A state lawmaker wants to outlaw use of guns on residential properties except in cases of self-defense.
State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, whose district includes parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties, filed a bill Thursday to ban discharging a firearm in Florida on any zoned residential property, which would include large-acreage ranches and farms, except on properties exclusively approved for hunting or in cases where "a person is lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties."
Floridians can now discharge firearms on residential property as long it is not "recklessly or negligently."
Rouson said he filed the bill after an incident near his home last week.
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"Four minutes from my house, maybe 25 blocks away, a gentleman set up a gun range in a residential neighborhood," Rouson said. "People had concerns for the safety of their children and themselves."
Some gun rights activists said the language of the bill is too broad, and there is a huge difference between a residence in a city and a large ranch in rural Florida.
"It's kind of ridiculous," said Wayne Evans, manager of the Ancient Oak Gun Club in Lakewood Ranch. "Think if you have a 1,000-acre property."
Evans said the law should include a provision about the size of the property and, rather than a state law, county lawmakers should regulate their own jurisdictions.
Rouson said people should keep in mind this is the first draft of the bill, and the language can change as it goes through the committee process.
"The law certainly shouldn't say that one can set up a gun range where the safety of children can be compromised," Rouson said. "It must balance the rights of gun owners with public safety."
There is no Senate gun bill filed yet, but Rouson said he is working on one.
Rouson pointed to an example from Christmas Day 2013, when a 69-year-old man was killed by a stray bullet after a neighbor shot at a gun range on his property in Volusia County. The shooter was not charged.
"I'm not trying to curtail or restrict rights," Rouson said. "I'm trying to clarify when and where one might shoot a gun."