Home of the range Target practice in Carroll: Public firearms facility opens with bang at county's landfill.

November 26, 1996

LANDFILL. Recycling Center. Firearms Facility?

That's the curious choice facing visitors driving into Carroll County's Northern Landill, off Route 140 near Reese. The new sign at the entrance to the dirt road of the fenced complex signals the opening of the new county firing range on the edge of the property.

It is expected to be a popular recreation attraction, in a county that has a large number of hunters and marksmen in need of a regulated practice facility. The Carroll County Sportsmen's Association, the state Department of Natural Resources, the National Rifle Association and the county combined resources to build the $60,000 range.

Like a municipal golf course, fees are designed to make the 10-lane firing range self-supporting, although the county Parks and Recreation Department will be responsible for improvements and modifications.

Those changes should be made sooner rather than later, if the nearby residents have their way. Safety and noise were the primary concerns of neighbors who resisted the idea for the county practice center. Those concerns persist, according to reactions of residents in the first week of operation.

The county is monitoring noise levels to see if additional muffling devices are needed. Recreation Director Richard Soisson says more baffles and sound-absorption pads could be installed to reduce the sound.

To which we say, why not make these improvements now? If the county is responsible for the facility's operation, it owes the public the fullest measure of protection. Residents should not have to wait until after the county opens such a facility, with the loud discharge of lethal weapons, to see that it is built right with adequate soundproofing.

The firearms facility is an asset to the county, providing responsible gun owners with a regulated center for safe practice. It is hoped it will reduce the use of illegal and unsafe shooting ranges by those who do not have access to private gun clubs.

Years of controversy preceded the range's construction and opening this month. Carroll County should quickly follow up on citizen concerns, to assure that this facility is a true public amenity and not a public nuisance.

Pub Date: 11/26/96

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