Want To Own a Gun? Join The Holton Militia

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              Want to live in what may be the safest community in the United States? Try a place called Holton, which is in Michigan, located about 10 miles from Lake Michigan, and has some 2,500 people living in 900 or so habitable dwellings, and 98% of these residents are white.

              You can buy a nice, three-bedroom house in Holton for $150,000 and for entertainment you can go to the high school and watch the Red Devils play volleyball which they won the state title in 1994.olton

              What else can you do in Holton? Not a goddamn thing. But the good news is that you don’t have to worry about crime because Holton’s crime rate is just a bout half the rate of crime throughout the United States.  That’s safe, okay?

              Be that as it may, things will be a lot safer now in Holton since the town just decided to form a citizen’s militia for the purpose of protecting everyone, or at least protecting everyone’s 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              The good people of Holton were forced to take this brave, new step in community safety because that crazy, liberal Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, just signed legislation which Michigan residents take guns away from other people just because the gun grabbers don’t like the fact that a neighbor might actually own a gun.

              The laws signed by Whitmer are referred to as ‘red flag’ laws, the name representing what is commonly considered a signal of danger, i.e., the display of a red flag.

              As far as I know, there are now 21 states plus D.C. which have some kind of ‘red flag’ law, which is more formally known as an ERPO law, meaning Extreme Risk Protection Order, which does exactly what these words mean.

              These laws allow anyone to go into court and petition to have guns removed from the home of someone who appears to be acting in a nutty or violent kind of way, with such behavior being much more of a threat if that crazy person happens to be in possession of a gun.

              ERPO laws, which first appeared in Connecticut in 1999, differ somewhat from state to state, but basically the law is only imposed after a judge is satisfied that an ERPO can only be imposed when solid proof has been presented which clearly demonstrates the need to remove someone’s guns.

              The ERPO process involves multiple hearings, opportunities for appeal and the intervention of police authorities if a gun or guns must be removed. In other words, these laws can only be applied consistent with Constitutional protections for gun ‘rights.’  Which is a nice-sounding statement but doesn’t satisfy America’s gun nuts.

              When the NRA refers to its members as law-abiding gun owners, the organization is describing people who have not yet committed a crime. But committing a crime is one thing, predicting that a crime might be committed is something else. And that’s where Gun-nut Nation draws the line regarding red flag laws.

              Actually, where Gun-nut Nation draws the line is not on ERPO laws per se, but on any more gun laws of any kind. Right now, roughly 60% of all Americans believe that gun laws could be stricter, 40% say the laws are either too strict or don’t need to be changed.

              What’s the percentage of American with a gun in the house? Try 40%, okay? In a town like Holton, however, probably just about everyone in the town owns guns.

              Which is why, on November 14, Holton passed a resolution declaring the town to be a 2nd-Amendment sanctuary and appended a declaration which created a 2nd-Amendment ‘militia,’ except nobody knows what the militia is supposed to do. You can sign up to join the militia if you can pass a background check which is required even in 2nd-Amendment sanctuaries before you can buy a gun.

              Once you have signed up to be a member of the Holton militia, you have effectively done everything that militia members are required to do. This is because, according to the Town Manager, there is no actual plan to form a group of any kind that will perform militia-like activities such as practicing marksmanship or marching around.

              In other words, the Holton militia exists on paper and in people’s minds. Which the more I think about it, is why every city and town in America should require its gun-owning residents to belong to a group like the Holton militia or else they can’t own any guns.

Will We Ever Learn Who’s Doing All That Shooting?

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              Last week there were two legal decisions involving guns, and each side got one win. Gun-nut Nation was given a gift by a Federal judge in West Virginia, who ruled that a law prohibiting persons under 21 from buying a handgun was a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ In California, the state Court of Appeals said that a law giving personal information about individuals who bought guns could be shared with qualified gun researchers.

              No doubt, both decisions will be appealed but I’m not convinced that either of the laws that are the subjects of these rulings have any real relevance or value to the one gun issue which remains to be solved, and the issue is: what do we do to reduce gun violence which results in more than 100,000 deaths and serious injuries every year?

              The last year for which we have any data – 2021 – gives us 26,000 suicides and 21,000 homicides involving guns (I’m slightly rounding off.) We don’t have a number for aggravated assaults, i.e., non-fatal, intentional gun injuries, but this number was probably somewhere around another 70,000, give or take a thousand here or a thousand there.

              So, altogether we probably had 115,000 injuries and deaths from guns, and we only have any data on the shooters who were suicide victims, which means we don’t really know anything about how and why the other 80% of the gun-violence events occurred. It’s all fine and well to talk about the socio-economic-ethnic status of the victims of gun violence, but to refer to such information as an epidemiology of the problem is to use nomenclature which is simply not true.

              Garen Wintemute, the leading gun researcher in California who says that the ability to use personal information about gun owner represents “an important victory for science,” describes gun violence from an epidemiological perspective in published research, but what he tells us about the types of individuals who do the shooting, as opposed to the individuals who get shot, hardly qualifies his work as an exercise in epidemiological research.

              The problem is that all those intentional fatal and non-fatal injuries where someone shoots someone else happen not only to be instances of violence but are also crimes. So, first you have to catch the shooter, which happens in about half the murders and maybe one-quarter of the aggravated assaults, but then you are dealing with incarcerated individuals who aren’t about to talk to anyone except a legal representative if they talk to anyone at all.

              How do you craft laws to prevent certain behaviors when you don’t know anything about the background, the motives or the circumstances surrounding a particular type of behavior which results in the commission of a violent crime?

              We do know one thing about individuals who commit aggravated assault with a gun, which is that every one of those shootings would have resulted in a murder if the shooter knew how to shoot straight. People who want to use a gun violently don’t aim at their victim’s knee. In fact, the reason that most shootings occur with the use of hi-capacity handguns and rifles is because the shooters usually just blast away, or what the cops refer to as ‘spray and pray.’

              I have never understood why so much ink is spilled on arguing about whether a ‘mass shooting’ should be defined just by the number of people killed or should be defined by the number of individuals both wounded and killed. As far as I’m concerned, a mass shooting should be defined by the number of shots that were fired at the scene. At least such an approach would give us some idea about what was going on in the head of the shooter when he yanked out his gun.

              If my research friends in Gun-control Nation would tell the powers that be about the need to access data not just on the victims of gun violence but the perpetrators as well, perhaps we might be able to figure out some new regulations that would finally bring the awful rate of gun violence down to where it should really be.

              Last month I was involved in a collision with another vehicle, the cop showed up and interviewed for the accident report. How come we can create such data for cars but not for guns?

When Will Doctors Stop Protecting the 2nd Amendment?


              So, the argument about gun violence which occurred on Monday between Megan Ranney, who is the newly-appointed Dean at Yale Medical School, and a John Kennedy, a pro-GOP Senator from Louisiana, has now spilled over to the digital world and every other gun-violence expert is getting into the act.

              The Ranney-Kennedy exchange got started when Kennedy asked Ranney to explain why Chicago had such a high gun-violence rate and Ranney replied by saying that red states in the South like Mississippi and Louisiana had higher rates.

              They went back and forth and Ranney ended up insisting at least twice that she was not against the 2nd Amendment and did not want to deprive law-abiding Americans of their legally owned guns.

              Fox News then went out and today got one of their agreeable gun experts, my friend John Lott, to come in with a criticism of Ranney’s position based on the idea that you can’t compare statewide numbers on gun violence to numbers from any particular city, because the gun thing in a city is a ‘local,’ not statewide affair.

              So, score one for Gun-nut Nation and once again the gun debate goes nowhere fast.

              As far as I’m concerned, it really doesn’t matter whether Chicago has more shootings than Louisiana or anyplace else. I happen to live in Springfield, MA which has been celebrating 2023 with 29 murders, most of them committed with guns, which gives my city a gun-violence rate at least 20 times higher than Chicago. So what?

              What bothers me about Ranney’s comments was what seems to happen just about every time that someone who favors gun control is confronted over the issue of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ which is they go out of their way to insist that they are as supportive of the 2nd Amendment as anyone else. If Megan Ranney thinks she can get any gun nut to take her seriously about gun violence because she claims to be a supporter of Constitutional gun ‘rights,’ then Dr. Ranney has never had a serious conversation with anyone who owns guns, except maybe for some trauma surgeon at Yale who learned to enjoy shooting while he was in the military and did service time in some crummy field hospital in Iraq or Afghanistan.

              Thirty years ago, two physicians published articles in The New England Journal of Medicine whoich clearly showed that a gun, any gun in the home was a medical threat – the threat defined as suicide or homicide. And by the way, these articles didn’t qualify the guns which represented the medical threat as being safely stored, or unloaded, or requiring a particular thumbprint in order to be fired, or anything else.

              Every physician, Megan Ranney included, has affirmed their support of the Hippocratic Oath, which requires physicians to identify risks to health and figure out ways to reduce and eliminate the risk. Sorry, but you don’t reduce gun risk by locking the gun away when it’s not being used.

As for Dr. Ranney’s statement that studies show that when vacant lots are cleaned and abandoned housing is refurbed that gun violence goes down, I’ll be happy to give her a tour of many urban neighborhoods, including neighborhoods in New Haven where she works, that have been cleaned and greened with public funds and gun violence hasn’t declined at all.

              Would it be what Grandpa would call a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if physicians like Megan Ranney would cut the bullshit and stop being afraid to say clearly and definitively that guns constitute a risk to health?

They could easily start aligning what they say with reality if they knew enough about guns to explain that it’s not all guns that constitute a health risk, it’s guns which are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life.

I’m talking about guns designed for the military and the police which are bottom-loading, semi-automatic guns from companies like Glock and Sig, and the United States happens to be the only country in the entire world which allows such guns to be owned and carried by civilians over which there are few legal controls.

Want to take a pot-shot at Bambi or shoot down a duck which otherwise would be flapping its wings all the way from Canada to Ormond Beach? There are hundreds of gun models which can be used for such purposes, but they are rarely found next to some guy lying dead in the street.

If physicians like Megan Ranney are going to go on national TV and raise concerns about the medical threat from guns, the least they could do is stop pretending that the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment needs to be respected when such respect is used to justify a level of violence which makes certain locations in America more dangerous than Honduras or El Salvador.

In 2017, El Salvador had a homicide rate of 62.1.  As of today, the 2023 homicide rate in Springfield’s South End is 244.

Did Sandy Hook Really Happen?

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              I was standing in my gun shop on Friday afternoon, December 14, 2012, when I got a telephone call from another gun dealer who had a shop located just across the state line in Massachusetts. This dealer asked me if I had heard about the shooting earlier that day in Newtown, and I laughed and said, “You mean someone didn’t get the booth they were promised at SHOT and settled his score with the NSSF?”

              The National Shooting Sports Foundation, also known as the NSSF, is the gun industry’s lobbying organization and also runs the gun industry’s annual trade show known as the SHOT show.

              I quickly learned that what had happened that morning was some young guy went into the elementary school at Sandy Hook, which is located right next to Newtown, killed 20 school kids and 6 adults before shooting himself in the head.

              After I put down the phone I began to feel physically sick, so I quickly locked up the shop, drove home and spent the next couple of hours lying in bed.

              Several hours after I got home, the TV I was watching broadcast the name of the shooter and said that he had killed all these kids and teachers with an AR-15. At which point I went back down to my shop and spent several frantic hours looking through the invoices for the previous several years, hoping to God that I wasn’t the dealer who had sold the kid his gun.

              It turned out that the shooter used a gun which was actually purchased by his mother who was also shot to death by her son before he drove to the Sandy Hook school and lit the place up. I’ll stop the narrative about what happened on December 14, 2012, because everyone knows about the terrible events which occurred that day.

              Everyone, that is, except Alex Jones, who spent the next several years fabricating and promoting a complete and total lie based on the idea that nobody was shot at Sandy Hook. According to Jones, who peddled this trash nightly on his Infowars show, the whole thing at Sandy Hook was staged by the government to promote a national elimination of civilian-owned guns and thus finally do away with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              Not only did Jones concoct a complete and total lie about the Sandy Hook massacre, but he insisted that the parents of the alleged victims, none of whom had actually been shot, were engaged in this conspiracy and actually made money by peddling a false narrative about their children being killed and used the fake story to raise funds which they kept for themselves.

              What Jones didn’t count on, however, was the energy and determination of a local attorney, Josh Koskoff, along with the grit of the Sandy Hook parents, who first filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the AR-15, which eventually resulted in a $73 million settlement for the plaintiffs against Remington Arms in 2022.

              It would be pretty hard to imagine that a company would pay out $73 million to compensate people for damages which never took place. So, it hardly comes as a big surprise that Jones is now being told to fork over $85 million by a Texas court where the defamation suit against him was filed, an amount which is actually far below the original $1.5 billion awarded but nobody expected Jones to come up with that kind of dough.

              Incidentally, it should be noted that Alex Jones was a featured speaker at the January 6th rally in D.C. which was then followed by the MAGA riot at the Capitol. Since Donald Trump’s claims of a ‘stolen election’ had about as much validity as the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre didn’t take place, it figures that Jones would show up to help promote another conspiracy theory that day.

              Aside from enjoying the spectacle of seeing Alex Jones humiliated for his nefarious and cruel attempt to use the grief of the Sandy Hook parents to bolster his bank account, this case is a reminder that mass shootings are real events which occur because individuals get their hands on products designed to end multiple human lives.

Anyone who pretends that an AR-15 is no different from any other ‘sporting’ gun should consider himself aligned with the theory that nothing of consequence happened at Sandy Hook.


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Want to End Gun Violence? Deal with Gun Risk.

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I have just stopped watching today’s hearing on a new gun bill that may come out of the Massachusetts legislature this year and will no doubt be signed by the Governor. Massachusetts happens to have the lowest rate of gun violence of all 50 states and also has the most comprehensive gun-control legal environment of all 50 states.

That being the case, why is a Joint Commission on Public Safety and Homeland Security holding a five-hour public hearing on a new gun bill? For two reasons. Reason Number 1: The last gun-control law was enacted in 1999 and certain developments, in particular a new ban on assault rifles and the appearance of ‘ghost guns’ are issues which need to be incorporated into laws; Reason Number 2: The Massachusetts Legislature is overwhelmingly a bunch of liberal Democrats who have no fear that a vote on gun control will hurt them in next year’s election.

The usual suspects showed up for their three minutes of testimony – this means the gun-control groups like Moms Demand Action and The Coalition to End Gun Violence, and the pro-gun advocacy group, Gun Owners Advocacy League, which claims to have 19,000 members but they must be counting everyone who ever was a member of the group.

In 2021, according to the CDC, Massachusetts suffered 247 gun deaths, of which 136 were suicides and 99 were homicides. In other words, the so-called ‘gun problem’ is really a mental health access problem, although some of the gun suicides may not have occurred if the poor victim had to figure out a more complicated way to kill himself than simply pulling the old firearm out and – bang!

As for homicides, there were also 465 deaths in 2021 from accidents involving motor vehicles, including motorcycles, but I don’t see anyone in the Legislature asking for a public hearing to talk about how the state could lower a death rate from car accidents which is 5 times higher than the homicide rate involving guns. I also don’t notice (and here’s a bit of my own editorializing) anyone on Beacon Hill saying anything about a state gasoline tax which is so goddamn low that the state has the absolutely worst, shittiest roads anywhere. Anyway, back to guns.

Even though the Massachusetts gun violence rate is lower than every other state, in certain respects the gun violence we have is no different from what exists everywhere else, namely, that gun assaults begin to appear in the late-teen, male population, which is when boys first get interested in guns.

The reason I think we see this profile everywhere in this country is because guns are accessible and younger males aren’t particularly risk-averse. That  being the case, I found it interesting that not one single legislator or speaker mentioned using the way we teach kids to be risk-averse when it comes to drugs or unprotected sex.

Both issues are taught in every public school in Massachusetts, but when it comes to violence, the approved curriculum deals only with bullying – the issue of gun risk is never raised, at least not in any formal way.

Meanwhile, teens are overwhelmed with media which glorifies gun violence – hip-hop, video, movies – which if anything, cuts down aversion to gun risk even more. And let’s not forget that video games are overwhelmingly shooting games which eliminate the gun-risk issue even more.

I once asked my son when he was a teenager how many times he had seen someone shot to death on movies or TV.

Answer: “Thousands of times.” And this conversation occurred when my son was in his 20’s, he’s now 43 years old.

I simply don’t understand how our elected officials can describe gun violence as a ‘public health issue’ and yet ignore the way we deal with other public health issues in the Bay State.

Maybe I just don’t understand what all these legislative experts understand about guns.

What Do We Know About Guns?

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One of the reasons I have always enjoyed writing about guns is that I don’t have to figure out a story line, or even come up with an idea. All I have to do is scan the daily media and wait for one of the major media outlets to put out a gun story because invariably the story is wrong.

And the reason the media gets it all wrong about guns is that if you’re hired by an outfit like the Washington Post, the chances are you come from a nice, college-educated, liberal background and people from that background don’t usually know anything about guns.

              And guns may be a consumer item found in many homes, but a gun sitting on someone’s night table or in a closet off the living room isn’t just like a car sitting out in the driveway or a new set of golf clubs in the car’s trunk.

              The gap, socially and otherwise, between people who own guns and people who don’t own guns is as wide as the Mississippi River when it rains for a couple of days and the river overflows its banks. Gun owners and non-gun owners in America may both speak the same language, but the words have entirely different meanings to gun-owning versus non-gun-owning folks.

              An example of this mental and cultural dichotomy is an article which just appeared in the Washington Post about a new survey on gun ownership which was commissioned by NBC News. The article was written by one of WaPo’s most active columnists, a guy named Philip Bump, who mostly covers politics, the topic which is usually the reason why people read the WaPo.

              The article is based on a poll taken by an outfit called Public Opinion Strategies, whose client list is a standard, D.C.-based collection of lobbying operations, advocacy groups and K Street tenants, none of whom have anything to do with guns.  I mean, when was the last time that the Coalition to Protect America’s Healthcare got involved in discussions about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?

              What the new poll showed is what is referred to as a ‘stunning’ increase in the number of homes which contain a gun, from 42% in 2013 up to 52% this year. This increase reflects both many more guns being sold, but also many guns going into households which previously didn’t contain a gun.

Except maybe this finding is true and maybe it’s not. First of all, like I said above, guns aren’t like golf clubs. There are all kinds of reasons why people won’t admit that they don’t own a gun, and I have yet to see the poll which attempts to sort that one out.

Since most gun owners have more than one gun lying around, did the big uptick in gun sales during the pandemic mean that current gun owners were buying more guns, or that new people were buying guns? The gun industry, of course, would like everyone to believe that more and more Americans are now armed, but there’s absolutely no proof that this is true, particularly because we also don’t know how many current gun owners die off from old age or other natural causes every year.

None of this would matter were it not for the fact that it is believed that the more guns we own, the more will also suffer from higher rates of crime, particularly violent crime.

That being the case, perhaps Phil Bump would like to explain how both gun purchases and street violence went way up during the Pandemic, but now that Covid-19 is under control and gun sales have slowed down, why does violent crime continue to increase?

You see, if you don’t know anything about guns, it’s convenient to create an argument which actually reflects your lack of knowledge because your readers for the most part also don’t know anything about guns.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of the arguments thrown out there by Gun-nut Nation to justify gun ownership are just as stupid and lacking in real facts as the arguments made by so-called experts who inform Gun-control Nation about the risks represented by guns.

In other words, here’s a contentious and endless public debate which has been going on for more than thirty years and is carried on without any necessary attention to relevant information or facts.

But after all, if the 2nd Amendment gives us the ‘right’ to own a gun, doesn’t the 1st Amendment give us the ‘right’ to shoot off our mouths? Pardon the pun.

Just What We Need – Another Gun Argument.

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              Here we go again. Something scary happens, people get worried about their security and safety, and everyone rushes out to buy a gun.

              And the moment gun sales go up, both sides in the gun debate begin telling all their followers either that this proves how much Americans rely on guns or self-defense (the Gun-nut Nation line) or how much guns contribute to violence and crime (the Gun-control Nation line.)

              Both arguments may be effective when it comes to raising money for advocacy, political campaigns, and every other messaging campaign which both sides promote all the time, except there’s one, little problem: neither argument really addresses the only issue which really needs to be addressed.

              And the issue is that the United States experiences an annual toll of fatal injuries caused by guns which is 7 to 20 times higher than what occurs in any other advanced (OECD) nation-state.

              What can we do to stem the tide? Gun-control Nation says we need stricter gun laws, Gun-nut Nation says we need more guns.

              The argument that gun violence can be reduced by stricter licensing requirements for gun ownership (stricter licensing was just invalidated in Maryland and Oregon) rests on the assumption that there’s some connection between people who use guns to shoot other people and people who will obey laws.

              There has yet to be one, single study ever conducted anywhere which tells us how many of the 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal injuries committed by someone shooting someone else every year are committed by people who own legally licensed guns.

              But Gun-control Nation knows that we need to make laws covering gun purchasing and gun ownership even stricter and more comprehensive, right?

              For that matter, there’s also never been a valid study which tells us how many times a serious crime was prevented because someone who was about to be attacked let the attacker know that he or she was carrying a gun.

              Yea, yea, there’s all kinds of anecdotes and media stories about how this man or this woman defended themselves or their families by pulling out a gun and aiming it or actually shooting a street thug. Meanwhile, the NRA publishes a monthly report about such events and at most the count never gets above 15 or so ‘armed citizen’ accounts.

              Want to compare that number to the 300 illegal shootings which occur every day?

              On the other hand, none of those illegal or inappropriate shootings are done with some old, rusted piece of shit gun which was found in Grandpa’s basement after he was carted off to the nursing home and the kids then brought the gun into my shop for five or ten bucks.

But the guy who buys that gun from me ‘for parts’ jumps through the exact, same legal hoops which another guy jumps through when he comes into my gun shop and buys a Glock and three extra high-capacity magazines or an AR-15.

We don’t have a ‘gun problem’ in the United States. We have a problem with two sides in the gun debate, both sides well-financed, active, and loud, who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Want to reduce or eliminate gun violence? Get rid of the guns used to cause the violence which, by the way, don’t happen to be a majority of all those 300 or 400 million guns that Americans allegedly happen to own.

And the reason I say ‘allegedly’ is because when someone conducts a survey on how many homes contain guns and they get someone on the phone who says ‘yes,’ there are guns in my home, does the survey-taker ever ask that person when was the last time he or she actually put their hands on one of those guns?

I can’t count the number of times that someone would come into my shop and ask me whether they needed to report a ‘lost’ gun. Was the gun stolen? No – the gun was sitting under some pile of junk in the basement or out in the garage.

Want to reduce gun violence? It’s very simple – know what you’re talking about before shooting off your mouth – pardon my pun.

Want to Reduce Gun Violence? Try This.


              One of the reasons why the gun industry began promoting the sale of handguns for self-defense was that the mid-1970’s, the sport of hunting began to die out largely because the American population had become overwhelmingly suburbanized, and hunting had always been more or less a rural sport.

              Unfortunately, as more handguns, particularly semi-automatic pistols with high-capacity, military ammunition came onto the market, more of those guns ended up in the wrong hands and we now have an endemic problem of gun violence which results in more than 100,000 deaths and serious injuries every year.

              The result of this focus on guns for self-defense (which often turns out to be self-offense) is a continual tug-of-war between pro-gun and anti-gun groups, with what seems to be a new gun-control law passed in one state every other week, and another gun-control law being reversed in another state every other week.

              Earlier this week, a Federal court threw out Maryland’s gun-licensing statute, saying it violated 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,.’ The same day, an Oregon judge ruled that a new gun-control law violated the state constitution. Both decisions will be appealed, and the legal battle drags on.

              I find it absolutely bizarre that someone who walks into my gun shop and buys a semi-automatic pistol with extra magazines which hold 15 rounds of military-grade ammo, only needs to pass the same legal review that someone has to pass who comes in and buys some rusted, old shotgun which may not even work. The fact that we have an entire regulatory system for guns which focuses entirely on the lawfulness of the gun owner and completely ignores the lethality of the owner’s gun is the reason that we suffer from gun violence at a rate 7 to 20 times higher than any other advanced, nation-state.

              What needs to happen in order for this country to stop suffering the enormous yearly toll from the misuse of guns is a change in culture and a change in how we think about and go about using guns. And it will only happen if the change is led by gun owners themselves.

              Which is why we need to pay some attention to a new organization called the High School Clay Target League, which now has active chapters in – ready? – 43 states, including such anti-gun states as California, New York, and Illinois.

              The high school students who join these teams compete in local, regional, and even national competitions, receive a safety certification and best of all, spend their time using guns only for sport shooting, not as a way to settle an argument or stick up the local convenience store.

              The organization claims to be the fastest-growing high school sporting activity in the United States, which is probably true if only because I can’ t think of any other ‘new’ sport which has recently come on the scene, and every high school has all the usual team sports – baseball, football, basketball – that it’s ever going to have.

              And yes, this clay target sport is co-ed. In fact, most of the winners of the various competitions tend to be females.

              I don’t notice, incidentally, that this organization finds it necessary to worry about the transgender issue although I’m sure that among the 45,000 students who have joined a team in this league, there must be a few, how shall we say, non-traditional kids.

              The only media notice I have seen on this issue is a recent story posted by Fox. Now you would think that this kind of approach to guns would be something that Gun-control Nation would want to shout out about, but when it comes to changing culture, I’m not sure that my liberal, anti-gun friends have the slightest interest in doing something positive about how guns are regarded in American life.

              After all, if there’s one thing which is more American than guns, it’s complaining about guns, which is also a culture that needs to change.

How Come Gun Violence Keeps Going Up?

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              I live in a tiny hamlet called Pelham, MA but I do most of my writing in an office space in Springfield. Yesterday about a mile from where I work, four people were gunned down in the street, and so far, one of them has died. It goes without saying that when the cops showed up, ‘nobody saw nuttin.’

              This shooting marks the 29th homicide in Springfield this year, which sets a new record, and so far gives the city an annual per-100K homicide rate of 18.23. 

              In 2021, the last year for which we have state-by-state homicide numbers courtesy of the CDC, the statewide rate for Massachusetts was 2.29, with only Idaho being slightly less at 2.16.  Of that statewide number of 160 homicides, 99 were caused with the use of a gun, which means that gun violence in Massachusetts was only 60% of all fatal violence, as compared to the national average which is around 70%.

              Either way, my friends in Gun-control Nation, both the advocates and the public health researchers, always point to Massachusetts as an example of how more restrictive gun laws results is less gun violence.

              What the numbers above really demonstrate, however, is that calculating gun violence based on statewide numbers simply creates an illusion as to what gun violence in the United States is really all about and how we should go about trying to reduce or (God forbid) eliminate the toll.

              The shootings in Springfield this week took place in a neighborhood known as the North End. How many people live in that neighborhood? Probably around 4,000, give or take a few. So, if you take a walk in that neighborhood, you are walking down streets where the gun-violence rate is around 600, because in fact, the North End isn’t as violent a neighborhood as the South End, which is where my office space happens to be.

              In 2020, El Salvador had the highest murder rate of any country in the world (or at least any country which attempts to count its annual homicides) with a per-100K rate of 61.8. Is it possible that there’s a neighborhood in any American city which experiences ten times the annual murders which occur in El Salvador?

              Not only is it possible, but I’ll bet that if I were to calculate the murder rate in the ten cities with the highest murder numbers in the United States, each of these cities would have at least one neighborhood which experienced homicides and gun violence with numbers that are no different from what goes on in Springfield every year.

              Why does a state like Massachusetts have the lowest rate of violence of all 50 states and yet has a city with a neighborhood which is more violent than the worst, most violent countries in the world?

              I’ll tell you why. Because one has nothing to do with the other.

              If I walk south from Springfield’s South End I can be in the adjacent town of Longmeadow which has a population of somewhere around 16,000. How many homicides have occurred in Longmeadow over the last five years? The same number as the number of homicides which have happened in Longmeadow in the last ten years, or maybe the last twenty years, i.e., none, as in zero, okay?

              Actually in 2022, someone was killed in Longmeadow in connection with a crime. The crime was reckless homicide, and the criminal was a local kid who was completely drunk, smashed a car into a tree and a female passenger in the car had her head smashed to bits.

              This is the kind of violence which occurs in towns like Longmeadow where the teenage kids drive around in new cars, smoke a doobie or two and then take their hands off the steering wheel to open a can of beer.

              Do we have very strict laws on DUI? Yep, we sure do. Does Massachusetts have the strictest gun control law in the United States? Yep, it sure does.

              And by the way, when gun violence shot up during the Pandemic, all the experts knew that the increase was caused by all the stressors of that disease, and such social pressures – unemployment, family violence – were much worse in ‘underserved’ neighborhoods which is why shootings kept happening at an accelerated rate.

              So, now there’s no Pandemic but gun violence rates are even worse. Oh well, oh well.

Another ‘Safe’ Gun.

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              Every once in a while, someone comes up with yet another bright idea for how we can reduce gun violence by making the products whose use results in the violence more ‘safe.’  For a couple of years, the ‘safe gun’ movement featured technologies which only allowed a gun’s owner to shoot the gun by matching his or her fingerprint to an electronic sensor on the grip of the gun.

              Now our friends at The Trace have discovered a new approach to gun safety being developed by a company which manufactures and sells something they call ‘less lethal’ guns, which use ammunition made out of plastic which cannot penetrate human flesh like a solid metal bullet and therefore can’t cause the kind of tissue damage which leads to serious bleeding and then leads to death.

              The company, Bryna Technologies, is selling their guns on their website for $379 and $479 bucks and you can also buy these products on Amazon where the listings refer to them as ‘launchers’ and say that what you are buying is an – ready? – ‘un-gun.’

              The Amazon listing goes on to say, “Looks like a gun, performs like a gun, but designed to be non-lethal.”

            Because this so-called ‘launcher’ uses a CO2 charge to propel the plastic round, it doesn’t meet the legal definition of a gun and therefore no background check or licensing is required in order to buy or carry what is, when all is said and done, a rather expensive toy.

              Actually, products like the so-called ‘launchers’ being made and marketed by Bryna have been around for a long time. They are called ‘paintball’ guns, and you can buy one for a hundred bucks or so at Wal Mart, Dick’s and just about everywhere else which sells toys which look like guns but aren’t really guns.

              I must have owned a dozen or so water guns when I was a kid and there’s a company out there now called HydroGlock which makes a water gun which looks exactly like a Glock. The basic model costs $40 and has an effective range of about 30 feet. Buy a couple of these guns and let your 10-year-old son and his friends run around in the back yard shooting each other all day.

              What makes the products from Bryna different is not their design but rather the messaging which the company is using to promote itself to the buying public because for the first time we have a non-lethal gun which is being advertised as doing exactly the same thing that a standard, lethal gun will do, namely, protect its user from some bad-guy threat.

              In other words, what we have here is an attempt to cash in on what has become Gun-nut Nation’s obsession with armed self-defense, while at the same time appealing to Gun-control’s concerns about the lethality of guns.

              I’m in no position to predict whether a company selling what is an alternative to the products that are usually purchased for armed, self-defense will make any kind of dent in the market over the next couple of years.

              The issue which needs to be addressed, however, is not whether the sale of such guns will give the manufacturer(s) a bang for their buck (no pun intended.) The more important issue, which isn’t addressed directly or even indirectly in the article, is what will be the impact of such products on the current rate of gun violence which lately seems to be spiraling out of sight?

              In 2021, the last year for which the CDC has published data, there were 48,830 deaths from gunshots, of which 549, or 1.1% were accidental shootings. The other 48,281 fatalities occurred because someone picked up a gun, pointed it at themselves or someone else with the intention of committing serious bodily harm. The CDC has given up trying to come up with a number for the non-fatal, intentional shootings which occur every year, but I suspect that if the agency could develop a valid method for tracking such events, it would add at least another 60,000 or so to the overall gun-violence rate.

              The individuals who engage in shooting a gun at themselves or someone else with the conscious intention of committing serious harm up to and including death have any interest in using a non-lethal gun. To the contrary, for purposes of why such men (and it’s almost always men) carry guns, the more lethal the better, not the other way around.

              The Trace says its role is to “investigate gun violence in America.” That’s fine. That’s what they should do and generally speaking, they do it very well.

              But this article has nothing to do with gun violence at all, and if Bryna Technologies is hoping to expand its market, the company might try to figure out a way to justify spending $400 to buy a toy.

              I can buy an X-Box video console plus the latest version of Call of Duty for $500 bucks. All Bryna needs to do is add some targets to their package and they’re good to go.

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