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A Gun Book Which You Should Read.

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              Mary Anne Franks is Professor of Law at the University of Miami Law School. Several years ago, she published a book, The Cult of the Constitution, which has a very interesting sub-                      title: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech.

I somehow missed this book when it first appeared, but for that matter, so did just about everyone else in both Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation. So, I’m going to make up for lost time right now and begin by saying that Professor Franks has written a significant and important book.

I’m no Constitutional scholar, so my ability to write a seriously critical review of this work is somewhat limited, except when it comes to discussing the 2nd Amendment, or what the author refers to as ‘the cult of the gun.’ When the author talks about cults, she is really focusing on what she refers to as Constitutional ‘fundamentalism,’ which basically means interpreting the Constitution the way it was written by a group of 55 white men who came to Philadelphia to write and replace the Articles of Confederation with a new document which would serve to maintain the patriarchal social structure of a bunch of former British colonies now reborn as states.

What Professor Franks doesn’t mention is that of those 55 delegates, 34 happened to be attorneys, whose legal expertise and knowledge was largely a function of the British Common Law tradition, which still marks much of contemporary American jurisprudence to this very day.  Indeed, if you read the District of Columbia v. Heller opinion by Justice Scalia, which gave Constitutional protection to private ownership of handguns back in 2008, you will note that much of his text is a discussion of legal notions and definitions from the Common Law.

The author’s concern about how fundamentalist attitudes have crept into the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly the 2nd Amendment, grows out of the idea that ‘reverence and ignorance’ form the bedrock of fundamentalist beliefs. These beliefs are then strengthened by promoting the idea of victimhood, particularly the victimization of white men living in a world increasingly diverse and less open to the traditional patriarchal, heterosexual authority of those white, gun-owning men.

I can’t think of another public narrative out there which is more strongly promoted by one side over the other than the totally false and reverential idea that walking around with a gun will protect someone from becoming the victim of a crime. This nonsense has been the basic way in which the gun industry has kept itself in business for the last forty years since Americans stopped hunting and quit buying hunting and sporting guns.

On the other hand, I think the author’s attempt to push what she refers to as the gender, racial and socio-economic disparities between how armed, self-defense is protected for white men as opposed to everyone else, may be creating an argument which goes a little too far.

The biggest, single problem we encounter in discussing gun violence is that not only is most gun violence committed by individuals who do not have legal license to own or use a gun, but we have absolutely no idea about how many illegally owned guns are out there being carried around. So, to compare changes in gun laws (e.g., making it easier to carry a concealed gun) to changes in gun violence is to connect two phenomena which may have no real connection at all, no matter what those regression analyses endlessly promoted by public health researchers happen to say.

The smartest thing the NRA ever did to keep itself in business was to start referring to gun owners as ‘law-abiding gun owners’ as opposed to armed individuals who use their guns to break the law. And here is where Professor Franks needs to possibly reconsider her narrative because the idea of not backing down in the face of a real or imagined threat happens to be a longstanding American behavior which transcends the whole issue of the ownership and use of guns.

Between legislation and court decisions, standing your ground has become accepted behavior in more than 40 states. You can’t pin that widespread culture on the nefarious behavior of the NRA. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has always been reactive to the way the average person thinks, not the other way around.

That being said, The Cult of the Constitution is a very good and thoughtful book. Professor Franks has written a work which needs to be read.

Matt Gaetz – The ATF’s Best Friend.

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              I never thought I would ever agree with any legislative proposal promoted by Matt Gaetz, particularly anything having to do with guns. This is because when he was a State Senator in Florida, he introduced a bill that would allow someone shot in a public space that was declared to be a gun-free zone, to sue for damages against the individual who owned that space. The bill went nowhere, by the way.

              But this week Gaetz got back into the gun thing big time by introducing a bill that would abolish the ATF. And while his reason for wanting to do away with the federal agency which regulates the gun industry is a nonsensical response to an ATF proposal which actually makes a lot of sense, I wouldn’t mind seeing the baby flushed out with the bathwater and the ATF be put to bed.

              The problem with what the ATF does or doesn’t do can only be understood if we first examine what regulating the American gun industry is all about.  The United States is the only country with a regulatory system covering guns which focuses on the behavior of people who own guns, as opposed to the design and use of the guns themselves.

              As a result, a law-abiding individual can buy and usually carry around any kind of gun as long as it doesn’t fire in full-caliber mode. To own what is called a machine gun, you have to go through a long, detailed police check, which is why the last time someone killed someone else using a machine gun in a criminal event was 1947 or maybe 1948.

              On the other hand, anyone who thinks that a semi-automatic gun is much less lethal than a full-auto gun, doesn’t know very much about guns. The kid who killed 25 children and 5 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School committed all this carnage in maybe 3 minutes or less. And the rule being developed by the ATF which has provoked the wrath of dumb-ass Gaetz, would make these semi-automatic guns even more lethal than the gun used at Sandy Hook.

              The ATF has its eye on something called a pistol ‘stabilizing brace’ which attaches to the grip of a handgun and turns it into a rifle because now the gun can be balanced against the shooter’s shoulder which means less recoil and more control. But if the barrel of this stabilized gun remains 4 or 5 inches in length, then the gun is being used as a rifle except it’s still, legally speaking, a handgun.

              Under federal law, a rifle must have a barrel at least 16 inches long. But the whole point of attaching a stabilizing brace to a handgun is to give the gun the aiming and shooting characteristics of a long gun so – voila! – all of a sudden someone has taken a Glock pistol and turned it into an assault rifle.

              Despite what some of the media has been saying, the ATF isn’t saying you can’t buy or own a stabilizing brace. They are saying that a stabilizing brace should be considered like a machine gun, which can be purchased only after a long and very detailed background check.

              On the other hand, what would be what Grandpa would call the ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if we got rid of the ATF? Most of their work consists of going into gun shops and conducting inspections which invariably turn up a couple of guns for which the paperwork is either missing or incomplete.

              The last time the ATF inspected my gun shop they found more than 500 documents which contained errors that were all defined as ‘threats’ to community safety and needed to be immediately corrected in order to make sure that we were operating the shop on the up and up.

              Know what the error was? It was that in the space on the 4473 form where you list the buyer’s home county, the kid running the shop put a two-letter abbreviation for the county instead of spelling it out. Oh…my…God!

              When the ATF inspectors began noticing this mistake, you could see the gleam in their eyes. Now they could justify the fact that they went out each day during the audit and treated themselves to a nice lunch for which I’m sure they were reimbursed.

              It’s very simple. All we need to do to get rid of gun violence and all the crimes committed with guns is to stop making and selling the types of guns that are used in violence and crimes. I’m talking about semi-automatic, bottom loading pistols and rifles which are chambered for military-grade ammunition like 9mm or .223 rounds.

              Those guns and that ammunition were designed specifically for military use, and I don’t know a single military action which has anything to do with hunting or sport.

              Too bad that a bill to eliminate the ATF is the brainchild of a schmuck like Matt Gaetz. Nobody’s going to take him seriously which makes him the best friend the ATF ever had.

Want To Be a Gun Expert? Work For RAND.

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              So now the RAND Corporation has gone to the trouble of compiling a list of ‘experts’ whose views are consulted whenever RAND wants to say anything about guns. And RAND has been saying a lot about gun violence lately, with a goal to “establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.”

              You don’t fool around with RAND. After all, this outfit has nearly 2,000 employees spending all their time doing what they call ‘objective research’ on the key policy areas about which both the public and private sectors need to be informed. Which is why I spent most of last night looking at RAND’s list of the go-to people when it comes to understanding what we need to do about the violence caused by guns.

              You can see the names of the individuals whom RAND considers to hold expertise on gun issues by downloading this report which RAND published for the second time in 2021. Among other things, this report gives the list of every ‘expert’ who was invited to participate in the survey which constitutes the basis of this document.

              The experts are divided into two categories. The first category is ‘academic researchers,’ and to make this list you either needed to have published five or more pieces of research about guns, or you are the first author in any piece of published research which has been cited more than 30 times.

              The second group of experts are individuals who are nominated for their expertise by ‘advocacy and professional’ organizations, of which 37 such organizations were sent requests for nominations, a list which included the usual gun-control and gun-nut suspects, like Brady and the NRA.

              RAND also invited 20 staffers from Senate and House committees which play some role in fashioning national gun legislation on The Hill. In particular, this group included staff from the Judiciary Committees of both the upper and lower chambers, which is where gun laws usually start and, by the way, usually end. All of this information can be found on pp. 8 – 14 of the report.

              RAND defines gun policy experts as “a diverse group of people with a professional interest in understanding and communicating the likely effects of gun policies.” This is all fine and well except for one little problem, the existence of which makes this entire survey and all the work being done by RAND on guns and gun violence to be nothing but what Grandpa would call ‘vishtugidach,’ (read: horsesh*t, and I’m being polite.)

              Why do I say that? Why do I take such a distaff view of the work of all these experts brought together by RAND? Because what I don’t see in any of the categories whose membership comprises what RAND considers to be the country’s experts on the issue of guns, is a single person whose job rests entirely on his/her ability to ‘understand and communicate’ about the laws we use to regulate guns, namely, someone who works for a company which manufactures the goddamn things.

              You think that Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig, Kahr, Springfield and all the other gun makers don’t spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to figure out how to deal with public and private efforts to regulate both the kinds of products they sell and the way they go about selling those products to gun nuts both here and abroad?

              Many years ago, The New Yorker ran a great cartoon which showed an Archie Bunker type sitting in his living room and picking up the phone. He’s just gotten a call from some outfit which is doing a public opinion survey and the first question is: “What should we do about cigarettes?” He answers: “Ban the damn things.” The next question: “What should we do about drugs?” Answer: “Ban the damn things.” Last question: “What should we do about guns?” Answer: “Don’t ban them! That won’t do anything at all!”

              The point is that the gun industry is the only consumer products industry in which if there’s a certain political alignment in D.C. and another Hinckley comes along and takes a pot-shot at the President, a bill could easily slip through Congress which would get rid of privately-owned guns once and for all.

              Everyone who works for a gun company lives with this reality. That being the case, how does RAND take seriously the idea that it can create a ‘diverse’ group of gun experts and not include one representative of one gun company at all?

              Because believe it or not, the NRA and that phony 2nd-Amendment Foundation represent themselves, and they raise money to pay themselves by figuring out what to say to their donors every time a gun-control law is introduced up on The Hill.

              RAND gets away with promoting its so-called research on guns because its audience and its donor base happen to be populations which also don’t know anything about guns. RAND would never dare create a research initiative into trading practices on the stock exchange without soliciting the views of staff from Merrill-Lynch or Wells Fargo because everyone has a 401K.

              On the other hand, somewhere around two-thirds of American households somehow manage to feed and clothe everyone in the household without having legal title to a single gun.

              I have been saying for years that the problem with Gun-control Nation is they only talk to themselves. There’s a nice gun show coming up near me the weekend of January 28th. Lots of good food, lots of MAGA t-shirts, lots of old guns.

              If any of The RAND gun experts would like to learn the first thing about the industry they are trying to regulate in more effective ways, just send me an email and I’ll take you around at the show.

              I’m willing to bet that of the 325 ‘experts’ contacted by RAND, less than 10 have ever been to a gun show.

              Better yet, wait until November and I’ll meet you at the NASGW show. I’m sure there aren’t ten RAND gun experts who even know what the acronym NASGW means.

A New Book on Children and Guns.

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              By the time I had read a few pages of John Cox’s Children Under Fire, An American Crisis, I knew I had to read the whole book. Why? Because the book opens with the description of a shooting in the Southeast neighborhood across the Anacostia River from downtown D.C., which is now an underserved, violence-ridden, overwhelmingly Black ghetto. But I happen to have spent the first five years of my life in that neighborhood.

              That’s right. From 1944 until 1950, me, my older brother and my parents lived in an apartment on Hillside Road just off Benning Road, about a mile away from where six people were shot in one week, of which the last one killed was the father of seven-year-old Tyshaun McPhatter whose experiences become the initial content of this book.

              The young boy’s experiences and the experiences of other children who are connected in some way to acts of gun violence also form the basic argument of this book’s narrative, which is that we underestimate the damage caused by guns to the young population, which then produces a seemingly unstoppable cycle of violence over which we exercise little, if any control.

              As long as the author stays focused on the lives of children who are either victims of gun violence or experience it as seeing it damage or kill family and friends, the book reads as a genuinely moving and emotional perspective on an American problem which we do not seem to be able to eliminate or even control.

              But there seems to be some unwritten rule in the publishing world that you can’t publish a book about guns or gun violence unless you stick in some kind of half-cocked plan for what needs to be done. And the plan to reduce gun violence found in this book is as stupid as they come.

              The author begins by trying to figure out how many children are damaged in some way or another by shootings which occur in and around schools? The author puts the number [pp. 27-28] at more than 350,000, maybe half a million, maybe more.

              Except what he doesn’t say is that almost all of these shootings occur on school playgrounds and involve boys and young men who happen to be hanging out in the playground because it’s a convenient spot to buy and sell drugs, particularly in the evening hours after school has let out. Under federal law, schools are required to submit annual reports about violence on school property, and schools happen to be much safer physical environments than the surrounding neighborhoods in cities where gun violence takes place.

              The author also makes a mistake by using the term ‘children’ to define anyone under the age of 19 or 20, even though a pediatrician who treats a 20-year-old patient isn’t dealing with a kid. The military trains men and women who have not yet attained their 20th birthday to go into combat zones. Does that mean we are sending children to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq?

              As for the ubiquitous dopey plan to reduce gun violence, John Cox tells us that the three most important strategies should be: (1). Universal background checks on all gun transfers; (2). effective ‘safe storage’ laws, usually referred to as child access prevention (CAP) laws; and (3). more research to figure out what will “protect children from gun violence.” [pp. 289-292.]

              There has never been one, single study which shows that universal background checks or CAP laws reduce gun violence at all. Not one.

              As for more research, did it ever occur to this author ‘noch besser’ (read: better yet) a Pulitzer Prize nominee, that maybe, just maybe we can eliminate gun violence simply by getting rid of certain types of guns? Since when does the 2nd Amendment give carte blanche to owning any kind of gun? It doesn’t, and if you don’t believe me, I refer you to the assault rifle ban passed by the city of Highland Park and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

              The reason we have gun violence committed by and against kids (and adults) is very simple: the United States is the only country in the entire world which allows residents to own guns that are designed for military use. Sorry, but a Glock 17 pistol chambered for military-grade ammunition isn’t a ‘sporting’ gun.

              We don’t need any more research to figure that one out. We just need the authors of books about gun violence to know something about guns.

Best and Brightest: Shannon Watts.

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              So, this week we get a piece of news which has no doubt brought joy to the hearts of Gun-nut Nation and sorrow to the hearts of advocates on the gun-control side. I‘m talking about the announcement by Shannon Watts that she’s hanging the whole thing up.

              That’s right. The woman who founded and built the most important and worthwhile grass-roots effort to reduce gun violence has decided, at age 50, to take a break.

              Knowing the way Shannon’s been running around the country for the past ten years, frankly, I’m both surprised and awestruck that she lasted this long. And don’t quote me, okay? But we haven’t heard the last word we’re ever going to hear out of Shannon Watts.

              Where did organizational efforts aimed (pardon the pun) at reducing gun violence stand before Shannon started beating her organizational drums? There was no effort, or at least no effort which created any sustained public dialog at all.

              Maybe there was a little group talking about gun control over here, maybe another little group holding a small, monthly meeting over there. The gun-control groups based in D.C. had really done next to nothing since the last two gun laws had been passed in 1994. And neither of those laws did anything to stop or prevent the kid in Newtown from going into the family gun safe, taking out the AR-15, and then using the gun to mow down 20 first-graders and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

              Ten years later, a kid around the same age as the Sandy Hook shooter walked into the elementary school in Uvalde, TX with the same kind of gun and quickly killed 19 students and 2 teachers, along with wounding 17 more. The Sandy Hook shooter first shot and killed his mother before going on his rampage across town. The Uvalde shooter tried to kill his grandmother but somehow, she survived a bullet in her head.

              Now if I were Shannon Watts and had been devoting every day of my life to running around the United States trying to make some degree of sense and accountability out of these two events, I’d probably want to quit the whole effort as well. And by the way, when we look at gun violence numbers since 2014, only two states – Connecticut and New Jersey – have lower gun violence rates today. Since 2020, the last year for which we have this heart-sickening data, the national rate of intentional, fatal  gun injuries – homicide and suicide – has only increased by 30 percent.

              All of that being said, I hope that Shannon doesn’t walk away from her efforts of the past ten years thinking that she has failed. Au contraire – her work needs to be understood in one way and one way only, i.e., as an enormous success.

              Why do I say that? Here’s why.

              From the very beginning of her efforts, Shannon focused her messaging on Americans who legally own guns. And she went further and focused her efforts on women – mothers – who live in homes where legal guns are found.

              Why did she adopt this strategy? Because paramount in her mind was the necessity to create a dialog and a conversation about the risk of guns, particularly the dangers represented to families with children living in homes with guns.

              Did Shannon want better and stronger gun-control laws? Sure she did, but legal responses to gun violence was always a secondary concern. First and most important was changing the culture surrounding the ownership of guns.

              And you can’t evaluate that effort simply by putting up increased gun science  numbers and then shaking your head, because of the 44,286 Americans who died from intentional gun injuries in 2020, at least half were shot by shooters who used illegal guns, and most of the unfortunate victims who killed themselves with a legally-owned gun would have found some other way to end their lives if a gun hadn’t been around.

              My point is that if you do a Google search for how often the phrase ‘gun violence’ appears in common, everyday parlance, you’ll find that, with the rare exception of a few days after a mass shooting like Columbine, today the term appears ten times more frequently than it appeared before Shannon and her ladies started shouting it out after Sandy Hook.

              Even Alex Jones started using the term ‘gun violence’ following Sandy Hook, even if he used it to pretend that the gun violence at Newtown never occurred.

              Want to know who was the American that raised the issue of violence in American life before Shannon starting raising the issue in 2013? It was Dr. Martin Luther King, and as far as I’m concerned someone in Congress should nominate Shannon for the Nobel Peace Prize.

              You would think that for all the money Mayor Mike has dumped into certain Congressional campaigns, that he could call up one of the beneficiaries of his political largesse and drop a hint – hint, hint.

              Thank you Shannon for what you have done.

A New Gun Book You Should Read.

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              Nikki Goeser is a lady in her mid-40’s who graduated from the University of Tennessee, went to work as a financial adviser at a local technical college at Nashville and in 2008 married the ‘love of her life’ Ben. Her husband was a commercial designer who did fix-it work on the side and he and Nikki also did a karaoke show at various Nashville restaurants and bars.

              On the night of April 2, 2009, they were doing a karaoke gig when Nikki spotted a guy in the audience who had been to some of their previous shows and had then started sending Nikki some inappropriate messages through MySpace which she ignored.

              All of a sudden, the guy was sitting next to her husband. Then he went to the bathroom, came back out, walked over to where Ben was sitting putting a batch of songs into the computer, pulled out a Colt-45 pistol, and after shooting Ben in the head, continued standing over him and popping six more rounds.

              The shooter calmly walked away from the spot where he had just killed another man, and was promptly tackled by a U.S. Marine who, with the help of several other customers, disarmed the guy and held him down until the cops arrived.

              It turns out the guy who killed Nikki’s husband had been stalking Nikki for months. He had never spoken to her but had sent her endless internet messages and for some reason, never explained, was obsessed with her and felt that Ben’s existence was keeping him from getting into a relationship with this woman who was lighting up his life.

              When Nikki first saw this guy pull his gun, she immediately realized that she had left her own gun locked in her car. The restaurant where Ben and Nikki were doing their karaoke show had a gun-free policy, typical of public spaces where liquor is served. As the shooter pulled out his weapon, Nikki thought to herself: “Oh my God, I don’t have my gun! He is going to shoot somebody and I don’t have my gun!” [p. 22] I will return to Nikki’s comment below.

              After several more emotionally-charged chapters covering the immediacy of this terrible event, Nikki then then covers the events leading up to and covering the shooter’s trial, for which he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years. These chapters are written beautifully, and they remind me of Dominick Dunne’s description of the trial of the man who killed his daughter which appeared in Vanity Fair.

              For me to compare the writing of any newly published author to the prose of Dominick Dunne is to make it clear that the author whose book I am reviewing has a great deal of talent when it comes to telling a story which you might want to read.

              That being said, of course I also have to make some critical comments about this book, if only because every book review needs to be somewhat balanced between the good and the bad. In this instance, what I am calling ‘bad’ are the last few chapters in which Nikki Goeser swerves away from a heart-rending and personal account about the emotional and social traumas that she has survived and gives us the usual song-and-dance about why everyone should be walking around with a gun.

              To that end let me refer again to Nikki’s statement that she was unable to help her husband avoid getting killed because she didn’t have her gun. According to her story, maybe two or three seconds at most passed from the time she realized the assailant had a gun until the time her husband took a round in the head.

              What could Nikki have done with her gun if it had been in her pocket instead of out in the car? Nothing. Not one, goddamn thing.

              This is the biggest problem with gun violence, a problem discussed brilliantly by Lester Adelson, who was Cuyahoga County coroner (Cleveland) for nearly 40 years, so he saw plenty of people whose lives were ended by the use of a gun. Adelson sums it up this way:

. “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing. Facile access to firearms is an invitation to their wrongful use by the neurotic, the psychotic, and the socially maladjusted.”

              By the time Nikki Goeser gets done talking about the trial of her husband’s killer, there’s simply no doubt that this guy exactly fit Lester Adelson’s description of the kind of individual who will use a gun in a ‘wrongful’ way. And the real problem is that most of these nut-jobs plan their ‘wrongful’ behavior well in advance, and the idea that someone legally authorized to carry a gun will proactively prevent such individuals from carrying out their misdeed is a wonderful fantasy but simply is not true.

              That being said, for the clarity of its language and the emotional impact of its tone, I recommend Nikki Goeser’s book as a good, solid and informative read.

Do Doctors Know Anything About Guns?

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              In 1964, the Surgeon General issued a report which linked cigarettes to specific health risks, most of all lung and bronchial cancers, but other diseases as well. This was followed by Federal laws which banned cigarette advertising on broadcast media and required a health warning on all cigarette packs.

              These efforts sparked smoking cessation programs at the community level, as well as anti-smoking education in public schools. Those programs and others are coordinated by the CDC and have made a significant difference in the size of the smoking population as well as the number of deaths from illnesses caused by cigarette smoke.

              Last year the CDC announced that guns were also a health threat. It only took the CDC twenty-eight years to figure this one out after two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine definitively found a link between gun access and both murder and suicide.

              And what has the medical community decided is the best way to deal with this threat which only kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year? Back in 2019, a ‘summit meeting’ took place attended by 44 major medical and injury prevention organizations and hosted by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the objective being to “develop effective injury prevention strategies.”

               The summit group decided to adopt a ‘systems approach’ to the problem based on a public health model. This model “requires engagement, responsibility and partnership across disciplines, geographic regions, and philosophic differences. It requires professionalism, humility, and mutual respect. When applied to firearm injury prevention, this approach requires engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution rather than as part of the problem.”

          Now let’s circle back for a minute to how the CDC dealt with smoking as a public health issue. Basically, the research indicated that if cigarettes are being smoked in the home, the rates of serious diseases like cancer and cardiac problems reach unacceptable levels and will remain at those levels until the cigarettes are removed from the home.

          Does the CDC recommend that smokers be engaged in deciding the strategies that will allow them to keep smoking, even though everyone agrees that smoking represents a risk? Of course not. Smokers may be asked to help figure out the best ways to break the smoking habit, but sooner or later, the cigarettes have to be gone from the home.

          Why should a public health approach to reducing gun violence be any different? How come doctors are being told that figuring out how to get the guns out of the home should be a process which requires input from the population which will have to give up their guns in order to meet the evidence-based research which clearly demonstrates that guns in the home represent a risk to health?

          Doctors are being told this because this bunch who held their ‘summit meeting’ about gun violence in 2019 decided that they could ignore the research published in 1993 about the risk to health represented by guns as long as doctors would advise their gun-owning patients to own and use guns in a ‘safe’ way.

          The only thing which exceeds the arrogance of this approach is its ignorance. Know why it’s ignorant? Because most fatal and non-fatal gun injuries, perhaps three-quarters or more, are caused by individuals who own and use guns that are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life. Guns manufactured by companies like Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Kahr – want me to name a few more? – are guns carried and used by military and tactical units worldwide. The United States is the only country in the entire world which allows its residents to buy and own these kinds of guns.

          Nowhere in the entire discussion about gun violence found in the proceedings of that 2019 ‘summit’ is this issue even mentioned, never mind discussed. Nowhere did all those medical and public health experts demonstrate even the slightest awareness of how the American gun industry profits by selling military-style handguns to the so-called law-abiding crowd.

          Oh, I forgot. This same bunch of injury experts have no problem saying that we need to do a better job of regulating the sale and ownership of assault rifles, up to and maybe even reinstating a partial ban. Big fu*king deal. We’ll get rid of the guns which account for less than one percent of the gun violence events which occur every year, but the sale of guns responsible for the other ninety-nine percent of gun injuries shouldn’t be disturbed.

          The physicians and public health researchers who came together in this summit, produced this absolute nonsense and are now spreading it merrily (with the help of the CDC) throughout the entire medical profession should be ashamed of themselves.

          But this bunch are too arrogant and too stupid to admit that maybe, just maybe they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

          The truth is that if gun violence did slow down or disappear, the CDC would stop funding their useless research and then what would these folks do? Spend their time seeing patients? What’s the point of that?

          I’m going to send this column to everyone who attended that 2019 summit and invite them to respond. Any response I receive will get reprinted in full.

          Don’t hold your breath, okay?

Another Stupid Idea to Reduce Gun Violence Courtesy of The New York Times.

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              Last week The New York Times published yet another guest editorial on what to do about gun violence.  This time it’s an editorial by the Mayor of San Jose (thank you Gail) who I’m sure is a decent and civic-minded guy. He’s also a Democrat, so he can’t be all that bad.

              But like every other individual who has contributed their two cents or their three cents to the ongoing effort by The New York Times to explain what we should do to reduce the 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur in the United States every year, Mayor Sam Liccardo (pictured above) doesn’t know anything about guns.

              Because if he did, he might still succumb to the temptation to promote himself and his administration for their recent initiatives to stop the slaughter in the streets of San Jose, but at least he would know that what he’s saying, to quote Grandpa, is ‘hai cock and a bubbe’ (read: bullsh*t and horsesh*t – take your pick.)

              In San Jose between 2013 and 2018, there were 206 city residents who were either treated for gun injuries or didn’t require any treatment because they were dead. Of this total number, 89 were murdered, 31 shot themselves, another 86 were either ‘unintentional’ or ‘undetermined,’ for a grand total of 206.

              Maybe the first thing the Mayor should do is get the people responsible for coming up with those numbers to spend some time figuring out what they are really trying to do. Because if the city uses those numbers to come up with some new initiatives that will reduce those numbers, the idea that 40 percent of all known shootings were either ‘accidents’ or nobody knows why they occurred simply cannot be a basis upon which to proceed.

              Which is maybe why the two gun-control programs being touted by Mayor Liccardo are so stupid and so far removed from anything having to do with preventing or reducing gun violence that they simply cannot and will not work.

              Although the fee has not yet be determined, at some point every gun owner in San Jose will be required to pay a fee to the city which will then be distributed by some non-profit group to pay for mental health and suicide prevention programs, as well as a gun-safety course.

              The other program will require every gun owner to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of unintentional shootings, even though the city doesn’t actually know how many unintentional shootings occur.

              The Mayor claims that liability insurance will provide gun owners with a financial incentive to behave safely with their guns – lock them up, lock them away, all the usual safe-gun bromides that are trotted out by Gun-control Nation in its unending quest to make guns as benign as possible for both sides.

              Do you think that Mayor Liccardo actually believes that when Dick Cheney accidentally filled another hunter’s head with buckshot back in 2006, that the Vice President would have been more careful with his gun if he was paying insurance premiums on a policy that would compensate the guy he shot? Is the Mayor of San Jose in this world or does he live somewhere else?

              As for the idea that gun violence will be reduced if every gun owner in San Jose shows up and pays the city for the privilege of owning guns, this initiative is even crazier than the insurance scheme, for the simple reason that the people in San Jose and every other place in America who commit intentional gun assaults aren’t about to admit to any governmental agency that they own a gun.

              How often do you think someone walks into a gun shop, buys a gun, passes a background check, and then walks across the street to stick up the mini-mart, or walks down the street and shoots someone who just dissed him, or maybe just happened to be in the way?

              Do law-abiding gun owners sometimes shoot someone else intentionally? Of course they do. Sh*t happens, particularly when the old lady really pisses you off.

 But they sure don’t do it very often and I am still waiting for the first so-called public health gun researcher to actually publish a study showing how many Americans are murdered each year with legally owned guns. If it’s 5 percent of the 19,384 who were victims of gun homicides in 2020, send me a MAGA baseball cap and I’ll eat it, okay?

              Want to reduce gun violence in San Jose? Pass a law which says that anyone found with a semi-automatic, bottom-loading pistol chambered for military-style ammunition must either move out of town or will get sent out of town to spend a couple of years in Wasco, San Quentin, or Pelican Bay – take your pick.

              And if the San Jose Mayor thinks that the Supreme Court will buy into the 2nd-Amendment bullsh*t about how the city can’t decide for itself that certain kinds of guns represent a threat to community safety, I suggest he should consult the assault rifle ban passed by Highland Park and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

If Guns Were Safer, Gun Violence Would Go Down, Right?

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              Today is the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre and now the effort to reduce gun violence has morphed into its third phase. In the pre-Sandy Hook days, when we talked about how to deal with gun violence, we referred to the various strategies as ‘gun control.’

              Following Sandy, it was decided by the various advocacy organizations that the gun control movement would refer to themselves as the ‘gun violence prevention’ movement, or GVP.

              Now we have entered the third phase in an effort to win the hearts and minds of enough Americans to pass some more legal restrictions on how gun owners should behave with their guns and this is being called the ‘gun safety’ movement, which is analyzed in detail this week in a long article in The New York Times.

              The essay, written by a free-lance journalist, David Cullen, claims that the gun safety movement emerged after Sandy Hook and is led by two powerhouses – Everytown and Giffords – who “are run by data-driven professionals who employ polling, focus groups and election post-mortems to help candidates test and hone effective messages.”

              Cullen sees the growth in gun safety organizations in terms of more laws being passed in individual states, with 67 new state laws passed in 2019 alone. In 2022 another 45 gun-safety laws have been put on the books in various states, while the NRA has become the ‘walking wounded’ when it comes to what goes on in D.C.

              All of this sounds very nice, upbeat, and positive, except there’s only one little problem. What Cullen doesn’t mention is that not only is gun violence on the upswing, but the rate of shootings continues to climb even as the alleged reason for the recent upsurge – Covid-19 – is beginning to fade. Throughout 2020 we were told that gun violence was worse because: a) the Pandemic sparked all kinds of misery and fears, and b) so many people were buying guns.

              According to the CDC, weekly Covid-19 cases are now less than half of what they were back in July. As for gun sales, November 2020 background checks were 2 million, November 2021 were 1.5 million and November 2022 were 1.3 million. In other words, sales have dropped by 35% since the Pandemic was in full force. And Smith & Wesson stock, which was at $30 a share back in July 2021, is now trading at under $9 bucks.

              There is little, provable connection between how many Americans pick up a gun and use it to shoot someone else, and how many laws are passed which will mandate that Americans buy, own and use ‘safe’ guns. Know why? Because the guns which are used to kill and injure 100,000+ Americans every year can’t be used in a ‘safe’ way.

              Guns which are bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols chambered for military-style ammunition aren’t designed to be ‘safe.’ They are designed to deliver lethal injuries to human beings, which is why they are carried by just about every military and tactical unit worldwide.

              Know why the United States suffers from the daily ravages of gun violence. Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns whose sole purpose is to end human life. And very few of these guns are actually used to kill or injure someone by a person who first acquired the gun and passed a background check.

              But when several million guns which fit into the palm of an adult hand get into the market every year, some will get lost, and some will get stolen, and some will be sold. And when that happens, these guns will remain usable for upwards of thirty years.

              Want to end gun violence? Stop the manufacture and sale of the guns which are used to commit that violence. And before you shake your head and tell me that we can’t prevent Americans from buying such lethal products because it’s a ‘violation’ of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I’ll save my response for another column, but let me say right here and now that banning the pistols made by companies like Glock and Sig wouldn’t be a violation of the 2nd Amendment at all. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue more than once.

              Would it be such of what Grandpa would call a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if David Cullen and all the other advocates for ‘safe’ guns would maybe just say in a whisper that the way to make a gun ‘safe’ is to get rid of the gun?

Is Political Violence a Threat?

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              So, now we have the entire editorial board of The New York Times pronouncing what we need to do about gun violence. And when you get done reading through this entire epistle, you’ll understand why we haven’t done anything to reduce gun violence over the past twenty years.

              To understand the context in which the esteemed editors of America’s most esteemed public media venue produced their remarks, the per-thousand rate of deaths from intentional gun assaults (i.e., homicide) in 2001 was 3.98. In 2020, the rate was 5.88. Or to put it in raw numbers, 11,348 people were shot to death by someone else in 2001, in 2020 that number was 19,384.

              According to this bunch of Ivy-educated lowbrows, America has a ‘toxic’ gun culture because “a growing number of American civilians have an unhealthy obsession with ‘tactical culture’ and rifles like the AR-15.”

              I know something about that unhealthy obsession because I happen to be the person who advised the law firm representing the litigants who sued Remington for making the AR-15 used to slaughter 26 adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. And what I told the Koskoff law firm about the AR-15 is what they used in an argument which basically said the rile was too dangerous to be in civilian hands.

              That was then, this is now. And now we are being told that “the American gun industry has reaped an estimated $1 billion in sales over the past decade from AR-15-style guns, and it has done so by using and cultivating their status as near mythical emblems of power, hyper-patriotism and manhood.”

              Let’s start right there. One billion dollars over ten years? That’s the big deal? It just so happens that until recently when sales began to flag and retailers began cutting prices, that the average cost of a fully assembled AR-15 was about a thousand bucks.

So, let’s divide a billion by a thousand and what do we get? We get one million AR-15’s sold to a potential market of some eighty to ninety million Americans who own guns. No wonder the price of a share of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past year.

What is worse than all those military-style guns floating around, is how they keep showing up at political events carried by super patriots on the alt-right. The editorial references an earlier ‘analysis’ by the newspaper which found that 77 percent of some 700 political demonstrations attracted people openly carrying guns.

In fact, the analysis was no analysis at all. The NYT simply cribbed some data put together by a research outfit, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which first started operating in Great Britain, but now is housed in multiple academic locations in the United States.

The ACLED group has done a detailed analysis of all armed political demonstrations in the United States from January 2020 through June 2021, a period which saw perhaps as many as 30,000 public demonstrations, of which somewhere around 560 events involved at least one person openly carrying a gun. That’s less than two percent.

Of the demonstrations which attracted armed demonstrators or onlookers, there were 9 fatalities reported to have occurred, of which two men were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha during the BLM violence in August 2021. How many of the other 7 people killed in these 560 demonstrations were shot with guns? I can’t find any data on the ACLED website which breaks down fatal violence committed with or without guns, but an article on political violence in The Guardian  (based on ACLED data) says that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of BLM demonstrations were peaceful and that many of the deaths at these events were actually deadly crimes carried out near where the demonstrations took place.

In other words, for all the efforts of the gun industry to market its products through appeals to manhood, patriotism, and the endless bleating about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ this country continues to exhibit a remarkable level of peace and calm, notwithstanding all those gazillions of guns floating around.

Several weeks ago, the NYT ran another story about how the gun ‘culture’ has become an intimidating element in the public debate, with a tag-line which read “Armed Americans, often pushing a right-wing agenda, are increasingly using open-carry laws to intimidate opponents and shut down debate.”

If I had a nickel for every story the NYT and other liberal media ran about how the mid-term elections would be rife with violent threats and violent acts, I wouldn’t have to finish this commentary up right now in order to report for work.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor summed it up by saying, “There was no violence. At least for now, the serious threats that loomed over democracy heading into Election Day – domestic extremist violence, voter intimidation, and Republican refusal to respect election outcomes – did not materialize in any pervasive way.”

If the Editorial Board of America’s ‘paper of record’ (a term they have been using to describe themselves since 1924) wants to really do something about gun violence, instead of promoting this cockamamie nonsense about how the Boogaloo Boys are one step away from committing the next Civil War, why don’t these editors sit down and figure out what to do about the 50 kids and young men who get gunned down every day on inner-city streets?

Is that too much to ask these so-called editorialists to do? I guess it is.

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