Of Tags and Taggants

Winter 1997 certainly appears to be starting out in a very interesting way here in the land of Perpetual Politics. It seems that our own little version of President Slick Willie, Governor Glendenn- ing, lacks not only a backbone but a sense of historical value as well. Last year, the Maryland State Department of Motor Vehicles approved a personalized motor vehicle registration plate (vanity tag) for members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. SCV members could procure these tags, for a fee which fattened government coffers, and display them on their cars. Somewhat less than 80 tags were actually purchased by SCV members before the State N.A.A.C.P. officials screamed "political correctness," and in a display of puerile politi- cal power persuaded the DMV to stop manufacturing the tags with the SCV corporate logo on them.

It seems that the incorporation of the Confederate battle flag in the corporate seal was considered offensive by the State N.A.A.C.P. officials. Perhaps these misguided souls spent more time in ethnic studies than American History, or they would know that the square Confederate battle flag is not the same banner as the rectangular, post-Civil War standard that hooded morons swarmed under at various times since 1865. The corporate seal of the Sons of Confederate Veterans proudly incorporates the ensign under which all Confederate servicemen served at one time during the War Between the States. Will the next step to be to ban the display, on car tags or anywhere, of all American flags from 1776 to 1866 because they represent a nation in which slavery was legal?

In capitulating quicker than the Vichy French, the Maryland DMV, under the watchful eye of Glendenning, allowed a small, yet vocal, minority to interfere with the exercise of the lawful rights of members of the SCV. Since the registration of corporate logos is a federal procedure, I don't think the Federal Constitution allows state interference, however, it remains to be seen what will become of yet another Maryland embarrassment concerning our Civil War heritage. As the Maryland House of Delegates convenes for ninety days in Annapolis, I think a sincere letter to your State Delegate or Senator at the Capitol might change some minds about the real political correctness regarding Civil War history. I encourage all interested parties to contact the President of the Maryland Senate, Senator Thomas V. "Mike" Miller, at Room H107, The State House, Annapolis, MD 21401 about this matter. The DMV relies on the Senate for funding, so they listen to Senators quite clearly. Those who would like to may communicate by facsimile transmission to Senator Miller at 301-858-3910.

Yet another legislative matter looms large on the horizon, this one on the shores of the Potomac. As Congress settles in, the matter of including "taggants" in blackpowder is due for consideration soon. As you may recall, last year's TWA tragedy resulted in a hastily passed House Bill 3953 which called for an independent study of the taggant issue. Quick work by the NMLRA and NRA resulted in an im- proved measure passing the Senate; a measure which required a less biased study and input from sporting organizations. A conference committee decided to keep the Senate's taggant study language, and that study will be due later this year (unless the deadline is extend- ed). Most of our federally-elected officials believe that the public in general soundly supports the taggant issue as an anti-terrorist measure. The original House measure passed 389-22! We need to let our Senators and Congresspersons know now that we are interested in this issue, that this issue impacts us deeply emotionally and economi- cally, and that the safety of our sporting citizens must remain the paramount issue in this endeavor. Your tax money is paying for this study, and you are entitled to a copy of it. Take the time this month to write to your Congressman/woman and both Senators at: (Your Repre- sentative's Name), The United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. The Zip Code for the U.S. Senate is 20515. The Zip Code for the House of Representatives is 20510.

Now, if all four of my avid readers write, it is not going to create a ground swell of public opinion, so let's use some word of mouth here and get our fellow skirmishers and reenactors to express their interest as well. Speak up for your Second Amendment rights!

I've mentioned before the importance of informing your elected officials of your opinions on issues. Serving the people is the job of every elected official -- let them know how you want to be served, and be loud. We can't afford to be the silent majority on this one. Well, the Misses needs the soapbox back now.

This year should be another record setting year for shooters and skirmishers alike. I see no reason why the Spring and Fall North- South Skirmish Association National Skirmishes will not set new records again, and it won't be long before the first Regional Skirmish ever held west of the Mississippi River is completed by the fledgling Western Region. The Levi Garrett Territorial Matches have been growing as well, and I certainly hope that the number of Musket Class competitors grows this year, too. Every year about this time I'm making bullets and loads for another busy skirmish season, and I hope you are finding the time to do the same thing. I like to get out and burn powder at least once a month competitively, and it usually doesn't happen from November to February. This year the Annual Snowball Skirmish is being held in February instead of January, so the delay will be even longer. At least the season picks up in March and my withdrawal will be over soon thereafter.

Hope we can escape the recurring Flood-of-the-Century cycle this year at Ft. Shenandoah. Until the next time, make plenty of loads, practice, shoot safe and have fun.

(C) 1997 Tom Kelley

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