HARPSWELL — Harpswell hasn’t updated its one-page firearms ordinance in 20 years, and selectmen are expected to overhaul the rules to bring them in line with state regulations during a meeting tonight.

“The current ordinance was difficult if not impossible to enforce if there were complaints about somebody illegally discharging firearms,” said Town Planner Mark Eyerman.

Town officials say that the current ordinance is difficult to enforce and the language is not in keeping with state laws.

The current ordinance is limited in scope. It only allows the discharge of shotguns, rimfire arms and black powder guns within the town, and completely bans the use of automatic weapons. It requires the owner’s permission before a firearm is discharged within 300 feet of a dwelling, and it allows target practice with the owner’s permission.

When made aware of the deficiencies of the current ordinance last June, selectmen ordered a subcommittee to put together an updated version of the ordinance. The draft proposal that the selectmen will consider Thursday would replace the current ordinance with two ordinances — one governing the use of firearms in town and one governing the registration of shooting ranges.

Like the current ordinance, the draft firearms ordinance would limit firearm discharges to just shotguns, rimfire arms and black powder guns. It would also prohibit the discharging of firearms between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. The second ordinance would require any shooting range to be registered with the town. It allows for both indoor and outdoor shooting ranges. Outdoor shooting ranges are limited to the three types of firearms laid out in the firearms ordinance, while indoor shooting ranges are open to any type of firearm they are designed for.

There do not appear to be any shooting ranges in Harpswell at the moment.

Both draft ordinances include provisions stating that they are enforceable by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and updates the language to reflect state language.

If approved by the selectmen, the next steps for the draft ordinances would by a public workshop and to review the language with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

[email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: