Letter to the Editor: Concerns over indoor gun range

Brandon Varise recently submitted a letter to the Gazette outlining the purported benefits to his proposal to open an indoor shooting range in downtown Martinez. This would be housed in the same building as a sporting goods outlet that would also sell guns and ammunition. That letter missed several setbacks to this proposal that I find the community must know.

First, Mr. Varise claimed that businesses in the downtown region support this idea. However, per a source from a group called “No More Guns in Martinez”, about 20 businesses oppose this proposal from Mr. Varise. That is a significant number and is very pertinent as the downtown area has commenced a vital resurgence in the past year. Also, in connection to small businesses in a Main Street type area, there are roughly 2,000 organizations nationwide that are similar to the one titled “Main Street Martinez”. Not one of these organizations has a gun/ammunitions shop.

On top of these issues, there is also the key component of safety being impugned. Within a rather close range to this proposed location is a preschool, St. Catherine’s grammar school & Martinez Junior high School. That ought to set off many alarms and red flags for a rather idyllic, nonviolent community like Martinez. Studies have indicated that concealed carry gun laws and communities with an indoor shooting range see an upsurge in violence. While this indoor proposal is not explicitly intertwined w/concealed carry regulations, opening such an indoor shooting range would exacerbate and/or exploit those concealed carry laws and thus, per the Stanford study, magnify violence. There’s also the issue of health safety. Santa Clara County recently had to temporarily shut down an indoor shooting range in Milpitas over high levels of lead exposure.

Another area of concern for this proposal is the issue of suicide. In one community in Orange County, California, an employee at an indoor shooting range discussed how an indoor shooting range is utilized as a way for those with suicidal ideations to take their own lives. At a time when suicide is increasing in our nation, we should not be remotely considering this indoor shooting range Mr. Varise is backing.

One other area that has not been at the focal point in this debate, as in from Mr. Varise or others involved, is property values. There are reports that indicate areas with an indoor shooting range see a decline in property values. Our community and state as a whole have seen a commendable surge in property values over the past five plus years that we must capitalize on such a trend, not neutralize this energy. In this real estate sellers market we have at the moment, it would be unwise to impose a business that the aforementioned resources indicate will lower property values for residents and business owners. This would have a grave consequence for several people, including a business owner such as Mr. Varise himself.

For all these reasons, I ask that the Martinez residents, the city’s Planning Commission, the City Council, business owners and all public safety groups as well as everyone else to please oppose this proposed indoor shooting range and weapons/ammunitions sporting goods store.

– Name, address on file

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