Photos from two different observers—the first recorded case in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho—clearly show an adult female wolf, armed with a .444 Marlin, shoot and kill an elk hunter with one clean shot to the head. Witnesses report that the hunter did not appear to suffer and that the wolf then nonchalantly slung the rifle over its shoulder and trotted off into the woods without a trace.
In the days following the incident, social media was abuzz with questions and theories as to how the wolf came into possession of a weapon, not to mention how it learned to shoot. Yet, despite an all-out publicity campaign and statewide wolf hunt, the killer was never found.
Meanwhile, other reports began streaming in from all over the country. In New York’s Adirondack Park, a group of hikers observed a deer using an AK-47 to fend off a pack of stray dogs. The most surprising thing about the incident, aside from the military precision with which the weapon was used, was the way the deer appeared to aim just below the feet of the dogs as if to frighten them, and that no dogs were injured. In another case, in Kentucky, a bobcat was photographed employing a .22 Winchester to dispatch a rabbit. The photographer, a zoologist from the local university, then observed the bobcat skillfully cleaning the carcass with his claws, after which he consumed the rabbit in the usual manner. According to the zoologist, this was the first time that a bobcat, or any animal, had ever been observed using a firearm to kill its prey.
Unlike the first case, widely viewed as a coldblooded execution, most of the new incidents seemed to involve a more responsible and less lethal use of firearms. In the months to come, a gradual public consensus emerged that most animals were not out to get humans after all, and, what’s more, appeared to be following sensible gun safety precautions. Though some animals continued to use their guns for hunting and protection, others were observed clearly using their weapons for target shooting and training their young. Humans observed one five-foot gopher snake in Texas plinking cans out in the desert with a subcompact Glock 26 pistol. Behavioral scientists are still at a loss to explain exactly how the creature managed this.
While some of the anti-gun people predictably complained that guns in the “hands” of animals was just another example of the country’s out-of-control gun lobby, others argued for the rights of animals, claiming that they had demonstrated a good faith effort to use their guns responsibly. The lone wolf episode, as it came to be called, was a case of one bad apple, an obvious nut job that never should have gotten its paws on a gun in the first place.
The NRA finally suggested that the Second Amendment be rewritten to include the rights of all animals to own and carry firearms. In a wildly popular TV ad, a happy family appears in their living room, doting on their two children, Labrador retriever, and Siamese cat. “We love our kids,” proclaims the proud couple, while a scene shows the two tykes blasting away with their Uzis at a human-shaped target, under the careful supervision of a trained instructor. “And we love our pets. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to have guns, too?” Scene flashes to same shooting range, only this time it’s Fido and Tabby blasting away, as patriotic music plays in the background. Then the words “Save the Animals. Support Animal Gun Rights” flashes on the screen. This ad paid for by NRA members like you.
Firearm dealers, as expected, salivated at the prospect of a huge new pool of customers, despite thorny issues of currency exchange, licensing, and delivery. There were also philosophical questions. Should guns be sold to grizzly bears, tigers, great white sharks, and other potentially dangerous animals? How old must an animal be to own a gun? And just how do officials run a background check?
No matter. Such issues will surely be resolved in due time, as they always have. Already two similar bills are making their way through the House and Senate. The time is now to extend gun rights to all God’s creatures.
©Gene Twaronite 2014
Originally published in 5enses November 2014 http://www.5ensesmag.com/the-case-for-animal-gun-rights/