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Proposed bill would protect gun clubs from some noise laws

February 04, 2005|by TAMELA BAKER

tammyb@herald-mail.com

ANNAPOLIS- Gunshots can make a lot of noise. So much noise, apparently, that some Allegany County residents have complained to the Maryland Department of the Environment about the racket emanating from a gun club near their new homes.

The noise from gun clubs, they say, violates noise control ordinances - even though those ordinances were passed long after the gun clubs were in existence.

Western Maryland legislators have responded by drafting a bill exempting existing gun clubs in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties from county or municipal noise controls.

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The bill originated with Garrett and Allegany county lawmakers, according to Del. LeRoy E. Myers, R-Washington/Allegany. The Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly agreed to sign on this week.

While the MDE has noise controls with which gun clubs must comply, this bill deals with additional noise control ordinances that would otherwise affect them, said Del. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett. The bill was drafted "to protect the clubs that were already there" before such ordinances were approved.

Edwards said the problem developed because these shooting ranges originally were in rural areas, but new developments had been constructed close by.

"We're just trying to preserve tradition in Western Maryland," Edwards said.

MDE is investigating one Western Maryland club for not complying with its noise controls, he said. The bill would protect clubs already in compliance by the legislation's effective date - which hasn't been set.

Myers brought the bill to the Washington County Delegation this week, calling it a "proactive" measure to protect existing shooting ranges in the county.

Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank concurred.

"We're trying to hang on to a piece of what it means to be in Washington County," he said.

The bill would send the message that "if you move into this area, be aware" that the ranges - and the noise - are there, Shank said.

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