In the United States of America, people have the constitutional right to bear arms (carry weapons). I’m not writing this article to criticize that right. What I am interested in communicating to those American who do bear arms that they do not have the right to litter. There is no constitutional right to go around firing a gun, leaving trash behind without cleaning up after yourself.
The Ocean Conservancy has just issued a report of the results of its 2008 Coastal Cleanup. During the Coastal Cleanup, volunteers go to local shorelines with garbage bags and pick up the garbage they find there. As they they pick up the garbage, volunteers keep a tally of the kinds of objects they’re cleaning up.
Last year, volunteers picked up 19,060 shotgun shells from America’s beaches. Consider that these are just the shotgun shells that happened to wash up on the shores where volunteers were working. Many more washed up in areas where no one from the Coastal Cleanup could go. Many other shotgun shells lay in fields, forests, and other areas where they will probably never wash away.
You have the right to bear arms, but you don’t have the right to be respected by other people for the garbage you leave behind when you do. Go ahead and bear arms, if you really feel that you must, but when you do, bring along a bag, and bear your spent shotgun shells back home with you.
Most shotgun shells are brightly colored so that they’re easy to find, so there’s no excuse for leaving them behind, unless your beer gut is so big that you can’t bend down to pick them up. Until America’s gun owners learn to clean up after themselves, they will rightfully earn the reputation of selfish slobs.