Why Do Americans Love the AR-15?


              Whenever there’s a mass shooting where the shooter uses an AR-15, the call goes up for a ban on assault rifles, an idea which was tried back in 1994, but only lasted for ten years and wasn’t really a ban. Not only did the 1994 statute allow current assault rifle owners to keep possession of their weapons, but gun makers could make a few cosmetic changes in the look and the feel of the AR and other assault-style guns which didn’t really change the essential lethality of the product at all.

              The odds that Congress will vote another assault rifle ban are slim, if only because this is the kind of issue where members of the GOP House caucus who might be willing to consider such a law are now beginning to worry about primary challenges next year from the alt-right, and anything which smacks of gun control is a toxic enough issue to determine the outcome of a close vote.

              On the other hand, the shooting this week not only took place in a Southern, pro-gun state, but also took the lives of three children and three adults in a private, church-based school. Which makes it a little more difficult to promote gun ownership as some kind of God-given ‘right.’

              Aside from the fact that the design of the AR-15 makes it a more efficient gun to use when a shooter wants to kill as many people as possible in a public space, what we will also no doubt begin to learn is how owning an AR-15 answers some kind of basic psychological need for white men to prove they are still a privileged group even when the objective basis for privilege, like good-paying manufacturing jobs have all been shipped overseas. 

              This is an argument made by a Professor of Psychiatry, Jonathan Metzl, whose book, Dying of Whiteness, is a clever approach to understanding how Donald Trump was able to capture white, working-class support. He references studies which see the ownership of guns, particularly assault rifles, as affirming masculinity at a time when ‘broad-shouldered, white men dominated the culture’ as well as holding those well-paying factory jobs which have disappeared. [p. 74.]

              The idea that the assault rifle is a symbol for masculine pride and authority may sound kind of obvious, but it happens to be an argument which has little, if anything, to do with why assault rifles are popular to the point that they wind up in the hands of people like Audrey Hale. In fact, the gun really started selling when the gun industry began referring to the AR-15 as a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ precisely to obscure its history and development as a military gun.

The idea that a weapon which could fire 90 military-grade rounds in less than 3 minutes would be sold as ‘sporting’ equipment was a brainchild cooked up by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) which had been getting reports from big-box chain stores like Cabela’s that women were reluctant to bring their children into retail locations which sold military guns.

The picture at the top of this page is from the website of Daniel Defense, the company that made the assault rifle used to kill 19 students and 2 teachers at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX last May.

I owned and operated retail gun shops in three states (SC, NY, MA) between 1981 and 2014. Did I sell hundreds of assault rifles over that span of years? I did.

I can’t recall a single customer who bought one of those guns from me and said that he was either affirming his manhood, or trying to protect himself, or any of the other reasons which are given out to explain the popularity of this gun.

Customers bought assault rifles in my shop for the same reason they bought any other kind of gun: they had some extra cash in their pocket and they wanted to buy another gun.

The entire gun industry rests on the simple truth that every consumer item either develops a following or the item stops being displayed on store shelves.

Which means that the only way to get rid of the violence caused by the use of an AR-15 is to take the gun off the shelves.

Thoughts About the Nashville Shooting.


Re. the Nashville shooting. Think about it like this, okay?

1. The location was an elementary school and youngsters were killed.

2. The school was in the South and was attached to a Presbyterian church.

3. The shooter was a trannie.

4. The shooter used an AR-15.

              This morning, the AM shock jock knew ‘for a fact’ that the shooter was no doubt mentally disturbed because she wasn’t a ‘normal’ person. This schmuck is such a POS (or what we used to call a PAS in the nabes) that he was fired years ago from some news gig for sexual harassment which was long before the ‘me too’ movement appeared.

So, this guy is a real asshole, but nobody’s listening to him anyway now that the Trump campaign is beginning to bite the dust. Maybe Trump got 5,000 people at Waco, but most of them had left by the time he finished whining about whatever he’s whining about these days.

Anyway, back to Nashville where if you check off the 4 points listed above, you come up with an event which perfectly encapsulates what America is all about these days. Or at least what the 2024 Presidential campaign seems to be all about.

Trump made a big deal about how he was always ready to shoot down someone I the middle of 5th Avenue because this got him the gun vote and the white, Protestant vote, which is one and the same thing. Now with Trump’s numbers beginning to fade, those two voting blocs may be up for grabs on the GOP side.

On the other side, mass shootings, in particular shootings in schools, have an energizing impact on all kinds of liberal advocacy activities – I have already received at least a half-dozen emails and texts from the usual suspects reminding me that my donation will help develop the kinds of programs and interventions that will keep our school kids safe.

Of course, the transgender issue has a life of its own, and in certain respects the sexual orientation of Audrey Hale actually helps this community stake a claim for normalcy, as opposed to the idiotic ranting if the AM which-jock this morning about how all transgender individuals are psychologically messed up.

What’s so unusual or un-American about banging away with an AR or a semi-automatic pistol in a public space? It happens all the time. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, there have been 5 mass shootings in the last two days, resulting in 29 dead and injured in 5 different states. So far this year there have been at least 150 mass shootings, which works out to almost 2 mass shootings every day.

But let’s not overlook the fact that as bad as those mass shooting numbers look, they’re a drop in the bucket when compared to the ‘normal’ gun violence which happens ever day. The United States racks up around 90 fatalities and serious injuries from daily shootings, almost all of which are nothing more than what the cops deal with on a regular basis in cities like Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans. New York City ‘only’ had 1,294 shootings in 2022, which is being celebrated as an impressive decline (17%) from the year before.

The media, the politicians and the so-called experts keep referring to gun violence as an ‘epidemic.’ I don’t know of a single, other epidemic which has lasted for more than twenty years.

It’s not just guns that are as American as apple pie, it’s also the violence caused by the use of guns.

Gee – that’s a tough one to figure out, right?

The Washington Post Explains The AR-15.


              So, the Washington Post, whose readership is certainly not a major slice of the people in this country who own guns, has now published a study of the AR-15, which they claim is based on a seven-month research project that involved interviewing more than 200 people with relevant firsthand experience, including “firearms industry executives and lobbyists, gun owners, shooting survivors and victims’ families, lawmakers, trauma surgeons, first responders, activists, armed militants, academics and ballistics experts, among others.”

              This research was then combined with a national survey of hundreds of AR-15 owners, along with reviewing more than 1,000 pages of documents, including “internal company records, court and regulatory filings, and autopsy reports.” Together, the three articles which comprise this study engaged 14 reporters, 11 video and pictorial staff and 20 others who are identified as having supplied ‘additional support,’ whatever that means.

              I hate to break it to the WaPo, so I’ll do it gently. One person could have walked into a gun shop just about anywhere in the United States, plunked a tape recorder down on the counter, spent an hour talking to the shop owner about the AR-15, and would have learned as much as these 45 people claim to have learned working on this issue for six months.

              Notice incidentally, that the lengthy list of people with ‘relevant experience’ didn’t include one, single individual who earns his living by selling AR-15 rifles to anyone at all. How do you do a serious study of any consumer product and not spend one minute talking to the people who are ultimately responsible for getting that product into the consumer market? You don’t.

              You get away with such shoddy and shabby journalism when you publish an article for a reading audience which knows as much about guns as you know about guns, which to quote Grandpa, is ‘gurnisht helfen’ (read: not a goddamn thing.)

              To show you how far away from anything even remotely close to reality this article ends up, take a quick look at the demographics of the Ipsos poll, which was allegedly answered by hundreds of AR-15 owners. Now take a look at the demographics of gun owners in a survey published by Pew in 2021.

              Guess what? Know how much of a difference there is between the demographics of the general gun-owning population as opposed to the population which owns AR-15’s?  There’s no difference. And the reason for this is very simple. Most gun owners own multiple guns because they like guns.

              This is the same population which ran out and bought polymer-based, bottom-loading handguns when those types of weapons began to appear and quickly replaced steel revolvers in the 1980’s. This was the same population which ran to the gun shows and bought up all the ‘sporterized’ M-1 rifles after World War II.

              Of course if the Washington Post, which every gun nut knows is anti-gun, asks gun owners how come they went out and plunked down six or eight hundred dollars to buy a new ‘type’ of gun, the AR-15 owner isn’t about to say something like ‘I wanted to buy another gun,’ or ‘I had some cash in my pocket from plowing last week so I walked into the gun shop while the wife was doing grocery shopping down the street.’

              No, he’s going to give the WaPo pollster some answer to make it appear that the decision to add an AR-15 to his collection is based on some real thought, like the importance of the 2nd Amendment or maybe the need to be more serious about armed, self-defense.

              I notice, by the way, that the Ipsos/WaPo poll does not include a single question which would give us any idea about how many guns the respondents own, or what kinds of guns they own, or anything else which might actually inform us about the motives or reasons why people bought an AR-15. And the whole point of this story, or course, is to continue building the argument that we need to find some way to regulate this gun more strictly because it is the weapon of choice for those shitheads who charge into a public space and try to shoot the whole place up.

              I have been saying for years that the AR-15 is too dangerous to be sold just like any other sporting gun, so don’t get the idea that I’m being critical of the WaPo because they have published an article which is clearly aimed (pardon the pun) at advancing the idea that a ban on the AR-15 would be a good thing.

              My issue with the WaPo is simply this. Here is one of America’s most respected and respectable sources for informing us about important issues which has dressed up a discussion of this issue with all kinds of falderal derived from interviews with all kinds of experts, supplemented by a national survey which makes absolutely no sense.

              Gun-control Nation gets it wrong again. Gee – what a surprise!

Thanks ToJo.

Is the NRA Going to Stick Around?

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              Today I received my NRA Golden Eagles pin and badge with a letter from Wayne-o cordially inviting me to the annual show next month in Indianapolis. I also happened to read a post republished on MS-NBC by a Professor of Accounting at Ohio State which says the same thing that a gazillion posts have been saying over the last few years, which is that America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ isn’t yet on life support but could be ending up on a financial oxygen tank sometime in the next couple of years.

              Most of the internet sources which carry the NRA’s obituary tend to be read by liberals who aren’t particularly enamored about guns. So, if you run a story about how the NRA is teetering on its last legs, you’ll get enough clicks to help sell whatever medicine or body lotion or shoes and clothing are advertised that day.

              The fact that the way the NRA is discussed and described by its natural-born enemies is just as, or even more distorted than the way the NRA talks about the gun-control side, is neither here nor there. After all, it’s the gun-control advocacy groups who pride themselves on only relying on ‘evidence-based’ information to shape their views of the world around them, right?

              Here’s the basic theme explored in this article on the NRA’s possible demise: “I can say the NRA financial picture is, as of early 2023, a mixed bag. The gun group has shored up its financial position over the last few years. However, the way in which that financial recovery came about risks hemorrhaging the NRA’s core supporters.”

              Of course, the author didn’t bother to interview a single, core supporter of the NRA, but he knows that the organization’s cutback of its basic programs is sure to have a negative impact on the degree to which the membership will continue to fight for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The article’s entire thesis is based on the fact that payments for various shooting programs have gone down while payments for lawyers have gone up.

The author concludes by saying: “Though the NRA apparently shored up its bottom line, its financial neglect of programs like firearms trainingcompetitions and field services could ultimately disappoint its members and donors.”

This entire article was written by someone who has absolutely no idea about why more than 4 million Americans continue to pay dues and make donations to the NRA. I can’t imagine that he has ever gone to a single NRA shooting event or walked past the NRA booth at a gun show – there are at least 8 gun shows coming up in Ohio over the next 30 days.

Know what happens at those gun shows? People walk around, often with their kids, greet the same vendors and visitors they have seen at this show many previous times. Maybe they buy a hot dog and a drink, maybe they try to sell one of their guns to someone else because their truck needs new tires, maybe they stop by the NRA booth and complain about how much money Wayne LaPierre spent on his clothes, maybe they pick up and play around with a bunch of guns until the old lady says, “C’mon Henry, you promised this weekend to mow the lawn.”

What observers like Brian Mittendorf (the author of the cited article) don’t understand, is that for all the talk about how the NRA is this terrible organization which blocks every attempt to reduce gun violence through so-called ‘common sense’ laws, the NRA is actually just a group of hobbyists who get together from time to time to share their enjoyment in the ownership of guns.

Now that the Pandemic is over, there’s a local gun show which is held every three months in the West Springfield fairgrounds, which is across the river from the city of Springfield, MA where I happen to work and live. Springfield’s South End is the crummy end of town with a gun-violence rate which matches Honduras or some other third-world place.

If I were to walk up to someone yakking at the NRA booth and tell him that what he was doing contributed to the endless shootings which occur about one mile away from where he is standing, he would stare at me in total disbelief. It wouldn’t be that he disagreed with me – he simply would have no idea what I was talking about at all.

This is why the NRA isn’t going out of business and this is why Brian Mittendorf and others who get a publishing credit get it all wrong when they predict the NRA’s possible demise.  I have been an NRA member since 1955 and the reason I stick with the organization is very simple- I like guns.

Don’t ask me why I like guns. I just do.

Want To Learn Gun Safety? Join The Army.


              Sometime in the late 1980’s, I happened to walk into the living room of my parents’ house toting a Ruger Mini-14 rifle. My father, who was napping on the couch, opened his eyes for a second, saw the Ruger and said, “That’s the gun I trained on during the war,” then promptly fell back asleep.

              Dad took part in the first amphibious assault in the Pacific, which occurred in early 1944 on a little atoll in the Marshall Islands known as Kwajalein. He didn’t go ashore with a Ruger Mini-14 because that gun wasn’t manufactured until 1973. Bill Ruger designed the Mini-14 to look like the M-1 carbine, the short-barreled, lightweight version of the standard M-1. The M-1 carbine was my father’s battle gun, which is why he thought I was carrying the same weapon into his living room.

              If you were drafted into the United States Army, right now you would be around 70 years old. The draft ended in 1973, so as Bill Clinton would say, do the math. My Dad was drafted in 1943, he was born in 1921.

              I don’t believe there was a single man living in the United States born between 1920 and 1950 who wasn’t called up to serve, which meant that an entire generation of male residents of the United States learned how to clean, aim, fire, and then clean their guns again.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world which requires military service of all male residents, but then gives these same residents legal authority to buy and own the guns they used in the military after they return home.  The only restriction is that the military guns sold to civilians has to be chambered for semi-automatic fire unless the purchaser goes through an elaborate and costly process to buy and own a full-auto gun.

              The point is that if today you are seventy-year old man or older (I am 78 years old and was drafted in 1968) you really don’t need anyone telling you that guns are dangerous and must be handled with care. You learned that in the Army and if you didn’t follow the relevant instructions out on the shooting range, you didn’t get chow.

              The problem, of course, is that the over-70 generation is quickly fading away, and the ‘youngsters’ who were born after 1950 get everything they know about guns from movies, video shooting games and TV.

              I once asked my son, who was born in 1980 and always played with toy guns to tell me how often he had seen someone shot by the time he was twelve years old. He thought for a minute then replied, “thousands of times” and he meant it.

              If the people who belong to gun-control advocacy groups or conduct gun-control research honestly believe their messaging about ‘safe’ gun behavior can somehow become the way in which Americans growing up in today’s culture will behave with guns and therefore reduce gun violence, I suggest they either watch a John Wick movie or check out some of the hip-hop shooting websites which are all over the place.

              Back in 2015, the man who owned the Gifted Hands barber shop in Tulsa was killed when two shitheads burst into the shop. One of the shitheads started spraying an AK-47 in an effort to kill a member of a rival gang who was waiting to get his hair cut, but instead a round from the rifle went through the barber’s head and he was dead.

              I asked one of the Tulsa cops why the shithead with the AK-47 had to shoot his assault rifle countless times when the alleged target of their attack was sitting maybe ten feet away from the front door.

              The cop, who had been on the homicide and street crime squad for more than ten years said this: “They always shoot every round. They never stop pulling the trigger until there’s no more ammo in the gun.”

              And we’re going to reduce gun violence by promoting the idea that guns are okay if they’re used in a safe way?

              Oh – I forgot! We also have to keep guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands. That’s tomorrow’s comment.

Another Gun Book Which Gets It All Wrong.


              Now that Joe Biden has put the force of his office behind enacting another assault-rifle ban, the good guys who shill for the gun industry have to respond. Which, among other things, has resulted in the publication of a book, America’s Rifle – The Case for the AR-15, written by Stephen Halbrook who has filed endless pro-gun legal briefs and made many pro-gun appearances in courts over the years.

              Halbrook seems to believe that we shouldn’t devote any special, regulatory controls over the AR-15 because it has become America’s most popular gun, currently owned by more than millions of law-abiding Americans who shoot the gun for sport and fun. There are also more than 30 million among us who enjoy tobacco, so Holbrook probably thinks there’s no reason to restrict the sale of cigarettes.

              The book is a compilation of many courts cases relevant to whether or not we should ban the AR-15 which, on balance, appear to justify Halbrook’s argument that the term ‘assault rifle’ is simply an effort by the anti-gun crowd to chip away at 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ as well as to deprive freedom-loving Americans of what has become the country’s most popular ‘tool’ that is used to defend themselves.

              All well and good, except that Halbrook omits any discussion about important litigation which completely undermines his pro-gun case, as well as the fact that in discussing the history, design and use of assault rifles, Halbrook demonstrates the fact that he doesn’t know anything about guns.

              How do you write an entire book about litigation related to the AR-15 and not mention the 2013 law passed in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park which didn’t just prohibit town residents from purchasing the gun, but said that any current AR-15 owner could only keep his gun by moving out of town. This law, by the way, was upheld all the way to the Supreme Court based on one, very simple legal expedient, namely, that the Highland Park cops believed the gun was too dangerous to be used by anyone in that community for any reason at all.

              The idea that the AR-15 was too dangerous for civilian ownership was also behind another legal case which Halbrook completely omits from his book, which was the suit against the gun maker brought by the parents of children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School,  which resulted in Remington Arms agreeing to lay out $73 million in compensation for the murder and mayhem committed with the use of one of their guns.

              If Holbrook had spent a chapter discussing these cases from a pro-gun point of view, he might have actually produced a book which would have been an important contribution to the current AR-15 ban debate. However, by failing to mention this litigation, the author has simply produced yet another biased and erroneous piece of work which informs the public about nothing at all.

              But the absence of any mention of Highland Park and Sandy Hook aren’t the biggest gaps in this book. What really demonstrates the limits of Halbrook’s alleged expertise is how he describes the design of the AR-15 and in the process, gets the whole thing completely wrong.

              The distinctiveness of the AR-15 does not lie, as Holbrook seems to believe, in the gun’s hand grip, but rather in a design feature which is never mentioned at all. And this feature happens to be the fact that the gun’s magazine is inserted from below rather than above the frame.

              Not only does this design allow for a magazine which can hold up to or more than fifty rounds, but an empty magazine can be switched out for another full magazine in two seconds or less. The Sandy Hook massacre was accomplished with an AR-15 and several additional, 20-shot mags and it took the shooter less than three minutes to kill 4 adults and 20 kids. Any rifle which can deliver military-grade firepower that quickly has no business being described as a ‘sporting’ gun.

              I bought my first assault rifle, a Colt Sporter, in 1977 or 1978. Over the years I have owned maybe another half-dozen assault-rifle guns and probably sold a hundred or so in my various gun shops.

              It never occurred to me that I was owning or selling a gun that would be carried into a school or a supermarket and used to mow down a bunch of adults and kids.

              But if I wanted to kill a bunch of people at the same time, I wouldn’t think twice about using an AR-15.

              Which is why the gun is too dangerous to be sold and why Stephen Halbrook’s attempt to lionize this weapon as ‘America’s rifle’ is, to quote Grandpa, nothing more than ‘hai cock,’ (read: nonsense or bullshit – take your pick.)


A New Book on Guns Which Is a Must-Read!

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              Over the years I have occasionally encountered attempts by artists in various genres to make sense out of America’s guns. Or perhaps I should say, America’s love of guns. Because it’s pretty hard to argue that as a country we don’t love guns when there are somewhere around 300 million of them floating around.

              That being said, I know of three museums whose displays are devoted to guns. The first and maybe most interesting (at least for me) is the small museum in what used to be the government arsenal in Springfield, MA which was the place where the production of guns in this country really began. Then there is the gun museum at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, VA.

              The third museum, which in certain respects is the most interesting of the three collections, is located in Cody, WY and is a collection of guns which the museum’s owners, Hans Kurth and Eva Szkultecki, have dug up over the years. Which is why they call their collection the Dug-Up Gun Museum – why not?

              The town of Cody was founded by Buffalo Bill in 1901 and is located at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which was designated a protected federal property in 1872. As you can imagine, the town of Cody is immersed in the history of the Old West, and tourism related to Western history is what the place is all about.

              The 21 poems and essays which comprise The Dug-Up Gun Museum, is an attempt by the Professor of Poetry at Smith College, Matt Donovan, to try and make some sense out of guns in this country, or at least create a heightened degree of cultural understanding of what guns are all about.

              To that end, the author visited some of the storied gun sites, such as the NRA Museum and the Winchester Mystery House, where the widow of the Winchester gun company’s founder lived following the death of her husband until she died in 1922. The house is allegedly inhabited by the ghosts of victims shot and killed with Winchester guns.

              But what makes this collection so unique is not that Donovan also spent a day in the Dug -Up Gun Museum looking at the artifacts which have been found lying in the ground and now put out on display. Rather, it’s the idea that you can not only find such buried treasures no matter where you look, but that such archeological objects will continue to be deposited into the earth for generations to come.

              I remember as a kid walking around the battlefield at Gettysburg and seeing several people digging holes here or there trying to find a bullet that had been fired in that great battle which had taken place some ninety years prior to the time that my mother and I drove up from Washington, D.C. to tour the scene.

              But Gettysburg lasted four days and then it was over – done. Lincoln showed up some four months after the battle ended, delivered his brief speech and that was the end of that.

              But what Matt Donovan realized as he moved from one gun site to another and wrote about what he saw and what he found, is that the objects whose use creates gun violence only disappear if they are tossed away – the deaths and injuries caused by guns go on and on.

              How do you make logical sense out of the shooting of a kid named Tamir Rice because the cop thought that the replica toy gun he was carrying was a real gun? For that matter, how do you explain why thousands show up every year for a re-enactment of D-Day when the whole point of participating in this event is to get blown to bits?

              Which is what Matt Donovan’s book is all about – using an artistic genre to capture what is otherwise an inexplicable issue in American life.

              Don’t just take my word for it. Buy this remarkable book right now.

What Should We Do About Gun Violence?

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              Today I happened to see a news report about the group in my state – Massachusetts – which works to eliminate gun violence. The group is the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which like many such organizations, got started after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook.

              In 2014, the Coalition helped pass a gun-control law which mandated background checks for all private gun transfers. In 2018 they were active in getting an ERPO law passed in our state. This year, their agenda includes “more analysis of the data collected in the aftermath of a violent gun event, better regulation of ghost guns, more protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and firearm industry accountability measures.” I’m quoting the group’s Executive Director.

              Gun violence is defined as the intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else with the use of a gun. So far there have been at least 53 gun-violence injuries in Massachusetts, although this data no doubt undercounts the number of self-inflicted gun-violence events.

              Sounds like a lot of violence, right? In fact, Massachusetts happens to be more or less tied with Hawaii for the lowest rate of gun violence of all fifty states. The gun-violence rate in Connecticut is twice as high, in New Hampshire the gun-violence rate is three times than in the Bay State.

              If you want to be a legal gun owner in Massachusetts, here’s what you have to do. First, you have to be 21 years of age; none of this 18-year nonsense allowed. Then you have to apply for a license at the police department in the town where you live go through an interview with the chief who, a recent Supreme Court case notwithstanding, is still going to ask you why you want to own a gun. And if the Chief doesn’t like your answer, maybe you’ll get a gun, maybe you won’t. Or the gun you’ll be allowed to own will have to be reloaded every time you pull the trigger once.

              Before you even see the Chief you have to sit through a safety course, which is often taught by the local Chief. You’ll pay a hundred bucks to take that course, by the way, and then lay out another hundred to send your paperwork into the State where it is then run through a local and national background check.

              Now you have your gun license and you come running back to your local dealer to buy a gun. Your first choice is one of those snazzy, little military-type rifles which you’ve seen on all the John Wick flicks except you can’t buy a rifle like that in Massachusetts – they were banned in 1994 and the ban is not only still in effect, but it was updated to include additional design features back in 2019.

              You also can’t buy any new handgun, like a Glock, which doesn’t meet the state’s safety-design criteria and has been certified as being ‘childproof’ by an independent test lab. For that matter, if you want to save a buck and buy a used handgun , it has to be a piece that’s been in the state prior to 1999.

              In other words, if you want to be a legal gun owner in Massachusetts, you can’t own any of the guns which are used to commit just about every gun-violence event.

              So how come Massachusetts experiences any gun violence at all? For the simple reason that gun violence occurs throughout the United States, namely, that it’s a type of behavior committed by individuals who don’t use legally acquired or legally owned guns.

              What does the Coalition want to do about this problem? They say this: “Gun homicides and assaults are overwhelmingly concentrated in predominantly Black and Brown urban neighborhoods. These racial disparities in gun violence rates are the result of centuries of deliberate policy choices that created racially segregated neighborhoods that are underfunded and under-supported by policymakers. Gun violence is a symptom of deeper issues: racism poverty trauma and lack of opportunity.”

              So, now we’re not worried about gun violence, we’re worried about racism, poverty and all the other social and economic misfortunes which just happen to ne more common in neighborhoods where people are walking around with illegal guns.

              Take a look at the page where the Coalition defines its mission and goals. There is not one, single word that even remotely refers to the fact (note the word ‘fact’) that at least half, if not more of the gun-violence events which occur every year in Massachusetts happen to be crimes.

              Now take a list of the more than 100 organizations which have teamed up with the Coalition to support their work. There is not one, single organization on this list which happens to represent the cops.

              Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just too dumb to understand anything about gun violence because I don’t understand how you can mobilize against any threat to community safety unless you include the public agencies funded to protect all of us from a particular threat.

              I must be missing something here, right?

What’s So Bad About Gun Shows?


              I have just finished reading the single dumbest, most pretentiously stupid article about gun violence which I have ever read. The article, ‘Camouflaged Collectives: Managing Stigma and Identity at Gun Events,’ is the handiwork of two faculty members at the University of Nevada, who visited a grand total of 3 gun shows where they observed how gun owners deal with the issue of ‘stigma,’ meaning negative concerns about the existence and use of guns.

              The two women who wrote this nonsense go out of their way to assure everyone that their “relationship to guns is complicated. Neither of us supports taking away all guns from civilians, and neither of us supports unfettered rights to firearm ownership. [p. 120.] That’s complicated?

              The lead author knows all about guns because she grew up within a few miles from where three mass shootings occurred in Colorado – Columbine, Aurora, Centennial. The second author is married to a United States Marine. So, they know how to analyze what they refer to as ‘gun culture,’ right?

              ” At each show, we observed some prevalent subgroups (such as hunters, veterans, survivalists, conceal and carry advocates, the NRA, historical artifact collectors, women, and machine gun enthusiasts).” [p. 121.]

              What these two researchers forgot to mention because they don’t know anything about guns or gun owners, was that virtually all of those subgroups can be lumped together into one basic group: hobbyists. And because gun owners overwhelmingly own guns as a hobby, they are basically indifferent to the efforts to stigmatize them for engaging in this hobby, unless the stigmatizing strategy takes the form of preventing them from doing all the things that people who are active in any hobby like to do.

              What is the single activity which attracts individuals who enjoy a particular hobby? Getting together with other like-minded hobbyists to talk about their hobby; buying, selling, or trading the items and paraphernalia whose ownership identifies someone as a hobbyist in that particular category, and forming social relations with other like-minded hobbyists which are sustained by attending social events which cater to the tastes and proclivities of a particular group.

              Ask a gun owner why he likes guns and he’ll spout all the usual bromides about ‘2nd-Amendmwent rights,’ or ‘armed, self-defense,’ or some blab-blab-blab about the Constitution and freedom and liberty and justice for all.

              What every gun owner immediately knows is that anyone who asks him to explain what he’s doing at a gun show isn’t a member of the gun-owning tribe, probably doesn’t feel comfortable around guns, and would be just as happy if all the privately-owned guns in America were scooped up tomorrow, loaded on some C-5 Galaxies, and dumped somewhere out at sea.

              I love how the various gun-control organizations and gun-control researchers always make a point of saying how they’re not ‘against guns;’ they just want guns to be owned and used in a more responsible way. Which happens to be about the most insulting thing you can say to any gun owner, incidentally, whether you know it or not.

              This may come as a great shock to the authors of this article and everyone else in Gun-control Nation who want to figure out some strategy which will somehow reduce the 100,000-plus injuries and deaths every year caused by the use of guns. Ready? There isn’t a single gun owner out there who doesn’t understand that his gun represents a serious risk to community safety and public health.

              But when was the last time our species demonstrated any risk-aversion behavior at all? Is there one, single person under age 50 who didn’t sit in a classroom and listen to endless lectures about heathy eating? Is there one, single person in this country who wasn’t told again and again to avoid cigarettes? Is there one, single person in this country who wasn’t told about safe sex?

              So, tell me, how come Americans keep getting fatter year after year, continue to buy smokes and vapes, and show up at the local health clinic with the teenage, pregnant girl in tow?

              If the two academics who wrote this paper had the slightest understanding of how to conduct some valid research on the so-called gun ‘culture,’ what they should have done is spend some time at a couple of model train shows, or a model toy show, or a ham radio show.  

              They would see the same people at those shows that they saw at the gun shows.

              But no academic journal would have been interested in publishing an article about the ‘stigma’ attached to model trains, because folks who don’t own model trains haven’t yet decided that such objects might represent a risk to community safety and health.

              Tell that one to the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, okay?

Does Safe Storage Reduce Gun Violence?


              I started writing about gun violence in 2012, hoping I could provide some degree of objectivity for how public health and medical researchers talked about guns. What concerned me then, and continues to concern me now, is the degree to which scholars providing ‘evidence-based’ research to help define more effective strategies and programs for reducing gun violence should align their research with at least some degree of understanding about how gun owners use their guns.

              Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and a typical example of the lack of reality about gun behavior can be found in a new article published in JAMA Network covering the different ways that gun owners deal with safe storage of their guns.

              Here’s what the research article is all about: “Unsecure home firearm storage is associated with further increased risk of firearm death, and the promotion of secure firearm storage (e.g., with a locking device) may help reduce firearm injury and death.”

              However, according to the research findings, nearly 60% of the respondents in this survey said they kept at least one gun around the house unlocked, and one out of five said they kept the unlocked gun in plain sight.

              Of course, this information tells us that many gun owners are behaving with their guns in very unsafe ways. Who but an idiot would leave an unlocked gun lying around, right?

              This question and the choices respondents were given for an answer demonstrates just how meaningless this survey happens to be, and the idea that it would be used to formulate more effective strategies for dealing with gun violence is a joke.

              Why do I say that? Because what the researchers should have asked was whether the gun owner was able to access the gun while it was ‘hidden’ away. If I stick a gun in my pocket and I’m a woman and I put the gun in my purse, guess what? The gun is hidden and I’m probably the only person who knows where it is.

              My state, Massachusetts, has the strictest CAP law of any such law in any state. The law requires that every gun be locked or locked away, and if a gun is not safely stored the owner can be charged with a felony, even if no injury or other problem caused by an unlocked gun occurs.

              Except there happens to be a distinction in the law which basically says that the weapon does not have to be physically secured if the owner can reach out and touch the gun. And what this interpretation of the law represents is the fact that many gun owners keep a gun within reach from time to time and don’t consider this practice to constitute any kind of risk.

              The lack of reality involved in the analysis about keeping unsecured guns in the home is exceeded by how the researchers attempted to analyze why respondents bought and own guns. Gun owners were given the following choices to explain why they owned guns: home protection, concealed-carry, hunting, job requirement and heirloom. Of course, the majority response was that guns were needed for self-defense.

              I owned gun shops in three states – SC, NY, MA – and sold eleven or twelve thousand guns to probably seven thousand different customers in those three shops. Know why more than 90 percent of those customers bought a gun or guns from me? Because they had some extra bucks in their pockets or on their VISA cards and wanted to buy another gun.

              This may come as a great shock to all my friends who do research on gun violence, but the average gun buyer in my gun shop put about as much emotional and psychic energy into thinking about buying a gun as he put into deciding which lottery ticket to buy that morning at the convenience store on the way to work.

              Every single gun owner knows that guns are dangerous, that a gun around the home represents a risk, and that there’s always a chance that one of their guns will wind up being used to injure someone either by accident, or on purpose, or maybe both.

              Want to know what was the most common issue discussed in my gun shops? A description about how so-and-so shot a gun off by accident and the worst thing that happened was that a storm window had to be replaced. And such stories always get a good laugh from everyone hanging around.

              Here’s the article’s conclusion: “Secure firearm storage messaging that helps clarify the risk of unsecured firearms beyond situations involving child access may thus serve as a method for increasing secure storage.”

              It is now thirty years since Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research which definitively showed that access to guns in the home created serious medical risk. They did not qualify guns as being safely stored, and no subsequent research has ever found any substantive connection between safe storage and reduced gun risk.

              The authors of the current JAMA study not only assume a palliative impact from safe storage which has no basis in experience or evidence-based research, but they compound their uninformed assumption with a fundamental lack of understanding about how gun owners use or think about their guns.

              Of course, the authors of this article can all list this work on their CV’s. And isn’t that the point of public health research?

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