Recent limitations on target shooting as a fire prevention measure have prompted questions from concerned citizens in the shooting-sports community.
While this office greatly values shooting sports advocates in Utah, some nuances of the issue must be clarified.
The right to bear arms is a core principle of Utah and the nation. Another core principle is the right of property owners to be free from destructive wildfires caused by negligent behavior.
That is why Governor Herbert, after careful consultation with legal counsel, the Utah State Forester, and legislative leaders, decided that a measured balance between the aforementioned rights was the most prudent policy choice.
The fact that roughly 20 wildfires this year have been caused by target shooters alone cannot be ignored. When public exhortations for personal responsibility on behalf of target shooters are insufficient, legal action is the next step necessary to ensure public safety.
The State of Utah has gone to great lengths to ensure that gun owners still have accessible locations to enjoy target shooting – even to the point of creating a spreadsheet which lists available shooting locations throughout the state. This list is available on the Governor’s website: www.utah.gov.
This fire-prevention decision was made in the context of principles of local governmental control, as municipal and county governments are the entities which request for target shooting bans in various locations as conditions warrant. We believe it is the most reasoned, balanced approach possible, and we appreciate the patience and cooperation of all Utahns as we endure this trying fire season.