Guns

They Shoot Jackalopes, Don't They?

|

The Wall Street Journal is reporting on the move to ban the dread menace of "Internet hunting," a setup in which hunters use webcams and computer mouses to pull the trigger on unsuspecting prey. The call for a ban–spearheaded by a Humane Society direct-mail campaign–has been hugely successful. Over 30 states have banned the practice.

There's only one catch, but it's kind of important: Internet hunting doesn't, er, actually exist. Not even for jackalopes:

But nobody actually hunts animals over the Internet. Although the concept—first broached publicly by a Texas entrepreneur in 2004—is technically feasible, it hasn't caught on. How so many states have nonetheless come to ban the practice is a testament to public alarm over Internet threats and the gilded life of legislation that nobody opposes.

With no Internet hunters to defend the sport, the Humane Society's lobbying campaign has been hugely successful—a welcome change for an organization that has struggled to curtail actual boots-on-the-ground hunting. Michael Markarian, who has led the group's effort, calls it "one of the fastest paces of reform for any animal issue that we can remember seeing."

Here's an exchange that should make lawmakers (and voters) everywhere cringe:

[Melanie George] Marshall, the Delaware state representative, realizes that nobody is actually killing animals on the Internet, but thinks now is the time to act. "What if someone started one of these sites in the six months that we're not in session?" says Ms. Marshall. "We were able to proactively legislate for society."

That sentiment bothers a fellow representative, Gerald W. Hocker. Of 3,563 state legislators nationwide who have voted on Internet-hunting bans, Mr. Hocker is one of only 38 to oppose them. He co-sponsored an earlier version of Rep. Marshall's bill in 2005 but took his name off it after doing some research.

"Internet hunting would be wrong," he says. "But there's a lot that would be wrong, if it were happening."

More here (not sure if this is a non-subscriber link or not).

NEXT: DHS Tool To Push for "Tool Sharpening"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So a little over 1% of state legislators nationwide are able to think. Sounds about right.

  2. Internet hunting doesn’t, er, actually exist.

    No shit but the HSUS needs to raise cash for their lobbying to ban cockfighting,foies gras,secondary markets in research dogs,Belgian horse meat processing facilities and attractively pale tasty veal.

    As they progressively ban traditional human use of animals I fully expect organic heirloom meat consumers and catch and release fly fisherman to assume the role of “Fudds” in the gun control debate .

  3. Under the new laws, would this guy face jail time?

    How about simulated hunting? Do they want that to be treated as harshly as they treat simulated child porn?

  4. “Those rights not claimed by the federal governement are hereby banned to the states, and to the people.”

    Time for a new amendment to the Constitution.

  5. We should definitely ban remote Baby-punching websites before they happen.

    And what about betting websites that involve squirrels down the pants? That would be terrible if it actually occurred.

  6. I would like to see a website where you can instruct a monkey at a zoo to fling pooh at a passerby…webcams and all…that would be sweeeettt…..

  7. “Internet hunting would be wrong,” he says. “But there’s a lot that would be wrong, if it were happening.”

    And it would be wrong . . . why, exactly? Presumably very few of these legislators would be willing to sign their name to a statement that REAL hunting is wrong. How can the actual killing of an animal be ok, but the virtual killing of one “wrong?”

    Even if you are against hunting because of humane concerns, who is harmed by the killing of a non-existent animal?

  8. Brian24
    If I understand correctly, they’re not talking about video games. They’re talking about an actual gun rig and actual animal set up such that a person with a mouse can control an actual gun to shoot at an actual animal.

  9. Oops, that one above was me. I was not trying to snark.

  10. “They’re talking about an actual gun rig and actual animal set up such that a person with a mouse can control an actual gun to shoot at an actual animal.”

    Could Dick Cheney still shoot at lawyers?

  11. “It offended my sensibilities,” she says.

    …described as the “sick and depraved” sport…

    “…these kinds of operations would have the potential to make terrorism easier.”

    I’m dissapointed with the reporter. Couldn’t he find find anyone to say we need to “think about the children?”

  12. I wanna internet hunt Delaware State representatives. It’s a small state — they should be easy to find.

  13. If I understand correctly, they’re not talking about video games. They’re talking about an actual gun rig and actual animal set up such that a person with a mouse can control an actual gun to shoot at an actual animal.

    Yeah, So?

    What makes killing an animal with a gun remotely worse than killing that same animal with a gun from 500 meters while dressed in camouflage?

  14. Brian24,

    It’s my understanding that this isn’t exactly “virtual” hunting of non-existent animals. It would be on-line hunting of actual animals from a remote location. Webcam, real animal, real gun…control trigger at push of button.

  15. Investment tip:If the 2007 Farm Bill passes you might want to reduce your holdings in Belgian-owned ,US based, horse meat processing facilities.Expect growth in the sector of Canadian and Mexican Cheval abattoirs.

  16. The founding fathers meant to protect the right to bear arms via the internet.

  17. Yeah, So?

    What makes killing an animal with a gun remotely worse than killing that same animal with a gun from 500 meters while dressed in camouflage?

    While I haven’t pondered this terribly, I reject your assertion that I implied that internet killing was worse. I merely clarified things for Brian24

  18. jeez lamar, get with the millenium. It’s the cyber-right to cyber-bear cyber-arms.

  19. I would happily pay for a crane-and-claw-type internet thingie that tests your skill at dropping a banana peel in front of unsuspecting pedestrians.

  20. It would be highly ironic if the laws end up getting passed and make it illegal to, say, use a Predator drone to hunt terrorists by wire.

  21. Wow, someone posting under my name, what a treat.
    And more gems from SIV, who really hates the dreaded Humane Society of the United States:
    “No shit but the HSUS needs to raise cash for their lobbying to ban cockfighting,foies gras,secondary markets in research dogs,Belgian horse meat processing facilities and attractively pale tasty veal.”
    Most of the stuff on that list the HSUS can raise money on just fine without any appeal to internet hunting, since most of the things on that list are morally troubling for most people. As we all learned the hard way, SIV cannot of course put forward any even semi-coherent reason why animals should not enjoy legal protections from inhumane treatment. He just feels its wrong in his milksoppy bones I would guess…
    It trips me out in general when a great deal of people are morally offended by something and then the “tough guy contrarian” has to inevitably show his ass by saying “hey, I’m gonna go engage in that right now, and with butter sauce!” Of course many of these same tough guys cried a freaking river when Joe Biden said that some nutty gun owner was nutty. Oh the inhumanity when its your sacred cow!

  22. I read this article this morning over breakfast and had a good laugh.

    Couple of points:

    1. It is shocking, just shocking to see the Humane Society resorting to this to raise money.

    2. Like ChicagoTom, I am not understanding how exactly this is worse than normal hunting, as far as the animal is concerned. I kinda doubt Bambi cares if he is shot by a live person or a robot gun via the Internet.

    2. I would like to see a fishing via the Internet rig, which CA has apparently banned as well.

  23. Just to clarify on the Biden thing. I’m no fan of Joe Biden (he’s a fool I think). And I absolutely feel that most gun control nuts are ingorant in a classic sense of how enjoyable and safe it can be to own and shoot a gun (I was raised in a family that shot guns often, and I own one now). But having said that, any guy who knew he was going to appear on national tv who appeared as goofy as the guy Joe ragged on AND ESPECIALLY who would caress an inanimate object and call it his baby needs to look into getting what I and my friends call “pussy.” It’ll change your life guys. And SIV, if you looked into it your obession with cocks may lessen.

  24. Oh no! Yet another infrigement of our freedom to worry about! It’s a good thing H&R has a sense of balance so only the really important infringements get posted. By the way, it’s still illegal in most states to masturbate in the presence of a blind person.

  25. Passing laws banning things that don’t exist is nothing new.

    For instance, a few years ago, congress re-upped a federal ban on guns made out of plastic.

    Nevermind that there’s no such thing as an all-plastic gun, and that there’s no likely way to engineer such a firearm.

    Something just had to be done. You know. To protect the (hypothetical) children from (almost nonexistent) terrorists wielding (completely fictional) firearms.

  26. I don’t know how to number past two. Forgive me.

  27. While I haven’t pondered this terribly, I reject your assertion that I implied that internet killing was worse. I merely clarified things for Brian24

    Reinmoose,

    My Apologies for the misread.

    In any case, as a general question, I don’t get
    what makes this such a bad thing? It’s just a modern version of hunting. Except with less chances of shooting members of your Hunting party on the face

  28. What makes killing an animal with a gun remotely worse than killing that same animal with a gun from 500 meters while dressed in camouflage?

    I think that ultimately that’s exactly the point the Humane Society is trying to make. Unfortunately, they want us to draw the wrong conclusion from it.

  29. “1. It is shocking, just shocking to see the Humane Society resorting to this to raise money.”
    Yeah, and Reason never makes more out of some event (usually one we have only half-assed reports about at the time) to beat the libertarian drum…This is what lobbying groups in part do. Besides, I see no evidence that they raised this specter solely to dupe people into money for other projects. The article plainly says they actually lobbied and worked hard to get bills passed in numerous jurisidictions. They may have honestly felt it was important to kill something before it got off the ground (especially considering, as the article itself mentions, the intractable nature of most of the issues they currently advocate on).
    As an organization Humane Societies actually spends little of its time “lobbying.” THe majority of what they do is foster and take care of unwanted and homeless animals and connect them with potential adopters. The horror!

  30. Member from upstate New York: “Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?”

    Speaker Rayburn: “I don’t know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it’s a narcotic of some kind.”

    WHAT??! Congress legislating on something they know nothing about and doesn’t even exist! I can’t believe that would ever happen!!

  31. In any case, as a general question, I don’t get
    what makes this such a bad thing?

    One could make a case that it’s somewhat unsporting to hunt via the intarw3b. After all, it is a bit unfair if you’re sitting at home in your undies, drinking a mug of cocoa and shooting bambi via the WWW, instead of sitting out in the cold and snow, feeling miserable.

    That said, I don’t really have a problem with this kind of thing, especially if conducted on private property.

    And trying to play up the terrorism angle utterly ridiculous.

  32. Hold on a sec’ guys. It ALMOST makes sense to ban it, assuming that the website offering “hunt by wire” does NOT provide a means to track down a wounded animal/harvest the dead animal.

    While I favor hunters’ rights, I hope that MOST hunters feel at least SOME responsibility to try to make sure that the thing they shot is actually dead. And while not ALL hunting is done for meat, at least some is. Neither of which facility would be possible via an Internet fire-by-wire site.

    Anyway… just sayin’.

    CB

  33. Good thing they aren’t aware of the company that sponsors the Hunting for Bambi competition !

  34. Gosh, assuming hunting remains legal, wouldn;t there be a challenge to the ban of ‘computer-assisted’ hunting under the ADA?

  35. Gen X fossils will remember the Ghost Busters vs. The Real Ghostbusters cartoon fiasco back in the 80s..

    “Wow, someone posting under my name, what a treat.”

    Dude, I’ve been here tangling with joe when you were a mere byte. And are you Jamaican?

  36. You can have my hunting mouse (no, not an actual mouse that points or retrieves – that little thing attached to the computer… O, its just too hard to expain) when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers.

  37. It would be so much better if our busybody California legislators spent all their time outlawing completely imaginary social evils.

  38. When you outlaw mice for hunting, only mouse outlaws will hunt…
    OK, lets try this: When mouse hunters are outlawed, only outlaw mouse hunters will…
    OK, I’m going back to commenting on porn… something I have read about.

  39. Mike –

    social evil = imaginary

  40. “No shit but the HSUS needs to raise cash for their lobbying to ban cockfighting,foies gras,secondary markets in research dogs,Belgian horse meat processing facilities and attractively pale tasty veal.”
    Most of the stuff on that list the HSUS can raise money on just fine without any appeal to internet hunting, since most of the things on that list are morally troubling for most people.

    Mr. Nice Guy — care to provide the links to the statistics backing up those claims about the majority of people finding those things morally troubling?

  41. Could it be that Nick Gillespie is a vacuous twit who get his knickers in a knot over trivial twaddle?

  42. No, there really are social evils. The jerk carrying on a loud cell phone conversation in a restaurant, for example.

  43. The Humane Society “may have honestly felt it was important to kill something before it got off the ground”

    Mr. Nice Guy wins the thread for his (presumably) unintentional irony!

  44. THe majority of what they do is foster and take care of unwanted and homeless animals and connect them with potential adopters. The horror!

    Are these the same folks who kill the puppies and kitties that don’t get adopted, Mr. Nice Guy?

  45. ah! Taint-Withering Situations.

    gotcha.

    but they don’t exist in a legislative context (‘cept for the legislators, of course)

  46. THe majority of what they do is foster and take care of unwanted and homeless animals and connect them with potential adopters

    So they would like you to believe.
    Your local Humane Society has nothing to do with the HSUS which is a radical animal rights group.

    The confusion between the two helps them raise funds(particularly disgusting is the request for funds in lieu of flowers for the deceased–people think they are donating to help dogs and cats at the shelter) and gives them moral authority in lobbying.

  47. Cockfighting (just one state, but VA is pretty conservative on such things)
    http://www.wdbj7.com/Global/story.asp?S=6004654
    Animal experimenting (many people will support it IF they think it leads to aiding people, but by itself a majority are against it, remember I said only that majorities find it troublesome, unlike some here who think it an easy question)
    http://www.patientsvoice.org.uk/pages/opinion_polls/index.html
    Horse meat/slaughter:
    http://www.equineprotectionnetwork.com/saveamericashorses/polls.htm
    I doubt majorities would be against veal or foie gras, but I did not say majorities were against them, only that majorities felt these to be morally problemattic issues.

    Again, it’s simplistic to think that a libertarian must be against any law passed because its a law and by nature is coercive. I don’t know of any libertarians here who would decry laws prohibiting hunting, eating or experimenting on severly retarded people. Well, those people are not able to effectively enter a social contract and have reasoning and pain awareness comparable to a horse, dog or deer. If you can tell me why laws protecting that class are OK but humane laws are not, be my guest. And so SIV doesn’t go into a retarded loop of his own, its no answer to say “because the humans are human” or “Locke said so.” Yes, humans are indeed human (that insight never fails to amaze me) but of course the question is what characteristic does that human possess that the animal does not that warrants protection from inhumane treatment? I’ve never heard better than “cuz the Bible tells me so.”
    Mind you, for all the dullards out there (and I think thats a distinct though all too vocal minority of the regular posters), I’m of course not arguing that the severly retarded class used in the hypo above don’t deserve protection. Of course they do, and how. But so do most animals that are comparable to them in morally relevant ways (ability to experience pain, some level of reasoning and autonomy, etc).

    As to the connection between locals and national orgs: I actually volunteered for local Humane Societies for years, and yes they are connected to the national and state group that also does lobbying. We got literature from them, updates on legislation, and money went back and forth. Whether you find HSUS to be a “radical animal rights group” is a relative question, but its just a fact that they are not “as radical” as groups like PETA.

  48. I guess one additional question I’d have would be:

    What if you wanted to set up an internet business where someone could log on and push the button to slaughter a cow in a meat processing plant? Would that also be illegal?

    If so, how far away does the computer have to be? If I own a semi-automated meat processing plant, are any employees who perform their part of the slaughtering function by pushing a button also breaking the law?

  49. Really stupid questions, Fluffy.

  50. BULLSHIT HSUS is as radical as PETA

    They are not your local nonprofit animal shelter.

    Here is some info

  51. What if you wanted to set up an internet business where someone could log on and push the button to slaughter a cow in a meat processing plant? Would that also be illegal?

    Not yet, but thank goodness you thought of it before slaughtr.com.

    [Hmm, there actually is a slaughtr.com.]

  52. No, there really are social evils. The jerk carrying on a loud cell phone conversation in a restaurant, for example.

    Next thing you know, the State of Delaware will be passing a law making it illegal to use the internet to shoot *him*.

  53. Wait a minute. Is Nick implying that jackalopes aren’t real?

  54. Well Edward, if it’s illegal to kill an animal by remote computer control, why wouldn’t it be illegal to kill an animal by remote computer control inside a building?

    Any conceivable internet based hunting would be of farm-raised game anyway. If you can kill farm-raised deer by pressing a button in a slaughterhouse, why can’t you kill farm-raised deer by pushing a button in your house? Remote killing is remote killing, whether the distance involved is 3 feet or 3000 miles.

  55. Advice to trolls: don’t egg Fluffy on by responding to him. Help make H & R trollable by keeping stupidity to a manageable level. When you feed the dolts, you muddy the water.

  56. Well Edward, HR 2711 defines the prohibited act as “(1) the term `computer-assisted remote hunt’ means any use of a computer or any other device, equipment, or software, to allow a person remotely to control the aiming and discharge of a weapon so as to kill or injure an animal while not in the physical presence of the targeted animal.”

    Cows are stunned before slaughter by the discharge of a bolt into their skulls. If this is done by machine, if the operator of the machine is using a computer terminal behind a protective screen, that would seem to qualify under a literal reading of the bill.

    Just so you know, for the purpose of our discussion, I am only interested in the literal meaning of the written law, and not the approximations most people use when contemplating enforcement of the law. The people who say that law is a matter of engineering and not of science are proponents of a truly pernicious evil. If a law can’t withstand a literal reading it’s a bad law. Period.

  57. If a law can’t withstand a literal reading it’s a bad law. Period.

    Sort of a moot point since nobody reads laws before passing them anymore. I’m expecting the day pretty soon when all Congressional bills are simply presented in PowerPoint, giving a few bullet points about the proposed law. Maybe some animated page transitions thrown in.

  58. Good points, Fluffy. I was just joshing ya.

  59. Mr. Nice Guy — thanks for the data on public perception. But, one sticky point — these polls of public opinion appear to be run by groups with an animal protection agenda to push, or at least the horse ones. Would you conclude from an online H&R poll of presidential candidate preferences that Ron Paul will win the presidency in a landslide? And, how the questions are phrased, and who is selected (or self-selected) to be included, can impact a poll’s results.

    That said, most people will have a knee-jerk reaction in favor of protecting cuddly-looking animals, even if you poll them while they’re shopping in the supermarket’s meat dept.

  60. Sort of a moot point since nobody reads laws before passing them anymore. I’m expecting the day pretty soon when all Congressional bills are simply presented in PowerPoint, giving a few bullet points about the proposed law. Maybe some animated page transitions thrown in.

    I’ll go you one better — it’s a routine practice in our state legislature for politicians to unanimously pass out of committee drastically revised bills that exist only as a vague notion in a committee chairperson’s head, said bills to be fleshed out later and then printed out to be read days after the vote.

  61. Oh, point well taken jh. I didn’t have the time to look up any scholarly work on the subject, but I imagine much of it would jibe with what was up there. the animal experimentation one was not by a anti-vivisection group btw but actually a scientific one that was making the point that under many circumstances the public supports it, multiple polls demonstrate dogfighting’s unpopularity, and I’d bet good money that horse meat is not breaking majority public approval in the civilized world no matter who does the poll. I’ll grant you that the veal and foie gras ones probably do not have majorities on the side I’m talking about, but I’d say that most people wouldn’t easily dismiss the issue either. And yes, people may register outrage while eating a BBQ sandwich. Humans are like that…We also say we hate congress while loving OUR congressman…
    SIV is right that the HSUS does not equal the local humane societies (which are independently organized and run), but only in the way that the Southern Baptist Convention does not equal its member churches (which are of course independently organized and run). However, HSUS provides a great deal of guidance, coordination and yes funds to the local shelters. http://www.hsus.org/pets/animal_shelters/what_the_hsus_does_for_shelters/
    I worked for two such local shelters and we got HSUS literature, magazines, training, legislative updates, and grants and in return we passed out their stuff and raised money for them. The NRA article on the subject is truly pathetic, simply baldly asserting without cite (that I saw) that there is no connection and then making the laughable argument that the HSUS is against pet adoption since they want to have pets renamed “companion animals.” This is all supposed to sound very nefarious to those ingorant of the animal welfare world where that name change means merely that pets would not be considered “mere property” in a legal or moral sense, thus facilitating in their legal protection. It’s laughable to read that as being against pet adoption. I agree with most of the NRA’s positions and they do much good work, but they can be a bit nutty at times…
    Again, if one wants to know the differences between PETA and HSUS just go to their websites. While any animal rights and animal welfare organization will share many legislative priorities (since things that are against an animals welfare will often violate any rights they are supposed to have), the two organizations differ on several issues (PETA opposes basic fishing or even humane farming and even pet ownership while HSUS does not) and really differ on tactics (PETA in their self-righteousness thinks being obnoxious is their right while HSUS is much more about “gentle persuasion” and compromise legislation).

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.