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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Doug Varrieur likes to shoot.

Problem is, it’s 25 miles to the nearest range, where they charge $45 an hour. What’s a gun enthusiast to do?

Lucky for him, Varrieur lives in Florida. Problem solved. Just erect a makeshift range in the back yard and fire away. It’s perfectly legal.

Re-read that if you want. It’s just as nutty the second time around.

In a story by my colleague Cammy Clark that appeared in Sunday’s Miami Herald, we learn that Varrieur, who lives on Big Pine Key, once complained to a gun-shop owner about what a pain it was going to the range to shoot. The owner put him onto Florida statute 790.15, which lists the conditions under which one may not legally discharge a firearm in the state. Turns out there aren’t many. You may not shoot “in any public place or on the right-of-way of any paved public road, highway or street,” over any road, highway or occupied premises, or “recklessly or negligently” at your own home.

Otherwise, let ‘er rip.

There are no mandatory safety requirements. Indeed, the language about recklessness and negligence was only added in 2011. Prior to that, apparently, it was even legal to blast at shadows and hallucinations, assuming you did so in your own back yard. Shooting actual people is presumably still illegal, though the family of the late Trayvon Martin might beg to differ.

Because he is a responsible gun owner, Varrieur, who has been shooting in his back yard once a week for a month, took precautions, even though, again, he is not required to. They include a wooden backstop seven feet high, eight feet wide and a foot thick.

Can you imagine living next door to this guy? Worse, can you imagine living next door to a Doug Varrieur who doesn’t take the precautions the law says he doesn’t have to bother with?