Debates over proper gun usage, windfalls to state coffers from gun-related tax proceeds, and unusual March snows are all making headlines across the New West footprint today.
You can debate the pros and cons of gun control in America, but one thing is for sure: the debate is good for state coffers in Montana and Wyoming, as the return of federal excise taxes on sales of guns and ammo is leading to larger-than-anticipated rebates of state wildlife agencies. From the Billings Gazette:
The federal government disbursed $882.4 million to all 50 states through what are known as the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. The money comes from taxes on archery equipment, fishing gear and electric outboard motors as well as firearms.
This year, Montana received $13.8 million in wildlife grant funds and $8.5 million in sport fish grants from 2012 receipts. Overall, the state ranked 11th in total excise tax returns. Texas was No. 1, with $41.9 million, followed by Alaska ($39.8 million) and California ($35.2 million).
But per person, Montanans ranked third for wildlife funds at $13.73 apiece. Alaska ranked first at $29.92 per citizen. Wyoming spent slightly more per person than Montana ($16.23), even though it received less overall ($9.4 million). The state has just over half of Montana’s population of 1 million people.
In Utah, the gun debate took an expected turn when Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a “constitutional carry” bill allowing anyone to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. From the Deseret News:
Herbert said his decision was supported by much of the law enforcement community, which encouraged him to veto the bill.
But the governor said that while he, too, was passionate about Second Amendment rights, Utah needs gun policy that “sends a message that we have a quality of life that is sophisticated, and that we’re not the wild and woolly West.”
Ultimately, he stressed that the current law sufficiently meets that need.
“As I said before, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Herbert said.
The measure passed both the state House and Senate by a two-thirds majority, but constitutional-carry proponents were not optimistic about either chamber overriding the veto.
In Colorado, Boulder and Denver are literally being buried in snow: a record snowfall is tying up car and plane travel, and Boulder is on the edge of setting a record for snowfall, per the Boulder Camera:
The city had recorded 8.8 inches of snow by 10 a.m., according to Boulder meteorologist Matt Kelsch. The record for the date is 9.4 inches in 1929.
“So, we’re not there yet, but I think we’ll get there,” said Kelsch. “We might just barely get there, but I think we’ll set that record. We have another inch or two to go.”
Boulder is also now above its average snowfall for the month. The 10 a.m. reading of 8.8 inches put the city at 20.7 inches for March.
In Idaho, the Treefort Music Festival is the talk of Boise. Here’s our coverage.
Though it’s not soccer season yet, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Col., was host to CONCACAF World Cup qualifier action, with the United States hosting Costa Rica. Yes, they played on throughout the heavy snow — though the Costa Ricans played under protest — and the Americans won, 1-0.
Whiskey seems to be a hot product in the New West, and residents of Bozeman will have a new place to throw back a shot or two: the Copper Whiskey Bar and Grill is set to open downtown in the old Looie’s Down Under space, according to the Bozeman Chronicle. Jay Thane and Jon Slye are shooting for 100 different whiskeys by the time the place opens Tuesday. That list includes American Bourbon, Scotch whisky and Japanese whiskey. (Yes, the spellings of whiskey and whisky derive from where the product was distilled.)
Image courtesy of Colorado Rapids.