By: Frank L. Hoffman
"You shall shoot your neighbor" is obviously not what we are taught, but it is being excused as an accident, when it involves the violent "sport" of hunting. In contrast, the Bible teaches us that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), and Jesus amplified this commandment by saying that it was second only to our loving God (Mark 12:30-31). This teaching means that we are to put the welfare of our neighbors ahead of our own pleasure. In fact, if we go back to the first and second chapters of Genesis, we should also consider the animals as our neighbors.
Numerous hunters have told me that they are very careful and always kill the animal on the first shot and that the animal always dies instantly. All the research I have done, including much of it from hunting sources, indicates that such statements are the exception and not the rule. Hunters miss and hunters wound, and some hunters are so engrossed in their intent on killing that they fail to remember or realize where they are or the deadly power that is in their control.
As an example, in Medina County, Ohio, on 27 November 2000, a woman was nearly shot in her own bathroom while putting on her make-up. The bullet missed her head by only four inches. The hunter told investigators that he took aim at a large buck as it bounded across a field, firing several rounds as the deer ran. Unfortunately this woman's home was behind the deer, and one of the rounds smashed through her bathroom window and nearly killed her. The two hunters involved in this case were hunting illegally on the property, and ran away when they realized what they had done. They were arrested later.
In another incident on 24 November 2000 in Niagara County, New York, Sheriff's deputies arrested a deer hunter and accused him of shooting at a house along a road. The arrest came after the hunter, aiming his 12 gauge shotgun at a deer that was moving across a field, fired and and hit the home, police said. The slug went through the north wall of the house into a family computer room, damaging a chair and lodging itself in a second wall that separates the computer room from a hallway.
In still another case which took place on 21 November 2000 in Albany County, New York, a hunter was charged with reckless endangerment after a shot he fired missed its mark and hit a Thruway driver. On that Tuesday morning, a shotgun slug smashed the driver's side window of the sedan and lodged in the back seat. The driver was grazed either by the bullet or smashed glass. He was treated and released from Albany Medical Center Hospital. State police said the hunter was hunting on his own property about 10 AM when he fired--parallel to the highway--at a deer, striking it but not killing it. As the deer continued to run, Payne fired again, this time toward the highway. He missed and hit the driver of the vehicle which was traveling at about 65 MPH.
Now I suppose the hunting community will say that these hunters were irresponsible and not like the majority of hunters, and when it comes to these isolated cases, they are probably correct, but the real irresponsibility goes way beyond these hunters. The root of the problem is that we, as a society, condone many acts of violence, such as hunting. The intent of hunting is to kill. And because hunting is considered a "sport", it also means that people take pleasure in taking the life of another living being. What I believe happened in all of these cases is that these hunters were so intent on killing that they lost all sense of where they were and what the consequences of their acts could be to their neighbors. They were addicted to the act of killing.
This is a problem of our society. We condone violent acts and even teach them to our children, when what we should be doing is teaching each other how to love one another, and to love God and the whole of His creation. If we didn't desire to pick up a weapon, if we didn't have the desire to kill, then these three cited cases would never have occurred. It's time we stop shooting ourselves in the foot by sanitizing violence in our society. It's time we realize that the "sport of hunting" is nothing more than socially acceptable premeditated murder. It's time we put an end to it.
It's time we learn to appreciate the beauty of these animals (left) for who they are. It's time we remember that we can see and appreciate them as long as they're alive. There is no beauty in their suffering or death; there is only a tragic loss.