Thursday, May 11, 2017

shootout at the kaitlyn corral

Some American constitutional rights are remote or abstract.

Take the third amendment. My liberty bell rings just knowing that the government cannot quarter soldiers in my house. Take that George III -- and all of your ilk.

On the other extreme, some rights are with us daily. The first and second amendments are perfect examples.

Even though, the first is under a lot of stress these days from people like Howard Dean who thinks it does not apply to speech he finds offensive. He is one of those people who love saying: "I support the first amendment, but -- ." That translates to "I don't support the first amendment.

But today was not a day to dwell on the erosion of free speech. We were exercising our rights under the second amendment.

My niece Kaitlyn announced this morning we were going shooting. I had visions of mounting the head of Bambi's father over the mantle.

Her suggestion was a bit more prosaic. We were going target shooting with her 9mm Walther CCP -- a very well-crafted handgun.

She regularly shoots at a shooting range near her home in Seattle. But she needs to choose her times carefully. Apparently, even in the People's Republic of Washington, recreational shooting is the rage. Just like fitness centers, shooting ranges fill up after work.

It turns out I was as wrong about our destination in Bend as I was about our potential antlered targets. This is central Oregon. We didn't need no stinkin' yuppie shooting range. The outdoors is our shooting gallery.

We drove out past the controlled burn area into a Forest Service copse of ponderosa. A couple of stumps made perfect backers for targets -- as well as holding our Annie Oakley bottles.

The family that prays together may stay together. But the family that shoots together pays close attention to who has the weapon in hand.

By turns, we all stood our ground and reduced paper targets to shreds. All of us had a pretty good eye for taking down stationary targets. And that is all we were doing. Just having fun.

Some of my Canadian friends cannot understand the American fascination with guns. That passion is based in the national character, not because of the second amendment. The second amendment exists because guns are a part of our nature. 

Mainly, because it is just fun to shoot them. Had we not been driven back to the SUV because of a downpour, we would probably still be out there emptying magazines into innocent trees.

At a more idealistic time, the editorial masthead of The Oregonian contained one of Voltaire's more famous statements: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." In today's political environment, I doubt many college campuses would conside
r that to be anything other than an act of aggression by old white men against the world's victim class.

But, after today's shot through the woods, I would say something similar about the liberty ensconced in the second amendment. Maybe we could all have more civil discourse while sharing a pistol in the ponderosa.

It is just a thought. 

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