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Thoughts on America's obsession with guns


For my fortieth birthday (which will be here in five months to the day) I want to have a six pack. I have not had a six pack since I was in my early 20's and a motivated Non Commissioned Officer in the US Marine Corps. Now I am a dad who spends too much time in front of a computer and enjoys maybe a little too much wine or strong kombucha in the evenings... So, I told my wife of my goal and she suggested that we build a weight lifting room in our garage. To make room for it we would need to clear out the shelving in our garage. We had several contractors out to look at our attic but the price tag was outrageous and it was questionable at best if the structure of the house could support the weight of a finished attic that it had not been engineered to accommodate.

So, we shifted to the idea of purchasing a shed for our back yard. Something around 12'x14' would be big enough. The price was better than a full make over of our attic too. The shed builder told us though that we would need a permit before they could start. I contacted our city to see about getting a shed permit. Turns out the process is fairly complicated. First they had to determine if my land was near any wetlands (it is not), once that was determined they emailed me a form to request the permit. Since the shed was less than 200 square feet the permit would be free. However, if wanted to bring electrical, propane (for heat), or put a urinal in the shed I would need to get separate permits for those items. The shed also had to be 75' from the road and at least 30' from my property line. Furthermore I had to construct the foundation from certain types of stone or concrete. Once all this was taken care of someone would come out and inspect the shed to be sure I had not lied on my permit application. In other words it was a lot of work to just get permission to put a small shed on my own land.

Much to my annoyance several of my neighbors are into guns so much they have their own shooting ranges in their back yards. One neighbor has a fairly regular shoot out in his backyard that makes the Battle of Fallujah seem like a 1st Graders cowboy themed birthday party. He has full auto machine guns and bullets zinging off of steel plates for a good hour before he runs out of ammo and you can once again hear yourself think inside your home while wearing sound canceling headphones. I thought to myself that this could not be legal. That if I had to go through the rigamarole to get a permit to put a shed in my backyard the same should be true for a shooting range in one's backyard.

So, I decided to feign interest in putting a shooting range in my backyard and went down to the local police station to ask what I needed to do. After waiting patiently in the lobby for a few minutes I was greeted by a cordial Sergeant. I told him I wanted to put a shooting range in my backyard and was curious what I needed to do to make it happen. In short he basically told me that I did not really have to do anything. That I could just start shooting. Maybe it would be a good idea to put something behind the targets to absorb the bullets. When I asked what that could be he said "Anything really". I asked if it could be a dirt berm and if there were regulations on how thick or tall it had to be. "Nope. You should just make it look like you tried to stop the bullets." Okay well then there has to be a law about how far behind the targets there can be no structures or forms of human encroachment (e.g. trails, farms, etc...). Turns out there isn't. Furthermore I do not even have to get permission from my neighbors or those who abut my property to start shooting. However, if I want to hunt well than I have to get written permission from the landowners or make sure that I am at least 500' from their property lines.

I was absolutely flabbergasted to find this out. I mean I live in a state with a Democrat governor, it is not a liberal bastion like say California but it isn't exactly on the level of Texas. I thought for sure there would be some sort of city or state ordinance. On my back deck I have what appears to be a bullet hole in the railing. It could be any one of my gun nut neighbors with an unsafe shooting range near my home. Do I have to wait until I or someone I love gets shot before the city will do something about these insane personal shooting ranges?

I am pretty surprised and horrified that the state makes me jump through a bunch of hoops to put a shed on my land but there is literally no laws or regulations regarding shooting targets on my land. Seems a little backwards to me... Of course with America's obsessions with guns I cannot say that I am too surprised.