Pierce council approves gun range measure

Staff writerAugust 13, 2013 

Shooters take aim on the public pistol range at the Tacoma Sportsmens Club in the Fredrickson area.

PETER HALEY — Staff photographer Buy Photo

The Pierce County Council approved a measure Tuesday night that protects existing gun ranges from potential noise and nuisance complaints and lawsuits.

The code additions say shooting ranges in unincorporated parts of the county won’t be subject to civil actions and criminal prosecution over noise.

But the council amended the proposal to maintain current limits on shooting range hours from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Before it can go into effect, state law says the measure’s provisions must be approved by the state Department of Ecology.

The measure will protect five shooting ranges: the Tacoma Sportsmen’s Club, in the Frederickson area; Paul Bunyan Rifle and Sportsman’s Club, on South Hill near Graham; Sumner Sportsmen’s Association, between Sumner and Orting; Upper Nisqually Sportsman’s Club, outside Eatonville; and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s practice range, near Roy.

The measure does not apply to ranges in University Place and Gig Harbor because they are within city limits.

The council voted 4-0 to adopt the code changes at an in-district meeting at the Orting Lions Club. A minimum of four members must be present to have a quorum. Three council members were absent: Stan Flemming, R-Gig Harbor; Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma; and Rick Talbert, D-Tacoma.

Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said the code changes provide “very reasonable protection” for gun clubs that have been good neighbors and provide a valuable service.

Several supporters from a crowd of 50 people urged the council to approve the protections.

But there were opponents on hand. Allen Hodges of Lakewood objected to the measure, saying it wasn’t reviewed by the county’s firearms advisory commission as stated in the county code. That commission lacks a quorum and hasn’t been meeting.

Council member Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, said he sent the measure to current members of the advisory commission and added that he’s “very comfortable” with the review process.

The proposal was approved with little conflict.

But earlier Tuesday, Charlie Flanagan, who lives near the Sheriff’s Department’s range, called The News Tribune to voice his opposition to the measure.

Flanagan said he hears noise every weekday the range is open.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Flanagan, who lives about a block-and-a-half from the range. “The guns are much louder than they used to be.

“We have a right to have some peace and quiet,” he said.

Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647

steve.maynard@thenewstribune.com

@TNTstevemaynard

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