During the presidential campaign the, uh, pre-election part of the campaign, that is Al Gore assured a West Virginia audience that he had no intention of stripping the hunters among them of their guns. On Election Day, Gore posted a loss in that highly unionized, welfare-dependent province, a defeat that was shocking and unheard of for a nationally competitive Democrat candidate in modern times. (Last I heard, even his regiment of shysters and vote-prestidigitators were admitting that he lost there.) Prof. Gore's anti-coal reputation was probably sufficient to ruin his chances, but his equally well-established anti-gun rep no doubt elicited much sour skepticism among the many thousands of avid hunters in the Mountain State.
Of course they were right to be skeptical. With Gore, the rule is and surely, my fellow Americans, we can all agree on this much, in a constructive spirit of consensual, civic-minded bipartisanship you believe what the man says only when he pledges to trample our remaining liberties, not when he pledges to preserve them.
But let's take a deep breath and assume for the sake of argument only that he was telling those Mountaineers the truth and really didn't see himself so much as lifting a finger, once elected, to ban sporting arms. It wouldn't necessarily delay the eventual disappearance of those arms by as much as one minute. That's because another wing of the Left one not formally connected with the Gore campaign has declared war, not on the guns used in hunting, but rather on hunting itself.
The animal-rights forces and statist-environmentalists intensified their war against the wildlife sports this year to the point that proposed initiatives both offensive and defensive appeared on the ballot in seven states. According to the National Rifle Association, voters on November 7 endorsed "Right to Hunt and Fish" constitutional amendments in North Dakota and Virginia; rejected a proposed ban on certain traps in Oregon; and rejected restrictions on future hunting-oriented ballot initiatives in Alaska and Arizona. In the only hunting-specific defeat, voters banned certain traps in Washington. In two stinging defeats for all gunowners, hunters and non-hunters alike, Oregon and Colorado voters approved restrictions on gun shows.
The battles that were apparently won by pro-hunting political activists shouldn't blind us to the enormity of the war itself. On a sane planet, hunters wouldn't need a constitutional amendment protecting their right to hunt as long as they had the approval of whoever owned the land and the animals any more than I'd need a constitutional amendment protecting my right to move a chair from one side of my living room to another. Who could possibly dare to interfere with private business like that?
Most of the disarmers have felt obliged to soften their language at least their language intended for public consumption in the face of the hunting tradition. That won't slow down the entire totalitarian locomotive of history, though. Unlike the disarmers, the animal-rightsers and enviro-Stalinists concentrate not on the evil of guns, as such, but on the evil of killing animals by gun or trap or bow or hook or, I suppose, bare hands. And they're unafraid to speak very loudly indeed.
If they should succeed, there'd be a big collateral payoff for the anti-gun forces. Once hunting was effectively banned, the demand for hunting arms would be radically undermined, and a large fraction of the constituency for gunowner rights would begin to dissolve. All other non-statist uses of firearms are politically suspect, to say the least. The forces of civil disarmament have never even admitted that target shooting is really a sport, because target shooting shades imperceptibly into self-defense training, as is evident from all the human-silhouette targets sold at shooting ranges.
Leftists don't really believe in the division of labor, ideologically; but, just as the rest of us are, they are led as if by an invisible hand to practice it. People naturally have different interests; they go abroad in search of different monsters to destroy. That applies to both the anti-hunters and the disarmers. Under a political culture that sees leviathan as the solution to all conceivable human problems as well as the solution to "problems" that aren't problems at all diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks end up propelling everyone in the same damnable direction: straight into the swamp of totalitarianism. Nice how everything dovetails for them, eh?
The division of labor among totalitarians is bad enough. But they're good at other kinds of shell games, too. As the heist in Florida continues to dominate the headlines, we ought to look around and try to figure out what jobs they're pulling elsewhere.
December 3, 2000
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