Agency wants to shoot down gun club

  • "Continuing Education" with La Salle Extension University

    Hector Acuna
 

TUCSON, Ariz. - Forest Service officials have long dreamed of shutting down the Tucson Rod and Gun Club's shooting range, but when they tried to silence the gunfire in March, they found themselves in the club's crosshairs.

The shooting range, which the gun club has leased from the Forest Service since the early 1950s, skirts the edge of Sabino Canyon Recreation Area just north of Tucson. The canyon draws over 1 million hikers, picnickers, backpackers, cyclists, sightseers and climbers annually. Many say they're tired of hearing gun shots.

The shooting is also a concern for nearby landowners. "I have a 6-year-old," says Mark Evers. "Walking behind our house, we've had bullets zing over our heads."

The county voted in a recent bond initiative to fund a new shooting range in a safer location. But when the Forest Service shut down the Sabino Canyon range at the recommendation of safety inspector Glen Shumsky, the Tucson Rod and Gun Club sued. Their main complaint: Shumsky's credentials were bogus.

Shumsky claimed to have completed coursework "beyond the master's level" at Montana State University, Texas A&M, the University of Washington and the University of Arizona. But as he'd later reveal, he never attended any of these schools. His "continuing education" consisted of attending sanitarian conferences hosted by the various universities.

Shumsky's most impressive academic achievement seemed to be a law degree from La Salle Extension University, a correspondence school famous for the "Look Who's Smiling Now!" ads it used to run in comics and on matchbooks.

The Forest Service had paid Shumsky $25,000 to complete the safety study, then put him on the payroll to testify as a witness at $100 an hour, up to a total of $17,000.

But once on the stand, Shumsky wilted before gun club attorney Dave Hardy. By the time Hardy was finished exposing Shumsky's imaginative résumé, U.S. District Court Judge John Roll impeached the inspector as an expert witness.

But whether or not Shumsky's credentials were valid, the study was right on the mark, said the Forest Service's Tom Quinn, chief ranger of the Santa Catalina Ranger District. "Even the (gun club's) NRA (National Rifle Association) expert acknowledged that bullets were leaving National Forest land and entering onto private land," he said.

While the lawsuit is pending, the Tucson Rod and Gun Club has called in some big guns. Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Larry Craig of Idaho have written a letter to Forest Service chief Michael Dombeck, asking him to review the Forest Service's actions. The NRA, Safari Club International and other hunting groups have already convinced Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska to investigate the gun club's closure.

"We believe the Forest Service intends to close shooting ranges nationwide, and we're the test case," says Todd Rathner, general manager of the Tucson range.

Meanwhile, Judge Roll has upheld a ban on shooting at the range, now open for archery practice only.

Jim Nintzel is senior editor of the Tucson Weekly. Greg Hanscom is HCN's assistant editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, ARIZONA CHAPTER
    What We Can Achieve Together: Arizona's Director of Development (DoD) is responsible for directing all aspects of one or more development functions, which will secure...
  • CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Capacity Building Program Manager works directly with the business unit's Arizona Healthy Cities Program Director to advance the Healthy...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND OFFICE MANAGER - FRIENDS OF THE INYO
    Friends of the Inyo - Donor database management & reporting, IT/HR, and office administrative support. PT or FT. Partly remote OK but some in-office time...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    New Mexico Land Conservancy is seeking a qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating,...
  • GRAPHIC AND DIGITAL DESIGNER
    Application deadline: December 17, 2022 Expected start date: January 16, 2023 Location: Amazon Watch headquarters in Oakland, CA Amazon Watch is a dynamic nonprofit organization...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.