Under Fire: Massachusetts Shooting Range In Danger of Being Shut Down

The Midway Trap and Skeet Club in East Falmouth, Massachusetts has been continuously operating since 1959, providing residents of Cape Cod with a place to exercise their Second Amendment rights, bust some clays and get in a little fishing, too. But neighbors and the local government are conspiring to shut down the historic shooting range and don’t appear to be letting the club’s longevity get in their way.

As is the case with hundreds of other gun ranges across the United States (and some private airports as well) what was once empty bucolic landscape surrounding these ranges has been developed and turned into residential property. That’s great for families looking to buy their first house, but quite often the new owners didn’t count on the noise a shooting range produces when they wrote their down payment checks.

From the Cape News:

If neighbors of the Midway Trap and Skeet Club in East Falmouth have their way, the nonprofit hunting and fishing club will not be firing any guns on its two rifle and pistol ranges in the near future.

Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to resolve a dispute between neighbors and members of the club next month, to determine whether operation of the two gun ranges constitutes a legal use of the property under the current zoning bylaws.

It all boils down to this: the neighbors are upset that they bought a house next to a gun range. One where people are, you know, shooting guns. A range that’s been there for almost 60 years.

The disagreement hinges on whether a 100-foot rifle range and 25-foot pistol range were in existence on the East Falmouth property prior to 1971, when Falmouth Town Meeting passed a bylaw requiring new private, not-for-profit clubs to acquire special permits.

According to the lawyer for the home owners, the gun ranges were only added in 2014.

The club says otherwise.

In a response filed on May 15, the club took issue with Mr. Ament’s claims on behalf of the neighbors, stating that the gun ranges pre-date the 1971 ordinance.

Edward F. George Jr. of Woburn, attorney representing Midway Trap and Skeet Club, provided five sworn affidavits from club members testifying that they or their fathers used gun ranges on the property for shooting of rifles and pistols since the 1960s and early 1970s.

Club members state that recent improvements have been made to the gun ranges in 2010 for safety reasons. Those include addition of tires in front of the rifle range backstop and the clearing of brush, construction of a berm and addition of a backstop at the pistol range. A later appeal further clarifies that the backstop was added at the request of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Unfortunately it looks like those improvements, made by the club in good faith with the intent to reduce noise and make the gun range safer, might be the range’s downfall. There have been cases in the past where courts have ruled that modifications to an existing grandfathered structure require permits and remove the associated protections.

In this case such a permit would not have been possible due to an anti-gun city council. Those un-permitted modifications — made at the request of the state department of environmental protection — may have opened the door to the complete removal of the rifle and pistol ranges.

This is a perfect situation in which silencers could make all the difference.The primary complaint from neighbors is that — surprise! — gunfire is loud and annoying. But suppressors are illegal in Massachusetts. And the media, as in this Washington Post story, love to claim that silencers “militarize” guns and will lead to more crime. They say gun owners can solve the noise problem by simply putting on earmuffs.

But that does nothing for those who now live in close proximity to a gun range. Inexpensive, easy-to obtain silencers would reduce the noise made by the firearms, making the neighborhood a quieter place to live.

comments

  1. avatar Nanashi says:

    So they lose their approval because of what the government told them to do? How is this not entrapment?

  2. avatar James Earl Hoffa says:

    This crap is happening all over the United States right now. These family-owned businesses that have been in business for the last 50 to 60 years. And used to be way out in the middle of The Boondocks, now have all the subdivisions popping up all around them. Then you get the blue hair Brigade and the moms and the Liberals all complaining about the gunfire. My question would be why would you move within hearing distance to a gun range in the first place, that might be the first clue. But seriously Realtors should have to tell these people when they’re purchasing a house that there is a gun range right across the way and if you are impartial too loud noises that would be good if it’s going to bother you I suggest you not buy here. Just like they have to tell you if a mass murder happened in the house that you’re looking to buy that should be a regulation for the realtor’s. Cuz some of these Realtors are pretty crafty they’ll show the house at 6:45 at night when you can just barely see when the range is closed obviously and no shootings going on and then the people fall in love with it next thing they know they’re like what’s all that noise.

  3. avatar Ralph says:

    I used to shoot at the 60 year old West Barnstable Town Shooting Range on Cape Cod. It closed down because the Town had no insurance for it, which was “discovered” after the scumbags who purchased abutting property whined and complained about the noise until they found a way to shut it down.

    Imagine that — noise from a shooting range (which was closed starting at 4:30 or 6:00 pm every evening and didn’t reopen until after 10:00 am the next morning). Noisy gunfire must be a new thing. It certainly couldn’t have been noisy when it opened over 60 years ago, could it?

  4. avatar cmac890 says:

    Or you could just go to Roxbury and shoot whatever you want. Thats what everybody who lives there does.

  5. avatar b725 says:

    I know of a range that is in a rural area, on a farm to be more descriptive, has beensince the late 80’s. People built their dream home on bordering property. Initially no complaints, however, they’ve decided they don’t like the noise. They’ve tried every trick and scheme they can to close the range. So far no success. They complained not only to the local governing body (which has found they were zoned for it and are in compliance), to the state, EPA (lead issues), and so on. The owner has won every battle, but feels it’s only a matter of time before they find something. Like a lot of small farmers, anything you can do to make an income off you land is important, and so far the local government seems to agree. But urbanites encroaching on rural areas seeking a bucolic lifestyle are the threat. I live in the country and they are showing up and bitching about the hunting and shooting constantly.

  6. avatar Ironhead says:

    Guess they should be pushing for the HPA????
    or maybe the idiots who bought those home should oh…. i dunno….. go after the realtor who should have known there was a gun range there.
    Oh wait. Its Massachusetts. They built those homes there woth the express idea that the useful idiots who bought them would do exactly hos.

  7. avatar Geoff PR says:

    “The primary complaint from neighbors is that — surprise! — gunfire is loud and annoying.”

    The noise is the excuse, ‘because guns’ is the *reason*.

    Crap like that really pisses me off. It would be nice if the wealthy POTG would pool their resources to fund as vigorous as possible a legal defense for these ranges.

    The ‘Noise Nazis’ pull the same kind of crap on long-established small community airports when the developers start to get close…

  8. avatar strych9 says:

    The word “bucolic” has been popping up quite a bit recently here on TTAG.

    Someone(s) has been reading their Gibbon.

  9. avatar cmac890 says:

    I’ve lived about 2 miles from an outdoor range here in MA for 15 years, and honestly only realized it about a year ago. I could hear the shots, but I just thought someone was continuously hammering a nail or something, all summer long lol.

    As for these NIBMY’s, they’ll get what they want. The town would probably rather see taxes from new housing than icky guns anyway.

  10. avatar Kendahl says:

    There is nothing new or unusual about this. It affects more than outdoor ranges. City people move out into the country next to farms and other operations that have been in existence for a hundred years and complain about the associated noise or odors.

  11. avatar RCC says:

    Similar problems in Australia with one pistol club I belong to being there since 1960 and now has suburban houses on all sides.

    One real estate company used to verbally tell buyers that we would pay for double glazing and sound proofing or that we were about to close down. Club secretary has a collection of letters and a standard reply.

    Similar problems with local army range that has been there since 1900 that is now houses every side.

    Going to get the same problem for home range soon as the government wants to put 100 000 low cost houses just up the road from it in southern Queensland.

  12. avatar Chier says:

    East Falmouth is 92% wealthy white mostly liberals. The club should develop the property into a nice big Section 8 housing project so that East Falmouthoids can experience the joys of citizen diversity.

    1. avatar AndyinMA says:

      Not a bad idea at all. A gentleman in Rowley is threatening that right now because the town is trying to force him to tear a fence down (among other things)

  13. avatar Jim R says:

    the state sucks, use to live there in Mass,, glad iam not there anymore

    1. avatar Kyle says:

      All the coastal states suck!

      Liberals destroy everything they touch

  14. avatar Just Someguy says:

    This happens all over the place. Urbanites and Californians and other such denizens move into a nice backwater area to get away from it all, but they bring their California values with them and ruin the place

  15. avatar IdahoBoy says:

    The range should host an SBR day, just to give the surrounding folks something to complain about.

  16. avatar Warlocc says:

    People often ask me how I can buy guns without shooting them first. My answer is always the same. “I live in Massachusetts where it’s illegal to shoot anywhere except gun ranges, and they’re shutting all the ranges down for noise complaints after making suppressors illegal.”

  17. avatar Richard McGannon, Esq. says:

    SO MASS should lead the way and make suppressors mandatory. C’Mon SHUSH / National Hearing Protection Act!

  18. avatar Joemoma says:

    Same shit different noise here in Minnesota brainerd international raceway used to be in the middle of nowhere now it has homes all around it owners can’t make any improvements to the track because the city would require millions in “bringing it up to code” for noise if they touch it. Can’t sell it because usage is low because of the improvements needed for safety. The city just wants it gone.

  19. avatar J says:

    Range i used to shoot at in the upper peninsula had 200 acres of forest they owned on either side and that was bordered by national forest. No neighbors ever.

  20. avatar Chris says:

    I worked with a woman who bought a house near the range I belonged. One day, since she knew I was a member, she was complaining loudly enough for me to over hear about the noise trying to get a little sympathy and to let me know she didn’t like it. I asked her why she bought a house near a gun range if the noise was going to bother her. She didn’t really have an answer and lost what little sympathy she was garnering from her co-workers.

    I also pointed out that in Indiana State law basically states if a gun range or race track was built first and house/ subdivision comes along later there is nothing they can do to have it shut down over noise complaints.

  21. avatar Docduracoat says:

    Florida is a Coastal state and very gun friendly
    We have a law that you can have a range on any property over one acre.
    The local authorities are forbidden to use noise or nuisance claims to attempt to shut you down
    On pain of being removed from office

  22. avatar Lorddunsmore says:

    Tell the home owners to wear ear protection. 🙂 I was just in Falmouth, MA last week. For the most part, its rural area. Liberals, you can’t live with them and CAN live without them.

  23. avatar Joe Alexander says:

    Smart assed Gun owners deserve ranges being closed when they tell others to wear ear muffs to kill the noise. I suspect this attitude will eventually lead to more closures and it will be the fault of gun owners.

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