790.15 – Discharging firearm in public or on residential property.
Because of where I live and my frequent Facebook interactions with people this particular statute has a special place in my heart. The topic of “back yard ranges” seems to come up on a daily basis. Lets disect 790.15 just a little bit shall we? But be advised! I am not your source for legal advise. This is simply my interpretation and my own personal experience.
(1) 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, who knowingly discharges any firearm over 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 s. 776.013 or zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.775.083. This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm or to a person discharging a firearm on public roads or properties expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service.
Section 1 sounds pretty clear to me. No discharging firearms…
- in a public place
- on the right-of-way of a paved public road, highway, or street
- over an occupied premise
- recklessly or negligently on any property primarily used as a dwelling site or zoned exclusively residential
Now that we understand what the statute says we can’t do we can continue reading to understand it’s a first degree misdemeanor if charged. Keep in mind, the law tells you what’s illegal not what is legal. So far nothing stopping Acreage residents from enjoying safe responsible plinking on their property right?
(2) Any occupant of any vehicle who knowingly and willfully discharges any firearm from the vehicle within 1,000 feet of any person commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Section 2 seems pretty cut and dry right? If you want to practice shooting from a vehicle make sure you’re at least 1,000ft away from other people. Maybe this isn’t a good idea to try on your property. Just my opinion anyways.
(3) Any driver or owner of any vehicle, whether or not the owner of the vehicle is occupying the vehicle, who knowingly directs any other person to discharge any firearm from the vehicle commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
Section 3 is pretty clear isn’t it? What I get out of this is don’t tell someone to dscharge a firearm from the vehicle you own or are operating. Let me put it to you like this, NO DRIVE BYES! No getting mad at a tailgater and telling the passenger to shoot out their tire. Seems obvious doesn’t it?
(4) Any person who recreationally discharges a firearm outdoors, including target shooting, in an area that the person knows or reasonably should know is primarily residential in nature and that has a residential density of one or more dwelling units per acre, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This subsection does not apply:
- If you read section 4 in it’s entirety it sure does sound like target shooting at home would be illegal right? First degree misdemeanor punishable by 775.082 or 775.083. Scary stuff. BUT!!! There’s hope!!! The very last sentence clearly states “This subsection does not apply: (b) If, under the circumstances, the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety, or property”
What in the world is that supposed to mean? If I build a really nice private range with large thick berms I’m good right? As long as I’m being responsible and there’s no drinking alcohol or other craziness when the deputies arrive then I’m legal right? Well folks here’s the bottom line… it’s up to the deputy responding in my opinion!
Here’s my final thoughts based on my personal experience. I’ve had deputies out to my house multiple times now. Neighbors complained about noise, gun fire, and a few times the deputies simply heard gunfire so they investigated. Each and evey time they were simply doing their job and each and every time I welcomed them on to my propety so they could see my range with their own two eyes. I always have eye and ear protection. I always have my firearms cleared, slide/bolt locked back and pointed in a safe direction. I never have alcohol in my range area. I don’t even throw empty bottles in the garbage can back there. I have targets hanging and I have a 30’x10’x8′ berm with 150 tires behind it as my back stop. And I have never had a local deputy ask me to stop plinking. We have always shook hands and wished each other well. Being respectful goes a long way. Having a private range is incredibly fun and valuable for training but it comes with an enormous responsibilty. And in my humble opinion it’s a freedom worth fighting for!
Be safe and see you in class,