Have you ever been on a snipe hunt?

To date, I’ve never been on one, at least not on one labeled by that name, and think such avoidance on my part is a good thing.

My introduction to snipe hunting came decades back while working on a 25-man federal firefighting crew based at Sled Springs led by Rayford Guillory.

From the start, snipe hunting didn’t strike me as a fruitful venture. The instructions given to others – our crew included a potpourri of unorthodox college students from states like Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, and California – was to walk off into the night holding an empty gunny sack and snare any winging snipe that passed by in the blackness. They were told, with only the best of instructors able to contain laughter, that someone later would return to pick them up.

Hopefully, no one bit, but with the likes of Jimmie Running setting such traps, there are no guarantees of that.

Going on the Internet to ascertain if an increase of gun ownership by women is a good thing is akin to embarking on a snipe hunt. However, I did bite, and if I had to do it over gladly would stay home to eat Corn Nuts and do Word Search puzzles.

The Internet, without doubt, is both the greatest source of accurate information and greatest source of misinformation ever devised by man. Unfortunately, there are no available referees in cyberspace willing to discern truth from fiction at an affordable price.

Launching into the woman-gun safety issue immediately led me in a direction I hadn’t intended to take.

I first encountered a Web article contending that the percentage of women owning guns has not increased in recent years, that gun lobbyists are promoting that myth to incur a new, improved market for their products. The reasoning, the article said, is that the gun industry’s longstanding pool of white male buyers is drying up and women are being recruited to fill that gap.

“You are a woman. Someone is going to attack you. You need a gun,” was the advertising logo introduced there.

Maybe, and maybe not. But where’s my referee?

A criminologist named Gary Kleck, again according to the occasionally reliable Internet, is touted as being one of the most knowledgeable sources in the United States regarding guns, gun ownership, and statistical information pairing the two.

When I did track down a definitive opinion of his on a piece released from Florida State University, it read “ … his recent research has found that higher gun ownership rates reduce homicide rates, probably because the violence-reducing effects of guns among noncriminal victims and prospective victims outweigh the violence-increasing effects among criminals.”

I’d guess that might be an opinion gun advocates could willingly hang their hats on and discontinue further search for truth in an obviously gray-scaled area of study.

But that, roughly, might be analogous to having someone pick you up after a frustrating snipe hunt and vowing never to speak of the experience.

Still, the search for simple answers to complex questions seemingly never ends.

Try statistics, as published by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

A statistic published there in January 2012 said, “Living in a home with guns increases the risk of homicide by 40 percent to 160 percent, and increases the risk of suicide from 90 percent to 460 percent.”

My theory is that rural gun owners are more responsible with firearms than their urban counterparts. But what do I know, my biggest claim to fame is that I’ve yet to go on a snipe hunt.

Jabberwock II columnist Rocky Wilson is a reporter for the Chieftain.

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