Good news, the article draft has been edited to recognize that Wayland Rod & Gun Club is protected by MA Law.
There is still work to be done!
The petitioners continue to proceed with an article that will prevent “future or new” shooting ranges in Wayland and eliminate all hunting except on federal land. The town wants and needs to allow hunting to reduce the extremely high numbers of deer and prevent further spread of tick-bourne diseases.
If you are a Wayland resident, please submit information to the town in regards to these issues with the article.
Also, the first meeting about this article is scheduled for Thursday 10/4/18 discussion about the article is scheduled to start at approximately 8:00PM.
Wayland residents heads up! The anti Second Amendment group who attempted to force closure of Wayland Rod & Gun Club are back!
Their proposed article will come up for discussion/approval at the Wayland Finance Committee Meeting on October 4th at 7:30 PM – Wayland residents are invited to attend and answer questions from the committee. The Finance Committee will be voting on whether or not this article should be approved. Their vote will carry a lot of weight regarding the future of the article.
This group hopes to include an article on the November town meeting warrant which would include changes such as:
- Changing the 500 foot buffer for firearms discharge to 1000 feet.
- Eliminating the 500 foot exception for ranges outlined in Ch. 269, §12E (c, d, & e).
- Note, currently there are very few parcels of property in Wayland with >500 foot buffer, changing the bylaw to 1000 feet would effectively eliminate all private property as well.
Should this article make it to town warrant, and be approved, it would eliminate and make illegal any firearms discharge at the Wayland Rod & Gun Club.
GOAL urges all Wayland residents to attend this first meeting on October 4th in order to be available to answer questions from the Finance Committee as to why this article should not be approved. See below for talking points.
The Wayland Rod and Gun Club is a private membership, non-profit civic league for recreation, sports, leisure, and athletics, focusing specifically on fishing and hunting sport programs. The club has been in operation since 1928 at its present location on Meadowview Road. The facility contains both outdoor and indoor firing ranges. The facility’s use as a firing range is a pre-existing non-conforming use with grandfathering rights.
Additionally, the Article seeks to extend the buffer in the second of these permitted discharge areas from 500 feet of a building-in-use to 1000 feet of the nearest property line of a building-in-use.
The Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Wayland is governed by Federal law and allows for hunting waterfowl with a gun on the river between certain buoys. Because Town laws do not apply to federal land, permitted discharge of firearms in this area will not be changed.
This article does not mention or exclude police training. The Wayland Police Department (WPD) would not be able to conduct its firearms training in Wayland if this Article passes unless they can find a suitable site for a firing range not nearer than 1000 feet to the property line of a building-in-use. The WPD had been considering the development of a range near the Wayland landfill. That location would not meet the 1000 foot buffer.
Arguments against the article
The proposed article would effectively shut down the Wayland Rod and Gun Club (WRGC). The Club’s foundation in 1928 preceded the construction of all the abutting houses and houses within at least 1500 feet.. This proposed article changes long standing rules that have permitted the Rod and Gun Club to operate.
Passage of this article would prohibit the practical instruction and coaching of firearms safety and target shooting by all licensed gun owners, to athletes training for the biathlon and other competition shooting events and to recreational users. Youth groups such as the Boy Scouts would lose access to a local facility that provides for year round instruction, coaching and examination for the BSA Rifle Shooting Merit Badge.
Passage of the article would preclude the WPD from conducting firearms training within the Town, unless they can find a site at least 1000 feet from a building-in-use.
The laws of physics for sound propagation predict that lengthening the buffer for the discharge of firearms from 500 to 1000 feet results in a reduction of 6 decibels. The general acoustical rule is a 6 decibel reduction per doubling of distance. (See: http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-distance.htm). Some would argue that 6 decibels is too small a gain in noise reduction to justify the reduction in permissible hunting areas.
While some nearby towns have a ban on discharging firearms, it should be noted that some of these towns, such as Lexington, Concord and Weston, make exceptions for firing ranges. This proposed bylaw does not provide any exceptions for firing ranges within the buffer zone. Some towns also make exceptions for veterinarians.
At some point in the future, the town may need to explore culling the deer population to control ticks and the spread of tick-born diseases. Other adverse impact from excessive deer populations include browsing of tree saplings leading to loss of tree species diversity and browsing of understory plants leading to loss of flowering plant diversity, which can impact insects and other wildlife that depend on the both the plants and the insects, such as songbirds. Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife states that: “Wayland likely has a deer population that is over twice our recommended level.” Limiting the permissable areas for the discharge of firearms to roughly 4% of Wayland properties would decrease the effectiveness of deer control efforts.
There are residents who might agree with the limitation on hunting, but those same residents might disagree with conflating recreational shooting on ranges with their support of a limitation on hunting. Those residents would argue for a continued exemption from the 1000 feet buffer for firing ranges.
The WRGC asserts that there is a 75 feet high earth berm enclosing 90% of the most heavily used portion of the range. The remainder of the range has approximately 500 feet of heavily vegetated buffer between the range and the nearest houses. Both these characteristics are useful in reducing decibel levels. To quantify this: if the decibel level at 1 inch is 150 (160) decibels, then at 500 feet the decibel level will be 74.4 (84.4) decibels, assuming no mitigation. A 66 foot berm provides more than 20 decibels of attenuation. (See: http://bancroftfishandgame.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Range-Guidlines-sound.pdf). A busy restaurant is estimated to score about 65 decibels.
Some have argued that passage of this article may result in a potentially expensive legal challenge to the Town. The logic is as follows: By lengthening the buffer for discharge of firearms from 500 feet to 1000 feet, petitioners are seeking to modify MGL Ch. 269, §12E. But MGL Ch. 269, §12E is an “Exceptions” section, which provides that certain types of activity are not subject to penalties arising from the discharge of a firearm within a 500 foot perimeter of a building in use. Sub-section (d), is one of those exceptions. It states that penalties shall not apply to target or test ranges for discharge of firearms within 500 feet. The proposed Wayland By-law would void that exception. There is moreover another state statute, MGL Ch.217, §7, that explicitly prevents towns from imposing stronger noise mitigation rules on shooting ranges other than those required to meet state requirements and the WRGC meets those requirements. If Wayland adopts this by-law because it fears 500 feet is an unsafe buffer, it would make sense to continue the exception for firing ranges because firing ranges don’t pose a threat to safety. On the other hand, if the goal is additional noise reduction, that is precluded by MGL Ch.217, §7. Thus it is unlikely that the courts would enforce a limitation on discharge of firearms at WRGC unless it is outside the 1000 feet buffer of a building in use.