Proposed Range Challenges Ohio Town's Ban On Shooting

The town of Canfield, Ohio is home to Iron Sights Armory, a gun store that’s interested in expanding its operation to include an indoor shooting range. The biggest problem for the company is the fact that the town actually bans any shooting inside of the city limits, with the exception of self-defense.

According to WKBN-TV, the issue drew a large crowd to the Canfield city council meeting this week, with residents on both sides of the issue turning out to speak.

“My opposition is not to gun ownership. It’s opposition to having a shooting range in close proximity to our schools and to the bike trail,” Ashley Kanotz said.

“The proposal of putting a gun range within the city limits, in my opinion, is too close to a school regardless of where it is within the city,” John Schuler said.

Iron Sights Armory’s counter-argument refers to a gun range in Austintown. The Training Range on Mahoning Avenue sits less than a mile away from Austintown Middle School.

“Yet there hasn’t been a direct correlation that shows any violence has increased because of that gun range being located near them,” Eric Parisi said.

Honestly, you could have an indoor range next door to a school and it’s not going to pose any sort of issue, other than causing heartburn for folks who don’t want a safe place to shoot in their community.

Other residents brought up the potential economic impact of having a range in town.

Resident Frank Micchia said the range itself will boost Canfield’s economy.

“If approved and built, would easily cost over $200,000. That’s a sizable investment.”

Some think it will end up hurting the economy.

“The time and age in which we live in now, we understand that divisive issues such as this will lead small businesses or local businesses not to come to this community,” Pat Sculli said.

What’s more divisive; offering a place for gun owners to safely and responsibly train with their firearms, or forbidding the construction of a legal business where people can exercise their constitutional rights?

Far too many “gun safety” advocates don’t actually want gun safety, education, or training at all. Their idea of gun safety is simply “don’t own a gun,” and while I don’t believe anyone should own a firearm if they don’t want to, that doesn’t give them the right to bar others from owning a firearm or to prevent them from having access to a range.

Then there’s the legal issue. Canfield, Ohio bars any shooting besides a shot fired in self-defense inside the city limits, which could be subject to a legal challenge. While the state’s firearm preemption law does allow for localities to regulate the discharge of firearms, the federal 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that strict scrutiny is the appropriate level of judicial review when looking at laws that fundamentally impact the ability to exercise the rights protected by the Second Amendment. While that particular case dealt with the ability to possess a firearm, a challenge to Canfield’s discharge ban could use that precedent to make the case the the rights of Canfield residents are being denied by forbidding them to have a safe place where they can train, compete, and use their firearms.

Hopefully if the owners of Iron Sights Armory decide to move forward with plans for a range, the city council will do the right thing and amend their ordinance to allow for the discharge of a firearm in public or private ranges. If council members decide to stand their ground and defend their ban, however, I’d love to see that decision challenged in court.