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By MarkPA

Our nation just witnessed two California tragedies, back-to-back: The mass killing of a dozen party-goers at the Borderline country bar, and the Camp Wildfire rapidly marching toward four dozen deaths with hundreds missing. I’m experiencing a double dose of frustration because I am at a loss to conceive of a solution that guarantees against a repeat of either type of loss.

Like most who read this essay, I am not a firefighter, and am certainly not knowledgeable in stopping wildfires. Likewise, most readers may have little practical insight on stopping mass shooters. But might there be some lesson to be found mixed in among the shell casings and ashes of these two tragedies?

Something must be done! The cry arises from our hearts. But what? By whom? By government, of course! That power “instituted among men” to “secure” our right to life…. In the abstract, there would seem to be four reasonable possibilities that government has the power to do:

  1. – something effective and economical
  2. – something effective, but at an expense comparable to the value preserved
  3. – something ineffective, at an expense which – though modest – is a waste
  4. – nothing at all

To reiterate, I know nothing about forest fires beyond the lesson taught by the signs I remember from my youth. The image of “Smokey the Bear” admonishing readers: “Only you can prevent forest fires!”  Nevertheless, there are some obvious steps that government could take. Some would be aggressive, others incremental. Here, I’ll offer a couple of ideas that are illustrative of, and appeal to me as, common sense measures.

As an aggressive measure, government could use eminent domain to acquire easements in a grid pattern, bulldozing every bit of combustible flora or construction, thereby introducing a system of fire breaks to contain future wildfires.  Fair market value compensation would be in the hundreds of billions.


California Camp Fire
courtesy Gizmodo and AP

Nevertheless, condemnation, clearing and maintenance of such fire breaks should be valued against the cost of lives and insurance premiums in perpetuity.  Such an aggressive measure would doubtlessly save countless lives over time and be cheaper than paying to rebuild California, one burned out county after another. We value life over property!

As an incremental measure, government could deploy its power to tax and legislate to license every incendiary device across the nation. A modest tax, such as $200 per match and lighter should be seen as a reasonable measure.  And applicants should be required to wait up to 12 months for a thorough background check and registration of such incendiary devices.  Precisely this measure has been taken to regulate weapons defined as “destructive devices” since 1968.

These are merely two examples of measures, the first which would be effective at an expense comparable to the value preserved while the other which would be profoundly ineffective at a modest but wasted expense. Clearly, they would appeal to many voters of common sense who carry heartfelt concern for lives we should all want to save.  And they exercise the blunt, heavy hand typical of solutions favored by legislators and their most generous constituents. Such measures surely could not violate any person’s rights enshrined in the constitutions of the United States or of California—could they?

Or would government’s best role in this be to just stand there and do nothing at all? Could we do something effective and economical? To paraphrase Smokey the Bear’s admonition from the signs of my childhood: “Only you can stop a bad man with a gun!”

These two “common sense” proposals serve as exercises in thought. Naturally, there are experts in forest management and wildfire control. In an honest search for solutions, they would be given a respectful hearing and their proposals considered seriously. But, as folly is the main element of human nature, those with some understanding of the serious dangers of violent attackers, like forest fires, are not heeded. So, we all pay the price.


‘MarkPA’  is trained in economics, a life-long gun owner, NRA Instructor and Massad Ayoob graduate. He is inspired by our inalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and holds that having the means to defend oneself and one’s community is vital to securing them.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission.

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  1. The problem is, that government has gotten too big for it’s proverbial britches. They are to provide for the common defense, that is all. But since they’ve decided they need control of forest management, then they need to practice such management, with competence. All they do is acquire huge budgets and waste them, and California’s fires are the end result. Beauracracies at their finest. And as for the firearms problem, by them having over the years dissarmed the law abiding public, has just invited these sort of things. And when, not if shootings happen, they try to step in and say, we will protect you, but at the cost of your freedom. ERPO’s be damned!!!!!.

    • The Camp Fire had nothing to do with governmental bureaucracy. Rather, it had to do with exceedingly high winds, a dry forest from years of drought, and a failed power line or other electrical equipment. The Santa Rosa fire was the same–a fire storm whipped by high winds that nothing could stop. Further, federal forest management policies are more often than not stymied by environmental groups who abhor logging and think that the government should allow forests to follow their natural path–which by the way includes huge fires covering tens of thousands of acres. Just as an example, 25 years ago there was a fire called the Fountain Fire that burned 60,000 acres of timber. Afterwards,there were vast quantities of salvageable timber–but by the time anyone could get passed the protests and the lawsuits, an obtain a permit to log it (which would have called for clear cuts), the timber had rotted and lost all marketable value. It is the same all over the forests in California, Oregon and Washington. Between drought and borer beetles, environmental protection policies enacted by congress and often challenged at every turn by environmental groups causing years of litigation, it is almost surprising that there have not been even bigger fires. Once upon a time, the north state in California was home to many mills. There is one large mill and just a couple of small ones left. The well paying jobs that were lost were replaced with service and dining jobs paying minimum wage.

      • You’re correct, but in the end, it all boils down to poor forest management. The fact that the government bows down to the radical enviros, just shows who’s side their on. And it isn’t the American public. Poor management is poor management, the result is the same, whether started by a campfire, lightning, or an electrical wire. Poor forest management made it this catastrophic.

        • No in the end it boils down to moonbats gaining control of every aspect of our daily lives. And at some point there will become a collective need to find the cojones to fix it.

          • Youre right, but in the end either way, they allowed for their forests to get like that, and presto, now they have much less forest. Wonder how the tree huggers feel now. I’ll bet they’ll blame in on global warming…… oops, I mean climate change.

      • “…environmental groups who abhor logging and think that the government should allow forests to follow their natural path–which by the way includes huge fires covering tens of thousands of acres.”

        That’s by design, Mark.

        The point is to make it so dangerous to build in those areas, that nobody sane will build there. Victory for them, no development…

  2. We lost our home in Paradise. Until PGE actually takes care of their crap and the hippies allow proper forest management… this will continue. We lost everything we owned and are moving to Idaho ahead of schedule. It sucks like no other to loose your entire past.

    • John, so sorry to read of your loss. At least one of the soon exodus from California will have the proper attitude towards guns and our other freedoms. My concern is that others fleeing burnt out communities will bring their leftist politics with them, further screwing up my state (Washington) and amassing sufficient numbers in Boise to tilt Idaho’s political orbit as well.

      Oh, and Mark – there were three tragedies in California, and you failed to put the worst at the top: the coronation of Gavin Newsome as that state’s governor.

      • Were half and half here in Boise, but the rest of the state is red. All the Orange County and San Diego County that are moving here are conservative along with most of Nor Cal.

    • Welcome to Idaho, and I’ll venture you’re a conservative. What better place to move to if you are. So sorry about your home, it didn’t have to be like that. Fu** moonbeam and his enviro radicals.

    • Blaming PGE is no doubt easy, but was their contribution greater than someone throwing a cigarette out the window, or was it even confirmed *at all*? A hundred square miles of fire out of control is not the problem caused by any one company which is not directly involved with timber and forests, which I’m pretty sure PGE is not.

    • John, sorry to hear of your loss. The tree hugging environmentalists had better get their lazy butts, chainsaws and poleaxes and head out to all the forest areas to do some proper forest management or wildfires will continue. I worked in the lumber industry in the 70s before the environmentalists got their way. The work we did left a forest that was wildfire resistant and to my eye more beautiful than the landscape of choking undergrowth we have now that propagates huge fires.

  3. Mandalay Bay shooter, LAPD shooter, Borderline shooter appear to all have the same profile and motive. They were Californians against the 2nd Amendment.

    They think they can spark stronger gun control by going after a certain group of people. Democrats already love gun control, now they need Republicans to do the same. How do you do that? Well, you shoot them and let their emotions take over. Make it personal by targeting them specifically.

    It doesn’t appear to simply be crazy people doing crazy things like a lot of people want you to believe. Seems like terrorism to me. Conniving…

    • I have a hard time believing that the Thousand Oaks shooter, a Marine with a long standing (and apparently pre-service) anger management issue who was recently abandoned by his wife–with good reason– was against the 2A. Add to that the fact that his apartment was full of holes he had punched int he walls, I think this was simply the last acting out of a very angry man. I doubt it had anything to do with politics.

      • Did you watch the video showing what they claim is his Facebook post? Did you notice that he drove about 5 miles to a bar that was having a country music night? They said he has been there a few times before. Did you miss the reports of him dressing up like the Punisher, using smoke bombs and acquiring a larger magazine?

        It appears targeted and premeditated. Similar to how the Mandalay Bay shooter premeditated his targeting of Republicans when he had opportunities to go after Democrat heavy concerts. Even the LAPD shooter said he is trying to get gun control passed by using what he did.

        If you are conniving and intelligent enough you would use the things people want to ban but can’t get enough support to pass. You then go after young people and the opposition in hopes to get the response that wasn’t happening before. Go after Republicans and their kids to get them to submit. When the victims look like you, you will care more. When the victims are you, you will care. Look how many black people want gun control when it does not benefit them at all.

        There are people out there that have been in the military that don’t want Americans owning guns. You think every poor kid that joins the military does it because they support the 2nd Amendment? I see a lot of Mexicans-Americans that join the military for the benefits and then vote to get rid of Americans’ rights. Cops take an oath yet break it once they get on the street.

        • The shooter in Las Vegas and his Saudi prince connection appeared to be an illegal gun broker. Speculation that he did what he did to support anti 2nd ideas is only that. Maybe he was used as a scapegoat by anti gunners – it did appear that there were more shooters.

  4. Gun control first reared it’s ugly head on April 19 1775. Didn’t work then…Won’t work now unless YOU surrender. Keep Your Powder Dry.

  5. In the Bible it says that God will withhold rain from the places that do not worship him or keep his laws. California, wake up !

    • Obviously! That’s why they built an ark, to stay dry, right? Oh, wait … Just make it up as you go along, children are easy to fool.

  6. I have een saying this on Facebook for quite some time now. Gun control has absolutely nothing to do with public safety, it’s about a leftist government controlling the people of this once great nation. The demographics today are changing to a socialist belief because certain segments of this society despise America and its founding values.

  7. Well, our elected officials could solve the gun violence program by simply nuking all the gun owners, but a minor inconvenience might be some minor fires and radiation. Just treat the fires as a controlled burn.

    • Pretty sure they will be able to recognize success by the fact there would be no life (animal, vegetable, mineral) anywhere in North America. Even then, a workable gun might survive, waiting for someone to wander by in order to strike!

  8. all the Democrats want to destroy the USA as we know it. California Land of the whispering bush! {Subversive Democrat Heaven} don’t you just feel so bad that some Anti- American Socialite’s house burned too the ground; Sodom & Gomorrah revisited! except the innocent get whacked also! scorched earth for the Illegals. let them across useng them fighting fires, let them put the fires out then Deport the survivors!

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