Way back in the 1700’s, hunters would hone their skills during the off season by flinging captured birds in the air and blasting them with shotguns. It was the original version of “Angry Birds.” It’s also probably why PETA was founded.
The hunters finally ran out of real birds so they started using clay targets in the 1880’s. What, you ask, does all of this bird stuff have to do with the Lege?
Senator Annette Dubas has introduced a resolution supporting Nebraska students who enjoy trap shooting as a sport. Trap shooting is a big deal for the 1800 students who participate in our state. And Frankly it’s a lot of sensory fun to yell “pull!”, squeeze that trigger, hear the crackle of the gunshot, smell the gunpowder and see the annihilation of that stinkin’ yellow-bellied sapsucker of a jerk that cut me off in traffic yesterday… I mean see that clay target fall to the earth in little pieces. The jerk.
There are a lot of “Wherases” in the resolution, such as “Whereas trap shooting competitions promote tourism,” and “trap shooting improves confidence of youth,” and provides “personal responsibility and sportsmanship among primary and secondary students,” and “our youth should have the opportunity and be encouraged to participate in trap shooting…”
The Whereases conclude with a Therefore: “Therefore be it resolved by the members of the One Hundred Second Legislature of Nebraska that the Legislature hereby encourages the school boards of every school district in the State of Nebraska, in conjunction with the Game and Parks Commission, to voluntarily promote and include trap shooting as a high school sport for the youth of our state.”
Four nice geezerly trap shooting coaches came to testify in support of the resolution, including one local sheriff who came dressed up in full heat-packing law-enforcement gear. He did not, however, have his shotgun on him, which was too bad, because Senator Council and Senator Howard were both absolutely clueless about trap shooting. A shotgun would have been a useful visual tool. Scary, but useful.
The nice heat-packing sheriff had to explain to Senator Howard that live animals are no longer tossed up in the air and dispensed of during a trap shooting meet. She was concerned about that and relieved to learn about the “little round things” they use nowadays instead of chickadees or barn swallows.
The testifiers also had to explain to Senator Council that one does not use a rifle to trap shoot. “They don’t use handguns do they?” she asked. And she was serious. “I know it’s a long gun,” she continued, “but I don’t know what kind.” That was really cute and naïve, coming from a black woman representing an urban area of high crime and poverty.
One geezerly trap shooting coach testified that he was concerned because his stepson’s school refused to grant an excused absence for the boy to attend a statewide trap shooting competition. The kid took the unexcused absence and also took first place at the event. Quid pro quo.
Another coach was peeved because school officials called him to say they didn’t want his kid’s trap shooting trophy in their school. Seems the kid earned international recognition for his trap shooting skills, and the organization sent the trophy award to the young man’s school for display. Instead of recognizing the kid’s accomplishment, the school officials told the coach if he didn’t come get the trophy out of their school they were going to throw it away.
And we wonder why some parents home-school their kids.
Things like this happen when a sport is not sanctioned by the schools, so the coaches and the kids are asking the schools to lighten up and give a nod to trap shooting.
The senators, including those who were on a steep learning curve, seemed interested and supportive of the idea of the resolution. Nobody testified in opposition; not even the lobbyist for the school boards who would be affected by the resolution.
So it seems kids with guns may get a green light in the Lege.
But wait, there’s more:
On the same day the trap shooting resolution was heard, Senator Ken Haar introduced his Student Expression Act, LB582, supporting First Amendment protection for students and teachers in Nebraska. What sort of reception did free speech get in the Lege? Stay tuned.
(For the answer to the burning question of student free expression, see: Guns are Good, Part Two)