Tour the empty, anxious spaces inside Manhattan’s last remaining public shooting range, an underground refuge for New York City’s trigger-happy outcasts, with owner Darren Leung.
We spent the majority of weekends for a year visiting Manhattan's last public gun range. And still, for fear of being recognized, no members agreed to participate in this documentary.
"Safe Space" premieres 2021.
I can't name them, the friends I made here, except for Darren Leung—and he's everyone's friend. Or, rather, everyone is his friend.
When you descend into the Westside Pistol & Rifle Range, Manhattan’s only public gun range, which he has owned in part or in whole since 1964, you will always be offered a cup of coffee, a place to sit, and a pat on the back. “Happy to see you, my friend!” he says whether he’s met you before or not. The craziest part: he means it.
The others—the Mt Sinai doctor, the Rikers Island corrections officer, the jet-setter, the amateur photographer, the cops, and the veterans—would rather I keep their privacy. They guard it, like much in their lives, afraid that public exposure might threaten their jobs, their relationships, and their safety in one of the country’s least gun-friendly cities.
"They're my family. There's nothing I wouldn't do for these people."
“They want to be protected,” Darren told me when I last interviewed him for my documentary on the range. “If I see this documentary and I see a face and I recognize that face out in the street, I’ll know he has a firearm or he’s associated with a firearm. Why would I want to jeopardize any of my constituents, any of my members?”
In a city that doesn't want them, here gun owners have each other; people who support them, who feel threatened like them, desperate like them. They are (mostly) men, with guns, and they are scared. As with many communities, all they want is their own space.
Should they have it?
Watch the preview below.
Cinematography by Daniel Cho
Executive produced by Jacob Fertig
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