Letter On Youth Hunting Off Target.

(Brian Gehring /The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

Once in a great while we’ll stumble upon an opinion piece or letter to the editor that is just ripe for some commentary. Take for example a recent letter a former teacher wrote in to The Buffalo News. In the letter the writer goes on to salute Mark Poloncarz, the Erie County Executive, for recently vetoing a law which would allow 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt deer with a firearm. From one report:

A law that authorized 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt deer with firearms in Erie County has been vetoed.

The law which was adopted on September 9 was vetoed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on October 4.

In a letter, Poloncarz said, “in government we must take appropriate action to prevent accidents, especially those that may have such a final result as the death of a child.”

His opposition had something to say about the veto:

The County Executive’s veto is ridiculous and demonstrates how out of touch he is with the people he is elected to represent, especially in Erie County where hunting is a valued tradition in every community. We heard from dozens of sportsmens’ groups, supporters of the legislation, and families who are passionate about hunting before we proposed this law. Right now, nearly every county in New York State has opted-in to allow this. It has already passed the Erie County Legislature. The law requires any 12 or 13-year-old to be supervised by a licensed, experienced adult. Clearly, County Executive Poloncarz did not listen to the overwhelming support laid out by those who spoke at both public hearings on the matter. We are disappointed and plan to call for an override veto vote in the coming days. –  Erie County Republican Legislators Todaro, Lorigo, Greene, and Mills

Regardless of what the majority of constituents wanted, and to heck with what the rest of the state is doing, Poloncarz vetoed the measure. Citing his charged reasoning, “to prevent accidents, especially those that may have such a final result as the death of a child”, should leave everyone flummoxed. Or has so many things changed since I was 12, or Poloncarz for that matter? Another statement that “firearm = bad” or “firearm = death”. I’m surprised “gun safety laws” or measures were not drooled out of the corner of the Executive’s mouth.

One resident had a few sage words in support of Poloncarz. Sounds like they aught to gettogether for some planning meetings. They’d be a match made in heaven. From the letter:

I am elated that Mark Poloncarz had the common sense and nerve to veto the right of 12-year-olds to hunt deer in Erie County.

Psychologists tell us brains are not mature until 18 to 20 years so why put a loaded firearm into the hands of an immature child?

Here we go, commonsense. Brace for impact.

I’m lead to believe this measure was in regard to hunting only. If a parent or guardian wishes to instruct their child on the use of firearms, that’s their business, not the business of some former schoolmarm. Nothing in this law would prevent parents from instructing and allowing their child to exercise their Second Amendment right. Not that I’m seeing at least. A quick look at New York’s law shows:

Possession of any of the weapons, instruments, appliances or substances specified in sections 265.01, 265.01-c, 265.02, 265.03, 265.04, 265.05, 265.50, 265.55 and 270.05 by the following:

Possession, at an indoor or outdoor shooting range for the purpose of loading and firing, of a rifle or shotgun, the propelling force of which is gunpowder by a person under sixteen years of age but not under twelve, under the immediate supervision, guidance and instruction of…a parent, guardian, or a person over the age of eighteen designated in writing by such parent or guardian who shall have a certificate of qualification in responsible hunting, including safety, ethics, and landowner relations-hunter relations, issued or honored by the department of environmental conservation

A complete sidebar, hunting is not a “right” in many jurisdictions, it’s a privilege. We can debate that another day, however judging by your stellar tone in your introduction, I don’t think you care very much for people’s rights either. Sounds to me like this is going to go the direction of it’s your way or no way.

To your point on brains not being “mature until 18 – 20 years”, you’ve just left wide open a gap of activities that are “normal”, which we “allow” minors to engage in. Is it irresponsible to teach survival skills in Boy Scouts because a scout’s feeble brain might be compelled to light buildings on fire from what they’ve learned? How about chopping wood? I imagine that’s an activity that would regularly be done in your neck of the woods? Would those people be training future axe murderers? The list can go on from driving cars to cooking food and on and on. Never mind the progressive push to allow 16 year-olds to vote? If I had to guess, the author of this letter would be fine with 16 year-olds, who are comfortable in their parents home without a care in the world, to be able to vote. Jumping around, the letter a bit, we do have this nugget:

Teaching a 12-year-old the fine art of marksmanship in order to kill seems to provide skills I would not want in future attackers of schools, theaters or malls. It seems to me that those who have attacked people in our society did not have those guns in their hands for the first time.

That’s really a headshot. To insinuate that anyone involved with hunting or firearms would be “future attackers of schools, theaters, or malls” is beyond insulting. You were a teacher? This is what you taught children? To revert back to my comment; future axe murder, arsonist, irresponsible driver, frying pan attacker, etc.? Future progressive communist voters? Oh the idealist world you must live in. I’m not sure what kind of “attacker” would not have had “guns in their hands for the first time”, as a person shooting another person would have to have a firearm in their hands for a minimum of at least once. I think you’ve confused me Rose.

Other non-sense sewed into the diatribe:

The purposes for a 12-year-old to hunt I hear offered are:

• Family bonding – stalking and waiting silently seems to be little bonding while killing, watching death occur, possibly skinning, by a parent seems a horrible bonding experience for a child.

• Concern for the environment cannot be attained by trudging through the woods killing animals that have a place in the ecological purposes of nature and seems counterintuitive to the conservation ideals.

• Do you think hunting by these youths have the valid purpose of feeding their families or providing clothing? I do not.

Since I taught 10- to 12-year-olds for many years, I can attest to the immaturity resulting in poor judgment when making decisions. No fault of their own or a lack of intelligence; they are just children.

Rosemary from Hamburg, thankfully we can all relish in the fact that you “taught”, meaning you’re no longer in the classroom. Your contortion of everything is deplorable. An individual’s lack of understanding of the bonding that comes with the outdoors and hunting experience is sad. There is more to hunting than “watching death occur, possibly skinning [a deer]”. Conservation efforts must have escaped the thought of this individual who was more concerned about the “environment” in her rhetoric. The same people that ban bear hunts are the same people that get mad when the bears tear through their garbage cans. I could go on, but why? There clearly is no point in trying to initiate or educate someone that is probably a bit set in their ways.

What’s important here is that we steer the narrative. This letter needs one or several more in opposition of that view. The Buffalo News should be flooded with well-written accounts expressing discord towards Poloncarz’s decision. Poloncarz himself should be flooded with correspondence.

This is not just about one cranky former educator that sees future mass-murderers in her students that enjoy the outdoors. This is about the big picture. Anytime we come across such non-sense, we should be activated to write in our opinions too. How many things do you read about that leaves you shaking you head? Let em’ know. Be polite and keep it on topic. This shows that the cultural war that has been going on has touched a New York county that boarders Canada with an “anti-hunting” message. Yes, Buffalo is in that county, noted.

As for the rest of us? Who knows what Rosemary from Hamburg would think about our way of life. Who knows what Rosemary thinks about the people that live around her. We’ll leave off with this quip:

…Many young professionals live in Hamburg and residents tend to lean conservative…

It’s gotta be to her, what it’s like for me to be living in New Jersey.