Don’t Defund the Cops. Defund the ATF.


              I just received an email from one of the gun-control groups telling me to make sure I contact my Senators in D.C. and tell them to confirm Steve Dettelbach to be the Director of the ATF. Joe’s last nominee, David Chipman, couldn’t get past the Senate because he was employed by Gabby Giffords and that’s an absolute no-no as far as Gun-nut Nation is concerned.

              Dettelbach has a strong track record as a federal prosecutor in Ohio and has gotten positive notices from both sides. The NRA is opposed to his nomination, but the NRA would be opposed to anyone named to head the ATF by a Democratic President. Even Mother Theresa would be seen by our friends in Fairfax, VA as a threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              I don’t usually take public issue with my friends at Brady, Giffords and Everytown, but when it comes to supporting the ATF, I have to draw the line. As far as I’m concerned, you could take the entire agency, give them all a six-month severance deal and let them go get jobs as cashiers in a convenience-store chain.

              By the way, one of the issues about how we regulate the gun business which never seems to get discussed, is that we have a federal agency which spends most of its time looking at intra-state commerce, i.e., the transfer of guns from dealers to gun shop customers who can only receive the gun if both the customer and the dealer are located in the same state.

              Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution, the ‘commerce clause,’ gives the federal government authority to manage the transfer of goods and commercial activities which move from state to state. So how is it that I used to sell every, single gun in my shop to folks who lived in the same state where my shop was located, yet it was the ATF that came in to examine the paperwork covering those sales?

              Which, by the way, is basically what the ATF does, go into gun shops and make a big deal about paperwork and in the process consciously lie about what they can and cannot do. Because if you listen to the ATF, they will tell you they could do a much more effective job if they weren’t prohibited from only examining the paperwork which covers the initial sale of a gun. The whole point of doing gun tracing is to create an unbroken path from when the gun was manufactured until it winds up in the hands of the guy who shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a gun.

              Except this happens not to be true and the ATF knows it’s not true. The paperwork inspected by the ATF in a gun shop isn’t the property of the dealer. He’s just the custodian of those 4473 background-check forms and the Acquisition-Disposition book. The ATF owns the data, they can enter a gun shop at any time without prior notice, and they can take as long as they like to examine and validate every, single scrap of paper created for every gun sale.

              And in case you didn’t know it, if the ATF finds a single error in any form, even so much as an abbreviation for the name of a state or a field that has been left blank, the dealer can be charged with committing a federal felony which carries a sentence of five years.

              Is every, single gun dealer in America operating on the up and up? Of course not. You’ll find bad apples in every group. Gee – what a surprise! But the reason why the ATF is so ‘lenient’ and lets gun owners continue to operate even after their license has been suspended is because the ATF knows that these so-called felonies are nothing more than Mickey Mouse mistakes.

              The average gun shop sells between 10 and 20 guns a month. Just about all the customers are folks who live within 15 miles of that store. The average cop gets paid $200 a day. How long do you think it would take that cop to do an inspection of the gun shop in his town every six months?  Two days? Three days?

              If we took the money being pissed away on the ATF and reimbursed local police departments for conducting inspections of local gun shops, we’d not only save a lot of taxpayer dollars, but if anything, a dealer who knew he would be inspected by the local cops would probably be more careful about selling guns because after all, the local cops usually know the identities of the good guys and bad guys in their town.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’ll support effective gun regulations every time. But you’re not going to reduce gun violence whether the ATF has a Director or not. This bunch has done next to nothing over the past fifty years except pat themselves on the back and promote their agency as an important cog in the crime-fighting machine.

              Nothing could be more wrong.

An Important Study on Gun Suicide.


              Our good friend Matt Miller, along with a team of researchers, has just published an important article on suicide and guns, which finds that when a woman who isn’t a gun owner cohabits with someone who becomes a gun owner, the odds that the non -gun owning woman will commit suicide using her partner’s newly-acquired gun goes up. The online article is available now.

              The data for this study comes out of California, which keeps some pretty accurate records on handgun purchases (at least legal purchases) and on mortality, combined with the state’s voter registration lists. Together, this information allowed Miller and his colleagues to come up with an accurate profile of when women commit suicide relative to when someone else in the residence acquires a gun.

              The intention of the study was to answer the following question: “Does risk of suicide among women change when someone with whom they live in a handgun-free home lawfully acquires a handgun?” And the answer to that question, based on looking at the data covering 9.5 million women who lived in California between 2004 and 2016 is – yes.

              Wow! What a surprise. Guns are lethal? Guns are dangerous? Guns kill people who live in homes which contain guns? To quote Grandma this time – can you imagine such a ‘ting?

              But all kidding and sarcasm aside, what’s important about this study is that it is one of the few before and after studies on gun violence and it confirms that bringing a handgun into a gun-free home has consequences that are not what legal gun ownership is supposed to be all about.

              You don’t go into the local gun shop and plunk down six hundred bucks to buy a Glock so that you can shoot the chipmunks that come around to nibble on the flowers you planted last year. You don’t come home with a Sig, or a Beretta because you want to knock little Robin Redbreast out of the tree.

              But hold on just one friggin’ minute. How’s about all those ANTIFA people burning down the place? How’s about all those BLM momsers running around for George Floyd? And what happens when ISIS lands a detachment on the Delaware River and invades Philadelphia? Or God forbid the ‘element’ takes advantage of the Pandemic and tries to loot my house. 

              Don’t I need a gun to protect myself from all that? And by the way, doesn’t the 2nd Amendment give me the ‘right’ to keep a handgun in my home to protect me and my loved ones from any kind of threat? Isn’t that what the Supreme Court said in 2008?

              The good news about this research published by Matt Miller and friends is that what they are really trying to do is inject a bit of reality into the gun debate. The truth is that for every time someone picks up a gun and uses it in an act of legal, self-defense, forty people or more pick up a gun and use it to kill themselves or murder someone else.

              But the real problem underscored by this new research is that it’s not just the owner of the gun who is facing a risk by having a gun, it’s the gun-owner’s domestic partner who also may be confronting a greater health risk because she is now living in a house where there’s a gun.

              And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the risk will be reduced by locking the gun or locking the gun away. Sooner or later the gun will be left around unlocked, or the non-gun owner will use the same secure space to store some jewelry she wants to wear.

              One of these days the medical community will hopefully stop pretending that having a gun around the house is like having a car in the driveway. All you have to do to keep the gun ‘safe’ is to lock it up or lock it away, right?

              To the credit of Matt Miller and his colleagues, they did not qualify gun access in terms of whether guns were locked, locked away or not locked and left out. The same finding about the risk of guns for increased suicide rates was published by Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara thirty years ago although their research did not differentiate between male versus female suicide.

              How much more research do we need to explain that if you take a loaded gun, point it at yourself or someone else and pull the trigger, the gun will go bang and you or someone else will either be terribly injured or dead?

              As Grandpa would say, ‘shain zeit’ (read: enough already.)

Open Letter to the National Academy of Medicine.


Yesterday I attended an online seminar co-sponsored by The National Academy of Medicine and Northwell Health, “Facilitating the Integration of Firearm Injury Prevention into Healthcare Through Community Collaboration.” One of the panelists was Jake Wiskerchen, who was identified as the Founder and CEO of Zephyr Wellness, a mental health practice in Nevada which claims to be “bridging the gap between the mental health profession and the firearms community.”

One of Zephyr’s collaborating organizations is a group called Walk the Talk America, which has joined in an ‘official partnership’ with Zephyr to “advance the dialog about gun ownership and mental health care to demystify and destigmatize both fields for the advancement of the safety and health of all Americans.”

Here are some of the Board Members of Walk the Talk America:

  • John Renzulli, whose law firm defends gun manufacturers when their products are used inappropriately to injure or kill someone.
  • Dustin Jones, whose company, Armscor, imports handguns from the Philippines, which are advertised as being designed primarily for armed, self-defense.
  • Colion Noir, a former media personality who worked for NRA-TV and now has his own media presence where he advocates using assault rifle for protection individuals and their homes.
  • Rob Pincus, a gun trainer who uses personal appearances and video products to promote the idea that communities would be safer if everyone were walking around with a gun.

I would appreciate it if someone from the National Academy could explain to me how any medical group or organization could give free time, space, and audience to someone who earns his living by advocating using guns for anything other than hunting or sport.

The guns which individuals like Rob Pincus and Colion Noir use in their advocacy of armed, self-defense are guns that are only designed to do one thing – shorten a human being’s life. And since the whole reason for working in medicine is to lengthen and prolong human life, what is any medical organization doing showcasing an individual who promotes an organization which is working at cross-purposes to what doctors should do?

The idea that someone like Jake Wiskerchen could attempt to foist his support of armed, self-defense on a medical audience as a ‘responsible’ and ‘proper’ behavior only demonstrates how far from reality the discussion about gun violence among physicians appears to have gone.

This may come as a shock to my friends in medicine, but the WHO’s definition of violence does not (read: not) distinguish between violence as a good thing or a bad thing. The WHO doesn’t appear to share the idea promoted by Wiskerchen and his Walk the Talk buddies that violence is something we should learn how to administer in a properly by first going out and buying a Glock, or a Beretta, or a Sig, or an AR-15.

Let me make it clear that I am not some tree-hugging liberal who hates guns.  At the moment I happen to personally own 60 guns or a few more. I have trained over 700 residents of my state (Massachusetts) in the so-called safety course required before someone can legally own a gun, and I conduct lethal-force certifications for local, state, and federal law-enforcement groups.

That being said, I would never get up in front of a medical group, or any group for that matter, and promote the idea that a gun should be carried around for self-defense. There is not one, single study which finds the slightest connection whatsoever between community members walking around with a concealed weapon and a reduction in violent injuries in that community or anywhere else.

If the Academy wans to inform an audience with a valid and meaningful message about gun violence, they could post this video on their website: Sandy Hook Families Reach Settlement With Gunmaker Remington – The New York Times (nytimes.com).

I have no problem with physicians or medical groups reaching out to gun owners in order to find common ground on which to discuss violence caused by the use of guns. But the idea that any medical organization, particularly the National Academy of Medicine, would reach out to a conscious and active promoter of armed, self-defense like Jake Wiskerchen, sends a message out to the public which is an egregious mistake.

The Academy can and should do better than that.

Do We Need Any More Stinkin’ Gun Laws?


              Every time the Democrats have a majority in both chambers on Capitol Hill and a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office, my friends in Gun-control Nation ramp up the call for more gun laws. Know what happens?  They get squat.

              The last federal gun law was passed in 1993, which was the Brady law, and required an instant background check for any over-the-counter transfer of a gun.

              Know how many victims of gun-violence events there were in the five years leading up to Brady?  Try 172,856 homicides, suicides and people shot by cops.

              Know how many victims of gun-violence events there were in the five years leading up to and including 2020?  Try 338,606 homicides, suicides and people shot by cops.

              Wow!  The Brady law made a big difference, right? Yea, right. 

The per-100,000 homicide rate before Brady was 13.48, now it’s 20.41. That’s only an increase of 50 percent. No big deal, right? No big deal at all.

              What the hell are we talking about here? A ban on ‘ghost’ guns? When I was a kid, we called them ‘zip’ guns. Those guns only fired a 22-caliber round. You think a 22-caliber bullet isn’t lethal if it hits you in the head?

              I love those members of Congress like that schmuck from Arizona, Andy Biggs, who says he’s not concerned about ghost guns because he needs to ‘fight’ for the ‘rights’ of gun owners to be protected by the 2nd Amendment.

              But the truth is that the two sides in the gun debate keep saying the same, goddamn thing every time. And I’m not surprised to hear the same goddamn thing from my friends in Gun-nut Nation, because what are they supposed to say? They don’t believe that laws which regulate legal gun ownership make any real difference in terms of the number of Americans who are killed or wounded by guns.

              Know what? The gun-violence numbers I gave you above from the CDC happen to prove that schmucks like Andy Biggs may be right. There really hasn’t been a correlation either way between gun laws and gun violence, and for that matter, there doesn’t even seem to be a connection between how many guns are bought legally and how many people get shot with guns. Our friends who do gun research at UC-Davis couldn’t find any direct relationship between increases in violent crime during the Pandemic and increases in the sale of guns.

              Here’s what we do know for sure about the relationship between guns, laws, and violent crime. And we know this because it has been studied and published multiple times going back some fifty years to when it was first studied and published by Marvin Wolfgang. What he found was that the most violent and vicious criminals who committed most of their criminal behavior between 16 and 35 (afterwards they were either dead or in jail), were almost all serial delinquents by their mid-teens.

              This research was then supplemented by the research of Al Lizotte, who found that the men who committed crimes with guns first got interested in guns in their mid-teens, the same years which they were already exhibiting serious and sustained delinquent behavior.  

              In other words, we suffer from gun violence not because we don’t have enough gun regulations on the books, but because we lose track of the boys who begin to exhibit criminal behavior and get into guns at the same time.

              I have yet to see one, single gun-control advocacy organization show the slightest interest or even awareness of the connection between adolescence, delinquency, and guns, even though this knowledge has been out there, published and validated, for fifty years.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation face a serious choice. They can keep saying the same thing they have been saying about how we need more gun laws, whether these laws really help reduce gun violence or not. Or they can come up with a strategy which deals with the fundamental reason why someone picks up a gun, points it at someone else and pulls the trigger – on average – 275 times every day. 

Another Gun Expert ‘Explains’ Mass Shootings.

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Here he goes again, with another one of his nickels. But the truth is that if I had a nickel for every person who becomes an expert on gun violence, even though they have not the slightest degree of understanding about guns or contact with people who own guns, I really wouldn’t have to keep working to earn a living.

The latest expert heard from is Mark Follman, who writes for Mother Jones and now has a book about mass shootings, Trigger Points, which is getting the usual raves from his friends in the liberal media, none of whom know any more about guns than he does.

You can get Follman’s analysis of mass shootings in an interview with Amy Goodman which was done right after the nut job shot up an N Train in the New York City subway system last week, which Follman discussed in a Mother Jones column as well.

Follman begins this advertisement for himself by telling Goodman that he needs to demolish several ‘big myths’ about mass shooters, of which the first is the myth that these guys ‘just snap.’ He says, “These are not impulsive crimes. These are crimes that are planned over a period of time and follow a “robust trail of behavioral warning signs.”

The shooter who banged away at the concert crowd in Las Vegas was known at every shooting range around town. The Sandy Hook shooter was shlepped by his mother from one shrink to another for years before his big event. The kid who killed 33 students and staff at Virginia Tech had been released from a mental ward in the weeks leading up to his big moment.

Follman is patting himself on the back for demolishing a myth about mass shooters which doesn’t exist. And it’s not as if Amy Goodman knows enough about mass shootings to maybe, just maybe tell Follman that he’s full of sh*t. 

Oh, I forgot. We don’t interview people to figure out what they know and maybe don’t know. We interview them so that they can tell us how smart they are whether they know what they’re talking about or not.

Of course Follman’s a real expert on mass shootings because he runs something on Mother Jones called the Mass Shooting Database, which tracks mass shootings from 1982 until today. Except there’s only one little problem. The data in this database is wrong. Of the 127 mass shootings which have allegedly occurred since 1982, only 12 of them took place between 1982 and 1992.

That’s an impossible spread. There’s simply no way that 65 percent of the mass shootings which have occurred in this country since 1982 occurred during 15 percent of the time covered by this list, i.e., the administrations of Obama and Trump. Did it ever occur to Follman that the sources he uses for this database, which are all internet-based, for the most part didn’t exist prior to Obama’s first term?

But the real issue I have with Follman is his discovery that the way to prevent mass shootings is through ‘community-based violence prevention’ because mass shooters leave a “robust trail of behavioral warning signs” that can be picked up by community groups who can then alert authorities and prevent the mass shooting before it occurs.

This idea of pro-active responses from the community where the violence occurs has become the non-plus-ultra mantra for gun-control advocates, up to and including the CDC, which last year renewed its funding of gun research by handing out early $8 million in research grants to study “innovative and promising opportunities to enhance safety and prevent firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime.”

What I am going to say is something I have said previously, but this time I’ll direct the comment towards Mark Follman: Believe it or not Mark, gun violence simply cannot occur unless someone has access to a gun. Or as Grandpa would say, ‘gnug schaen’ (read: enough is enough.)

I don’t see Mark Follman, or any other so-called gun-violence expert mentioning this issue at all. We’ll continue to allow gun makers to add several million guns designed for tactical use to the civilian arsenal every year but somehow this won’t increase gun violence as long as we make sure to spot the people planning to shoot the joint up by checking their Facebook accounts.

What does the word ‘tactical’ mean? It’s a polite way of describing guns that are designed for killing people and are routinely carried by military troops around the world. Gus made by Glock, Sig, companies like that.

Want to take your Glock into the woods to pop one at Bambi? Go right ahead.

Let’s Start a Militia Movement.


              I have a great idea for what we can do to make a buck and also have a lot of fun. Let’s form a militia. We’ll call it, hmmm, the Citizen’s Liberal Militia, or CLM.  I’ll get my stepdaughter to design a logo because she’s a designer who trained at Parsons, no less.  I’ll get my son who’s an internet macher to design a website.

              Why do we need a militia?  That’s an easy one. We need a militia to protect us against all those enemies of the Deep State. And they’re out there, make no mistake about it. They’re getting stronger and are becoming more of a threat every…single…day!

              The CLM website, of course, will have an online store. We’ll start with t-shirts for $29.95, hoodies for $49.95, some swanky camo outfits that CLM troops can wear when we are forced to abandon home and hearth and bivouac out in the woods. And let’s not forget some two-way radios and other electronic gear. After all, the CLM has to be ready for any assault from the enemies of truth, freedom, and the American way.

              Of course, then we come to the tricky part, which is the issue of guns. I mean, you can’t be a militia that will be taken seriously unless you’re armed, right? There’s an outfit at Georgetown University Law School, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (whew!) which just got a whole page of free advertising from our friends at The Trace. They submitted a brief to the SCOTUS in the case – New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Kevin P. Bruen – which may or may not allow Americans to cross state lines with a concealed gun.

              In their brief, the Institute for Constitutional whatever they are leads off by saying that “unfettered access to firearms poses a grave national security and public safety threat to the Nation.” They go on to cite two examples of how guns used by alleged terrorists killed scores of people in two mass shootings in California at a welfare center and in Florida at The Pulse. The shooters in these two events were about as much a pair of terrorists as my cat Leonard is a terrorist trained in the Near East.  The shooter in Florida was a domestic abuser, the guy in California had been fired from the staff of the organization, so then he went back and shot the place up.

              What I clearly recall from the January 6th riot was that all those so-called militia groups advised their members to leave their guns home. If Trump had done what he should have done and called out the National Guard to deploy in force while his schmucky fans were listening to his stupid speech before they began their march towards the Capitol, there would have been no riot, there would have been no insurrection, there would have been no attack.

              I spent a day with the now-famous Michigan Militia, some years after Timothy McVeigh showed up at several of their meetings before he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. I met them at a gun range where they were having a good time shooting off their guns. But what these overweight, overage Boy Scouts did for most of the afternoon was wolf down pizza and soft drinks, because as one of them told me, it was a public range, so beer wasn’t allowed.

              I think we can do better than that. Our militia will also give out food when we get together to shoot our guns, but we’ll have some real food, like a kale salad, a baked gruyere cheese pie with almond pieces, and maybe an espresso or a latte to sip.

              Rather eat a hot dog? Go join the Proud Boys.

              The militia movement is a bunch of nobodies hoping to get noticed by the media so that they can send a Facebook link back to Momma and Poppa or drive around in their Dodge Ram 1500 with a Trump flag fluttering out the back.

              To quote Joe in one of his better moments: “Want to take on the U.S. Government? Show up with an F-15.”  

You Can’t Commit Gun Violence Without a Gun.


              Yesterday I got an email from our friends at Everytown asking for some dough. Which is fine. They do an excellent job and I’m happy to support them as well as their sister group, Shannon’s MOMS.  But they might want to rethink yesterday’s messaging just a bit, because to tell you the truth, it didn’t make sense. At least, it didn’t make sense to me.

              Their email starts off by saying that the Supreme Court will shortly rule on a case which challenges concealed-carry in New York State.  If the plaintiffs get their way in this case, it opens the door for individuals with concealed-carry (CCW) status to take their guns with them no matter where they go. And now that many states allow residents to carry guns as long as they have the legal right to own a gun, what this means is that America will be turned into even more of an armed camp.

              To quote the email from Everytown: “If the court strikes down New York’s critical gun safety law, that could mean more people with more guns in high density places like the subway.”

              Note the reference to ‘New York’s critical gun safety law.’  This law, which was passed in 1911 and has been on the books for over one hundred years, has been about as critical and valuable for protecting New Yorkers from gun violence as the man in the moon. In November 2020 there were 115 shootings in the Big Apple, the year before, November 2019, the number of shootings was 51.

              Fine. 2020 was the Pandemic and violence increased in just about every big city. But an increase of 112%? And by the way, for the year as a whole, New York City shootings basically doubled, while overall crime was more or less flat. So much for the ‘critical’ value of the Sullivan law,

              Know what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled that law-abiding folks could carry a gun from state to state?  I guarantee you that New York State or New York City or both would pass a law which would prohibit someone from bringing a gun into New York City unless they possessed a carry license issued by the NYPD.

              I still am waiting for someone – anyone – to do a definitive study which shows a connection between the number of people walking around in any community with legal guns and the number of individuals in that community who end up getting injured because someone shoots them with a gun.

              For that matter, the argument made by Gun-nut Nation about how gun violence and crime in general go down when more people are walking around with legal guns is just as much based on bunko as the argument about more legal guns result in more crime, an argument made all the time by my Gun-control Nation friends, i.e., what Everytown said in their email to me.

              When it comes to the violence caused by guns, we have a very simple problem in this country which goes like this. Ready?  Gun violence is overwhelmingly caused by the fact that we are the only country in the entire world which lets its residents purchase, own and carry guns that are designed for the sole purpose of being used in violent ways.

              Do you think that Gaston Glock designed his pistols to be used to shoot a bird out of a tree? Do you think that John Browning designed his Hi-Power pistol to pop one into Bambi’s rear end? I happen to own both of these guns and believe me, there’s nothing ‘sporting’ about them at all.

              Now you can refer to gun violence as being used to commit an assault or as being used to protect someone from an assault. I really don’t care. Violence is violence and we should be trying to reduce or eliminate violence any way we can.

              The idea that we can reduce or eliminate violence by giving people access to products designed only for the purpose of committing violence is so far-fetched and so removed from reality that I’m amazed our gun-violence numbers aren’t a lot worse.

Do Gun Buybacks Work? They Sure Do.


              If I had a nickel for every time that someone who has absolutely no knowledge at all about guns either refers to himself as a gun ‘expert’ or writes a featured column in a major media outlet about guns even though everything he says is wrong, I really could spend all my time at my club’s golf course which, by the way, opened (yay!!!) today.

              The latest so-called gun expert to rear his head is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Peter Nickeas, who just did a piece on gun buybacks in Chicago for CNN. The Windy City’s Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, is trying to raise a million bucks to do two big buyback every year, but Nickeas knows that the buybacks won’t do very much to help reduce Chicago’s endless gun violence.

              How does he know this? Because he’s read all the so-called studies about gun buybacks done by all the other so-called gun ‘experts’ and the studies all show that gun buybacks don’t work, or at least they don’t take guns away from people who shouldn’t have guns.

              There’s only one little problem with this now-universal belief held by all the experts on how and why gun buybacks don’t work. Not one of these scholars understands how to judge the effectiveness of a gun buyback, so to make a judgement about the effectiveness of something when you don’t know how to define what you are trying to figure out, is an exercise in what Grandpa would call ‘bupkes,’ (read: nonsense) even if it gets you published in some academic journal and quoted on CNN.

              The latest piece of scholarly nonsense which shows that gun buybacks don’t work was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) which is the research outfit required by Congress to determine when a recession starts and when it ends. So, when it comes to knowing how to use economic data, NBER knows what it’s doing, okay?

              This paper is chock-full of data – graphs, charts, statistical formulations, the whole bit. Too bad the research team has absolutely no idea how the value of a gun buyback should be judged. For that matter, they don’t even seem to know how to define a gun buyback because the first buyback they mention was the gun buyback which occurred in Australia in 1996, a nationwide effort which they claim had ‘mixed’ results.

              The Australian effort, however, shouldn’t be compared to any gun buyback that has ever occurred in the United States. In Australia, the government decided that certain kinds of guns that had been legally purchased could no longer be legally owned and had to be turned in – but here’s the kicker – with the owners given compensation at the fair-market price. In other words, the Australian buyback wasn’t a buyback as we use that word here; it was a forcible confiscation of legal property, which you can’t do in our system unless you pay the owners what that property is worth.

              How do you compare that kind of an effort to community-based programs where nobody is required to turn in a gun and when they do show up and hand over a gun they don’t want or need, they are given a gift card that can be redeemed at a local store? You don’t make such a comparison if you know anything about guns.

              The authors of the NBER paper then go on to use FBI crime data (NIBRS reports) to assess gun violence before and after339 gun buybacks in 277 cities between 1991 and 2015.

Looking at NIBRS numbers for a year prior to a year following each buyback, the overall results in gun violence was basically little or no change.

              All this quantitative and statistical analysis really proves is that we are a country which is obsessed with numbers and if you don’t use statistics to make or prove an argument, nobody takes you seriously and you’ll wait until what Grandpa would call ‘shabbos noch schvi’ (read: Saturday after a religious holiday) to get published in an academic journal and list the article on your CV.

              The value and importance of a gun buyback is simply this: It’s an opportunity to spread the word about gun violence and the risk of gun access in a city or a town. And believe it or not, there are lots of well-meaning people out there who don’t realize that the gun in their home represents any kind of risk.

The real value of a gun buyback can’t be quantified by the number of guns that are turned in or whether violent crimes crime goes up or down. Rather, it’s a question of changing community culture which is always a slow and difficult task.

Anyone who thinks that something as complicated and multi-faceted as violence committed with or without guns doesn’t know anything about violence and certainly doesn’t know anything about guns.

Want To Carry a Gun? Don’t Bother With Training.


Yesterday, our friends at The Trace published an article by Jennifer Mascia on the Florida law requiring training for a resident who wants to walk around with a concealed gun.  The point of Jennifer’s research is that the law is written in such a way that as Grandpa would say, the training requirement is ‘nisht’ (read: nothing.)

According to Jennifer, who interviewed a group of gun trainers who do their thing in the Gunshine State, the law which requires that someone fire one ‘live’ round allows trainers to set up a little pipe filled with sand in a hotel conference room, stick the gun barrel into the end of the pipe and – bang!  Or the class participants can shoot one round of non-lethal ammunition into a water tank or some other simulated device.

So, here we have yet another example of how Americans are walking around with all those guns that they don’t really know or understand how to shoot, which is just another reason we have so much gun violence, right?

According to Jennifer, there are now 33 states which allow legal gun owners to walk around with guns whether they have undergone any training or not. One of the trainers she interviewed put it like this: “You miss your intended target, the bullet goes somewhere else. That could potentially kill somebody.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  It’s the Old Wild West all over the place.

Except there’s only one little problem, which is that the word ‘training’ is probably the single, most mis-used word in the entire gun world, perhaps mis-used even more frequently than the word ‘rights,’ which is also a word that is endlessly mis-used by both sides in the gun debate.

Jennifer’s article contains quotes from 7 different guys in Florida who call themselves gun ‘trainers.’ Know how you get to be a gun trainer in all 50 states?  Call yourself a gun trainer.

“Hi. I’m Mike Weisser. I’m a gun trainer.”  That’s it. Now I’m a gun trainer.

The gun industry is the only industry in the United States which makes products that are advertised as lethal and dangerous but does not have any (as in zero) industry standard for safety training at all. And in states which require some kind of training, the training requirement, like Florida’s one live round to be fired, is described, but the requirement to be the individual who confirms that someone fired that live round is never imposed by the gun industry itself. 

At best, anyone can become a ‘certified’ gun trainer or instructor by sitting in a classroom for a couple of hours while some old guy reads from a booklet published by the NRA, then you take a short-answer quiz which nobody ever fails, then you pay the guy who in turn gives you a piece of paper which says that you’re a ‘certified’ NRA trainer. That’s it.

Know what the word ‘training’ means?  It means you do a specific, physical task like shooting a gun or backing a 16-wheeler into a loading bay the exact same way every…single… time.

I was trained to shoot an M-14 rifle at Fort Gordon and what impressed me was how the Army could take a bunch of illiterate red necks and ghetto whoppers and in six weeks get them to clean, load, fire, and re-load a rifle even with their eyes closed. It helped, by the way, that if you couldn’t get through this drill without making any mistakes, you didn’t get chow.

That’s training. The so-called training conducted by all those so-called trainers who were interviewed by Jennifer Mascia is pure crap.

But the good news is that it probably doesn’t matter whether the people who take that training can hit the broad side of the barn or not. I have yet to see one, single piece of serious research which actually makes any kind of causal connection between all those legal gun owners walking around without any training and the 300 or so people who every day shoot themselves or someone else with a gun. 

Want to train yourself to use a gun?  Join the Army or the Marines.

Join The March on Mother’s Day!


              This year, instead of sending Mom a bunch of smelly flowers on May 8th which she’ll pitch into the garbage can, I have a better idea about how to celebrate Mother’s Day. If you live in or around Boston, you can go to the Town Field Park in Dorchester, MA and join in the 26th Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace sponsored by the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, or you can make a donation to help fund this effort, or you can do both.

              Got something better to do on May 8th?  No, you don’t, and here’s the reason why you don’t.

              Louis Brown was a 15-year old student who was on his way to a meeting of a group in Dorchester called Teens Against Gun Violence when he was caught in the middle of an outbreak of shooting and was shot dead.  His death occurred on a public street in the middle of the day.

              Following this unthinkable incident, his parents, Joseph and Clementina Chery, had nowhere to turn to help them deal with their grief. So, they founded the Peace Institute in 1994 which was eventually recognized as a major factor in reducing juvenile crime in Boston and continues this important work today.

              The Institute’s work is supported and championed by many community-based anti-violence organizations, as well as the major hospitals in Boston and a gun-control group, the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, that was formed after the Sandy Hook massacre and has been active in trying to reduce gun violence in the Bay State.

              Among other efforts, the Coalition worked tirelessly to help pass the state’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law, which makes it easier to intervene in situations where someone may be considering suicide who also happens to have access to a gun.  In case you didn’t know, guns and depression are a lethal combination, and the Coalition’s efforts in this regard should be commended and expanded into other issues where access to guns breeds disastrous results.

              Come to think of it, access to guns in any circumstance is a recipe for disaster, unless you believe that a half-ounce piece of lead flying through someone’s head is a good thing. Oh, I forgot. The group which fronts for the NRA in Massachusetts, the Gun Owners Action League, (GOAL) will tell you that promoting gun ownership is all about protecting freedom, whatever that means. 

I guess what they mean is that if you own a gun, you’ll be able to shoot yourself or someone else with it whenever you want. After all, the guy who shot and killed Louis D. Brown in 1993 was only protecting his Constitutional ‘rights.’ Right?

Either we do something meaningful about gun violence or we don’t. I just hope that everyone who joins the Mother’s Day march on behalf of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute finds a way to get someone else to join the march next year.

When all is said and done, when it comes to dealing with any issue, boots on the ground mean a lot more than boots plopped up on the coffee table while you’re watching MTV.

Donate – 26th Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace (mothersdaywalk4peace.org)

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