Did guns trigger western wildfires? (+video)
So far this year, dozens of wildfires have been traced to shooting. But politicians are hesitant to restrict gun use and gun rights advocates are skeptical of the link between shooting and fire.
In the tinder-dry U.S. West, where campfires, fireworks and even lit cigarettes are banned across public lands, another fire-starting culprit remains free of most restrictions: guns.
This year, officials believe target shooting or other firearms use have sparked at least 21 wildfires in Utah and nearly a dozen in Idaho. Shooting is also believed to have caused fires in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
Officials have been asking the public to scale back shooting as legions of firefighters contend with one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons to ever hit the West.
But many in the region avid proponents of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, so most state lawmakers are hesitant to enact any formal restrictions.
"We're not trying to pull away anyone's right to bear arms. I want to emphasize that," said Louinda Downs, a county commissioner in fire-prone Davis County, Utah. "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?"