Council member wants city to reopen public gun range

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 22, 2016) -- A city-county council member is calling on the city to reopen the public gun range it abruptly closed last week.

Jack Sandlin, R-District 24, told CBS4 that he was not happy with the city's decision to close Eagle Creek Pistol Range to the public and a little confused about the reasoning behind the closure.

"I was really kind of surprised. ... I’ve gotten a lot of emails over this issue, people are very upset about it," Sandlin said.

The range would've opened this month to the public on weekends. Since 2011, it has been run by outside contractor Tactical Firearms Training. The company had an existing contract through 2017, but said that the city used a loophole to cancel the contract early.

The Parks and Recreation Department cited a dramatic decrease in attendance and increased costs with the closure.

Sandlin, though, questioned whether such costs really amounted to much, since the contractor was providing insurance and equipment, then paying the city a cut of the profits each season. He said that he at least thought it made sense to keep the range open this season and then talk about the future beyond the 2017 contract.

"I talked to some of the Mayor’s staff and really encouraged them to talk to the Mayor about getting it back open for the season to the public," Sandlin said.

Sandlin, who is a retired police officer, is himself familiar with the range.

"I’ve been at that range since it was built in the ‘70s on a number of occasions, did a lot of training out there," Sandlin said.

In fact, the council voted last year to approve upgrades to the facility, which IMPD will continue to use for training purposes.

"We’re putting over a million dollars’ worth of taxpayer money into upgrades and we’re telling the public that they no longer can use the facility," Sandlin said. "I think it’s important for us to be able to protect the opportunity for those that want to exercise their 2nd amendment right."

The Parks and Recreation Department declined an interview request for this story and the Mayor's Office did not respond to a request for comment.

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