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Trigger Happy: Sign shooters are anything but sporting

Shooting signs comes under the heading of Criminal Mischief, which, according to the good people at the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, is covered by the Oregon Revised Statutes.


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OK, all you crazies with guns. Enough is enough! I cannot even imagine what goes through your heads when you raise your rifle, handgun, or shotgun and blaze away at the assorted signs in the forest and desert. Sure, Bi-Mart and sporting goods stores love you for purchasing boxes and boxes of ammunition so you can kill signs, but is this what you think is fun?

My gut feeling is that you nutsos that shoot signs probably couldn't hit an elephant in the tail end if it were walking in front of you.

Grow up will you! The cost for replacing those signs that you just have to shoot up is no small number. Land-managers place them in the locations you find them for a good reason, and not for you screwballs to use as targets. Even safety signs, such as stop signs and curve warnings, are shot to smithereens.

Shooting signs comes under the heading of "Criminal Mischief," which, according to the good people at the Deschutes County Sheriff's office, is covered by the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS), to wit:

• 164.354 Criminal mischief in the second degree. (1) A person commits  the crime of criminal mischief in the second degree if:

(a) The person violates ORS 164.345, and as a result thereof, damages property in an amount exceeding $500; or (b) Having no right to do so nor reasonable ground to believe that the person has such right, the person intentionally damages property of another, or, the person recklessly damages property of another in an  amount exceeding $500.

Then there's the issue of where those rounds go after they blast a hole in an aluminum sign. Every person who shoots a firearm knows how deadly that instrument can be, whether he or she wants to recognize it or not. Not caring where that round goes, or rounds go, is known as "criminal negligence."

• 163.195 Recklessly endangering another person

(1) A person commits the crime of recklessly endangering another person if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person.

Recklessly endangering another person is a Class A Misdemeanor, a crime that carries a penalty of up to one-year in the clink, and if the piece that fires the round(s) happens to be one of the high-velocity weapons that shoots rounds that fly virtually flat for up to half a mile, no one is safe in the desert or forest.

Plain common sense and good citizenship should tell sign shooters that there are places to shoot, and there are places not to shoot. Of course, I'm not sure any of those goofballs knows much about common sense or citizenship.

I spend a lot of time traveling on the back-of-beyond roads conducting wildlife surveys. While doing so recently, I got myself lost in Northern Lake County, an area that I thought so primitive only a few people a year would find it, yet there were BLM boundary and bearing signs and other markers all shot to pieces.

I talked to the folks in the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who have to replace those shot-to-hell signs. I would like to quote their description of the kind of person who shoots signs, but this is a family newspaper, and some of those adjectives and pronouns would make a sailor blush.

The Forest Service has a policy of first replacing safety signs, like stop signs, curve ahead signs and truck traffic warnings. Those cost $200 each, and it doesn't stop there; labor often runs to about $50 an hour.

Direction signs, such as, "30 Miles to Hwy 31" cost $18 per square foot. If there are damaged posts as well, that's another cost with installation bills running to another fifty bucks an hour. Campground and other recreational campground signs are $50 per square foot and another $50 to install. If the signs are boundary markers, the price can run to $600 for replacement. As you can see, the damage shooters inflict ain't cheap.

Gavin Hoban is responsibile for replacing stolen and shot-up signs on the thousands of BLM acres in the Prineville District east of Bend. Hoban audibly sighs as he addresses the enormous problems he has with maintaining signs.

"I don’t have a dollar number figure, as it varies fairly widely from year to year, as does BLM’s ability to replace a given sign due to variability of resources. However, I know it’s in the many thousands of dollars per year. Signs are not cheap and we do our best to obtain bulk discounts and utilize volunteer labor, but a single large area sign will run $500-$700 in purchase costs alone,” Hoban said.

"In some areas, BLM has enjoyed some success in reducing sign and facility damage by providing intentionally designed access points and trailheads that funnel visitors through maintained and easily patrolled and more highly visible portals.  Some examples of such access are coming online at Cline Buttes Recreation Area right now,” Hoban said.

Another element of the sign shooting scourge is the burden it places on the legitimate shooters who conduct themselves responsibly. They shoot in safe locations, pick up their spent casings and use targets that can be used to further the sport they enjoy.

The NRA, in its zeal to make sure Americans are never without the firearms to protect our Liberty, should also make sure the irresponsible idiots who shoot up American property have their guns removed from them—forever. We'd all be better off.

All that the responsible shooters can hope for is that the Forest Service or BLM law enforcement happen to be parked close to where the sign-shooters are carrying on their idiotic sport and hear the gunfire. The fine for shooting up signs can go up to $500.

Go get 'em Fred!

Photos taken by Jim Anderson and BLM.

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