Colorado gun store plans huge expansion despite new laws

Greg Campbell | Contributor

Bucking the trend of gun businesses pulling up roots from Colorado in protest of its tough new gun control laws, Fort Collins gun store USA Liberty Arms is planning a big-time expansion.

The Liberty Firearms Institute will be located in sleepy Johnstown and is planned as a 100,000-square-foot one-stop-shop for all things ballistic. It will include a gun store, a gunsmith, classrooms for firearms training, a 50-seat restaurant and a 50-60 lane underground shooting range.

“It is conceived to provide one location that supports every aspect of the safe use of firearms,” Todd Williams, the vice president of the development company proposing the project, wrote in a letter to the town planner. “It provides a secure and controlled environment to purchase a firearm, attend training classes to learn how to safely use it, to practice with it or to simply enjoy its recreational use.”

“As designed, it provides everything imaginable to accomplish this goal,” he wrote.

Liberty Firearms Institute will be the largest facility of its kind in Colorado and one of the largest in the country, according to Denver’s CBS4.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the project has stirred some opposition from people who live in a nearby neighborhood. Material provided to the town council included a summary of public comments from previous meetings, many of which cite concerns about traffic, the constant sound of shooting, air quality and other issues.

“Nice project, but go elsewhere,” reads the summary of one citizen’s comments.

The town board made some concessions to neighbors, but approved the new gun club. It is expected to open next August.

The expansion is notable because other gun businesses in Colorado are moving to other states in the wake of tough new laws that went into effect on July 1. The most contentious are bans on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and requirements for universal background checks on every gun transfer.

Two Democratic lawmakers are being recalled for their support of the new laws and about two dozen plaintiffs, led by most of Colorado’s elected sheriffs, are suing the state to overturn them.

HiViz Shooting Systems, which makes gun sights and other shooting equipment, is relocating to Laramie, Wyoming because of the new laws. And magazine manufacturer Magpul Industries is believed to be negotiating details of its new out-of-state location, which hasn’t yet been announced.

In spite of the economic hits these departures may inflict, Johnstown is hoping the Liberty Firearms Institute will pay off — the company projects sales revenue of $10 million in its first year of operations, with Johnstown reaping part of the boon in sales tax.

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