Maine gun range lease in jeopardy over NRA affiliation

After two years of negotiation, Standish Town Council could vote to kill a lease proposal for a local gun range because of its affiliation with the National Rifle Association.(Photo: Standish Fish and Game Club/Facebook)

After two years of negotiation, Standish Town Council could vote to kill a lease proposal for a local gun range because of its affiliation with the National Rifle Association. (Photo: Standish Fish and Game Club/Facebook)

Officials in Standish, Maine could derail plans for a local gun range because of its affiliation with the National Rifle Association.

Town council will vote Tuesday on the Standish Fish and Game Club’s proposal to lease approximately 150 acres of land — on which the organization would construct a clubhouse, multiple shooting ranges and a picnic area. The deal, more than two years in the making, hit a snag in September when some residents learned the club requires its members also register with the NRA and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

“They are demanding the club change their by-laws and end this requirement,” said Greg Sirpis, the club’s president, in a joint statement with David Trahan, SAM’s executive director. “This is nothing more than anti-gun zealots trying to force this small private sportsman’s club to stop affiliating with parent organizations that can help them be successful.”

“Both organizations … are local and national leaders in building, training and supplying firearm consulting services,” the statement continued. “In addition, since when do non-members of a club get to tell a private club who they can’t associate with, especially since we are legitimate law abiding, non-discriminating organizations? … This is nothing more than jabbing a pointed stick in the eye of SAM, the NRA and law-abiding gun owners.”

It’s not the first time Trahan lent his voice — or the alliance’s name — in support of the Standish Fish and Game Club. He told the Lakes Region Weekly during an interview last month SAM would work to address residents’ concerns and “make things right.”

“I think SAM’s part in this can be resolved pretty easily,” he told Keep Me Current last week. “We don’t want to pick a fight with the people of Standish.”

The NRA likewise sent a message to its members last week encouraging attendance at the meeting in support of the club’s right to expand their gun range “without political interference.”

“Until recently, the discussions on this joint venture between the Town Council and the Club were positive,” the association said Thursday. “Now … they are demanding that the club change its by-laws and end this affiliation requirement before a new lease is to be approved. This demand is unreasonable and violates the First Amendment right of association by trying to dictate a private club’s affiliation with the parent organization that sets range safety standards and provides membership benefits.”