Law abiding shooters have been locked in a struggle for many long years to have their sport recognized as an equal to any other sport. They have been attacked by anti-gun groups because they chose firearms for recreation, hunting and competition. These men and women follow all laws laid down by society and are still viewed by a small few as criminals. Shooters know that firearms are just like any other tool and if used with malice, can be a weapon to harm and kill. But like anything else, there are always exceptions to any rule and shooters are no different. While these shooters are but a small percentage, people tend to focus on the negative aspect of a particular thing. So when a law abiding shooter decides to skip the law abiding part to shoot signs and destroy property, they become that small percentage that makes it tough for the rest of us.
If you have ever traveled to a shooting spot that is off the beaten path, I know you have seen signs with holes in them. These are the most popular because they are next to the road and shooters can lean outside their windows and fire at will. In many states this is highly illegal because someone may be living in a home behind that sign or just be down range of it. Most state laws forbid shooting within a mile of a public road; yet seemingly normal law abiding shooters choose to make a bad decision. Some are fully aware of their choice and do it anyway, their choice now makes them a law breaker and they should be punished for this crime. I believe a stiff fine and community service replacing these same signs is in order and most of the time fixes the problem, but there are people who never learn.
If your rural enough you will also find other objects with signs of firearms vandalism such as barns, windows, doors, appliances and even old cars left lying around. This type of vandalism leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the property owners who maybe shooters themselves. Very soon you will see the, “No Trespassing” and most certainly the, “No Shooting,” signs go up. Law abiding shooters ask for permission and obey all posted signs, but the one who disregards the signs and disrespects the owner doesn’t care about these things. This is when law enforcement is called in and things tend to go from bad to worse, and stuck in the middle is the law abiding shooter. Non-shooting people tend to believe all shooters are this way, a perceived prejudice that’s not justified.
From this lawless action on the part of a select few, laws are demanded from our leadership to stop this from happening again. Now if you’re familiar with my writings, you know I utilize the phrase, “There are exceptions to every rule,” and law makers are no different in this aspect. Since our leadership is made up from a diverse crowd, we may get a local official who is firearms friendly and sees the need, but does not want the law abiding shooters penalized for the actions of others. They will work to get laws in place that will severely punish law breakers and not the law abiding shooter. This is how a free democracy works, but the side effects of a free nation are the select little who abuse their 2nd amendment rights and brings down the law on everyone.
On the opposite end of the scale is the member of our leadership who is a non-shooter or worse, hates all firearms. They will seek to ban all firearms, and or enact strict gun control laws and not address the problem at hand. This sets in motion a ripple effect that damages you the law abiding gun owner and the businesses that supply firearms and ammunition. We all know how quickly hatred spreads; which makes recovering from such laws extremely difficult. It seems to have always been the practice of our leadership to punish everyone for the transgressions of a few. When you and I respect the laws set down by our leadership whether good or bad, we follow them. If they are worded improperly or unjust we use the means at hand to get them changed for the better.
The easiest way to combat this is to simply not do it. If you are with a friend or shooter who does this, remind them of the consequences for their actions and the effect it will have on all shooters. If you witness this happening, try to get a plate number, description of the vehicle and its occupants. Report it to Game and Fish or any law enforcement officer at your next opportunity. Take extreme care when doing this, law breakers and criminals when pressed with the threat of being arrested can turn on you with deadly force. There is no action that is worth your life, even though this act will undoubtedly make you angry that they are getting away with a crime. A wise police officer with many years on the force once told me, “every dog has his day in court; it’s just a matter of time.”
In closing there is one more thing I should cover with you that you may not have thought of. Part of firearms vandalism is leaving the grounds in the place you are shooting littered with garbage you or someone else hauled there. I have been witness to this first hand and it makes me embarrassed as a shooter to know these people believe there is nothing wrong with this. I have even heard shooters tell me, “it gives other shooters a target later on.” Hauling your old washer, refrigerator, PC monitor, appliance or discarded materials to your shooting spot breeds the same behavior from others. This is a prime reason shooting spots are closed to the public and I know this for a fact. The Boy Scouts have a motto, “leave no trace.” This means if you pack it in you pack it out, simple as that.