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River Views

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.


  1. July 6, 2013

    What do you do with the dead birds that fall from the fruit trees? Is shooting them the only way? I park under a mulberry tree and have to hose purple bird shit off the car every day. It does not occur to me to kill the birds. What am I, some kind of pacifist fool?

    • Malcolm Macdonald July 6, 2013

      If you deliberately and repeatedly park under a tree from which birds frequently poop, then you are rather foolish, whether pacifist, pugilist or warmonger.

  2. July 7, 2013

    There is no alternative parking space, save the street, where the car has been hit-and-run while parked more than once. I’ll live with the mulberry tree and high-pressure nozzle, and deal with that mess rather than with dead birds.

  3. Lickity Split July 9, 2013

    Well, I am not going to pay to read the rest of this, but what a cold hearted fuck you are to shoot woodpeckers. Do you have a heart? C’mon dude. And by the way this entire country is in an ammo shortage. Good luck arming yourself against woodpeckers, crazies and the government. And what business is it of the clerk to ask what you are using the ammo for. Jeezus I am glad I don’t have these problems.

    • July 9, 2013

      Ain’t it something, the world one steps into by having guns. The “others” are always the “nuts,” never “me.” By not having a gun, I’m of no interest to these people. Thank goodness.

    • Malcolm Macdonald July 10, 2013

      It never ceases to amaze me that those who hide behind nom de plumes are often the most inarticulate and uncouth in their use of language. They are also often phoney liberals who are just as narrow-minded as many arch conservatives when it comes to dismissing something without reading the full text. “Lickity Split” fails to pass the Atticus Finch test of spending a few minutes looking at things from the other person’s point of view. Apparently “Lickity” also failed to read To Kill a Mockingbird closely enough to note the birds that Atticus (the epitome of American liberalism) told his son it was okay to shoot before the admonishment concerning mockingbirds.
      As for “Subscriber,” it is a partial truth that not possessing a gun at all alleviates one of many decisions concerning firearms. “Subscriber” is probably a fine citizen, but owning or not owning a gun does not necessarily a good person make. As of 2011 statistics, crimes committed with a gun comprised just 8% of violent crimes in the United States.
      The only two people I knew closely who were murdered were killed by people using their bare hands to strangle or to hold a blunt force object. The only person I knew closely who used a gun to commit a “crime’ was a first cousin who used his rifle to kill himself while in the harshest throes of incurable cancer. Of course, I wish we had a health care system that provided more humane measures than that, but I would never second guess the only choice that was left to him.
      Sadly, it seems that both “Lickity Split” and “subscriber’s” life experience is a bit limited to an overly simplistic view of what gun owners are. Yes, there are “gun nuts” who buy out the ammo store at the vaguest threat to the Second Amendment, but there are also many, many gun owners who opposed the Vietnam War and the imperialist attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Charlton Heston marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. Michael Moore is a gun owning NRA member.

  4. July 10, 2013

    Choosing to not have guns does not make me a fine citizen. Today’s definition of “fine citizen” Is almost as disturbing as the near-religious fervor with which gun owners defend their beliefs. Heston marching with King was great publicity for both. Michael Moore is a wealthy movie producer who has tapped deeply into the gullible “progressive” audience. His unpleasant filmed interview with Heston was a showbiz charade, and an embarrassment. Subscriber is my AVA username and enters automatically if I make comments here. I’ve been a not-so-fine citizen here at the AVA since 1988. I’ll be out hosing bird shit off my car in a little while. Have a nice day.

    Jeff Costello

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