BANG, BANG…BANG! Alicia, call 911. Didn’t you hear gunshots? Call the police! Where is Carlos? I told that kid to stay home tonight! ¡Dios mío! Where are those shots coming from? Get down on the floor! Where are they coming from?
A few minutes later Roberto hears the sound of police cars roaring into the neighborhood. BANG, BANG…BANG! They’re at it again. Did the cops get em? What is going on? Again, the sound of police cars passing in the street. Ten minutes later there is a strong knock on the door. “Police, anyone inside?”
Roberto squints through the peephole in the front door. It’s the cops. “Gracias a Dios.” Inside the two law enforcement officers tell Roberto and Alicia that they found the problem.
“Ridiculous as it may sound, a neighbor around the corner has set up a gun range in his backyard and was taking practice shoots with a 357.”
“Thanks, officer. Now that you know, you can put a stop to the idiot and dismantle his, obviously illegal, gun range. How crazy…in a residential neighborhood. One of us could get killed with a stray bullet. Thank you, thank you, officer. We were scared to death.”
I’m sorry, Mrs. Gomez, but I’ve got bad news. We can’t stop him. We can’t make him dismantle the gun range. We can’t even slow him down in the evening, can’t claim he’s too noisy.”
“Why not, officer,” Alicia pleads. “We’re going to get hurt. Damn it, stop him! What’s the problem?”
“Mrs. Gomez, Florida law expressly says it’s okay.”
“Well, Mr. law enforcement man, get our county to pass a law saying it’s not okay. What’s this — cowboy and Indians country, anyway?”
“Sorry, again, Mrs. Gomez.” The officer was embarrassed to tell her that Florida law prohibits a county or a municipality from passing any laws that prohibit a resident from building and using a gun range in the backyard.
“Can’t tell ’em how to build it. Can’t tell ’em when they can use it. Can’t get ’em for making too much noise! The law goes so far that the state can actually fine a county or municipal elected official $5,000 and remove them from office for just trying.
Roberto looks at his wife. “There is something we can do! We can tell that guy in Tallahassee, the one we voted for last year that he damn well better get that law changed or he sure as hell isn’t getting my vote again. I thought the Stand Your Ground law was crazy, but this is ridiculous! If we can’t get our guys in Tallahassee to amend that stupid law, then let’s get a constitutional amendment going and show those guys we elected that their days are over.”
Meanwhile the mayors of Boynton Beach, Southwest Ranches and Hallandale beach (all in Broward County) have passed resolutions urging the state to address state law that allows unrestricted and unregulated gun ranges and the firing of weapons in residential neighborhoods. Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper said she is willing to risk fine and pay her own legal fees. The mayor said, “It’s gone to the point of absurdity that things like this are taking place and we are handcuffed from regulating it. It’s absurdity at the worst level.”
That’s the story. There are times when we don’t agree with a law passed by our legislature. We can agree or disagree with the state’s handling of revenues and disbursements in our budget. But this is a real matter of life or death. It can happen in Pinecrest; it can happen in Hialeah, or in West Kendall. It can happen in your next-door neighbor’s backyard. This is the time for you to take a stand.
Maybe you’ve never called your elected member of the Florida House or Senate on a specific issue. Well, now is the time to change all that.
Call, write, text, email your elected officials and say: Enough is enough. Amend 790 during this session of the legislature. Call me 24/7 at 786-247-0547 if you need the email address of your elected officials.
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