The readers’ forum

Let communities regulate backyard gun ranges


The Miami Herald reported an alarming fact: Florida law permits urban backyard gun ranges. Florida statute 790.15 regulates where people can discharge firearms. As long as not “negligent or reckless,” there are no restrictions on setting up a gun range in your backyard (or front yard for that matter).

• No standards for the type of backstop or safety protection.

• No restrictions on the type of firearm that can be used.

• No restrictions on the type of ammunition that can be used.

• No requirement to notify the police department in advance, so when the neighbors call 911, the police can say, “Don’t worry, that’s your neighbor shooting next door on his makeshift range and we can’t do anything about it.”

• No restrictions on time of day or for how long.

• No restrictions on how close to a school, church or park.

Florida Statute 790.33 not only preempts any local ordinances involving firearms and ammunition, if a local elected official tries to regulate firearms and ammunition, the governor has the authority to remove elected official from office, fine elected official $5,000, which they must pay personally) and if anyone sues the city to overturn the ordinance, the elected official must pay the legal fees and costs.

Think of the most crowded urban residential neighborhood and then picture the gun range in a yard.

Or, think of future criminals coming out to practice their shooting accuracy; assuming that they are not convicted felons and the guns aren’t stolen, there may be nothing the police can do.

In 2005, the attorney general was asked if a county could put more restrictions on the discharge of firearms in communities.

The attorney general’s opinion seemed to sympathize with the frustration of local officials and the need to protect local health, safety and welfare, but because the Legislature preempted all ordinances involving firearms and ammunition, no further restrictions could be imposed on the discharge of firearms.

When will common sense find its way to Tallahassee?

Mike Ryan, mayor, Sunrise

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