One For The Hunter

Item #1 on my list of priorities this month has been to write an essay about or for Hunter. The basic details of Hunter's encounter with the Ohio police have already been covered, and Hunter isn't free to divulge further details at present for logical reasons. Well, I'll try anyway: I'm a creative writer, not a journalist. Facts all too often resemble a collectivist or officially authorized version of opinions anyway, and I'm an unrepentant individualist. For anyone still unfamiliar with Hunter's story, though, I'll offer a brief synopsis.

Hunter drove home from a Christmas visit with his family in Kansas with a number of weapons in his truck, all of them legally in his possession. He has a license for concealed carry in his home state of New Hampshire, and in several other states as well. The news reports of his arrest make no mention of a previous criminal record, as they most surely would have done if Hunter had a criminal record to mention. The news reports make no mention that Hunter threatened the Ohio policepersons who stopped him for speeding, as they surely would have done if Hunter had said or done anything remotely threatening.

Hunter is a good guy who enjoys target shooting and a staunch advocate of the right to self-defense, and the right to keep and bear arms. His "crime" was exceeding the legal speed limit, and even the cops neglect to obey speed limits - the people who make and enforce laws generally consider themselves above the law anyway: some criminals are more legal than others. No doubt Hunter wishes he'd been more careful now, locking up his weapons and observing the speed limit. Nobody expects to be thrown in jail for an ordinary speeding violation, or for legally carrying registered weapons. Any carelessness on Hunter's part bespeaks to me of his cherished belief that America is still the land of the free and the home of the brave at heart, where reason prevails, with liberty and justice for all in practice. Hunter's optimism has proved misplaced. For the "crime" of speeding, he was jailed for days. The Ohio police impounded his truck, and confiscated his laptop and other personal belongings.

Hunter undoubtedly wasn't jailed for speeding; he was apparently jailed because Ohio did not acknowledge his second amendment rights or his concealed carry licenses issued by other states as he traveled through Ohio. Imagine driving across country and finding that your driver's license was not accepted in Ohio, and being jailed for not having a driver's license issued by the state of Ohio. Imagine trying to book a hotel room with your spouse and being assigned separate rooms because your marriage wasn't valid in Ohio. Imagine having a fender bender on your way through Ohio and being jailed because Ohio chose not to recognize your auto insurance contract. Imagine being detained at the Ohio border because Ohio refused to recognize anyone born outside of Ohio as a US citizen. Imagine helping a stranger in the throes of a heart attack at a rest stop, and landing in jail because your M.D. license wasn't valid in Ohio. Are any of those situations such a far cry from the predicament Hunter has been ensnared by?

If states have rights, don't they also have an obligation to honor the rights of other states and the rights of residents of other states? If citizens have rights, they have obligations to honor the rights of other citizens too. It would seem neighborly of Ohio to put up signs saying "Ohio doesn't care what your rights are in other states: welcome to Ohio anyway." Hunter's dilemma concerns anyone with a reason to cross state lines. Lawlessness doesn't result from a shortage of laws: lawlessness results from the failure of law to command respect. Law fails to command respect when it is arbitrary, and enforced capriciously.

Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." To which I would add, never doubt that a small group of thoughtless deranged politicians can destroy the world. Indeed, it's the only (human) thing that ever will.

Thoughtful, committed citizens recognize the symptoms of Mad Crowd Disease at work in campaigns to enforce popular prejudices against gun owners, smokers, obese people, and sincere Christians. Thoughtful, committed citizens grieve the excesses of a one-time civil rights movement that has grown self-satisfied on an unhealthy diet of civil privileges and forgotten the importance of protecting civil rights. Thoughtful, committed citizens will never willingly surrender their last line of self-defense, the right to keep and bear arms, because someday it could save the world from thoughtless deranged politicians. Indeed, it's the only (human) thing that ever will.  

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