Blazing guns and trails


Hubris doesn’t begin to define the Livingston, Mont., man who chain-sawed a trail more than a mile long through the Gallatin National Forest. “It became a project,” said Francis Leroy McLain, 60, who also ripped down a fence separating his property from U.S. Forest Service land. “I enjoyed it.” McLain’s illegal trail was more than six feet wide; when a neighbor saw him at work and began to ask questions, McLain explained that the path would allow him to “see more sights and wildlife.” Then he hid his chainsaw and rode off on an all-terrain vehicle, reports the Billings Gazette. McLain faces a possible one-year jail term and a plea agreement that requires him to pay $25,000 in restitution. Meanwhile, he has also begun serving a four-year term for tax evasion in Minnesota.

Sometimes, guns just get in the way. A 24-year-old woman in Riverton, Wyo., was shoveling snow when the loaded revolver she’d stowed in a shoulder holster tumbled out, hit the ground and fired, reports The Associated Press. The bullet went through her ankle and “exited below her knee,” but it could have been far worse, since she’d also loaded some .357 hollow points in the gun. In Kimball Junction, Wyo., a gun interfered with a call of nature. A visitor to the men’s restroom at a Cost Plus World Market solved the problem by removing his loaded handgun, but then forgot he even carried a weapon and left it behind. Still, there was a happy resolution: Although the holstered weapon was “found by children who went into the bathroom,” reports the Park Record, nobody got shot, and local police decided not to file any charges. In Lehi, Utah, however, all was not copacetic for the Municipal Court judge who “jokingly” pulled out a gun and pointed it at a bailiff in the courtroom, reports the Deseret News. On second thought, maybe we should blame the bailiff, Darci Budget, who started it all by “playfully” threatening to throw water from a water bottle at the judge, Garry R. Sampson. The Utah Supreme Court found the badinage inappropriate and reprimanded the judge.

Guns are the hot topic in Seattle lately; just walk into any Starbucks store and start talking about whether the coffee chain should ban guns. Signers of a petition circulated by the Brady Campaign urged Starbucks to do just that; “Open Carry” adherents argue it’s their right to tote weapons wherever they please. Readers posted fast and furious comments to a Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog about the issue; our favorite suggestion: “Starbucks … should have metal detectors at their entrances and should force potential customers to take off their shoes and stand in front of a scanner that images their bodies …” Second-favorite observation: “Guys carrying semi-automatic guns in a store might be bad for business.”

It’s one thing to vandalize a foreclosed house; it’s definitely another to try to steal the house itself. That’s what Brent Arthur Wilson was allegedly doing in Polson, Mont., removing “for sale” signs in front of homes left there by “real” real estate agents, filing claims on foreclosed houses he didn’t own, and renting and trying to sell others — all while living in a stolen house himself. It took a determined real estate agent, Ed McCurdy, to figure out what was going on. One tip-off was the bizarre way that Wilson filed some of his phony claims with the county clerk. For example, he located one property as “third planet from the sun,” wrote that he paid a “valuable consideration” to the “creator, Yahweh,” who kindly gave him a receipt, and under an illegible signature for a notary, wrote that the notary’s commission expired “upon my final breath.” By the time the police caught on to Wilson, however, he’d left town, writes the Missoulian’s Vince Devlin. A routine traffic violation led to Wilson getting nabbed in California; he was brought back to Montana and charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors — so far. Detective Rick Lenz says Lake County is still investigating the house thief, who may have operated in several states. Lenz explains, “This is new for us, dealing with someone stealing houses.”

A school principal in Phoenix thought he was just blowing off steam by writing a sarcastic letter to parents about their “lazy” and “stupid” children, reports The Associated Press. But the note was accidentally sent home with second graders, and their parents were neither understanding nor amused. The principal faces disciplinary action.

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