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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    102

    Default Target Shooting in Residential Neighborhood

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: Florida
    My question concerns target shooting in a residential neighborhood in Florida - lots are approx. 1 - 1 1/4 acre. I have a earth berm behind target - I'm not shooting into anyone else's property or across a street. Police have come out (a neighbor called) & the police said it's my legal right under FL law & I have addressed safety issues plus I read that local government can't make ordinances to prohibit it (a county in south Florida made an ordinance to prohibit target shooting in a residential zone for safety reasons & the ordinance was challenged through the State. The State Attorney General's office opinion was that the local government could not supersede the State so the local ordinance was voided). My neighbor now has complained to the county that I am violating the local noise ordinance. Can the local government use their "noise ordinance" to infringe on my right to target shoot? Local ordinance says noise can't be over 60db in daytime. What do you think? thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    2,241

    Default Re: Target Shooting in Residential Neighborhood

    Can the local government use their "noise ordinance" to infringe on my right to target shoot? Local ordinance says noise can't be over 60db in daytime. What do you think? thanks
    They most likely can. If you are over 60db, you are breaking the law.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Target Shooting in Residential Neighborhood

    No. We here in Florida are a bunch of idiots, with a legislature who responds to special interest groups without THINKING, and without considering the many aspects of legislation before passing it.

    The new Florida House Bill 45 essentially prevents ANY entity (city, county, state managed lands, private homeowners associations, etc.) from making rules or law related to firearm usage that are MORE strict than the exact verbiage of state law. It's really causing a stir for both law enforcement and municipalities, because now suddenly many previously enforced local ordinances and property-specific rules are now not enforceable.

    Above and beyond being non-enforceable, new statute, under F.S. 790.83 specifically outlines not only fines of up to $5,000, but also removal from office of any government official who tries to enforce ordinances related to the otherwise lawful use of a firearm - which includes noise complaints. Florida's Attorney General has very specifically stated that entities "....may not regulate the recreational discharge of firearms in residentially zoned areas when the discharge is not on a 'shooting range,' but merely recreational shooting on private property." Even IF the complaint is a noise related one.

    The noise issue has been brought up in several district courts, and the entities attempting enforcement have thus far been unanimous in altering the language of their own ordinances to cease dis-allowing such lawful firearm use before the actual court dates (funny thing happens to people when their paid counsel tells them that they are about to loose in court - and to potentially also loose their jobs for violating the very clear and specific language of the new law).

    The neighbor has every right to complain. But I suspect you'll find that the county won't be gung-ho to get involved - at least not until the statute is amended at some possible time in the future.

    Florida. It's different here.
    Catherine NeSmith
    Executive Director
    AARDVARC.org, Inc.
    http://www.aardvarc.org

    Fave Big Bang Theory site: Sheldon Cooper Fans

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Target Shooting in Residential Neighborhood

    Thanks - I did check the local noise ordinance & although the code compliance officer stated the 60db noise level in residential zones, further down in the "exemptions", it states discharging a firearm for hunting or practice during normal hunting hours is exempt from the ordinance. I don't plan to
    shoot often, just want to know my rights.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Safe target shooting on my private property, 3 acres, in agricultural zone

    Hello aardvarc. I found your answer to puppetjr's question very informative. I would like if possible to expand by asking a related question.

    I own 3 acres in unincorporated Miami Dade County, in an agriculturally zoned area. Today, I took my brother, my little nephiew and my girlfriend and we were shooting in a little range I have setup on my property. We were shooting .22 rifles and ammunition, essentially teaching my nephiew how to shoot. After around 2 hours we were packing up and finished shooting when 2 sheriffs deputys from the Miami Dade County agriculture patrol pulled up outside of my property huffing and puffing for my attention. I walked to the fence to hear a female officer telling me that shooting out there is "an arrestable offense". As a former police officer myself, as I have read the law and interpreted it, discharging a firearm, on private property, in a safe manner and in an agricultural area is not illegal or a violation of any law.

    I didnt' engage in this argument with her as I know best that arguing with a police officer is not often the best course of action. I did express false "ignorance" and simply said that as I had been told in the past, shooting in an agricultural area was not illegal, and that I was unaware if now it had become illegal. I asked her and her partner what law we were breaking to which she and her partner proceeded to tell me that "someone" had called to complain about the shooting, and that if someone calls to complain, then we have to be "shut down" from shooting. The female officer mellowed out, and proceeded to inform me that she lives in the agriculture zone herself, on 22 acres and she sometimes goes into her backyard and shoots but that if someone complains she has to stop.

    As the conversation ended, it was friendly, they seemed to back off the insinuation that we were doing anything illegal but they did hang onto the concept that if in the future we are shooting and someone complains, we have to stop.

    My question is, am I correct that we are within the law to safely discharge a firearm for personal target practice, on private property, as long as we are not shooting over a roadway, over someones home or into someone elses property?

    Furthermore, if I am correct in my understanding, how would you recommend that I approach this issue for future possible encounters with officers being dispatched for "shots fired". I don't want it to be a confrontational issue with the officers who may respond, but at the same time, I don't want to capitulate to "stop shooting" because someone doesnt like to listen to gunfire.

    I respect your opinion and look forward to hearing your take on this situation and your suggestion for moving forward.

    Thank you in advance,
    M. Santimanzano
    Miami Dade County, Florida

  6. #6

    Default Re: Safe target shooting on my private property, 3 acres, in agricultural zone

    If someone complains, they are obligated to check out "shots fired" calls - if for no other reason than to be sure there isn't some problem. If you're close enough for people to hear it and complain, you can expect a "visit". Eventually local law enforcement will be forced to either continue to waste time checking out the complaint, or, they will have to explain to the complaining parties that otherwise lawful target shooting on private property isn't actionable and doesn't require law enforcement response (in other words: "stop calling, we can't do anything to them for target shooting on their own property". Can they ASK you to "shut down" the shooting, yes. Can they take ACTION against you if you do not wish to cease your lawful action, yes, but only at the potential expense of their jobs and your personal law suit against them for using their authority unlawfully as defined in the statute. If the visits continue, you might nicely ask the responding officer to simply inform the complaining party of what the law says, or, if you know who the complaining party is, you can simply provide them with a copy of the statute and/or verbaige from the Attorney General's website outlining how your target shooting IS within the law.

    Simply search the AG's website for "Advisory Legal Opinions" regarding firearms, such as this one, which clarifies the legal question asked by a county sheriff's office in trying to regulate such activity:

    http://myfloridalegal.com/__85256236...=0,firearm,law
    Catherine NeSmith
    Executive Director
    AARDVARC.org, Inc.
    http://www.aardvarc.org

    Fave Big Bang Theory site: Sheldon Cooper Fans

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Safe target shooting on my private property, 3 acres, in agricultural zone

    Here's our outcome - The local sheriff department asked us to call & notify them when we plan to target shoot so they can let people know if they get any calls, without having to come out everytime we shoot. (they said the majority of calls were only from one neighbor) They will handle it similar to having a burn permit, you call & notify the local fire dispatch ahead of time so they don't send out the trucks if someone smells smoke & calls in.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Safe target shooting on my private property, 3 acres, in agricultural zone

    An excellent solution. A very similar protocol is used, for example, when persons with special permits to shoot things like deer and hogs causing damages to orchards at night are out doing their thing (normally an illegal activity, without the permit, and one which generates a lot of "shots fired" calls - having the shooters call in gives law enforcement the ability to say "we DO know about the activity, and it's lawful".

    Glad to hear that in spite of the "pressure" put on you by the responding deputies, that apparently the sheriff's office found a workable solution (and hopefully educated their personnel about the law change).
    Catherine NeSmith
    Executive Director
    AARDVARC.org, Inc.
    http://www.aardvarc.org

    Fave Big Bang Theory site: Sheldon Cooper Fans

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