Society

Officials Blame Guns for Fires in the West

| by Michael Allen

Officials believe that gun use has caused at least 21 wildfires in Utah, and more blazes in Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

Now, authorities fear that Fourth of July celebrations featuring gun fire, as part of the celebration, will cause more deadly fires. 

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They say that steel-jacketed bullets can hit a rock, throws off sparks and ignite a fire. Additionally, exploding targets are also blamed for causing wildfires.

Many people in the West are very pro-gun, so politicians are hesitant to enact any laws.

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One exception has been Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who has authorized a state forest official to impose gun rules on public lands.

Louinda Downs, a county commissioner in Davis County, Utah, told the Seattle TImes: "We're not trying to pull away anyone's right to bear arms. I want to emphasize that. 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?"

However, guns rights supporters are skeptical that guns are causing fires.

Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Sports Shooting Council, said his group will conduct tests on steel-jacketed bullets: "We want to make sure it is not knee-jerk legislation to ban guns or ammunition. If it turns out the problem is with a few types of rounds, we will not be an apologist for them."