Sunday, February 17, 2008

Calif. (NRA) Political Issues

The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) is the key NRA organization in California. The keynote speaker at this year's annual CRPA Members Banquet, held yesterday in Irvine, was General Chuck Yeager, USAF retired. He's the man who broke the sound barrier, in the Bell X-1.

Before Gen. Yeager gave his reminiscences talk, he mentioned the recent shootings in gun-free school zones. He thought it was outrageous that a bad guy could wander around a campus randomly picking targets because in a gun-free zone, no law-abiding citizen had the means to stop him. Yeager's definitely in favor of concealed carry on campus.

Sorry, but I'm not going to talk much about what Gen. Yeager said. Instead, I'm going to give you a glimpse into the political outlook at the dinner. Now, to be fair, while the CRPA is a hunting organization, it did mention concealed carry by law-abiding citizens in a positive light several times. But this wasn't what caught my attention.

The two main CRPA speakers at this annual awards Banquet, held yesterday in Irvine, were Tom Thomas, CRPA President, and John Fields, CRPA Executive Director.

Early on there was a theme of honoring veterans as heroes. The speaker had the veterans in the audience stand, and the banquet hall applauded long and loudly. Then, one of these two CRPA executives (I don't remember which one) extended this theme of honoring heroes by mentioning other people. All the way to calling CRPA staff members heroes. My thought? That was a very nice way to water down the heroes theme. I guess we're all heroes now. The result is captured nicely by this paraphrase, "And when everybody's a hero, nobody is."

Of course, the CRPA claims it does a tremendous job. They mentioned that the Katrina-inspired anti-confiscation law passed in California. But they didn't mention that the nation's first cartridge microstamping bill passed as well. Microstamping, if it remains law, will kill the gun industry in the state. And, of course, that is its intent. They didn't mention any problems they might have had, or how they failed to overcome those problems. As far as I could tell last night, the CRPA didn't know about the microstamping law getting passed.

The first award honoree was a Dept of Fish and Game (DFG) warden. He is also DFG's legislative liaison, which may have been why he was there. I'm sure he's a nice guy. But, I noticed that he had two main concerns. One was reptile poaching. I thought that this was interesting given that California isn't home to a lot of large reptiles. The other concern was the large amount of guns DFG had successfully confiscated this last year. This struck me as fascinating: that a guy from DFG would get up in front of an audience of gun-lovers and praise his agency's confiscation of guns.

Awards were also given to a couple members of our legislature, one each to a CA Senator and an Assemblyman. One of the two legislative awardees mentioned that the DFG wardens are grossly underpaid for the risks they undertake, and that there are just too few of them -- they are spread too thinly. Oddly, he also mentioned that as the audience is sure to know every year the hunting license fees go up. Now, maybe it's just me, but putting one and one together, one has to wonder where the money is going? New buildings? Management salaries? "Borrowed" to pay for the state's fiscal "crisis"?

Well, maybe the problem is that DEFG spends a huge amount of their budget in funding wacko environmental studies, such as the program to find out if the deer in California really use the highway underpasses that were built, at great expense, for them to use. Perhaps, the audience isn't expected to know about such budget uses. All in all, I wouldn't give these politicians high marks for intelligence. But maybe that's their view of their audience.

By the way, DEFG, isn't a typo. It refers to the Dept of (Environment,) Fish and Game. It makes sense. Just go to their web site. The DEFG is always on the lookout for more Environmental Scientists. Of course, if you're accepted, you'll have to "conduct extremely complex and difficult scientific investigations and studies", and eventually, you'll have to "develop courses of action". And the pay is good, too. In fact, to become a Senior Environmental Scientist at DEFG, you just need a B.S. in a field related to Environmental Science and a couple years time served at DEFG. Don't all apply at once.

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So, I just thought I'd bring you up to speed on what's happening in California on the 2nd Amendment front. The good news is that we are still allowed to own guns, at least for the moment. And maybe, in a crisis, they won't be confiscated.


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