Sunday, February 12, 2006

Quail 1, Veep 0 - Cheney shoots at quail, hits hunting companion

Okay, Children, here's your gun-safety test for today:

Which is more dangerous: a politician with an agenda, or a politician with a gun?

If you ask Austin Attorney Harry Whittington, I bet he'll go for Door Number Two.

According to the USA Today account, Whittington managed to drop behind the group of quail hunters which included Vice President Cheney, put himsef between the 'line' and the sun, and when a quail broke between them VP Cheney scored at least One Bravo, One Charley hits on the attorney's head and chest with a shotgun.

Good thing for Whittington that Cheney was using Quail Loads. He (Whittington) is in the hospital with with a face-full of what we presume are number-8 shot strikes in the tender areas of his upper torso.

I like Cheney's politics, generally, but I would never go hunting with him. I value my eyesight too highly to risk it for the dubious honor of hunting with the VP.

Oh, sure, this stuff happens. It happened to me once, when I was a teen-ager. I went rabbit hunting with some friends, and one friend skipped a .22 Long Rifle round within yards of me while shooting at a jack rabbit.

I refused to continue the hunt, and I never went hunting with him again. Life is short enough already, there's no need to worsen he odds of honorable retirement by hunting with people who don't keep in mind the three rules of gun safety. (If you have any doubts about what they are, go read Xavier Thoughts.)

"Katharine Armstrong, a prominent Texas Republican who witnessed the incident on her family's 50,000-acre spread in South Texas", said "these things happen."

Well, yes, they do. But they don't happen to people who are more concerned with gun safety than they are about bagging a quail.

Actually, Xavier's comments about this incident are much more non-committal than I feel is justified. (No criticism intended toward Xavier ... he treats it very much 'tongue-in-cheek', which I suppose is possible if you still have a working tongue with which to speak after you have been shot in the face.)

Maybe Whittington, the victim, was somewhere on the hunting field where he shouldn't have been. Maybe it's true that 'these things happen.' But 'these things' should NOT happen, and to make your press-release spin emphasize that 'it was a shotgun, not a rifle' is just a shoddy way to minimize the political fall-out of an incident which has absolutely nothing to do with politics.

It's a matter of gun safety. There is no compromise possible in this area. I'm appalled at the mere attempt to minimize the possibility of egrigious damage due to the gun-handling of the Vice President.

Strangely enough, I tend to judge people by their demonstrated judgement. I watch people, and I judge them on whether or not I would be comfortable hunting with them. Cheney fails the sniff test here. That the victim (for so he is) was 'in front of the sun' is no excuse; if the shooter can't tell for certain that it's a safe shot, he shouldn't take the shot.

There's no justification for a hunter to shoot when he isn't certain of his 'backstop'. If you don't have that basic safety rule firmly in mind, you shouldn't take the stop.

I've violated some safety rules in my time.

Once I failed to "Unload and Show Clear" correctly at an IPSC match. Nobody got hurt, but I was wrong.

Six months (or more) ago, I talked about Grumpy Old Men, hi-lighting the time I almost shot my father's leg off because I just didnt' have a good understanding about the Rules of Gun Safety.

In fact, I even spent some time discussing how a LEO could experience an Accidental Discharge, and still not be personally responsible for it.

So I accept that shooting accidents can happen to "the best people":, and I thoroughly understand the causes and that the un-expected always happens when you least expect it. (Otherwise, it wouldn't count as an "un-expected occurrance.")

Doesn't matter.

VP Cheney mucked up, and it's a mistake for the incumbent spin-machine to pass it off as a "Shit Happens" event. It irresponsible to treat the incident that way, and it undermines what SHOULD be the message of the shooting "community" when it tries to portray itself as a responsible, safe activity.

Lesson #1: shooting can be dangerous to innocent bystanders.
Lesson #2: we exercise our sport with full understanding of the consequences.
Lesson #3: when one of our members screws up, we're the FIRST not to tolerate a lapse in judgement.
Lesson #4: Any lessoning of the acceptance of responsibility from the person holding the gun is not acceptable.

Nobody ... repeat, NOBODY ... is exempt from the high standards which we impose upon the practitioners of our sport. Any attempt to offer mitigating or extenuating circumstances for what is so patently a violation of basic safe gun-handling rules is simply unacceptable.

Because he is a politician, Cheney should volunteer for a safe-gun-handling class immediately. The NRA offers them for a reasonable cost. The price of NOT admitting that his gun-handling skills are less than they should be is not only politically unacceptable, it is practically unacceptable as well.

I wouldn't go hunting with him. Would you?

H/T: Fish or Man

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