Since when is Murder Considered Vegan?

On Monday, Salon.com was the first out of the gates with the rumor that Adam Lanza was “an organic vegan” who “didn’t want to hurt animals.” By now, with the help of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, that news has probably made it clear around the ever-widening Bible belt, up through the armpit of Idaho to the outback outhouses of Alaska’s North Slope.

But whether or not Lanza eschewed animal flesh, he really couldn’t be considered an ethical vegan since vegans make every effort to avoid harming animals and—although some people are loathe to admit it—humans are animals. Ultimately, Adam Lanza’a  food choices have no more bearing on his decision to go on a killing spree at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary than the fascinating anecdote that he was left-handed (if he was) or that he had Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism (which he did). (But, the point that his mother was a paranoid, survivalist gun-hoarder might actually have some bearing on the case).

The fact is, Lanza simply snapped. For whatever reason, the troubled twenty-year-old went completely off the deep end and acted out for no other explainable reason than insanity itself. None of his victims had anything to do with hurting animals; they were just innocent first graders minding their own business.

What concerns me is that some otherwise normal, caring vegan will snap in the name of the animals and set the entire animal rights movement back for years to come. Just today I received the following comment to one of my blog posts:

“When the subject of Wolf-murder was first mentioned, last year, I said people should put an ultimatum into the public domain to this effect: Kill ONE Wolf and TEN vermin will be randomly executed as retribution. Kill a SECOND Wolf and TWENTY MORE people will die. Kill a THIRD Wolf and FORTY more people will be slotted. For each Wolf murdered, the number of vermin ‘offed’ as retribution will be doubled, and absolutely ANYONE will become an X-Ray, with no concessions to age or gender or anything else. THAT is the way to do business…”

Although this commenter may sound like they’ve already gone postal, I think their point was to inspire others to take aggressive action. She doesn’t even live on this continent and couldn’t possibly act on her vindictive recommendations.

I’m certainly not going to argue that some of the wolf-killers out there don’t deserve a taste of their own medicine; but what if one of the hunters “randomly executed” turned out to be a good person in-the-making, such as the former hunter who recently wrote this?:

“I stopped hunting and trapping long ago. For years, I was ambivalent about speaking out because I accepted the cultural and psychological influences motivating those who grew up considering unnecessary killing a sport.  I’ve come to recognize how superficial, shallow, fleeting and self-destructive is this violent indulgence. I’ve come 180 degrees. For me, it is the senseless open seasons on wolves, bears, and in Wisconsin, even mourning doves.”

Nothing sways public opinion against someone’s cause more than when they decide to go on a shooting spree—especially if their victims are human.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Who the Hell Hunts With a Machine Gun Anyway?

While America is reeling in shock over the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and mourning those lost in a volley of peacetime machine gun fire, the papers are rehashing the same questions posed whenever a mass killing makes the news: “Why did this happen?” and “How can we prevent this kind of thing in the future?”

Predictably, politicians from both sides of the fence are weighing in on gun control or the culpability shared by violent Hollywood movies (and even cartoons like Family Guy and American Dad—both of which were preempted by Fox this week because of the tragedy). What we’re not hearing in the mainstream media is any mention of the leading role that sport hunting plays in promoting guns and perpetuating violence.

The latest school shooter, Adam Lanza, and the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Mohammad and John Malvo, all used a Bushmaster .223 hunting/assault rifle to carry out their killings. It was also the weapon used in the Colorado theater shooting, and in a host of other homicidal meltdowns.

The .223 semi-automatic can fire 6 rounds per second (okay, if you want to split hairs, it’s not technically considered a machine gun because you have to hit the hair-trigger with each shot), but what makes it so deadly is the way the bullet reacts on impact: It’s designed to bounce around inside the body once it makes contact with bone.

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Why is such a lethal assault rifle legal for non-military civilians to own? According to the manufacturer, they are intended to be used for hunting animals. As the NRA well knows, hunting has been used to justify the private ownership of some of the most destructive weapons ever invented.

But who the Hell really hunts with a machine gun anyway? Unfortunately, some folks do. One thrill-killer describes his sport this way: “Prairie dog hunting is a blast, on both private and public lands. I like to start by clearing everything within 50 yards with an AR-15, then switch to my .223 Remington for anything out to about 150 and finally trade up to the bull barrel .22-250 for the longer shots.”

And those who mass murder coyotes seem to feel entitled to the deadliest of armaments as well. A recent “contest hunt” offered up a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles to whoever murdered the most canines. The terms of the competition were simple: hunters in New Mexico had two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they could; the winner got their choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. (The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M16 that has been in production since Vietnam.) “Nothing’s gonna stop me,” said Mark Chavez, the hunt’s sponsor, and the owner of Gunhawk Firearms “This is my right to hunt and we’re not breaking any laws.”

Bushmaster describes their .223 as a “Varmint Rifle.” Oh really? That shines new light on what some of these politicians really mean when they say they only hunt “varmints.” I’ve never been an invited guest at George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas; therefore I can only guess that this is the type of weapon the self-proclaimed “varmint” hunter uses when he goes up against a family of scary ground squirrels, marmots or a town of talkative prairie dogs.

Larger caliber Bushmaster models are categorized as “Predator Rifles.”

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Ironically, it was Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who taught young Adam how to shoot. She was an avid gun enthusiast who legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock (both handguns commonly used by police) and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials. As it turns out, it was one of her guns that her son turned on her before using them in his attack on the students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary…

See also, “Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved