Tiverton Council adopts gun range ordinance

Randy Lebeau, who wants to build a gun range on Main Road, spoke first, opposing the ordinance. Photo by Tim Marshall Randy Lebeau, who wants to build a gun range on Main Road, spoke first, opposing the ordinance. Photo by Tim Marshall

Randy Lebeau, who wants to build a gun range on Main Road, spoke first, opposing the ordinance.

Randy Lebeau, who wants to build a gun range on Main Road, spoke first, opposing the ordinance.

TIVERTON — By a vote of 5-2 Tiverton’s Town Council passed an ordinance last night that will require the licensing of indoor gun ranges in the town.

The vote came after a two-and-a-half hour public hearing, and another hour–and-a-half of debate among council members, in a Tiverton High School auditorium packed with several hundred spectators. The crowd included members and supporters of the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club, and gun enthusiasts from Tiverton and around the state and Massachusetts. It also included residents favoring the ordinance.

Adhering to admonitions from Town Council President Ed Roderick, the audience mostly refrained from vocal outbursts, applauding speakers only occasionally.

Of the 33 speakers who spoke for and against the proposed ordinance, Randy Lebeau, owner and operator of Sakonnet River Outfitters, a Tiverton gun shop, was the first. Mr. Lebeau’s plans to develop a gun range on Main Road at Haskins Avenue had triggered council action to create a licensing ordinance and regulatory framework for such facilities. His comments were brief.

“What’s going on here tonight shouldn’t be happening,” he said. He said Town Solicitor Andrew Teitz had failed to advise the council that it’s the chief of police who should be licensing gun ranges, then said, “I’m done, I’m done,” and left the podium.

Mr. Lebeau was referring to a statute that in its first part says the police chief can be the licensing authority and in the last sentence says the licensing authority is the town council where the town charter so provides (as Tiverton’s does). Mr. Lebeau remained in the audience the rest of the long evening while speaker after speaker took a four-minute (a limit imposed by Council President Ed Roderick) turn at the microphone.

When the vote came, Councilors Jim Arruda and Joan Chabot voted against adoption of the new licensing ordinance. Among other requirements, the new ordinance will require all indoor licensing facilities in town, including the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club, to be licensed by the town. They must carry liability insurance, and their principals must undergo background checks. Licenses would be granted, or denied, annually at the discretion of the Town council following a public hearing.

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5 Comments

  1. GoogleUser3 said:

    I am very surprised that the Tiverton Town Council totally failed to hear the community majority last night and acted irresponsibly by adopting this ‘licensing’ scheme, knowing full well it will affect a community non-profit club that has been in existence for 80 plus years and is one of the towns biggest taxpayers! This is all due to the fact that the town zoning board has been asleep at the wheel for eons and now the Town Council ‘liberals’ must run over a well established taxpaying citizens ‘club’ by a back door ordinance with monetary consequences! Shameful! Absolutely shameful!

  2. Snidely Whiplash said:

    This whole thing is odd. It’s odd that Mr. Lebeau would choose to locate his business in the middle of a residential area. Did he really think the idea of heavily armed strangers wouldn’t ruffle some feathers? If he had found a commercial location in a different part of town, this whole might never have happened. It was a bad business decision on his part. It’s also odd that the council would throw out the baby with the bathwater by not grandfathering the Rod & Gun Club. That’s the real shame, and a bad mistake on the part of the council that most members will pay for in the next election.

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