DeWitt residents will soon have a safe and legal indoor-only space to use firearms after the township board approved ordinance 42.9 on Sept. 26 by a 5-4 vote.
The ordinance, which will allow residents to practice archery and archery only outside as well as have an indoor space for shooting firearms, will be adopted during the next township meeting on Oct. 24.
The board opted to limit outdoor shooting to archery only, and have the indoor ranges encompass firearms that are within federal regulations when it comes to safety and noise levels.
“Ultimately, it just wasn’t going to work,” township board director Troy Niewiadomski said of outdoor firearm use.
Township clerk Diane Mosier said that the township committee were the ones who went ahead and voted to pass the ordinance, as well as bring it up to the board. The committee is made up of nine individuals throughout the community who are appointed to make decisions for the greater DeWitt area.
“They are completely free to make decisions,” said township Clerk Diane Mosier. “They’re essentially the recommending body to the township board.”
Between 2008-13, there were 18 gun suicides and two homicides in Clinton County, where DeWitt is located.
“It’s always a touchy subject,” Mosier said of the issue of firearms in the hands of humans.
Niewiadomski said they are trying to make sure the board addresses all the land uses within the community.
“Shooting ranges was one that was not specifically identified in our ordinance, so we wanted to make sure we were proactive and provide some guidelines” he said.
The board looked at allowing indoor and outdoor facilities and addressing concerns related to stray bullets, safety and noise, according to Niewiadomski.
According to Niewiadomski, it will not be until later this year until the ordinance is passed and everything becomes approved.
“Realistically for it to become effective, it’ll probably be in November or December,” Niewiadomski said. “This particular item has been on the list for a couple of years now but last year it got moved up to our high priority. It’s been around nine-month process.”
As for the rest of the community, Niewiadomski said that new shooting ranges were “pretty positively received,” although the outdoor aspect made it hard to get a consensus. Safety, welfare and impact to residents of the community were the main issues with it.
Brent Duane, an employee of Capital Area Tactical Firearms said he supports the ordinance.
“(I) just want a safe place for people who like guns and a safe place for people to shoot,” he said. “It shouldn’t bother anyone. It’ll be in between two major highways and 100% legal at the federal level. There’ll be range officer on duty and a short program you sit through (to understand how the range works).”