Recently, the Sheriff's Office has received inquiries from citizens regarding recreational target shooting with firearms on private property in residential neighborhoods.
On August 10th, Captain Edward Willenborg, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, met with State's Attorney Richard Fritz and Assistant State's Attorney Daniel White to discuss the issue and obtain a legal opinion. SA Fritz advised there is no specific criminal statute, (state or local), preventing a citizen from conducting recreational target shooting with a firearm on his/her property. However, State's Attorney Fritz provided a civil statute 5-403.1 Private nuisance actions against sport shooting ranges found in the Annotated Code of Maryland that applies to Sport Shooting Ranges. It was the opinion of SA Fritz and ASA White that this statute could be used by a neighborhood to file a civil nuisance action against a property owner.
The Sheriff's Office would remind anyone participating in recreational or competition target shooting or hunting with a firearm to do so safely. Safety is the responsibility of everyone. ALWAYS follow the cardinal rules for safe gun handling:
1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
4. KNOW your target and what is behind it.
The consequences for the negligent handling of firearms can be severe. Potential CRIMINAL charges could range from misdemeanor Property Destruction and Reckless Endangerment to felony Assault and Homicide. Although there is no statute governing recreational target shooting on private property in a residential neighborhood, the consequences for doing so negligently are very real.
For more information VISIT the National Rifle Association website at www.nra.org
National Shooting Sports Foundation website at www.nssf.org