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Plans For New Shooting Ranges Upset Some Gun Owners

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Gun owners on Colorado’s Front Range may soon see new restrictions on where they can practice with their firearms.

Traditionally, forest lands have been open to recreational shooting, but some counties may replace that with gun ranges.

Boulder, Larimer, Gilpin, and Clear Creek counties are all included in a new proposal designed to ban shooting in some U.S. Forest Service-maintained areas. In return, an outdoor shooting range would be created in each county.

Colorado resident Eric Jones said he sees the new proposal as an attempt to restrict Coloradans gun rights.

“They will use this as an excuse to keep us out of the tens of thousands of forest lands that we have enjoyed,” Jones said.

As an avid shooter, Jones grew up using national forests to practice in. He says many of his old shooting spots have been closed and he worries that creating shooting ranges sponsored by the government may only start a trend of continuing to increase restrictions on shooting in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest area.

“I don’t want to grow up in a world where I have to tell my daughter there was a day where we could shoot in the forest. This is a slippery slope. Once you put this stuff in place, what’s next?” he said.

Garry Sanfacon, project manager for the Northern Front Range Recreational Sport Shooting Management Partnership, stands on the other side of the issue. His group is behind the effort to replace forest land shooting with shooting ranges. Those partners include federal, state and local governments.

Sanfacon says he understands both sides of the issue but is committed to putting safety first.

“The partnership supports traditional gun ownership. It supports responsible gun ownership. But safety is the overall concern of all the partners, and it has become an issue,” Sanfacon said.

A handful of sites that are within a quarter mile of homes, trails and recreation areas have already been chosen as forest lands that are expected to be closed.

Possible sites for the shooting ranges have also been identified. However, it may still take months until any major decisions on the restriction are made.

- By Brett Bloethner for CBSDenver.com

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