Home on the range (Thursday’s column)

I thought Wednesday would be a good day to fire off some rounds at the La Puente shooting range.

After all, its been widely reported that when President-elect Barack Obama takes office, the Second Amendment will be crumpled up and tossed in a round file somewhere.

That means now is the time to stock up on supplies.

At the La Puente shooting range on Valley Boulevard, a guy (or girl) with a similar interest can blow off rounds to his (or her) heart’s content – daily.

My plan was to rent a handgun, get a lane and fire away.

First problem was choosing a gun.

There were plenty of semiautomatic handguns: Glocks, SIGs, Rugers, Smith & Wessons. And, the guns varied in size. You could rent a .40, a .380 or a 9 mm.

Personally it had been so long since I fired a handgun, I found the selection a little intimidating.

So, I gravitated toward the revolvers. .38s .357s and the most powerful handgun of all, the .44 magnum. As Dirty Harry said, “It will blow your head clean off.”

I figured a gun that powerful has got to be on somebody’s list for removal from general circulation. So, I asked for some rounds of ammo and a hour’s rental.

Guy behind the counter said, “no way.”


“Sheriff’s Department rules,” he explained. “There’s got to be two of you.”


“You’ve got to bring a friend in before you can rent it,” counter guy said.

I explained my



“I’m a reporter. I’m doing a story on gun rights, and I thought firing one off on my lunch hour might give the story some cachet.”

“Nope. You got to bring a friend,” he answered.

“OK,” I said. “How about I call the office and have a guy come down with a video camera. Would that be all right?

He could shoot me, while I shoot the .44 magnum.”

“You could do that,” he explained. “But you can’t take video of anyone else shooting a gun; no video of anyone that works here and no shots of the rental counter either.”

I thought to myself that might work. But, in the middle of my daydreaming, counter guy had another caveat.

“My boss doesn’t like the news media in here,” he said. “So I doubt you would be able to do anything here, including using the range when your friend shows up.”


A glass partition separates the showroom floor from the firing range. I turned and watched a young woman clank off rounds at a menacing silhouette.

Another bang. I see a cartridge fly out. It lands on the floor.

Trigger squeeze. Bang. Another cartridge.

Four or five times the scene repeated itself.

My eyes slowly moved from the gun to the target itself, about 10 feet in front of her. It didn’t look like she had hit it.

I obviously wasn’t going to hit anything either, so I left the showroom as counter guy was explaining the rules to a couple of young guys who I thought said they wanted to fire off a .40 SIG Sauer.

In the parking lot, I hoped to encounter some NRA types. They weren’t around.

There was only a tiny American flag on a small pole waving in the warm breeze.

What more could I ask for?

Frank Girardot is metro editor of the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group.

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