San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

January 17th, 2009
Shooting range on county docket


Gun regulation is not, historically, a political winner in Hays County. But county commissioners believe a county shooting range has much more promise.

Commissioners will take up the possibility of opening a shooting range at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

“I think we have a couple of things facing us in Hays County, ” said Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle). “There’s not enough places for people to shoot and exercise this Texas tradition.”

Barton endorsed the idea of a shooting range right at about the time he first proposed discharge regulations in April 2007, after the Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) charged 37-year-old Jose Barrera Espitia in the shooting death of seven-year-old Daniel Galacia. Barrera was allegedly taking target practice in his yard in April 2007 when one of his bullets strayed about 200 yards southward on High Street and struck Galacia, who was bouncing on a trampoline in is yard. Galacia died that evening.

Appealing to state statutes that allow counties to prohibit shooting on lots of ten acres or less, Barton led a countywide committee to propose such a law enforcement tool in Hays County.

In March 2008, Barton proposed a prohibition against discharges on lots of two acres or less, with numerous exceptions. But the court voted it down in a 3-2 decision peppered with anguish on both sides.

Not for the first time, gun regulation caused commotion at the county courthouse. It’s been said that the court’s Democratic majority in the 1990s brought about its own demise by proposing gun regulation. In 2006, a Republican majority on the court refused to take up the issue after a citizen spoke of his concerns about gunfire in his area.

“I sponsored the legislation that would have banned hunting and target shooting in subdivisions with small lots, ” Barton said of his most recent effort. “Without that rule, it is imperative to find a place to shoot, teach firearms safety and have a place for shooting clubs to come to.”

Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) voted against Barton on gun regulation in 2006. But he is working with Barton on the shooting range.

“What’s been amazing about this idea is the phone calls I’ve been receiving throughout the area, and outside the county,” Conley said. “Word has really spread. It seems to be more of an economic generator than I thought.”

At present there are no plans on a site for the proposed shooting center, but Barton remains hopeful.

“Gun support is a time honored tradition,” said Barton.” It’s part of our rural heritage that we don’t want to lose as we become more urban. I think there will be broad support [on this issue]. Commissioner Conley and I have worked hard.”

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0 thoughts on “Shooting range on county docket

  1. CONGRATULATIONS to our commissioners on this move. SHooting Sports are a very important part of recreation
    and of course proper training in self defense.
    Shotgun Sports, including Sporting Clays, Trap and Skeet are very popular with many millions participating in them. I am a Shotgun Sporting Clays competitor and moved to this area primarily because of the very active Shooting Sports in the San Antonio,New Braunfels and Austin area. The National Skeet and Sporting Clays range is in San Antonio and brings in many thousands of competitors each year. A local range, properly done could not only be a source of recreation,education and revenue,but a
    positive recognition for this area.

  2. Of course, I did not mean to exclude Hunters, Hunter Education Programs, Recreational rifle, pistol practice and CHL instructors and their students. I would
    assume this would include Rifle ,Pistol and Shotgun
    areas and possibly Archery areas for 4H and Scouts.
    We have a large contingent of 4H students at the National range in both Shotgun and Archery competition.

  3. This is an excellent idea. Everyone has a right to keep and bear arms but not everyone has access to enough land to learn and practice the skills necessary to exercise that right in a responsible manner. I would love to see The Appleseed Project come to San Marcos to help us teach our heritage as defenders of liberty.

  4. As some of you probably know, Hays County is named after Captain “Jack” Hays of the Texas Rangers who was active with the contingent after we became a republic prior to the Civil War.

    He was a short in stature man who came here from Pennsylvania and several years after the war with Mexico he began to get “bored” as things had calmed down following his successful campaign against marauding bandits and thieves from south of the Rio Grande as well as the Comanche raiding parties.
    He was successful in stopping both with his tremendous
    energies and aggressive tactics.
    He then went to California along with ’49’ers from other parts of the country and was not only successful in the gold fields but was the Sheriff of San Franciso, founded the town of Oakland and prospered in business.
    The Book “Jack Hays Texas Ranger” is a fascinating story and should be required reading .

    This man’s namesake county DESERVES a shooting range!

  5. It is refreshing to see the proactive stand taken by Hays County. I think that a range allowing all the different sports will be a huge money maker.

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