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Old April 20, 2010, 08:31 AM   #1
fuchsrr
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Firing ranges on your property are legal in FL

I just though I would post this for people who live in Florida. I was in a fight with my city over a law they had on the books regulating firearms and the shooting of them. In 2005 the state attorney issued a ruling that no county city or other government body but the state of Florida can regulate firearms. If you live in a city or county with a law on the books regulating firearms in any way it is unconstitutional.

In Florida it is legal to discharge firearms on private property even if you live in a city and you are in a zero lot line home. Just do not fire over an occupied dwelling and you are fine. I will post the ruling below:

Number: AGO 2005-40
Date: July 12, 2005
Subject: County ordinance re discharge of firearms

The Honorable Roy Raymond
Sheriff, Indian River County
4055 41st Avenue
Vero Beach, Florida 32960-1808

RE: FIREARMS AND WEAPONS–COUNTIES–SHERIFFS–no authority for county to enact ordinance prohibiting discharge of firearms. s. 790.33, Fla. Stat.

Dear Sheriff Raymond:

You ask substantially the following question:

May a county pass an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm in proximity to persons or property when such discharge endangers the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of such county?

This office has been advised that Indian River County joins in your request. You have proposed a county ordinance to prohibit the discharge of firearms within 300 yards of a building or public road or right-of-way in order to preserve the life and safety of the general public in Indian River County. The proposed ordinance specifies exceptions.[1] There remains a question, however, as to whether such an ordinance is prohibited by section 790.33, Florida Statutes.

Section 790.33, Florida Statutes, preempts the field of regulation of firearms and ammunition to the Florida Legislature, as follows:

"(1) PREEMPTION.– Except as expressly provided by general law, the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, and transportation thereof, to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances or regulations relating thereto. Any such existing ordinances are hereby declared null and void. This subsection shall not affect zoning ordinances which encompass firearms businesses along with other businesses. Zoning ordinances which are designed for the purpose of restricting or prohibiting the sale, purchase, transfer, or manufacture of firearms or ammunition as a method of regulating firearms or ammunition are in conflict with this subsection and are prohibited."

While this office recognizes the need to protect the safety of the county’s citizens against the dangerous discharge of firearms in proximity to people and property, the Legislature has expressed its intent to preempt the regulation of firearms and to provide uniform firearms laws in the state. Any ordinance or regulation attempting to regulate firearms is stated to be null and void when enacted by jurisdictions other than the state or the federal government.[2] Relative to the discharge of firearms, section 790.15(1), Florida Statutes, states:


"Except as provided in subsection (2) or subsection (3), any person who knowingly discharges a firearm in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street or whosoever knowingly discharges any firearm over the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street or over any occupied premises is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm or to a person discharging a firearm on public roads or properties expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Division of Forestry."

"Thus, in addition to expressly preempting the field of firearm regulation to the state, the Legislature has enacted legislation making it a crime to discharge firearms in any public place, with specified exceptions. It is well settled that absent a general law stating otherwise, local governments have no authority to regulate firearms in any manner.[3] Attempts to circumvent this preemption of firearm regulation have not been allowed.[4] Thus, despite the county’s concerns for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, it may not enact an ordinance regulating the use of firearms.[5]

Accordingly, it is my opinion that a county ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm in proximity to persons or property when such discharge endangers the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of such county would be preempted by section 790.33, Florida Statutes."

Sincerely,

Charlie Crist
Attorney General
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Old April 20, 2010, 10:29 AM   #2
Brian Pfleuger
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The guy wanted an ordinance prohibiting discharge of firearms "within 300 yards! of a building or public road or right-of-way"!?

That's insane.

How many places are 900 feet from ANY building, road or right-of-way?

NY has a 500 foot rule for homes, occupied churches and factories which is bad enough. Someone finally wised up years ago and removed the "public road" portion of that rule. 900 feet would make it impossible to shoot almost every where.
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Old April 20, 2010, 11:53 AM   #3
Dave P
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OK Fuch - interesting approach. So tell us, are you now shooting on your suburban property? Are you in the city of Vero Beach, or in the boonies? And how many times have the police come by your place while shooting, and charged you with "disturbing the peace" or somesuch??

I am north of you in Brevard (in the county), but don't think I want to risk the penalties for shooting a pistol in my backyard.

PS In Suwannee County (North Florida), I shoot rimfire benchrest off my front porch, and have pistol and rifle ranges in my front yard - SWEET!
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Old April 20, 2010, 12:18 PM   #4
oneounceload
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Here in N. central FL, shooting a gun in a subdivision, especially within city limits WILL get the police or Sheriff to come aknockin'.

Now, if you own a few acres in the County, and you can show it's safe (no house right behind you), then they can't stop you.

Of course, you can do like a friend did and build an underground range 50 yards long (and it's called a storm shelter on the plans)
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Old April 23, 2010, 01:37 AM   #5
areilly
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I'm in Brevard too. It certainly wouldn't be reasonable to stand in a suburban backyard and start popping off rounds, safe or no. I wouldn't want my neighbor to be doing any target practice either. If I did that I'm pretty sure the sheriff's department would pay me a visit real quick, especially since im a few blocks from a school. But if you've got a couple acres and a backstop if needed, then it seems OK to me.

I'd guess they might still be able to get you on a noise ordinance if your area has one.
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Old April 23, 2010, 03:59 PM   #6
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I am an Indian River County resident, with a home in a subdivision with rather large lots (mine is 0.8 acre), but fully built up. Just a few evenings ago, we could clearly hear several series of gun shots from inside our home. From the sound I would say the shots were fired within 2 blocks of our house. I am not aware of any place close by my house that has a safe place to fire, with an appropriate back stop. (This is very flat country - anything like that has to be built.) It was disconcerting to not know what safety measures were being taken to fire live rounds in a populated area.

I personally don't think it is anti-gun to want people to handle and fire guns safely. The blanket 300-yard rule is stupid, yes. But I would think that a more reasonable ordinance could be written to assure that reasonable safety measures, such as an appropriate backstop, are taken.

Interesting to note that the letter was signed by Charlie Crist when he was AG. For those who don't know, he is now the governor of Florida and running for the US Senate.
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Old April 26, 2010, 11:50 AM   #7
Don P
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Just curious as to what one would use for a back stop in a established neighborhood. I have just a whisker under a acre and look at the property and see no safe way to possibly shoot without a mound of dirt higher than the house. Should look real good to the surrounding folks.
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Old April 26, 2010, 03:44 PM   #8
Dave P
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"a mound of dirt higher than the house" Put a water slide on it and charge admission!!
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Old April 26, 2010, 04:25 PM   #9
TailGator
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Quote:
Just curious as to what one would use for a back stop in a established neighborhood. I have just a whisker under a acre and look at the property and see no safe way to possibly shoot without a mound of dirt higher than the house. Should look real good to the surrounding folks.
That's kind of what I mean - I know nothing like that is near me, so I have to question the safety of the discharges that I heard. Do you shoot on your property, Don P? My property is nearly the size of yours, and I wouldnt consider it safe without building something big and ugly. From the tone of your post, I think you agree with me.

I really can't object to laws prohibiting unsafe discharge of weapons, although if the early posts in this thread are to be believed, it is apparently impossible to enact such a law in Florida. That is a bit worrisome.
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Old April 26, 2010, 06:09 PM   #10
stephen426
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Here is a link to some of the laws you mention.

790.15 deals with discharging firearms in public.
790.19 deals with the actual shooting of firearms within or into buildings, etc.
790.25 deals with the lawful use of firearms

The hang up in legal use lies in section 3 of chapter 790.25, section J and K.
Quote:
(j) A person firing weapons for testing or target practice under safe conditions and in a safe place not prohibited by law or going to or from such place;
Quote:
(k) A person firing weapons in a safe and secure indoor range for testing and target practice;
I think section J clearly indicates that there may be places prohibited by law and section K requires a "safe and secure indoor range". If your property is not considered a safe and secure indoor range, there may be problems.

Many houses in South Florida that were built after hurricane Andrew are requied to be built a certain height above sea level due to concerns of flooding. The "rooms" that are below that elevation are usually uninsurable. My parents house in Coral Gables has an unfinished sub-grade room that is enclosed. It has a pile of sand and it is enclosed with cinder block. I'm sure there is also a ton of earth behind the walls anyway.

To make a long story short, my parents jokingly said we could use it as our own private gun range. The houses are pretty big in that area and the neighboring houses are easily 50 feet away. I still decided to start off small to see how loud things were outside. The .22lrs were pretty muffled, but even 9mms were audible from the outside. I didn't live with them for that long in that house since I got married shortly after. We didn't really use it as a range due to the lack of sound insolation. The lack of good air cleaning equipment made it a bad place to shoot as well. There are some good indoor ranges that are very reasonably priced so I just go there.
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Old April 27, 2010, 05:14 AM   #11
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LOL! I grew up in Coral Gables. They have rules about the color you can paint the INSIDE of your house, and they have bureaucrats in little trucks who actually go around and enforce these rules. The idea of an indoor range in a home in Coral Gables is hilarious to me, just thinking of the reactions of the guys in the trucks. My feeling is, if you live in the Gables you should go someplace else to shoot. However...

In the "stupid teenager tricks" category, a buddy and I once fired his dad's lever action 30-30 into their swimming pool in Coral Gables.

Now I live in a rural part of Charlotte county that is getting less and less rural every year. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbors were down at the creek shooting, and someone from a community about a mile away called the police. A Sheriff's deputy showed up and told them they could not shoot there. My neighbor said he was wrong, and they could and would continue to shoot there. Eventually the deputy agreed, asked them to keep it brief, and left.

They were shooting a 30.06, AR-15, and smaller rifles from an elevated position at a target set down in the swamp, so the chances of a round leaving the property were remote at best. Also, my neighbor's father lives in the community down the creek, and his house would actually be the likeliest candidate to take a stray round, if one left.

I still shoot out here, but I am starting to think that it's getting too crowded to shoot something as big as the 30.06 without putting in an earth berm.
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Old April 27, 2010, 08:27 AM   #12
lwestatbus
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Getting Crowded

Quote:
Originally Posted by oneounceload
Of course, you can do like a friend did and build an underground range 50 yards long (and it's called a storm shelter on the plans)
LOL, I'm in Brevard County also and I can't think of too many places in Florida where a completely underground range wouldn't be below the water table.

Had a story on the local news last week when someone shooting in an undeveloped area near a tract community sent two bullets into houses. Morons like that are going to tighten up the regulations for sure.
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Old May 1, 2010, 03:41 PM   #13
P5 Guy
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St Petersburg Pinellas County

I came around the corner to see a guy with rifle shooting at squirrels in the trees in his backyard and out into the street This is a densely built neighborhood. 50x120 lots and all were developed 20 years ago.
It was a pellet gun and across the street is the home of one of the the St Pete police. I can tell by the "unmarked" car that is always parked on the street. And a block away from a Patrolman that also lives in the neighborhood. I was told by the gentleman shooting at the squirrels he had permission from the city to shoot the squirrels because they were nesting in his home. I'd think a trap would have been safer and more effective. The guy was a lousy shot which made this even worse.
Hard to believe his story but I'd not argue too much about it for my own safety.
stunts like that will hurt all gun owners even if the gun in question is not a "firearm" as per the BATFE.
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Old May 1, 2010, 04:26 PM   #14
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I've killed many a squirrel and rat deep within the city limits of Tampa in my and friends backyards with a high powered air rifle. I've even killed umpteen robins as well when they were declared a nuisance. Never a problem.
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Old May 1, 2010, 05:44 PM   #15
Don P
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Quote:
That's kind of what I mean - I know nothing like that is near me, so I have to question the safety of the discharges that I heard. Do you shoot on your property, Don P? My property is nearly the size of yours, and I wouldn't consider it safe without building something big and ugly. From the tone of your post, I think you agree with me
Nope to the shootin on my property. Would rather the guns stay at home with me instead of the sheriffs dept.
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Old May 3, 2010, 12:10 PM   #16
publius42
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I use air guns on squirrels even though it's OK to shoot firearms out here. It's cheaper and makes less noise. Not so sure about doing it in a residential area, though. The rounds are smaller and slower, but still have some destructive potential, and squirrels tend to be up high where you can't shoot down at them.
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Old May 3, 2010, 08:07 PM   #17
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Shooting in my back yard may not last much longer. I heard a couple of shots last week coming from a large lot ( 30 or 40 acres) near by house. My BIL asked if it was from the gun range we had shot the previous day and I said no we were too far away. Turns out a couple of guys were out dove hunting behind a grade school on private land. It was in a part of the county that shooting is allowed and hunting is allowed near schools, so everything was perfectly legal. The school staff hearing the shots went into lockdown mode. Tomorrow night the county is holding a meeting to change the codes to either ban shooting within 1000 ft of schools completely or require prior notification.

I am not sure how close to the school they were, but given the location of the school building on the property, they were certainly 500 ft away from the school but may have been closer to the property line.
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Old May 4, 2010, 05:48 AM   #18
publius42
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As anyone who has ever shot doves will tell you, bird shot doesn't carry very far! I doubt there was much actual danger to the school property or kids, but having hunting going on outside could be distracting, and not everyone is down with the plan of blasting little birdies out of the sky in front of grade school kids. As a grade school kid, I was trying to perfect the technique, but times have changed.
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Old May 4, 2010, 07:15 PM   #19
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If they were hunting where I think they were, it was not visible from the school, just the loud bangs interrupting class. The newspaper article was a little sensationalistic, linking the two events but it appears that the re-writing of the regulations on shooting has been going on for some time. I read the new text and it changes things but I'm not sure if it helps or hurts yet, but my house is still on the OK to shoot area for now.
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Old January 12, 2012, 02:30 PM   #20
FARKEL
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Absent anything I can find to the contrary,if I had ,say, 3 acres of undeveloped property in an area which is largely undeveloped,even if the area was zoned as 'residential",I could use part of it as a firing range,provided I took reasonable care not to endanger the general public.(sufficient backstop,etc.).
Yes???
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Old January 12, 2012, 06:10 PM   #21
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peetzakilla
The guy wanted an ordinance prohibiting discharge of firearms "within 300 yards! of a building or public road or right-of-way"!?

That's insane.

How many places are 900 feet from ANY building, road or right-of-way?
My state has a 300-foot prohibition -- no discharge of a firearm within 300 feet of a dwelling.

My town has adopted an ordinance extending that to 300 yards. Since my state does not have a preemption statute, the town ordinance does exactly what they intended. As you surmise, there is virtually nowhere in town that's not within 300 yards of some dwelling, which means nobody can shoot in town.

Did I mention that the ordinance even applies this to BB guns and bows and arrows?
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Old January 12, 2012, 06:24 PM   #22
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As has already been noted, even with firearms legislative preemption by the state, a case could probably be made for local noise violation ordinances. That wouldn't even be unreasonable, depending on the neighborhood.
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Old January 22, 2012, 10:48 AM   #23
diceman3
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Accidental pistol discharge in your own home in Florida?

I've been reading this thread and see clearly the problems with firing in public or on private property where it may endanger someone in a gated community with nearby homes. I've always wondered about this question:

Question: What if a private home owner in a gated community is cleaning his pistol and, from inside his home accidentally discharges a round that just causes some damage to an internal wall, and no one is injured?

If someone calls the police to report hearing a gun go off, and someone comes to your house and you tell them that you had an accidental discharge, is that against the law in Florida?
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Old January 27, 2012, 03:08 PM   #24
tighty whitey
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Many Thanks

I appreciate the post and your reminder that local ordinances are not enforceable. To me that is the most useful bit of information you've provided. The information about the actual use of a firearm in a residential setting is nice to know but just makes me anxious.
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Old February 12, 2012, 01:07 AM   #25
crazyredj
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I have a range

I have a private range.

* It's in a warehouse that's open only during the day - no one's around at night or on weekends. That's the only time I shoot in there, with the door locked. I'm the only one with a key.

* It's in a hallway about 30' long.

* It's second story, concrete walls/floors/ceiling, thick steel doors. I tested it - can't hear anything at all from outside.

* I use a "snail" type bullet trap, which minimizes lead dust. It's two 4'x3' 1/4" plates set at about 22.5 degrees, leading in a "V" into a split 8" steel pipe, offset so the bullet winds itself down and falls throught he crack when it slows down. I've tested it with .223 ammo. It dented the plate a little, even at 22.5 degrees, but did indeed "trap" the round. I don't use that ammo in there, but just wanted to test the max. It takes 357 ammo all day long. It doesn't even blink at 9mm / 40 / 45. It laughs and yawns at .22

* I use a common bathroom vent fan - the strongest available at Home Depot. The secret to good ventilation, however, is a HUGE fan blowing INTO the firing lane. That creates a pressure chamber, all smoke and dust quickly find their way to the vent fan.

* Just in case, I wear a lead rated ventilator mask. Looks stupid - but so does the way I dress.

* Just in case, unless I'm testing ammo, I use frangible, lead free bullets / primers.

* The firing range is in a hallway, disguised as a storage area. The snail trap is inside a locked 8' tall cabinet, marked "archives." You'd have to be looking for it to find it.

* I used to pick up every single brass when I was done - then I decided to set my reloading stuff up in the hallway, so now brass is not out of place back there.

* I lined the walls near the cabinet with 3/8" steel, overlapped AWAY from the shooting area.

* Also lined the area BEHIND the cabinet / trap with 3/8" steel. I've tested it. It will easily take a .223 round, but wouldn't last on a regular basis. It's never been hit except for test rounds... knock on wood.

* I installed a security camera setup so I can see what's happening outside. If anyone drives into the area, I stop shooting. They'd never hear it, and a round would never make it out there, but just to be on the safe side.

* I spent about 2 grand for all the steel, cameras, trap and ventilation.

Let me tell you, it has been WORTH EVERY PENNY! I can practice rapid fire, prone shooting, quick draw, malfunctions, shooting from around a corner... whatever I want. I HATE shooting at the range, bc you never know what someone else (like me ) is going to do. For that matter, I prefer to limit the effects of my OWN accidents to myself as well. Also don't like people looking over my shoulder when I practice: "Yes, I know I missed the bulls eye. I wasn't aiming at it..." I always let my wife know when I'm shooting, in case there's an accident. If I don't call every 30 minutes, she calls me... if no answer, she comes over or calls 911 and the party's over.

I can tell you, it's really awesome. Nothing in the world like it. I can also tell you that I'm well aware of the risks. Shooting alone, if you have an accident, and you can't get to your cell, you could bleed out b4 anyone realizes you're down. Of course, I'll bet the odds of dying in a car accident on your way home are way higher, but we all do that every day.



Think it out carefully, err on the safe side, and good luck!
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