I happen to believe that the current debate about gun violence is the most uninformed and unaligned with reality of any debate on any public health issue of all time.

            We know what to do about global warming. We may not have the political will to do it, but we know why it’s happening, and we know what to do.

            We know what to do about hunger and famine. Again, there may be political exigencies that prevent us in every situation where famine threatens to do what needs to be done, but we know what we should do.

            We also know what to do about viruses like Covid-19 and other epidemics.

But gun violence isn’t an epidemic. To quote our good friend Kathy Christoffel, gun violence has become endemic rather than just epidemic because we don’t know what to do.

            And the reason we don’t know what to do about gun violence is because every time there’s a really bad shooting and the gun-violence debate erupts again, the two sides whose arguments create the debate demonstrate that they know anything at all about the only issue which really matters, and that issue happens to be the issue of guns.

            Last week we had a Congressional debate about gun violence before the House voted up the assault weapons ban. At one point the expert from the Giffords group, Ryan Busse, started arguing with a pro-gun GOP member from Florida, Scott Franklin.

            In a rare moment where they actually agreed on something, they told everyone that the current battle gun used by U.S. troops was not the type of assault rifle owned by American consumers, because the civilian gun only fires in semi-auto mode, whereas the Army gun fires in full-auto or 3-shot bursts.

            In fact, the gun which our troops use in the field, the M4A1, fires either in full-auto or semi-auto mode. So, if a trooper decides to set his rifle to fire semi-auto, does that mean he’s going into battle with a sporting gun?

            This is the kind of stupidity which passes again and again for informed narrative when it comes to talking about guns and gun violence. Want another one? Try this one.

            Every time that some researcher or research organization does a so-called survey about who owns guns, one of the first questions always asks the gun owner to explain why he bought his last gun. The choice is always the same: (1). I bought the gun to go hunting; (2). I bought the gun for self-defense. And every time this survey is published, the self-defense answer is twice as frequent as the answer about buying a gun for hunting or sport.

            Over the past 45 years, I have probably sold guns to some 7,000 or 8,000 residents of three states: South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts. So maybe I know a little bit about why people buy guns, okay?

            If I asked any one of those thousands of customers why they were buying a gun, they would stare at me in disbelief. How could I ask such a ridiculous question? They had come into my shop to buy a gun because – ready? – they … wanted … to … buy… a … friggin’… gun!

            That was a hard one to figure out.

            Of course, as the guy was walking out of my shop and someone from Pew or Harvard asked him why he just plunked down $600 bucks to buy a new gun that he needed like he needed a hole in his head, he’d have to come up with some kind of bullshit reason, so he’d mumble something about his ‘2nd-Amendment rights,’ or he wanted to protect his family from all the rioting and looting that’s taking place in some other state, or some other nonsense he heard someone else say in some other gun shop.

            The point is this. The whole gun thing is nothing but impulse, that’s all it is. The guy who just bought a gun from me spent as much time thinking about why he needed that gun as he’ll spend tomorrow morning deciding which lottery ticket to buy when he stops for coffee on his way to work.

            For that matter, the kid who gets into an argument and drops a cap on the other kid because ‘he dissed me’ or some other crap, is also behaving on nothing more than impulse. Or to quote Lester Adelson, “a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”

            Either my friends in Gun-control Nation – advocates, researchers, public officials – will start trying to figure out how to stop people with access to guns from behaving impulsively with their guns or they won’t.

            And notice I say, ‘access to guns.’ When it comes to gun violence, there’s no difference between people who can pass a background check and people who can’t.

            A gun is a gun is a gun.