June 10, 2009

FBI shuts down gun range, calls it "militia training camp"

The FBI is investigating a Washington state gun range that is supposedly "serving as a militia training camp."

What is notable is that the range was shut down because of "violation of commercial zoning laws," although the gun range has been around for a while. The owner, Jim Faire, thinks it's because of Andrew Gray, a convicted felon who is now facing weapons and drug charges. An informant told the FBI that Gray was using Faire's range to fire rifles. Evidently Gray was worth watching because of his "history with anti-government groups."

The FBI felt compelled to raid Gray's storage units, where they found 21 firearms and 300 marijuana plants. Now Gray is out on bail, due to appear in court on Thursday.

Back to Jim Faire. He didn't catch Gray because he didn't have the means to do a background check on every customer, which is, of course, way over the top and has been secretly (and illegally) used as a means to keep information on gun owners and their firearms. I have been to a number of gun ranges and have only had to sign waivers saying that it isn't their fault if I shoot myself.

The FBI is also touting the informant's assertion that Faire's range is a "militia training center." Faire says that the word "militia" is merely a joke, thanks to his range being a member of the Appleseed Project, a program of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association that promotes a return to a nation of marksmen.

Faire's neighbors think that the FBI is being heavy-handed. What's the real reason that the FBI is cracking down? Could it be a repeat of the old Clinton administration's zeal for gun control? President Obama knows the lessons of Clinton's "assault weapons" ban, and is not eager to repeat them. But maybe his FBI heavies just can't help themselves.

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