What Sort of Dweeb Needs an AR15?

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Back in December of 2012, while America was reeling in shock over the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and mourning those lost in a volley of peacetime machine gun fire, I asked the question, “Who the Hell Hunts With a Machine Gun Anyway?” While the papers were rehashing the same questions they pose whenever a mass killing makes the news: “Why did this happen?” and “How can we prevent this kind of thing in the future?,” we did not hear any mention in the mainstream media of the leading role that sport hunting plays in promoting guns and perpetuating violence.

So, who the hell hunts with a machine gun? The shocking answer is, more people than ever before. Okay, for you hair splitters out there, assault rifles are not technically considered machine guns because you have to hit the hair-trigger with each shot—but they still send out bullets at a damn high rate. The .223 semi-automatic for example (the rifle used by school shooter, Adam Lanza, and the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Mohammad and John Malvo, can fire 6 rounds per second. 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.

Why is such a lethal attack 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.

Assault rifles are not big on accuracy—their sole purpose is to send out a rapid-fire hail of bullets in the general direction of whatever they’re pointed at. Those who mass murder coyotes seem to feel entitled to the deadliest of armaments they can

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

get their hands on. 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, ominously, as “Predator Rifles.”

Why are more and more people using military style weapons for hunting lately? I don’t know offhand, but I have a theory. If someone were to look into it, I’d bet they’d find a marked increase in assault rifles since Barack Obama was elected president. Not only are people trying to get themselves a semi-automatic or two before a feared government ban on assault weapons, but at the same time, they see wolves as a symbol of the government they fear and loath.

Now that the federal government has handed wolf “management” over to hostile states, we’re seeing a war on wolves, with AR 15s, .223 “Bushmasters” and the like being the new weapons of choice.

Two Rangers Killed by Tiger Poachers-Thailand

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Sep 13 (23 hours ago)

JANJIRA PONGRAI
THE NATION September 14, 2013 1:00 am

TWO FOREST rangers were killed and two others seriously injured in the
latest fierce gun battle in Tak with a group of tiger hunters.

The latest loss has raised the number of casualties among men hired to
protect against wildlife poaching and tree cutting. Since 2009, 42 forest
rangers have been killed on duty and 48 others injured, 22 of them
seriously, according to statistics from the National Park, Wildlife and
Plant Conservation Department.

The hunters were believed to be members of a Hmong hilltribe gang active in
the Thungyai Naresuan and Huai Kha Khaeng wildlife sanctuaries in Tak’s
Umphang district.

The fatal armed clash took place on Thursday night in the eastern section of
Thungyai Naresuan. The forest rangers, assisted by soldiers and local
administrative officials, had followed the hunters since Monday after the
carcass of a boar was found in the forest, according to the department’s
deputy director-general, Theerapat Prayurasiddhi. He said the carcass of the
boar, killed by poisoning, was believed to be used as bait by the tiger
hunters.

Theerapat said the hunters opened fire first and a gunfight ensued. Four
forest rangers were seriously injured in the clash and were sent to Tak’s
Mae Sot Hospital. Two of them were pronounced dead – Boonsri Inthapanya, 51,
and Anthong Ngamying, 22. The injured rangers were identified as Piriya
Khaoluang, 35, and Sanan Ongkarn, 54.

One hunter was shot dead during the gunfight. His identity remained unknown.

The hunters, believed to number five, were heavily |armed with AK-47 assault
|rifles and carbine automatic rifles. Four other hunters managed to flee the
scene, and some of them were believed to have suffered injuries, according
to Theerapat. He expressed his condolences to family members of the slain
rangers, adding that they would get “full assistance” from the department.

The senior official also said the department had begun implementing a policy
of buying life-insurance policies for its forest rangers, as part of
increased employment benefits.

The department has about 20,000 forest rangers.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Two-forest-rangers-killed-in-gun-ba

ttle-with-tiger-30214823.html

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

Hunting Humans

After my post, Killing Wolves Provides “a Level of Tolerance”?, the director of a Canadian animal rights group, Lifeforce, sent me this press release, which, like my post, is a semi-satirical statement about turning the tables on trophy hunters…

Animal Rights Group To Booth: Let Us Hunt You

An animal rights group is challenging Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth to see what it feels like to be hunted in the wilderness. Peter Hamilton, director of the B.C.-based advocacy group Lifeforce, took umbrage with a picture Booth tweeted last week of the left winger posing next to a freshly-killed mountain goat.

He responded with a dare. “We’re challenging David Booth to put himself in the position of a hunted wildlife,” Hamilton told CTV News. “He would be subjected to the same plight that wildlife are, in hopes that he will reflect upon the suffering and pain of innocent animals.”

A draft version of the “Booth Hunt” plan indicates the Canuck would be sent into the wild unarmed, alone and without rations. A team of hunters with dogs and high-tech equipment would then attempt to track and capture him within an agreed-upon time limit. Naturally, Booth would not be harmed by his chasers.

“He would rely on any of his woodsman skills, as do the wildlife who are forced to rely on their abilities while being ruthlessly pursued,” the draft plan reads. Hamilton described trophy hunting as “barbaric,” and said it’s a practice that must be stopped.BOOTHHUNT

“A trophy is an inanimate object. These are sentient beings,” he said. “One has to question anyone’s motive in getting any kind of pleasure out of killing an animal in this manner.” …

I certainly have to agree with Peter Hamilton on that last point—their motive mirrors that of a serial killer—but as I told him, the fact that he’d know he wouldn’t be harmed by his pursuers would make Booth’s experience only a watered-down version of what a hunted animal fearing for its life goes through. Mr. Hamilton concurred; of course his proposition had to sound non-lethal in order to get the barbaric Booth to even consider going along with it.

6-4Hansens-trophy-goatIronically, another infamous celebrity who posed with murdered mountain goats is Anchorage, Alaska baker, serial killer and renowned trophy hunter, Robert Hansen (now serving a 461 year prison sentence for the murder of at least 17 women, ranging in age from 16 to 41.) Well-liked by his neighbors and famed as a local hunting champion, Hansen even broke several records for trophy (nonhuman) kills, documented in the Pope & Young’s book of world hunting records.

Another bit of irony: like the Connecticut school shooter, Adam Lanza, and the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Allen Mohammed and John Lee Malvo, he used a .223-caliber semi-automatic hunting rifle to make his kills (both human and non-human).

Whenever Hansen got a victim under his control, he would fly her in his private plane to his remote cabin where they would be subjected to torture and then set free in the woods, naked and sometimes blindfolded. Hansen would give his victims a brief head start and then hunt them down with a hunting knife or a high-powered rifle. In5-2Robert-Hansens-trophy-room describing his hunts to investigators, Hansen said that it was like “going after a trophy Dall sheep or a grizzly bear.”

As world renowned FBI profilers, John Douglas and Roy Hazelwood correctly surmised, Hansen was compelled to keep trophies of his murders, such as a victim’s jewelry. According to Douglas, the abuse of prostitutes is a way for perpetrators to get back at women. Hansen was probably using his victims as a way to get revenge (much like the motive of good ol’ boys who kill wolves).

Several investigators who were familiar with Hansen said that he was known around the area as a proficient hunter. He earned this reputation after taking down a wild Dall sheep with a crossbow. Douglas concluded that Robert Hansen must have tired of elk, bear and Dall sheep, and instead turned his attention to more interesting prey.

When investigators first heard Hansen’s confession, they couldn’t help but think of the popular fictional story “The Most Dangerous Game” by writer Richard Connell. In the story, a shipwrecked trio find themselves stranded on an uncharted island, where they meet a Russian Count, known only as General Zaroff. The group’s initial delight turns to terror when they realize that the shipwreck was no accident and the good general had lured them there so he could hunt them down.

According to the Huffington Post, Anchorage police and FBI investigators just released information about another Alaskan serial killer, Israel Keyes, who authorities said never showed any remorse but said he got a rush out of hunting for victims and killing them. He also tortured animals as a child, investigators said.

Again, the serial killer’s motive and behavior closely parallels a trophy hunter’s:

“Israel Keyes didn’t kidnap and kill people because he was crazy. He didn’t kidnap and kill people because his deity told him to or because he had a bad childhood,” Anchorage homicide Detective Monique Doll said. “Israel Keyes did this because he got an immense amount of enjoyment out of it; much like an addict gets an immense amount of enjoyment out of drugs. In a way, he was an addict, and he was addicted to the feeling that he got when he was doing this.”

While researching for this blog post, I dug up an article by lion conservationist, Gareth Patterson, entitled “The Killing Fields.” In it, Patterson compares the uncanny similarities between trophy hunters and serial killers.

Here are some excerpts…

Certainly one could state that, like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans his killing with considerable care and deliberation. Like the serial killer, he decides well in advance the type of victim–that is, which species he intends to target. Also like the serial killer, the trophy hunter plans with great care where and how the killing will take place–in what area, with what weapon. What the serial killer and trophy hunter also share is a compulsion to collect trophies or souvenirs of their killings. The serial killer retains certain body parts and/or other trophies for much the same reason as the big game hunter mounts the head and antlers taken from his prey…as trophies of the chase.

Hunting magazines contain page after page of (a) pictures of hunters, weapon in hand, posing in dominating positions over their lifeless victims, (b) advertisements offering a huge range of trophy hunts, and (c) stories of hunters’ “exciting” experience of “near misses” and danger. These pages no doubt titillate the hunter, fueling his own fantasies and encouraging him to plan more and more trophy hunts.

Trophy hunters often hire a camera person to film their entire hunts in the bush, including the actual moments when animals are shot and when they die. These films are made to be viewed later at will, presumably for self-gratification purposes and to show to other people–again the longing “to be important” factor?…

And finally, while on the subject, here’s an excerpt from the chapter, “Inside the Hunter’s Mind,” in my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport:

A hunter’s true impetus is to serve the evil master in custody of his soul: his ravening ego. His self-interests are consistently placed far above those of his animal victims, whom he depersonalizes and views as objects rather than individuals. Reducing living entities to lifeless possessions and taking trophies of their body parts—without the slightest hint of guilt, remorse or other higher sentiment—is standard practice for the sport hunter…and the serial killer.

The sportsman keeps his malignant, murderous obsession concealed within the hollow confines of his psyche…until the next hunting season. Beneath a façade of virtuosity he’s driven by an urge to obtain surrogate victims, or stand-ins, representative of some perceived injustice he imagines he underwent at the hands of someone who didn’t let him have his way at some time in his life.

Maybe as a young child he felt he was undeservedly reprimanded, and so he terrorized the family pet, threw rocks at pigeons or turned to some other form of animal abuse to lift his sense of worth and gain a feeling of control. Over the years, he may have found that same kind of ego boost in killing animals for sport, partially satiating his savagery until the next legal opportunity to kill again. Imagining he’s reaping the power of the bear or the stately bull elk temporarily boosts his floundering self-esteem or relieves his sense of inadequacy. But his pride is a shallow pool, constantly in need of refreshing…

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

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

Guns, Guns and More Guns

We Americans sure love our guns. Big ones, small ones, single shot or semi-automatic, antiques or shiny new ones. This year’s Black Friday gun sales set an all-time record (The FBI said it received 154,873 calls for background checks for new gun purchases on Nov. 23, a marked increase over the agency’s previous record number of calls: 129,166 last year. The bureau was so overwhelmed with calls that outages occurred at some centers). Americans’ infatuation with guns takes a back seat only to that which they have for cars; and as you would expect, the homicidal havoc wreaked by firearms is second only to the body count chalked up to automobile accidents.

With so many avid gun hoarders out there, the rest of us would have to amass a small arsenal to try to keep up with the Joneses. It seems U.S. gun owners so outnumber those who conscientiously object to personal weapon stockpiles that non-gun owners are about as few and far between as vegans at an NRA potluck.

But while keeping a pistol or shotgun in the home to dissuade intruders is innocuous enough, this excerpt from my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, is a good example of the obsession some folks have with guns:

People in “cattle country” often entertain themselves by using the beleaguered prairie dogs as living targets, taking all the more sick pleasure in shooting an attentive mother as she pops up from her burrow to see if it’s safe for her youngsters to come out. Hunters glibly assign the term “double tap” for a shot that kills both the mother and her adoring baby. “Tap” is a particularly perverse moniker considering that the hollow point bullets they sometimes use cause their victims to literally explode on impact—a sight that must really get the shooter’s blood up. Ladies beware: there’s a demonstrated link between cruelty to animals and domestic abuse, assault and other crimes on a killer’s violence continuum [including, school-shootings and the mass murder of Christmas shoppers at the mall].

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.” The only thing stopping a sportsman with this much bloodlust is the melting point of his gun barrel…

Coincidentally (or not), an AR-15 was also the weapon of choice of Jacob Tyler Roberts, the 22 year old Portland mall gunman, and a .223 was the assault weapon used by the Connecticut school shooter, 20 year old Adam Lanza. The .223 was also the semi-automatic rifle used by the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Allen Mohammed and John Lee Malvo. While there’s truth to the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” the fact is, those who kill the most are the people who’re the most fixated on their guns, i.e: hunters. The Columbine mass-murderers, the serial killer known as Zodiak, and untold others practiced on killing animals before graduating to people. Chances are good that when we learn the backstory of the mall shooter and the Connecticut kid-killer, we’ll find that they were quite the little nimrods as well.

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Text and Wildlife Photography© Jim Robertson

Contest Hunts are a New Moral Low Point

I hope you don’t think I go out of my way searching for awful cases of animal exploitation and abuse to blog about. I come across shocking stories of cruelty to animals nearly every time I open the paper or visit the websites of local news stations. Many of the most shocking stories are about brutal activities considered to be perfectly legal, condoned and even institutionalized.

A prime example is the increasingly popular wildlife contest hunt, the kind of backwards barbarity that earned “Buffalo Bill” (the celebrated nineteenth century mass murderer of bison, not the fictional serial killer in Silence of the Lambs) his nickname. Buffalo Bill Cody killed 67 of the gregarious, benign beings during the 12-hour contest. Within a couple of decades, the once-abundant species was all but extinct.

It’s hard to believe that contest hunts were not relegated to the distance past long ago, along with bison hunting, trapping and the vilification of wolves, but all these atrocities are making a comeback and find their way into the news with disturbing regularity.

Just today I stumbled onto the following Associated Press article about a contest coyote hunt slated to take place this weekend in New Mexico (You can’t make this kind of shit up).…

 

“The terms of the competition are simple: Hunters in New Mexico have two days this weekend to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they can, and the winners get their choice of a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles.

But the planned two-day coyote hunting contest has sparked an online petition that has generated tens of thousands of signatures worldwide. The FBI is investigating a death threat to the gun shop owner who is sponsoring the hunt. And one protester has even vowed to dress like a coyote to trick hunters into accidentally killing a human.

But none of these episodes will likely stop the owner of Gunhawk Firearms from holding the scheduled two-day coyote hunting race this weekend, despite the international attention the idea has garnered. “I’m not going to back down,” said Mark Chavez, 50, who has faced two weeks of angry phone calls and protests — and even a threat to his life. ‘This is my right to hunt and we’re not breaking any laws.’

Under the rules of the contest, the winning team will get its choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles…”

A contest to see who can kill the most animals—with two free assault weapons for the winners—but they’re “not breaking any laws”? It appears we’ve reached a new historic low point in regards to wildlife protection laws,…or the lack thereof.

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

 

To Wildlife, They’re All Assault Weapons

During last night’s debate, the president accused his opponent of pandering to the NRA by changing his stance on so-called “assault weapons.” The accusation is valid—former Governor Mitt Romney also pandered to the pro-gun lobby big-time by tapping die-hard “sportsman,” Paul Ryan, as his running mate. But at the same time he made the accusation, President Obama pandered to the NRA himself.

Though Barack Obama has never been a hunter (to his credit), he was quick to give oral tribute to hunters and “sportsmen” who use their weapons regularly and repeatedly (albeit “legally”) to assault the non-human citizens of this country. At the risk of showing his hand, I’d speculate that if it wasn’t for the power of the National Rifle Association to make or break an election, the president, deep down, would ultimately prefer to see all dangerous weapons banned.

Though they tiptoed gingerly around the subject, both candidates agreed that all guns are dangerous in the wrong hands. From the point of view of the wildlife, all weapons are assault weapons—and all hunters are the “wrong hands.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson