You knew it was going to happen. Sooner or later one of Trump’s cabinet nominees was going to say something so crazy and stupid during a confirmation hearing that the comment would end up becoming the most-used line by every comic and satire show on TV. And right now that honor belongs to Betsy DeVos, whose loony, right-wing views on just about everything no doubt qualify her to advise the 45th president on the educational needs of America’s 50 million school-age kids.
But what I didn’t know about Betsy is that her expertise also evidently extends to wildlife and guns. Because at some point during her confirmation hearing, she told the Senate committee that using guns to protect teachers and kids in schools should be a local decision, and to prove why this was necessary she mentioned a Wyoming elementary school that had been menaced by a grizzly bear so they probably had a gun. In fact, there is no gun in that school, nor are guns allowed in any Wyoming public schools.
Turns out that the particular grammar school in question is circled with a big fence because it happens to be located on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, home to more than 700 brown bears. So I’ll give Betsy the benefit of the doubt and simply put her answer down to the possibility that, like the guy who nominated her for a cabinet position, she probably doesn’t know the difference between what’s true and what’s false.
But as soon as she shot her mouth off, the liberal watchdogs in the media took issue with the idea that an effective response to a threatened grizzly attack would be to use a gun. The Washington Post trotted out a wildlife expert, Tom Smith, who said using a bear spray was preferable to using a gun; he told PolitiFact that good bear sprays were available on Amazon for $40 or less.
Since I’m a gun guy, I always find it interesting when someone says there’s a better way to protect yourself against anything and everything than using a gun. So I went to Amazon and checked out one of their bear sprays called Counter Assault, which claims on its website that its products have been tested by an outfit called the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) at its Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center located right outside Yellowstone National Park.
There’s only one little problem. The test involves seeing if a real bear can get into a storage barrel or other device used to protect out-of-door food, garbage or some other item that might attract bears. They aren’t testing sprays. And if you have to figure out what would happen if you test-sprayed a bear and the test failed, that’s all the proof you need to be considered dumb enough to serve in the Cabinet of the President-elect.
Couple of years ago a guy came into my gun shop, told me he was going to hike in the Rockies, and wanted to buy a small, high-powered handgun to carry in case he was attacked by a bear. Just at that moment a car drove past the shop, I pointed at it and asked the guy if he could hit that car with a gun.
“Are you crazy?” he said, “I wouldn’t even come close.”
“The speed limit in town is 35 mph,” I answered, “which is about a grizzly’s top speed.”
He didn’t buy the gun and neither should any school system that thinks the kids need to be protected against animal or human threats. I don’t have any grizzlies where I live but we do have some pretty big black bears. And the last time one of them came on my property he had a good time gobbling up the half pizza that we had dumped in the trash. Then Smokey went across the road and had another good time eating the bird seed that my neighbor had set out in his yard. We had a much better time watching that bear than we will have watching Trump take the oath.