Proposed Toledo recreation levy should pay for shooting ranges

Editor's Note - The following op-ed originally appeared at the author's blog, Thurber's Thoughts. Republished with permission.

by Maggie Thurber

While looking up some other things, I came across this information on the Buckeye Firearms Association web page:

According to a 2010 study by the National Sporting Goods Association, 44.5 million people over the age of seven regularly participate in the shooting sports (including target shooting, hunting, and muzzleloading).

This makes shooting sports more popular than the vast majority of common sports activities, including bicycle riding, bowling, jogging, fishing, basketball, soccer, and tennis. In fact, the shooting sports are twice as popular as golf (21.9 million), over three times as popular as baseball (12.5 million), and nearly 5 times as popular as football (9.3 million).

This got me thinking about the proposed Recreation Levy being promoted by Council members Lindsay Webb and Steven Steel. They want to put a 1 Mill levy on the ballot in November to pay for recreation programs only.

Now, I'm not in favor of new taxes - in fact, I'm opposed to many old taxes as well. But I learned something at the Citizen Watchdog Training I attended this past weekend: sometimes, you can't prevent certain things from happening - but that doesn't mean that demands for 'equal access' won't have an overall impact.

The lesson being taught on this subject was actually regarding school levy issues. We routinely hear about how schools send home their pro-levy propaganda with students in their take-home packets. Attempts to stop such nefarious practices aren't usually successful. However, if you insist that your anti-levy information should also be sent home in the packets, you'll either succeed in getting both sides of the issue told - or you'll have standing for a lawsuit over equal access. Either way, you win. And, in many cases, schools have stopped the practice so they won't have to share both sides.

Put all this together and you have what I think is a really great idea: Insist that any recreation levy provide shooting ranges for citizens.

Think about it. There are already plenty of baseball diamonds, bike paths, football fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, fishing accesses, etc... inside the city limits and a significant number of them are in public parks and maintained by the city.

But there aren't any shooting ranges - at least, not in Toledo according to a Google search.

Sure, there's Cleland's ... in Swanton.

And there's Toledo Trap & Skeet which, despite it's name, is in Berkey.

There's an Institute of Firearms Training in Sylvania, but it doesn't have a web site, so I'm not sure whether or not it has a shooting range. There's Bullet Stop Inc out in Graytown and the Erie Shooting Club in - gasp! - Michigan.

But nothing in Toledo - and certainly nothing in an area where the underserved are located.

Seriously - we're opening pools in various parts of the city because we don't think kids should have to travel further than they can walk by themselves to get to one. Do you really want kids traveling to Graytown or Michigan just so they can enjoy their sport of shooting?

Oh, the inhumanity!

So maybe all of us should show up at any meeting where the proposed recreation levy is going to be discussed or promoted. Let's insist that our wants are just as important as anyone else's and insist that any levy monies collected meet our desire for free, accessible, close shooting ranges where we and especially our kids can enjoy and perfect our shooting skills.

After all, it's for the children!

Maggie Thurber is an independent journalist and former public official.

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