We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Training to Walk Around with a Gun!


              Our good friend Jennifer Mascia, who is a feature writer at The Trace, has just published an article which is sure to get everyone in Gun-control Nation upset. What Jennifer is talking about is the continued spread of states which allow residents to walk around with a concealed gun even if they have never shot that gun or any other gun before.

              Her article was prompted by yet another attempt in Florida to pass a law that will enable residents to carry a concealed weapon without first applying for a concealed-carry permit or taking any kind of safety or proficiency course. What is referred to as ‘permitless carry’ is now the law in 32 states, up from 26 states back in 2016.

              In other words, a majority of states now allow any law-abiding resident to walk into a gun shop, buy a Glock or a Sig, pass a background check, and then stick the gun in their pocket and walk down the street with a loaded and extremely lethal pistol, having never actually even experienced what would happen if they pulled out the gun, pointed it at someone, pulled the trigger and – blam!

              There isn’t a single jurisdiction anywhere in the United States which allows someone to get behind the wheel of an automobile or a truck, turn the ignition and roll off down the highway without first demonstrating that they actually know how to drive. And even though gun deaths have now exceeded vehicle deaths for the fourth consecutive year, somehow the state legislatures in 32 states don’t seem to think that walking around with a gun that you have never fired represents any kind of danger at all.

              The Trace has performed a valuable service by pointing out the continued spread of concealed-carry licensing without proof of proficiency, except unfortunately, Mascia’s article creates the assumption, based largely on interviews with so-called gun trainers, that states which require training in gun usage and proficiency are imposing a valuable requirement on gun owners which will make us all just a little bit safer when it comes to being around guns.

              With all due respect to Jennifer Mascia’s careful and conscientious reporting, the idea that the pre-purchase training imposed by a minority of states makes us any safer when it comes to gun violence is an idea that can only be believed by members of two groups: the so-called gun trainers who earn some extra bucks by running a training course, and people who have little or no experience carrying and using guns, a group which happens to include lots of American who own guns.

              Every couple of years we get a new survey which claims that so-and-so many American households contain a gun. The number goes up, it goes down, but it usually sits somewhere around 40 percent. I’m still waiting for the first of these surveys to ask gun owners how often they actually pick up one of their guns. I mean, the idea that some rusted piece of shit shotgun sitting somewhere in the basement represents anything other than a rusted piece of shit is a joke.

              As to these so-called gun trainers, the fact is that there does not exist any industry-developed process to certify someone who wants to call themselves a gun trainer. Want to be a gun trainer? Call yourself a gun trainer. Or better yet, take a one-day class from some old guy who stands up there and mumbles his way through the NRA training manual, pass a short-answer quiz which everyone passes and guess what? You’re a ‘certified’ NRA trainer.

              Mascia mentions that even states that require some kind of training don’t make the applicants actually fire a live gun. But what about the states that do impose a live-fire requirement? In Florida you have to fire a gun once. In Connecticut, I believe the minimal live-fire requirement is 5 rounds. Of the 18 states that still require live fire, 10 of them require shooting 30 rounds or less.

              When I was in the service, which is what we used to call the military before anyone who reads this column was born, I would have given anything to have been forced to shoot only 30 rounds before I ran in for chow.

              And by the way, I can guarantee you that none of these live-fire exercises require that you hit the target within a specific period of time. I can just see some guy yanking a gun out of his holster and telling the bad guy who’s coming towards him to slow down so that he can point his gun at center mass just right.

              Let me break the news to you gently, okay? Want to walk around with a gun that holds 15-16 rounds of military grade ammunition? Join the police department in your town. Otherwise, if you are really worried about self-protection, when you leave your house, don’t go to the gun shop. Take a ride to the pound.

An Important Step Forward Against Gun Violence.


              Far be it from me to suggest that anyone out there besides myself has a plan to end gun violence, but there is a group headed by a physician in California, which has been trying to help America rid itself of this scourge, and the purpose of his column is to give that group some publicity and support.

              The group, Americans Against Gun Violence, was founded in 2016 and is headed by its founder, a retired emergency physician, Bill Durston, who is a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. He was cited for ‘courage under fire,’ so I think he knows a little bit about guns.

              The group has just announced a rather unique approach to dealing with gun violence, which is an essay contest for high school students in which the top twelve essays submitted before the April 16 deadline will receive cash awards ranging from $3,000 down to $500, for a total of $15,000 cash.

              This is the 5th year that the contest is being held, and this year the contestants need to submit an essay of 500 words or less describing their thoughts about a statement made by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1991, when he referred to the 2nd Amendment as a ‘fraud.’

              Burger’s statement, you should know, was made seventeen years before the Supreme Court radically revised its stance on the 2nd Amendment in the Heller case that was decided in 2008. If anything, Burger’s concern about how the 2nd Amendment represented the handiwork of ‘special interest groups’ would have been much more vigorous at that latter date.

              Be that as it may, the bottom line is that what Bill Durston’s group is doing by sponsoring an essay contest about guns for high school students represents what I think is the single, most important approach to reducing gun violence that I have seen.

              I’m not talking about whether we should try to junk the 2nd Amendment, which happens to be a fundamental goal that Americans Against Gun Violence would like to achieve. I’m talking about something much more important, which is the necessity to get high school students all over the country to think about how and why we continue to endure a daily pandemic of gun injuries which seemingly has no end.

              From 2015 through 2019 (the last year for which we have data), there were just short of 100,000 Americans who were murdered, of whom 70,000 were murdered by someone using a gun. Thanks to the research of Al Lizotte and others, most of the shooters of those 70,000 victims first got interested in guns at the beginning of their high school years. Get it?

              The problem with all the well-meaning efforts to regulate gun violence by passing laws that require law-abiding gun owners to be even more law-abiding with their guns (take a look at the new laws just enacted in San Jose) is that most of the 100,000+ homicides and aggravated assaults involving guns are committed by young men who have absolutely no interest in behaving in a law-abiding way at all.

              Most of the perpetrators of gun violence also don’t finish high school. But they usually drop out at the end of the 10th grade. Which means that the only time that these kids can be warned about the dangers and risks of guns is when they start high school, which is also the time when they start playing around with guns.

              If gun violence is a public health issue, and every gun-control group says that it is, then we must come up with a pro-active approach to the problem because this is what public health is all about.

              The essay contest suggests that students discuss their submission with ‘teachers, parents, friends and other mentors’ and that they be high school students ‘in good standing’ in order to receive a cash award. Maybe next year the contest would require essay writers to show the work to a teacher because that’s how ideas about guns and gun risks can be spread.

              And by the way, you can also go to the Membership page of Americans Against Gun Violence and send them a few bucks. And don’t give me any nonsense about how ‘broke’ you are thanks to Covid-19, okay?

New York Tries To Reduce Violent Crime – Again.


              Later today, our friend Eric Adams, is going to announce a new plan to deal with gun violence in New York City. The Big Apple has seen a disturbing increase in cop shootings recently. But these aren’t cops shooting the bad guys. It’s the bad guys shooting cops Since Adams was inaugurated as Mayor on January 1st, five NYPD officers have been wounded or killed by gunfire, just four in the last week.

              What we know about the new, anti-gun plan so far is that it will involve returning to a more aggressive policing of certain high-crime neighborhoods, as well the deployment of more cops on the city’s subways. There will also be a crackdown on so-called ‘nuisance’ crimes, like panhandling, littering, and carrying small amounts of dope in the streets.

              In other words, it looks like the new Mayor is going back to a modified and updated version of the tough-on-crime strategies which were put in place back in 1994 by another New York City Mayor named Rudy Giuliani. Remember him?

              In fact, Rudy’s aggressive policing program, put into place by his Police Commissioner William Bratton did result in an immediate and unprecedented drop in crime, particularly c rimes committed with guns. Within one year, murders declined by 20%, shootings dropped by 15%, and the decline continued over the next several years until New York City became one of the safest and least violent large cities in the United States, with homicides falling to below the number recorded in 1965!

              Rudy, of course, took full credit for this decline in violent crime. Why shouldn’t he? Except there was only one problem – actually, two. First, the drop in New York City’s violent crime numbers actually began in 1991, three years before Rudy moved into City Hall.

              Second, and this is just as, if not more important, the drop in New York’s violent crime rate occurred in just about every large city in the United States, and also occurred in cities outside of the United States as well. How can you realistically compare what happens in a city like New York to what happens in a city like Amsterdam? You can’t.

              And even within the United States, violent crime declined after 1990 in cities that didn’t institute new policing strategies or any other new methods to deal with crime. When the Brennan published a definitive report on national crime trends from 1990 to 2016, they came up with several reasons, such as increased incarceration, which could not be used to explain the trend. But they also couldn’t come up with reasons that could explain the decline.

              My gun shop is located in a town in Western Massachusetts with a population of roughly 11,000 mostly older folks, because the kids who want decent jobs usually grow up and leave town. Several years ago, the City Council called the Chief of Police into a meeting and commended him because there had been a significant drop in town crime over the previous year.

              The Town Manager read a little citation, everyone applauded, and then a member of the Town Council yelled out, “Hey! Whatever you’re doing differently, keep doing it.”

              Except as the Chief explained to me later that day, he wasn’t doing anything differently than he had done the previous several years, and he had absolutely no idea why there had been a drop in crime.

              Governments have been keeping stats on crime since at least the 16th Century and it seems to be the case that criminal behavior is more frequent in neighborhoods where more people are poor. So, we assume that there’s some kind of cause-and-effect between poverty and criminal activity but guess what? Nobody really knows what it is.

              All we do know is that if we find a way to decrease poverty, we will also be looking at less crime. And for all the studies and all the statistics and everything else, this is about as far as we ever get.

              I don’t like to see cops getting shot, or for that matter, anyone else getting shot. And I hope that my friend Eric Adams will announce an anti-crime plan that shows some results.

              But I’m not holding my breath because if I held my breath every time we come up with a new strategy to deal with crime that ultimately doesn’t work, I’d be blue in the face.

              And I don’t like being blue in the face because it makes it more difficult for me to drink the cup of coffee that I’m now going to have.

Did Gun Violence Increase Because So Many People Bought Guns?


              One of the most unfortunate consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic was a significant upsurge in violent crime. At least this is what has been claimed by the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (NCCCJ)  headed by Thomas Abt, and covered in a report that you can read right here. In 2020, according to this report, homicides were up 36% in 28 major cities, an increase led by a spectacular rise in shootings and gun homicides, with gun murders up 55% in Chicago and 39% in New York.

              Has this narrative made its way into the GVP community? Of course it has. And the reason that the crime increase is now a topic of daily GVP discussion is because it happens to have occurred at the same time there was an unprecedented increase in the sale of guns. So, for example, more than 2 million guns were sold in March 2020, whereas roughly half that many were sold in March of the previous year.

              This kind of year-to-year increase in gun sales has declined slightly in 2021, but not by all that much. Handgun and long gun sales in March 2021 were still 1,700,000, and that’s not chopped liver even in my book.

              So, if you want to believe that all those guns being bought out there is somehow responsible for the increase in crime since the start of the Pandemic, particularly violent crime, i.e., murders and aggravated assaults, you go right ahead. After all, you now have all this ‘evidence-based’ data from the research done by a group of experts at the NCCCJ.

              And if you want some more ‘proof’ on the connection between increased gun sales and increased violent crime, you can always consult the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) which basically is saying the same thing.

              That being said, how do you explain a government report from the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which says that violent crimes actually dropped from 2 million in 2020 to 1.6 million in 2020, and that over the same two-year period, the number of people who were victims of gun crimes declined by nearly 30 percent?

              You don’t. You ignore it.

              Except thanks to our friend, the hated and reviled John Lott, you can download and read the report right here.

              Of course, if John Lott put this report out there, it must be a fake, right? After all, we know that anything John Lott says is just a big, fat lie, right?

              I have been booted off of more than one GVP Facebook page and thrown out of multiple GVP online groups for saying positive things about John Lott’s research, but I don’t care. My self-appointed task, as I see it, is to try and figure out what’s true about gun violence, and not what a bunch of people who might otherwise send me a donation may want to hear.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Galileo sitting in a tower at Arcetri outside of Florence thanks to the Inquisition putting me under house arrest. I can leave my house any time I want and drive down to the corner to pick up the Chinese food or maybe get a ‘regular’ and a corn muffin at the local Dunks.

              So, here’s what I know about the increase in violent crime during the Pandemic and the surge in gun sales during the same period of time. Coincidence? Absolutely. Cause and effect? WTFK?

              In 2019, the ATF traced 354,264 guns, of which 3.3% were picked up in instances of aggravated assault. In 2020, the ATF traced 393,212 guns, of which 4.1% were guns picked up by cops investigating aggravated assaults.

              That’s some big increase. Yea, right. Some big increase.

              Want to know why ATF conducts 25% of all gun traces every year? It’s called ‘illegal possession of a gun.’ In 2019, this category accounted for 87,986 traced guns. In 2020, the number was 89,905, an increase of 2.2 percent.

              Another big increase in crime guns floating around during the Pandemic year.

              I happen to disagree with Lott about his claims that more guns owned and carried by civilians is a way to reduce crime. You can download and read my critique right here.

              Engaging in an academic exchange of views is one thing, relying on a report whose data is at variance with the facts in order to create an advocacy argument is something else.

              My good friends in the GVP need to be a bit more careful with what they want to think and believe.

How To Reduce Gun Violence? Talking About It Would Be a Good First Start.


              To paraphrase Cliven Bundy, let me tell you about your United States.  In your United States, we love to create and publish reports. We do reports on everything: income, employment, education, production, sickness, health – everything. We even do reports on violence, such as the report issued last week by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), which you can download right here.

              By the time I read through the first two or three pages of this report, I thought I was reading a report produced by another group of concerned social scientists, activists and community leaders and issued in 2017, which you can download right here.

              What’s the difference between the two reports? The latter report focuses on New York City, the former on all large cities that are struggling to deal with violence today.

              Beyond that, the two reports basically say the same thing: reduce the central role played by cops in their ‘fight’ against crime and put emphasis on social and behavioral programs led by community groups.

              How many times does the phrase ‘gun violence’ appear in the CCJ report? Exactly once. How many times does the phrase ‘gun violence’ appear in the 2017 report? Exactly once. 

              You would think from these two reports that guns and violence are two very separate things, existing independently of one another. You would also think that if an approach to violence which focuses on behavior modification and community cohesion were to be organized in a particularly violent community, that all the guns in that community would somehow just magically disappear, right?

              Several years ago, our friends at The Trace published a listing of more than 9,000 guns connected to criminal activity and picked up by the cops in various jurisdictions throughout the United States. I analyzed this data, and you can download my SSRN paper here.

              One of the more interesting discoveries I made in looking at this information was the fact that many of guns which were ultimately used in crimes had been floating around the civilian arsenal for more than thirty years. Do you own one, single consumer item that came into your possession before 1990?

              The point is that guns don’t wear out and they don’t break. So, the idea that we will reduce gun violence by somehow making the kids and adults who otherwise indulge in such behavior become less violent but meanwhile allow the guns they use to be kept around is a really stupid joke.

              Meanwhile, neither of the reports on reducing inner-city violence mentions this issue at all. In 2019, there were 19,141 homicides reported in the United States. Of that total, 75 percent, or 14,414 were committed with guns.  We have a fatal, violent crime rate that is 7 to 20 times higher than any other OECD nation-state.

              Know what would happen if those guys (and kids) who shoot other people couldn’t get their hands on guns? Our fatal violence rate would be as low or lower than most of the other advanced nation-states.

               One of the report’s authors told me that the supply of guns is a national issue that has to be handled by the ATF. That’s simply not true. If schools teach kids public health behaviors like eating healthy foods and staying away from drugs, these same kids can’t be taught about the risks of guns?

One of these days my friends who do gun research at various universities around the United States need to sit down and ask themselves what role they should be doing in the current gun debate.  Are they scholars or are they advocates? 

It seems to me they try to be both. And I’m sorry but as far as I’m concerned, advocacy has no place in the scholarly debate.  Want to advocate for an end to gun violence?  Go right ahead. Join one of the gun -control groups, send them some bucks, go to their meetings, all fine and well.

But don’t publish an ‘evidence-based’ paper that raises some issues but leaves equally-important issues out. The role of the scholar is to question current beliefs, not come up with a new paradigm which you hope everyone will believe.

Are We a More Violent Country?

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              Back when Eric Adams was Borough President of Brooklyn, I did some work for him concerning guns. Eric had been a cop in Brooklyn’s 88 Precinct, done his twenty and now is Mayor of New York City.

              At some point I asked him how policing had changed since he first went on the job. His immediate response: “Today nobody backs down.”

              I think of this comment when I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because even though Dr. King is considered America’s most foremost champion of civil rights, in fact his primary commitment was to non-violence, a commitment he maintained throughout his entire life.

              We have made remarkable progress in civil rights since Dr. King was murdered in 1968, progress not just for African-Americans, but also for women, for alternate genders, for alternate family relationships, for diversity of all kinds.

              So, we have come a long way in terms of fulfilling the civil rights dream that Martin Luther King preached on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

              But what about non-violence? Are we a less violent society and a less violent culture now as opposed to back then?

              To the contrary. I believe we are a much more violent society and now I’m going to tell you why I believe this to be the case.

              What is violence? What does the word ‘violence’ mean?

              According to Merriam-Webster, violence is “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” The World Health Organization defines violence as the “intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else.”

              Violence is usually, but not always considered to be a crime. And according to the FBI, the violent crime rate in the United States is about half as great as it was in 1994, although there has certainly been an uptick in the past two Coviod-19 years.

              Except I don’t define violence in terms of reported crimes. I define violence by whether we see violent behavior as a necessary and normal part of our lives. When Eric Adams said that ‘nobody backs down,’ he was talking about the acceptance of violence as a positive standard of behavior and belief.

              For me, what demonstrates how normal and natural violence has become is the fact that any American adult with a clean record can purchase, own, and carry products whose sole purpose is to be used to commit violence and to make it easier for people not to back down.

              I’m obviously talking about the several million handguns that are added to the civilian arsenal each year, guns which were designed for one purpose and one purpose only, namely, to inflict serious injuries on human beings. I’m sorry, but anyone who believes that a Glock or a Sig pistol is a ‘sporting’ gun is either lying or is what Grandpa would call a ‘vilde chaya,’ (read: damn fool.)

              The definitions of violence found in the dictionary or in medicine don’t differentiate between ‘offensive’ versus ‘defensive’ violence. You’re not less violent just because you shoot someone whom you believe is about to attack you.

              The idea that violence can be justified if it is used to achieve a positive end has been part and parcel of the American legal tradition since colonial times, and is now codified in the Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws in three-quarters of the 50 states.

Eric Adams wasn’t talking about a SYG law when he told me that ‘they never back down.’ New York State doesn’t have a SYG law. He was talking about the sixteen-year-old kids who walk the streets of the 88 Precinct in Brooklyn, many of them carrying guns.

Unfortunately, my friends in Gun-control Nation are as confused on this issue as the pro-gun advocates on the other side. These well-meaning folks also want to believe that somehow, we can find a way to support the 2nd Amendment because we are so in love with the other amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

Except the 2nd Amendment doesn’t give Constitutional protection to any kind of handgun; it protects whatever type of handgun the government decides can be kept in the home for self-defense.

Want to spend a little time thinking about how to reduce violence on the birthday of America’s foremost advocate of non-violence? Spend some time thinking about getting rid of the guns which are the means by which so much violence occurs.

It’s as simple as that.

What’s So Bad About Owning Lots of Guns?

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              Back in the 1970’s when I lived in South Carolina, my house was located about a half mile from a sand pit which measured some 200 yards across. Maybe three times a week, I would go out to my garage, load up 50 rounds of 357 magnum, 9mm or 45scp, and then take either my Colt Python, or my Browning Hi-Power, or my Colt 1911, go out to the pit and blast away.

              Over a three-year period I shot 20,000 rounds or more, every one of those rounds handloaded on my own ammunition press. It probably ran me about three bucks for 50 rounds, which was primarily the cost of the powder (I used Hercules 2400 rifle powder) and the primers since I made the bullets myself by melting down wheel weights, molding the lead and re-using the brass.

              Those same 50 rounds manufactured by Remington or Federal or Winchester would have run about fifteen bucks. So not only was my handloaded ammo much cheaper, but it performed better because every round was carefully loaded by hand.

              When I reloaded ammo, I was engaged in an activity which made shooting for me not just a hobby but an art. I never thought of my guns as self-defense ‘tools,’ or weapons of any sort. Handloading ammunition and trying to produce the most accurate round was no different than how guys took clay and shaped a landscape around which they ran their model trains.

              And by the way, back in the day if you went to a model train show, or a ham radio show, or a gun show, you saw the same guys.

              A reader recently tipped me off to an organization, The Cast Bullet Association, whose members are still doing what I did back in South Carolina fifty years ago. The group was founded in 1976, the exact same year that I started handloading, and the picture above is the presentation of a trophy to the Grand National Champion at the 44th annual national tournament held in Kansas City in September 2021.

              You’ll note that last year’s champion and the presenter of the trophy, the organization’s Vice President, are both real youngsters just like me. The group doesn’t conduct any kind of demographic survey, but I suspect that if I were to show up at one of their events I would be seen as just another kid, even though I’m 77 years of age.

              I just finished reading the CBA’s most recent Newsletter which runs some 40 pages, and on the very last page there is a brief statement of the organization’s purpose which contains these words: “Conducting the Associations affairs in a manner which presents a favorable impression of the private ownership of firearms to the general public and to otherwise support the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.”

              This sentence is the only commentary in the entire Newsletter (the same words can be found in a page on the website) which says anything about gun politics or anything else having to do with gun ‘rights’ at all. People join this organization because they want to share knowledge about a hobby and a passion which like all hobbies and passions has its own language, its own culture, and its own lore.

              Several years ago, our good friends at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center published an article in which they found that a relatively small number of gun owners owned more and more of the guns. They referred to this group as ‘super hoarders,’ and the article got Gun-control Nation all in a tizzy because here were these guys, some of whom owned hundreds of guns. Since gun-control advocates can’t imagine owning even one gun, how come there are people out there who own fifty guns or more?

              I happen to be one of those guys. Right now, I have somewhere around 60 personally-owned guns lying around. I’m kind of light. Ask me why I have all these guns sitting upstairs, downstairs, every which way stairs, I’ll think for a moment and then say, “Because I like guns.”

              Ask someone why he is a member of an organization which promotes casting your own bullets and you’ll get the same response. The guy likes guns, and he likes making the ammunition for some of those guns. He also likes the idea that he can test his ammo-making competence by taking out one of his guns, loading it with his homemade ammo and put three shots in an inch-wide circle at 100 yards.

              Maybe one of these days my good friends in Gun-control Nation will begin to understand that paying the ATF to regulate the behavior of gun nuts like me and gun nuts like the members of the Cast Bullet Association is a waste of money and time.

              Mind you, I’m not holding my breath. I wouldn’t look very healthy if all of a sudden, I turned blue.

Do We Understand Mass Shootings?


              Over the last couple of years, one of the big issues in Gun-control Nation has been what appears to be an increase in ‘mass’ shootings which are defined as at least four victims shot at the same time and the same place with some saying it has to be four dead victims and others saying that it has to be four people shot whether they live or die.

              You can get a good summary of all the different definitions of ‘mass’ shootings floating around in Tom Gabor’s lively book, Carnage – Preventing Mass Shootings in America. You can also see a daily summary of mass shootings in the Gun Violence Archive.

              With all due respect to the honest and intelligent work being done by these two research efforts on mass shootings, I happen to think they are barking up the wrong tree. And in the process, the gun-control community is being led in a direction they shouldn’t need to go.

              Let’s go back to the night of February 11, 2015, in Tulsa, OK, where two jerks burst into a barber shop one night, one of them spraying the place with an AK-47. Their target was a member of a rival gang who was waiting to get his hair cut.

              The shooter with the assault rifle dropped more than twenty caps but didn’t hit the intended target even once. Three men were wounded and a fourth who owned the barber shop took a round in his head and immediately dropped dead.

              The two assholes with their AK-47 were arrested shortly after the assault. The victim, who was considered a righteous and beloved member of the African-American community, was killed simply because his head was in the way.

              Several days after the shooting, I had a conversation with one of the detectives who covered this case, a street cop with more than ten years’ experience chasing down the jerks who commit such stupid, meaningless, and violent crimes.

              I asked him the following question: “How come the guy with the AK-47 sprayed rounds all over the place? Why didn’t he just point the gun at the intended target and pull the trigger once or twice?”

              His immediate response: “They always do it like that. They shoot every round in the gun. They just want to see how many rounds they can get off. They don’t care if they hit someone or not.”

              Next time you watch the local news report about a shooting you’ll notice that the cops always mark every empty shell they find in the street. They do this because it’s a good way to figure out what really happened, since in most street shootings the witnesses didn’t see ‘nuttin,’ even if they were standing next to the guy who got shot.

              Want to define mass shootings in a way that will help us understand why they happen and what we need to do to eliminate them from daily life? Why don’t we start by first analyzing the events themselves?

              What we will discover is exactly what the Tulsa cop told me, namely, that the number of shots fired often has little to do with who gets injured or killed. The guns that are used for most shootings these days resulting in someone other than the shooter getting hurt, happen to be guns which hold fifteen, or twenty, or even thirty rounds.

              When you get a chance, take a look at one of an endless number of websites which host video shooting games. My favorite is a website called Crazy Games, which gives you a choice of more than fifty shooting games. You can sit on your computer and shoot rapid-fire guns all day long.

              Or better yet, you can take some cash, maybe a thousand dollars or so, and buy an AR-15 rifle or Glock pistol by just walking down the street. Usually, the seller will also throw in a box of ammo for the gun. And by the way, a thousand for an AR-15 isn’t all that much when you consider that a pair of Air Jordans will set you back two hundred bucks.

              Isn’t it time we stopped screwing around by continuing to insist that mass shootings occur because guns get into the ‘wrong hands?’ As far as I’m concerned, any gun that can pop off thirty rounds of military-grade ammunition in fifteen seconds or less is a gun that can only be used by someone with the ‘wrong hands.’

It’s the Handguns, Stupid!


              Way back in 1968, a Presidential Commission under Milton Eisenhower (Ike’s younger brother) was put together to study the causes and prevention of violence following the large-scale riots and disturbances that broke out after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Commission published its final report on December 10, 1969, and the 337-page document included a chapter, ‘Firearms and Violence in American Life’ co-authored by our good friend Franklin Zimring, who now teaches law at Boalt Hall on the Berkeley campus.

              I have now tried to upload this report to the media file on my website four times and the upload has failed every time. But if you would like a copy of the document, just send me an email (mweisser3@outlook.com) and I’ll send it right out to you.

              The other co-author of this chapter is a very distinguished attorney, George Newton. The Commission staff also included Marvin Wolfgang, who without a doubt was the most brilliant criminologist ever to hold an academic position in the United States.

              The chapter starts off with the following statement: “The availability of guns contributes substantially to violence in American society.” The idea that more guns = more violence is an accepted cornerstone (thanks to David Hemenway) of current gun-control narrative. And the report also underscores today’s argument for stricter gun control when it notes that the proportion of guns used in violent crime tends to parallel how many guns are sold to the public at any point in time.

              The report then goes on to note that Americans are increasingly buying guns to be used for self-defense. But this finding is followed by this: “From the standpoint of the individual householder, then, the self-defense firearm appears to be a dangerous investment.” And what Zimring and Newton are referring to here is the degree to which guns are used for self-protection to a much lesser degree than they figure in injuries within the home.

              The whole notion of access to guns as a cause of fatal injuries – homicide, suicide – was the finding of two articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1992 and 1993.  These two articles not only inaugurated the attention and concern of public health research on guns and gun violence, but also were the primary reason the CDC stopped funding gun research for nearly twenty-five years.

              Zimring and Newton made the same argument about guns as risks to public health in 1969.

              Finally, in its conclusion, the report notes that “It is the ready availability of the handgun, so often a weapon of crime and so infrequently a sporting arm, which is the most serious part of the current firearms problem in this country. The time has come to bring the handgun under reasonable control.”

              Here is where the work by Zimring and Newton establishes a very clear standard for how to think about and implement effective gun control. Note, in particular, the acknowledgement that handguns are ‘infrequently’ used as ‘sporting’ arms.

              How many Americans have been victims of gun homicides since Zimring, and Newton’s chapter was published more than fifty years ago? I think that 700,000 would be a good guess. How many Americans have been seriously injured because someone took a shot at them but didn’t aim straight? Maybe 3,500,000, give or take a couple of hundred thousand more or less.

              These numbers exist because we are the only country in the entire world which pretends that handguns designed and issued to the military beginning in 1911 and continuing to the present day, are considered, legally-speaking, to be ‘sporting arms.’ Zimring and Newton figured this one out in 1969. What have all my friends in public health gun research been doing since that time?

              They have been creating, affirming, and reaffirming a patently false narrative that we would not suffer from 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun assaults every year if everyone would just lock up their guns. This is what my friends in Gun-control Nation mean when they talk about ‘responsible’ gun ownership, okay?

              The argument made by Zimring and Newton in 1969 and indisputably supported by research published in 1992 and 1993 did not qualify gun violence as being the result of unlocked guns. It is the presence of handguns designed as non-sporting weapons which, to quote the 1969 report, doesn’t cause’ gun violence but ‘facilitates’ it to a degree which otherwise would not occur.

              It’s really time for my friends in Gun-control Nation to drop their Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the issue of gun violence and start developing strategies for controlling guns which Zimring and Newton brought to our attention more than a half-century ago.

              Or to paraphrase a statement from Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign – it’s the handguns, stupid. The handguns.

Is Violence At Political Rallies The New Norm?

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Our good friends at The Trace have evidently begun to get concerned about how many people visit their site every day. I can’t figure out any other reason why they would post some content which gives us a completely misleading idea of what gun violence in this country is all about.

I am referring to the Newsletter they sent out yesterday (thanks GL) which references a report by an outfit that calls itself the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED – whew!) which appears to come out of someplace on the internet although it’s not clear exactly where. 

Anyway, what this group evidently attempts to do is track ‘reported’ political violence all over the world, in order to ‘bring clarity to crisis,’ whatever that means.

Let’s not forget that political violence is something we associate with undeveloped countries who have weak governments (if any real governing systems at all) whereas what happened at the Capitol on January 6th was for us an unprecedented event.

On the other hand, the appearance of armed people was not only a new and disturbing feature at Trump rallies, but the whole idea of showing up with an AR-15 was behavior that Trump actively encouraged and always condoned.

The ACLED report covers 2020 through 2021, when armed people showed up at 1,646 Trump rallies at least 112 times. The percentage of armed demonstrations taking place on legislative grounds increased from 14.5% (70 out of 482) in 2020 to 33.6% in 2021 (44 out of 131). In other words, political gatherings in the United States have become more frequently targeted (pardon the pun) by the AR-15 schmucks but note that the actual number of gatherings which attracted gun nuts fell by almost half from 2020 to 2021.

If you take the trouble to download the complete report, however, the idea that the United States is awash in political events which attract guns and result in violence doesn’t really work, and the fact that The Trace is hyping the idea that guns have ‘invaded’ American politics and portend more violence may increase their click-rate but is simply not true.

Leaving aside the fact that any data aggregated from open (media) as opposed to official sources has to be handled with extreme care, particularly data from less-developed countries where political violence and violence of all kinds is underreported like crazy, the number of violent political events and the number of fatal injuries which occur at these events show how remarkably non-violent American political gatherings tend to be, guns or no guns.

From October 12, 2020, through October 12, 2021, there were 298 violent political events in the United States which resulted in 98 reported deaths. Right now, the United States contains 4.25% of the world’s population. In the 12 months which U.S. violent events and deaths were 298 and 98 deaths respectively, the reported worldwide numbers were 99,359 violent events and 151,076 fatalities.

So, in the United States, the odds that you might attend a political event where enough violence occurred that someone gets killed was 1 out of 3. In the rest of the world, the odds were better than 100%. In other words, for all the putzes toting their assault rifles around political rallies in the United States, these guns are rarely used in comparison to how guns are used at political events in the rest of the world. And let’s not forget that we’re the country with all the privately-owned guns, right?

Th attempt by The Trace to push the idea that political violence is becoming a serious threat in the United States is just another riff on the liberal narrative about how we are headed towards a civil war, or a fascist takeover, or worse.

When it comes to how many guns are privately owned, the United States continues to be an outlier in terms of a number that is higher, much higher, than anywhere else.

When it comes to how all these guns create a political climate of violence, the United States is also an outlier, but the profile runs the other way. Our friends at The Trace don’t need to sensationalize what gun ownership is all about.

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