Recently, some Aubrey, Texas residents were shocked when they looked up to see a helicopter sniper hovering over their house. No, there was not a fugitive on the loose. A local shooting range, Big Boar Tactical, has paired with a local helicopter company to create Helicopter Sniper Adventure, a new type of target shooting designed to provide safe thrills and raise publicity for the company.
Images from www.helicoptersniper.com
According to company representative Dan Claassen, Its like the ultimate video game. Participants in the program pay $795 each for a full days activities. The day begins at 9:00 am with a one-hour helicopter safety training followed by two hours of firearm safety training. After lunch, participants get two airborne target shoots and one on-the-ground session. The day concludes with an awards ceremony and ends at 5:30 pm.
While this may sound like the ultimate Guys (or Gals) Day Out, neighbors are far from thrilled by Big Boars new publicity stunt. According to local resident Michal Lauer, the serene neighborhood now feels far from safe, and he and his wife are afraid of stray bullets hitting the house or ricocheting off a nearby object. The shooting range has defended its practice saying its perfectly safe, FAA-approved, and only occurs every other week for a 15-minute session per customer. There is no chance of a stray bullet hitting a house because the guns are always aimed below the helicopter at targets protected by mounds of dirt. The Lauers are considering going to court in protest. You can watch the local news coverage of the story here: .
Denton County Commissioner Hugh Coleman is actively supporting local initiatives to open a lawsuit against the company. In a recent interview he said, Just the fact that you’re flying around in a helicopter shooting a rifle in a limited amount of space doesn’t seem like it’s very safe. He went on to say, ‘Even though they [the shooting range] think it might be safe, in my opinion, it begs the question whether it’s responsible gun use.
Claassen responded, saying that amateur shooters are never left to their own devices and that constant supervision prevents accidents. He’s right there with you at all times. So if you’re starting to shoot astray or starting to do something we didn’t talk about or that we didn’t pre-authorize, he will shut you down; we’ll stop the event, and we’ll land, and it’s over.
Thats all well and good, but what happens in the time it takes for the company to shut down a rogue shooter? Neighbors may well be justified in feeling fearful every time the bullets start to fly quite literally right down the street from their homes. A court case seems inevitable, one way or the other. Neighbors like the Lauers may file for invasion of privacy or disturbance of the peace. Or a more serious case could be waged against the shooting range. Despite their claims that Helicopter Sniper Adventure is perfectly safe, it seems to pose far more risks than ordinary target shooting, and the company may be setting itself up for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, whether from a participant in the activity or an innocent bystander.
Despite the increased calls for gun control after the shootings in Aurora and at Sandy Hook Elementary, shooting ranges across the country continue to introduce special offers, new activities, and publicity stunts in an effort to drum up business. A recent article in Shooting Industry Magazine urges those in the firearms business to create an entertainment experience that will bring new customers into shooting ranges and encourage previous customers to return. Many people find such publicity stunts tasteless in light of recent acts of violence involving guns. Thats a debate best left to gun control forums.
In the legal sphere, however, it does raise some interesting points. How far is too far for a gun range, and what will it take to keep neighbors feeling safe? Do neighbors stand a chance to win a case against government-sanctioned recreational activities, or will it take a near-catastrophe to stop Helicopter Sniper Adventure and other extreme concepts? No doubt, it is an issue that will continue to unfold in the future as people take a stand against Big Boar Tactical and similar companies.
About the Author:
Steven E. Slootsky is a personal injury lawyer with more than two decades practicing law. A graduate of George Washington University and Nova Law School, he is the founder of Slootsky, Perez & Braxton, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Slootsky is a member of the Florida Bar, the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court, and a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates. He also serves as an Eagle member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.