OWNING A GUN DOES NOT make anyone a patriot.
For most of us that statement is obvious, but a growing subculture of people think owning a firearm qualifies them for hero worship.
Most people own guns for self-defense.
For law-abiding, average citizens, a gun is a security measure. For hunters and avid shooters, they are a tool in addition to their aforementioned purpose.
Guns are necessary for freedom in this country or their ownership would not have been the subject of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. But many criminals own guns.
Are they patriots too?
Far too many not only think owning a gun makes them the equivalent of Audie Murphey, but look and talk more military than real veterans.
My late uncle Jackie Moore served in the Marines in Vietnam in ’68 and ’-69, the highest year for casualties in that brutal war. He once told me, “If you hear someone talking about all of the confirmed kills they made they are probably a cook.”
In other words, veterans did their job to defend our country. Yes it might have meant killing people, but they don’t run around glorifying that part of it.
I remember that quote when I’m at the gun range or an event and see people who I know were not in the military dressing and talking the part and dripping with arrogance.
I was not in the military either, but I don’t create an image that says I did. Respecting our country is not just standing for the national anthem, but giving true veterans their due place and not filling it with wannabes.
You can’t get a purple heart for paintball, and that’s the only action a lot of these people have ever seen.
Why am I on this rant?
Well, this phenomenon has bugged me for a number of years, but in general I am sick of wannabes.
People who “wannabe” typically project themselves bigger than the real thing and overshadow great people. In the case of veterans this dishonors real sacrifice.
Someone may have a buzz cut, proto-military clothes and tons of pro Second Amendment bumper stickers, but do they have the PTSD that many of our veterans came home with due to what they experienced on the field of battle? Have they paid the price for the image they want to project?
Again, you can’t get a purple heart for paintball.
Also, the act of hunting does not make you a conservationist.
You can send your complaint emails on this statement to [email protected], but I stand by it.
Hunters through license purchases and hunting-based conservation organizations have spent billions on wildlife conservation. America has plenty of problems in the wildlife realm, but we are the world’s shining example of conservation and much of it has to do with the hunting industry.
But just being a hunter does not make someone a conservationist.
I have seen this written and experienced the attitude at deer camps, duck blinds and banquets when I broached the subject of conserving our wildlife resources.
Organizations in particular like to send out press releases and act like every hunter is a modern-day Aldo Leopold. However, many only contribute to conservation by default. In other words, their hunting license fees and excise taxes on the sporting goods they purchased aid the cause, not them.
Virtually every poacher in America was raised as a hunter. Most have hunting licenses, even deer leases and certainly look the part of a hunter.
Are they conservationists too?
Last year on these pages, I addressed the very concerning trend of youth poaching of threatened and endangered species. I said the reason the hunting industry does not want to address youth poaching is the all of the kids I have investigated come from hunting families.
I stand by that statement.
To honor real conservationists, we need to lift up those who work tirelessly for conservation organizations, put in sweat equity in the field on projects such as wetlands enhancement and stand for resource protection.
To move forward, the hunting industry needs to be honest with itself and the public and admit there are bad guys in the ranks. Pests that are swept under the rug typically come back and bring friends with them. Evil only retreats when light is shined on it.
Hopefully this column does a bit of that.
Honesty in a world of Internet-age news and utter hatred for anything tied in with traditional America is tough. Gun ownership and hunting certainly fall into that category.
Ignoring teens shooting bald eagles might seem like good strategy but the animal rightists are already exploiting these issues. If we come with an honest response and start policing our own ranks, then maybe in a decade we can be a better position of strength.
I’m not talking about hammering on a guy who accidentally shot a buck with a 12-inch spread, instead of the legal 13 or like a colleague who got in trouble in Alaska for hunting bear beneath some nearly impossible to gauge elevation line in a state with the strictest hunting regulations on the planet. Those are mistakes.
I’m talking about poachers who kill for the sake of poaching and who sell animal parts to feed their addiction.
And I’m talking about truly honoring those who paid the price for a nation that allows to speak about such issues freely
Email Chester Moore at [email protected]