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VOLUMES 213 & 214 -------- MARCH/APRIL 2020

March/April 2020 - Uploaded April 30, 2020

Sorry folks, there's gonna be some soapbox in this issue, some of which comes from both official and unofficial responses to the  coronavirus pandemic.

On March 23rd, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" edict from his desk in Olympia.  The order is similar, but not identical, to orders in states throughout the country.  The theory being that limiting interpersonal contact to those activities deemed 'essential' would slow the spread of COVID-19.  Nothing wrong with the theory, but plenty of controversy about what is 'essential' and what is not!

No one argued much about grocery stores and pharmacies being declared essential while closing restaurants and bars.  However, closing gun stores, construction projects, and many retail establishments while allowing marijuana dispensaries to stay open as essential, raised some ire.

At a time when a pandemic raises concerns about possible civic unrest, and who knows what else, many people decided it was time to buy a firearm for personal and family defense.  In fact, firearm sales as measured by the FBI's instant check system, set an all time record in March with about 3.7 million background checks conducted!  It is reported that many of the gun buyers during this period were 'first timers'.

Perhaps adding to the desire to buy defensive firearms is the fact that criminals are being released early from jails and prisons all over the country to supposedly protect them from the virus!  Locally, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich reported this week that property crime has increased by 70 to 100 percent in the last couple of months.  Particularly hard hit are businesses and construction sites that are shuttered by order of the Governor.

Hmm . . . . Many Washington gun stores are shut down and there is a mandatory 10 day waiting period for handguns and semi-auto rifles even if you have a concealed carry permit.   One cannot even legally borrow a gun from a friend or neighbor without going through a licensed dealer and undergoing a background check.  Kinda tough if one needs a gun now.

The pandemic activity was shortly preceded by an announcement that Joe Biden, presumptive Democrat Presidential Nominee, was being afforded Secret Service protection.  That announcement prompted me to compose an open letter to Joe.  This was forwarded to our local newspaper in the form of a letter to the editor, but was not published.  I'll share it with you:

Hey Joe, I see you now have Secret Service protection.  How nice for you!

Also, see the New Orleans Mayor signed a proclamation that she is “empowered” to suspend or limit the sale or transportation of firearms.  Could things like this be affecting the unprecedented spike in firearms and ammo sales?

Is there a fear that unrest due to the current pandemic might lead to rioting and looting?  Shucks, Joe, no worries.  You’ve got protection!  Those Agents may even be armed with those “AR-14’s” loaded with “100 clips” you want to confiscate and ban!

Dang, the rest of us law-abiding citizens are on our own.  If faced with a gang of violent criminals and no LEO’s in sight, we, and I’d bet even some of your gun ban cronies, would be mighty grateful to hold an AR-15 with two or three 30 round magazines!

Also, to all who voted for our recent idiotic Washington State gun restrictions:  Should you suddenly feel the need for a pistol, I’m sure criminals will be glad to stand down during your 10 day waiting period, or the home invader will 'hold up' (pun intended) until you have time to visit a Licensed Dealer (who may not be open) for a background check so you can legally borrow one from your neighbor!

I doubt that Joe cares what I think but going down the pathway to confiscation of AR type firearms in America, which he advocates, will not likely run smoothly!

There is anecdotal evidence that some folks who were in favor of any and all gun control measures that were ever dreamed up, may be having second thoughts or at least bitchin' about the process they helped create.

Marion Hammer, past NRA President and current Executive Director of United Sportsmen of Florida, wrote this in an April 2nd letter to her constituents, and I quote:

"An employee of a Florida Gun Shop called me last week to let us know that a very liberal customer was quite angry that he could not pick out a gun, pay for it and walk out of the store with it.  This is the story he shared in pretty much his own words:

After filling out the 4473 Form, and showing his drivers license, the customer was annoyed that he had to go through a background check.  He angrily questioned, "Don't you know who I am?"  (He is a City Commissioner) When I told him it didn't matter, he said it was a waste of resources to do background checks on law-abiding people and said the law obviously "needed exceptions."

He got more angry that the background check took almost 20 minutes, and said, "there is no excuse for it to take this long."  Once he cleared the background check and paid for the handgun, he about blew a gasket when he found out that he had to wait 3 days and come back before being allowed to take possession of the handgun and walk out with it.

He DEMANDED to know "Why can't I take it now? I need it now." He was not happy to hear that it was the LAW.  He then explained, "I hate guns and I have supported gun control in the past but this is damned ridiculous. When you need a gun you should be able to get it."

He then stormed out of the gun shop."

While some Washington gun stores stayed open in defiance of Inslee's declaration, others remain closed.  I have not heard or read about consequences for those who elected to remain open at this point.  I did just have a phone conversation with the gun counter manager at the Spokane Valley Sportsman's Warehouse.  He tells me that they are open, selling guns, and processing background checks, so there appears to be inconsistencies in what is going on.  Of course, Sportsman's Warehouse is much more than just a gun store, so that likely plays into why they are able to be open at all.

Inslee's original lock down was for two weeks.  That has now been extended through May 4th with many restrictions expected to be extended beyond that.  The natives are getting restless!  It's one thing to be shut down for a couple of weeks, hell, that's kinda like a vacation.  But now beyond the one month mark and probably longer, it ain't so much a vacation any more!  In spite of the trillions of taxpayer dollars in 'aid' to those affected, people want (and many desperately need) to get back to work.

There have been, and continue to be, protests and demonstrations around the country urging state Governors to re-open the economy and let people get back to work.  This is especially true where state officials have been over zealous or just plain stupid about their restriction decisions.  In Washington, for example, you can't hunt turkeys or go fishing or play golf, but you can buy and smoke all the pot you want!  (I can report that construction projects, hunting, fishing, and golf are being reopened on May 5th but with plenty of rules and restrictions as to how one must go about these activities.)

In recent days I have read articles by a couple of writers criticizing the above mentioned demonstrations and citizens clamoring to urge opening up and getting back to work.
They also criticized the public polls being conducted that appear to indicate ordinary citizens are tiring of the lockdown.  One is a nationally syndicated columnist and the other, one of our local newspaper writers.

Both authors preach having 'science', not personal opinion or other factors dictate the timing, locations, and which parts of the ecomomy can resume operation.  In other words, sit down, shut up, and stay in your house until officialdom says you can come out!  From a pure scientific perspective, this would seem to be a fine system for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

However, there are some practical problems with this advice.  First and foremost, anyone who believes that politics, from both sides of the political spectrum, have not and do not enter into the decision making about the COVID-19 response, needs a plexi-glass window installed in their lower abdomen in order to see where they are going!  Secondly, since this whole thing began, the 'science' expounded upon by a seemingly never ending stream of 'experts' keeps changing!

Another factor in these writers' thinking might be the fact they can work from home and still get a pay check.  Hell, Ann and I are both retired and could shelter in place almost indefinitely if we had to.  For old folks we are adapting quite well to the
purchase online and let FedEX deliver it lifestyle.  Walmart's order online and no contact curbside loading in your vehicle works quite well too.  We have actually been inside stores, properly gloved and masked, maybe 3 times in the past month.  So, we can adapt if necessary, but we don't have to like it!

Contrast our situation with the hourly worker who hasn't seen regular income for a month and a half!  For that person, being willing to take some risk by getting out of the house to work and earn a living might be important.  A $1,200 stimulus check probably ain't gonna change that either.

The experts went from advising us that "This virus is nothing to worry about", to "This is the most dangerous pandemic the world has ever seen!"  Another example was the Surgeon General's and CDC's early assertion that face masks for the general public really weren't helpful in preventing spread of the virus.  My common sense told me that was BS!  Any face covering is bound to catch and hold at least SOME particulates coming from either inside or out.  This was another of the pieces of 'expert' advice that was reversed.

So, what other measures being forced upon us will be proven to be as worthless as some we have already seen?  I guess time will tell.

I think time has already told us, that even in the hardest hit areas like New York City, the medical systems have not been overwhelmed as was feared.  That's been apparent for several weeks in some parts of the country, so why are we still being denied regular routine medical checkups, doctor visits, and elective procedures, while providers of those services are being furloughed?  Surely those procedures and appointments, in a carefully controlled environment, are a lot less risky than a trip to Walmart, Costco, or Safeway!

As a practical matter, we all should make efforts to minimize the risks of becoming infected with this virus, but we need to recognize that a major factor in what we choose to do or not do, depends upon our individual circumstances!

So what does one do while sheltering at home and in many cases trying to help continue our kids' education from the living room?  Again, conceding the point that circumstances are very different for different people, damned if I know! 
I guess we can catch up on those neglected little household projects and that will keep us occupied for a while, but then what?

Ann and I are very fortunate to not be faced with many of the challenges of our city dwelling friends.  Living here on our little ranch enables us to get out and do some things that are not available to most.  A timbered acreage lends itself to all kinds of outdoor projects that provide both variety and exercise.  Raking, hauling and dragging debris, chainsawing, brush clearing, burning dead fall, and stump digging are all examples.  Hell, if we don't soon get freedom to get away from here and do other things, the hard work may kill us before the pandemic has a chance!

Ann took a couple of photos of some work with the backhoe.  I was digging up the stump left from a blown down tree after a recent windstorm.

Diggin' in the dirt can be fun if you don't have to use a shovel!

A closer look at the little Woods Groundbreaker 3 point mount backhoe, outriggers up, folded and ready to move to the next dig.  Does everything I want it to do, just don't get in a big hurry.

Then of course, there's always more enjoyable stuff like shooting guns and hunting Morel mushrooms.

Ann is the Morel hunter/finder in the family.  I can walk right by them in plain sight and never see one, but she has an uncanny knack of seeing them even when they are tiny!  Glad she likes to hunt/find them, 'cause we sure do like eatin' 'em!

The mushrooms slowly started popping about a week ago.  Little Heifer's found 52 so far and peak season should occur next week.

A picture with Ann's hand to illustrate how tiny some of these things are.  The little ones are my favorites when fried nice and crisp.

Other chores do crop up that ain't as much fun as hunting mushrooms.  This is one small disadvantage to living in the woods; after a wind storm, the pine pollen and tree detritus must be swept from the decks.

Here she is.  I was hiding out so I wouldn't have to help.

I can always find some sort of gun project around here.  I removed the scope from my Springfield Armory Saint AR-15 and replaced it with a Vortex Red Dot sight several weeks ago.  (vortexoptics.com)  The Vortex VIPER features a 6 MOA (minute-of-angle) dot, with adjustable brightness and auto shutoff to conserve battery life.  Bore sighting in the garage with the LaserLyte bore sighter was accomplished when the sight was mounted, but actual sighting-in had not been done.  So, I headed to our shooting range for a session.

The bore sighting had me on the paper at 25 yards and with a few further adjustments, near center of the target at 50 yards.  Why 50 yards instead of 100 as I usually do with centerfire rifles?  Well, a 6 MOA dot sight, regardless of color, will not win you any prizes for precision aiming.  Its advantages are non-critical eye relief, quick sight acquisition, and visibility against the target.  If calibrated correctly, it's still plenty precise for coyotes or other varmints around the ranch.

Springfield Armory AR-15.  Note how far forward the sight is mounted.  This is so the scope and mount will attach behind it if desired.

A closer view of the VIPER on a riser atop the full length picatinny rail on the rifle.

Just learned as I was preparing the photos for uploading, Governor Inslee announced this evening that the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" rules, except for those changes already announced, will be extended beyond May 4th.  No end date was mentioned.  Reaction to that is gonna be interesting!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from something Ann picked up as cowboy wisdom on Facebook:

"Just because you're following a well marked trail don't mean that whoever made it knew where they were going."

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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