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CASH Courier > 2005 Winter Issue

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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Winter 2005 Issue

DEC Solution to World's Ills: Lower the Hunting Age

BY ANNE MULLER

It’s soooo predictable! Every year before the start of deer “season,” likely at the behest of game agencies, the same tired reporters reshuffle last year’s article.

It usually has the following elements: demonize the deer; bemoan the declining population of young hunters and the dead and dying old-timers; blame a “high” deer population on the fact that kids don’t hunt at an age when they’re learning hand-eye coordination; support state laws to reduce the hunting age, regardless of how young the current legal age is (conception they MAY agree is too young); recite how safe it is to supply young kids with guns (so long as they take a hunter education course), blame problems “caused” by deer on anti-gun folks and those who post their property.

This year, however, lowering the hunting age is going to be a tough sell. Reporters finally are hinting at a possible connection between possession of guns for hunting and their incipient suspicion that it could lead to the reckless killing of humans.

This surprise connection comes from the current case of David Ludwig who shot his girlfriend’s parents to death at point-blank range. Described as a “nice guy” by his friends, David’s blog reveals another side to both him and them.

C.A.S.H. ferreted out the photos on his blog and we’re publishing the most disturbing ones.

[As an aside, while beer isn’t evident in these photos, there were others photos that flowed. Please realize that it’s not illegal to drink and hunt, it’s only illegal to be drunk! With the thousands of game agents in the woods enforcing this law, the public is safe, we think. Wrong! NYS has only about TWO encon law enforcement officers per COUNTY! When there’s a budget crunch, environmental conservation law enforcement budgets are among the first to be cut.]

Most recently, Michael Risinit, a reporter for the Journal News, which covers several counties in southern NYS quotes a 20-year old owner of a gun shop: “I get the old-time hunters coming in, not many young ones...It’s because everybody’s anti-gun. It’s a shame, because kids who hunt and fish usually stay out of trouble.”

The DEC and hunters are once again pushing the legislature to allowing 14 year olds to hunt big game with high powered weapons and “adult” supervision, i.e. a 21 year old. They say New York is uniquely denying hunting opportunity to its young. “That would provide New Yorkers with the same opportunity available in every other state,” DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said. “Early involvement and participation of young people in the hunting tradition is the best way of recruiting new hunters who can be expected to contribute to the long-term management on New York’s deer population.”

This fresh push to lower the hunting age mimics a previous one in NYS in 1998. It was that year that then Assemblyman, Michael Bragman, was on the verge of getting his bill passed that would have lowered the hunting age.

Dramatically, during the final days before a vote, two young hunters massacred their classmates and teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas. While the fact that they were hunters was underplayed by the media, Michael Bragman, failed in his attempt. A serious effort to lower the hunting age has only recently been revived.

If you recall, the two young boys, Andrew Golden, 11 years old, and Michell Johnson, 13 years old, who became killers of people were child hunters.

Andrew Golden lived with his grandfather who was a game agent, hunter, and kept an arsenal at home.

Claims that violence toward animals reduces violence to people is to assume that young hunters (or old hunters) can in all circumstances keep the two species in two separate pigeon holes, so to speak. It assumes that by letting kids vent violence on animals, they are dissipating violent feelings that could emerge with people.

This theory doesn’t take into account the far greater possibility that legal violence against animals could lead to illegal violence against people. What is so hard to understand? Everything’s in place for it: the weapons, the practice, and the desensitization. In April, 1998,

Richard Lacayo, a Time magazine reporter wrote: “Among the debris discovered by authorities in the wake of last week’s rampage was Mitchell Johnson’s hunter education card. It was part of fitting in. ‘Everybody at Westside [school] knows how to shoot a gun,’” [said a 7 year old classmate].

We urge you to stay aware of your state legislature’s efforts to lower the hunting age.

Go on to Senate Approves Bill to Save Horses from Slaughterhouses
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