Even in Florida, a gun range in the back yard of a house in a St. Petersburg neighborhood seems a bit much. Yet thanks to the Legislature and the National Rifle Association, it appears to be perfectly legal for Joey Carannante to arrange a few wooden pallets around a mound of sand and declare himself ready to begin target practice in Lakewood Estates. Pay no attention to the tree houses and the sandbox and the kids playing next door.
Carannante stands poised to take advantage of a 2011 state law that penalizes local governments if they enact tougher gun regulations than the state. Yet the state says private gun ranges are fine as long as there is no shooting across paved roads or occupied dwellings. What neighborhood back yard would not be complete without a gas grill, a swimming pool and a gun range?
The sheriff and police chief say their hands are tied by state law. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says he won't let the law trump common sense and safety. And Carannante's backyard gun range is too much even for NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, who is all for people bringing their guns to work and university campuses. Hammer sides with the mayor and says another part of state law dealing with the reckless use of guns should put a stop to Carannante.
We can only hope. This is the absurdity of Florida's gun-happy state laws. Local communities ought to be able to approve their own sensible restrictions, and Lakewood Estates residents should not have to wait for a shot to be fired to shut down the gun range next door.