Several years ago I ran a national survey asking gun-control advocates and activists some basic questions about gun laws. The questions covered the laws that have been part and parcel of the strategies of all gun-control groups: enhancing background checks, better regulation of dealers, purchasing and moving guns across state lines – the usual stuff. I ended up getting more than 250 responses from residents of 46 states, which was certainly representative enough for me.
The survey contained 12 questions; the average correct number was 6. In other words, at least half the respondents who took the quiz on basic gun laws failed. And I specifically solicited responses from individuals who considered themselves to be involved in some kind of gun-control activity. Incidentally, I ran another gun-law quiz soliciting responses from individuals who considered themselves to be pro-gun. The average score for that bunch was also around 6 correct answers – they also failed.
But the last thing you’ll find gun nuts supporting are more or stronger gun laws. On the other hand, the gun-control organizations that send me endless emails asking for more money (Everytown, Giffords, Brady – I support them all) consider laws and regulations to be the cornerstone of every strategy designed to reduce violence from guns. So, you would think that folks who donate time, money and energy to gun-control activities would want to understand how current gun laws work and what needs to be done to make such laws more effective.
In any case, our gun-research friends at the Hopkins Bloomberg School are trying to remedy this knowledge deficit by posting an online, interactive course covering the basic law which requires a background check before someone purchases a gun. The effort is part of a new distance-teaching approach being developed for internet users known as a ‘teach out,’ which is a digital version, if you will, of the old teach-ins that occurred on college campuses during the Viet Nam War.
The Hopkins teach-out can be found here, it will be running for several more weeks, and I strongly urge everyone to register (for free) and support this effort before the course closes down. In particular, I think my gun-nut friends should sign up because the course also includes a nifty give-and-take between the instructors and the people who view the videos, an interactive Q and A that should be of value for both sides.
Now let me make it clear that this effort, like everything that comes out of the Bloomberg School, is a no-nonsense attempt to educate and inform. Which means that anyone who just wants to drop some nasty or snarky comment about all those tree-hugging, anti-gun liberals should stay away. The teach-in hosted by Dr. Cassandra Crifasi creates a forum for a serious, respectful and informed exchange about an important issue that should engage both sides. Want to rant and rave about your beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Do it somewhere else.
At the same time, I’m not about to simply let the other side off the hook. I learned about this effort because one of my gun-nut friends sent me an email about the online course. Did I get anything from Everytown, Brady, Giffords or one of the state-level gun-control groups who were all vociferously complaining last week when Gun-nut Nation showed up at Richmond for a jamboree? Not one, friggin’ word. And the lack of interest and support for this effort by Gun-control Nation is, to put it bluntly, a disgrace.
You would think that an open-source program that advocates extending the background-check system to private sales and permit-to-purchase licensing would be exactly the kind of effort that would be front and center on the agenda of every gun-control group. But if I have learned one thing from writing more than 1,500 columns on my website over the last eight years, it is the degree to which most gun-control organizations are more concerned about protecting their own, little turfs than getting together to promote a serious and sustained response to the violence caused by guns.
Anyway, enough complaints from me. Sign up for the course – now!