HOUSTON (CN) - A gun range owner sued Houston to try to stop the city from shutting it down with what it calls an "antiquated ordinance" requiring gun ranges to have steel bullet traps.
J4 Gun Range of Texas dba Top Gun of Texas sued Houston in Harris County Court. It claims that its modern, rubber bullet trap is better because it reduces lead pollution.
Top Gun owns an indoor gun range with 15 shooting lanes where it runs concealed-carry classes.
"Top Gun installed a state of the art 'bullet trap' at its range in 2009, after a fire the range led to upgrades of the facility. This bullet trap was installed as part of overall range construction. The new range was designed by 'Action Target,' a company that does business from its home office in Provo, Utah," according to the complaint.
Since installing the rubber bullet trap, Top Gun says, Houston police have inspected its range every year and approved its application for a "Special Shooting Gallery Permit."
"As is its custom, Top Gun, on October 31, 2013, once again submitted its application for approval of its Special Shooting Gallery Permit with the Houston Police Department," the complaint states.
Top Gun claims that two weeks later the city's human resources department said the application had been routed to it by mistake, and it would send it to the police department.
Officer Jeff Roeder inspected Top Gun's range on Dec. 26, then followed up with an email on New Year's Eve, stating he would not issue Top Gun a permit because the range was out of compliance with city law, Top Gun says in the complaint.
"Ofc. Roeder's sergeant, Sgt. Windham, went on to orally advise Top Gun that he intended to turn this matter over to the city attorney's office, since Top Gun was now operating without a permit. He advised an employee of Top Gun that he was closing the Top Gun business down," the complaint states.
Top Gun says the city is trying to shut it down with a "40-year-old ordinance" that requires gun ranges to install steel bullet traps.
The shooting gallery adds: "It is important to point out to the court that the state of the art in the 1960s is antiquated today. The old-style bullet trap detailed in the ordinance worked by firing a bullet into a steel plate pointed downward at a 45-degree angle.
"The lead bullet would hit the steel plate, disintegrate, and fall into pieces on the sand pile below. We have since come to realize that inhaling lead particles is not a good thing. That is why the rubberized system is now the industry-standard."
Top Gun seeks an injunction to stop Houston from closing its range.
It is represented by Andrew McCormick with McCormick, Lanza & McNeel of Bellaire, a Houston suburb.