AG: Denial of firing range license is proper, new deal possible

Gun Rights

Government agencies’ denial of a Dededo outdoor firing range’s business license over public safety and zoning concerns was proper, according to an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General, which also said a binding agreement could be worked out for the business to continue to operate at a safer location.

Interface Inc., doing business as Sportsland, “failed to comply with all the four requirements established in 1982 in order for them to lawfully and safely operate their firing range and obtain a renewed license,” Attorney General Douglas Moylan said in a nine-page opinion issued on Thursday.

“The most important aspect of firearms use is safety. The recent use of this firing range falls short of a ‘safe shooting environment’,” Moylan wrote in his legal opinion.

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Department of Land Management Director Joseph Borja and Department of Revenue and Taxation Director Dafne Mansapit-Shimizu sought legal guidance on the matter, following concerns from the business operator, their supporters and residents in the area.

Moylan said the courts always remain an option for Sportsland to pursue any rights or privileges that they believe they are entitled to receive.

This, after significant time and taxpayer resources have been expended to accommodate Sportsland, he said.

Through collective efforts, according to the AG, a path has been created for Sportsland to continue its operations, without any obligation for the government to do so.

“This AG recommends that either an agreement be reached in the form drafted, or that Sportsland requests (Guam Land Use Commission), (Chamorro Land Trust Commission and possibly legislative assistance for a more viable, isolated lot which ensures our public safety,” Moylan wrote.

DLM, he said, is prepared to assist the AG’s office and Sportsland in finding a safer and possibly more profitable location for the business to relocate to, and be able to safely use rifles on the firing range as well.

No fence

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The attorney general said the safety requirements were agreed to by a different business that Sportsland bought rights from, which acquired a 1982 variance over 40 years ago.

One of the conditions for the conditional use zoning variance for the facility was the installation of a 6-foot fence topped with barbed wire on three sides of the property, which the AG said is not currently being met and does not appear to have been met.

A curious young child from one of the nearby homes, the AG said, could try to get into the range and be accidentally killed by gunfire.

The legal opinion also said there is no evidence that the range meets the National Rifle Association standards for an outdoor shooting range or firing range for pistols and rifles.

Although offering a recreational service to the public, Sportsland remains a privately owned corporation that profits off the tourism industry and local residents by operating their for-profit business, the AG said.

GovGuam granted the original business license in the early 80s, and the shooting range received conditional approval to be constructed.

The range changed ownership and in 2018, John and Taylor Sablan received their first business license as the range owners. At a roundtable discussion at the AG’s office in August, the Sablans said every year that it comes time to renew the range license, it takes more than a month.

When the range got its renewal for 2022, a note accompanied it saying that it needed an inspection. This year, they were going through the inspection process to fulfill the new requirement in order to get its renewal when the business received from Rev & Tax a notice of violation, and order to cease and desist business activities.

The roundtable heard from those who support and oppose the outdoor firing range operations at its current location.

The AG said when the range operation business was considered in the 80s, it was noted that there was only one family living way in the back of the range. But after more than 40 years, more houses have been built near it.

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