The Second Amendment to the US Constitution gives all citizens the right to bear arms. However, even though you have a constitutional right to own and use a gun, states can regulate when and how people may lawfully use one. In Massachusetts, the police take improperly using a firearm seriously.
There are many crimes related to misusing a gun. Today, we will talk about the crime of discharging a gun within 500 feet of a building.
Is there a law on how far from a building I need to be to shoot a gun?
Yes, there is. In Massachusetts under General Laws Chapter 269, Section 12E it is illegal to shoot or “discharge” a gun within 500 feet of a building without permission of the owner or person occupying it. A gun includes any:
The reason this law exists is to protect people inside houses or buildings from getting injured or hurt. If you are convicted of this crime, you could be punished by:
What counts as a building?
The law says that you cannot shoot a gun within 500 feet of a “dwelling” or “other building in use” without consent of the owner or legal occupant. A “dwelling” is simply a place where someone lives, like a house or an apartment. A “building in use” could include things like:
Will I get in trouble if the ammo isn’t live?
If the ammunition isn’t “live” (doesn’t shoot a projectile) you could still get in trouble for violating this law. Even if you shoot a gun with blank rounds within 500 feet of a building without permission, you could be prosecuted.
Are there any exceptions to this law?
Yes, there are some exceptions. If the owner or occupant gives you permission to shoot a gun within 500 feet of their building, you are not breaking the law. Specifically, the law states that there are six other reasons:
Is it a crime if I didn’t know that I was shooting within 500 feet of a building?
Yes, it still is. With this crime, not knowing that you were shooting within 500 feet of a building is not a valid excuse.
What are the defenses to this crime?
Fortunately, there are criminal defenses to this crime. Your attorney will break down what happened and what is known, considering information like:
The 500 feet requirement is measured in a straight line from the point where the gun went off to the nearest location of the building’s structure. Remember that it is the job of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were within 500 feet of a building. If you were not, you cannot be convicted of this crime.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH A FIREARMS OFFENSE, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.