Four times a year, New York State federal law enforcement personnel need to requalify for their firearm certification. At the Massena Rod and Gun Club, this means almost 200 local and federal officers coming and going each quarter. And while the club said they have no problem working with the different agencies, it's the communication that's lacking. Our Cara Thomas says Congressman Bill Owens visited the club Monday to further understand the issue at hand.
MASSENA, N.Y. -- Throughout the year, range captains schedule designated times for law enforcement officials to come to the range and take their firearm qualification courses. During these tests, the entire lower range of the Massena Rod and Gun Club is closed down and club members are directed toward the upper range. And while that may be a slight inconvenience, it's the law enforcement officers who come to qualify unannounced that the club says causes the problems.
Mark Billings, Massena Rod and Gun Club President, says, "If that's not closed and we have people down there shooting and then two people come down from one of the agencies and say we need the range, that kind of ruffles people's feather's sometimes."
Now the club says the conflict has been going on for years and the number of law enforcement officials continues to grow. But eventually the tension boiled over and the club reached out to congressman Owens and Senator Schumer for help.
Congressman Bill Owens says, "What we're trying to promote is getting a conversation, get a dialogue going that will allow them to resolve the problem so that there isn't a conflict about usage by club members who are non-federal law enforcement and federal law enforcement."
Congressman Owens and Senator Schumer drafted a letter last week to send to U.S Customs and Border Protection and the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to work with the club and find a solution to the break-downs in communication and scheduling.
"Clearly what I'd like to see happen is they have a dialogue first, that they really define what the problem is and my bet is, if they can do those things they'll find a solution relatively easily," says Owens.
Massena's Rod and Gun Club, as well as Congressman Owens and Senator Schumer, continue to wait for a response from the two agencies. Owens said he doesn't expect one for a couple more months.
The club presented the idea of a federally funded indoor shooting rage be built at the facility, to give more options to their members and law enforcement officials. However, Congressman Owens said that option is not possible within the short term.