February 12, 2015: Private Ranges At Risk in FL

On February 5, 2015, Florida Representative Darryl Rouson (D- St. Petersburg) filed House Bill 623. If enacted, HB 623 will make outdoor private shooting ranges on property that also has a dwelling in violation of 790.15 F.S..  Anyone using such a range after October 1, 2015 would be committing a First Degree Misdemeanor. 

House Bill 623 is short and only strikes three words from the current statue 790.15 that deals with discharging firearm in public or on residential property.

The part of the statute that is affected is:

“or who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling as defined in s. 776.013 or zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree,”

The entire statute can be found at:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=790.15&URL=0700-0799/0790/Sections/0790.15.html

Can you hear the consequences of this bill if it gets enacted?  After October 1, 2015 the outdoors all across Florida becomes quite.  The weekends are no longer filled with the sounds of Citizens practicing their American right to Keep And Bear by improving or maintaining their marksmanship skills.  Shotguns, rifles and handguns are left in their safes. 

Six months later the incidents of collateral damage caused during self-defense shootings begins to rise.  Citizens who are using guns for self-defense are not practicing as much. 

In the fall of 2016 the incidents of wounded versus clean kills on deer climbs because hunters are not practicing off-season or zeroing their rifles before the season begins.  Mangled turkeys survive because shotguns are not being patterned. 

By the spring of 2017 Florida is among other states like New York and New Jersey and the District of Columbia where the Nation of Riflemen has turned into cooks.  The perishable skill of marksmanship has perished. 

In the Fall of 2017 there is a surge of interest in Archery from former rifle hunters who think they can convert to the bow and arrow.  The one year spike disappears in disillusionment

By 2018 the Jihadist have heard over two years of quiet in the fields.  They have transferred sleeper cells from across the county to the peaceful warmer setting of Florida.  They are drawn by the proliferation of “gun free zones”, the removal of Citizens liberty that makes them soft target infidels, the grouper sandwich, and Uncle Walt’s shrimp dinner.  There is no longer a Rifleman behind every palm tree.  Now there are mostly dull eyed cooks who have not fired a shot in years. 

Radical Islam draws a line in the sand from Daytona Beach through Ocala to Waccasassa Bay.  The coordinated attacks breaks off most of Florida from the rest of the nation.   Citizens who would have grabbed their guns and engaged the evil sweeping the state stay at home and wait for the slaughter. 

There is more at stake in this bill than the noise of gunfire and the potential harm caused by stray bullets.  The rights of free persons to exercise their liberty while maintaining an absolute position of safety toward their neighbors must be the standard of the ordinary reasonable prudent person who practices shooting on their property.  Every stray bullet and noise nuisance is powerful ammunition for the proponents of a dis-armed society. 

Shooters straighten up, control every round, work with your neighbors to find solutions to their peace of mind and your rights.  Florida residents, write the author of this legislation and your own representatives letting them know you oppose HB 623. 

 Dear Representative Rouson,

Your filing of HB 623 to strike the words “reckless or negligently” and “outdoors” from Florida Statute 790.15 will have the effect of curtailing and restricting rights in direct opposition to your statement:  “I’m not trying to curtail or restrict rights”. 

The changes you are proposing will create criminals of responsible gun users who practice their rights and improve or maintain their skills on private ranges across the state. 

Your use of Bruce Fleming as an example of the need for a change disregards current statutes available to charge a shooter with involuntary manslaughter by culpable negligence (782.07). 

Any bullet that crosses a property line is subject to 790.15 and could result in a First Degree Misdemeanor. If that bullet causes property damage and personal injury, there are provisions in current statues for the shooters to be held responsible. 

There is an adage in the shooting community.  It is sometimes phrased differently but the meaning is clear: every bullet fired downrange, potentially has a lawyer attached to it. Shooters are responsible for every round they fire.  A basic safety tenant is to know your target and what is beyond. 

It is possible for Citizens to construct bullet traps to contain the shots they fire.  Inherent in the practice of using a bullet trap is the understanding that they must be responsible for ALL rounds fired.  Not 90%, not 98%. Responsible shooters know where every round is going and accommodate a cone of safety for unintended variances.  Whatever device (trap, backstop, berm or distance to ground) is being used must contain all shots fired.  That is the ordinary reasonable prudent person standard for target or sport shooting. 

That fear of not being “100% confident” and the disapproval of his neighbors seems to be what kept Joseph Carannante from ever using his back yard range.  The situation between Mr. Carannante and his neighbors is reported to be resolved without him ever firing a shot at it.

I urge you to withdraw HB 623 and instead promote the use of current statutes to address irresponsible shooters who do not keep their bullets on their own property. Promote arbitration between neighbors to resolve the conflicts related to private gun ranges. 

There may be a cottage industry of made in the U.S.A. products for private ranges.  Issue guidelines not mandates, for their construction and maintenance based on practices at commercial ranges. 

There is a trade-off between the liability one puts on oneself when using a private range versus the level of expense and inconvenience of going to a commercial range.  Investigate and publish the barriers to entry of forming co-op ranges or commercial ranges.

Research and promote noise suppression techniques or equipment that could be used to abate disturbing noise between neighbors. 

Promote Firearms Literacy Instruction in Public Schools so that kids coming out of High School have a background concerning firearms safety and the laws governing their use and transportation in Florida.  The historically based Three Strikes of the Match as presented by Liberty Seed gives a historical foundation for the forming of our country.  Follow that up with material similar to the NRA Basic Pistol Shooting Course which stresses safety and responsibility.  Then the last portion would be on State and Federal laws that govern the purchase, storage, use, transport, and punishment for violations.

These are just a few suggestions for you to consider related to private ranges.  Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Greg Poole

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