Restrictions and Numbers

As we enter another month of panic, pandemic or whatever you want to call the craziness that has been 2020, it’s probably a good time to look at some of the seemingly random rules that have become part of our “new abnormal”.

As of this morning, seventeen states are still operating with COVID-19 travel restrictions. In Alaska, for example, travelers are expected to fill out a traveler declaration and either arrive with proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or take one (for $250) and self-quarantine until the results arrive.

Residents are expected to do the same thing, although the test is free and there’s the option to quarantine for 14 days, or the duration of the trip, which ever is shorter. And…you’re “asked” to complete a second test 7 to 14 days into the trip, or “if or when any symptoms develop.”

The other states: Connecticut, Hawaii (another mandatory self-quarantine), Idaho (Ada County only), Illinois (Chicago’s travel order is the only restriction), Kentucky requires that Florida, Nevada, Mississippi, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas and Alabama and Arizona residents are expected to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Kansas asks residents to quarantine at home 14 days after traveling, Maine requires all individuals not in possession of a negative COVID-19 test to quarantine for 14 days, Massachusetts has a quarantine requirement, but issues exemptions for nine East Coast states and Colorado, essential workers or transitory travelers, New Hampshire asks for a 14-day self-quarantine, New Jersey advises the same, New Mexico wants a 14-day self-quarantine, has a mask mandate for all public spaces and a $100 fine.

New York has a self-quarantine requirement for “high-risk” states, Ohio wants anyone from a state with a positive testing rate 15 percent or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days, and Pennsylvania provides a list of “at-risk” states whose residents are expected to self-quarantine if visiting, Rhode Island, and Vermont are asking the same.

And you wonder why the travel industry’s hurting? The restrictions are also putting kinks in the travel plans of everyone from business travelers to anglers and hunters with longstanding reservations for fall hunting season.

Meanwhile, August, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, set another new record for firearms background checks. The 1,684,083 NICS checks for August 2020 was 51 percent higher than August 2019, and indications from dealers and distributors we’ve spoken with indicate there’s no slowing in sight. NSSF’s Mark Oliva summed it up pretty well: “These sales figures are proof that Americans refuse to be compliant victims to violent criminals who prey on the most vulnerable of our society.”

And the numbers also point out something very revealing: of the more than thirteen-million guns purchased so far in 2020, more than five million of them have gone to first-time gun buyers. The two largest groups in those? Women and minorities.

Despite the fact the numbers of new gun owners are growing- daily- there’s still no great indication what this means for the upcoming November elections.

While you can make the argument that a gun owner is more likely to vote for a pro-gun candidate, there’s still no strong indication that gun ownership -by itself- is an indication of how a person will vote.

However, the fact that a majority of guns being sold are self-defense types is more revealing. People are realizing they can’t always count on their government leaders to support their police departments. That limits their police departments abilities to respond in emergencies.

In turn, they become very self-aware about personal safety. With awareness may be the realization they may have been supporting candidates and administrations that do not have their well-being at heart.

That’s a very long way of saying that, despite the fact there are more new gun owners daily, you cannot count on someone else to do your work at the ballot box.

On election day the only way to assure your voice being heard is to vote. Not voting essentially gives two votes to the other party: your wasted vote and the additional weight you’ve given to a vote against your candidate.

Numbers like these aren’t always exciting, but they’re always important.

—Jim Shepherd