(This article was first published on Ade's blog.)
The United States has started live-ammunition training drills on the Great Lakes "to prepare officers to combat terrorists flooding across the border from Canada by boat", reports the Globe and Mail.
The automatic-weapon drills started earlier this year but came to light only in the past two weeks after information about the Coast Guard's move to create 34 permanent live-fire training zones in the Great Lakes was published in the U.S. federal register.
Since the beginning of the year, the Coast Guard have conducted 24 drills, each time firing about 3,000 rounds of lead bullets about a third of the size of a fishing-line sinker from light-weight machine guns in waters at least eight kilometres from the Canadian border and U.S. shores. Two more target practices are scheduled for this year.
The high-powered drills have stunned environmentalists, boaters and mayors in cities dotting the lakes in both countries who are outraged that the U.S. government would jeopardize the safety of pleasure boaters and commercial fishermen who could stray into the line of fire. Just as infuriating, they say, is the risk of lead exposure to fish and the more than 40 million people who draw drinking water from the Great Lakes.
I can picture it already: blissfully relaxing by the pool at my in-laws' house on the shore of Lake Ontario, sipping my beer and listening to the gentle crackle of machine-gun fire and the rumble of high-powered Coast Guard vessels.
For a dash of added excitement, perhaps the occasional stray round will shatter a nearby window or richochet off the barbecue.
This should also be wonderful for tourism. "Welcome to the Great Lakes Region, where straying into the line of fire makes every vacation memorable." It also represents a great business opportunity for the first company that invents a bulletproof life vest.
In fact, this seems like such a positive development all around that maybe Canada should get into the game too. I suggest we designate the 34 US live-fire training zones as live-fire bombing zones for our air force. And if our bombing runs just happen to coincide with their training exercises? Hey, there's nothing like realism when you're training top-quality personnel!