The app “NextDoor” is growing in popularity as a way of encouraging contact and making good neighbors. But sometimes what is reported and discussed takes my breath away.
A very recent example took place in and around Rapid City, South Dakota. Someone on the west side of the City heard gunfire. (Rapid, with about 80,000 people, is about half IN the foothills of the Black Hills and half OUTside the Black Hills on the edge of the “sea of grass” that is the Great Plains. The shots came from the mountain’s side of town.)
Of course, people panicked on social media. And no doubt, many called the cops or the Sheriff or the Forest Service (USFS)
There seem to be numerous misunderstandings. Let us look at a few.
1. It was claimed that the South Dakota Army National Guard (SDARNG) was conducting live-fire exercises in an urban area. Firing at a shooting range (as the SDARNG has at the Camp Rapid West Training Area) is NOT a “live-fire exercise” – it is marksmanship training and done on specially built ranges with backstops, safety zones, under the control of a range officer and with clear procedures to prevent any round impacting outside of the designated and designed impact area, which is far from any occupied structure. The units conduct range training year-round: the sound of firing in your area will vary depending on wind and cloud cover, the weapons being fired, and other factors. When the conditions are right, you can hear firing at the SDARNG range clearly as far out as Sheridan Lake Road in the Whispering Pine and Countryside South areas (5 to 6 miles away) over several ranges of hills).
2. The terminal velocity, according to the panicked postings, of bullets fired into the air is 200 miles per hour! But the ballistics experts calculate that it varies depending on the muzzle velocity, angle of fire, and humidity and wind conditions. A typical “high-powered rifle” (such as a .30-06, .3030, 7.62 mm or 10 mm) will usually have a terminal velocity (when it hits the ground) of about 50 m/s or 112 mph. Dangerous? Of course – IF Guardsmen fired their weapons into the air AND towards developed areas. But not the horror promoted by the postings.
3. Postings claimed that ANY firing of weapons was illegal because of Rapid City municipal code, especially since there is a Lakota-affiliated homeless camp in the area. And even posted photos showing that the US Forest Service also prohibited firing guns. Ignoring the wisdom (or lack) of such laws, as far as I know, Camp Rapid’s west training area is NOT in the City Limits and it is NOT National Forest System Land. Nor is that homeless camp – and if it is presently not occupied, the USFS rules would not apply anyhow, even if it WERE under USFS jurisdiction. And the homeless camp is presently unoccupied: its former residents having moved back into Rapid City.
4. USFS DOES allow shooting firearms for hunting, as per agreement with state and local government – such as SDDGFP (Game Fish and Parks). In addition, USFS does tacitly allow shooting for target practice in many areas provided safety procedures are followed. USFS jurisdiction does NOT extend to ANY non-USFS land (including private, institutional, organizational, or state or other federal lands) even if that private (fee or trust) land is completely surrounded by National Forest System Land, unless the regulations AND statutes (Congressional law) has recently changed.
5. A basic human right does exist even in Rapid City (shocking as that may be) and the National Forest System Lands: you MAY discharge a firearm in defense of yourself, others, and even property.
6. This is the West, and this is South Dakota, and this is the Black Hills: we exercise our liberties – our rights – responsibly and with consideration for others, but we do not give UP our rights. Both children AND animals can be taught to behave safely and not freak out when firearms are discharged. (So can old soldiers!) We DO need to deal with irresponsible people, but simply shooting weapons around children, even small children, is NOT irresponsible, inherently unsafe, or an act of barbarism, savagry, or cruelty.
7. People who behave irresponsibly with and around firearms (as with automobiles, grills, ponds and pools and streams, etc.) need to be identified, counseled, taught properly, and observed and assisted with concern, care, and love – and if they do not change their ways, should be penalized appropriately to protect others.
Obviously (before editing) this was addressed to local people in the Rapid City area. But I believe it is an example of telling the truth to counter false claims, panic and fear.
Admittedly, that is a tactic which does NOT work with many enemies of liberty, or those swayed by them. But sometimes…
I am sometimes – indeed, often – told that we can only counter emotional claims, outbursts, and objections in kind: emotional appeals. Appeals that mimic the paranoia and ill education and knowledge of the haters and fearful. Perhaps. But I still tend to be rational.
What do you think?