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Panel supports planned gun range

June 26, 2013

Oak Creek — The trigger has been pulled on a businesswoman's proposal to open an indoor firing range in the city.

The Oak Creek Plan Commission recommended a conditional-use permit for Deborah Teglia to open an indoor firing range at 6925 S. Sixth St. in Oak Creek. The proposal must still get approval from the Common Council before it has the full blessing of city administrators, but it is one step closer.

If approved, the business would not only include a firing range, it would sell firearms and sporting goods and provide training and classes to gun owners and gun enthusiasts.

While not a complete backfire, there were many concerns raised by commissioners at the meeting.

Oak Creek Plan Commissioner Dawn Carrilo led much of the questioning, raising concerns about security, the store's policy on gun rentals and moral concerns in the wake of the Aug. 6 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

Safety and security concerns were quickly put out by Teglia and Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi. The two had met with Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards one month before the meeting and Teglia's plans were deemed safe by the chief. The range, built in a concrete case inside the building, would be the only one in the southeast Milwaukee area with NRA-appointed safety range officers on site at all times.

Carillo also expressed concerns about the proposed business' gun rental policy, citing the potential for rental to felons or people who want to commit suicide. The business would rent guns to be used on premise for firing but would not require a background check.

While he noted Carillo's concerns, Zoning Administrator Pete Wagner said the commission does not have the authority to dictate the business' practices. Members were only voting on whether to allow it to operate.

Carillo's final concern, however, drew the most debate among commissioners.

"Do we, as the commission, have any concern that it's not even a year since our shooting and we're bringing in firearms?" she said.

Scaffidi countered her argument, saying that while he thinks about the shooting every day, he believes the business promotes gun safety, a practice he promotes in the gun discussion that has followed the shooting.

"I've always had concerns about that but at the end of the day you have to realize that this is a Second Amendment right, it's the right of a business to operate, and this is a legal use once it goes through its approvals," he added.

All commissioners, with the exception of Carillo and Chaucey Chandler, recommended the business to the Common Council.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Public hearing on firing range

WHEN: First Tuesday in August

WHERE: Oak Creek City Hall, 8640 S. Howell Ave.

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