Government Law

Want a backyard shooting range? Florida law makes it easy


To put an addition on your home or install an in-ground swimming pool in the Florida town of Sunrise requires cooperating with code enforcement and zoning officials.

But those who want to set up a backyard shooting range there—or anywhere else in the state—can simply do so, Reuters reports.

Under state law, local jurisdictions do not have the power to regulate recreational shooting on private residential property. The state imposes only minimal restrictions, requiring bullets not to be shot over paved public roads or occupied dwellings and banning shooting that is “reckless or negligent,” the news agency notes.

Local officials who interfere with backyard gun ranges could be fined as much as $5,000 and removed from office by the governor. They are also prohibited from restricting other individual gun rights.

“The rational gun owners I speak to realize this is lunacy,” said Michael Ryan, a lawyer who serves as the mayor of Sunrise.

Rick Ramsay, the sheriff of Monroe County, calls unregulated backyard gun ranges “an accident waiting to happen.”

A lawsuit is being pursued by Palm Beach and Broward counties to try to regain authority over the use of firearms within their borders, the article notes. It contends that the state law restricting local officials from restricting gun rights is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.

Meanwhile, Ryan asked Gov. Rick Scott in a February letter for an assurance that Scott wouldn’t try to remove local officials who develop reasonable rules for target shooting in residential neighborhoods.

He got a letter back from the governor’s general counsel, Reuters reports. It said the “prudent” course would be for Ryan to await resolution of the litigation by Palm Beach and Broward counties.

The Miami Herald and the Sun Sentinel also have stories.

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