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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Silencing the Valley…

snow pac, no lack

Sometimes you just want a little peace and quiet, especially if you live on a state highway as we have for nearly thirty-six years. Rock trucks, log trucks, hay trucks blast by the house or compression brake out front like rolling thunder. On a sunny day, SR 203  rumbles with Harleys as if it were the off ramp to Sturgis. Garish “crotch rockets” (“crotchetts,” I call them) whine by like incoming V2 missiles. 

And so I saddle up Gladys and head for the quiet of the Valley where a thought or musing can germinate, spread its roots, wander around like a footloose weed. Sure, an extemporaneous rowdy bark from a Deck or Van Hulle dog might pop your thought balloon but these interruptions are rare. So you cruise along blissfully thinking about which and whatever. Suddenly a volley of gunfire hiccups scattershot, ricochets off your quiet spot, echoes across the Valley, bounces off the High Rock ridges: the firing range across the Sky has exploded into life. Those who serve and protect us law abiding citizens are out shooting bullets again, training to serve and protect…and preserve the peace?

Sometimes the percussion is a deliberate pop, pop, pop: pistol fire. Other occasions there is the rapid fire report of semi-automatic weapons. Once in a while, however, I believe there’s an anti-aircraft gun placement tuning up. Kapow! Kapow! Kapow! I suppose all this firearms activity should make me feel a bit safer: cold iron and gunpowder lovingly watching over me. Serving and protecting, I think. But, you know, I find the thought of so much firepower just across the river a little disturbing. I’ve sorted through this uneasiness a bit, too. I’m not afraid of being toppled off Gladys by a stray bullet or anything like that. I’m sure those servers and protectors in training have a good backdrop, bank, or berm to stop that hail of lead. I certainly hope so! I’m not too sure about the anti-aircraft ordnance, but that’s up in the air, right?

I guess it’s that the cross river weapons activity “purports”: is intended to be for the service and protection of the citizenry; it’s not for fancy shootin’ or showy gun totin’ these shooters are training for. No shoot the tin can out of the air or the neck off a bottle marksmanship, no fast-draw-twirl-the-revolver stuff. It’s the law, training to shoot at human flesh, aim for body mass, down the bad guy in a spittle of lead.

We have a friend who used to belong to the City of Everett police force. One day I saw him at the Twin Rivers Chevron at the end of town and asked him what he was up to. He grinned and exclaimed, “I’m going to shoot bullets!” His response, it seemed to me, was more boyish glee than anything, just a tad bit too enthusiastic for a professional on his way to a training session. Perhaps it’s the spate of police-involved shootings of late that’s caused me to stray from noise pollution to more lethal stuff…certainly not the intent of this post to denigrate or criticize those who serve and protect. So straight as a shot, back to the noise issue.April morning

Governor Gregoire, a politician herself quick on the draw with pen and ink and along with carpel tunnel syndrome recently added one more bill to her gubernatorial legacy: legislation making it now legal for gun owners to purchase and use gun silencers. Prior to the Governor’s autograph, you could purchase a railcar full of silencers but couldn’t legally attach one to a firearm (as is the case with body gripping mole traps: you can buy a gross but better not insert one in a mole run). Owners of gun ranges say the new legislation is good news for their clients and will lessen the chances of hearing loss. Also, the folks in the vicinity of these establishments will welcome a quieter neighborhood, as well.

I’ve never been to a shooting range before and what I’ve seen of such a facility comes mostly from t.v. cop shows. But in all those instances the shooters are wearing ear protection of some sort: ear plugs or those bulky ear muff appliances that deaden sound. New legislation aside, I have my doubts that silence, my old friend, will settle on the Valley from the direction of the war zone across the river. After all, isn’t part of the thrill of pulling the trigger the simultaneous explosion and recoil? Don’t be mislead: the real holiday for the male of the species isn’t Father’s Day; it’s the 4th of July. Gunpowder and testosterone, a formula created especially for the Y chromosome!

Unless I want to muffle the pleasant Valley sounds, I guess I’ll just have to contend with the noise pollution caused by the cross river pyrotechnics (including the daily startle that is the Cadman concussion at High Noon). But then again if I’d been wearing “quiet” headgear, I’d have been spared the insult flung at Gladys and me the other day from Steve, our Valley’s diminutive mailman. The little blue Taurus eased along side just long enough for Steve to hurl the following gibe: “Can’t you get a horse to pull that thing!” Down Valley

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