Did anyone see this? I was googling for the number for Calverton Shooting Range and I found this article.
(c) 2003 New York Times Company
October 5, 2003
Security Questions at Shooting Ranges
CALVERTON -- ALMOST anyone with $10 for admission can use the Calverton
Shooting Range, a private, no-frills outdoor range whose owner, a fervent
believer in the right to bear arms, asks few questions of his armed
''If somebody smells of drink we don't let them in,'' said the owner, George
Schmelzer, an 86-year-old former duck farmer who has operated the range
since 1965 on 91 acres of land he owns near Exit 71 of the Long Island
There are few other rules for sober shooters as they blast away at posted
targets in the excavated sand pits. ''It's in the Constitution that people
have a right,'' Mr. Schmelzer said in a recent interview. ''When everybody
has a gun you have less crime. It's proven that way.''
On Long Island, where indoor and outdoor pistol and rifle ranges run the
gamut from highly to loosely organized, the Calverton range stands out as
among the most permissive, according to some law enforcement officials and
town officials who are familiar with it.
Now, the range, which is located in the Town of Brookhaven but should not be
confused with the town-operated shooting range on Old Country Road east of
the William Floyd Parkway, has taken a small place in a dark history. A
recently published book about international terrorism and the beginnings of
Al Qaeda, ''1000 Years for Revenge,'' reports that a group of
terrorists-in-training from a Brooklyn mosque used the range for target
practice on four weekends in July 1989.
The author, Peter Lance, says the F.B.I. had the men under surveillance and
photographed them shooting AK-47's and other weapons at the Calverton range.
But, Mr. Lance contended in the book and a recent interview, the F.B.I.
failed to recognize that it was seeing the beginnings of a terrorist network
whose members were later involved in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade
Center, plots to bomb bridges and tunnels, and the attacks of Sept. 11.
Mr. Schmelzer, who did not recall the men, said little had changed at his
range since 1989. He said he required customers who wanted to shoot pistols
to show pistol permits but made no other attempt to screen those who came
through his gates. ''This is not Asia or Eastern Europe,'' he said. ''They
wouldn't tell me the truth anyway.''
He said that while he had never seen anyone who raised his suspicions, there
was no way he could recognize or keep out terrorists. ''What do you expect
me to do?'' he said. ''The government lets them in, Bush and that liar
Clinton let them in, they stuck up for illegal aliens, they favored them.
The government is at fault.''
A state law prohibits firing within 500 feet of homes, and shooting range
operators also need permits from local governments. Range operations are
otherwise unregulated, and police officials agree that they have little
authority over ranges on private property unless incidents occur or owners
call them in.
Sgt. Michael S. Esposito, the executive officer of the pistol licensing
bureau for the Suffolk County Police Department, said he was troubled that
''there are no guidelines for operating a range outside of common sense, and
no governing body outside of the building department that goes in there and
routinely does inspections.''
While pistol owners are required to carry permits, range owners are not
required to ask for them. No permit is required for rifles or shotguns.
Sergeant Esposito and a Nassau County Police Department spokesman, Sgt.
Anthony Repalone, said the police had no policy for spot checks at ranges to
see if people firing pistols had licenses.
''As far as walking in and asking people to see permits, no, we don't do
that,'' Sergeant Esposito said.
Gun rights advocates say this is as it should be. ''This is still America,''
said Thomas H. King, the president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol
Association, the National Rifle Association affiliate in New York. ''The
police and any other authoritative group have no right to come on private
property without permission. I have no problem if that permission is granted
by the range operator or owner.''
But Mr. King said range owners needed to be more vigilant after 9/11. ''If
it wasn't for 9/11 these questions wouldn't come up,'' he said. He said that
range operators ''now have to be more careful, more judicious about who is
shooting at their ranges.''
Richard P. D'Alauro of Huntington Station, an N.R.A. field representative
for an area including Long Island, said he had no concern that any ranges
were used by terrorists. ''Our authorities are all over that,'' he said.
''That would be the last place in the world where you would find
But Mr. Lance, a former correspondent for ABC News, says in ''1000 Years for
Revenge'' that of all of the F.B.I.'s missed opportunities to stop the
attacks of Sept. 11, the first occurred at the Calverton shooting range 14
According to the book, several Middle Eastern men with direct links to what
was to become Al Qaeda drove from the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn to the
Calverton shooting range on four successive weekends beginning on July 2,
1989. Mr. Lance writes that under surveillance by the F.B.I.'s Special
Operations Group, the men were photographed as they fired AK-47 assault
rifles, semiautomatic handguns and revolvers during what appeared to be
Mr. Lance said the shooters included El Sayyid A. Nosair, a 34-year-old
Egyptian who organized the assassination a year later of Rabbi Meir Kahane,
the founder of the radical Jewish Defense League. Others at the Calverton
sessions included Mahmud Abouhalima and Mohammed Salameh, who were convicted
in 1994 of bombing the World Trade Center the year before, and Ali Mohammed,
a former officer in the Egyptian Army whose unit was linked, Mr. Lance said,
to the 1981 assassination of the Egyptian president, Anwar el-Sadat.
His book accuses the F.B.I. of failing to connect the dots of an emerging
terrorist network and allowing its leaders to slip away. In the case of the
Calverton group, he said, the F.B.I. ceased its surveillance following the
four shooting sessions for reasons he said remaining puzzling.
James Margolin, a special agent in the New York City office of the F.B.I.,
would neither confirm nor deny that the agency had Middle Eastern men under
surveillance at the Calverton range in 1989. ''Going to a shooting range is
not a federal crime,'' he said, adding that he had perused Mr. Lance's book
and ''I don't see a great deal in the book that hasn't previously been
discussed by other authors.''