Unbelievable. The reaction to this story today about US Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shooting a member of his group while hunting is nothing short of bizarre.

The story goes like this: Cheney is out with a bunch of fellow hunters on the ranch of his friends the Armstrongs in Texas. They’re using small bore (28 gauge) birdshot to hunt quail. The hunting tactic is to make a sound which causes the birds to fly off, and, as they do, follow their flight with the barrel of the shotgun, firing at the bird as it flies across the hunters’ line of sight. Fellow hunter Harry Whittington, 78, had left the group to find a quail, and comes back without announcing himself. Cheney, not expecting anyone to be in the line of fire, follows the bird’s flight with the shotgun and discharges before seeing Whittington. Whittington gets peppered with light birdshot.

Personally, I love the headline: ‘Vice President Shoots a Guy.’ The award for Best Pun goes to ME for the headline of this post: ‘The Buckshot Stops Here.’ I think it’s funny that a Dick has shot a Whittington. And the US night-time talks are going to have a blast with this one also: watch Leno, Letterman and Conan tonight for a fierce competition of best Cheney jokes.

Sensible people are just having a good old bipartisan giggle at Cheney’s expense. It was clearly an accident. Nobody is alleging that Cheney intentionally shot his buddy Whittington on the ranch. But not everyone sees the humor. In fact, you’d think by listening to the Left that this is actually the latest indication that Cheney is the embodiment of Pure Evil.

And, in reality, this is demonstrable of how desperate they are. With all guns blazing (er, per se), the lefties have found instant excitement in the idea that they really have Something Concrete now on the Bush administration. An orgasm of left-wing blogging accompanied the news: “Guns don’t shoot people, the Vice President shoots people,” read one today. Very good. I see what you’ve done there. Except, it’s CRAP. First, it’s ‘kill’, not “shoot”. And second, it’s been a T-shirt joke for many years – only they did it properly as a way of mocking the anti-gun lobby. More of a MIND-FART of left-wing blogging, then.

Cretinous moron Al Franken weighed in with his own brand of idiocy, as did the anti-gun lobbyist leaders at the Brady Bunch: “Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him …. I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog – and I thought he was an idiot,” Jim Brady said in a statement. [?] “I’ve thought Cheney was scary for a long time …. Now I know I was right to be nervous,” added his wife Sarah. So let me get this right. A shooting accident culminates in the belief that the Vice President is scary?

It was only a week ago that I was lamenting on this blog the half-baked, unchained, irrational thinking at the heart of the Brady Campaign. And, lo and behold, Jim and Sarah go and prove it with this latest statement. How do accidents during shooting sports prove that someone should be regarded as scary any more than accidents during the Winter Olympics? Or accidents during a round of golf, or the many accidents that occur on the horsetrack, on the racetrack, during watersports, hot-air ballooning, extreme ironing or any other number of sports? Perhaps we should have a Brady-style 7-day waiting period on delivery of a javelin? Maybe the answer is an outright ban on all sports which don’t involve moving small pieces of wood around a checkered board? We could all do with a little more protection from these sorts of accidents. Perhaps the solution is some kind of protective bubble or foldaway sterile canopy?

Is that your best shot, birdbrains?

And the White House Press Corp spent an hour this morning “upset” and “angry” that they had not been informed of the incident until 24 hours after it occurred. The Slate.com blog belched forth this diatribe today: “….To wait so long only points out what we have always known about the vice president: He doesn’t give a damn about the public or press’ right to know.” What do they think they need to know about? This was a private incident which happened on private property with privately held shotguns. It’s not like the guy almost died or anything – not that we’d expect left-liberals to understand that, or to know anything about hunting, the size/type of gun or ammunition being used, or that we’d expect them to respect the sport in the first place.

Enter the Humane Society. I admit, a stifled snicker did emanate from my lips when I read their contribution to the discussion: “We don’t quite understand his obsession with shooting animals, and we’d advise him to pursue a less violent form of relaxation and get on with the important business of leading the country,” Wayne Pacelli, Humane Society President, simultaneously implying that the Vice President is hunting quail when he should be working, that the sport is violent and that it is somehow a fringe activity.

And, by the way, Cheney DID ensure the release of the information. It would have been easy to keep it under wraps if he had wished to do that (and it wouldn’t have been anybody else’s damned business if he had). Rather than make a big deal out of it, Cheney gave instructions to the Armstrongs, on whose ranch the mishap arose, that they could release the details.

This was a simple accident, that’s all. It happens. The Left show their true colors every time something like this turns up: they’re not in the slightest interested in the sensible representation of the news. It’s easy to see why the Left are all over this: not only is it a story involving a senior member of the Bush administration (which would have been enough), not only did they have guns (horror of horrors), not only were they harming innocent little fluffy birds (arggh!), but they were doing it on private property in rural Texas! No wonder the Socialist Panties are in a twist.

So, how is this being viewed from the other side of the Atlantic? Well there were the usual lamebrain remarks from the Guardianistas, and their kind. But I enjoyed some pleasant relief from the Daily Telegraph, whose journalist had actually lived in America for a time and acquired a shotgun of his own for duck hunting trips:

“I confess that I loudly cheer the Vice President’s speedy exculpation. In Britain, the man with the gun is always at fault. Our culture and our law enforcement agencies deplore gun ownership; rural police forces persecute owners, treating them as freaks. …. Our world-beating Olympic shooters must practise abroad because of the post-Dunblane handgun ban – a ban ignored by gangsters on the streets of our larger cities, whose criminal antics have driven an exponential rise in gun crime since the legislation was passed. This could never happen in America …. When I moved to America, I acquired my first an only gun – a pump-action 12-bore, which I kept under the sofa in my Washington home and which I would bring out to appal namby-pamby visitors from England. It was a beauty.”

As a fellow Brit who also, having moved to America, am enjoying my first gun (a semiautomatic subcompact .40 caliber Glock pistol) – I can relate. Shooting is not only a highly challenging sport, but one of the hallmarks of a free society. If a government will protect the rights of its citizens to keep and bear arms, it must not yet be impossible to save from statist lunacy.

Meantime, I’d like to see Dick invite some left-liberal friends to go hunting with him: starting with Hilary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry.

John Wright