If a group of friends goes out several miles into Everglades National Park and does some target shooting. Are they violating Florida Statute 790.15?

  • What about if they were on any "Public" land that is NOT a national park?
  • What about if they were on "Private" land?
  • The "wilderness" means nothing. Who owns the land? Federal? State? BLM? Private? – BlueDogRanch Nov 14 '17 at 22:13
  • If they're in a National Park, isn't this automatically a public place? – cHao Nov 14 '17 at 23:19
  • @cHao National parks have different regulations. – Digital fire Nov 14 '17 at 23:37
  • Not sure why the down vote. I'm asking a valid legal question that has proper multipart answer. – Digital fire Nov 15 '17 at 0:05

The key portion of the statute states that it applies to the discharge of a firearm:

in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street, who knowingly discharges any firearm over the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway, or street or over any occupied premises, or who recklessly or negligently discharges a firearm outdoors on any property used primarily as the site of a dwelling as defined in s. 776.013 or zoned exclusively for residential use commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property or performing official duties requiring the discharge of a firearm or to a person discharging a firearm on public roads or properties expressly approved for hunting by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or Florida Forest Service.

Assuming that the permitted hunting approval exception does not apply in all cases, it would not be directly applicable in a federal park (where federal courts probably have exclusive jurisdiction), although there is probably an assimilative crimes act that adopts state law as a federal criminal offense in cases not provided for by express federal statutes that would apply as if it were state land.

So, you can't discharge a firearm "in any public place", over a paved road, over an occupied building, on a residential lot, or in a residential lot (other subsections limit firing guns from our vehicle).

It appears that "in a public place" is a question of fact, but that would not be synonymous with, land owned by the government. Instead, it would be in places where members of the public gather such as courtyards, malls, plazas, parking lots and the like. Some places in Everglades National Park or public lands would be "in a public place", but that wouldn't necessarily apply to all places on government owned land. A secluded meadow or bare place in the marsh might not be "in a public place."

Private land would usually not be "a public place" although a mall or amusement park or concert venue or other place open to the public but privately owned probably would be "a public place."

A paved private road would probably be covered, as would any residentially zoned land and any land in the curtilage of a home or occupied building.

But, otherwise, shooting on private land (not from a vehicle) would be permitted whether it was vacant land, farm land, industrial property, or commercial property without occupied structures or paved roads (e.g. warehouses or storage sheds).

  • Pretty spot on with a minor exception, 'So, you can't discharge a firearm "in any public place", over a "paved public road", over an occupied building, on a residential lot, or in a residential lot (other subsections limit firing guns from our vehicle).' Here is an article about a Florida man who built a backyard, out door gun range in a residential lot. nbcnews.com/video/… – Digital fire Nov 15 '17 at 2:05
  • I don't normally use a computer in a place that I can listen to audio. Who says it is legal? The fact that a guy says what he is doing is legal doesn't make it so, nor does the fact that the local law enforcement agency declines to enforce a criminal statutes. – ohwilleke Nov 15 '17 at 2:19
  • I don't disagree with you. Just giving an instance of an exception. There are several of these type of situations around Florida. So it is not as a singular exception. – Digital fire Nov 15 '17 at 2:21
  • @DigitalFire I have little doubt that the neighbors could obtain an injunction from a court in a civil action prohibiting this conduct on threat of incarceration for contempt of court if he violated the court order. It looks like irresponsible news reporting to me. The fact that the law is violated and no one does something about it doesn't mean something is legal. – ohwilleke Nov 15 '17 at 2:22
  • 1
    The new bill is at flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/130/BillText/er/PDF and its language suggests a third possibility which is that the property described in the video and vice article was not zoned as exclusively residential even though, in fact, only residential properties were constructed there. Perhaps it was part of a multi-use PUD or something like that. – ohwilleke Nov 16 '17 at 14:41

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