The Huffington Post is huffing and puffing about civilian ownership of high-end quality optics. Writer Sascha Brodsky has apparently discovered that some deplorables out there enjoy hog hunting and wrote a breathless piece using a particularly flimsy straw man to support his argument that this kind of gear is simply too dangerous to be publicly available.
In his article, he recounted how a Chinese national attempted to purchase and export three pairs of night vision optics that may have been ultimately bound for North Korea. He was arrested in a DHS sting operation for violating the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
In his hit piece, Brodsky writes:
If Kim had an export license, very little would have prevented him from sending the equipment to North Korea, which is a major concern for experts who warn that military-grade night vision gear could fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue states.
While the Las Vegas massacre rekindled the debate over the millions of assault-style rifles owned by American civilians, there’s been much less public scrutiny of all the gear designed for military operations that is now marketed directly to civilians.
Brodsky aims to increase that level of scrutiny.
Night vision equipment is a useful tool for civilians, advocates say. “When employed properly, night-vision equipment will open your eyes to the times usually dominated by four-legged critters and two-legged ne’er-do-wells, giving you the advantage,” claimed a May article in Shooting Illustrated, a publication of the National Rifle Association, on how to use the gear for “hunting and defense.”
I own night vision and thermal optics and agree with the NRA article. I have an ATN X-Sight II HD night vision scope and a FLIR Scout TK thermal handheld monocular. The ATN scope was actually a Christmas gift from the wife, but that’s a story for another time.
Brodsky paints ownership of such devices as a clear and present danger in a civilized society. He supports that by getting the virulently hoplophobic Ladd Everitt, director of George Takei’s One Pulse for America gun control operation, to say that night vision and thermal optics could be used in a criminal act and that they therefore should be regulated by the BATFE.
Everitt even goes so far as to claim that:
Night vision equipment is “not the tool of sportsmen,” Everitt said. “It’s the tool of people who are seeking to kill as many people as possible in as short amount of time as possible.”
HuffPo raises the specter that terrorist organizations could get their hands on the gear if it’s widely available to the public. Adam Routh, a research associate with the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the left-leaning Center for a New American Security, a Washington, DC-based think tank, says:
“There is no practical use for the high-end night vision stuff for regular people,” Routh said. “If ISIS has these things, the concern is that our troops would be at a disadvantage because they are not as protected by the cover of darkness.”
On the contrary, there is very much a practical use for high-end optics by the civilian population. It’s a fantastic tool for both hunting and self defense.
I use night vision and thermal when hog hunting. It makes it much easier to find that hog or deer that just ran into the thickets. It prevents game from suffering and going to waste because you can’t find a wounded animal after spending hours trying to track a blood trail in the dark.
It’s also a great tool to keep an eye on my lab when he’s out in the swamp and sawgrass while I’m setting up decoys before dawn for duck hunting.
As for self defense, being able to see in the dark is invaluable. I only recently got power back after Hurricane Michael and when the lights go out, it is another world. Criminals, looters, and robbers love prowling in the darkness. Night vision and thermal optics gave my wife and me the ability to check on that suspicious noise or loud bang at 3:00am and find out that it was just the dogs (Malcolm & Stimpy) instead of a burglar.
So now civilian disarmament types are targeting higher end optics. But if history is any guide, we know they’ll eventually shift their sights toward more common scopes and hunting rifles. After all, they’re really just sniper rifles, weapons of war equipped with military grade optics that have no place in a blind or deer stand.
So if your hunting rigs look anything like this, don’t delude yourself that no one will ever come for your hunting rifle. You aren’t safe from the gun banners’ insatiable desire to eradicate of firearm ownership. They’ll get to you eventually, too.