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Support the organizations who support you: FOAC

One of the few curses of serving boards of various non-profit organizations is watching financial support and personal affiliation drop over time, primarily among the younger generations. No matter how much good works these nonprofit groups do, it is a fact that public (private) support and participation is decreasing across America, especially among young people. Groups as diverse as churches, shooting clubs, non profit land trusts and related conservation groups, the Elks, the Shriners, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, etc. are all hurting for income that they used to take for granted from appreciative citizens.

So why does support for outstanding organizations who do so much for us and our own interests continue to drop?

Right now there are two primary reasons that are the same across America, regardless of the type of non profit organization. Everyone volunteering for or staffing non-profits are seeing the same thing. First, older people are are getting older, and with age comes restricted income. With restricted income comes less margin and fewer Dollars for donations, a pretty straight forward reason. Related to this is that as older people age, they eventually die off, and America is seeing the very end of The Greatest Generation that created the America we enjoy today, as well as their children, the heirs to their solid values and sense of community and patriotism.

Second, and the biggest reason, is the younger generations take everything for granted. Literally everything they enjoy – roads, schools, bridges, libraries, churches, shooting clubs, etc. seems to have dropped from the clear blue sky for their sole enjoyment. What they do not understand is how much hard work and sacrifice was done by generations before them, to get us to this rich present. If they have a cool beanie hat, an iPhone, and a ten dollar coffee, these younger Americans are perfectly happy to let the world keep turning and to let someone else make it turn for them.

Hard work does not run in their veins.

Apparently social media is the answer to everything with the younger crowd; despite their ethereal quality, those binary digital photons are just getting everything done right and left, like life is a big MineCraft game. Grown ups know this is not a fact.

Younger Americans are not donating to or volunteering for non-profit groups, no matter how important those groups and facilities are to their happiness. Simple and very sad fact. And at some point, after the various organizations go belly up and go out of business, the younger people will ask “Hey, do you remember that friends of Apple Pie Park group? You know, the people who put in the gravel walkway into the park? Where are they, because that park walkway is all mud now and someone needs to fix it.”

One group that means a lot to me as a gun owner, that gets a lot done for all gun owners, including YOU, is Firearm Owners Against Crime, FOAC, a perfectly named group out of western Pennsylvania run by tireless activist Kim Stolfer, in partnership with tireless attorney Josh Prince out of eastern Pennsylvania. Under Josh’s hard work, FOAC recently won a big precedent before the Commonwealth Court, where years of bizarre precedent had required citizens to go out and break the law before gaining legal standing to challenge that law. Until Josh Prince persuaded them otherwise, the court had actually been requiring people to become criminals to challenge unfair laws!

No longer.

This court decision is especially important to younger gun owners who seem to incorrectly believe that firearms ownership is out of reach of anti-gun prohibitionist crusaders. Like the local park friends group that paves the walkway so elderly visitors and parents pushing strollers can access that park, FOAC is out there battling for you, me, US, so that we can enjoy our Constitutional rights without infringement.

Like so many other non-profit organizations, FOAC deserves our support. They cannot work for us without our support of their work.

(and yes, I am the Harrisburg City plaintiff in FOAC’s lawsuit)

 

Public Lands: Public good, public love

Someone named this September “Public Lands Month,” and while I have no idea who did this, or why they did it, I’ll take it nonetheless. Because like the vast majority of Americans, I totally, completely, absolutely love public land. Our public parks, forests, monuments, recreation areas, and wildlife management areas are one of the greatest acts of government in the history of human governments.

As a wilderness hunter, trapper, and fisherman, I truly love the idea of public land, and I love the land itself. No other place provides the lonesome opportunities to solo hunt for a huge bear or buck, either of which may have never seen a man before, or to take a fisher and a pine marten in a bodygripper or on a crossing log drowning rig, than public land.

If you want a representation of what is best and most symbolic of America, look to our public lands. They best capture the grandeur of America’s open frontier, the anvil upon which our tough national character was hammered and wrought. It was on the American frontier that Yankee ingenuity, self-reliance, and an indomitable hunger for individual freedom and liberty was born. And yes, while it was the Indian who reluctantly released his land to us, it was also the Indian who taught us the land’s value, so that we might not squander it, using it cheaply, profligately, and indiscriminately. Public lands are the antidote to our natural inclination to use land the same way we use everything else within our reach.

Some armchair conservatives argue that our public land is a waste of resources. That it is a bottled-up missed opportunity to make even more-more money, and if only we would just blow it all up, pave it all, dam it all, cut it all right now, etc, then someone somewhere would have even more millions of dollars in his pocket, and daggone it, he really wants those extra millions on top of the millions he already has in his pocket. When all our farmland is paved, that same armchair conservative will have nowhere to grow food to feed us, and apparently he will learn to eat dollar bills (he already thinks Dollars are what we survive on, anyhow, so it’ll be an interesting test of reality meeting theory).

But the truth is it’s mentally sick to talk about how much money you can get for selling your mother, or for selling your soul, which is what our land is, take your pick. Hunger for more money than a man knows what to do with, notwithstanding. But some things are just not worth valuing with money, and no number of payments of thirty pieces of silver will ever, ever amount to anything in comparison to what is actually in hand, our public land.

Others complain that public land is communism, but what do they say about the old English and New England commons, where villagers pastured their collected cows? Were our forebears who fought at Bunker Hill fighting for communism? You know they weren’t. Sometimes sharing isn’t a bad thing, and sharing some land is probably one of the best things. If Yosemite or Sequoia National Parks were privately owned, no one from the public would be there, right?

Americans are fortunate to have in their hand millions of acres of public land that they can access, from Maine to Alaska to Hawaii and everywhere in between. Little township and county squirrel parks, big state forests and parks, and vast national parks like the Appalachian Trail and Acadia are all magical experiences available only because they are public.

It is true that LaVoy Finicum was murdered in cold blood by out of control public employees over a legitimate debate with tyrannical, unaccountable public land managers in Oregon. But that is not the fault of the public grazing land there, any more than a murder can be blamed on the gun and not the man who pulled its trigger. We need to hold accountable those who screwed over Finicum and those who murdered him, not blame the land on which it all happened. Despite some failings by public land managers, of which Finicum’s murder is a great and sad example, public land remains one of the very few things that government actually does well and right almost all of the time. Corrective action is just one new administration away, as selected by the voters.

If you want to see untrammeled natural beauty for campers and hikers, or if you want to experience bountiful hunting lands for an afternoon or a week, then look to the public lands near you or far away from you. Everything else – nearly 100% of private lands – ┬áis either dead, dying, or slated for eventual execution at the hands of development.

We need a lot more public land in America. We need more to love in life, and nothing compares to loving a whole mountain range, a river, a field or a forest. It will love you back with nurture and sustenance, too.

Hang glider leaps off of Hyner View State Park, surrounded by a couple million acres of Pennsylvania state forest and state parks

 

Down below Hyner View State Park is the Renova (Renovo) municipal park, with some historical artifacts from past freedom-ensuring conflicts, reminding the next generations of the sacrifices made so they can enjoy iPhones and Starbucks

 

Yours truly standing high up in the Flatirons above super-liberal Boulder, Colorado, in the background, demonstrating “Trump Over Boulder” in case any hikers had missed the shirt. None had missed its presence there, by the way. Lots of public land here, enough for everyone to share, even Donald Trump! (and yes, there are a lot of boulders here in the photo).

The author malingering around the Boulder, Colorado Chautauqua kiosk, silently taunting the invasive liberals gathered and passing through there. And in fact, the Trump shirt earned many double and triple-takes from fellow hikers, unused to experiencing diversity of thought. I did not bite those people, though I was tempted. Great public lands experience!