In Utah, the right of individuals to bear arms stated in the Bill of Rights is fiercely defended, sometimes in the face of common sense. Last July, Logan residents saw hundred-foot flames shoot out of nearby Millville Canyon as 50 firefighters, two helicopters and a water tanker truck fought the fire. The blaze started from a small spark from a target shooter’s single bullet.
The summer of 2012 was the worst fire season in Utah in decades, with recreational shooting causing 21 wildfires ignited by exploding targets or sparks from steel-jacketed bullets.
Still, Gov. Gary Herbert hemmed and hawed before allowing Utah State Forester Dick Buehler to restrict shooting on public lands. “This does not abridge anybody’s constitutional right to bear firearms,” Herbert told the Salt Lake Tribune. “But we’re facing a serious fire season, and the state forester has the authority to limit [shooting].” Other political leaders were also quick to clarify their positions. House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said, “We’re not interested in blanket bans or limiting people’s Second Amendment rights to carry firearms.” Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said, “We’re not trying to take away people’s rights ... but they shouldn’t be doing things that create a fire.”