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Old December 17, 2011, 09:44 AM   #1
QCBrob
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Irresponsible neighbor

Hello all.

Looking for a bit of feedback regarding an ongoing safety issue in the neighborhood.

I live in a very steep, hilly neighborhood where, most often, the neighbor directly behind you is ALSO above (or below) you.

Since this summer, the resident BEHIND and ABOVE my across-the-street neighbor (and whose house is "level" with mine) has taken to walking out onto his back deck and rapid-firing one or two magazines (12 or so shots each) directly into the ground, then walking back in. I've watched him do it several times from my own front porch and I have no idea why he is doing it. I thought maybe at first he was testing out a trigger job or something but now he does it every couple days and doesn't seem to be "testing" anything.

Our neighborhood USED to be a rock quarry, so of course the ground is somewhat rocky (and hell on lawnmowers!). I feel that the risk of ricochet is a legitimate concern, especially with the kids playing outside.

Last night I was bringing out the trash to the curb when the guy stepped out onto his back porch and did the rapid-fire thing once again, only THIS time i heard something whack a tree close by along with the BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM of the guy's pistol. Could have been a pice of rock kicked up, or a bullet, or something totally unrelated, but this time I DID call the sheriff, as soon as I hustled my kids back inside.

i was told that, since we live in the county, what he is doing is NOT illegal. Now, there are several houses within 100 feet of his back deck, with people living inside them, working and playing outside, etc. One of my neighbor's dogs also get a little crazy with the sound of gunshots, and his dogs have damaged his home in their reactions to the shooting neighbor.

I have spoken to my neighbors about the situation and they shared similar concerns and experiences. FWIW, one of my neighbors spoke to him once before about an unrelated matter (a fallen tree) and described the guy as "kind of obtuse", a single, middle-aged guy living alone. MY only other experience with him was several years ago when he hit a natural gas line digging post holes which ultimately resulted in half a dozen emergency services vehicles on site to manage the resulting mess. So I'm not really certain that this gentleman is the "thinking" type.

Doesn't seem as if there are many options aside from me walking over to this guys house (actually in a different neighborhood that backs up to mine) and politely sharing my concerns with him. That said, I'm not sure I'll be able to deal with it very well if he continues his rapid-fire exercises afterward, and I suspect that he would.

What do you guys think?

Last edited by QCBrob; December 17, 2011 at 09:51 AM.
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Old December 17, 2011, 09:53 AM   #2
arch308
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Legally all you can do is talk to the guy. Hey, it can't hurt and you may just make another friend. If he turns out to be a SOB at least you will know. Sadly there's not much you can do until he actually hurts someone.
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Old December 17, 2011, 10:09 AM   #3
Uncle Buck
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I have neighbors on all but one side of me, that like to shoot. My shooting range is set up so I can shoot from my back deck. Usually the neighbors are very considerate in when they shoot.

That being said:

Why not talk to the guy and ask him what he is doing and why? Tell him the other night when he was shooting you heard something hit the tree and you think it might have been a richocet.

The neighbor who does not shoot (And does not like me) is the first to run up and down the road to tell new people how I shoot cats and torture animals. She passes judgement on everyone based on what they drive and the type of Christmas lights they put up.

Luckily we do not get many new neighbors. I spoke to one and he replied "Oh, so your the nut case that hates cats and tortures animals?? Nice to meet you."

Don't let others influence your opinion of someone else. Try to talk to the guy and explain your concerns.
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Old December 17, 2011, 12:06 PM   #4
357 Python
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Does he own the property or is he renting? If he is renting you may wish to contact the owner and advise the owner of what is happening. If he owns it and the situation is dangerous in your opinion you may wish to contact an attorney about this and explore legal options. Other than that you have few other options. Talking to him may straighten it out but then again it may not. It is worth a try first leaving the legal options open for later use.
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Old December 17, 2011, 12:18 PM   #5
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Being stupid is not against the law (so long as discharges in that area are legal).
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Old December 17, 2011, 01:19 PM   #6
Don H
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First of all, LEOs aren't intimately familiar with all the laws. Even lawyers often have to research the law. Many states and counties have laws or ordinances that establish limits on how close to habitations one can shoot. As an example of such laws, I'll quote Utah's law:
Quote:
76-10-508. Discharge of firearm from a vehicle, near a highway, or in direction of any person, building, or vehicle -- Penalties.
(1) (a) A person may not discharge any kind of dangerous weapon or firearm:
(i) from an automobile or other vehicle;
(ii) from, upon, or across any highway;
(iii) at any road signs placed upon any highways of the state;
(iv) at any communications equipment or property of public utilities including facilities, lines, poles, or devices of transmission or distribution;
(v) at railroad equipment or facilities including any sign or signal;
(vi) within Utah State Park buildings, designated camp or picnic sites, overlooks, golf courses, boat ramps, and developed beaches; or
(vii) without written permission to discharge the dangerous weapon from the owner or person in charge of the property within 600 feet of:
(A) a house, dwelling, or any other building; or
(B) any structure in which a domestic animal is kept or fed, including a barn, poultry yard, corral, feeding pen, or stockyard.
(b) It is a defense to any charge for violating this section that the person being accused had actual permission of the owner or person in charge of the property at the time in question.
(2) A violation of any provision of Subsection (1) is a class B misdemeanor.
(3) In addition to any other penalties, the court shall:
(a) notify the Driver License Division of the conviction for purposes of any revocation, denial, suspension, or disqualification of a driver license under Subsection 53-3-220(1)(a)(xi); and
(b) specify in court at the time of sentencing the length of the revocation under Subsection 53-3-225(1)(c).
(4) This section does not apply to a person who:
(a) discharges any kind of firearm when that person is in lawful defense of self or others;
(b) is performing official duties as provided in Sections 23-20-1.5 and 76-10-523 and as otherwise provided by law; or
(c) discharges a dangerous weapon or firearm from an automobile or other vehicle, if:
(i) the discharge occurs at a firing range or training ground;
(ii) at no time after the discharge does the projectile that is discharged cross over or stop at a location other than within the boundaries of the firing range or training ground described in Subsection (4)(c)(i);
(iii) the discharge is made as practice or training for a lawful purpose;
(iv) the discharge and the location, time, and manner of the discharge are approved by the owner or operator of the firing range or training ground prior to the discharge; and
(v) the discharge is not made in violation of Subsection (1).
It is likely that there is a similar law in your state that is applicable to your situation. Most states have their laws online and many such databases are searchable. Take the law to the Sheriff's Dept. and explain exactly what is happening and how the law is applicable in this situation.

Failing that, perhaps you and your neighbors could split the consultation fee of an attorney to determine whether their are other legal remedies that may be employed.

Before getting the cops or an attorney involved, however, I'd round up a level-headed neighbor and just go talk to the guy and voice your concerns about the safety of his shooting and ask him to desist. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he would be amenable to your request.
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Old December 17, 2011, 02:13 PM   #7
hermannr
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You need to be careful about what you do or you could screw yourself up. I you try to force him to stop, you may also be forcing yourself to stop.

Go meet the guy, be polite, try to look at this from his viewpoint, you have a range in your back yard that is safe? Offer to let him use it (lest you loose it yourself)

A non-firearm example of what I am saying. I met a man that had owned 640 acres on Lopez Island (in Puget Sound). He had a neighbor that had an adjacent 640 acres that wanted to retire, so he started process to subdivide his 640 acres into 1 acre recreatinal properties.

Well, this first guy (a bit short sighted in purpose) spent all of his money (even motgaged his land) stopping this subdivision...lawyers, zoning, everything he could...and he was finally sucessfull, the person that wanted to subdivide his land sold it as a large parcel and left the island.

15 years later, the guy that did not want the neighbors subdivision to go through, and spent all of his money stopping his neighbor, was ready to retire himself. and you guessed it, he wanted BIG money for HIS "subdivideable" 640 acres....NOT...during the original fight he finally prevented the neighbor by having the zoning laws changed...which also changed his zoning, which now ment HIS large parcel was no longer subdividable, which ment his 640 acres was worth about $300K instead of $3.6M...and he still owed about $300K for his legal bills from his original fight to stop his neighbor>>>>

Always remember, what goes around, comes around. There is also the law of unintended consiquences to consider. Be friendly, have a bit of empathy for the other guy, and go talk to him. You will never know until you ask.
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Old December 17, 2011, 02:37 PM   #8
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Out in the sticks or not, most states have laws dictating where one may fire weapons and/or hunt.

Don H pointed out 600 feet for Utah, here in Ohio its 100 feet from any occupied dwelling.

I would try to talk to the guy first. FIL had a similar issue with a neighbor letting his friends go hunting in his backyard and they would constantly be going over the property line to set up shop - usually by a good 50-100 feet over. Ended up shooting the house and cars a few times too, Sheriff & Game Wardens got called in, was not terribly pleasant.
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Old December 17, 2011, 02:37 PM   #9
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I find it hard to believe what he's doing is legal with other houses that close to him. A courteous visit and chat should be the first step (bring some backup). If that doesn't work out, start calling the police.

Even if it's legal in the area, if there are ricochets bouncing around the neighborhood that should fall under some sort of reckless endangerment law.
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Old December 17, 2011, 02:51 PM   #10
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While it may be legal to discharge a a gun in your area, it most likely isn't legal to discharge a gun in a manner which endangers others.
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Old December 17, 2011, 02:56 PM   #11
Dave P
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Take a bucket of sand along with you when you go talk to him. He can use that safely for testing or whatever.
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Old December 17, 2011, 05:38 PM   #12
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QCBrob
What do you guys think?
I think that without knowing what state and county laws say about discharge of firearms in proximity to occupied dwellings, there isn't enough information on which to base an opinion.

For example, my state has a law prohibiting discharge of a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling. My town (we don't have preemption, I checked) has an ordinance prohibiting discharge of a firearm within 500 YARDS of a dwelling.

You haven't told us what the law says in your jurisdiction. You said the sheriff told you there's nothing they can do because the guy lives in the county ... but did you check to see if that's correct, or did you just accept it because they told you so?
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Old December 17, 2011, 06:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Take a bucket of sand along with you when you go talk to him. He can use that safely for testing or whatever.
Smartest post in this thread. Be nice and assume goodwill. Yes, you have a legitimate safety concern. That doesn't mean you should go in with your own guns blazing. Flies, honey, vinegar, nuff said.

He's probably a reloader who's running a quick function-test of new loads to be sure they'll cycle the gun before loading up enough for more extensive accuracy testing on the range.

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Old December 17, 2011, 07:54 PM   #14
Patriot86
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My father has the exact same problem on his new property in Indiana. His Neighbor is probably 10-12 feet in elevation higher than his buildings on the property. The guy likes to go out into his back yard and shoot into a berm that is only 2 feet high! He has talked to the cops (this guy also dumps on his property, has run over several small trees with an ATV) and they said that unless he catches the guy on his property they can't do anything; and they can't do anything about the shooting unless he hits something/someone.


The best thing you can do is talk to him, but don't do it at night!
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Old December 18, 2011, 12:46 PM   #15
QCBrob
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Thanks for the input, everyone.

As of yesterday, it was my intention to walk over and around the guy's back fence, knock on his door, and politely request that he look over into our area below him to make sure there are no kids down in our cul de sac before he shoots. I had no intention of mentioning what may be right / wrong, legal/illegal, appropriate or inappropriate - just making a polite request in the interest of keeping myself, my family, and our neighbors safe.

That didn't happen. Yesterday, about an hour after I started this thread, I was out in my front yard with one of my kids, my next door neighbor was blowing off his driveway, and the older lady directly downrange from and located closest to the shooting neighbor's back porch was in her driveway greeting her kids and grandkids who had just arrived at her home for a visit when we had another couple sets of rapid-fire shots. I looked up to see the guy in plain view just obliviously blasting away, downhill, in the general direction of us all. I also heard a "ping" which sounded to be coming from a metal shed on his property, downhill from his back porch and just behind another residence - indicating to me that a ricochet may have occurred.

I shouted up the hill: "Hey man, we have some people and kids down here!".

The response was not entirely intelligible but what I DID hear was laced with a few "choice" words that I did not wish for my own kid to hear. It was soon followed by another mag's worth of shots but no more since then. I didn't think a friendly visit would be construed as "friendly" after that exchange. But maybe it got the point across that there ARE people around and perhaps he'll be a little more diligent in looking out for people in the neighborhood before he goes out and shoots again.

Another neighbor HAS consulted an attorney, but was told that little can be done unless obvious damage / injury is caused OR his shooting is witnessed by and determined to be reckless by law enforcement personnel. I have some friends of my own in law enforcement and county government who have told me as much as well. In a nutshell, it's not illegal to be stupid, obnoxious, or noisy until AFTER it causes someone to be hurt.

Pax - I bet you are right. I also thought he must be "testing" something, and that makes PERFECT sense.

Hermannr - It's a TOTAL residential neighborhood, with houses surrounded on all sides by other houses. IMO, there is NO WAY that anyone could have a "safe" outdoor range. In fact, Last summer I elected to NOT kill a sketchy-looking raccoon who I believed to be rabid (out in the daytime, not afraid of people, wobbly walk) with a .22 just because I could not get a shot at it from any direction which didn't have a house somewhere behind the target.
What's ironic about the situation is all of us who are so concerned about this guy are avid gun folks ourselves!

Last edited by QCBrob; December 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM.
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Old December 18, 2011, 02:37 PM   #16
Aguila Blanca
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Two words:

Video

Camera
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Old December 18, 2011, 04:45 PM   #17
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Bucket of sand.

Video camera. Make copies and take one each to the Sheriff and District Attorney.

In that order. Offer the carrot, but have a big friggin stick ready just in case.
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Old December 18, 2011, 07:50 PM   #18
dieselbeef
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anonymous note in the mailbox warning of futue leagal action...or worse

if evryone on the same page barrage the sheriff til they do something
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Old December 18, 2011, 09:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
"anonymous note in the mailbox warning of futue leagal action...or worse

if evryone on the same page barrage the sheriff til they do something"


That can escalate the situation, if the guy in question is a drunk or drug user he may be unstable and the last thing you want to do in one of those situations is to escalate the situation.
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Old December 19, 2011, 01:06 PM   #20
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Doesn't matter if 1000 people complain, if he isn't breaking the law there's nothing the sheriff can do.

I agree with the video camera idea. One of my co-workers was having a vandalism issue and he setup a couple of camera's that are connected to his pc. Hasn't had any "vistors" or problems since.

If he's shooting in an unsafe manner and it's on video, THEN you should be able to get the sheriff out.
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Old December 19, 2011, 01:40 PM   #21
Aguila Blanca
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It sounds like the guy IS breaking the law, but the cops don't wish to deal with it. There is a VERY lengthy discussion (now locked)on the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association forum about a young man who was arrested and charged with Reckless Endangerment because he was walking through a residential neighborhood with a loaded AR-15, allegedly with the safety in the FIRE position. Yes, he was legal to own the rifle, and yes open carry is legal in Pennsylvania. But someone complained, and the responding officer felt (and I agree) that walking around a densely built area in combat patrol mode with a loaded weapon that's not on SAFE does put people potentially in danger, and is reckless.

The guy in PA was just walking, and he has been charged. Your neighbor is SHOOTING, and the police don't think it's against the law? They need to open the law book.
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Old December 19, 2011, 02:36 PM   #22
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QCBrob: The reason you gun owners are upset is simple....You don't want non-gun owners to think of you as one of "them" (like him), and you don't want your rights stompped on because of what someone else did.

I OC, and I got into a discussion with a person on another forum who thought everyone that OCd walked around with a long gun and a video camera looking for a police responce. I have OCd for over 40 years and have had one, 2 word, encounter with a Sheriff's deptuty. Why would I need a video camera?

Sounds like there is a reason he is by himself?????
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Old December 19, 2011, 03:24 PM   #23
maestro pistolero
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Quote:
Your neighbor is SHOOTING, and the police don't think it's against the law? They need to open the law book.
Even if the shooting is generally legal, it certainly becomes illegal once ricocheting rounds start directly impacting buildings and potentially, people.
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Old December 19, 2011, 07:38 PM   #24
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Quote:
Your neighbor is SHOOTING, and the police don't think it's against the law? They need to open the law book.
Maybe he lives in one of the many places I have lived in around the country where it is not illegal. In Texas I would sit on my back porch and target shoot with a .22. In three years none of my neighbors ever called the police. Of course I had a good back stop and clear space beyond that. Every once and while one might come over and shoot and BS. This was in a neighborhood outside of town.
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Old December 19, 2011, 07:45 PM   #25
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT TL
Quote:
Your neighbor is SHOOTING, and the police don't think it's against the law? They need to open the law book.
Maybe he lives in one of the many places I have lived in around the country where it is not illegal. In Texas I would sit on my back porch and target shoot with a .22. In three years none of my neighbors ever called the police. Of course I had a good back stop and clear space beyond that. Every once and while one might come over and shoot and BS. This was in a neighborhood outside of town.
Please go back and re-read first the opening post in this thread, and then my post to which you are responding. The young man in the case in PA was not charged with illegal shooting. He was not charged with illegal carrying. He was charged with reckless endangerment, because the officer believed that the mode of carry (loaded, hand on pistol grip, finger possibly on trigger, AR-15 with the selector set on FIRE) was reckless and endangered the residential neighborhood through which the young man was walking.

In the case here, the problem isn't whether or not shooting is legal. The problem is that the way the guy is shooting is dangerous. If he is shooting in proximity to houses or other occupied buildings, and he doesn't have an appropriate backstop, then he is engaging in reckless behavior that endangers others, and he should be charged with same.
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