Florida bans backyard gun ranges

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a measure Wednesday that bans backyard gun ranges in the Gunshine State.

The one-page bill, SB 130, prohibits the recreational discharge of a firearm in certain residential areas, specifically in areas “that the person knows or reasonably should know is primarily residential in nature and that has a residential density of one or more dwelling units per acre.”

Violating the measure — by recreationally shooting in a backyard range — is a first degree misdemeanor and penalty includes a fine.

The law, however, does not apply when a person is lawfully defending life, property or while performing official duties; if the discharge does not pose risk to life, safety or property; and a person who accidentally discharges a firearm.

The measure was supported by the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, the News Service of Florida reported.

Additionally, the measure comes nearly five years after the governor signed a bill into law that voided all local firearms restrictions, the service points out.

The bill was introduced by Republican state Sen. Garrett Richter in August 2015. However, efforts to prohibit backyard ranges began after a local issue gained national attention in 2014 in which the town of Lake Worth was barred from intervening in a residential dispute involving a man shooting guns at his makeshift range and concerned neighbors.

The measure goes into effect July 1.