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.”Email | Print