Now comes news that two fellows with law enforcement backgrounds wish to open a shooting range at the Owings Mills office park on Red Run Boulevard, to be called The Guntry Club of Maryland.
The little play on words – hey, Guntry Club sounds a lot like country club! – seems a subtle assurance to nervous folks that this will be a classy place and not some low-end dive attracting the wrong kind of people. “Wrong” meaning people who aim guns at lifeless targets so they’ll have better aim when they shoot at actual living people – such as the way they do it in Baltimore City, where more than 300 people will be murdered this year, mainly by guns.
But let’s be clear, before we start sounding patronizing to gun enthusiasts: We understand the distinctions between those who shoot to kill and those who shoot because it’s considered great sport. Or as Rick Landsman described it in a front-page story in today’s Baltimore Sun, “It’s not just all about guns. I want to make shooting and training enjoyable.”
Landsman is a retired Baltimore County police lieutenant partnered in the Guntry Club operation with Brian Wolf, who’s still on the force.
As reported in The Sun, the Guntry Club would have “360-degree video simulators for firearms training, classrooms, and a lecture hall … a VIP shooting range with a private lounge and personal gun vaults, a café, a retail gun shop and workout rooms.”
Sounds pretty upscale, no?
And it’s comforting to have a couple of guys with law enforcement backgrounds at the helm. And it’s further comforting to know that the Baltimore County Council and zoning officials will review the proposal before final approval.
But some of us still feel uneasy over this, for reasons having nothing to do with Landsman and Wolf or their credentials, or the notion of a private shooting range for people who consider guns a harmless hobby.
Nobody’s seriously talking about “rounding up every gun in the country” any more. That’s hysteria initiated by the National Rifle Association. There are roughly as many guns out there in America as there are human beings, so nobody’s rounding up 300 million weapons.
But when there’s a home for any kind of gunplay in a neighborhood near you, it means the ongoing political battle has arrived at your front door.
We keep killing one another with our guns. There are polls saying the vast majority of Americans want sane gun laws – laws that would make it tougher for dangerous people to possess them, measures that would outlaw military-style weaponry in the hands of any civilian – and yet, with the NRA stuffing millions into the pockets of Capitol Hill denizens, such laws remain forever out of reach, and never mind all those mass shootings on your television screen.
The problem with opening one more shooting range isn’t that it’s a clear and present danger to anyone. But it’s a reminder that sanity feels out of reach – that no matter the blood all over our streets, the gun shots are about to get a little louder.
And the only thing louder is the sound of those NRA types laughing at us, because they’re about to stick it right in our faces this time.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” has just been re-issued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.
Top photo: Baltimore County Police Department (Photo courtesy auxpolice.org)
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