Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Yesterday I Agreed with the NRA

Usually I don't have much use for the NRA. They are much too interested in scaring me. They want to scare me about crime, which is why they think I should have a gun. They want to scare me about my government, which they say wants to take all guns away. The NRA scares me. There is something scary about a group of scared people with firearms.

But I was curious, yesterday, to see what the NRA had to say about the Vice-President Shoots Lawyer While Hunting story. Of the commentary I had heard and read so far, very little reflected any knowledge of how and why people go hunting. People were making fun of hunters, quoting Katherine Armstrong's comment that "these things happen from time to time," and her comment that the nature of the sport "ensures" that there will be accidents.

Yesterday the NRA was having none of that. Their home page highlighted a story in the Houston Chronicle about how rare hunting accidents are:

Hunting-Related Accidents Rare, State Data Show

Media feathers flew
after the South Texas quail-hunting accident that involved Vice President Dick
Cheney, but such incidents are rare, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department records

Read About It: Houston Chronicle

POSTED: 2/13/2006
Today that link was gone, but the NRA was linking to an article that decried the media coverage of the incident and dragged in ted Kennedy and Chappaquidick for good measure.

I keep coming back to the work "procedures". Guns are dangerous, that's why there are rules about gun safety and procedures for hunting. The gun safety rules are handed down as lore: "Treat every gun like it was loaded." The plan for a day's hunt is more flexible, but there is a plan and you share it with others; where you're going, when you'll be back, where to look if you don't come home on time. When you hunt with a group, everyone needs to agree on the plan before the hunt begins, and then follow the plan once the hunt is underway. If you're hunting buddies can't follow a plan, you need new hunting buddies. If you can't follow the plan, you need to quit because you're a hazard to yourself and others.

We didn't need a hunting accident to know that Dick Cheney's crowd considers themselves to be above procedures. There are procedures for going to war. There are procedures for competative bidding of government contracts. There are procedures for approving government wiretaps. There are procedures for vetting a persons credentials before appointing them to a job. The procedure manual for our nation -- the Constitution-- that's beneath them, too. They don't need no stinkin procedures!

These guys think that rules and procedures are for the common folk. We common folk know, sometimes from bitter experience, that the procedures are there for everyone's safety. Field and Stream magazine put it bluntly:"The onus is on everyone who carries a gun not to shoot at anyone else."

Cut corners and someone's going to get hurt. Hopefully, the greatest damage will be to your pride, as you will have to admit your bonehead moment to your wife, your brother, and everyone at the bar. In the worst case you will have to admit it to a police officer, or a judge, or your buddy's widow. Knowing we are responsible for what we do is what keeps us on the straight and narrow.

My husband doesn't hunt anymore. The last time I ate game birds, it was a couple of partridge that flew out in front of his truck when he was headed home from work. He carefully scraped them from his grill, brought them home, cleaned them, plucked them, and served them on a bed of wild rice. It was a nice meal, carefully prepared and well appreciated. I wonder what happened to Cheney's birds.

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