Thursday, June 26, 2008


The Supreme Court decided yesterday that Exxon Mobil would have to pay $500,000 instead of $2.5 billion to the people of Alaska. The people have been fighting this for over 20 years. The fishermen of Alaska are the immediate losers, but we all lost on this one. If there is any doubt in anyone’s mind as to whether we have a corporate oriented government, this ought to erase it.

Today, the court will rule on the right to bear arms. The question is whether or not the District of Columbia has the right to ban people from owning handguns. It’s a ticklish question from the point of view of the NRA because their stance has always been that anybody but a convicted felon has the right to own any gun they want. A ban on handguns, they contend, would be the camel’s nose in the tent ultimately leading to a complete ban on all guns.

The anti-gun groups on the other end of the spectrum see nothing wrong with that idea, holding that banning all guns would decrease accidental gun deaths, homicides and armed robberies. To be of this opinion, one would necessarily have to believe that hunting is an invalid form of sport or even invalid as a means of supplementing ones table fare. This kind of complete Bambi-ism, though, ignores the negative impacts of excessive animal populations and the fact that harvest is going to occur whether by hunting or even less pleasant natural methods.

The total anti-gunners also suffer from the same delusions as the dries did during Prohibition. You can wish that a law could effectively ban something like gun ownership or alcohol production, but the fact is that a complete ban is impossible and the end result is that the most ruthless among us are the ones who take advantage of the low supply of a wanted commodity.

One of the few things the NRA says that I believe is that if you take guns away from solid citizens, the only ones left with guns will be criminals. Of course, the police will have them, too, but as my recent experience with DEA enforcement efforts demonstrates that they don’t always act appropriately either.

The court’s decision is likely to hinge on the intent of the framers of the second amendment. The issue is whether the amendment intended to shield the right on an individual citizen to keep and bear arms or intended only to ensure that a militia made up of citizens had access to arms. It’s a sticky issue and one that hinges on a pretty murky phrase. This is one case when you wish the framers of our constitution would have had a better editor!

It is hard to imagine, though, that this conservative court could possibly decide to attempt a ban on all privately owned arms. Not only would that go counter to the wishes of their buddies at the NRA, but arms and ammunition are huge commercially and industrially.

On the other hand, the right is much more likely to approve of restrictions of personal freedoms and to believe that the law has the power to control behavior than is the left. Still, my bet is that the final decision will be that Washington, D.C. cannot restrict the right of any law abiding citizen to own a handgun.

As a life-long hunter, I do wish, though, that we could find a way to restrict ownership of arms that have no real use other than the taking of human life. Ultimately there is a great deal of difference in my mind between sporting arms and AK-47s. Sure one can kill a deer with either, but no one hunts with an AK-47. You can kill a deer with a hand grenade, too, but they are illegal with good reason.

I once hosted a debate between candidates for the state Congress during which one candidate stated that if a farmer wanted to dig post holes with a bazooka he wouldn’t do anything to stop him. He got a round of applause from the Polk County audience, but not from me. Other than the personal pleasure one gets from the adrenaline rush of firing a fully automatic weapon (A thing I once did, myself, against orders on an army firing range!) there is no value in allowing ownership of such a gun. It’s a rush that none of us really need. The fact that they have such appeal to a certain type of teen-ager and that they have consistently been used in school and other massacres leads me to feel that a ban on them would be appropriate, but, obviously, I don’t believe the camel’s nose theory.

To me, handguns are a tougher issue as some can legitimately be used for hunting and for target shooting competitions. Those most commonly used for criminal activity, though, commonly aren’t of that quality. I could see some prohibition of guns known as Saturday night specials – cheap, inaccurate short barreled guns usually in the .22 to .32 caliber range – and snub nosed police pistols. You’d never stop the black market, but it would give the police a more legitimate target to go after than pot smokers and drivers of the racial minority persuasion!

The bottom line today, though, I think will be that no American governmental body has the right to restrict any gun ownership by any law abiding citizen.

We’ll know by tomorrow whether I’m right or not. For the next week, though, this blog won’t be wrong about anything because I won’t be saying anything! It’s time for a trip to my Mecca – the northwoods of Ontario -- in pursuit of the wiley walleye. I’ll be back July 7. Have a safe and sane Fourth.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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