Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Gunowner's Ode to Christmas

What do firearms and this blessed holiday have in common? Well, for one, liberals don't like to talk about either

by S.E. Cupp

Christmas is coming. And for many Americans, that means opening gifts around the tree, big family dinners and Midnight Mass. No disrespect to Norman Rockwell - but Christmas always reminds me of shooting. Sure, I love seeing my family, gorging on the kind of food and drink that are usually impermissible during the other 11 months of the year and finding some fabulous little trinket under the tree. And every year I bring a batch of 'Cupp-cakes' to my local police and fire precincts.

But enough of Capra. If I'm honest, it's also about the gun. Almost a decade ago, my friends and I had a lovely Christmas brunch at Les Halles in New York City-a superb French brasserie where, rightly so, nearly everything on the menu once had parents. After enough pork belly, crispy duck and rabbit ragout to swell our ankles and give us heart palpitations, we exchanged gifts. In a small, unmarked envelope addressed to me was a gift certifi cate for a shooting lesson. I was thrilled. I went down to the West Side Rifle and Pistol Range, in the dank and gritty basement of a building on 20th Street, to cash in my gift. After the lesson, we took to the targets. I squeezed the trigger of the .22 at the paper bullseyes in front of me, and I was officially hooked. Over the years that followed, I took up skeet shooting and hunting, and eventually bought my own 12-gauge shotgun.

In recent years, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas has been marked by a trip upstate for deer hunting, and (hopefully) a freezer full of venison follows. And every Christmas, I go back to the West Side range for an hour to shoot that .22, which always feels a little smaller and lighter in my hands. It's a simple Christmas pleasure, a total escape and my annual gift to myself.

And I'm not alone. For manyAmericans, the holidays wouldn't be the same without their guns. Maybe they're putting a turkey, a rabbit or some venison on the table for their families, or they're gathering the old gang together for thean annual winter hunt. Or maybe they're donating a deer to one of the country's countless collection and processing centers that feed hundreds of thousands of homeless and hungry every year. In New York state alone, since 1999 the Venison Donation Coalition has processed 337.51 tons of venison, or the equivalent of 2,700,800 meals served.

Between land conservation, deer population control and feeding the hungry, hunters are some of our most important humanitarians. And shooters, too. Studies prove that right-to-carry states have less crime, not more. According to the American Rifl eman's celebrated 'Armed Citizen' column, gun owners use firearms for protection as frequently as 2.5 million times a year, saving lives. And all of this is in jeopardy. President Obama is no friend to gun owners and hunters.

That's evidenced not only by his frightening legislative promises to make it nearly impossible to own a gun or even buy ammunition, but also by his nomination of anti-gun public health advocate David Michaels to the OSHA post and his appointment of Cass Sunstein, who thinks deer should be able to sue you, as regulatory czar. And with the economy down, the Obama administration is looking to squeeze some much-needed cash out of hunters and gun owners, via sweeping fines, taxes and fees. But it won't work.

In Idaho, lawmakers hiked the fee on out-of-state hunting licenses this year to raise money for the Fish and Game Department. As of October, revenue from tag sales was down 9 percent. States that want to raise revenue should be making it easier and cheaper for hunters, not harder and more expensive.

The Obama administration's elitist antagonism of American gun owners and hunters is just bad socio-economics. And it feels particularly mean-spirited as Christmas approaches. But good luck telling the grinches and scrooges of the liberal Left that, for many of us, Christmas just isn't Christmas without our guns. After all, Christmas, like the great American pastimes of shooting and hunting, is something you whisper about under your breath in liberal circles. On that note, I'm off to the range.


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