Our Cold, Dead Hands


The semi-obscure Florida Statute 790.15 took center stage in January after a Miami Herald report of a resident of Big Pine Key who routinely target-shoots his handgun in his yard, with impunity, to the consternation of neighbors. The statute permits open firing on private property (except shooting over a public right of way or an occupied dwelling), and several cities have tried, unsuccessfully, to restrict that right, citing "public safety" in residential neighborhoods. A 2011 lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association, and a state supreme court decision, nixed any change in the law. "Negligent" shooting is illegal, but only a misdemeanor. Thus, even skillful shooting next door to a day care center or in a small yard that abuts a high-trafficked pedestrian street is likely perfectly legal. One Florida legislator who was originally from Alaska noted that even in Anchorage, people cannot fire at will in 
their yards.

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