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Knight Trail Gun Range to Reopen

County commissioners approved a letter of intent yesterday sent by the Fish and Wildlife Commission that would have the FWC take over management of the gun range. The county hopes to have the range open again this weekend.

A new state law that ended local gun laws earlier this month. At Tuesday’s Sarasota County Commission meeting, deputy city manager Dave Bullock said an agreement is in place to reopen the facility soon.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have agreed to manage the range, which is allowed under state law. The director of FWC has written a letter of intent to the county stating its plans to manage the park.

“This is everyone’s attempt to mitigate risks that may be associated with opening the range,” Bullock said.

The letter of intent would allow the park to open, maybe as soon as this weekend. Then, Bullock said, a memorandum of understanding would be agreed upon by the FWC board at a Nov. 17 meeting to finalize the agreement.

Before moving forward with the agreement, commission Jon Thaxton wanted assurance from the county attorney that the county is allowed to take this action.

“I am very much in favor of opening the range as soon as possible but I need to hear from the county attorney that this is an adequate step,” Thaxton said.

On Oct. 1, the Florida Legislature took control of all gun laws in the state. County commissions throughout Florida had to amend ordinances to eliminate any mention of arms and ammo, or potentially face arrest.

“Clearly the approval of the memorandum of understanding is the ultimate and best way to reopen the gun range,” said county attorney Stephen DeMarsh. “Between now and Nov. 17 [however] you could chose to operate under this letter of intent …  I don’t see that as an undo amount of risk.”

Carolyn Brown of Sarasota County Parks and Rec. said the county is hopeful Knights Trail will open this weekend. She will send out a public notice when the opening gets an exact date.

The trap and skeet range and the archery range are not affected by this legislation and will remain open.

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