Florida Law Targets Backyard Shooting Ranges

Posted at 6:51 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 18:51:08-05

A new Florida law aimed at restricting backyard shooting ranges was signed Wednesday by Governor Rick Scott. The law makes it a misdemeanor to shoot a gun on residential property in areas with more than one house per acre.

"Even those that are 5-acre or 10-acre lots...they need to be safe, it still has to be protected," said NRA member Bob Unger of Naples.

In early February, 14-year-old Deborah Ledesma was at home in Golden Gate Estates when she was hit in the hand by a stray bullet that she believes came from her neighbor's property. Collier County Sheriff's deputies determined that the bullet came from a backyard shooting range set up by her neighbor Harold Lanham, who was charged with shooting a missile into a dwelling.

"This was a tragic result, but he wasn't doing anything illegal," said his attorney Mike Chionopoulos. 

Ledesma's mother told Fox 4 that their home is on 1.6 acres, and doesn't believe the law will protect them.

Taylor Lee of the Alamo Gun Shop in Naples expects that the new law restricting backyard gun ranges will be tricky to enforce, and believes that responsible use of firearms comes down to training and common sense.

"We have the right to keep and bear arms," he said. "But we don't have the right to inflict pain or injury on other people."

The law was sponsored by Sen. Garrett Richter, a Naples Republican. With it, you can still protect yourself with a gun, even if you live in a residential neighborhood. And accidentally firing your weapon won't be considered a crime, as long as you can prove the discharge was an accident.