Because many in the region are avid proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, state legislators are hesitant to enact formal restrictions. “We’re not trying to pull away anyone’s right to bear arms. I want to emphasize that,” said Louinda Downs, a county commissioner in fire-prone Davis County, Utah. “We’re just saying, target practice in winter. Target practice on the gun range. When your pleasure hobby is infringing or threatening someone else’s right to have property or life, shouldn’t we be able to somehow have some authority so we can restrict that?” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert took the unusual step of authorizing the top state forest official to impose gun restrictions on public lands after a gunfire-sparked fire.
Officials in Utah blame several wildfires on gunfire, prompting a debate on gun control, reports the Associated Press. Officials believe target shooting or other firearms use have sparked at least 21 wildfires in Utah and nearly a dozen in Idaho. Shooting is believed to have caused fires in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Officials have asked the public to scale back shooting as firefighters contend with one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons to ever hit the West.