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Respectfully Agreeing with GOA

by Andy Barniskis
Legislative Chairman
Bucks County Sportsmen's Coalition
(Pennsylvania)

(Angel Shamaya's response is below Mr. Barniskis' rebuttal.)

Angel Shamaya's recent column "Respectfully Disagreeing with GOA" opened with all of the expressions of courtesy and respect that are appropriate to a disagreement between reasonable people who are on the same side of a greater cause. There certainly is plenty of room for reasoned debate regarding Montana's House Bill 258.

It therefore irked me that rather than simply taking issue with the position of Gun Owners of America, that the bill would create "Socialist Shooting Ranges," Mr. Shamaya twice suggested that an apology was due from them, for taking that position. The suggestion of a need for apology implies that some harm or insult was committed, either through deliberate malice, or careless lack of thought. That circumstance does not necessarily exist when there is a mere difference of opinion. So, despite all of his stated courtesies, Mr. Shamaya's column comes across as less than respectful of those of us who are inclined to agree with GOA's position. It is unfortunate, and I truly regret, that my first formal communication with KeepAndBearArms.com had to be inspired by that perception; I generally find myself agreeing with most of what Mr. Shamaya writes.

It would appear that a very big issue for Mr. Shamaya is GOA's choosing to label the range bill "socialist." I am a frequent abuser of hyperbole myself, and therefore qualified to recognize both it and its purposes. I therefore feel confident in saying that if GOA exaggerated somewhat toward the left in labeling the bill "socialist," Mr. Shamaya overshot far, far to the right by calling it "Libertarian/Free Market."

As Mr. Shamaya noted near the end of his column, the game laws of all states -- including Montana -- remain modeled on the common law of old England, where it was presumed that all game belonged to the King. While Montana may have enacted laws to clarify that hunters own game after it is legally taken, the fact remains that until the game is taken -- in a manner consistent with state dictates -- the state holds an absolute monopoly of control on the conditions and prerequisites for taking it.

That the state condescends to allow its game to be taken upon payment of a "user fee" does not change the fact that it holds an absolute monopoly on the resource. Unlike a private game farm that could choose to say, "A percentage of all of our fees will go to range development -- take it or leave it," and choose to do that in free competition with farms that did not charge a premium for extraneous services, the state wishes to say "You will pay us for one of our moose, sheep, or goats -- and rifle range development, too." Holding an absolute monopoly on the resource, the state is without competition, so the scheme is hardly "free-market," any more than are drivers licenses, automobile registrations, or gasoline taxes -- or CCWs -- all of which require payment by the "user" in return for being granted access to a specific, state monopolized "right" or resource. Mr. Shamaya declares "nobody is required to buy a hunting license," but neither is anyone required to drive a car or carry a concealed weapon. The freedom not to pursue ones rights is hardly freedom.

At this point I must emphasize that I am addressing the principle, rather than its specific application. I am wondering if "Libertarian/Free Market" would have been the first adjectives to leap to Mr. Shamaya's mind had it been proposed that a portion of each hunting license fee be applied to funding Montana's health care system, to compensate for the costs of treating gunshot victims. The principle, if not the practicalities, would be identical; "If you would have 'A' you must also pay for 'B' -- take it or leave it, it's entirely voluntary on your part." Rather than "Libertarian," I'm sure Mr. Shamaya would recognize it as being what it is -- a ploy to avoid the appearance of taxation by calling a tax something else.

Whether or not one chooses to call a government fee a "tax," a "license," or a "user fee," I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Shamaya was not a bit too quick to proclaim that the proposed ranges would not be supported by "taxpayers'" money. For example -- and I ask this as an honest question -- will the ranges pay premiums to private companies for liability and other insurance, or will they be self-insured by the state, for such amounts of money above and beyond what may be available in the range fund?

I only choose that as an example of the various invisible -- and possibly, deliberately hidden -- costs that may be charged to the state's general fund. Will the range land be tax-paying into local coffers? If not, who will pay to make up the difference?

Regarding the question of whether or not government ranges come with government "strings," I must admit, at the risk of being accused of eastern arrogance, that I found Mr. Shamaya's replies to have a quality of rural naivete' that would be charming if it weren't so dangerous. In general they can be summarized, "I can't find anything objectionable in the bill today, so what's the problem?" To read his arguments one would think that the end of history had been arrived at in Montana, and that laws passed today will not provide the foundation for laws to be passed tomorrow.

It seems to me that ultimately a state range is owned by -- the state! And that state -- even Montana, dare I suggest -- may eventually be influenced by people and forces that do not agree with us. That is what I have watched happen here in Pennsylvania, where I have watched most of our state slowly become something other than what it was, despite spirited resistance by traditionalists. It may have taken more than four decades, but I can testify that it seemed to have been inexorable.

To make a superficial and possibly irrelevant example, offered solely to illustrate a principle, suppose at the behest of a local group of shooters the range regularly displayed, say, the Confederate Battle Flag? Or some other symbol that offended some minority? More relevantly, suppose shooters began to engage in shooting activities that some construed as "paramilitary training?" Would not the people who protested those things invoke that it was a state-owned range, and therefore not completely free to do things that a significant portion of Montana society found offensive?

To digress somewhat, I'd like to offer a current example involving firearms legislation here in my home state of Pennsylvania. In 1995, gun control legislation was introduced that was a slightly mixed bag, offering up a big helping of new gun controls seasoned with one or two enticing bones thrown to gun rights advocates. One of those bones was a clear, explicit, and unambiguous provision that no state agency could maintain a firearms registry, in any form whatsoever. As Mr. Shamaya did with his arguments, many trusting people pointed to what the legislation actually said, and argued that the provision banning firearms registration was so valuable that it offset the hazards of the many other provisions, most of which made a nod toward the cause of "getting tough on gun criminals." I and several others were labeled as radical, anarchist whackos for suggesting that there were no intentions of the anti-registry provision being seriously enforced, and its presence was merely to serve as an artifice to help get the anti-gun measures passed.

The provision banning a firearms registry has never been enforced at all. But, the provision creating an NRA-endorsed Instant Background Check system created a resource for the State Police to instantly acquire and maintain a permanent record of all lawful handgun transfers, which they have done, while making no bones about it. The extent of official invocation of the law has been a letter of concern to the State Police, signed by a few gun-vote-friendly legislators, who themselves chose to take no further action to see that the law they had voted for was enforced. Only recently has a citizens gun rights group begun the process of challenging the State Police registry in court. Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced to render the case moot by making it specifically legal for the police to do what they have been doing illegally for more than five years.

The point of the above story is, why does Mr. Shamaya have so much confidence in the innocuous features of a law being offered today, when that law can be changed with the stroke of a pen and a few votes tomorrow? Or, not strictly adhered to, at all? While Montana may not yet be Pennsylvania (or worse yet, New Jersey, or Massachusetts, or. . .) I believe my example of state officials, to a man ignoring and defying a very specific law, should erode excess confidence that just because a law does not appear objectionable today, it cannot be made so tomorrow. A foot in the door is a foot in the door, even if the shoe it wears is nicely polished.

I would last offer that of all Mr. Shamaya's arguments, those that can be reduced to, "Gary Marbut thought of it, so it must be perfect" are the weakest, to the point of being almost embarrassing. While I found the itemization of Mr. Marbut's accomplishments impressive, to the point where I honestly look forward to shaking his hand and perhaps buying him dinner if I ever get to Montana, I had not read that he had a) been declared King of Montana, b) discovered the secret of immortality, and c) achieved some form of quasi-papal infallibility. All of these attributes would be required of him, for his merits alone to assure that the legislation he is supporting will never be abused or perverted for the rest of human history.

I of course do not regard Mr. Marbut's motives as suspect in any way, but as I mentioned above, over close to four decades of adult observation of Pennsylvania, I have watched my own once-rural state evolve from an entirely gun-friendly state (our concealed carry law is still far less restrictive than Montana's, the presence of our Philadelphia and Pittsburgh urban cesspools notwithstanding) to one teetering on the brink, entirely due to changing populations and demographics. If I seem to display some degree of eastern arrogance, it is in response to Mr. Shamaya's western arrogance, that comes across as "We're Montana, so it can't happen here." Pennsylvania also was once a mostly rural state where hunters and gun owners dominated the electorate, but today, those of us that are wise know better than to scoff at Great Britain as a model for what can happen, even though it may take a few years to happen. Montanans would be wise not to scoff at or hold in contempt the warnings from those of us who have watched the beast grow bigger and closer than we ever would have imagined, in the span of our own short lifetimes. And we should never be asked to apologize for the caution we've learned along the way.


Andy,

I sure have heard some good things about you. I can see they were accurate. You are also quite a writer, my friend. I hope we get to hear more from you. We'd like to be running regular reports on the inside scoop regarding all states, including Pennsylvania. I said the same to Harry Schneider (Pennsylvania Sportsman's Association) in a recent phone call. I didn't stop to get the skinny on how you great patriots relate to one another, but I hope it is supportive and mutually beneficial.

I'll do my best to be brief (post editing comment: "brief" didn't happen) in addressing what seem to me to be your main points of contention, quoting you from above so as to make it easier to follow from your thoughts to mine.

To begin, you said:

"It therefore irked me that rather than simply taking issue with the position of Gun Owners of America, that the bill would create "Socialist Shooting Ranges," Mr. Shamaya twice suggested that an apology was due from them, for taking that position. The suggestion of a need for apology implies that some harm or insult was committed, either through deliberate malice, or careless lack of thought."

Well, I had hoped not to go here publicly and similarly hoped the issue you raise would simply go away, too. But I suppose, from time to time, political allies' dirty laundries get aired. Okay. Gary Marbut was at one time the only elected Board member for GOA. Due to a move GOA made that negatively affected Gary's longstanding good relations in the legislature -- and the fallout thereafter -- Gary resigned from GOA's board. It appears to me that bad blood still lingers, unfortunately and unnecessarily, and that the overdramatization of Montana's HB 258 as "Socialist Shooting Ranges" may have been -- at least in part -- a result of the need for but lack of some good brotherly healing. I simply hoped to achieve, among other things, notice that they need to watch for accuracy when dealing with allies.

Gary never got a phone call from GOA to discuss the particulars of the bill even though he is in fact more integrally involved in Montana gun rights politics than all but a handful of people, all of whom he knows personally. You know how it goes, Andy. When you get into the inner circles of those who truly get the work done legislatively, it's a small group of people, they usually know or know of each other, and they either work together or bite each others' backs. In this case, in my opinion (and I imagine Gary will publish something shortly, as well, and I hope we hear from GOA, too), there was, from someone at GOA, an insult. Possibly a deliberate one, certainly a careless one. There you have it. (And if you want to dispense with words and allow me the chance to sum this all up with a simple pictorial representation of my whole point, click here.)

Gun Owners of America is a fantastic blessing to this great nation, period -- and Larry Pratt is an American Hero.

I wrote in defense of a great guy doing great work regarding a GOA report that seemed to undermine him, his organization and his work -- with at least some incorrect information. What really gets my goat is that A) I don't think Larry Pratt would have written or even tolerated such a report, and B) whoever wrote it didn't sign his/her name to it so I could address him/her directly. The net result is/was: to some, it may have appeared like I was attacking GOA, and that isn't the case. As I said and will continue to say: Gun Owners of America is a fantastic blessing to this great nation, period -- and Larry Pratt is an American Hero. (Quite frankly, if one more person brings their petty squabble about Larry to me, they are going to get ripped publicly. Keep your personality-based bickering to yourself -- or better yet, leave that crippling strategy to the Leftist whiners -- and let's discuss the principles involved in our common commitment to achieve unity of purpose. And that's certainly not directed to you, Andy. At all.)

You said:

"Mr. Shamaya's column comes across as less than respectful of those of us who are inclined to agree with GOA's
position."

Then I failed in my communication, as that was not my intention, Andy. And to you and any who felt less than respected, I genuinely apologize. I suppose I could have sat on my rebuttal a day or two, but GOA's move to kill the bill was having an effect, and I sought to help MSSA -- and Montana gun owners -- by offering another option on how to view the bill. For example, one of our members in Hawaii -- who ran for Governor last election and who is under "legal" attack for refusing to register his guns -- followed GOA's lead and wrote to Montana legislators, all the way from Hawaii, to kill the bill. GOA didn't tell him where to read the bill to make up his own mind, and once he did, he changed his mind. But I certainly didn't mean to unnecessarily offend people who agree with GOA's position. I did mean to offend whoever at GOA wrote that report, but not in a mean or even a personal sense. I meant to offend his/her sensibilities about overdramatizing a situation -- and to urge closer attention while doing great work for a great organization. Shoulda said it better, Andy. Now I did, thanks to you.

You said:

"I generally find myself agreeing with most of what Mr. Shamaya writes."

Fortunately, you don't agree with it just because I say it. I hope anyone else who agrees with something just because I say it will knock it off. Question everything, no matter who says it.

You said:

"It would appear that a very big issue for Mr. Shamaya is GOA's choosing to label the range bill "socialist.'"

Yes. That did give me cause to study the matter. It was excessive use of hyperbole and distortion of at least some facts -- against the work of a good, solid ally.

You said:

"I am a frequent abuser of hyperbole myself, and therefore qualified to recognize both it and its purposes. I therefore feel confident in saying that if GOA exaggerated somewhat toward the left in labeling the bill "socialist," Mr. Shamaya overshot far, far to the right by calling it 'Libertarian/Free Market.'"

You may be right. I could have (should have) said, "It's more Lib/Free Market than socialist." Guilty. I confess. Thanks for calling my attention to my own shortcomings in clear communication, Andy. I will strive in that area even further, and I truly appreciate your guidance to do so. (It's not the first time I've been confronted with that one, either, believe me -- but I usually reserve hyperbole for dealing with our common enemy.)

You said:

"...the fact remains that until the game is taken -- in a manner consistent with state dictates -- the state holds an absolute monopoly of control on the conditions and prerequisites for taking it.

"That the state condescends to allow its game to be taken upon payment of a "user fee" does not change the fact that it holds an absolute monopoly on the resource."

Maybe I'm reading into what you're saying, and if I am I hope you correct me, but what I gather from your statements is that you don't believe in the use of any state resources to manage wildlife. Let me give you a little background on me before I respond to that sentiment. I was raised by Libertarian parents. Just this side of anarchists in their political philosophies. (Ayn Rand for breakfast, Robert Heinlein for lunch, my own free mind for dinner.) And though I haven't hunted in far too long, I grew up hunting, and I've seen poachers in action. I've seen wooded areas get hunted out, populations of animals get excessively diminished, all the trophy bucks pulled from certain areas where a few should have been left to breed. (If the second amendment was about hunting, I'd write article after article addressing that issue, but it isn't; it's about freedom.)

So I disagree with your belief. Yes, private game management is essential. And no, I'm not claiming to be an expert in game management, not by a longshot. But until we have a widespread and uniform non-state-based game management program in place, I support the overall premise that the state's management of wildlife is a good thing. Entire herds have come back as a result of rules and laws and their application in areas where locals left to their own devices just took and kept on taking without regard for next season or ten years down the road.

You said:

"Holding an absolute monopoly on the resource, the state is without competition, so the scheme is hardly "free-market"..."

You are correct, but my rebuttal to GOA's anonymous report wasn't about game management; it was about shooting ranges. And it was about taking that money that would otherwise go to the state and putting it into shooting ranges -- and also about getting higher returns on those game permits in a free marketish way. We're mixing apples and oranges here.

I'll also say briefly that the "right to hunt" as promoted by some is less than accurate in today's society. Hear me out on this, stay with me, keep your thinking cap on, please. Yes, there is a right to live off of the land and to tap nature's resources accordingly. But that right necessarily must be managed -- unless we want to destroy the resource. With 300,000,000 people in this country and over a third of them adults (or so), if everyone decided to go and exercise their unfettered right to kill a deer this week, and next week, etc., how many weeks would it be before the deer were gone? (Think: unmanaged buffalo hunting.)

You said:

At this point I must emphasize that I am addressing the principle, rather than its specific application. I am wondering if "Libertarian/Free Market" would have been the first adjectives to leap to Mr. Shamaya's mind had it been proposed that a portion of each hunting license fee be applied to funding Montana's health care system, to compensate for the costs of treating gunshot victims. The principle, if not the practicalities, would be identical; "If you would have 'A' you must also pay for 'B' -- take it or leave it, it's entirely voluntary on your part." Rather than "Libertarian," I'm sure Mr. Shamaya would recognize it as being what it is -- a ploy to avoid the appearance of taxation by calling a tax something else.

No, that isn't the same thing. You're projecting into the reality of HB 258 an altogether different scenario. If Montana HB 258 was calling for funds to treat gunshot victims, we would not support that. (And that is quite an understatement.) And I also do not see your A/B presentation as relevant to the purpose of HB 258, Andy. It's not presented as a "take it or leave it" scenario. The "take it or leave it" scenario is already on the table in the form of those permits. They will be sold, those animals will be taken, that is a done deal, already in place. HB 258 seeks to put that money to a specific use that helps develop and support shooting ranges. To use your terms: the King's goats will be slaughtered anyway; we'd just like to see the people get some meat.

You said:

"Whether or not one chooses to call a government fee a "tax," a "license," or a "user fee," I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Shamaya was not a bit too quick to proclaim that the proposed ranges would not be supported by "taxpayers'" money."

We're all taxpayers. (Okay, most of us, and good for you who've figured out how to cut the cord.) So, in a strict sense, any money could be called "taxpayers" money.

"For example -- and I ask this as an honest question -- will the ranges pay premiums to private companies for liability and other insurance, or will they be self-insured by the state, for such amounts of money above and beyond what may be available in the range fund?"

While your question certainly addresses ancillary liberty-related issues, the narrow focus of the relatively small amount of monies HB 258 seeks to raise is about one thing: helping shooting ranges get started, develop and continue to exist -- for shooters. Insurance issues have nothing to do with how a shooting range puts HB 258's monies to use. The rest of the state issues a shooting range or any other "business" must deal with have nothing to do with the narrow focus of this bill.

You said:

"Regarding the question of whether or not government ranges come with government "strings," I must admit, at the risk of being accused of eastern arrogance, that I found Mr. Shamaya's replies to have a quality of rural naivete' that would be charming if it weren't so dangerous. In general they can be summarized, "I can't find anything objectionable in the bill today, so what's the problem?" To read his arguments one would think that the end of history had been arrived at in Montana, and that laws passed today will not provide the foundation for laws to be passed tomorrow."

First of all, to be clear, I confess to occasional naivete'. I am naive enough to matter-of-factly state that every last unConstitutional gun law will be repealed in my lifetime. I am also naive enough to say that there will be many, many legislators, judges, political whores and other assorted public servants who will be paying dearly for what they've done to our country. And I'm naive enough to believe we can stop bad legislation in its tracks in any state in this country if we'll simply work together -- all gunowners -- and do it.

Could laws passed today in Montana lead to bad legislation in the future? Sure. But do note that HB 258 builds upon the shooting range funding and protection legislation that Gary Marbut and MSSA have already lobbied into law, and do read that protection closely. Could you get such code on the books in Pennsylvania these days? And while I don't think "the end of history has been arrived at in Montana," I do think they've accomplished some things -- through MSSA -- that all states should model.

You said:

"To make a superficial and possibly irrelevant example, offered solely to illustrate a principle, suppose at the behest of a local group of shooters the range regularly displayed, say, the Confederate Battle Flag? Or some other symbol that offended some minority? More relevantly, suppose shooters began to engage in shooting activities that some construed as "paramilitary training?" Would not the people who protested those things invoke that it was a state-owned range, and therefore not completely free to do things that a significant portion of Montana society found offensive?"

Great analogy, Andy. As posed, your question can only be answered one way, and I don't dodge fair questions asked in good faith by obvious allies. Yes, socialist crybabies could do just that. But the truth is right here: so what? Whiners whine no matter what we do. Should the state get pushed by bleeding hearts into pulling funding from a range that is A) already operational, and B) generating user fees from range members and visitors, the range operator/proprietor can tell the state to take a flying leap, good riddance. Again, do read the shooting range protection laws in Montana. Here is the link to all of the gun laws in Montana: http://mtssa.org/mtlaws.phtml.

You said:

"To digress somewhat, I'd like to offer a current example involving firearms legislation here in my home state of Pennsylvania....The provision banning a firearms registry has never been enforced at all. But, the provision creating an NRA-endorsed Instant Background Check system created a resource for the State Police to instantly acquire and maintain a permanent record of all lawful handgun transfers, which they have done, while making no bones about it.... Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced to render the case moot by making it specifically legal for the police to do what they have been doing illegally for more than five years."

First, what is going on in Pennsylvania right now regarding the illegal registration of your firearms is making people all over America downright mad. But I'm not discouraged by the judge's recent ruling, either. I still think you guys are going to win that one -- because the law is so clear in your favor. In any event, while your analogy is fair and has merit insofar as it depicts how criminals with badges and black robes and taxpayer funded pensions can and do violate unambiguous laws, it still holds no bearing on Montana's HB 258 whatsoever, for these reasons:

1) There is no provision in HB 258 that gives the state "ownership" of the shooting ranges in Montana. The funds are supportive only, not restrictive in any way other than that which truly helps shooting ranges and, more importantly, the gunowners themselves.

2) The shooting range protection laws in Montana clearly side with and support gunowners and shooting ranges (and their proprietors, by proxy).

3) There is no provision in any law or bill in Montana relative to this conversation that calls for the registration of gunowners.

Therefore, as you stated in the beginning of your two thoughtful and intelligent paragraphs, you digressed. 

You said:

"While Montana may not yet be Pennsylvania (or worse yet, New Jersey, or Massachusetts, or. . .) I believe my example of state officials, to a man ignoring and defying a very specific law, should erode excess confidence that just because a law does not appear objectionable today, it cannot be made so tomorrow. A foot in the door is a foot in the door, even if the shoe it wears is nicely polished."

No, Montana isn't Pennsylvania. Yes, criminals exist in legislatures. Yes, we should be on guard. But no, there is nothing in HB 258 that should raise such wide, fearful questions about the bill as were posed by GOA's anonymous reporter.

You said:

"I would last offer that of all Mr. Shamaya's arguments, those that can be reduced to, "Gary Marbut thought of it, so it must be perfect" are the weakest, to the point of being almost embarrassing. While I found the itemization of Mr. Marbut's accomplishments impressive, to the point where I honestly look forward to shaking his hand and perhaps buying him dinner if I ever get to Montana, I had not read that he had a) been declared King of Montana, b) discovered the secret of immortality, and c) achieved some form of quasi-papal infallibility. All of these attributes would be required of him, for his merits alone to assure that the legislation he is supporting will never be abused or perverted for the rest of human history."

Sarcasm does have its attributes, when used rightly. I think you missed the boat here, however, and as you've gently and respectfully pointed out my room for growth, I offer the same to you in the form of a response to your ABC's that illustrate, to me, why I need to be careful when overstating things. A) Were Gary Marbut declared King of Montana, Montana would be lucky. B) I don't think he has discovered the secret of immortality; if he has, he hasn't told me. C) The assumption of infallibility can only be smartly placed in a leader as a result of just two things: 1) track record, and 2) character. Gary's track record is quite impressive, enough so that you want to take him out to dinner. And his character, were it modeled by even 1/100th of the gunowners in this country, would result in a rapid gun rights victory nationally and in every state in this country. Here is a man who travels two hours (one way) through cold with a capital C, eschewing business and livelihood, to protect gunowners and their rights. His character is expressed in his track record immensely. Without starting a Gary Marbut Fan Club -- which I could do -- I will tell you this: listen to him, trust his opinion and insights, pay close attention to what he supports in Montana because it holds water, but filter it all through your own common sense and understanding of the issues about which he speaks.

You said:

"I of course do not regard Mr. Marbut's motives as suspect in any way, but as I mentioned above, over close to four decades of adult observation of Pennsylvania, I have watched my own once-rural state evolve from an entirely gun-friendly state (our concealed carry law is still far less restrictive than Montana's, the presence of our Philadelphia and Pittsburgh urban cesspools notwithstanding) to one teetering on the brink, entirely due to changing populations and demographics."

Your caution and concern and understandable. Experience does have a way of coloring perception. Again, do read the shooting range protection laws in Montana, and see if you can get similar legislation passed in Pennsylvania.

Regarding "our concealed carry law is still far less restrictive than Montana's," I see that your state "allows" you to carry where alcohol is served while Montana still expects bars to be criminal safety zones. I also note that Pennsylvania's allowance of non-resident permits is a one-up over Montana, but we're not doing CCW Envy here; we're talking about Montana's shooting range protection and the ongoing funding of shooting ranges through redirection of funds the state would use elsewhere.

You said:

"If I seem to display some degree of eastern arrogance, it is in response to Mr. Shamaya's western arrogance, that comes across as "We're Montana, so it can't happen here." "

I don't live in Montana, though I'm considering moving there. And under current circumstances, it's fair to say that some things "can't happen there." Yes, that could change, Andy. But not as a result of HB 258, which is what we are talking about. As far as Western Arrogance, guilty. I wouldn't live anywhere back east for all the tea in China. But that doesn't mean I don't love you, either. Quite the contrary. Every single bad thing that happens to you, or to any citizen in any state, hurts. I feel it. I celebrate your victories and suffer your defeats. But when there is a greater feeling of freedom out west, you might consider the fact that we enjoy it -- and not begrudge the fact. In fact, come on out here! Bring friends! (No socialists, please.) We'll put you up and help you find a place to live!

You said:

"Pennsylvania also was once a mostly rural state where hunters and gun owners dominated the electorate, but today, those of us that are wise know better than to scoff at Great Britain as a model for what can happen, even though it may take a few years to happen. Montanans would be wise not to scoff at or hold in contempt the warnings from those of us who have watched the beast grow bigger and closer than we ever would have imagined, in the span of our own short lifetimes."

Fair enough. I'll tell you, Andy. I haven't heard anyone from Pennsylvania suggest that Great Britain's ways feel as close as you suggest. Wow. That is scary.

And we should never be asked to apologize for the caution we've learned along the way."

Unless you wrote GOA's "Socialist Shooting Ranges" report, I never suggested you should apologize. And I don't think it's unusual to hope GOA would apologize for misrepresenting legislation written and put forth by someone they once sought out, respected and revered and who served as their only elected Board member. Disagreeing with the intentions and/or potential outcome of HB 258 is one thing, but the way the disagreement was presented was about more than just calling people's attention to some concerns. If you still disagree, I still say you're quite a guy, and I hope you will publish again and again on our site and keep our collective ear to the ground on what is happening in the great state of Pennsylvania.

Angel Shamaya
Founder/Director
KeepAndBearArms.com

Gun Owners of America ROCKS !!

+

Montana Shooting Sports Association ROCKS !!

=

WE WIN.

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