Shooting ranges can be loud, obviously. So, naturally the thought of building a house next to one, or in the vicinity of one, and expecting not to be exposed to or inconvenienced by the audible report of gunfire seems, at least, a tad bit naïve.
Yet, as the novelist Dean Koontz accurately points out, “Human beings can always be relied upon to exert, with vigor, their God-given right to be stupid.”
That is to say, people build houses next to existing gun ranges and then become pissed off by the ambient ‘noise pollution’ – so much so that they file lawsuits against the owners of the range and/or petition their local governments to pass ‘noise control’ legislation.
To put an end to this impropriety (for lack of a better word) in the Evergreen State, Rep. Dean Takko, (D-Longview), introduced House Bill 1508 into the state legislature. The bill is specifically designed to protect shooting ranges from noise-related civil and criminal legal action.
H.B. 1508 states:
A person who operates or uses a sport shooting range in this state shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the date of construction or initial operation of the range.
The bill sets up a grandfather clause for existing shooting ranges. New ordinances or new noise control restraints passed by local governments would not effect those shooting ranges that have an established history in a community, neighborhood, etc. In short, a shooting range is only accountable to the laws that existed during the time of its construction.
Sport shooting ranges that are currently under construction would have to heed to the latest laws and regulations.
As for the protection of the owner(s) of shooting ranges from noise-related legal action, the bill states:
A person who acquires title to or who owns real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved sport shooting range shall not maintain a nuisance action against the person who owns the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede the use of the range where there has not been a substantial change in the nature of the use of the range. This subsection does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range.
In other words, if one buys and/or builds a home near an existing range he/she can’t sue the range owner(s) for noise issues.
We’ll keep you posted on the progress of this bill makes as it makes its way through the Washington State legislature.
That said, if people had the common sense not to build a house near a gun range, there would be no need for this legislation. But as we are so often reminded, the problem with common sense is that it’s not all that common.