MA Gun Ranges Back In Business As Governor Releases Reopen Plan

MA Gun Ranges Back In Business As Governor Releases Reopen Plan

Almost two weeks ago, gun stores in Massachusetts were given the green light to reopen when a federal judge granted an injunction that blocked Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency orders declaring gun stores non-essential. Now gun ranges have been told by the state that they can reopen as well, and this time it didn’t take a court order.

Baker released his Reopen Massachusetts plan on Monday, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that the guidance includes both indoor and outdoor ranges in the businesses that are allowed to immediately reopen, albeit with certain social distancing measures in place.

  • All persons, including employees, customers, and vendors should remain at least six feet apart to the greatest extent possible, both inside and outside workplaces
  • Establish protocols to ensure that employees can practice adequate social distancing
  • Provide signage for safe social distancing
  • Require face coverings or masks for all employees
  • Provide hand washing capabilities throughout the workplace
  • Ensure frequent hand washing by employees and adequate supplies to do so
  • Provide regular sanitization of high touch areas, such as workstations, equipment, screens, doorknobs, restrooms throughout work site
  • Provide training for employees regarding the social distancing and hygiene protocols
  • Employees who are displaying COVID19-like symptoms do not report to work
  • Establish a plan for employees getting ill from Covid-19 at work, and a return-to-work plan
  • Establish and maintain cleaning protocols specific to the business
  • When an active employee is diagnosed with COVID19, cleaning and disinfecting must be performed
  • Disinfection of all common surfaces must take place at intervals appropriate to said workplace

That’s a pretty long list of requirements, though I suspect that it’s doable for most ranges in the state, which have been closed for nearly two months now.

Back on May 7th, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock granted a temporary injunction against Gov. Baker’s order to close gun stores, but didn’t include ranges in his decision because he said there wasn’t enough evidence presented regarding range closures during emergency hearings. Still, the judge made it clear that under Baker’s order, the Second Amendment rights of Massachusetts residents were being violated.

Woodlock, during a hearing held remotely by videoconference because of the pandemic, said he understood “this is a small corner of a large issue that the governor is grappling with and undoubtedly has not been at focus of his attention.”

“But that individuals who have rights under the Constitution find those rights burdened and without explanation means that they have a day in court,” he said.

He cited a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to own guns for self-defense inside the home.
Baker has yet to appeal Woodlock’s decision, and now that the state is beginning to reopen I suspect he’ll take the loss rather than risk another loss at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The good news for gun owners (and those who want to purchase a firearm for the first time) is that, for now anyway, they can now purchase a firearm and train with it as well.