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Want To End Gun Violence? There’s One Thing We Still Don’t Know.

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              So now a terrible shooting rampage in the Indianapolis FedEx facility may actually be the camel’s straw that gets one of Joe’s gun-control bills through the Senate and onto his desk. Which is all fine and well, but I hate to be a spoilsport and remind my friends in Gun-control Nation that none of those measures passed earlier this year by the House will really do very much to reduce gun violence in the United States.

              Yesterday the State Senate in Alabama passed a measure called the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act. The law makes it a crime for any gun law from the Biden Administration to be enforced anywhere in the state. This effort is nothing more than an attempt by the state GOP to buy loyalty from local voters in the wake of Orange Head’s demise. But it also is a reminder of what gun-control laws represent.

              What such laws mean to supporters of Brady, Everytown and the other gun-control groups are nothing more than ‘reasonable’ measures aimed (pardon the pun) at gun owners to behave in a ‘responsible’ way. What these laws mean to most gun owners is just another bothersome thing they have to put up with in order to play around with their guns.

              Know all those surveys which purportedly show that most gun owners support comprehensive background checks? Those surveys are nonsense because they never ask gun owners to state what they believe would be effective measures to reduce gun violence. If they did, the same ‘responsible’ gun owners who have no problem with only transferring a gun following a background check would overwhelmingly support a national, concealed-carry law as a better way to reduce gun violence and crime.

              In 1959, the Gallup Organization did a national poll which asked respondents whether they would support a ban on the ownership of handguns. Not stricter licensing, mind you, but an absolute ban. The result was that 60% claimed they would support such a ban.

              If the finding of this survey had been transformed into law, we wouldn’t have gun violence at all. The reason our gun-violence rate is 7 to 20 times higher than any other OECD country is because we are the only country which gives residents access to what I call ‘killer guns.’ You can see how I define a ‘killer gun’ right here.

              In 1995, our friend Gary Kleck published research which stated that individuals who used or brandished guns were responsible for preventing millions of crimes every year. His thesis that more guns meant less crime was then taken up in the research of our friend John Lott. 

              These research efforts have been critiqued and discounted by the most respected gun-control researchers like our friends David Hemenway and Phil Cook. But their arguments have never gained any traction at all among the majority of Americans who believe that a gun is more of a benefit than a risk. By 1993, before either Kleck or Lott had published anything at all, the support for a national ban on handguns had fallen to 39%.

              The last time Gallup asked the handgun ban question in 2020, the percentage of handgun banners has now fallen to 25%.  And even with the terrible rampage shootings committed with assault rifles since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, only 47% of Gallup respondents want to see assault rifles outlawed.

              Want to blame the continued existence of a strong gun culture on the NRA? Go right ahead. Want to blame it on research published by Gary Kleck and John Lott. Ditto. You happen to be wrong on both counts.

              At best, the NRA membership maybe counts 6% or 7% of the people whose households contain a gun. And the last thing that any gun nut is going to do when he flips on his computer and goes to buy some crap on Amazon is to order John Lott’s book.

              Has any gun-control scholar ever attempted to figure out how and why so many Americans believe they need to protect themselves with a gun? Nope. Not one.

              Please add your name:  https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow and https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now.

Why Are Guns Lethal: 9781536814002: Reference Books @ Amazon.com

Why Don’t We Just Get Rid Of The Guns That Are Used To Commit Gun Violence?

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              Yesterday’s column raises concerns about the failure of my friends in Gun-research Nation to discuss the issue of banning the guns which cause gun violence, i.e., assault rifles and what I call ‘killer pistols.’ In case you didn’t know it, both types of guns are designed only to kill or injure yourself or someone else. You can get a clear explanation of why such guns are too lethal for commercial sale and private ownership right here.

              Until and unless we bite the bullet (pardon the pun) and get rid of those guns, we will argue with the other side over various half-baked measures that won’t accomplish much at all. Sorry, but universal background checks won’t change matters much unless the data from those checks is tied into a national registration system. Sorry, CAP laws may keep kids from shooting themselves or a playmate, but such shootings account for less than 5% of all gun violence events.

              As for the development of so-called ‘safe’ guns which can only be fired if the user is validated through some kind of electronic gizmo attached to the gun, it will take some intrepid gun nut with a basic understanding of gun design about two hours to figure out how to put the ‘safe’ gun back to being unsafe. And then up goes the video on YouTube, okay?

              By remaining silent on banning guns that have no sporting use at all, we let the other side completely control this discussion, even if what they say has no relationship to the facts at all. For example, Gun-nut Nation says that government can’t ban a semi-automatic gun because the 2nd Amendment protects gun ‘rights.’

              The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with ‘rights.’ It’s an amendment, not a ‘right.’ How do we define ‘rights?’ We pass laws, and what are right and wrong behaviors involving guns, has been defined in four federal guns laws, each and every law upheld by liberal and conservative judges and courts.

              If we are ever going to pass another meaningful law to reduce gun violence, the law has to address the reason we have gun violence. In other words, we must do what other countries do and restrict gun ownership to sporting and hunting guns. 

              But we don’t do that. And worse, the people we depend on to define effective gun reforms go out of their way to avoid discussing this issue at all. The result? A majority of Americans, which happens to include people who don’t own guns, are opposed to any gun ban at all.

              I have been running a survey about banning assault rifles and have collected 957 responses, of whom 70% (680) say they own an AR-15 or another type of assault rifle. A majority of the owners, say they shoot the guns rarely, if at all. Only one-third of the owners of assault rifles say they have the gun for self-defense, but only 2% of the entire respondent population say that an AR-15 is too dangerous to own! You can download the complete survey right here.

              How many of the 957 respondents say they oppose an AR ban?  Try 44, which is less than 5%, and when the ban is defined as not grandfathering in existing guns, support for a ban drops to 2%. 

              Most of the respondents to this survey are gun owners, even if one-third don’t own assault guns. But that’s exactly the point. Because as long as gun owners continue to believe that a gun, particularly an assault-style gun, is something which everyone should have lying around the house, then the idea that we will see meaningful gun reform is about as real as the idea that Donald Trump will get re-elected in 2024.

              I am yet to be convinced that the scholars and advocates who want to reduce gun violence are capable of sitting down and having a frank, open and honest discussion of what they need to say to gun owners about the risk of owning guns.

              I hope I’m wrong.

What’s Wrong With Banning Guns?

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              Our friend David Hemenway has just been interviewed by The Harvard Gazette about Joe’s ideas for gun control and finds the strategies “excellent” and “good first steps to reduce the terrible problem of firearm violence in the U.S.”

            Down the road, David says, we’ll need to do more things, like universal background checks, better training, better safety standards for how guns are designed and more liability for gun owners who allow their guns to end up in the ‘wrong hands.’

              I have been listening to David and his public-health research friends talk about reducing gun violence for the past 25 or so years. They make the same arguments that David made to The Harvard Gazette again, again, and again. Sometimes they throw in a few more ideas, like requiring an individual permit for each purchase of a gun, or extending ‘red flag’ laws, or getting rid of those laws that allow someone to use a gun to defend themselves when they are threatened by someone else.

              Meanwhile, what none of these well-meaning researchers ever point out is one, simple fact about gun violence, which is that intentional fatal and non-fatal gun injuries (which happens to be how the WHO defines violence) are committed overwhelmingly by one type of gun.

              What type of gun am I talking about? Semi-automatic guns which load from underneath the frame of the gun. If the gun has a barrel of 16 inches or longer, it’s a rifle. If the barrel is shorter than 16 inches, it’s a handgun.

              The reason why this is the design of guns which are used in most shootings is because, believe it or not, that’s what these guns are designed to do. A Glock 17 which holds 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition isn’t a ‘sporting’ gun. An AR-15 which can take a magazine that holds 40 or 50 rounds isn’t what you use to go out and trek after Bambi in the woods.

              The whole point of designing a gun which accepts bottom-loading magazines is that if the magazine were stuck into the gun from above the frame, it would get in the way of the shooter when he aims the gun.

              Of course, researchers like Hemenway know that gun injuries are overwhelmingly a function of access to semi-automatic, bottom-loading guns. So why don’t they ever mention that banning such weapons would bring gun-violence rates way down? Why is it that every time one of these researchers points out that our gun-violence rate is 7 to 25 times higher than other countries, they then forget to mention that none of those other countries allow their residents to own semi-automatic, bottom-loading guns?

              Oops – I forgot!  There’s something out there called the 2nd Amendment which gives every law-abiding individual the ‘right’ to own a gun. And thanks to the essay by our friend Sandy Levinson reminding all his liberal, academic friends that the 2nd Amendment is as valid and as important as the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, we just avoid the idea that maybe, just maybe we should rethink the gun ban issue again.

              Actually, there has been some noise about calling for a ban on assault rifles, the reason being that those are the kinds of weapons which are used in the big, gugga-mugga shootings, like the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the elementary school in Sandy Hook, or the Las Vegas event.

              But the mass slaughters, what our friend Louis Klarevas calls ‘gun rampages’ don’t add more than 3% to the random, daily shootings which total at least 125,000 fatal and non-fatal injuries every year. At least 28 people were shot in Chicago over this past weekend. Big deal.

              By the way, when the town of town of Highland Park enacted a ban on assault rifles which was followed by a similar ban covering all of Cook County, the conservative, pro-gun Supreme Court let both laws stand.

              One of these days (hope, hope) my academic friends who do gun research will stop quaking when someone accuses them of being against gun ‘rights’ and will do the right thing and talking honestly about getting rid of guns.

In case you haven’t yet signed: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow and https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now.

Do Cops Need Guns?

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              For all the talk in Gun-control Nation about whether we should let legally qualified individuals walk around with guns (read: CCW), the shooting of a young Black man in a town adjacent to where the George Floyd trial is taking place, reminds us that we grant CCW status to more than 800,000 men and women every day.

              I’m talking about sworn officers who work for local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, all of whom go around on and off duty carrying guns. And while we’d like to believe that these men and women are armed because they constitute the ‘first line of defense’ against crime, sometimes this ‘defense’ becomes an ‘offense’ when an officer thinks she is using her Taser when she actually pulls out her Glock.

              The cops will tell you that they need to carry guns because the people they go up against are also armed. They will further tell you that because the bad guys are all carrying guns that being a cop means that you’re always facing the risk of getting shot.  Like the NRA says, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

              Let me make it clear that I am very, very pro-cop. I have sold hundreds of guns to cops in my gun shop, I conduct lethal force exercises for local, state, and federal cops, what cops do is very important and very difficult to do. That being said, talking about how, when and where cops use armed force is a discussion that needs to be based first of all on some facts. And here come the facts.

              From 2010 through 2019, a total of 1,627 cops died in the line of duty, an average of 163 fatalities each year. This decade-by-decade number has been steadily declining since the 1920’s, when the average number of cops who died in that decade was 252 per year. In other words, while being a cop certainly isn’t as safe as being, say, a school-bus driver, the job has gotten much safer over the years.

              It should be added that of those 162 officers who die each year while working the job, roughly one-third of them get killed because they get into a confrontation with an armed individual which they lose.

              If it hadn’t been for the Pandemic, 2020 would have been the safest year of all. The overall fatality number jumped to 264, but 145 deaths were caused by complications from Covid-19. Take away the on-the-job deaths from the virus, and the number of fatalities while wearing the blue uniform drops to  119 – the lowest yearly count of all time.

              What isn’t mentioned in these reports, however, is a very serious medical risk from policing, suicide risk. In 2019, at least 228 active or former cops pulled the plug on themselves, a number which isn’t included in the data above. Unfortunately, suicide continues to carry the same stigma with cops as it carries with everyone else. Now let’s get back to the issue of cops, criminals, and guns.

              The Washington Post has been keeping tabs on how many people get shot by cops and since 2015 the number appears to be roughly 1,000 every year.  Our friend Frank Zimring has written a definitive book on this issue and he finds the WaPo data to be reliable as well. So, between cops who get shot and individuals who are shot by cops, we wind up with somewhere between 1,000 and 1,100 deaths every year.

              The Minnesota town where the shooting occurred on Monday isn’t a particularly nice and quiet place. The assault rate is twice the national average, rapes are three times the national rate. So, the cops in Brooklyn Center probably feel they need to walk or drive around with a gun.

              Did the officer who mistakenly thought her Glock was a taser reduce the risk to herself or to that kid because she was carrying a gun? Would she have reacted differently if she weren’t carrying a gun?

Why Do We Like Gun Violence?

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What’s the connection, if any, between media which contains violent episodes and the gun violence that occurs more than 200 times every, single day? Our good friend Dan Romer, from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn has just co-published a paper which indicates that there is not only a connection between media violence and real-life violence, but that the connection is getting stronger every day.

The research plan consisted of reviewing 1,476 hours of episodes of 33 popular TV dramas from 2000 to 2018, of which 60% were cop shows, the remainder split between lawyers and MD’s. All the shows were rated TV-14, i.e., content “’unsuitable for children under 14 years-of-age.’”

What the researchers found out, and this is something which I hope you’ll read with care, is that over the study period the actual amount of violence depicted in the study sample didn’t increase. What increased was “the use of firearms as the preferred method of violence.”

That’s a very important finding. In a previous study, the authors found that parents “see movie depictions of gun use as acceptable for viewing by adolescents over the age of 14 if the violence is viewed as justified for the defense of self or others.” 

And here’s the kicker to the above: “there is evidence that the use of guns for self-defense and other ethically acceptable forms of violence in entertainment could be a source of imitation, especially in youth vulnerable to such influence.”

When do kids who wind up using a gun to commit an act of violence first get interested in guns? In their early adolescent years.

The authors of this study have given us a possible explanation for a unique American cultural belief known as ‘virtuous violence,’ i.e., the use of violence to right what might otherwise be a wrong. The USA is the only country in the entire world which codifies such behavior in what we refer to as ‘stand your ground’ laws (SYG.) And there’s nothing as effective for engaging in an act of virtuous violence than picking up a loaded gun, pointing it at someone else and – bang.!

We don’t know all that much about non-fatal gun assaults because the victim usually gets himself to the ER and always seems unable to identify the guy who put a bullet in his arm, or his leg, or even his head. But we can assume that the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter category, the shooter didn’t shoot straight.

Fatal shootings invariably involve two or more individuals who had some degree of personal contact before the shooting actually began. A new book by our friend Tom Gabor finds this personal connection to be typical of mass shootings as well.

When did the media depiction of guns move from the Wild West to urban streets?  In 1971, the first Dirty Harry movie was released. Clint Eastwood held up a 44-magnum revolver and said there was nothing as accurate and deadly that could be carried around.

The difference, however, between Clint’s Smith & Wesson Model 29 and the Glocks and other handguns which proliferate in the TV shows studied by Dan Romer and Patrick Jamieson is that the revolver holds 6 rounds, and a Glock holds 17. Stick an extended magazine into the Glock and you have gun that will fire 30 military-grade rounds of ammunition before you have to stop shooting to reload.

Next time you have a minute to crank up your Netflix website and look at a movie or TV series which has a shooting scene, you’ll note that the shooter never pulls the trigger only once unless he’s firing a full-auto gun. If the gun used in the movie is one of those ‘legal,’ semi-automatic jobs, it usually gets shot all over the place.

Our media industry promotes virtuous violence by depicting guns that can be shot again, and again, and again. But we also have a culture which believes overwhelmingly that owning one of those guns is a good thing.

Want to figure that one out?

What Is A ‘Ghost Gun?’

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              So, after Joe announces his quickie gun-control plans, his press lady, Jen Psaki (whom I really like) gets into an exchange with a reporter from RCP who challenges her on how many crimes are actually committed with ghost guns. And of course, Psaki doesn’t know because nobody knows.

              But just leave it to CNN. They explained ‘ghost guns’ the day before Joe said he wants them to be regulated like any other gun. And CNN’s explanation for what constitutes a ‘ghost gun’ can be read right here. Except there’s only one, little problem, which is that CNN gets it all wrong.

              So, the purpose of this column is to straighten out what we mean and don’t mean when we use a phrase like ‘ghost guns,’ before the whole issue gets completely out of control. I note, for example, that a bill to regulate ghost guns has been introduced into the Maryland General Assembly. The bill, as it is currently written, doesn’t regulate anything at all.

              The term ‘ghost gun’ refers to any gun which doesn’t carry markings which allow law enforcement or regulatory agencies (ex. ATF) to figure out how and when a crime gun ended up being used in a crime. So, for example, if a ‘ghost gun’ is picked up from a 16-year-old kid wandering down the street in Baltimore, it’s a crime gun because a 16-year-old kid isn’t old enough to own a gun. And since every gun which is manufactured by a licensed gun maker is first sold after a background check, and since the dealer has to keep a record which contains the serial number of that gun, the cops can figure out how the gun moved from ‘right’ to ‘wrong’ hands.

              The ‘ghost gun’ bill which has been introduced in Maryland and will be typical of such statutes being introduced elsewhere, requires that the name, address, along with some kind of identifying numeric be stamped on the receiver of the gun. Furthermore, if the person who bought a ‘ghost gun’ kit wants to sell or give the gun to someone else, this transfer must be done through a federally licensed dealer who would only conduct the transfer after the requisite background check is done.

              Sounds like a smart and easy way to get rid of ‘ghost guns,’ right?  Wrong. And here’s the reason why it’s wrong and not just wrong but actually dumb as hell.

              When someone becomes a federally licensed gun manufacturer, his entire operation from end to end comes under the purview and regulatory activity of the ATF. Which means that ATF agents can walk into the Smith & Wesson factory in Massachusetts, or the Sig factory in New Hampshire, or the Glock factory in Georgia and conduct the same inspection which they do when the wander into my gun shop or anyone else who has a federal license to make, import or sell guns. 

              These licensees must keep very detailed records about every, single gun which passes through their licensed premise, including and most important, the unique serial number of every, single gun. Can Glock and Kahr Arms give their guns he same number? Of course they can. But one gun was made by Glock, the other was made by Kahr Arms. And every gun manufactured under a federal license must also carry the name of the company which made that gun.

              So, let’s say I decide to buy a kit and make my own gun. Why would I ever put my real name and address on the gun if I wanted to sell it to someone who couldn’t pass a background check but wanted to own a gun? Am I that dumb? 

              The only way we can effectively control ‘ghost guns’ would be the same way we need to control all the guns which cause gun violence – get rid of those guns.

              You can sign our petitions to get rid of those guns right here: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow and here: https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now

Will We Get A New Gun Bill?

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              Now that we really can sit back and relax about last year’s election result, Gun-control Nation can begin beating the drums for the passage of a new gun bill. And this time we have a friend in the Oval Office who says he wants a new gun bill too.  So, what are the odds that a gun bill might really come about?

              Getting a gun bill onto Joe’s desk won’t be all that easy, given that the blue team would need 100% support from its own members, as well as 10 additional votes from the red side. And nobody seems to think that right now there are more than a couple of members of the Senate GOP caucus who are willing to make such a move. 

              But next year might be different. Next year is an election year. Next year there may be some GOP Senators who will read the tea leaves in their states and decide that being pro-gun isn’t such a smart way to go. Gun control certainly played a role in the blue team’s smashing House victory in 2018. Did Biden’s gun-control stance in 2020 make a difference for him? WTFK?

              The Federal Government has passed four gun-control bills: 1934, 1938, 1968 and 1994. The Democrat(ic) Party controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the Oval Office all four times. And even though most of the House and Senate members from the Confederacy (why did we take those states back?) voted against the bills, there were enough Democrats and even a few Republicans from the other 37 states to get the job done.

              The deciding factor in all four votes was that the bills were initially introduced in response to an attempted, and in one instance, a successful assassination of a sitting President: Roosevelt was almost gunned down in 1933, JFK was killed in 1963 and Reagan was wounded in 1981.

              This time around, the media is promoting the idea that a gun bill might get through Congress because shootings, and particularly mass shootings, are going way up. Just yesterday there was a bad shooting of a doctor, his wife, two grandchildren and two HVAC installers in South Carolina, and all the news reports mentioned the possible approval of a new gun bill.

              In the last ten years, there have been 19 shootings in which 20 or more people were wounded or killed. Drop the victim count down to 18 and you can add 6 more. I’m not taking about mass shootings in which 4 people get shot, which is the criteria used by various gun-control organizations and scholars to count the number of such events. I’m talking about 18 victims adding up to a grand total of 1,448!

              Believe me, I’m not hoping that we get a gun bill because someone takes a pot-shot at Joe. But I’m not assuming that the recent spike in gun violence during the Covid-19 pandemic will provide the public opinion impetus for a new law. When Joe proposed some new executive actions to regulate guns, he said that gun violence was a ‘national, public health crisis.’  Know how long I’ve been hearing that one?

              Generally speaking, the media treats a shooting, even a mass shooting, like a big pileup on the Texas interstate, or a California forest fire, or a hurricane that slams the Gulf Coast, or a tornado that rips through wherever tornados rip through. in other words, shootings are like natural disasters. And natural disasters happen all the time so the best thing to do is just duck.

              Joe says that gun violence is a ‘national crisis.’ But in 2019, more than half the people who were victims of gun homicides lived in just 15 states. Which states? The 13 Confederate states plus throw in a couple of border states like West Virginia and Tennessee. Like I said above, why did we ever take them back?

              Joe wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. Why don’t we make reducing gun violence an infrastructure priority just like repairing a bridge or paving a road? 

Biden Goes After Gun Violence.

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              So, Joe’s now making good on his campaign promise to do something about gun violence, and the first something he’s doing is nominating a former ATF agent, David Chipmen, to head the agency which regulates guns.  I’ve had several brief interactions with Chipman and he strikes me as a bright, responsive guy who’s not trying to prove to anyone how important he is. It remains to be seen, however, whether he has the management skills and temperament to clean up the ATF mess.

              I wrote a book about the ATF several years ago in which I pointed out that the agency has machine guns on the brain, among other things. They knew ‘for a fact’ that the Branch Davidians were building machine guns in their compound outside of Waco, but after the building was burned to the ground causing the death of 75 members of the sect, not a single machine gun or even parts for a machine gun could be found.

              The ATF also knew ‘for a fact’ that some guys were building machine guns in a car-repair shop in Tucson and then smuggled the gun over the border into Mexico, the resulting ATF investigation causing the death of a U.S. border agent even though no machine guns ever turned up.  This little ATF fandango was known as ‘Fast & Furious,’ a completely unnecessary and stupid exercise whose only purpose was to justify the agency’s attempt to get approval for a federal wiretap so that the ATF could take its place alongside the FBI and the DEA as a first-class law enforcement agency on the crimefighting front.

              The ATF has one statutory responsibility which it acquired thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968. Namely, it’s a branch of the Treasury Department which regulates the interstate commerce of ammunition and guns. Which means that it regulates the behavior of federally licensed gun dealers, and all its other so-called responsibilities just reflect the way that given half the chance, any bureaucracy will find a way to expand its size and its budget in order to justify how it does its job.

              There’s only one little problem, however, when it comes to this approach as regards the ATF. Because even though the ATF has been allegedly regulating gun commerce for more than 50 years, the rate of gun violence keeps going up. And there has never been one, single study which shows any connection between what the ATF is doing out there and whether what they are doing out there makes any difference in terms of gun violence or not.

              The ATF, of course, insists they could do a better job if they were just given the money and resources they need. Let me tell you a little story about their staff and their resources, okay? 

              The night after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook, the ATF dispatched a squad of agents in full battle dress and carrying live guns to invade the gun shop owned by Dave LaGuercia, which happened to be the shop that had sold the AR-15 to Nancy Lanza which her son then used to shoot up the Newtown elementary school.

              The transfer of the AR-15 from Dave’s gun shop to Nancy Lanza was done entirely correctly and in fact, it was Dave who first called the ATF to inform them that he had sold the AR-15 and a Sig pistol to the mother of the shooter at Sandy Hook. So, after a completely legal sale, these ATF militia spent the whole night tearing Dave’s shop apart and looking for God knows what.  The entire military exercise was put on hold for an hour, however, while the troops ordered and then wolfed down a generous supply of pizza pies, paid for of course, by the American taxpayer, folks like you and me.

              If Shipman wants to help solve the problem of gun violence, he can try to make the ATF into an agency that spends taxpayer dollars to regulate gun commerce instead of blowing its own horn. It would be a welcome and long-overdue change.

There’s another petition up there. Please sign: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow

Mass Shootings – A New Study.

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              Back in 2015 a car pulled up in front of a barbershop in Tulsa, a guy got out of the car with an AK-47, walked into the shop and started blasting all over the place.  He was trying to kill a customer who was sitting waiting his turn, but instead a bullet went through the head of the barber and he was dead. Now hold that thought.

              Our friend Tom Gabor has just published a book, Carnage, Preventing Mass Shootings in America, which analyzes 1,029 mass shootings that took place in 2019 and 2020. The data for this study comes from the Gun Violence Archive, which is one of eight groups or organizations which track mass shootings in the United States. Gabor says that he used the GVA because they have a ‘professional staff’ and derive their information from more than 2,500 law enforcement and media venues every day.

              Unfortunately, most of the internet media operations which report gun violence events (or any other event, for that matter) cut and paste their texts from another source which has cut and pasted the same text from yet a third, or a fourth, or a fifth source. Frankly, Gabor could have gotten more or less the same data by just entering a few key words like ‘shooting’ and ‘guns’ into Google Alerts and receiving a daily Gmail feed.  How do you think I come up with a new story almost every day?

              Gabor identifies seven organizations plus one author, our friend Louis Klarevas, who try to keep track of mass shootings in an ongoing way. These folks all define a mass shooting as an event in which a minimum of two to four people are injured and/or killed. So, the question immediately occurs: how come the magic number for counting something as a mass shooting is set at two, three or four?  Why not set it at five? How about six? Nobody seems to know.

              It turns out, moreover, that when all is said and done, the ways which we usually define shooting events by the reason they occur, where they occur, the types of people involved, and the types of guns which are used in the assaults, is really little different for mass shootings as opposed to the humdrum, daily, one-on-one shootings that take place a couple of hundred times every day. And since, as Gabor notes, mass shootings result in roughly 2% of all the yearly gun-violence casualties, what’s the big deal?

              Let’s go back to what happened at the Gifted Hands Barber Shop in Tulsa on February 5th, 2015. The guy with the AK-47 was trying to kill the guy sitting in a chair waiting to get his hair cut.  He sprayed bullets all over the place and one of the rounds from the AK went through the barber’s head.

              I talked to one of the cops who investigated this shooting, an officer who had been doing homicide work in Tulsa for more than a dozen years.

I asked him, “Why did the guy with the AK-47 shoot up the whole place? Didn’t he just want to put one into the guy who was waiting his turn?”

Please read the officer’s response slowly and carefully: “That’s what they always do. They always want to shoot the gun as much as they can. They want to spray bullets all over the place.”

I define a mass shooting not by how many people get hit, but how many bullets come out of the barrel of the gun. If what the Tulsa cop told me is not unusual for how people use guns to shoot other people, then we have an explanation for the increase in mass shootings which says something much more serious and profound than all the usual bromides – poverty, drugs, inner-city hopelessness -put out there about gun violence today.  

Are we developing not just a culture of violence but a celebration of violence as well?

Please sign our new petition: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow

Want Help Selling Guns? Hire Alex Jones.

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              Conspiracy theories, i.e., blaming someone for doing something whether they did it or not, have been around since the snake gave Eve an apple for a snack, but the whole thing got a big boost during the Presidential tenure of Trump, who now refers to himself as #45. This way he’s hoping that everyone will forget that he lost the election in 2020, even though the election was stolen, which is another conspiracy theory in case you didn’t know.

              Anyway, one of the most prolific conspiracy theorists, Alex Jones, just got his legal head handed to him when the Supreme Court – that’s the Court that’s now so conservative thanks to #45 – refused to hear his appeal about how he has been sanctioned for spreading conspiracy theories about the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook.

              The horrible mess at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the event which created today’s concern about gun violence, as well as giving rise to national gun-control groups like Brady and Everytown, which now rival or surpass the NRA in terms of money, political influence, and size. The CDC has even restored money for gun research into its budget, and a new gun bill may even wind up on the Oval office desk.

              Meanwhile, back in 2012, Alex Jones became a nationally known conspiracy theorist because of what he began saying after Sandy Hook, which was that the whole thing was staged by the federal government to promote a new gun bill and the disarming of America in order to expand the control exercised by the Deep State.

              His relentless lying about the Sandy Hook massacre landed him in court, when he was sued for defamation by several Newtown parents who were threatened and harassed by some of his more fervent believers. Ultimately, Jones admitted that it was his rants, not the massacre, which weren’t true. But he’s still faced with being a defendant in the civil case.

              The other defendant in a civil action brought by the parents of children killed at Sandy Hook is the gun industry itself. Remington, which owns the company y that manufactured the AR-15 used at the school, is being sued under a state law called ‘negligent entrustment,’ which prohibits a vendor from selling a product which is too dangerous to be owned. The lawsuit is on hold because of the Remington bankruptcy, but at some point, it also will be heard.

              The gun industry tried not once, but twice to have this suit overturned, citing the industry’s protection from torts under the PLCCA law. But PLCCA specifically exempts protection under ‘negligent entrustment’ statutes, which is why the Federal Appeals Court allowed this lawsuit to go forward because the “parents deserve their day in court.”

              So, sooner or later the gun industry will have to defend itself for the very first time for making products that are too dangerous to be owned or sold. And no doubt Remington will try to convince a jury that it’s not guns that are dangerous, it’s the people who use guns illegally or inappropriately who are a danger to themselves and everyone else.

              The defendants in the Sandy Hook lawsuit will also try to make an argument in front of the jury that guns like the AR-15, when used properly following standard, gun-safety rules, are nothing more than very effective ‘tools’ for protecting individuals and families from harm. Indeed, the advertising for assault rifles repeats this self-defense message again and again.

              The narratives being promoted by Gun-nut Nation to justify access to assault rifles are as meaningless, and stupid as what Alex Jones used to say about Sandy Hook. And for that matter, the gun industry makes the same, stupid arguments about why everyone should own and walk around with a concealable, handgun designed for the military like a Glock or a Sig.

              Which is why we now have two petitions online: A petition to ban assault rifles (https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now) and another just-posted petition to ban those handguns (https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow). 

            Ban those guns and gun violence disappears.   

Sandy Hook: A Man Sold A Gun (Guns in America Book 7) – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael R.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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