Centerton Gun Range Academy Fights to Stay Open
A firearms training academy is fighting to stay in business at its Centerton’s location.
An appeals hearing is scheduled for Monday to decide whether to uphold Benton County’s decision to deny a building permit to Nighthawk Custom Training Academy. The shooting range offers training to those with prior firearms qualifications or experience, according to its Web site.
Benton County Judge Bob Clinard has received hundreds of emails, phone calls and text messages from gun range supporters asking him to reverse the decision. However, in this case it’s not Judge Clinard’s decision.
“I didn’t make the decision to begin with, and I don’t have any vote on the panel to change it or uphold it,” Clinard said. As judge, he chose the members of the appeals panel that is hearing the case.
Clinard said the county became aware of the academy after gunshot and noise complaints came in from Centerton.
“If you are going to build a building or put in a commercial business, you have to go get the proper permit and they didn’t that (at first)… of course they have applied now once we asked them to, but then they got turned down,” Clinard said.
Monday’s hearing has been moved to the largest room in the Benton County Courthouse since a large crowd is expected. The panel, composed of three justices of the peace, is expected to hear both sides. The appeals panel will ask questions and then it’s open to public comments.
Judge Clinard said this is not about the constitutional right to bear arms, which he supports as a gun owner, but it’s a safety and permit issue.
“This is an issue of planning and positioning a gun range in an area where there are lots of houses and people,” Clinard said.
The appeals panel can either uphold, reverse, modify or send the decision back for further consideration.
Monday’s public hearing is at 4:30 p.m. at the Benton County Courthouse.
5NEWS contacted Nighthawk Custom Training Academy and one of its representatives said he was meeting with an attorney and would return our call.
5NEWS didn’t hear back from the academy.