Legality of bullet traps in one's own home?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by grampajack, Apr 15, 2017.

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  1. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    I've noticed that a lot of gunsmiths will use bullet traps to test fire guns in the shop. I was wondering if such a device would be legal for a person to use at home. I like to fix old guns just for the fun of it, but it's very irritating having to drive to the range to diagnose cycling issues. It slows down the work and makes it frustrating. I certainly can't afford to install an indoor range in my house, but if I could do it legally using a simple bullet trap would make things a heck of a lot easier.

    I wouldn't even ask, but the whole time I was growing up my grandfather had a bullet trap in his basement for shooting pistols, and he lived in Oak Park in Kansas City. Granted that was a different time, and he was a Johnson County sheriff, so I don't know if he was doing it legally or just got away with it because he was a cop. He was very by the book, though, so I imagine it was legal for him at the time or I don't think he would have been doing it. He was the kind of cop who would (and did) give his own daughter a speeding ticket, so I doubt he would have been discharging a firearm in city limits if it weren't legal for him to do so.

    If anyone knows the legal requirements for having a bullet trap I would appreciate it. My plan if it's legally possible would be to build a little soundproof closet in my workshop, that way it wouldn't scare the neighbors.
     
  2. JB357MAG

    JB357MAG Member

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    Good question, I would also like to know this as I am very close to closing
    on my 1st house and it has a large full basement.

    Jimmy
     
  3. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Not in my state, unless one lives in an area on which homes are on parcels of land greater in size than one acre. A relatively new law passed in Florida prohibits the discharge of firearms on residential properties not meeting the above criteria except in cases of lawful defense of life and/or property. The law contains no exceptions permitting indoor discharge.

    This was in response to the media's hyped-up claims that the lack of such a prohibition was leading to a buildup of "backyard shooting ranges" all over the states' suburbs (which was never really the case.)
     
  4. VThillman

    VThillman Member

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    In Vermont it's a local ordinance thing about discharging guns - sometimes including BB guns - in built-up areas.
     
  5. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    I'd recommend checking your local laws, I can't discharge a weapon for any reason inside city limits (outside of a self defense situation obviously).
     
  6. Salmoneye

    Salmoneye Member

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    And there's darn few of them in the 251 Club...

    (251 cities/towns/unincorporated areas in VT...We don't count the Gores lol)
     
  7. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    How do gunsmiths get away with having snail traps in their shops? Do they get permitted as an indoor shooting range?
     
  8. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I believe that in Illinois you can't discharge a firearm inside of a municipality by state law except at a shooting range. You have to get a special use permit for that. I suspect it would be difficult to get such a permit unless the city thought you had a good reason.

    BTW: I would not take this as gospel. Illinois law is often convoluted and hard to track down just what the law is. In any case many municipalities have their own ordinances about such things.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  9. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    Here it would be legal, but if it pisses off your neighbors enough, the law will come, and they will find something.
     
  10. pintler

    pintler Member

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    It's an interesting question, and I don't know the answer. I've lived several places that had 'no firearms discharge inside the city limits' laws that also had indoor (and outdoor) ranges. The laws, IIRC, didn't have any '...except with permit' language, but there must be some unstated way to comply. OP, have you asked the gunsmiths what their understanding of the law is?
     
  11. rscalzo

    rscalzo Member

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    Residential and commercially zoned areas have different standards. Check the local town ordinances. Even more of a concern is the lead buildup that you would be exposed to. Unless you fired no more than a few, you risk the chance of a toxic buildup in your blood. Venting those same materials is a environmental issue especially for a residential area. Commercial ranges spend six figures just on the ventilation and filter system.

    The NRA has good material in their Range Source guide.
     
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  12. HankB

    HankB Member

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    IANAL, but I believe there is no universal answer for this, as laws regarding the discharge of a firearm can vary not only by state, but by every other little governmental entity, locality, zoning unit, and governmental sub-unit you can imagine. Some states have firearms "pre-emption" laws, but these may or may not apply to local restrictions on discharge of a firearm.

    I'm in Texas now, but as a former Chicagoan I know for a fact that some people in that area have used bullet traps in their basements (detached, single family homes) for a long, long time - and not just for BB guns or air rifles. Likewise I knew of the same when I lived up in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. How does this relate to the actual laws in those areas? All I can say is that even though I was a gun club member and often had discussions with other gun club members who were lawyers on firearms related issues, the subject of someone getting prosecuted for shooting in their own basement never came up. Maybe the law was OK with this, or maybe the folks involved were just very discreet - I don't know, so I won't opine (even as a layman!) on the actual legality.

    I firmly believe a man's home is his castle, but when it comes to matters like this, MY opinion and the courts may well differ considerably.
     
  13. CZ9shooter

    CZ9shooter Member

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    Same thing here. I believe it would fall under "reckless discharge." A felony offense.
     
  14. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I fired my first gun into a bullet trap in the basement
    Whether it was legal or not.....dunno But it was almost 50 years ago, so i'm willing to fess up. The gun shop I worked at in St. Paul had a "test tube"- A long pipe with sand in the end, and a large rubber grommet with a hole. A lotta cops were in there when guns were shot onto it over the years, none took it upon themselves to uphold any laws about it.....
     
  15. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    As I remember reading my home city's law, it spoke to matters of discharging firearms, air guns, bow & arrow, sling shot; projectiles crossing property lines, pubic streets, or roads; disturbing the peace; endangering property, life or limb.

    Generally police tend to take reports of gunshots in the city to be a possible crime, suicide or negligent/accidental discharge.

    If I were to consider setting up a personal firing range on my property, I would consult a local attorney familiar with local law, as written and as developed in case law.
     
  16. reddog81

    reddog81 Member

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    Where do you live? Without knowing the city, county and state I imagine it's impossible to answer the question correctly. I'd be willing to bet almost all cities have laws against discharging weapons. If you live out in the country it might permissible.

    Typically any business (especially a shooting range or gun shop) has to get approval to operate in a city or county and will have to jump through many hoops - city planning, zoning, fire department inspections, etc. I imagine there are rules regarding the snail trap and the shops probably have to get permission or some type of variance from local laws.
     
  17. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    All this kind of stuff depends on local ordinances.
    Smithies may not be allowed a trap either, but they're not operating a range if they have a trap.
    And what was legal in grandpa's time(whenever that was) has nothing to do with now. Neither does him being a cop. Lotta cops, then and now, think the laws don't apply to them.
     
  18. Berger.Fan222

    Berger.Fan222 Member

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    We've had a basement range in a couple houses I've lived in over the years. The areas were unincorporated, so it was technically legal, but we took due care with the soundproofing so none of the neighbors would ever know. Discretion and privacy render moot other aspects of the discussion. Even if perfectly legal, a "shots fired" call to the po po may well involve more complications than you would like.
     
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