Sport Shooting Range Protection Act

Discussion in 'GA Laws and Politics' started by Malum Prohibitum, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    § 41-1-9. Sport shooting ranges

    (a) As used in this Code section, the term:

    (1) "Person" means an individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or unincorporated association.

    (2) "Sport shooting range" or "range" means an area designated and operated by a person for the sport shooting of firearms and not available for such use by the general public without payment of a fee, membership contribution, or dues or by invitation of an authorized person, or any area so designated and operated by a unit of government, regardless of the terms of admission thereto.

    (3) "Unit of government" means any of the departments, agencies, authorities, or political subdivisions of the state, cities, municipal corporations, townships, or villages and any of their respective departments, agencies, or authorities.

    (b) No sport shooting range shall be or shall become a nuisance, either public or private, solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of such range if the range has been in operation for one year since the date on which it commenced operation as a sport shooting range. Subsequent physical expansion of the range or expansion of the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes of this Code section.

    (c) No sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms shall be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the range on the date on which it commenced operation.

    (d) No rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, noise pollution, or noise abatement adopted or enacted by a unit of government shall be applied retroactively to prohibit conduct at a sport shooting range, which conduct was lawful and being engaged in prior to the adoption or enactment of such rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances.

    HISTORY: Code 1981, § 41-1-9, enacted by Ga. L. 1997, p. 796, § 1.
     
  2. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    This looks like it would cover an individual's range on his own property (back yard) lawfully operating for one year so that no new ordinance or nuisance lawsuit could stop it. This assumes the shooting complies with all the local ordinances when he starts shooting and for one year afterward.

    Or am I only seeing what I want to see?

    Opinions?
     

  3. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Doesn't look like it could be used for evil.
     
  4. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, I mean, is there anything that would appear to limit it to an organized range, rather than just a place where I shoot.

    Like the language about "operating."
     
  5. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    Etowah Valley Sporting Clays is in litigation right now with Dawson County that turns on this statute. We'll see shortly if judges are going to follow it or dodge it.
     
  6. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Any more information or news links, kkennett?
     
  7. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    Richard has an open letter on the front page and an update in the links list posted here: http://www.etowahvalleysporting.com/

    The Dawson Advertiser has also published several articles over the last year, which can be found on their website with an archives search, here:
    http://www.dawsonadvertiser.com/shared- ... h=advanced Type in something like 'etowah' and 'clay' or 'gun' or 'shotgun' or some sort.

    Richard has generally prevailed in the court so far and I think will in the future. Basically Dawson leased him the land for 25 years for a shotgun park, he built it out, people later complained about noise, then they tried to revoke the lease. I would think this sort of junk from the Dawson Commission would make the Riverbend people quite nervous, but I understand they have been of little help thus far.
     
  8. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Wow! :shock: Some government officials have no integrity. This makes me want to go and spend money at Etowah Valley Sporting Clays.

    It looks like a really nice facility.

    Maybe the General Assembly should add an attorney fee provision to O.C.G.A. 41-1-9!
     
  9. kkennett

    kkennett New Member

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    Yes, Richard has a very nice lodge. He has delayed completion until the legal cloud clears. They have a 12 station, riding, clays course; 6 station short course; 5 stand; and grading done for skeet and trap. If you really want to get upset, consider that the noise problem didn't even come up until the County cut the timber on many of the acres surrounding that which they leased to him. While the judge did not grant what the County at the preliminary injunction hearings, he didn't have the stones to dismiss the case altogether. He did say that the case appears to be squarely controlled by the statute. I'm hoping at trial time he'll respond to motion for dismissal or directed verdict.
     
  10. Macktee

    Macktee New Member

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    Really? Ya truly tink so?

    I'm just completely shocked and surprised by that statement....! :shock:

    We all know elected officials have absolute integrity of the highest level and their honor is always above reproach.

    Who is youse tubee impun'n da integrities of our elected officials?

    What ar' youse anyways, sum kinda honesty freak er sumtin?
    :screwy:
     
  11. Wiley

    Wiley New Member

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    From the sound of what you posted, MP, if you setup and took one shot in your back yard, the law would cover you to continue.

    I'm sure we would all make a concerted effort to help you establish continued use and operation of your range on President's Day, 4th of July, Memorial Day, St. Swithins Day, Christmas AND Boxing Day, New Year's Day (Gegorian, Julian, Chinese, and Jewish), the Vernal and Autumnal Equenox, etc. :) Might could even help on some of the minor holidays, too.
     
  12. Rammstein

    Rammstein New Member

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    Hell...I'm such a nice guy I'll even help out on non-holidays. :D
     
  13. foshizzle

    foshizzle New Member

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    I think the burden of proof would be with you. You would probably need to convince the governing body that you did indeed operate a "sport shooting range" at least one year prior. Maybe it could get worked into a home appraisal or something?

    Wouldn't it be great if you could prove you operated a private shooting range in your backyard 30 years ago... providing you lived in the same house since 1976 and lived in Midtown? It doesn't specify that you have to have continuous operations... just that you had "an operation". That would be so badass to open up a trap range in your 10' backyard off of Piedmont!!!! Full auto allowed of course.

    It could probably become a "nuisance" if it's status was changed not due to reasons SOLELY listed in that code section. reasons totally unrelated to that code section may apply if in conjunction with others that were otherwise listed.

    If the tree huggers declare your land a butterfly refuge, I doubt that law will protect you. That is probably what they will do if they want you out. Harder to fight the EPA than GA law.
     
  14. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately, while I have been shooting legally on my land for 15 years, I am not sure this law will offer me any protection. They built houses right next to my property, fifty feet from my property line (and cleared trees right up to the line! :evil: ) and there is a 100 yard area in which, by county ordinance (not a new ordinance) one may not shoot without the permission of the owner of an occupied dwelling. This made me have to step off the driveway next to my house in order to shoot.

    Now the neighbor on the other side has chosen to build a house. It looks like where the corner stakes are that there are going to be very few places where I can shoot without asking the permission of those around me.

    The whole area had no land under 7 acres when I moved down there. They are quickly dividing it up into 1.6 acre lots and clearing all the forest.
    1.6 acres is the "rual reserve" zoning. :roll:

    A year or so ago I could not see any neighbors or the road from my house.

    Anyway, while the statute mentions "changed conditions," I am not sure that includes the new construction, since the ordinance is not new. In other words, if I had more land, then the new neighbors could not complain if I were in excess of 100 yards, but since there are now 100 yard areas extending into my land, I must avoid them to be legal, which is going to be very difficult (or get permission, :evil: ).

    Permission to do what I have been doing legally for a decade and a half . . .

    Permission from people who swiftly are turning the countryside into suburbs.
     
  15. Wiley

    Wiley New Member

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    If your 'range' predates the County Ord. then you might be able to invoke the state law and pre-emption?
     
  16. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

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    Nope, the ordinance has always been there. It is just there there were not any houses within 100 yards of me! :D

    Now, thanks to the attitude that the country the city it doesn't matter build all over it like it is the city mentality, I have three houses 50 feet or so from my property line.

    They have really beautiful views - of my woods! :evil:
     
  17. BergerBoy

    BergerBoy New Member

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    I also looked into that law a few weeks ago into to see if some of my family's country property could qualify as a "shooting range". It seems you would be protected from the new-comers.

    I'm also having a heck of a time remembering where I heard this from......here's a story I was told by someone a few years back.

    A guy lived on a tract of land in the country and always shot on his property. The land has been in his family for a looong time. Well a couple from the city bought the land next to his and built a home on it. About a month after moving into their new home, the couple called the law on the neighbor for shooting near their house. The guy that was shooting took some time to look up the history of his land and the law where he lived, and something funny happened...his property was legally considered a shooting range. And according to the law, noone is legally allowed to build a home within whatever distance (seems like it was 300 feet) of an established shooting range. I can't remember if the couple had to put up with the shooting or move their house......I can't remember where the guy lived, either.

    Oh well, sorry about the random spiel!
     
  18. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Nuisance

    So there's just no such thing as a nuisance range anymore, for any range that is used at least occasionally for a year without any legal action being taken against it? Is that REALLY fair to the neighbors? How would you feel if such a law were applied to rock quarries, farms, slaughterhouses, etc?

    If you normally shoot .22 LR guns off your back deck, and your neighbors are used to that and have no complaints, but then you decide to start practicing daily (at least 5 shooting sessions a week, minimum of 100 rounds fired each session) with your AR-15. This is after all the vacant land around your home has been sold-off for building lots, and you now live in a neighborhood with several homes with families within a hundred yards of your back deck

    Oh, and you start doing some after-dark night shooting (by flashlight, using your weapon's red dot sight). In the summer, this night training doesn't start until 9:30 p.m.

    And you invite your buddy with the .50 BMG counter-sniper rifle to come over every weekend and pop off a few rounds, right around the time the family next door has their dinner after church on Sunday....

    is it right that despite your sudden increase in the noise you produce from your range, your neighbors have no recourse but to deal with it, even though it may interfere with their ability to enjoy their land, the land they bought with their hard-earned money (the same land you chose not to buy)?

    In rare and extreme circumstances such as those described above, I think a court should have the ability to entertain a nuisance action and grant an injunction that limits when the range can be used and sets reasonable limits on how many rounds can be fired in one session, with the noisier calibers being more restricted than the quieter calibers (or guns used with silencers).
     
  19. Gunstar1

    Gunstar1 Administrator

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    They do.

    The law says that you cannot violate current laws passed after you built your range (like noise), that if others move in and complain, you can only be judged by the laws that were in force when you started.

    So that if someone moves in and complains about sporatic or even constant firing, you can only be judged on the ordinance in force when you began shooting (at least over a year before).


    As for the rest... It is called buyer beware. Who should be at fault, the person who has shot on their own land for years, or the person who bought some land and moved in without checking out the neighbors or the activities held on the surrounding land?

    The real question is, does that mean that since MP's original range was there first and someone built a house too close to the range, that it is not MP's duty to move the range or that he cannot be charged for having one within 100 yards and the neighbors have to either live with it or move the house further away.
     
  20. Wiley

    Wiley New Member

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    There ya go MP! Tell the neighbors to put the wheels back on their houses and move 'em. :rotfl:

    And, as I suggested earlier, we could encourage them to be happy to do so. :lol:

    Seriously, bummer getting surounded with no recourse.