Senate Approves Target Shooting Regulation for Fire Prevention

(KCPW News) The state Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that would give Utah’s state forester the power to restrict target shooting when there is a high risk of fire.

When she originally presented the bill in committee in January, Republican Senator Margaret Dayton said that the measure was a move to make Utah’s laws reflect the conditions on the ground.

“In the past the current state forester has taken [the] opportunity to prohibit use of firearms in certain unincorporated areas…where there is fire danger,” Dayton said during a meeting of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Standing Committee in January. “This bill puts into statute what has been going on traditionally.”

The Senate’s unanimous support for the bill comes after Dayton amended its language in the wake of complaints from some guns rights advocates that the restrictions went too far. The new changes in the legislation include requiring the state forester to coordinate with local sheriffs before enacting a target-shooting ban, and a requirement that the ban be reviewed every two weeks. Dayton promoted the amended bill on the Senate floor yesterday.

“What we’re talking about is not infringing on anybody’s right to bear arms, but on a temporary closure in fire-affected areas by the State Forester in conjunction with the locally-elected sheriff,” she said.

Last summer a fire caused by target shooters caused more than two million dollars in damage in Saratoga Springs, on the west side of Utah Lake.

Senator Dayton’s bill passed unanimously out of the Senate yesterday and will now be heard in the House.