Weber County is moving toward finding a suitable location to build a shooting range -- the first of its kind in Weber County -- for the public and law enforcement.
At Tuesday's Weber County Commission meeting, Commissioner Kerry Gibson sought, and received, approval to form a study committee to identify property or facilities for this purpose, kick-starting a project that will take time and meticulous research to arrive at a successful conclusion.
"When I first came into office, this was probably one of the biggest questions posed to me: Is there a facility where the public can access a shooting range of some kind?" Gibson said. "I felt strongly that we might look into a shooting range in our county. My purpose here is to gather input."
No members have been appointed to the study committee yet, and people who would like to be part of the committee are expected to come forward in the next few weeks. The request was also amended to include finding funding sources as part of the committee's purpose. It has not been decided whether the facility would be indoor or outdoor, shared with law enforcement or strictly for the public.
"I would like for this to be a fact-finding effort in gathering information to learn if this is wanted or desired. If that turns out not to be the case, I would propose we not proceed," Gibson said.
The Weber County Sheriff's Office is interested in being part of the process, as it has had to contract facilities for practice and training outside the county since the closing of the Ogden Shooting Range several years ago.
"It's really twofold. We think a facility is needed for law enforcement, and we think one is needed for the public to shoot safely in Weber County. We've been looking into it at the sheriff's office for the last seven years, and we've come to the conclusion that something public would be the best of both worlds," Undersheriff Kevin McLeod said, supporting the idea of a public-accessible facility equipped for law enforcement as well.
Some barriers to a gun range hover on the horizon. Environmental and worker safety concern, because of the high amount of lead produced by gun activity, has caused a lawsuit at Wade's Eastside Guns range in Washington state recently, with workers claiming they became ill from not being properly equipped or informed about the dangers of lead content.
"I'm sure that those things, along with other concerns, will be addressed by the committee to determine if they would be a genuine concern to anyone using the facility," Gibson said.
Recreational shooters in the area are expected to form part of the committee along with law enforcement officials, and given the popularity of hunting and gun ownership among Weber County residents, their input will likely provide a voice for the general population in the decisions about where and whether to build a range.
"We should definitely have more public areas to go shooting outdoors. I have both sides of the story, being a gun owner and also meeting gun owners all the time. I think that most of them, about 90 percent, are completely safe with how they use their weapons," said Eric Wright, who works at Sportsman's Warehouse's gun department.
The study committee should be accepting members and beginning its work by the beginning of summer.