Debra Bresnan: Testimony on Proposed Shooting Range (Lead and Background Checks)

My name is Debra Bresnan. I live in the City of Kingston at 105 Abeel Street.

I grew up in a household, and a community, where guns were used for hunting. Several of my family members have served in the military. I respect guns and understand their proper place in our society. However, I am not in favor of the proposed SAFESHOOT indoor shooting range at 90 Prince Street for many reasons, including the following issues related to lead and background checks:

• A Federal background check is not required to rent or handle firearms at any range in the United States. If someone heads to a range determined to carry out violence, they will not encounter the hurdle that would keep a gun out of their hands at a licensed dealer.

• Worse yet, even gun ranges that want to check the backgrounds for rental customers are not permitted to. Stephen Fischer of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services was quoted in July 2014. He said that individuals who rent guns don’t actually “possess” them because they don’t take them off the premises. So federal background check law doesn’t apply, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is not permitted to conduct a check.

• According to a report by NBC News in November 2014, the CDC says that thousands of Americans are exposed to lead at the nation’s indoor firing ranges, despite health outreach efforts. A 2001 report published by Violence Policy Center cited a Colorado study that demonstrated risks to shooters at indoor ranges. Public health officials tracked 17 members of a law enforcement trainee class during and after a three-month period of firearm instruction at a state-owned indoor firing range where a new ventilation system had been installed. Researchers found levels of lead in the range’s air 40 times those set in the applicable federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standard – and those levels were LOW compared to other indoor ranges examined.

• Exposure to lead poisoning in indoor firing ranges comes primarily from inhaling lead particles suspended in the air in the range.

• Air exhausted from indoor shooting ranges can also threaten third parties. In Clearwater FL, vented lead-contaminated air created lead levels just outside the exhaust fan that were 8,000 times higher than the acceptable level set by the Pinellas County Department of Environmental Management: The soil near the border between that range and a neighboring daycare center tested 40 times higher than the acceptable level.

• One engineering consulting firm that specializes in shooting ranges notes that increased attention to lead contamination and human health exposure “has put range owners and operators into areas outside of their expertise.” Even the most well designed indoor range demands constant, and sometimes expensive, attention in order to keep delicately balanced air filtration systems working effectively.

I support the Kingston City School District’s December 9th Resolution to oppose the establishment of this shooting range and gun store because of its close proximity to the Kingston High School campus.

I urge you to schedule additional public hearings to give citizens an opportunity to bring their views to your attention.