Hi Mtn Dog,Thanks for your response..
Johnnypuffs, right up front, I have only skimmed your very lengthy posts on this thread, so forgive me if I missed your answer to any of my questions.1. Have you read Santa Cruz County Ordinance Chapter 8.28 (Firearms)? http://www.codepubli...County0828.html
Yes, I have read the SC County ordinances regarding firearms.
2. When you talked with the Sheriff's Office about shooting your air rifle on your property, did you... a. ask them whether an air rifle is considered to be a firearm per County (not State) definitions?
Yes, I did specifically ask that question.. Airguns, BB guns, etc. are NOT considered firearms as far as Santa Cruz COUNTY ordinances are concerned. They ARE considered firearms in the CITY of Santa Cruz (for the purpose of discharge), which we are not any part of. It was explained to me by the sheriff (as well as already known to me) that if it is not defined specifically by a code/ordinance/etc. it falls back to the state Penal Code definition. Airguns fall under the definition of "BB Device" under CA Penal Code and are specifically NOT considered firearms. A "BB Device" is:"the term "BB device" means any instrument that expels a projectile, such as a BB or a pellet, not exceeding 6mm caliber, through the force of air pressure, gas pressure, or spring action, or any spot marker gun."
b. explain to him that you live on a small 1/2 acre parcel whereon no part of it is more than 150 yards from a neighbor's building?
Yes, in fact I gave them my exact address. They looked up the parcel, confirmed we were in the "no shoot" zone and that firearms were strictly forbidden, but any air rifle, bb gun, etc. was completely fine to shoot. He added the OBVIOUS caveat to "shoot safely" and if I were to damage a neighbors property or accidentally harm someone I could be held civilly responsible.County code as per your link:8.28.010 Firearm defined.“Firearm” means guns, pistols, shotguns, revolvers or any other firearms of a similar nature. (Prior code § 8.25.010 (part): Ord. 462, 5/24/55; Ord. 1201, 9/20/66)
The CITY of Santa Cruz Municipal Code actually specifically excludes airguns from the definition of "firearm" as well, when related to possesion of a firearm:9.32.040 FIREARMS/AMMUNITION.As used in this chapter, the term “firearm” means any gun, pistol, revolver, rifle or any device, designed or modified to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile by the force of an explosion or other form of combustion. “Firearm” does not include imitation firearms or BB guns and air rifles as defined in Government Code section 53071.5. “Ammunition” is any ammunition as defined in Penal Code Section 12323.The CITY Municipal Code DOES however, add airguns specifically to their discharge laws:9.28.010 DISCHARGE OF FIREARMS.No person shall fire or discharge within the limits of the city, or in any of the city parks, any cannon, anvil, gun, air gun, slingshot, pistol or other firearm, except as hereinafter provided in this chapter.
So anywhere within Santa Cruz city limits, an airgun is considered a firearm for the purposes of "discharge of firearms". In Santa Cruz COUNTY airguns are NOT considered firearms for the purposes of possession OR discharge. There is one exception regarding discharge and that is in County Parks, where they do specifically name "air guns" in the "shooting" regulations:10.04.260 ShootingExcept as otherwise authorized by law, no person shall use, maintain, possess or discharge any firearm, air gun, spring gun, bow and arrow, slingshot, paint ball gun or any other weapon potentially hazardous to wildlife or human safety within the boundaries of any park or within two hundred feet thereof. It is unlawful to shoot any of the weapons mentioned in this section into or across any park.
Other than county parks you may possess and discharge airguns..
c. explain that you may or may not be shooting a pest or crop-destroying animal? (This is an allowed exception but ONLY if you are more than 150 yards away from a neighbors building (Ord 8.28.050 is NOT exempted from the specifications of Ord 8.28.040.)
Yes, I did ask about pest control. I was told there is nothing in the COUNTY ordinances against it, but there may be a DFG regulation. They do not enforce DFG so was told to contact DFG.Ordinances 8.28.040, 8.28.050, 8.28.070 ALL do NOT apply to airguns. They are specifically for firearms. Airguns are exempt from ALL of the ordinances in "Chapter 8.28 - Firearms". Airguns are not considered a firearm under county code.
d. did you demonstrate that, in no case, would your projectile land on the property of a neighbor?
I do not have to. You are referring to "8.28.070 - Discharging onto property of another without permission" which again, applies only to firearms, as defined by the county.
e. explain to the SO that you have not attempted to get permission from any of your neighbors?
I do not need permission from my neighbors to "discharge" an airgun on my property, as it is not a firearm and not against the law. You are referring to "8.28.050 Discharge near buildings." which again only applies to the county definition of firearms.
3. Is this worth risking a conviction of a firearms law and maybe jeopardizing your 2nd Amendment rights in the long run? Start with your local law enforcement and do so by inviting a Sergeant out to your property for a visual presentation of the proximity of your neighbors. Heck, use that opportunity to man-up and include your neighbors in the discussion! In my opinion, you seem to be going to great effort to find loopholes to justify what you intend to do. From the sound of this county ordinance, at best you MIGHT be allowed to plink at inanimate targets if you are aiming downward so that a missed shot remains in your yard... MAYBE.
If this were actually considered a "firearm" by any stretch of the imagination, NO, it would certainly NOT be worth a firearms conviction. It is extremely clear that it is NOT a firearm. I take my gun rights EXTREMELY seriously. Before I started shooting airguns on my property I not only called the sheriff. I called the sheriff on multiple occasions to speak to different deputies and make sure the opinion was consistent across the board. I searched the County and State code as well. Still, after all that I contacted my attorney to confirm all that I was told was actually the case. ONLY after all that did I proceed to shoot on my property. I also have kept a voicemail from a Sheriff Deputy who left me a message stating that it was perfectly lawful to discharge airguns at my address.I also take gun safety very seriously. That INCLUDES airguns in my book. Our 1/2 acre lot is probably not what you imagine. The entire lot has a 6 foot fence around it. We have 50 Oak trees on that 1/2 acre.Our neighbors all have similar type properties. We essentially live in the woods. For the most part I can not see my neighbors houses due to the setup of the lot. One whole side of our property has a steep drop off and actually overlooks a valley where there are no homes for well over 150 yards. All my areas that I shoot have a slope of some sort of backdrop that would prevent a flyer from ending up anyplace harmful.I'm definitely not looking to justify my behavior or find loopholes. If I was, I wouldn't bother contacting the sheriff, GIVING them my address, etc. I'm actively trying to be a law abiding citizen AND good neighbor. Even though the law allows it, if it were unsafe in any way I would simply not do it.PHEW! That was a lot of writing..OK, so to bring this thread to it's conclusion.Before I decided to take care of our pest problems with the air rifle I called DFG (as directed by the sheriff) and was told that it was entirely legal under DFG code. I was not acting under the privileges of my hunting license. I was acting as a property owner doing pest control, for which a hunting license is NOT required and is not considered hunting. Again, I spoke with multiple DFG agents to make sure I got a consistent answer. I have their names and phone numbers written down.Unfortunately, I spoke with the DFG warden for our area today and he stated that I could not actively "hunt" on this property due to DFG Code 3004:3004. (a) It is unlawful for any person, other than the owner, person in possession of the premises, or a person having the express permission of the owner or person in possession of the premises, to hunt or to discharge while hunting, any firearm or other deadly weapon within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling house, residence, or other building or any barn or other outbuilding used in connection therewith. The 150-yard area is a "safety zone."
He stated they do consider an air rifle to be a "deadly weapon", even if the county and state did not. So I could not "hunt" on the property. Again, he did confirm that pest control is not considered hunting so 3004 does not apply as it states "to hunt or to discharge while hunting".Seems kind of ridiculous to me considering that it's legal as far as the country is concerned and even legal as far as DFG is concerned "for pest control as the landowner", but as soon as it is hunting it's NOW dangerous.. It does not really make any sense, but those are the breaks. The law is the law and I will obey it. No "hunting" tree squirrels, rabbits, etc. I'll have to make due with pest control, which we have no lack of..Not a big deal at all. I do plenty of hunting with firearms. I just thought it would be nice to be able to take tree squirrel, rabbit and turkey (in season) on my own property. No big loss..Take Care,JP