May 26, 2020

Massachusetts: Firearms/Archery Ranges and Charter Boats Operational under State’s Phased Reopening Plan

Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator

Beginning on May 18, Massachusetts implemented the first phase of the State’s reopening plan, which brought exciting news for sportsmen and women. The first phase of the reopening plan, COVID-19 Order No. 33, saw the reopening of “Firearms retailers and shooting ranges,” the former having been opened more than a week prior to the Governor’s order as a result of legal action.

Massachusetts’ firearms retailers have endured quite the unusual treatment over the past few months. At first, they were authorized to remain open during the Governor’s earlier COVID-19 response, but this was quickly reversed on March 31, during which the brick and mortar gun shops were instructed to close their doors. This decision prompted Co-Chairs of the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to issue a letter of consideration to the Governor, requesting firearms retailers and shooting ranges to be listed as “essential businesses.” Legal action was also taken against the Governor by a number of firearms owners and retailers, resulting in a U.S. District Court Judge ordering a preliminary injunction on the matter, authorizing firearms retailers to resume operations on Saturday, May 9. However, the same cannot be said for ranges.

Since March 31, shooting ranges had been closed, but that changed on May 18, wherein the Bay State’s recreational shooting community has been able to enjoy the restored ability of heading to the range and pursuing its time-honored tradition while practicing the necessary health and safety rules and guidelines. This week brings continued cause for celebration, as several other sporting practices have reopened in Massachusetts as well.

As of yesterday, May 25, “Certain Outdoor Recreational Activities and Facilities” have been reauthorized to operate in the State, including “for hire and charter fishing” trips and archery ranges. While participating in these activities still require adherence to certain rules and safety procedures, they are a part of the first phase of reopening, and will allow sportsmen and women additional opportunities to recreate.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) encourages Massachusetts’ sporting community to take advantage of these opportunities and to practice #ResponsibleRecreation while doing so. CSF will continue to work alongside the Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus and the state’s sportsmen and women in pursuing increased outdoor opportunities for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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