“I want to be intimately involved with a black rhinoceros.”
Remember that sentence. No, really… commit that sentence to memory. We’ll get back to it in a little bit.
Remember back in the early aughts, when the National Rifle Association — led at the time by the late, and ever affable, Charlton “Bright Eyes” Heston — was getting their plus fours collectively bunched up in response to a proposed mandatory background check and two-week waiting period required before purchasing a firearm? The proposed legislation — which I don’t think ever happened, or maybe happened and was later repealed — was being pushed by bits of the government largely in response to things like the Columbine tragedy and the Waco siege.
Back then, in those heady days past before Patrick Roy‘s retirement sent Colorado avalanching to Sucksville, the pro-gun/anti-legislation people were angry because they felt that a two-week waiting period was way too long to have to bide one’s time before getting a gun. They wanted to be able to walk straight into a store, pick out the four nickel that best accentuated their eyes, and walk out that very same day, whistling a merry tune. And don’t even get them started about the background checks. Background checks equated solely with breaking into your bedroom and rifling through your private drawers. How DARE they violate your extra special parts!
Before I continue, I’m going to confess something to you guys: I lean conservative. I know, I know, I’m sorry… I just do. I don’t lean “bat-shit crazy conservative,” mind you… I’m not Ted Cruz or John Boehner, howling lunacy out of my gullet at anyone that’ll listen. I’m just an average, fiscally responsible, Thomas Jefferson-y (though Jefferson actually didn’t follow most of the policies that he advanced, but that’s another story) sort of Democratic-Republican. It doesn’t mean that I hate President Obama or that I think he’s a bad president, and it doesn’t even mean that I didn’t vote for him (because I did)… it just means that I don’t think that the government should be all up in my bidness. It also means that I believe that people should be allowed to own firearms.
That said… it seems to me that if you can’t wait two weeks to get a gun, then you’re probably the kind of person that shouldn’t have a gun.
“Listen,” someone’s going to say to me, “if you regulate guns like that, you’re going to have to regulate everything that can be used to kill a person. You’ll need to regulate knives and stuff, too. You can’t just pick on us gun owners!”
Okay, I hear your point, but it’s actually not very pointy. Guns don’t fall into quite the same category as knives and “stuff” because something like a knife is a multi-purposed tool. I’ve had a pocket knife since I was a kid, and in that time I’ve used it for just about every practical purpose it was designed for — screwdriver, fish unhooker, ice scraper, sleeve remover, prybar, nose hair trimmer, toast cutter, widdler, wire stripper — except killing someone. Sure, I might be able to use it for that, but it wasn’t designed specifically for it.
Lots of things can kill. There’s always some hint of danger in life, you know? Cigarettes and alcohol can kill you. Cars can kill you. You can kill someone with a piece of fairy cake if you really, really put your mind to it. Thing is, the inventor of fairy cake wasn’t planning that when he (or she) first envisioned it.
Guns, conversely, were designed for the specific purpose of killing stuff. What else can you do with a gun? You can’t eat it. I can’t cut paper with it or spread butter on my toast. I can’t unscrew a door hinge with it. Much like you wouldn’t use a hand grenade as a Christmas tree ornament, there is no practical use for a gun that does not involve shooting something with a bullet… and while you might argue that you needn’t shoot an actual person, and can stick to targets or to plinking cans or something… well, that’s really just practice for shooting actual, living, things, innit?
“But guns don’t kill people,” the (former) Arkansas contingent of my readership simultaneously blurts out from the far right. “People kill people!”
Yes, people do kill people. But guns make it a whole lot easier for people to kill people. People aren’t killing people with fairy cake, because it’s very difficult to do so and would really be a monumental waste of perfectly good fairy cake.
Since we’ve established that it’s people that are actually doing the killing, though, wouldn’t the responsible thing be to regulate who those people are that handle guns? It seems like less people would kill people if a) less of those people had guns, and b) the people that did have guns were not lunatics. You need a license to drive a car, right? We do that so others know that you have at least marginal knowledge of how to operate it, and that you’re responsible enough to not run people over on the sidewalk. If I’ve run people over on the sidewalk before — or posted a vlog to my YouTube channel about all the people that’ll be sorry once I get my ’73 Oldsmobile — then I shouldn’t be able to get a driver’s license or vehicle registration. Should not that same rule also apply to guns? You want one? Get your license, and get your Chicago typewriter registered. Because I want to be sure that you know what you’re doing, and that you’re not cray cray, before you go waddling over to the Roscoe store for some fancy heat.
It seems almost silly to me now, thinking back to those days when a simple criminal background check was tantamount to invading my most private of thoughts. These days, government agencies actually can invade your most private of thoughts. I wonder, had those same pro-gun/anti-legislation people been able to see into the future, if they might’ve had a different take on things.
Who am I kidding, of course they wouldn’t. Because now I’m reading about this whole ivory trade deal. Seems a bit off topic, maybe, but humor me: in a nutshell, the illegal trade of ivory (and illegal poaching of wildlife in general) is currently funding terrorism. I’m not going to explain all of it because you can read plenty here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, but the simple response to most of this — since the United States is the second largest market for ivory goods — is to stop the import and sale of ivory and other illegally poached animal-related junk within the United States. I mean, if the buying of this stuff by the US is funding terrorism against the US, then removing that funding would seem the logical course of action.
But no! Because the NRA — now led by the much less affable Jim Porter — are the kind of bat-shit crazy conservatives that are, again, busily agglomerating their pantaloons in anticipation of this potential legislation. Why? Because since some — mostly antique — guns have ivory grips, this is all obviously aimed at removing all guns from everybody everywhere.
I peddle in satire, but this time I’m totally serious. Here, watch this:
If you made it through that, I’d also like to point out the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s questions and answers page, which is pretty thorough in regards to addressing a lot of the things that those guys were really worried about.
Which gets us back to being intimately involved with a rhinoceros.
All of this came to my attention when I read that quote, which was made by some dude named Corey Knowlton. See, the country of Namibia sells a few rhino hunting permits each year and this guy got one at an auction for $350,000. According to the Dallas Safari Club, who held the auction, the money raised was to go towards conservation of the black rhino. Seriously, that’s what they said. Because, you know, taxidermy totally counts as conservation. Right…?
The problem is that they might have to refund Corey’s money because, while rhinos don’t have ivory (their horns be made of keratin, y’all), all this poaching-to-fund-terrorism stuff has drawn increased scrutiny from the government. Though Corey has filed a request to bring the carcass back home to Texas once he’s shot it, the government currently hasn’t gotten back to him on whether that’s cool or not. And if he can’t bring that rhino back here with him, then it’s totally not worth it.
The quote that we’re all still giggling about was made when Corey was talking with Dallas TV station WFAA. What he said, specifically, was: “I’m a hunter. I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.”
Experience what about a black rhino? The idiot who jumped a fence and rode a rhino, now, THAT is an intimate experience with a rhino. In fact, I would imagine that just being in close proximity to a rhino in the wild would be pretty mind blowing, and I wouldn’t need to shoot him in order to appreciate what I’d just experienced. Dallas Safari Club executive director Ben Carter explained, “most people that have an animal mounted, it’s their memory of their experience. When they look at it, they remember everything. That’s what he bid the money on, that opportunity.”
So, what, is Corey Knowlton’s memory so bad that he’s not going to remember that one time he went to Africa and saw a wild rhinoceros unless the actual rhinoceros is stuffed and standing next to him in his living room? I don’t know if he realizes it, but we have cameras now, and (despite some things I once said) they do take decent quality pictures.
Maybe “How much desire do you have to assassinate endangered species?” should be included on the application forms for getting a gun license, because I’m not so sure that people like Corey Knowlton or Ben Carter should be allowed to have one. Maybe guys like them should stick to the fairy cake. Though, I suppose, they could still kill a rhino with it… they’d just have to try really, really, really hard.
After all… fairy cake doesn’t kill endangered species, people with fairy cake kill endangered species.