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