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VOLUME 109-----------JULY 2011

SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'

WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY

July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!!

As always, when July 4th turns up on the calendar we pause to reflect, remember, and celebrate our Dad's birthday.  Robert Lee Parman was born on this day in 1922 and left us in September 1974 at the much too young age of 52.  His heart had given him problems for a number of years, and finally failed him shortly after taking early retirement from 26 years as a rural mail carrier.

We can only wonder how much longer his life might have been had we had the treatments, therapy, and surgeries used today to treat heart ailments.

As Ann and I returned home from the grocery store yesterday morning, we noted that Mount Spokane still has LOTS of snow on the southeast face.  I can't remember snow being visible from this angle later than mid June since we've lived here.  I guess this goes along with reports of record snowpack in the mountains all across the country.  No wonder we've had such widespread flooding.

I have another new firearm in the gun safe as I write this.  Well, again, like the Arisaka I wrote about last month, this one really isn't new, but was donated for use in our Hunter Education classes.

Since we have been conducting our classes at the Elks Lodge, we have had a number of 'guns and hunting' discussions with members who are interested, and in fact, three Elks are volunteering and helping us with the classes.

The 'new' gun is a J C Higgins bolt action 16 gauge shotgun given us by the widow of a former Elks member.  J C Higgins was the name used by Sears Roebuck and Company for many years as their house brand of firearms.  Sears guns were actually made by several different manufacturers such as Savage, Stevens, Marlin, Mossberg, and others.

This gun is unique to my eyes, as the few bolt action shotguns I've seen all had box magazines.  This one has a tubular magazine like those found on most pumps or semi-automatics.  There are few markings on the gun. 16 GA - RANGER -  101 - 20 along with SEARS ROEBUCK AND COMPANY U. S. A. is stamped on the barrel, and 'J. C. Higgins' is molded in script on the red rubber recoil pad.  I will attempt to obtain more history on this particular gun, but for now, that's about all I know.

   

Sears Bolt Action Shotgun - 16 Gauge

We had an incident here at the ranch several days ago that has elicited much laughter and story telling on the part of Little Heifer.

One morning she pecked on my bathroom door, and said, "Come tell me what this varmint is in the driveway!"

We went to the living room window and after eyeballing the critter, I declared it to be a marmot.

Marmots are quite common in parks and vacant lots in Spokane and Spokane Valley, but we don't see many of these rodents here at the ranch.  In fact, I recall only three others in the 26 years we've lived here.

One was observed nosing around the basalt boulder retaining wall outside the basement door some years ago.  Rocky terrain happens to be a favorite spot for marmots to dig dens, so it was pretty obvious what the intent was here.  That fellow met a dose of #6 shot from a 12 gauge turkey load that ended his quest to ruin a perfectly good retaining wall.

Another was spotted a few years later emerging from under our west deck and meandering across the yard.  Again, a shotgun ended his hunt for a new home.  Later that day we learned from neighbor Larry, that this was likely one of the two marmots that had taken up residence in a den east of his garage.

Larry expressed about as much disdain for marmots digging up his property as we did, so I told him I would attempt to resolve the problem.  I had just mounted the scope and sighted in the .204 Ruger barrel for the TC Encore, so that was the logical choice for the chore.

Next morning, after Larry left for work, found me leaning on the fence by his garage.  I didn't even have to use much patience.  I hadn't been there two minutes, when a marmot head appeared from a hole under a piece of metal roofing.  The .204 was indeed sighted in!

I believe this last eradication occurred around June 2008, and we had seen no marmots since.

Because of an occasional coyote sighting, the Ruger No. 1 .25-06 and a box of ammo is usually readily accessible when we are home, so I plucked a cartridge from the box, picked up the Ruger and proceeded in hot pursuit.

The marmot first halted and looked back while standing in front of the shop door.  No shot there.  Next stop was directly in line with the shop propane tank.  Don't think so.  Finally, at the end of the driveway with a safe background, I triggered the shot, offhand, from about 50 yards! . . . . . . . And MISSED!

The Ruger No. 1 is a single shot.  No more ammo with me.  Didn't matter anyway, 'cause he's gone into the brush!  Haven't seen him since.  Hope he stays away.

Now, I didn't see anything funny about this episode at all.  In fact, I was disgusted because I flubbed the shot!  But somehow, Little Heifer became amused because I was 100 yards from the house, barefoot, wearing nothing but underwear, with rapidly drying shave cream on half my face!  She even bitched that she didn't get a photo!  Guess I'll just never understand women!

Early June found us attending some end of school activities with Jennifer and her parents.  We attended a band concert and the awards ceremony for Track participants.

Jennifer received her varsity Track letter for running the 3200 meter and 1600 meter races at nearly every meet.  Yes, I have trouble with this meter stuff instead of 'yards' but that figures out to nearly three miles per track meet.  Too bad all that energy is wasted on the young!

End of school year also entails bringing the 'Wall' up to date.  The 'Wall' is the area where school records for sporting events are permanently posted and annually updated.  This update has Jennifer at number five, all time, for freshman girls over the three mile cross country course at East Valley High.  The E. V. course has a long, steep hill the kids 'affectionately' call the Widow Maker which makes it a real test of speed and endurance.

Cross country is Jennifer's favorite sport, because she says that just running on the track is boring.  The girls are in training all summer for next fall's cross country schedule, and Jennifer is expected to log 300 miles before school starts!  YIKES!

Y'all have not been subjected to any of my soap box renderings for the past couple of months, so I guess it's time.

Have you been following the news about the ATF's "Operation Fast and Furious"?  Except for CBS News, most of 'mainstream media' have ignored this, even though it has developed into a major scandal and portrays a Federal Agency out of control and complicit in criminal activity!

I've been following all the information that I can find about this since it hit the news several month's ago.  My old Internet Service Provider, Outdoors Unlimited, has been posting links on their home page, to information about this fiasco ever since some internet bloggers and CBS News broke the story back in January and February. (www.outdrs.net)

It seems that BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) was receiving criticism because they were only nabbing small operators in their efforts to prevent 'straw purchasers' (someone who can pass a Federal background check) from buying guns for, or reselling them to, the criminal element.  Particularly, in southwestern states, guns destined to be smuggled in to Mexico.

Faced with this criticism, ATF decided to encourage illegal gun purchases at border state gun shops in order to try and follow their path into Mexico.  That's right!  In what is now being called "Operation Gunrunner" or more recently "Operation Gunwalker," a Federal Law Enforcement Agency, has allowed and encouraged illegal gun purchases to occur at border state gun shops in order to try and follow their path into Mexico to see if they ended up in the hands of big drug cartels!

Apparently the idea was to trace the guns recovered from Mexican crime scenes, after the fact, to see if they came from this operation, and allow the takedown of some “Big Fish” involved in the illegal gun trafficking.

Big Problem! ATF has no assets in Mexico to prevent these guns from being used in criminal activity, up to and including murder. Another Big Problem! Hundreds if not thousands of these guns were apparently ‘lost track of’!  It is pretty clear that 2,000 to 2,500 guns were illegally purchased during this operation, and the exact whereabouts of most of them is unknown.

Well, one crime scene trace found two of the guns intentionally “walked” at the site of the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry!  It is not clear whether the recovered gun or guns was actually used to kill Agent Terry, because no one will release the information that could answer this question.

Objections from gun dealers involved in this project fell on deaf ears.  Dealers were told by ATF to go forward with these sales with some of the illegal transactions being observed on live video feeds as they were occurring.

Finally, some of the ATF agents who were objecting to this operation, blew the whistle.  When these guns began showing up at horrific crime scenes on both sides of the Mexican border, these agents risked their careers to try and stop it.

It is known that the operation was being run out of the ATF Office in Phoenix, AZ.  It is also a certainty that someone high in the command chain approved this, but so far, no one has been able determine how high.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Representative Darrell Issa of California have been engaged in trying to find out the who, what, when, and why of this situation, but are obviously being stonewalled by the Justice Department.

Grassley is being largely ignored because he is in the minority party in the Senate and without subpoena power.  Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee does have subpoena power, but the documents he has requested from the Justice Department have been so highly redacted, they are virtually worthless.

Issa's committee began hearings into this matter on June 13th, at which time CBS's coverage intensified for a day or so and Fox News finally picked up on the issue.  NBC and ABC continued to ignore it.  The Justice department continues to stonewall, while saying that they have an internal investigation in progress.  Wouldn't it be interesting if anyone accused of criminal activity could just investigate themselves and declare everything OK?

According to whistleblower testimony, this whole “Fast and Furious” fiasco had to be approved and sanctioned by high level management in President Obama’s Justice Department. Yet both Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder continue to deny any knowledge of the operation!

Issa has said this about President Obama's denial of his or Attorney General Holder's knowledge or approval of this operation:

"President Obama's remarks today on Operation Fast and Furious were disappointing. He expressed no urgency to provide answers or explain why no one at the Justice Department, six months after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's murder, has accepted responsibility for authorizing an illegal gunwalking operation. The American people expect more from the President than unsubstantiated assertions that the Attorney General didn't know about this reckless program and no explanation about who authorized it."

The only items I have seen reported in Spokane's daily newspaper, the Spokesman Review, that remotely relate to this issue have been parroted from either the Los Angeles Times or Associated Press. Those articles simply continue the disinformation about the percentage of guns found at Mexican crime scenes being traced back to U. S. origins, and/or the calls from anti-gun Democrat Senators to reinstate the failed so called Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

The 90%, 70%, or whatever number is in vogue regarding the recovered Mexican crime guns at the moment, has been debunked over and over. The only guns submitted to U. S. authorities for tracing, are those that Mexican authorities are reasonably certain came from U. S. sources. The vast majority are not submitted for tracing, because they are obviously not guns smuggled across the border out of U. S. gun shops. Much of the weaponry recovered can not even be legally purchased by civilians in this country!

Also, no one on this side of the border knows how many of the recovered firearms are those that walked away with deserters from the Mexican military and various police forces. The pay is much better working for a drug cartel than any level of Mexican Law enforcement apparently.

I realize that the Spokesman Review owners also own the local NBC television affiliate.  I have seen nothing on this matter from NBC News. (Nor ABC News for that matter) Is this the reason that we’ve seen no local reporting on this?

I thought it strange that the Spokesman Review, had not reported on any of this, so I authored some commentary (largely what you have just read) and requested they publish it as a guest editorial.

This elicited an exchange of emails between editorial page editor Doug Floyd and me.  Mr. Floyd informed me that my submittal, "does not fit the criteria for a guest column, but if you would like to condense your comments to a 200-word letter to the editor, we would be glad to consider it for that forum."

Before I go further, I want to wish Mr. Floyd, the very best in his retirement years.  Doug just retired "After 42 years of newspapering for the Chronicle and Spokesman Review" in Spokane.  (His farewell editorial appeared the same day my letter to the editor was published.)

My letter was in the Sunday, June 26th edition of the newspaper.  Even at that they removed a few words.  I've reproduced the original letter here with the deleted line shown in blue:

I find it interesting that the Spokesman Review has not picked up on the ongoing ATF “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal.

It’s becoming obvious that via this misguided, and illegal operation, ATF has encouraged illegal gun purchases at border state gun shops in order to try and follow their path into Mexico. Or perhaps a deliberate attempt to inflate the number of guns found at Mexican crime scenes that can be ‘traced’ to U. S. gun shops?

Apparently the idea was to trace the recovered guns after the fact, to see if they came from this operation and identify some “Big Fish” involved in the illegal gun trafficking. Big Problem! ATF has no resources in Mexico to prevent these guns from being used in criminal activity, up to and including the killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry!

CBS News has been on this story since February, and Fox News more recently, but the Spokesman Review,
and its Cowles owned NBC affiliate (along with NBC and ABC nationally) continue to ignore it. Head in the sand even as Congressional hearings are fighting administration stonewalling to attempt to uncover who approved this insanity.

Jim Parman

As you can tell, it was difficult to get the intent of what I wanted to say into a 200 word letter, but hopefully it lets others know that some of us 'common folk' are very concerned that a Federal Law Enforcement Agency could be this reckless and out of control.

Reports by Fox News and the Wall Street Journal shortly after the first session of Issa's hearings, indicated that those in the know expected acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson to be “thrown under the bus” in an attempt to allay the political damage.  However, some different speculation has recently surfaced.

It is now being reported that Melson won't willingly "fall on his sword" for the administration and may be eager to testify before any Congressional committee investigating the matter.  This whole thing could get even more interesting if we ever really know how high up in the administration this obvious cover-up goes.

Some second amendment advocates and gun rights organizations are calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder.  Another cry is for the abolishment of ATF and turning its functions over to the FBI.  Not likely to happen, but sounds good to gun rights supporters.

Not surprisingly, some familiar culprits are editorializing in an attempt to shift attention from the terrible mistakes made here.  The Washington Post, on June 26th said, among other things, that Lawmakers should "give the ATF the authority to collect data on multiple sales of long guns in border states."

BULLETIN for the Washington Post Editorial Board!  The ATF watched live video and audio feeds of 'straw buyers' purchasing multiple firearms and insisted that the gun shops proceed with those sales over the shop owners objections.  All this while entering a request for a rule change that would require dealers to 'report' such activity???  DUH!!!!

I'm normally not one to get too excited or concerned about nefarious 'government conspiracy theories', but knowing the anti-gun sentiments of this administration and its political appointees does make one ponder.

In a political climate where moving a gun control agenda through congress is less than likely, could 'finding' over 2,000 guns at Mexican crime scenes that came from U. S. gun shops be perceived as a way to sway public opinion?  After all, Sarah Brady of the anti-gun Brady Campaign claims that President Obama recently told her this regarding gun control:  "I just want you to know that we are working on it.  We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."

If you have an interest in learning more about operation fast and furious, just Google it and you will find a plethora of articles and commentary.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from an unknown source.  Perhaps he or she had friends with multiple children:

If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

THE OL' HILLBILLY
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