RAW VIDEO: Pro-gun activist confronts FWC range staff, is threatened with arrest

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[yt url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTGe-A333VA”]

I find this video very disturbing.

In a story published yesterday, we revealed that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had stopped using waiver forms at their ranges — forms which legal experts said could constitute an illegal gun registry.

Ian McGuire — a gun owner and a self-described “constitutional activist” who works as a CNA at the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs — played a key role in that story.

Ian’s a true activist. He pushes. He questions authority. He’s a pain in the ass. We need more like him.

As soon as the story was published, he went to FWC’s Cecil M. Webb Shooting Range near Punta Gorda to see whether the range safety officers were following the commission’s new policy, which was announced in Tuesday’s story by FWC’s executive director Nick Wiley.

Keep in mind that the RSOs at the Webb range know Ian. It’s clear they dislike him and especially his cell phone camera.

The video shows that they’re no longer requiring shooters to fill out the waivers. Instead, the RSOs now require shooters to sign in and get their hand stamped.

Ian, of course, questions that decision, asking hypothetically when taxpayers will be required to sign documents in order to use sidewalks and other public amenities.

In other words — Ian questions their authority.

It’s what happens next that disturbs me.

The RSO calls for assistance, and an FWC law enforcement officer is dispatched to the range.

The officer and the RSO tell the 26-year-old that if he doesn’t sign, he needs to leave. And if he doesn’t leave, he’ll be subject to arrest for refusing to follow the officer’s lawful order.

Of course the encounter was peppered with snide comments and a few insults from the RSO.

I make a living questioning authority, and I’ve seen all types of responses from public officials — good and bad.

This is bad.

I hope senior FWC officials will watch this video and see the type of customer service skills, or the lack thereof, in use by the RSOs at the troubled Webb range.

Rather than deescalating  the situation, the RSO immediately called for armed backup, which led to a classic “do it now or get arrested” standoff.

I can’t blame the FWC officer, who clearly doesn’t want to be there.

Officers go where they’re dispatched.

In my humble opinion, the RSO should have got off of his golf cart — which he appears glued to — and then clearly, calmly and rationally talked to the young man — even if it took some time.  That’s what a professional RSO should do for any disgruntled customer.

For public officials, there’s no doubt that any young activist — especially one armed with a cell phone camera — can be a pain in the ass.

But we wouldn’t have half of the freedoms we enjoy today without these pain-in-the-ass activists.

Webb has proven to be a troubled range for FWC, what with former range officials accused of stealing brass funds meant for a youth charity, with former well-liked RSOs getting fired, with its safety complaints, and now this.

The range staff at Webb needs customer service training — immediately.

And they need to stop overreacting when someone questions their authority.

If they can’t make these changes, perhaps it’s time to privatize the facility, because many of us are starting to shudder at the thought of what will go wrong next.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

35 Comments

  1. Edward Vanderbosch on

    The Webb shooting range has been poorly run for many years. Management and training on customer service is non existant. Friendly and welcoming is something nobody will say about the place.

    • Lee Williams on

      And therein lies the problem, Ed. Maybe it’s time to privatize. The profit motive has always been successful in promoting good customer service.

      • I’ve never researched it Lee, but what about management by interested sportsman clubs, subsidized by the state on behalf of the citizens, run as a not-for-profit?

        • Lee Williams on

          I think a good model would be the Sarasota Trap, Skeet and Clays Club, which runs the shotgun courses at Knight’s Trail Park. The club is a nonprofit — a 501(c)4. They offer great customer service, cheap rates and manage to operate a very safe club without becoming overzealous.

          They lease the land from the county.

          Of course, all of the club’s success can be attributed to an involved board and a great manager — Don Webster.

          It would work at Webb.

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  3. Rick Miller on

    “Friendly and welcoming is something nobody will say about the place.” If that’s the case, as a shooter who is relatively new to the SRQ area and looking for free or inexpensive places to get range practice, I certainly won’t be visiting the Webb range. My experience from decades in Maine has been with cheap ($45/yr) membership in a private local gun range with both indoor and outdoor facilities, including trap & skeet, rifle, handgun, shotgun, and archery, with zero attitude or snobbery, and a really friendly and cooperative spirit, education, and sense of ‘family’. A couple times of year we’d rally the membership on a weekend and trailer our yard equipment over to collectively cut back intruding new growth around the edges of the facility, clear deadfalls and do extra mowing and trimming, maintenance landscaping, painting, assemble target stands, you name it, then have a big New England bean supper, catch up with gun news and bounce around ideas for improving our facilities. Friendly, familiar, zero attitude. In a word–FUN. What the hell is it with these public “officials” who have to pull off a gestapo-like attitude with people?

  4. Mark Overcash on

    I think privatization has become all too easy go to substitution for accepting less than stellar performance from public employees. Look at what Flint and Detroit got in return for their privatization efforts. We all know demanding correct managment from our civil servants is solution. It just requires more work on OUR part.

  5. A waiver that absolves FWC from an idiot shooting another shooter on their property, could constitute a gun registry is bullshit. I would love to know what law school these attorneys go to.

    That’s like me making the fight that my concealed weapons permit constitutes an illegal registry.

    • Interesting. Tell me Chas, do you believe your RIGHT to keep and bear arms is satisfied by your government permission slip?

    • Richard Nascak on

      The Legislature has specifically exempted DACS from the list/registry prohibition in 790.335 for the purpose of administering the licensing program. No such exception exists for FWC.

  6. I wasn’t there and don’t know all the details, BUT, ranges have valid reasons to know who is on the site and if they have paid the range fees. Having shooters sign in to acknowledge they are familiar with procedures is a common practice. In fact, I believe every range I use requires it. It also serves as recognition by the range that the shooter has paid the fee to be on site. I don’t remember which range, but I know I’ve been someplace that required wearing a tag issued at the office, which would be similar in concept to a hand stamp, while on the site. This made it easy for range personnel to be sure everyone on site had checked in. Trust me as an NRA certified RSO, most of us would feel uncomfortable at a range that allowed anyone to just drive up and start shooting. The particular form described in the earlier article seems to collect considerably more information than necessary for proper range operation. The waiver of the right of suit involving negligence of the FWC and its staff is particularly obnoxious. That said, think about this from the range operator’s perspective. Go to some private ranges and see how they do it.

    • You have provided your own answer – “Go to some private ranges and see how they do it.”

      This is NOT a private range, it belongs to the citizens of Florida. As such, it must be accessible to anyone, unless there is a legal reason for trespass. The Florida Constitution specifies that the regulation of firearms will be done by law. Laws come from the Florida Legislature in the form of statute. FS 790.33, as amended and effective October 1, 2011 forbids any other government agency from regulating firearms, but a carve-out exists for FWC.
      (4) EXCEPTIONS.—This section does not prohibit:
      (e) The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission from regulating the use of firearms or ammunition as a method of taking wildlife and regulating the shooting ranges managed by the commission.

      That’s all it says. Since October 2011, the parameters of that authority have been refined somewhat, through the efforts of people like Mr. McGuire, and self-defense rights organizations like Florida Carry and the NRA. For example, shortly after the enactment of amended FS 790.33, Webb posted signs at the entrance to the range parking lot, in the mistaken impression that range regulation somehow included the parking lot. The signs demanded “UNLOADED FIREARMS ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT”. So what about those carrying concealed? FWC’s answer – “They have to pull over somewhere, clear, and encase the firearm before they enter the lot.” Brilliant. So you want to increase the chances of a negligent discharge by making the licensee handle his firearm more than necessary. A few phone calls to some well-placed folks at FWC ended that post haste. Again, a bureaucrat trying to manage an activity, the details and practicalities of which he knows nothing.

      Richard Nascak
      Executive Director
      Florida Carry, Inc.
      http://www.floridacarry.org

      • Sticking with the subject of checking in to use a range, can you tell me how many ranges allow people to simply drive in and start shooting without checking in and confirming that they understand the safety rules? The confirmation of that is normally a signature. Many ranges ask to see ID at some point. Some issue user cards to simplify that in the future and people who become members also generally get cards to check in with.

        You cited the FL statute that allows the FWC to regulate the use of the range. Does that not give the FWC the ability to require shooters to sign in and verify they are aware of the safety rules and will abide by them?

        A range is not the same as a sidewalk. There is a lot of publicly owned property subject to restrictions on use.

        I concur fully that the original policy in question was not appropriate. I wasn’t there and didn’t see the incident on video and won’t speak to that.

        • Richard Nascak on

          “You cited the FL statute that allows the FWC to regulate the use of the range. Does that not give the FWC the ability to require shooters to sign in and verify they are aware of the safety rules and will abide by them?”

          The statutory provision allows FWC to create range rules without violating FS 790.33. It does not however necessarily exempt FWC from being held liable for violating FS 790.335.

    • THIS IS GOVERNMENT RAN NOT PRIVATE,PRIVATE CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT,NOT GOVERNMENT,R U A SHLEEP,OR A COP,OR FWC OR JUST A BOOT LICKER.FLORIDA IS A OUT OF CONTROL SOCIASLIST POLICE STATE,EVERY THING IS ILEGAL AND U R NOT FREE.IF U R OLDER AND SAYING THIS IT WIL PIS ME OFF EVEN MORE,BECAUSE U GUYS FREW UP IN FREEDOM,GOOD MONEY AND LESS TAXS,NOW US 50 YR OLDS R GETING KILLED BECAUSE THIS SOCIALIST EXCERENT THE OLD FARTS CREATED IS FAILING AND KILING R COUNTRY.LOOK AT VENEZUELA THEY R SUCH A FAILED SOCIAST STATE THERE EATING DOGS AND CATS FROM THE STREET JUST 2 EAT

  7. Lloyd A. Davis on

    If I heard correctly, the RSO explained that the only requirement, now, was a signature from each person using the range, for purposes of keeping a tally of the range usage. They didn’t ask for an ID. He could have signed in as Thomas Jefferson. My impression (and ONLY that), was that the state would use these numbers to justify allocations of funds for keeping the range properly maintained, supervised and open. While the RSO (if he even knew, for certain) should have explained what the tally was for. It’s probably in the range’s RSO handbook, or notifications from the FWC. A simple phone call to the FWC could have cleared this up.

    • THAT IS STIL ILEGAL DOCUMENTATION ,DO U NO YOURE HISTORY.LIKE THEY CAME 4 MY GUNS,THEN THEY CAME 4 THE JEWS,THEN WE WERE FULL NAZIS.ITS STIL TRACKING.UNL;ES THEY WIL LET U SIGN HITLER,OR JOSEPH STALIN,PETER PAN THEN ITS FINE

  8. It seems to me as one who has both visited Webb, and one who has intimate knowledge of the growing pains related to the current pro-gun movement in both the state and nationally, that the problem is the range is ultimately run by a bureaucrat, not a shooting enthusiast/sportsman. A bureaucrat will often only be moved by threat of legal action and quite often simply adopts a different, but just as legally questionable substitute policy. It’s a game some play in order to obfuscate implementation.

    So the solution is, if you cannot change the bureaucrat, remove the bureaucrat. Hire REAL sportsmen to run the ranges, and make the RSOs do that for which they were hired – ensure range safety. One cannot do that from a golf cart.

    Oh, and one other issue – At nearly every outdoor range, the RSOs carry openly. This is to protect themselves and other shooters from someone who may take advantage of a momentarily unsecured firearm. FWC needs to face reality and allow the RSOs to openly carry. To do less is to say their lives are less worthy than FWC LE.

  9. This guy makes legal, law, and rules obeying gun owners look bad. The state, our tax dollars, maintain this range. The use has to be justified and for safety WE also need to know who is there in case something goes bad. You know crazy shit like someone killing Chris Kyle! If you don’t like the rules go somewhere else or buy your own land and use it all you want.

    • That’s not how it works bud. If you’re a gun owner and active in the community like myself, part of Florida Open Carry, follow legal preceedings on the subject regularly, and am part of many discussion groups as well. Then you’d know that EACH new law is further encroachment on our 2nd amendment rights. If we allow it to continue, even we don’t feel effect us for one reason or another, one day our rights will be gone, completely.

  10. THAT WHY IVE BEN FIGHTING THE CORUPTION IN CHARLOTTE COUNTY,FLORIDA 4 YRS,THE GOVERNMENT AND THE SHERIFF R OUT OF CONTROL,VISIT MY YOU TUBE PAGE 26 MILION VIEWS IN 3YRS,26 THOUSAND SUBCRIBERS FIGHTING CORUPTION 1 VIDEO AT A TIME https://www.youtube.com/user/LIVEFREEORDIEPEOPLE
    PS,I WAS FIGHTING THIS SAME ISUE,LOOK IN MY HISTORY OF VIDEOS,I DID VIDEOS PICTURES AND YOUTUBE AND FACEBOOK,BUT IAN IS THE 1 THAT REALLY KICKED ASS,HIS UTUBE CHANEL IS SO THEY CALL IT FREEDOM
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCP7rackhsRRLPM9Fxpzh5_A

  11. Steve Nelson on

    Anyone have the actual statute number regarding generating an illegal registry? Mentioning the law when the FWS officer comes could very likely land the CRO in jail….which is exactly were he needs to be.

  12. I WAS 1 OF THE ONES THAT HELPED BREAK THE STORY WITH VIDEOS AND PICTURES ON YOUTUBE AND FACEBOOK,IVE BEN FIGHTING CORUPTION IN THE GOVERNMENT HERE 4 YEARS AND THE CORUPT POLICE AND SHERIFF,GO TO YOUTUBE CHANEL youtube user LIVEFREEORDIEPEOPLE 26 MILION VIEWS,26 THOUSAND SUBCRIBERS…ALSO U NEED 2 GO 2 IAN CHANEL HE REALY KIKCKED THERE ASS THERE DOING 1ST AMENDMENT AUDITS HIS YOUTUBE CHANEL IS SOTHEYCALLITFREEDOM HE DESERVES A PULITZER 4 HIS REPORTING

    • Mrs Six Guns on

      The guy who reported this is a moron and needs to hand in his US citizenship. He is anti American and lives off the government and has nothing else better to do then create problems. Abide by the rules or leave….simple as that! The officer needs a Pulizer Prize for putting up with this idiot.

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