BIG PINE KEY -- The co-owner of an indoor gun range opening on Big Pine Key expects his new venture to put an end to a controversial homemade range in a local neighborhood.
"The county commissioners and Mr. [Doug] Varrieur's neighbors should consider giving us the 'Key to the County' for this," said Jarvis Osario, part owner of the Big Pine Key Gun Range.
Varrieur, who started shooting guns in his backyard earlier this year, garnered national attention, including a spot on Comedy Central's Colbert Report.
Florida law allows homeowners to build gun ranges in their yards with few restrictions. State law also prohibits local lawmakers from creating regulations to control those homemade gun ranges.
Neighbors, local politicians and law enforcement officials have all voiced displeasure with Varrieur's weekly Wednesday gun firings.
Osario said with his gun range opening Varrieur has agreed to break down his homemade range. Attempts to reach Varrieur at his North Carolina summer home for confirmation were not successful. Osario said he plans to help tear down the homemade gun range in December.
The Big Pine Key Gun Range will have seven lanes and offer membership subscriptions, which includes such perks as discount rentals and purchases. Membership, however, will not be required to shoot at the facility.
"Our goal is to provide the safest environment for the public, and if we have to give away free range training we will," Osario said.
Osario's business partner is former Monroe County Administrator Tom Willi. The two previously opened Outbreak Ordnance Gun Shop on Big Pine Key in March. It is too early to tell when exactly the new gun range will open, Osario said.
Willi was fired by the County Commission in December 2007, which bought out his contract for $282,000. Since then, along with his gun shop, Willi has been working as a real estate agent.
The new range will offer certified NRA instruction in pistol, rifle, shotgun use, range safety, reloading and refusing to be a victim. Staff instructors have experience from a north Florida firearms training facility, according to Osario.
Sports target shooting, self-defense events and seminars are also on the schedule. Women, youth and Boy Scout classes will also be available, Osario said.