A father of a Dunblane massacre victim said he was “disgusted” a new shooting range in Falkirk is using real – deactivated – automatic weapons.
Black Eye Reality is currently seeking a public entertainment licence from Falkirk Council to operate the range, which will allow customers of “all ages and abilities” to get their hands on rifles, pump action shotguns, Sig and Glock pistols and tasers, at Coasters, in Grangemouth Road.
The firm’s website states it is the only shooting simulator in the UK using real converted weapons and similar systems are used to train police officers and military personnel.
Doctor Mick North, who lost his five-year-old daughter Sophie in the 1996 shootings, heard about the Black Eye Reality shooting range through his work as a member of the Gun Control Network.
He said: “I have to say I’m disgusted at the thought that anyone can take pleasure from this type of activity and that there are those who wish to make money from it. Looking at the pictures on their website it’s clearly being sold on the basis that people will get a kick from using real guns, and the presence of a child in one of the photos is particularly worrying.
“It feels like a step backwards to a gun culture that I’d hoped had diminished in Scotland following the handgun ban. This ought to be something just for training the military and police.”
David Alexander, Falkirk North SNP council candidate, said he has had a number of complaints from people about the use of real, albeit deactivated, firearms at the range and he said he was going to forward them to police.
He said: “In today’s climate this shooting range is something which I don’t want to see in our area.”
The shooting range is the brainchild of ex-serviceman Barry Mitchell, who states on the website he served five years as a driver in the Royal Logistics Corps.
Mr Mitchell said: “These weapons were deactivated in America and they have gone through the secretary of state gun proofing house in Birmingham where each one is checked and given a deactivation certificate.
“Basically they are just paperweights that look like real weapons. They can never be real weapons again.”
Mr Mitchell said Police Scotland officers had inspected the weapons and had no concerns about them.
He said: “We had an open day that went really well. I’ve actually had beat cops who have never handled weapons before say they want to give this a try.”
A Police Scotland spokesperson stated the force was not in a position to comment on the matter at the moment because the application was still in the early stages with Falkirk Council’s licensing board.