What Should Joe Talk About Tonight?

Back in 1980 or 1981 I went down to D.C. on a business trip. Flew into National Airport (it hadn’t yet been renamed after Reagan), rented a car, and drove out to an appointment in Georgetown. 

So I’m sitting at a red light on Wisconsin Avenue, the main shopping drag that cuts through Georgetown up to the National Cathedral, and an elderly guy shuffles past my car carrying a quart of milk in one hand while his other hand holds a leash.

“Holy shit!’ I said to myself, ‘that’s John Mitchell.”  It really was.

Mitchell had gone to jail for 19 months in 1977 following his involvement in the Watergate affair. He came out of prison completely broke, discredited, disbarred and with no place to live. Some kindly, old widow rattling around in a Georgetown town house took him in, with the understanding that he would run daily errands and walk her dog.

So here was the guy who had been the chief law enforcement officer in the United States who now had to get up every morning, dust around the house and stand there in the street while the pooch took a shit. I remember this incident from forty years ago as if it happened today.

I would give anything to go back to D.C. in a few years and see the current chief law-enforcement officer shuffling around. I’m not talking about Bill Barr.  I’m talking about his boss, a guy named Donald Trump. Because the fact that Trump continues to go around both behaving and talking about the virus as if it’s not a threat to health, opens him up to both civil and possibly criminal liabilities which should be followed up.

We don’t have a virus which is once again moving towards 1,000 daily fatalities because the health threat is ‘under control.’ We don’t have an economy in tatters because we shouldn’t let worries about the virus ‘dominate’ our lives. And we certainly don’t need to wear masks because Trump knows for a fact, that masks are a  threat to public health.

An attorney who is a recognized expert on healthcare law put it this way: “it is established law that a person who knows (s)he has an infectious disease and deliberately or recklessly infects another can be civilly liable, even criminally so. HIV, AIDS, and HPV (the human papillomavirus) lawsuits quickly come to mind. A $1.5-million verdict awarded by an Iowa jury to an unsuspecting woman who claimed her boyfriend infected her with HPV stands out as but one example.”

When did Trump possibly infect others with Covid-19? Virtually every day since he checked out of Walter Reed and never bothered to go into quarantine. He now claims that he’s ‘immune’ to the disease so it doesn’t matter whether he gets near anyone else or not. And where does his knowledge about viral immunities come from? The same place he gets his ‘facts’ about everything else. From nowhere.

The courts have also held that the President cannot be charged for civil or even criminal offenses while in office, but there’s also the court of public opinion which will be convened if Trump shows up for tonight’s debate. And I hope that Joe spends as much time as possible reminding everyone that more than 200,000 Americans have died because Trump continues to spread malicious and ill-informed information about Covid-19.

As of today, the CNN poll for Pennsylvania shows Joe with a 10-point lead. The latest Fox poll for Pennsylvania has Joe up by 5, Siena says the gap is 7, Quinnipiac says it’s 13; in other words, the polls are all over the place. But we haven’t seen a single poll by any pollster for Pennsylvania that puts Trump close to the lead.

Meanwhile, Luzerne County, which went for Trump by almost two-thirds in 2016, just spiked with a 4% viral fatality rate, which happens to be twice the national rate, even though the infection in Luzerne County is below the national infection rate.

Should Joe talk about anything other than the virus tonight? 

Who Says The Election Is So Close?

If I had a nickel for every pundit, expert, spieler, and media noisemaker who has predicted that the winning margin on November 3rd will be razor-thin, I really could spend all my time at my golf club and forget about doing any work. As of this morning, RCP has Joe ahead by 51% to 42.5%; 538 says that Joe’s at 52.2%, Trump’s number is 42%.  Let’s split the difference and say that Joe’s up by 10.3%. 

As for the battleground states, let’s average the two surveys together again and we have Joe at 5% in Pennsylvania, in Michigan the gap is 7.6%, in Wisconsin the difference is 7.2% and in Minnesota, it’s 6.75%. Don’t forget that in these four states, Trump won three by 32,979 votes, or .002% (that’s two one-hundredths of one percent) of all votes cast. And the so-called political experts are all united in saying that Joe’s lead in the battleground states is very thin?  Some thin.

Right now, RCP is saying that Trump has a tiny lead over Biden, something around 1/10th of 1 percent, in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. In the last week, guess where Trump’s held all those bullshit rallies? I say ‘bullshit’ because in their debate, Trump claimed that he was drawing crowds of 35,000 people, when in fact the events were pulling in around 3,500 mostly unmasked fans.

Trump held events in Nevada last week, as well as in Florida. Today he’s going to North Carolina. But Joe doesn’t need Nevada, Florida, or North Carolina. He only needs Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota plus New Hampshire, where right how he enjoys a double-digit lead.

Every pollster always says that their poll results should be taken with a ‘margin of error’ of 3%. That’s fine, except for this. First, the 3-point error margin is arrived at with about as much scientific certainty as what my late mother-in-law would have referred to as hai cock and a bubba, meaning there’s nothing certain about it at all.

And even if there is some numerical validity to the 3-point spread, how come it’s only used in one way? How come none of the so-called political experts take Joe’s national lead of 10 percent and say that he may be leading by as much as 13 percent? If Joe were to rack up a national vote that was 13 percent higher than Trump, it would be the biggest landslide since Reagan’s re-election in 1984.

Just for the heck of it, let’s give Joe every battleground state where the margin either way is right now under 3 percent. Joe ends up with 373 electoral votes. Not 273, which is one vote more than he needs. Three hundred and seventy-three electoral votes. The last President to hit that number was George Bush in 1988. 

Oh no. This can’t happen. There’s no chance. Says who? The same experts who keep telling us that we shouldn’t underestimate another last-minute surge for Trump?

Take a look at the details from the last New York Times/Siena poll, a national poll which is generally regarded as being the best and most accurate poll published each week. This poll has Joe leading Trump by 51% to 40%, with the Libertarians and ‘other’ candidates getting 3% and 6% still haven’t made up their minds.

But what happens if we take the 3% error margin and assign those votes to Joe? What if the 48%-47% split in Trump’s favor on who would do a better job of managing the economy was a 50%-45% margin for Joe? Forget who would do a better job dealing with the virus – Joe’s already 12 points ahead, 52% to 40%.

No survey can ever clearly catch what and how people will behave when the veritable push finally comes to the veritable shove. I can only hope that the media has more invested in making the contest appear close because otherwise everyone would tune out and the click-rate would collapse.

Let’s hope this explains why everyone keeps saying that the race is so close.

How Accurate Are The Polls?

If I weren’t so spooked by what happened in 2016, I would assume at this point that the 2020 election is over and done. But being Jewish first of all means that I suffer from a congenital conditions known as kayn ayin hara, which means beware of the evil eye.  I’m also something of a compulsive analyst of data, a combination of having been raised by a father who was an accountant and a college minor in stat.

Here are the numbers today: In the national polls, Joe has a 10.3% lead (52.2% versus 42%) in 538; in RCP his lead is 8.6% (51.1% versus 42.5%). A week ago Joe was at 52.4% in the 538 aggregate, and 51.6% in RCP’s aggregate poll. Slightly down in one, slightly up in the other. In other words, basically the same.

Where things get a little dicey is in the must-win states.  Here is where Joe sat on October 13, RCP in blue, 538 in red:

Here is where Joe stands today, again RCP in blue, 538 in red:

Note that a week ago, 538 had Joe above the magic 51% mark in 3 of 4 states. Note that today he’s at 51% in only 1 of 4 states. RCP had Joe at or above 50% in 3 of 4 states on October 13; now he’s hit that mark in only 1 of 4 states. So the race has ‘tightened,’ which is what all the media people would like you to believe. Because if you didn’t believe it, why bother to tune into their shows? Better watch the jewelry auction or how to cook fat-free food.

The good news is that the slight decline in Joe’s must-win states has not been matched by an increase for Trump. He has gone up in Pennsylvania from 43.8% to 45% in the 538 number, but in the other 3 crucial states, Trump’s either the same (MN) or slightly below where he was on October 13. As for the results from RCP, Trump’s down slightly in Michigan, and up a bit in MN, WI, and PA. If the statewide polls continue to move for the next two weeks the way they moved in the last week, Joe easily wins all 4 states.

Despite what is usually said about the lack of valid statewide polls in 2016, this belief is only partially true. In Michigan, for example, Hillary went into the last week with a 7-point lead. But the dog shit number was still above 7%. In Pennsylvania, statewide polls gave Hillary a 5 or 6-point lead, but the dog-shit number was between 8 and 10 percent. This is why I never discuss the polls without reminding my readers that what counts most of all are the respondents who haven’t made up their mind, if they have a mind, for how they are going to vote.

Pardon my sarcasm, but if you still haven’t figured out what a disaster Trump would be if he held onto the Oval Office for another four years, you probably don’t have a mind, or at least not a functioning mind.

The biggest problem with any attitudinal poll is that many respondents haven’t necessarily thought about the issue for the first time until the moment they pick up the phone. So to compensate for this problem, the pollsters analyze as much previous data as possible, tie the results to the various identifier categories they have on each voter (age, gender, race, income, etc.) and compare the most recent answers to the way this particular individual voted in the past.

This year, according to Nate Silver, most pollsters are paying more attention to educational attainment for voters because they believe that the non-college voting population was undercounted in 2016.

In the 2016 exit polls, voters who never went to college went for Trump by 51% to 45%. But voters whose annual income was less than $50,000 went for Hillary by 52% to 42%. So how do these numbers explain the fact that Trump won Pennsylvania and Michigan by a grand total of 65,000 out of 10 million votes cast in those 2 states? Sorry Nate, it doesn’t.

Can we trust the polls this time around? It really won’t matter what the polls say if our side makes sure to get out the vote.

What Do The Polls Say Today?

Okay folks. Here it is. The last 14 days.  And like it or not, there’s still a chance that Trump could wind up with a big W on November 4th, or whenever they finish counting the votes. But the chance of this happening as of today (but not necessarily tomorrow) are slim to none, and even his own campaign staff are beginning to look for other jobs.

That being said, I always start looking over my shoulder during the last several weeks of any political campaign because no matter how accurate the pollsters all claim to be, the moment that someone starts using regression analysis to predict results, you’re in something of a la-la land, whether you like it or not.

Regression analysis is fine when you want to explain or illustrate how two or more trends moved against each other over time. But it’s not all that accurate or reliable when you use regression methodologies to predict the outcome of any event before the event takes place. And the reason for this lack of reliability is very simple – there’s always a chance that the particular event will turn out to be what Nassim Taleb first called a ‘black swan.’

And no matter how unique and rare the appearance of the black swan happens to be, it happens and there’s no way to predict when it might happen again.

In compiling this week’s report on pre-election polls, I thought I would double down on the possibility that what I have been describing to date might turn out to be totally and completely wrong. So this week I’m going to give you the national and swing-state numbers from two aggregators, Nate Silver’s 538 and the independent political blog, RCP.

It turns out that both aggregate national polls ended up at just about the same number in 2016, with Hillary coming out slightly under 3% more than Trump, which is exactly where things ended up. Both polls also had basically the same odds of a Clinton win on the eve of the election itself, with 538 saying that she was 71% in the bag and RCP outing her number at 69%.

One more point before I give you the numbers. All the pollsters today have Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin as a Democratic ‘lean.’ All the pollsters had the same three states leaning blue in 2016. All three states ended up going to Trump by a total margin of less than 2/10ths of 1 percent.

Here are the battleground numbers from 538, Joe blue and Trump red:

Here are the numbers from RCP:

With the exception of New Hampshire, the numbers from 538 look better for Joe than the numbers from RCP.  The difference isn’t all that great, except that Joe has hit the magic 50%-mark in 6 battleground states according to 538, he’s only at 50% in 3 battleground states according to RCP.

Taken together, Joe’s battleground average in the 538 polls is 49.52%, but in the RCP overall average his number is 48.52% – Trump is 4 points behind (44.8) according to 538, the polls from RCP have him only 3 points behind at 45.08. I know it’s only a nit here and a nit there, but let’s not forget the size of Trump’s winning margin back in 2016.

For me, here’s the most worrisome point in these two aggregate results. The dog shit number from 538 is 5.61, it was 5.89 last week. That’s a good thing to see. But the RCP dog shit number is 6.4, which means that at least half of the dog-shit still haven’t made up their minds. If all those dummies go for Trump, he could win again. At least that’s what we see in the RCP polls, the 538 numbers are somewhat more positive for Joe.

The point is this. Nothing’s done until it’s done. Which means we all have serious work to do for the next two weeks. Money, phone calls, ZOOM, whatever it is. Do it. Just do it.

The Accidental President.

              As of yesterday, the RCP national aggregate poll has Joe at 51.3% and Trump at 42.4%, a gap of 8.9 points. The 538 aggregate poll scores it 52.4% for Joe, 41.9% for Trump, a gap of 10.6 points. Take your pick. Either way, Biden is doing a lot better this time around than Clinton was doing in 2016.

              On October 17, 2016 the RCP national aggregate poll had Clinton at 46.2% and Trump at  Clinton got 48.8% of the popular vote, Trump ended up with 46.09%, the increase in Trump’s number coming largely from Libertarian voters who decided at the last moment not to waste their vote.

              Why have we put up with Trump for the last four years? Because he won the electoral votes in 3 states – Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – which have delivered their electoral votes to the Democratic in every national election since 1992. Move those 46 electoral votes from Trump to Hillary in 2016 and guess who would be running for re-election on the blue line?

              That’s kind of depressing isn’t it? Wait a minute – it gets worse. Add up the votes cast for Hillary in those 3 states, then add up the votes for Trump and here’s what you get: 6,577,816 versus 6,655,560, a difference of 77,744 votes. What did these 77,744 Republican voters accomplish in 2016? They gave Trump 46 electoral votes without which he would have ended up 14 electoral votes short of what he needed to win.

              Want to get a little more depressed? The difference between what Trump got in those 3 states and what we got was – ready? – less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the total votes cast in those states. We have had to put up with the most vulgar, racist, divisive, insulting, stupid and reckless rhetoric ever to come out of the mouth of any President because we, that’s right – we, couldn’t figure out how to convince 77,000 voters in three states that a vote for Trump was the wrong thing to do.

This morning, our friends at The (failing) New York Times seem to have finally figured this out. They posted a story which details how and why voters who didn’t vote for Hillary in 2016 are going to vote for Joe. And in every case, what they are saying is that they simply didn’t like Hillary because she was too arrogant, too distant, too this and too that. Fine. That was a reason to vote for Trump?

It’s not as if Trump made any attempt back in 2016 to hide who he was. He couldn’t wait to jump off the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his campaign by making sure that everyone knew he was going to pander to the lowest emotional and intellectual human denominators . And four years later, he’s still trying to wrap a campaign around the idea of ‘locking them up.’

So here’s the bottom line. Trump was and is an accidental President. For all the post-election talk about a new, populist wave, a disinformation Russian campaign, a this and a that, Trump won because we let him win, and it better not happen again.

Because if it does, in 2024 God willing, this yellow-dog Democrat since 1968 will vote for the GOP.

How Big Is The Militia Movement?

Ever since it took Donald Trump a few days to figure out how to denounce Nazis who marched through Charlottesville in August, 2017, the liberal media has been obsessed with the behavior and potential threat represented by ‘white supremacist’ groups. In particular, the mainstream media focuses much of its attention on the activities of the so-called citizen’s militias, particularly when people connected to such groups show up in a public space toting their guns.

The latest such concern can be found in a long article published in The New Yorker Magazine, which appeared previous to a bunch of militia-styled jerks getting themselves arrested for allegedly planning to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a state that has been a focus of media attention since a  number of these ‘patriots’ began demonstrating against her lockdown rules.

The militia groups in Michigan first got noticed when it turned out that Timothy McVeigh was briefly involved with the Michigan Militia before he went down to Oklahoma City and blew up the Murrah Federal Building.  The resultant publicity put the Michigan group more or less out of business, but it has of late revived, calling itself the Michigan Home Guard. This new group told the author of The New Yorker piece, Luke Mogelson, that they count one thousand members, a claim that Mogelson made absolutely no attempt to verify or even check.

Much of the recent concern about these militia groups has aligned with a narrative about the surge in gun sales that has accompanied the spread of Covid-19. And the fact that these older-generation Boy Scouts show up in public with their trusty guns only tends to underscore the idea that the country may be facing the beginnings of a true, revolutionary movement representing whatever rhetorical nonsense these great patriots put together from a combination of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.

Granted, there has been a surge in gun sales. For example, In my state, Massachusetts, a year-to-year comparison shows an increase in background checks for guns sold by dealers to consumers of somewhere around 80%.

Granted, there has also been a disturbing increase in homicides throughout the United States. But the guns that figure in most gun assaults, fatal and non-fatal, are rarely guns that are legally owned, and the average time between when a gun is first purchased and when it is used in the commission of a crime happens to be – ready? – more than 11 years.

I’m not trying to dismiss or downplay the fear and intimidation engendered by the spectacle of some guys walking down the street in their camo costumes and brandishing their AR’s. If nothing else, such displays of infantile stupidity on the part of adults always evokes memories and fears of mass shootings like the massacres at Las Vegas or Sandy Hook.

It’s one thing to acknowledge that the legal sale of an assault rifle to a nut like Steve Paddock or Nancy Lanza could result in community-wide trauma and multiple deaths. It’s quite another to foster the impression that behind a dozen or so middle-age schmucks who have nothing better to do than show up at a public rally and wave their guns, there lurks an unseen and  increasingly large army of like-minded dopes getting ready to declare a new civil war.

When a guy sells t-shirts and other crap to support the militia on his website tells you that his group numbers a thousand or more, shouldn’t you at least try to verify his claim? Fogelson’s article describes a gathering of some of these jerk-offs at the barbershop of a guy who refused to close down after Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, imposed lockdown rules back in May.

Guess who called up in the middle of this brief demonstration of patriotic lore? None other than Glenn Beck, who hoped he could score the same degree of media coverage that Sean Hannity thought he would get until Cliven Bundy began lecturing Hannity on ‘your Negro’ during the standoff outside his ranch.

What I’m suggesting is that the militia movement wouldn’t ever get beyond the weekend pizza and beer tailgate party except for the possibility that one of the gang might see his picture that night on Fox News. What I’m also suggesting is that the liberal media might consider not trying to compete  with the alt-right when it comes to taking those dopes seriously or discussing them at all.

Trump’s Campaign Keeps Going Nowhere Fast.

I just tuned into the 3 P.M. news hour on Fox and caught an interview with Jason Miller, speaking for the Trump campaign. Usually when someone connected to Trump (or Trump himself) shows up on Fox for an interview, it’s not what anyone would ever describe as a give-and-take designed to elucidate the truth. To the contrary, these events are pre-scripted sessions in which the Trump-ite just gives some brief speeches about whatever topics he or she chooses to discuss.

Lately, however, I notice that the Fox commentators have started asking real questions and even, on occasion, voicing some doubt about the veracity of what the designated Trump-spieler actually says. This was clearly what was going on at the 3 PM news hour, when Miller was directly questioned about the fact that early voting appears to be favoring Democrats by an 80-20 margin in certain key states.

To which Miller replied, “But what your story doesn’t cover is that in the battleground states, we are going to have the greatest get-out-the-vote program of all time. We have millions of people who are going to make sure that every, single registered Republican gets to vote, and this includes millions of people who will be voting for the first time.”

I have been following politics since 1960 and have voted in 5 different states over those 60 years. This includes states in the Midwest, the Northeast and the Deep South. I have never (read: never) seen a Republican GOTV effort in any of those states. For that matter, I have never seen any attempt by the GOP to register people to vote.

I don’t know if you know this, but generally speaking, Republicans don’t feel comfortable around people who want to vote. Voting is something that should only be done by people who have a real stake in the system, meaning, they have lots of money, or income, or both. And most people like those people have always been registered to vote. To Republicans, that’s what ‘one man, one vote’ really means. And notice I said one ‘man,’ not one ‘person,’ okay?

So to test Miller’s statement about how well his campaign is coming along, I went back to a little survey I did on September 15 and brought it up to date. The September 15 study found in 8 of the reddest of all red states, that in 2020 Trump was running about 10% behind where he ran in 2016. Today I added 9 more states to this list, which covers every state that gave Trump at least 56% of the vote in 2016.

The blue line is the percentage of the vote that Trump got four years ago; the red line is the percentage which he is polling today:

Notice that Trump is polling behind his 2016 voting number in every, single state. Notice that he is near or falling under 50% in 5 states. And here’s what you can’t see in this graph which is the most important number of all, namely, that as of today, the Sedaris dog-shit vote in all these states is under 6%. In other words, if every, single voter who hasn’t decided to vote for Trump walked into the booth and pulled his lever on November 3rd, he’d still fall way behind the numbers he racked up in 2016.

States like Kansas and Missouri are barely able to squeeze out a majority for the GOP? A state like Montana is barely over 50%? If I were Jason Miller and I actually could deploy some people to go around and get out the vote, I’d focus on states that have always voted Republican before I started worrying about states that are in play.

Right now, Nate Simon says that Joe’s on his way to win 348 electoral votes, RealClearPolitics puts the likely number at 313. These numbers assume that Trump will handily win the usual red states.

He will?

Where Are All Those ‘New’ Trump Voters? Nowhere.

              Last night I was watching the Hannity show on Fox because I enjoy how the most belligerent pro-Trump noisemakers are trying to explain away the fact that their candidate keeps dropping in the polls. Two weeks ago, the story was that Trump would do the same thing to Joe that he did to Hillary; namely, push himself into the lead during the last 30 days of the campaign. 

              So now we’re right in the middle of those last 30 days and guess what? The Trump campaign isn’t moving forward at all. Remember how everyone was saying that the race would tighten up?  Joe’s national poll number was 50.3% versus 43.2% for what’s-his-name on September 1st, this morning Joe’s at 52.4% and the other guy is at 42%, the gap has gone from 7 to 10.4 points. Some tightening up.

              So Hannity gets two other alt-right schmucks to appear, one guy a noisemaker down in Florida, the other some AM big-mouth out of who knows where. And what’s the new lie to go along with what Giuliani said yesterday that the virus isn’t killing anyone at all?  He really said that. He really did.

              Here’s what they have come up with. Ready? Trump won in 2016 because all kinds of people who had never voted before came out and voted for him. Which is why the polls were all wrong because pollsters didn’t know how to contact all these new, first-time Trump voters.

              Why will Trump win again even if the polls continue to go south? Hannity claims there’s still lots of new voters out there who will show up again. And how can you deny this when there’s so much enthusiasm at those rallies this week? Even the President himself, according to Hannity, can’t get over the energy and excitement of those crowds.

              So here’s what I did last night.  I looked at the state-by-state vote totals for 2012 and 2016. Obviously, if Trump won because he got so many new voters to show up, it must be reflected in the vote totals for each state. Okay – here goes.

              Trump won 30 states in 2016, including 6 states that went for Obama in 2012. Together, the total Trump votes in all those states was 40,35,550. If you add together the votes received in those states by Romney and Trump, Trump got 51% in 2016, Romney got 49% in 2012. Wow – that’s a lot of new voters, right?

              In 6 of the 30 states won by Trump, his vote total was less in 2016 than what Romney polled in 2012. In 8 other states, Trump beat Romney’s number by 1 percent or less. In other words, in almost half the states that Trump won, there was no appearance of ‘new’ voters at all.

              The only 2 states where Trump’s total vote represented an increase of more than 3 percent over what Romney pulled four years earlier were North Dakota and West Virginia, which together provided Trump with a whole, big 1.7% of the total votes he received in his 30 winning states. Let’s hear it for all the new voters in West Virginia! Yaaaaaayyy.

              For almost four years we have been assaulted with a steady barrage of absolute bullshit about how Trump’s election marked the beginning of a new populist movement, how he has brought a whole, new voting population onto the playing field, how he has created a new majority of voters who never had anyone listening to them before he came along.

              I’ll go back to what my father used to say – figures don’t lie but liars sure can figure. And this bunch has been lying again and again for the last four years.

              But please don’t let these numbers make you complacent. Please do whatever you can do – phone calls, street-corners, knocking on doors, sending Joe and Kammie a little more cash. Because it’s not only winning that’s important. It has to be a BIG WIN!

So What Do We Do With All Those People Buying Guns?

              So last night I turn on the local TV news and the show leads off with a story about the huge spike in gun sales in Massachusetts, the state where I happen to live. And this tremendous surge in gun ownership, we are told, is a result of Covid-19 and people getting worried about protecting themselves. But it’s not the virus they want to ward off with a gun; it’s all those riots and property destruction caused by the Black Lives Matter mob who are running amok in the streets of every American city and town.

              I didn’t make up that last sentence. The local TV station actually went down to Connecticut and got someone from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) who said exactly that. And after all, the NSSF is the trade group that represents the gun industry, so they must know what they’re talking about, right?

              So I took a look at the monthly data for background checks posted by the FBI and yep, year-to-year gun transfers in Massachusetts went up from 6,511 background checks in September, 2019 to 11,807 FBI-NICS checks in September of this year. Just my luck. I stopped doing retail sales in my gun shop a couple of years ago and now everyone in Massachusetts wants to own a gun. Oh well, oh well.

              Of course, there’s also been all kinds of violent demonstrations in Massachusetts since the cops stomped the shit out of George Floyd and shot a few other Black folks. So much violence has occurred, in fact, that Governor Baker has called out the National Guard. And now not only do we have the Black Lives Matter bunch marching through downtown Boston, the ISIS terrorists have also flown in.

              Actually, the only demonstration I have seen in Massachusetts this year was a small group of fat, middle-aged bikers who were standing around on a street corner in Greenfield last weekend waving their MAGA hats at passing motorists, most of whom responded with the middle finger salute, or a ‘fuck yourself’ shout, or both.

              Know what the real problem is going to be because of the purchase of all those guns? It’s not going to result in more gun violence, despite what my friends in Gun-control Nation contend. The real problem is that next year when we finally get a vaccine and the virus disappears, most of those guns purchased last month will wind up back in those gun shops because the guys who bought them will need to pay for a new set of tires for themselves or a new washing machine for ‘the wife.’

You may not know this, but the most popular first name for a woman married to a gun nut isn’t Tina, or Marge, or Melinda or Sue. It’s ‘the wife.’ That’s her real name. And I can prove this because every time some guy ever bought a gun in my gun shop, he would tell me that he had to figure out how to get it past ‘the wife’ and sneak it into the house. Because if ‘the wife’ sees that he’s bought another gun, she’s going to ask him in a not-so-pleasant voice, “Why did you just buy another friggin’ gun?”

If you think for one second that any of those guns purchased last month in Massachusetts or anywhere else for that matter will wind up anywhere except in the same drawer, or closet, or gun safe with all the other guns, think again. Yea, yea, I know how the NSSF keeps saying that 40% of all the guns recently purchased represent customers who never previously bought a gun. This is the selfsame organization which includes the sales of kayaks when it calculates how much revenue the gun industry contributes to the gross domestic product every year.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the first thing Joe will do if he’s elected President next month (hope, hope) is to defund the police, which will give me a reason to buy another gun.

Now where’d I stick the last gun I bought? Oh, right! Under the bed.

Josh Montgomery: Gun Safety Mechanisms – What You Need To Know.


Gun safety is a hot topic, and a polarizing one, too. There are people on both sides of the gun control argument, but what you need to know regarding gun safety mechanisms is relatively simple. Gun manufacturers implement a variety of safety mechanisms on all of the firearms they produce.

However, the safety of these firearms lies in the hands of the user – quite literally. Your education and understanding of how they work is the ultimate failsafe. That’s why it’s important that you review these facts about gun safety mechanisms and how they work.

Manual Safety

A manual safety is one of the most common types of safety. It’s a lever or a switch on the side of the firearm, accessible by your thumb. When placed in the safe position, the gun will not fire.

While there are plenty of designs, the two most common are a block that prevents the trigger from moving, or a device that disconnects the trigger from the firing mechanism completely. The designs are old, but effective.

For some guns, pushing the safety up turns it on, and for others, pushing it down turns it on. The most important thing to know here is how your gun works, since they are all different.

Drop Safety

While some laws require certain types of firearms to have a manual safety, other jurisdictions require a drop safety. These types of safeties are passive. That means there’s nothing you as the user can do to engage the safety.

Instead, the firearm is designed to reduce the chance of discharge if the gun is dropped or handled too roughly. These types of safeties implement some sort of obstacle that prevents the gun from operating until the trigger is actually pulled.

Grip Safety

The grip safety is another form of active safety that requires depressing by the user. However, it’s passive in the sense that you can’t turn it on and off. It is at the back of the grip, and gets depressed by the shooter’s natural grip.

It must be depressed to put the gun in firing position. While it’s similar to the manual safety, it’s momentary rather than permanent. It’s only deactivated while the shooter maintains a hold on the grip.

Hammer Block

A hammer block is an effective form of safety for guns with…you guess it…hammers.

It’s some sort of obstruction built into the action. It prevents the hammer from making contact with the firing pin or cartridge primer when at rest. It moves down and out of the way when the hammer is cocked and the hammer can only make contact when the trigger is pressed.

Firing Pin Block

This mechanism is similar to the hammer block. It prevents the firing pin from traveling forward. It’s linked to the trigger and the obstruction is only cleared when the trigger is pressed.

In this type of safety, the gun will not fire even if the firing pin is struck by another object or the hammer is released because of a faulty sear. The trigger must be pressed to remove the obstacle.

Transfer Bar

A transfer bar also prevents the hammer from making contact with the firing pin or a loaded cartridge. However, it works in the opposite way of a hammer block. Instead, the transfer bar has the spur that encloses the firing pin.

Rather than making direct contact with the loaded cartridge or firing pin, the hammer must instead strike the transfer bar, which is only in the up position when the hammer is cocked.

It is out of line of the hammer’s path until it is moved into place by the action of the trigger.

Trigger Safety

A trigger safety is always in an active state until the shooter fires the gun. Its deactivation is a result of the natural trigger pull. However, because it requires very intentional pressure, it’s unlikely to move due to a drop or unintentional strike against the trigger.

This type of safety contains a spring-loaded lever on the face of the trigger. It must be depressed fully in order to disengage the lock, allowing the main trigger body to move.

Magazine Disconnect

The magazine disconnect is an internal mechanism included in some firearms that take magazines. This type of safety engages a block or a trigger disconnect when the magazine is removed.

Many people debate the effectiveness of this type of safety. There are several reasons.

  1. If the magazine has been removed, but a round is still chambered, the gun will be unexpectedly live upon reinsertion.
  2. Without a magazine disconnect feature, at least of a round were still chambered, the gun would be good as a single shot for self defense.
  3. If a gun with a magazine disconnect gets lost or stolen, keeping the magazine out of it will render the gun useless, which could be beneficial.
  4. Some law enforcement officers have indicated that during a struggle, if they can manage to drop the magazine, it will prevent them from being harmed by their own gun.

Despite the opposing viewpoints, some jurisdictions require magazine disconnects on all new firearms.


Most double-action semi automatic pistols are designed for carrying with the hammer down, which means they’re disengaged. Because the double-action trigger pull is so much heavier than others, it’s considered safe in this mode.

However, after cycling the action (pulling the trigger), the firearm remains cocked in single-action mode, rendering it unsafe and requiring the user to decock it manually if they do not intend to shoot again.

A decocker returns the pistol to a safe state by allowing the hammer to drop on a live cartridge without discharging it. It does this by blocking the hammer or covering the firing pin somehow.

It eliminates the need for the user to pull the trigger or control the fall of the hammer, making it much safer, especially in adverse conditions.

However, as you might expect, this mechanism is also controversial, because all mechanical devices can fail, it can be difficult to identify whether the pistol is in a safe state or not.

Loaded Chamber Indicator

A loaded chamber indicator is a relatively simple safety. It’s a visible warning to the shooter that the firearm is loaded and ready to fire. You can easily see it, but some argue it doesn’t rise enough to catch the shooter’s attention.


With all of these safety measures in place, you would think anyone could use a gun safely.


You are the ultimate failsafe when it comes to firearm safety. Knowing how to use it will save and protect you and those around you. All of the safety measures in the world can’t keep tragedy from striking at the hands of someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Understanding gun safety is the most important thing you can do. Don’t underestimate an education or a firearm safety course. Everyone can benefit – even someone who thinks they’re an expert.

You can always read up on the 12 golden rules, too.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is that all mechanical devices can fail, and there are reported incidents of all of them doing so. The best safety is always going to be you as the shooter knowing what you’re doing.