Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hunting and America

The Cheney hunting accident has dominated cable news since it was first reported over the weekend. Andrew Sullivan has been in a tizzy over the story. His opinion is definitely worth reading and I agree that if laws were broken, indeed, the vice president deserves to be held accountable, just as anyone else would be. That being said...

Hunting is a very, VERY dangerous activity, no matter what the conditions are or the game. My grandfather was an avid hunter, and he told many stories of accidents: Some nearing humorous, some very serious, one fatal. These stories led me to hold guns of all types with the utmost respect. I have lived around guns my entire life and as a child never once touched a gun without the supervision of my father. This is the reason stories like these were passed down along with the enforcement of gun rules. Guns can take away life instantly and indiscriminately. And there lies the important aspect about this story.

American society is woefully underexposed to hunting. A reader may ask how can this be, with a new generation of Americans being raised by Grand Theft Auto. The fact is, guns are truly part of half of American society. Truly because they are there and tangible; able to be touched, fired, and injure for real. For the other half, they are distant. Guns are seen in movies and in video games, injuring and killing fictional characters with no consequences to anyone. Guns, for another half of Americans, are used to hunt, or for personal protection or more tragically, to defend turf or "pride" amongst America's troubled inner cities.

This event shows how America lives this double existence. After I heard about the event, I felt sad for Harry Whittington and hoped he'd fully recover. But I was neither shocked nor digusted by the incident. Again, I was brought up with the cold, harsh reality how quickly a gun can ruin an afternoon, or even lives. For a nation-and I would argue rightfully-that has very liberal gun laws, where the right to own a gun is not completely denied nationally, there is a significant portion (ironically, in the media) that are unaware of guns and their often horrible consequences. But, this nation should not be unaware or shocked about hunting. We need to reeducate ourselves about the value and dangers of guns. A truly free society will allow its citizenry (or as the people are called in the 2nd Amendment, "the Militia") to own firearms for our personal protection. But, this same society must again and again remind itself that the main purpose of a firearm is to neutralize a threat with maximum power. Only a balance of this kind can keep a nation vigilant; both for liberty's sake and safety's sake.