06 August 2013

Exploding Targets Used By Gun Nuts Cause Many Fires

Seven recent wildfires in the Rocky Mountain West (including three in Colorado) have been caused by exploding targets favored by gun enthusiasts.  In the last eighteen months, sixteen fires causing $33 million in damages (a significant share of which was in Colorado burning thousands of acres) was caused by these targets.  Federal officials are banning their use without permits on large swaths of federal land.

While these targets aren't the only cause of a record breaking fire season, a drought is the overarching cause, the damage caused by these targets does account for a remarkable share of the total burn damage for a more or less entirely new cause of forest fires.

Given the risk that these targets pose to neighboring property owners, a state or national ban on using these devices anywhere without a permit to ensure proper fire prevention measures are taken seems very appropriate.  Even gun owners understand that the Second Amendment doesn't include the right to use fireworks enhanced targets for entertainment purposes that put whole counties at risk of going up in flames.

Also, liability rules are not effective to regulate this problem because one target will often do more damage than the person responsible and their insurance policy can afford.  Indeed, one wonders if a product liability action by some of the fire victims against the manufacturer isn't in order.

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