The Hess Report

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Silly Hunters, Freedom's for People With Balls 

I was at K-mart yesterday (I know, I know), and I was looking for a manager to make him an offer on two Pokemon stuffed animals that had been sitting on the shelf for over two months. When I tracked him down, he was arguing with a customer at the Sporting Goods counter. The customer was upset about having to give his Social Security Number in order to get his hunting license, and the potential for identity theft therein. He had a point, as you had to write your SSN and other identifying statistics into a log book from which the next several customers could easily see your information.

The guy was pissed, and justifiably so. As this is an area of interest for me, I listened in.

The customer's argument can be summed up as: "You're requiring my SSN to make this sale, and you can't even show me that the information is secure in even the slightest way."

The manager's take was: "It's state law. We can't sell a hunting license without your SSN. If you don't like it, call your Congressman."

Of course, they both failed to realize that the solution was for the man to fill out the form, which he would have to do no matter where he got the license, then remove it from the book and have K-mart file it more securely. They didn't think of that, but that's why I'm the best, and they're not.

Anyway, the man asked why the state even needed the SSN. The manager stated that they were trying to use the information to track down tax evaders and people trying to get out of paying child support. "You know," said the manager, "deadbeats." Like that made it okay to insecurely extract personal financial documentation (which the SSN is these days) from law abiding citizens who were engaged in lawful activity, in order to help law enforcement and the State Department of Revenue. Once again, we see a burden placed on the normal citizen for the simple convenience of the State. And once again, that's completely backwards.

The problem in this case stems from the same source as that of PennDOT and my take on driver's licensing. Hunters, in conceding that the State had some kind of right to regulate hunting and license it, opened a can of nasty, fanged worms. I'm not saying that hunting shouldn't be licensed. Licensing hunters grants solutions to several problems (minimum firearms safety education, management of herd size, etc.). But people have to realize that ceding authority to the State usually has unintended, but entirely predictable consequences: the State will begin to accumulate more authority, expanding their powers while at the same time requiring more of it's citizens. It is, I think, the natural progression of power in a beauracracy, and must be considered any time we grant the State authority in a certain area.

Which is why I've never been a fan of the Hunting Lobby when it comes to guns. They're too soft on the Second Amendment. As long as "sporting rights" aren't compromised, they don't care. It's nice that firearms offer you the potential to feed your family in adverse situations, but that's not why the Founding Fathers instilled the RKBA (Right to Keep and Bear Arms) into the Constitution. As I've said before, it's to help keep the government honest and to prevent the possibility of a land-based invasion.

And since the hunters (and I know that there is some overlap between the hunting community and the RKBA community, so not all hunters fall under this indictment) have divorced their hunting rights from the RKBA, they allowed the State to begin dictating terms. And now, hunters in Pennsylvania have to pony up their personal financial information in order to be the given the privilege of hunting.

The customer at K-mart walked out without getting his hunting license. He seemed pissed enough to call his Congressman. Of course, our Congressman here is soon-to-be-felon Jeff Habay, so he's not going to be exercising a lot of pull in the State House next session. But when people like him (a whitehaired gentleman in khakis and a red polo shirt) start walking out of K-mart in protest, the hunting lobby might be about to realize that they've given away the store, and received very little in return.

(P.S. I know that Freedom is for everyone. The title of this post is not to imply that people lacking balls do not have a right to freedom. It just means that freedom will not long hang around your neck of the woods if you demonstrate to the tyrannies of the world your lack of cojones.)

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