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Once A Terrorist, Always A Terrorist.

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              So, March 4th has come and gone, and the guy who was supposed to be inaugurated yesterday for his second term is nothing more than a private citizen just like you and me. All warnings and fears to the contrary, none of the jerks who invaded the Capitol on January 6th reappeared on Thursday and meanwhile, the business of government went on undisturbed.

              That being the case, I think it’s time for us to stop throwing words around that we either misuse or don’t understand and start talking about the current political scene within the context of reality, instead of whatever narrative the media wants us to believe.

              Case in point: terrorism, or domestic terrorism, or whatever kind of terrorism the ‘fake news’ media wants us to think is such a great threat.

              Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, wasn’t a terrorist. Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City wasn’t a terrorist. Even George Metesky, the Mad Bomber who blew up Con Edison offices around New York City, wasn’t a terrorist.

              Unless you want to strip the word ‘terrorist’ of its original meaning and assign it to each and every event which involves some kind of violence, terrorism is a covertly planned, surprise attack which demonstrates that the government cannot protect its citizenry and therefore should be overthrown.

              The Anarchists were terrorists in the true sense of the word. The guys who committed the 1886 Haymarket bombing in Chicago were members of a secret, Anarchist group which attacked the police during a labor demonstration because they wanted the capitalist government to wither away and be replaced by a worker’s state.

              A terrorist event needs is planned and carried out in secret and connects in some way to a political movement whose end-game strategy is designed to replace the political state.

              What we experienced on January 6th and was supposed to happen again yesterday was an attempt to overthrow the state.  Was the planning of these events carried out in secret? To the contrary, so-called domestic terrorists like QAnon, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have gone out of their way to operate as publicly as they can.  

Go to Google, do a search for ‘buy a QAnon t-shirt,’ and see what comes up. What comes up are hundreds of web sites selling QAnon shirts, flags, and other crap. That’s some secret group.

We are the only country in the entire world which allows its citizens to say anything thy want in a public space and walk around in that space carrying a weapon of war. That’s right. The AR-15 rifles that the Nazis were toting while they were walking through Charlottesville chanting ‘Jews will not replace us,’ is the exact, same gun that our troopers carry in the field.

Walk down a street in Paris wearing a t-shirt with a swastika and you’ll go to jail. Walk down a street in London with an assault rifle strapped on your back and you’ll also go to jail. In this country, most governmental authorities allow you to do both. And they’ll even protect you if your t-shirt or rifle provokes anger from the other side.

And let’s not forget that the Nazis in Charlottesville and the QAnon dopes at the Capitol had the blessings of the country’s Chief Executive, who spent the last four years telling everyone that appeals to violence, racism and armed, self-defense were good things to carry out.

The jerkoffs who showed up in D.C. on January 6th and then didn’t show up this week for the ‘inauguration’ aren’t terrorists of any kind.  They are unrequited assholes who haven’t grown up, but the internet gives them the opportunity to have their 15 minutes of fame.

On the other hand, Donald Trump’s behavior qualifies him perfectly to be considered a domestic terrorist. You think he didn’t hold secret meetings with Roger Stone to figure out how to bring the Biden Administration down?

Want to protect the country from domestic terrorism? Send the FBI down to Mar-a-Lago, grab Trump by his fat rear end and lock him up.

The Medical Plan To Reduce Gun Violence That Doesn’t Work.

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              Doctors for America is a liberal advocacy group that was formed in 2008 to help promote the Affordable Care Act and now continues to push for all kinds of goody-goody medical things. One of their goody-goody’s is reducing gun violence for which they have produced a video which depicts a physician talking to a gun owner about how he stores his guns.

              The gun owner is a young married guy with a daughter in the home. The physician asks him where he stores the guns when he’s not hunting, and he claims he puts them on a high shelf which is out of his daughter’s reach. The doctor tells him that what he should really do is lock the guns up because they otherwise there’s a risk of suicide or accidental injury. The guy playing the role of the patient agrees.

              There is not one, single study ever produced which shows any direct connection between safely storing guns and eliminating or even reducing gun violence – not one. The idea that safe storage represents an effective response to gun injuries is an assumption promoted by physicians and medical advocacy groups who actually believe that they can gain the confidence of gun owners by pretending that it’s okay to own a gun.

              It’s not okay. The research by Art Kellerman, Fred Rivara and their colleagues published more than a quarter-century ago clearly proves that access to a gun in the home represents a medical risk, and this research did not qualify those guns in terms of whether they were stored safely or not.

              The Hippocratic Oath requires physicians to identify and then work to reduce medical risks. Simply put: Medical groups which promote the safe storage nonsense are violating the Hippocratic Oath. They get away with this crap because their members and their audiences know as much about guns as they know about guns – zilch.

              Want to see another example of how the medical community is completely and totally divorced from reality when it comes to talking about guns? There’s an organization called UpToDate that publishes an online reference database which physicians can use to read the latest studies on any medical problem, as well as print out simple summaries and advice for patients to read. The website is probably accessed by just ab out every primary-care doctor in the United States.

              Here is how UpToDate describes what it does: “a global community consisting of thousands of physician authors and editors who share a singular passion: writing and editing evidence-based information that helps clinicians everywhere practice the best medicine.”

              So now let’s look at the section on gun violence and, in particular, the handout that physicians can print and give to patients regarding the risk of their guns: Patient education: Gun safety for families (The Basics) – UpToDate. Scroll halfway down the page and you’ll see what UpToDate believes a parent should tell a child in order to teach the kid about gun safety: Do not touch the gun. Move away from the gun. Tell an adult. 

              Now take a look at what the National Rifle Association says is the proper way to teach your child gun safety. You can see it right here: Eddie Eagle | NRA Explore.  Scroll down slightly and guess what you’ll see? You’ll see the exact, same safety message for kids that you’ll see on the UpToDate page.  The NRA has been pushing this nonsense for years but now they have an ally in the medical community to help spread their message around.

              How can any doctor utilize any messaging about guns which was developed by the same organization which got a law passed in Florida that would have criminalized any physician who counseled patients about gun risk? Groups like Doctors for America should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking that there’s some kind of common ground which they can occupy with gun owners to reduce gun risk without getting rid of the guns.

              If any physician would like to explain to me how promoting ‘safe storage’ of guns isn’t a violation of the Hippocratic Oath, I’m all ears.

Is Disinformation Domestic Terrorism?

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              Yesterday I watched Christopher Wray, head of the FBI, tell a Congressional panel that he was ‘passionate’ about defending the government from being attacked and in that regard, believed strongly that the January 6th riot was an example of ‘domestic terrorism.’ I guess that Andy Cuomo’s not the only public official these days who’s very passionate.

 I then heard an interview on NPR with Cynthia Miller-Idriss, who in case you didn’t know, happens to be the Director of the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL) in the Center for University Excellence (CUE) at the American University in Washington, DC.  Quite a mouthful.

Professor Miller-Idriss, whose book I am going to review next week, aligned herself with America’s number one crime-fighter, Chris Wray, in also believing that January 6th was the work of domestic terrorists who are connected up in some way with terrorists operating worldwide. Later yesterday one of the AM shock-jocks was floating the latest conspiracy theory, which is that the FBI consciously withheld information about the January 6th threat to embarrass Donald Trump. The FBI should be so smart.

Neither Wray nor Miller-Idriss bolstered their concerns about ‘domestic terrorism’ with any attempt to estimate the actual number of domestic ‘terrorists’ who are zipping around. I note that the real inauguration of Donald Trump, which QAnon chatter was saying would take place in front of a big crowd on March 4th, has completely fizzled out. I also note that of the 200 people arrested so far for being involved in the Capitol riot, less than 15 are described as ‘subscribing’ to QAnon theories.

That’s how you define a ‘domestic terrorist?’ Someone who ‘subscribes’ to a loony conspiracy theory that circulates throughout the web? In that case, I’m probably one of the most active domestic terrorists of all time, because I spend at least half an hour every day reading conspiracy theories promoted by the alt-right.

Terrorism, domestic or otherwise, means an effort to undermine a government by violent means. If the government can’t insure community safety, then the government needs to be changed. Modern terrorist activities – bombings – first took place in Ireland to end British rule, then in Russia – assassinations – to overthrow the Tsar. Timothy McVeigh was a domestic terrorist, so was the Unabomber.

Most of the dummies who climbed up the Capital steps on January 6th probably thought they were just exercising their ‘right’ to free speech, even if their assembly wasn’t peaceful at all. Did a bunch of these characters really want to kill Nancy Pelosi? Who knows?

              Precisely because so much of the so-called terrorist activity prior to January 6th has been documented via tweets and other digital conversations, it’s not really all that clear to me that such behavior can be described as ‘terrorism’ at all. Terrorism is supposed to be hidden from public view, the whole point of terrorist attacks is to surprise and scare people at the moment the event occurs. One could hardly say that the January 6th riot was any kind of surprise.

              On the other hand, what now appears to be a more modern form of terrorism which fits digital technologies perfectly is what is referred to as ‘disinformation,’ which means the conscious attempt to spread false information that will make people believe anti-government ideas which simply aren’t true. Latest example? Election ‘fraud.’ Both Christopher Wray and Cynthia Miller-Idriss are very concerned about disinformation campaigns.

              The ‘fake news’ media began pushing the whole ‘disinformation’ narrative as a way to excuse Hillary Clinton from having run such a lousy Presidential run in 2016. Why did she lose the election to an absolute nincompoop like Donald Trump? Because the Russians used a disinformation campaign to help Trump ‘steal’ the election. 

              Think I’m wrong? Just read the first chapter of Hillary’s book where she ‘explains’ what happened in 2016. Obviously, Trump read her book because he keeps pushing disinformation about election ‘fraud’ to explain his 2020 defeat.

              The good news is that even the Wall Street Journal is now sick and tired of Trump so maybe he’s really going to go away. Not to worry, as long as we have the internet, disinformation is here to stay.

It’s About Time – The CDC Gets Back Into Guns.

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              Now that everyone except Donald Trump and the craziest of the crazies have decided that Joe is really the President, we can start taking care of business that has languished for the last four years. And one piece of business in that respect is whether we need to pass more gun-control laws.

              To that end Joe recently put together a study group that will come up with an agenda for new guns laws which will no doubt include the usual proposals like comprehensive background checks, assault rifle bans, a national red-flag laws – regulations that have been floating around for years. These proposals and others were discussed at a recent White House meeting which included all the usual gun-control suspects – Brady, Everytown – you know the bunch.

              One good piece of news for Gun-control Nation is that the CDC recently announced nearly $8 million in gun-research grants, monies which are appearing in the CDC research budget for the first time in more than twenty years. The CDC was prohibited from sponsoring gun research in 1997 when an Arkansas Congressman, Jay Dickey, rode to the defense of America’s gun owners and stripped the CDC from supporting gun research.

              Now the research spigot has been turned on again and 16 research projects will now be funded under the category of Research Grants to Prevent Firearm Violence and Injuries. I happen to know many of these researchers as well as having studied and cited some of their previous work. They are all scholars whose research deserves government financial support.

              Most of these research projects evaluate either ongoing or planned efforts to ‘intervene’ in the behavior and activities of at-risk populations with the hope that such

 interventions will reduce the number of injuries suffered from guns. Many of these projects utilize internet-based programs, others promote face-to-face interactions, the point is to evaluate which types of activities could be most successfully spread throughout the gun-owning community as a whole.

              It’s also good to see that much of the research is aimed (pardon the pun) at figuring out how to mitigate the social and emotional issues which are experienced by individuals who don’t necessarily suffer gun injuries themselves but are aware of gun violence either where they live or in the neighborhood where they go to school. I am also glad to see that our friend Ali Rowhani-Rahbar has been funded to study gun culture and appropriate intervention strategies for rural youth, a population which is often ignored when gun violence issues are discussed.

              If you have been any kind of consistent reader of my blogs, you’re probably asking yourself when is Mike the Gun Guy going to stop saying all those nice, positive things about the current state of gun-violence research and say something that’s not so positive or nice?  Which is what I am going to do right now, notwithstanding again my heartfelt support for evidence-based research on guns or anything else.

              I don’t care what the results of any of these research projects reveal in the next two or three years. There’s only one intervention that will have any chance of reducing gun violence: Get rid of the guns.

              We don’t have to get rid of all the guns. I have no problem with keeping a slide-action shotgun for high-flyers returning from Florida this month or a bolt-action 30-06 to bag Bambi later this year. Want to keep a 6-inch, target handgun around for an occasional trip to the range? Go right ahead. Keep two of them if you like, or even three.

              On the other hand, anyone who believes that you can do anything to make my Glock 17 pistol with its 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition into a ‘safe’ gun, doesn’t know the first thing about guns. And as long as the United States is the only country which allows ‘law-abiding’ residents access to those kinds of guns, all the research and all the talk about ‘interventions’ to reduce gun violence are crap. Plain, unadulterated crap.

              Could I find another way to somehow mitigate my concerns about such crap? I can’t and I won’t.

An Important Reference Work On Gun Violence.

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              I have just finished reading and studying a collection of articles which together constitutes the most important reference work on gun violence which currently exists. The book, Pediatric Firearm Injuries and Fatalities, is a collection of 15 articles edited by Eric Fleegler and Lois Lee, both of whom are pediatric-ER doctors at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, so they’ve seen plenty of gun injuries over the years. You can buy the book here.

              The collection is described as a ‘Clinician’s Guide to Policies and Approaches to Firearm Violence.’ Each contribution is a summary of research on a particular aspect of gun violence, along with copious footnotes and ‘Take Home Points,’ the latter lists some basic strategies that clinicians can use for responding to injuries caused by guns.

              Let’s be clear. This isn’t a collection of original, evidence-based articles. It’s a collection of articles which summarize all of the research which has been done to date on specific aspects of gun violence, in particular gun violence which impacts kids. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that by limiting the contents to pediatrics, that you won’t get an overview of gun-violence issues as a whole. Because pediatrics happens to include everyone up to age twenty-four, and by that age you are looking at a majority of the gun-violence events which occur every year.

              This encyclopedic work is divided into two sections: risks and interventions. The risks are homicides and assaults, accidents, suicides, international comparisons, and school shootings. The interventions cover counseling patients before and after shootings, community-based programs, safety design for guns and legislative advocacies.

              Together, these articles cover just about every aspect of what clinicians need to know in order to develop effective responses to gun violence. Together, the articles cite more than 700 references to evidence-based research which means that this work is not ground in opinion but in facts, a welcome change from the way most gun discussions are framed.

              That being said, as usual I have several issues with specific content in this valuable collection which need to be raised. First and foremost is the degree to which public health gun research continues to focus the research on every issue except what I consider to be the most important issue, namely, how, and why gun violence actually takes place.

              The articles which define gun risk are overwhelmingly based on CDC data which tells us all about the victims of gun violence but nothing about the perpetrators of same. I don’t understand how public health researchers can refer to the ‘epidemiology’ of this particular health threat when little, if any time is spent trying to figure out how and why a certain population uses a gun in what the gun industry would call an ‘inappropriate’ way. After all, shooting someone isn’t the usual way that a dispute between two people is resolved.

              Because we know very little about who actually shoots guns inappropriately, how can we really create effective public policies and clinical procedures for reducing such behaviors? I don’t think, in fact, that we should assume that evidence-based research on gun violence can guide our policy strategies when the evidence tells us little, if anything about the people whose behavior we are trying to change. I should add, by the way, that in 4 of the 5 states which implemented comprehensive background checks after Sandy Hook, gun violence rates went up, not down.

              Finally, I have a big problem with the degree to which the entire gun-control community – physicians, researchers, advocates – invariably propose linking up to every relevant ‘stakeholder’ in the gun violence debate with the exception of the most important stakeholders of all – the companies who manufacture the guns.

              If you believe that companies like Glock or Smith & Wesson aren’t concerned about gun violence and gun safety, this only demonstrates that you haven’t gone into a gun shop and purchased a new gun. Because every gun shipped from a factory to a retailer must have a warning which says that the gun, if misused, could result in injury or death. And the warning is printed in big, red letters, okay?

              I’m not saying the gun industry isn’t culpable for many of the injuries and trauma caused by the products they make and sell. What I am saying is that I don’t understand how you can regulate any industry without bringing the representatives of that industry into the discussion as well.

              Those caveats aside, Fleegler and Lee have published a volume which everyone needs to read.  Got something better to do in the Age of Covid-19?

Want To Be A Responsible Gun Owner? Try A Video Game.

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              Now that Joe has finally put Trump where he belongs and we can get back to discussions about what needs to be done and how to do it, one of the things which may or may not get done is another law that would go somewhat further in terms of regulating guns. After all, Joe made a point of talking about gun violence during his campaign, he also didn’t do bad when it came to getting big bucks from America’s Number One Anti-Gunner (i.e., Mayor Mike Bloomberg), and he’s got a blue Senate and House. What else do you need?

              What you need, it seems to me, is an honest and realistic understanding of how and why so many Americans really like to play around with guns. And it’s not just the pandemic that got people scared so they ran out and bought another gun. That was a convenient story told on both sides of the gun debate but there were and other reasons why gun sales continue to keep companies like Smith & Wesson in the black.

              Ever hear of a video game called Valheim? It’s an RPG video game (RPG meaning ‘role-playing’ game) which you play either alone or with friends on the internet. The first week it went up it sold a million copies. It continues to sell a million copies every week and has been reviewed by more than 60,000 users on a game store website called Steam.

              Valheim combines the two elements that usually make a video game popular – mythology and violence. In this case the player becomes a mythical warrior from some frozen zone, and he fashions a weapon which he then uses to defend himself from his foes. The whole point of the game is to kill as many of the ‘enemy’ as you can.

              Want to see the kind of video game which represents more than 90 percent of all video games bought and played? Go back to Steam and try a game called Zero Caliber.  The player is a battle-hardened veteran who runs around in some dangerous city somewhere in Iraq, or maybe Syria, or maybe Afghanistan. The point of the game is to shoot and kill as many of the ‘enemy’ as you can. You can enlist other players and lead a whole squad into battle as well. Of course, you have the choice of an AR, a handheld Uzi, or any one of a number of weapons that can spray endless rounds all over the place.

              One of the issues that will surely gather steam in Gun-control Nation is how to talk to Gun-nut Nation about the risk of guns. This discussion has been going on for years, and it tends to turn on defining proper gun behavior in terms of ‘responsibility,’ or ‘safety,’ or ‘common sense,’ the theory being that if gun owners behave responsibly with their guns, then gun violence will go down.

              What does it mean to be a ‘responsible’ gun owner?  It means locking the gun up or locking it away so that it can’t get into the hands of the little kids. So, the responsible gun owner goes to Home Depot, buys a gun safe for a thousand bucks or so, shleps it home, sticks it somewhere out of the way and tried to remember to always keep the guns in the safe.

              Meanwhile, here’s Dad struggling to push or pull his gun safe into the basement or maybe a corner of the room where his wife does the wash, and the guy’s teen-age son is sitting in front of the TV which is hooked up to a computer, and the computer is downloading a shooting video game from Steam.

              The game only costs $24.95, it will keep Junior occupied for the entire day. And since Junior can still only go to school every other day for the remainder of this year, a shooting video game is worth its weight in gold.

              I’m still waiting for the very first gun-control group to spend even five minutes talking about how to teach a 12-year-old to play a shooting game in a ‘responsible’ way.

Does Gun Violence Increase Because We Keep Buying Guns?

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              Once again, our friends at the ‘non-partisan’ gun magazine, The Trace, have promoted an argument about the relationship of gun ownership to gun violence which has no basis in fact. The argument has now been floating around for at least 20 years and is accepted as the non-plus-ultra explanation for gun violence in the United States. Unfortunately, the explanation doesn’t work,

              Why do we believe that our high level of fatal violence is because we have so many guns? Because our friend David Hemenway has been pushing this idea for years. And how does he explain the link between gun ownership and fatal violence? By doing a regression analysis using guns as the independent variable and then comparing the United States to other countries with similar demographics but much fewer personally owned guns.

              There happen to be two, actually three fundamental problems with David’s approach. First and most important is his definition of the word ‘gun.’ Because the fact that there are more than 300 million guns sitting around in basements, garages, underneath the living room couch and inside a toolbox out in the truck, doesn’t tell us how many of these guns are actually used in assaults.

              I looked at more than 9,000 ‘crime’ guns collected by police departments, and the types of guns which probably account for at least 75% of the civilian gun arsenal don’t show up on this list at all. Along with another 20 million or so gun owners, I own a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle. When was the last time a gun of this type was involved in a gun assault? As my grandfather would say: ‘shabbos noch schvee,’ (read: never.)

              The second problem with David’s approach is the assumption that there’s any connection between the number of guns owned by law-abiding citizens and the number of times that guns are used to commit crimes. And here is another issue I have with all the so-called gun experts who conduct public health researcher and or write for The Trace. Every time they talk about gun ‘violence’ they only refer to homicides and suicides, with the latter events being twice as great as the number of murders committed with guns.

              In fact, the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter category, the shooter didn’t shoot straight. Otherwise, everything that leads up to a confrontation that ends up as a fatal or non-fatal gun assault is exactly the same. More than 80% of all the gun injuries which occur in the United States every year are crimes. How come this issue is glossed over again and again?

              I’ll tell you why. Because if there were any degree of honest discussion about gun violence, (and this is the third problem with the more guns = more violence approach) it would have to be admitted that gun violence is a problem experienced in what we politely refer to as the ‘underserved’ population. And since this population is overwhelmingly minority – Hispanic and Black – to single out those two groups would be to inject the racial issue into the gun debate.

              After the last four years of being verbally abused by Trump, I don’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid discussions about social or political events which turn on the issue of race. On the other hand, why let facts get in the way of a good headline that will help gun-control organizations raise some more cash? And by the way, before yet another reader accuses me of being a shill for the NRA, I just renewed my monthly contribution to Moms Demand Action, okay?

              Last but not least, the whole issue of how guns move from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ hands is also a mess. According to the ATF, the average time between when a gun is purchased and when it is used in a crime (‘time-to-crime) is more than 9 years. So even though the number of handguns sold this year has doubled over the number of purchases in 2019, who says that this is the reason why gun violence has been going up? 

              There are all kinds of reasons why we are suffering from an increase in gun violence regardless of how many new guns have been purchased by law-abiding gun owners in the past year. God forbid our friends in gun journalism and public health research would stop trying to scare us with headlines and conduct some serious research.

Happy Holidays!

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              If I had a nickel for every time some liberal media pundit has complained about Trump’s behavior being a ‘threat’ to democracy, I’d have enough money to fly down to Florida, drive over to Boca and lie down on the beach. Actually, I have enough money to do it anyway, but I’m staying home, and I hope all of you stay home as well.

              Oh my God! We won’t be able to be with the family this year. We’re always with the family this time of year. We love that Cousin Harold shows up drunk for Christmas dinner, that Uncle Dave gets into a fistfight with his son, you know, heartfelt memories like that. Like my grandfather used to say: ‘Shait en haim.” Stay at home.

              Anyway, back to how democracy is teetering on the brink.

              For all the talk about how Trump has been trying to demolish our government by promoting all this nonsense about how the election was ‘fixed,’ I notice that the government at every level seems to just keep rolling along.

              Last weekend we had a huge snowfall. The next day, the roads were all cleared, the school buses picked up half the kids, the other half were home playing with the free laptops they got from the school. The garbage was picked up a day late, but it was picked up. And when I turned on my tap, the water came out. Ditto when I turned on a light. The bulb lit up.

              Most important, the day after the storm my monthly social security check was issued and ended up exactly where it was supposed to end up – in my bank account. And by the way, if God forbid, I need to go to the ER because I feel short of breath, I could get in there, wave my red, white, and blue government-issued Medicaid card and I’m good to go.

              In this country we take for granted what government does every day in providing a level of comfort and services which doesn’t exist anywhere else.  I’m not talking about the lack of government-provided amenities in places like Zimbabwe or Cameroons.  I’m talking about places like England and France.

              The United States is the only country in the entire world where virtually every road is paved. It’s the only country where the store-bought meat is clean, and the milk is really fresh. It’s the only country where, with the exception of Flint, you can walk into any bathroom of any gas station and drink from the tap.

              We are the only country in the entire world which has street lights on just about every street. Next time you check into some pricey, quaint auberge in some lovely, picturesque French village or town, take a walk in the evening and see if you can see anything more than five feet ahead.

              When we use words like ‘government’ or ‘democracy,’ it means something much different to the average person than what it means to the liberal, educated elite. Don’t get me wrong. I think, actually I know that Trump is nothing more than a complete and total piece of shit.

              But he’s no ‘threat’ to democracy. First of all, he’s not smart enough to be a threat to anything. He’s dumb as a rock, and he magnifies his stupidity by making sure that the people around him are even dumber than that. Ever listen to the rants of a GOP House Member named Matt Gaetz? Try an exchange this moron had with a Democratic member during a committee hearing earlier this year.

              The good news about the holidays is that when they’re finished, Trump will be finished too. Granted, it will be three weeks into the New Year before the GSA trucks roll up, take all his personal crap out of the White House, and ship it somewhere else. I doubt if Trump will try to steal the White House silverware the way the Clintons did, but you never know.

              Let’s stop moaning and groaning about how we need to ‘recover’ democracy from the clutches of Donald Trump. Stay home, do a Zoom to everyone, and get ready for 2021.

Why Shouldn’t Inner Cities Protect Themselves From Covid-19 With Guns?

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              Back in 2005 or 2006, a bunch of us rented one of those over-the-road sleepers and drove to Buffalo to see a Bills versus Dolphins football game. We got to the stadium, scalped some tickets and I found myself sitting upstairs behind three guys who had driven down from Hamilton earlier in the day.

              During halftime, a small plane flew over the stadium pulling an advertising banner for some gun shop in Buffalo. One of the guy from Canada poked his friends and said, “You know you’re in the United States when you see someone advertising a store that sells guns.” They all laughed.

              Used to be that the United States was a place with lots of gun violence and Canada had little or none. Used to be the case. Not true anymore.

              This year the city of Toronto recorded more fatal and non-fatal shootings in the entire modern era with the exception of one other year, which was last year. So far this year there have been 214 people killed or injured with guns. Last year, the final number of killed and wounded was – ready? – 495.

              I thought the only gun you can own in Canada is some old shotgun or hunting gun. I thought that Canada was a ‘model’ for what our gun-control advocates would like to achieve down here.

              The gun-violence issue in Toronto goes back to 2005, when a battle between two street gangs on Boxing Day resulted in the death of a fifteen-year old girl and injuries to six other young men and kids. So, the Toronto cops launched TAVIS, a.k.a., Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, a nice-sounding euphemism which basically means put extra police in locations where guns keep going off.

              These locations are in what we now politely refer to as ‘underserved’ neighborhoods, which we used to call ghettos, or what back in my childhood were referred to as ‘slums.’ The TAVIS program resulted in less than 30 victims being shot and killed in 2011, the number had been 80 gun-homicides back in 2005.

              Know what Toronto did with this program in 2014?  They closed it down. Why did the city close it down? Because there was too much talk and bad publicity about the fact that the only neighborhoods being patrolled were neighborhoods which happened to be Black.

              So now Toronto is right back to where it was before the TAVIS program was put into effect. Residents of Toronto, nearly all of them residents of the ‘underserved’ neighborhoods, are getting gunned down all the time. And if you can’t flood these hot corners with cops because that’s a racist response, what can you do?

              The answer to this problem may have been provided by a story that has just appeared in that online gun magazine which refers to itself as always maintaining ‘editorial independence,’ a.k.a., The Trace. The particular article is about the growth of a new gun organization, the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA), which claims to have more than 40,000 members, with ‘thousands’ joining in the last year.

              Why do people join this group? According to the head of the Chicago chapter, they join for different reasons, but they all want to “exercise their 2nd-Amendment right.” And what is it about the 2nd Amendment which is beginning to catch on amongst Blacks? It’s the “pandemic, police brutality and civil unrest” which is fueling the growth of the NAAGA.

              I have no problem with Blacks thinking they are making themselves safer by walking around with a gun. If they want to believe the same stupid nonsense that many White gun nuts want to believe, they can go right ahead and believe. They can even explain those beliefs to a reporter from The Trace. That’s their 1st-Amendment right.

              My problem is with the tone of the reportage, which is different than the tone I have been getting from The Trace in their stories about the increase in gun sales over the past year. Those stories clearly associate increased gun sales with more injuries and deaths.  So how come when Blacks arm themselves, the potential for increased gun violence isn’t mentioned at all?

Just Like Covid-19, Stand Your Ground Laws Continue To Spread.

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              Just in time for Christmas and no doubt in an effort to spread holiday cheer, the Ohio State Legislature has sent a bill to Governor Mike DeWine’s desk that would extend the state’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) doctrine to just about any place, any reason, or any time.

              The state’s current SYG law only allows someone to refuse to back asway from a confrontation if the incident takes place within an individual’s home or on the property around the home – the so-called ‘castle doctrine’ being the basis upon which a SYG explanation can be used.

              The new law expands SYG to just about any place where someone might gets into an argument with someone else. In other words, you could be walking down a public street minding your own business and bump into someone else by mistake. So, you say ‘I’m sorry’ but the guy you bumped into is in a lousy mood and he turns around and shoves you back.

              At the same time, he shoves you, he also says something like, ‘I’d like to kick your ass,’ and maybe comes towards you again. At which point under the new Ohio law you can pull out the ol’ trusty shootin’ iron and blast away.

              The spread of SYG laws into nearly 30 states is one of the concerns that my friends in Gun-control Nation raise again and again when they talk about the mis-use of guns. Or I should say, by the use of guns if we’re talking about most gun assaults. Such events usually to pistols manufactured by companies like Glock, S&W, Ruger, Beretta, Colt and Sig.

              These guns are designed to be used by one person to shoot another person, okay?

              Our friends in Gun-control Nation have always been concerned about SYG laws because of the alleged connection between such laws and gun violence, an idea which happens to be based on more of an assumption than any statistical proof. Earlier this year, the RAND Corporation looked at all the studies which evaluate the impact of SYG on gun violence rates and concluded that there is a ‘moderate’ possibility that SYG may increase homicides, which hardly makes the connection an established fact.

              The gun industry on the other hand, and the various organizational/political components comprising Gun-nut Nation, have always strongly supported SYG, for the same reason that they support carrying guns outside the home, i.e., the more we stand up to the bad guys, the safer we all will be.

              Is there any proof behind this self-serving argument from Gun-nut Nation about the value of SYG laws? We don’t need no stinkin’ proof. We know that walking around with a gun will protect you as well as walking into a crowded space today without a mask.

              What I find interesting about SYG laws, however, is the fact that they don’t exist in England and aren’t part of our legal heritage known as the Common Law. This is the major point of our friend Caroline Light’s book Stand Your Ground, which shows that such laws first appeared not in Great Britain but over here. To this day we are the only country whose legal heritage comes from the Common Law but whose legal system also includes SYG.

              Unfortunately, in the debate about this unique legal formulation, both pro-SYG and anti-SYG advocates miss one vital point. It’s not a question of whether or not an SYG law makes a law-abiding individual more prone to carry or use a gun. The real question, unanswered by both sides in the debate, is whether we have a unique culture which promotes SYG behavior, legal or not.

All the way back in 1957, the brilliant criminologist Marvin Wolfgang discovered that “the victim is often a major contributor to the criminal act.” In what type of crime did Wolfgang find this behavior to be most apparent? In homicide, what else.

              Why can’t the two sides in the gun debate drop their professed dislike for each other and start discussing the issue of culture and how people behave, regardless of what the laws tell them they can and cannot do?

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