West Palm Beach could soon have a new shooting range and gun shop in a convenient location close to downtown. But Mayor Jeri Mouio was clear that she doesn’t support the idea – because she doesn’t like guns.
In a media briefing on Thursday, Mouio complimented the city’s planning department, saying it makes project recommendations based on code ordinances and standards in a partial and objective manner.
“That doesn’t mean I always agree with their recommendations,” Mouio said. “I don’t like this gun range in our city.”
City planning department staff approved the development in an industrial zone, but construction of the shooting range requires a variance from the Planning Board because the location is within 1,000 feet of nearby homes. Parks do not have such a requirement, but the mayor indicated that after further review, code changes were likely to be considered to address future projects.
“The fact that I don’t support it doesn’t mean that the process is going to be changed,” Mouio said of the current project. “There’s a process to follow.”
Gun rights advocates were quick to note their dismay at the mayor’s comments.
“To deny law-abiding residents access to a range willing to serve them would be discriminatory against those who chose to exercise their constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” NRA spokeswoman Jacqueline Isaacs said in an email to BizPac Review. “For many, such a facility is a means to obtaining key firearm training and safety information – a benefit to all in the community.”
The mayor admitted that the project is following all the necessary rules.
“This petitioner, this applicant has done everything he can do to make this a more palatable development,” she said. “But the fact that it’s a gun range is concerning to me.”
Mouio said she is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and an advocate for common-sense gun laws. But when asked how those roles have anything to do with her opposition to a gun range, her answer was confusing, at best.
“Well it’s probably a stretch in terms of a direct relationship,” the mayor said. “Research has shown responsible people use a gun range.”
Residents of nearby neighborhoods also are up in arms over the proposed shooting range.
“We want commerce in our city. That’s part of what makes it a great place to live,” Margie Yansura, a West Palm Beach resident, told local TV station WPTV. “But, when you have a business that could negatively impact its neighbors, then that is not the right business for that location.”
The neighborhood’s main complaint appears to be that people will be traveling to and from the range with weapons. Muoio says there isn’t a noise problem and the site is in a commercial area, so the developers have every right to be there.
“I don’t like guns,” she said, adding that she would prefer another entertainment venue for the site, like paintball or laser tag – “an activity that everyone could enjoy.”
Watch the mayor’s media briefing here.
Watch the WPTV report here.