A couple of weeks ago I walked into the Coast Hardware Store in Fort Bragg for my annual purchase of a sleeve or two of .22 shorts. Usually, when the clerk asks what they are for I reply “target shooting,” but the truth is they are for shooting blue jays, woodpeckers, and occasionally pigeons who invade our cherry trees. Anybody who is aghast at that has no concept about what really happens on a ranch or farm. The truly appalling thing is that Coast Hardware doesn’t have any .22 shorts or .22 longs or almost any bullets whatsoever on its ample number of shelves devoted to ammunition. A long time Coast Hardware employee put it this way, “After Obama got re-elected and the Sandy Hook shooting, they bought out all the ammo and darn near all the guns.”
This is the Mendocino Coast, people, not the Bible freakin’ Belt. Apparently, I have greatly underestimated the number of gun nuts in the vicinity, not to mention the racist gun nuts. The same kind of folks weaned on the Andy Griffith Show have clearly forgotten that Deputy Barney Fife carried only one bullet, often in his shirt pocket, and that Sheriff Andy almost never packed a gun.
I learned how to shoot a gun and handle one with relative safety about the time I started to school. The Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t send my parents running to the store to overload on ammo. None of my aunts or uncles, who’d all been taught to shoot at equally early ages, didn’t stock up on new .30-.30s or rifle shells when, heaven forfend, a Catholic got elected President of these United States.
It’s not just Coast Hardware. I called Walmart in Ukiah. They are out of most gun ammunition; same thing at Pacific Outfitters in our county seat. This is Mendocino County, not Texas! Speaking of Barney Fife, he had a word for people like those who make a run on the ammo store. That word is, “NUTS!”
I may know some of these nuts. I may have grown up around them. These people are some of the most capable handlers of large machinery, loggers, or farmers around. These are people I would trust to grade almost any road, fell a difficult tree, or buy their produce without a second thought as to whether it was purely organically raised or not. However, when it comes to politics and true social progress many of these same well-grounded individuals are led around by the nose by Fox News, the propaganda of large corporations, and the misguided policies of entities like the NRA or churches whose tenets have yet to fully shed beliefs that weren’t ethically sound in the Middle Ages let alone now.
For those of you who don’t understand why ranchers or farmers shoot fruit thieving birds or chicken coop marauding animals, well, in the immortal words of Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”
For those who may possibly be addicted to guns and ammo, perhaps Jeff Foxworthy should offer the following test questions: Do I shoot more target rounds per week than there are days in the year? If you answered yes, you just might be a gun nut. Do I have more bullets in my house than the population of the nearest town? If the answer is yes, you might be a gun nut. Does firing a gun release dopamine in my brain? If you don’t know the answer because you don’t know dopamine from methamphetamine, you might just very well be a freakin’ gun nut.