Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Can you open your back or front door, step outside, and fire a shotgun without bothering your neighbors?

Asked by LuckyGuy (30135 points ) January 27th, 2013

Is it legal? What would happen if you did? Would your neighbors complain? Would the police visit?

I can do it any time and no one would bat an eye. It is perfectly legal. During certain seasons, it is even legal to hunt in total darkness with a light. If I hear boom at 3:00AM I just figure it’s one of the neighbors night hunting. I roll over and go back to sleep.
Does anyone else here live in that kind of community?
Would you mind giving us the general area of where you live?

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75 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

Are you crazy? I’d shoot out my neighbor in back’s windows. The police would show up, and I would be hauled in for vandalism and recklessness and probably for having a gun I am not licensed to have.

I live in a major city in the US in a nice, but densely packed neighborhood. Anyone shooting a shotgun off around here must be crazy.

glacial's avatar

If I did that, I would be more or less guaranteed to hit someone, or at least their property. No, it isn’t legal here. But… not sure why anyone would want to do that (or hunt in the dark).

CWOTUS's avatar

Interesting question and comment. No, I can’t do it. I could fire off the gun without hurting anyone or damaging anything but my own yard, but I’m sure I’d be visited. For one thing, my neighbor across the street is with the local PD, and not particularly friendly. I don’t think that he would visit himself, but he’d make the call even if no one else did.

Someday I want to live in your kind of rural again.

ucme's avatar

My nuts would be tasered within 15mins & we can’t be having that…uh-huh.

flutherother's avatar

I would be arrested within 15 minutes for possessing a shotgun without a licence, breach of the peace and endangering public safety. I might be examined by a psychiatrist as well.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I was wondering if there was anyone else out there that could do this.
Note I said a shotgun, not a .22. I figure many more people can shoot a .22 without bothering anyone. A few minutes ago I was sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the pine trees heavily laden with snow about 75 yards away. I opened the back door, took one pop with the .22 and it started a silent avalanche down through the branches. It was beautiful. That got me thinking how most people can’t do that. I consider this freedom a gift.
Who else can do this?

@CWOTUS You should visit sometime. We have parties here a couple of times a year. Friends bring their “noisy toys” and practice. It’s lots of fun.

CWOTUS's avatar

I have cousins in Massachusetts, about an hour’s drive from here (I could find such places much closer, but this is family) where I’ll be playing with the shotgun I’m getting later this year.

I have another cousin in New Hampshire who does that sort of getaway a lot more frequently. But since I’m not into hang-gliding (yet) I don’t visit him often.

Thanks for the invitation. I’ll try to take you up on that someday.

tinyfaery's avatar

I live in a not so nice area so the gunshot might go unnoticed, but I’d definitely hit something or someone.

Coloma's avatar

Absolutely, but I don’t own any guns.
I’m on 5 acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills and everyone has guns and shoots all the time up here.
Properties range from 5 acre parcels to hundreds, average 10 acres I’d say.
Infact I was JUST startled by a few blasts a bit ago outside.

I don’t know if it is deer season right now… maybe, but I have heard an increase in shooting lately.
I’m not a gun type but, I was grateful my neighbor shot two monster rattlesnakes for me last summer.

jerv's avatar

Not any more. I used to live on 5 acres a mile away from pavement and a healthy walk away from any neighbors, many of whom had their own shotguns. Since moving to the suburbs of Seattle, I can’t even take a piss off my porch without someone complaining.

jonsblond's avatar

We could if we aim south or southeast. There are no neighbors for at least a mile in those directions. I hear shotguns every now and then in the distance, so I’m assuming it is legal. We’re in a farming community with many hunters.

marinelife's avatar

Nope. Not even.

LuckyGuy's avatar

So far it look like @CWOTUS, @Coloma, @jerv, @jonsblond know what I’m talking about. Do you (or did you) hear booms during the day? Did you find that threatening at all?
I hear shots often and it is no big deal. (I am also responsible for some of the shots.) It is normal. I’d much rather have the sound of gunshots to the constant roar of road noise and traffic.
Look at some of the responses. People in the city look at it totally differently.

Coloma's avatar

Distant shots don’t bother me, but the property right across the road from me is about 15 acres of raw, bare land and people hunt over there for deer and turkeys.
My neighbors shooting range parallels my back deck about 2 acres to the side of my property.
Yes, I HATE being literally blasted out of my freaking skin when I am outside.

I agree in the big picture though, better gunshots than garbage trucks and car alarms and booming basses in people cars. lol

jonsblond's avatar

I’ve only heard the shots during the day and I never feel threatened. They are too far away to hurt me.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma I think it is wonderful that you don’t complain. It’s country.
@jonsblond Perfect. That is the right attitude. I can only shoot to the SE, S, and SW. There are houses to the north. Country living!

ucme's avatar

@LuckyGuy It’s not a question of attitude, here in england town the law simply doesn’t allow for gun toting escapades, more’s the pity. I’d certainly be up for a spot of shooting, only the neighbours would be frightfully dismayed old chap.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy I’d never complain, yep, it is country. I had new neighbors years ago that complained I had a rooster.
Uh…if you don’t want to hear roosters crowing then don’t move to the country.

jonsblond's avatar

@Coloma Your story reminds me of this image that has been floating around Facebook lately. :)

SomeoneElse's avatar

The simple answer is NO!
At the back is a cobbled drive and an outhouse which is awfully close to the owner of the cobbled drive’s house.
At the front is the road and opposite the house is a churchyard.
The house is in a row of four terraced houses and I can foresee trouble with the neighbours who would call the police, who would shoot to kill me and it would be ‘Bye’ to Fluther among other things.
Think of the paperwork involved . . .

Coloma's avatar

@jonsblond Love it! Yep, I’ve got every noise making farm animal within 50 feet of my house over here.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I live in a densely packed residential neighborhood. It’s illegal to discharge any type of firearm here. The population density of my city is approximately 6 people per square mile, but in my square mile, it’s much higher. There are at least 40 people in the 10 houses surrounding mine. I share my fence with at least 20 people in 5 different houses.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I live on a 2 or 3 mile road with 6 houses on it. My nearest neighbor is 1500 feet away, so it would be fine for me to fire away. if I look West I can only see a few houses miles away.

wildpotato's avatar

No. I live in a row house, and they ring the block and make a giant courtyard like in Rear Window. And there are more row houses across the street. So it’s a very bad area for shooting.

Bellatrix's avatar

Is it legal?
No. I don’t have a licence (or a gun for that matter).

What would happen if you did?

I would probably hit a tree. Not much behind my house other than trees for quite a long way.

Would your neighbors complain?

Yes they would and especially because my husband went off at them because of their loud chanting recently.

Would the police visit?

Almost certainly. Someone would definitely phone them.

janbb's avatar

No way – Jersey Shore.

dabbler's avatar

Have only a front door and a shot out that would hit the wall of the communal hallway on this floor.
It is difficult to possess such a firearm legally here, and even more difficult for it to be legal for it to be loaded on the premeses.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m liking the second amendment more as I read these answers, regardless of the problems with the nuts. I want to be able to protect myself.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Nope. We live in a subdivision and if we walk out into the backyard, we see a frontage road. I’m sure the cops would be called if we shot a bullet through a couple busy roads. Then again, we don’t own a gun and I have no use for one.

My parents live 5 minutes away on 4 acres of land and they could do this. When I was living there, I often heard the booms you mentioned and got so used to them I barely noticed after awhile.

woodcutter's avatar

Maybe, if it were the 4th of July when there were a lot of other people shooting off fireworks all over the neighborhood.

gailcalled's avatar

I and my neighbors own, relatively speaking, large tracts of land. Mine is 20 acres and I abut on 36, 16, 19, and 22. So, yes, if I avoided certain trajectories.

One of my neighbors is a well-known scofflaw and has even been fired from the county transfer station for overpunching the cards of his friends when they brought trash or recyclables in. He and his family (way back in the woods where I never dare to walk) are always having “target practice,” which is another term for poaching game. Lots of boom, boom, booms.

Once, off season, a wounded deer staggered onto my land; that was very unsettling since I do not own guns. I had to call a local acquaintance to come over and polish the animal off. He did take the body for the venison. Neither of us discussed what the law might have been.

(How far away can a shot gun do effective damage? Is that even the correct question?)

WestRiverrat's avatar

@gailcalled it depends on the shotgun and the ammunition. There are slug guns that are designed to shoot a single 1–2 ounce slug that are dangerous out to a mile if the caution on the box is correct. They are generally accurate out to about 150 yards for the average shooter.

Buckshot generally is effective out to 40–50 yards, but it can injure or kill beyond that.

Birdshot is effective out to about 40 yards also on birds and small game, but unless you were extremely unlucky it won’t kill a human at that range. But it will hurt like hell if you got hit by it.

downtide's avatar

I would be arrested in less than half an hour. The only people who can legally own shotguns in the UK are farmers and those who shoot for sport, and even then, they’re not allowed to use them in the middle of a town. (much as I would love to shoot the squirrels that eat my garden).

cookieman's avatar

Nope. I would likely kill either neighbor (or worse, their children). At minimum, I would damage their house. This would be quickly followed by my arrest by local police.

I would never want to live in a rural area, a hunting area, own a shotgun (or any gun), or be surrounded by neighbors who felt the need to shoot their guns off into the night.

No guns.

LuckyGuy's avatar

OK, This is info for people who don’t understand the country living situation and think if it bizarre that anyone would shoot near their house. I decided to keep track of how many times I shoot during the day. Yesterday was pretty typical. 3 shots from my .22 rifle.
Shot 1 – 70 yards from the house I have a pile of wood stumps where I put out food for the birds – mixed bird seed and black oil sunflower seeds. Usually I put out a pound or two. Not long after putting it out, 2 deer walked up and started eating it. They would finish it in seconds. I shot the .22 at the wood stump to scare them away. They took off into the woods and the cardinals, blue jays and black capped chickadees enjoyed the meal.
Shot 2 – The trees are covered with a heavy layer of snow. I thought it would be fun to see if I could start an avalanche in one of the pine trees. 80 yards. One shot. Yep. It was beautiful.
Shot 3 – The ground is covered with over a foot of snow and we have had extreme cold this weeks so earlier in the day I put out a 5 pound compressed hay bale for any animals that browse. Even at nominally 8% moisture the bale was frozen and hard to eat. At 80 yards through my binoculars I could see them struggling to eat it. Rather than putting on my snow suit and boots and trudging 160 yards in the deep snow so I could cut the bale in half, I shot it once with a high speed .22. That opened it up enough so the animals could eat it.

gailcalled's avatar

@Lucky; If I were hit with a single 1–2 ounce slug that was fired a mile away, how much damage would it be able to do? A pinch, a sting, an ounce of flesh, serious wound?

bossob's avatar

I can and have. Not so much anymore ‘cause then I have to clean the thing.

CWOTUS's avatar

@gailcalled I think – though I’m unwilling to put this to a test using my body or anyone I know – that if you’re hit with any rifle-sized slug at the far end of its range (assuming it hasn’t been fired straight up in the air or at some other angle that allows it to fall to earth with a high velocity from gravity) then it might be equivalent to being hit with a thrown rock (or pebble) of similar size. That is, most of its kinetic energy would have been spent, and it would be traveling slowly, ready to stop moving forward and simply fall.

But part of the problem with that is that ammunition isn’t perfect, and neither are rifle / shotgun barrels. The slug exiting a poorly maintained barrel wouldn’t have the proper spin (because the uncleaned rifle barrel wouldn’t allow the slug to engage the rifling geometry), so it would probably tumble through the air and fall short.

However, hand-loaded ammunition may have extra powder, and a well cleaned rifle barrel and/or polished slug may travel further and faster. The ranges being discussed are “normal”, but that’s normal on a “normal distribution” scale. In addition, shots fired at 45° into the air will travel farther – generally speaking – even though that’s not a normal shot. Wind and weather play a part, too.

So the answer is “a range of damage”, from “the shot wouldn’t even reach you” to “it could still kill you” (but it would probably have to be an incredibly ill-placed shot to kill you at that range).

That’s also assuming “normal hunting type” rifles and shotguns. Sniper rifles – in the hands of a well-trained and determined sniper – can easily kill at a mile.

OpryLeigh's avatar

It’s not legal for me to do so but as I live so close to a military base and hear gunfire all the time, no one would bat an eyelid at the noise!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gailcalled A deer slug will only go a mile if it is fired up in the air at a 30–45 degree angle. That does not happen. People fire slugs horizontally at game. Give me a second… I will check the data for you….
OK. According to the specs, my 20 gauge shot gun with Remington Slugger 20 HPRS Hollow Point Rifled Slugs (deer slugs) when fired horizontally will drop 10.4 inches at 100 yards. At 200 yards the drop is greater than 50 inches. That means if someone is standing and fires perfectly horizontally the slug will hit the ground at around 200 yards.

I personally know someone who was hit with a slug while deer hunting in the wilds of Steuben County. He heard 3 rapid shots from the other side of the hill maybe ¼ mile away and immediately felt like he was punched in the arm. He was wearing full orange and very heavy clothes. He figures the shot went up over the hill and came back down hitting him. There was no blood! “Just” a broken bone. They did not bother to look for the guy who shot him. Clearly it was a fantastic, 1 in a million, accident.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@bossob And after you clean it, you have to shoot it to make sure it’s put together right. And so on.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I could but it is illegal to shoot any firearm in city limits. My neighbors wouldn’t complain at all though, people do it all the time.

gailcalled's avatar

Thanks, @CWOTUS and @LuckyGuy.: So there’s no way you can put the slug into orbit?

And if I see Milo head back into my woods with one of these, should I be concerned?

CWOTUS's avatar

If Milo can pack that, I’d be more worried about Milo himself. Be extra nice to him.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If Milo can carry that you should definitely be concerned – even if it has no ammo
As far as putting something into orbit, a bullet is not even close. Here are some approximate numbers. You need to go ~17,000 mph to reach orbital velocity. That is 25,000 ft/sec. A typical deer slug is 1200 fps (feet per second). High powered rifles are 2500 fps. Handguns are around 1000 fps. High powered sniper rifle can be 3500 fps. Beyond that, the barrel and action must be so heavy and long it is no longer transportable. You are pushing the limit of the metal technology. Air resistance is also a major factor. You need to get up to the 17000mph after exiting the atmosphere. As far as I know there has only been one case of a projectile reaching orbital velocities from a ballistic launch. That was a metal cover erroneously blasted free during an early ground based nuclear weapon test. The blast data and mathematics said it was possible but they were unable to verify if it actually happened.

Seek's avatar

It’s not legal. But it happens. More often than I’d like.

No one would call and complain. They’d likely just hope I was shooting a cat. We have a lot of stray cats and rednecks in these parts.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy @CWOTUS: Could Milo have ordered that Mother online using my charge card?

CWOTUS's avatar

Not without a Federal firearms license, I think. Maybe @LuckyGuy would know for sure, but I don’t think just anyone can buy that gun legally. Not even Milo.

Coloma's avatar

Well my sniper, ex postal worker, nutcase neighbor at my old house dropped a pine tree limb on my head with whatever gun he was shooting from 10 acres over once upon a time.
Yep, this guy was the bane of the neighborhood,
Sal, retired postal worker gone postal in the hills. His hobby was drinking all night and randomly shooting into the trees at things real or imagined, who the hell knows. That guy….crazy stuff let me tell you!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma If I did my math right, 10 acres in a square shape can mean he could stand in the middle of his property and be 100 yards to 200 yards from your property line. You are definitely within the crazy zone.
Too bad they can’t outlaw nutjobs.

@CWOTUS I don’t know if it is legal. If you are going to do a search make sure you log out of google and set your browser privacy settings to “stealth”.
I found 7 trackers on the link @gailcalled suggested:
eXTReMe Tracker
Facebook Social Plugins
Google +1
Google Adsense
Google Analytics
Google Custom Search Engine
Tribal Fusion

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yes, my 8 acres backed up to his 20. I almost had a heart attack. I was out filling my bird feeders that hung from a ranch gate arch design about 25 feet off the back of my house when, all of a sudden zing a stray bullet dropped about a 2 foot, 6 inch limb about 8 feet over my head. I seriously hit the dirt. haha

WestRiverrat's avatar

@gailcalled Milo can order a legal firearm online, but it will not be delivered to him. You have to have any firearm shipped to a preapproved FFL holder, who is required to run an NICS check before allowing you to pick up the gun. The FFL holder is also required to honor any waiting periods the state may impose.

Even if you send your gun to be fixed, you have to go through an FFL and another NICS check to get it back.

My FFL holder doesn’t charge me because we do a lot of business, but typically the FFL can charge a fee for the check.

LuckyGuy's avatar

A certain OEM company that produces devices that can be carried as personal protection, does business with a certain shipping company that permits owners to send the devices directly to their factory whereupon they are repaired and returned to said owner with only a signature being required. There are no identifying marks on the box. The factory tracks the shipment at every point and even calls the recipient before delivery (sometimes using a trick question) to verify the correct person is in attendance.
Very professional operation.
If fact i found it so professional and responsive I purchased stock in the company.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@LuckyGuy it may just be a state or local law that requires them to go through the FFL, and not a federal one.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@WestRiverrat I agree. As they say: “YMMV”

bossob's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yep, that’s how it goes. I finally stuck them in my safe and walked away. I check them once in a while to make sure the desiccant is still good, but so far I have resisted the temptation to load them up.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@LuckyGuy Smart man, love my Rugers, I am looking into having one custom made.

cookieman's avatar

^^ This is like watching slow-motion masturbation.

woodcutter's avatar

th fuck?

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is snowing heavily, -4C, snow about 30 cm deep. Rather than get dressed and go out I just opened up another bale for the critters with two shots from the .22.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Predictably, it is also snowing here and will be for the next three days so I am girding myself for the gas, cash, food, library, batteries and drug store run while I still can.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yesterday, 2/17 I took 3 shots with the .22 throughout the day. I needed to dissuade some deer from tearing up the bird feeders out back – about 75 yards away.
I leave water (ice) filled containers near the feeders and shoot at them when a pesky deer is nearby. The ice explodes and the deer runs away.
No animals are harmed.

LuckyGuy's avatar

2013/03/03 A friend came over to test out his newly repaired handgun.
I took the opportunity to play too. We shot into a wood pile I have set up as a backstop. I probably fired about 30 rounds from the .380. He did about 20 from his .45.
We demolished water jugs and frozen water bottles.
No animals (or humans) were harmed.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

In the days before we had a deposit on beverage cans we would fill them with water and blow them up with a .22 Magnum or my cousins black powder revolver. The affect is pretty wild. I would expect a .380 or .45 would do the same.

woodcutter's avatar

I wonder if Joe Biden would try it? Since he has advocated heavily for shotguns for HD as the alternative to rifles. Two barrels right up into the sky, BOOM BOOM!

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yes the result is quite astonishing. I always leave some filled bottles out there as targets so I can to scare the deer away from the bird food. Unfortunately the temp was well below freezing to those containers did not explode. They just split.

In the fall, we have many apples, pumpkins, and zucchini. They make spectacular targets and the critters gladly clean up the mess. There is not a trace left after 2 or 3 days. The deer eat the apples and pumpkin insides, raccoons and possum eat the husks, birds take the seeds. It’s a regular feeding frenzy out there.

woodcutter's avatar

@LuckyGuy Oh you are going to be in deep doo doo with animal rights people. They will accuse you of leaving lead pellets out where they will ingest them and die. tsk, tsk

wildpotato's avatar

Stupid animals deserve it, eating lead like that. Haven’t those animal rights people ever heard of Darwinism?~

Seek's avatar

Yeah, they should just adapt to heavy metals.

woodcutter's avatar

I have been building my own shooting area down near the “beaten zone” the last couple weeks. It took days of cutting and clearing trees crushed by an ice storm 3 years ago. It is out beyond the city’s boundary and well into the county’s where it’s cool to shoot. A natural earth berm is there and I have been down in that area for at least 12 years and it never presented itself to me until a few weeks ago when the place spoke to me and it was so visual I can’t believe I never noticed it before. And I ended up with a bounty of seasoned firewood for the effort as well as a place to do what I like when I want. Now I need to find a place that has ammo to do it without dipping too deep into the “zombie stash”

LuckyGuy's avatar

Actually the lead is not out there for the critters to eat. It goes into the logs. When they get funky, I put them in the fire and burn them when we have the next bonfire. After the fire one of the guys does a rough sift. He pulls out pounds of lead and recycles it.

woodcutter's avatar

I have to believe that wild animals would detect something like lead pellets in their mouths and spit them out because it would feel like something they thought unappetizing. And even if they did get them down they would pass through the animal wouldn’t it?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would think so but I am not an expert I’ve been told lead is sweet but I have never tried it. And is something that is sweet to us desirable to animals. When critters browse don’t they get pebbles and dirt in their mouths? I figure they spit out the larger stuff and the others just pass through.

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