Here’s a Gun Buyback That Works!


              Our good friend Michael Hirsh is a pediatric trauma surgeon at Memorial Hospital which aserves as the Massachusetts state medical school.  The hospital is located in Worcester, where Mike also happens to be the city’s chief medical officer.

              Mike also happens to be the one physician in the entire United States who is actually doing something tangible to reduce gun violence.  I mean doing, not talking. Doctors have been talking about reducing gun violence since Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published two articles in 1992-93 which found that access to guns created medical risk.

              Mike has been running voluntary gun buybacks in Worcester and surrounding communities for 22 years, having done a buyback several years earlier in Allegheny County prior to joining the U/Mass Chan Medical School staff. Mike’s awareness about gun violence started when he was a resident at Columbia University’s teaching hospital and one of his close friends, another resident named John Wood, was gunned down when he left the hospital and walked across the street to buy some snacks to take home to his pregnant wife.

              So, here’s Mike sitting in the ER at Columbia, gets the call to run down to the trauma section because a shooting victim is being brought in, and his best friend is lying on the gurney as it’s pushed by. Got a better gun violence story?

              I have been pestering Mike to write some kind of clinical analysis of the buyback program and he’s finally done it – in spades!  I am referring to a brief article published in The American Journal of Medicine which you can download right here.

              This article should be required reading by anyone and everyone involved in efforts to reduce gun violence because it reflects what has been not just a theory for what needs to be done, but also what Mike Hirsh and his colleagues have been practicing for the past two decades.

              First and most important, the Worcester gun buyback is an annual event, which enlists the energies and commitments of law enforcement, public health, government agencies and community groups. Representatives of these four constituencies have an opportunity to communicate with each other, share ideas and experiences and strengthen what has become a community-wide effort to deal with guns.

              Second, and just as important, faculty, residents and students from the medical school are stationed at buyback locations and get an opportunity to talk to community residents about gun violence and, more important, about the risk represented by guns. The medical staff both teach buyback participants about guns and gun violence but also get an opportunity to learn from the folks who bring one gun or multiple guns to hand in.

              Finally, through much practical experience in talking to gun owners, Mike Hirsh has developed a questionnaire which can be used in clinical settings both to engage in a discussion about gun violence, and also to make clinicians feel more comfortable in talking to patients about guns.

              Note that the questions which might be asked do not only include the usual issues like whether guns are safely stored and whether there are children and other vulnerable individuals living in the home, but there is also a question about what kinds of guns are in the home.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world which allows residents to own and have access to guns which are designed for the sole purpose of being used to commit a violent act.  The World Health Organization defines violence as a conscious attempt to hurt yourself or someone else, and the WHO makes no distinction between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ violence. Using a handgun made by Glock, Sig, Ruger, Smith & Wesson et. al., is to commit violence, and it doesn’t matter how or why that handgun is being used.

              If the issue of gun violence was defined from the perspective of risk and how much risk is created depending on the design of the gun, this country wouldn’t suffer 125,000+ fatal and serious, non-fatal gun injuries every year.

              This approach is embodied in the work being done by Mike Hirsh and his colleagues who conduct a yearly gun buyback, and it’s an approach which the movement to reduce gun violence needs to better understand.

Will The New ATF Regulation Reduce Gun Violence?

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              Now that the gun-control community has been blessed by Joe Biden, which means he expects every, single member of that community to  vote for him next year, I’m going to take it upon myself to pay close attention to what Gun-control Nation says about gun violence which continues unabated even though the last explanation for the 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur every year – Covid-19 – seems to be fading away.

              So, today I received the email from Everytown asking me for some dough (which I give them every year, btw) and I notice that the ATF has evidently proposed a new standard for defining when someone who sells a gun is actually behaving like a gun dealer and therefore needs to possess a federal gun license and run a background check every time he or she wants to sell a gun.

              It used to be that someone had to register as a gun dealer depending on the number of guns sold over a given period of time – usually one year. As proposed by the ATF, the new rule would scrap any definition based on the number of gun sales and simply define a gun dealer as anyone who makes a profit by selling a gun. It doesn’t matter where you sell the gun – your house, a flea market, a gun show, the Walmart parking lot.  If you sell a gun with the intent to making a profit, you are a gun dealer and need to acquire and use a federally issued gun dealer license, a.k.a., an FFL.

          I have actually taken the trouble to read every, single word of the 108-page ATF filing which describes the new rule. I happen to know something about being a gun dealer because I have operated licensed, retail gun shops in three states (SC, NY, MA) and over some forty years have probably sold more than 10,000 guns to 7,500 retail customers and have also exhibited and sold guns at many local, regional, and national gun shows.

              Now don’t get me wrong when I say what I’m next going to say, because I happen to support any and all reasonable and workable efforts to reduce gun violence and I also send annual contributions to all the major gun-control groups. Be that as it may, if you believe these changes in gun regulations proposed by the ATF will do anything other than increase the revenue which the ATF receives for issuing dealer licenses, then you don’t know anything about the gun business and you have little or no contact with any law-abiding individual who owns guns.

              And before I explain what I mean by what I just said, please do me a favor and to quote Grandpa, don’t ‘hock mir en chinik’ (read: argue with me) about the 2nd Amendment, because there’s absolutely nothing in this ATF proposal which has anything to do with gun ‘rights,’ okay?

              On the other hand, there’s also nothing in this new regulation that will do anything to reduce the endemic gun violence condition which claims more than 100,000 fatally and non-fatally injured Americans every year.

As long as the United States continues to be the only country which allows residents to own guns which are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life, I’m talking about the semi-automatic, bottom loading pistols made by Glock, Sig, Ruger, Smith, etc., enough of them will get stolen every year to keep a plentiful supply in the wrong hands.

              The FBI estimates that somewhere around 200,000 guns are stolen every year, and there is no federal law or regulation which requires any individual or police agency to report stolen guns to the ATF.  Some do and some don’t. But the bottom line is that these are the guns which are being used to commit gun violence, not the crummy old shotgun I sold at the local gun show for fifty bucks.

Go to a local gun show and you’ll see a bunch of people walking around who also walk around at the model train show or the computer show or any other place where they can get together with other folks who enjoy the same hobby which they enjoy and shoot the shit, have a donut and coffee, and maybe spend a few bucks.

If Everytown, Brady and other advocacy groups want to support a new gun-control regulation that will really make a difference, why don’t they start thinking and talking about a regulation to restrict the ownership of certain kinds of ‘killer’ guns rather than a regulation which imposes more useless paperwork on people who just like to buy, own, and play around with guns?

Should Doctors Talk to Patients About Guns?


Dear Readers:

              Let me warn you that today’s column is longer than my usual 600-700 words. So, I hope you will set aside a bit of time to read the entire thing and spend a moment reflecting on what it says.

              Before I get into the specifics, I want to say that on at least two occasions, I had the great fortune to be able to talk candidly and completely with skilled and responsive physicians about disquieting medical symptoms which were affecting me and one of my kids. I couldn’t have gotten this kind of advice and foreknowledge from anyone else, and I will never (read: never) join with any of those shitheads, including a former President, who rant and rave about the ‘fraud’ of modern medicine or how immunizations should all be banned.

              However, I also believe that if doctors are going to deliver remedies to medical risks, then they need to understand what those risks really involve, and in the case of gun risk, doctors don’t know enough about guns to promote themselves as the professionals whose beliefs and treatments should be accepted in that regard.

              I refer to an article which just appeared in a medical journal, “Firearm Screening and Counseling in General Medicine Primary Care Clinics at an Academic Medical Center” and can be downloaded here.  The article’s authors asked 109 medical providers in 10 Michigan clinic sites to answer questions about counseling patients on gun risk and found “a generalized resistance from patients and providers alike to discuss firearm safety,” which is similar to other, similar studies on gun counseling conducted over the past years.

              For guidance in creating this survey, these researchers cite an article published by one of the gurus of gun violence prevention, Garen Wintemute, along with several other alleged gun  violence experts, an article which has become the non plus ultra resource for helping doctors learn how to talk about guns, and you can download that article here.

              How do Wintemute and his colleagues advise physicians to counsel patients about guns? First, they present an ‘epidemiology’ of gun risk, which is totally based on the demographics of people who are shot with guns. Now I’m not an M.D., I’m only a lowly Ph.D., but I always thought that epidemiology is a method which is used to help determine how a threat to health moves from one victim to another, which when it comes to gun violence, you won’t get even the slightest hint if your data only covers information about the people who get shot.

              The WHO defines violence as any conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else. But when it comes to gun violence, less than 20% of all shootings involve the victim also being the person who shoots the gun. So, if you do research on gun violence and only look at the demographic profile of people who get shot with guns, you happen to be missing at least 80% of all gun violence events.

              The Wintemute group then goes on to tell us about why people own guns, the idea being that if you are going to counsel gun owners about gun risk, you need to deal with their interests, concerns and fears which made them go out and buy a gun. And what data is used to figure this problem out? The same data which has been used in virtually every research done on guns over the past twenty years that shows a majority of gun owners buy a gun in order to protect themselves.

              The next sentence is the single, most important sentence in this entire column, so please read it slowly, perhaps read it several times and spend a few moments thinking about what the sentence says, okay?

              There has never been one, single study produced by public health, physicians or medical caregivers about guns which asks gun owners to describe the type of gun which they own. Not one. Not one, single study.

              And unless you know what kind of gun(s) you are talking about, getting into a discussion with a patient about gun risk is a total and complete waste of time. Because even though all guns represent some degree of health risk once they are loaded with ammunition that really works, the difference in lethality of different kinds of guns can be extreme.

              You don’t buy a Glock 17 with a hi-cap magazine which holds 16 rounds of tactical ammunition (the word ‘tactical’ is a polite way of saying that someone might get killed) to knock a birdie out of the tree. You also don’t buy a 22-caliber, bolt action, single-shot rifle to walk around the neighborhood carrying a gun.

              Gun owners are very sensitive to this issue and love to walk into a gun shop and talk on and on with anyone else in the shop about the design and use of different kinds of guns. I know this because I have sold guns to somewhere around ten-thousand-gun owners in the gun shops I have operated in three states.

              Physicians admit in survey after survey that their reluctance to counsel patients on gun violence often stems from their lack of knowledge about different types of guns. Does Wintemute’s article or the study out of Michigan even raise this point or God forbid advise doctors to spend some time learning about the different types of guns? Of course not.

              There must be a couple of hundred books on gun design listed on Amazon. There are also YouTube videos, including this very informative, hour-long video by a clever, young man which could easily be converted into a one-credit CME online course, if one of the so-called medical gun experts would even mention anything about why doctors should learn at least a few specifics about the guns which create the risk about which they are so concerned.

              And what is the remedy for gun violence that these medical and public health experts promote clinicians to advance? Store those guns safely – that will do the trick. Now the fact that there has never been one, single study showing any change in gun violence rates after a control group of patients reports they are paying more attention to gun safety than before, big deal, right?

              Probably the most detailed study of how and why Americans own guns was published by the Harvard gun-research group in 2015. You can download that article right here. This piece goes into great detail about how many Americans own guns, what kinds of guns do they own, when was the last time they purchased a gun and when was the last time they sold or gave one of their guns to someone else.

              This article made all kinds of noise in the media because it identified a group of ‘super owners,’ representing just three percent of the adult population who together own half the country’s guns, for an average of 17 guns apiece.

              There was only one little problem with this article, a problem which basically renders the research totally meaningless for understanding or counseling on the risk of guns. Men and women who are legal gun owners by and large rarely commit violence of any kind with their guns. Maybe once in a great while some gun owner and his wife get into a brawl, and he decides to finally get the old lady out of his hair by popping her with a gun.

              But the reality of guns as representing a threat to health happens to be when someone who is unable to legally own a gun gets their hands on a gun. Who are these individuals and what kinds of questions do they need to be asked in order to determine whether they represent any degree of gun risk? You won’t find one, single word about this problem in any published research from the medical community which allegedly explains to clinicians how they should talk to patients about guns.

              Last point. I don’t see in any of the advisories about how health professionals should discuss gun risk any mention simply to get rid of the guns. Which, by the way, happens to be the one, guaranteed strategy that will reduce gun violence.

              Oh, I forgot.  My bad. Americans have a Constitutional ‘right’ to own guns. Know what? Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution also gives Americans the ‘right’ to buy and smoke cigarettes. It’s called the ‘commerce clause.’

              So how come physicians have no trouble telling their patients who smoke to get rid of the cigarettes?

Should physicians talk to their patients about guns? Maybe they should first take the trouble to learn something about what they want to say.

Does Either Side in the Gun Debate Know What They Are Talking About?

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              Back in 1992 and 1993, Fred Rivara and Art Kellerman published two articles which found a clear link between suicides and homicides when a gun was present in someone’s home. These two articles inaugurated a thirty-year argument about gun risk which is still going on.

              The respondents to Rivara and Kellerman were Gary Kleck in 1995 and John Lott in 1998, the former finding that several million Americans prevented serious crimes by dint of carrying a gun, the latter finding a link between the issuance of concealed-carry permits and a decline in violent crime.

              I refer to this debate as an argument about the social utility of guns. Do we need guns for self-protection, or should they only be used for hunting and sport? The United States happens to be the only country which regulates gun ownership but also allows law-abiding individuals to purchase and own guns for both purposes; in the other countries which have gun-control laws, owning a gun designed for self-defense is either a no-no or very tightly controlled.

              This issue of social utility happens to be the most important argument between the two sides when it comes to talking about guns. But there’s only one, little problem with how the debate plays out, namely, neither side is saying anything which is at all realistic when it comes to understanding how and why 120,000+ Americans are fatally or non-fatally injured each year with guns.

              We have all the data about who winds up being treated for a gun injury. We also have plenty of data on who gets arrested and charged for injuring someone else with a gun. But what we do not have, nor can I find a single bit of research on this issue from either side, is an attempt to figure out how many guns are out there in the hands of individuals who have no legal right to own or have access to a gun.

              The only research I have seen which skirts around this issue is an article published by Gary Kleck the year before he published his national survey of guns being used for self-protection, which is an article that seeks to tie the rate of gun violence to what he refers to as the ‘prevalence’ of guns. But this article makes no attempt to differentiate between legal versus illegal guns, which happens to be typical of the research by David Hemenway that ties our high rate of gun violence to the civilian ownership of some 300 million or more guns.

              Until and unless someone sits down and tries to figure out how many guns are owned by individuals who cannot under current law own a gun, then the whole debate about the social utility of guns means nothing at all. Someone who can pass a background check before buying a gun isn’t then going to turn around and stick up the local bank or the minimart.

If we know one thing about criminality, thanks to Marvin Wolfgang’s work published fifty years ago, we know that violent criminals show serious and continuous misbehavior in their early teens. Occasionally, domestic violence breaks out in a relationship which ends in serious injury or death, but that behavior rarely occurs in families which haven’t been engaged in some degree of physical brutality up to that point in time.

There has also never been a serious study on the number of gun crimes which occur with someone using a legally acquired gun versus an illegal gun. Given the lack of that information, how anyone thinks they can make any valid assumptions about whether gun-control laws make a difference to rates of gun violence (an assumption which is made in virtually every piece of research conducted by the gun-control crowd) is beyond me. 

For that matter, for all the talk by the pro-gun crowd about how giving out concealed-carry licenses reduces violent crime, the fact that someone can legally carry a gun doesn’t mean that someone who is illegally carrying a gun will necessarily worry about whether the guy who just yanked some bills out of an ATM machine will defend himself with armed force instead of handing over the cash.

Both of these arguments are carried out by scholars and advocates who actually believe that regression analysis can explain causation, when in fact saying that an ‘association’ exists between two trends, which is what the gun researchers say all the time, is saying nothing at all.

When the country was being ravaged by Covid-19 and gun violence rates shot upward, everyone in the cottage industry known as ‘good guys with guns versus bad guys with guns’ knew for a fact that the Pandemic was causing a level of stress and street-level anxiety which caused more injuries and deaths from guns.

So now we are reporting a level of Covid-19 infections which just makes this virus another quasi-normal pathogen floating around, meanwhile gun violence appears to be at an all-time high.

So much for that evidence-based theory, right?

Did Hunter Biden Break the Law When He Bought a Gun?


              Frankly, I can’t blame the GOP for going after Hunter Biden with this cocked up story about how he went out and bought an illegal gun. After all, with an unemployment rate under 4% and our national security readiness being in the hands of a couple of F-35’s flying up and down the East Coast, what else do the Republic(ans) have to talk about particularly when Trump-o’s is now facing 91 felony charges with perhaps more to come?

              Now I’m not an attorney but I know a few things about laws covering the purchase of guns, because I was a licensed, federal firearms dealer for more than 40 years beginning in 1973 and during that period of time I probably sold at least 10,000 rifles, pistols, and shotguns in the gun shops I owned in three different states.

              And from what I have read about the indictment for illegal gun purchasing being ready to be brought against Hunter Biden in this case, if his lawyers can’t get him off the hook, then he’s hired lawyers who are even dumber than the bunch that have been pushing the election ‘fraud’ nonsense for Donald Trump.

              Here’s how the whole gun thing works, or at least is supposed to work.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world which regulates the private ownership of small arms based on the character, temperament, background, and legal history of every individual who wants to own a gun. In every other country which has created a regulatory infrastructure for private gun ownership, the primary consideration is based on the dangerousness of the gun.

              So, for example, we are the only country which allows private individuals to own full-auto machine guns, like the type that the guys who worked for Al Capone used to carry around. The licensing process is somewhat more detailed, and the license costs a few bucks more, but the bottom line is that anyone 21 years or older who can answer a bunch of questions that were developed by the ATF back in 1968, can walk into a gun shop and a few minutes later walk out with whatever type of gun he or she wants to own.

              The questions which the purchaser must answer are on Form 4473, and if you answer any of these questions except the first question positively, you won’t be allowed to purchase a gun. The first question asks if the person filling out the form is the same person who will win d up with the gun. Obviously, the proper answer to that question has to be ‘yes.’

              The fifth question reads like this: “Are you an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug or any other controlled substance?” If you answer that question with a ‘yes,’ the dealer can’t sell you a gun because under federal law, a drug addict is considered too dangerous to own a gun.

              Evidently, when Hunter Biden went into a gun shop in California in 2019 to buy a gun, he was ‘struggling’ with narcotics, whatever that means. He hadn’t been arrested for a crime related to his narcotics problem, he also wasn’t being investigated by the cops for selling drugs. So, he answered the question with a ‘no’ and after all his answers were verified by the FBI, he became the legal owner of a gun.

              At some point later on, a friend or a relative took the gun, threw it into a dumpster and that was the end of Hunter’s gun-owning career. And this sequence of events, as I have described it, is being considered as the basis of a federal indictment with a penalty of – ready? – ten years in jail?

              I have a sneaky feeling, and maybe I’m wrong, that Merrick Garland is letting this incredibly stupid case go forward for two reasons. Reason #1: He doesn’t need someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene demanding his impeachment because he’s covering up this serious crime. Reason #2: He knows that if the case does wind up in court, that no jury will convict Hunter of anything involving the purchase of a gun.

              Back in 2014, the Supreme Court heard a case in where a guy bought a gun which he then legally transferred to his uncle but said on the 4473 that he was buying the gun for himself. The Court decided that the initial buyer, a guy named Abramski, had violated the law because even though he made sure that his uncle was entitled to own the gun, he lied when he answered the initial 4473 question with a ‘yes.’

              So here we have an entire regulatory system designed to keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands,’ and yet the regulations are so screwed up that nobody really knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Each year, federal prosecutors receive roughly 500 referrals of instances when someone lied on a 4473 form. The DOJ says that roughly 300 cases are filed, but they don’t even bother to keep records on how many of those cases actually wind up in court.

              In other words, what we have here is bullshit from end to end, and if the GOP believes that the case against Hunter Biden can be used to replace the noise being made about when and for how long El Trump-o may go to jail, they better come up with another headline pretty quick.

When Will Gun Violence Research Get Serious About Their Field?


              I have just finished the remarkable book by Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which has been reissued in a 25th Anniversary edition. What Rhodes brilliantly describes is how scientists in various countries began developing a new branch of science – physics – in order to understand the behavior and structure of the atom, thus yielding a better insight into how our world and the universe functions around our world.

              Before World War I, these scientists lived and worked in Germany, France, the United States, and several other industrialized countries, but they kept track of advances in this new scientific field by coming together in public conferences where new research was discussed, criticized, and revised before any new consensus on an issue was accepted and then used to move the field forward as a whole.

              In that regard, I believe the scientific field known as gun violence research first got started with articles published by Philip Cook beginning in the late 1970’s and by Fred Rivara and Art Kellerman in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1992-93.

              Notwithstanding the absence of government funding for gun research from 1997 until 2019, the field has continued to grow, with research groups operating at numerous universities and private foundations throughout the United States. The academic collaborative website, ResearchGate, which is hardly an exhaustive listing, counts more than 50 articles and chapters on gun violence published this year.

              Yet with this newfound flurry of research into gun violence, one thing is still completely missing from the efforts of this scientific community to figure out what to do about a problem which kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year. As far as I know, and please correct me if I’m wrong, there is still no commitment on the part of this group to come together on a regular basis, present their research to others who are qualified in the same field, and to use the results of such discussions to invigorate and widen the knowledge within their own discipline and the scientific understanding of this issue.

              There are plenty of public meetings and events held each year which bring people together to think and talk about gun violence and what we should do to reduce the horrific human cost. But these meetings are not where the type of cross-fertilization and informed critiques occur that could create a more robust research field. In the main, they are events which advocacy organizations utilize to build more support for their cause.

              That’s fine for what it’s worth. But those meetings do not provide a suitable venue for public health, medical and other scientific disciplines to discuss critically and substantially the research which might ultimately provide us with the answers to solving gun violence which we still need.

              Back in 2020 and 2021, gun violence spiked at the same time the Pandemic was tearing through the land. I don’t have enough fingers on my two hands to enumerate all the statements that were made about how Covid-19 was creating a social environment which was conducive to more gun violence events.

              Sounded logical, right? A quick and easy answer was all very nice and well, but that’s all it was. Here we are in 2023, the Covid-19 virus is still around but is no longer considered a widespread threat, yet gun violence continues to occur on a level we have never seen before.

How did that happen? WTFK.

              I’m not pleased with writing about gun violence these days with having only the slightest understanding of what’s going on. But until and unless the gun violence researchers start coming together to exchange ideas, theories, and findings in an unrestrained, critical way, I’m going to keep reading and hearing the same old, same old about gun violence which has basically moved the field no further along than it was thirty years ago.

              And just to make it clear that I consider this issue to be as serious as the deaths and injuries caused by guns, I am willing to contribute $10,000 to any group of bone fide researchers who would be willing to organize and sustain such a commitment to their field on a regular basis. 

A New Book on Guns – By Me!

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              I am pleased to tell you that today I published my 17th book on guns, which is available on Amazon both in print and electronic editions right here. The book is brief, 80 pages, but it deals with what has become a very significant issue in the whole discussion about guns, which is the issue of Stand Your Ground (SYG.)

              Except my book is not an examination of this issue from a legal point of view. Nor is it an attempt to explain how or why SYG laws, passed first in Florida in 2005, have now spread to at least 35 states.  And it is also not a discussion about how the gun industry has promoted SYG as a way to sell more guns, in particular the types of handguns which Americans sooner or later will be able to carry from state to state.

              My book considers SYG to be a type of behavior which has always been a way in which the black community first tried to protect themselves from the worst depredations of slavery, then as physical challenges to their free status by the Klan, and then as the fundamental strategy to achieve full civil rights as developed by Martin Luther King.

              The basic point I attempt to share with my readers is the idea that SYG has always been a method by which people who are legally and socially considered to be inferior can redress that unequal status against others who believe themselves to be more superior.

And in the United States, even with all the recent legal activity which is attempting to bring everyone to an equal par with everyone else, the basic fault line on who is better and who is worse, is still a line defined primarily with reference to race.

The United States is the only country in the entire world which created and enforced a racially based slave system in which there were no manumission practices at all. The last slave ship arrived here from Africa in 1808, but when the WPA team went out 130 years later and interviewed more than two thousand former slaves in seventeen states (and I use some of these interviews as references in my book) they could not find one black man or woman who was born on the other side.

The fact that we ‘gave’ freedom to our black population has always been an important, and frankly adverse factor in how whites think and talk about blacks, because this also presumes that the ‘better’ members of our society finally realized that there were other members of our society who had it worse.

But the whole point about SYG behavior and culture is that black slaves who then became black Americans knew the difference between what they were given as opposed to what they really deserved.

I hope you read and enjoy my latest book.

One City Deals With Gun Violence.


              Earlier this week, the city of Springfield, MA recorded its 25th gun murder of the year. Given that there are still 4 more months in 2023, there’s a good chance that at least 30 fatal shootings will occur before we reach 2024.

              Springfield has 150,000 residents, which means that as of today, the city’s gun-homicide rate is 16.67, more or less the same rate as countries like El Salvador or South Sudan, places like that.

              Meanwhile, the state of Massachusetts not only has the lowest gun homicide rate of all 50 states, but it’s also rated as a very safe state because it has all of the laws which are considered necessary to protect the public against gun violence – universal background checks, ERPO, required safe storage, childproof gun design.

              The last time the Giffords Law Center rated the strength of state gun laws, which was 2022, Massachusetts ranked 6th strongest of all 50 states and had a statewide gun-death rate of 3.4.  So, Springfield’s gun-homicide rate is only 4 times higher than the overall state number – what’s so bad about that?

              To celebrate Springfield’s new record for annual shootings in a year which still has four months to go, the city convened a meeting of its gun violence ‘task force’ to review the situation and come up with some new ideas on what to do.

              The task force consists of the Mayor, the Chief of Police, the county prosecutor, several community ‘leaders,’ and of course a couple of representatives from the various ‘faiths,’ one who started the meeting off with a request to the Almighty that he bless everyone in attendance who would contribute something to this important task.

              The only person missing from the meeting was a family member of someone who had been killed in a gunfight and would deliver an emotional plea to the assemblage to ‘honor the memory’ of their beloved brother or father or mother or whichever member of their family was now lying on a gurney in the coroner’s office with a quarter-ounce piece of lead in their head.

              The meeting started right off with a report from the Police Chief which indicated that progress has been made in one area relevant to the task force’s work, namely, that the project to install shot-spotter monitors at all the city’s ‘hot spots’ is now complete. These devices will allow the cops to know the moment a gun goes off at any public space in the town, which is all fine and well except that three of the last four shootings occurred inside someone’s home.

              In fact, last month a resident of the Brightwood section of the city noticed that he hadn’t seen the old man who lived alone next door for a couple of days. So, he knocked on the neighbor’s door and when there was no answer he opened the door and let himself in. The neighbor, in fact, was in his house, lying in a dried pool of blood on the kitchen floor.

              How long had the old man been on his back in the kitchen with two bullet holes in his chest?  The coroner estimated maybe three, maybe four days.

              One of the liveliest discussions during the meeting involved a plan, not yet completed nor implemented, to promote the idea that giving the cops some idea about who committed the actual shooting isn’t such a bad thing. In Springfield, the guy who pops the other guy is usually identified as “I didn’t see nuttin,” even if the shooting took place in broad daylight in front of a bunch of folks who just happened to be standing around.

              Midway through the conclave, two uniformed officers joined the group who were identified as being from the State Police. They were part of a team which now patrols the sidewalks around the MGM casino in downtown Springfield, which opened three years ago and a week or so after the opening, someone was gunned down when two casino patrons got into an argument over a parking space.

              I happen to do a lot of my writing in an office adjacent to Union Street, which is the main thoroughfare through the city’s South End neighborhood where at least one fatal shooting occurs every month. If you walk six blocks from Union Street you come to where the city ends, and the suburb of Longmeadow begins.

              Longmeadow is the 3rd or 4th wealthiest zip code in the entire state. There hasn’t been a single incident of gun violence in Longmeadow, fatal or non-fatal, for as long as anyone can recall.

              So how come nobody at the task force meeting proposed the idea that Springfield could get rid of gun violence by simply turning itself into another Longmeadow? After all, we rebuilt whole cities in Europe after World War II.