When the Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range opened 40 years ago, the scope of weapons patrons used was varied.
But for the past 20 years, because of the city’s and state’s ban on assault weapons, owner Don Spallone says high-powered guns are not a concern in the borough — unlike in other parts of the country.
“We’ve had the assault weapons ban since 1993,” said Spallone. “So we don’t really have that situation here.”
Shooting ranges garnered national attention after news broke that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was taken to a Connecticut range by his mother, where the two would practice.
While the weapons used at the Woodhaven range — one of three in Queens — might vary, it is impossible to use an assault weapon at a range in the city.
Spallone said all sorts of gun owners come through his doors. Many, he said, start out seeking protection but later develop an interest as shooting as a sport.
On any given day, Spallone says patrons can include doctors, teachers and police officers who come in to either practice or test their weapons.
On concerns of continued gun violence in the city, Spallone said comparing the operations of a shooting range to illegal crimes would be like putting a pharmacist against a drug dealer. As a licensed firearms salesman, Spallone said he could not speak for why people might opt to illegally purchase a gun.
“I don’t know anything about that because I deal at the legitimate level,” he said.
But while the range is frequented by what Spallone calls a “United Nations,” restrictions against handgun licenses in the city are among the strictest in the country. It normally takes an applicant six months from being fingerprinted to getting approved for a pistol permit. During that time, the potential gun owner must go through a series of safety classes, usually offered at ranges.