The statute 790.15 Proper Shooting Range
In reply to the recent coverage of the backyard discharge of firearms, first, let’s look at state statute 790. The statement that local officials are helpless to do anything because of current state statutes is incorrect and misleading.
The statute 790.15 subparagraph (1) in part provides, “except as provided in subsection (2) or subsection (3), any person who knowingly discharges a firearm in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street or over any occupied premises, or who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling as defined in statute 776.0134 zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree …”
This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property. Any district attorney or law enforcement individual that does not take the proper action as indicated in the state statute is being remiss in his or her office and appropriate action should be considered in their case also.
Second, I would like to address the two incidents that were highlighted in the first article. The incident of the Deltona man who was shot by a neighbor would clearly be addressed in statute 790.15 if the investigation indicated that the shot came from the home next door. In researching several newspaper articles relating to this incident, it appears that they could not make up their mind whether Mr. Fleming was in his home or in his backyard. So much for accuracy. It was also stated that charges could be pursued depending on the results of an autopsy. I was unable to find any other article indicating results of this investigation. In the second instance that is quoted in the article, again it appears that the two individuals were not complying with the above statute and that they were operating firearms in a very unsafe manner as it’s obvious that their backstop was not adequate.
I would expect that a sheriff’s deputy would be trained in the proper use of firearms. As an NRA-certified instructor, I can assure you that if bullets were leaving the deputy’s property, the deputy was not shooting in a safe manner, and as I will indicate below, the backstop that they used was definitely not in accordance with approved construction of backstops.
Third, I would like to address Mr. Dickerson’s backyard Range in Fruitland Park that was covered by an article on March 26 and March 29. I would like to point out that if at any time a round should leave Mr. Dickerson’s property, it would fall under the provisions quoted above. In addition, I would like to inform Mr. Dickerson of several items: (1) a little quick investigation of the Internet or a query to NRA headquarters would have provided him with the data needed to construct a proper backstop in his backyard if he has the required space for one. (2) I quickly located three fantastic publications that provided more than adequate data to construct one. A publication titled “Range design criteria” from the U.S. Department of Energy can be found at www.hssenergy.gov.
As can be seen from the data provided in the US government publication, Mr. Dickerson’s backyard berm does not come even close to these requirements. Nor does he have a skip/eyebrow shield to prevent the possibility of a ground skip from leaving the site. In addition, if the safe zones contained in several of the charts in the attachments to the publication are to be obtained, it appears that the property is not large enough to provide them.
It is apparent that if local authorities would take the action as defined in state statute 790.15, there would not a problem in closing down improper backyard shooting ranges as nothing in state law allows people to build shooting ranges in dense residential neighborhoods.
Officials have the tools they need to address backyard shooting
Darrel Barcomb lives in Leesburg.