At its March meeting the the commissioners on the Nevada Board of Wildlife wisely tabled a proposed regulation that would have required hunters to obtain permission of the occupant of a dwelling before discharging a weapon within a certain distance.
The board was responding to reported instances of hunters engaging in unsafe practices near residences, but such a rule would have allowed dwelling occupants to create de facto no hunting zones. The proposal was first prompted by an incident in 2016 in Genoa in which a hunter with an archery deer tag wounded a deer that then wondered into a residential area. The hunter went knocking on doors asking permission to finish off the deer in peoples’ yards, causing some consternation and raising the issue of whether there should be regulations dictating safe hunting distances from dwellings.
The proposed rule would have amended the Nevada Administrative Code to make it unlawful to discharge a firearm within 5,000 feet of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the owner or occupier of the dwelling. That is almost 1 mile. Further, the rule would prohibit firing a shotgun, bow or crossbow within 1,000 feet of such a dwelling without permission.
Under such a rule owners of land could conceivably be barred from hunting on their own property if there were a home within a mile in any direction where someone objects.
Members of the National Rifle Association, bowhunter groups and other Second Amendment backers questioned the need for the statewide law.
While based on good intentions, such restrictions are unnecessary. There already is a law on the books that makes it illegal for a person to willfully and maliciously discharge a firearm at or into any house, room, apartment, tenement, shop, warehouse, store, mill, barn, stable, outhouse or other building, tent, vessel, aircraft, vehicle, vehicle trailer, semitrailer or house trailer, railroad locomotive, car or tender. If any of those places is occupied, the crime is a felony punishable by imprisonment for a minimum term of not less than one year and a maximum term of not more than six years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
Further, many cities and counties already have laws on the books dictating where weapons may be discharged. This proposal, as one person observed, was a solution in search of a problem.
Thankfully, wiser heads prevailed.