Stop using hunters as an excuse for assault weapons

After the Parkland shooting Republicans biggest worry was about “trampling” the rights of gun owners. Specifically they wanted to shield hunters from the slightest hassle in getting a military weapon as fast as they want.

This rationale harkens back to an America that never really was. Even in 1955 only 10% of the population hunted. The numbers have been withering. Now it’s down to 5%. The vast majority of gun owners don’t hunt. Meanwhile, 30% of the population owns guns. The bigger reasons people are protection, fun and crime.

Still, politicians cling to hunters. So why do so many Republicans get so gung-ho about hunting? Hunting is the most socially acceptable of the three traditional reasons people say they need guns: defending yourself, defeating tyrants and killing deer.

The number of hunters keeps falling, down 8% in the last five years statistics are available, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Only 11.5 million Americans (5% of the adult population) hunted in 2016; nearly eight times as many Americans thought it was more fun to see living wildlife, instead of shooting it. (The industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation claims 18 million Americans hunt, which is about on par with tennis, but far less than the number who practice yoga or weight-lifting.)

The hunter excuse probably feels especially outdate to the generation of kids that attended the Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Hunting was most popular with the Baby Boomer generation and has been dying off ever since. Less than 1 in 20 16-24 year olds hunted deer in 2011; the highest rate was for 55-64, about 6% the last time the government released stats. Wisconsin hunters expect their rates will fall off a cliff (drop 28%) when Baby Boomers hit age 65.

Self-defense far surpasses hunting as the reason people say they want guns. Hunting? About the same people own handguns for the quaint pastime of collecting as hunting, according to a National Shooting Sports Foundation report.  Self-defense isn’t a very defensible political boat to ride in because study after study shows you’re more likely to hurt yourself or your family than to live out some action movie fantasy and defeat some bad guy.

When I analyzed handgun sales and crimes for Lawyers, Guns and Money about a decade ago I found what other researchers have found: there is about one handgun crime for every five handguns sold. So about 20% of handguns purchased end up in crime.

But instead of having arguments about what people actually do with guns–have fun shooting in the woods, deluding themselves about self-protection, or rob someone–we have these absurd arguments over whether Ted Nugent really needs an AR-15 to kill a deer.


Praying Mantis Egg Case Hatches

a pile up of praying mantises

Praying mantis egg cases can hatch early if you leave them inside. And if it’s too early you can’t just let them go because they’ll freeze. They’re born hungry for live insects. Other praying mantids will do, but you can get them fruit flies from Petco and keep them alive until it’s warm enough for release.

Keep reading What to do when your praying mantis egg case hatches early

In Defense of Flying with an Emotional Support Animal

two beagles and an adorable child get ready to board a plane. playing in device to see if they fit in carry-on space.

Getting your dog certified as an emotional support animal seems to be the way of the future. Eventually someone will come up with a way to let airlines just charge us for a regular seat for our dogs. But for now this is the uneasy truce between dog people and the airlines. Over Christmas I flew roundtrip from New York to Chicago in a way that goes against everything airlines stand for today: I paid no extra fees and had no unnecessary paperwork despite the fact that my daughter and I flew with two beagles at our feet as Emotional Support Animals. The planes didn’t crash. The beagles didn’t unpredictably go wild. They didn’t even steal any cookies.

Keep reading How to Fly with Emotional Support Dogs

Parks Service to Kill Many or Most of Fire Island Deer, Targeting Friendly Ones

deer eating corn

The National Parks Service gears up for long-dreaded killing of Fire Island deer, targeting friendly ones and messing with the species natural evolution in a world dominated by humans.

Keep reading Fire Island Deer Lovers Worried as Parks Service Kill Off Marches Forward

Bats get cold and fall onto ground in Autumn; they need a warm-up treat

If you find a still bat on the ground, don’t pick it up with your hands. It may still be alive, just in torpor from the cold weather. It may need to be warmed up, fed and placed on a tree.

Keep reading Bats get cold and fall onto ground in Autumn; they need a warm-up treat

Praying Mantis Clumsily Eats Bees in Brooklyn

Praying mantises aren’t rare or graceful, but a treat to see. How do bees not notice this lobster-like monster sitting on a flower? This mantis in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park lurked on a flower, then lunged on two bees and tore them to pieces.

Keep reading Praying Mantis Clumsily Eats Bees in Brooklyn

Puffins near Portland

Puffins, one of the oddest, most charming and hardest to see birds to see in the United States, but it’s getting easier because their numbers on Eastern Egg Rock, a southern Maine island hit a record 148 pairs in 2014. Warming water temperature threatened the efforts of Project Puffin to bring the cartoonish seabird back to its lost colonies.

Keep reading Puffins near Portland

Most dog (and kid) friendly beach in New England? Plymouth

Plymouth, MA, lets you bring your dog on a summer day–which sets it apart from most of New England which has taken to banning dogs during some hours, all summer or just forever.

Keep reading Most dog (and kid) friendly beach in New England? Plymouth

Cardinals finally let me see them raise babies in Brooklyn

Cardinal Nest

Cardinals feed babies fresh bugs in nest you could see if you knew where to look in Prospect Park.

Keep reading Cardinal

5-0 on the Long Meadow: Cops bust French bulldog meetup in Prospect Park

The City of New York executed a daring undercover raid on a menacing group of French bulldog owners meeting in Prospect Park’s Long Meadow on a recent Saturday morning. Their crime: having their miniature dogs off leash past the 9 a.m. curfew in a park obsessed with the enforcement of dog rules.

Keep reading 5-0 on the Long Meadow: Cops bust French bulldog meetup in Prospect Park