Firing Range Shuts Down Temporarily

One of the city’s shooting ranges closed last week because of the current political atmosphere and a municipal crackdown on illegal weapons, the club’s owner said.

“We feel the range is inappropriate in the the current political climate,” said Victor Chao, general manager of the Marksmen Club. “The market is kind of anti-gun right now. I don’t want to stick my neck out.”

The Taiwanese businessman said he hung a closed sign 10 days ago on his range 4 km past Pochentong Airport, but said he is still serving club members and busloads of budget tourists from Hong Kong who go to the facility as part of arranged tours.

On Thursday, Phnom Penh First Deputy Governor Chea Sophara said he would ask his Cabinet chief, Mann Chhoeurn, to ask the government to reconsider its policies on shooting ranges in the municipality.

“They seem to teach people in a different way than what we need,” Chea Sophara said. “Shooting is fine as a sport, but some guidelines need to be examined.”

Shooting ranges should prohibit anyone under the age of 18 from using weapons, Chea So­phara said. They also need to be more discriminatory in what weapons can be used or shown, he said.

Customers at Marksmen were able to fire such automatic wea­pons as AK-47s, AK-74s and M-16 rifles. The park also sports a war museum with a Russian-made T-54 tank and a US-made M-42 anti-aircraft gun.

Since the range opened last December, the neighboring village has complained of stray bullets. The problem was solved when customers were stopped from using automatic weapons in the part of the firing range where there was no buffer to stop the bullets, Chao said.

“We don’t want to become a headache for [Second Prime Minister] Hun Sen,” Chao said. “We don’t want to be told [to shut down.] We want to do it before they tell us.”

(Additional reporting by Kimsan Chantara)


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