By RON KOLODZIEJ
For the Recorder
I'm constantly amazed at the plethora of anti-gun articles, comments and opinions expressed to me personally and in the media. But you can break it down thusly, and these are questions I've asked many "anti's" to respond to but normally all I get are mumbles and non sequiturs in response. First, one of the buzz phrases they all use is "common sense" gun laws. The problem here is what's the definition of "common sense?" No one can interpret that phrase for me and it means different things to different people. Ask 50 people that question and you'll likely get 50 varied responses. Usually, the definition is colored by whether the respondent is "fur or agin" private ownership of firearms. New York City has perhaps the toughest gun ownership laws in the country but that doesn't stop felons from getting them. Is that my fault as a legitimate gun owner? No way - and I can't take any of the blame for that.
How about "gun show loopholes" -- show me the loopholes. I've spoken with a number of gun show operators and asked them to explain their preventive measures to me. They've all complied with whatever the government insists upon -- and more -- and from what I can see they're locked tighter than a drum when it comes to conducting business. Let's face it, the last thing a gun show operator wants is to have a felon buy a weapon at one of his or her shows - and the operators jump through multiple bureaucratic hoops to see that doesn't happen.
Another buzz phrase is "sensible gun laws" -- but here again, who defines sensible? It's all in the eye of the beholder. To one person, "sensible gun laws" might mean total disarmament. To another it means something much less than that.
I have a suggestion that should go a long way in resolving this issue. Rather than enacting new "feel good" laws, how about enforcing the thousands of national, state, regional, municipal and local gun laws already on the books? It's simple -- use a firearm in the commission of a felony and you go to jail for a long time and with no opportunity for plea bargains. But that'll never happen. It's too straightforward and easy and uses the laws that are already in place.
Incidentally, were you aware that in an attempt to rescue his hopes for re-election and possible future political aspirations, the Governor is now trying to distance himself from the SAFE Act that he was so instrumental in passing. According to a New York Post article, the Guv is trying to shift blame for the shoddily worded law to Mayor Bloomberg and the Brady Campaign, saying that they drafted most of the legislation and he didn't read it. Just like the rest of the NY Legislature didn't read it before it was hastily crammed down the throats of New Yorkers.
Much of what is in the law was drafted by people connected to Mayor Bloomberg and the Brady Center, not by the governor's staff. An administration source said, "that's why there are so many problems with it."
Before the massive backlash against the bill began, the Governor was trying to use the SAFE Act to bolster his credentials. But instead of the public rallying to his side, his popularity numbers have taken a nosedive and the largest protests ever recorded in Albany formed against his prized legislation.
Seeing the writing on the wall, itâis now apparently time to distance himself from this poorly conceived piece of legislation.
The annual summer fishing contest sponsored by the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation is being held today, the opening day of the statewide bass season, and is being headquartered at Sport Island Pub, Sacandaga Park.
The contest fishing hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The prize structure for bass, walleye and trout will be $300 for first place, $150 for second place and $50 for third place in each of those three categories. During the event you can call (518) 227-8298 if you want information on the status of the leaderboard. I'll have the results of that event for you in next week's column.
The following day, Sunday, June 16, the Fish House Fish and Game Club will hold a bass tournament on Great Sacandaga. Captain Naughty's (formerly Captain Carls's), 762 S. Shore Road, Northville, just a mile or so short of the Batchellerville Bridge will serve as the official contest headquarters and weigh station.
FREE FISHING WEEKEND
Also, don't forget that Saturday and Sunday, June 29 and 30, are Free Fishing Days here in New York State. No fishing licenses will be required these two days though all other rules and regs, such as minimum sizes and creel limits, will still apply. That weekend offers an ideal opportunity to introduce someone to the great sport of fishing and is also an excellent time for out-of-state residents to visit and sample all that New York has to offer a freshwater angler. Both residents and non-residents can fish for free during this two-day period, without the need for a resident or non-resident fishing license. Take a non-angling youngster or adult with you on your fishing trip that weekend. You'll both enjoy the experience and that youngster or adult will thank you some day for introducing him or her to the sport.
If you'd like additional information about free fishing days, or about New York State fishing in general, you're invited to contact your nearest Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Office.
In last week's column we briefly discussed the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art in Salisbury, MD. The primary reason that subject interested me so much was that Maryland and Chesapeake Bay are sort of my old stomping grounds. I spent some of my military time at Aberdeen Proving Ground on the west side of the Bay and in what little spare time I had I fished the brackish tidal creeks for catfish, pickerel and bass and even caught some trout in neighboring creeks. I deer hunted in the area as well as on APG and took my first quail there.
After my father-in-law retired from the military, he and my mother-in-law bought a home in Salisbury on the Delmarva Peninsula, where I was later introduced to crabbing for those delicious Maryland blue crabs. No matter where I've been, I always found a way to enjoy the outdoors, and the opportunity to visit the Ward Museum on this recent trip was certainly no exception, especially since it wasn't yet established while I was there.
As I mentioned last week, whether you're a hunter, a collector or carver of decorative or artistic decoys or just enjoy waterfowl in general, you're certain to find something of interest at the museum.
Few of you will likely ever visit the establishment though it makes for an interesting side trip if you're driving down to Florida or some other state with a warmer climate, but if you ever do, you'll want to know that it's open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. However, give yourself several hours to enjoy your visit. There's a lot to see and do. Aso, the attached Nature trail is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
SAFE BOATING COURSES
Whether you're an experienced boater or a neophyte, taking a Safe Boating Course is a wise move. These courses are offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Power Squadron and other entities. I always considered myself a safe boater but you never realize how much more you can learn about the pastime until you take one of those courses. I was generally immune from the required courses because I had not only my Pilot Engineer's license offered by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation but also my USCG "Six Pack" license but the annual inspection and periodic reviews were all very valuable and since my boat was used for commercial purposes it was equipped a tad more completely than most other boats on the water. When you're responsible for someone else's safety you tend to be a lot more safety-conscious than normal.
The larger your vessel, the more you need one of these courses. Perhaps one of these days I'll have the time and inclination to tell you about some of the bad mistakes I've seen on Great Sacandaga and other area waters. Every precaution you can take is a good one if it increases your safety and the safety of your passengers. I was also a firm believer in redundancy -- if the law requires you to have one of something -- have two instead. I had not only an automatic bilge pump, but a switch operated one and a portable unit as well. I had six handheld fire suppression units on board but also an automatic halon unit in the engine compartment. I could go on but your vessel my not be as large as mine and some of the items could be unnecessary but would you know what to do if your vessel suddenly began to take on water? What would you do if the lake you're on was suddenly hit by fierce winds and "high seas?" Simple questions but serious ones if you don't know what to do. Take one of these safe boating courses and don't forget the "Rules of the Road." They're important.
REID HILL WINNER
At the recent Reid Hill Fish & Game Club Kid's Fishing Derby at the Perthshire, one of the winners drawn in the raffle was Melissa Horton of 130 Kettle Road and the club has been unable to reach her to arrange for the prize award. If she's in the audience, ask her to please call Ray at 843-3451 to claim her prize.