[There was a video here]
Joseph Carannate just got old enough to (legally) own his 9mm handgun and was ready for some next-level Second Amendmenting: He set up a sad-looking pile of dirt and wood in the yard of his suburban house as a makeshift firing range. He's just taking advantage of a pro-gun Florida law that leaves even the NRA aghast.
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.''
Carannate, 21, told WFLA-TV he's just exercising his inalienable right to make sketchy decisions with pistol rounds on his jerry-rigged redneck shootin' gallery—which, Romano points out, is adjacent to "tree houses. A sand box in the middle of the yard. Children laughing and running while friendly dogs bark and give chase." Here's a shot of Carannate's property in relation to, oh, probably a couple hundred neighbors in his subdivision, courtesy of Zillow:
It's not exactly an inalienable right he's exercising, but it's pretty solid in Florida. While most major municipalities around the country have ordinances against discharging a firearm in residential areas, the Sunshine State in 1987 passed a law expressly forbidding city and county governments from placing any limits on residents' gun rights.
In 2011, the allegedly small-government conservatives in Florida's Legislature, led by former NRA president and current gun lobbyist Marion Hammer (of Stand Your Ground fame), added muscle to the law, mandating fines and removal from office for any mayors, commissioners, or other local officials who tried to limit gun use within their boundaries. "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," Romano writes.
The rub, of course, is that no law enforcement officers want to dub these gun-lovers "negligent" or "reckless," for fear that they may grow litigious and ruin the cops' livelihoods—in much the same way Stand Your Ground has been shown to make peace officers reluctant to immediately detain gunmen in some violent shootings.
But even the NRA's woman in Tallahassee can't believe these boneheads, according to Romano:
She said the part of the statute dealing with reckless and negligent use of guns was added specifically to prohibit the discharge of weapons in neighborhoods.
"I have to side with the mayor on this,'' Hammer wrote in an email. "Shooting ranges don't belong in dense residential neighborhoods and, in fact, nothing in the law allows them.''
Florida Second Amendment Men beg to disagree with her. Like the 57-year-old snowbird who set up a range in front of his RV to teach his vision-impaired wife to shoot a pistol he'd bought her. Or the angry Boynton Beach man who vowed to set up a range on his one-acre plot to scare a daycare center out of its plans to move next door, because "noisy kids would ruin his dream-home plans." Or a Tampa-area man cited by Romano, who plugged his neighbor's house and sliding-glass door with at least nine shots while aiming for his backyard range last month.
It may seem insane to you, and even to the National Rifle Association: a reductio ad absurdum of America's 21st-century "I've got mine, fuck you" simulacrum of libertarianism. But on the other hand, the way things are going these days, maybe it's safer than a commercial indoor gun range.