Feb 27, 2006

Wyoming Hunting Bill Would Have OK'd Machine Guns, Silencers


(Cheyenne, WY) A bill proposed by the Wyoming legislature would have permitted hunters to carry automatic weapons, and would have also allowed the use of silencers on these guns.

Titled Senate File 79, the bill was quietly defeated in the Wyoming state Senate last week.

Not all Wyoming officials were enthused about the bill.

"As a hunter, I know there's enough firepower in the woods right now to go after any game without automatic weapons," said state Sen. Mike Massie, who represents the Laramie area. "And a silencer? No hunter I know would ever even think of using such a thing."

The bill's sponsor, state Senator Cale Case, said that the bill was designed in part to protect hunters from bears.

"I'm not a big hunter," Case said, "but my family and I camp in those areas, and we try to make as much noise as we can to alert the bears. But hunters don't want to make noise. They want to be silent. Allowing them to have handguns and even handguns with silencers, not to hunt but to protect themselves from bears, seems like a good idea."

"It would allow them to defend themselves from a bear and then quietly move on and continue to hunt," Case added.


Peahippo said...

The real travesty here is that automatic weapons and silencers had been made "halfway illegal" in the first place. ("Halfway" means that most citizens can have them legally, but ONLY under onerous circumstances of federal and state licensing, taxes, and so on. These licenses and fees tend to keep said weapons or accessories out of the hands of 99% of the population.)

Keeping with the design of the Second Amendment, the automatic rifle should be explicitly recognized as legal for the general citizen. The basis of the SA is that the citizen qualifies as a member of the militia if he wants (some might argue he has little choice in the case of invasion or insurrection), and the prevailing infantry weapon of the age is needed to arm said militiaman. When the SA was written, the prevailing infantry weapon was a black-powder rifle. By the 1800s, it was the single-shot cartridge rifle. By WWI, it was the semi-auto (M1 Garand, etc.) rifle. By WWII, it was transitioning to the automatic rifle. By the Viet Nam era, the automatic rifle (M16, AK47, etc.) was the firm standard.

The intent of silencers in civilian hands was that people could use guns without disturbing neighbors with the excessively loud booms that rifles (and pistols) traditionally made. By the 1920s, silencers were quite available, and due to increased semi-urban crowding, they were becoming necessary as people practiced shooting in their own yards. (Note that a militia SHOULD be practicing shooting.)

It's true that for hunting, an automatic weapon is more useless than useful. The best weapon for preserving the kill is the bow, since an arrow is least contaminating for the meat. The disadvantages of the arrow over the rifle bullet are obvious ... so using a rifle has long been another standard hunting weapon. An automatic weapon would do annoying things to the prize taken, and largely isn't any more lethal than the standard .308, .22-long, or .762 rifle shot.

(About the only hunting use for an automatic weapon is in self-defense against attack by a large animal. These things do happen, as bears, elk, even buffalo bound out of a treeline towards hunters.)

However, we can let hunters make those decisions. After all, we have to trust them to make highly-lethal, high-powered rifle shots ... where a 250-grain bullet travelling at 2000fps can kill most people if struck in the torso or head. We also have to trust them with lethal bow shots (you don't want to get hit with a hunting arrow, either).

The silencer issue is a bit more thorny. Sure, there is hunting advantage in using a silencer due to the silencing effect. HOWEVER, all silencers cost the weapon in accuracy, which is a hunting disadvantage. Silencers on hunting weapons would primarily be useful for short-range targets, like perhaps stalking rabbits. Deer hunters really couldn't use them, except in certain (read: restricted) circumstances like groups of deer and close shots.

Again, we should be able to trust hunters to make these decisions.

historymike said...

You make some good arguments about the Second Amendment, peahippo.

I tried to remain neutral in covering this piece; check the Denver Post link out if you want to see some real bias - the reporter clearly has an agenda to make Case look like an idiot.

Personally, I support the right of individuals to own guns. The trouble that I see with automatic weapons is that they begin to cross over into the realm of heavy military hardware.

Where should the line be drawn? Should citizens be allowed to own mortars, RPGs, and bazookas, if these are among the "prevailing infantry weapons" at the disposal of militia?

I really struggle with this.

-Sepp said...

You have to have a class 3 license to own a full auto weapon, no if's ands or buts. The need for a full auto weapon to hunt is pretty stupid since firing on full auto ruins the accuracy you need to take game. I don't think the hunters in Wyoming are asking to tote support guns as the one HM has pictured. It looks as if they are asking for the right to carry a firearm along with them during bow season for protection in case they are attacked by bears. I also think the reporting on this has been slanted to say the least. Where should the line be drawn on gun ownership? I think peahippo's meaning for "prevailing infantry weapons" was pertaining to whichever standard weapon is current at the time right now being the m16 / m4 series of longarm. I was brought up to believe that the 2nd amendment was never solely intended to cover hunters and homeowners. Think about the mindset of the founding fathers when they added the right to bear arms. None of them were entirely sure that this country couldn't become a tyrany and a disarmed populace would be helpless to do anything about it. Also consider that the new republic wasn't always on good terms with the French or the British and could be invaded. Fast forward 230 years later. The 2nd amendment is just one more of the checks and balances we have in place to remain a free country. Disarmed, the people would have no recourse to a tyranical government. I get suspicious of any politician or group that wants to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens or just plain take them away. The second amendment is the last line of defense we have before the other rights are taken away.

Patrick Henry (J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836):
"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"

Or my personal favorite...

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel."

liberal_dem said...

None of them were entirely sure that this country couldn't become a tyrany and a disarmed populace would be helpless to do anything about it.

Questions for sepp-

Would we recognize 'tyranny' if we saw it?

Who would lead the charge?

Would the National Guard shoot American citizens in the streets?

Unless we can answer these 3 questions 'an armed citizenry' is a moot point.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

"Would we recognize 'tyranny' if we saw it?"

God, I hope so. It's happened once before (230 years ago, if you'd like to be precise), I suppose it could happen again.

"Who would lead the charge?"

That's a really good question, one which probably wouldn't be answered until we had another revolution, at which point it would be abundantly obvious. I don't imagine anyone would have expected to answer this in 1756, no?

"Would the National Guard shoot American citizens in the streets?"

They've been doing it off and on for years, why would they stop now? The ones that didn't join the insurrection, anyway.

As much as I hate to admit it, I think we need to have an armed populace to keep government and criminals afraid of us. The only question is how far do we let things go before revolting?

historymike said...

These are tough questions.

I hate to believe that I live in a world where I need to arm myself to the teeth against both criminals and/or a tyrannical government, but I'd rather be prepared than dead.

This is a changing world, and as much as I enjoy the perks that come with being an American, I would be a naive fool to believe that America has a perpetual monopoly on domestic peace.

Oklahoma City and 9-11 should have disabused us of that pipe dream.

"Would we recognize tyrrany?" I am not sure.

The hypothetical frog in the slowly-warming pot of water didn't realize it until it was too late.

-Sepp said...

Happy to answer liberal dem's questions...

Tyrany will be easy to recognize AFTER the 2nd amendment reduced to nothing. Looking back at history, you can see where weapon prohibition is followed by a tyrany.

Who would lead the charge? Who knows. Hopefully nobody will ever have to make the decision to do so.

Would the national guard shoot the people? It's always a posibility. I'm sure the Germans, Russians, Iraqis, Bosnians and the Chinese all thought that the army wouldn't fire on their own people either but, in each case they did.

"Unless we can answer these 3 questions 'an armed citizenry' is a moot point"

Thats smart. What do you propose? Banning private gun ownership until there is a tyrany in place? Then what? un banning them? And, when that little check and balance is gone, where do you intend to find out that there is a "tyrany"? The press? I hope your blindness isn't contagous or able to be passed on to your children.

Peahippo said...

Drawing the line is not difficult at all, HM. Firstly you have to realize that your urge to draw a line validates things below it and invalidates things above it. Secondly, I spoke in terms of the "prevailing infantry weapon" ... which all along has been the long rifle, which is a weapon built for accurate injury or killing of a person (and small equipment) at relatively long range. Before that, it was a pole arm or long sword. Before that, it was just the spear or arrow. Before that, it was probably a rock. (Yes, I know there were arrows and bolts in the sword age. Bear with me through my simplifications.)

So it can't be philosophically difficult at all to accept the line drawn at the prevailing infantry weapon -- in the case of our age, that is the automatic assault rifle. Auto, semi-auto and single-shot rifles and pistols fall below the line. Various explosive devices like grenades, and missile-launchers like bazookas, are above the line. (Note that as the exception that tests the rule, it's still possible to buy dynamite in Western states for farm use.) The militia is free to train on their own (as they should) in the very effective use of the long rifle. For weapons more suited to battlefield warfare (grenades, missiles, tanks, etc.), collective action in some sort of organized unit is called for.

The point is that by the clear legality of the 2nd Amendment, we have to trust our fellow man. Of course, we would be wise to be watchful in our trust. It would be even wiser to make participatory or conditional (not exclusion) demands, like insisting on training and equipment inspection for those who carry dangerous arms. (We insist on training for cops, yet why not the citizens?)

The disrespect of the 2nd Amendment has produced some of the worst judicial activism to date in America. All gun bans (as in DC, Chicago, and now SanFran) are actually unconstitutional, but those areas are deeply demented when it comes to recognizing and honoring Constitutional rights (as all-too-often happens in urban areas). The militia of the United States is the citizenry itself, and the right to keep and bear arms can't legally be infringed no matter how few citizens actually act "militia-like", or how many citizens don't want others to be so armed.

I appreciate your candor on this topic. Gun rights are a particularly hot topic in Toledo, which has a strong anti-self-defense culture, with a significant number of highly frustrated Constitutionalists like myself. In protest of the absurdity of the anti-concealed-carry statutes, I marched with dozens of others, handguns plainly holstered to our hips, in Findlay and Perrysburg a couple of years ago. And then the concealed-carry legislation was passed. I can only hope that the presence of clearly armed citizens on the streets helped to shock those overly-protected legistlative drones in Columbus into doing at least half of the right thing.

(Note that it's been expressly recognized as legal -- as it has been for years -- to walk around most of Ohio with a clearly-visible gun in a holster. Only in the depraved areas like Toledo does that "home rule" crap give politicians the gumption to deny Constitutional rights.)

After all, many people abuse our ears with their freedom of speech. Shall we restrict them from such use, or should we urge them on to greater compentence? This basic (and rhetorical) choice applies to all rights as recognized (NOT granted, but recognized) in the US Constitution.

Calico Jack said...

I’m a little surprised at the support the Second Amendment is receiving here. I, too, am a staunch supporter of the noble 2A, and I’m glad to see I’m not alone.

The Wyoming hunting bill was originally designed to allow law enforcement officers and game wardens to carry fully automatic weapons in their squad cars while they are on patrol. Many carry full auto ordinance with them now, but will deny it. Along the way someone else thought it would be a good idea to allow hunters of all sorts to carry a heavy caliber sidearm, in case the bow hunter was confronted by an angry grizzly bear, for instance. Also a good idea. Then the fun started, and the final results got quietly flushed.

I believe the right to bear arms means exactly that: The right to bear arms. If I want to pick up a LAWS rocket, a few stinger missiles and an M60 at the local gun show, I have the inalienable right to do so. A nice cannon for the front yard sounds like fun too, and I’ve always wanted to own a Thompson sub-machinegun in .45 caliber with the big drum magazine; A real Kansas City typewriter. I have no qualms about anyone else owning any of this neat hardware, either, and that includes the violent criminals who are out of jail. The thought that all this hardware might be floating around out there just doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Now then, since I’m a law abiding citizen and a peaceful kind of fellow, what’s the problem with this? Well, I’ll tell you. Gun control isn’t about guns, it’s about control. Think of the ways that government has tried, and succeeded, to control the populace in the past. The first item is taxation. Take enough money away from the middle class, and they won’t be able to buy the leisure time they need to oppose the government. If you have the stomach for it, think about how much you pay in taxes right now, and how little you have left over at the end of the week. Personally, I get sick when I think about this. But without extra money, people can’t protest effectively. They don’t have the funds to form special interest groups, or march in demonstrations or collect signatures on a petition. They damn sure don’t have the funds to hire a high powered law firm to protest such things as eminent domain seizures, unconstitutional business regulations or assault and battery by the mayor of Toledo.

The best thing about taxation is that the government can use the funds to control the citizens who oppose it. Can anyone say Patriot Act? Now that the law is in place, all the government has to do is fund the countless alphabet soup departments and bureaucracies who enforce it, such as the CIA, FBI, DEA, NSA, BATF, SS, DOJ and the TPD. Ostensibly, these entities serve the people. In reality, they serve themselves and, to a lesser extent, the government as a whole by selectively enforcing legislation that the citizens of the US have little or no say in designing.

Elect anyone to legislature, and they’ll start writing law. In over 200 years we haven’t managed to write enough laws. When was the last time anyone ever heard of an elected official striking a few pounds of these laws from the books? As more laws are enacted, everyone will eventually be guilty of some infraction. Since the law of the land is selectively enforced, the government can choose to persecute those special interest groups or individuals who oppose progress, right thinking and family values. How will the government be opposed by an overly-taxed whose home is being seized by rabid DEA agents? Enter the second amendment.

The largest single fear of government everywhere in the entire world is the armed citizen. The US government believes that if the government gives it’s citizens the right to bear arms, eventually the government will have to take those arms away, and that might not be an easy thing to do if the common citizen is armed with the same weapons as the government enforcement agency.

Government abuse is already legion. If law enforcement claims that a citizen is suspected of drug dealing, that citizen’s property in it’s entirety can be seized by the government without due process of law, and not returned until the citizen convinces a judge somewhere to grant the return of the property. Under the Patriot Act, citizens can be arrested and held incommunicado at the King’s pleasure. Forget any thoughts of privacy or security. No-knock search warrants are regularly granted under little or no pretext and, once arrested, prisoners are routinely ‘lost’ in the system until they can be questioned. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, law abiding citizens of New Orleans were forcibly disarmed and kidnapped by police aided by the National Guard while news media filmed the incidents, and the White House did nothing. Contrast that with our founding fathers.

The democratic republic that the founding fathers established was a kind of accident. George Washington was offered a position as monarch and refused it. The other founding fathers held the reins, so to speak, and they chose to pass the authority to the people. They were men of outstanding character and foresight.

I expect that at some point in the future a series of armed demonstrations similar to those used to pass the concealed carry law may be employed to repeal some of the more oppressive, odious laws in the State, as well as to seek a more even-handed system of justice and taxation for everyone, in that we are all equal in the eyes of the law – which is not the case now. From these demonstrations we may find new leaders who might reluctantly accept a position in government. At least, that’s what I hope.

-Sepp said...

Jack, love the passion you have on the issue. Ever notice that our county's most liberal democrats routinely compare themselves to the founding fathers? I find it odd that they compare themselves to the authors of the 2nd amendment when they are the loudest voices screamming for it's demise.