Watching the Super Bowl tonight in central FL? Stay a few extra minutes for the breaking news on the same channel.
The hell raising is bearing fruit. I just spent over an hour with the local NBC News crew. They interviewed the kid (barely an adult) and filmed his "gun range." It is not going to make him look like a hero, let's just say that, especially as they also interviewed at the same time the immediately affected neighbor, my friend, who is a very conservative home-schooling teacher. Very bad optic for this kid, who does not even live here; it's his dad's place.
They interviewed me on camera, with all our kids playing in the background, climbing trees, swings on ropes, etc. I do not know how they'll edit it, but it should be provocative.
Now, get this, my wife was nearby in the background and went up to another neighbor, as that person saw the news crew. He introduced himself. He's a democratic County Commissioner. He lives three houses down from the gun nut. Now he's on camera. Great guy. He said he's already called the mayor and the local state rep.
We've also heard the news is getting out more broadly. Our reporter thinks this will go all the way to Dateline or the Today Show. I gave her all the angles it touches and it is a huge story.
- money in politics
- gun "rights"
- property rights
- public safety
- Stand your Ground
- Florida general craziness
- tourism -- I made clear I was on the war path and will be buying ad space on tourism websites.
TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES: FLORIDA POLITICIANS HAVE TURNED QUIET RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS INTO SHOOTING GALLERIES
And if you do not help stop it, it is coming to your town.
3:36 PM PT: I forgot to mention, the camera crew filmed the kid and I having a discussion at the end of the driveway. It went badly for him. Among the exchanges:
Kid: "I don't appreciate you yelling at me across the yard blah, blah. blah."
Me: "So let me understand this, you don't appreciate me yelling across your yard, but I'm supposed to be just fine with you popping off rounds with my kids playing nearby?"
Bring your popcorn.
3:50 PM PT: Melanie Michael - WFLA News Channel 8, Tampa. That's the reporter and station carrying it.
4:03 PM PT: I just sent the new Democratic mayor of the City of Saint Petersburg the following email, copying a few other local leaders:
Hell hath no fury like a parent whose kids are at risk by political insanity. NBC News tonight after the Super Bowl. Same channel. The story will be national news within the week. Mayor, you've an opportunity and a head's up to get in front on this, not be pushed by events. I hope you take it. I regret this issue rears itself on your watch and in our fair city, but the issue is bigger than our town and our children.
Thank you Commissioner Welch for your time this evening. Fate puts you in a unique position to lead as well, living but 4 houses away from the "gun range."
Maybe decent people across both aisles prevail very soon in the Statehouse to fix this if responsible parents raise enough hell.
4:31 PM PT: We've created a Twitter hashtag: #frontyardgunrange
9:08 PM PT: First story hit the airways tonight and many of you have linked near the bottom of the comments. New BEAUTIFUL wrinkle. The kid says he built with UPS pallets and he wore a t-shirt with the UPS logo. UPS is going to have conniption fit and help make this story bigger when they issue their statement. They are now going to have to make.
9:17 PM PT: #frontyardgunrange Does @UPS ,@UPS_News sponsor home made gun neighborhood gun ranges? http://www.wfla.com/... …
9:23 PM PT: By the way, the back of his UPS shirt had some statement about responsibility.
9:23 PM PT: Chopper flying overhead in the neighborhood. Sounds like it is over his house.
9:24 PM PT: Police lights shining down from the chopper. The percussion from the blades are reverberating our closet doors.
9:31 PM PT: video link http://www.wfla.com/...
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 5:10 AM PT: The story is running as the top of the local broadcast and is the top commented story on the station's website. This is not ending today.
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 7:10 AM PT: Even top FL legislators are misinformed. Here is what Jeff Brandes has responded with to one interested parent:
"If the story is true this is a first degree misdemeanor. You should contact law enforcement see FS. 907.15"
That refers to lewd, etc. acts in front of minors. He seems unaware of 790.14 and the statewide stories on this.
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 9:57 PM PT: State Senator Jeff Brandes, a City of St. Petersburg Republican, issued the following statement today. He deserves props for doing it:
"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."
May the Senator now lead his party and join with Representative Rouson across the aisle to forward legislation putting a stop to the ambiguity in the law.
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 9:57 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.''
Mon Feb 02, 2015 at 9:58 PM PT: Please send Democratic Florida State Representative Darryl Rouson a thank you. He came to the site today and tomorrow he will enter a bill into consideration to close the loophole.
This was a top story on all 3 networks tonight in the region. All showed just how sketchy his set up is. One twitch and his round goes through the fence and hits the home that is his real backstop.
More neighbors getting involved too.
I am going to circle up with other folks this week to explore drafting a petition for a Constitutional Referendum on the issue. I may try to crowd source for support. Please stay tuned.