Washoe County reports that the Board of County Commissioners has approved a request with the Community Services Department to begin drafting an ordinance to limit target shooting during dangerous fire conditions. 

“Should we proceed, we can enact and limit discharge of firearms in congested areas, this would allow us to take that a step further,” says Assistant County Manager, Dave Solaro. “If we move forward this would limit the discharge of firearms per weather conditions for a certain point in time.”

Currently, target shooting on public lands during high fire risks is discouraged, but not technically illegal. The proposed ordinance could impose fines or other penalties for those who shoot in risky conditions. 

Some are skeptical of the ordinance, like Jay Hawkins, Training Manager at Reno Guns & Range. Hawkins says the same effort should be made for other activities, as well. For example, construction work in open lands that may also cause sparks. Hawkins says, "No one wants to see a fire, but at the same time we don't want to have our rights infringed upon...To single out one particular activity and allowing other activities to continue that may result in fires, I question."

Carol Reed, a local gun owner, also has her hesitations about the proposal, "I'm kind of torn, I don't know if I really believe in an ordinance to make sure people know how to shoot in the rural areas, that's the responsibility of the individual."

The ordinance would put a process in place for the County Manager to identify areas in Washoe County that are off limits to target shooting during hot, dry and windy conditions. The County Manager would do this in consultation the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Fire Chief.

“This is a problem we are dealing with, this high-fire danger season,” says Chair Berkbigler. “I’d like to see us have some ability to better control this particular problem.”

Washoe County says the ordinance would not impact approved target ranges. Solaro hopes to bring a drafted ordinance to the board by late August. If approved, it could be enacted late this fire season or next season, if weather conditions call for it. 

(Washoe County contributed to this report).