Thursday, August 26, 2004

Loveland eases gun law

By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer Staff Writer

LOVELAND - Council has changed the city's gun law, opening the way for a proposed indoor target range opposed by residents who would be its neighbors.

But an opponent said the fight isn't over.

"There will be a referendum. Council is up there to represent the people; they are not there to exercise their own personal opinions," said Mike Showler, whose wife is on council. Katie Showler and Councilman Paul Elliott opposed the measure in a 5-2 vote late Tuesday.

The amendment expands the legal discharge of guns within the city to include an indoor range. The new law limits the use of ammunition at a range to .50-caliber for handguns and .223-caliber for rifles, and bans firing automatic weapons inside by anyone but police.

For Shooter's Supply, a 16-year Loveland business, it was the first step needed to open an indoor range at the former Matthew:25 church on Loveland-Madeira Road. Shooter's Supply owners Marvin Mann and Dan Lovett also must acquire a zoning variance on the property because it is within 200 feet of a residential area. They have yet to apply for it.

The threat of a referendum was no surprise to Lovett, who said it won't discourage him from trying to keep the business in Loveland.

"We haven't reached that stage yet. But, if we can't do it here, we will do it somewhere else," he said, adding that he thinks a referendum will fail. "This is an issue where a lot of times you hear those opposed speaking more loudly than those who are in favor of it."

Mike Showler said he and his wife talked to hundreds of people in the past two weeks since the issue was discussed at council, and all said they oppose a target range in Loveland.

He said he would not lead a petition drive to put an issue on the ballot but would volunteer in such an effort, as he did with a successful referendum last year to keep commercial development from the historic White Pillars site on Ohio 48.

. Any filing would be too late for the November ballot, which had a deadline of Aug. 19 for local issues.

"It doesn't surprise me," Mayor Brad Greenberg said about a possible referendum. "But we'll see how the community feels about it."

Residents from a nearby apartment complex and condominiums have been the most vocal in their opposition to the target range, expressing concerns about safety, the type of patrons a gun business might draw and lowered property values. Only a handful attended Tuesday's meeting, compared to a crowd of about 100 representing both sides of the issue two weeks ago.

Lovett and Mann have said the range would be designed to be bulletproof and would operate within local noise standards.

Proponents said the range would fill a void for police officers because there are few ranges in the area. It also would give citizens who have concealed-carry permits a place to practice, they said.



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