Court holds that Wildlife Conservation Act applies only to hunters, despite language prohbiting "hunt[ing] or discharge of a firearm" near occupied dwelling
The National Rifle Association [NRA] joined with the Cheboygan Sportsman Club, suing the Cheboygan County Prosecutor, seeking a ruling that the Club was not subject to the prohibition in the Wldlife Conservation Act against firing a weapon within 150 yards of an occupied building. The Court of Appeals' majority upheld a ruling by the Circuit Court Judge that the prohibition did not apply to shooting ranges. To his credit, Judge Richard Whitbeck, staunch Republican, dissented from the majority's opinion. He noted that the oft-cited cardinal rule of statutory interpretation requires the Court to apply a statute as written.
The Wildlife Conservation Act expressly holds that "an individual shall not hunt or discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occuplied building..." Judge Whitbeck pointed out that given this statutory language, it made no sense to apply the WCA to hunters, only, as the Court's majority ruled. As this case helps demonstrate, all too often Legislative intent is not particularly clear, and Judges who interpret state statutes are frequently willing to substitute their own biases for straight-forward statutory language, in order to achieve a desired result. The No Fault Act has been torn to shreds in recent years by special interest-oriented judges who have ignored straight-forward language and decades of precedent to minimize consumer rights.