I've launched a Facebook pageto help folks find the petition to ban these things in dense residential neighborhoods.
This sat 8' from my neighbor's side fence where my kids play. There is no backstop. Behind it another fence and a home immediately behind that. The back wall of the home is direct path should any round miss its target, and everyone misses. In fact, NYPD can miss 22% of their FIXED targets and still qualify. Miss here, and there's a bullet hole in his neighbors home, at the least.
My son is 9. His best friend is 10 and that little boy has a 7 year old little sister. My son loves playing at their house. These are no computer game kids. They have a tree fort, rope ladders, tree swings and even a zip line. It is perfect place for the sort of innocent, creative, and active outdoor play I enjoyed as kid so many years ago. There's just one problem:
The outdoor "gun range" next door. That's right, the homeowner behind their property has decided his front yard, which is 8 feet from my friend's back yard property line and a few houses away from mine, is the perfect spot for a gun range. This is a residential neighborhood in the city limits of Saint Petersburg, Florida. The lots are as small at 1/4 acre. A gun range. With real guns. With real bullets.
Oh, but it gets so much better. Here are the words of our community association president in an email to the community this evening:
This is not a "back yard" gun range. It's an amateur and reckless set-up in which a man has to stand in his front yard and fire toward his house (and therefore at the house behind him), at a pile of sand held together with an old wooden palette.
The pile of sand is 8' from a neighbor's property where small children live and about 20' feet from the children's bedroom windows.
The owner of this house has arrests for DUI, cocaine and hydrocodone, and has had 2 domestic violence cases filed against him. His son has announced he is coming to the house with a "variety of guns," including an assault rifle.
Shocked yet? Oh, it gets better still. This is Florida
That's right. Florida law allows people to build and maintain shooting ranges in their backyards. And unless an owner becomes negligent or reckless, there's nothing a neighbor can do.
* There's no restriction on the type of firearms or ammunition that can be used in a backyard shooting range.
* There's no restriction on the time of day or night your neighbors can use their gun range.
* And there's no restriction on gun ranges near a public school, day-care center or neighborhood playground. Talk about the need for duck-and-cover lessons.
We need your help DKos community. We need your help America. We need the help of sane people everywhere. Please follow over to see how you can.
Right: 2 of my kids and 2 of my neighbor's kids looking at the "gun range" from their backyard fence.
So Florida law is cool with this. The cops are not cool with this, but tell me there's nothing they can do. The city attorney says he can do nothing. The NRA threatens any town that dares try to pass an ordinance against this. And best yet, crazy governor Scott made certain in 2011 that any public official trying to pass a local ordinance or otherwise prevent this would be removed, fined $5,000 and barred from using public resources to defend him/herself
But nothing says we can't flood to the Governor's email, the Mayor's email. Nothing says we cannot shame this city, this state, this nation gone insane.
Sometimes I'm so shocked by our irrationality I'm at a loss for words. Tonight is such a night. Tonight our little community, my son, my neighbors -- we need your help. Please. Call. Email. Tweet. Share. Raise hell, because hell has visited upon our quiet little neighborhood, our city, our state, our nation.
FL Governor: http://www.flgov.com/...
Mayor's office: email@example.com (727) 893-7201
ABC Action News: News Tip line: 1-866-428-NEWS firstname.lastname@example.org
NBC News Channel *: 1-800-348-WFLA email@example.com
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:10 AM PT: Interview question for Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both Republican hopefuls for president in 2016:
"Do you agree with the NRA and your Republican colleagues that people should be allowed to have their own outdoor gun ranges in their front and back yards, even with children playing and sleeping just feet away?"
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:12 AM PT: Interview question for Busk and Rubio, take 2:
"Rational people can debate the meaning of the "right to bear arms" until the come home, but please tell me where is the right to discharge those arms...in a residential neighborhood...at any time."
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:14 AM PT: Interview question for Bush & Rubio, take 3:
"Why do Republican reject my property rights?"
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:18 AM PT: Interview question for Bush and Rubio, take 4:
"Please explain to me how unregulated shooting of guns in residential neighborhoods is about freedom."
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:20 AM PT: Interview question for Bush and Rubio, take 5:
"So then you think it perfectly acceptable and reasonable me setting up a gun range literally a few feet from your children's bedroom window? Or on the other side of the fence where your wife might be gardening?"
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 4:23 AM PT: Question for Bush and Rubio, take 6:
"Help me understand Stand Your Ground, please. I have a neighbor shooting assault rifles a few feet from my backyard. I am in existential fear of my childrens' lives. Does Florida law mean I can kill him in self defense or that I simply have to live with it until his bullet passes through my kid, and then I can kill him?"
UPDATE - 1:21 P.M. EDT -- I've taken several actions that may yield results:
I had the luck to run into the former mayor Bill Foster. He did not believe this to be true; then he looked up the statute and was as shocked as the rest of us. I also spoke with a local guy who is very plugged in. He has called the head of SWAT in the city and they are going to keep an eye out. Also, my buddy knows Jeff Brandes, (you can help, his number is (727) 552-2745 and his email link is https://www.flsenate.gov/...)
who is a prominent state senator. We are going to make certain he gets an earful until he enters a bill that at least puts some boundaries to this law, such as a 500' rule, time limits, etc. He's a GOP senator, but I've met him briefly before (he would not remember) and my friend has had frequent interaction and says he is at least sane.
I've also called my nephew who is a state prosecutor near DC and he's linking the DKos article to a community of state and federal prosecutors.
The local police chief has also been notified, as have a few prominent citizens. Basically, I'm just trying to stir up the pot and embarrass the state. Top down and bottom up through this outlet.
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 11:24 AM PT: Sorry, tried to add more pictures, but I'm not able to for some reason.
Sat Jan 31, 2015 at 11:50 AM PT: I edited the locations after looking more closely at the relative position with my neighbor.
Sun Feb 01, 2015 at 5:42 PM PT: We've created a Twitter hashtag: #frontyardgunrange
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 8:51 PM PT: State representative Darryl Rouson came by personally today and tried to talk sense to the men at this property. As he said, "This is a life and death issue." He will forward a bill to close the gaps in the law that enables this. Please offer him your support and contact your representatives to tell them you don't want this next door to you either, so they'd better sign on.
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 9:08 PM PT: State Senator Jeff Brandes, a City of St. Petersburg Republican, issued the following statement Monday afternoon. He deserves props for doing so:
"Reasonable people would agree that it is inappropriate and dangerous to operate a backyard shooting range with firearms in a residential neighborhood. As a combat veteran I can’t imagine that there is any way that a backyard shooting range like this can be operated safely. If this individual fires his weapon in this backyard shooting range I believe that he is committing a crime. Law enforcement is empowered by state law to arrest this individual if they believe he is acting recklessly or negligently."
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 9:15 PM PT: Democratic Mayor Kriseman has just weighed in with a BOLD statement:
"It's a ridiculous situation and we are going to put a stop to it,'' Kriseman said. "If it's not reckless and negligent to have a gun range in the middle of all these houses, then I don't know the definition of those words.
"... If they want to sue us, then let them sue us. My No. 1 job is public safety … and those residents are not safe right now.''
Tue Feb 03, 2015 at 6:01 AM PT: I just signed the petition "Florida State House, Florida State Senate, Florida Governor: Expressly prohibit by law the creation or use of outdoor gun ranges in all land zones primarily for residential use and within 500 feet from any occupied dwelling, including off hours when residents or employees may not be present." and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
Our goal is to reach 1,000,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:
We thank you,
Wed Feb 04, 2015 at 7:17 AM PT: http://www.dailykos.com/...
Maybe our neighborhood dodges the bullet, literally, but it is still permissible by law and that has to change.
Wed Feb 04, 2015 at 7:20 AM PT: I have read numerous online claims that this is all a conspiracy by "librul' loons" for a gun grab because in seeing that picture of the "range" other gun owners refuse to believe anyone would be that foolish. Oh I wish that were so. We invite you down here and I'll personally walk you to his house so you can ask him. Yes, people ARE that foolish as to build a pile sand with an occupied right behind it and beside it and say they've built a safe "gun range."
Fri Feb 06, 2015 at 12:29 PM PT: HB623 has been entered to ban residential gun ranges. Go here to support the effort. https://www.facebook.com/...