The Flat Earth division of Idaho’s Republican Party prevailed this week when its members narrowly stopped a bill that would have banned exploding targets.
A handful of legislators used “don’t believe your lyin’ eyes” logic when they failed to outlaw the targets that ignited three major wildfires last summer, including the Sharps Fire east of the Wood River Valley.
In the process, they exploded facts and chose fiction and fear instead.
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, reportedly said a company that manufactures the targets informed her that they are incapable of causing a fire. She rejected an eyewitness account from another legislator and video images that show the targets igniting dry vegetation.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said she had not “heard” of the targets causing fires and called the bill an attack on gun owners.
Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, objected to the nanny-state nature of the ban and alleged that the federal Bureau of Land Management had lied about the causes of the fires.
The Senate had passed the ban, but the House voted to reject it, 35-33.
The Sharps Fire burned 68,000 acres and cost $9 million to fight. It was only luck, prevailing winds and good firefighting that kept the valley out of danger—this time.
Too many times, valley people have felt the pit-in-the-stomach fear of losing their communities as flames soared from ridgelines. Banning exploding targets would have helped stop individual ignorance and corporate misinformation from harming thousands of innocent people.
Instead, legislators chose exploding targets over the right of Idahoans to live free of blast zones. Shame on them.