Hearing gunshots in your neighborhood can be concerning, but is it illegal?

The Hudson Valley is changing. An influx of "city folk" who have fled the five boroughs for the peace and quiet of New York City are increasing in numbers. The Hudson Valley is in the middle of a culture clash. People who have never mowed their lawns before are living right next door to neighbors who have no problem skinning and dressing a deer.

The sound of gunshots can elicit very different responses in people, depending on where they grew up. Someone from Brooklyn may hit the deck when they hear a gun go off in their neighborhood, while the person next door may just shrug it off as a normal thing.

Is it Legal to Fire a Gun on Your Own Property?

In New York City it is not legal to fire off a gun in your yard or on your own private property. In the Hudson Valley, however, it's perfectly legal as long as it's done far enough away from other buildings, roads and public spaces.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, it is illegal to discharge a firearm, bow or crossbow:

  • so that the load or arrow passes over any part of a public highway,
  • within 500 feet (for a firearm), 250 feet (for a crossbow) or 150 feet (for a bow) of any school, playground, or an occupied factory or church,
  • within 500 feet (for a firearm), 250 feet (for a crossbow) or 150 feet (for a bow) of a dwelling, farm building or structure in occupation or use unless you own it, lease it, are an immediate member of the family, an employee, or have the owner's consent.

So yes, as long as your property allows you to fire your weapon more than 500 feet away from other structures or playgrounds it's perfectly legal. However, gun users are urged to use caution, controlling where the ammo is fired and making sure there is a sufficient backstop.

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