performance. I saddled up and went to the North Gateway Village Planning Committee Meeting instead (10/9/03), to attend the Ben Avery hearing at the Deer Valley Community Center. It's a good thing I did. We nearly lost the foundation for the range.

This was the rescheduled meeting that 150 of us packed into last month, when they didn't have a quorum and so couldn’t take a vote. I hardly recognized the place, no cops swarming around, no friends milling about, only about 18 people there, maybe eight of them gunnies. Four of us spoke.

Item 5 dealt with changing the general plan to public/quasi public, the item recommended at City Hall by the zoning commission. North Gateway has to approve that too. When I was called up, I tried to express every positive aspect of the range that I had heard at earlier meetings. I made sure to hit on the constitutional aspect of the right to practice, train your children, safety and national preparedness. I talked fast, my mouth was in gear, I think I hit all the points, got nods of approval, felt good about it. Three other fellows made their points well too -- the VFW guy, a 20-year Marine vet, and a CCW advocate. The board voted UNANIMOUSLY in favor of the public/quasi public designation! Good deal.

Item 6 was the problem. Through no fault of their own, as I noted in yesterday's message, the closest special-permit designation on the books, the one that the powers-that-be decided to use, called for "a public lodge, club, or community organization qualifying by law as a non-profit entity which is available for public use." Whatever they told me to convince me, that does not say shooting range.

They tried to convince themselves it would be OK, but I stood my ground. I told them I don't want to be the fly in the ointment, or delay this unnecessarily, or cause other unforseen problems, and I'm not a lawyer, and I'm certianly not an expert in these matters, and maybe I'm flat wrong.

But I made it real clear from the podium that the phrases "a public lodge" and "club" are not grammatically connected to the "non-profit" clause. We have seen abuse under the gun laws when such grammar was used and "or" was unclear. And a "public lodge" to anyone who speaks English is a motel or hotel, or at least some lawyer down the way can certainly make that case. One board member had presumed it meant a fraternal organization, like the Elks. I refused to give in. People tell me I'm stubborn, hard headed, obstinate. Yup. Sometimes it makes my life hard. Sometimes it's an asset.

Second, it seems to me that if there is no correct designation available at this time for a shooting range, one needs to be created. Staff correctly pointed out that a change to the ordinance, to add a category for "shooting range" could take months, and with 100 new homes a month going into Tramonto across the street, where noise complaints were already happening, time was of the essence. I agreed. But I also told them that if you need fire retardant, and all you have is gasoline, you can't decide to use it just because they're both liquids.

To their credit, after overcoming their inertia, the members were fully sensitive to my concerns, and made stipulations and modifications to make it clear they were authorizing a shooting facility, and not a hotel. They spent an hour debating how to do it -- you guys who missed this meeting missed the most interesting action of all these (boring) events. There was no dissention once they started to roll, just hard effort to get it done right -- they all wanted the range preserved.

In the end they made it clear that "public lodge" means fraternal organization and not hotel or motel, in this context. They made it clear that the current and future site use is for a shooting range. And they dealt with the unannounced surprise City of Phoenix stipulation for an eight point Intergovernmental Agreement, which will cover among other things addressing future noise complaints from neighbors, to only apply to noise complaints that exceed the current standard, and the range is well within those limits. I don't think Phoenix is going to like that, but it's fair. I'll get my hands on the official minutes and enactments when they come out and make sure they got it right.

Come to think of it, it's time to start the wheels rolling, and expend the few months needed, to put a clear zoning category on the books for "shooting range."

If not for those changes, routine passage would have zoned the land for a lodge, a club, or any sort of non-profit community organization open to the public.

They took a lot of time to get all the needed motions worded just right. BASF Rangemaster Don Turner, who sits on this board as a private citizen, recused himself because of his obvious dual role (though they relied on him for specific facts and explanations which he expertly provided), and afterwards he indicated his satisfaction with the proceedings. I was happy with what they ended up with too -- I called out from my seat to keep things on track a few times -- they did precisely what it seemed needed to be done to fix the shortcomings, and preserve the range with a proper zoning description. They passed it UNANIMOUSLY.

MEETINGS
(Subject to change, cancellation, and other twists that may make it hard for you to have an input in this issue.)

Formal ratification by City Council if there's no appeal, Wed., 11/5/03, 3 p.m.

Phoenix City Council hearing if there is an appeal, Wed., 11/19/03, 6 p.m.

Game and Fish has a meeting set for Friday, October 17, 2003, 9 a.m., Arizona Game and Fish Commission at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #2, 12851 N. 19th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85029. (I-17 to Cactus exit)

Please remember that the latest 20th edition of the Arizona Gun Owner's Guide, and the new Gun Laws of America, and the brand new Supreme Court Gun Cases, make great gifts, so please come visit my website.

There's now a blue button on my home page called Shooting Ranges, that has all the Ben Avery news posted.

Contact:
Alan Korwin
BLOOMFIELD PRESS
"We publish the gun laws."
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
602-996-4020 Phone
602-494-0679 FAX
1-800-707-4020 Orders
http://www.gunlaws.com
alan@gunlaws.com
Call, write, fax or click for a free catalog.


Ben Avery Alert 10/9/03

This just in, and I have to run to a meeting --

There is apparently no "proper" zoning designation for a shooting range available in the Phoenix regulations. Therefore, the North Gateway Village Planning Committee meeting TONIGHT will seek to create a special zoning permit for the Ben Avery range in what Councilman Seibert believes is the closest suitable category: "a public lodge, club, or community organization qualifying by law as a non-profit entity which is available for public use." First, the phrases "a public lodge" and "club" are not grammatically connected to the non-profit clause; we have seen abuse under statutes when such grammar was used and unclear.. Second, it seems to me that if there is no correct designation available at this time for a shooting range, one needs to be created; if that will take time and require legislation or new regulation, this does not, to me, justify a special use permit for a public lodge or club, or non-profit of some description. Out of time, if you make it to the meeting, ask questions.
Alan.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 9, 2003
From: Alan Korwin, Author
The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
alan@gunlaws.com


BEN AVERY RANGE NOT SAVED YET

(Notice of upcoming meetings near end of this message)

News of the Ben Avery Shooting Facility being preserved forever is premature.

A full house of range supporters, complete with a "Save Ben" sign, filled the Phoenix City Council chamber last night and watched as the planning and zoning commission voted unanimously to recommend changing the general plan map from "undesignated" for the Ben Avery range, to a "Public/Quasi Public Use" designation. This makes the map nice, and removes discomfort the officials felt with an undesignated chunk of land. It is not a lock by any means.

This unanimous vote is ONLY a recommendation. The Phoenix City Council must now vote to accept the recommendation. Also, the state is careful to always remind the city that while zoning is a common practice, the state can step in and do what it wants regardless.

When the range was built in barren desert in 1957, 25 miles away from the city, no one designated anything, no one cared, and it remained that way until yesterday. In 1997, the city annexed the land all around the range, and sprawl began encroaching on the formerly isolated plot. Noise complaints have already leaked in from Tremonto, east of I-17.

In 2002, the five-member appointed Game and Fish Commission, which handles the range for the state, looked into the value of the land for developers, and described it in their minutes. They tried to deny it, but there it was in print. That unleashed the firestorm of concern that culminated, so far, in yesterday's (10/8/03) action.

Democrat City Councilman Dave Seibert, a champion of preserving the range, has been locking horns with the Game and Fish commissioners, and proposed this designation as a first step to officially show that the range has a history, is publicly recognized, and to help thwart the interest in turning the range into parking lots, stores, an autoplex, red tile roofs and cul de sacs.

Make no mistake, the land around the range is already slated for that, and developers are lining up to make it so, and cash in. As long as the population keeps growing, most of the open land you see out there will convert. New River and Black Canyon City will be Phoenix suburbs, as long as the water holds out.

Dave made an impassioned speech at the meeting -- the only public comment taken -- asking for the unanimous consent approval which was approved, and outlining the prospects for the future. He pointed out Game and Fish's shenanigans, like holding a meeting on the range in Flagstaff, in the middle of a work day, where supporters could not easily attend. He asked for a buffer around the range which is an excellent proposal. He noted NRA's support for the current plan.

Wide World of Maps (www.maps4u.com) graciously donated the large maps displayed at the front of the council chamber, but I was unable to refer to them and make the following points as I had hoped, since the board voted without additional comment. I believe Mr. Seibert's actions will help to preserve the range and foil the apparent interest of Game and Fish to compromise the range, but this is politics, so you never really know till the smoke clears.- The land is subject to redesignation as easily as it was just slated for public/quasi public use.

- There is no official definition of what public/quasi public is. Think about that for a minute.

- The official agenda for the meeting declared the proposal, which was passed unanimously, to be: "To reflect the existing land use as a shooting range and recreational facility." Shooting range I think I understand clearly. Recreational facility I do not understand as clearly.

- The upcoming zoning meeting that will (hopefully) declare the land "S1-SP" requires a special permit to be written identifying the use as a shooting range. I don't know anyone who has seen the special permit language. This seems to me a gaping hole.

- The recent $50 million appraisal of the RV park to the north means the pressure caused by the value of this land is not going to go away. Skullduggery going on in the background is a very serious concern.

- And the surrounding terrain issue may be the biggest issue of all.

Developers are real keen on the southwest corner of I-17 and Carefree Highway. This is likely to turn into a power center with a Target (not the shooting variety), a cineplex, food court and all the rest. Think Loop 101 and I-17, or Loop 101 and Bell Rd. The surrounding terrain will be gobbled up just like you've seen everywhere else. When the range is an island, surrounded by what looks like Scottsdale (though it will be Phoenix), the politics are going to change.

A one-mile industrially zoned space around Ben Avery may be the best bet to protect it, and has lots of merits:

Developers get advantages and their profit motive is preserved;

The city and state both get a strong tax base as an incentive;

The job creation will be a big plus for all concerned;

The area can be a showpiece for the state's commercial interests;

It will help the city and the state attract new business;

The industrial residents will have the unique benefit of Ben Avery next door;

And of course, it is the best type of neighbor, if the range must have a neighbor.

- Anyone using land near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility MUST be made to sign an informed consent agreement first. A sample agreement is attached below.

- The idea of moving the range seems a highly remote possibility, and no one has identified a plot and tens of millions of dollars for this. The range CANNOT be touched unless this magical mystery range is planned, designed, built AND operating, and I get to see it's real by shooting there myself, before the existing range land can be touched by developers. There are no current examples I'm aware of where a range was closed so a new one could be built, and the new one was actually built. Just ask our friends in Tucson.

- A statutory approved use of National Forest Service land is for the shooting sports. The National Forests in Arizona should be pressed into opening at least several ranges per forest, to support the growth of the community, child safety, national preparedness, good character, and national marksmanship skills. Tonto Forest for example has closed 80,000 acres that had been used safely for shooting for decades. It's time to reverse that trend:

" Within the penumbra of the constitutional freedom to keep and bear arms lies the clearly implied right to practice shooting. Reducing the number and quality of places available to publicly assemble and discharge firearms in pursuit of marksmanship is an infringement on the civil right to arms, and cannot be allowed." (from my last message)

- The allegations about improprieties, conflicts of interest, and bad faith at the Game and Fish Commission demands public attention. You would think this commission, as stewards of the range, should be vigorous in their protection of it. The fact they have not been cries out for a closer look.

MEETINGS
(Subject to change, cancellation, and other twists that may make it hard for you to have an input in this issue.)

North Gateway Village Planning Committee TONIGHT! -- "Possible recommendation to allow a public lodge, club or community organization qualifying by law as a non-profit entity which is available for public use" Oct. 9, 2003, 6:30 p.m., Deer Valley Community Center, 2001 W. Walhalla Dr. The "public lodge" language seems very precarious to me.

Game and Fish has a meeting set for 9 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, 10/10/03. (Late word says this is moved to Friday, October 17, 2003, Arizona Game and Fish Commission at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #2, 12851 N. 19th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85029. ( I-17 to Cactus exit ); please check and let me know.

Formal ratification by City Council if there's no appeal, Wed., 11/5/03, 3 p.m.

Phoenix City Council hearing if there is an appeal, Wed., 11/19/03, 6 p.m

If you don't have the latest 20th edition of the Arizona Gun Owner's Guide, or if you'd like the new Gun Laws of America, or the brand new Supreme Court Gun Cases, please come visit my website.

Alan.

Contact:
Alan Korwin
BLOOMFIELD PRESS
"We publish the gun laws."
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
602-996-4020 Phone
602-494-0679 FAX
1-800-707-4020 Orders
http://www.gunlaws.com
alan@gunlaws.com
Call, write, fax or click for a free catalog.

 

BEN AVERY RANGE IS IN TROUBLE
BEN AVERY RANGE IS IN TROUBLE
BEN AVERY RANGE IS IN TROUBLE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 7, 2003
Permission to circulate granted.

From: Alan Korwin, Author
The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide
alan@gunlaws.com

 

The Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, is on a par with Quantico and Camp Perry. Its 1,650 acres of desert with 35 separate ranges are world class, and it is in danger of being eliminated.

Along with a packed house, I watched as the Phoenix zoning commission offered assurances that by rezoning the Ben Avery range, one of the top ranges in the entire nation, they would protect it from closure caused by future development.

The critical meeting is set for this Wed. night, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m., at City Hall in downtown Phoenix (Washington St. and 3rd Ave.). If you want the range to survive, you have to vote with your feet and be there. The commission and the city council were shocked, maybe even scared, when so many people showed up at the prior meetings. This is good. It helped. This meeting Wed. is the one that counts, when they vote.

You need to go to this meeting to show your support for the range. There will be people there (developers, politicians, appointed officials, nearby residents, more) who hate guns, hate gun owners and hate the range, who are eager to close it down and leave you twisting in the wind. Don't let it happen. Be there.

After the range has a safer zoning designation, we must make sure surrounding land is not used to put the range at future risk. An industrial corridor MIGHT make sense. Certainly, anyone using adjacent land MUST sign a blistering informed consent about the range, and agree to file no complaints about the range, or face severe penalties (on top of the range protection statute enacted recently).

One thing's for sure about some of this talk of moving the range. No one has identified land that is absolutely usable and protectable, there's no suitable backstops I can see short of the Bradshaws (far from power and water), and the costs are in the tens of millions of dollars. The range CANNOT be touched unless and until someone steps up, and another equal or superior facility is built AND operating (NOT merely planned). We will not fall for the classic bureaucratic deception of closing a range, promising to re-build it elsewhere, and then never building it. The "move it" option is only good if it's completed beforehand.

I'm not a developer or real estate expert. We need people who are experts to look at this with an open mind and advise us beyond the rah rah rah of that zoning commission meeting. If Game and Fish Commission members or others have conflicts of interest concerning the range, we need to investigate it further.

Within the penumbra of the constitutional freedom to keep and bear arms lies the clearly implied right to practice shooting. Reducing the number and quality of places available to publicly assemble and discharge firearms in pursuit of marksmanship is an infringement on the civil right to arms, and cannot be allowed.

I look forward to seeing you Wednesday night.

Sincerely,

Alan Korwin, Author The Arizona Gun Owner's Guide

Contact:
Alan Korwin
BLOOMFIELD PRESS
"We publish the gun laws."
4848 E. Cactus, #505-440
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
602-996-4020 Phone
602-494-0679 FAX
1-800-707-4020 Orders
http://www.gunlaws.com
alan@gunlaws.com
Call, write, fax or click for a free catalog.

P.S. A big-time developer friend of mine put it this way:
---------- I guess there are lots of rumors & discussions about the range these days. Although I have not studied it carefully, I think shooters have an opportunity to improve their situation, for now and the future.

Development in this area, from I-17 clear past Lake Pleasant will look like the land on the other side of the range (NE Corner, Carefree hwy. and I-17) within a 7 to 10 year period. Just about all of the open space you see is designated for development. There is no pressure to speak of now to move the range, but when it reaches build-out the politics will very likely change. The land under the range (about 1,000 acres) is worth about 75 to 100 million, and in any event there is far more land there than is required (or so it will be said).

If I had a vote (which I don't) I would push for relocating the range either to the other side of the hill (near the federal prison) or a similar place out of the path of development, and grab a big piece of that money to build an incredible new facility. When all the folks carrying signs protesting the shooting and noise show up at the legislature in a few years, it may be too late.

This is probably more than you wanted to know-- ----------

He's right.

And there's much more to it -- Pioneer Village and the federal prison to the north, the huge appraisal of the RV park, the gun haters at Anthem, Phoenix annexing land almost to the county line, Sheriff Joe's desire for an "officials only" range, and more. Rezoning is just the first step.

 

Ben Avery Shooting Facility
Warning And Informed Consent

Draft Proposal for Review, 10/7/03. Not finalized.
This draft expresses intent, an executable form is in process.

No deed, rental, lease, donation, sale, grant, right of way, use of any kind, or contemplated use of any kind, of any land near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility shall be valid unless a signed and witnessed affidavit containing the following statement is executed by the responsible party or parties contemplating or executing any arrangement whatsoever for said land:

"I understand that land near or adjacent to a shooting facility is of limited industrial, commercial, residential and recreational value, and carries inherent liabilities, risks, noise, perceptions and other highly undesirable qualities to any person or entity using or contemplating use of such land. I further acknowledge that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms contains, within its penumbra, the right to practice marksmanship, and that an effort to curtail the operations of a shooting facility may infringe on the constitutional rights of the people.

"I have been informed and am fully aware that this land (described) is near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. I am fully aware that firearms of every description may be fired at this facility at all hours of the day or night, 365 days a year. I acknowledge and completely accept this condition of the land near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, and waive any and all rights, powers or other options of every nature I may have concerning actual or perceived noise, risks, dangers, inconveniences and other encumbrances of any nature due to the deed, rental, lease, donation, sale, grant, right of way, use of any kind, or contemplated use of any kind of land near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

"Any action instituted by me or in my behalf (successors, assigns, etc.) with respect to conditions created by Ben Avery Shooting Facility shall be without standing or merit whatsoever and shall subject me to a $25,000 civil fine, attorneys fees and court costs for every action I may undertake or have undertaken on my behalf.

"I agree to accept and do accept liability from any third parties who bring any action whatsoever against me for any deed, rental, lease, donation, sale, grant, right of way, use of any kind, or contemplated use of any kind, of land near or adjacent to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility, for which I am involved in said transaction." Sign here.

Ongoing research to include conditions present in:
- Developers and builders will be required to construct buildings, commercial or residential, with noise mitigation of 25 Dba minimum.
- Developers, builders, real estate agents, sellers, lessors, etc., et. al., must inform and give constructive notice that the range is in the vicinity, within a three-mile radius.
- Penalties for failing to provide required notices.
- Leads for further study (this is an incomplete work-in-progress):
ARS 17-603 may provide useful words
ARS 17-601 et. seq. covers much of the noise issue
ARS 17-241 covers what G&F comm can do with real estate
ARS 28-8482 covers sound attenuation near airports
ARS 28-8461 through 8486 has conditions that may be useful
ARS 32-1131et. seq. has contractors recovery fund
ARS 31-2101 through 2195 has real estate laws, q.v.

 

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