There are hundreds of thousand of small business owners who are are facing an uncertain future after being forced to close for more than month thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders in place across the country. Darren Leung is one of them.
Leung owns Westside Range in New York City. Unfortunately, the range has been closed since March 23rd, and won’t be allowed to reopen until May 15th at the earliest, according to the latest guidance from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. While Leung has tried to navigate the maze of bureaucracy to get PPP funds to keep his four employees on the payroll, rent is coming due, and as you can imagine, it’s not cheap to rent the space for a 16-lane shooting range in one of the most expensive commercial real estate markets in the country.
Darren Leung joins me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to share his story, one that’s shared by so many in the Second Amendment community right now. If there is a bright spot, it’s that the community is real, and hundreds of individuals have helped raise nearly $38,000 for the range in just the past couple of days through a GoFundMe set up to help with rent and other expenses while the range remains closed. As Leung explains, the range, which has been in operation since 1964, has a strong group of core supporters and users who regularly visit the range to shoot. It’s one of just a handful of ranges in the five boroughs, and it’s the only range located in Manhattan.
Some of the gun owners who shoot there have been coming to the range for decades, and Leung says when and if the range re-opens, both he and the staff will be doing everything they can to protect the health of their older clientele. That means that the range won’t be operating at full capacity for months to come, with social distancing measures limiting the number of people allowed in the range and on the firing line. In turn, that means that the economic recovery for Westside, if there is one, won’t look like the right side of a steep V-shaped curve. While revenue quickly dropped to zero after the shutdown order took effect, it won’t return to pre-pandemic levels nearly as fast.
Leung worries that the next generation of gun owners and Second Amendment supporters in New York City (and yes, there actually are some Second Amendment supporters in New York City) won’t have access to a range if Westside is forced to close forever. Darren Leung says he hopes it won’t come to that, and his optimism and gratitude for the support given to the range in the past few days was evident as we spoke.
I hope that Westside Range is able to once again welcome gun owners on May 15th, and the next time I’m in the city I want to visit the range for myself. New York gun owners need all the help they can get when it comes to exercising their Second Amendment rights, and while I’m sure that the disappearance of the only range in Manhattan would thrill Mayor Bill de Blasio and other anti-gun politicians, it would be a huge loss to the city and its residents, whether they realize it or not.
Check out the entire conversation with Darren Leung above, and stick around for more of the days top Second Amendment stories, including the latest on the open carry ban in Jackson, Mississippi, speculation on what the Supreme Court’s next step might be in taking up another case dealing with the right to keep and bear arms, as well as an armed citizen story from California, a 17-year old sentenced in February to probation for several felonies who’s now behind bars on murder charges in Texas, and a Good Samaritan who saved a Mississippi police officer after a fiery crash.