Things are quiet these days around the “Gaza Strip of Pickens County.”
That’s because Twelve Mile Defense, a firing range near Liberty, has been shut down.
And no more new firing ranges will be allowed to open in the county until County Council passes an ordinance controlling them.
The council imposed a moratorium on firing ranges after complaints from residents about bullets whizzing over and around and, in at least one case, inside their homes, which they blamed on Twelve Mile Defense.
Residents dubbed the area the “Gaza Strip of Pickens County” because of the frequent barrages of automatic gunfire and explosions.
“What we want to do is put an ordinance in place that protects citizens, that ensures that kind of thing doesn’t happen again,” County Council Chairman Jennifer Willis said. “But until we can get that ordinance written and executed and in place, we don’t want someone to be able to come in and open a range,” she said.
The item on the agenda this week got push-back from local government activists, who raised concerns that the council was placing limits on individual rights.
But Councilman Trey Whitehurst said, “We’re going to have an ordinance to control, not shooting in Pickens County, but people who have shooting ranges open to the public, so they have certain rules to follow for the safety of those around them.”
Twelve Mile Defense, which also sold an array of assault rifles and exploding-target products, came under fire after residents complained to County Council in January. The range opened two years ago without getting the proper county permits and was given 30 days to apply for those permits or close its operations.
The company didn’t apply and was shut down, Willis said.
An attorney who represented the firing range couldn’t be reached earlier this week. The attorney previously had said that Twelve Mile Defense ran a safe operation and didn’t believe its customers were responsible for the bullet holes in the home across the road.