There’s Something Missing in the Public Health Discussion About Gun Violence.


              I have just finished rereading the remarkable book by Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake, which was published in 1972 and correctly predicted our Vietnam collapse the following year. Fitzgerald’s thesis is that we failed in Vietnam because we tried to take our definition for government and apply it to a country whose political culture was not only wholly different but had been developed and solidified over several thousand (not hundred) years.

              I believe that a variation on Fitzgerald’s argument happens to explain our inability to do anything tangible to reduce what has become an endemic condition called gun violence which has cost us between 30,000 and 40,000 lives each year for the past thirty or more years.

              And it also should be noted that since we have no idea how many people each year survive a gunshot wound but in many cases then experience a shortened lifespan, our understanding of the true dimensions of this problem is what Grandpa would call ‘nisht tachlis’ (read: not understood.)

              One of the few things we do know about gun violence is that blacks are victims of fatal shootings ten times more frequently than whites. In fact, for all the talk about how the United States has a violent crime rate which is 7 to 20 times higher than any other OECD nation-state, the death rate for whites is around 2.5, whereas the rate for blacks is 23.5.

              The average homicide rate in the entire OECD is 2.6, which happens to be the homicide rate for whites in the U.S. But let’s remember that the white population in the United States has somewhere between 300 million and 400 million guns sitting around within easy reach. In terms of per capita gun ownership, no other OECD country has a civilian arsenal even a fraction of that size.

              On the other hand, we have absolutely no idea how many guns could be found in the households of American blacks, for the simple reason that legal black ownership of guns has always been a no-no with the cops. When one of those researchers does a telephone survey of gun owners and asks whoever picks up the phone whether there are any guns around their home, what do you think the response from most blacks is going to be?

              No matter how you shake it or bake it, the problem of gun violence in the United States is a problem in the black community because fatal and non-fatal assaults are intra, not inter-racial affairs. But this problem doesn’t spread around like a viral infection, it’s a type of behavior which is taught or learned.

              Where does this teaching and learning first occur? Where do you think it occurs?

              The biggest problem facing my friends who do gun research in the stated hopes of coming up with a new or better way to reduce gun violence is that they focus virtually all their attention on new or revised regulations that can be imposed on gun owners by government agencies, particularly the courts and the cops.

              Someone walking around the neighborhood waving a gun? Call the cops. Some depressed, lonely old man sitting in his living room holding a gun? Go into court to ask for an ERPO order to take the gun away.

              That’s all well and good except for one, little thing. Why should black Americans trust either the courts or the cops? You think the black community doesn’t remember how the U.S. Public Health Service conducted experiments at the Tuskegee Institute in Macon County, GA by secretly injecting black men with syphilis over the course of 40 years?

              In 1997, Bill Clinton signed an official apology about this study and some money was coughed up by the government to pay off the subjects and families of a public health experiment that was right out of Doctor Mengele’s playbook before and during World War II.

              Big friggin’ deal, okay? Not one medical researcher who was engaged in this horrific deceit saw the inside of a jail cell. Not one.

              I would be a little more charitable towards my friends who do public health research on gun violence if I could see the slightest interest or intention for getting the results of their work into the consciousness of the community which needs to understand gun risk most of all.

              Like you’ll find a copy of The New England Journal of Medicine lying around the barber shop where members of the black community convene on Sunday afternoon to shoot the sh*t about whatever needs to be shot.

Same Old Public Health Discussion About Gun Violence.


              Yet another article has just appeared which tells us for the umpteenth time that guns represent a threat to public health.  This particular article focuses on gun deaths in the pediatric and adolescent population and finds that gun violence continues to increase even in the wake of a disappearance of Covid-19.

              So, what else is new? Pardon me if I sound a bit cynical or just plain worn out from reading the same thing again and again and again. But what makes me really unable to find any real value in this research is, that typical of virtually all the work on gun violence published by the public health and medicine crowd, the single, most important issue for understanding gun violence is left completely unsaid.

              For all the talk by yet another group of experts based on discussions by even a larger group of experts, there is not one, single word in either this article or the reports and data on which it is based which mentions any attempt or even awareness of approaching gun violence from a perspective which cannot be ignored, namely, an analysis of what we mean when we use the word ‘gun.’

              Oops! The authors of this article wouldn’t feel comfortable using the word ‘gun’ because it’s just not educated or sophisticated enough to fit into the nomenclature of this highly educated group.  They prefer to use the term ‘firearm,’ as if this has some kind of scientific validity which the word ‘gun’ doesn’t have.

              Over the past 40 or so years since I opened my first retail gun shop in 1979, I have sold probably in excess of 12,000 guns to buyers who walked into my gun shops which were located first in South Carolina, then New York, then Massachusetts. Many of these buyers purchased more than one gun, so maybe I had direct contact with 8,000 different individuals to whom I sold at least one gun.

              I do not recall one, single person who ever walked into one of my shops and told me that he or she was looking to purchase a ‘firearm.’ Not one. And while you might think that I’m just making a silly and incidental point, to the contrary, the same ‘experts’ who feel comfortable using the term ‘firearm’ are also the same ‘experts’ who will always tell you they can’t seem to get all those gun owners to understand what they are trying to say.

              Aside from nomenclature, I also have an issue with the authors of this article who are conducting research on the health threats represented by guns but have decided that the threat can be fully understood with reference to less than 30% of all gun injuries. This selective vision occurs because the CDC has given up trying to figure out how many non-fatal gun injuries occur every year.

              The only difference, let me repeat that with emphasis, okay? The only difference between a fatal and non-fatal gun wound is that in the latter case, the shooter didn’t shoot straight. There is no other difference whatsoever in terms of who does the shooting, why they do the shooting, how and why they got their hands on a gun in the first place, or anything else related to this event.

              If the public health and medical researchers who claim to be studying guns – oops! – I mean firearm violence want to continue indulging the CDC in its annual publication of data which is so incomplete that it shouldn’t be published at all, the least these researchers could do is maybe just stick a little footnote at the end of their text advising the reader about this massive data gap.

              Anyway, getting back to the gun issue. This article draws heavily from a series of meetings by a panel of ‘experts’ convened by the NORC organization in Chicago with the idea of creating a ‘nonpartisan firearms database’ which will enable researchers “to consider the lack of basic firearms data and how to overcome this severe factual deficit so that all sides in the debate can find common ground.”

          First of all, the phrase ‘common ground’ is code used by public health gun researchers to pretend that no matter what they decide needs to be done, that all those crazy gun owners out there won’t feel their so-called 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ are being taken away. Like there’s a single gun owner in the United States who could be talked into believing that a panel which includes faculty from a public health program funded by Mike Bloomberg can be trusted to worry about whether they can keep their guns. Yea, right.

              But what is even more relevant to my concern about the work of this expert panel is the fact that in no less than five detailed reports, again there is not one, single mention of figuring out what to do about gun violence based on the types of guns which are used to commit that type of violence.

              Several years ago, The Trace gun magazine published a database consisting of some 9,000 guns picked up by various police agencies in 2014. The data gave the gun’s manufacturer, its caliber and the violation, crime, or reason that the gun was now in police custody. As far as I know, I am the only person who took the trouble to analyze this data and produce an article which can be downloaded here: Understanding Guns and Gun Violence by Michael Weisser :: SSRN.

              What I learned from this data, among other things, was the following:

  1. A large majority of the guns were types which never appear in reports about intentional gun injuries, i.e., hunting rifles, rear-loading shotguns, antique handguns.
  2. A substantial number of these 9,000 guns were at least 30 years old, which means that even if we were to impose a ban on sale of the types of guns which are used in gun assaults, we would still need to find a way to collect all the killer guns that are out there.

If the experts who conduct gun research would actually learn something about the guns which create the problem they are studying, perhaps they might begin to develop valid and effective strategies to respond to what the late Katherine Christoffel calls the ‘endemic’ problem of gun violence, or firearm violence, or whatever they want to call it.

As long as the researchers who are attempting to find a solution to gun violence continue to avoid discussing or understanding how and why certain individuals gain access to certain types of guns which are designed solely for the purpose of killing human beings, we will continue to get articles which earn a publishing credit for the authors but otherwise tell us what we already know and have known for many years.

Does Public Health Explain Gun Violence?

1 Comment

              I have often told my friends who do public health research on gun violence that they are engaged in a sacred task. The reason I say this is because violence is first mentioned in Chapter 4, Verse 8 of the Old Testament: “and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (King James.)

              Over the centuries since the first human history was written, we have learned how to deal with every other type of threat to the human community: disease, lack of food, weather. We may not have the political will to respond to every threat, but with the exception of violence, we know what to do.

              Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to violence, and I believe that our failure to understand and respond to this problem has become worse ever since a consensus has developed which defines violence, particularly gun violence, as a problem that can and should be addressed by public health. 

              Public health researchers like David Hemenway at Harvard have been researching this issue for the past thirty years or so, but until very recently, public health gun research was stymied by a provision in the CDC budget which prohibited funding this particular public health problem.

              Now that the CDC funding spigot has been turned back on for research on gun violence, everyone’s expecting that some new answers to this age-old problem will emerge, a belief which first became mainstream when the idea of public health once again taking the lead in gun violence research was promoted by Nick Kristof and The New York Times back in 2015.

              I told Nick back then that I didn’t agree with his call for public health taking the lead in doing gun violence research, and what I told him then is what I’m going to discuss today.

              As I understand it, public health endeavors to figure out how to define and then protect the community from threats to public health, i.e., threats which affect a wide swath of population defined either by gender, or race, or behavior, or some other characteristic shared throughout the population.

              Obviously, something like violence, which creates 100,000+ deaths and injuries in the United States every year when the violence is committed with the use a gun, should be considered a public health threat. But using a public health research approach to understanding this problem is insufficient because it isn’t possible to create a valid epidemiological analysis of gun violence.

How do you explain why only certain individuals commit gun violence when if they commit the violence against themselves, they are overwhelmingly dead and if they commit the violence against someone else they either aren’t caught or if they are arrested, they are incarcerated and can’t talk?

Back in 1992-93, two medical researchers, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara, published studies which found a causal link between homicide and suicide to guns in the home. But what their studies could not determine was the fact that even if homicide and suicide rates were higher in homes with guns, how come most homes occupied by gun owners didn’t experience any kind of gun violence at all?

What we get from public health gun research instead of epidemiology is a typical ‘profile’ of individuals who commit gun violence against themselves (depression, addiction, etc.) or against someone else (violent upbringing, addiction, etc.) But again, these studies don’t explain why most gun owners who exhibit such backgrounds or family histories do not use guns to shoot themselves or shoot someone else.

So, the result of this scattershot analysis of gun violence is the promotion by public health of various legal sanctions (background checks, safe storage, extreme risk protections) which may or may not have any impact on gun violence as long as we’re talking about gun violence that otherwise might be committed by gun owners who, generally speaking, obey the law.

Guess what? We have known since Marvin Wolfgang began publishing his studies on violence and crime in the 1960’s that most of the individuals who wind up committing violent crimes by the time they reach their 20’s, first started engaging in anti-social and delinquent behavior when they were twelve years old. And thanks to research by Al Lizotte, boys start getting interested in guns at the same age.

When and if my friends in public health gun research figure out a way to use their great skills and aptitudes to create an epidemiological approach to the study of gun violence, perhaps we will begin to develop a response to this problem which is often referred to as an epidemic in American society, but has certainly become what Kathy Christoffel calls endemic to our way of life.

What Does ‘Stand Your Ground’ Really Mean?


              Several years ago, I spent some time with Eric Adams, who then was Borough President of Brooklyn at the time. While Eric was a cop in New York City, he finished college, did law school, and then went into politics, ending up as Mayor of New York. I asked Eric how; policing had changed from what it was like when he first went on the job, and he immediately said, “Today, nobody backs down!”

              I began thinking about Eric’s comment because the whole issue of backing down or not backing down has become a very big deal in the gun debate, namely, what we think and say about Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world which gives statutory protection to someone who refuses to first back off when faced with a threat. These SYG laws are an outgrowth of laws known as ‘Castle Doctrine’ which allow individuals to protect themselves with deadly force if the threat occurs inside their home, but SYG also can be used as a defense against violence which occurs in the street.

              The first SYG law was passed by Florida in 2005, and SYG laws now exist in 27 other states. The NRA did heavy lobbying in the Gunshine State before and during the law’s initial passage, and Gun-nut Nation continues to promote SYG because the law also lends itself to be a legal defense for carrying and using a gun.

              Probably the clearest definition of what SYG means and how it is used can be found in a statement by the National Conference of State Legislatures and can be accessed here. The statement notes that Florida took the concept of ‘Castle Doctrine’ and expanded it to cover armed response to a threat by anyone who was in a lawful location, whether this location was inside their home or not. The same groups which have promoted SYG laws have also promoted the elimination of gun-free zones.

              In its exhaustive study of gun research, RAND found that SYG laws may increase violent crime, but do not appear to have any positive or negative affect on defensive gun use, which is what Gun-nut Nation has been touting as the positive impact of SYG. The RAND group also could not find any connection between SYG laws and mass shootings or gun suicides.

              In a very detailed study (Stand Your Ground, A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense), Caroline Light argues that this legal sanction for armed, self-defense reflected a society which was first organized and controlled by white, property-owning males who held a monopoly on using lethal violence and is still very much the way our legal system addresses this issue today.

              To deny that today’s cultural ‘war’ and the woke debates are contemporary manifestations of socio-cultural attitudes reflecting challenges to this long-standing tradition of armed supremacy by white males would be to deny reality and ignore what is happening today. Because of nothing else, the MAGA attitudes that were shouted all over the place during the January 6th riot are manifestations of the idea that when attacked, you can and should stay in place.

              All that being said and accepted, I have decided to write a book on SYG, which will approach the issue from a very different perspective which needs to be acknowledged and understood.

              I believe that legal doctrines to the contrary, SYG behavior has its origins not in the supremacy of armed, white males, but rather as a way that blacks responded first to slavery and then post-slavery racism in the United States.

              The slave system, particularly in the lower South where slavery was the laboring mechanism which engendered the plantation economy, rested on the application of corporal punishment as the chief incentive for getting the work done, particularly because plantation products (tobacco, cotton) had brief periods when the crops had to be harvested and brought in.

              The numerous testimonies of slave life collected by the WPA and housed at the Library of Congress, contain endless references to how slaves would find ways to avoid suffering physical assaults by overseers in the fields, as well as how newly-freed, former slaves figured out how to resist the physical threats and actions of the Klan.

              In both situations, standing in place was often the way that blacks chose to protect themselves from threats and assaults by whites, a tradition which then became emblematic of the basic strategy developed by the civil rights movement and promoted by D. Martin Luther King.

              After all, when Rosa Parks wouldn’t go to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL in 1955, wasn’t she standing her ground, even if she was sitting down?

              If the United States is the only country whose legal system embodies a Stand Your Ground defense, at least we should appreciate how and why this tradition came to be. Because even if SYG has become a short-hand method for justifying the alt-right drift of the GOP, its origins happen to embody some of the most important and noble behavior of the black race, behavior which deserves its rightful place in the history of the United States.

              And as Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter once observed, ‘history also has its place.’

How Many Americans Own Guns?


              I have just finished reading (for the second time) what has to be one of the most bizarre and misguided examples of research into gun violence that I have ever read. This article, which comes out of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University, is an attempt to figure out how many Americans own guns, which has usually been set at somewhere around 30% of all households, but these researchers believe that the gun-owning households may be as high as 60%.

              How does one explain such a discrepancy? It is presumed that gun owners tend to be somewhat sensitive (read: paranoid) to any outside efforts to figure out whether they have guns because such efforts are viewed as a preliminary step towards the confiscation of guns.

              Now in fact, there has never been any jurisdiction in the United States which completely banned gun ownership, although the Illinois town of Morton Grove tried to do it in 1981 but quietly rescinded the ban in 2008. Several other places have banned the purchase of assault rifles, but only another Illinois town, Highland Grove, has passed a law compelling AR-15 owners to either sell their guns or move out of town.

              In other words, the two sides of the gun debate may argue endlessly about the details of gun ownership, like safe storage, permit-to-purchase, concealed-carry and other restrictions, but since 2008, the 2nd Amendment has given Constitutional protection to private gun ownership whether anyone likes it or not.

              On the other hand, it is assumed (without the slightest bit of real evidence, by the way) that the more guns owned by Americans, the more Americans will get killed or injured with guns. This argument was first made by our friend David Hemenway, who has published multiple articles which find a connection between America’s high rate of violent crime and the size of America’s civilian arsenal, with the former rate seven to twenty times higher than what occurs in any other advanced country, and it goes without saying that America’s per capita ownership of guns is also far beyond per capita ownership rates anywhere else.

              If we take the research published by David and supplement it with the work just published by the Rutgers group, the gun violence situation in the United States looks pretty glum. Not only are more guns being added to the civilian arsenal each year, but the absolute number of armed Americans is also getting larger. As Grandpa would say, ‘nisht gut’ (read: no good.)

              Given what I have just said, why do I refer to the research out of Rutgers as being misguided? For that matter, I could apply the same descriptive to Hemenway’s work and here’s the reason why.

              In 2021, the CDC says we had 47,823 intentional deaths from gunshots – 26,328 from suicide, 20,958 from homicide. The CDC has given up entirely trying to figure out how many non-fatal shootings occur each year, but the FBI says there were 146,886 non-fatal gun assaults in 2021.

              So, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the total number of fatal and non-fatal shootings where someone used a gun to try and kill someone else was somewhere around 166,000 in 2021.

              Now, if we put together the research by Hemenway and the Rutgers group, we may be looking at a national gun-violence rate of somewhere around 50, which would put the U.S. in the stratosphere when compared to other advanced nation-states.

              Except there’s only one little problem with the research cited above. Neither Hemenway nor the Rutgers group nor anyone else has ever attempted to figure out how many homicides and aggravated assaults are committed each year by individuals who do not have legal access to guns. And the idea that a guy who has a stolen gun that he bought on the streetcorner and now keeps it under the living room couch is going to admit ownership of this weapon to someone who calls up and says, “Hi, I’m from Rutgers and I want to know if you own guns,” is totally and completely bizarre.

              By the way, neither Hemenway nor the Rutgers researchers have taken the trouble to break out the different types of guns owned by all those gun-nut Americans, as if every type of gun represents the same degree of risk from gun violence. Several years ago I published an analysis of 9,000 guns picked up for homicide, suicide, theft and other violations in various jurisdictions throughout the United States.

              I stuck the entire list in Excel, and then did a word search using the names of the five most popular gun makers who market hunting guns: Remington, Mossberg, Browning, Winchester and Marlin. Together these companies alone have probably added at least 80 to 100 million guns to the civilian arsenal over the years. These names popped up less than 3% of all the entries, and the violations attached to them involved non-violent crimes, such as failing to renew a gun license or hunting without a hunting license.

              Here’s the bottom line, okay? Conducting a survey to help figure out how gun violence occurs without once mentioning the issue of crime, crime guns and criminals and asking gun owners to describe their guns is like publishing research on the transmission of the AIDS virus without asking about condoms or other safe-sex aids.

Too Much Gun Violence? Let’s Hold a Meeting!


              Yesterday, the Mayor of Springfield, MA, where I live, called a meeting of the city’s Violence Task Force to figure out what to do about gun violence which this past weekend claimed this year’s 22nd victim. If not a single additional Springfield resident is gunned down by the end of the year, which is not a possibility, the city will wind up with a 2023-gun violence rate three times the national rate and equal to the murder rates in Nigeria and El Salvador.

              Great, just great.  I now live in the 3rd World.

              The Task Force, incidentally, has the same usual suspects which are always members of the Task Force: the Mayor, the Police Chief, the usual mélange of community, civic and religious so-called leaders, blah, blah, blah, and blah.

              Maybe they should also invite some one from the gun violence research group at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health. These folks, along with public health researchers at Johns Hopkins and other academic sites, have a whole list of laws which they believe will reduce gun violence if and when these laws are implemented in all the states.

              The gun researchers know for a fact that what should be the legal infrastructure to surround the private ownership of guns are red flag laws, a.k.a., ERPO laws, safe-storage laws, universal background checks, mandatory safety training and discretionary issuance of gun licenses.

              Guess what? Massachusetts has all those laws on the books already. Massachusetts is also the only state other than California which requires that no gun can be sold by a dealer unless its design includes certain safety features and, it goes without saying, that Massachusetts is also a low-capacity state.

              Several years ago, the head of Harvard’s gun group, David Hemenway, gave an interview in which he said that all these laws make him feel a lot ‘safer’ living in the Bay State. And in fact, Massachusetts ranks at or near the bottom of gun violence for all the 50 states.

              And exactly what does all this safety mean for the residents of Springfield? Not one, goddamn thing.

              But of course, Professor Hemenway and his colleagues don’t live in Springfield. They live in lovely, suburban towns like Brookline, where all the nice people live.

              There’s a nice, safe, suburban town adjacent to Springfield too. It’s called Longmeadow and it has the 4th or 5th highest average family income of any town in the entire state. Longmeadow hasn’t had a shooting incident of any kind for as long as anyone can remember. Walk north a half mile from the middle of Longmeadow and you’re in Springfield’s South End.

              Actually, things have been rather quiet around the South End this year. There’s only been two murders and a handful of assaults. Gunshots go off all the time but when the cops show up, nobody’s seen nor heard nuttin.’

              Of course, if the issue of crime guns comes up during the Task Force meeting, no doubt the researcher from Harvard will inform the group that it’s very difficult to control gun violence in a state with strong gun regulations when other states have fewer laws and therefore become sources of illegal guns used to commit crimes in the Bay State.

              My friends in public health have been hocking about this one for years and fudge every single judgement about the efficacy of gun-control laws because after all, it’s very easy and commonplace for a crime gun to move from state to state.

              Meanwhile, if anyone were to take the trouble and look at the locations from which gun crimes in Massachusetts were first sold, they would discover in an ATF report that of the 3,687 crime guns in MA that the ATF traced between 2017 and 2021, 3,068 of them, that’s 90%, were first sold to residents of the Bay State.

              So, here’s what we have. The state with the lowest frate of gun violence of all 50 states also happens to have the strongest and most comprehensive gun-control laws of all 50 states.

              Which is about as much of a way to guide the discussions of the Springfield Gun Violence Task Force as a hole in the head.

Are Some Guns Too Dangerous to Be Sold?


              What makes a gun nut a gun nut? He (and occasionally she) likes to play with his toys. Which are what guns are to gun nuts – toys.

              Forget all this crap about how people own guns for self-defense. Forget this nonsense about guns being an essential protection against the ‘tyranny’ of the state. That’s nothing but the gun industry trying to sell guns, okay?

              I started playing with toy guns when I was six or seven years old. My first gun was a plastic, silver Roy Rogers revolver, complete with holster and cowboy hat. I could outdraw and outshoot anyone with that gun.

              If I had been born after, instead of before the end of World War II, I could have graduated from toy guns to gun video games when I was twelve or thirteen. Either way, I started buying real guns when I was 21 or 22 and I haven’t stopped buying guns since.

              Right now, my personal collection is a little light. I live in a very small house and ‘the wife’ doesn’t want the ‘damn things’ around (that’s how the wife refers to guns) so I only have 20 or so guns stashed in a closet, under the couch pillows or in the trunk of the car.

              Several years ago, the so-called gun experts at Harvard’s School of Public Health published a study which claimed that 3% of American adults owned half the privately-owned guns, with these ‘super owners’ having, on average, some 17 guns lying around.

              This study provoked hysteria among all the gun-grabbing groups, even though there was absolutely no connection between how many guns were individually owned and whether any of these super gun nuts had ever committed any kind of illegal or improper behavior with any of their guns.

              The reason that gun nuts are gun nuts is because you can do all kinds of fun things with your guns – change the grips, add an accessory to the stock, stick a light or a laser onto the gun, or take the gun down and change an internal part.

              The one thing you don’t want to do is actually go out and shoot the gun because that usually requires a shlep to the range, standing around waiting for empty slot, making sure the gun is unloaded until you’re ready to fire, all of this and all of that. Better to sit on the couch at home, watch a movie like ‘Burn After Reading’ or ‘Fargo’ for the umpteenth time, and play with the guns.

              The latest attempt to keep gun nuts from playing with their guns is a case being heard in a Brooklyn courtroom (thank you Paula) where an outfit called Rare Breed Triggers is fighting a decision by a couple of ATF bureaucrats who claim that the part they are selling, called a ‘forced reset trigger,’ turns a semi-auto assault rifle into a full-auto gun.

              The company says its trigger may make the gun shoot quicker, but the shooting requires a separate trigger pull every time the gun is shot off. The bureaucrats are paid to say ‘no,’ which is what they are saying to the judge.

              In fact, technically speaking, an AR-15 with this doohickey inside is still a semi-auto gun, but the ATF is claiming that the rate of fire is still too dangerous and therefore the company is selling a product which needs to be regulated and controlled like a full-auto gun.

              I don’t really care how this case works itself out, but I do believe that the case may possibly move the philosophy which defines how we regulate guns in the direction which Gun-control Nation would like it to go.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world which regulates the private ownership of guns based on defining the proper behavior of individuals who want to own guns. In every other country which regulates the commercial gun market, the primary criteria for determining the degree of regulation is based on the dangerousness of the gun.

              If the gun is considered too dangerous for sale to the general public, the gun is not allowed to be sold. Incidentally, this was the criteria which was used to make Remington fork over $73 million to the parents of kids killed at Sandy Hook. This lawsuit, however, was brought using a state law, because under federal law, the case would have been thrown out.

              On the other hand, allowing the feds to come into court and argue that a particular type of gun is too dangerous to be sold could perhaps set a precedent that would ultimately stand American gun-control on its head.

              Would it be so terrible to talk about guns in terms of how they should be used even if they are being held in law-abiding, responsible hands?

Just What the Neighborhood Needs: A New Gun-Control Organization.


              I have been a member of the National Rifle Association since 1955 when I started shooting every week with a kids’ rifle team sponsored by the NRA. Incidentally, just to give you a little perspective, the team met each week in the rifle range of my brother’s junior high school, McFarland Junior High, which was located in the Petworth neighborhood of – ready? – Washington, D.C.

              Back in those days, the NRA spent little time or money advocating 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ because nobody was challenging the 2nd Amendment or even thinking about what the words actually meant.

              It wasn’t until after Kennedy was shot and a bill was introduced in Congress to create a big government regulatory infrastructure that the gun ‘issue’ reared its ugly head, and the eventual result was the passage of GCA68 which created an end-to-end gun-control system administered by the ATF.

              There wouldn’t have been a need for GCA68, nor would there have been what has since then become an endless and continuous gun debate, had the first federal gun-control law promulgated in 1934 contained one important provision requested by then Attorney General Homer Cummings, which was to define handguns as being as dangerous as fully automatic weapons and placing such guns on a restricted, heavily controlled list.

              A rigorous licensing process for owning handguns was actually implemented by every other country which has enacted gun-control laws, which is why no other advanced country has the degree of gun violence which has become endemic to the United States over the past fifty years.

              What has also become endemic to American society alongside an endless cycle of gun violence is the existence and activity of national, gun-control advocacy organizations which compete for attention both in federal and state governments with the NRA.

              The most active group, Everytown, started up in 2013, and got a big boost when it combined forces with another group, Moms Demand Action, founded by a great lady, Shannon Watts, shortly after the horrific slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School at the end of 2012.

              The Brady Campaign started up in 1989, using the mail list of another gun-control organizations, Handgun Control, Inc., which had been more or less moribund from when it was founded in 1980. There’s also the group started and run by Gabby Giffords, which basically piggybacks on other organizations in lobbying the feds and the states for more gun-control laws.

              Now we have a new group, Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms, which appears to be an amalgam of various academic research efforts funded by the usual, philanthropic gun-control suspects like the Joyce and Arnold Foundations along with input from the government via CDC and NIJ

              This group held what they refer to as an ‘historic’ conference last year and are planning another conference in November of this year. The 2022 conference evidently generated 600 registration requests (although I can’t find an actual attendance number) and the conference showcased at least 100 different presentations developed by academic specialists from colleges and universities in every region, if not just about every state in the United States. 

              I am very impressed by the breadth and depth of the program, and if this conference reflects how the gun violence research field has grown in the brief of time since the government once again renewed financial support for such efforts, there is no question that gun violence has now taken its deserved space as an issue of significance in terms of academic research.

              Unfortunately, what this conference and the formation of this new gun-control organization also reflects is the degree to which the study of gun violence and the actual commission of gun violence exist in totally disconnected and completely unrelated spheres.

In 2001, the national gun homicide rate (per 100,000 American population) was 3.93.  In 2021, the last year for which we have CDC injury data, the rate was 6.62 – almost double the 2001 rate. One might suppose that the 2021 number needs to be seen in a different context because that was the first, big Covid-19 year.

So, let’s go back to 2019, which was when the virus had not yet invaded the United States. That year, the gun-violence rate was 4.57, only an increase of slightly less than 20% above the 2001 rate. From 2001 through 2021, there were only 4 years where the gun homicide rate was less than what occurred in 2001.

And by the way, it should be noted that the CDC has given up even trying to figure out the rate for non-fatal, violent gun injuries, but the only difference between fatal and non-fatal shootings is that in the latter category, the shooter didn’t shoot straight. How anyone can use the current CDC data on shootings to discuss gun violence is beyond me.

Now let’s look at some other data, namely, what Americans think and believe about guns. Back in the 1960’s, a majority of Americans (60% as polled by Gallup) believed that privately-owned handguns should be banned. The last time this poll was conducted in 2020, the pro-ban percentage was down to 25%, the lowest it has ever been.

So, here we have an academic meeting bringing together gun researchers from throughout the United States who spend several days talking about the risks and dangers of guns. Meanwhile, not one presentation discussed the fact that what these experts are saying to one another is totally and completely rejected by American society at large.

The truth is that the community of gun-violence researchers in this country exists to talk to themselves. Which wouldn’t be such a problem if we didn’t have gun violence numbers placing us up there with such ‘advanced’ countries as Paraguay, Guyana and the Dominican Republic.

Any chance that the upcoming conference will spend a bit of time trying to figure out how to get the results of their research into the heads of an American public which doesn’t see any risk from the ownership of guns?