United States Coast Guard

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An Outdoors Niagara Information Exclusive

Outdoors Niagara information about the practice shooting ranges over the Great Lakes

By Bob Confer
About Bob Confer

Bob Confer

In this day and age of constant threats from highly-mobile Islamic fundamentalists intent on destroying Western culture, having armed forces and homeland civil defense systems that are adequately prepared is paramount to the safety of Americans right here on our own soil.

This stark and sudden change in the reality of national defense – that it now occurs on the homefront and not abroad - is coming to a head right here on the Niagara Frontier. After decades of essentially being an organization that patrolled the local waterways and participated in searches and rescues, the local division of the Coast Guard now finds itself in need of adapting to this new era of terrorism.

They have to adjust their regional gameplan and toss away their traditional comfort level and become more of what they are designated as: A branch of the armed forces.

Clandestine wars such as the terror war which feature battles and attacks that can occur anytime and anywhere cannot be won or properly defended through theories and visualized expectations. As with any war, in order to maximize the effectiveness of our defense systems, practice in the form of live drills is an absolute necessity. So, in order to elevate their militaristic presence and capabilities in the region, the Coast Guard deems it necessary to practice their shooting skills upon the waters of Lake Ontario.

Many people have raised their arms in protest, citing the drills as both inconvenient and dangerous. They say the location of the designated safe zone is a detriment to travel and will hurt the local tourism industry as well as Great Lakes trade navigation. The protestors also believe many boaters will be put in harm’s way and could be struck by errant rounds.

These people have unfortunately painted the Coast Guard as the enemy.

The Coast Guard is anything but the enemy. They have put intense concern for the common good into the planning for their practices. If anything, they have made incredible accommodations and created inconveniences for the Guard itself.

One such sacrifice is the size of the safe zone. By any standard it is extremely small at 33 square miles, a minor blip on a massive lake that is 7340 square miles in size. This tiny imprint really limits what the Coast Guard can do in terms of drills. Considering that a stray from one of their 7.62 mm machine guns could travel two and a third miles they must ensure that all activities occur at the center of the zone so that the rounds fired upon "killer tomatoes" and other similar targets fall well short of the zone’s border. This alone is a major accommodation.

The location of the safe zone was also conceived with the best interests of all in mind. It is not directly in front of the River’s mouth, which would have conveniently placed it near the Coast Guard facility. Knowing full well this would have significantly impeded travel and trade, the zone is far to the east in a much less-traveled area between Youngstown and Wilson. It is also a decent five miles away from shore, which further limits danger.

The configuration of the safety zone is but a small sacrifice to make for both sides, the citizens and the military, because the end results – a well-prepared Coast Guard - are what matter most. The region needs this because numerous local events of the past couple of years have proved the importance for effective border protection. For example, a cross-border human and drug smuggling ring was busted on the Niagara River in North Tonawanda. Who’s to say this could not have progressed into the smuggling of terrorists or their instruments of death? Also, a few well-financed, well-organized terror rings were busted in Ontario. Who’s to say they could not have slipped across an unprotected border and brought a Hell upon us? It is apparent that even our friendliest of borders could facilitate death and destruction.

We as a nation need due diligence in assessing and readying for what could go wrong on Main Street, America by protecting our borders, especially the easily-navigable Great Lakes. The Coast Guard is doing its very best to meet this need and they should be lauded rather than damned for wanting to offer us the most effective protection possible.

WEBMASTERS NOTE: After all the hearings and the Coast Guard listening to the public's outcry, against the Guard plans decided to cancel their plans and are working on another route for training our Guardsmen.



Bob is a Libertarian, desirous of the personal liberty that our nation’s forefathers had intended. He is neither a Republican nor a Democrat...his views are his own, unique and not beholden to any party. His opinions are a blend of all beliefs and are founded upon common sense and patriotism. You will often find him to be critical of government actions while at other times quite supportive. He is a voice of the people driven by the need to make our elected officials accountable, thus making America an even-greater breeding ground for liberty and capitalism. 

Once a month, Bob joins pals and fellow pundits Scott Leffler and Tom Christy on air to discuss local/state/national politics and economics. The three can be heard on Leffler's call-in show "Dialog" which airs daily from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM on 1340 AM WLVL. They can also be seen on Christy's live call-in show "Legislative Journal" which airs Thursdays from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Time Warner Cable's Channel 22.
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Confer is Vice President of Confer Plastics in North Tonawanda N.Y.
and is a lifelong resident of Gasport N.Y.

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