Home for a Range

July 13, 1995

Regardless of where a proposed outdoor shooting range for Carroll County is ultimately located, someone will object. Gun ranges are like landfills or jails -- nobody wants to live near one.

Apparently, the county's Board of Commissioners has realized that delaying the selection of a site is not likely to quiet the emotional opposition to the range. So judging from recent comments by Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, the board is determined to choose a location this month.

The argument for a public shooting range in Carroll is compelling. Many residents own pistols and rifles. If they want to practice their shooting, they must belong to a private gun club or travel to another county. Some residents continue to shoot in fields and woods. With the increasing population, this type of unsupervised shooting could result in unintended, yet horrible, accidents.

The county has decided not to build an indoor range that could be soundproofed because of the perceived high cost, so noise from an outdoor range will be an unavoidable reality. The commissioners have narrowed their choices for the facility to the former Hoods Mill landfill, in South Carroll, and the Northern landfill, outside Westminster -- two relatively isolated locales. However, the noise of gunfire carries and will be heard far beyond the range's surroundings, which may generate a lot of complaints.

Of the two sites, the Northern landfill seems preferable. It is centrally located and easily accessible from all parts of the county. The sheriff's department already uses it as a shooting range.

In comparison to Hoods Mill, there are far fewer houses around it. County officials have estimated that construction costs at the Northern landfill would be slightly higher than those at Hoods Mill. Nevertheless, the costs will be minimal -- less than $50,000 -- and will be recovered through the fees the county will charge users of the range.

If the commissioners keep their word, they will select the preferred site in a matter of weeks. Because the county plans to use its own workers to build the range, it could be up and operating before the end of this year.

Carroll residents interested in safe marksmanship and responsible gun handling should applaud the commissioners' quick action.

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