Florida Finds New Ways to Encourage Reckless Gunplay

Now everybody can have a personal shooting range no matter what the neighbors think.

Looks like Florida will be producing more dead people with bullet holes. The state that enacted a "gun gag" law to prohibit physicians from discussing firearms with patients, and gave us George Zimmerman, that unsteady hero of the Stand Your Ground movement, has more firearms news.

The Miami Herald reports on a little-known success of the National Rifle Association in its campaign to bring live ammunition to every corner of the American experience. (Thanks to TPM for bringing it to my attention.) In 2011, Republican Governor Rick Scott signed a law creating penalties for municipalities that attempt to restrict the firing of guns in residential areas. Because no American wants to live in a high-density gulag without the joyful sound of gunfire and the perpetual threat that your child will be felled by a richocheting bullet fired by your idiot neighbor.

Doug Varrieur set up a firing range in his yard in the Florida Keys. To his credit, Varrieur told the Herald he spent $600 to build a wooden backstop to make his range less of a deadly hazard to neighbors. That precaution was entirely optional, however. Now that news of the law's benefits are out -- "I honestly had hoped no one would catch wind of it," said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay -- other Floridians can start firing away.

The possibilities for intimidating your neighbors or extorting concessions from your town are pretty much endless.

Just last month, Ernie Vasiliou threatened to put a private gun range on a one-acre lot on Ranches Road west of Boynton Beach if a proposed daycare center were approved on land next to his. Vasiliou said noisy kids would ruin his dream-home plans.

One Floridian who won't be exercising this rediscovered freedom is Bruce Fleming. He died on Christmas Day "when he was hit in the chest by an errant bullet fired from a neighbor's yard" in Volusia County. Reckless abandon has side effects.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.