By Karen Kennedy
An application has been filed with the Dept. of Community Services to build a gun shop and shooting range at 969 Range Line Road. The property, which is leased by Indy Auto Man and owned by Lancaster Realty, LLC, is immediately north of the Dairy Queen a little more than two miles south of Clay Terrace Mall.
Mina Khoury, who has owned the neighboring Dairy Queen for 18 years, is stunned by the news.
“I can’t believe the city of Carmel and the mayor would allow this,” Khoury said. “The North Range Line Road corridor is the mayor’s pride and joy where he wants to put viable art and artistic businesses. I can’t believe he would want a business like this and the type of crowd it would attract.”
Mainly, Khoury is worried about his customers’ safety.
“We are a family business, and I am concerned about people so close by carrying guns,” he said.
Mayor Jim Brainard stated via e-mail, “It is not an appropriate zoning at this site. It’s too close to the high school, the Dairy Queen and businesses that attract students to the area.”
Khoury also expressed surprise that Indy Auto Man is leaving the space because they seem to be striving. Victor Figlin, an owner of Indy Auto Man, is also surprised.
“I would love to be able to tell people to come visit our huge blow-out sale, but we are not moving anywhere” Figlin said. “Let’s just see how this all turns out.”
However, the application for Point Blank Range and Gun Shop, which is owned by Tom Willingham of Cincinnati, has been signed by the property’s owner, Kay Lancaster, of Lancaster Realty, LLC.
A call to Lancaster was not returned by publication time.
Willingham owns a gun shop and shooting range in Blue Ash, Ohio. While he opted not to comment at this time, he did confirm that he would be in Carmel next week to continue work on the project.
The proposed gun range would be in Carmel City Council member Eric Seidensticker’s district.
“I really haven’t paid too much attention to it yet, because it’s not in front of council and it’s a ways down the road,” he said. “But as long as it’s safe and secure, I have no problem with it. If people are going to own guns, they need to have a place where they can learn and practice. I would expect that there might be some people out there who have concerns about bringing guns into that area, but there’s an amendment that protects our right to carry arms, and I support the Second Amendment.”
When asked whether he had any concerns about the proximity to the town center, the high school, the Monon Trail and the Dairy Queen, Seidensticker said, “Do I think it would make the likelihood of a high school shooting any greater? No. People need to understand the power and potential damage from guns and that happens through training.”
According to Seidensticker, because the area already is zoned for this use, the applicant would not need any variances and it does not have to go through City Council for approval.
Even Carmel attorney Guy Relford, who is a Second Amendment specialist and arms trainer, was surprised by the news.
“I am a little surprised by the location. Even people who want responsible, safe places to shoot don’t necessarily want them downtown,” he said.
Public reaction to the pending range is mixed.
“I personally like to shoot guns, but I think it’s too easy for people to get guns here in the United States,” said Karen Huang of Carmel. “It’s right near the Dairy Queen… A lot of teenagers hang out there. I hope they can’t go into the gun store without their parents.”
Jennifer Jones of Fishers, however, is in favor of the range.
“I think it’s a good idea,” she said. “I’m not against guns. I would be interested in going there.”
Council members-at-large Kevin “Woody” Rider and Ron Carter declined to comment in detail.
Reporters Mandi Cheesman and Kathleen Devaney contributed to this report.