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By Craig Braack

Wiser’s Wramblings-Baring our Soul on Bearing Arms

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

Two of the hottest or most controversial topics confronting us these days are difficult to discuss, argue, justify, or agree upon for any number of reasons. One item pales in comparison with the other as it concerns the heartbreak of recent activities including the mass shootings that have occurred in Buffalo, Texas, and other areas of the country. The other, has been of concern a little closer to all of us as it has had a more direct effect. Inflation by and of itself is bad enough but the disappointment, disillusionment, and dismay over the skyrocketing fuel prices, most likely attributed to, or at least blamed on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is a political firestorm. I worded that as I did because I feel very strongly that the invasion alone is not causing ALL the gas price problem. It may have triggered it, or at least opened the door to the rampant price gouging going on in the oil industry. Both are having significant political effect and fall out.

Compounding both problems cited above is the further development of a nearly complete lack of the 4 C’s: Cooperation, Cordiality, Collegiality or Cohesion between political parties, friends, and neighbors, and even families as a spin-off of all the above. It would be easy to blame the Pandemic for the decline in civility as there is an element of truth in its effect on our personal lives, and social relationships. Unfortunately, the anger and erosion of personal regard and respect for others across the spectrum, from friends and families to politicians, has been going on for lot longer than the Pandemic has been around.

There is a “polarity” that has developed between different factions of our population that defies the basic scientific principles of magnetism. Magnetic polarity features two unlike magnetic fields attracting each other. In this case, the dissimilar polarity is causing a pushing away from each other defying magnetic polarity.

Starting with the least emotional of the two topics, yesterday, my almost weekly sojourn to Olean took me through Friendship where at 11:00 in the morning I observed a price for “regular” gas at Crosby’s of $4.89 per gallon. When I returned home at 1:00 PM the price had increased to $4.95 per gallon. The recently enacted tax relief offered by the government has not seemed to have had an effect, if in fact it ever was enacted. On the day it was supposed to go into effect I saw gas stations that had, at least on that day, lowered their prices. Others hadn’t.

Here is an explanation that to me has always rung hollow. The argument or weak justification presented goes along the line that “We have already paid the higher tax rate on the fuel already in our storage tanks”. This argument echoes the same as offered when the cost of a barrel of oil goes down. When asked why the price at the pump didn’t go down also, the argument is that they previously had to pay the higher price for the gas in the storage tank.

BUT, let the cost of a barrel of oil go up a little bit and the price at the pump goes up immediately. What ever happened to the “already in the storage tank” argument?

Those who are wont to do so, will wrongfully blame the president and/or his party. The blame is directly on the shoulders of the big conglomerates of the oil industry which, for whatever reason are immune from all laws, regulations, and controls against price gouging. It is being done!

I will start the next topic with an apology for any flashbacks or grief, that my comments herein may evoke. Let me establish my credentials before I am tagged as a “bleeding heart liberal” who has never owned nor fired a weapon. I have indeed fired “weapons of mass destruction” which, as by name, IS their intended purpose. I have felt the exhilaration and adrenaline rush of firing an autoload firearm and weapons at from 10 to 100 rounds per second and so can relate to that aspect of the desire to own the AR Style rifles for “recreational” purposes, and the pleasure it brings.

I have owned a firearm of one sort or another since having received a BB Gun for an early pre-teen Christmas . I did not always use it wisely. At one time it was used to shoot at, and hit, my stepbrother Dennie Miles when we were kids. I must have been emulating the TV Show westerns aiming at the feet trying to “make him dance”. He did dance despite wearing rubber boots (galoshes), as it stung him pretty good. It could have caused irreparable harm had I aimed for, or accidently hit him in, the head or an eye.

As a Gunfire Control Technician in the Navy, I was in the “Gun Gang” with plentiful access to numerous weapons ranging from the .30 Caliber M1 Garand rifle, (which, although not germane to the story, weighed 9.5 pounds, as we learned to remember the hard way) to the 3”-50 Caliber gun mounts on board our ship.

I personally own several “hunting or recreational purpose” guns including rifles, shotguns, and pistols. To obtain my first hunting license, and “defacto” being allowed to carry a firearm out in the open, hunting, I had to attend a “hunter safety training course”. My first, was taught by Larry Riehle in Friendship, NY. My second was required many years later as I had to attend one to obtain another hunting license so as to accompany my son as he hunted his first year. It was required of me as I could not prove having previously been issued a hunting license. As a side note, a local town clerk did recall having sold me hunting licenses previously but would not sign an affidavit affirming that. Although disappointed at the time I can understand her caution.

I had to go through a rigorous process to obtain my pistol permit. While it was not required for me to attend a safety training program, some counties in New York do require this. In order to get my Pistol Permit I had to submit recommendations and affirmation of my character and suitability by known associates, go through a background check and review of records by the County Sherriff’s Office and receive judicial approval before even purchasing it. New York is one of the most restrictive states in the country and while it is a widely controversial topic, I, for one, fully support our “Safe Act” policies and procedures. Is it overzealous? In some ways, maybe. Does it prevent criminals from illegally possessing weapons and using them? No. BUT, it is a proactive system aimed at protecting the public. Gun Control measures, laws and restrictions vary widely state by state, and even within counties or regions within a state.

My pistol permit allows me to possess and have my pistol in my possession, but it must remain concealed and cannot be worn or shown in public. ”Open Carry” vs “Concealed” is somewhat baffling to me as it’s rationale is vague and is what varies most state by state. New York State is one of only five states that do NOT allow “open carry”. Many states require a special permit to carry a weapon “concealed”. New York requires a special permit “in order to” carry it “in the open”.

There seems to be a big divide, at least in the minds of the staunch “Conservatives” versus that in the minds of the “Bleeding Heart Liberals”. Any attempts to regulate or control ANY form of restriction or control, immediately throws up a red flag. “They want to take away our guns”, is the cry too often heard. It is our constitutional right to possess weapons as guaranteed by the United States Constitution and in fact, as stated it is sacred. Note: It is an “amendment”.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

No one is denying the fact and validity of this amendment, nor are they advocating its repeal. However! This is where reason and misguided beliefs and/or lack of “Common” sense come into play. At the time of this amendments writing, firearms consisted of muzzle loading firearms. Automatic weapons capable of hundreds and thousands of rounds per minute, with large capacity magazines were likely not even imagined. No one is advocating against “…the right to keep and bear arms…”. What is being advocated is the fact that there needs to be control over who is “capable” or suited to have those arms, and just exactly what is reasonable to have and use.

Would it be “reasonable” for me to install this 3” – 50 Caliber weapon in my front yard? Why not? I have that right don’t I? I’ve been trained in its use.

I could barely move it, much less bear it.

Ridiculous comparison you might think. But is it? An AR-15 Assault Rifle capable of firing 1200 rounds per minute (20 per second) with a magazine capacity of 100 rounds, many of which could easily be concealed in a backpack, is even more ridiculous.

Ending on a lighter note and with one of my earliest “published works” here is a 1962 “Non rhyming” poem I ran across looking through my Poem Book for something short to share. My Friendship Volunteer “Boss” Marilyn Lester consented to its use there and I’m pretty sure my “boss” here will do the same.

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