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Sen. Berman's 'property rights' bill clears its first hurdle in the Florida Senate

A legislative proposal comes amid several reported incidents in Florida where bystanders were struck by a stray bullet while standing on their property. While supporters say the bill would help lower the risk of that happening, critics view the measure as a blow to their Second Amendment gun rights. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Andre Penner/AP
A man practices at an outdoor shooting range., Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Supporters say the measure aims to protect property rights as well as keep neighbors safe.

Legislation that would make it illegal to shoot a firearm over or through someone else’s property in Florida has cleared its first hurdle.

A Senate Criminal Justice committee gave Senate Bill 270 the nod Tuesday to legislation Democrats are touting as a property rights bill. The bill's sponsor, Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman, said she wants to keep property owners safe and out of harm’s way.

“Just as people have the right to fire guns on their property, people who are on their own property should have the right to be safe,” said Berman.

Assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Seth Perlman/AP
Assault weapons and hand guns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Gun rights advocates argue the bill is taking a shot at their second amendment rights. They see the measure as "too restrictive."

“Our 2 million members are completely against this bill in its entirety," Luis Valdes, the Florida State Director for Gun Owners of America said at Tuesday's panel. "Private property rights are to be protected and one of those rights is for people to be able to shoot in their own backyards legally and justifiably on their private property.”

If passed, violators would be hit with a third-degree felony and subject to fines if a round they fire exits their property and enters the property of another person who has not given consent. The bill includes exceptions for self defense.

Adrian Andrews is a multimedia journalist with WFSU Public Media. He is a Gadsden County native and a first-generation college graduate from Florida A&M University. Adrian is also a military veteran, ending his career as a Florida Army National Guard Non-Comissioned Officer.

Adrian has experience in print writing, digital content creation, documentary, and film production. He has spent the last four years on the staff of several award-winning publications such as The Famuan, Gadsden County News Corp, and Cumulus Media before joining the WFSU news team.