Utah: bill withdrawn that would have restricted target shooting during high wildfire danger

A state Senator in Utah, worried that her proposed legislation would enrage the gun lobby, withdrew a bill that would have allowed the state to restrict target shooting on state-owned lands due to fire danger. Here is an excerpt from an article in the Deseret News:

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she is a gun owner who had no intention of interfering with anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

So when sparks were poised to fly over her legislative proposal empowering the state forester to restrict target shooting on state-owned lands due to fire danger, she backed off.

Dayton told her colleagues Friday on the floor of the Utah Senate she is not sure her bill, SB120, will be addressed this legislative session because she wants it to get a full airing before the public.

“They deserve a right to have their voices heard, especially those people who oppose the bill,” Dayton said afterward. “Gun issues are a touchy subject right now. As a gun owner, I understand that.”

Because of the relentless wave of wildfires — some started by target shooting — that burned through thousands of acres of state-owned land last year, State Forester Dick Buehler enacted a host of restrictions last July.

Some of those included bans on types of ammunition, while others shut down target shooting altogether in specific areas of Summit, Davis, Utah and Cache counties.

Because there was some question about the state forester’s ability to enact such a ban — pro-gun groups said the move was not only unwarranted but illegal — Dayton sought to have that authority clarified in state law.

In October, 2012 when we wrote about the increasing number of fires started by target shooters using exploding targets, we found 10 fires started by these devices in Utah over a 5-month period last year. One of them burned over 5,500 acres.

UPDATE February 3, 2013: The Salt Lake Tribune has more details about the death of the bill that would have limited target shooting during periods of high fire danger.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

One thought on “Utah: bill withdrawn that would have restricted target shooting during high wildfire danger”

  1. Several of my target shooting friends were affected by the shooting restrictions put in place by the state forester last year. None of them complained about “government interference with 2nd amendment rights”. All of them wished the fire danger was less and recognized their part in preventing fires. As a side note, when the fire danger is low, exploding targets are fun to shoot. Out here in the west, a lot of target shooting is done at “informal ranges”.

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