Locking and Loading the 2nd Amendment

September 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm (Uncategorized)

I was over visiting Jeanette and in her comments was Naomi (OldOldyLady of the Hills) who directed Jeanette to a post written by a lady named Dianne who had written eloquently about 9/11. (I didn’t link Jeanette because she’s linked on my sidebar and she’s password protected.)

Dianne’s post made me cry. I can’t even begin to wax eloquently about her post, so just go see for yourself.

However, I also read her most current post and felt compelled to address an issue that she brought up in regard to Sarah Palin. It is no secret that I’m not a Sarah Palin fan, however, I am a hunter, like Sarah. Dianne made the reference that Sarah “loves to kill innocent creatures.”  (She also called Sarah “a dangerous, medieval nut case,” which I applaud, even more so given that I had trouble getting the spelling of medieval correct.) I digress.

I started hunting when I was young, but didn’t kill anything because I was scared of the kick of the gun. It wasn’t until later in my life, at age 31, that I actually picked it back up after years of thinking about it. My dad was an ATF certified gun dealer, so having guns around was a normal part of my upbringing. I live in West Virginia and hunting season is as big as NASCAR and WVU football, if not more so.

From the hunting perspective, I don’t actually enjoy killing another creature. The thrill of the hunt, for me, and I know for many others, is not the killing, but the hunt itself. Its about pitting yourself against the terrain, the elements, and the intelligence of other mammals. Its also about how full my freezer will be in the coming summer months when work dips off and I’m struggling, like now, to pay my bills, and having a little extra deer meat to feed myself with can be a really good thing. I don’t shoot squirrels because I won’t eat them.

Aside from a food source, there is another reason that I hunt, and that is herd control. A good example is the shopping center that was built about 8 miles from me. I guess no one took into account how much wildlife they would be displacing with the Hell*Mart, Targay, and the other stores and restaurants. A big problem with that is also that this land abutts incorporated cities that have no hunting allowed. Now, the townships complain about deer damaging their yards (and their vehicles) and the influx of raccoons is astounding.

And while said wildlife could travel a few miles south to the unincorporated area so they could be controlled through hunting, they aren’t stupid. Why give up the succulent gardens and tasty trashcans of humanity to return to a life of foraging for food in the deep forest? Of course, one must also blame the humans in this matter for thinking raccoons are cute and feeding them. Raccoons are NOT CUTE! They are mean little creatures who carry rabies. Intelligent, yes, cute, NO. Feed a ‘possum! They’re a hold over from the Ice Age because they don’t contract rabies nearly as easy as raccoons do! Its a rare sight for a ‘possum to carry rabies!

Now, we have a coyote problem. Coyotes breed like rabbits, are sly, shy, wily, and will eat your cat before you can say “meow.” Yet, someone thought it would be a good idea to reintroduce the coyote to West Virginia. Guess they never thought about how to control the population of said coyote in the incorporated areas and the protected State Forest they introduced it into, which, by the way, abutts the Capitol City. My boss, who lives in said Capitol City, can hear the coyotes howling at night.

Coyote hunting is not as simple as sitting in a tree stand waiting for Bambi to wander by. It involves calls and howlers and sometimes dogs, much like coon hunting or bear hunting.  I don’t know anyone who knows how to hunt coyotes. While calls and such are used for turkey hunting and deer hunting, your success is not completely dependent upon it, like it is with coyotes. So, we have all of these coyotes with only a select few who actually know how to kill them to keep their population in check, and even if we do learn, the worst of the problem is in the big city where you can’t hunt them! Ugh! What a disaster!

And so now we can wander into 2nd Amendment territory. As some of you know, I lived in Germany for a year as an exchange student and went back in 2000 to visit with my family and friends. Germany has very, very strict gun control laws. Your regular police officer on the street does not carry a weapon, at least they didn’t when I was there, and as of 2000, they still didn’t. The interesting thing is that my ex-boyfriend is a detective with the German police and he outlined all of the testing (psychological, practical, etc.) that he had to undergo in order to carry a firearm.

The gun control laws came under scrutiny following a school shooting in Germany. You do have to have a license in order to own a weapon, following a three day course and test, and hunters have to take a year long course on gun safety with an exhaustive test before obtaining the right to hunt. While the laws are strict, it is still possible to own a weapon in Germany and many do enjoy that right.

And while it may be noteworthy that Germany has lower homicide rates than the US of A, so does Switzerland, and they have liberal gun laws, a very high weapons rate per capita, and yet one of the lowest gun releated crime rates in the world. One individual in the comments of one crime rate website I looked at stated something to the regard that America is violent because the immigrants are violent and raise our crime rates. In regards to that statement, I can say I believe it to be an oversimplified explanation of crime rates and violence in America.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have merit. Its also difficult given that I live in the insular mountains of West Virginia, which ranks around 39 or 40 of the 50 states for violent crime, and while we have a variety of immigrants here, the vast majority are hard-working, tax-paying families. Although I have travelled to over half of the states of the United States, my experiences with immigrant populations in those cities including NYC, L.A., New Orleans, and Houston, have been limited at best. Most of the violent crime in West Virginia exists due to the drug trade and the family feudal system of domestic violence.

There were 75 murders in WV in 2006. Our population hovers around 1.8 million. I’d say those numbers are pretty good for a bunch who are well known for our love of hunting and firearms. Unfortunately, I don’t have any data that shows if those 75 murders were committed with firearms or in another fashion.

This post doesn’t have any great insights into the American culture, nor gun control, or hunting. I support hunting for the control of animal populations and to put food on your table. Sometimes those things don’t coincide, because while I would kill a coyote, I doubt I would eat it. Same thing for a raccoon. I’m not sure whether stricter gun control laws would reduce violence in America. I can’t say I agree with folks toting around automatic or semi-automatic weapons for the hell of it or shooting big game from helicopters, but, there’s always a grey area.

In every big social issue in America, there’s always a big grey area full of caveats and a hope for common sense. You have the scare tactics of those who believe a ban on certain automatic weapons and add-ons and modifications will lead to an outright ban of firearms in general. They hear the word “gun control” and freeze up without bothering to read the fine print, to educate themselves about proposed gun control laws before hiding their weapons in the attic or under the floor boards or simply position themselves on their front porch with their shotgun, ready to mow down anyone who disagrees with their right to bear arms.

I think a more important question is, why are we killing each other? This doesn’t have anything to do with guns or lack thereof, it has to do with a societal mindset. Why does the US have a higher rate of homicide and violent crime than other industrialized (and armed) nations? Is it legal/illegal immigrants?  Is it poverty? Drugs? Education or lack thereof? A “take no shit” attitude that has prevailed since the Minutemen were called to duty in the Revolutionary War?

This hasn’t been the most thoroughly researched post I’ve ever published, but I do hope it has helped you think about some of the issues facing American families, which may or may not come up in the political race, and those things that influence our perceptions of others, for better or worse.

7 Comments

  1. Vince said,

    Like you, I believe in hunting, as long as you eat what you kill (with the exception of population control, as you stated). I’m a pretty liberal guy, but, beleive it or not, the majority of NYS is rural and many of the attitudes you’d see in WVA are found here. I’ve had many hunters work for me and they are all decent, law abiding folks. I don’t believe in “trophy” hunting, as it’s a total waste.

    I am a believer in gun regulation. Call it control if you like. But for those that like to read the Constitution literally, the 2nd ammendment give the right to bear arm for the establishment of a well formed militia. Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you’re not in the military, national guard, or other sanctioned armed force, that means the average citizen does not have the right to bear arms. Historically, militias were formed by citizens volunteering and creating their own units. The Civil War is a classic example of this. However, the concept of the militia is antiquated now. The Constitution was intended to be a living document. Times have changed. The rationale for the right to bear ams is no longer valid.

    Should we repeal that part of the 2nd ammendment? Not nessicarily. But don’t tell me the constitution guarentees the right to own handguns and any weapon you like. It does not.

  2. Evil Twin's Wife said,

    We own guns (2 revolver types and one shotgun – which we inherited from my dad). We brought them home because when we had the estate sale, we didn’t want them ending up in the wrong hands. I still don’t even know where they are in the house – that’s how well hidden they are. Maybe if you asked the Evil Twin nicely, he’d tell you their super secret hiding places. Then again, he’s kind of a tight lipped asshole, so probably not. LOL.

  3. Lois Lane said,

    I really think Sarah’s love of hunting is her smallest problem. Have you read up on her yet? Seriously not president material, and you know that old fart isn’t going to be able to live through an entire term if elected. LMFAO!

  4. Tina said,

    I am not a hunter, nor do I really have a personal interest in guns. On the other hand, I HAVE thought about buying one and getting into a shooting range. Now THAT looks FUN AS HELL! I have “browsed” in stores and pawn shops but I really need more of an “educated on the as far as what would be “right for me.” I don’t know what is the best for what. I have nothing against having it loaded and nearby as well (like in a drawer) in case some asshole breaks into my home. I don’t have any kids so I don’t have to worry about that unless Timbers and Kumba decides to put it to my head one morning saying “We want our food now, beaootch!!” 😉

    What amazes me is why so many kids have access to their parents guns nowadays. EVERY gun should be locked up, even if your kids are educated about them. I wouldn’t take any chances. I would by the biggest, most hardcore safes available, and keep the keys with me at ALL times.

    I mean when I was a kid (many many moons ago…lol) I can remember some of the boys bringing in hunting rifles to school for show-and-tell and nobody thought of it. If a kid would do that today he and his parents would be tried for attempted murder and sent up for life. The kid’s computer would be confiscated for any terrorism threats and it would be talked about on the news for weeks, making the kid out to be an attempted murderer….just for wanting to show off his rifle. Man how times have changed!

    I guess I am wondering what makes SOME of these kids feel like guns are the only “answer?” Whatever happened to good old-fashioned school fistfights? Do they have those anymore? Now it’s either bring a gun to school or write threatening letters to other kids on MySpace. Things like this is give all kids bad names.

    I dont believe in blaming it on the music, video games, movies. I mean, yeah, it’s kind of put in their faces but people have been blaming that shit since I was a kid, and I turned out OK. Well……;) Nanner has known me 24 years so that’s her call. LOL! I used (and still use) those things to TAKE my agressions out on. I LOVE Grand Theft Auto and it’s a THRILL blowing people away, robbing police cars, and playing “sniper” for no reason. Granted I am 36 years old and take those games as a joke. I always have. Even if I had that game at 14 I still wouldn’t have taken it literally.

    But trust me, I would NOT let any of my kids under 18 buy anything like that. All games have rating albums on them like CD and DVD’s do, which I think is a good idea, if some parents actually pay attention. I mean, aren’t some of these parents actually “in tune” with what their kids are getting into?
    Then again a lot of kids can get what they want off the internet, whether it’s violent video games or recipes on how to make bombs. Man. Still, parents should be a lot more aware. I mean, how did these Columbine parents NOT know that their sons were collecting firearms and building bombs in their basements? Are they THAT stupid or have they never actually went into their basements?

    I always thought guns were made for defense and hunting only, as well as something like a shooting ranch. If some asshole breaks into my home or threatens my life, he’s going to probably be killed, or at least injured. And besides, even if for some insane reason all guns are illegalized that won’t change things. That means that law-abiding citizens will be robbed of their rights and the criminals will have more control.

    As far as hunting I am totally for it IF it’s used for food or clothing ONLY. I don’t believe in doing it for sport. People who shoot animals for kicks are sick bastards. It’s the same as abuse. Personally I am a pussy and can’t imagine myself hunting, but that’s just me. I would be a pussy in chicken out. Now if I was stuck in somewhere where I had to totally depend on my survival skills, then that’s a different story.

    I would only shoot an animal if it was coming after ME or if I saw it suffering and it was obvious it had to be put down. I had this happen to me last year when I came home to find a BEAUTIFUL spotted owl in my driveway that had obviously been hit by a car or attacked by something. I had never seen one that close. It was obvious it was VERY hurt and dying. My first thought was “take it to the vet” but then my dad slowly convinced me it was too late. He went and got his pistol and luckily it went fast. I dont’ know. I couldn’t watch. 😦 I ran into the house and cried for two hours.

    As far as deer hunting cuts down on the population, though. There is no argument about that, but I still see more DEAD on the road than anything.

    That’s my pointless rambling for today. 😉

  5. Jammie J said,

    I think a lot of our country’s problem has to do with gun education.

    When I bought my gun in 2003 or 2004 (I forget now), education was not mandatory. If I remember right, I had a generic test to take, mostly common sense, but that was it. A transaction that took about 1/2 hour and $300 and I was home free with a gun. Woot!

    I know they implemented stricter laws the following year, which was a huge reason why I didn’t put my purchase off any longer. The thing was, though, so I had this gun and had no idea how to perform maintenance on it or anything beyond the fact that it was supposed to be unloaded and locked up in the trunk if I transported it.

    Tony is the one who taught me how to perform the rudimentary things with the gun that I know how to do. Somehow, though, that seems a little backward.

    It’s different for those who grew up around guns and it’s part of the culture, I was so amazed when I visited Michigan earlier this year how much hunting is just part of what they do. Like you said, the opening of hunting season is a HUGE deal. They talk about it all year long.

    I don’t really have a point except that maybe part of it is education, or really a lack of education and the fact that it’s “forbidden” to use a gun … we don’t have hunting season in these parts. Then you add to that the illegal immigration, higher numbers of population to ratio of space, gangs, etc., and, well, it’s kind of a recipe for disaster.

  6. PandoraWilde said,

    Jammie–In Michigan the opening of Gun Deer was also my most profitable show of the year, no matter which show I was at or how big it was or what it allowed for sale. That weekend was ALWAYS great for both selling inventory on hand and getting custom work. Also, if you’re worried about not knowing much about handling a gun, go to a Hunter Safety class–you wouldn’t be the only woman, even if many of the women there were there to supervise their 12 and 13 year old sons. I was in the same place you are–“Oh, hey, I have a shotgun and my fiance has several sorts of weapons. Now what?” and taking that class really did get me more comfy with dealing with my firearm.

    Now, for Nanner–

    I totally agree with you–I learned to eat Venison long before I knew what the hell Venison was, and anytime I have a friend looking to unload a little of his/her bounty I have no problem putting up a hand and volunteering to take some off their hands. My friend in another town usually fills her two tags and has her girlfriend and son both get tags so she can fill those too, so she used to stock me up pretty well.

    Too many people relate the ownership of a gun with the act of pointing it at another human being, and while personal defense can be a reason someone wants a gun, it’s still a far cry from the need to put it to use in that manner. Just because someone has a gun doesn’t mean that sooner or later it’s going to be used to shoot at a person. Gun laws are generally only observed by responsible gun owners–they do little or nothing to keep them out of the hands of criminals or from having those people shoot and/or kill someone else with them.

    I’m not going to debate the 2nd Amendment here, but as long as laws in the US allow me to own my shotgun I’m keeping it. It was bought for me to hunt with just before my back really started going downhill, and if there comes a day where there’s enough that can be done with the (so far) incurable problems I have then I’ll use it. Until then I will keep it as long as Federal and State laws allow it. In fact, I’d be hesitant to sell it unless I knew the buyer well enough to know that they’re a responsible gun owner–I’d never in a million years sell it to a stranger for fear that it’d wind up used in the commission of a crime.

    Well, enough out of me–with the final note that deer suet and tallow make awesome additions to soap, so if someone finds themselves loaded with too much, feel free to send it my way–I know how to render it down to refined tallow and can use it to make wonderful soap. Yep, yet another way to not waste any of the bounty of being able to hunt for your own food.

  7. blackpunkin said,

    Pandora, I’d be happy to send some tallow and sinew your way… when I can.

    And thanks to everyone who took the time to read this post and respond.

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