The domestic military

Why are we hell-bent on becoming a military society?

The author, a Paradise resident, is a wildlife biologist with 50 years of field experience.

Like it or not, we are hell-bent on becoming a military society. This not only stems from our federal efforts to solve foreign political and religious problems through military means; or on the growing capacity and focus of our internal state and local law enforcement agencies to control, rather than protect their citizenry; or on the extreme growth of a radical military citizenry who believe the Constitution supports, even condones, revolution and is amassing military firearms to be prepared for it. It is all of these.

Recently, at a course on firearm safety, the instructor cautioned us that “your concern is not whether you might get into a gun fight, but when … and you need to be prepared for it.” In America? Really? I try to think of all the friends and acquaintances I’ve had in the past 75 years and cannot point to one who was or knew anyone involved in a domestic gun fight. Guns were for hunting.

I admit as a teenager I got into my scrapes with the police: throwing cherry bombs from a vehicle, driving over someone’s lawn, throwing water balloons at police cars. But when I was apprehended, I was not shot, handcuffed, tear-gassed or jailed, but rather put in the backseat of a police car and taken home to my parents for my punishment. The officers were stern but fair, and I even knew some of them by their first names because they lived in our neighborhood.

At the Snow Goose Festival a couple years back, the two personnel manning the California State Parks booth were law enforcement officers, both wearing full battle gear on their belts: automatic pistols, mace, handcuffs, baton, etc. I recalled the state parks were places my family took me to learn about nature, camp, hike and fish; not to be intimidated by a military presence. These didn’t appear to be the ones I’d want to ask how the fishing was in Lake Oroville.

Why has this changed? Well, when I was a young man, no one walked into department stores or restaurants carrying automatic weapons to “prove” their Constitutional rights; no one owned a military weapon capable of killing a couple dozen kids before reloading; and few believed war was the panacea to all our foreign problems. But, it’s a new world out there and I, for one, am glad to have been part of the old one.