Collectively, Redding, its police department and one of its more popular neighborhoods have a high-powered headache on its hands, and it stems from the indisputable fact that shooting ranges and subdivisions make lousy neighbors.
At issue is the Record Range, a 65-year-old rifle and pistol range just west of Redding city limits, and its newish neighbor, the Mary Lake subdivision, which is inside city limits.
Subdivision residents, justifiably upset over stray bullets from the range that continue to find their way on to yards and driveways, voiced their complaints Tuesday during the Redding City Council meeting.
Other Redding residents told the council that bullets from the range have whizzed by pedestrians on the Westside Trail, which lies just north of the Record Range. One resident said a bullet struck the front tire on a bike that was being ridden on the Buenaventura Trail off of Sunflower Drive.
Their comments followed a presentation by Redding Police Chief Rob Paoletti, who explained how the range is laid out, how it’s used and what measures the range owner is considering to reduce, if not eliminate, stray and ricocheting bullets from escaping.
Paoletti emphasized that he can only speak to his department’s use of the Record Range, and not the other law enforcement agencies whose officers shoot there. Other agencies include Anderson police, the California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire, Shasta County Marshal, state Department of Justice, Department of Corrections, Forest Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Redding police use the range about 3 and a half days a month, and their shooting is always under the supervision of a pair of certified range masters, Paoletti said.
Firearms training is essential for Redding police officers, Paoletti said, and the Record Range is the best option. Other ranges, including the Nice Shot indoor shooting range the Shasta County Sheriff’s Department uses, are either less effective or more costly. “There is no facility in Shasta County that provides the same level of training,” Paoletti said.
Complicating matters is the fact that Redding has no jurisdiction over the Record Range, and even if Redding police officers trained elsewhere, the range would still be used by other agencies.
The Record Range is owned and operated by the Shasta County Peace Officers Association and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It features a 200-yard rifle range, a 50-yard pistol range and a combination range for special tactics training. Large sand berms have been erected to stop bullets on all three ranges.
The SCPOA board has proposed building a structure to cover the berm and target area of Range 3, the range closest to the Mary Lake subdivision, at a cost of $35,000 to $60,000. Once completed, smaller structures would be built on the other two ranges.
Many Mary Lake residents don’t believe the structure will be adequate and contend the city is putting convenience and cost savings ahead of public safety.
Former Councilman Patrick Jones said he spent two hours examining a 20-by-20 foot area on Brinn Drive—a street in the Mary Lake neighborhood closest to the range—and recovered 17 bullets.
“Range 3 is pointing at a subdivision and it is not safe,” Jones said. “We need a proper place for the Redding Police Department to shoot.”
Peter Bohatsch said he’s picked up 70 bullets on his property in the 12 years he’s lived there. Lynsey Mitchel said a bullet from the range struck the wall of her kids’ bedroom on Wildwood Lane, north of Highway 299.
Patrick Fowler, a trauma surgeon, said he was “shocked we continue to focus on the convenience of shooters and not on the safety of citizens” while Lori Barclay noted the irony of hiring police to protect residents “yet we’re putting them at a range and putting us in danger.”
The council’s only option Tuesday was whether or not to accept the report on the Record Range. Councilman Gary Cadd, after reiterating his support of Redding’s police force, moved to reject the report and have police and city staff dig a little deeper into the issue of stray and ricocheting bullets landing within the city limits.
“Are there bullets coming into Redding? That’s what I want to know,” Cadd said. Earlier in the meeting, in response to a comment about costs, he said, “there are costs involved with someone being hit with a bullet.”
When Cadd’s motion died for lack of a second, Councilwoman Missy McArthur made a motion to accept the report while encouraging Paoletti to continue working with Mary Lake residents and “keep the ball rolling.” Councilwoman Kristen Schreder seconded McArthur’s motion and Mayor Francie Sullivan joined the majority in a 3-1 vote to accept the report.
Councilman Brent Weaver abstained from the discussion and vote after noting that he owned a rental home in Mary Lake and had built others in the subdivision.
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.