AZ: No Shooting Unless Zoned for it? Rancher Prevails Against Zoning Department

By Dean Weingarten
Shooting in the Arizona Desert has a long history.

Headhunter Ranch LLC
Headhunter Ranch LLC: An aerial view of Brad DeSaye’s Headhunter Ranch in Prescott AZ shows what appear to be different types of gun ranges built on his property. DeSaye is in a battle with the county over the ranges.
Gun Watch
Gun Watch

Arizona – -(  An interesting case from Arizona, where a rancher was dragged into court on the unfounded pretext that he was illegally building a shooting range on his large acreage near Prescott. From the Daily Courier:

PRESCOTT – In what has become an issue pitting gun rights against land use codes, a Williamson Valley landowner had his Second Amendment rights upheld in a Tuesday hearing in Prescott.

Brad DeSaye, owner of Headhunter Ranch LLC, said he never intended to build gun ranges on his properety. (sic)

“The wild rumors that brought us to this point hopefully were dispelled a little bit,” DeSaye said. “I feel vindicated that they dismissed it, but at the same time I feel frustrated and I expect the county to come back at me in a different way. This is a private property right; a Second Amendment issue.”

DeSaye and his attorney must have been persuasive, because the the County ruled in his favor:

After more than three hours of testimony on Tuesday, Yavapai County Hearing Officer Peter Van Harin ruled in DeSaye’s favor, allowing him to shoot firearms on his property, overriding the objections of his neighbors and Yavapai County land use officials.

The ruling was in his favor, because the property is zoned agricultural, which is excepted from most of the intricate, detailed, incredibly controlling and confining zoning laws.   If Yavapai County has the same base code as Yuma, County (which I am familiar with), then for most areas, the code says, anything that is not allowed in the code, is forbidden.   This is directly in conflict with the basic American philosophy of the law, which is “Anything that is not forbidden, is allowed”.   That difference was noted by one of the commenters later:

A quote from a Yavapai County bureaucrat who testified at the hearing:— Lynn Chaplin

If a County Ordinance doesn’t permit the activity, the activity is disallowed. No shooting allowed under Ordinance 400, so “no shooting as a matter of right” Simply stated, “you are not allowed to shoot cans on your property.”

This is absurd. If it’s not expressly allowed it’s prohibited??

Yet, that is precisely how most zoning codes work.  Some further information from the comments tells us much more about the situation.   This is not a 1.25 acre “horse ranch” in the suburbs:

I was at the hearing. I went there thinking it Desaye was trying to pull a fast one. After hearing the evidence there was no other possible outcome. Not only did he spend about a million dollars for the ranch, he has spent several hundered thousand since then on drilling wells, water pumps, ponds to irrigate his property. He has a several generation family history in flood irrigation and clearly (after all the rumors were squelched) is interested in having a self sustaining ranch. He also likes to shoot. None if this is against the law. The country wrote the rules, he has abided by them. Why is he guilty of anything? Just becuase the nieghbors dont like it doesnt mean it is illegal. P.S. After driving to the property I discovered this “neighborhood” is in the middle of nowhere, its pretty flat and you can see forever. Gues what. No houses can be seen in any direction. Good Greif people. I thought there was something sinister going on but when I look at it I cant belive anyone has the nerve to cry victim out there. Where are all these neighbors living- its not close- thats for sure. The neighbors whining the loudest in the hearing were several miles from Desays ranch. Bullets whizzing over your head? Yeah right. Not possible.

Some good may come of this case.  One commenter promises:

To say that the 2nd Am does not protect shooting is like saying that the first amendment does not protect typing. Its’ an absurd position to take.


This case spurred a movement to pass statewide legislation to prevent counties from trying this nonsense again. I predict it will pass.

I will be watching the Arizona Citizens Defense League (AZCDL) to see if and when a bill is put forward.

©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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About Dean Weingarten;
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973.  He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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I didn’t see where it said anyone was from California. A typical Alcoholic trait of blaming someone else for your mistakes. Stay under your Rock in Arizona, you couldn’t survive anywhere else in the world!!!!!!


I think there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye. The county wants his land and this was just a first [and thankfully unsuccessful] attempt at acquiring it. I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of this story.


TSgt B. I agree with your statement with 1 caveat. As long as your action or land use does not infringe on others rights. For example I would fight you if you wanted to dump toxic waste into a river that ran across your property.

Don LaRue

Legal nexus to zoning laws is your build permit…Yup, that’s right. And it’s not your property. You say you paid for it with a Federal Reserve Note…now there’s the problem. You must understand the legalities of paying a debt as opposed to discharging one. Two distinctly legal differences. Few people have absolute title property…Good ruling though.

TSgt B

Here’s my take: On MY property, I am the GAME WARDEN, RANGE MASTER, and SHIRE. In other words, I DECIDE WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE LEGAL AND APPROPRIATE on MY land, and the “government” be [email protected]#ked. To those of you whom will object, we strive to live a morally correct (not “politically correct”) lifestyle. We respect the Good Lord, His Gift of Life, His Justice, and our Duty to live in His ways. We mean to not allow, and will not tolerate, unjust treatment to any whom present no threat to our existence or well being. That being said, dare you to… Read more »


I hope he gets all his legal fees back from the county.

Greg Tag

As a Zoning and Municipal law consultant, as well as Second Amendment researcher, I have to say that the comment from the county bureaucrat is absolutely wrong – and frightening. Regardless of what an ordinance or statute says, it is a matter of American common law, that if an activity is not forbidden, it is permitted. This position is even framed in the 9th and 10th Amendments. If Mr. Bureaucrat was in anyway correct, then anything , absolutely anything could potentially be sanctioned. As an example , lets say a person paints his house burnt orange. While to me as… Read more »


This is a private property issue, and their law that anything not specifically allowed is prohibited is a load of unconstitutional CRAP. Sounds like there is good grounds for a huge class action suit against the county- hopefully enough to bankrupt them and put them out of business.

Snoopy Smith

They leave Kalifornication to escape the crazies and then turn AZ into the next crazy state. I remember Prescott being lots of open undeveloped dirt and rocks; now its like Phoenix north


The asshats that moved into the prescott area from californistan. Completely ruined Prescott. I grew up there and it WAS a great place.

kenneth griggs

Williamson valley property the problem is that it is allowed with great force of too much power allowed too one person lynn chaplin she has been harressing people in Yavapai county even vets who with disabiltys who are trying too run there own business one person has been haressed 5 times in five years and is still getting harressed even during Christmas times 5 times in 5 years is enough the county will be sued with harressment charges please post this in a letter with the paper im tired of getting harressed im just trying too live a normal life… Read more »


This is one reason why, I do not own property.