Allegheny County

Some residents asking City of Pittsburgh to make changes regarding open firing range

PITTSBURGH — Repeated gunshots from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police’s open firing range are putting some people in a number of surrounding neighborhoods on edge.

Joy Katz said the first time she heard the gunshots, she was at the Highland Park Reservoir. Katz said the shots were so loud that she feared for her life and hid behind a park bench, kneeling until it was over.

To her surprise, the gunfire was coming from a nearby open-air shooting range used by Pittsburgh police.

Imagine taking an evening walk in your neighborhood and hearing gunfire. Now imagine it happening every day, sometimes even hearing the shots in your own home.

“They can start early in the morning, later in the morning, sometimes they last all day,” said Katz.

That’s a reality for Katz who has lived in her Highland Park home for eight years.

“I would say it affects our life every day even when the guns, even when the police aren’t training on the firing range, we are always braced for it,” Katz said.

Built 40 years ago, the open-air gun range is used by Pittsburgh police for training simulations and sits off Washington Boulevard.

Residents say the gunshots can be heard in Highland Park, Lincoln-Lemington, Morningside, Stanton Heights and Larimer.

“We hear more gunfire and louder gunfire than ever before at a time when we are more apt to be a victim,” Katz said.

She added that in a time when mass shootings have become more frequent, her online petition already has more than 1,500 signatures, asking the city to move the range.

City Councilmember Deb Gross, who represents the area, responded to the petition and said she supports a relocation:

“Pittsburgh is the only major city in America with an open-air firing range within its borders. It is inexcusable that this has not been addressed in the last 40 years. In those 40 years, police weapons have gotten larger and louder. State requirements for certifications have increased.

Officers are training and certifying on a wider range of bigger weapons. This outdoor range has got to go. I’m committed to working with the Gainey Administration to relocate the firing range as soon as possible.”

“This isn’t an anti-police or anti-gun petition, it’s strictly a public health issue and we are just really focused on the gunfire,” Katz said.

Mayor Ed Gainey’s office released a statement saying, in part that, they are working to identify a sustainable long-term solution:

“The Mayor heard the concerns of residents regarding the open-air firing range in Highland Park. This is a problem that has existed for 30-plus years, and there is no immediate short-term solution. We are working to identify a long-term sustainable solution, but at this point, there are no immediate or short-term options for the relocation of the range.”

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