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Santa Fe School Shooting: Liberal Democrats Sacrifice More Kids on Altar of Gun Control

Another school shooting today, in Santa Fe, Texas.

Yes, a good guy with a gun stopped the shooter, and he could have been stopped sooner.

But stopping that shooter (and the next one) would require taking the kinds of concrete, proactive steps necessary to actually protect the students from harm. It is as easy as having police stationed in the school, or armed guards (including armed volunteers), or arming the staff and teachers who want to be armed.

And these options are all too pragmatic, too simple, too real for liberal Democrats, who reject them all. They would rather use this latest blood in the streets to promote their nation-wide civilian disarmament schemes, because what they really want is political domination over every American citizen.

In fact, sacrificing a few school students on the false altar of gun control is one of those unfortunate but necessary “breaking a few eggs to make an omelette” things that liberal Democrats desire, to achieve their political goal.

The more blood, the more emotion, the more fear, the more crisis, the more they can take advantage of people’s emotions and ram through laws that will do nothing to solve the problem, but which will advance liberal Democrat goals of civilian disarmament.

When the ten-year Clinton gun ban sunsetted in 2004, liberal Democrats admitted openly that it had done nothing to lower crime. But they wanted it reinstituted, nonetheless. The high cost of disarming law-abiding Americans won’t do anything to make schools safer, either.  So why demand this?

Liberal Democrats want absolute control over you and me, folks, and that is all. They do not want solutions. An armed citizenry is the ultimate block against the Democrat Party’s goal of full control of America; this is the “problem” they are really trying to solve.

If you doubt this, look at this phony, illegal “Russia collusion” thing: It is just “resistance” against the Trump administration by any means necessary – legal, illegal, unethical, immoral. Liberal Democrats reject results of elections they lose. They reject laws they don’t like or don’t write. They enable an unsustainable illegal immigration invasion and illegal sanctuary cities to recruit illegal aliens who they want to convert into loyal voters and artificial political dominion. They use the democratic process to achieve non-democratic results.

After the Parkland shooting, liberal Democrats had meetings, marches, protests. Lots of demands. Lots of brutal demonization of the NRA, of law-abiding gun owners, of gun manufacturers, even of the US Constitution.  In all of that activity, they would not address how their liberal Obama-era PROMISE program had caught and released the violent criminal Nikolas Cruz half a dozen times, so that he could finally follow through on his public promises to commit mass murder in his own school.

I am sorry for the parents of the children hurt and killed in Santa Fe, Texas. I am sorry for their parents, and for their teachers and school administrators, and friends. I feel very badly for them, and if they are angry about this, they need only direct their focus on the liberal Democrats and their henchmen (teachers unions) who have blocked all natural, logical, and effective means to preventing these shootings from happening.

Liberal Democrats love political power and gun control more than they love school students. Remember that the next time you vote.

Feral Hoggs Running Wild

If I had another son, he would not be like David Hogg, and I hope my actual son is never like Hogg, either.

Because he is an actor, i.e. a self-absorbed vacuous fool used to making pretend, David Hogg is the currently anointed spokesman for America’s gun prohibitionist movement, which had a fake march last Saturday in DC.

Hogg is foul mouthed, disrespectful, rude, petulant, arrogant, dismissive, and ignorant of the basic facts. And he is just a kid, all of seventeen years old! What a fantastic start to life this kid is on….

Even worse, he appears to be a big time liar.

Hogg cannot make up his mind about where he was during Nikolas Cruz’s massacre at Parkland High School. In different videotaped interviews, he has given several very different accounts of where he was that moment and that day: At home, in the school, and somewhere in between, and maybe even really far away.

His location is important, because it either adds to or detracts from his credibility as a purported first-hand witness. He certainly represents himself as a first-hand witness to the massacre. As a first-hand witness, Hogg could (and does) claim an extra helping of emotion-laden judgmentalism, something adults regularly excuse in children like Hogg, under certain extenuating circumstances. Watching your classmates get gunned down because of Obama policies like PROMISE would count as one of those extenuating circumstances.

But it is not at all evident that Hogg was indeed anywhere close to his school that moment or even that day.

Credibility shot, Hogg has yet wallowed in the liberal media’s fawning attention, avoiding any hard questions and instead accusing adults who simply disagree with his childish views of having “blood on their hands” and of making him feel threatened.

Hogg has not criticized the chickensh!t deputies who stood outside the school while the shooting continued, nor has he criticized the incompetent sheriff, the Keystone Kops FBI agents who dropped the ball, nor the PROMISE program that served up an armed Cruz on a silver platter.

Hogg’s piggish behavior proves why going to bed on time and not getting dessert until you have eaten all of your dinner is an important rule for all children. Otherwise, we get spoiled, rotten kids, like Hogg. Yuck.

And not to miss an opportunity to use childrens’ corpses  as political props and living children as emotional human shields, the adult-run gun prohibitionist movement and their Hollywood and media allies hyped up a march in DC that in the end was about 200,000 people. No small feat, and certainly a respectable number of people at any protest. But not representative of anything more than the usual political radicals, avowed Communists, and partisan Democrats, all of whom show up to any rally at the drop of a hat.

Instead of being the kids’ march for school safety, it was dominated by adults who just hate guns, so there, and want to take them all away from the law-abiding among us. Their plan for disarming the criminals has yet to be announced.

About 20% of the participants were kids, not anywhere close to the 50% or 90% it was planned to be.

In the end, the march was a bunch of feral hogs, running wild, led by the loudest, smelliest of them all, David Hogg. Not my boy, not my kid.

Stop Sacrificing Our Children on the Altar of Gun Control

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/02/making_schools_gun-free_just_t.html#incart_river_index

Making schools gun-free just turns them into killing fields | Opinion

Updated Feb 27; Posted Feb 27, 2018

By Guest Editorial

By Josh First

If public schools are dangerous sitting duck areas, falsely called “gun-free zones,” it is solely the fault of the myriad gun-control groups that have tried to stigmatize firearms to the point of demanding that historic reenactors use sticks and brooms, instead of historic muzzleloaders.

If the public is angry about lax school security, they can blame groups like CeaseFirePA, who hate guns so much that they would rather see children remain at dire risk than admit guns have a constructive and valuable role in America, and especially in public schools.

Gun control advocates increasingly admit they are anti-gun prohibitionists, who would really like to see guns removed from private ownership, or so heavily regulated to the point where government bureaucrats determine our individual liberties.

These wealthy, control-freak pressure groups are responsible for insane policies like “gun-free zones” at places like Parkland High School.

Time after heartbreaking time we see that a gun-free zone is anything but that, and crime after crime America’s gun control groups pull political stunts and try to blame lawful gun ownership and the NRA for the heartbreaking results of disarming law-abiding citizens and placing them at the mercy of criminals.

A gun-free zone is a foolish, impractical pipe dream promoted by gun prohibitionists.

In reality, it is a killing field, where only the criminal attacker has a gun, and where the victims can at best put up token resistance, like Parkland’s heroic football coach, Aaron Feis (imagine if Feis had a gun, instead of his body, to defend the students with).

Effectively defending gun-free zones, such as schools, is an impossibility that society does not inflict on other public venues, like planes, museums, government buildings, politicians, sports events and music concerts.

Trying to end the problem by blaming guns, the NRA, and then disarming the law-abiding citizenry, is an indication that gun control groups are not serious about finding a solution to Columbine or Parkland. Rather, they are shamelessly exploiting a situation they alone created to advance their unconstitutional and anti-America agenda.

Guns are protected in our Second Amendment for a reason, and not because our founders were afraid of deer or ducks. Our founders knew that an adequately armed citizenry was all that stood between freedom and tyranny. Yes, gun ownership in America is unlike any other nation, with good reason.

It was an armed citizenry that created the unique freedoms we all enjoy today, and that will never change.

It is time for serious people to hold gun control groups accountable for the carnage in our schools and demand that they stop sacrificing our schoolchildren on their altar of gun control.

Dear CeaseFirePA, stop standing in the way of safe schools; schools are not the place to teach children your anti-gun message.

Josh First, a businessman, writes from Harrisburg

[This was originally titled “Stop Sacrificing our Schoolchildren on the Altar of Gun Control,” but the openly liberal Patriot News opinion editor apparently believed that was too persuasive, and changed it]

Heartbreak: Florida school is a “gun free zone”

My heart is broken about the school shooting in Florida.

As my heart goes in one direction, my mind goes in another. Here we go again, another shocking crime, another result of liberalism’s assault on American culture, a result of another stupid liberal policy rooted in feelings and not in careful adult-level planning.

Despite having been reported to police and FBI agents for months, this angry young man directed his violent thoughts against fellow students in Florida, using a gun to vent his feelings.

The school he targeted is yet another “gun free zone,” where not even the teachers are armed, but the bad guy is.  Criminals break the law by definition, and criminals taking advantage of “gun free zones” know they have a free hand to do what they want.

Political correctness teaches that guns are “bad,” and that feelings should dominate everything, even trumping fact and logic. Here we have another classic example of how liberalism is just plain evil and bad for America.

Liberals, this shooting is on your heads, the childrens’ blood is on your hands, because liberal activist groups and teachers unions keep blocking good policies that will prevent these kinds of events from happening.

If you want to avoid this kind of school violence in the future, allow law enforcement agencies to do what they need to do with violent youths (liberal policies treat law enforcement as the bad guy and shield bad kids from being held accountable), so they can head off these problems at the pass. And let teachers and other professionals carry firearms in their places of work, so would-be bad guys know up front that there is a strong disincentive to attempt violence at schools, where they will be met head-on with fatal violence.

Anything else is a continuation of the same old failed liberal policies.

Then again, liberals have known how bad their policies are for a long time. Perhaps these children are being sacrificed in order to advance the tired old liberal gun control agenda?

 

What is behind a “journalism” degree, anyhow?

In our Information Age, a great deal of life is shaped by outlets dealing in information.

The best of this information is called news, and is supposed to be accurate information about what is new. What is new can be of most use. In military terms, the newest information is called intelligence, because the information it carries allows one to make the most intelligent decisions.

The guardians of news and the supposed arbiters of its accuracy and value are called journalists. This is because their writings are a sort of journal, a documentary of history, the history of a civilization, whether it is on clay tablets, papyrus, sheepskins, calf skins, or in 1s and 0s in the ether.

That these guardians today have abandoned their namesake is obvious. Their writings are no documentary any longer.

Accuracy, usefulness, meaning are now all discarded in the pursuit of shaping a narrative, delivering a political agenda by shaping what readers of news think, based on what they are told. And blocking or suppressing information that disrupts their agenda.

People complain about Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News. They forget that none of these people or outlets would be needed, if the journalists would just do their job and deliver accurate information.

These renegade news sources are greatly outnumbered by the establishment media, which gets new recruits from college every year. Young people steeped in “journalism” for four years, purposefully devoid of the skill or even interest in rooting out news when they exit.

Which makes one wonder, What does it take to get a journalism degree in college? What is it really made of?

After all, actual journalism just involves having a phone and a pen, and asking questions, to get at the truth. Would actual training in journalism be a single course? Maybe several courses, at the longest, so at the most a single semester, right?

How is it, then, that people are spending four whole years of their lives to get a degree in “journalism”? What is it they are truly learning during that entire time? How much time does it really take to teach someone how to use a phone and pen, to ask questions, to write it down, and report the news?

The truth is, college students of ‘journalism’ are being indoctrinated for four years, and journalism, the sacred role of writing the journal of civilization, enshrined in our First Amendment to the US Constitution, has been bastardized and hijacked by people bent on control at any cost.

God be with us.

 

Property Tax Accountability

Yesterday a majority of Pennsylvania voters passed a referendum, the first step in amending the Pennsylvania constitution to allow for a much fairer property tax situation.

The current Pennsylvania property tax arrangement is backwards, dating either from the 9th Century or the 1720s, either way fundamentally unfair to home owners.

Perhaps in the 9th Century or the 1720s owning a home or property was a big deal and unusual, indicating great wealth. Taxing the source of that great wealth may have made sense a thousand years ago or three hundred years ago, but today’s America bears no similarity to those bygone worlds.

In fact, one of the great things about America is that our form of capitalism distributes the greatest amount of wealth to the greatest number of people, based on one’s willingness to work hard. This is the heart of American meritocracy, and home ownership in a meritocracy is widespread, not unique. Owning your own home is an American standard, a basic goal of all Americans.

And so punitively taxing the very emblem of meritocracy is an artifact of the feudal society America rejected in 1776.

But Pennsylvania home taxes are now so high that people are essentially renting their homes from the government.

No matter if you buy your home with cash, build it yourself on property that has been in your family, or buy it with a mortgage that you eventually pay off, you still must pay incredibly burdensome property taxes that bear no relationship to the actual costs your home might (or might not) impose on the surrounding community.

Property taxes are now a form of rent. And if you run out of money to pay the government rent, the government can come and steal your home from you and sell it cheap to someone else.

The unpleasant truth is, your home is now a cash cow for others.

Teacher’s unions and their pet career politicians are the primary beneficiaries of the current property tax arrangement, rooted as it is in the government threat to steal your home if you don’t pay their crazy rent. Current property taxes are conveniently off the books, coerced from unwilling serfs, and paid to unaccountable government employees who by all standards are primarily failing.

Most government-run schools are disasters, failing to deliver on the most basic educational results, and yet the tax-paying public is constantly told that we must pay ever yet more money “for the kids.” And here in PA, the teachers automatically must pay the unions, and the unions then dump our own tax money into buying yet more career politicians to work against our interests.

Something has to give.

This is more about making government tax collection accountable to the people who pay the taxes, than it is about total tax reduction. Right now there is zero accountability for property tax expenditures or increases. Greedy unions control almost the entire process.

Unaccountable government schools continue to underperform and yet demand more and more money. The government schools oppose all forms of competition because they are committed more to holding onto their own power than they are to the success of the children they are supposed to educate. The way property taxes support this shameful situation serves everyone involved except the children and the taxpayers.

Something has to change.

The Pennsylvania of the 21st Century cannot continue to live under an ancient feudal arrangement. It is not fair, it is not sustainable, it is not good government.

We all deserve better.

A Severance Tax, now?

Talk about an addiction to spending other people’s money.

Yesterday in southeast PA, far away from the communities where this issue is most important and the citizens might not be so welcoming, Governor Tom Wolf staked out his position on creating a new 5% “severance tax” on natural gas from the Marcellus shale feature.

Right now, natural gas is selling at historic low prices, especially here in Pennsylvania.  The financial incentive to drill more or spend more money to get more gas is very low, and drill rigs have been disappearing from across the region for a year.

The Saudis began dumping oil months ago, in an effort to punish competing oil producers Iran and Russia, with the secondary effect of dropping gasoline prices so low that the natural gas industry got hit from that side, too.

So now is not only a bad time for the gas industry, it is also a time of greatly diminished returns on investment and on royalties received.  Scalping 5% off the top of that is punishing to everyone, including gas consumers, who will see their rates increase proportionally.

Here’s the biggest problem with a severance tax: Pennsylvania already has a 3% impact fee on Marcellus gas, and a Corporate Net Income Tax of 9.99% (let’s call it ten percent, OK?).  Most of the other gas and oil producing states have no such additional taxes; their severance taxes are the one and only tax their oil and gas producers pay, not the multiple high taxes and fees drillers in PA pay.

Pennsylvania government is therefore already reaping much higher revenue from the gas industry than other gas producing states.  That means that the companies doing business here are already burdened much more than elsewhere.

So adding a severance tax now, at this economically bad time, without commensurately lowering other taxes, or the existing Impact Fee, makes no sense.  Unless the people promoting this have an infantile view of how America and business work.

And that right there is the problem.  Way too many advocates for tax-and-spend policies like an additional severance tax have a Marxist view of business; essentially, to them, business exists to pour money into liberal schemes.

And speaking of spending, who believes that spending more and more and more taxpayer dollars on public schools, public teachers unions, and public teachers’ pensions, actually equates with better education?

So many studies disprove that (see the Mercatus Center), but it is a liberal mantra that taxpayers must spend ever more of their money to support public unions that support political liberals.  And both parents of students and taxpayers alike now correctly see that system for what it is – simple, legalized political graft to fund one political party.

Public schools are mostly a disaster, yet teacher’s unions and their political buddies continue to pound on the table for more and more money.  Homeowners are essentially now renting their houses from the teacher’s unions, and proposed laws like Act 76 seek to fix that unfair situation by removing the vampire fangs from homeowners and letting the larger society pay for its expenditure.

Going door-to-door for political races year after year, property tax has been the number one issue I have encountered among elderly homeowners.  So many of them can no longer afford to pay the taxes on their houses, that they must sell them and move, despite a lifetime of investing in them.  This is patently un-American and unfair.

So Tom Wolf is moving in exactly the opposite direction we need on this subject, and instead of trying to fix the tax situation, he seeks to make it worse.  To be fair, Wolf campaigned on raising taxes.  He just needs to remember that he did not get elected by voters who want higher taxes, they wanted to fire former governor Tom Corbett.

 

I brought my guns to school

Back in the 1970s, I brought my deer rifle to school on the bus.

It was locked in my school locker when I arrived at school on the bus. In its case.

No one made a big deal about it.

No one was hurt by my gun.

My biology teacher reloaded my 7mm Mauser shells for me.

I hunted after school with friends, and no one was hurt. We were all safe handlers of our firearms. We all took it seriously.

It now might be a time for Americans to recall a different time, a safer time, a time when Americans could not imagine using basic firearms to hurt one another. A time when deer rifles were as normal as new sneakers, as significant as new clothes. A high powered deer rifle meant that much, and that little.

So many Americans today wonder what happened to our nation. Well, quit treating traditional American values as inferior to the chaos, anarchy, and violence that have replaced them. Let us traditionalists come back. Let your kids demonstrate how responsible they are. Take comfort in the inherent strength of our nation and its traditions. Relax.

We gun owners are safe, responsible, and experienced. We have our own children who we cherish. We will do nothing to hurt our own children.

Guns, used safely, are safe.

 

Scottish vote is instructive of changing identities around the world; is PA ready? Is USA ready?

A majority of Scots voted yesterday to not rock their world, not screw up their currency, not throw 300 years of cultural, financial, and military entanglement with Britain into a complete mess.

So although there was a sizable groundswell of independent-minded identity, about 45%, more Scots (55%) believed that the change was not worth the inevitable costs.  That 55% may indeed share the same cultural identity and passion for change as the 45%, but they believe that the price was too high.

Fair enough.  It is understandable.  Reasonable people can disagree about these things. After all, Scotland will still be Scotland, with a common language, culture, and identity.  And British lawmakers made clear concessions in recent days that will only strengthen and enhance Scotland’s sense of separate identity and self-determination, so the mere threat of separation gained new, valuable rights.

But Scotland goes to show that there is a sweeping change around the world, including in America, where changing identities are tugging at frayed social fabrics.  Eventually, these frays will become tears, whether we like it or not.

A good indication of this cultural change happened right here in America this past Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Constitution Day in America, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that American students could be denied their First Amendment right to wear shirts with the American flag on “Cinco de Mayo Day” in California.

Citing fears that Hispanic gangs in certain California government-run schools would see the American flag as intolerant of their Hispanic identities, an instigation to violence, a school principal, and subsequently one of the highest courts in the land (ain’t that the truth) decided that American citizens must be barred from wearing the flag of our nation, America, on their clothes.

On just that one day.

Needless to say, that an American court would conclude such a violent attack on our free speech rights is OK in the first place is incredible, especially when it involves wearing our national flag.

That a court would cite potential violence by criminals, many of whom are not American citizens, as a reason to deny American citizens their free speech rights is a whole other thumb in the eye.  It is not legal reasoning but rather giving in to mob rule.

That the court decision was given on Constitution Day really highlights the symbolic meaning and significance of this event.  The court is either tone deaf or purposefully showing its disdain for our guiding light.

It really marks a widening cultural identity gap increasingly growing in America, as it is growing in parts of Spain (Basques), France (half the planet is still French-occupied), Syria (Kurds, Sunni vs Shia Muslims), Iraq (Kurds, Sunni vs Shia Muslims), Turkey (Kurds), Argentina (Falklands, occupied by Britain), and so on.

In each of these locations, there are large groups of people who believe that the present government is actually working against their interests, not for their interests.  They want a government that they believe is representative of them, their needs, identities.

Come what may of these various separation movements, many of which have turned into open civil war, what concerns me is what this portends for Americans.

One poll this week shows that one in four Americans support some sort of secession or breakup of America.

Some states, like Alaska, Montana, and Texas, already have large secessionist movements or large population segments who want Republic status either restored, or instituted.

At some point these different intellectual disagreements will result in actual, physical disagreements, usually known as civil strife or civil war.  As much as this terrifies me and anyone else who enjoys the relative tranquility and opportunity America now enjoys, it is a fact that such events are part of human history.  They are probably inevitable.

When the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hands down a patently ridiculous ruling like this one, to satisfy some small group of people who threaten violence against otherwise Constitutional behavior, you can be damned sure that a much larger group of actual Americans take notice, and they begin to see their nation a lot differently than they did, say, on Tuesday of this week.

If threats of violence by alien invaders can suppress our Constitutional rights, then what the hell does our Constitution really mean? Has it now become meaningless? Will threats of violence by other groups, alien or native, gain sufficient legal traction to suppress other Constitutional rights, too?  Will or could threats of regional insurrection or violence against alien invaders result in similar court holdings that the Second Amendment no longer has standing there?

Can anyone imagine what that would then mean to tens of millions of law-abiding American citizens, whose otherwise legal ownership of plain vanilla firearms had suddenly overnight become criminalized.  Like people using the Internet to promote their ideas, those Americans would use their guns before they would lose them.  Surely here in Pennsylvania that is true.

America’s Constitution is what binds us all together.  It is the great equalizer, the super glue that keeps America’s different, pulsing forces together.

Behind this week’s 9th Circuit decision is a morally relativist, multiculturalist mindset that places first priority on vague feelings of separate ethnic pride above and beyond the limits on government and expansive freedoms for citizens granted in the Constitution.  To this court, government is an enforcer for grievances and hurt feelings; the Constitution is irrelevant in how that enforcement is carried out.

Pennsylvania is undergoing quiet but dramatic demographic change, similar to many other states, including California and New York.  These same sorts of issues and questions are about to descend upon us.  Do we Pennsylvanians have the quality leaders necessary to keep us bound all together in one identity?

Or do we have elected leaders and courts who are willing to inject anarchy and civil strife in the name of a perverted sense of justice, what Hell may come as a result?

Remembering neat people, Part 1

A lot of neat, interesting people have died in the past year or two, or ten, if I think about it, but time flies faster than we can catch it or even snatch special moments from it. People I either knew or admired from afar who changed me in some way.

There are two men who influenced me in small but substantial ways who I have been thinking about in recent days. One of them died exactly ten years ago, and the other died just last year. Funny how I keep thinking about them.

It is time to honor them as best I can, in words.

First one was Charlie Haffner, a grizzled mountain man from central Tennessee. Charlie and I first crossed paths in 1989, when I joined the Owl Hollow Shooting Club about 45 minutes south of Nashville, where I was a graduate student at the time.

Charlie owned that shooting club.

Back before GPS, internet, or cell phones, the world was a different place than today. Dinosaurs were probably wandering around among us then, mmm hmmmmm. Heck, maybe I am a dinosaur. Anyhow, in order to find my way to the Owl Hollow club, first and foremost I had to get the club’s phone number, which I obtained from a fly fishing shop on West End Avenue. Then I had to call Charlie for directions, using a l-a-n-d l-i-n-e, and actually speaking to a person at the other end. You’d think it was Morse Code by today’s standards.

After getting Charlie on the phone, and assiduously writing down his directions from our phone conversation, I had to use the best map I could get and then drive way out in the Tennessee countryside on gravel and dirt roads. Trusting my directional instincts, which are good, and trusting the maps, which were pretty bad, and using Charlie’s directions, which were exactingly precise, I made my way through an alien landscape of small tobacco farms and Confederate flags waving from flagpoles. Yes, southcentral Tennessee back then, and maybe even today, was still living in 1865. Not an American flag to be seen out there by itself. If one appeared, it was either directly above, or, more commonly, directly below the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag shared equal or nearly equal footing with the American flag throughout that region.

Needless to say, when I had finally arrived at the big, quiet, lonesome gun range in the middle of the Tennessee back country, the fact that I played the banjo and was as redneck as redneck gets back home didn’t mean a thing right then. Buddy, I was feelin’…. Yankee, like…well, like black people once probably felt entering into a room full of Caucasians. I felt all alone out there and downright uncomfortable. And to boot, I was looking for a mountain man with a deeeeep Southern drawl, so it was bound to get better. Right?

Sure enough, I saw Charlie’s historic square-cut log cabin up the hill, and I walked up to it. Problem was, it had a door on every outside wall, so that when I knocked on one, and heard voices inside, and then heard “Over here!” coming from outside, I’d walk around to the next door, which was closed, and I would knock again, and go through the process again, and again. Yes, I knocked on three or four of those mystery doors before Charlie Haffner finally stepped out of yet one more doorway, into the sunshine, and greeted me in the most friendly and welcoming manner.

Bib overalls were meant to be worn by men like Charlie, and Charlie was meant to wear bib overalls, and I think that’s all he had on. His long, white Father Time beard flowed down and across his chest, and his long, flowing white hair was thick and distinguished like a Southern gentleman’s hair would have to be. And sure as shootin’, a flintlock pistol was tucked into the top of those bib overalls. I am not normally a shy person, and I normally enjoy trying to get the first words in on any conversation, with some humor if I can think of it fast enough. But the truth is, I was dumbfounded and just stood there in awe of the sight before me.

Being a Damned Yankee, I half expected to be shot dead on sight. But what followed is a legendary story re-told many times in my own family, as Charlie (and his kindly wife, who also had a twinkle in her eye) welcomed me into his home in the most gracious, witty, and insightful way possible.

Over the following two years, I shot as much as a full-time graduate student could shoot out there at Owl Hollow Gun Club, which is to say not as much as I wanted and probably more than I should have. Although my first interest in guns as a kid had been black powder muzzleloaders, and I had received a percussion cap .45 caliber Philadelphia derringer as a gift when I was ten, I had not really spent much time around flintlocks. Charlie rekindled that flame in me there, and it has burned ever since, as it has for tens of thousands of other people who were similarly shaped by Charlie’s re-introduction of flintlock shooting matches back in the early 1970s, there at Owl Hollow Gun Club.

Charlie died ten years ago, on July 10th, I think, and I have thought about him often ever since: His incredible warmth and humor, his amazing insights for a mountain man with little evident exposure to the outside world (now don’t go getting prejudiced about mountain folk; he and many others are plenty worldly, even if they don’t APPEAR to be so), his tolerance of differences and willingness to break with orthodoxy to make someone feel most welcome. Hollywood has done a bad number on the Southern Man image, and maybe some of that negative stereotype is deserved, but Charlie Haffner was a true Southern gentleman in every way, and I was proud to know him, to be shaped by him.

The other man who has been on my mind is Russell Means, a Pine Ridge Sioux, award-winning actor, and Indian rights activist who caught my attention in the early 1970s, and most especially as a spokesman for tribal members holed up out there after shooting it out with FBI gunslingers.

American Indians always have a respected place in the heart of true Americans, and anyone who grew up playing cowboys and Indians knows that sometimes there were bad cowboys who got their due from some righteous red men. Among little kids fifty years ago, the Indians were always tough, and sometimes they were tougher and better than the white guys. From my generation, a lot of guys carry around a little bit of wahoo Indian inside our hearts; we’d still like to think we are part Indian; it would make us better, more real Americans…

Russell Means was a good looking man, very manly and tough, and he was outspoken about the unfair depredations his people had experienced. While Means was called a radical forty years ago, I think any proud Irishman or Scottish Highlander could easily relate to his complaints, if they or their descendants stop to think about how Britain had (and still does) dispossessed and displaced them.

Russell Means played a key role in an important movie, The Last of the Mohicans. His stoic, rugged demeanor wasn’t faked, and he was so authentic in appearance and action that he easily lent palpable credibility to that artistic portrayal of 1750s frontier America by simply showing up and being there on the set. Means could have easily been the guy on the original buffalo nickel; that is how authentic he was.

Russell Means was representative of an older, better way of life that is disappearing on the Indian reservations, if that makes any sense to those who think of the Indian lifestyle that passed away as involving horses and headdresses. He was truly one of the last of the Mohicans, for all the native tribes. Although I never met you, I still miss you, and your voice, Mr. Means.

[Written 7/23/14]