Shooting Range Law

Michel & Associates’ Attorneys Provide Exceptional Legal Representation for Shooting Ranges Across the Country.

Leaders in Range Development and Protection Across the Nation 

Shooting ranges across the country face many legal compliance challenges. If your range faces permitting, zoning, noise, environmental, safety, or other legal issues, we can help.

Assisting shooting ranges is a specialized practice area for the lawyers at Michel & Associates, P.C. Our lawyers have considerable experience representing shooting ranges in litigation and in regulatory and administrative matters at the federal, state, and local levels. Michel & Associates is perhaps the only law firm in the country with diverse experience in the areas of firearms law, land use law, environmental law, and insurance law, collectively. Our many clients includes numerous shooting ranges and clubs, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA), corporations, firearms manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and individual gun owners.

Addressing Environmental Issues at Shooting Ranges:

Navigating the field of increasingly complex and stringent environmental laws and regulations has to be an integral part of operating a shooting range today. Shooting ranges across the country are subject to oversight from environmental regulators, politicians, and bureaucrats. But now, ranges are also being scrutinized by anti-gun owner groups as part of an effort to make it practically impossible to participate in shooting sports, and by neighbors of ranges using environmental claims as a pretext for trying to shut a range down due to noise or because they think that shutting down a nearby range will increase their property value. So range owners and operators need to be aware of their potential liability under environmental laws, especially soil and water contamination claims, no matter how unfounded or manufactured those claims may be.

Lead on shooting range property can be managed without much difficulty. But, in order to comply with all applicable federal, state, or local environmental laws, statutes, regulations, and ordinances and eliminate potential exposure to humans or wildlife, ranges should proactively anticipate and address environmental issues before they get out of hand.

Environmental issues can be more complicated if water is located on or near a range. The Clean Water Act prohibits certain contaminants from being deposited in wetlands and waterways. Like on-site lead, stormwater run-off can also be effectively managed or treated to maintain safety and eliminate violations. But, ranges should proactively and preemptively manage spent lead ammunition in backstops, berms, or beyond to avoid having to implement more expensive remediation measures after the fact.

To help ranges address these issues, Michel & Associates’ attorneys work with range clients and a panel of experts to develop an individualized Environmental Stewardship Plan (ESP) to manage lead on-site and to prevent lead from migrating off-site. As part of the ESP, we help ranges implement prevention and protection measures using customized Best Management Practices (BMP) with the latest technologies to make certain that a range is operating safely and environmental impact are properly controlled. We advise our shooting range clients on the use of current BMPs uniquely tailored to site-specific conditions.

We also advise ranges on proper clean-up, remediation, reclamation, and recycling of spent lead ammunition, cartridges, hulls, wads and targets on-site or off-site under RCRA , CERCLA, or other applicable laws. If lead has migrated off-site for any reason, we can advise on or litigate appropriate actions necessary to clean-up or remediate environmental issues to the satisfaction of regulatory agencies. Michel and Associates’ attorneys can also advise on, and have experience litigating, cost recovery actions and lawsuits for clean-up and remediation of contamination at both open and closed ranges under CERCLA. We can also litigate and advise on regulatory infractions/orders involving environmental issues such as Notices of Violation (NOV), cease and desist orders, and clean-up and abatement orders.

All of our combined expertise provides a range’s Board of Directors, management personnel, and range employees with the information they need to establish and maintain appropriate practices to help keep the range compliant, open, and operating safely.

Land Use Issues:

Regulations and restrictions on land use are a concern for all commercial property managers, but shooting ranges are increasingly the target of civil complaints. Many of these actions are thinly veiled attacks by private anti-gun activist groups seeking to limit public enjoyment of, and participation in, recreational shooting sports.  Michel & Associates’ attorneys are experienced in aggressively responding to these types of unfounded and pretextual complaints.

Most opposition to shooting ranges is led by local residents who don’t want ranges “in their backyards” (NIMBYS), either because they are concerned about noise and property values or simply because they do not like firearms. Often, citizens with a hidden agenda will complain about environmental issues as a pretext for attacking shooting ranges. NIMBYS may be supported by non-profit, anti-gun organizations or environmental extremist and activist groups with similar agendas. These activist groups sometimes attack unilaterally even where neighbors have not expressed any concerns.

Michel & Associates’ attorneys aggressively defend our range clients to oppose attempts by anti-gun groups, political activists, and NIMBYS attempting to shut down shooting ranges. Michel & Associates’ attorneys also represent and advise clients on permitting, licensing, and zoning issues involving state, county, and local municipalities related to shooting range operations. This typically involves obtaining or modifying “conditional use permits” (CUPs) or dealing with permitting and zoning issues involving the preservation of a “non-conforming use” status for a range under the local ordinances.

Michel & Associates’ attorneys further advise shooting ranges on range design and safety measures to address noise ordinance violations compliance, and to ensure safe operation of the range to prevent potential liability from regulatory actions or civil litigation.

If a shooting range is already facing regulatory actions or litigation relating to land use, we can advise on cost-effective mitigation strategies for range redesign or modification.

Noise Issues:

As residential development encroaches on shooting ranges, noise complaints are increasingly common. Michel & Associates lawyers represent and advise ranges on noise complaints by visitors to the area or neighboring property owners.

Our shooting association clients were instrumental in getting the California legislature to pass a law that offers protection to ranges against noise abatement proceedings and litigation. California Civil Code section 3482.1 immunizes many shooting ranges from private nuisance actions based on noise complaints. It also exempts shooting ranges from new changes or amendments to local noise ordinances.

Insurance Issues:

Shooting ranges need to recognize that their most valuable asset may be old and/or current insurance policies. This is especially true if your range has been around for decades. We assist ranges in compiling a complete historical insurance policy profile and reference file. A historic insurance profile will make it much easier to protect your range in the future if it becomes necessary. Historical insurance policies can literally be worth millions of dollars to a shooting range!

Our insurance law expertise allows us to maximize the potential for obtaining insurance coverage to cover litigation fees and costs.

 Corporate Structure and Formalities:

Shooting ranges on leased land are particularly vulnerable to actions to remove them from a site. Michel & Associates advise clients on leases, corporate structure, and proper corporate documents to maximize protection for shooting ranges, and to protect and minimize risk of liability to officers, directors, members and range personnel. We also assist ranges in negotiating lease extensions well before their expiration, utilizing range improvements for leveraging long-term leases.

Video: Michel & Associates’ attorney Lee Smith discusses range insurance at an NRA range seminar.

Michel & Associates, P.C. is prepared to resolve any land use issues our clients may have, and we tenaciously strive to achieve each client’s goals despite the procedural and political hurdles that may arise. Please contact us today to let us know how we can start helping you.

Michel & Associates can provide exceptional legal representation for ranges in all 50 states.

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ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT:  This communication or portions thereof may be considered "advertising" as defined by Section 6157(c) of the California Business and Professions Code or within the jurisdiction in which you are viewing this.  Nothing in the discussion above is intended to be a representation or guarantee about the outcome of any legal proceeding in which you may be involved.  By providing the information above in this format, Michel & Associates is not soliciting you to hire it to handle a specific legal matter you may currently have or be anticipating commencing in the future.  Notwithstanding the discussion above, you should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content on this site without seeking appropriate legal advice regarding your particular circumstances from an attorney licensed to practice law.  This communication is informational only and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Michel & Associates.  Michel & Associates's attorneys are licensed to practice in California, Texas, and the District of Columbia.