2011-01-26 / Opinion

A truly scary plot

by Alex McRae

September 11, 2001, was a brutal reminder that there are people out there dedicated to our nation’s destruction.

Americans are fun-loving and energetic, but we don’t run from those who threaten us. We hunt them down and bring them to justice. In recent years, sharp- eyed Americans have gotten as good as anyone at spotting evildoers in our midst.

That’s a good thing. But every now and then, we are reminded that you can take a good thing too far.

It may have happened recently in south Georgia when a power line maintenance contractor came across something that gave him a start — six shotguns mounted on platforms and hooked up to a tangle of cables and wires that enabled the weapons to be fired remotely by someone on the Internet.

In the kinder, gentler America of a decade ago, the contractor might have “borrowed” one or two of the prize Benelli shotguns and gone about his business. Instead, he snapped some photos of the apparatus and reported the rig to the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.

I wondered why he bothered to report it at all. Near my west Georgia home, remote-controlled shotgun rigs are common as gully dirt.

My favorite incident involving such a device occurred several years ago when a man filled with equal parts wrath and buckshot told local lawmen he had been assaulted by an unattended gun at a residential development overrun with low rent, high-crime types.

The owner of the firearm said he had aimed the gun at the door and rigged it to fire by itself if someone entered without permission. The dude said he said he was tired of people breaking into his trailer and stealing his drugs. Case closed.

Maybe such things don’t happen in south Georgia. Or maybe the contractor called Wildlife Resources officials because the shotguns were all aimed at a “food plot” clearly planted by a hunter trying to attract game to his high- tech shooting gallery.

That might make sense. This doesn’t: once they heard about remote-controlled shotguns, Wildlife Resources officials called in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security? Lord help. When did Homeland Security start investigating unorthodox hunting practices? Are terrorists now targeting poachers prowling south Georgia power line easements? Let’s hope not.

By the time anti-terror squads arrived, the guns were gone. The property owner was not. He said he had designed the rig to help him thin the herd of wild hogs terrorizing his territory. He said the setup was not yet operable.

Homeland Security agreed and issued a statement saying the apparatus “had not been deployed at that point to shoot any animal.”

Homeland Security also issued a statement saying remote- controlled hunting was banned in 25 states and warning that such devices could be used for “ nefarious activity.”

So can tire irons. Will NASCAR tire changers be on the terror watch list when the green flag drops at Daytona in a few weeks?

Maybe incidents like this will convince Homeland Security to focus on more productive activities, like groping grandmothers and children at airport security posts.

It’s too bad the south Georgia landowner can’t have a high-tech hog-killing, but if he really feels the urge to slaughter some swine, he might head to Alabama. Over there, you can get a license to hunt wild hogs with a spear.

Good idea? Who knows. But the fact that spear hunting is allowed in Alabama may explain why no terrorists have yet been caught trying to sneak into Sweet Home. Jihadists may be trained to take on remotecontrolled shotguns, but I doubt they’re ready to rumble with a spear-toting Osama bin Bubba.

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@newnan.com)

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