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The neighborhood around the 2000 block of Queens Chapel Road NE keeps getting more interesting. It’s already home to a concert venue, a marijuana farm, a strip club, and potentially a new Muriel Bowser-backed shelter for homeless families.
Now the area could also host the District’s first gun range.
Concealed carry firearm trainer Leon Spears plans to bring the combination gun store and range to 2128 Queens Chapel Road NE sometime next year, whether Bowser wants him to or not. Both Bowser and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, whose ward includes the tumultuous block, didn’t respond to LL’s requests for comment.
“I know the mayor’s office has stressed emphatically that she particularly does not care for firearms, but there is a constitutional need,” Spears says.
Another controversial business on Queens Chapel Road likely won’t convince Ward 5 residents that their ward isn’t a “dumping ground” for businesses that aren’t welcome in other parts of the city. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Walter DeLeon, whose 5C district includes the potential gun range, says his constituents are already troubled by the businesses that are already there.
“If two nightclubs make residents uncomfortable, I can’t imagine how a gun range would make people feel,” DeLeon says.
The gun range could also complicate Bowser’s proposal to put a family homeless shelters at 2266 25th Place NE, a short walk away from the planned gun range. The site has already been attacked for its many real estate woes, including its proximity to the Stadium Club strip club and its distance from grocery stores. Putting the shelter there, the Post pointed out last week, would put asthmatic children right next to a bus depot.
It’s unclear for now how the gun range’s future neighbors will react, but Armstrong Williams is thrilled. Williams, the storied conservative activist most recently in the news as an advisor to Ben Carson‘s failed presidential bid, says he’s considering investing in Spears’ business.
Without a shooting range in the District, Williams says gun owners must drive to the District’s suburbs to practice. And gun enthusiasts can satisfy more than one appetite at the upcoming business, in his telling—Williams says there will be a cafe that serves sliders.
“I know it’s going to scare some daylights out of some people when they read about this in the City Paper, but I gotta tell you something,” Williams says. “It has made my day and many others.”
Update, April 27: Spears’ gun range plan still has a long way to go. While Spears has registered two LLCs for to the range and store, Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs spokesman Matt Orlins tells LL the agency hasn’t received any application from Spears to run a shooting range.
Gun range photo by Shutterstock