In the range? - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

In the range?

Supreme Court to decide if shooting can resume at Farragut

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Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:50 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - Arguments before the Idaho Supreme Court on Wednesday differed on whether lives would be at stake if the injunction on the Farragut Shooting Range is lifted.

Idaho Fish and Game, which manages the range, has met the safety provisions set by a district judge to reopen to 500 shooters a year, said Kathleen Trever, representing the agency.

"Fish and Game's standard to open to 500 was unambiguous," Trever said. "Fish and Game has met that standard."

But Harvey Richman, representing a group of nearby residents who sued over fear of escaping bullets, disagreed.

The agency didn't follow expert advice in designing its new safety features, Richman argued. Ricochets could still escape the range, he said.

"The question is, will those ricochets then leave the range and rain down on the public and down-range property owners?" he said, speaking before the justices in a Coeur d'Alene courthouse.

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Fish and Game was appealing a district court ruling last year not to lift the injunction on the range.

Trever pointed out that the agency built several baffles at the shooting range, and made other adjustments to the 100-yard range.

That met Judge John Mitchell's standards to reopen to a limited number of shooters, she said.

Trever contended that Mitchell's ruling last year found the range failed to meet criteria not specified before, specifically NRA and Air Force Engineering Technical guidelines.

Mitchell's new push for additional installments of round baffles and eyebrow berms, that are "open-ended upon future hearings," establishes a "system of goal posts on wheels," she said.

The 2007 order on the case, Trever added, described that "except for the absence of baffles, the range is relatively safe."

Richman emphasized that Mitchell had stipulated no bullets escaping over the range backstop, no matter what.

"Let's assume there's a third way for bullets to leave the range. There's direct fire, ricochets and levitation," he said. "Maybe it's unlikely, but the judge made it clear, no bullets over the backstop."

An engineer with the U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed that "ricochets can and will escape the range," even with the new baffles, Richman said.

"I can't predict if it will be three bullets over the next 50 years, or every Monday," Richman said. "The point is, it's not safe."

Richman pointed out that engineer Clark Vargas had advised Fish and Game to install "at least 27 baffles as a minimum, and 34 as suggested as a maximum," to contain all ricochets.

"What happened here is Fish and Game went the cheap route," Richman said. "They built six, even though their expert said they needed more."

Both sides argued over applying new legislative noise standards to the range, which Mitchell had deemed unconstitutional.

Fish and Game had requested the Legislature establish a shooting facility noise standard, when the agency couldn't agree on the matter with neighbors, Trever said.

Although she said the new Idaho Outdoor Sport Shooting Range Act applies to the range, Richman disagreed. He questioned the Legislature creating a new standard in response to pending litigation affecting a state agency.

The statute's noise level is too high, he said.

"The plaintiffs are not saying the range must be silent," Richman said. "It must be reasonable in its noise."

Three incidents of bullets escaping the range resulted in a group of Bayview residents suing Fish and Game. An injunction has been placed on the range since February, 2007.

The Supreme Court justices will take the arguments under advisement and issue an opinion later.

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  • cda_boy posted at 8:05 am on Fri, Sep 21, 2012.

    cda_boy Posts: 30

    Totally agree with those below except of course Veeee, who is "one of them": NIMBY! There were accusations about bullets flying out of the Atlas range 10 years ago yet people still continue to build and buy closer and closer to the range. I remember when the Atlas range was a long way out of town, just like the Ramsey pit. People that are that stupid to purchase knowing what is next to them and then spend all their money and our tax money to fight it are just plain idiots. Probably from somewhere way down south. No, not Boise, keep going south.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 7:33 am on Fri, Sep 21, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Veering, the range "doesn't belong there", huh? According to WHAT?

    What doesn't belong is you....

  • Veeeee posted at 5:56 am on Fri, Sep 21, 2012.

    Veeeee Posts: 386

    A shooting range doesn't belong in a state park...get it the 'ell outta there. Fish and Game has mismanaged this property over the years....get 'em outta there! Turn the property over to Idaho Parks and be done with it. thank you

  • bionic man posted at 8:23 pm on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    it's a typical issue.......people by a house by an airport....they complain about the noise.....move the airport to satisfy them?????? for those people that live by/bought property by the an offer....I'll by you out so you won't have any offer 5 cents on the dollar for your appraised value.....I'll have cash in hand if you can provide the deed.........if you have any other complaints.......??????????

  • efromm posted at 6:09 pm on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    efromm Posts: 649

    The range is fine. Open it! I have been shooting there for decades. The amount of people who will use it will be less than they think. Unless there is a shooting event. I can't see the numbers they are claiming. These are the same people who move to Bay View and complain about the locals being locals. Unless someone is actually firing up in the air on purpose I can't see how they would catch bullets. And how do we know that the three bullets they claim hit their houses came from the range at all. For all we know they shot their houses themselves. The real bottom line is noise. They don't want to listen to the gun fire going off.

    I was talking to the guy who owns the Cda gun range on Atlas and he was telling me that they are going to allow houses to be built all around his gun club. And those houses are a lot closer than the Bay View Babies homes. The cda range has been there a very long time. As a kid my father and I went there all the time. I still go there. Now it's surrounded by homes. How many times do bullets hit those homes? I am not sure. I guess I will ask the next trip out there.

    At some point Farragut is going to grow. There is a lot of land there to develop. And talk about property rights. The people who used to own the park had it taken away so the navy base could be there. I find the over crowding of the lake from all the boaters being there more of an annoyance than guns going off.

  • Iceage posted at 11:00 am on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    Iceage Posts: 31

    The history on this case often get overlooked. Fish and Game screwed up. The regional homeowners were fine with the ranging being left as it was with the traditional number of shooters per year. Fish and Game however wanted to upgrade the facility from 500 shooters per year to an expected 500,000 per year with a 400 car parking lot! (no joke look it up). They even at one time early on in this process hoped to host the Washington National Guard! Fish and Game brought the nuisance to the region, as noted in the court proceedings, and would not back down on their grandiose plans of a shooter wood. Fish and Game blatantly disregarded basic property rights.

    No this is not like buying a home near an airport and then complaining about the noise unless the airport expanded from a region to an international airport.

    get 500,000 400 parking spots

  • mister d posted at 7:25 am on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Agree with all comments below.

  • I Carry posted at 7:08 am on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    I Carry Posts: 403

    As one could gather by my handle, I carry a firearm often.
    The folks who ae involved in this legal action need to get a life! Do Not Move Near A Shooting Range, then complain!!!!! There is an attorney that sold the complainers a bill of goods.
    Hopefully, the courts use common sense in this decision. In fact, hopefully everyone could use some common sense in these times.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 6:42 am on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    I agree with Jeffrey, 100%.
    ALL of the people that own homes anywhere near Farragut KNEW there was a range there, and now want to change it to make everything right for themselevs, and to heck with the people whose RIGHTS they have infringed.
    The Range should be OPEN to everyone, with no restriction.

    This is precisely the same as someone buying a house under an airport. They buy, THEN try to close the airport. Go back to Cali....

  • Jeffrey Wherley posted at 6:00 am on Thu, Sep 20, 2012.

    Jeffrey Wherley Posts: 3969

    This is a ridicules case. There is no design anywhere of an outdoor shooting range that could ever meet the standard that Mr Richman is trying to hold this range to. " no bullets over the backstop." is an impossible standard to meet anytime any where. The range was established long before anyone built homes down range and willingly accepted the risk of building there. That Idaho Fish and Game is willing to spend the money to reduce the chances should be enough. If it is a Real Hazard for the Houses in the area, the houses should be condemned as unsafe for habitation, by the county and the county should be sued for ever allowing them permits to be built.

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