Stoddard's Range and Guns' co-owner Michael Halbriech says that the facility will be open to the public. It would also cater to Atlanta-based law enforcement officials, many of whom already travel to his original Douglasville location - voted by CL readers last year as the Atlanta's best shooting range.
"We do intend to design our range in such a way to take into account the specific needs of law enforcement," he says. "It will not only cater to the average consumer, but it will allow law enforcement to run their personnel through scenarios required to qualify for law enforcement purposes."
Plans for the approximately 30,000 square-foot site, a former plumbing supply building located along Bishop Street, call for 24 indoor firing lanes that would be sectioned off in a self-contained soundproof part of the building. The building would also include a large retail space as well as several classrooms for weapons training.
Stoddard's new range is already allowed under current zoning codes and adheres to Beltline Overlay standards - meaning that the owners would just need a building permit to move forward with construction. Halbreich says that his company would retrofit the existing structure while adding streetscaping and sidewalks. Although it's early in the planning stages, he hopes that the facility would open "sometime in early 2014."
Loring Heights Neighborhood Association president Jeremy Faughtenberry says that Stoddard's owners approached the neighborhood "out of courtesy" about their plans to open a shooting range in the area. But he says some residents have mixed feelings about the gun range.
"I think it's a larger debate that's not going to be fought out in our neighborhood, but [speaks to] the whole debate in our country about guns," says Faughtenberry. "Some people are pro-guns, some people are not obviously. You'll see a lot of that play out."
The LHNA president notes that additional law enforcement would pass through the neighborhood, which could potentially make the community safer. Nevertheless, he says at least one resident has expressed concerns over additional guns entering Loring Heights, saying that "neighborhoods should rally behind the safety of their children."
"I personally don't have any concern about [the facility], but I'm not speaking for the neighborhood," says Faughtenberry.
Halbreich, who lives in Midtown, says that he and fellow co-owner Ken Baye intend to listen and address some community concerns along the way.
"We want to include everybody," says Halbriech. "We don't want to spring surprises on anybody. We're not looking to do anything that isn't out in the open and vetted by people. We want people's input. We want to know what concerns people have."
Halbriech adds that safety remains "the most important thing" for his business and that his Douglasville location has "never had an accident." Among the extra precautions Stoddard's Guns will take in its new facility includes hiring safety officers to patrol its ranges, requiring proper training for novices, and enforcing internal background checks for gun sales that surpass federally-mandated ones.
"Lots of people already have guns," he says. "What [a shooting range does] is give people a place to go and live and train and learn how to be safe with a gun. It turns the guns that are already out there into safer guns."
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