Sunrise Mayor: Backyard Gun Ranges Coming To Your Urban Neighborhood




The Miami Herald reported this week an alarming fact: Florida law permits urban backyard gun ranges.

As I wrote some time ago, urban elected officials had best beware before they try to do something!

Urban Neighborhood Gun Range Loophole?

Florida statute 790.15 attempts to regulate where people can discharge firearms.  Can’t do it in a public place (unless subject to “stand your ground” or traditional self-defense).  Can’t shoot across a road or over a “dwelling”.  Can’t do it from moving car.

Seems reasonable so far.

But, as long as not “negligent or reckless”, there are no restrictions on setting up a gun range in your backyard (or front yard for that matter).

Well, there must be some regulation or restrictions, right?  Wrong.

  • No standards for the type of backstop or safety protection;
  • No restrictions on the type of firearm that can be used;
  • No restrictions on the type of ammunition that can be used;
  • No requirement to notify the police department in advance, so when the neighbors call 911, the police can say “Don’t worry, that’s your neighbor shooting next door on his make-shift range and we can’t do anything about it.”
  • No restrictions on time of day or for how long; and
  • No restrictions on how close to a school, church or park, etc.

You say, well, certainly local officials could do something?

Not so quick.

Local Urban Elected Officials Powerless?

As I highlighted previously, Florida Statute 790.33 not only pre-empts any local ordinances involving firearms and ammunition, if a local elected official tries to regulate firearms and ammunition,

  • The Governor has the authority to immediately remove the elected official from office without a hearing or allowing any defense as to the purposes of why they passing the ordinance;
  • The elected official is subject to $5,000 fine (which they must pay personally, not through their city); and
  • If anyone sues the city to overturn the ordinance, the elected official must pay the legal fees and costs.

Here is what Florida law says regarding pre-emption:

Except as expressly provided by the State Constitution or general law, the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage, and transportation thereof, to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances or any administrative regulations or rules adopted by local or state government relating thereto. Any such existing ordinances, rules, or regulations are hereby declared null and void.

Think of the most crowded urban neighborhood and then picture the gun range in a backyard (or front yard).

Or, think of a crime-ridden area where future criminals come out to practice in a yard — assuming they not convicted felons and the guns aren’t stolen, there may be nothing the police can do.

But, establishing thoughtful and reasonable safety and quality of life restrictions on backyard and front yard gun ranges is not involving “…the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage, and transportation” of firearms or ammunition.  The restriction doesn’t say anything about “use”.

So, maybe cities can restrict or regulate “use” in backyard gun ranges?

Not so quick.   There are those who will say, don’t ignore the beginning of that sentence  “…the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, including…”

In 2005, an Attorney General opinion addressing the ability of a county to establish minimum buffers for discharge of firearm seemed to sympathize with the need and desirability to protect local residential communities.  However, because the legislature said all local ordinances are pre-empted involving firearms and ammunition, the Attorney General said there was no way to restrict discharge in local communities.

When will common sense find its way to Tallahassee?

(Mike Ryan is the mayor of Sunrise)


Ryan asked Atty. General Pam Bondi for an opinion on the situation:

Letter to Attorney General _Outdoor Firearm Ranges

19 Responses to “Sunrise Mayor: Backyard Gun Ranges Coming To Your Urban Neighborhood”

  1. modeengunch says:

    How many backyard shooting ranges have you documented in Sunrise? How many do you know about statewide? Me thinks there is an agenda here that is not being disclosed.

  2. Sam The Sham says:

    I think this is a great idea. I’m going to ask Sam Fields to come over for target practice.

  3. Not So Fast says:

    With all due respect Mayor, shooting in a neighborhood fits just about anyone’s definition of “negligent or reckless”…especially when a police officer is making the distinction.
    Want my quick and inexpensive solution? Tell your cops that they are to deem any and all shooting in neighborhoods to be “negligent or reckless” and make an arrest. There, I fixed the problem. Can I have a key to the city? 🙂

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Common sense will find its way to Tallahassee on the day that a newly enacted Florida law unconditionally prohibits red light cameras throughout the entire state.

  5. Duke says:

    When I visited Graceland, I noticed Elvis had a gun range in the back yard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Baby Gunzburger has never had a job that his mommie didn’t get for him. His one talent is negative attacks on opponents in a campaign for his clients. He has demonstrated no legal greatness in the past, which is something that Israel now knows.
    I’m not putting my name on this because I don’t want him attacking me since Gunzburger is notoriously vengeful

  7. Get Your Facts Straight says:

    Local zoning ordinances that govern residential zoning prevails. Unless the residential zoning ordinance specifically allows shooting ranges in neighborhoods, they are prohibited.

    Zoning ordinances totally control what is allowed in residential neighborhoods. That’s why you don’t see liquor stores, newspaper printing plants, mechanics garages, super markets or used car dealerships in the middle of residential neighborhoods — and you shouldn’t see shooting ranges there either.

    The county apparently would rather make a political statement rather than enforcing the laws and regulations they do control. I know of no residential zoning ordinance, anywhere, that allows shooting ranges.

  8. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I have some thoughts on this issue, however I will decline to share them, as any American should have the ability to do, out of fear that the State of Florida will prosecute or possibly even have me crucified.

    You’ll just have to guess what my reaction might be if one of these things goes up recklessly in Pembroke Pines and some innocent child or other person gets shot to death.


  9. Le Peerman says:

    With all due respect,I think the word gun range is being used improperly. Using the term is giving the impression of a six lane gun range as opposed to someone setting up a target in in their back yard.
    I believe the “who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling” portion of the law stating the words recklessly or negligently are the key words here.

  10. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    To those who think that common sense should prevail (any range in a neighborhood is per se negligence or zoning takes over) I wish it were that simple.

    First, see AGO 2005-40: When a county sought a 300 foot buffer for discharge of firearms, “It is well settled that absent a general law stating otherwise, local governments have no authority to regulate firearms in any manner. Attempts to circumvent this preemption of firearm regulation have not been allowed. Thus, despite the county’s concerns for the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, it may not enact an ordinance regulating the use of firearms.”

    Then, go see Attorney General Opinion 2011-17, where the AG gave an opinion a county can NOT “regulate the recreational discharge of firearms in residentially zoned areas as the regulation of firearms is preempted” by Section 790.33.

    Then, read the Miami Herald article.

    In short, while common sense supports that it should be negligence per se OR zoning takes precedent, it simply doesn’t because of Section 790.33. That’s the problem. No agenda – just a reality that there is a gaping loophole that defies all logic and all common sense.

  11. Not so fast says:

    “Get your facts straight”:
    Sorry, but it is YOU that need to get your facts straight.

    “…the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition… the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances or any administrative regulations or rules adopted by local or state government relating thereto. Any such existing ordinances, rules, or regulations are hereby declared null and void.”

    In short all zoning ordinances related to firearms are “null and void”.

  12. Floridan says:

    It sounds like the Florida Legislature is trying to compete with Carl Hiaasen in concocting bizarre scenarios. Unfortunately for us, the Legislators are doing nonfiction.

  13. Sam The Sham says:

    Of course this is how it was for the first 150 years or so of our republic. Now, you whiny little girls are so afraid of true freedom that you must run and change your panties at the mere thought of a free citizen excersizing his God given and Constitutionally protected rights.


    Slavery, followed by segregation, was “how it was for the first 150 years or so of our republic.”

    Women didn’t have the right to vote, but that was “how it was for the first 150 years or so of our republic.”

    The nation was awash in adulterated often poisonous food, quack medicines, ravenous monopolies like Standard Oil, 60-80 hour work weeks and children as young as 5 working, but that was “how it was for the first 150 years or so of our republic.”

    For the “first 150 years or so of our republic” the majority of people in this country lives in rural areas. Now they live in urban areas and very few, by percentage, live in rural areas.

    I have one word to describe people who refuse to see that times have changed: Republican.

  14. John Henry says:

    “Slavery, followed by segregation, was “how it was for the first 150 years or so of our republic.”

    “I have one word to describe people who refuse to see that times have changed: Republican.”

    Wait. Wasn’t Southern Democrats behind the slavery & segregation thing???????

  15. Rex says:

    Since we are talking about Sunrise. Buddy, why don’t you write an article explaining how a city that has majority minority population ( African American) but not one minority sits on the city council, mayors office, police chief, fire chief, city manger, city attorney. How can this be. Oh, rigged city wide voting districts. Condos rule. Democracy must eventually rule in Sunrise and represent the populace. Dont you think ?

  16. Sam The Sham says:


    Please don’t label me Republican. I am a conservative. I want to conserve my rights and not have them taken away from me by unreasonable people who have an irrational fear of freedom in general and guns in particular.

    I have much more dangerous things at my house than guns. I bet you do too. I have a dog who can injure people and perhaps kill small children. I keep him on a leash, in my fenced in yard and always trained. I would not own him otherwise because that would be dangerous. I have a riding lawn mower that has very dangerous multiple blades that I use much more often than my guns. I use it safely and keep it in good shape and all the safety equipment attached. I have electricity running into my house that I manage to keep under control despite its great potential to electrocute people. I drive my car daily and have not killed a single person in spite of the fact that it has a much greater potential for killing people than any of my weapons.

    The issue is not that times have changed. The issue is that people no longer respect others rights. The issue is that average home owners have just as much right to practice safe target shooting in their yard as the average rural farm owner with multiple acres.

    Comparing target shooting with slavery, women’s rights, child labor etc is comparing apples and oranges. I am surprised you did not bring up some sort of Nazi reference.

  17. Duke says:

    Lots of suburbanites want to live next to someone who does target practice in their back yard. Many realtors use it as a selling point. “This is such a family friendly neighborhood. Do you own guns? Some of the neighbors have gun ranges set up right in their own backyard and you can even have one yourself if you want. Just imagine. The smell of gunpowder. The smoke in the yard, the sound of the shots”.

  18. Ha Ha Ha says:

    According to the Census Bureau, in Sunrise as of 2010, whites are either a majority (56.4%) or a plurality (36.7%), depending on whether white Hispanics & white Latinos are being counted as whites or not…

    White alone, percent, 2010 (a) 56.4%
    Black or African American alone, percent, 2010 (a) 31.8%
    American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2010 (a) 0.3%
    Asian alone, percent, 2010 (a) 4.1%
    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2010 (a) 0.1%
    Two or More Races, percent, 2010 3.3%
    Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010 (b) 25.6%
    White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2010 36.7%

  19. jac lebeau says:

    We live in a Florida residential subdivision next to a jerk that fires hundreds of rounds both day and night. Absolutely nothing can be done about it. The noise is insane.