Right to arm Bears! and why I will never shop at Bass Pro again for camping gear

This morning I present you all with a slight tangential from my usual coverage. I suppose I could develop this into a PR-type issue. Actually, it probably should be considered as such and probably is, in light of the horrific incidence in Aurora, Colorado. However, I’m not going to explore this right now. It’s probably been done to death elsewhere.

Now, I’m not exactly a gun-loving freak. But I do enjoy the occasional hour or two playing a first-person-shooter on my laptop. And I do find how guns work, are designed and built, but I find interest in a lot of things in the same manner. I also spend time as a civilian instructor working with the local Air Cadet squadron, albeit as an Admin, not as the training officer for Marksmanship.

Given that last piece of info, I have to admit that I do understand the difference between certain terms: Militia, Military, Regular, Reserve and Paramilitary. Remember that I brought these up.

In the United States, the constitutions second amendment is stated as follows:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now, the language is no different today (2012) as it was from then (1791). It is rather clear and concise. A well regulated militia – which can be consider somewhat oxymoronic – being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

I’m not sure why I chose to bold and italicize that. Regardless, I did bring attention to certain parts there. A militia is a body of citizens who have taken upon themselves to provide a paramilitary service to their country. They are different from those in the military or in the US, the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, because of a key distinction of being NOT professional soldiers (or seamen/marines).

Technically speaking, because the second amendment is written the way it is, it makes no provision for an actual national military for the US to possess weapons. Obviously a military can’t go without weapons, so we will ignore this for the time being.

Technically speaking, the second amendment, citing a well regulated militia being necessary, that makes only one particular militant/paramilitary force in the US allowed to possess weapons – only one particular demographic/psychographic, only one body of citizens… MEMBERS OF THE US NATIONAL GUARD.

Of course, that’s my keen observation.

Now, having talked about the right to bear arms… I segue into topic number two.

As I said earlier, I have a fascination with many different topics. I don’t particularly like shopping, but there is one place I have found to always be an interesting experience when it comes to shopping. BASS PRO SHOPS. I like camping and the outdoors. My earliest years are misty memories of my Dad, Brother and I getting into Dad’s car — which was unfortunately a Pontiac Fiero — and driving off to some spot somewhere around Montreal. After moving to Toronto, the saturday morning ritual slowly waned. It was eventually replaced by weekends in Keswick at first, then later Midland, Ontario, where we kept the boat. For the first few years, I would pull out the rod and tackle and try to catch and release whatever swam in the waters around me.

I think this used to be submerged...

Formerly submerged… posts?

Years would pass and the boating experience became more about spending time in the cool waters of Georgian Bay. Eventually, Adult life took hold and those weekend getaways evaporated for me.

A few years into my adult life and I would rediscover my love for the outdoors which turned into a love for camping. Said love, is a continuously evolving love with gear getting better, lighter, stronger and more practical. I spent Four summers doing the camping thing with my girlfriend then. In that time, our experiences together we went through 4-5 different tents* and numerous other items. Each trip would become a fight to reduce our gear as best as possible. This wasn’t always possible for us for reasons I’d rather not go into but, we camped with somewhat of a level of comfort and luxury more than we needed.
Then again, there were times where we were completely minimal and it was disastrous for us – as was the case of the weekend where

Bass Pro Shops was somewhat instrumental to us in upgrading our gear as things broke or turned out to be not as useful as previously realized.  Going to BPS was always an interesting experience, as we would get the items we needed to make camping easier there. Shopping there was also a bit of a treat for us because it was the one place where our two minds actually came together when shopping. The other advantage BPS had was being off Highway 400, en route to our camping destinations.

Since leaving that relationship, I’ve continued the process of paring down my equipment list. As Bass Pro is quite a distance from me now, I have come to rely on other stores for my gear acquisition. The two main being MEC and LeBaron, both of which are proudly Canadian companies. Pricing in some cases, has been far better at these two retail outlets than the big box Bass Pro, so they have earned my full respect.

While LeBaron sells firearms, they have certain restrictions in place (i’m sure BPS in Canada does too.) More importantly, LeBaron only sells firearms that are specifically meant for hunting. Actually, to be precise, they sell rifles, shotguns and bows (archery). Every purchase requires the appropriate paperwork – which means having a Possession and Acquisition license, along with birthdate, place of birth and address of permit holder.  And while they do have pistols, but they are of the air-soft/soft-air type. In other words, they are mindful and ethical about what and to whom they sell to.  No fully automatic AR-15-based weapons originally designed for military use.

Plus, the layout of the stores really makes you aware of their mandate to sell fishing more than hunting – at least, in the Markham and Mississauga stores it appears that way.  The rest of the stores are filled with camping gear and clothes. ALSO… LeBaron, having a location in Markham, has been extremely convenient for me when buying equipment. Whenever I head up to visit my mom, it only requires a small detour that consumes very little time and doesn’t put me wholly out of the way from my Mom’s. Once in that store, I tend to lose time cause there’s so much to look at. I try to buy what I’m after I’ve researched what they have and whether it’s good or not. Aside from my amazing tent, I got my HotCore R-200 sleeping bag there as well. Suffice to say, LeBaron does not stock junk.

MEC on the other hand, is downtown and can be a bit of a hassle for me to go to, but it’s worth going to each time I do. At MEC, I have picked up countless items that have served me extremely well. Notably… my Flux slingbag, which I use a LOT.

SO WHY WON’T YOU SHOP AT BASS PRO EVER AGAIN?

The reasons are simple – I cannot support a company that has allowed themselves to get trapped by the repercussions of a horrible tragedy like what happened in Aurora, Colorado. As a big box format store, they should be also a bit of a leader in providing somewhat, slightly cheaper items because of their buying clout.  Lastly, their Toronto location does not fit best with all populations that would use them to buy the stuff they are after. Being off the 400 is great for the cottage crowd that heads north of Barrie each weekend, but it’s terrible for those that head to the Kawarthas and other areas EAST.

Lastly, Bass Pro had plans to enter the Buffalo, New York market with a store to be built on the grounds of the old Buffalo Auditorium, but because of all sorts of stupidity, they pulled out. Of course, there was rumour that Buffalo’s city hall made things difficult for the store chain – which is horribly unfortunate, because Bass Pro would’ve meant a complete revamp of Buffalo’s waterfront [Yet, another tragedy.] BPS has a lot of work ahead of them in light of the Aurora incident – I expect that they’ll make statements, but not a whole lot will be done.

PLUS… Not once have I ever been asked if I need help when shopping at BPS. That’s just not good customer service.

OKAY! I’M DONE BLATHERING ON!

God… ecchhh… I really need to learn to stop being so tangential

THE FOOTNOTE…
* – the list of tents I went through –
2004 – Escort Branded 2 person – 6’x6′ that barely fit myself alone (9lbs)
2007 – Outdoor Works 5 person – upgrade for comfort and to have gear inside the tent (22lbs)
2007 – Outdoor Works 5 person #2 – first tent damaged on third trip – exchanged and then returned at end of season (it was just too big for us)
2008 – Bass Pro Shops branded 4 person – Decent sized dome. Made us realize previous tent’s vestibule was awesome. Retired after 2 years of use and discovery of huge design flaw – driving rain could by-pass the fly and soak the inside of the tent. (17lbs)
2011 – Eureka Scenic Pass 4XT – Purchased in June last year,  LIGHTWEIGHT BLISS that’s easy to put up and has 2 doors!  (10LBS)

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