Don’t Shoot from the Hip: Plan and Regulate Shooting Ranges

Zoning Practice — December 2013

By Erica Rocha, Dwight Merriam, FAICP


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Many shooting ranges and gun clubs either predate zoning or were established as asof-right uses. In some cases, residential uses crept up on a range or club over time, in what is sometimes characterized as "coming to the nuisance," creating a standoff between those who engage in shooting sports and neighbors who find the off-site impacts intolerable.

Careful planning and government regulation can take certain steps to ensure that shooting ranges are good neighbors. Local governments that are interested in regulating shooting rages should take a realistic approach to addressing noise, safety, and environmental issues.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how appropriate site planning and development regulations can minimize nuisance claims and potential public health risks associated with shooting ranges. And it highlights site conditions and operational characteristics that may merit use-specific zoning standards.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 2013
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American Planning Association

About the Authors

Erica Rocha

Dwight Merriam, FAICP
Dwight Merriam, FAICP, a lawyer and land use planner, is a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a Fellow and Past President and of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Past Chair of the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, a Counselor of Real Estate, and the Connecticut member of Owners’ Counsel of America. Dwight taught for 40 years as an adjunct professor in several law schools. He has published over 200 articles and 13 books, including co- authoring the casebook, PLANNING AND CONTROL OF LAND DEVELOPMENT, and co-authoring the treatise RATHKOPF’S THE LAW OF ZONING AND PLANNING with Prof. Sara Bronin. He is the author of CONNECTICUT LAND USE LAW and Practice 4th. Dwight served as an active duty and reserve Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, including three Vietnam deployments, retiring after 31 years as a Captain. UMass BA (cum laude), UNC MRP, and Yale JD.