Like most of you, I breathed a gargantuan sigh of relief when I learned that that United National Arms Treaty failed to pass. I fear that this is not the last we will hear of this one.
I contacted our senators - Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Tommey - and received what I perceived to be a standard-issue form letter that probably went out to all that contacted them. That's OK. I didn't expect more. After all, returning letters to citizens would be impossible.
Senator Toomey wrote "On Oct. 30, 2009, the United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution to consider a proposed Arms Trade Treaty. As treaty negotiations have progressed, Second Amendment supporters in the United States have expressed concern that the treaty could infringe on their Constitutional right to bear arms. On July 23, 2012, I joined 47 senators in sending a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton urging them to guarantee that the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans are protected in the final version of the treaty. I believe that while the United States should work to prevent weapons from being sold to terrorists or organized crime enterprises, we must also protect Americans' Second Amendment rights. Specifically, the Arms Trade Treaty must not regulate domestic trade or possession of small arms. I also oppose the creation of an international firearm registry that could impede upon the privacy and ownership rights of law-abiding gun owners."
There was more but that was the gist of it. Senator Casey also replied that he too is a supporter of Second Amendment rights. In fact, he asserted that he has been given an "A" rating by the National Rifle Association for his support of gun owner's rights.
Since that dreadful shooting in the movie theater, more facts have come to light. When I wrote my column a few weeks ago, I did not know that the theater had issued a public warning that patrons would not be permitted to have any personal firearms on them. I'm sure that in their minds, they thought this would assure that no one could start a shooting spree in the theater if no one inside had a firearm.
In my thinking, however, I see it as a message to any malcontent who had mayhem on his mind that this would be the perfect time and place to perpetrate the evil he had in mind, since he had been assured that no one inside would have any way to protect him or herself.
It simply reinforces the old cliche that the law-abiding citizen who has firearms for hunting and self-protection are hampered by restrictive gun laws, while the criminal gets his firearms from a number of illegal sources and certainly pays no attention to laws.
Many hunters and conservationists are taking special pains to help veterans rediscover their love for nature and the outdoor sports such as hunting and fishing. The Game Commission is also engaged in finding ways to help veterans get back to their outdoor roots.
For instance, this year, Veterans Day will be observed on Monday, Nov. 12, rather than the traditional Nov. 11, which falls on a Sunday. In recognition of this situation, the Board of Game Commissioners moved to extend this year's archery deer season to include the Monday holiday, for which many Pennsylvanians will have the day off of work. So the Game Commission is encouraging licensed hunters to serve as a volunteer guide for a veteran not only as part of the archery deer season, but for any of the lawful species that may be hunted on Veterans Day or throughout the 2012-13 seasons.
Hunting seasons that are open on Nov. 12 include: archery deer, archery bear, fall turkey (in some Wildlife Management Units), squirrel, ruffed grouse, rabbit, pheasant and various migratory game birds and furbearers. The Game Commission offers several classifications of free or reduced fee licenses for resident active duty military, as well as former prisoners of war or disabled veterans. For more information, go to the Game Commission's website which is www.pgc.state.pa.us. Put your cursor over HUNT/TRAP in the menu bar under the banner at the top of the page then go from there.
To recognize those who step up to serve as volunteer guides for a veteran, the Game Commission will conduct a drawing to present six framed fine-art wildlife prints. To be eligible for one of the prints, a participating hunter must submit a brief e-mail that outlines the name and address of the veteran taken afield, type of hunting taken part in, and county where the shared hunt took place.
American Legion or VFW members who take another veteran hunting also should include their member number. participating hunters, including those not affiliated with the American Legion or VFW must send an e-mail to either email@example.com or @pa-legion.com. A drawing will be held to select the six winners from all e-mails received by Dec. 31, 2012. Hunters and veterans must meet licensing requirements and follow the laws and regulations that govern hunting in Pennsylvania.
Sounds like a great idea to me. I know that my colleague, Walt Young, has already taken a number of veterans fishing and will no doubt write about it one day. I hope to be able to tell you another personal story of serving veterans in this way.