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Charlie (Don’t) Get Your Gun 

In Richmond, shooting a gun on your own property is legal - for now.

Shooting a house = trouble.

Shooting a person = big trouble.

But shooting a gun on your own property, just for the heck of it? That’s OK. At least, for now.

Richmond’s laws don’t prohibit discharging a firearm on private property, Councilman Charles Samuels told residents of his north-central 2nd District last week. Samuels says he made the discovery after conferring with a city police officer who wanted to, but couldn’t, charge someone for doing just that. Samuels’ office also has received complaints about gunfire on private property from Ginter Park residents.

City law does prohibit people from “wilfully discharging firearms in public places.” And state law prohibits the reckless handling of firearms “so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person.”

Samuels intends to sponsor an ordinance that would bring Richmond’s laws closer to those of Henrico and Chesterfield counties. In Chesterfield, it’s illegal to fire a gun within 600 feet of someone else’s house or residence, business establishment or public place. Henrico says you can’t fire a gun in or across any residential, commercial or industrial district.

The city’s law department is preparing a draft of the ordinance. Once Samuels reviews and approves it, he plans to introduce it in late January.

That means this New Year’s Eve may be Richmonders’ last chance to indulge in some celebratory gunfire. It’s a popular pastime; on July Fourth weekend, police received 79 complaints about gunshots and just 29 about fireworks.

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