I-Team: Potter County gun range could face firearm discharge regulations

I-Team

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas addressed the Potter County Commissioners Court Monday about safety and noise concerns at a local gun range.

Residents have reported bullets are escaping from Smith & Son Armory on Echo Drive, sometimes whizzing by or even hitting their property.

Now, the commission will have to decide if it will regulate or prohibit the discharging of firearms there.

Sheriff Thomas said the county commission heard that discussion Monday because he went to the Potter County Attorney and asked him to add the item to the agenda.

“The thing that I do not want to do is have to go out and work a death because of a stray bullet got away,” Sheriff Thomas said.

Our research shows Texas counties have little authority over gun ranges but in the local government code, there is one stipulation they can impose. Potter County is authorized to regulate or completely ban the discharging of firearms on plots of land 10 acres or less within subdivisions.

That would apply to Smith & Son Armory as well as others throughout the county. Several people who live near that particular gun range said this is long overdue.

We have talked with one homeowner who claims bullets have actually hit his property. The sheriff also tells us they have received several noise complaints.

The commission seemed surprised Monday to hear Sheriff Thomas and County Attorney Scott Brumley explain how long the Sheriff’s department has been receiving complaints about the gun range.

Because Texas counties are extremely limited in their authority over sporting ranges, this proposed regulation is Potter County’s only recourse.

Sheriff Thomas said the county is talking about it now as a safety matter.

“I’m all for you being able to carry a gun. I’m all for you going out and shooting your guns. The problem with this is that it’s in a subdivision where there are multiple houses around and those houses are getting hit and I’m afraid somebody’s going to get hurt,” Sheriff Thomas said.

“So it needs to be brought to the attention of our county government. Because if that happens, we know about it and we haven’t done anything, then we’re going to be in line with whatever lawsuit there is it comes down through the pike,” he continued.

Whatever course of action the county commission takes, any regulation or prohibition would apply to the entirety of Potter County. Sheriff Thomas said there could be unintended consequences with any action so wide-ranging.

We have been in contact with the owner of Smith & Son Armory multiple times. He said he is interested in anything he can do to dispel negativity about his gun range—including giving us an interview. He has scheduled an interview with us later this week.

The Potter County Commission has added this item to its next agenda on November 11. They are requesting the owner of the gun range be in attendance so they can hear his side.

Stay with MyHighPlains.com for updates.

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