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Bill passes to ban target shooting due to wildfire risk

Published March 8, 2013 9:04 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Resurrected after early opposition by gun enthusiasts had appeared to kill it, a bill to allow the state forester to close down land to target-shooters during periods of extremely hazardous fire conditions won final passage Friday.

The Senate voted 15-0 in favor of SB120 after it had been amended by the House, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

"Some bills get more attention than they deserve, and this is one of those bills," said Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, sponsor of the bill. She pushed it after a difficult season of wildfires in 2012 — with 33 directly attributed to shooting firearms. The state spent more than $16 million to extinguish the fires.

Early in the session she pulled the bill from consideration when gun enthusiasts attacked it in social media as an infringement on their rights. It was one of the first gun-related bills to be considered after the recent Connecticut school shootings brought calls for more gun control.

Dayton — and the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield — are two of the Legislature's biggest gun enthusiasts themselves and worked to convince allies that the bill was needed and justified and was about preventing fires and not infringing on Second Amendment rights.

The bill gives the state forester the authority to close off areas for target shooting in consultation with locally elected sheriffs for two weeks at a time — and can be extended with consultation.

Lee Davidson

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