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Friday, December 11, 2015



Friday, 10:00 AM.  36 degrees F at the ferry dock, 34 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, with very light gusts.  The sky has a high overcast, and the humidity is 88% after .5" of rain falling yesterday and last night.  The barometer is 29.77" and rising.  Rain is predicted for Sunday.
   Every fall for the last thirteen years or so I have gone out in the north woods grouse hunting with one of my dogs; first Lucky, a springer spaniel who ultimately become old and died, and now Buddy, my English pointer.  Both were good bird dogs, much better at finding birds than I at shooting them.  To put things into perspective, I have never been a threat to the grouse population.   And now, with a pacemaker unfortunately located near my right shoulder, I may have to learn to shoot a shotgun left handed.  Lots of luck with that.
   Readers that have followed the Almanac over the years will remember that Wisconsin has had a resurgence of its wolf population.  You may be on one side or another of this subject, but you will recall that numerous bird dogs have been killed by wolves since their resurgence, and I worried a lot about my dogs, who have always been part of the family, being attacked and probably killed.  I grouse hunt with a double barreled 20 ga. shotgun, which  is not great armament against a wolf or wolves, and probably not much better against a pack of coyotes; and, when in the woods without the shotgun, we had no weapon at all.
   So, when I inherited a small pistol, a railroad detectives' single action revolver, from my old friend Tommy I started carrying it in my pocket while out in the woods hunting or running my dog.  Now, if one wears a jacket and the weapon is thereby concealed, whether in a pocket or in a holster, one is breaking the law,  Big Time.  I worried about encountering an unsympathetic game warden .
   All this background information is preparatory to my talking about the title subject.  Because, to be sure I was legally carrying a concealed weapon in the woods I decided to apply for a concealed carry permit.  This can be a daunting process for some, as one of the requirements, besides an application fee and a background check, is proper small arms training, which can be time consuming and expensive.  If I had to take the training classes, I probably would not have gone through with the process, but since I had small arms training in the army I could submit those records in lieu of taking a course.  It took about three months to obtain the records from the National Personnel Archives but they finally arrived, I submitted my application, and not long after received my Concealed Cary Permit, which I have had for two years.
   At first I was content carrying Tommy's little pistol in the woods, but since Joan and I are two old persons who do a lot of traveling all over the country and are often on lonely, out of the way roads, I decided it would not be a bad idea to have the pistol handy in the truck, and there is a just-right-sized little compartment in the dash to hold it.
   The Wisconsin permit is good in most of the states where we travel, but one has to be careful not to take a handgun into some states, such as New York and New Jersey, that are very restrictive and quite prone to throwing people in prison for exercising their constitutional rights.  But, long story short as they say, we usually travel armed these days.
   At first I was a little embarrassed about traveling with a gun in the truck, and seldom mentioned it, until the domestic terror incidents started up, along with all the trouble from illegal alien and domestic robberies, assaults and in particular, car jackings.  Now I am no longer embarrassed.
   In the past year we have, as a society, gone from politically correct condescension and outright aversion towards gun ownership and concealed carrying, to many elected sheriffs around the country, including the sheriff of Milwaukee County, encouraging the citizens to buy a gun and get a concealed carry permit...and indeed asking them to carry their weapon to protect  themselves, their families, and their fellow citizens.  When one reads or hears about horrific massacres such as have happened in Connecticut, Colorado, California and elsewhere, one wonders what even one armed citizen could have done to stop those attacks.
   Which brings me to the original question.  I firmly believe that the Second Amendment, the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms, guarantees all the rest of our rights.  When President Obama talks reassuringly about  our "gun rights," he cites the right to hunt, to target practice, to collect guns.  He is totally out of touch with the fundamental reason people own guns, and the basis of their constitutional right to do so.
   Nowhere in the Constitution does it mention hunting or any other recreational aspect of gun ownership.  The Second Amendment specifically cites "the security of a free state" as the basis for gun rights. Our Founding Fathers feared a repressive central government more than any other threat to their liberties, and that was the basis for the Second Amendment.  That, and personal protection from thieves, murderers, hostiles and anarchy, from which their own firearms were their only realistic protection.
   The minute man did not go to an armory to withdraw his gun.  It resided, loaded, above his mantle.   He was ready "in a minute," to defend his family, his property, and his rights.
   All of which brings us full circle to the original question: when does a "right" become an "obligation?" When is a person with a concealed carry permit obligated to answer the sheriff's call to holster his weapon and carry it? That is a very hard question to answer, since it ultimately hinges on personal feelings, situations, and individual abilities.  I have not answered the question for myself as yet.  But each mass murder brings many of us closer to answering the call.

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