JOHNSTOWN ? Owners of a Fort Collins gun store have proposed building a 100,000-square-foot building near Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34 that would include five indoor firing ranges.

The Liberty Firearms Institute would be the largest facility of its kind in the state, if not the country, said John Mason, co-owner of USA Liberty Arms, 921 E. Harmony Road. The proposed building would include a gun store, restaurant, classrooms and separate shooting ranges of varying distances for pistols and rifles.

A large-scale retail and shooting facility in the 2534 commercial development southeast of the busy I-25/U.S. 34 interchange would likely attract customers from across Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming, he said.

"It's the perfect location," Mason said. "There's so much traffic through there, and just look at how much that area has to offer for other businesses."

But some residents of the Thompson Crossing housing development that sits south of the proposed facility, which could have up to 60 firing lanes, are concerned about the impact the business would have on the neighborhood, especially in terms of noise and traffic.

The facility would be suitable for an industrial area rather than next to an established residential development that is home to many families and children, said Thompson Crossing resident Jim French.

"I would be fully supportive of this if it were in a more appropriate neighborhood," he said. "This does not seem to be appropriate at all."

French, a former law-enforcement officer, said he is not opposed to firearms. But with hundreds of customers using the facility every day, he is concerned about the number of weapons that would be carried in and out of the business.

The business would be at the southeast corner of Thompson Parkway and Ronald Reagan Boulevard on a site near a school bus stop used by middle and high school students.

"Most people who own firearms are intelligent and conscientious about how they use them," French said. "But there's always someone who is not; safety is a real concern."

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