Home

Let’s Get Behind This Effort To Reduce Gun Violence.

2 Comments

              Over the weekend, I received a message from our good friend, Shannon Watts, asking me to donate to an organization, Advance Peace, which is working to reduce gun violence. My only regret is that I couldn’t send more money because right now I am scraping together all my dough to give to the DNC for 2022.

              I’m not such a po’ boy that I won’t give Shannon another donation when she asks again, because I always do what Shannon asks me to do.

              Be that as it may, I wanted to spend a bit of time talking about the efforts of Advance Peace and other organizations which refer to themselves as conducting ‘deterrence’ programs to identify people most at risk of being involved with gun violence and offering them pathways that will deter the violence before it occurs.

              Getting down to the street level and working with individuals who are prone to get involved in the endless and continuous cycle of inner-city gun violence has been a strategy led by various groups since the 1990’s, chief among them being Ceasefire, a program that first started in Boston in 1996, and Cure Violence, which came out of Chicago in 2000. Both programs operate in cities across the United States.

              What makes Advance Peace unique in this workspace is the focus not on group deterrence, particularly working with members of gangs, but identifying the most vulnerable individuals, and dealing with them on an intensive, individual level. The targets of this effort are given eighteen-month Peacemaker Fellowships which hopefully will guide these Fellows into productive and non-violent lives.

              The program run by Advance Peace in Sacramento went from July 2018 through December of the following year. For all of 2019, Sacramento registered a 21% decline in gun homicides and gun assaults. As someone who spends part of every day looking at gun-violence data, I can tell you that a 21% decrease in a city the size of Sacramento is a very, very big deal.

              But what about the bottom line? How much are we paying to see this evident reduction in gun violence? The ROI (costs versus benefits) is often cited as a reason such programs are pie-in-the-sky responses which can never be sustained. True or not true?

              You can find a very detailed financial analysis of the Advance Peace Sacramento program on their website. The analysis was done by faculty at Berkeley’s Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IURD), so this report is a no-bullshit deal. And here’s what it says:

  • The Fellows were 98% male, average age of 23 years, 96% African-American, 65% with prior arrest or incarceration, 84% unemployed and 84% victims of a prior gun injury.
  •  By the end of 2019, 64% completed the program, 90% had no new gun charges, 44% had no new arrests, 25% achieved positive life-changing milestones, and 20% were employed.

What did these numbers mean in terms of ROI? By dividing the financial benefits of the program by its costs, for every dollar that was spent on the program, the city of Sacramento did not lose between $18 and $41 in costs that would have occurred had gun violence in the city remained at its pre-program level. These costs included policing, incarceration, medical and unemployment expenses.

So, both in terms of the human and financial results of this effort, we have to say that the Advance Peace program scored well. And let’s not forget that this was one of th4e first two such programs that ran in 2019, the other being a program in Richmond, CA which had comparable results.

Interested in reducing urban violence in a community where you live? You can connect with Advance Peace and begin the process of bringing them to your city right here.

Because I’m Mike the Gun Guy™ and Mike the Gun Guy™ always has to say something a little critical about efforts to reduce gun violence even when he likes a particular effort very much, as is the case with Advance Peace. So here goes.

According to the IURD report, the program staff interrupted and therefore prevented 58 gun assaults by mediating at least 58 conflicts where someone was carrying a gun. In other words, without the presence of Advance Peace in these high-violence neighborhoods, perhaps 58 or more individuals would have been injured or killed. Fine.

But – and it’s a very important but – after these mediations took place, what happened to the gun? The report is silent on that point.

Is it realistic to talk about permanently lowering the violence level in any community or neighborhood when the number of guns floating around in that area stays the same? Cn we realistically pin our hopes for the reduction of community violence if the means of committing that violence doesn’t change?

Don’t get me wrong. The work being done by Advance Peace is important and really does deserve all our support. You can and should send them some dough right here.

Let’s just not forget the other side of the coin which is that gun violence wouldn’t be tearing up inner-city community life without all those guns.

t

Another Rapper Gets Shot But That Has Nothing To Do With Guns. It’s Art, Right?

3 Comments

              Yesterday I received my weekly newsletter from The Trace, an online publication which says that it “investigates gun violence in America.” So much for what it says, okay?

              One of the stories in this week’s newsletter concerns the death of a rapper, Young Dolph, who was shot and killed on a street in Memphis, TN. Following a brief description of the shooting itself, The Trace then quoted a statement from the Mayor of Memphis, who said that Young Dolph’s death was a “another reminder of the pain that violent crime brings with it,”

              Isn’t that so touching? Isn’t that such a compassionate response of the mayor to yet another death from gun violence, in this case the death of a ‘deeply skilled’ musical artist, a quote lifted by The Trace from The New York Times.

              If The Trace wants to get serious about investigating gun violence, perhaps they might do a study of how rappers consciously promote guns and gun violence, rather than just lamenting how another contribution to American art and culture ends because some dope pulled out a gun and shot some other dope.

              Since March, 2019 at least four well-known rappers – Young Dolph, King Von, Pop Smoke, Nipsey Hussle – have all been shot and killed. Every, single one of these guys made lots of money by talking or rapping about guns.

Young Doplh – ‘100 Shots.’ “I told you fuck nigga stay out my way, but you didn’t listen. Big rock in my watch. And we put extensions in all of the Glocks.”

King Von – ‘Fuck Yo Man.’ “See, I’m a killer. But I got feelings. I catch you with him. I just might kill him.”

Pop Smoke – ‘Better Have Your Gun.’ “Disrespect the gang, better have your gun. Talk down on my name, better have your gun.”

Nipsey Hussle – ‘Bullets Ain’t Got No Name.’ “Why you niggas outside without no gun? You think this shit is a game? I’ll hop out gunnin’ and show you niggas I ain’t playin.’ Pull the trigger, shoot that nigga.”

              After Nipsey Hussle was killed, you would have thought that he was in some way an advertisement for gun control. Stevie Wonder showed up at his funeral and called for stricter gun laws. Various public officials went public in thanking Hussle for donating time and money to neighborhood anti-violence efforts. He even once marched in an anti-violence parade.

              You think the kids who get interested in guns in their early teens, then go out and get a gun in their later teens and then either get shot or shoot someone else with their gun before the age of 30 are at all aware of Nipsey Hussle’s commitment to neighborhood safety and peace? Are you serious?

              And these kids aren’t sitting around in some upper-class White neighborhood listening to rap and playing video shooting games. They are inner-city kids who have no trouble getting their hands on real guns.

              I once asked a bunch of inner-city kids, ages 14 – 17 who were in a youth jail for serious crimes (murder, arson) how difficult it was for them to get a gun. They laughed. Every, single one of them thought my question was very funny, okay?

              Want to accuse me of being a racist because I believe that Black kids who listen to rappers are more likely to want to commit violence with a gun? Want to accuse me of being against ‘free speech’ and ‘artistic freedom’ because I would like to see the recording and video industry exercise some self-control and stop glorifying guns?

              You go right ahead. Accuse me of being a racist and anti-artistic expression all you want. Meanwhile, yesterday at least eight African-American men and women between the ages of 16 and 35 were shot to death on various streets in various American cities, according to the Gun Violence Archive.  

              That’s a pretty slow weekend so far, don’t you think?

What Does Walking Around With An AR-15 Really Mean?

10 Comments

              The same day the Rittenhouse jury began trying to figure out how to come up with a verdict in this case, The (failing) New York Times gave its readers an interesting perspective on in the form of an op-ed by a guy who usually writes about technology, but this time wants to inform the paper’s readership about the AR-15.

              In case you didn’t know it, the gun that Kyle Rittenhouse used to kill two people and injure a third, happens to be the same kind of gun, in terms of design and function, that our troops use out in the field. Except in this case the gun was carried and used by a 17-year old who had never undergone the slightest military training at all.

              For that matter, the op-ed columnist, Farhad Manjoo, also has no practical experience with assault rifles – I can tell that from how he talked about the AR-15.

              Actually, he didn’t really talk about the AR-15, even though his op-ed says that he’s going to give his readers “the truth about Kyle Rittenhouse’s gun.” Instead, what we get is the standard, liberal response to the narrative promoted by the gun industry, namely, that owning this kind of gun doesn’t give you an ‘effective’ and ‘necessary’ weapon of self-defense, nor does it help you shield yourself from the ‘tyranny’ of the state.

              These arguments are what Manjoo refers to as the “foundational tenets of gun advocacy,” and they are all wrong. The AR-15, in the hands of someone like Kyle Rittenhouse, actually engenders violence and loss of human life, rather than keeping society safe and secure.

              I’ve been listening to this argument from Gun-control Nation for years and on occasion I have indulged in it myself. But enough is enough. Want to know the real reason dopey kids like Rittenhouse show up at a pitched battle between the cops and the demonstrators with their AR-15?

              I’ll tell you why. And I’ll tell you based on my own thoughts and reasons which have led me to buy and own more than one AR-15.

              I bought my first AR-15, the Colt Sporter model, back in 1978. I bought a second Colt AR, the heavy-barreled ‘target’ model in 1993, or maybe it was 1998. I also bought a Bushmaster in the 90’s, and at some point, I traded a Browning semi-auto, 7mm Rem Magnum for a Stag Arms AR-15.

              Why did I own four AR rifles over the last forty-some odd years? Because I’m a gun nut, and gun nuts always buy more guns than they would ever need.

              In fact, I never really ‘needed’ any of these guns. For that matter, I had no real ‘need’ for the several hundred guns that I have bought, sold, and traded since I paid some old guy fifty bucks for a Smith & Wesson 22-caliber handgun at a tag sale on Highway 441 in the Florida Glades back in 1956.

              The difference between me and a pea-brain like Kyle Rittenhouse is that I never, ever thought that I might use an AR-15 or, for that matter, any of my other guns to shoot someone else. But here’s the dirty little secret about the gun business which someone like Farhad Manjoo would never know. And he would never know this little secret because he doesn’t really know anything about guns.

              Kids like Rittenhouse want to own and walk around with an AR-15 because they enjoy fantasizing about the idea that maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a chance to shoot someone else with their gun. Of course, they never, ever imagine that such behavior is wrong. They will only shoot someone who is threatening them or someone else. After all, let’s not forget that we have a ‘right’ defend ourselves with a gun. That’s what the 2nd Amendment says we can do.

              Except the 2nd Amendment doesn’t say that at all. What It says is that you can keep a gun in your home in case someone tries to break in and do you harm.

              Rittenhouse claimed that he took his AR-15 with him to Kenosha to help some car dealer protect his cars. But the real reason he showed up in Kenosha with his AR-15 is that he was hoping he would get a chance to defend himself with his gun. And how do you defend yourself with an AR-15? You aim the gun not at some paper target on the range, but at a living human being, pull the trigger and the guy you hit goes down.

              Guns like the AR-15 don’t get bought because someone wants to go into the woods and take a shot at Bambi or Smokey the Bear. They get bought because some of the people who buy them want to believe that walking around with that kind of gun makes you a big, tough guy.

              Actually, all it really does is show everyone that you’re a self-proclaimed jerk. Unfortunately, being a jerk has never disqualified anyone from owning a gun.

How Violent Are We Today?

1 Comment

              Several years ago, I had lunch with my friend Clarence Jones, who is currently Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. He previously served as Dr. King’s personal attorney and also helped draft the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech which King delivered during the March on Washington in 1963.

              To that end, I asked Clarence what Dr. King would have thought about progress in civil rights over the fifty-plus years since his death. And Clarence responded with a statement I will never forget: “Martin’s primary commitment was never civil rights. His first and foremost commitment was to non-violence and this country has become much more violent over the last fifty years.”

              I was reminded again of this remark by Clarence Jones yesterday when I briefly watched the trial of three White men accused of killing an unarmed Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, who resisted what the defendants have claimed was their attempt to effect a ‘citizen’s arrest’ of Arbery for allegedly entering the property of a newly-built home in their neighborhood.

              So, here we have on national TV, two trials, one in Wisconsin and the other in Georgia. In one trial the victim who was killed was White, in the other trial he was Black. In the Wisconsin trial the defendant, who was also White, used his assault rifle to defend himself against individuals who he believed were going to assault him because he was protecting the private property of someone else. In Georgia, the shooter and his accomplices used a shotgun to defend himself from a man who allegedly attacked him because he and his accomplices were trying to defend the property of someone else.

              Let’s pause for a moment while I ask my readers a question. Have any of you ever been in the town of Skidmore, Missouri? I’ll bet you haven’t.

              I drove through Skidmore in 1989, when the population was around 350 people, of whom at least half lived on farms surrounding the town. As of today, the town’s population is probably down to 250, along with some dogs and cats. In other words, Skidmore is a rural dump.

              The town, however, became famous or better yet infamous in 1981, when just about every adult standing around the main street on a Saturday afternoon witnessed the shooting of Ken McElroy as he left a saloon and got into his truck. McElroy earned a living by rustling cattle from various farms or stealing equipment from unlocked barns.

              The previous year he had come into town and almost beaten to death the 70-year old owner of the dry goods store who was considered as the nearest thing to Mother Theresa because he extended credit to the local farmers on very generous terms.

              McElroy was convicted of the assault but didn’t serve one day in jail. When he showed up on a weekend day in July 1981 a crowd of 60-70 townspeople confronted him in the saloon and then he was shot by ‘persons unknown’ as he got into his truck.

              This murder, which occurred in daylight and was witnessed by more than forty adults, was never solved. The county cops investigated the shooting, but nobody talked, and nobody was charged. Then the state police showed up, conducted a second investigation,

and again, came up with a blank.

              This shooting then became national news when the FBI was called in. It was referred to in the media as ‘vigilante justice alive and well in the Old West,’ but the results of the FBI’s efforts were the same: no results. The case remains unsolved to this day even though it became the subject of a pretty decent book as well as a pretty crummy Hollywood flick.

              The shooting of Ken McElroy took place before we had cell-phones which took video and of course it took place before we had an internet news cycle which has an inexhaustible appetite for anything which can be described as ‘news.’ In both the current Kenosha and Georgia trials, videos of the shootings taken by onlookers or independent media producers have been shown in court.

              I don’t recall the last time that two trials in two different states were being held at the same time to determine whether defendants were legally protected from criminal charges because they shot and killed someone while claiming to be protecting private property which they didn’t own. In both instances, the shooters took it upon themselves to determine whether the person they killed represented a threat to them or to anyone else. And even if the victims were threatening to attack these self-made community protectors, why didn’t the men with the guns try to back down?

              I’ll tell you why. Because they had guns. And why did they have guns which allowed them to pretend that all they were really trying to do was protect the community from harm? I quote a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a month before he delivered ‘I Have a Dream’ in 1963: “By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim; by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing,  we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.”

              For all the people who were shocked by the video that shows Kyle Rittenhouse running down the street with his AR-15, just remember that his mother has already raised $460,000 on the internet to cover the costs of his legal defense, and yesterday she sent out a message asking people to donate $100,000 more. She’ll get it, I’m sure.

              Have we become more violent because we have so many more guns? Or do we have so many more guns because violence, pari passu, has become as American as the pie we’ll all gobble down next week? 

              To quote what I never hear from any of the online experts and pundits these days – I don’t know.

While We Wait For The Rittenhouse Verdict…

3 Comments

              As we await the jury’s verdict in the Rittenhouse trial, I think we need to look at the whole episode from a somewhat different point of view. In closing arguments, the prosecutor accused Rittenhouse of deliberately shooting three individuals because he was an ‘instigator’ of violence rather than defending himself from being attacked. The defense, on the ither hand, claimed that Rittenhouse showed up in Kenosha because he wanted to ‘help’ a community that was being overrun.

              So, on the one hand, Rittenhouse shows up with an assault rifle because he was prepared to help control a mob by using his gun. On the other hand, he came into Kenosha armed with an extremely lethal weapon because, after all, you never know when a situation might get out of hand and self-protection is on your mind.

              Back in 2014, I interviewed some adolescents who were ‘residents’ of the youth jail and were incarcerated for the most serious crimes. These kids were between 14 and 17 years old, and when they turned eighteen, they would be transferred to a state penitentiary to do time for crimes like arson, murder, and aggravated assault (i.e., they tried to kill someone but didn’t shoot straight.)

              I asked each of these kids two questions: 1). How hard was it to get a gun? 2). Why did they need to carry a gun? Answer to Question #1 – they laughed. Answer to Question #2 – they needed a gun to protect themselves.

              If anyone had asked Kyle Rittenhouse these same two questions, I guarantee he would have answered the same way that the inmates in this youth jail replied to me when I asked them about guns. And as far as I’m concerned, what this trial really represents is how we react to a unique form of American culture and behavior, which is vigilante justice.

              We are the only country in the entire world which allows residents in some, but not all states, to stand their ground and respond to a potential threat without first backing down. We are also the only country in the entire world which allows most of its residents to stand in place and use a gun to protect themselves when they choose not to back down.

              If the jury decides to buy Rittenhouse’s argument that he only showed up in Kenosha because he wanted to help protect the good people from a mob, I could understand why such an argument might carry the day. After all, the notion of being a ‘good Samaritan’ goes all the way back to Biblical times.

              But if someone wanted to help out people in distress, why show up with an AR-15? Isn’t that the role and responsibility of the cops? Isn’t that what we pay them to do?

              What has the gun business been selling since they discovered back in the 1980’s that nobody was all that interested in going out into the woods to take a shot at Bambi or Smokey the Bear? They’ve been selling the idea of vigilante justice because how can anyone wait around for the cops to show up?

              Know how Merriam-Webster defines vigilante? It’s defined as a ‘self-appointed doer of justice.’ Which is no doubt what Kyle Rittenhouse thought he was doing – representing justice by standing in front of a mob with his AR-15.

              Know what Rittenhouse was representing? Nothing but his young, stupid self. Which happens to be, unfortunately, what happens when you let a 17-year old walk around with a weapon that is designed to do one thing and one thing only, namely, to end human life.

              Anyone who wants to delude themselves into thinking that Kyle Rittenhouse was carrying a ‘sporting’ gun, has a brain that is about as capable of producing a realistic thought as Herman Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.

              And by the way, that previous thought should also be applied to one of the victims of the onslaught – George Grosskreutz – who showed up at the scene with a Glock pistol that he no doubt was carrying to help him provide first-aid to some of the people in the street.

              Frankly, I’m surprised that in the more than five hundred wrongful shooting demonstrations last year, that there weren’t a lot more vigilantes who tried to protect represent justice against an unruly or dangerous crowd.

              Maybe Americans aren’t all that violent even though they own somewhere between 300 million and 400 million guns.

What’s The Kenosha Trial All About?

4 Comments

Last night when I watched the news report on the Rittenhouse trial, for a moment I thought I was back in 2013 watching a report on the trial of George Zimmerman, who was accused in Florida of killing a Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, the previous year. Except in the Florida case, the shooter was White, and the victim was Black. In the current trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the shooter and all three victims are or were White.

On the other hand, what makes these two episodes eerily similar is that in both situations, a civilian armed with a gun took it upon himself to confront an unarmed man who may or may not have represented any kind of real threat.

In the Florida case, there was no question that the victim, Trayvon Martin, was unarmed. In the Kenosha incident, one victim had a gun but the other two victims between them were ‘armed’ with a plastic bag.

The good news is that at least in this case, we don’t have to listen to the mindless racism that immediately swirled around the killing of Trayvon Martin, particularly after Obama got involved. And let me make one point very clear – the racism was all directed at the Black kid, not the other way around. But at least this time the racists can crawl back under their rocks and shut the f**k up.

What is similar, however, is that the Kyle Rittenhouse defense fund is alive and well, with more than $500,000 donated on his behalf, including money from some law-enforcement guys who should know better than to ever put up money to defend someone accused of showing up at a public rally with an AR-15.

So, even though the lines are a little fuzzy in the Kenosha case as opposed to what happened to Trayvon Martin, the bottom line is that this incident proves one thing and one thing only, namely, that two people are dead and another may be spending the rest of his life behind bars because two guys couldn’t show up in a public space without taking along their guns.

Why did Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum go to the Kenosha march for George Floyd in the first place? They both claimed they were present to ‘help out.’ So why bring their guns? If they believed that the situation was so dangerous that they needed to be armed, why didn’t they just stay home?

The first thing the cops should have done in Kenosha, and as far as I’m concerned it should be SOP in every situation where a crowd gathers for some kind of ‘peaceful’ protest, is to declare the location to be gun-rein. No guns. That’s it. And there’s absolutely nothing in the entire history of 2nd-Amendment jurisprudence which says that public authorities have to relinquish their responsibility to enforce community safety in order to allow members of the public to maintain their gun ‘rights.’

I don’t care what the yahoo element in Gun-nut Nation wants you to believe, there aren’t any unlimited ‘rights’ in the Bill of Rights. The government has what is known as a ‘compelling interest’ to keep the peace and maintain community safety, so don’t tell me that either Rosenbaum or Rittenhouse deserve to be seen as ‘good guys’ because they showed up with their guns.

So, Kyle Rittenhouse is going to say that he was only ‘defending’ himself because Rosenbaum had a gun. But Rosenbaum didn’t point his gun at just some other passer-by. He pointed it at Rittenhouse because Rittenhouse was carrying a gun.

And by the way, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the altercation between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum happened just because they were both involved in a mass demonstration about George Floyd. What happened between them is exactly what happens on streets all over the United States which results in 250 people getting killed or injured by gunfire every, single day.

We have gun violence because two or more people, almost always men between the ages of 16 and 30, get into an argument, neither one can (God forbid) back down, and then one or both of them pull out a gun.

Do either of the combatants pull out Grandpa’s old shotgun or a bolt-action hunting rifle like my Remington 700 which is sitting somewhere around my house? No.

They pull out an AR-15 or an AK-47 or a Glock or some other handgun and bang away.

And whichever one is arrested after killing the other, of course he’ll say that he was just ‘protecting’ himself or ‘protecting’ the neighborhood from the other guy.

Can Gun ‘Rights’ And Gun ‘Control’ Groups Ever Agree?

17 Comments

              Yesterday I received an email from a good friend who wanted to know my thoughts about a group – Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership – which claims to be a group of gun owners that wants to “take the lead to promote safe gun ownership and sensible laws and regulations.”

              When the NRA began to collapse following its brief honeymoon with Donald Trump, a whole bunch of gun organizations started to get some attention, most of them being groups that were more vociferous about their gun ‘rights’ than the boys from Fairfax, but there were also several groups which claimed to be interested in finding a ‘middle way’ between the pro-gun and anti-gun extremes. This group is in that latter camp.

              According to their website, their commitment to the 2nd Amendment goes hand in hand with a desire to promote “gun safety” through comprehensive background checks and secure storage of guns. They also partner with the gun-research group at the University of Michigan as well as a foundation that distributes free gun locks in Oregon public schools.

              Promoting academic gun research, safe storage and universal background checks happen to be priorities of all the gun-control groups. So, the fact that this group is committed to the same agenda but is made up of gun owners needs to be taken as perhaps an important straw blowing in the wind.

              The only problem (and here Mike the Gun Guy™ is going to do what he usually does to piss everyone off) is that the wind happens to be blowing the wrong way. You can call safe storage and universal background checks whatever you want to call them – responsible, accountable – I don’t care. The truth is that we do not suffer from gun-violence rates that are 7 to 20 times higher (thank you David Hemenway) than any other economically-advanced country because we don’t have universal background checks or because many gun owners don’t keep their guns locked away.

              We endure and suffer from more than 125,000 intentional and unintentional gun injuries every year for one, simple reason, which is that we are – ready? – the one country in the entire world which allows its residents to purchase, own and carry on their persons guns that are designed only to injure and kill human beings.

              Several years ago, our friends at The Trace published an inventory of more than 9,000 guns picked up by the cops connected to crimes throughout the United States. I took the trouble to analyze this entire listing and you can download and read my analysis of the data right here.

              On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend any time gorging your brain on my faultless prose, I’ll summarize this information by saying that we may own somewhere between 300 and 400 million guns, but most of those guns don’t have anything to do with gun violence at all.

              I couldn’t find one, single ‘crime’ gun on this entire list manufactured by such long-time manufacturers as Remington, Mossberg, Winchester, Browning, Marlin, or Savage Arms, which together have certainly produced more than 100 million of the guns privately owned.

              What are the guns that turn up again and again in the daily shootings which create our extraordinary gun-violence rates? Try Glock, Sig, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Colt, and all the cheapie lookalike wanabees (Taurus, Kahr Arms) that are floating around.

              Now, the idea that such guns are considered ‘sporting’ arms by Gun-nut Nation just because they don’t fire in full-auto mode only goes to show you how far from reality the gun debate in this country remains.

              But the fact is that the gun-control groups buy into the same nonsense. They also want comprehensive background checks and safe storage of guns. The fact that there has never been one, single piece of published research which shows any connection between gun safety or background checks and gun violence rates, so what?

              Matter of fact, Colorado instituted universal background checks in 2013, a year when the overall gun violence rate was 11.44.  In 2019, the rate was 14.45. Gee, that’s only an increase in gun violence of 25 percent. No biggie, right?

              Want to reduce gun violence? It’s very simple. Get rid of the guns which are used to commit that violence. There’s simply no other way, no matter how ‘safe’ or ‘responsible’ we hope everyone will behave with their guns.

Will It Make Any Difference If Everyone’s Walking Around With A Gun?

Leave a comment

              Oh my Goddd.  That conservative Supreme Court is going to flip the 2nd Amendment on its head and turn America into an armed camp. And now gun violence will go through the roof because everyone’s going to be walking around with a gun!

              I’m getting what Grandpa would call this kind of geshry (read: yell) from every gun-control group along with a desperate demand for funds. This is because the Supreme Court has decided to take up the New York law which basically gives cops a free hand to decide who should and should not be able to walk around with a gun.

              This practice is referred to as ‘may issue,’ whereby the cops or some other designated agency can determine whether someone can walk around with a concealed weapon based on a documented concern of being attacked or otherwise being the victim of a violent crime. There are now only seven ‘may issue’ states, including California and New York.

              The other 43 states are either ‘shall issue’ states where anyone can receive a carry permit (CCW) without having a specific cause, or ‘Constitutional carry’ where no special license to walk around armed is required at all.

              Until the mid-80’s, states which allowed residents to walk around with a concealed weapon were few and far between. In fact, as late as 1886, there were 41 states which either didn’t grant any kind of concealed-carry license or only approved such licenses on a very strict and arbitrary basis, which usually meant you were good friends with the local chief.

              One of the ways that America is a unique country is the propensity of Americans to pick up a loaded gun, point it at someone else and go – blam! The United States happens to lead the entire advanced world in this type of behavior both in the number of people who get shot, as well as the rate of this type of violence which occurs every year. According to our friend David Hemenway, the odds of someone getting killed by being attacked by someone else with a gun is 7 to 20 times higher here than in any other high-income (OECD) nation-state.

              I have no issue with David’s calculations which places American gun violence rates at the top of the OECD list. I do have an issue, however, with the argument which attempts to explain this level of violence or at least connect this violence to all the people walking around with guns, or at least people walking around with legally-owned guns, which is what the whole noise being made about the Supreme Court taking a gun case is all about.

              Let me break it to my Gun-control Nation friends as gently as I can. When there were only 8 states which granted any kind of concealed-carry licenses for any reason whatsoever, the gun-homicide rate was 5.05.  In 2019, when the residents of 40 states could walk around with a gun in their pocket, the national gun-homicide rate was 4.39.  In other words, if we use gun-homicide numbers to figure out how violent we really are, the numbers clearly indicate that more concealed-carry licensing leads to more peace.

              This raises an interesting question, namely, what will be the impact on gun-violence rates if the Supremes throw out the New York gun law and the other ‘may issue’ states like California and New Jersey get into line?  Given the fact that the ‘may issue’ states together contain 25% of the national population, couldn’t universal ‘shall issue’ CCW law result in gun violence going down even more?

              Which is exactly what Gun-nut Nation has been saying for years. Except there’s only one problem with this argument as well. Let’s not forget that the Supremes are going to be looking at laws which regulate who can and cannot carry guns. And since when did the people who commit 15,000 homicides and at least another 75,000 non-fatal gun assaults each year give one rat’s damn about laws?

              Our good friend Philip Cook once interviewed 99 prison inmates and found that few of them got their guns through legal means. Gee, what a surprise. The point is that whether law-abiding gun owners can walk around the neighborhood with a gun just because they want to walk around with a gun, may or may not have any connection to the number of guys who use a gun to commit a crime, in particular the crime we refer to as homicide, which is what gun violence is really all about.

              I think the issue of gun laws versus gun violence is beside the point. To me, the real issue is whether anyone, whether a good guy or a bad guy, should have access to guns which can only be used to commit gun violence because in case you didn’t know it, the definition of violence according to the World Health Organization is any conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else.

              If I believe you are coming towards me to commit an assault, and I pull out my Glock and drill you right through the head so that your assault against me doesn’t take place, aren’t I consciously trying to injure you? Damn right I am, which is why I carry a Glock, and not some 22-caliber target gun.

              On the other hand, like most Americans who are issued a concealed-carry license, I happen to live in a town where the only people who walk towards me at night are actually on their way to the Starbucks across the street.

              As far as I’m concerned, the whole concealed-carry issue is nothing more than a society-wide case of arrested mental development, and if this is the only thing that the Supreme Court has to worry about, as Grandpa would say, ‘a be gezunt’ (read: who cares?)

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence? The Same Old, Same Old.

2 Comments

              Readers may have noticed that after a month’s hiatus in writing about guns and posting columns on my gun blog, Mike the Gun Guy, I’m back doing it again. There were two reasons that I switched over to a more general political perspective, in particular writing critical comments about the liberal, political media and press.

              First and foremost, I reject and resent the continued attempt by the mainstrem liberal media to promote the idea that Trump represents some kind of Fascist threat. I lived in Spain during the worst, most repressive years of the Franco regime, and Trump’s about as much of a Fascist as Leonard Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.

              Second, to be as candid as I can, if I’m going to write for public consumption, I’d rather be a large fish in a small pond, then a tiny minnow in a large sea. And when it comes to politics, as opposed to guns and gun violence, everyone’s an expert and everyone seems to have something to say.

              As regards the latter, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome a new voice to the online community writing about guns. Her name is Caroline Light who, several years ago published an important book on Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws. She has just opened up a blog about gun violence and promises at least one new comment every week. Way to go Caroline, and welcome to our little pond.

              Which brings me to an observation about some content newly posted by our friends in The Trace. I’m referring to what has become the basic approach to reducing gun violence in communities where the violence takes the form of one person shooting another, as opposed to gun violence where the shooter shoots himself.

              The former type of gun violence probably accounts for at least three-quarters of all intentional injuries committed with the use if guns, although we really don’t have an accurate number on intentional, non-fatal gun assaults because the CDC has given up trying to keep the score.

              Anyway, the bottom line is that most of this violence occurs in inner-city, minority-based neighborhoods which always seem to have high rates of violent behavior, with or without guns. And what my friends in Gun-control Nation promote is the idea that we can reduce gun violence in these communities by putting together some kind of domestic Marshall Plan to provide jobs and financial support because we all know that poverty makes people angry and anger results in violence and yadda, yadda and yadda again.

              So, for example, the current issue of The Trace has a lead article on how Baltimore is hoping to reduce gun violence by making the city’s public spaces safer spots for children to play. Money will be spent on after-school programs, better recreational facilities, all the usual stuff.

              Of course, such programs are always short of cash. Which is why when the dough runs out, gun violence rates go up again. But the bottom line is that either we take a ‘public health approach’ to gun violence or we don’t. And if we don’t upgrade the environment where gun violence occurs, it’s no different from how typhoid reappears if the drinking water isn’t always kept clean.

              I happen to think this approach is bunk. Why? Because violence is one thing, gun violence is something else. And the latter problem can’t exist without the presence of, and access to guns. It just so happens that we are the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns which are designed and used only for the purpose of committing gun violence, i.e., ending a human life.

              I know I’m repeating myself from yesterday, but if my friends in Gun-control Nation repeat the idea every chance they get, that we can reduce gun violence by going into poor neighborhoods and planting a bunch of trees, I reserve the right to remind them about the issue of guns every chance that I get.

              I carry a Glock 17 pistol with 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition. This gun wasn’t designed for ‘sport’ or even for ‘self-defense.’ It was designed to do what it does very well, which is to put a half-ounce piece of lead into someone’s head.

              Want to reduce gun violence by taking a public health approach? Get rid of what causes the violence, which happens to be certain types of guns.

How Come Only Good Guys Are Allowed To Carry Guns?

3 Comments

              Yesterday I wrote a column about the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on whether New York’s Sullivan Law did or did not abridge Constitutional protections covering the civilian ownership of guns. In particular, the Sullivan Law vests very wide discretionary authority with the police to determine whether a law-abiding citizen can walk around with a concealed gun. And such arbitrary decision-making authority could deprive someone of their Constitutional

              I received a number of comments from readers who felt that I was showing a lack of concern for the degree to which concealed-carry (CCW) is a factor in the high rate of gun violence from which this country, and this country alone, suffers year after year. So, the purpose of today’s rant is to explain where I stand on the issue of armed, self-defense.

              First and most important, the term ‘self-defense’ is about as meaningless as the description of any type of behavior that could ever be put into words. If nothing else, it presumes that the individual who committed an act of self-defense was really defending himself against someone else.

              But to one person, an act of self-defense could be an act of self-offense to someone else, and who’s to say which is which? We do know, thanks to the research of Marvin Wolfgang and others going back more than fifty years, that in at least half of all homicides, it was behavior precipitated by the victim which led to the fatal event. Which makes it rather difficult to create a neat division of behavior between the individual who attacked someone else rather than the individual who reacted to an attack or the threat of an attack.

              In the ‘olden’ days, before the gun industry started promoting armed, self-defense as a type of behavior that was both legally and socially as virtuous as being next to God, it was usually assumed that someone walking around with a gun was up to no good. Guns weren’t considered to be things that law-abiding people needed to use or own unless they happened to live somewhere out on the frontier. But since, according to the Census, the frontier disappeared in 1890, the appearance and use of guns for anything other than hunting was simply not what self-defense and protection from the ‘bad guys’ was all about.

              Then along came Clint Eastwood who released a movie – Dirty Harry – in 1971, which took the whole gunslinging genre from the Wild West and re-set it as a social and cultural theme in city streets. And what Eastwood created was the idea that if you really want to be a ‘good guy,’ you have to walk around with a gun. And you have to use that gun against the bad guys as often as you can.

              We are the only country in the entire world which not only allows its residents to own guns whose design, function and sole purpose is to end human life, but we make a positive cultural motif out of the idea that a so-called ‘legal’ gun owner should first and foremost always use his gun to set things right?

              Why do we even bother doing research on the reasons for more than 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries every year when gun companies from all over the world being their products to sell in this country because these same products can’t be old in the places where they are made? We introduce several million man (and woman)-killing products into this country ever year and then you’re surprised when people get shot?

              And by the way, don’t give m any of that nonsense about how all we have to do is make sure that criminals and people who don’t obey the law can’t get their hands on guns. You think the guy coming towards you waving a Glock as you pull some cash out of the money machine won’t tell the cops that he was acting in self-defense? Of course, he will, and maybe he’ll even get off. We have the lawyers defending Kyle Rittenhouse for that one, to be sure.

              Next year, the Supreme Court will hand down a decision on whether we can exercise armed self-defense outside if our homes. If the Court says ‘yes,’ the gun industry will deliver some new, self-defense gun models which I’m sure are already being designed. If the Court says ‘no,’ we’ll see some more public health research on laws that could be enacted to bring gun-violence rates down.

               Do I sound just a little tired of listening to the same old, same old for the last thirty years?

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: