Gun range owner appeals denial to allow building next to domestic violence shelter

Posted at 9:51 PM, Jul 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-19 23:51:18-04

WASHINGTON CITY, Utah - The Washington City Council will decide whether a gun range can exist next door to a shelter for domestic violence victims after a business owner appealed a denial from the zoning commission.

The Erin Kimball Foundation, which helps domestic violence victims escape dangerous situations, purchased a Washington City home last year to become a shelter and place of refuge.

"We're talking about families who have experienced terror. Often they're suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder," said Sue Kimball, founder of the Erin Kimball Foundation. "We wanted a home to provide an environment that wouldn't be just an agency, where it would be welcoming."

The center is still about five months from completion, but Kimball says the safe haven is already being threatened by a proposed indoor gun range next door.

"There is no indoor shooting range in the area open to the public that we're aware of, and we're excited and honored to potentially be the first," said  Jacob Cooper, Dixie Gun Worx president.

Cooper says Dixie Gun Worx prides itself on promoting gun safety, and that's why they want to build a range; so people can learn.

"Civilians can use the tactical bay for home defense, rape prevention. We plan on having all those classes, and others. But local law enforcement gets better when they also have yet another facility to train at," Cooper said.

Both presidents say they see where the other side is coming from, but they disagree about the location.

Kimball's biggest concern about the proposed gun range is that it would combat her effort to provide a healing environment for her clients.

"The families that we serve have often been threatened by gun fire. In order to heal, there has to be an extended period of time, without trauma being repeated," she said.

But Cooper says they will take precautions, including soundproofing, to make sure guns are not seen, heard or even smelt by neighbors.

"Without taking away from the great mission that they are doing, we believe factually and scientifically their concerns are not actually concerns," he said.

The Washington City Council will meet on Tuesday to hear the appeal and decide whether to allow the gun range.