Target shooting banned at Ironwood Forest National Monument
Reporter: Aaron Brackett
Avra Valley, Ariz. - (KGUN9-TV) - Target shooting is a staple of the desert southwest, but new government regulations aim to put a stop to the shootout in one popular destination.
Ironwood National Monument sits just northwest of Marana. The 129,000 acres of beautiful desert have become a favorite of target shooters, but the government says the sport has become too destructive, and now they are putting a stop to it.
The Bureau of Land Management says people out target shooting took down these Sonoran desert staples.
Ironwood Forest National Monument has become a common place for some gun enthusiasts to practice, in some rather improper places.
9OYS drove about 30 miles through the desert and found signs with bullet holes throughout were commonplace.
Some are concerned about a total gun ban at the monument, but the BLM says it's not all bad news.
"It is just the recreational shooting activity, in terms of hunting [that will be banned]," said Brian Bellow of the BLM. "Our regulations go along with Arizona Game and Fish which is the regulating agency.
9OYS reached out to the NRA. Member of the Board of Directors, Todd Rathner, disagrees with the new restriction. In a letter to 9OYS, Rathner writes:
"In order to support this closure you must believe that there is absolutely nowhere on 128,000 acres of open desert to safely discharge a firearm recreationally. This is an absurd premise. It is arbitrary closures like this, with no regard for legitimate gun owners that will likely lead to federal legislation to overturn this terrible decision and prevent other agencies from making similar bad decisions."
Bellew says most of the damage has been done already. There are many areas with bare ground where trees and cacti have been killed over the years by a barrage of bullets.
According to the BLM, guns for self defense and seasonal hunting are still allowed in the park. They say rangers will patrol more often to make sure target practice comes to an end at the monument.