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Out of Scope: Government regulations pushing gun owners towards a legal minefield

Richard Taitano (in the middle) posing with friends at the JTM shooting range.
Cade Taitano
Richard Taitano
Richard Taitano (middle) posing with friends at the JTM shooting range.

Trigger Warning: This story contains discussion and depictions of firearms, which may be disturbing or triggering for individuals who have experienced trauma related to gun violence or have sensitivities to such imagery.

Richard Taitano has been an avid shooter for about four years. He has witnessed his grandfather and father talk about guns since he was a child. It has been a lifelong family tradition to buy guns and go shooting at the gun range.

He is also a former employee of the JTM shooting range, located in the village of Yigo. This is where he learned about range protocols and the safe handling of firearms from people who’ve been in the field much longer than him.

“The JTM shooting range was more than a job. It was more of educating the public on responsibility and safety,” Richard said.

Despite Richard's dedication to educating the public on responsibility and safety, that all ended last August after years of unresolved noise complaints from neighboring residents caught the attention of Attorney General Douglas B. Moylan, eventually leading to the range’s closure.

Now, Richard is one of many Guam gun owners taking their Second Amendment rights to the hills of Leo Palace and other private properties. For Richard, this is more than just an inconvenience. Without proper facilities for practice and education, he believes the risk of accidents and misuse might increase.

According to Rush Armory owner Jade Templo, Guam is known for its stringent gun laws. Applicants undergo an FBI background check and obtain clearance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to acquire firearms. United States law restricts civilians from owning automatic weapons, except for law enforcement agencies like SWAT.

Despite these preventative measures, a tragic incident occurred on Jan. 4 when a South Korean tourist was fatally shot in Tumon. The defendants in that case, which is still ongoing, were able to obtain a stolen gun.

"These individuals give gun owners a bad name," Richard said, “No sane person wakes up one day and says, ‘I want to commit mass murder.’ No. That takes a deranged person to do that.”

The United States of America prides itself on upholding freedom. But, as Richard aptly stated, "With freedom, a man can do incredible good but also incredible evil." Richard believes the problem with people in the U.S. is the lack of personal responsibility, as there is a tendency to blame the gun manufacturer instead of the person who pulled the trigger for gun violence.

Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero has formed an advisory board to address this issue. Recognizing the urgent need for comprehensive solutions, the advisory board is also actively developing a crisis intervention program aimed at preventing firearm-related harm. By doing this, they are committed to keeping firearms away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others.

The closing of the JTM shooting range is not just about recreation or rights. They are about education, responsibility, and community. Richard emphasized that preserving these spaces is essential for safeguarding both the heritage and safety of future generations.

The opinions and beliefs in this story do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Isla Public News, The Triton's Call, its publisher, or contributors.

This story was produced in collaboration with Isla Public News and University of Guam's Communication and Media Program.

Rian-Anne Guzman, a graduate of the Academy of Our Lady of Guam, is currently a sophomore at the University of Guam, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Communication.