Gun control was taken out of a national context and considered locally Tuesday, Nov. 23, when city councilmen voted unanimously to buy a piece of property and prohibit its current use as an open-air range.

The decision will allow the city to spend up to $30,000 from the city’s general fund to purchase the property and consider a future agenda item to prohibit future open air ranges in Twentynine Palms.

Saying the property has been a perpetual code enforcement issue, city staff recommended buying the property as a means to manage and mitigate public safety issues.

Despite the council’s consensus, not all members embraced the idea of spending money from the city’s general fund to fix the problem.

“I don’t like buying property to handle a problem, and that’s what we’re doing here, but this problem surfaced a long time ago,” Mayor Steve Flock said. “This has gotten to be very expensive for the city and unfortunately, this is the cheapest way to handle this problem.”

Located off Baseline Road, the property is in a residential zone and has been used as a shooting range for many years, despite never having been permitted for that use.

The council listened as Mayor pro tem Jim Harris read a letter submitted by Jamie Avels, in which he stated “the funds could be better used,” and suggested Code Enforcement continue to monitor the property, as he felt the current regulations were adequate.

During the public comment portion, John King said the city’s move to do away with open-air ranges will leave shooters with nowhere to practice.

“If this place is closed and this is the only shooting range within the city of Twentynine Palms, where are the good folk of Twentynine Palms supposed to go and practice their riflery and pistol marksmanship?” King asked.

Before voting, all councilmen cited public safety as the biggest factor in their decision.

Councilman Joel Klink said allowing ranges in residential areas is dangerous.

Source: Courtney Vaughn for The Desert Trail.

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