CANFIELD — City council members on Wednesday shot down a measure to allow indoor gun ranges in the city.
The ordinance, which would have allowed Iron Sights Armory owner Debbie Parisi to expand her Railroad Street gun store to include an indoor firing range at her customers’ requests, became a point of contention for residents who were concerned over the safety of the immediate area, the proposed range’s proximity to both Canfield middle and high schools and how a gun range would affect “the city’s image.”
Council members voted the measure down 3-1 with council President John Morvay casting the only affirmative vote.
“I think we’ve had a tremendous amount of discussion about this,” Morvay said before the vote.
Morvay, after speaking with operators of Austintown’s indoor firing range — The Training Range along Mahoning Avenue, one of the nearest-such indoor firing ranges — said he learned building just one lane of a firing range costs about $100,000, and it’s recommended firing ranges scale to about 10 lanes to cover operating costs, he said.
“This would be a $1 million or $2 million facility,” Morvay said. “Why would we say we’re not going to have that type of facility in the city? We could bring commerce in here. Police officers and different departments [could] come in and use this and visit our stores.”
Mayor Richard Duffett, a former Naval officer with military weapons training, said he was conflicted but ultimately voted no. He said the issue itself received more community feedback “than anything.”
“This council’s pretty united in what we’re trying to do with Canfield,” Duffett said. “We’re trying to grow it, but we’re trying to grow it with the same charm. I just don’t think it fits.”
Councilman Bruce Neff, a planning and zoning committee member who also voted against the ordinance there — and also floated a city ban on assault rifles last year — said his concerns were not about the range’s safety, rather its optics in an age of increasing gun violence nationwide.
“My feelings are [an assault rifle ban] would be making a statement. If we can’t respond to the terrible things that have happened — not all from assault weapons, but assault weapons primarily — then I don’t think it’s a good thing for our community. I don’t think it’s a good thing for our society,” he said.
“I’m all-for free enterprise. I own guns. I’d probably use the range if there was one, but I don’t think there should be one in Canfield.”
First-term councilman Anthony Nacarato echoed those sentiments, adding he doesn’t feel a range fits with the city’s comprehensive plan for future development, which is currently being plotted.
Councilman Chuck Tieche was absent Wednesday.
Ashley Kanotz, a Canfield mother who’s been vocally opposed to the ordinance, said Wednesday rejecting the ordinance was the right thing for young families considering moving to the city.
“When you think about Canfield and where we want to be in the next 10 years and what represents our city … I don’t think it was appropriate to have that within the city limits, especially given how close it was to schools and the bike trail,” she said. “I think that by not having a gun range in there, I think other businesses will be more willing to set up shop in our downtown area and I think it would help with drawing families in.
“I’m really happy they voted this ordinance down tonight.”
Parisi, reached by Mahoning Matters Wednesday evening, said she was "saddened" by council's decision.
"In keeping with the City of Canfield's comprehensive plan, I felt an indoor gun range could benefit the city's development and [the] growth of a local business established seven years go, by improving the quality of life for its residents that enjoy the shooting sports," she said.
"Though I'm saddened at city council's decision to limit the ability to evolve my business, Iron Sights Armory will continue to support local residents and pursue other options to meet their needs."