Outdoors in the news: Stupid gun laws, African lions, and wildlife corruption
By JIM MATTHEWS
Three items in the news and on the fringes of the news this past week cry out for some comment. For those of us who use guns, still spend time outdoors hunting and understand wildlife and natural processes, and get frustrated by the profound lack of government accountability these days, these observations and comments come from that perspective.
ON BANNING 15-ROUND MAGAZINES: Did you see the breathtaking news that the brilliant elected officials of Los Angeles City banned the ownership of 15-round magazines. They actually say -- with straight faces -- this will someone prevent mass shootings. Never mind that murder is already illegal and that mass shootings are multiple factors of illegal. They think that once they have banned those 15-round magazines, the person planning the mass shooting will somehow say to himself, “Well, fudge, I don’t know how to reload this gun, and if I can legally have a 15-round magazine, I’m going to skip this mass shooting at the ‘gun free zone’ movie theatre.”
How do their heads not explode at the complete lack of common sense? There is simply no cogent argument that makes this ban anything but moronic window dressing that appeals to people who know nothing about firearms. Shooters know how long it takes to change a magazine in a pistol or semi-automatic rifle. For those of you who don’t know, snap your fingers; it takes that long. So a mass killer with five 10-round magazines, or even 10 five-round magazines can create more mayhem than a mass killed with three 15-round magazines. And do it just as rapidly.
If the LA officials understood that, they would probably make it illegal to own more than one magazine. Or ban guns entirely. We all know how well banning booze worked during Prohibition, or how well drug bans work. But they are sure it will solve the problem.
ON AFRICAN LIONS: Are you all red-faced and angry over Cecil the Lion? This one just makes those of us who understand the conservation efforts to protect and expand the African lion population just slam a hand to our collective foreheads. Just some facts for the bleeding hearts to digest about African lions. There are between 600 and 700 male lions killed legally in 13 African nations each year. These also happened to be the 13 nations where lion populations are considered stable or growing because the money from the legal hunting programs funds a massive conservation effort that reduces the rampant slaughter and poaching of the big cats that occurs in places where they have no economic value. Outside of the legal sport hunting countries, lions are considered vermin by the native populations with no value. So they are poisoned, shot, and trapped at every opportunity, especially when they kill native herders’ animals. The goal is to eliminate this problem animal, and this illegal hunting activity is what has driven populations of these animals down, not legal sport hunting. If you have a hard time understanding that killing a few animals can protect the population, try to equate it wealth redistribution: the few sacrificing for the many. (Except it actually works in conservation.)
The simple fact is this: It is ONLY through legal hunting that there is conservation money available to do the public outreach and on-the-ground management efforts that will keep the big cat populations healthy in these areas. Get beyond your selfish, visceral reaction to a lion’s death.
Besides I hear Cecil was getting really old, had bad teeth, and needed a dentist.
What? That’s funny -- a little sick, but funny? Besides, as the real news slowly leaks out, it appears that hunter and guide did absolutely nothing wrong, with all their permits and paperwork in order. If you want something to get apoplectic about, how about showing the same kind of anger when ISIS members behead Christians in the Middle East (where ISIS tribal family members long ago killed off the last lions) or at Planned Parenthood auctioning off aborted infant body parts. Those things are horrific. I don’t want to hear anymore whiney stuff about Cecil.
FISH & GAME COMMISSION: WHAT ACCOUNTABILITY?: Once upon a time, when any kind of impropriety or back-room dealings in government were exposed, there was hue and cry from the public and public servants resigned, were fired, or were never elected again.
For the past several years there has been reporting on the corruption and conflict of interest within the membership of the Fish and Game Commission and their partners in crime in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It started with the implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act and has continued with the passage of legislation to ban lead ammunition statewide for hunting under the guise of protecting the endangered California condor, and now had just marched into the realm of overstepping its authority and ignoring legislative intent over bobcat hunting and trapping.
I have written about all of these things over the past couple of years, but in a nutshell: Fish and Game Commissioner Mike Sutton has violated conflict of interest regulations when he voted on regulation that directly affected his own employer’s finances and their lobbying efforts. He did it with MLPA. He did it again with lead ban regulations. Richard Rogers had been serving on the body from 2011 until recently, even without being reappointed. None of his votes should have ever been reported. Chairman of the Commission Jack Baylis recently told the legislature that the Commission could do what it wanted regarding bobcat trapping and didn’t have to follow the legislation or science-based data. None of them would even sign “incompatibility statements,” assuring there were no conflicts of interest issues with their service on the Commission. This sort of gives them all an out: “We never said there were no conflict of interest.”
What is going on here? An even bigger question: How does it keep going on? I’m a little baffled about what has to happen today for there to be accountability in government. And this is just a microcosm of so many state and federal corruption scandals that just seem to be ignored today. In this climate, Nixon would never have had to resign and Clinton never would have had to face an impeachment vote.
What difference does it make?
[ A detailed explanation of the Fish and Game Commission corruption is on the Flash Report website, written by Katy Grimes at this direct link: http://www.flashreport.org/blog/2015/07/29/the-next-state-sandal-california-fish-and-game-commission/.]