The NRA Goes After Physicians – Again

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Last  week the Institute of Medicine published the report that grew out of the April meeting called to create a new research agenda on gun violence.  The April meeting was a response to a Presidential memorandum issued by Obama,  one of a series of Presidential directives following the massacre at Sandy Hook.  One of the NRA’s first great victories against the Federal Government was a prohibition, beginning in 1997, to use federal funds for research into gun violence because, according to the NRA, all such research would be used to justify taking away “our” guns.

Following the defunding of gun violence research, the CDC continued to define gun violence as a public health issue by listing gun injuries as a specific category in their various reporting systems, but until the publication of the IOM report, specific discussions about guns as a public health issue were ignored.  Why bother to even consider shootings as a public health problem?  After all, we’re only killing as many Americans each year with guns as we kill with cars and trucks.  And everyone knows that the feds never did anything about traffic safety, right?  Not seat belts, not airbags, not nothing, right?

Well, it actually took the NRA almost three days to react to the government’s latest attempt to destroy the 2nd Amendment but this morning they began their campaign to protect all us gun owners from the excesses of our government by sending out an email warning  that the same group of scientists who spent millions of taxpayer dollars back in the 1990s were once again planning to use their “junk science” to produce more anti-gun advocacy today.   I’ll save you the trouble of looking up the actual ‘junk science’ that was produced in the 1990s and share some of the more “controversial” findings from that research:

  • Existence of firearms in the home was linked to higher suicide rates.
  • Presence of unlocked guns in the home was linked to higher gun violence rates.
  • Gun violence was higher in the U.S. than in any other advanced country.

But if those findings aren’t bad enough, wait until you discover what the junk scientists are planning to do with our tax dollars now.  Among other things, the new research agenda includes studying safe storage strategies, private sales prohibitions and collecting information on acquisition  and use of guns; all of which represent fundamental threats to our beloved 2nd Amendment liberties which would have disappeared years ago if it weren’t for the strength and resolve of our NRA!

The NRA’s resistance to discussions about gun violence as a public health issue is irrational.  Nobody quarrels with efforts to make our highways safer because the auto industry contributes roughly $500 billion each year to the GDP.  Being generous I can make the case that the gun industry contributes about $5 billion each year.  So here we have two industries accounting for the same number of needless deaths each year and the one that contributes 1/100th as much as the other to the national economy resists every attempt at common-sense regulation and, God forbid, a lessening of the human toll.

We need to end that irrationality now.  We need to stand up and defend the work of dedicated scientists and physicians who spend their lives trying to save human beings, not finding spurious and irrational excuses to ignore their efforts. Our organization, Evolve, believes that there are many credible things that can be done to reduce gun violence without restricting in any way the access or use of guns by responsible men and women.  Let’s get together and get it done!

Great News! Illinois Finally Joins The Rest of America in Letting Its Citizens Carry Guns


The Illinois legislature has just passed a concealed-carry bill and the Governor may have no choice but to sign it into law. Until now, Illinois was the only one of fifty states that did not allow its citizens to go around packing a gun.  But a court decision last year and some very aggressive lobbying by – you guessed it – the NRA, finally brought the Land of Lincoln into line.

You would think that with all the recent attention being paid to concealed carry of handguns, plus a long history as a state that regulates ownership of guns, that the new concealed-carry law in Illinois might serve as a model for an intelligent and responsible legislative effort to give the state’s citizens the right to be armed.  To the contrary, the law has parts that are silly, parts that are stupid, and parts that are just bizarre.  Did the folks in Springfield even read the bill before they voted?

Here’s a bizarre part: An individual must apply for the CC license to the State Police and the application then circulates to all law enforcement agencies within the state for comments and review.  If an applicant has three arrests for gang-related offenses (yes – you read it correctly) during the seven years prior to the application, the State Police must refer the application to a Review Board, which will then make a final determination.  If the Board believes that this individual does not pose a danger to himself or anyone else, the application goes forward.

Now with all due respect to being innocent until proven guilty, how far are we going to stretch the 5th and 6th Amendments in order to protect the 2nd? I mean, give me a break.  Does this law mean that if someone was arrested only twice for “gang-related offenses” that their carry-concealed application might be approved?

That’s the most bizarre part of the law.  Want a stupid part?  How about the safety course that requires someone to show proficiency in using a handgun by shooting a total of 30 rounds?  Well I guess that’s better than the safety course required for concealed-carry permits in Florida where the live fire consists of a single round.  I’m one to talk because my home state – Massachusetts – issues the license to carry without any live fire requirement at all.  That’s really stupid, but so is the new Illinois law that gives citizens the right to carry and use a gun in self-defense  with proof of proficiency that’s no real proof at all.

As for a silly part, try this one.  During the safety training, the applicant must also be taught the “appropriate and lawful interaction with law enforcement while transporting or carrying a concealed firearm.”  What does that mean?  As a NRA-certified instructor who has trained several thousand men and women in safe use and shooting of guns, I’ll tell you what it means.  It means nothing at all.

One more point (it’s a toss—up between bizarre and stupid so let’s just call it dumb.) The new law does not permit bringing a concealed weapon into a bar but allows concealed guns in restaurants where liquor is served, as long as – get this – the liquor tab is less than 50% of the total bill.  So I sit down with you; you order food, I get smashed on a couple of drinks but your steak cost more than my Jack Daniels.  Oh, by the way, I’m carrying a gun.  And if a town decides it doesn’t want to allow such dumbness, the law overrides any local carry-concealed restrictions anyway.

I belong to an organization called Evolve.  We started this organization because we want to have a rational and realistic discussion about gun violence that will avoid the ideological extremes which characterize the discussion now.  And we want to focus on gun safety and the need for everyone to stand for responsible ownership and use of firearms.  We have no issue with people owning or carrying guns as long as everyone plays by sensible and effective rules.   The new Illinois law is neither sensible nor effective.  It’s just another example of how two extremes dominate a discussion while the rational middle remains silent and another opportunity for meaningful reform goes right down the drain.


Is The 2nd Amendment Really Under Attack?


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 I have spent the better part of the last five months sitting in my gun shop, selling as many guns as I can get my hands on to well-intentioned guys and even a few gals who really believe their 2nd Amendment “rights” are under attack.  And every day I get an email from Chris Cox or Wayne LaPierre telling me that they’re doing their level best to keep my guns from being taken away.  Chris and Wayne are going to stand and fight and if I don’t stand with them, those hard-fought freedoms will slowly but surely be taken away!

Except the truth is that there’s never been a time when American gun rights were more secure.  Know why?  Because in most parts of the country there aren’t any laws covering the way people use guns at all.  Let me give you just a few examples.

Everyone agrees that guns should be kept locked up.  The NRA says so, the American Academy of Pediatrics says so, everyone says so.  There are currently 39 states that have no laws requiring gun locks of any kind, and only one state, Massachusetts, requires locks on all guns.  Is it any wonder that two children under five years of age were accidentally shot in Kentucky in the last several weeks?

The good news is that if you live in one of those 39 states and happen to leave a loaded gun around which someone picks up and uses to shoot someone else, it will be ruled an “accident” and the gun will then be returned to you.  After all, why should you be charged with aiding a homicide when it wasn’t your finger that pulled the trigger of your gun?

Or take the issue of alcohol and guns.  NRA-certified trainers like myself are told to make it clear that we will not tolerate alcoholic beverages in or near our training sessions, nor will we allow anyone to touch a gun who appears to be under the influence.  There are currently 39 states that allow people to bring guns into establishments that serve liquor.  Oops!  The North Carolina House just voted to permit bars and restaurants to serve alcohol to gun-toting customers, the bill’s sponsors saying that they felt that the measure was a proper “expansion” of Second Amendment “rights.”

The North Carolina bill also removes sporting arenas from the list of places where it used to be prohibited to bring a gun.  This makes North Carolina the 42nd state to allow fans at baseball, football and basketball games to stick their Glock or Ruger pistols into their waistbands before ending the tailgate party and heading into the stadium.  Of course thanks to the defense of their 2nd Amendment “rights” those pistol-packin’ fans in North Carolina can now also sit there and guzzle down a few beers while cheering the Tar Heels home.

Remember all the old Western movies where the cowboys had to check their guns before they came into town?  I didn’t notice Gary Cooper or John Wayne worrying much about the 2nd Amendment when they strode into the saloon and told Jack Palance to “nice and easy” take off his guns.  I’d like to believe that we are all responsible enough to know where and when we should carry a gun.  And my organization, Evolve, has no issue with anyone, gun owner or not, who believes as we do that gun responsibility should be shared by all.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  Every day we hear about some kid getting shot or wounded because someone else didn’t behave responsibly with a gun.  That’s got nothing to do with attacking the 2nd Amendment. It has everything to do with demanding sensible laws that embody common sense.