Can You Shoot a Gun on Your Own Property


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It is more convenient to shoot your gun on your own property. Also, many people have a lot of lands where there isn’t much danger of an accident.

So, can you shoot a gun on your own property? In general, it is considered an unsafe discharge of a weapon to shoot a gun on your own property. You should consult with a lawyer about the specific laws in your State. If you live in rural areas the law may allow you to discharge a firearm on your property. But in populated areas, it is usually banned.

Below, I’ll explain what the requirements are before one can discharge a weapon on their property. As well as, whether you can shoot a gun on your own property for the biggest States.

Am I allowed to target practice on my own property?

There are intricacies and ways in which doing so would be illegal. But, it is best to consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests that you need to have a firing range. The firing range must get deemed safe. Common sense would dictate that you can’t fire a gun on your own property where people could hear it.

For example, if there is a firing range, neighbors expect to hear gunfire. In a residential area, people will think a crime has been committed and will call law enforcement. There are very clear laws in some States about the discharge of a firearm close to a school zone. If you get interested in these, take a look at this article here. But, the law gets updated. This information can get outdated or not apply. It is hard to find which law is most current because of the many updates. That is you talk with a lawyer.

Is it legal to shoot on your own property?

Many States have an illegal discharge of firearm laws. What is legal and what is not varies by State. Yet, this information is very difficult to find. If you are planning to shoot your firearm in an area that is smaller than a large firing range. Then it is likely illegal.

There are laws that supersede other laws. So you may read it is legal in your State. But, this may get overridden by other laws. For example, using a firearm within a certain distance of a public building. So, you should always check with a lawyer in your state or county.

A firearm can get used in self-defense. A person who is trespassing on a property should get asked to leave. If they do not comply within a reasonable time, they can get removed using force. The force used must match the compliance of the trespasser. Showing a weapon, or using threats that are excessive to the situation can usually be illegal. Where there is no immediate threat of violence, law enforcement should get called.

Can you shoot on your own land?

Discharging a weapon on your own land without safety measures is not permitted. But, the law is intricate, and there are laws that can supersede others. So, it is best to talk with a lawyer in your jurisdiction about it, to avoid prosecution.

California

It is difficult to find information about whether you can shoot a gun on your own land. The Bureau of Land Management of California says that recreational shooting on public lands is permissible in some places. 

If you get interested in which public lands you can discharge a firearm on, the full article is here. This is the case on undeveloped land. This would suggest that it may be permissible to shoot a gun on one’s own property. But, you should talk with a lawyer in California about it.

Colorado

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation has defined the gun laws for the State of Colorado here. They define the illegal discharge of a firearm as “Any person who knowingly or recklessly discharges a firearm into any dwelling or any other building or occupied structure, or into any motor vehicle occupied by any person, commits the offense of illegal discharge of a firearm.”

Guns are permitted to be discharged while visiting National Forests.

The gun can get discharged in a National Forest but

  • It cannot be within 150 yards (137 meters) of a residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or place where people are.
  • It cannot be discharged across a road or body of water.
  • It is not discharged where a person or property can be injured from said discharge.
  • It is not into a cave.

But, there are federal laws that may supersede this.  It is best to talk with a lawyer in Colorado about this matter. 

Florida

It is not permissible to discharge a firearm in a residential area in Florida. The exact statute can get read here. It is also not permissible to shoot targets

  • Where the person knows or should know that it is a predominantly residential area. This is defined as having a density of at least one person per acre. 
  • If the discharge does risk life, safety, or property.
  • They are lawfully defending their life or property. Which requires them to discharge a firearm. 
  • There are exceptions if the person accidentally discharges the weapon.

Illinois

Illinois has laws about shooting a gun on your own property. They get described by the Illinois General Assembly. They refer to shooting on one’s property for recreation as a shooting range. A shooting and shooting on one’s own property get considered the same. A shooting range has a broad definition that applies to shoot on one’s own property.

It also covers lands licensed by the Department of Natural Resources. It applies to the nuisance caused by noise.

A firing range can get prosecuted if:

  • A gun gets discharged within 1000 yards (914 meters) of adjacent property or a permanently occupied dwelling.
  • A gun gets discharged outside of a permanent building that absorbs sound from the use of the firearm.
  • It is within a zone where it is otherwise prohibited.
  • The range is not licensed by the Department of Natural Resources.
  • It met previous clauses when it got built. This is because the distance from an adjacent building has increased.

Louisiana

It does not appear to be any illegal laws that would prohibit the firing of a gun on your own property in Louisiana. But, Federal, County, and Municipal laws may inhibit certain aspects of gun discharge. It is best to consult with a lawyer in your jurisdiction about the matter.

New York

There is very little information other than anecdotal evidence. It is common in upstate New York to discharge firearms on one’s own property. Again, it is best to talk with a lawyer in your area. About whether it is permissible and under what requirements. Some Municipalities or Counties may ban it completely.

Pennsylvania

A document outlining shooting a gun on your own property laws in Pennsylvania can get found here. It says that it is unlawful to discharge a firearm into or upon

  • Any public or private hospital land
  • Any park or resort where people use it for recreation, pleasure, or health.
  • Any land that is publicly owned where there are people using it at the time.
  • The public or private land must be clearly boundaried with adequate signage.

You can discharge a firearm at a properly constructed target, mark, or dead tree. The projectile must not pass more than 15 yards (13.7 meters) past the target. There must also, be protection against deflection of 45 degrees from the target.

There are also rules that say that the owner must be with anyone who is shooting on their property. Or, they must be within a certain distance of the person who is discharging a firearm on the property. Please consult with a lawyer in your individual County and Municipality.

Conclusion

It is permissible to shoot a gun on your own property in some States, Counties, and Municipalities. Every State, County, and municipality has its own laws. There are also laws that can supersede these laws. In general, it is permissible if it doesn’t cause a noise disturbance, or is unsafe. Some States allow you to shoot on public lands such as the National Parks. Each jurisdiction has different requirements around where you can shoot in these areas. Such as using a backstop. As well as, not doing so within a certain distance of surrounding people and buildings.

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