Buffalo Bill connection could stop Kansas gun range

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. - A Kansas man's plan to open a shooting range outside in Leavenworth County faces a lot of opposition. One group in particular is using William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's connection to the land to stop the range from being built.

Todd Bledsoe is a retired Leavenworth police officer and spent more than 32 years in the National Guard.

"I just have a love for teaching and I want to pass this on to people that want to learn how to shoot guns," Bledsoe said.

He bought 8.5 acres near Santa Fe Trail and 179th Street with the hope of building his new home and a shooting range where he could teach classes.

Bledsoe has already heard plenty of opposition. Neighbors are concerned about ground contamination from the lead, noise from the guns and stray bullets.

Bledsoe has reinforced berms to keep bullets within the range, but the Leavenworth County Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny his request for a special use permit to open the business.

The Leavenworth County Historical Society has been vocal with its opposition to the plan because Buffalo Bill lived on the same land during his younger years.

"There's a lot of history that went on," historical society treasurer Lee Stieger said. "We don't want to see it desecrated or destroyed by putting commercial use on part of it."

The historical society would rather see the land left as alone and given public access, like a battlefield.

"We feel that things like this need to be preserved for our children and our future children and stuff like that so they know what went on here in the past," Stieger said.

Bledsoe said he respects his land's historical significance but does not believe it should stop his plans.

The Leavenworth County Commission will have the final word on Bledsoe's permit request on June 27. If approved, Bledsoe said the shooting range would be low key and only hold classes a few times per month.

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