One of the local bits of news to make headlines here in Colorado Springs is the recent negligent shooting death up at Rampart Range. This has resulted in the Forest Service shutting down the range until further notice. Tamara’s summation of the events are both pithy and pretty much spot on.
On the two occasions I visited the range, it was clear that the place was an absolute dump. I didn’t see any behavior that was categorically unsafe, but it was in the middle of the week. What I did see, however, was an unsupervised range that had shooters there who were not very experienced or savvy. Ultimately, I’m unsurprised that there was a negligent shooting death there.
Ok, so that’s all pretty cut and dried, stuff that everyone already knows. But I’ve got a question about all of this:
If the local authorities did not have the funds to convert Rampart Range into a proper shooting range with an employed Range Officer present, why did they not avail themselves of the funds earmarked by the Pittman-Robertson act specifically set aside for building and maintaining shooting ranges? Far be it for me to speak up in defense of further federal spending, but if you’ve bought a rifle or pistol in the last several decades, you paid an excise tax of between 10-11% on that firearm. The money from that tax is supposed to be used for conservation and outdoor programs, to specifically include the funding of shooting ranges.
Even the NRA has information on this. It would be ridiculous of me to place responsibility for this death on the local authorities and their lack of initiative with regard to securing funding for a proper range; plainly that responsibility is carried by Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dead. But I can’t help but think that this death could have been easily avoided had the local government made a token attempt to secure funding for a proper range, and even possibly charged a small fee to shooters to cover the costs of maintenance and staff.