It has come to my attention that many shooting ranges in Massachusetts have been closed in response to Governor Baker’s recent order. It is my legal opinion that the order does not apply to outdoor ranges.
I believe a large part of the confusion was the inclusion, almost immediately followed by the exclusion, of retail gun stores and gun ranges among the list of locations not ordered to shut down. The precise language of that part of the order excluded workers supporting those businesses. At 1:35pm, on March 31, Governor Baker published a list of exemptions to the closure order. That list included “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges”. About three hours later, that list was amended to include only “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, importers, and distributors.” removing retailers and gun ranges.
To my knowledge, there are no workers supporting private gun ranges in Massachusetts.
I understand some have planned projects that are in the works, and those projects may eventually involve workers. However there are generally no workers involved in the day to day use of the ranges. If there are workers, they should immediately cease work, as ordered by the Governor. This includes and member volunteers or “work parties”.
Furthermore, the order, as published, instructs businesses and organizations to close “brick-and-mortar premises”. The intent of this order is to discourage or eliminate gatherings of people in enclosed places. The outdoor ranges are not brick-and-mortar premises. Indoor ranges and club houses could be considered such structures.
More importantly, the order specifically states:
This Order does not prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people in an unenclosed, outdoor space such as a park, athletic field, or parking lot.
Athletic and recreational activities that bring participants into close, physical contact are prohibited even when involving 10 or fewer people and regardless of where conducted.
Outdoor ranges certainly fit into this category.
I recommend, in an abundance of caution, that indoor ranges, outdoor shooting enclosures, and clubhouses be closed. I do not suggest this is necessary to comply with the specifics of the order, as the order only refers to “workers, customer, and the public”, and does not specify members, however I feel this would be more in the spirit of cooperation with the intent of the order.
If these clubs choose to reopen, I would suggest asking the membership to take home their trash (and brass), as there should be no workers, volunteers, or work parties to clean up the range.