People flock to gun ranges as county closes them

Pima County gun range to close

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Pima County gun ranges closed Sunday and many took the opportunity to get their last rounds in.

“(I) brought my kids out to get some practice because this is the last day the range is going to be open,” said Scott Kassa, who was out shooting on Sunday.

“Shooting with a great group of conservatives who believe in America, God love ‘em,” said Robert Mayerfeld, who was shooing at the Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range Sunday.

Mayerfeld said he goes to the Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range every Saturday and Sunday.

“The first thing I do is look in the mirror. If I see my reflection, that means I’m having a good day, and I’m coming out to the range,” he said.

Nothing will stop him from heading to the range, even COVID-19. A little more than 60 people in Arizona have lost their lives to it, according to the latest numbers on Sunday from the state health department.

“I figured my chances of getting it are very, very low,” said Mayerfield.

His weekends are now different. As of 3 p.m. Sunday, the Southeast Regional Park Shooting Range, Southeast Archery Range, Southeast Clay Target Center and the Tucson Mountain Park Rifle and Pistol Range closed to the public. Private ranges and business are not included in this closure. The Virgil Ellis Rifle and Pistol Range in Ajo and the Tucson Mountain Park Archery Range will stay open because they are not staffed.

“We’re not closing so much because we’re afraid of coronavirus, as we just can’t run a safe range,” said Cliff Gyves, director of shooting sports for Pima County.

Governor Doug Ducey declared outdoor activities and gun and ammo shops as part of the essential services during his executive order. Officials for shooting sports in Pima County said the ranges rely on volunteers, and with many in the vulnerable categories for COVID-19, they can’t maintain safety.

Gyves said the closures could cause other problems leading people to head to the desert, or other natural areas, and shoot without the safety precautions taken at organized ranges.

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