Shooting on Private Property

Shooting on Private Property

This is a discussion on Shooting on Private Property within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I my county in VA, there is a new ordinance (3 or 4 years old) that states that you can not fire a firearm on ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array stephenva's Avatar
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    Shooting on Private Property

    I my county in VA, there is a new ordinance (3 or 4 years old) that states that you can not fire a firearm on your property, unless in an emergency, if you live in a development. Now the 14 lot development I live in has an average of 10 to 15 acres per lot, well treed and hilly and I and a number of neighbors have been practicing for two plus years on our lots. However, last fall a person outside the development complained and I was visited by a few police, who were very respectful and basically said the law was bull but still the law. In fact one officer told me he owns two acres and fires all the time. At any rate I have ceased to practice on my lot, other neighbors have not (good for them), but would like to change the situation.

    Here is the law:
    Sec. 14-8. Discharging firearm in subdivision.
    It shall be unlawful and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to discharge or shoot any firearm in any subdivision of the county. This section shall not apply to law enforcement officers, animal wardens or to any person acting in defense of his or another's person or property.
    (Code 1980, § 12-7; Ord. No. 14-15, 10-11-11)

    Editor's note—
    Ord. No. 14-15, adopted October 11, 2011, changed the title of section 14-8 from "Discharging firearm or gas or air gun in subdivision" to "Discharging firearm in subdivision." The historical notation has been preserved for reference purposes


    This law may be valid in a division of small sized lots but this simply does not apply to the country life where most neighbors do believe in carrying self defense weapons safely and this means practicing.

    Now as I see it I have a few options:
    1. Give up and accept it
    2. Continue to break the law
    3. Buy a cheap lot to practice
    4. Change the law

    My vote would be for number 4 but I need help. Any suggestions on what to change the law to and how to go about making this change? Also are there any groups that would help?


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    What part of VA? (Goes a oong way in deciding what action would be best)

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    You need to find a majority of 'like-minded' land owners and get on the agenda of a county board meeting...for starters.
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    VCDL = Virginia Citizens' Defense League. They will certainly assist you in getting clarification of the law (i.e. what is the legal definition of a "subdivision") and in trying to get it changed. The President is Philip Van Cleave and he will respond to your e-mails. I lived in VA for 14 years and I e-mailed him a few times and he always responded and was very helpful. He can certainly point you in the right direction and will get involved.

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    That law sucks, even Ct. allows hunting with center fire rifles on 10 acre tracts and I beleive 8 acre for the land owner.

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    What is the definiton of "subdivision" in the Virginia code ?? All terms within a code should have a defintion meaning in this case to describe what a subdivision is...lot size, distance between homes...just my thoughts
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenva View Post
    I my county in VA, there is a new ordinance (3 or 4 years old) that states that you can not fire a firearm on your property, unless in an emergency, if you live in a development. Now the 14 lot development I live in has an average of 10 to 15 acres per lot, well treed and hilly and I and a number of neighbors have been practicing for two plus years on our lots. However, last fall a person outside the development complained and I was visited by a few police, who were very respectful and basically said the law was bull but still the law. In fact one officer told me he owns two acres and fires all the time. At any rate I have ceased to practice on my lot, other neighbors have not (good for them), but would like to change the situation.

    Here is the law:
    Sec. 14-8. Discharging firearm in subdivision.
    It shall be unlawful and a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to discharge or shoot any firearm in any subdivision of the county. This section shall not apply to law enforcement officers, animal wardens or to any person acting in defense of his or another's person or property.
    (Code 1980, § 12-7; Ord. No. 14-15, 10-11-11)

    Editor's note—
    Ord. No. 14-15, adopted October 11, 2011, changed the title of section 14-8 from "Discharging firearm or gas or air gun in subdivision" to "Discharging firearm in subdivision." The historical notation has been preserved for reference purposes


    This law may be valid in a division of small sized lots but this simply does not apply to the country life where most neighbors do believe in carrying self defense weapons safely and this means practicing.

    Now as I see it I have a few options:
    1. Give up and accept it
    2. Continue to break the law
    3. Buy a cheap lot to practice
    4. Change the law

    My vote would be for number 4 but I need help. Any suggestions on what to change the law to and how to go about making this change? Also are there any groups that would help?
    The laws vary by state, and here--- though some will dispute what I am writing even though I looked it up one time---10 acres is needed for
    using a shotgun and 50 acres is needed for using a rifle; that is per statute.

    Now 10 acres is a lot of land and cost a bundle usually, but think a bit about dimensions.

    Just to make the calculations easier I computed the diagonal length of 9 sq acres at 885 linear feet. It is ca. 265 linear feet on each
    leg if the 9 acres are laid out on a square. Depending on where your neighbor's homes are, whether or not your property and theirs
    is a square, rectangle, or something else, you don't have the linear distance needed for reasonable safety unless you have
    a very well constructed berm, and even then you likely have neighbors who would be put in danger.

    Ten acres is a lot, but it isn't enough for what you want to do, no matter the law, even if it is perfectly legal.

    Here-- there are 43560 sq feet in an acre. To make the math easy, array 9 sq acres 3 on each side. That gets you a property line
    of only 626 linear feet. I computed the diagonal at around 885 linear feet.

    Notwithstanding the law, it is just too small a linear distance for safely shooting anything that is rifled, especially if you have homes or business, or livestock, on adjacent lots. Well constructed berms and depending on what is directly in back of the property could make
    it possible; but not if it is illegal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by redmc View Post
    That law sucks, even Ct. allows hunting with center fire rifles on 10 acre tracts and I beleive 8 acre for the land owner.
    Depending on how the 10 acres are laid out, and where the dwellings
    are, that is cutting it pretty thin from a safety point of view.

    This lays it out-- Hunting laws | Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance
    "A minimum of 10 acres is required to hunt with a rifle. Shotguns and rifles can not be used within 500 feet of an occupied dwelling (Connecticut General Statute Sec. 26-66-1d). "

    I think CT is being pretty generous allowing rifle hunting on only 10 acres, and legal does not = safe.

    I haven't closely looked at what it says on the package of 22 lr, but I know I've seen warnings that they can carry 1 mile.
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    Quote Originally Posted by USM1976 View Post
    What is the definiton of "subdivision" in the Virginia code ?? All terms within a code should have a defintion meaning in this case to describe what a subdivision is...lot size, distance between homes...just my thoughts
    This is on the right track - find out how a subdivision is defined in VA and work with your neighbors to change your neighborhood status. In many locations a subdivision is really defined by common property (pools, tennis courts, shared common areas, etc.) and Home owners Association. You may be able to work with your neighbors to change the way your neighborhood is organized to escape the definition of a subdivision and thus the law.

    This would be a lot easier and faster than trying to change the law.
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    I'm in central VA (Spotsylvania county). The target area is safe with a 15 foot back stop and woods and no houses or farm animals beyond the backstop. As for safe, as the officers stated when they were here, "Nothing is getting through that". It is my opinion that the law is not about safety but rather the lawmakers inability to expend the time to THINK. Literally, 500 feet from my house is an 8 acre lot not in a subdivision legally shooting his firearm. If the law was for safety then and lawmaker would have placed a size to the limit. Instead, they opted to pass a law not applicable to all.

    Thanks for the VCDL led.. I am a member.

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    Distinguished Member Array Nmuskier's Avatar
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    My thought too. What defines "subdivision"? Also, does VA state law allow preemption by local ordnances?

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    Get your animal warden's license. They are clearly excepted from that law. Problem solved.

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    Good Lord. I can legally hunt deer here with a 30.06 on 50 ft of private property that isnt in city limits if I want. There isnt a land size limit. The way property lines are laid out around here going back 100 years or more you could well be standing on a 1/2 acre plot situated between two 100 acre farms.

    I can hunt shoot etc rifles handguns in my backyard and do shoot both regularly 10 feet from my back door. Granted everything hills and hollows here so having a hillside for a backstop is the rule rather than the exception.

    I once wished when I was younger that I could get far away from here. Now Im tickled pink I am where I am and dont have to put up with asinine laws concerning my own place that assume I dont have enough sense not to shoot at my neighbors houses barns or livestock.
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    Member Array stephenva's Avatar
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    Changing the status may be an option. The only thing we share is a road. No pool no park no common areas. I would like to desolve the division if I could or have my lot succeed from the division.

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    Thats too bad

    can you go with option#5?
    5). get a suppressor
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