Good guys (sometimes) wear white hats

It’s great fun to sit by the stream and watch the oak leaves start raining down on the earth. They’ll become fertilizer to make more leaves next year. I do like a place with seasons.

Soon will be time to get Babe the Blue (Harley) Moose onto some curving mountain roads, among the multi-colored maples, birches, poplars and other natural topiary.

Unfortunately, there seem to be places on the planet with only two seasons: fighting, and preparing to fight. Syria and Missouri come quickly to mind.

What if we could all put down our weapons, take off our boots and go walking in a mountain stream. That probably can’t happen – we humans tend to want to kill anything or anybody we’re afraid of, meaning we’re pointing guns at nearly anyone who doesn’t live in our neighborhood.

I don’t know what transpired on the street to cause a Ferguson, Mo., police officer to shoot an unarmed 19-year-old young man. I know what happened next was more police breaking out the armored vehicles and machine guns – to keep the civilian populace under control, they said.

All that firepower is paid for with tax money intended to equip our military forces. The equipment has been declared surplus, meaning the military does not need it, so local police departments across the nation can have their very own war-making equipment.

“We need to be better equipped because what we are up against are better equipped,” West Hempfield Township Police Chief Michael Pugliese told WGAL-TV in a report aired Monday night.

We live in a culture that does love its guns.

It’s unlikely our government will ever try to confiscate legally-owned civilian firearms. Some people think the only reason for such authoritarian restraint is there still is enough Wild West in our DNA to make authorities wary of such actions.

One never knows when civilians may be called upon to protect themselves. Already some members of a “well-armed militia” have shown themselves willing to carry assault-style weaponry to Burger King, lest less well-armed customers require protection from not quite done Bacon Double Cheeseburgers.

On the other hand, a large portion of our population already has made all those “deer rifles” virtually meaningless as weapons of war.

♦ The NYPD uses EZ-Pass to track drivers in ways that have nothing to do with toll collection.

♦ A few years ago, the police chief in my hometown was convicted of tipping his son off to a drug bust. Key evidence was phone records obtained from the chief’s cell phone provider.

♦ Very soon after the 9-11 attack, the federal government was able to obtain, under guise of national security, phone records of virtually everyone in the U.S.

♦ The hastily passed Patriot Act allowed security forces to obtain library records to see whether anyone was reading books about how to make bombs.

♦ The ISIS agent who beheaded journalist James Foley has been identified, according to British and U.S. spy agencies, partly based on comparison with voice recordings already on file.

♦ Those of us who attend NFL football games, or merely walking down the street or running red lights in many of the nation’s cities, have volunteered our images to a variety of facial recognition databases – without citizen complaint.

That kind of data collection, I submit, should be scarier than Eric Holder trying to confiscate .22-caliber pistols from squirrel hunters.

Earlier this week, a participant in another discussion countered, “I am not the government.”

That’s the attitude that will keep gun confiscation unnecessary.

I think I’ll find a quiet stream and watch the leaves fall, and leave it to the aforementioned militia to save me from errant burgers.

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