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How Come Thoughts and Prayers Don’t End Gun Violence?

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              So, yesterday, somebody evidently walked into a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, pulled out a gun, and by the time he or she was finished shooting the place up, at least five people were dead, and another dozen were injured.

              This time, the thought and prayers were first sent out by the nightclub itself, which also praised some patrons for how quickly they subdued the individual who had the gun.

              The reason I’m not yet sure about the gender of the shooter is that the club, Club Q, isn’t just another place which wants gay patrons to feel welcome. In fact, it promotes itself as an LBGTQ club, not just some gay club, okay?

              Remember back in 2016 when a guy killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando? There were thoughts and prayers all over the place after that mass shooting took place. For that matter, when 58 people were shot to death at a rock concert in Las Vegas and hundreds were injured, even Donald Trump got onto the thoughts and prayers bandwagon following that 2017 event.

              The truth is, there’s only one way that we will get rid of mass shootings, which continue not occur with an almost banal frequency in the United States. And that way is to get rid of the guns which are used to commit mass shootings, meaning guns which shoot military-style ammunition from bottom-loading, semi-automatic guns.

              Note that I say ‘get rid of’ those guns. Not ‘control’ those guns. Not ‘better regulate’ those guns. Get rid of the goddamn guns, period.

              I have been writing about guns and gun violence for more than ten years, and during that time, at least 160,000 Americans have died because someone stuck a loaded gun in their faces, pulled the trigger and – blam! 

              The pro-gun gang of course explains this loss of lives as the price we have to pay to protect our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The anti-gun gang, on the other hand, says that we can solve the problem by a) getting more research funds from the CDC; b) pass laws which allow people to request that guns be taken away from individuals after they behave in a menacing way; c) ban the sale of new semi-automatic guns but let the 100 million semi-auto guns that are already out there remain in place.

              This is all bullsh*t on both sides, and everyone knows it’s bullsh*t, by the way. But in a country of 326 million people, another ten or twenty thousand unnecessary deaths each year is no big deal, particularly when you can use those deaths to send out an appeal for more funds.

              I have a friend named Mike Hirsh, who is a physician at U/Mass. Memorial Hospital in Worcester, MA. He has gotten together with Pina Violano, the Injury Prevention Coordinator at Yale – New haven Hospital, and together these two individuals (and some others) are committed to doing the one thing that will ever make a difference to gun-violence rates in this country, which is to promote and organize gun buybacks in communities throughout the United States.

              So far in 2022, Hirsh and Violano have become aware of 58 buybacks that have been held in 15 states, but there are probably other buyback events which have occurred. Of course, if you listen to some of the gun-control experts out there, gun buybacks ‘don’t work.’ This is the judgement of Garen Wintemute, who is invariably quoted by the media in a town where a buyback has just taken place.

              But Wintemute doesn’t know what he’s talking about because a voluntary return of guns is not and should not be judged as a program to reduce gun violence. Rather, the whole point of a buyback, which is not a confiscation of guns, is to get people thinking about and talking about the risk to community safety represented by guns.

              Right now, somewhere around 60% of all Americans believe that a home containing a gun is a safer place than a home without a gun. And since maybe 40% of all American homes contain a legal gun, obviously there are lots of non-gun owners out there who also think that having that old Smith & Wesson lying around is a good thing.

              Now the fact that research published thirty years ago indisputably found that access to guns creates medical risk shouldn’t be taken as the last word on why every red-blooded American should own a gun. After all, what do scientists know that the NRA doesn’t know, right?

              I still don’t understand why the gun-control community continues to twist itself in knots to avoid saying what needs to be said, which is the way you reduce a risk to health is to get rid of the risk. Or should we try to reduce the health risks from contaminated water by telling everyone to buy bottled water at Costco and stay away from the tap?

              Maybe that’s what we should be telling those poor bastards who drank poisoned water at Camp LeJeune.

              I hate to break it to some of my public health or medical friends, but there’s no way you can make a Glock ‘safe.’ Gaston Glock didn’t design his gun to be ‘safe.’ He designed his gun to be used to end human life. That’s the only reason for anyone to buy, own and walk around with a Glock or another similar type of gun. Cops? Yep. Everyone else? Nope.

              Would it hurt Mike Bloomberg’s bank account to fund a gun buyback in all 50 states? He can be reached at mike@mikebloomberg.com.

Ladies – Don’t Want to Be Abused? Get a Gun.

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              Brittany Smith is a 34-year-old Alabama resident who at the moment is doing time in the county jail of Montgomery County, A L. She also happens to be featured in a documentary movie, ‘State of Alabama versus Brittany Smith’ which can be viewed on Netflix.

              Brittany is behind bars today for violating a probation order which was part of plea deal she made in 2020 following her conviction for fatally shooting a guy, Todd Smith (no relation) who got into a fight with her and her brother Chris. The altercation took place in Brittany’s house where Todd was staying overnight.

              At some point during the evening, according to Brittany and Chris, Todd attempted to rape Brittany and also beat her severely, then started beating on Chris, at which Brittany picked up her brother’s gun and that was the end of Todd Smith.

              What made this story the subject of a movie was Brittany’s decision to mount a defense of her behavior by citing Alabama’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) law which was passed in 2006 and allows someone to use lethal force against an attacker both within the home as well as in the street.

              In order to use an SYG defense, a judge holds a hearing prior to the trial to determine whether SYG can be the grounds for a defendant to answer a charge of fatal or non-fatal assault. In Brittany Smith’s case, the judge – a woman – ruled the defendant could not invoke a SYG defense, which is why Brittany copped a plea for homicide, did some time, then was released on probation, broke the probation, and ended up back in jail.

              In the United States, women are the victims in one out of every five homicides, which happens to be the average rate for females killed throughout the have been world, according to the U.N. But while most killings where the victim is a male occur during gang-related or robbery-related events, homicides which produce a female victim are overwhelmingly the product of a domestic conflict between male and female partners which often are the culmination of long-term, continuous abuse. In fact, the WHO estimates that one-third of all women have been physically abused by a male partner at some point during their lives.

              Thanks to the #MeToo movement, women are no longer the ‘unseen’ victims in case of domestic abuse. But where women still lag far behind men in protecting themselves legally from an abusive male partner is when they react to an assault with physical force and then attempt to justify their behavior by asserting a Stand Your Ground defense.

              The whole point of the Netflix documentary is to show that while SYG is frequently and successfully used by men to defend themselves from a charge of battery or worse, women like Brittany Smith who claim a SYG defense, usually still wind up behind bars.

              When the NRA made an incredibly stupid move to become the Warner Bros. of the gun business by starting up a video-streaming channel called NRA-TV, they hired Dana Loesch away from The Blaze and made her the organization’s communicator to women, the idea being that maybe this would result in an uptick of gun sales to the fairer sex.

              So, Dana made some of the dumbest video messages ever put out anywhere, in which she proclaimed that women needed to buy and carry guns in order to protect themselves and their families from ‘street thugs.’ Term ‘street thug’ is a euphemism for what we used to call the ‘element,’ which denotes people whose skin color is such that if they move into the neighborhood, the value of your house will go straight down.  

              The NRA wasn’t about to help women deal with domestic violence because some of those guys who come home half sh*tfaced from the saloon and slap the old lady around are maybe members of the NRA. So all the NRA managed to accomplish by pissing away the cost of producing these incredibly stupid videos was to generate a response from our friends in Gun-control Nation who began promoting ‘red flag’ laws which allow women to elect the tiresome process of going into court and asking a judge to take the guns away from an abusive guy. Except the man can still do a pretty good job on the old lady’s face and bod by using his fists.

              A physician who treated Brittany Smith after she stopped Todd from beating on her by blowing a hole in his chest, found that she had suffered more than 30 separate wounds to various parts of her body, including bite marks on her cheeks and choke marks around her neck.

              But the last thing my friends in Gun-control Nation are about to do is consider the idea that perhaps women should think about arming themselves against abusive or threatening men.

              I’m not necessarily saying that every law-abiding female should trot over to the local gun shop and buy a Glock or a Sig. What I am saying is that men who abuse women need to be stopped from indulging in such behavior in the most immediate and forceful way.

              Got a better idea for how to get this message across than waving a gun in the guy’s face?

Why Not Kick John Lott Around Again?

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              Several years ago, an energetic journalist, Mike Spies, wrote a long and detailed article about financial mismanagement at the NRA which almost cut America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ down at the knees. The organization survived but the research by Spies may have cost the gun-rights group to lose more than $50 million in annual dues.

              Spies has recently published another detailed piece of research, this time aiming at John Lott, a self-employed economist whose pro-gun work has, according to Spies, “provided the empirical justification for looser firearms laws.” In particular, Lott has testified before legislative committees which have crafted ‘stand your ground’ and concealed-carry laws, he has also submitted documentation in courtroom cases, including a recent California case where the judge cited Lott’s work as the basis for overturning the state’s assault-rifle ban.

              Lott’s fundamental work is a book, More Guns, Less Crime, published by the prestigious University of Chicago Press. The book was initially published in 1998, has gone through multiple editions, and is regularly cited by just about every pro-gun politician and advocate promoting the easing of regulatory constraints of guns.

              Although the book is chock-full of data, as well as endless statistical analysis, Lott’s argument is rather simple insofar as he finds a positive correlation between the issuance of concealed-carry licenses in various states and a consequent drop in violent crime (murder and assaults) in those same states. He also finds an increase in covert crime (burglary) in most of those same states.

              Putting the data together, Lott argues that when criminals believe their intended crime victims may be armed, they switch to crimes in which there is no human element to concern them. Which means that what we get is a society which as it becomes more armed, is also a safer society in which to live.

              Lott’s argument is one of a number of attempts to explain the rather remarkable 50% drop in violent crime which occurred in the United States beginning in the early 1990’s, coincident with the increase in concealed-carry licenses where 16 states automatically issued concealed-carry licenses in 1992, a number which increased to 30 states by 1998.

              In the interests as they say of full disclosure, I must state that Lott and I are good friends and I support his research because he is the one scholar doing work on gun violence who has actually gone out and created an original data collection by tracking the issuance of concealed-carry licenses in every state. His critics in the gun-control scholarly community invariably rely on secondary data sources and I am one of these old-fashioned scholars who believes that an important role of research is to identify and promote primary resources on which to base research.

              I also happen to disagree with Lott’s argument about criminals switching from personal to non-personal criminality because they fear that their victims may be armed, for the simple reason that his argument assumes that we are talking about the same criminals who switch their criminal modus operandi because they believe that the ‘good guys’ are now walking around with guns.  The fact that Lott finds a coincidental shift in criminality and licensing doesn’t necessarily mean that we have any kind of cause and effect.

              By the same token, however, I am even less impressed by the work of Lott’s critics who take him to task either by creating statistical models which produce different results simply by changing the statistical parameters whether such changes bear any relationship to reality at all (Donahue) or the regression analysis which finds that the United States has such a high level of violent criminality because Americans own so many guns (Hemenway). Since violent crimes are overwhelmingly committed with the use of illegal guns, what difference does it make if we have hundreds of millions of legal guns floating around?

              The issue which neither Mike Spies nor anyone else in the gun-control research/journalist community has yet to explore is why we continue to debate and (on rare occasion) pass laws which only further regulate the behavior of lawful gun owners who relatively rarely show up as the individuals annually committing 100,000 criminal assaults with guns?

              And this number of gun crimes is probably way below what the real number happens to be, for the simple reason that lots of gun assaults occur with nobody getting injured or killed. And I am still waiting for the first gun-control researcher to even acknowledge that we have absolutely no idea how many guns are carried around every day for no lawful purpose at all.

Do You Need a Self-Defense Gun?

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              Sometime in the next month, I am going to announce the launch of a new organization called SAFE, which stands for Security and Firearms Education. It will be an organization that will produce and disseminate informational resources to help individuals understand the laws, context, and proficiency training required to use a gun effectively and safely for armed, self-defense.

              You might wonder how come someone who has been an outspoken advocate of gun control for the last decade would be willing to switch sides, so to speak, and now start promoting the ownership and use of self-defense guns? That’s a good question, and here’s my response.

              I published my first comments about gun violence in May 2013. Since that time, more than 150,000 Americans have been shot to death by other Americans, and probably another 750,000 or more Americans have been shot but survived their wounds. In other words, the number of victims who were injured or killed by someone else using a gun is now approaching one million over the ten years since I started writing about guns.

              What has been the response of the advocates and researchers who are shocked and saddened by this state of affairs? The answer to this uniquely American type of behavior is to mandate more gun-control regulations against legal gun owners whose legal status is based on the belief that they can be trusted not to commit violent behavior with their guns.

              Are there times that legal gun owners do things with their guns that they shouldn’t do with their guns? Of course. Since when have human beings ever been error-free?

              But the last time I looked at the Violence Policy Center’s report on concealed killers, the number of fatal assaults by private citizens who were legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon averages about 150 fatal assaults per year, a number which also includes some suicides, by the way. Want to compare that number to the 20,000 or so gun homicides committed each year, almost all of which are the work of individuals who cannot legally own guns?

              Don’t get me wrong. I don’t buy the argument that if everyone were walking around with a gun, that violent crime would go down. By the same token, I don’t buy the argument that individuals walking around with guns are committing all those fatal and non-fatal gun assaults.

              Back in June, when the Supreme Court struck down New York’s law which requires that concealed-carry applicants show valid cause for needing to walk around with a gun, the various GVP groups all knew ‘for a fact’ that New York was heading for an Armageddon of gun violence, no matter what.

              I am still waiting for the first piece of evidence-based research which definitively shows a connection between the issuance of concealed-carry licenses and a substantive, verifiable increase in violent crime. Sorry, but just finding a coincidence between when a law is changed and how people behave isn’t cause and effect.

              I have sold thousands of guns to people who walked into my gun shop and said they wanted to buy a gun for armed, self-defense. Most of these customers were kids who had been playing video shooting games as they grew up and now were old enough to have the real thing.

              At some point I sent emails and asked several hundred of these customers how often they were walking around with their self-defense gun. Less than 10 percent of the people who responded to my email said they were carrying their gun on a regular basis – the rest were walking around with a concealed weapon occasionally or not at all.

              Here’s what happens when you begin carrying a self-defense gun. You discover that there are places you can’t bring the gun, like shopping malls or restaurants that serve booze. You also discover that the gun is heavy, it’s bulky, so you won’t carry it during the warm months because it looks kind of stupid to be wearing an overcoat at the beach.

              For all the complaints from the gun-control folks about how issuing concealed-carry licenses increases risk, has there ever been one study which seeks to figure out how many of those newly licensed gunslingers are actually walking around with their cherished guns? Nope, not one.

              Why do most people buy Apple phones or droids? Not because they actually need to use the device, but because everyone else has one and looking at some video or sending a text is fun.

              Think it’s any different with people who buy self-defense guns? It’s not.

              But an iPhone 13 is one thing, a Glock is something else. So, to help those new owners understand the lethality and risk of the self-defense gun they just bought, I will shortly be putting up a website which tells them what they need to consider if they want to engage in armed, self-defense.

The website will have three content pages, one which explains the legal issues surrounding armed, self-defense, along with another page telling owners of self-defense guns how to determine whether the guy coming towards them is really a threat, and another page describing a 10-minute, daily exercise to develop and maintain necessary muscle memory which doesn’t require using a gun.

I may also add a page specifically geared towards women who want to defend themselves or others with a gun.

Everyone knows that guns represent a risk. If their lethality didn’t create risk nobody would consider using them for self-defense. But you’re not going to convince anyone to restrain from buying or using a self-defense gun by publishing some data-laden article in a public health journal which shows some kind of ‘correlation’ between access to guns and 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun assaults every year.

Every time I turn on my car’s engine and back out of the driveway, I’m taking a risk. Every time I gobble down a handful of those Lay’s potato chips, I’m taking a risk.     Every time I plunk down some dough to buy shares in the latest ‘hot’ social media company, I’m taking a risk.

How come we are so benign about certain risks and so hostile to other risks? How many Americans still believe that getting vaccinated against Covid-19 guarantees that, sooner or later, you’ll come down with the disease?

If nothing else, my new website is an attempt to inject a little bit of reality into the gun debate.

Are Guns ‘Good’ or ‘Bad?’ Both Sides Get It Wrong.

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              I have been paying attention to the debate about guns and gun violence since I read the research published by Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published in 1993, research which found that access to guns represented a risk to health.  This argument inaugurated a debate about the social utility of guns which is still going on.

              On the one side we have Gary Kleck, who published a study in 1995 claiming that individuals who brandished or occasionally fired guns, prevented several million crimes every year.

              On the other side, we have David Hemenway, who found that America’s fatal violence was 7 to 20 times higher than other advanced countries because Americans own so many guns.

              What we end up with is that guns are ‘good’ because they are used to prevent crime, versus guns are ‘bad’ because their presence results in more crime.

              It goes without saying that the two schools of research – ‘good’ guns versus ‘bad’ guns – are used to create and bolster the narratives of the organizations which advocate for more (ex. NRA) or fewer (ex. Brady) guns.

I believe both narratives are wrong to the point of being delusional because neither argument is based on a valid analysis of the data they cite, and both arguments end up telling the two, respective sides what these researchers want them to hear, which makes the arguments delusional, at best.

The tone of this brief essay may sound both arrogant and unyielding, but over the past 60 years I have been a retailer, wholesaler, certified trainer, importer, and manufacturer of guns. I have discussed guns with thousands of gun owners, including the twelve thousand who were students in the required gun-safety course I taught from 2003 until 2014. So, when it comes to guns, I know what I’m talking about. Now, back to how both sides in the gun debate get it wrong.

              Guns are good:  Kleck looked at how guns allegedly prevent crime by conducting several thousand telephone interviews, then took the percentage of gun-owning respondents who claimed they used a gun in self-defense, extrapolated to an estimate of how many gun owners were alive in the 1990’s, and came up with his results.

              People who were interviewed by Kleck’s team were asked all the usual questions about who they were, where they lived, when were they forced to use a gun in self-defense, and what happened as a result. They had to provide their age, their gender, their race, all the usual demographic stuff.

              But there was one question they weren’t asked: In the confrontation with the attacker, were they using a legally owned gun?

              How can you understand how people behave with guns if you don’t differentiate between legal and illegal guns? You can’t.

              Actually, you can, but your results will be meaningless for a very simple reason, namely, because it’s the guys walking around with illegal guns who are the guys that get into situations where they either are attacked or believe they are about to be attacked by someone else.

              Guns are bad:  Hemenway’s says the United States has so much fatal violence is because we own so many guns. No other country has a per-capita rate of gun ownership which exceeds more than one gun per person.

Except what Hemenway glosses over is that a large majority of those hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of American gun owners are never used in violent events. They are rifles used to shoot Bambi or shotguns used to knock a bird out of a tree.

              So how do you make an argument which correlates the number of guns with the number of fatal assaults when the number you are using to represent the available guns is probably three or four times higher than it should be? You can make that argument all you want, except the argument is simply wrong.

              The reason we have gun violence is that we are the only country in the entire world which gives residents free access to the kinds of guns designed specifically to be used in person-to-person assaults. Semi-automatic, bottom-loading pistols made by companies like Glock, Sig, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, et. al., aren’t ‘sporting’ guns. They are ‘weapons of war,’ and are carried by tactical and military personnel worldwide.

              And by the way, for all the talk about how Americans have a ‘right’ to own such guns thanks to the 2nd-Amendment decision written by Tony Scalia in 2008, his opinion specifically denied Constitutional protections for ‘weapons of war.’

              Want to get rid of gun violence? It’s very simple. Limit the carrying the guns used to commit gun violence to police and others who are required to carry a gun as part of their job.

              The day that any one of the gun-control groups says this out loud, we’ll actually have a chance to reduce the violence caused by using guns.

              That was a tough one, wasn’t it?

A Must-Read Novel by Joyce Carol Oates

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              Joyce Carol Oates isn’t a gun nut, that’s for sure. But the way a gun briefly appears in her latest novel, Babysitter, makes this work something which every gun nut should read.

              I’m not going to discuss the novel’s plot because I don’t want to rob anyone of the pleasure of reading every word without knowing what the next word is going to be. But when Joyce Carol Oates describes how people feel and think about anything that happens in their lives, you won’t get it better or richer from anyone else.

              The scene involving a gun takes place with a man and a wife. He has bought a self-defense gun and pulls it out, shows her how to hold it, load it, pull the trigger and now she’s ready to defend herself and the kids in case someone tries to get into the house and do them harm.

              The wife, of course, knows from nothing about guns. And despite being reassured by her husband that a gun is the best way to prevent any trouble, she basically tells herself that she doesn’t feel ready or able to use a gun in self-defense.

              That’s it. The whole scene is one page in a novel which runs 432 printed pages front to back. But in this one, very brief episode, we are given an extraordinary insight into the whole, contemporary problem known as gun violence which the author of this brilliant novel, knowingly or not, seems to understand.

              I’ll return to Babysitter shortly, but first let me create a proper context for the appearance of a gun in this book.

              In 1986, the U.S. gun market absorbed 3,741,934 new guns, of which 1,655,387 or 44%, were handguns. In 2019, the market absorbed 10,998,608 new guns, of which 6,221,322, or 57% were handguns. Ever since the 1980’s, the gun market has increasingly been driven by a demand for handguns, because the only gun owners out there buying rifles and shotguns for hunting are old farts like me. Kids don’t hunt.

              Pistols are designed and carried only for armed, self-defense. Many revolvers are also purchased and carried for self-protection, including the revolver owned by the husband in the book written by Joyce Carol Oates.

              The husband seems to think that all he needs to do is show the wife how the gun works, and she’ll be able to use it to protect herself and the kids when they are home.

              The wife knows better. In just a couple of paragraphs, Joyce Carol Oates conveys the woman’s combination of fear, doubt, and anxiety which she feels just by looking at a gun.

              These emotions were exactly what I observed in the behavior of more than a thousand women who took the safety course that my state mandated in order to get licensed to buy, own or carry a gun. The women who took my course were either wives or girlfriends of men who owned guns, and they were getting licensed because my state (Massachusetts) has the toughest gun access law of all 50 states.

              The law basically says that every adult in the household must be licensed to access guns if any member of the household wants to keep guns in the home. Of these thousand women or so who took the safety course, the number who were going to buy their own guns was less than ten.

The women who took the course showed up when their husbands or partners also took the course. Most of the seven thousand enrollees in the course were men, and most of the men showed up for the course with other men.

I required every student in the course to shoot some rounds with a 22-caliber Ruger pistol, just to get the feeling for what happens when a gun is shot off. The male students couldn’t wait to get down to the range and fire away. The women were reluctant at best to shoot a live gun, at worst they were so frightened that they either started crying when the gun kicked back after firing or dropped the gun.

I don’t know how many of the men who got licensed as gun owners ever took the time and the trouble to go to a range on a frequent basis in order to develop and then maintain the proficiency needed to use a gun in self-defense. But if they thought that just by dint of owning a gun they could use a gun properly for self-defense, they were wrong.

In Babysitter, the husband simply assumes that his wife will be able to use a gun for self-defense because he tells her how to use the gun if someone tries to break into their home. And this totally delusional attitude on the part of the husband is described perfectly by Joyce Carol Oates.

It goes without saying that I loved this book, and you’ll love it too.

The CDC Funds More Research on Gun Violence. Yea – So What?

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              Two years ago, Gun-control Nation exulted when the CDC put money into its budget to support research on gun violence and then awarded almost $8 million for grants to conduct studies on how and why Americans keep injuring themselves and others with guns.

              The CDC has just announced a second wave of research funding that will result in $2.5 million being spent on four new research projects, the monies to go “to improve understanding of firearm injury, inform the development of innovative and promising prevention strategies, and rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to keep individuals, families, schools, and communities safe from firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime.”

              Taken together, these two funding efforts total slightly more than $10 million. Meanwhile, in the two years since the first dollars were expended, gun violence has reached levels that have never previously been achieved, with the 2020 number for gun-violence deaths more than 30% higher than annual counts in the years at the turn of the century and numbers for 2021 and 2022 promise to be higher still.

              Since Friday, 138 people have been gunned down and killed, which is probably about half the actual number because the media sources used by our friends at the Gun Violence Archive are, by definition, incomplete, plus a number of the victims who are hospitalized with gun injuries will be released from medical treatment when they are dead.

              Or better yet, some of the victims of gun violence will walk out of the hospital under their own steam and go home to resume their normal lives. Then they’ll come back to the hospital in a couple of months with some new medical problem which doesn’t appear to be connected to the gun injury they suffered but it is. Then they’ll dop dead.

              So, what are the issues that the new round of CDC research on gun violence will attempt to understand and then solve? We are told that these research efforts are designed to “improve understanding of firearm injury and inform the development of innovative and promising prevention strategies,” and “rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of innovative and promising strategies to keep individuals, families, schools, and communities safe from firearm-related injuries, deaths, and crime.”

              First up is the $643,000 that will be spent by Shannon Frattaroli to study the effectiveness of ‘red flag’ laws, which are the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws that allow people to go into court and ask a judge to take guns away from someone who is exhibiting behavior which makes them a risk to themselves or someone else. Professor Frattaroli’s research will focus on “communities that experience high rates of gun violence.”

              There are currently 17 states with such laws: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

              Now, here are the 17 states with the highest rate of gun violence from 2015 through 2020: Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Wyoming, South Carolina, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada.

              How many of the 17 states which have the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws have high rates of gun violence? Exactly two – Nevada and New Mexico which, by the way, represent 1.5% of the total population of the United States and 3% of the total population of the ERPO states.

              The CDC is also giving a researcher in Missouri nearly 600 grand to study “how individual, social network, and neighborhood environmental characteristics are associated with firearm risks for youth experiencing homelessness and examine the role their social network may play in moderating these risks.”

              Exactly what social networks is he talking about? The social networks organized and managed by the gangs which supply the homeless kids with the dope they sell and the guns they use to back up and ‘moderate’ their sales?

              The third research grant will help a researcher conduct a ‘nationally representative’ survey of 2,750 kids and adults to identify such risk factors as witnessing gun violence, gun carrying, perpetration and victimization, and the fourth research project has something to do with suicide but the project itself isn’t described.

Oh well, oh well. So much for how the CDC bothers to edit its own website.

I have read just about every piece of gun-violence research published in what is referred to as ‘evidence-based’ journals over the past 20 years. Most of this research was funded by private sources like the Joyce Foundation, now the funding is provided by the CDC.

I have yet to see one, single piece of research on gun violence which goes beyond what Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published in 1992 and 1993. Their research found an indisputable link between guns in the home and medical risk. They didn’t qualify their findings in terms of whether the guns were safely stored or whether the gun owner was behaving in a dangerous way. They simply found that guns are a risk to health.

Kind of like how tobacco is a risk to health, right? Or kind of like how eating potato chips and drinking full-calorie soda is a risk to health.

And how does medicine deal with risks from smoking or consuming too many calories every day? Get the cigarettes and the high calorie foods out of the house.

But we can’t get guns out of the house because, after all, Americans have a Constitutional ‘right’ to own a gun.

Know what? After I post this column, I’m going to get in my car, drive down to the local mini-mart and buy a big bag of Frito-Lay chips, which the Constitution’s commerce clause allows the store to sell and gives me the Constitutional ‘right’ to buy and eat.

What Do You Really Know About Guns?

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I started writing about guns and gun violence on May 31, 2013, and since that data I have posted 1,849 columns on my website. I have also self-published 16 books on guns and will shortly publish a very detailed, academic book about guns with Nova Science Press. The open-source, academic aggregator SSRN carries 11 of my academic papers, and I have been profiled both in The New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine – my complete credits can be found here, along with a description of my activities as a gun dealer, manufacturer, importer, trainer and owner-user of guns over the past sixty-six years.

              Why am I patting myself on the back? Because I am in the process of making a very big change in the scope and direction of my gun activities and my gun research, so I want everyone who follows this blog to understand how and why this reorientation came about.

              It has come about because over the nine years that I have been writing about guns, the gun-control communities have developed and now promote narratives about guns and gun violence which increasingly bear little, if any connection to the millions of guns found in the millions of American homes or how these millions of guns are used or misused.

              Here’s the gun-control narrative which I find most troublesome: We can reduce the awful levels of gun violence by passing laws which primarily control the behavior of individuals who legally own guns, such laws based on the idea that gun owners need to behave in safer ways with their guns, or what is often referred to as ‘gun sense’ or ‘responsible’ use of guns.

              The gun-control community, or the gun violence prevention (GVP) community as they like to call themselves, believe they can use their narrative to define some ‘middle ground’ with gun owners that will both reduce gun violence and at the same time respect gun ‘rights.’ Known as the ‘consensus’ approach, this strategy is endorsed not only by all the gun-control advocacy groups, but by the medical and public health communities as well.

              Why do these well-meaning groups think they can find some ‘consensus’ with gun owners when they don’t know anything about guns or why people own guns?

When someone goes out and buys a Glock or a Sig, they are buying a product designed only for the purpose of committing violence, okay? And the World Health Organization doesn’t differentiate between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad’ violence. So, if you’re going to build ‘consensus’ by talking to people who have decided that they are prepared to commit a very violent act, don’t you at least first have to understand why they hold such a crazy idea?

What do we get from the gun-control community when it comes to explaining why a majority of Americans believe that their home will be safer if it contains a product whose sole purpose is to be used to commit an act of extreme violence? You get surveys whose authors think they have learned something when they tell you that an increasing percentage of gun owners are buying guns for self-defense. Boy, that explains everything, right?

It might explain something if the only way to defend yourself was to walk around with a gun. How about calling the cops? How about backing off from someone who’s threatening you? How about don’t get into an argument with someone in a bar and then ‘take it outside?’ How about? How about? How about?

To go beyond the how abouts, I have published a little manual which gives non-gun owners an opportunity to engage in a reality-based discussion about gun violence by first learning and practicing the rudiments of defending yourself with a gun.

Don’t worry. You can learn the proper techniques, practice them, and perfect them without buying, owning, or using a gun. In fact, as far as I can tell, the training described in this brief booklet is the very first gun-training course which is designed to be learned and studied without requiring access to a gun.

Along with this booklet, I also have a website which contains detailed content on how to buy the proper self-defense gun, how and where to get trained properly, some of the legal issues which need to be considered when thinking about carrying a self-defense gun; in other words, the basic issues which need to be considered by everyone who wants to protect themselves with armed force.

Finally, there’s a Facebook group that allows you to contribute some dialog to this effort as well as connecting with other individuals who have become interested in practicing armed, self-defense. If we get enough members to join the Facebook group, we’ll open a forum on the website as well.

So, here’s your opportunity to replace the hot air with the knowledge and skills that will make it very difficult for any gun owner to talk about guns with you and think that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Isn’t it time to build a response to gun violence based on at least some degree of knowledge held by everyone about guns?

Something to Think About.

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