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 aimed at making Utah’s laws reflect the conditions on the ground.
“The Director of Forest Fire and State Lands has the power to not allow bonfires, welding, grinding, and other kinds of activities in areas where there is fire danger. In the past the current state forester has also taken [the] opportunity to prohibit use of firearms in certain unincorporated areas. This bill puts into statute what has been going on traditionally.”
The Senate’s unanimous support for the bill comes after amendments to its language after 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.”
Last summer a fire caused by target shooters caused more than two million dollars in damage in Saratoga Springs.
Senator Dayton’s bill passed unanimously out of the Senate yesterday and will now be heard in the House.