Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughts from the Road - Danger Real and Perceived

I spend time each month in, or traveling through, for work or visiting friends and family, in a state where a law abiding citizen can't carry a legally obtained firearm concealed to protect against all the criminals that have their illegal weapons. Until such time as the lawmakers in that state see the light, I will only take my allowable gear, some basic safety devices, and some olives for a martini, making sure I don't stop to spend money or anything anyplace I may not be safe.

Much effort is wasted on worrying about guns in the hands of millions of law abiding citizens for whom statistics show, make it through years and years of owning a weapon, of carrying concealed, without shooting up a Jiffy Lube. Yet to some, including certain politicians, concealed carry citizens are considered as dangerous to them as a career criminal.

Violent criminals and concealed carry holders. How do we know which one is dangerous to the law abiding? (aside from that whole full FBI background check thing).

How would you know the difference?

Armed robber. Grandma protecting her home and her family. You can hardly tell them apart.

It's a fact.

Why am I uneasy when I travel to or through a state where I can not legally carry a concealed firearm? States that do not allow concealed carry have a violent crime rate MUCH higher than those states that do.And that myth that many politicians tout? "1000 people are killed every year by guns".
They forget to tell you that 25% of those include war deaths, 14% is suicide (and suicide rates do NOT go down in areas that don't allow guns). The majority of the rest are in high crime, lawless areas, that don't allow guns except for the criminals who greatly add to the gun deaths there.

A law abiding person has a greater chance of being killed by a cow than of dying by gunfire, either intentionally, or accidentally, from the weapon used by someone who lawfully holds it.Yes, more people are killed by cows each year than lawful guns intemtionally fired by a non criminal. Even more than sharks (though I'd avoid if swimming in the Pacific wearing your wasabi wet suit).

Yes - Cows.

Here's one disemboweling his lastest victim.
Why aren't the politicians doing something about that?

-Cow locks required on all cows and cow pastures.
-All assault cows banned except those with properly attached cow bells.
-The formation of organizations to keep the media informed of the danger, such as BADD (Bovines are Deadly, Dumbass)
-Cow Owner Identification Cards (have it ready to show the law officer).
-N.C.R.A.: National Cow Registration Act requiring the registration and marking of all cows with non-removable serial numbers.

And lastly, the establishment of "Cow-Free Zones" for the safety of citizens. For we know, that no one is ever badly injured on a farm in areas where there aren't cows.

So, to keep in line with the hysteria involved with "oh my God, you own a gun" and the Brady campaigns flawed logic of how concealed carry causes more crime, I present a Home on the Range Primer on avoiding violent crime by cow.

Yes, cows, seen in screen and print as a gentle lowly creature, the cow can easily turn into a grumpy mooing menace. I've lived on a farm. I know.
Think about it, you're doing a bit of pheasant hunting, crossing land you got permission to roam, having a wonderful time. The sky is balmy, the birds singing in the trees. Then up ahead, you head the yell of one of your companions. You run up ahead to find him scrambing up the tree as Mr. Bull tries to give him a horn enema. You turn and run, but guess what. He's gaining, and you're next.

You might be surprised to know that few people know how to defend themselves from cow attack. Between 2003 and 2008, 108 people died from cattle-induced injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of cow-related fatalities were caused by blunt force trauma to the head or chest; with over a third of the victims working in enclosed spaces with cattle. Normally, the perpetual battle between man and bovine is one-sided (and involves steak sauce). But people who work around cattle have associated risks, and have to be aware of both the animal and their surroundings at all time. "Like what they say about dogs, they can smell fear," one local rancher said.

But you're thinking? I'm not a farmer, I don't have a ranch. Why should I worry about cow attack? Well why do people worry that a married Baptist CPA is somehow going to take his concealed carry weapon into the local grocery and shoot up the entire produce section, including them? So for those that worry entirely too much about such things. Some cow safety tips.

How to tell a Gentle Cow from a Really Pissed off Cow.

See the difference?

Now, don’t get mixed up, non pissed off cows are still very dangerous. But it can be difficult to tell them apart. Color, however, is not a reliable identifying characteristic for either sex and the claws, which can rival that of Wolverine of the X-men, are difficult to see at a distance.

Precautions when camping in cow country. Now that you know to watch for a cow that's in a bad MOOd (pun intended). it’s time to learn what you can do to prevent an attack when camping out. Do not cook or store food in or near your tent, unless your tent is equipped with the latest in anti-cow technology. Do not sleep in the clothing you cook in and properly stow garbage, wash dishes and wipe down any tabletops. Hang food and anything with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, hippies, etc.) out of the reach of cows, if possible. If no trees are available, store your food in airtight or specially designed cow-proof containers. Avoid taking odorous foods and keep food smells off your clothing, lest you be molested or mugged and have your wallet stolen by gangs of cows.

Hiking in Cow Country. You must avoid surprising the cow at close range. If the terrain makes it hard for them to see you as your approach, make lots of noise. Talk loudly, wear a bell, sing the Monty Python Lumberjack song. If spotted by a cow, try to get its attention while it is a good distance away. Help the cow to recognize that you are a human by talking to it in a normal voice, waving your arms. Try not and travel alone. In a group, cows will attack the weakest link. Try and hike with people much slower and fatter than yourself and if the cow rushes you, point at that obnoxious guy with short legs that complained the entire hike.

Watch for signs that cows are in the area. That can include rubs and scrapes, cow patties, unusual explosions and booby traps involving spikes. Identifying these clues may help to prevent an encounter.

Leave your dog at home. Dogs and cows don't mix. Unless of course you're looking for a good dog vs.cow knife fight.

If you Encounter a Cow. Remain calm and avoid sudden movements. Give the cow plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. Every living thing has a zone of danger or personal space -- that is, the distance within which a cow feels threatened. If it changes its natural behavior (feeding, foraging or hay huffing) because of your presence, you are too close.If you push that limit, the cow may react aggresively in the form of a bluff charge, or even an outright attack. Cows are famous for the bluff charge and may run at you and suddenly stop or continue right at you. You never know, which it will be, they have a terrible poker face. If they charge and stop, try and stand still and slowly back away. If they continue, try and get something between you and the cow, trees, outbuildings, a chili cookoff. Then get away from the cow as quickly as you can.

If a confrontation is unavoidable. Kick, punch, yell, the welfare of the animal is not important if your life is at risk (and how much damage do you think you are going to do to a 1300 pound side of beef?)

Do not play dead. Unless you want a fresh steaming cow pile on your head.

Don't get cornered. Like politicians you elect, trust them and get used to how they work, but don't trust them so much that you ever turn your back on them. Avoid getting into a confined space with cows. A lot of farmers are killed when cows smashed them against the sides of gates, fences and barns.

Don't forget the little ones. A calf may be cute but don't forget its "protective and charging at you Mama" is not. When a cow gives birth she becomes another animal, one that a bottle of Midol, a backrub, and a slug of scotch will NOT help improve the mood of.

If you live with a cow with a violent temper. Adjust its attitude. Have a nice steak dinner. Invite your friends.

Next Week: The Barn Cat- The beltfed weapon of the hayloft (with a reminder of some of the rules of cats)

Cats are always loaded.

Be sure of your cat and what is behind it.

Never point your cat at anything you don't wish to destroy (especially furniture).
Keep your finger off the cat until you are ready to fire.