RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Upscale gun ranges are popping up around the country with restaurants, cigar lounges and other amenities.
“The overall facility is 60,000 square feet — roughly 25,000 of it dedicated to law enforcement training,” said Screaming Eagle co-founder Peter Cuttone.
During an exclusive tour, Cuttone explained his vision for the new gun club in the vacant Liberty Travel building off Spring Street in Ramsey.
“You’re standing in what will be 6,000 square feet of retail, lifestyle gear, accessories, firearms and ammunition,” Cuttone said.
Cuttone is a Wall Street trader who is investing $20 million into the building, and said he wants to calm community concerns.
“This facility is about education; the promotion of safe and responsible firearms handling,” Cuttone said.
But opponents said they fear Ramsey becoming a destination for guns – along with any potential accidents, or even violence. They asked, how would you like to have a huge gun range in your neighborhood?
“Guns are dangerous,” said Ramsey activist Chance Parker.
Parker, of Ramsey United, started an online petition that now has more than 1,000 signatures. Along with safety concerns, he worries property values could actually drop.
“We don’t see a premium homebuyer coming to Ramsey when this is a destination entertainment area for guns,” Parker said.
Bob McDowell lives across the street. A gun owner and a National Rifle Association member, he worries more about car accidents and kids than gunfire in the neighborhood.
“Having this place in my backyard, the only thing that I fear is all the traffic here,” McDowell said.
Cuttone said traffic and noise control, security, background checks and lead disposal are all part of the plan.
“The people that we have brought on so far have the experience to operate a range safely and conduct business that won’t be a harm to the community,” Cuttone said.
But the gun range has to be approved by the Ramsey Planning Board first. It goes before the planning board on Tuesday.
The Borough of Ramsey is considering changing an ordinance to block the business. But a New Jersey gun rights group is threatening to sue if that happens.