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Do More Concealed Guns Mean More Gun Violence?

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            Back in June, there was a big ta-ra-rum when the Supreme Court decided that New York’s law covering the process for being able to carry a gun outside the home was a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ New York was one of the last seven states which gave law enforcement agencies a ‘may issue’ control over concealed-carry (CCW) licenses, with the other 43 states having moved to a ‘shall issue’ procedure, meaning that if you can pass a background check, you can wander around the neighborhood with a concealed gun.

            I knew that the moment the Court told New York to change its CCW law, that I would receive a daily appeal from the various gun-control organizations beseeching me to send them more funds so they could fight against this alarming expansion of armed-camp America, which is exactly what all the gun-control groups did.

            Incidentally, I give both Brady and Everytown a hundred bucks every month, I’ve been doing it for years. I figure if I’m going to donate a chunk every year to my NRA Endowment fund, the least I can do is give some bucks to the other side too.

            I also assumed after the Court’s decision that sooner or later one of the gun-control research groups would publish an ‘evidence-based’ article that would find some kind of connection between the shift from ‘may issue’ to ‘shall issue’ CCW laws and an increase in gun violence because Gun-control Nation has been making this argument ever since CCW laws began to shift from ‘may’ to ‘shall.’

            And now, thanks to  research conducted by the Johns Hopkins gun research group, this argument appears to be validated by a new study which compares gun violence rates before and after ‘shall issue’ laws went into effect. Unfortunately, I have to work off of the abstract of the article because I have now sent $39 not once but twice to the American Journal of Epidemiology and after the website processes my payment and pulls the money out of my bank account, I get back squat.

            Anyway, what the researchers claim to have found is that “Shall-Issue CCW law adoption was associated with a 9.5% increase in rates of assaults with firearms during the first 10-years post-law adoption and associated with an 8.8% increase in rates of homicides by other means.” If I ever get the website to work, I’ll read the details and perhaps amend what I am going to say now which is how do we know how many of those increased gun assaults were committed by individuals who had the legal right to walk around with a gun?

            We don’t. And I’m sorry but regression analysis may be a good tool for comparing the movement of one trend to another trend, but it’s simply not a scientific or evidence-based method for explaining cause and effect.

            The problem with virtually all the research on gun violence done by the Hopkins public health group and other research groups is that they use all kinds of data from the CDC which gives fairly good estimates on the demographics of the victims of gun violence but tells us next to nothing about how and why the perpetrators do what they did.

            You can’t interview the perpetrators of self-inflicted gun assaults – they’re dead. And you can’t interview the perpetrators of homicides or aggravated assaults because first of all, you can’t find half of them, and the ones you can find are locked behind bars and can’t or won’t talk.

            Here’s what we know about the men (and it’s almost always men) who use a gun to try and kill someone else: they usually begin demonstrating violent and anti-social behavior in their teens. We have known this since my late, dear friend Marvin Wolfgang followed the lives of violent criminals and published his definitive research fifty years ago.

            Now that the CDC has lifted the moratorium on gun research, I would like to see them spend some of my tax money on trying to figure out how to identify, isolate and treat what Wolfgang referred to as ‘serial delinquents’ before their delinquent behavior results in putting their hands on a gun.

            What is the CDC doing with my tax money right now? They are paying a researcher who has absolutely no gun experience to go around to 4-H clubs and talk to the little, White kiddies about how they should use their 22-caliber, single-shot, bolt-action rifles in a safe way. That research is going to give us any insight at all to help prevent adolescents and young, male adults from walking down the street with a Beretta, a Sig, or a Glock?

            Of course, if we were to focus our attention on the individuals who commit more than 100,000 aggravated assaults and homicides every year with a gun, we would end up where polite, well-meaning liberals never want to end up, which would be having to talk about race. And that’s an issue which Gun-control Nation avoids like the plague.

            This country still bears the stain and the shame of having brought millions of human beings over here, declaring them to be chattel property and then declaring them to be human beings in 1865. That’s only 150 years ago, so why should I be surprised if we still haven’t figured out how to address racial issues in a proper, objective, and honest way?

            The truth is that legal gun owners, in the main, happen to be about the most law-abiding people you’ll ever want to meet. And the individuals who commit gun violence against other individuals are for the most part people who couldn’t care less about what the gun laws say.

            I am shortly going to launch a website which will provide a basic informational roadmap to anyone who is thinking about buying or carrying a self-defense gun. The website will also let visitors get their hands on a little manual that will show them how a daily, 15-minute exercise without a gun can help them develop and maintain the muscle memory they need in order to use a self-defense gun in a proper and effective way.

            The reason I am putting up this website is that it’s time for both sides in the gun debate to acknowledge a very basic fact, which is that neither side currently approaches gun violence in a positive or constructive way.

            Gun-nut Nation believes that its members should be able to walk around with a gun designed only for the purpose of ending human life without being required to spend even five minutes learning how such a lethal product even works. Gun-control Nation, on the other hand, believes that we can end gun violence by somehow making guns ‘safe’ and passing more laws to that effect.

            I have been in the gun business one way or another for more than sixty years and what I have known and experienced in the gun business can be summed up like this: Other than sworn officers, nobody needs a gun for anything at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise, to quote Grandpa, is just a ‘meshugana chaya’ (read: damn fool.)

            But precisely because the only individuals who feel they need a gun happen to be individuals who shouldn’t ever be able to get their hands on a gun, we better stop worrying about everyone walking around with a gun because they think that might just wind up at the OK Corral or Miss Kitty’s Long Branch Saloon.

New Book on Mass Shootings.

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Order on Amazon. E-book up shortly.

How Do We Define Mass Shootings?

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            Someday shortly, I am going to start advertising a little book (90 pps.) that I have written about mass shootings. I wrote this book, Understanding Mass Shootings, because once again we are having a debate about mass shootings and typically, neither side in this debate really know what they are talking about.

            Now I don’t really mind if my friends in Gun-nut Nation shoot their mouths off and say things that really aren’t true, because the folks who belong to Gun-nut Nation just love their guns so they don’t really care what they say as long as they can’t be accused of not loving their guns. In fact, I have another book coming out (next month I think) titled, Why (Some) Americans Love Their Guns, in which I explain how and why gun owners think about their guns.

            This second book also attempts to explain how and why members of Gun-control Nation think about guns. But I do mind when my friends in Gun-control Nation get it confused or get it wrong because these are people who claim to be committed to ‘evidence-based’ information or are the actual creators of this so-called ‘evidence-based’ research.

            What I have never understood about the researchers and advocates who are seriously committed to reducing gun violence, is how they contribute to this debate without knowing anything about guns. They know all about the number of people who are killed or injured with guns. They know all about the laws we have passed that regulate guns. But they don’t know squat about guns.

            One of the leading gun-control researchers who first got into injury research by working with Ralph Nader told me that he didn’t need to know anything about the gun industry because when he worked with Nader, he didn’t know anything about the automobile industry, but he was still able to figure out how to make cars safer to drive.

            And this was my response: A car is designed to get someone from here to there. If there’s an accident before the car gets from here to there, you figure out if the accident was caused by a design problem, a mechanical defect, or the way the driver drove the car. But if I pull my Glock 17 out and blow your head off, that gun is operating exactly the way it was designed to operate.

            So, if you don’t know how guns are designed and how they operate when they are used the way they are designed to be used, how do you know what to do to change the result? You don’t.

            And by the way, the World Health Organization defines violence as the attempt to injure yourself or someone else. But the WHO doesn’t differentiate between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad’ violence, the way my friends both in Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation discuss these two different types of violence when the issue is violence caused by guns.

            If you shoot someone in self-defense, you still committed a violent act. That’s such a worthwhile way to behave? How about just run away or better yet, keep your mouth shut so that you avoid an argument which then becomes deadly because you or the other guy pull out a gun.

            Is it so terrible to back down? Of course, if you have a gun in your pocket you don’t have to back down, right? Anyway, back to my little book about understanding mass shootings which will be available in the next couple of days.

            Some of the experts say that a mass shooting is four or more persons killed in the same place more or less at the same time. Other experts define a mass shooting as four or more persons injured or killed.

            Why is the number of shooting victims who wind up either in the morgue or in the morgue and the ER set at four? It used to be five. Now it’s four. Some science, I must say.

            In my little book I focus on mass shootings not by the number of victims per se, but rather by how many targets the shooter tries to hit. To me, a mass shooting or what Louis Klarevas calls a ‘rampage’ shooting, is when someone tries to shoot as many persons as he can, regardless of whether he has any personal connection to any of his victims at all.

            Most, if not nearly all the shootings where 4 victims are hit, happen to be disputes between two individuals, one of whom pulls out a gun and starts banging away, and a couple of other persons get hit because they happen to be standing close by. The cops tell me that over the past few years, what they see is young guys who used to get off one or two shots and now just spray the gun all over the place.

            To lump such behavior in with the kid who shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and then popped off more than 150 rounds which killed 26 people in less than five minutes, is to guarantee that we won’t ever figure out how or why either type of shootings occur.

            My little book is an effort to place these episodes of mass violence within the context of how products manufactured and marketed by the gun industry have changed. I bring to the discussion about mass shootings the only thing I bring to every gun violence issue about which I write, namely, I know something about guns.

Gun Violence Isn’t Just About Guns.

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            Last year saw an alarming spike in gun violence, with many cities registering year-to-year increases of more than 30%. We were told these numbers reflected the stressors from the Covid-19 Pandemic, which was particularly brutal in underserved, inner-city neighborhoods which is where most gun assault also occur.

            So, this year the Covid virus seems to be getting under control, yet the increase in gun assaults has not only slowed, but in many locations seems to be getting worse. The number of gun homicides may exceed 20,000 by year’s end, which is almost double the average number of annual gun homicides for any year since 1981.

            The numbers on gun violence would be much worse if we also had data covering non-fatal gun assaults. But the CDC has stopped publishing those numbers since they admitted that the possibility for the annual estimates might be off by as much as 30%. The bottom line is that non-fata assaults appear to be roughly three to four times higher, on average, than the fatal assaults. Which means that the total gun assaults for 2021 might probably end up above 90,000 or even more.

            Why is this happening? How do we explain that gun injuries committed by one individual against another have reached numbers that are almost twice as high as they were twenty years ago, when the CDC says there were 17,000 fatal shootings and 41,000 non-fatal gun assaults?

            We are told that there are just too many guns around, maybe 350 million in private hands, maybe more. But the problem with the more guns = more violence argument is that most of these 350 million guns are in the homes of people who never commit any kind of crime. And the other problem with this approach is that most of these 350 million guns, or maybe it’s 400 million, or maybe who knows how many millions, are types of guns which are never used in gun assaults at all.

            Know how many bolt-action hunting rifles have ben manufactured by Remington, Winchester, Browning, Savage, Sears, and other gun makers over the last 50 years? Millions. Know how many guns like this are used when some idiot goes into a convenience store late at night and demands all the cash? None.

            I’m beginning to wonder whether when we think about gun violence that perhaps we should be thinking more about the word ‘violence’ than the word ‘gun.’ Back in 2015, I found myself in a conversation with Clarence Jones, who was Dr. Martin Luther King’s attorney and helped King write the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

            We met in New York at the time when some early plans were being discussed for how to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death. So, I asked Clarence at some point how D. King would have felt about the progress in civil rights if he were still alive. And here was his response, which resonates very deeply with me to this day:

            “Martin’s priority wasn’t civil rights. It was non-violence. And if he were alive, he would not be happy because the United States is a much more violent country today.”

            The numbers bear Clarence Jones out. In 1999, according to the CDC, 148,286 Americans died from all violent injuries. The total has increased every, single year since that date, with the 2020 number being 278,345. The per-100K rate of violent deaths has increased from 53.28 to 80.83 over the same period of time.

            The per-100K violent death rate has increased by 65% since 1999, the per-100K gun-violence death rate has increased by 62%. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s all those gun deaths that have pushed the overall violence number up. In 1999, gun deaths accounted for 7.3% of all violent deaths; in 2020 they were 6.9% of all violent deaths. More Americans are getting violently killed every year, but fewer of these deaths are caused by the use of guns.

            Violence is the only threat to the human community that we don’t understand and hence, cannot figure out how to control. We know what to do about hunger. We know what to do about disease. We even know what to do about global warming, although it’s the political will which is lacking, not the scientific understanding of why the polar icecaps continue to shrink.

            Incidentally, in 1993 there were 1,926,017 violent crimes committed, according to the FBI. In 2020, the number was 1,313,105. So, the violent crime rate has declined by more than 30%, but the number of violent deaths keeps going up.

I’m not talking about not understanding all kinds of violence, I’m talking about not understanding the worst and most threatening kind.

Anyone have an idea?

Fareed Zakaria – Another Gun Expert Heard From.

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            Fareed Zakaria is one of the country’s best-known and most active spielers, i.e., someone who earns a living by talking to whomever will listen to what he says. An Ivy Leaguer (Yale and Harvard) he now does a twice-weekly show on CNN, Fareed Zakaria Public Square, which allegedly reaches 200 million homes.

            Most of Zakaria’s spieling involves politics and current affairs, so it’s no surprise that a recent show covered gun violence which, as you can imagine, is a problem which concerns Zakaria in the same way that it concerns every other liberal spieler; we must get something done!

            The show, Global Lessons on Guns, was broadcast this past Saturday, and you can listen to Zakaria’s spiel right here. If I had a nickel for every mistake and every piece of misinformation that has been crammed into some 40 minutes of spieling by Zakaria, I would have enough money to pay the greens fee at the Saratoga National Golf Course, which is a course I love to play.

            Zakaria starts off by talking about three countries from whom we could learn how to do a better job of regulating guns – Japan, Switzerland, and Australia. As for Japan, he notes that the country has very strict rules covering private gun ownership and thus only 4 deaths from gun assaults occurred last year.

            At the same time, Zakaria makes a point of saying that the United States suffers almost 40 million deaths from shootings each year, of which half are self-inflicted fatal gun injuries, i.e., suicides committed with guns. What he doesn’t say is that Japan has no appreciable suicides with guns but meanwhile the country has basically the same suicide rate as the United States.

            So, if you’re going to lump gun homicides and gun suicides together to show what a problem we have with guns, how do you explain that Japan has no guns but equals our overall suicide rate? You don’t explain the issue, you ignore it, okay?

            Now we hear about Switzerland which, according to Zakaria, has guns in many homes because most men are enrolled in the country’s national militia, and keep their militia-issued guns in their homes. But meanwhile, Switzerland has a very low gun-violence rate.

            Currently Switzerland has 120,000 active professionals and volunteers in their national militia, which represents 1.4% of the country’s population as a whole. In other words, less than 2% of the country’s civilian population has daily access to guns. The United States has 450,000 active members of the National Guard and while these weekend soldiers don’t take their military guns home, many of them own guns.

            If we let the National Guard members take their military guns home and nobody else had privately-owned guns, this would mean that 1/10th of one percent of Americans would have daily access to guns. And Zakaria believes that the situation in Switzerland is something that we need to understand in order to do a better job of regulating guns?

            The last comparison is the situation in Australia, where a 1996 mass shooting resulted in the government spending $500 million to get rid of 700,000 guns. Zakaria claims that after the buyback, gun violence in Australia went down. Maybe it didn’t, maybe it did. But once again Zakaria misses the point.

            If we were to buy back every single gun of the same types that were returned in Australia, this would result in a reduction of gun violence of -ready? – less than 2 percent. Australia’s gun buyback only covered semi-automatic rifles (and some shotguns). It did not require Australians to turn in handguns. As terrible as mass shootings committed with assault rifles (Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, San Bernardino, Highland Park, etc.) may be, the guns which are used overwhelmingly to kill and injure more than 100,000 Americans every year are handguns, particularly bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols, which are designed only for the purpose of committing violence with a gun.

            That’s right. The WHO defines violence as a conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else. Stick the word ‘gun’ in front of the word ‘violence’ and you have what I thought was the topic of Zakaria’s talk.

            But in fact, the real topic of Zakaria’s show is whatever he believes his audience wants to see and hear. So-called journalist-commentators like Zakaria don’t ‘investigate’ anything. The content of their shows is nothing more than some well-worn cliches that avoid any controversial arguments at all.

            What does Zakaria believe we should do about gun violence? He gives us some stupid cross-national comparisons and then promotes the standard grab-bag of gun-control laws – background checks, red flags, safe storage – which have had absolutely no impact on gun violence at all.

            Does Zakaria even mention the fact that we are the only country in the entire world where someone can walk into a gun shop and walk out ten minutes later with a Glock which holds 17 rounds of military-grade ammunition, along with a few extra hi-capacity magazines so that the gun can be fired more than 60 times in one minute or less?

            So much for another expert shooting his mouth off about guns.

Thinking about buying a self-defense gun? Home | Shooting And Firearm (myselfdefensegun.com).

Let’s Talk About Guns.

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            I started writing about guns and gun violence in the Summer of 2012, six months prior to the massacre at Sandy Hook. I was motivated to write after I learned that the NRA, of which I had been a member since 1955 (I am still an Endowment Life Member) was promoting a law in Florida and elsewhere that passed but eventually was overturned, which would have criminalized physicians who counseled patients about the health risks represented by guns.

            I thought this law was stupid and offensive to the extreme. How could any rational human being deny that a consumer product designed for the specific purpose of fatally injuring human beings didn’t represent a medical risk?

            For that reason, my writing about guns and gun violence has focused primarily on how physicians and public health researchers create and disseminate narratives about the risks represented by guns. I write from this perspective because I hope my more than 50 years’ experience in the gun business will help health professionals and researchers understand an industry which has little if any direct connection or relevance to their lives.

            Unfortunately, I don’t think my attempts to communicate with gun-control researchers and physicians have made much of an impact on the way they think and talk about guns.

            First of all, despite how medicine and public health rely on evidence-based knowledge to develop approaches to medical threats, the research which is used to justify gun-control narratives is often superficial or just plain wrong, simply because the researchers don’t know anything about guns or the industry which produces and sells the guns.   

            Several years ago, I sent an email to several dozen leading gun researchers asking if they had any knowledge about an organization called the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW), Every year the NASGW holds a meeting attended by the 30 national gun wholesalers, the major gun and ammunition manufacturers and the national marketing groups which do the advertising and sales to move guns into the retail supply chain.

            Not a single gun researcher had ever attended an NASGW show, nor had a single person to whom I sent this email query even heard of the NASGW, which they could join for a whole, big hundred bucks a year.

            How can you justify doing research to regulate an industry more effectively when you have absolutely no idea how that industry functions or designs and sells the products which the industry makes?

            The bigger problem with the researchers and physicians who claim to be so worried about gun violence is that when it comes to promoting their ideas and strategies for dealing with gun violence, they spend all their time communicating with groups and individuals who already agree with what they believe.

            Maybe I’m wrong and I’m happy if anyone wants to correct me on this point, but I don’t know one, single public health or medical professional who ever goes out to speak with groups that represent people who own guns. Sorry, but I’m not terribly impressed when one of my gun-control colleagues tells me how he or she gave a talk to some group which is holding a gun buyback or running a memorial gun-violence parade. If you believe that owning a gun may create an unacceptable risk, shouldn’t you be expressing such ideas to people who own guns?

            When the gun-control researchers and physicians do go out and communicate with other like-minded folks, the narrative they employ is referred to as ‘safe behavior’ which they claim represents a ‘consensus’ between the two sides.

            The World Health Organization (which we rejoined after Trump took all the ‘declassified’ documents back home) defines ‘violence’ as the conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else. Note that the WHO doesn’t make any distinction between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad’ violence. It simply says that violence of any kind creates a threat to health.

            The gun industry can promote the idea all it wants about how guns save rather than end lives, but the bottom line is that the guns promoted as products which can commit ‘good’ violence, i.e., violence to protect ourselves or others, aren’t designed to be used in a ‘safe’ way. The semi-automatic pistols made by companies like Glock, Sig, Kahr, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, et.al., were designed to be used to injure human beings – which is exactly how they are used more than 100,000 times every year.

            Do my friends in public health or medicine ever point this out? No, they don’t. Instead, they busily go around talking about how they are developing a ‘consensus’ approach to using guns which combines the best ideas for gun safety from both sides and will satisfy everyone while reducing gun violence at the same time.

            This is pure, unadulterated crap and the physicians or public health researchers who promote such nonsense should be ashamed of themselves.

            The bottom line is that someone who is thinking about buying a self-defense gun isn’t going to be convinced otherwise because a physician pulls out some public health research which shows that access to a gun increases risk. Such research was published back in 1993 and its impact on gun sales has been squat. In fact, it’s precisely since this research was published that guns used for armed, self-defense are the types of guns which mostly sell today.

            When it comes to gun violence, of which I have published more than 2,000 comments on my own website and on Huffington Post, my agenda is very simple – to inject a degree of reality into the discussion about guns, how they are used and how they should not be used. In that respect, I have just put up a new website which speaks directly to men and women who are thinking about buying, owning, and carrying a self-defense gun.

            Here it is: Home | Shooting And Firearm (myselfdefensegun.com).

The website contains specific, industry-based information about how to decide whether to purchase a self-defense gun, as well as how to determine which kind of gun to buy, how to train with the gun and how to store it properly when it is not being used. It includes a simple (free) manual whose exercises allow someone to train and maintain necessary muscle memory without actually using a gun.

Please feel free to tell me and other readers what you think.

If Congress Wants to Investigate the Gun Business, They Need to Get the Facts Straight.

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            It doesn’t really bother me when gun nuts or gun-control advocates mis-state laws that we use to regulate guns. After all, these people either like guns or don’t like guns, no matter what the laws say.

            But when members of the United States Congress make public statements about gun laws or any laws, statements which happen to be wrong, or don’t mean what these public figures believe they mean, then we have a problem which needs to be fixed.

            I’m not talking about idiots like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert or Matt Gaetz. They’ll say anything no matter how stupid they sound. I’m talking about a letter that eighteen Democratic members of Congress just sent to the guy who runs an outfit called Credova Financial, a company which partners with gun dealers and provides buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans for the purchase of guns.

            To quote the letter, “BNPL is a point-of-sale loan product allowing consumers to purchase and immediately take possession of an item after agreeing to pay the purchase price over a fixed period of time.” Such financing plans evidently find favor with younger buyers who either don’t yet have a credit history or are trying to avoid any credit card debt.

            Many BNPL companies explicitly prohibit their programs being used for the purchase of guns, but Credova has gone in the opposite direction and has basically built its entire funding operation by partnering with gun dealers who sell guns either in retail shops or online.

            One of the companies which partners with Credova is Daniel Defense, which manufactures assault rifles, including the gun that was used in the Uvalde massacre, as well as the gun that was used in the July 4th mass assault in Highland Park, IL.

            The letter from the Congressional group to Credova asked the company to answer 15 questions about its business practices, of which the first 6 questions asked what procedures did the company followed to keep guns from being bought or being used by customers who then either might traffic the gun to someone else, or might use the gun to commit an assault or another kind of crime.

            Nowhere in this letter is it mentioned that every, single gun whose purchase is funded by Credova is only transferred to the consumer by a federally licensed gun dealer who is required under law not only to conduct a background check administered by the FBI but is also – ready? – responsible for halting the transfer if the dealer believes that the individual buying the gun may use it in a criminal or harmful way. 

            Here’s the relevant statement from the instructions that go with the form which is used to transact the background check: “WARNING: Any seller who transfers a firearm to any person they know or have reasonable cause to believe is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm violates the law, even if the seller has complied with the background check.” requirements of the Brady law.”

            Has the ATF ever published guidelines to help gun dealers figure out whether someone who walks into the gun shop should or should not be legally entitled to ‘possess’ a gun? As the Spanish would say, ‘ni palabra ni pÍo,’ which translated figuratively means not one bit.

            But the point is that asking Credova to monitor the behavior of someone who uses their BNPL plan is like asking Visa to check how long it takes me to wolf down a bag of their potato chips.

            Incidentally, talking about Visa, the letter to Cordova also states data from a market research company, IBIS, which says that online gun sales will reach $2.6 billion by 2026, a number which is about as believable as the number of Martians now living at Area 51. But I’ll deal with that issue in a separate column later this week.

            Let me make one thing very clear. I’m not a fan of assault rifles and I certainly have no reason to promote either Credova’s financing of gun sales or the business activities of Daniel Defense.

            But if my friends in Gun-control Nation want to support meaningful initiatives to reduce gun violence, they need to get their facts and their arguments straight.

            They certainly didn’t do it this time around.

Gun Violence Isn’t Just Violence.

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            Back in 1993, two eminent medical researchers, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara, published studies which definitively showed a causal link between homicide and suicide with access to a gun in the home. It then took the CDC another 28 years to announce that gun violence was a ‘serious public health threat.’  

            Now we have a statement from the World Health Organization which also finds gun violence to be a serious public health threat. You can download the WHO statement right here.

            So, now that the CDC and the WHO have joined forces in the fight against gun violence, we should be able to develop a medical response to this public health crisis based on evidence-based research which has been conducted over the years.

            And here’s what the research tells us, according to the WHO: “Jurisdictions with restrictive firearms legislation and lower firearms ownership tend to have lower levels of gun violence. Measures include bans, licensing schemes, minimum age for buyers, background checks and safe storage requirements. Such measures have been successfully implemented in countries such as Austria and Brazil and in a number of states in the United States of America.”

            There’s only one little problem with this statement. When the WHO says that these various measures have reduced gun violence in ‘a number of states’ in the USA, the actual number of states which have seen a decrease in gun violence between 1998 and 2020 happen to be -ready? – three. That’s quite a number of states, wouldn’t you agree?

The national gun violence rate for all 50 states has actually increased by 25% over those same 22 years. And while we only passed one national gun law over that period of time, many states have implemented universal background checks, or red-flag laws, or safe-storage laws, or blah, blah, blah, and blabbety-blah.

While the liberal media and the medical community find it proper to refer to the current ‘epidemic’ of gun violence, I prefer to think about gun violence as ‘endemic’ to America, which is a fitting description that you can consider by reading a paper published by Dr. Katherine Christoffel when she was engaged in gun-violence research.

Incidentally, Dr. Christoffel’s paper was published in 2007. Since that date, somewhere around 525,000 Americans have been shot and killed either by themselves or by someone else who used a gun. And the WHO believes that this problem can be solved if every jurisdiction implemented the same laws that have worked so well in a ‘number of states?’

Am I missing something here? I guess the problem is that although I earned a PhD, my wife, who is an attending physician specializing in adolescent medicine always reminds me that I’m not a ‘real doctor.’  Maybe if I were a ‘real doctor,’ I would understand how and why the medical and public health communities which are concerned about gun violence continue to promote mitigating responses to the problem that ignore the most important factor in explaining the gun carnage which occurs in this country every day.

What is that factor? The existence of guns which are designed and manufactured only for the purpose of being used to commit a fatal and/or life-threatening injury to yourself or someone else. And it should be noted that the WHO doesn’t define violence in terms of ‘good’ versus ‘bad.’ Either you try to injure someone else, or you don’t.

The United States is the only country in the entire world which gives law-abiding residents free access to products which function properly when the front of the barrel is pointed at a human being, the trigger is pulled, the gun goes bang! and someone drops down dead.

The only reason that most of the people who take a bullet in their bodies survive the is because the shooter didn’t shoot straight. Nobody pulls out a gun and aims it at someone else’s knee. Otherwise, everything which leads up to the moment the shooting occurs is exactly the same whether someone dies or not.

I make this last point because every time one of the gun-control expert researchers talks about gun violence, they always start off by telling us that because of guns, the rate of fatal violence in the U.S. is 7 to 20 times higher than in any other advanced nation-state. Talk about making an irrelevant argument out of whole cloth….

I’m not against gun ownership, believe it or not. What I’m against is arguments on both sides of the gun debate being made and believed by well-meaning individuals who don’t know squat about guns.

Why Don’t We Regulate the Gun Industry?

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            Last week the House voted another assault weapons ban which will probably die in the Senate or at least will be sidetracked until after the mid-terms. But even if the bill doesn’t go forward, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to understand what such a bill really means and how it should be used as we continue to look for ways to reduce a threat to public health called gun violence which kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year.

            What I have never understood about my friends who advocate for more gun control is their reluctance to focus on the only issue which can really result in a meaningful decline in gun violence, namely, regulating the industry which produces the products which are used to commit deaths and injuries from guns.

            Every other country that regulates guns to reduce gun violence focuses first and foremost on regulating the guns themselves.  Canada just imposed a temporary ban on handgun imports until a new gun-control law is passed which will eliminate the ownership of handguns that are used in most Canadian gun assaults.

            Countries like France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K. also impose severe restrictions on owning certain types of handguns, while imposing few or any conditions on purchasing or owning long guns.

            How do we regulate the industry whose products are the only products whose access and availability creates gun violence? We regulate how the products move from the manufacturer to the retailer to the customer. We also try to regulate the behavior of the customer, the gun owner, by imposing a background check on whether they are law-abiding before they purchase a gun.

            So how is it that with regulations that only allow newly manufactured guns to move from manufacturers to dealers to consumers, all of whom have to be either licensed or prove themselves to be law-abiding, we wind up with 125,000 guns being used to commit fatal and non-fatal injuries every year? 

            WTFK. And if you need someone to tell you what that acronym means, ask any 12-year-old kid.

            Want to reduce the number of Americans who are killed or injured with guns every year?  It’s very simple. Regulate the gun industry the way we regulate every other consumer industry by regulating what types of products can and cannot be sold.

            I was a VP of IT at one of the largest insurance companies in the United States which routinely introduced new insurance products all the time. Every, single one of these products had to be examined and approved by a regulatory body in every state to make sure the product conformed to the relevant laws for what kinds of insurance could be sold in that state.

            Want to get a new food product onto the shelves of Stop and Shop or some other grocery chain? Either the state agency which tests and approves foods gives you the green light or you can stick your new product you know where or try to sell it to Venezuela or Belize.

            So, we have a very comprehensive regulatory system for making sure that just about everything a consumer can buy meets some very clear standards in terms of safety and design. Except when it comes to guns, which even if they were regulated like roller skates or motorcycle helmets are still as dangerous as all gitgo.

            Want to manufacture and sell a gun to American consumers?  All you need to do is get a manufacturer’s license from the ATF, which is nothing more than passing a background check. Then make sure that the gun is a certain length if it’s a rifle or a shotgun, otherwise it’s a handgun. Then make sure that when someone loads the gun and pulls the trigger, only one bullet comes out at a time.

            And that’s it. That’s how you will be regulated if you want to make a consumer product that has killed more than 375,000 Americans over the past ten years.

But gun makers producing assault rifles will be regulated by having to make sure their guns meet certain design standards if the new law somehow gets to the Senate floor and gets passed. Too bad that assault rifles account for a small fraction of the fatal and non-fatal gun injuries that occur every year.

            Either my friends in Gun-control Nation cut the bullshit about gun control and start holding meaningful discussions about how to regulate the products made by the gun industry that cause all those injuries or as Grandpa would say ‘gurnisht’ (read: nothing) will change.

            And this goes for my friends in public health research as well who spend all their time doing research on the effectiveness of this law and that law which regulate how people behave with guns but oh, we can’t regulate the gun makers because they have 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ to produce and sell whatever they want to produce and sell.

            Gaston Glock designed a gun to be used by the military and the United States is the only country which lets civilians own this type of gun. Gun makers shouldn’t have any such ‘rights’ at all.

Does Right-to-Carry Increase Crime?

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            If I have one problem with my friends in Gun-control Nation who do research on gun violence, it’s that they know next to nothing about guns. Virtually all of their research is based either on medical data from various branches of the CDC which yields a lot of information about who gets shot with guns, but very little about who does the shooting or why the shooting occurs.

            Alongside medical data, the other sources used by gun-control researchers are first-person surveys of gun owners which attempt to explain how gun owners change or don’t change their behavior in response to changes in gun laws.

            In that regard, I’m looking at a paper just published by NBER, which is a study of the effects of right-to-carry laws on crime and policing in various cities. The lead author, John Donohue, has been looking at the intersection of laws and behavior in the gun world for s number of years, and is considered an important scholar in this respect.

His scholarship in the area covered by this paper has become more important in the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision – NYSRPA v. Bruen – which extended the 2008 Heller decision granting 2nd-Amendment protection to handguns in the home to similar Constitutional protection for carrying a concealed handgun outside of the home.

I’m going to leave alone the whole issue of whether regression analyses, particularly synthetic controls, can really explain causal relationships between such dynamically variable factors as robbery and homicide, except to say that using such methodologies demands a very clear understanding of the social contours and circumstances in which events like violent crimes actually occur. Unfortunately, when the violent crimes involve the use of a gun, Donohue and his colleagues demonstrate major gaps in what they know about guns which makes it impossible to accept the validity or relevance of this research for developing effective gun-control policies.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in this paper is the assumption that laws covering the carrying of guns has anything to do with the way in which people who use guns for criminal purposes think about using guns. The fact that certain crimes increased coincident with the passage of RTC laws, doesn’t necessarily mean that the behavior of one trend has anything to do with the behavior of the other, unless you set out to prove this to be the case.

Since more violent crimes are committed without guns than with guns, you would think that researchers would want to know what factors go into a decision that someone makes to use a gun to commit a violent crime. In fact, there has not been one, single study which has ever asked criminals who commit gun violence to explain the process which led them to: acquire a gun, acquire ammunition for the gun, load the gun, carry the gun, pull out the gun, point the gun at a potential crime victim, and in the case of an assault or homicide, pull the trigger of the gun.

Whether this sequence occurs over a brief period of time or over many years, if someone does not engage in all seven steps, a gun violence event will not occur. Should we assume that the passage of an RTC law in any way influences the decision-making process that results in someone using a gun against someone else? Sorry, but I’m not impressed with the idea that a regression analysis can give us a definitive answer to that question.

And Donohue isn’t sure either. So, what he does is to assume that RTC leads to more gun violence because of secondary results of RTC laws, namely, that more guns are stolen from individuals who are now walking around with a gun.

For the issue of gun theft, Donohue relies on research published by the Harvard Injury Control group, which estimates that 250,000 guns are stolen every year, and that the rate of theft is higher among gun owners who report carrying a gun as compared to those who leave the gun at home: “We find that owning many guns, owning guns for protection, carrying guns, and storing guns un[1]safely are associated with having guns stolen.”

How did Hemenway’s research team determine which respondents to their survey were carrying guns? They asked the following question: “In the past 30 days, have you carried a loaded handgun on your person?” If a respondent answer with a ‘yes,’ Donohue then assumes in his study that this type of individual was probably more frequently found in jurisdictions where RTC was in effect.

To their credit, Hemenway’s team makes it very clear that their research has significant limitations, up to and including the fact that they have absolutely no idea when guns were stolen, what kinds of guns were stolen, and a number of other limiting factors which gave the team a publishing credit but certainly doesn’t inform us about how guns move from legal to illegal gun-owners at all.

Does Donohue even suggest that perhaps the work on which he relies for his estimates about gun thefts has as many self-admitted holes as the piece of Dorman’s Swiss cheese that I’m going to eat when I finish this piece? Not one bit.

If the team which sent the new Webb telescope into orbit knew as little about outer space as Donohue knows about guns, we would have wasted nearly 10 billion dollars putting the Webb package into orbit last year.

In this respect, unfortunately, scholars like Donohue continue to publish research that are clever exercises in statistics but tell us next to nothing about the individuals who use guns to commit crimes.

That being the case, how can you use this research to design or implement effective laws to prevent people from committing crimes with guns?

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