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Gun range's alcohol license granted: Booze and bullets OK'd at Okla. gun range

A gun range in Oklahoma, set to open this summer, will be serving up two kinds of shots – the sort fired from a gun, and the sort you knock back with a few of your buds. According to Fox News on May 29, the Wilshire Gun Range’s restaurant, the Range Cafe, has been greenlighted by the city to serve beer, wine and other alcohol. The Oklahoma City Council approved the booze and bullets combo in the 40,000-square-foot, $6 million facility.

The range will have two dozen shooting lanes, 10 lanes designated for archery only, and a full bar. It will be the state’s first ever gun range allowed to serve alcohol. Wilshire Gun co-owner Jeff Swanson says the gun range has strict protocols in place to prevent patrons from drinking, then moving over to the shooting range.

“Once you order a drink your driver’s license is scanned and you are red-flagged and you’re not allowed into any of the shooting facilities… for the remainder of the day,” Swanson said, adding that their range was modeled after other shooting facilities, such as those in California and Texas that also allow an open bar on the premises. Swanson was clear however that their “shoot before drink” policy is a one-way street only.

“You cannot drink before shooting, you cannot drink while shooting and you cannot drink while you have a firearm on you,” Swanson said. “Once people understand the safety protocols that we have in place, then right after that people kind of have an 'a-ha' moment and typically realize that this is going to be as safe as any retail establishment in the country.”

However, Brent Fairchild, with the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, said that no system can be completely foolproof; individuals intent on wanting to drink and shoot will find a way. “I guess you could go back to the old adage where there's a will there's a way, so no matter how many safeguards you do put in place there's always someone who's going to try to get around those,” Fairchild said.

Despite some disagreement, the Oklahoma council approved the liquor license by a 6-3 vote. Council member Larry McAtee was one that disagreed with the proposal and voted against the approval. “Alcohol is legal and guns are legal. I have a problem with mixing the two,” McAtee said.

Swanson said those hired to work at the range and the restaurant will all be trained in field sobriety and will know how to be able to quickly spot individuals who may not appear drunk, but still be impaired. Cameras will be set up as well throughout the facility to monitor patrons.

A Today.com poll on this subject showed that three out of every four agreed with the idea, thinking the policy is acceptable. According to Today’s Facebook page, reactions varied:

As a responsible gun owner, no alcohol should be involved. They still have the gun on them. As a mother and wife, they are driving possibly impaired. The car is a weapon as well. – Peggy Deubler Sullivan

Great idea! Nothing better than a drunk unless it's a drunk with a trunk full of ammo and weapons driving while intoxicated. – Donna Mandell Hyatt.

Responsible, law-abiding gun enthusiasts know better than to drink before shooting, so why not unwind after the shoot? No different than any other sport. – Roxie Jones Antczak.

I am pro gun all the way, but alcohol and guns do not mix! Even if they have to turn the guns in before drinking they still have to pick them up afterwards. – Jennifer Lambert Nash.

Let’s hear from you. Sound off below.