Another Gun Book Which Gets It All Wrong.


              Now that Joe Biden has put the force of his office behind enacting another assault-rifle ban, the good guys who shill for the gun industry have to respond. Which, among other things, has resulted in the publication of a book, America’s Rifle – The Case for the AR-15, written by Stephen Halbrook who has filed endless pro-gun legal briefs and made many pro-gun appearances in courts over the years.

              Halbrook seems to believe that we shouldn’t devote any special, regulatory controls over the AR-15 because it has become America’s most popular gun, currently owned by more than millions of law-abiding Americans who shoot the gun for sport and fun. There are also more than 30 million among us who enjoy tobacco, so Holbrook probably thinks there’s no reason to restrict the sale of cigarettes.

              The book is a compilation of many courts cases relevant to whether or not we should ban the AR-15 which, on balance, appear to justify Halbrook’s argument that the term ‘assault rifle’ is simply an effort by the anti-gun crowd to chip away at 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ as well as to deprive freedom-loving Americans of what has become the country’s most popular ‘tool’ that is used to defend themselves.

              All well and good, except that Halbrook omits any discussion about important litigation which completely undermines his pro-gun case, as well as the fact that in discussing the history, design and use of assault rifles, Halbrook demonstrates the fact that he doesn’t know anything about guns.

              How do you write an entire book about litigation related to the AR-15 and not mention the 2013 law passed in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park which didn’t just prohibit town residents from purchasing the gun, but said that any current AR-15 owner could only keep his gun by moving out of town. This law, by the way, was upheld all the way to the Supreme Court based on one, very simple legal expedient, namely, that the Highland Park cops believed the gun was too dangerous to be used by anyone in that community for any reason at all.

              The idea that the AR-15 was too dangerous for civilian ownership was also behind another legal case which Halbrook completely omits from his book, which was the suit against the gun maker brought by the parents of children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School,  which resulted in Remington Arms agreeing to lay out $73 million in compensation for the murder and mayhem committed with the use of one of their guns.

              If Holbrook had spent a chapter discussing these cases from a pro-gun point of view, he might have actually produced a book which would have been an important contribution to the current AR-15 ban debate. However, by failing to mention this litigation, the author has simply produced yet another biased and erroneous piece of work which informs the public about nothing at all.

              But the absence of any mention of Highland Park and Sandy Hook aren’t the biggest gaps in this book. What really demonstrates the limits of Halbrook’s alleged expertise is how he describes the design of the AR-15 and in the process, gets the whole thing completely wrong.

              The distinctiveness of the AR-15 does not lie, as Holbrook seems to believe, in the gun’s hand grip, but rather in a design feature which is never mentioned at all. And this feature happens to be the fact that the gun’s magazine is inserted from below rather than above the frame.

              Not only does this design allow for a magazine which can hold up to or more than fifty rounds, but an empty magazine can be switched out for another full magazine in two seconds or less. The Sandy Hook massacre was accomplished with an AR-15 and several additional, 20-shot mags and it took the shooter less than three minutes to kill 4 adults and 20 kids. Any rifle which can deliver military-grade firepower that quickly has no business being described as a ‘sporting’ gun.

              I bought my first assault rifle, a Colt Sporter, in 1977 or 1978. Over the years I have owned maybe another half-dozen assault-rifle guns and probably sold a hundred or so in my various gun shops.

              It never occurred to me that I was owning or selling a gun that would be carried into a school or a supermarket and used to mow down a bunch of adults and kids.

              But if I wanted to kill a bunch of people at the same time, I wouldn’t think twice about using an AR-15.

              Which is why the gun is too dangerous to be sold and why Stephen Halbrook’s attempt to lionize this weapon as ‘America’s rifle’ is, to quote Grandpa, nothing more than ‘hai cock,’ (read: nonsense or bullshit – take your pick.)


A New Book on Guns Which Is a Must-Read!

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              Over the years I have occasionally encountered attempts by artists in various genres to make sense out of America’s guns. Or perhaps I should say, America’s love of guns. Because it’s pretty hard to argue that as a country we don’t love guns when there are somewhere around 300 million of them floating around.

              That being said, I know of three museums whose displays are devoted to guns. The first and maybe most interesting (at least for me) is the small museum in what used to be the government arsenal in Springfield, MA which was the place where the production of guns in this country really began. Then there is the gun museum at the headquarters of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, VA.

              The third museum, which in certain respects is the most interesting of the three collections, is located in Cody, WY and is a collection of guns which the museum’s owners, Hans Kurth and Eva Szkultecki, have dug up over the years. Which is why they call their collection the Dug-Up Gun Museum – why not?

              The town of Cody was founded by Buffalo Bill in 1901 and is located at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, which was designated a protected federal property in 1872. As you can imagine, the town of Cody is immersed in the history of the Old West, and tourism related to Western history is what the place is all about.

              The 21 poems and essays which comprise The Dug-Up Gun Museum, is an attempt by the Professor of Poetry at Smith College, Matt Donovan, to try and make some sense out of guns in this country, or at least create a heightened degree of cultural understanding of what guns are all about.

              To that end, the author visited some of the storied gun sites, such as the NRA Museum and the Winchester Mystery House, where the widow of the Winchester gun company’s founder lived following the death of her husband until she died in 1922. The house is allegedly inhabited by the ghosts of victims shot and killed with Winchester guns.

              But what makes this collection so unique is not that Donovan also spent a day in the Dug -Up Gun Museum looking at the artifacts which have been found lying in the ground and now put out on display. Rather, it’s the idea that you can not only find such buried treasures no matter where you look, but that such archeological objects will continue to be deposited into the earth for generations to come.

              I remember as a kid walking around the battlefield at Gettysburg and seeing several people digging holes here or there trying to find a bullet that had been fired in that great battle which had taken place some ninety years prior to the time that my mother and I drove up from Washington, D.C. to tour the scene.

              But Gettysburg lasted four days and then it was over – done. Lincoln showed up some four months after the battle ended, delivered his brief speech and that was the end of that.

              But what Matt Donovan realized as he moved from one gun site to another and wrote about what he saw and what he found, is that the objects whose use creates gun violence only disappear if they are tossed away – the deaths and injuries caused by guns go on and on.

              How do you make logical sense out of the shooting of a kid named Tamir Rice because the cop thought that the replica toy gun he was carrying was a real gun? For that matter, how do you explain why thousands show up every year for a re-enactment of D-Day when the whole point of participating in this event is to get blown to bits?

              Which is what Matt Donovan’s book is all about – using an artistic genre to capture what is otherwise an inexplicable issue in American life.

              Don’t just take my word for it. Buy this remarkable book right now.

What Should We Do About Gun Violence?

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              Today I happened to see a news report about the group in my state – Massachusetts – which works to eliminate gun violence. The group is the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which like many such organizations, got started after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook.

              In 2014, the Coalition helped pass a gun-control law which mandated background checks for all private gun transfers. In 2018 they were active in getting an ERPO law passed in our state. This year, their agenda includes “more analysis of the data collected in the aftermath of a violent gun event, better regulation of ghost guns, more protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and firearm industry accountability measures.” I’m quoting the group’s Executive Director.

              Gun violence is defined as the intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else with the use of a gun. So far there have been at least 53 gun-violence injuries in Massachusetts, although this data no doubt undercounts the number of self-inflicted gun-violence events.

              Sounds like a lot of violence, right? In fact, Massachusetts happens to be more or less tied with Hawaii for the lowest rate of gun violence of all fifty states. The gun-violence rate in Connecticut is twice as high, in New Hampshire the gun-violence rate is three times than in the Bay State.

              If you want to be a legal gun owner in Massachusetts, here’s what you have to do. First, you have to be 21 years of age; none of this 18-year nonsense allowed. Then you have to apply for a license at the police department in the town where you live go through an interview with the chief who, a recent Supreme Court case notwithstanding, is still going to ask you why you want to own a gun. And if the Chief doesn’t like your answer, maybe you’ll get a gun, maybe you won’t. Or the gun you’ll be allowed to own will have to be reloaded every time you pull the trigger once.

              Before you even see the Chief you have to sit through a safety course, which is often taught by the local Chief. You’ll pay a hundred bucks to take that course, by the way, and then lay out another hundred to send your paperwork into the State where it is then run through a local and national background check.

              Now you have your gun license and you come running back to your local dealer to buy a gun. Your first choice is one of those snazzy, little military-type rifles which you’ve seen on all the John Wick flicks except you can’t buy a rifle like that in Massachusetts – they were banned in 1994 and the ban is not only still in effect, but it was updated to include additional design features back in 2019.

              You also can’t buy any new handgun, like a Glock, which doesn’t meet the state’s safety-design criteria and has been certified as being ‘childproof’ by an independent test lab. For that matter, if you want to save a buck and buy a used handgun , it has to be a piece that’s been in the state prior to 1999.

              In other words, if you want to be a legal gun owner in Massachusetts, you can’t own any of the guns which are used to commit just about every gun-violence event.

              So how come Massachusetts experiences any gun violence at all? For the simple reason that gun violence occurs throughout the United States, namely, that it’s a type of behavior committed by individuals who don’t use legally acquired or legally owned guns.

              What does the Coalition want to do about this problem? They say this: “Gun homicides and assaults are overwhelmingly concentrated in predominantly Black and Brown urban neighborhoods. These racial disparities in gun violence rates are the result of centuries of deliberate policy choices that created racially segregated neighborhoods that are underfunded and under-supported by policymakers. Gun violence is a symptom of deeper issues: racism poverty trauma and lack of opportunity.”

              So, now we’re not worried about gun violence, we’re worried about racism, poverty and all the other social and economic misfortunes which just happen to ne more common in neighborhoods where people are walking around with illegal guns.

              Take a look at the page where the Coalition defines its mission and goals. There is not one, single word that even remotely refers to the fact (note the word ‘fact’) that at least half, if not more of the gun-violence events which occur every year in Massachusetts happen to be crimes.

              Now take a list of the more than 100 organizations which have teamed up with the Coalition to support their work. There is not one, single organization on this list which happens to represent the cops.

              Maybe I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just too dumb to understand anything about gun violence because I don’t understand how you can mobilize against any threat to community safety unless you include the public agencies funded to protect all of us from a particular threat.

              I must be missing something here, right?

What’s So Bad About Gun Shows?


              I have just finished reading the single dumbest, most pretentiously stupid article about gun violence which I have ever read. The article, ‘Camouflaged Collectives: Managing Stigma and Identity at Gun Events,’ is the handiwork of two faculty members at the University of Nevada, who visited a grand total of 3 gun shows where they observed how gun owners deal with the issue of ‘stigma,’ meaning negative concerns about the existence and use of guns.

              The two women who wrote this nonsense go out of their way to assure everyone that their “relationship to guns is complicated. Neither of us supports taking away all guns from civilians, and neither of us supports unfettered rights to firearm ownership. [p. 120.] That’s complicated?

              The lead author knows all about guns because she grew up within a few miles from where three mass shootings occurred in Colorado – Columbine, Aurora, Centennial. The second author is married to a United States Marine. So, they know how to analyze what they refer to as ‘gun culture,’ right?

              ” At each show, we observed some prevalent subgroups (such as hunters, veterans, survivalists, conceal and carry advocates, the NRA, historical artifact collectors, women, and machine gun enthusiasts).” [p. 121.]

              What these two researchers forgot to mention because they don’t know anything about guns or gun owners, was that virtually all of those subgroups can be lumped together into one basic group: hobbyists. And because gun owners overwhelmingly own guns as a hobby, they are basically indifferent to the efforts to stigmatize them for engaging in this hobby, unless the stigmatizing strategy takes the form of preventing them from doing all the things that people who are active in any hobby like to do.

              What is the single activity which attracts individuals who enjoy a particular hobby? Getting together with other like-minded hobbyists to talk about their hobby; buying, selling, or trading the items and paraphernalia whose ownership identifies someone as a hobbyist in that particular category, and forming social relations with other like-minded hobbyists which are sustained by attending social events which cater to the tastes and proclivities of a particular group.

              Ask a gun owner why he likes guns and he’ll spout all the usual bromides about ‘2nd-Amendmwent rights,’ or ‘armed, self-defense,’ or some blab-blab-blab about the Constitution and freedom and liberty and justice for all.

              What every gun owner immediately knows is that anyone who asks him to explain what he’s doing at a gun show isn’t a member of the gun-owning tribe, probably doesn’t feel comfortable around guns, and would be just as happy if all the privately-owned guns in America were scooped up tomorrow, loaded on some C-5 Galaxies, and dumped somewhere out at sea.

              I love how the various gun-control organizations and gun-control researchers always make a point of saying how they’re not ‘against guns;’ they just want guns to be owned and used in a more responsible way. Which happens to be about the most insulting thing you can say to any gun owner, incidentally, whether you know it or not.

              This may come as a great shock to the authors of this article and everyone else in Gun-control Nation who want to figure out some strategy which will somehow reduce the 100,000-plus injuries and deaths every year caused by the use of guns. Ready? There isn’t a single gun owner out there who doesn’t understand that his gun represents a serious risk to community safety and public health.

              But when was the last time our species demonstrated any risk-aversion behavior at all? Is there one, single person under age 50 who didn’t sit in a classroom and listen to endless lectures about heathy eating? Is there one, single person in this country who wasn’t told again and again to avoid cigarettes? Is there one, single person in this country who wasn’t told about safe sex?

              So, tell me, how come Americans keep getting fatter year after year, continue to buy smokes and vapes, and show up at the local health clinic with the teenage, pregnant girl in tow?

              If the two academics who wrote this paper had the slightest understanding of how to conduct some valid research on the so-called gun ‘culture,’ what they should have done is spend some time at a couple of model train shows, or a model toy show, or a ham radio show.  

              They would see the same people at those shows that they saw at the gun shows.

              But no academic journal would have been interested in publishing an article about the ‘stigma’ attached to model trains, because folks who don’t own model trains haven’t yet decided that such objects might represent a risk to community safety and health.

              Tell that one to the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, okay?

Does Safe Storage Reduce Gun Violence?


              I started writing about gun violence in 2012, hoping I could provide some degree of objectivity for how public health and medical researchers talked about guns. What concerned me then, and continues to concern me now, is the degree to which scholars providing ‘evidence-based’ research to help define more effective strategies and programs for reducing gun violence should align their research with at least some degree of understanding about how gun owners use their guns.

              Unfortunately, this is rarely the case, and a typical example of the lack of reality about gun behavior can be found in a new article published in JAMA Network covering the different ways that gun owners deal with safe storage of their guns.

              Here’s what the research article is all about: “Unsecure home firearm storage is associated with further increased risk of firearm death, and the promotion of secure firearm storage (e.g., with a locking device) may help reduce firearm injury and death.”

              However, according to the research findings, nearly 60% of the respondents in this survey said they kept at least one gun around the house unlocked, and one out of five said they kept the unlocked gun in plain sight.

              Of course, this information tells us that many gun owners are behaving with their guns in very unsafe ways. Who but an idiot would leave an unlocked gun lying around, right?

              This question and the choices respondents were given for an answer demonstrates just how meaningless this survey happens to be, and the idea that it would be used to formulate more effective strategies for dealing with gun violence is a joke.

              Why do I say that? Because what the researchers should have asked was whether the gun owner was able to access the gun while it was ‘hidden’ away. If I stick a gun in my pocket and I’m a woman and I put the gun in my purse, guess what? The gun is hidden and I’m probably the only person who knows where it is.

              My state, Massachusetts, has the strictest CAP law of any such law in any state. The law requires that every gun be locked or locked away, and if a gun is not safely stored the owner can be charged with a felony, even if no injury or other problem caused by an unlocked gun occurs.

              Except there happens to be a distinction in the law which basically says that the weapon does not have to be physically secured if the owner can reach out and touch the gun. And what this interpretation of the law represents is the fact that many gun owners keep a gun within reach from time to time and don’t consider this practice to constitute any kind of risk.

              The lack of reality involved in the analysis about keeping unsecured guns in the home is exceeded by how the researchers attempted to analyze why respondents bought and own guns. Gun owners were given the following choices to explain why they owned guns: home protection, concealed-carry, hunting, job requirement and heirloom. Of course, the majority response was that guns were needed for self-defense.

              I owned gun shops in three states – SC, NY, MA – and sold eleven or twelve thousand guns to probably seven thousand different customers in those three shops. Know why more than 90 percent of those customers bought a gun or guns from me? Because they had some extra bucks in their pockets or on their VISA cards and wanted to buy another gun.

              This may come as a great shock to all my friends who do research on gun violence, but the average gun buyer in my gun shop put about as much emotional and psychic energy into thinking about buying a gun as he put into deciding which lottery ticket to buy that morning at the convenience store on the way to work.

              Every single gun owner knows that guns are dangerous, that a gun around the home represents a risk, and that there’s always a chance that one of their guns will wind up being used to injure someone either by accident, or on purpose, or maybe both.

              Want to know what was the most common issue discussed in my gun shops? A description about how so-and-so shot a gun off by accident and the worst thing that happened was that a storm window had to be replaced. And such stories always get a good laugh from everyone hanging around.

              Here’s the article’s conclusion: “Secure firearm storage messaging that helps clarify the risk of unsecured firearms beyond situations involving child access may thus serve as a method for increasing secure storage.”

              It is now thirty years since Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research which definitively showed that access to guns in the home created serious medical risk. They did not qualify guns as being safely stored, and no subsequent research has ever found any substantive connection between safe storage and reduced gun risk.

              The authors of the current JAMA study not only assume a palliative impact from safe storage which has no basis in experience or evidence-based research, but they compound their uninformed assumption with a fundamental lack of understanding about how gun owners use or think about their guns.

              Of course, the authors of this article can all list this work on their CV’s. And isn’t that the point of public health research?

Just What the Neighborhood Needs: A New Gun-Control Organization.

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Back in the olden days, meaning the 20th Century, the gun-control movement consisted of a couple of D.C.-based lobbying groups, chief among them the Brady Group which got the background-check gun bill and a ten-year assault rifle bill signed by Clinton in 1994.

The NRA, on the other hand, had connections to gun owners all over the country by dint of sponsoring shooting matches at various public ranges, as well as having display booths at hundreds of gun shows which were held in just about all 50 states.

The NRA’s public presence and lobbying efforts were so much a part of the sporting and shooting landscape, that Bill Clinton’s declaration about how Al Gore lost the 2000 election because the NRA beat him in his home state of Tennessee went unchallenged for the next twenty years.

The NRA’s dominance of the gun debate, however, was shattered by the massacre at Sandy Hook, as well as the appearance and growth of well-financed gun-control efforts, chief among them Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown and its alliance with Shannon Watts and her MOMS group.

Almost overnight it seemed, gun-control organizations and groups started to bloom, with Gabby Giffords promoting gun control after recovering from a near-fatal shooting in 2011, and the Brady Group building membership within individual states.

You would think that with all the increased attention on gun violence generated by these new organizational initiatives, along with a weakening of NRA activities over the past couple of years, that strategies and measures would be adopted that would show some degree of a lessening of gun violence rates.

To the contrary, the per-100K rate for intentional, fatal gun injuries in 2012 was 10.45; in 2020 it was 13.58. So, in the eight years since gun-control organizational activity and advocacy began to surge after 2012, the fatal gun violence rate has increased by 30 percent! We don’t have any official gun violence numbers for the last several years, but nobody is expecting anything but further increases given the impact of Covid-19.

And what does Gun-control Nation come up with in response to a public health threat which has become endemic to a degree not experienced in any other advanced country? It’s another gun-control organization, in this case devoted to preventing or at least reducing gun violence in other countries by bringing legal actions against American gun makers whose business practices are designed to supply “the criminal gun market in Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and countries in Latin America and elsewhere.”

So says the website of Global Action on Gun Violence, the brainchild of Jonathan Lowy, who was Counsel for Brady for 25 years, during which time he claims to have litigated and won more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for gun violence victims, along with all kinds of other legal victories creating ‘groundbreaking precedent’ to hold gun makers responsible for causing gun violence.

Back in 2021, Lowy evidently helped the Mexican government to develop and file a lawsuit against 6 major gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson, Beretta, and Glock, which was initially dismissed because of PLCCA, but apparently is now going to be reviewed by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. The suit alleges that these gun makers knowingly sold guns to dealers and distributors for the purpose of moving guns into the hands of Mexican criminals and therefore violating various Mexican laws covering illegal ownership and use of guns.

Before I get into the details of this lawsuit, it should be mentioned that the export market for American gun makers and dealers represents somewhere between 3% and 6% of the guns manufactured in the U.S. every year.  In 2019, the most recent year for this data (from the ATF), the gun industry manufactured 7,011,945 guns and exported 317,482 guns. In other words, gun exports represented 4.5% of all domestic gun production that year. Big deal.

Getting back to the lawsuit (which you can download here) the complaint is nothing more than the same, old ‘rotten apple’ gun dealer narrative which has been floating around since the government started regulating gun dealers in the 1930’s and then made ATF responsible for inspecting and managing dealer behavior with the gun law passed in 1968.

We’ve been hearing this blah-blah-blah for years about how most gun dealers are ‘honest’ but there some rotten apples out there who are either not inspected by the ATF or are allowed to continue selling guns after an inspection finds that relevant laws aren’t being followed.

Back in 1999, the Clinton Administration made a deal with Smith & Wesson that would have required the company to police its dealers by physically visiting every gun dealer in the United States who sold just one S&W gun a year. I’ll spare you the details of this scheme, but the bottom line is that it would have put Smith & Wesson out of business.

Lowy’s lawsuit mentions this agreement, and states that it collapsed because S&W ‘reneged’ on the deal. Actually, it was the government which, after a Democrat named Clinton was replaced by a Republican named Bush, told S&W that the deal was dead. And by the way, had the agreement remained in effect, it would have immunized S&W from all tort suits, so bye-bye Lowy’s scheme to use tort litigation to regulate the gun business.

This new organizational effort to deal with gun violence does absolutely nothing except promote the careers and public presence of a couple of D.C.-based lawyers who are trying to carve out a new, little niche for themselves in the gun-control debate.

When it comes to reducing gun violence, this is the best we can do?

Don’t Count the NRA Out Quite Yet.


              Ever since Mike Spies did some great reporting on the various flim flams at the NRA, the liberal media and Gun-control Nation have been touting the collapse of America’s ‘first civil rights’ organization.

              The group was going down the tubes because the Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, was outfitting himself in the boutiques on Rodeo Drive. Then Ollie North was going to take over the organization until he was kicked out. Then NRA-TV shut down and the advertising agency which thought up that brilliant idea – Ackerman-McQueen – was sued, then a bankruptcy and move from New York to Texas didn‘t go through, blah, blah, blah and blah.

              Worst of all, was the news that the NRA’s membership was going to hell in a handbasket, with even some Board members walking away. And since the NRA’s operating budget depends on dues, if the membership numbers decline, so does the inflow of cash.

              We now have the latest missive about how the NRA is going to fold up and disappear, in this case the leak of an internal memo which shows that things haven’t gotten any better, they’ve only gotten worse. The memo shows that dies receipts are down from what was expected to come in, ditto donations to the political action fund, ditto membership renewals, ditto, ditto and ditto.

              This report got a headline on The Trace, whose staff writer, Will Van Sant, noted that when a Democrat is in the White House and talk about gun control, this is usually exactly what revs up fundraising and member support for the NRA.

              But that’s not happening this time around, because as one pissed-off Board member says, “They [meaning LaPierre and management cronies] have destroyed the NRA brand, they have lost credibility. In our society, firearms ownership is expanding, and these new gun owners are not joining the NRA, and it’s because of the brand.”

              I am a member of the NRA, in fact, I’m a Lifetime Endowment member, which means I give the organization enough money each year so that they won’t throw me out no matter what I write or say. I just received the March issue of the American Rifleman magazine and if the NRA is on the verge of collapse, you wouldn’t know it from what the magazine is all about.

              There’s the usual editorial about how the 2nd Amendment is under attack, another editorial complaint about this or about that misguided anti-gun talk, and a somewhat disjointed article about the anti-gun ministrations of the CDC. Nobody who gets the magazine each month bothers to read that crap.

              What we do read are the excellent articles on the history of different guns which puts the Smithsonian to shame, as well as some technical data on reloading different calibers and some tests of the Chapuis line of French shotguns which having been acquired by Beretta, are finally going to be appearing over here.

              Next time you go into Barnes & Noble, take a look at one of the magazines on the store rack which is devoted to model trains. Now the difference, of course, is that nobody’s trying to ban model trains, and there has yet to be any research which shows that access to a model train represents threat to public health.

              But leaving aside the several pages devoted to gun-control hysteria, American Rifleman reads just like any other magazine which covers a particular hobby which is what guns are really all about. Yea, yea, I know all about how guns protect us from the bad guys out there, but I have personally bought and sold at least a thousand guns since I joined the NRA in 1955, and I will continue to buy and sell guns and read American Rifleman for the simple reason that I like guns.

              The NRA’s real problem is that the same people keep buying all those guns, even when more guns are bought than were bought the year before. Next time you’re in a big shopping mall, take a look at the number of customers inside the Apple store. Get it?

              The NRA will be around as long as there are people like me who had model trains, toy soldiers and toy guns when they were kids. The model trains and toy soldiers were given away but the toy guns became real guns and thus remain.

              So, the average gun owner will get older, and the NRA will get smaller over the next twenty to thirty years. Dollars to doughnuts, the organization will still be around even when The Trace stops focusing on guns and becomes a fashion magazine.

If Mass Shootings Are a Uniquely American Event, Let’s Not Forget the Gun.


              I have written almost 2,000 columns for my own blog, as well as more than 500 columns for the aggregate blog Medium, and between 2013 and 2018 I wrote somewhere around 250 op-ed columns for the Huffington Post. But in not a single one of those comments did I ever wonder whether what I was discussing was actually true.

              Today’s column, on the other hand, is based on news accounts which are so crazy, so bizarre and so out of this world that I just can’t believe the story behind these sources is actually true. 

              I’m referring to the news that a GOP House member, Barry Moore from Alabama, has filed a bill to declare the AR-15 assault rifle the national gun of the United States.  Not national flower, not national bird, not national dessert – the national gun.

              And better yet, although the bill hasn’t yet been formally submitted so we don’t know the actual text, the law has picked up three co-sponsors – Clyde Andrew from Georgia, Lauren Boebert from Colorado and – ready? – George ‘I got away with lots of lies the last time I ran’ Santos from New York.

              Boebert we all know from the Christmas greeting she sent out showing her kids happily playing with the assault rifles which they found under their X-mas tree. When Clyde Andrew ran for Congress in Georgia, he campaigned for the complete elimination of background checks, which would save him some time and money running his gun shop. As for Santos, there’s nothing to say.

              If those idiots were serious about wanting to memorialize a gun which really did make a positive difference both for the United States and worldwide, they should consider celebrating the invention of the M-1 Garand rifle, which was designed and manufactured at the Springfield Armory and distributed to our troops during World War II. My office is located one block from the Armory and I wish they would erect a sign telling everyone who comes to the site (which is now a vocational-technical college) that George Patton called the M-1 the ‘greatest battle implement ever devised.’

              But those four GOP schmucks promoting the AR aren’t engaging in such nonsense for anything having to do with history, or gun culture or anything else which could be even remotely connected to rational thought or beliefs. They got themselves a quick headline on some of the digital news outlets followed by the MAGA crowd, along with various liberal news sources which immediately get outraged by anything the alt-right says.

              If the GOP wants to commemorate any unique American issue which is connected to the AR-15 assault rifle, maybe they should consider coming up with a new postage stamp that would celebrate all the mass shootings which occur routinely throughout the United States. Maybe USPS should issue a series of mass shooting stamps, with each stamp showing the location of a slaughter such as the supermarket in Buffalo or the elementary school at Sandy Hook.

              Both of these massacres resulted in massive numbers of injuries and trauma because the shooters used an AR-15. But of course everyone knows ‘for  fact’ that the AR-15 is a defensive weapon which we need to keep handy just in case one of those bad guys tries to break down the front door, right?

              When I was a kid, which was sometime during the last Stone Age, it wasn’t unusual to find a Daisy Red Ryder bb-gun under the Christmas tree. When you were old enough to use a real gun, the bb-gun was replaced by a 22-caliber, bolt-action rifle, usually a lookalike for the rifle which Dad trained on before his unit got shipped overseas.

              In many respects, the AR-15 is now America’s third generation of ‘the kid’s gun.’ It’s cheap, it can be customized with all kinds of plastic doodads, and with a hi-cap mag, it’s a lot of fun to shoot.

              There’s only one little problem, however. The gun is also a formidable man-killing machine which can easily deliver 20 or 30 lethal rounds in a minute or less.

              But maybe mass shootings should also be celebrated, not condemned. After all, the whole point of the 2nd Amendment is to give every American the opportunity to protect their community with a gun. And who’s to say that those six-year-olds shot at Sandy Hook wouldn’t have all grown up to be violent criminals themselves, right?

The Governor of Massachusetts Protects Us from Guns.

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So, my state’s new Governor, Maura Healey, is in her job for less than six weeks when she announces a whole raft of new regulations to “help local licensing authorities comply with all state and federal laws and regulations, strengthen the gun dealer inspection process, and prevent illegal firearm trafficking.”

I’m quoting from the press release issued on February 17, 2023 by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the Municipal Police Training Committee, the Massachusetts State Police and the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services.

These four state agencies will partner with (who else?) the ATF “to develop specialized training to promote strict adherence with all applicable gun laws, educate local authorities about their responsibilities under those laws and protect communities against gun violence.” 

It just so happens that Massachusetts has the most comprehensive regulatory environment for controlling guns of all 50 states.  it also has the most far-reaching Child Access Protection (CAP) law of all 50 states, a no-nonsense ‘red flag’ (ERPO) law, and a ban on the sale and ownership of rifles which prevents dealers from selling assault rifles with designs that skirt the designs of the guns prohibited by the 1994 assault rifle ban, which in Massachusetts is still in effect.

I’m not saying there is necessarily any connection between the state’s strict gun laws and the fact that Massachusetts has the lowest gun violence rate of all 50 states. But the bottom line is that in 2020, the national gun-violence rate (homicide and suicide) was somewhere above 14 per 100,000, in Massachusetts the rate was 3.4.

This is the great threat to public health in Massachusetts that has gotten our new Governor to put together a statewide program involving a federal agency, four state agencies and now has enrolled more than 300 cops to be trained in responding to this dread disease?

And what exactly are these cops being trained to do?  They are going to go out and visit the 357 “active state-licensed gun dealers” who are “operating in 162 Massachusetts cities and towns.”

No wonder gun violence is such a terrible threat to community safety in the Bay State. The state has 351 cities and towns, which means that guns are being sold to the public in almost half the places where people work and live.  Wow!

My gun shop, where I stopped doing retail sales in 2016, is located in the town of Ware. There are three other gun shops located within 10 miles or so of my shop. One of the shops sells more worms than guns because the store is located near the entrance to the fishing area known as the Quabbin. Another gun shop is owned by my buddy Bope, who has an inventory of about 20 guns all nicely displayed in his garage.

The third shop has lots of guns, but this place would have closed years ago except the owner shleps his inventory to gun shows Five or six weekends every year. If he depended on in-store sales to make a buck, he’d be back selling furniture which is what he used to sell.

How many physical locations are occupied in Massachusetts by licensed dealers actually selling guns? Somewhere between 20 and 30 stores, a number derived by simply doing a search on the websites of gun companies like Smith & Wesson and Glock who list every single dealer selling their guns.

If you’re a gun retailer in any state and your store doesn’t display a Glock or a Smith, you may hold a dealer’s license but you’re not in the business of selling guns.

If Governor Healey wants to do something to make life safer for the residents of her state, why doesn’t she get the Legislature to increase the state’s sales tax on gasoline? Right now, our gasoline sales tax is so low that the highways never get repaired. The Bay State’s roads are the seventh-worst of all 50 states in terms of needing to be paved, and in terms safety design, our state ranks dead last.

Last week I had to drive slightly off a road in order to avoid a truck coming too close to the center line. The road had no shoulder, I shredded a tire and between replacing the tire and the front fender, I laid out $550 bucks.

And Maura Healey thinks she’s making our state safer by training hundreds of cops to spend an hour sitting around Bope’s garage playing with his guns?

Is Gun Violence an American Epidemic?

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              This past weekend, a 52-year-old man went into a convenience store and two private residences in the little town of Arkabutla, MS, and before he was arrested, shot and killed five people, including his ex-wife.

              So far, the cops haven’t released any information about why this rampage occurred, except what we do know is that this kind of violence has never happened before the tiny town of Arkabutla, whose population is somewhere around 300 residents, give or take a few.

              On the other hand, this event appears to be at least the 73rd mass shooting in less than the 50 days that we are into for 2024, a mass shooting defined as four or more persons who wind up with a bullet in their bodies at the same time and in the same place.

              When informed of the massacre, President Biden immediately produced the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ response, but then he added this: “Gun violence is an epidemic and Congress must act now.”

              Sorry Joe, but with all due respect, this time you’ve got it wrong. Gun violence isn’t an epidemic in the United States because epidemics come and epidemics go. What we have in the case of gun violence is an endemic situation, which doesn’t appear to be diminishing at all.

              I wish I could take credit for the idea of gun violence as constituting an ongoing and continuous activity in the United States, but I have to give credit where credit is due. In this case, the idea of 125,000 deaths and serious injuries from guns every year as being just a normal aspect of American life was first brilliantly described by our friend Katherine Kaufer Christoffel, in an article published in 2007 which you can access right here.

              In 2007, the year that Dr. Christoffel published her analysis of gun violence as an endemic health problem, the national gun violence rate per 100,000 Americans was 4.20. In 2020, the most current year for CDC numbers, the rate was 6.16, an increase of nearly 50%. The rate has been above the 2007 number every year since 2016, and from various media sources aggregated by the Gun Violence Archive, the rate has continued and increased even more over the last five years.

              In other words, what Joe described yesterday as being an ‘epidemic’ of gun violence, has now been going on for somewhere around the last 20 years. That’s no epidemic, folks. That’s the Americans way of life (and death.)

              In that respect, our good friend Nicholas Kristof has published a lengthy and detailed op-ed about gun violence in The (Failing) New York Times. The good news about this essay is that someone (Kristof) is finally making it clear that it’s not ‘guns’ per se that are used to commit gun violence, but certain kinds of guns, in particular, handguns designed only for the purpose of inflicting fatal injuries on people like you and me.

              Having finally put the issue in its proper perspective in terms of regulating the product in a more effective way, Kristof then slips back into the mainstream of gun-control narratives by defining the regulatory strategy as keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’

              How do we do that? By implementing a licensing procedure which would be similar to “the sort of system that we routinely use in registering vehicles and licensing drivers to save lives from traffic deaths.”

              Kristof cites as an example of the workability of such a system the licensing process for gun ownership which exists in Massachusetts which “has one of the lowest gun mortality rates in the United States.” 

              I happen to be a Massachusetts resident and was pleased when the state enacted its very comprehensive gun licensing procedure in 1999, a process which not only includes comprehensive background checks, but also prohibits the sale of guns whose design doesn’t meet certain ‘child-proof’ standards, as well as requirements to keep all guns locked up at all times.

              There’s only one little problem with this law, if I can be so bold as to suggest that maybe our friend Nicholas Kristof and the NYT editorial board should perhaps rethink what they believe will reduce gun violence throughout the United States.  The fatal gun-violence rate in Massachusetts went up after the law was passed, not down. In 1999, the gun-violence rate was 1.1, in 2016 it was 1.3. That’s only an increase of slightly less than 20%; i.e., 89 dead bodies instead of 71.

              I don’t care what the numbers show, whether they go up or down. What I do know is that most of those 71 or 89 deaths happened because someone took out a small, bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistol, aimed it at himself or someone else and went – blam!

              Laws or no laws, that’s the reason we have gun violence, and I simply don’t understand why we continue to analyze the reason for this problem in any other way.

              So now we should take all those Glocks and Sigs and the other handguns and melt them down? THAT’S A VIOLATION OF THE 2nd AMENDMENT!

              Too goddamn bad.

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