An incident the other day illustrated just how widespread and insidious the growth of the "nanny-state" has become. While at a local indoor shooting range, I was talking with one of the employees and the conversation got around to what kinds of ammunition the range could accommodate.
Gun ranges, especially the indoor variety, vary in their ability to handle certain kinds of ammunition. Some gun ranges have restrictions on velocity and/or bullet construction - no armor piercing military ammo or incendiary rounds (i.e. tracers), for example. Others are equipped to deal with just about anything available on the market.
The range in question is of the latter variety - you can shoot pretty much anything you can carry in, short of an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). I had been there on previous occasions with friends who own Barrett rifles, the big-bore rifles that have become legendary with the American military for their ability to hit targets more than a mile away:
Barretts are also popular with long-range competitive shooters, and are not an uncommon sight at rifle competitions (and ranges) around the country. So I was surprised to hear that this facility would no longer be allowing Barretts (or any other rifles that fire the 50 BMG cartridge) to be fired at their facility. When I asked why, the answer was disturbing:
"OSHA," the employee said, "they had an inspector in here and he said that the 50 BMG was 'too loud' and would 'pose a hearing hazard' to employees and customers."
Now, those of you who know even a little about guns and gun ranges are probably laughing at the absurdity of such a claim. First of all, in virtually every indoor range in America the employees are separated from the actual shooting area by thick glass, and the sound that is transmitted is minimal, posing not the slightest threat to even sensitive ears.
As for the customers, I doubt anyone is surprised to find out that gun ranges are loud, and no one EVER walks out onto a shooting range (indoors or out) without hearing protection. And if you don't remember to bring your own, every commercial range in the nation supplies hearing protection, both ear plugs and the "muffs" that most people prefer.
Outdoor ranges are even less of an issue - with no walls or ceilings to reflect sound back at the shooters, the noise factor is reduced even further. And again, no one goes to any range, indoors or out, without hearing protection.
At this stage we do not know if the OSHA employee was operating per some "guidelines" or merely taking it upon himself to decide that a particular rifle/ammunition combination is "too loud." But the bigger issue is why do we even need some snotty little bureaucrat, who is neither elected nor accountable to the voters, to "protect" us from an activity in which we have freely chosen to participate? The short answer is that we don't.
And it goes way beyond guns. Government regulatory excess is particularly apparent in the area of food. From the increasingly corrupt FDA ( http://www.amazon.com/Inside-FDA-Business-Politics-Behind/dp/0471610917 ) to the attempts to ban the "farmers markets" that dot the urban landscape every summer, "Uncle Sam" has been replaced with "Nanny Samantha."
A perfect example is Michelle Obama, who seems almost fanatical in her zeal to increase and expand government control over what we eat. Time and again she shows up at one venue or another, lobbying for ever more government programs designed to "encourage" us to eat the foods that she thinks we should. Her videos are often used in public schools to brainwash children into thinking that one bite of a Big Mac will send them to an early grave.
And while she disingenuously protests that she isn't trying to "force" anyone to submit to her vision, she has clearly used the implied threat of governmental regulation to "nudge" (read: intimidate) food producers into "getting with the party line" and change their ways:
Naturally, should you dare object to such measures, you are pilloried, and the excuse is always given that they are "protecting the children" - the standard buzz phrase of the liberal socialist. You see, in their world, parents are too stupid to know what's best for their children - government "experts" are the sole arbiters of such things, even what we eat.
But Ms. Obama is only the latest example of those who think they have the right to poke their noses into every aspect of our lives. We now have government involved in everything from mandating what kind of light bulbs we can have in our homes to having government "inspectors" peeking into our children's lunchboxes, to ensure that the lunches we prepare conform to the "official government nutritional guidelines." Shades of North Korea.
Oh, sure, the "food nazis" always wrap their plans in "caring" language and noble sounding motives, but the fundamental reality is that all such petty tyrants have one thing in common - an obsessive compulsion to control other people's lives. And what you and I want or need is of no consequence to the army of regulatory "brown-shirts" now running amok. Because they know what's best for us.
But when the nanny state has gotten so large and intrusive that we now have (overpaid) government employees going around measuring the sound levels at gun ranges, things have gotten completely out of control.
Which begs the question: how long the rest of us will continue to stand idly by while our liberties are slowly and methodically stripped away?