My birding buddy and I were out looking for bluebirds recently, high up in the hills above the Yellowstone. We passed a father and his elementary age son practicing with a rifle. Isn’t that nice, I thought. A Montana tradition, out shooting prairie dogs.
We drove on, then decided we were too far from any cedars or pines to find our birds and turned around. This time, I saw the rifle: not a .22, but an assault rifle with a banana clip in place.
I was appalled. But hey, I’m one of those disgusting liberals. Right? Right? (Or maybe I should say left, left.) So I checked with two of my right-wing friends. They, too, were horrified.
“My grandson hunts,” said my friend Kathy, who grew up on a ranch in Stillwater County. At 14, she said that her grandson was too young for an assault rifle. “That’s something for someone military age.”
My friend Vickie can handle any firearms, hunts and shoots at the range. She, too, wondered who in their right mind would teach an elementary kid to shoot an assault rifle. Is this boy another Adam Lanza in training? Lanza’s mom thought that gun training was a great idea as well. She was the first person he shot.
So, every adult gets an assault rifle. With very large clips. But what would this boy do with his training? At the age of 11 or 12, wrest a gun out of the hands of an insane killer?
And does the right to bear arms include an arsenal, not just various kinds of rifles? That would mean that our neighborhood white supremacists, just north of Shepherd, should be able to stash whatever they want. (You’ll be happy to know that, according to one of them, Adolph Hitler was the greatest military strategist of all time. Guess it doesn’t count that his own generals tried to assassinate him and he lost the war.)
Which just goes to show you. We Montanans are special, tough, AND we’ve also been home to the largest gathering of the KKK, at Antelope Flats outside of Molt in the 1920s, the Unabomber, the Freemen and more than one white hate group. We also have the highest suicide rate in the United States.
And now everyone’s out buying up assault rifles and ammo. It’s really ludicrous, about an eighth-grade mentality, to think that, first, the federal government would find an assault rifle a threat and second, that a band of rebels armed with guns could hold off America’s Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
For all of you concerned for your Second Amendment rights, where were you when the Patriot Act was passed and then renewed? That act included roving wiretaps, searches of business records, and gave more power to what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The INS, here in Billings, went to the Rev. John Naumann’s house after 9 p.m. and arrested his African student boarder who was attending Rocky Mountain College and sent him to prison in Arizona.
Think, think, think. The Senate is now putting all its energy into the gun issue, with Republican senators preferring to filibuster rather than pass even the most modest of gun reforms.
How many unlisted guns do you already own? How many can you fire at one time? Let’s get on with our national life.
Sharie Pyke lives in Billings.