Back in 1997 a Republican-led Congress decided that they didn’t want to hear anything more about gun violence, so they deleted a provision in the annual CDC budget which previously had funded gun research. It was called the Dickey Amendment and it remained in place until last year.

              Some of the slack in gun research was taken up by The Joyce Foundation, a liberal, grant-making operation in Chicago which began making grants to support gun research in 1993, and by 2019 had given out $32 million for this kind of work.

              I happen to have been a recipient of Joyce support when the Foundation generously helped fund the CME-accredited gun violence conference I organized in Chicago in 2016.

              This year, even though the CDC has once again begun providing funds for gun research, the Joyce Foundation has still awarded $566,905 to support programs about guns. What I am going to talk about in this column should not, in any way be taken as the slightest criticism of the Joyce Foundation’s presence in this field.

              The Joyce Foundation has just published an important document which needs to be read by everyone – researchers, advocates, practitioners – in the GVP field. The document, “Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence: Recommendations to Advance Policy, Practice and Research,” can be accessed here. It is based on a series of virtual meetings which brought together “advocates, prosecutors and defense attorneys, policy experts, researchers, violence intervention practitioners, and members of law enforcement, all experts in their fields.”

              Many of the recommendations in this report have become SOP for all gun-control initiatives, I am referring to the idea of expanding community-based interventions, which are now embodied in the new federal gun bill that Joe signed last week.

              On the other hand, what is new and different about the Joyce report is the recommendations which emphasize supply-side solutions to the problem, which is the first time I have seen a recognition within the GVP community that neighborhoods which suffer high rates of gun violence need to be seen not just as locations where poverty creates unlawful behavior, but as marketplaces for the supply and diffusion of guns.

              Unfortunately, the specific recommendations which are promoted for reducing the movement of guns into this market are not based on anything having to do with how markets function or how such functions can be changed. If anything, the recommendations are nothing more than a rehash of a basic GVP consensus which assumes that regulating the behavior of individuals whose activities create a market can somehow reduce the supply of products into that market, regardless of any changes in market demand.

              So, for example, the report calls for specific licensing of handgun purchases, citing as the value of this strategy a 40% drop in gun homicides in Connecticut after a more detailed permit system for handgun purchases went into effect in 1995. All fine and well but if the researchers had extended their analysis for another decade beyond 2005, they would have discovered that Connecticut’s gun-homicide rate in 2012 rose by 68% over the rate in 2005.

              The report also calls for stricter regulation of gun dealers, in particular revising the ‘willful violation standard’ used by the ATF to determine whether a dealer is consciously ignoring relevant gun laws in order to transact an illegal sale. The definition of ‘willful’ needs to be made more explicit because the courts keep allowing dealers to continue in business eve though they commit ‘willful’ violations multiple times.

              I committed more than 500 ‘willful’ violations when the ATF inspected the transfers conducted in my shop between 2007 and 2014. Every, single one of these willful violations occurred because we forgot to write down the federal firearms license number of the one wholesaler from whom we bought all our new guns.

              Why was this violation of federal law a willful attempt by me to avoid regulations and maybe sell guns out the back door? Because when I received my dealer’s license in 2001, some guy from the ATF showed up, spent about five minutes talking about procedures and disappeared. Had I appealed the ATF’s finding that I willfully violated federal law, of course the court would have told the ATF to get lost.

              Would it be, to quote Grandpa, such a ‘gefailech’ (read: big deal) if somewhere in that report or in any report, if my dear GVP friends would maybe just mention the idea that we could end gun violence simply and easily by just ending the commerce in certain types of guns?

              And if you think the 2nd Amendment doesn’t allow us to restrict the ownership of bottom-loading, polymer-framed, semi-automatic handguns and long guns, then you don’t know anything about the 2nd Amendment and you don’t know anything about guns.

              ENJOY THE HOLIDAY!!!