Updated: 03/05/2014 8:08 PM |
Created: 03/05/2014 8:07 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico taxpayers are picking up the tab for trigger-happy gun owners who are shooting up road signs all over the state. And the problem isn't close to being resolved—it's getting worse.
Stop sign? $200. Big overhead highway sign? $5,000. These things are not cheap and the state Transportation Department is forking over wads of taxpayer dollars to replace signs in the far flung corners of New Mexico and everywhere in between.
They're as common as cactus or creosote bush along the highways and back roads of our state – mangled metal signs perforated with every kind of bullet that can be propelled from the barrel of a gun. We found plenty of them way out on Albuquerque's West Mesa – some of them just a few hundred yards away from the city's shooting range, where you don't run the risk of arrest for firing your gun.
"Most of us, we go out, we'll fire on targets and shoot 'em up or go out hunting," gun owner Wayne Westerman said. "Shooting a road sign to me is just plain stupid – and you can't get much meat out of one either!"
Did we mention arrest? You're looking at a petty misdemeanor for vandalizing a basic sign – but if it's worth more than $1,000 you could be looking at a 4th degree felony, and that means prison time.
Just consider the threat to public safety: A stop sign so shot up, it's more air than metal. Drivers who can't see it, let alone read what it says. Who knows –a head on collision? Dead people? All because of a trigger finger that got itchy for a target that any nitwit can hit?