Archive for April, 2008

Still Traveling

April 26, 2008

Before we meander out of New Mexico today (if you call traveling at 75 mph on the Interstate ‘meandering’) I am compelled to say that the people we have met in New Mexico are some of the most hospitable we have met anywhere. So many times when we told someone in a hotel where we were booking in, or in a shop and even more surprisingly at a golf course, we were thanked for coming to New Mexico. And the nice part is it comes across as very spontaneous.

The furthest east we got in New Mexico was Santa Fe. A great little city. We stumbled on to a marvelous little privately owned motel called the El Rey. Built in 1936 it originally sat out in the countryside all by itself. Now of course it is surrounded by all of the big chains and other commercial buildings, but it sits on 4 acres and has retained its unique flavour. Rates are reasonable and the staff is excellent. Highly recommended for anyone traveling into Santa Fe.

We also enjoyed walking around and shopping in the Plaza which is the old, downtown core. We stopped in the historic downtown section of Albuquergue as well and it didn’t hold a candle to Santa Fe.

One morning we were walking around the Plaza area and we saw an older gentleman across the street walking a very large black and white Great Dane. While we watched he was stopped numerous times by individuals obviously fascinated by the dog, who would talk to the owner and pet the dog and then move on. As it happened he crossed the street and we met him coming back up. We, like the others, stopped to pet the dog and chat with the gentleman and noted that it wasn’t a very good exercise walk for the dog with so many people stopping him enroute. He laughed and said, ” Oh, this isn’t a walk, it’s an adoration  tour”. I think he was right. The Great Dane was holding court.

Just one of those brief encounters that leave you with a taste of the local flavour of a community.

Traveling

April 25, 2008

Traveling

We are traveling at the moment. Currently we are overnighting in Gallup, New Mexico on our way back west from Santa Fe. We traveled down through Utah and across northern Arizona, simply enjoying the spectacular countryside.

Although this is not a golfing trip, I am carrying my clubs particularly because I wanted to golf the Pinon Hills municipal golf course in Farmington, New Mexico. I have wanted to play that particular course for a decade or better and sometimes what you wish does come true. Great course and it lived up to my expectations.

One thing that I have found interesting on this trip is how in such a short time period almost all of the hotels we have checked have free Internet. It was not that long ago that if there was Internet available there was a fee charged for its use. It’s not surprising that it has happened, just that the hotels have adjusted their policy so quickly.

Not that it has done me much good. Most of the hotels we hit had WiFi rather than hardwired units and although my laptop worked fine at the beginning, all of a sudden it got temperamental and wouldn’t connect any more regardless of the fact that it was seeing strong signals. It seemed that there should have been a logical solution to the problem, but damned if I could find it.

Fortunately I haven’t had to go cold turkey as all of the hotels have had in-house computers that are available for use, also for free. Not entirely satisfactory but better than total abstinence.

Unfortunately it has been detrimental to any blogging activities.

The ‘Slippery Slope’ is alive and well.

April 18, 2008

For those who are unfamiliar with the Slippery slope as it applies to gun ownership, a read or a re-read of the article “All The Way Down The Slippery Slope” by Joseph E. Olson and David B. Kopel might be in order.

A more current example seems to be taking place in Canada right now – or I should more accurately say, “again”.

The Deputy Chief of the Ontario Firearms Office has mused in public that handloading of ammunition may be a problem – at least in his bureaucratic mind.

Buying ammunition in Canada requires a firearms licence, but some people make their own ammunition, and gun and gang experts say that has led to a black market in the sale of bullets.

“It would be nice if people had to have a licence to buy the components; currently they don’t,” said Deputy Chief Tony Cooper of the Ontario Firearms Office.

If you’re over 18, it’s legal to buy all the components needed to make bullets — primers, gunpowder, casings and bullet tips. For about $100, a person can buy enough supplies to make 1,000 “hand-load” homemade bullets.

“It’s very common … for people to hand-load. I would say it’s been something that’s been done for a couple of hundred years,” said Cooper.

He says hand-load bullets are commonly used by hunters and target shooters.

The fear is the hand-load bullets will get into the hands of the wrong people.

Cooper said “it’s the exception, certainly not the rule,” but it is a concern.

No one knows how many hand-load bullets make it onto the streets because there has never been an audit of casings from crime scenes.

Now this idea of making it more difficult to own ammunition is nothing new. Back in 2007, Ontario’s Chief Firearms Office made a presentation to other provincial CFOs about the concept of more restrictive regulations for ammunition ownership, which according to the brief was initiated by the Ontario Liberal government (no surprise there). A quick read should make you very nervous.

You might also note that the expert from the Ontario Firearms Office pontificates that you can handload 1,000 rounds for $100. A good indication of how knowledgeable he is on the subject. I don’t know what era his cost calculations come from.

Regardless, as the ad men used to say – probably back in the time frame that Mr. Cooper’s costing came from – he ran the idea up the flag to see who would salute.

Just another attempt to make gun ownership and use a little more difficult. All in the long-term plan.

Miller back on the handgun ban trail

April 12, 2008

Toronto mayor David Miller is on another push to convince the world that handguns are the source of all of Toronto’s troubles and if the federal government would only ban those damned things the country would be violence free.

Having no facts to back him up, Miller relied on the emotional approach to make his case.

In inviting speakers to the city’s executive committee to back his call for a handgun ban, Mayor David Miller yesterday uncorked a flood of emotion in Committee Room One. This committee is the Mayor’s salon, where one can speak personally to him (albeit on a tightly controlled agenda; he had security guards throw out a man protesting a lack of shelter beds).

It was a cathartic morning, like a therapy session for locals rattled by the spray of gunfire that has claimed so many lives in town in the past few years. It was also a shock: the range of speakers make it impossible to file “gun violence” as something that happens to someone else in a bad part of town.

Miller seems to think that handguns run around his city killing people on their own.

“Handguns kill people. They kill people who aren’t involved,” Miller told a press conference Friday, his voice breaking at times. “They’re used to kill family members.”

and

“We can choose to say that handguns are so dangerous and kill uninvolved people. And close the loopholes in the law,”he said. “We need to stop these crimes before they happen.”

Apparently there is some disconnect in his mind when it comes to the young thugs who are shooting each other and innocent bystanders over drug deals and turf wars. I find it hard to believe that Miller really believes that a ban on guns, even country-wide, would stop these shootings. A more disturbing thought is that Miller really does believe his own rhetoric.

Miller’s office has also started a petition which says: “Handguns are intended for one purpose and that is to kill people. Their presence in Canada has resulted in the deaths of far too many people and have no place in our country.”

Of course that is a patently false statement. Handguns are widely used for recreational shooting and competition. Trappers and other people working in the outdoors are licenced to carry handguns in their work. In the USA handguns are used for hunting in almost every State and would be welcomed by many hunters in Canada if the federal government would make transport licences available for that purpose.

In fact the only way that Mayor Miller’s statement would be true would be if his total handgun ban would come to pass. Then, other than the police, handguns would only be in the hands of the drug dealers and the gang members.

There are half a million handguns legitimately owned in Canada and if Miller’s statement had any validity there would be mayhem in the streets across Canada. That is obviously not the reality.

There are some commentators that have seen the flaws in Miller’s rhetoric.

Handgun owners are like smokers: Their habit is unpopular. They’d just as soon keep their heads down and let the politicians yammer away. But here’s the thing about Miller’s proposed ban. If introduced, it will have little, if any, effect on handgun violence anywhere in Canada. The mayor’s own statistics show between 60 and 66% of handguns seized by Toronto police are smuggled across the Canada-U.S. border.

Cops themselves will tell you the number is actually higher. Police officers have identified cross-border smuggling as by far the biggest part of the handgun supply problem.

Here’s a fact that’s mysteriously absent from Miller’s list of statistics: Of criminals convicted of serious offences using firearms in Toronto over the past five years, how many used legally registered handguns, belonging to a target shooter or a collector?

and

Mr. Mayor-with-a-Mandate sunk to a new low yesterday with his latest effort to ban all handguns, not just in his empire of Toronto, but in the entire country of Canada.

****

But in my view, Miller’s efforts amounted to little more than a sideshow that took advantage of the vulnerabilities of many of the poor deputants.

Frankly, I was rather sickened by Miller’s performance and that of some of his minions like Pam McConnell, who actually had the chutzpah to say she’s “tired of the words” and “tired of the tears.”

A different perspective on the problem of big city gang violence was taken by Vancouver’s Mayor, Sam Sullivan.

A mayor, reacting to killings on his city’s streets, can choose to adopt one of two attitudes. There’s the path of outrage and the simple idea; or there’s the more difficult path of circumspection and wisdom.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has chosen to take the first course, over and over again. Whenever someone is shot in Toronto, Mr. Miller expresses outrage, and demands that the federal government ban handguns. Every crime, to him, comes down to the same cause. Every story is the same story.

****

But the social factors that create crime are not simple. A ban on all handguns would certainly not end gun crime. It wouldn’t root out violence, or alter gang behaviour, or topple the markets in illegal drugs and weapons.

Mr. Miller is wrong to oversimplify the problem. Tragedies happen for many reasons. If all guns were “banned” in the sense that it was against the law to own any kind of firearm, there would still be shootings. We need politicians who are willing to keep asking why that’s so.

It is refreshing to see a big city politician show that kind of common sense and honesty. It would be nice to feel that more of our elected officials had that clarity of thought.

Words from beyond: Charlton Heston speaks

April 7, 2008

A speech by Charlton Heston given to the 1989 NRA convention.

Thanks to Instapundit for the link.

Charlton Heston dies at 84

April 6, 2008

I was sad when I heard that Charlton Heston died on Saturday, April 5th. Not so much with his death, although 84 is not that old this day and age, but at having lived out his last years suffering from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Heston was the president of the National Rifle Association from 1998 to 2003 and through the time of his tenure the NRA’s membership rose from 3.5 to 4 million members. He was a charismatic leader.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man in 2000 at the BC Wildlife Federation convention in Prince George, where he was the keynote speaker that year.

We were able to spend some private time with him before he spoke and I was truly impressed by the man. There was absolutely nothing phony about him, he was generous with his time and he left the distinct impression that here was a real gentleman.

Although many of the newspapers erroneously reported that he came to deliver a speech about gun rights, that was not the case. He spoke about freedom and how we should not let it be taken away. His speech was inspirational and the room was packed.

There is no question that Heston left his mark in many different arenas. I am just happy that I did have the chance to meet him and spend some time in his company.

For the love of custom guns (3)

April 5, 2008

Number 3 in the series (and I think the last) is a .22 rimfire that I had Pete Grisel make for me. This one was a bit frustrating as life got in the way and it took me about 10 years to finally get the gun into my hands and then there were some problems that took a bit longer to resolve. By the time it was over I almost got rid of the rifle as it just had too many bad memories associated with it. But, as they say, time heals all wounds and I am glad that I didn’t, as it is a beautiful gun and shoots and handles very well.

My original intent was to build it on a Winchester Model 52 action and to that end I acquired an old beater of a target rifle in order to salvage the action. But in the interim, Pete had seen the new Kimber .22s that were just coming into production in Oregon and was impressed with them. He suggested that instead of using the old Model 52 action that I use one of Kimber’s, which I did.

The first rifle that Pete had made for me was a 280 Remington built on a lightweight Husqvarna action with a full mannlicher stock. So we decided to make the .22 in the same pattern and to that effect Pete found a blank of fancy walnut that very closely matched the wood on the 280.

I would hate to try and replace these guns today with the prices I see quoted for even semi-custom rifles. But the time was right and it fulfilled a long time urge that had festered in me since my early days of reading Jack O’Connor and Warren Page and the like. I also lay some blame at the feet of John Amber who always put several pages of beautiful custom gun work in his annual edition of the Gun Digest. It was their fault.

Horses, Food and Moral Superiority

April 3, 2008

There have been some impassioned comments after my blog on the closing of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. The general tone was that the arguments for stopping the killing of horses for food were not emotional but then the arguments used pushed most of those buttons.

Admittedly, a great deal of horse ownership these days is for social purposes and the animals are more like pets to many people and not really working animals. For those people, the thought of selling their pet to a slaughterhouse when it becomes injured or too old to function properly is an anathema. If they don’t have the facilities to simply put it out to pasture and let it die of old age, they will go to a veterinarian and pay whatever the going rate is to euthanize the animal and then dispose of the body somewhere (Where do you dispose of a euthanized horse?)

But the horse is still dead. Even though you held its hoof while the needle was being inserted, it is still dead.

So what is the argument?

That the animal needs to be shown respect? Fine and good, but do you legislate that?

Some people eat horse meat and others obviously find just the thought of that to be wrong. But even if you personally don’t believe that horses should be used as food does that give you the moral right to pass laws that effectively stop those people from eating horse meat?

Let’s face it. Whether you slice it or grind it, fry it or BBQ it, meat is meat. Whether it comes from a cow, or a pig or a chicken or a dog or a horse it logically makes no difference.

As a friend of mine pointed out, Arabs and Jews don’t eat pork and the Chinese love it. Hindus don’t eat cows. Some cultures eat dogs. Is any one morally superior because of their diet?

OK, I know that vegans think they are, but that’s just their opinion.

Rex Murphy on Canadian gun control

April 2, 2008

We don’t get a great deal of media commentary in Canada that points out the fact that the federal Liberal’s beloved gun control legislation is ineffective as a crime fighting measure.

This commentary by Rex Murphy , who is also the host of CBC radio’s Sunday afternoon Cross Country Checkup, is a viewpoint we very rarely hear on Canadian TV or radio. Another was Danny Finkelman who was the host of Finkleman’s 45s which ran from 1985 to 2005, a nostalgia music show on CBC radio on Saturday nights. Finkleman used to interlace his musical selections with personal commentary and was not a fan – as I recall – of the Canadian gun legislation. Alas, he is now off the airways.


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