After threats that included getting “swatted,” Joey Carannante traded in his unused home-built gun range in exchange for a donated membership at a local commercial range.
Carannante, 21, took advantage of a law in the Sunshine State that is perceived to allow, with little regulation, shooting ranges in residential areas. After setting up his berm and target stands on his parents’ property, he quickly incurred the wrath of neighbors who contend that he is 50 feet or less from nearby homes where children play outside.
Now, with the city promising to prosecute him if he uses it, and a series of increasingly violent threats, the would-be target shooter has dismantled his range.
“I’ve gotten death threats out of this. People threatening to ‘SWAT’ my house, blowing it up with a bazooka,” Carannante told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s been kind of scary. Sleeping with one eye open.”
The practice mentioned refers to the disturbing trend of calling in false police reports of extremely violent acts in progress, such as an active shooter event, triggering a police response to include special reaction teams. Starting as an offshoot of gaming culture in which teens would call in reports of brutal killings at the addresses of game victors, the dangerous prank tactic is believed to have led to at least one death.
After at first steering clear of the controversy over the makeshift range, city officials later backtracked and advised if Carannante ever used it, they would attempt to prosecute him over noise ordinances.
“We don’t think it’s a good idea in a residential neighborhood to set up a shooting range in your backyard,” said St. Petersburg police representative Yolanda Fernandez.
While the range may no longer exist, the controversy over it remains, with local lawmakers vowing to introduce legislation that would regulate other ranges should they pop up. However, gun rights advocates in the state contend this is not needed.
“The legislature has already addressed this. Some local governments are refusing to enforce state law,” Marion Hammer, president of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and past president of the National Rifle Association, told Guns.com. “Some local government officials have claimed that because they can’t regulate firearms, they can’t do anything about these ranges. That is ludicrous. They need to enforce state law – it’s uniform and it’s clear.”
In exchange for his backyard range, Carannante was offered a free $500 membership at Shooter’s World, an area target complex, in addition to one purchased at another center and donated by an area business.