(Pay special attention to that last word -- 'regulated'. It's not in the bill as a word, but it's all over the intent of the bill.)
You can read the contents of the bill here. Note that it's not a new law, it actually amends (changes, adds) four existing laws. The changes are ... draconian.
Here is the main body of the ammendments:
A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to shooting ranges, creating new provisions; and amending ORS 166.171, 166.172, 166.180 and 467.131.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
- As used in this section, "shooting range" means a public or private shooting range, shooting gallery or other area designed, built or used for the purpose of targets shooting.
- The Department of State Police shall establish by rule safety procedures for shooting ranges. The rules shall include policies and procedures for the certification of rangemasters.
- Shooting ranges
4. All shooting ranges shall employ a rangemaster, who shall be certified by the department and shall be physically present at the shooting range at any time that firearms or other weapons are being discharged. The rangemaster shall insure that:
- (a) Control gunfire so that bullets or other projectiles do not cross the plane of the shooting range boundary and do not enter property adjacent to the shooting range, absent consent by the owner or occupant of the adjacent property;
- (b) Ensure that gates and doors are secured sufficiently to prevent unauthorized entry onto the premises, and
- (c) Ensure that local noise ordances are observed.
- (a) Weapon safety rules are prominently posted and are followed by all members and visitors on the premises of the shooting range.
- (b) All visitors to the shooting range provide identification and that their names are recorded in a log.
- (c) Alcoholic beverages are not consumed or posssessed by anyone on the premises; and
- (d) All firarms or other weapons that are brought onto the premises are recorded in a log book. The rangemaster shall cause to be recorded at least the following information:
- (A) The make and model of the weapon;
- (B) The caliber of the weapon;
- (C) The name and address of the person bringing the weapon onto the premises; and
- (D) The date and time that the weapon is brought onto the premises.
(There are other rules and amendments in this bill, but for the sake of brevity -- and because they aren't as egregious as the provisions already presented -- I'll ignore them for now. The above provisions are, except for minor typgraphical and formatting errors, a reasonable representation of this section of the bill.)
I have a few objections to the proposed provisions.
First: Non-differention of Public vs Private Range
This is the least important of my objections, except that it doesn't establish funding (from State budget) for a rangemaster for any 'Public' ranges. As far as I know, there are no 'Public' (ie ... owned and administered by state, county or local authority) ranges in the state of Oregon. However, there are two types of 'Private' ranges:
- Ranges owned and operated by private citizens who charge a fee for single-usage.
- Ranges owned and operated by 'clubs', which restrict admission to club members (who have paid an annual fee for membership), invited individual guests, and 'club guests' who are authorized entry and usage by virtue of entering a competition and paying a match fee, or spectators who pay a fee for the privilege of observing a competition or demonstration.
The second type is a non-profit (usually) venture which applies fees toward administrative, range-improvement and other operational expenses.
Having no 'Public' ranges, Oregon (as represented by its legislature) obviously can find no reason why it should not impose expenses on the operators of shooting ranges. I only mention this because it seems so disengenuous.
I admit, if Oregon did support and operate Public Ranges I would still complain because the cost of supporting a 'rangemaster' would impose a finance burden on the state budget.
Second: Financial burden on range owners/administrators
I know of no "club" range in the state which maintains either a daily or permanent employee, although at least one other range provides volunteer 'staff' in the form of people who patrol the range from time to time, usually on the weekends when formal activities (matches) may be expected to be scheduled.
Thus, the requirement to have a permanent employee available to act as 'rangemaster' (as defined by the bill) imposes a significant financial burden on every range ... which would probably be sufficiently expensive to discourage most ranges from attempting to continue operation.
This is a blatant attempt to discourage the continued operation of 'Private' club ranges by imposition of excessive expenses attendant upon daily range operation.
Third: De Facto Registration
Read again Section 1, subsection 4 (d).
Subsections 4(a) through 4(c) are just camouflage ... although according to subsection 4(c), if you intend to meet friends after the match and have a bottle of wine in your vehicle, you are in violation of that rule.
4(d) requrires the rangemaster to record personal and private information about the people who visit the range, including a list of firearms in their posession -- make, model and
This is a matter of firearms registration.
There is no enforcement clause included in the PRESENT form of the bill, which makes me suspicious . Any time you have a rule without an enforcement clause, you can bet that if this one somehow passes the smell test, the next step will to be imposition of a penalty for failure to follow instructions.
After registration comes confiscation.
Trust me. We see the camel's nose under the tent. As soon as some subterfuge is used to require a PUBLIC record of possession of a firearm at any point in time, another rule will be imposed to enforce the rule.
Next comes a rule to require maintenance ... the records must be maintained for x number of years.
After that, reporting to a supposedly benevolent State agency (the Department of State Police has already been mentioned .. any bets that the State Police will become the agency tasked with receiving and maintaining these records?)
At this point, Rule of Law is no longer necessary. It's only an administrative step to providing this information to other agencies ... which may be allowed, encouraged or even required.
Note that current law prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Taxes, Firearms and Explosives from retaining records of firearm sales transactions vetted through their agency for the sole purposes of determining that the potential purchaser of a firarm is not legally prohibited from said ownership.
There is currently no prohibition on BATFE acquisition and retention ... and use ... of firearms ownership records received from state agencies 'for other purposes', said records having been acquired according to local, county or state law.
And BATFE can do anything they want with those records.
Including breaking into your home in the dark of night to terrorize your family, arrest you, and confiscate your property.
All because you went to the range to enjoy a peaceful, perfectly legal day shooting your personally owned firearm of choice.
What else is in this bill?
Sections 2 and 3 of the bill remove from current law, exceptions to firearms regulations when the firearms owner is "A person discharging a firearm on a public or private shooting range, shooting gallery or other area designed and built for the purpose of target shooting".
These changes allow either a city or a county to "... adopt ordinances to regulate, restrict or prohibit the dischange of firearms ..." within their boundaries. In other words, it allows both county and municipal governments to outlaw shooting ranges, unilaterally and arbitrarily. Oh sure, the gun club or shooting range is still allowed to function and to invite the public or private members; but visitors just can't shoot on the shooting range.
Section 4 amends the opening clause of ORS 166.180 to read:
"Any person who, as a result of failure to use ordinary care under the circumstances, wounds another person or damages another's property with a bullet of shot from any firearm ... shall be punished by imprisonment ... or by a fine ... or both."The bold part ("or damages another's property") would be added to the existing law by this proposed bill.
Granted, it is generally considered to be a very bad thing to fire a round which may leave the premises of a shooting range. Competition rules, range rules, general safety rules, construction of berms and barriers and safety areas ... all of these steps are taken by shooting ranges and gun clubs to minimize the danger of a round leaving the range.
Supposing the unthinkable happens and a round leaves the range, what happens? Previously, if another person is injured the shooter is subject to imprisonment and/or fine. However, under the provision added by this bill the shooter is subject to same penalties for mere property damage. The term "damage", by the way, is not defined. If a round strikes a brick wall and chips a brick, is that punishable? If it strikes a tree and chips off some bark, is that punishable? If it lands in a fresh-mown lawn and digs a furrow or divot, is that punishable?
Why is property damage resulting from a round leaving a shooting range not recoverable through the civil courts, the same as property damage resulting from your neighbor's kid hitting a hardball through your living room picture window? Is the damage more egregious because it was caused by an Evil Firearm? I suspect so.
Section 5 of this bill deals with "noise polution". While this seems the mildest provision of the entire bill, this is the part which is most likely to put your local shooting range out of business.
Let's look at what it says:
ORS467.131 exempts shooting ranges (etc) from "... civil or criminal liability based upon an allegation of noise or noise pollution so long as ...
(2) The owner, operator or lessee [complied] is in compliance with any applicable noise control law or ordinance [existing at the time that construction of the shooting range began or no noise control law or ordinance was then existing]; [and]There are two more clauses to look at, but let's evaluate the changes in this clause.
The formatting conventions are in the original bill and faithfully reproduced here. Text which is in [italics] was in the original law and is being removed by this bill. Text which is shown in bold is new text to be added to or inserted into the existing law, as shown.
The result of the changes to the existing law is that shooting ranges were originally only required to be in compliance with the noise control laws or ordinances which existed when the range was built. Ranges enjoyed the protection of 'grandfather' when, for example, developers extended new home construction until it encroached on the area immediately adjacent to a pre-existing shooting range. Keep that thought in mind as you read on.
Also in Section 5:
(3) The allegation results from activity on the shooting range between the hours of 7am and  7 pm or conducted for law enforcement training purposes[.] ; andLooking back at the format ruiles, we see that this changes the legitimate hours of operation of a shooting range from 7am to 10pm TO 7am to 7pm. It also prohibits (essentially) the use of a shooting range on Christmas and Thanksgiving. (Well, you can be there, you can even shoot ... but if your new neighbors complain, you are subject to whatever penalties are defined in your friendly local noise ordinance.)
(4) The allegation does not result from activity on the shooting range on Christmas or Thanksgiving.
What's this all about?
When you ask yourself who would want these changes made, and who would have the political pull to get the new bill onto the senate floor, you end up asking who would best be served by removing shooting ranges. Note these don't control guns directly (although, if enacted, they would have a chilling effect on private firearms ownership).
The result of Sections 2 through 5 are that neighbors of shooting ranges are provided with weapons with which to nit-pick shooting ranges to death. A new gated community can enact whatever local ordinances it wants, and impose its will on its neighbors. Previously, shooting ranges in Oregon were protected by the Grandfather clause; that goes away immediately if this bill is voted into law.
Who would benefit from this?
Land developers. For years, Oregon gun clubs have been beset by nuisance complaints and lawsuits from developers who want to build houses near or adjacent to pre-existing shooting ranges, but the owners or lessees of the shooting ranges (rather, their lawyers) could point to existing laws which remove noise ordinances and incidental property damage from the tool-box availble to the developers.
The clauses being removed from existing law are EXACTLY the laws which protect the existance of shooting ranges, and as such are the REAL reason why this bill has been introduced.
Section 1 is a Red Herring. We are intended to look at that huge mass of obviously unacceptable NEW laws, with the hopes that we will overlook the 'minor, administrative' changes to the OLD laws. Sure, you're going to write to your state senator and talk about how Section 1 is terrible and serves no purpose. They may listen to you and vote to change the bill by removal of Section 1.
As bad as it is, the mere removal of Section 1 will not serve to protect shooting ranges from crippling lawsuits and loss of patronage. If you go to a shooting range and are sued by their neighbors because your kid wants to try his or her new noisy rifle on Christmas Day, you are probably not going back to that shooting range again (even though these laws apply to ALL shooting ranges, public and private, in Oregon).
This entire bill is a threat to the future existance of A Place To Shoot in Oregon, and I don't mean just the private indoor shooting range in North Portland but every place which has been designed, constructed and provide as a place where you can safely and legally take your private firearms for the purpose of shooting them.
If this bill passes, you might as well sell your reloading press because you won't be using a lot of ammunition any more.
Write Your Legislator:
I'm writing my state senator to complain about the low-down, underhanded way my representatives are trying to drive shooting ranges out of business (and sneak records of my private firearms ownership to the gun-grabbers.)
If you're an Oregon resident, I encourage you to write your State Senator as well. It wouldn't hurt to write your State Representative to the House, as well. If we don't stop this nasty thing at the Senate level, we'll have to rely only on our Congressmen to protect our rights.
But emails are often ignored. If you really want to be noticed, write a letter and send it by snail-mail. This is MUCH more effective and more likely to generate a reply.
If you don't know the name of your Oregon legislator (State Senate or House), you can go here to look him up. enter your street address and zip, it will return the names of both state and federal representatives.
Then, using that information, you can go here to get full contact information for representatives
Here you can get a PDF with mailing labels for all Oregon State Senators (and there's no reason why you should only write your own State Senator to register your disapproval), or you can get individual state senator information here.
One more thing:
When you write your representitive ... be nice. They may not be aware that this is a High-Profile issue yet. No need to beat them up when they haven't even had a chance to think about it.
You can beat them up later, in the elections, if they ignore your perfectly reasonable protest.
Thanks to SWMBO, and Peter, for bringing this issue to my attention. Thanks also to Mac who corrected some errors and out-of-date misinformation, and who is working to combat this new attack on the Shooting Sports.
UPDATE: Match 17, 2007
REMOVED text of my letter to my representative
REMOVED erroneous description of Oregon range employees
ADD information on contacting your State of Oregon representative, including non-email address
ADD comments about other, less obvious provisions of this bill.
AS OF THIS DATE, here are a list of firearms-rights and shooting sports websites which do NOT have any information on this bill:
Oregon Association of Shooting Ranges
Oregon State Shooting Association
Citizens Comittee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Second Amendment Foundation
GUNLAWS.COM (Oregon State Firearms Information)
National Rifle Association
NRA Institute for Legislative Action
... anybody else
UPDATE: March 21, 2007
The Shooting Wire has picked up this bill. See here.
UPDATE: March 22, 2007
* In Section 1, Item 3: Replaced the word
* Added sub-item designations, such as (a) and (A), to conform with the item designations found in the original bill text.
* Replaced the phrase "Ipsco Facto" with "De Facto" in a paragraph heading, for correct usage.
* Corrected a few unfortunate spelling errors in the commentary.