To the editor:
As a retired detective from Nassau County Police in New York, I periodically go to an outdoor pistol range for target practice. On one occasion while I was at the range, I watched as three young men, probably teenagers, walked up to the range table with a small paper bag.
From they bag they took out a semi-automatic pistol. They shared this weapon between the three of them, each taking a turn at shooting. It was obvious that they didn't know anything about the weapon, because it took them a while to figure out how to release the safety catch. They appeared to be in a rush to take their turn an they didn't bring any targets with them, which was strange right off the bat. At one point, the weapon jammed and they didn't know what to do. They became frustrated and angry and shoved the pistol back into the paper bag and left the range in a rush. There weren't too many people at the range on this day, and I looked for a range officer, but there weren't any available. These young men did not appear to be 21, and being ex-law enforcement, it appeared to me that they were possibly "gang bangers" who had come to the range to test out their street weapon before returning to their home town. If they were underage, what were they doing with a semi-automatic pistol and what were they planning to use it for? The thought is frightening.
In this state, you can buy a handgun at 21 years of age and you can buy a semi-automatic rifle, like the AR15, if you're only 18 years of age. "What are we thinking."
When I think about the gun violence that has been occurring most recently throughout our country, it has become more obvious to me that maybe it wouldn't hurt to have more gun control at all of our gun ranges, insofar as age participation. I have seen more and more young people at the range with semi-automatic weapons, and I can't but wonder, are they all at least 21 years of age? I know that our range officers do a great job at maintaining safety, but maybe it is time that they started checking the age of the shooters. I think that this process would be an additional tool in regard to gun control and the battle against gun violence in our streets, especially here in the Fort Myers area, where gun deaths are increasing on a weekly basis. It is no wonder that everyone is buying a gun, we're starting to feel outnumbered and frightened to death.
I realize that this process at the ranges would add more responsibility to the range officers' duties, but we have to start somewhere in order to gain more control and add more safety to our communities.