It’s been a weird winter. Late January and very early February were unnaturally warm. It felt at times like April. The daffodils had even erupted over the septic tank. By mid-February it had turned normal, and for the past two weeks it’s been January. We’ve had snow three times in just over a week in a part of the country where the average high temperature for this time of year is pushing 50. We’ve barely hit 30.
We’re running out of hay, and every time the ground is clear the horse comes out of the pasture to be tied to a tree so he can eat yard. The sheep aren’t so docile, and though they obviously want to join him in the yard, they have to make do with the remaining hay. The last few mornings I’ve heard coyotes yipping and howling a lot closer than they normally are. These have mostly been lone males; the packs sing in a chorus.
The first thing I think of when I hear coyotes is that we’ve wanted to get a rifle for some time. Probably a .22, but I’m open. I shot my grandfather’s .22 as a teenager – he’d sent me out to his back yard to kill the ground squirrels eating the roots out from under the 6 acres of trees he’d planted. I’d sit out there a few paces from a hole in the ground, all 14 and fierce, waiting for a squirrel to poke its head out so I could splatter it with a .22 scatter-shot. It often took two or three shots.
My first kill was traumatic, but the several dozen after were just another day on safari for Bwana.
The next time I touched a gun was in basic training when we were given a 2-hour lesson on stripping down, cleaning, and reassembling an M-16 – fitted with a .22 barrel. Then after lunch we had to pass the test on stripping down, cleaning and reassembling an M-16. The next day they took us out to the rifle range for qualification – using M-16s stripped, cleaned and reassembled by professionals. Sitting, standing, prone. For some reason, I managed to qualify as a US Air Force Marksman: I can kill paper targets like they’re ground squirrels, and I should probably thank the guys on the lanes next to me for missing their own targets so badly.
Most people in our very rural neighborhood – to include those in the subdivision sadly springing up in the corn field across the road – allow their dogs to run free for at least several hours a day. Free-range dogs tend to mark their territory far afield, and this tends to make coyotes keep their distance – coyotes are dogs themselves who obey canine urinary survey stakes.
But if they’re hungry enough, coyotes are not averse to trespassing on another dog’s turf to find whatever might be around to be eaten. Among the things we have for coyotes to eat are lambs and chickens. I don’t worry about the coyotes with the horse, or with the sheep. Horses don’t put up with guff, and I’ve seen what the sheep do to a single dog who thinks it’s fun to chase them around. But if they’re quick enough a coyote could grab a lamb and leave the pasture before mom or dad could head-butt it into submission, and chickens go missing frequently enough already to be replaced by a pile of feathers. A rifle is therefore one of those things on our to-do list.
But getting a rifle, today, might present some problems. Seems a lot of people have become suddenly a-skeert of guns to the point that they’ve forgotten which country they live in. I never knew paranoia affected one’s memory this way. They believe they’re in some country that doesn’t tolerate individual rights and the Second Amendment which protects one of them – like California. Yet they are. And because of a few notorious examples of Americans going postal, soft-skulled dinks who’ve never read our Constitution are now demanding laws that defy individual rights.
Sadly, some of these dinks are in Congress.
Various cities and at least one state have already passed laws banning all guns, some guns, certain types and styles of ammunition, and increasing the number of hoops a person has to jump through in order to avail himself of his Second Amendment. The D-half of Congress wants to do much the same thing to all Americans.
Yet I cannot find in the words of the Second Amendment any authority to do what these dinks wish to have done:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
I’ve tried making anagrams out of the letters and I can’t get any magazine size limitation; I’ve tried sneaking up on it in the dark and turning on the lights suddenly hoping to catch the “assault gun exemption” scurrying off like a kitchen cockroach at 2am. Nothing. What these people want to do is not allowable.
But that’s not stopping them from trying, and their National Savior – the one who purports to be so Constitutionally knowledgeable that he is qualified to teach the subject at a college level – is on his publicity tour drumming up support for obliterating yet another individual right because some people abuse it. They are as much as saying: the right to a gun doesn’t convey the right to use it indiscriminately on people, therefore NO ONE can have the right to a gun. We’ve been given an inch, and a handful of people have taken a mile.
This may come as a shock to these dinks, but those who are far more likely to make a mile out of their allowed inch are the folks in our own government.
I know! Politicians abusing their authority! Who knew?!
That very argument – exceeding authority – is undoubtedly going to be brought up in response to the reactions these new laws – passed and potential – have created among certain state, city and county government around the country. The most recent example is Susquehanna County PA, just across the state line and a little west from where I grew up in New York. They passed a county ordinance, unanimously, with zero objection from any resident, declaring that if Congress passes any laws prohibiting or even regulating guns, ammunition, or who can exercise their Second Amendment rights, those laws will not be enforceable in that county.
This would set up a showdown between armed Sherriff’s deputies and county residents on the one side, and the armed ATF and FBI on the other … if this were the plot line of a Hollywood script. But it’s not. In all likelihood it will merely set up a showdown between the loyyers for civil rights groups interested in the entire Constitution and not just pieces of it [ACLU, I’m looking at you, here], and the loyyers for the Justice [sic] Department whose main line of work for the last several decades has been to argue why the Constitution doesn’t need to be obeyed by the only people it applies to: our government.
It was the early 90s when state and local lawmakers passed laws negating the federal 55 MPH speed limit in their jurisdiction. The feds spent a few months writing letters and formulating lawsuits expressing outrage at the effrontery of it all, and then Congress read the writing on the wall and killed their own law – that nothing in the Constitution allowed them to make in the first place. Setting speed limits is not among the powers of Congress.
Neither is regulating guns. The Supreme Court, in a rare acknowledgement that they have, themselves, read the Constitution, have thrown out all city, state and federal laws banning guns which reach them, including the gun ban in Chicago and the last federal law which tried to ban assault weapons. There’s little doubt they’d do the same thing to New York State’s new law, to Chicago’s newly-desired law [both the Mayor and police chief want to try again even though gun violence decreased sharply once the USSC allowed Chicagoans to own guns], and to a new federal assault weapon ban, with or without the federal registry of gun owners attached to it.
When enough state and local jurisdictions exceed their own authority and declare that federal laws will not be enforceable in their territory, the feds will do what they did when their speed limits were challenged: they’ll pout and whine and threaten, and then they’ll comply.
And if it keeps complying, it may become the government we were promised it would be.