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FIVE POINTS IS NOW HOME TO A BLACK-OWNED GUN RANGE. In a tense moment for America, owner Wanda James said it’s more important than ever that African Americans have access to this kind of education.

There’s something new happening in Five Points. The nondescript red-brick building at Washington Street and 24th Avenue is now home to a “virtual” gun range, what co-owner Wanda James says may be the first Black-owned shooting and training business in the city.

Traditional gun ranges, where people fire live rounds, aren’t allowed in Denver. That’s why 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club uses lasers. Customers can bring their own firearms into the space, unloaded, and stick a fancy infrared cartridge into the chamber. A camera system picks up the shot, sometimes just for target practice and sometimes in interactive games. There’s no recoil in dry fire like this, but instructors here say it’s still important practice for people who haven’t spent a lot of time with a finger on a trigger.

But the high-tech system is just one part of the new range. Training people how to use guns and, more importantly, how to avoid using them, is the bigger goal. In a tense moment for America, James said it’s more important than ever that African Americans have access to this kind of education.

Instructor Anubis Heru holds one of the infrared 9 millimeter cartridges he uses at 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club's "virtual" gun range in Five Points. Oct. 17, 2020.
Instructor Anubis Heru holds one of the infrared 9 millimeter cartridges he uses at 17 Seventy Armory and Gun Club’s “virtual” gun range in Five Points. Oct. 17, 2020. Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The world feels less safe, and guns and ammo are selling like hotcakes.

Last Saturday, 17 Seventy held its first concealed carry class. A projector glowed in the darkened room as instructors Anubis Heru and Master Young started with the basics. It was a small class, staying in line with the city’s newest COVID-19 rules. All present were people of color.

Before they turned to ammo, caliber and how to hold a pistol, they stressed the responsibility that comes with owning a deadly weapon. How do you even register a threat?

Know how to hold your body. Keep your eyes and ears open. Be aware of what’s around you.

“Pay attention,” Heru told the group. “Pay attention but don’t panic.” …

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