AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A new gun range south of Austin has reopened in defiance of local officials' orders — a dispute that could spark a Second Amendment legal battle, according to a published report Saturday.
The Shooting Range opened Dec. 26 on the outskirts of Creedmoor in southern Travis County, and patrons celebrated by firing more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition from machine guns, rifles and handguns.
That, and shooting in subsequent days, sparked complaints from neighbors, and the Austin American Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/1h8tKm7 ) city officials said the range was violating zoning rules. They ordered it closed after just three days, and owners complied.
But on Friday, owners reopened the range, saying local officials had overstepped their authority.
"We only recognize the authority of the state of Texas," James Stinson, a co-owner of The Shooting Range, told the newspaper.
Stinson said the business believed it originally had the support of local officials. It features six ranges, including one where shooters can hit explosive targets near junked cars. At least three cars have been burned there since the range opened, according to the business's website.
On Dec. 29, Creedmoor's city administrator notified owners they would have to close because of violations of the property's agricultural/residential zoning. City Administrator Richard Crandal said neighbors complained of safety issues.
Some said there was so much gunfire that it sounded like a war zone and that they even took cover. One nearby resident called the sheriff's office when the range first opened. A spokesman with the Travis County Sheriff's Office said a deputy responding to the call found nothing illegal.
Meanwhile, John Gray, who lives and operates a contracting business adjacent to the range, said stray bullets have struck buildings on his property since the range opened.
Gray's sister, Mary Tristan, said gunfire is not uncommon for the area but the day the range reopened relatives hunting doves behind her property could hear bullets whizzing near their heads.
The Shooting Ranch sits about three-fourths of a mile from Tristan's and Gray's properties.
Creedmoor annexed the land encompassing the Shooting Range about seven years ago. Stinson said he doesn't have to adhere to the agricultural/residential zoning rules, though, since another gun range operated on the land for more than a decade — grandfathering the property's use for that purpose.
Gray disputes the claim about a previously existing gun range on the land.
Crandal, the city administrator, said of Stinson: "He is framing it as Second Amendment rights; we are just enforcing our zoning ordinances."
He refused to comment further, however, since Stinson has threatened to sue the city.
Stinson said he has hired an attorney with connections to the National Rifle Association and the Texas State Rifle Association. Gray also has retained an attorney.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com