A New Weapon in the War on Varmints

A Mohave rattler photographed in 2008.

Photo by JC Amberlyn.

A Mohave rattler photographed in 2008.

You’re allowed to when your livestock is in danger, and you’re allowed to when your life is in danger.

If the Arizona House of Representatives’ bill HB 2022 goes the distance and gets Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature, you’ll be allowed to shoot off weapons in city limits if you’re going after varmints or snakes.

Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, sponsored the bill that was passed along party lines Feb. 1, 35-25. This would give people another way of disposing of wrats or snakes. The bill does limit the type of ammunition to “rat shot” or “snake shot.”

These “consist(s) of pellets that are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and that are loaded in a rimfire cartridge with a caliber that does not exceed twenty-two hundredths of an inch,” according to the wording in the bill.

There are concerns with the measure. Deputy Pima County Attorney Kathleen Mayer told the Arizona Capitol Times that there was nothing in the bill that said people had to actually be trying to kill a pest and that opened the door for people to go out and shoot anywhere.

The anywhere part of Mayer’s statement would give local law enforcement some things to worry about.

“My only concern is that I would want people to be aware of the background and backdrop, and where they are shooting,” said Kingman Police Deputy Chief Rusty Cooper.

“We would want them to be certain to avoid ricochets into nearby properties or toward people.”

Mayer went on to tell the Times that a shooter would have to be within five feet in order to have any effect on the creatures in question.

“If you’re within five feet of a snake, you’d be a lot more effective in chopping its head off with a hoe,” she said.

The main reason for Lawrence’s bill may have been the rats, which are a problem down in the valley.

That’s not an issue here in Kingman, but snakes can be. Cooper talked about the skill it would take to put a snake down using this methodology.

“You have to be a good aim,” the deputy chief said.

District 5 Reps. Regina Cobb, R-Kingman and Paul Mosley, R-Lake Havasu City, voted in favor of the measure. Neither was available for comment.