File This Under “You Gotta Be Kidding Me”: Backyard Gun Ranges Are Legal in Florida

FloridaSealBy Elaine Magliaro

Last February, the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board wrote an op-ed about backyard gun ranges being legal in Florida. That’s NRALogoright–you can build a gun range in your own yard in the state of Florida and nobody can stop you! And it doesn’t matter whether you live in a thickly settled area or not. Local governments can’t do a damn thing about it!

Sun Sentinel Editorial Board:

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.

For example:

* 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.

Daily Kos writer pajoly wrote about a neighbor of his son’s best friend having recently built a shooting range in his front yard.

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.

On Sunday, WFLA reported that Lakewood Estates, the Saint Petersburg’s neighborhood where this front-yard shooting range was built,  “is filled with families and children. On any given day, you’ll see kids climbing trees and playing on swing sets.”

Melanie Michael (WFLA) said that the residential gun range does not “sit well” with neighbors. One neighbor, Patrick Leary, said, “I don’t know if this idiot is going to start popping off rounds. I’m furious.”

Melanie Michael:

Moms and dads are extremely upset after their 21-year-old neighbor, Joseph Carannate, told them he built a homemade gun range.

“I don’t want to hurt myself or any neighbors. I don’t want to hurt anybody. I just want to use this as my enjoyment,” Carannate told News Channel 8. “I don’t want to have to go to a gun range, when I can just go outside my door.”

Michael said, “…Carannate wants to fire his 9mm in his St. Petersburg yard, which happens to be just feet away from children.” She added that the St. Petersburg Police said that he’s legally allowed to do it.

Evidently, the homeowner’s association president isn’t happy about a gun range in the neighborhood. “In an email to the community, he wrote that the crazy neighbor with the gun range in his front yard isn’t just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill gun guy.”

Crooks and Liars:

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.

Karoli of Crook and Liars said that shooting an assault rifle in a neighborhood with little kids didn’t seem like such a good idea. Karoli wrote: “That doesn’t seem like a very smart thing to do but in Florida you don’t have to be smart, just armed.”

The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board explained how the state of Florida came to such a pretty pass:

The law allowing home gun ranges has been on the books for 27 years. However, as local governments began passing ordinances that banned them, the National Rifle Association convinced state lawmakers in 2011 to fight back. Now, local leaders who create restrictive ordinances face fines of $5,000 per offense. They can even be removed from office and forced to pay their own legal fees if sued over a gun ordinance.

Ah, the NRA. Gotta admire an organization that’s always looking out for the rights of gun lovers. Who cares how many children’s lives may be put in harm’s way by gun nuts who build shooting ranges just feet away from neighbor’s homes, schools, or daycare centers???

Gun ranges in residential neighborhoods in Florida are legal? You gotta be kidding me!!!!!


Florida Ammosexual Builds Homemade Shooting Range In His Front Yard (Crooks and Liars)

The Front Yard “Gun Range” Just Feet From My Neighbor’s Kids’ Bedroom Window UPDATE (Daily Kos)

Hear local leaders on backyard gun ranges (Sun Sentinel)

St Pete man builds gun range in yard, neighbors outraged (WFLA)

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21 Responses to File This Under “You Gotta Be Kidding Me”: Backyard Gun Ranges Are Legal in Florida

  1. blouise says:

    “The law allowing home gun ranges has been on the books for 27 years. However, as local governments began passing ordinances that banned them, the National Rifle Association convinced state lawmakers in 2011 to fight back. Now, local leaders who create restrictive ordinances face fines of $5,000 per offense. They can even be removed from office and forced to pay their own legal fees if sued over a gun ordinance.”

    I just felt like repeating that small fact.

  2. rafflaw says:

    This is just one not so small reason why the NRA is out of control. We have a guy near us that shoots in his backyard constantly with a semi-automatic weapon but since he lives in an unincorporated area, our police can’t do anything about it. He is not near a school, but has home all around him. Even if some unfortunate person gets shot, the NRA will just say it was one bad owner. So sad.

  3. rafflaw says:

    We have a guy near us that shoots a semi-automatic weapon in his backyard constantly and since he is in the unincorporated area, out city police can’t touch him. And the county won’t do anything. I guess we will have to wait till one of his neighbors kids get shot before they rethink the issue. The NRA is out of control.

  4. rafflaw says:

    The NRA is out of control and more people will die because of their desire to make more money for themselves and the gun industry. We have a guy near us that is constantly shooting a semi-automatic weapon in his backyard and our police can’t do anything about him because he is in the unincorporated section and the County Sheriff won’t do anything.

  5. rafflaw says:

    Whoops! Sorry about the multiple postings! 🙂

  6. Elaine M. says:

    blouise and rafflaw,

    I’d say that using the word “unbelievable” is most appropriate when talking about this tale out of Florida.

  7. Elaine M. says:

    Want a backyard shooting range? Florida law makes it easy

    To put an addition on your home or install an in-ground swimming pool in the Florida town of Sunrise requires cooperating with code enforcement and zoning officials.

    But those who want to set up a backyard shooting range there—or anywhere else in the state—can simply do so, Reuters reports.

    Under state law, local jurisdictions do not have the power to regulate recreational shooting on private residential property. The state imposes only minimal restrictions, requiring bullets not to be shot over paved public roads or occupied dwellings and banning shooting that is “reckless or negligent,” the news agency notes.

    Local officials who interfere with backyard gun ranges could be fined as much as $5,000 and removed from office by the governor. They are also prohibited from restricting other individual gun rights.

    “The rational gun owners I speak to realize this is lunacy,” said Michael Ryan, a lawyer who serves as the mayor of Sunrise.

    Rick Ramsay, the sheriff of Monroe County, calls unregulated backyard gun ranges “an accident waiting to happen.”

  8. Elaine M. says:

    Florida mayor fights backyard gun ranges in ‘Gunshine State’
    By Barbara Liston
    ORLANDO, Florida Thu Mar 6, 2014

    (Reuters) – Every Wednesday afternoon, Doug Varrieur steps into his backyard in the Florida Keys, aims his .380 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol and fires shots that ricochet through city halls around the state.

    Varrieur, 57, discovered a little-noticed part of Florida law which prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights in any way, and in December he set up a personal gun range on his property in a residential subdivision.

    Neighbors were outraged by the live gunfire, but their surprise was nothing compared to that of municipal leaders, who were shocked to realize there was nothing they could do about it…

    Palm Beach and Broward counties in south Florida have a lawsuit pending to overturn the law, noting that it forced them to rescind restrictions, for example, on taking guns into child care facilities.

    But in a state known as the “Gunshine State” for its loose gun laws, few expect the Republican-dominated Florida legislature to make any changes.

  9. Elaine M. says:

    Here’s another excerpt from the Reuters article:

    “Although nothing in the state law specifically required him to try to block errant bullets, Varrieur mounted his target on a 7 X 7-foot backstop which he installed against a 12-foot-tall shed. When he fires his weapon, Varrieur is shooting in the direction of a canal used by boaters to reach open water.”


    Imagine that! The law doesn’t require people who set up backyard gun ranges TO BLOCK ERRANT BULLETS!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Unbelievable. And yet there it is: Neighbor’s yard where kids play is just beyond the plants in the background.

  11. Elaine M. says:

    Backyard Shooting Ranges Now Legal in Florida
    By CAMMY CLARK, Miami Herald | January 30, 2014

    It has been a month since the friends first fired their guns in this makeshift shooting area – surrounded by a chain-link fence, a shiny RV and the canal. The shots sent shockwaves through the neighborhood.

    It became even scarier once the neighbors learned that on Varrieur’s side was a state law on the books since 1987. Varrieur said most gun owners like himself had just assumed they couldn’t shoot in residential neighborhoods.

    “I honestly had hoped no one would catch wind of it and it would become public knowledge,” Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said of the state law that pre-empts local ordinances. “I’m concerned now that people know. This isn’t about the right to own and bear arms. My concern is public safety and quality of life.”

    Ramsay is not the only one who is worried. Since word got out about the legality of Varrieur’s “Gun Day” – he shoots from 3 to 4 p.m. every Wednesday – citizens and lawmakers up and down the island chain have become concerned that gun owners less responsible than Varrieur will begin shooting in their own yards.

    “Without any oversight, somebody’s neighbor could set up a gun range and invite his friends over and have a good old time shooting,” said longtime Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent. “That’s a little scary situation, and I say that as a gun owner and somebody who believes in the Second Amendment.”

  12. Elaine M. says:

    State law allowing backyard gun ranges worries Volusia officials
    Cities can’t regulate the use of firearms on private property

    The gun issue and local control re-ignited in 2011 when state legislators amended a law already on the books. The 1987 law prohibited local governments fom passing gun ordinances, but it was largely ignored.

    That changed in 2011 when Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure putting teeth into the state restriction. Now local officials could be fined, removed from office and held responsible for their own legal bills if they’re sued over local gun ordinances…


    The News-Journal published a report Dec. 27 about residents having the legal right to safely and responsibly fire guns on their private property. Two days earlier, on Christmas, Volusia County resident Bruce Fleming, 69, was killed by a stray bullet while working in his backyard at his 3220 Cadehill Drive home. Volusia County sheriff’s investigators have not said who fired the bullet that killed Fleming, who lived in an unincorporated area near Deltona. No one has been charged and the investigation is ongoing. It is unclear if there was a gun range on the neighboring property from where the shot was fired.

  13. Mike Spindell says:


    Wow, thank you for this good. information. My backyard is on a golf course, but now I won’t have to leave home to enjoy my AK47. Good deal!

  14. blouise says:

    ” ….I say that as a gun owner and somebody who believes in the Second Amendment.”

    Good Lord, even a guy coming out against backyard shooting ranges has to let everyone know he worships at the gun altar known as The Second Amendment.

  15. blouise says:

    “My backyard is on a golf course, but now I won’t have to leave home to enjoy my AK47. Good deal!” – Mike

    That would make a great Far Side comic drawing and Clint could put it on an American Sniper poster. Golfers as “savages” and Mike as a backyard hero. American culture at its finest.

  16. rafflaw says:

    Sorry about the multiple posts earlier! 🙂 Here is a link to the latest accidental shooting by a toddler. This time a 3yr old shot his father and pregnant mother in a motel room in New Mexico.
    Maybe we need an IQ test for gun ownership!

  17. bron98 says:

    put the damn thing in your basement if you must shoot on your property.

    This is a really bad law. Florida crackers running around with gats, Florida sucks.

  18. bettykath says:

    and how many parents would be charged with child endangerment for firing their weapons so close to their kids. I’m not sure which state is the crazies, TX or FL.

  19. Elaine M. says:


    “I’m not sure which state is the crazies, TX or FL.”

    That would be a close call.

  20. pete says:

    Mike, two words “skeet golf”.

  21. Elaine M. says:

    Romano: Backyard gun ranges — a dumb idea brought to you by your Legislature

    Residents in St. Petersburg’s Lakewood Estates were horrified to discover one of their neighbors was planning to use a relatively small wooden target for shooting practice in his back yard. Their horror only grew when they discovered it appeared to be legal.

    “I’m a military veteran, I’m a gun owner, but I’m not insane,” said Patrick Leary, whose children often play in a yard that would be in his neighbor’s line of fire.

    “The Florida Legislature has turned Florida into a shooting gallery.”

    Colorful imagery aside, Leary is correct. Florida lawmakers are responsible.

    Legislators passed a law in 1987 that declared state statutes superseded the laws of local municipalities when it comes to gun regulations.

    Upset that some cities were still toying with local ordinances, the Legislature passed another law in 2011 that authorized hefty penalties for violations. Local officials could be removed from office and face personal fines of up to $5,000 for passing gun regulations.

    So now that cities and counties effectively have their hands tied, what exactly does state law say about backyard gun ranges?

    Fire away.

    If an amateur gun range does not involve shooting across paved roads or over an occupied premises, it’s perfectly legal as long as the shooter is not acting negligently or recklessly.

    Of course, the state doesn’t bother to define reckless or negligent. And that’s created a problem for law enforcement.

    Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says “reckless” and “negligent” deal with a person’s actions, and not the actual construction or location of the gun range.

    With vague wording in statutes and no case law as a guide, he said deputies would almost need to witness shots being fired to determine if a gun owner was behaving recklessly.

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