AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Following Tuesday morning’s Potter County Commissioners Court meeting, representatives from both the county and Smith & Son Armory said they want to come to an agreement to avoid possible regulation.
The Commission room was full as they hosted a second discussion on whether to regulate the discharge of firearms on tracts of land 10 acres or less in unincorporated subdivisions in Potter County.
This time, the Co-Owner of Smith & Son Armory, Jay Smith, was there to tell his side of the story to the Commission.
Although this discussion item was slated eighth on the agenda, it was bumped to the beginning of the meeting because the room was full of people waiting to make public comment.
Several residents who live in the Pleasant Valley subdivision and nearby in Potter County stood up to voice their concerns.
At least one citizen was not there to complain, though. He stood up and said there has always been gunfire in the county and he thinks Smith & Son Armory makes the neighborhood safer.
When Smith addressed the Commission, he showed a presentation about the noise coming from the range and possible safety hazards. Smith said he can look at his security cameras and see the path of gunshots and would be able to see if they escaped the range. He also said gunshots coming from his range are not any louder than the sound of cars driving down the street.
Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas disagreed with Smith.
“He says that there’s a video camera and he can see when you discharge and he can see the dirt come up from the berm, but that does not—you can’t see that bullet if that makes sense,” Sheriff Thomas said. “…If I took your high-dollar camera, and went out and shot at the range, I don’t think you could be able to track the bullet. So, once that hits something, there’s no telling where that could go.”
Smith said he thinks the meeting will have positive and negative impacts on the gun range.
“I think we were able to dispel some of the misconceptions about the range,” said Smith. “I think the commissioners heard a lot of opinion and not a lot of fact.”
One man told commissioners he lives further north of Loop 335 and if someone shoots over the berm those bullets could hit his property.
“So if someone intentionally shot over the berm, it would reach him. There’s no way around that but you would have to intentionally shoot over the berm, which you know, we don’t have people out there who do things like that,” said Smith.
Smith told us he is open to making changes to help.
“Folks ask why don’t we put a cover over it, why don’t we do this, that, or the other? That costs money…” said Smith. “Now, if Potter County wants to come in there and help fund a cover, I’m all for it.”
Sheriff Thomas, Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley, and the Smith & Son Armory co-owner said they want to communicate openly at an official meeting to find a resolution that does not involve regulation.
“I do want to make sure that we have an opportunity not just to make this go away, but to do something positive, to make it right for everybody. I certainly don’t want to lose the range, it would cause two families to go bankrupt, but I’m willing to try to work something out to figure out anything that we can do to make them feel better,” Smith added.
Sheriff Thomas again stated this is not a Second Amendment problem, but a safety issue, which is why he said he brought it to Brumley. Sheriff Thomas and Brumley said there is no update from the previous meeting.
“I mean, we could argue all day long,” Sheriff Thomas said. “Let’s sit down and visit and I made that offer to him, come by and visit with me. If it’s just you and I, let’s sit down and talk, see what we can come up with.”
Diana Hathaway, a lawyer for U.S. Law Shield and a defense attorney, is serving as a legal adviser to Smith & Son Armory. She said Potter County does not need more regulation.
“We are picking and choosing who to regulate and that is something you cannot do,” Hathaway said. “We are telling people what they can and cannot do with their land and that is something that you cannot do and when you ask a city commissioners court—a county commissioners court to start regulating, that is a slippery slope. Where do you stop?”
Brumley and Sheriff Thomas said they have plans to open the lines of communication with Smith and Hathaway, hopefully coming to an agreement. It is their hope the Commission will not have to vote to regulate the discharge of firearms.
Brumley said there is no time table and any updates are up in the air.
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