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Attorney General declines to define “shooting range” with respect to local issue

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State Attorney General Ashley Moody declined to give a legal opinion to the Hernando County Attorney’s Office on whether Hernando County should enforce noise ordinances on persons using firearms on non-commercial property.
The opinion stems from a citizen complaint in June of 2020.   An email was sent to Commissioner John Allocco regarding a neighbor’s concern of the owner of 12056 Eakin Street  and their guests using the property as a non-commercial shooting range.   Citing noise and safety concerns, Misty Cintron reached out to Allocco with the hope that the practice would be ceased through application of the Hernando County Noise Ordinance.
However, according to Florida Statute 790.33,  local government is preempted from enforcing the county noise ordinance as part of the regulations “pertaining to the whole field of firearms.”     
The language within the statute consistently uses the phrase “sports shooting range” to define a large outdoor area where the discharge of firearms may be permitted, however does not define whether that area needs to be a commercial business or if the term applies to private property.  The zoning of the 5 acre property on 12056 Eakin Street is currently Agricultural and Residential. 
Taking the state law and local concern into consideration, Deputy County Attorney Jon Jouben requested Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) consent to direct the staff to send a letter to the Attorney General requesting guidance as to whether the statutory definition of the Noise Ordinance is limited to commercial sport shooting ranges.
The following response, dated November 9, 2020 was sent from AG Moody’s office:
“Upon reviewing the information you have submitted, this office must decline to comment on this matter. With respect to the County’s question regarding the definition of a “sport shooting range” as set forth in section 823.16(l)(c), Florida Statutes, and whether section 730.330), Florida Statutes, precludes enforcement of its “generally applicable” noise regulation ordinance, these inquiries present mixed questions of fact and law, which opinions of this office are not intended to address.
“We regret that we are unable to comment further. I trust you will understand that the inability of the Attorney General to address your questions does not stem from a lack of concern.”
 

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