Rowlett v. Garland Public Shooting Range

Rowlett v. Garland Public Shooting Range

What follows is the email I received from Rowlett City Manager Lynda Humble along with a copy of the email she received from the Rowlett City Attorney, Mr. David Berman, regarding issues that the City of Rowlett had with the Garland Shooting Range.

Also the following links are reference to that I wrote about those issues at the time of their occurrence: Rowlett Seeks Temporary Injunction against Gun Range and this; Rowlett Seeks Temporary Injunction against Gun Range: Part II.

These emails are presented with the full permission of City Manager Lynda Humble and City Attorney David Berman. I want to express my thanks to both of them for keeping me in the loop on this story and its outcome!

From: David Berman

Rowlett v. Garland Public Shooting Range

To All:

Our litigation against the Garland Public Shooting Range is about to come to a close. A brief hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 10:30, at which time we will make announcements to the Court as to the progress of the case.

We had been told that the gun range was finally in compliance with our agreements and with the Chambers report (the inspection report conducted by the court-appointed expert Herbert Chambers). On July 3, Richard Ernest and I went to the gun range to conduct a final inspection. The range improvements are now complete.

The attached pdf file is a photo of the gun range taken from the shooting bench in February of 2012. That configuration had existed for many years. Since the opening of the range 40 years ago, the only improvement had been the installation of plywood visors. The visors had been installed, not as a safety measure, but for the comfort of the range’s patrons. The other attached photo is a view from the same shooting bench taken last week.

The no-blue-sky shooting environment has finally been achieved for the rifle range.

We have come a long way since stray rounds first struck homes in your subdivision in January of 2012. Legislation that went into effect September 1, 2011 (four months before we filed suit) prevents cities from filing suit against gun ranges, with certain narrow exceptions. We spoke with legislators about the new law, and the City Manager, Councilmember Michael Gallops, and I went to Austin and met with the Attorney General’s office, all to no avail. Nevertheless, our petition was filed on January 19th, four days after homes had been struck by stray rounds. To guard against dismissal, we joined a number of residents and amended the Rowlett Code of Ordinances.

Since the commencement of the litigation to today, a number of changes have been made. The range is staffed with additional supervisory personnel. Range rules are prominently posted at each shooting position. The plywood visors have been modified with the installation of steel plating and ballistic foam. After a drawn-out permitting process was completed, the berm was elevated. Yet even when the berm was raised from its original 11 feet to a height of 20 feet, our inspection disclosed that it was still likely for stray rounds to reach our subdivision.

We convinced the judge to take a field trip to the gun range and see for himself. Although he believed that James Day was acting in good faith, he recognized that the safety of Rowlett’s residents was paramount. An independent court-appointed expert acknowledged the lack of full safety measures and recommended that an overhead baffle system be constructed.

James Day then built the recommended overhead baffle system, consisting of plywood and ballistic foam, spanning the length of the 50-yard and 100-yard rifle range. He also rearranged the shooting positions. Since the 20-foot berm does not extend the full breadth of the shooting range, the first 14 shooting positions have been converted to handgun-only positions, which are used for Concealed Handgun License training and are backstopped by a low berm.

There are no guaranties that the January 15, 2012 incident will not reoccur. The gun range is not and, for all practical purposes, will never be a full-containment shooting range where stray rounds will never leave the property. However, given the distance of over 1.2 miles from the range to the first homes in the subdivision, it is extremely unlikely that stray rounds from handguns will reach homes. And it is possible that someone could position themselves with a rifle at a specific angle and shoot rounds over the berm, but we regard this possibility as extremely slim and can only trust that supervision at the range will remain adequate. The City simply cannot insure against all forms of criminal activity. However, it is clear that we have been successful in changing a dangerous environment and achieving a level of safety that has never before existed.

Although we believe that James Day has not acted with the swiftness we needed, he nevertheless built a series of improvements that have brought the range to a safer place than has ever before existed in its 40 years of operation. In the years to come, the gun range will be relocated to the tract of land to its immediate east. It will be reconstructed and redesigned so that the angle of fire will be redirected away from residential subdivisions and the new range will, hopefully, be a safe shooting environment.

I would like to thank all those who have participated in this endeavor, and most importantly, your City Manager, Lynda Humble, who provided the means and motivation to get this accomplished.

David M. Berman

And this:

From: Lynda Humble
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2013 4:11 PM
To: David Berman

David:

Thanks for the update below. I want to extend my sincere appreciation for your legal counsel on this matter. You were a strong advocate for the citizens of Rowlett and achieved what most said couldn’t be done. As I’ve said all along, this case was never about closing down the Garland Public Shooting Range, but rather ensuring that it operated in a manner that did not negatively impact the personal safety of Rowlett residents or their quality of life. Your email indicates that we have succeeded in meeting that goal! I believe the single most important turning point of this case was convincing the Judge to personally visit the range, which is almost unheard of! I knew at that moment that success would be achieved. It has in fact occurred! Today is a great day for the Rowlett citizens of the Castle Hills subdivision.

I am going to ask Denise Perrin to draft a press release and reach out to Becky Oliver with Fox 4 to do a follow-up story. Job well done!!!!

Lynda

I got the call from Ms. Humble almost as soon as she had talked to Mr. Berman and had his OK to release this to me.

Lynda knew how I felt on this matter; I made a pretty impassioned speech at the Town Hall meeting held on the matter and used some of the guns and ammo knowledge I had acquired over the years to demonstrate the very high probability that the range owner was trying to get out of ANY responsibility for rifle rounds striking HOMES in Rowlett, Texas, occupied homes with the residents inside!

Again, a HUGE THANK YOU to Lynda and David for keeping me in the loop and for bringing this incident to a positive conclusion.

We are ALL strong Second Amendment supporters here; we are all gun owners and shooters. Some tried to accuse us, ALL of us, of trying to deprive others of their Second Amendment rights and of depriving the range of business, revenue and their rights.

Those people were WRONG in their accusations!

The City of Rowlett, and all concerned parties only wanted the Garland Gun Range to operate a safe shooting environment and we ALL had the safety of Rowlett citizens that lived *down range* in our hearts!

Mission accomplished!

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5 Responses to Rowlett v. Garland Public Shooting Range

  1. Nemesis says:

    Fred, for what it is worth, I believe that safety at shooting ranges is paramount. I just can’t fathom the mentality, especially of those who run the ranges, who can’t grasp that simple logic!

  2. Texasperated says:

    Fred, you know that I was a long-time resident of Rowlett and some of my family still lives there. I think you also know that I am a strong advocate for the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. I remember “stray bullets” landing in Rowlett many years ago. This did not begin in 2011. Some people try to paint us 2nd amendment supporters as claiming that no legislation should ever be imposed upon shooters. The NRA and I disagree. As the old slogan goes, “safety first.” Or maybe it’s “safety first, then trigger.”

    Seriously, I’m glad this is finally getting resolved. I do not have personal knowledge of whether every stray bullet came from the Garland range, but I do know that Rowlett has been seeing stray bullets for a long time.

    While I would love to have a handgun that would fire 1.2 miles, I doubt I could hit much but rooftops at that range.

    As a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, I am happy to hear that this has been resolved. Out where I now live we get to practice almost daily because we have no subdivisions and the nearest town is about 10 miles away. It is very common to hear shotguns blasting until 10 or 11 at night. But that’s country living in Texas. It has been a long time since Rowlett was just a speed trap on the way to Greenville.

    Keep your powder dry,

  3. Karl von Knoblauch says:

    Fred,
    It’s great to see this handled in an amicable manner. A civilized solution.
    We have a shooting range close to us (not far from the Old Erie Canal) and they are very good sports men and women. We can occasionally hear shooting but it’s a reassuring feeling!
    Baron Garlic

  4. BobF says:

    Along with rights come responsibility. I don’t believe our Founding Fathers even envisioned irresponsible people exercising the rights given us in the Bill of Rights. In exercising my rights, I don’t have the right to put other people in danger. Like Texasperated said above, “safety first”.

  5. TomR,armed in Texas says:

    I live near Firewheel a few blocks from the Garland Shooting Range. Close enough to hear handgun firing. For a long time I have hoped that Mr Day would do what was necessary to decrease the possibilty of stray rounds going off range. Now it looks like that is done.

    Just a week ago my best friend went there to shoot her M1 Carbine and a handgun. As she was approaching the office to sign in she stopped to watch a hawk circling overhead. Suddenly it crashed onto the shotgun range where a group of five 20 somethings were shooting. They began high fiving. She reported it to the range officer who went to where the hawk was to confirm the incident. The range officer immediately called a game warden who was at the range within a few minutes. The game warden interviewed(interrogated) the boys and picked out the shooter. Killing a rapture is a federal offense and a state offense. The game warden said he had the proof, would file felony charges and will pursue the issue in court. That shooter may be prohibited from ever being in possession of a firearm again. Good job by my friend, the range officer and the game warden. My friend was crying a bit. She said it was a beautiful hawk(all are), we are both bird lovers and Second Amendment advocates.

    This incident was an example of an idiot abusing gun responsibilities. Just like the douchebags that shoot up highway signs. This one was caught and may have fired his last shot. My friend said the Garland Shooting Range was crowded as usual and she got a lot of praise from numerous shooters. I was also proud of the range officer for reporting a crime on his range and of the game warden for not trivalizing it.

    I saw on the news the two rifle bullets that had been removed from the Rowlett homes and noticed they were FMJ which is prohibited on this rifle range. Some idiot snuck that ammo in then went apeshit blasting away. Probably an AR15. Those who abuse the responsibilties of the Second Amendment need to lose it’s rights.

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