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Veterans group appeals indoor gun range

Posted: January 7, 2013 - 12:01am

Don’t dust off those ammunition belts quite yet. The Juneau chapter of Veterans for Peace has appealed a permit for Juneau Mercantile and Armory LLC to build an indoor gun range and retail shop near the airport.

“We were concerned about the idea of a shooting range in which people were going to be allowed to handle weapons of war,” Phil Smith, president of the Juneau Chapter of Veterans for Peace, said. Smith is referring to the Armory’s plans to rent automatic firearms for supervised use on site. “The idea of stuffing an arsenal of these things five minutes from the airport raised our concerns. Many of us are combat veterans and we know exactly what these weapons can do. They are not toys.”

Smith submitted an appeal on Jan. 2. The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly is scheduled to decide whether or not to accept the appeal at its meeting today.

The proposed 13,000-square-foot Mercantile and Armory would house a 10-lane indoor gun range below ground level and a retail space on the first floor on the corner of Yandukin Drive, Crest Street and Airport Boulevard. If built the range would be encased in concrete and insulated for sound.

Dan Miller, Jason Tarver and Sloan Swendsen incorporated the Armory on Aug. 13, 2012.

The owners could not be reached in time for this story. However, during testimony before the planning commission Swendsen commented on safety.

“Our goal is to provide a safe facility,” Swendsen said, “To educate the youth and their parents.”

The commission approved Conditional Use Permit 20120016 on Dec. 11, 2012.

Smith said he was surprised when the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission approved the permit. He said he had assumed the process would take longer and that there would be more discussion of health and safety.

“We thought the record was very, very thin to make a decision of that importance,” Smith said.

Smith said Veterans for Peace is not anti-gun.

“We are not trying to repeal the 2nd amendment,” Smith said. “We are concerned about that type of weaponry being in a populated area. And we think the assembly should take a look at it.”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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