Walls are up on the incoming DEZ Tactical Arms shooting range, training center and retail store set to open by the end of the year.
Owner Brian Zawistowski said the 9,000-square-foot building should be finished in late October if construction stays on target. DEZ Tactical has had a retail shop in Wisconsin Dells for three years, but wanted to expand to offer more products and services to the public, such as the shooting range and firearms training.
“We want to push further out into retail, kind of expand what we carry,” Zawistowski said, adding that while the company customizes rifles for customers, it also sells a variety of rifles and firearms parts. “We work in small quantities and focus on quality. It’s not like the type of item you get in those big box stores.”
The company started with Zawistowski’s parents in Adams County. Dwayne and Sherry Zawistowski began DEZ by selling gun barrels in 2004. They still sell parts, Zawistowski said, and in 2012 expanded to full firearms, supplies and other products. In anticipation of the building completion, DEZ already is offering five different types of memberships ranging from $399 to $5,000.
Baraboo Plan Commission members approved DEZ’s plans for the facility in late February after they gained preliminary approval in October. Despite approving the site plan 6-0, commissioners expressed concern about the business location, specifically worries over its proximity to an entrance of the city. However, state law limits local government from prohibiting specific types of businesses’ planned locations unless it can prove a danger to the city.
When the Zawistowskis sought initial approval in October, Commissioner Patrick Liston said he did not support the proposal, but the state law meant there was little the city could do to prevent it. Glacier Valley Ford owner Rebecca Hoppe, soon to be neighbors with DEZ, also expressed disapproval of the plan when it was presented in the fall.
Baraboo native David Gerdman now lives in the Green Bay area, but it doesn’t keep him from coming home to visit his parents frequently. Gerdman said he keeps up-to-date with news in the city because it’s his hometown and where his parents have resided for more than six decades.
Gerdman said he became worried when he heard about the incoming indoor shooting range.
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“It seems like it’s probably going to be introducing quite a few guns into the area and I’m concerned what that could mean for the community,” Gerdman said.
A recent armed robbery of a convenience store in Baraboo shows that while the community is generally safe, it isn’t impossible for armed crimes to be committed, he said. Gerdman added the proximity of the building to other commercial structures “seems a little disturbing” and that he wishes “they would consider relocation elsewhere.”
Gerdman said he believes the “probability of something bad happening” goes up as the supply of firearms rises and said he feels uneasy with the prospect of semi-automatic rifles being manufactured and sold by a company not originally from the community.
“I don’t know if they have the best social interests of Baraboo at hand,” Gerdman said.
Zawistowski said anyone with concerns should visit the location and talk to the people there. He said the company ensures the facility will be safe, with 8 inches of concrete in the walls as a security measure as well as a way to ensure the sound is minimized.
“It’s above the normal standard,” Zawistowski said.
The political debate over guns has led to a lack of education, Zawistowski added. He said the majority of young people don’t know how to handle a firearm safely, and teaching is a DEZ goal. He said a lack of training resources within the area has resulted in a number of phone calls asking whether DEZ offers concealed carry and hunter safety courses.
“One of our primary focuses of this facility is going to be to offer training as well, and education about firearms,” Zawistowski said. “Educating people on how to use them safely, that’s really important.”