PROVO At the enhanced shooting range on Squaw Peak Road, gun enthusiasts summarized their reaction to the Supreme Court ruling against the Washington, D.C., handgun ban with two words: great and awesome.
"An armed community is a safe community," said 28-year-old Orem resident Ricky Barlow.
Amid the copper-toned shine of .40 Smith & Wesson and .22-caliber bullet casings scattered in the gravel, Provo celebrated the grand opening of its revamped gun range on the same day the Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns, calling the ban incompatible with the Second Amendment.
Barlow, who shoots three to four times a week, said statistics show there is a higher crime rate in areas with gun bans. If you were a criminal, he asked rhetorically, would you break into a house if there's a good chance the homeowners were armed?
"I wouldn't," he said.
Barlow said he appreciates the Supreme Court upholding the Second Amendment, but more than anything else, he just loves to shoot.
"I enjoy shooting for shooting's sake," Barlow said. "There's something about snapping off a round and watching it hit where you aim."
City Councilman George Stewart said the city renovated the gun range to give Provo residents a place to exercise their rights safely and responsibly.
"All of us here support our constitutional rights to bear arms," he said.
Mayor Lewis Billings said his father served in the military, and he taught Billings gun safety from an early age. He said he's tried to carry on that tradition with his boys but found it was often hard to find a place to shoot. He said he hoped the gun range would "help people appreciate guns and learn the responsibility that goes with them."
Orem resident Loren Chandler, 32, who volunteers at the gun range, said he considered the ruling historic because it's the first time the Supreme Court addressed the interpretation of the Second Amendment since its ratification."The farther we get away from the Founding Fathers, the less clear their intent is," he said. "So it's good to have it reaffirmed."