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OK, Maybe One More COVID Post

I started a new job right before all the lockdowns started, which meant being onboarded at the new offices, given a laptop, and sent home. I haven’t seen the office or any coworkers since. I used to work with the manager at a previous job, almost 20 years ago at this point, which is how I got in. So I at least know one person there. But I’ve had to lean on him more than I’d like to. He could use having items taken off his plate. But even when I started with clients, I tended to be there for the planning stuff, and only did the actual execution from home.

As for switching jobs when I did, let me tell you, I’m damned lucky. I have spent the past 20 years worried whether I’ll have a job in a few months. I’ve never worked for a company that consistently made money. This company is, and because we’re in the clinical trial business, we’re expecting COVID to slow the growth a bit, rather than hammer us. Trials are still continuing, and we’re signing some COVID related business, which feels good to be helping.

Our club has been closed since the order mid-March. We cancelled all events, including my steel matches, before that. The place has been shut down. We were starting to wrap up a major construction project when this hit, and that had to stop. I’ve only been there to check on the place and make sure the mail gets taken in, etc. The club is a mess. Garbage has blown in from all over the place. It really needs a work party.

I figured this would be a good time to get a lot of things done for the club, but I find I just don’t have the energy. All the energy goes into the new job, and there’s nothing left over, which is unusual for me. My mental productivity is probably half what it was pre-lockdown. So I’ve had no energy at all for the blog. I’m an introvert, so I would say I’m handling it OK, but there are limits. It’s also hard when I get calls from club members, and realize they just want someone to talk to. We’re the only social interaction some of these guys get.

One question they asked at the new job to introduce the new employees: “What are you going to do when everything opens back up.” To answer is go to the gun club I belong to and shoot the shit out of the steel targets.” But you never know how people are going to react to that answer, so I had to come up with something else quick. Governor Wolf announced construction can continue May 1st, so we’re hoping we can resume that project and have everything open when we reopen. It would be nice. But when can we reopen? Who knows at this point, and dues are coming up. I’m really hoping it’s not a blood bath of non-renewals, because we just finished climbing out of our last deep membership hole. Now we have a whole new one.

56 Responses to “OK, Maybe One More COVID Post”

  1. One odd thing about Colorado, which is pretty blue … bluer than Pennsylvania sometimes … because they also sell guns and ammo the shooting ranges I go to are still open. They have all the normal signs up but bottom line is you pay your fees and go shoot. I don’t know about indoor ranges (they mostly sell guns too but don’t know if the range is open) as the 2 places I go are both outside. A large outdoor shooting complex and a really nice outdoor sporting clays club.

    • Sebastian says:

      Shooting ranges here can be open if they do so by appointment and follow guidelines. Most are closed.

      • Bitter says:

        Also, many ranges here are indoor, which we now know is a much higher risk.

        There are shops with ranges that have closed their ranges, but are open for selling guns. There is also a shop/range that is clearly violating the orders and doing so by claiming that their locked door and requirement to call in and identify yourself before they let you see their range is part of their mitigation effort. Other outdoor ranges serve their local police, so the cops are willing to cover for them when neighbors call to complain about them being open and allowing shooting.

        Regardless, I don’t think I’ve seen any range allowing organized competitions or events. I don’t think that’s coming back for a while and probably only on outdoor ranges on sunny days with masks.

      • Richard says:

        Sucks to live in the East. I can take my stuff and go out in the desert and be 20 miles from anyone.

        • Andy B. says:

          “…go out in the desert and be 20 miles from anyone.”

          Don’t let that ever get away from you!

          My club has wonderful facilities, but the memories that bring a tear to my are of using the hood of an abandoned ’49 Henry J as a benchrest on our home range, about 250 yards from our back door. No 20 mile drive! (We later replaced the Henry J with a steel benchrest with the legs sunk in concrete.)

          My fantasy is sitting at a benchrest in the woods with a bottle of whiskey at my elbow (not that I’m a big drinker, but just because I could) and no security cameras or kibbitzers watching me. I shoulda invested in that when I was young.

      • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

        That’s not my understanding. They can be open as long as they follow guidelines. Mine has been open continuously since this started. Events and such have been canceled, but range access has not changed.

        • Sebastian says:

          One of those guidelines is by appointment. Not every place is following that.

          • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

            I meant more the social distancing guidelines, not the appointment part. Since they are not a business, and not actually selling anything, that wouldn’t make sense. Seems to be a bit of a grey area. From what I read, some have closed and some haven’t. But there really isn’t clear guidance. In any case, I’m glad my range has stayed open.

            • Sebastian says:

              A gun club is most definitely a business.

              • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

                How so?

                • Sebastian says:

                  Gun clubs are almost always non-profit corporations. They have to follow the same laws as a for-profit corporation. In most cases, gun clubs are 501(c)(7)s, or Social Clubs. Wolf’s closure order ruled social organizations were non-essential. Further guidance said gun related businesses could be open by appointment only and following social distancing and disinfecting guidelines. We decided we couldn’t manage that and decided closing was our best option.

              • Richard says:

                A 501c7 is definitely a corporation, but is it a business? The IRS has opined on this point. As I interpret the IRS gobbledygook, no, unless you allow the general public to shoot for a fee. That revenue would have to be reported as unrelated business income.
                https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicg80.pdf

                I can’t really speak to the decree of your communist governor as I am trying to figure out the decree of “my” communist governor. However, given Barr’s letter of yesterday, it may be worth a complaint to the DoJ. This seems like a twofer, freedom of association and 2A. Like many, I am very skeptical that the DoJ will actually do anything but at least the complaint will smoke him out.
                https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2020/04/bill-barr-covid-19-page-1.jpg

                • Andy B. says:

                  “As I interpret the IRS gobbledygook, no, unless you allow the general public to shoot for a fee.”

                  Most (?) clubs permit members to bring guests for a fee. I suspect the IRS would say that qualifies.

                  Also, most (c)(7)s have some form of taxable income, even if it is petty. My guess is, that too would qualify.

                • Sebastian says:

                  The IRS isn’t the issue here. The governor’s order is the issue. And under the criteria, a gun club is either under “Other Amusement and Recreation Industries” and “Civic and Social Organizations” both of which are listed as non-essential.

          • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

            And in fact, his order specifically says

            Individuals are permitted to engage in outdoor activities; however, gatherings of individuals outside of the home are generally prohibited except as may be required to access, support or provide life sustaining services as outlined above.

            Target shooting is an outdoor activity. So to me its best read as they can be open, but gatherings are prohibited.

  2. sota says:

    Ironically we’re in a similar boat at my club; range is closed due to a massive remodel (like, we demolished 3/4 of the old range building, extended it, and are building bigger/better/brighter/faster/etc.) when this chirus hit. Supposedly construction is still on going though.

  3. Bitter says:

    I think many organizations are going to have a bloodbath on dues and renewals this year. It’s not just the economy. It’s the fact that few of us can provide anything tangible that people can do or value right now. Even people with steady jobs or firm income streams may be challenged to justify paying dues to a group that they can’t participate in.

    • Other Steve says:

      Truth, but it’s also an election year which typically drives interest up in guns. Not usually shooting them vs buying and hoarding, but some. That said ammo and reloading components are already out of stock, kind of wonder how this all comes back, doubt people will want to shoot up all their panic buy ammo.

    • sota says:

      I know for mine, when I joined there was a multi-year long waiting list. About 2 years ago we had some defection after the club voted to supply the member list (just names, no other individual details) to the state police on an annual basis (it’s. NJ. they already know. and it provides a travel immunity in this god forsaken state, so in reality no actual harm done.) When the range closed end of September of 2019 for remodel, I suspect we also had some attrition for dues when renewal came in January, although I haven’t attended a meeting to find out what those numbers look like. I honestly don’t get why anyone would voluntarily quit like that; annual membership is WELL below $200/year, and if you decide to rejoin the initiation fee is more than twice that, and could go up at any time.

  4. Andy B. says:

    In the broad spirit of your post, I think among the hazards to club membership could be, people learning what they can live without. “Subcultures” are fragile things, and a constant theme I’ve been hearing in this shutdown has been, “You know, I’m really relieved not to be doing XYZ anymore, and I have to figure out how to avoid it after things open up again.” If people have the time to realize that, whatever obsession has kept them connected to the XYZ subculture may be abandoned.

    (In my eighth decade, I now recognize how many times I’ve experienced that; in fact I am amazed and puzzled by people who stay into the same pastimes their entire lives. I have a five-decades friend who only got into guns as he entered his eight decade; he had no “hobbyist” interest to share with me at all when we were younger guys.)

    Off the top of my head, it would seem that very consciously, clubs should keep up more communication with their members during the shutdowns, than before, so people don’t drift away psychologically. What the pretenses for communications should be, I don’t know, but I think it’s worth considering.

    • Sebastian says:

      For me the hard part in getting anything done for the club is that it’s not doing things that refocus my attention. So it’s much easier to not think about it.

      • Andy B. says:

        “…it’s much easier to not think about it.”

        That’s the danger right there.

        My own life experience was, I was a fanatical shooter and officer of a (small) national sport-shooting organization, but then I went into business for myself in 1983 — initially as a moonlighter, so I couldn’t focus on either my shooting (which was very technical/handloading oriented and time consuming) or my organization. I’m only glad I recognized that in time to leave organizational activities gracefully before creating any disasters.

        I also went from being very involved in my home club (range officer/chairman and trustee) to no involvement at all. Simultaneously I was moving into “political” activity, after I went into business for myself full time, and could create my own “flexi-time.” (Drive to Harrisburg for a morning meeting in the capitol, work my own business until 3:00 AM the following morning.)

        Whatever. The loss of focus is the thing, as it is often associated with a loss of interest, in spite of ourselves. I guess the main thing is to be honest with ourselves. But it is hard sometimes not to feel like an apostate.

  5. HappyWarrior6 says:

    How about this: if your club isn’t open then maybe you aren’t entitled to anyone’s dues until they can shoot’m some targets? Your attorney may not have a good handle on the practical aspect of this since many other clubs are open to actual, you know, “outdoor activities” in which not even masking is required.

    Regarding closing things indefinitely and indiscriminately on the part of “state officials” with jobs… It’s like if you close down a road you have to have a suitable detour. Then there will always be people who have to get on the road because they live on the road. No, this time the road is closed and people are stranded from being able to drive home and being told to just wait. Clearly it’s amateur hour here.

    • Sebastian says:

      We’re not entitled to anyone’s dues. They are free to not renew. That many might not is a big concern of mine. But right now we’re only legally allowed to be open under guidelines that can’t be followed by an all-volunteer staff with day jobs.

      • HappyWarrior6 says:

        Okay. So my club doesn’t even have a clubhouse because it burned down a few years ago. It’s literally wide open outdoor property. If they had a clubhouse they would lock it. No entry.

        If you lock your doors it’s a 100% outdoor environment. With guns. Do you allow the PSP or local cops to shoot? Maybe you should give them free access if you are concerned about trouble. Or not. Up to you, but for goodness sake your attorney is dense. Remember he bills by the hour for all of this.

        “Shall not be questioned”. I don’t get it.

        • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

          I gotta agree. The attorney apparently hasn’t read the PA or US Constitutions, or the language of the order. The order on its face doesn’t prohibit private ranges (they are not businesses and it allows outdoor activities). But even if that is wrong, its in clear violation of the PA and US Constitutions. Training is an essential part of the right to keep and bear arms. Its an essential part of our society.

          Even Virginia Courts understand.

          We should be taking a stand now. We should not allow our rights to be questioned.

          • Sebastian says:

            Expensive appellate litigation sounds like an excellent use of member money when our ranges are literally falling apart.

            • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

              I doubt it would take that. The state likely wouldn’t even do anything.

              Besides, you surely could get the support of a great attorney like Josh Prince and could easily raise money from gun owners in the Commonwealth and outside of it.

            • Patrick Henry, the 2nd says:

              And actually, yes I think it is an excellent use of member money. Because if they government can shut down ranges when ever it says there is an emergency, nice ranges are worthless since they can’t actually be used.

              Defending rights is hard and expensive unfortunately. It was hard and expensive for Dick Heller and Otis McDonald, but they knew it was right and pushed on.

  6. Andy B. says:

    I wasn’t sure which comment this would be an appropriate reply to, so I’m moving it down here,

    From the experiences of people around me, it would appear the enforcement of the shutdown has not generally been draconian, though I’m sure there are anecdotes to the contrary, that were a function of the individual “violators” and “enforcers” involved.

    Anecdotally, an acquaintance operates a tattoo studio in Camden, NJ, and was operating in defiance of the NJ shutdown. They finally clamped down on him, but to the best of my knowledge were only real threatening, stopping short of any kind of “prosecution.”

    Gun clubs have a tendency to “everyone is out to get us” paranoia, because sometimes it is true. I’ve suffered from that paranoia myself. (Not to digress to a longer essay, but I have observed that draconian enforcement is often a response to open-and-advertized defiance.)

    What I’m saying is, I think a gun club could operate at a low level (most are seldom crowded anyway) as long as they didn’t schedule mass activities like matches or picnics, and followed a guideline of “don’t bunch up in a way we’ll see on the evening news.” Then, if a cop stops by and says “cease and desist”, do it. Quietly.

    • Sebastian says:

      I can attest that the “everyone is out to get us” is a strong factor. I can’t imagine the closure continuing for much longer. At some point Irish Democracy is going to break out, and things are going to start reopening whether Wolf wants them to or not.

  7. Andy B. says:

    “I can attest that the “everyone is out to get us” is a strong factor.”

    Generally — but not always — the number of people involved in the process, will amplify the paranoia roughly by the square of the number involved. Everyone can and will think of one or more “what if?” horror-scenarios.

    I’m thinking of someone who once said at a gun club meeting “What? Do you want a SWAT team crashing through our gate?” when the issue in question was entirely petty, bureaucratic, and eminently arguable.

    • Andy B. says:

      I’m going to suggest something that will probably put me on a lot of people’s shitlists, but I mean it in the spirit of “tactics” or “street-smarts”:

      When Wolf relented on forcing gun shops to close — after the State Supreme Court had already supported his closing position — instead of playing the political game and saying “we are so glad that the governor saw the merits of our arguments and came around to agree with our position”, everyone from the NRA to our state dingbat organizations continued to attack him. You would have thought that somehow the Supreme Court minority had forced him to relent, and to some extent the NRA appeared to be claiming credit for coercing him to change his position.

      I don’t know how many times I’ve had to sit through orations about how “politicians are simple creatures who respond to pleasure and pain, reward and punishment.” I.e., stroke them when they do something you like, make it painful for them when they do something you don’t like.

      Instead, the RKBA community continued to attack him; reinforcing his certainty that as a Democrat, they would attack him no matter what he did. So I have a suspicion he is telling us “go, enjoy those open gun shops I let you have; but if you think you’re going to actually shoot those guns, you’re going to have to wait — and wait — and wait…”

      Perhaps there was some dimension to his decision to allow gun shops to open that I just didn’t get, but that’s how it looked to me. I’m not suggesting to trust the guy, or vote for him, but the fact is while he’s governor he holds an awful lot of cards, and I keep coming back to those “simple creature/pleasure/pain” lectures everyone seemed to think were so profound.

      • Richard says:

        Probably good tactical advice when you are dealing with someone who is persuadable or at least capable of being intimidated. I don’t know that we are in that situation with today’s Democrats though. They have pretty much branded us as Deplorable and Irredeemable. And it is not just the leaders, its the base. Consider for a minute what Wolf would face from his base if he actually did something that we would consider positive. The base may have been distracted by the virus when he backtracked on gun stores but I am willing to bet there was some sort of reaction.

        • Andy B. says:

          “Consider for a minute what Wolf would face from his base if he actually did something that we would consider positive.”

          It depends on who you mean by his “base.” Voters or money men?

          I personally believe “guns” are not a hot-button issue with anyone outside the pro-gun “movement.” The rank-and-file voter is really not highly motivated, one way or the other. They will have an opinion if you force them to think about it, but five minutes later they won’t be thinking about it.

          I’ll try to condense one of my Old Stories: I was once involved with a non-gun-related issue-campaign, where polls showed that the lowest level of public support for the issue, in any demographic, was 85 percent — when you asked people. But a friendly Republican state rep explained to me that we had a “process” issue, and that no one in the history of the world (except cranks like me) had ever been motivated by a process issue. Therefor his fellow legislators would never get behind it, because absent voter motivation, it didn’t exist.

          For most of the Democratic base, gun control is a “tsk-tsk-tsk, ain’t that terrible” non-motivating issue. Maybe a lot of them are motivated for a week after the last mass-shooting. But if you watch most polls where they attempt to rank the issues that push D buttons, it’s not rare to find that guns don’t turn up at all. That’s the only thing we have going for us.

          Here’s a serious question: Wolf backing off on gun shop closings voluntarily, after the State Supreme Court had supported them, is something his “base” should be ripping hell out of, if they really cared about the gun issue. But to the best of my knowledge, they’re not. (Correct me if I’m wrong; though I’ll say in advance that if you find only one or two anti-gun loudmouths or organizations ripping him, they are not his “base.”)

          • Richard says:

            Bloomberg and his billions dispute your notion of the base.

            • Andy B. says:

              How’s Bloomberg’s presidential campaign going? ;-)

              • Richard says:

                Not as good as his attempt to buy gun confiscation at the state and local level.

              • Andy B. says:

                “Not as good as his attempt to buy gun confiscation at the state and local level.”

                If you mean his dollars can buy legislators via campaign contributions, that’s the same bullshit that is said by the other side about the NRA. But a full translation is, that campaign dollars translate into reelection for them. The fact is that is becoming ever less true, and dollars can’t buy voter motivation around an issue that doesn’t motivate them. And, in any case, the MSM gives a lot more free promotion of the anti-gun cause than Bloomberg could ever buy. They can keep hysteria alive longer than it would survive without their help, after a mass/school shooting, but not permanently — or so it seems.

                Now, if you want to suggest that Bloomberg bribes legislators outright, money right into their bank accounts in return for anti-gun votes, I’ll be more willing to listen, but with the proviso that proof would need to be found, and would be relatively hard to conceal or launder on a large scale.

                • Richard says:

                  The way campaign finance works, campaign contributions vs bribes is a distinction without a difference. No problem with your comments about the MSM but remember that Bloomberg owns a major MSM player.

                  • Andy B. says:

                    Valid points, to the extent that campaign funds can be skimmed for personal use, and that Bloomberg owns a big piece of the MSM action. But even so, I return to my point that even the MSM could not boost the Bloomberg campaign. Not to belabor the issue, but Bloomberg made the classic political mistake of believing people care about issues they say they care about, but really don’t. (That of course is independent of ideology.)

  8. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    Have you heard anything about the NRA Board of Directors election? I am assuming the 76th seat is empty, since there was no Annual Meeting.

    • Sebastian says:

      That’s a mess I haven’t had the time or energy to follow. My position remains that it’s time for WLP to retire. I never supported NRA’s relationship with Ack-Mac, and I let that cloud my judgement. But I don’t think the good guys won in that awful mess. Ask-Mac was just collateral damage I’m not going to cry over. Especially since the people I know and like who were Ack-Mac employees seem to have landed on their feet.

      • Andy B. says:

        “I don’t think the good guys won in that awful mess.”

        Have you entertained that perhaps there aren’t any good guys, except for the well-meaning peons you know and like?

        (I’m not dissing your friends as “peons”, but a lot of us spent a lot of time playing games we didn’t know we were playing, on behalf of other people, and I have no reason to think anyone would not be in that position.)

        • Sebastian says:

          When I say “good guys” I don’t mean that to be unqualified. I mean, Ollie North was allegedly part of the plot against Wayne, and that was a big part of my reluctance to take any side.

          • Andy B. says:

            “Ollie North was allegedly part of the plot against Wayne, and that was a big part of my reluctance to take any side.”

            Entirely sound reasoning!

            Possibly the greatest weakness we all suffer from, is the default assumption that if bad guys can be identified, their enemies have to be good guys. When political power is the commodity being sought, that is almost never the case.

    • Richard says:

      I have noted that NRA presence has dropped off sharply. I used to give them some money whenever they would run one of their all the guns in the world sweepstakes. I had decided to not do that until the internal turmoil was resolved. However, I have not been able to act on that since there haven’t been any. Did the manufacturers pull the plug or has the ILA not been able to get their act together. Anyone know? And what is with the full page ad with WLP in the latest mag saying he would send a letter about future operations. I have received no letter. I am assuming another fundraising letter. The ad seemed to blame the problem on CV but could be a diversion from money hemorrhage on both the revenue and expenditure side.

      • Charlie Foxtrot says:

        Well, something is going on at NRA. Layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, benefit cuts, no word on the NRA Board of Directors election and the NRA Board of Directors meeting has been postponed from what I understand. Also, a recording was leaked from the last NRA Board of Directors meeting, where WLP said that NRA had $100 million in legal costs. Also, the NRA Annual Meeting is usually a big fund raiser and was cancelled amid the corona virus outbreak. The NRA’s finances didn’t look good before the corona virus outbreak.

        About that letter, who knows. Maybe a last ditch fund raising effort before NRA goes bankrupt? Maybe WLP is finally stepping down, using his golden parachute? Maybe the guy who was supposed to publish and/or mail out that letter to NRA members got laid off? Maybe WLP has left the county again and doesn’t want to be found?

      • Andy B. says:

        I’ve probably said it before — or maybe someone else has? — but I theorize that whatever factions exist within the NRA are competing to pick the bones before it goes belly-up.

        It is even possible that they aren’t really “competing”, and that some of the lawsuits, etc., are just artifices to steer funds to the factions’ favored attorneys.

        My Old Story about an analogous situation: I once briefly wrote for a “libertarian-conservative” organization that had a long history of operating on an endowment left by a successful industrialist who had been its founder. (No one whose name would be widely known today.) A new faction muscled in and appointed a new Executive Director, who subsequently spent down the endowment handing out “consulting fees” and other huge payments to friends in his faction. Within a couple years the organization had been reduced to a shadow of its former self, and ceased all of the programs that had once made it exceptional and unique.

        I decline to name names because I can prove nothing, and the history is too ancient. But I know the history via friendship with one of their more “direct” employees at the time, who lost his job when his program was cancelled. All of that occurred in prosperous times, when any organization supported by an endowment would have been expected to expand, not retreat to being just a shadow-like vestige, and it was all traceable to a faction with “another” agenda.

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