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Plans moving forward for Parsons gun range - KOAM TV 7

Plans moving forward for Parsons gun range

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PARSONS, KANSAS -

Plans are moving forward for a privately-funded, public use gun range in Parsons, Kan. The current facility sits on city-owned land several miles outside town.

"You know on any project, any project in a small town. Core group is an absolute must. If not, then you lose momentum. Core group that this is what they do, its their specialty, they're the experts in it, that's what makes for a quality experience," Jim Zaleski, public information director for Parsons said.

The core group taking on this project is headed by a familiar face: retired Parsons Chief of Police John Keele. Keele currently teaches concealed-carry classes. Legislation changed Kansas laws as of July 1 that citizens no longer have to have a permit to carry a concealed hand gun.

"But just because you own a gun doesn't mean that you're protected. You can be more harmful to yourself and others having a gun if you're not properly trained," Keele said, "we want to be really strict with safety. We will adopt safety rules, probably the ones from the NRA that's basically nationally-known. Plus ones we've had throughout my career."

Due to the private-funding and remote location, the project has had little backlash.

"We're trying to do this without any taxpayer dollars. We're setting it up. There's a group that has come together looking at setting this together. They're going to take the risks and invest the money," Keele said.

In addition to teaching residents how to safely shoot firearms, local law enforcement will use the facility for some long-range shooting practice.

"The police department has had a need for a long time to have a good rifle range and that will help them. So It will be killing two birds with one stone," Keele said.

Funding by the group members would improve on the structure, which has been in use since at least the 1950's according to Keele. The residence nearest the facility has been on board with the plan.

"It's going to be membership funded. The guys who invest first are going to be lifetime members. They're going to invest enough money that we will be able to build this. And then there will be memberships sold, it will cost to get in to cover maintenance and upkeep in the future on the range," Keele said.

The city of Parsons is on board due to the draw the range could bring.

"This is actually what we are. We are known as an outdoor destination. People come here to hunt, fish, bike, hike, this fits right into what we are. It's a core principle of the southeast Kansas way," Zaleski said.

Strict safety rules would be enforced to keep the facility in use, including no alcohol, no horseplay and no exploding targets. 

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