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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 12:34 am

Reversing a district court decision, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Farragut Shooting Range has met all safety improvements required to reopen after a several-year injunction.

In a 5-0 decision, the justices found that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has met the injunction terms that allow for up to 500 shooters per year at the range.

The ruling followed an appeal hearing before the Supreme Court justices in September.

"This decision will once again allow public access to the Farragut range as a safe place to practice shooting sports, sighting-in firearms for hunting seasons and firearms education," stated Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore on Thursday.

The Supreme Court judgment reversed Judge John Mitchell's 2011 decision that Fish and Game had not partially complied with a 2007 injunctive order.

The justices also reversed Mitchell's holding that the 2008 Idaho Outdoor Sport Shooting Act - setting noise standards for ranges like Farragut - was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court lifted a component of the injunction to allow up to 500 shooters.

The justices also remanded the case back to the district court, to determine if Fish and Game has complied with other terms of the injunction that would allow for more than 500 shooters a year.

The range won't reopen to the public right away, a Fish and Game press release stated, because the range has traditionally been closed in the winter.

"We're pleased with the Idaho Supreme Court's ruling," Moore stated.

A court injunction had been placed on the roughly 160-acre Farragut range since February 2007, resulting from a lawsuit filed by Citizens Against Range Expansion.

The group of Bayview residents had sued Fish and Game over concern of stray bullets, noise and a planned range expansion.

Harvey Richman, attorney representing CARE members, said he was displeased with the Supreme Court's decision.

"I am surprised. But I must live with what it is," Richman said.

The next step will be to schedule a hearing to discuss if more shooters should be allowed at the range, he said.

The plaintiffs "comfortably believe" that more than 500 shooters won't be allowed, he said.

Experts have acknowledged that ricochets could still leave the range, he pointed out.

"There is simply no question that people down range are exposed to bullets," Richman said. "(Fish and Game) have spent a half million dollars, plus or minus, to open a range, and right now all they've got and all I believe they'll ever have is 500 a year. That's not a very good expenditure."

In the 2007 injunctive order, Mitchell had required specific safety improvements for the range to open back up to 500 shooters a year. Additional standards were required for more than 500 shooters.

Fish and Game invested about $260,000 to construct a partially contained 100-yard shooting range, and to install baffles and berms. The agency then sought a lifting of the injunction.

Mitchell ruled last year that the range couldn't open up to 500 shooters, however, because the new improvements didn't properly contain ricochets.

The judge also denied opening the range to more than 500 shooters. That stemmed from his determination that the legislature's new shooting act was unconstitutional as a special law, and a deprivation of judicial power.

Fish and Game had appealed.

Thursday's Supreme Court decision dubs it "baffling" that Mitchell decided the range's new overhead baffles don't meet the injunction's 500-shooter requirements.

"The district court's explanation of the what IDFG has done, and the text of the injunction, are identical," reads the Supreme Court decision.

The document also calls Mitchell's conclusion to not lift the injunction "unsupportable," and "clearly an abuse of the district court's discretion, requiring reversal."

In regard to the 2008 shooting act, the court deemed that the act is a general law, not a special law, because it applies to all shooting ranges in like situations.

It's not an unconstitutional deprivation of judicial power, the decision also reads, because it was a valid use of the legislature's police power.

The Supreme Court called for the case to be remanded to the district court to consider the safety and noise aspects of the 501-plus shooter standard, as Mitchell had based his decision only on the shooting act.

Court documents show that use of the range had been increasing, from 176 shooters in 2002 to at least 509 shooters in 2005.

The Supreme Court held that CARE is not entitled to attorneys' fees.

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14 comments:

  • lone wolf posted at 10:52 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    lone wolf Posts: 245

    Shooting ranges can now be built anywhere in Idaho and because of the noise legislation enacted by our legislators in 2008 (claiming police power) you will never be allowed to complain about noise. The 64dba level, averaged over one hour, 20 feet from an occupied resident is impossible to violate. Idaho State trumped your property rights and anyone can open a shooting range next to your property.
    The people lose and big brother wins!
    And they are:

    Oct. 20, 2012
    MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — The Latah County Zoning Commission in northern Idaho has approved a conditional-use permit for an ammunition maker to build an outdoor firing range after determining the county can't impose stricter noise limits than Idaho code.

    The commission approved the project by PNW Arms on Wednesday over concerns from neighbors, The Lewiston Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/QwKp64). Company officials said the range will likely be built next year to U.S. Air Force standards intended to prevent projectiles from escaping.

    An attorney told the commission that Idaho code specifies firing ranges can have noise at 64 decibels, and that the code prevents local governments from creating more stringent standards. The company said it wants to build the outdoor range and use it for law enforcement training and demonstrations of the company's ammunition.

    Charles Liptaak of PNW Arms told commissioners that the company performed a test at the potential firing range about three-quarters of a mile south of the company's factory in Potlatch. He said measurements found the sound was 61.2 decibels at the range and 54.9 decibels at the nearest house.

    He said that was a little lower than traffic passing on U.S. Highway 95.

    But three neighbors told commissioners they don't hear traffic on the highway, but notice the shots.

    Liptaak said the range will include a three-sided structure that will contain some noise, and that the range will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Latah-County-commission-OKs-outdoor-firing-range-3967406.php#ixzz2CPd1O4ZU

     
  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 9:41 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 183

    This fall I went to the shooting range off Atlas Road. I was very impressed by how the 'range official' controlled the shooting. Very professional and safe.

     
  • CaiusCosades posted at 9:05 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    CaiusCosades Posts: 380

    These ranges (Farragut and Hayden Creek) are good if you want to take the family down and pop off some rounds, but they're terrible for any sort of real sighting in of rifles, people are non-stop shooting you can never get the chance to go out and look at your targets to see where your hitting.

    My preference is to find some old dead end skid trail out in the middle of nowhere.

     
  • will-- posted at 8:33 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    will-- Posts: 1088

    Good decision.

    It's been more dangerous to the public during the years that the range has been closed and shooters have set up their own roadside shooting ranges. Now they can go to Farragut where it is much safer.

     
  • I Carry posted at 8:28 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 525

    Voxpop, I think the complianers should not live closer then 3000-4000 yards to a gun range. Why would anyone concerned about stray bullets move next to a shooting range then yap about it? I love ya man, but sometimes people have to be aware of what they are getting into.
    Case in point; I was looking at homes in Post Falls, but learned about Wal Mart moving in across the street. I chose eslewhere to live else where because of the congestion and noise I felt would be present in that area. Good Lord, people have to take care of themselves sometimes ! Do not move next to a gun range or an airport.
    Good on the court system.

     
  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 7:59 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 183

    I empathize with the persons living by the shooting range. However, the law is the law as determined by the Idaho Supreme Court as Mr. Richman stated they will have to live with it. I suggest that the real story, one that the Press should pursue, is the Supreme Court's statement that, "Reading the plain language of the injunction [J. Mitchell wrote it] to reach this unsupportable conclusion [J. Mitchell had absolutely no basis for his decision] was clearly an abuse of the district court's descretion [J. Mitchell, without question, acted inappropriately]."

     
  • mister d posted at 7:23 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Good decision from the courts.

     
  • My2sense posted at 7:08 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    My2sense Posts: 21

    You are absolutely correct!

     
  • Veeeee posted at 7:06 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Veeeee Posts: 420

    state park plus shooting range equals stupidity.

     
  • JoeIdaho posted at 6:23 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    I am THRILLED about this.

    And no,voxpop, your idea of what constitutes a "standard" is completely wrong; that's YOUR definition, nto the rest of ours. Of course, I'm just as sure you'd like to see our guns confiscated, too.

     
  • IDmtnman posted at 5:22 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    IDmtnman Posts: 54

    about time!!! I hope the judge makes this NIMBY group pay all legal expenses incurred by fish & game and others in defense of this ridiculous waste of time and money.

     
  • bob-athol posted at 5:01 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    bob-athol Posts: 192

    As locals to the park area, this ruling is good news for my family, neighbors and other avid hunting and sport shooters. We can't wait to begin using the facility. I realize some people are afraid of guns yet like cars, pets, electricity, flammable liquids, chemicals, prescription drugs, or other potentially hazardous items, they are both useful and beneficial when handled properly in addition to being a lot of fun. I do not know a single family member or friend who has been injured by a gun, ...... but I know plenty who have been injured by each of the other items I mentioned above.
    I have much more concern over the harm politicians do to Americans than any of my armed neighbors

     
  • voxpop posted at 4:24 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    The only standard for a shooting range should simply be that one could fire any legal weapon into the air at any angle and in any direction and not allow the natural trajectory (plus a standard 50% safety factor) to impact any other property owner. That has to be well over 3000-4000 yards. Anything else endangers others. There's more regulation over second hand smoke than gun fire.

     
  • Will Penny posted at 3:44 am on Fri, Nov 16, 2012.

    Will Penny Posts: 301

    GOOD!! Mitchell kept moving the goal posts. That little ploy did not go unnoticed bu the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also gave Mitchell a prettty good spanking in their decision, justifiably so. Of course getting reversed and spanked by a higher court is pretty normal for Mitchell.

     
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