Just a few days after the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol clubs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the closure of outdoor ranges in the state, Governor Phil Murphy has issued new executive orders allowing outdoor ranges to reopen this Friday. Murphy is no friend of gun owners and no fan of the Second Amendment, but he may have realized that he was likely to suffer a legal defeat if he attempted to reopen portions of the state’s economy while keeping ranges on lockdown.

Under the governor’s new order “outdoor recreational businesses” can reopen beginning on May 22nd, as long as they adhere to some pretty restrictive social distancing guidelines, including a limit of ten people at the range at any given time.

  • Using electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems;
  • Prohibiting impermissible gatherings;
  • Installing physical barriers between employees and customers;
  • Limiting the use of equipment to one person;
  • Implementing social distancing measures in commonly used areas, including demarcation and signage;
  • Infection control and hygiene practices;
  • Providing sanitization materials to employees;
  • Frequent sanitization of high-touch areas; and
  • Limiting occupancy of restrooms.

It seems silly to limit the use of outdoor ranges to a handful of people, especially if the range is set up to handle far more. The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs range, for example, has 47 firing stations at the handgun range, 70 stations at the rifle range, 25 spots on the firing line at the rimfire range, as well as a long distance rifle range and a shotgun range that can hold dozens of more shooters. Murphy’s new rule means that the ANJRPC range will be forced to open at less than 10-percent of its capacity, despite the fact that it’s an outdoor facility and the risk of coronavirus transmission is very small. In fact, the state’s parks and beaches are reopening, and there’ll be a lot more than ten people in the sand at any given time this coming weekend.

There’s absolutely no scientific justification for Murphy to demand that outdoor ranges allow only a handful of gun owners to head to the firing line, but the ANJRPC says over the past few months the governor has made it clear that his executive orders closing gun stores and ranges have had far more to do with his anti-gun mentality than trying to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

What’s more, Governor Murphy’s overt hatred for the Second Amendment is laid bare in his executive order, which ironically declares that non-vital retailers like liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and cell phone stores are “essential” and therefore can stay open, while ranges are not “essential” and must close.
Governor Murphy has even admitted that his assault on the Second Amendment was motivated by his hatred of guns, not by safety concerns about Coronavirus. When recently asked by a reporter why he didn’t deem Second Amendment facilities to be “essential,” he stated “a safer society for my taste has fewer guns and not more guns.”He said nothing about Coronavirus, which is apparently just his pretext for shutting down the Second Amendment.
I’ll be speaking with ANJRPC executive director Scott Bach about the reopening of outdoor ranges on tomorrow’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, as well as the possibility of a separate lawsuit challenging the closure of indoor ranges, which have not been allowed to reopen under Murphy’s latest order.