Children celebrate birthdays at gun range

Houston-area business says parties teach responsibility


HOUSTON – A Dallas-area indoor gun range set to open later this year will host children's birthday parties. The idea is drawing fire from some parents and sociologists as irresponsible, misguided and inappropriate.

"The party atmosphere in the context of gun use and firearms, which are dangerous, is a mixture that doesn't make sense," said Dr. Joseph Kaye, a Houston social worker.

But the idea is not novel and appears to have plenty of supporters. Two years ago, The Arms Room in League City, started to doing the same thing.

"There is no age limit," said Brandy Lisa, an instructor at The Arms Room. "There's kind of a height restriction, but we've accommodated that."

Children as young as 7 years old have celebrated their birthdays at The Arms Room.  Cake and presents are usually followed by 10 to 15 minutes of instruction, then the kids get to shoot at targets, typically with a small Cricket Bolt Action rifle.

"We're very safe, very safety conscious and have never had a problem," co-owner Kathleen James said.

Kaye argued that young children 7, 8 and 9 years old cannot make the distinction between the fun, easy-going atmosphere of a birthday party and the potential danger of firearms.

"The intention may be good, but the result, I think is really questionable," Kaye, who is on an National Rifle Association "anti-gun lobby" watch list, said.