Bill Targeting Backyard Gun Ranges Moves Forward, Includes Another Exception

Oct 6, 2015

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Discharging a firearm for recreational purposes in residential neighborhoods could soon be illegal. Another Senate panel approved a measure Tuesday outlawing the act.

According to Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), current law is not clear about how to enforce the reckless and negligent use of firearms in dense residential neighborhoods. He’s behind a bill to target people constructing gun ranges in their backyards. Ponce Inlet Police Chief Frank Fabrizio represents the Florida Police Chiefs Association, which helped write the bill along with the NRA.

“We’d like to thank the Senate sponsor, Senator [Garrett] Richter for this bill,” said Fabrizio, during Tuesday's Senate Community Affairs Committee. “We believe that the legislation does clarify the law. It makes it a misdemeanor of the first degree.”

The bill already allows for two exceptions, like a person trying to protect themselves or shooting of poisonous snakes.  Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) added another, seeking to address accidental discharges.

“This amendment exempts a person who accidentally discharges a firearm in certain residential areas from criminal penalties under this statute,” said Brandes.

The measure has one more stop to go before it heads to the Senate floor. Meanwhile, its House companion will get another hearing Wednesday.

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