Proposed gun range ordinance controversy in Tiverton

By Dana Griffin


TIVERTON, RI- Gun range enthusiasts are concerned about a proposed ordinance that makes an 81–year-old gun club essentially illegal to operate. The proposed ordinance was allegedly adopted from a similar ordinance in Maine, but conflicts with Rhode Island state law.

In Tiverton, outdoor and indoor gun ranges may be subject to stricter rules and regulations if the proposed licensing ordinance is approved by the city council.

Tiverton Rod and Gun Club President, John Means said, “It’s just not fair to enact something 81–years later that potentially could shut us down.”

The ordinance came about after a commercial indoor shooting range was proposed for the town.

The ordinance requires lots of inspections and preliminary reviews for new gun ranges, but could affect existing ranges like the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club.

“From the set backs– the ranges having to be half a mile from an occupied dwelling, the ranges having to be 300–feet from the property lines– all of that can’t be met and it’s unrealistic for a pre–existing gun range,” said Means.

The ordinance also proposes that outdoor shooting can only occur one hour after sunrise, and one hour before sunset.

The Tiverton Rod and Gun Club just put several hundred thousand dollars into renovating its indoor range and says they can’t comply with certain aspects of the ordinance.

Town administrator, Matthew Wojcik says it’s only a draft and changes can still be made.

“You know what they say about legislation; it’s like sausage: If you really want to enjoy it, don’t watch it being made. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. You’ve got a very detailed proposal but the council can pick and choose what they want to keep in that proposal before they vote up or down on the entire piece,” said Matthew Wojcik.

The Tiverton Rod and Gun Club is willing to work with the city council to make changes that will keep everyone safe, and their club in operation.

Public hearings on the proposed gun range ordinance begin this Monday at 7:00 p.m.

If more than 100 people want to speak, the council may reschedule the hearing to accommodate for time and space.

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