The Norman Transcript

June 21, 2014

Planned gun range and restaurant to serve alcohol to shooters

By Janelle Stecklein
The Norman Transcript

OKLAHOMA CITY — An upscale, indoor gun range planned here could become first in the state to serve shots to patrons who’ve taken their shots.

Developers of Wilshire Gun promise a state-of-the-art, 40,000-square-foot facility in northwest Oklahoma City with an attached restaurant that, pending an application to the state liquor commission, will serve beer, wine and liquor.

Wilshire Gun, which also will accommodate archery, is the first firearms range in the state to ask for a liquor permit.

“I certainly understand the idea … is intriguing at first, but done so here with the type of safeguards, we feel very confident there won’t be an issue here,” said Wilshire Gun co-owner Jeff Swanson, of Oklahoma City.

In fact, Swanson says he wishes every restaurant in the state would implement the same protections he’ll have in place when the business opens, scheduled for late July.

Patrons of his restaurant will be forbidden from bringing guns inside; they must leave firearms in a locker or their vehicle before imbibing, he said.

Oklahomans with a valid handgun license are allowed to carry their guns — concealed or unconcealed — into restaurants across the state and order drinks as long as they’re not intoxicated, he noted.

Swanson said the business will include technology that scans driver’s licenses to prevent anyone who has ordered a drink from accessing the gun range — even to observe — for the rest of the day.

“We’ve gotten consults from all over the country and picked what we think are the best safety features from all of them,” he said, noting that off-duty or retired law enforcement and military personnel working there will help ensure that alcohol and guns never mix.

The concept isn’t new, Swanson said, adding that gun ranges in California, Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, New York and South Dakota now serve alcohol and haven’t encountered problems.

In Oklahoma, in fact, gun ranges can sell low-point beer — with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent or less — to shooters without seeking a liquor permit. All that’s required is permission from local authorities and the state tax commission, said Capt. Brent Fairchild, spokesman for the state Alcohol Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission.

Tax Commission officials said this week no ranges in the state are currently registered to sell low-point beer.

Fairchild said his agency began considering Wilshire Gun’s liquor permit range at least a month ago. City officials have already given their blessing.

“As long as they meet all the criteria and the city has approved it, we’ll issue a license, as well, pending everything coming out well,” he said.

Swanson said he anticipates getting a permit, which he said will allow the new gun range to attract meetings and executive functions.

“It’s just a matter of going through whatever checks the ABLE Commission has,” he said.

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