DATE: March 25, 2015
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
HB-623, Firearms Discharge on Private Property by Representative Darryl Rouson (D-St Petersburg) was heard in the House Criminal Justice Committee yesterday, March 24, 2015, and KILLED by a vote of 5-8.
Representative Chris Latvala (R-St Petersburg) broke ranks with Republicans and the NRA and voted in favor of this very bad bill. Email: Chris.Latvala@myfloridahouse.gov
Click here to view vote:
HB-623 is a bill to make it a crime to discharge a firearm on private property regardless of the size or location of the property.
The bill was amended in committee to prohibit discharge of a firearm "within 1000 feet of a person or developed real property" unless it was on an "authorized sport shooting range that meets the standards required in the NRA 2012 Range Source Book or property EXPRESSLY approved for hunting by FWC.
This made a very bad bill even worse.
Any property with a structure: hunting camp, pole barn, target shed, even a range itself, constitutes "developed real property." No hunting camp or hunting lease is EXPRESSLY approved by FWC.
Any person or persons standing beside or behind you while you hunt or shoot is "within a 1000 feet."
Further, it would be a crime to shoot on a gun club range and other private range in remote areas built before 2012 because they don't specifically meet the NRA's 2012 standards even though they are perfectly safe, approved, licensed, and permitted.
Current law prohibits reckless and negligent discharge of a firearm in residential neighborhoods.
Shooting into a makeshift backstop, when there is a reasonably foreseeable potential that someone could miss the target or that a bullet could penetrate a backstop, is reckless and negligent.
Local government attorneys and police are apparently saying they don't know what negligent and recklessly means. That is absurd.
Negligent and recklessly are legal terms that are used by the courts all the time.
Further, the Staff Analysis makes it clear that there are standard definitions used by the courts in Florida Stand Jury Instructions for Criminal Cases. Criminal Justice Comm. Staff Analysis of HB-623
Further, Black's Law Dictionary -- which every practicing attorney should have -- clearly and with great detail defines and explains those legal terms.
This bill attempts to fix a nonexistent problem.
NOTHING in state law allows people to build outdoor shooting ranges in dense residential neighborhoods.
We know of no zoning ordinance in Florida or anywhere else that allows construction of outdoor shooting ranges in dense residential neighborhoods.
The minute a person fires a shot in a dense residential neighborhood when there is a reasonably foreseeable potential that someone might miss the target or that a bullet could penetrate a backstop and injure another person or property of another – that is reckless and negligent.
To our knowledge, no arrest has been made and no prosecutor has even attempted to prosecute a person who violates the law by negligently and reckless discharging a firearm in a dense neighborhood -- even when property damage has occurred or it has caused the death of another person.
What is going on is an orchestrated effort to try to get the Legislature to give local control over Second Amendment rights back to local governments and/or remove the penalties for violating the law.