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How Do We Reduce Gun Violence? The Same Old, Same Old.

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              Readers may have noticed that after a month’s hiatus in writing about guns and posting columns on my gun blog, Mike the Gun Guy, I’m back doing it again. There were two reasons that I switched over to a more general political perspective, in particular writing critical comments about the liberal, political media and press.

              First and foremost, I reject and resent the continued attempt by the mainstrem liberal media to promote the idea that Trump represents some kind of Fascist threat. I lived in Spain during the worst, most repressive years of the Franco regime, and Trump’s about as much of a Fascist as Leonard Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.

              Second, to be as candid as I can, if I’m going to write for public consumption, I’d rather be a large fish in a small pond, then a tiny minnow in a large sea. And when it comes to politics, as opposed to guns and gun violence, everyone’s an expert and everyone seems to have something to say.

              As regards the latter, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome a new voice to the online community writing about guns. Her name is Caroline Light who, several years ago published an important book on Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws. She has just opened up a blog about gun violence and promises at least one new comment every week. Way to go Caroline, and welcome to our little pond.

              Which brings me to an observation about some content newly posted by our friends in The Trace. I’m referring to what has become the basic approach to reducing gun violence in communities where the violence takes the form of one person shooting another, as opposed to gun violence where the shooter shoots himself.

              The former type of gun violence probably accounts for at least three-quarters of all intentional injuries committed with the use if guns, although we really don’t have an accurate number on intentional, non-fatal gun assaults because the CDC has given up trying to keep the score.

              Anyway, the bottom line is that most of this violence occurs in inner-city, minority-based neighborhoods which always seem to have high rates of violent behavior, with or without guns. And what my friends in Gun-control Nation promote is the idea that we can reduce gun violence in these communities by putting together some kind of domestic Marshall Plan to provide jobs and financial support because we all know that poverty makes people angry and anger results in violence and yadda, yadda and yadda again.

              So, for example, the current issue of The Trace has a lead article on how Baltimore is hoping to reduce gun violence by making the city’s public spaces safer spots for children to play. Money will be spent on after-school programs, better recreational facilities, all the usual stuff.

              Of course, such programs are always short of cash. Which is why when the dough runs out, gun violence rates go up again. But the bottom line is that either we take a ‘public health approach’ to gun violence or we don’t. And if we don’t upgrade the environment where gun violence occurs, it’s no different from how typhoid reappears if the drinking water isn’t always kept clean.

              I happen to think this approach is bunk. Why? Because violence is one thing, gun violence is something else. And the latter problem can’t exist without the presence of, and access to guns. It just so happens that we are the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns which are designed and used only for the purpose of committing gun violence, i.e., ending a human life.

              I know I’m repeating myself from yesterday, but if my friends in Gun-control Nation repeat the idea every chance they get, that we can reduce gun violence by going into poor neighborhoods and planting a bunch of trees, I reserve the right to remind them about the issue of guns every chance that I get.

              I carry a Glock 17 pistol with 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition. This gun wasn’t designed for ‘sport’ or even for ‘self-defense.’ It was designed to do what it does very well, which is to put a half-ounce piece of lead into someone’s head.

              Want to reduce gun violence by taking a public health approach? Get rid of what causes the violence, which happens to be certain types of guns.

How Come Only Good Guys Are Allowed To Carry Guns?

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              Yesterday I wrote a column about the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on whether New York’s Sullivan Law did or did not abridge Constitutional protections covering the civilian ownership of guns. In particular, the Sullivan Law vests very wide discretionary authority with the police to determine whether a law-abiding citizen can walk around with a concealed gun. And such arbitrary decision-making authority could deprive someone of their Constitutional

              I received a number of comments from readers who felt that I was showing a lack of concern for the degree to which concealed-carry (CCW) is a factor in the high rate of gun violence from which this country, and this country alone, suffers year after year. So, the purpose of today’s rant is to explain where I stand on the issue of armed, self-defense.

              First and most important, the term ‘self-defense’ is about as meaningless as the description of any type of behavior that could ever be put into words. If nothing else, it presumes that the individual who committed an act of self-defense was really defending himself against someone else.

              But to one person, an act of self-defense could be an act of self-offense to someone else, and who’s to say which is which? We do know, thanks to the research of Marvin Wolfgang and others going back more than fifty years, that in at least half of all homicides, it was behavior precipitated by the victim which led to the fatal event. Which makes it rather difficult to create a neat division of behavior between the individual who attacked someone else rather than the individual who reacted to an attack or the threat of an attack.

              In the ‘olden’ days, before the gun industry started promoting armed, self-defense as a type of behavior that was both legally and socially as virtuous as being next to God, it was usually assumed that someone walking around with a gun was up to no good. Guns weren’t considered to be things that law-abiding people needed to use or own unless they happened to live somewhere out on the frontier. But since, according to the Census, the frontier disappeared in 1890, the appearance and use of guns for anything other than hunting was simply not what self-defense and protection from the ‘bad guys’ was all about.

              Then along came Clint Eastwood who released a movie – Dirty Harry – in 1971, which took the whole gunslinging genre from the Wild West and re-set it as a social and cultural theme in city streets. And what Eastwood created was the idea that if you really want to be a ‘good guy,’ you have to walk around with a gun. And you have to use that gun against the bad guys as often as you can.

              We are the only country in the entire world which not only allows its residents to own guns whose design, function and sole purpose is to end human life, but we make a positive cultural motif out of the idea that a so-called ‘legal’ gun owner should first and foremost always use his gun to set things right?

              Why do we even bother doing research on the reasons for more than 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries every year when gun companies from all over the world being their products to sell in this country because these same products can’t be old in the places where they are made? We introduce several million man (and woman)-killing products into this country ever year and then you’re surprised when people get shot?

              And by the way, don’t give m any of that nonsense about how all we have to do is make sure that criminals and people who don’t obey the law can’t get their hands on guns. You think the guy coming towards you waving a Glock as you pull some cash out of the money machine won’t tell the cops that he was acting in self-defense? Of course, he will, and maybe he’ll even get off. We have the lawyers defending Kyle Rittenhouse for that one, to be sure.

              Next year, the Supreme Court will hand down a decision on whether we can exercise armed self-defense outside if our homes. If the Court says ‘yes,’ the gun industry will deliver some new, self-defense gun models which I’m sure are already being designed. If the Court says ‘no,’ we’ll see some more public health research on laws that could be enacted to bring gun-violence rates down.

               Do I sound just a little tired of listening to the same old, same old for the last thirty years?

Do We Really Need To Worry About Concealed-Carry of Guns?

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              Yesterday the Supreme Court listened to arguments in a case challenging New York’s Sullivan Law, which effectively makes New York City the most difficult location to get permission from the cops to walk around with a gun. The law has been on the books since 1913, and basically the law allows the cops to decide whether someone can carry a gun on their person, whether the individual makes a good argument or not.

              The ability of the police to exercise discretion in granting concealed-carry applications (CCW) used to be the way it was done in almost every state. But this situation has changed dramatically over the last 30 years, with New York now being only one of seven states which does not automatically grant CCW to anyone who meets certain criteria basically having to do with whether the applicant is law-abiding or not.

              Of the 43 states that do not require a specific reason for wanting to walk around with a gun, 15 of those states are also what’s known as ‘Constitutional carry’ states, i.e., if you are legally able to buy or own a gun, you can carry it around without getting any special permission from the police at all.

              Getting all 50 states to permit Constitutional carry has been one of two, main objectives of Gun-nut Nation’s political activity for the last 20 or so years. The other prize is a national concealed-carry law which would allow the resident of any state to carry his gun across any and all state lines.

              The opponents of national concealed-carry argue that such a law would deprive individual states of their ability to set standards for issuing CCW, including a pre-issue training requirement which is often part of the CCW application process.

              Which brings me to the real subject of today’s rant, namely, the mis-use and abuse of the word ‘training’ on both sides of the gun debate.

              This whole thing about training civilians to shoo guns was actually the original rationale for the founding of the NRA back in 1871. The organization was started by a general from the Union Army, George Wingate, who felt that the troops under his Civil War command would have been a more formidable fighting force if they knew how to shoot their guns.

              George Washington had the same problem during the Revolutionary War, except in his case it wasn’t just the lack of marksmanship training which caused him concern, it was also the fact that many of the militia members who showed up to fight the British had guns that were often handmade and hardly worked at all.

              The whole gun-training issue for the military was solved only in 1940 when the first peacetime draft went into effect. What this meant was that civilians were turned into soldiers by housing them in barracks and teaching them how to do everything from brushing their teeth to cleaning their guns.

              When I was at Fort Jackson in South Carolina I couldn’t get over how the Army could take these totally-illiterate hillbillies and teach them how to shoot, clean and load an M-14 rifle in 8 weeks. And by the way, not only was the training all hands-on by rote again and again, but until you could demonstrate proficiency you didn’t get to go on the chow line to eat.

              Nothing like an empty stomach to get you to learn how to shoot a gun.

              There isn’t a single state which requires any kind of pre-applicant training for CCW which is even a smidgen of serious training that you get in the USRA. And in some states, like my state – MA – the so-called training doesn’t even require shooting one, single live round. You can get a license to purchase and walk around with a deadly weapon even if you don’t have the slightest idea how to load or shoot your gun.

              Having said all of that, however, I need to point out that very little gun violence is actually committed by guys who have legal access to their guns. The Violence Policy Center has identified 1,951 CCW-carriers killed someone else over the last 12 years, which is an average of 160 murders per year, one percent of the victims who are killed each year by someone using a gun.

              Our friend John Lott tracks the number of CCW licenses issued throughout the United States, and he claims that there was a big jump recently in licenses, he estimates that now 8.3%   of American adults can legally carry guns. But having a CCW license is one thing, actually walking around with a gun is something else.

              The truth is that unless you’re law enforcement, after the thrill of being armed wears off, walking around with a concealed weapon is a pain in the ass. First of all, it’s a heavy piece of metal so you need a holster which never really fits the gun. Then you have to keep it concealed which means always wearing an overgarment even when it’s hot.

              But the most important thing to remember about CCW is that media stories to the contrary, most people will rarely, if ever find themselves in a situation where they need to have quick access to a gun. Violent, face-to-face crime overwhelmingly occurs between individuals who know each other, who live in the same neighborhood, on the same street, or even in the same house.

              Just about every boy who plays video games or watches TV has seen hundreds, if not thousands of make-believe shootings by the time he enters his teens. This is a cultural phenomenon which has been present in our society, and only our society since The Great Train Robbery movie appeared in 1903.

              The members of Gun-nut Nation who swear by the necessity to keep a gun handy to protect themselves from crime are nothing more than adults who still like to think of themselves as kids. For that matter, the members of Gun-control Nation who talk about only granting CCW to people who have been ‘trained,’ have about as much understanding of what constitutes real gun training as the man in the moon.

              The Supreme Court is supposed to issue a ruling on yesterday’s case sometime next year. Believe me, no matter how the Court rules, it really won’t change the whole issue of gun violence one little bit.

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? Just Ask Donald Trump How To Do It.

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              Over the last ten years, the United States has contained roughly 4% of the world’s total population.  Every year, the per-100K homicide rate in the U.S. stands around 5.5, in the other advanced countries, the rate is somewhere around 3.5.

              How does the United States, with the fifth-highest per-capita GDP income in the OECD, wind up with a homicide rate that is almost twice as high as every other advanced nation-state?

              The answer has been supplied to us by our good friend David Hemenway at the Chan – Harvard University School of Public Health. And what David has been saying is that the difference between our rate of violence and what occurs throughout the rest of the OECD is basically caused by the three hundred, or maybe four hundred million guns that we have floating around. You can download and read David’s research right here.

              David’s work comes on top of the research published in 1993 by Art Kellerman and Frederick Rivara, who found an indisputable causal link between homicide and access to guns in the home.  You can also download and read this article here.

              The publication of the Kellerman-Rivara research ignited a firestorm on the other side of the debate, i.e., the gun industry and its supporters who didn’t like being told that their beloved toys represented a threat to public health. This bunch, in and out of academe, even got the CDC to stop funding gun research, although of late,  that funding has been restored. Fine. Good. Big deal.

              The reason I am skeptical of what might actually be the result of this new wave of gun research can be found in a lengthy and detailed document published by the World Health Organization and the United Nations back in 2014. Entitled, ‘Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, 2014,’ you can also download and read it here. But I suggest you give yourself plenty of time to download this report, which happens to be 275 pages in length and contains specific data from 133 countries, which in 2014 represented nearly 90 percent of everyone living on the globe.

              Why did the WHO-UN group conduct this research and publish this report? Because interpersonal violence, which they define as homicide, results in between 450,000 and 500,000 deaths every year, is the third-highest cause of death for males in the 15-44 years age group, and is usually preceded by non-fatal sexual or physical abuse which then leads to “lifelong ill health – particularly for women and children – and early death.” That sums it up kind of nicely, doesn’t it?

              The problem with this report, all the data notwithstanding, is that we aren’t given any real guidance for bringing the homicide rate in the U.S. down to where it would be equal or less than what occurs throughout the OECD. In fact, of the 52 specific legal and programmatic categories which the report covers for every country, the United States only lacks two specific violence-related laws, one which would make gang membership a specific criminal offense, and the other providing funds for victim representation in court.

              In other words, the country with the highest rate of homicide in the OECD also ranks highest in the number of laws and programs which exist in response to homicides which take place. And nowhere in this entire report is this anomaly pointed out. Nowhere. Thanks a lot.

              In fact, what makes this report so difficult for me to read or accept is that the data on U.S. interpersonal violence is lumped into a basked called ‘the Americas,’ which contains data from countries like Honduras and Guatemala, nice, peaceful countries like that.

              There is, however, one interesting comparison that can be made between the rate of violence in the United States versus the rate in countries both within and without the OECD. In the United States, the percentage of homicides committed with a gun is 68 percent. In the U.K., the percentage is less than 10 percent. In Italy, it’s 45 percent, Germany is 13 percent.

              Now let’s look at the other American shooting galleries – oops – I mean countries.. In Honduras guns are used in 83 percent of all homicides, the percentage for Guatemala is 82 percent. Mexico, however, is just like the U.S.- the use of guns in homicides is only 68 percent. Colombia, with all those drug cartels, has a gun-use percentage of 78 percent.

              Know what the percentage is in Cuba? Try zero. That’s right. None. But let’s not forget that Cuba, after all, is a Communist state and we know ‘for a fact’ that the first thing the Commies always do when they take over is they rid of all the privately-owned guns.

              The per-100,000 homicide rate in Colombia was 34. Our rate is 5.5. Cuba’s homicide rate is 4.8. Want to have guns or do you want to have murders? We seem to be the only advanced country which has both.

              The good news is that at least the voters in America had the sense to get rid of the very first President who claimed that he would do anything to make sure that Americans could own guns to protect themselves from crime. Except the data in the WHO-UN report completely contradicts that nonsense, but since when does Donald Trump ever base anything he says on evidence-based facts?

              The WHO-UN report says that the United States has laws which ‘regulate’ civilian access to guns, but the report also notes that the laws vary from state to state.

The bottom line is this: As long as certain kinds of guns are regulated and not banned, we will continue to experience a level of violence which makes us a 3rd-world country in this respect.

Don’t like what I just said? Go argue with the WHO and the UN, not with me. And while you’re at it, don’t waste your time with Trump.

Do Guns Protect Us Or Hurt Us?

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              Ever since Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research in 1993-94 which definitively linked gun access to increased homicides and suicides, the issue of whether guns protect us from harm or create more harm has been the basic dividing-line between the two sides.

              The ‘guns keep us safe’ argument is identified most frequently in the work of our friend John Lott, whose book, More Guns, Less Crime makes the connection between the issuance of concealed-carry licenses and violent crime rates to argue that as the former number goes up, the latter number goes down.

              The ‘guns make us less safe’ argument is identified most frequently in the work of our other friend, David Hemenway, who makes the connection between per-capita gun ownership and violent crime rates to argue that as the former number goes up, the latter number goes up as well.

              I happen to believe that both of my friends know a lot about statistics and how to use data to develop interesting arguments based on regression methodologies. I also happen to believe that neither of my two friends know anything about guns. Because if they did, they would never use only the numbers on murders committed with guns to make their argument, regardless of whether or not they argue pro-gun or anti-gun.

              Why do both John and David restrict their definition of gun violence only to the number of people who end up dying because someone else shot them with a gun? Because they can’t get good data, verifiable data on the number of people who are shot by someone else but still manage to survive the event.

              The CDC never had good numbers on injuries from non-fatal gun assaults, their estimates were, at best, off by more than thirty percent. And a few years ago, they stopped publishing any data on non-fatal gun assaults, so the whole argument about gun violence rests only on the number of people who are shot and killed.

              And this is where the analysis of gun violence, either pro-gun or anti-gun, comes up short when it’s being done by well-intentioned researchers like John Lott and David Hemenway, neither of whom know very much about guns.

              Here’s the bottom line: The only difference, repeat, the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter instance, the guy using the gun didn’t shoot straight. He didn’t shoot straight because either he was pointing the gun at a moving target, or the event took place at night in low light, or he just hadn’t practiced enough to hit the target where the bullet would hit a vital spot.

              Guys walking around with guns don’t ever pull their gun out with the intention of shooting someone else in the leg, or the arm, or some other non-vital spot. The gun is yanked out, and if it’s a semi-automatic pistol the trigger will be pulled again and again, and either the victim goes down or he doesn’t go down. That’s the end of that.

              Both Hemenway and Lott are making arguments about guns and violent crime that don’t even remotely capture the reality of gun violence in the United States. So, for example, John Lott recently published an op-ed in which he compared the total number of homicides, with or without a gun, against the estimates for defensive gun uses and found the latter to outnumber the former by four or five to one.

              But if John had compared defensive gun events to the total number of gun assaults, fatal and non-fatal assaults, his argument about the value of guns used for self-protection would collapse. By the same token, David’s comparison of fatal gun violence to per-capita gun ownership is equally invalid, for the simple reason that most of the guns in America’s civilian arsenal happen to be guns designed for hunting and sport and never (read: never) end up being used in any kind of gun violence at all.

              If it were the case that the research published by my two friends never went beyond an entry on their CV’s, I wouldn’t really care what they said or didn’t say. But this research is what is used by both sides in the gun debate to promote and/or justify their ideas about what we should do to reduce the number of injuries and deaths cause by the use of guns.

              Know what happens when you create a law to regulate a problem but don’t understand what the problem is all about? The law has no real effect at all.

              Gee – what a surprise that gun violence keeps going up, not down.

Trump Disappears And The NRA Stops Being Crazy. Gee, What A Surprise.

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              To show you how far from reality the National Rifle Association used to be, and how much closer to reality they have become in the post-Trump age, you might want to take a look at a recent rant by Grant Stinchfield, who used to headline NRA-TV.

              Stinchfield now does a show on Newsmax, which is one of the alt-right media venues that began popping up on the internet a decade or so ago.  Their website draws a whole, big million visits a day, which in a country whose population now is more than 325 million, that number is what Grandpa would call ‘kasha mit varnishkes’ (read: a disgusting dish made of oatmeal and boiled pasta) which is what he called everything that had no real value at all.

              Stinchfield used this episode to advise the Republicans how to deal with the debt issue before they ‘caved in.’ And his advice was to shut down four federal agencies which eat up a lot of government spending and aren’t doing anything worthwhile at all. First on his list, of course, was the Department of Education, because everyone knows that only fools and liberals want to learn how to read and write.

              The other three agencies which aren’t any more important than the Department of Education are Commerce, EPA and Energy.  After all, we don’t need to know how much the economy is growing or sometimes not growing. We certainly don’t need to worry about clean water or clean air. And if we don’t need to worry about clean air then we certainly don’t need to be concerned about how much energy we are using, so to hell with the Department of Energy as well.

              Obviously, Stinchfield is just reading from a script that his producer knows is what the Newsmax audience wants to hear. Whether he actually believes any of this nonsense is beyond the point. What isn’t beyond the point is that when he did a daily rant for NRA-TV, his comments were just as stupid, just as loony, and just as focused on the most extreme, far-right idiots who happen to own guns.

              The NRA always promoted some degree of political messaging because, after all, the organization needed to speak out publicly to support gun owner’s rights, which meant the usual patriotic stuff about the 2nd Amendment versus the idea that liberals and Democrats didn’t like guns. 

              Every year at the NRA national show, a few Republican politicians would show up and say he same thing about talking to a group of ‘real Americans,’ but the year that Gaston Glock appeared and signed autographs at the Glock booth, he outdrew all the political luminaries by maybe ten to one.

              NRA’s descent into crazy political messaging really started in 2016 when they endorsed Donald Trump at their annual meeting. At the time, I wasn’t surprised that they broke with their tradition of endorsing the GOP Presidential candidate in October and endorsed Trump in April because Hillary was a fearsome candidate who was talking about guns in a rather unpleasant and confrontational way.

              In fact, I am convinced that had Hillary become President with a blue Congress behind her, she would have re-introduced the gun-control measure that Andy Cuomo, then head of HUD, had written for Bill Clinton, a plan which would have effectively ended the retail gun business in the United States.

              I also wasn’t particularly bothered by the $30 million that the NRA anted up for the 2016 Clinton campaign.  It was more money than the NRA had ever given to any, single Presidential campaign, but when you’re talking about a political campaign which runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, thirty million is still chump change. Would that money get Wayne-o into the White House from time to time?  Of course it would. But the NRA was always on the VIP list whenever a Republican sat behind the Resolute desk.

              What bothered me was that the NRA turned itself into a video production company featuring some of the worst, most inflammatory and stupidly alt-right messaging that I had ever seen.  You had that other idiot, the home-school queen Dana Loesch talking about how everyone needed a gun to protect themselves against cities being burned to the ground by radical hordes, and you had Stinchfield ranting on and on about how liberals would not only take away all the guns but were in the process of building a Fascist-style state, using illegal immigrants to take apart what good, law-abiding Americans had built over the years.

              The whole NRA-TV deal collapsed when it turned out that NRA’s then-PR company, Ackermn-McQueen, was lying about the number of people who watched NRA-TV video shows. The legal wrangle between the NRA and Ack-Ack is still going on, but NRA-TV closed down in June 2019.

              Go to the NRA website today and it’s business as usual once again. The lead stories are about next year’s annual meeting, a new banking relationship with a real bank, a chance to win a Ford truck and, by the way, the re-election of Wayne-o as the outfit’s Executive VP.

              In other words, maybe the NRA has learned something from the 2020 election, which is that the country, including both gun owners and non-gun owners, have a few more important things to be worried about than the predations of the Deep State.

Why Do Americans Like Guns?

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              Yesterday I received an email from one of the gun-control organizations telling me that the time has come for all of us to support “bold, evidence-based comprehensive policies” to overcome “well-funded information campaigns” which have led a majority of Americans to believe that guns will keep them safe.

              Gun-control Nation has been running this narrative about the ‘well-funded’ pro-gun campaigns up the flagpole for almost the last thirty years. At the same time, evidence-based studies on gun violence definitively show that access to a gun increases, not decreases risk.

              How do we account for this cognitive dissonance between what the research shows and what a majority of Americans believe? It has to be all that money which Gun-nut Nation spends to define and promote their side of the debate, right?

              Unfortunately, there’s only one little problem with this point of view. And the problem lies in the assumption made and supported throughout Gun-control Nation-land, that people make up their minds about issues because one side outspends the other in getting their message across.

              And even if this assumption was true, the NRA happens to be broke, and none of the other pro-gun organizations have ever been known for spending money on politics at all. And even if they did, how do you compare what Gun-nut Nation gives in political donations to what Mike Bloomberg forks up alone? You can’t.

              According to Gallup, right now somewhere around 40 percent of American homes contain at least one gun, a number that has been dropping but-by-bit over the last twenty years. At the same time, the number of Americans who believe a home is safer with a gun is twice as high as the number who believe that a gun in the home makes you less safe.

              I don’t care how much money pro-gun groups like NRA spend on spreading their unique brand of ‘disinformation’ around about guns because little or any of that money is spent to reach Americans who don’t own guns.

              If you represent a state like my state – Massachusetts – in Congress, you don’t vote pro-gun. You don’t vote pro-gun because most Massachusetts residents don’t own guns. You vote pro-gun if you come to D.C. from states like Montana or Nebraska because everyone in those states owns a gun.

              But the issue of how people make up their minds about guns isn’t just a function of gun ownership. If the Gallup gun polls are at all accurate, there happen to be a lot of Americans who don’t own guns but also believe that having a gun is a better way to protect yourself than not having a gun. Forty percent of American homes contain a gun, but sixty percent of Americans think that a gun keeps you safe. Get it?

              I look at these polls and then I receive a well-intentioned email from a gun-control group complaining about the ‘disinformation’ being produced by the other side in the gun debate. My reaction is that there’s something wrong with what my friends in Gun-control Nation either believe or what they want me to believe, or both.

              If gun-control advocates and activists are convinced that we need more meaningful and effective gun laws in order to reduce gun violence, then how do you get such laws through Congress when a majority of your fellow Americans don’t happen to share your views on the risks represented by access to guns?

              You’re not going to persuade a lot of Americans who believe the ‘disinformation’ coming out of Gun-nut Nation to change their minds because you have done evidence-based research which shows that not owning a gun makes you safer than owning a gun. The only way you can possibly persuade these individuals to change their minds and come over to the gun-control side is to – ready? – try to figure why they believe a gun makes you safe.

              Back in the 1980’s two-thirds of gun owners said they owned a gun for hunting or sport, one-third said that the primary reason they owned a gun was to protect themselves and their families from harm. Forty years later, those percentages have reversed. Now for every American who says he owns a gun to go hunting, there are two gun owners who say they want to protect themselves with a gun.

              The standard explanation for this shift is usually the idea that hunting is simply an outdoor activity which is no longer why people go out to the outdoors. But I don’t think this is true. Because if it was, how come the people who stopped hunting or never hunted decided they needed a gun for self-defense? Why didn’t they just decide not to buy a personal-defense gun?

              For all the talk by Gun-control Nation about the dangers to community safety that exist because so many people own or are buying guns to protect themselves or protect someone else, I have yet to see a single, serious piece of research which even attempts to figure out why almost two-thirds of Americans believe that a gun keeps you safe.

              Given how the gun-control community seems to venerate evidence-based research to develop strategies for reducing gun violence, you would think that there would be at least some attempt to do some research that would provide answers to one, very simple question: Why do people like guns?

              Not a single researcher has ever asked me to explain why I have 50 or 60 guns lying around.

Another School Shooting? What Else Is New?

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              This morning I got some kind of message about a high school shooting in Alington, TX so I turned on the TV and switched back and forth between Fox and CNN.  And by 1 PM or so the shootings seemed to be over with four injured kids and adults being taken to a local hospital and the shooter, an 18-year old, still at large.

              This past Monday, two members of Florida’s Congressional delegation who both happen to be Democrats, held a press conference to discuss a bill they have filed called the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act, that will require the Departments of Education, Justice and HHS to gather, compile and publish data on school shootings that will allow legislators to “develop policies and strategies to curb some of this preventable bloodshed at America’s places of learning.”

              Those words came out of the mouth of Debbie Wasserman Schultz who art one time was the Chair of the DNC but had to resign in 2016 when it turned out that she and some other DNC members got together to try and derail the Bernie Sander campaign. Her Congressional District by the way, happens to be right next to the CD which covers the town of Parkland, where a mass shooting in the high school killed and injured thirty-four adults and students in 2018.

              So, Congresswoman Schultz believes we need more information about school shootings in order to know what to do? And she gets paid $174,000 a year plus bennies to get up in public and announce such crap? 

              What I’m going to say right now may come as a great shock to Representative Schultz and any other Member of Congress who signs on to this bill, but we have all the information we need to prevent every single school shooting from ever taking place. 

              Go back to the first big shooting, which was when a former Marine named Charles Whitman went up to the top of the tower on the University of Texas campus ion 1966, and over the next 90 minutes shot and killed fifteen people, wounded another thirty-one and was himself then shot and killed by an armed civilian and a cop.

              Over the years since then there have been other school shootings at places like Columbine, Umpqua Community College, Virginia Tech and of course the big gugga-mugga at Sandy Hook. These are only the shootings which left more than 10-15 people getting injured and dead. Only four people taken to the hospital in Arlington today?  It’s three or four hours since the shooting took place and it’s already off the front page of the news.

              Now what do every, single one of these shootings have in common which they happen to share with the more than three hundred deaths and injuries that Americans suffer from guns every day. Not every week. Not every month. Every friggin’ day.

              And the reason that these shootings never get the headline on the mid-day report from Fox or CNN is that most of these shootings involve either older White men who live in small towns out in the boondocks and shoot themselves or involve younger men and boys who happen to live in what we now politely refer to as ‘underserved zones.’

We used to call these neighborhoods slums, then we became a little more sensitive to the feelings of the slum dwellers and we started talking about ‘ghettos,’ then ‘inner-city neighborhoods’ and now these places are ‘underserved.’

Let me tell you something about these slums or underserved neighborhoods or whatever you want to call them. Since the 1950’s, and I can’t find any data which goes back earlier than 70 years, the people living in these God-forsaken locations have been getting shot at rates that are ten times or higher than what happens in the more, shall we say, ‘proper’ neighborhoods throughout the United States.

My office is located in the South End of Springfield, MA, a neighborhood mostly Hispanic and Black where nobody has a job. The gun-violence rate in this neighborhood is up there with Honduras, maybe even a little worse. Cross the city line and you’re in the suburb of Longmeadow where there hasn’t been a crime involving the use of a gun for at least the last ten years.

When some kids in a suburban high school in Arlington, TX get shot, the story makes the national news. When someone who lives in Springfield’s South End gets shot, it doesn’t even make the local news.

But both of these acts of violence come from the same source, and with all dure respect to Debbie Wasserman who hasn’t yet figured out what to do about these shootings, the answer is right in front of her nose.

Get rid of the goddamn guns.

Will I Be Able To Carry A Concealed Gun?

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              Now that everyone else seems to be shooting their mouths off about the upcoming 2nd-Amendment case that will be heard before the Supreme Court, maybe it’s time for Mike the Gun Guy™ to add his nickel aa well.

              The issue in question is whether or not the definition of the 2nd Amendment should be extended to include Constitutional protection for carrying a concealed weapon outside of the home. Since 2008, the 2nd Amendment protects the existence of a privately-owned handgun (but not a long gun) in the home. But what if I want to protect myself with a gun while I’m walking around?

              The law in question is what happens in New York State, where getting the cops to allow you to carry a concealed weapon in the street is tantamount to getting the cops to let you jaywalk because you just don’t want to stand there waiting for the light to change.

              In other words, it doesn’t happen too often and in some pats o the state, like th five counties which comprise New York City, it doesn’t happen at all.

              Actually, you can carry a concealed weapon in New York City but only if you go through a rigorous and time-consuming background investigation in which you prove that you need to carry a gun given your line of work.

              So, someone who works as an armed security guard can get a concealed-carry license, ditto someone whose job requires them to move around the city carrying lots of cash. On the other hand, if you tell the NYOD Licensing Division that you want to carry a gun concealed gun because it will make you feel more safe, you’ll get the same answer that you’d get from Grandpa, ‘gai macht,’ (read: stick it up your you-know-what.)

              Interestingly, this case has brought into conflict two groups who usually find themselves on the same side.  A brief from the ACLU argues that carrying a concealed weapon in the street is a threat to public safety and should be restricted or altogether thrown out. However, a brief from a coalition of public defender groups which represents minority individuals charged with illegal possession of guns says that the current law discriminates against poor and non-White residents and should be dumped.

              I lived in New York City and held a concealed-carry license issued by the NYPD because I was an employee of an agency that supplied armed guards and sometimes had to travel to locations to make sure that our guards showed up and were doing what they were hired to do. If our armed security guy for some reason didn’t show up, I had to provide the armed protection myself.

              In order to be given a concealed-carry license in New York City, I had to appear at the NYPD Licensing Division for interviews no less than three, separate times. The first time I had to bring all the necessary documentation and answer a bunch of questions thrown at me by some half-asleep cop who was even more bored by he whole process than me.

              The second time I went back for another interview and also gave the Licensing Division the type of gun I planned to carry around, along with the name of the gun dealer where I was going to buy the gun.

              The third time I had to show up and let another half-asleep cop inspect the gun to make sure it was the weapon that the NYPD was allowing me to carry around.

              Between six back-and-forth subway trips to the Licensing Division, which of course was delayed at least twice, two trips to and from the gun dealer first to choose and then to buy the gun, and the time spent sitting around at NYPD headquarters waiting to be interviewed, processed, printed and everything else, I probably spent at least 24 hours getting my license to carry a gun. But at least I got the license. According to the brief filed in this case by the various public defender groups, most minority concealed-carry applicants are turned down.

              What I find most interesting in all the media stories about this upcoming case, however is nowhere does anyone on either side of the issue seem the slightest bit concerned about whether the applicant for a concealed-carry license actually has the slightest bit of experience or ability to use or even pick up a gun.

              At no time during my seemingly endless hegira to the NYPD Licensing Division did anyone ask me if I had ever shot a gun. For that matter, when I came down with the gun I had purchased to have it inspected by the NYPD, I had to hand the gun over to the officer while it was locked up in a small, steel box. I then gave the cop the key to the box and he, not me, reached in and pulled out the gun.

              Now you would think that if New York puts so much emphasis on making sure that people who walk around with a gun in their pocket aren’t a threat to public safety that the licensing procedure would include at least some demonstration to show that the prospective licensee knows how to hold, or God forbid, actually shoot a gun.

              Like so much else in the debate about guns, there just doesn’t seem to be even the slightest bit of reality understood or mentioned by either side.

Think The NRA Is Finished? Think Again.

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              Hey!  Look what I just got!  A beautiful, new hat from my good friend Wayne-o at the NRA.  And when I get done writing and posting this column, I’ll send him back a little cash. Because, after all, what’s more important these days than protecting my freedom by protecting my guns?

              Now you would think after all the sturm und drang surrounding the NRA over the past several years, that the last thing the boys in Fairfax would have time to worry about was sending me a hat. After all, between a bankruptcy filing that they couldn’t get straight, an investigation by the New York State AG which is still going on, the resignations by more Board members and the cancellation of the annual meeting due to Covid-19 concerns, isn’t that enough for any organization to have on its plate?

              I’ll tell you what the NRA has on its plate. It has a lot of dough on its plate. And even though member dues and program fees dropped more than 30% from 2018 to 2019, in the latter year member revenues still went over $135 million and contributions at $108 million stayed the same. That’s total revenue of nearly $250 million in 2019, which ain’t chump change even in my little book.

              Want to know what’s really going on with America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization?’ Take a look at their website where social events hosted by the NRA are found.  Between now and year’s end, there will be ten banquets and get-togethers in Pennsylvania, five gatherings in Ohio, Maryland’s got a couple, Virginia lists four. 

              Know what else Gun-nut Nation is doing with the NRA? Going to gun shows, of which there were more than 100 shows this past weekend, with a bunch of shows in Florida, Colorado, five shows in Texas and a couple of gun shows in PA. And at every one of those shows, the first thing you’ll see when you walk in is a welcome banner from the NRA

              The best thing that ever happened to the NRA was Joe and Kamala’s election last year, believe it or not. How can Mile the Gun Guy™ say something that stupid? Say something that dumb? I’ll tell you why.

              Because on the one hand, the NRA had no choice in 2016 but to hitch its wagon to the MAGA brand, because if Hillary had won the election and the Congress gone blue, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have seen a gun-control bill that would have been a copy of the bill that then-HUD Secretary Andy Cuomo wrote for Bill Clinton back in 1999 which would have left the gun industry, as Grandpa would say, ‘gestorben und fartig’ (read: good and dead.) 

              But glad-handing MAGA ended up costing the NRA more than the $30 million or so that it pumped into Trump’s Presidential campaign. It also cost the organization a loss of vision, a loss of identify and a loss of credibility with the average American, gun owner or not.

              I couldn’t believe how stupid, reckless, and downright inflammatory the NRA messaging became when the group got into video and launched NRA-TV. I don’t know what was worse – Colion Noir prancing around his backyard with an AR-15, or Dana Loesch advising women to arm themselves and protect their families from the radical hordes.

              This wasn’t the NRA that I joined back in 1955.  This wasn’t the NRA that first and foremost promoted shooting sports, hunting and outdoor life. So, the organization always said something about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ So what?  Was that any different from the support for social security and Medicare promoted by the AARP?

              But the NRA went overboard with Trump, in the same way that Trump went overboard with his hateful rhetoric about immigration, his phony claims about ‘building a wall,’ and his refusal to say anything negative about the Nazis in Charlottesville because, after all, they were just marching down the street exercising their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              Maybe the Democrats will get some piecemeal gun-control law past Manchin and onto the Oval Office desk. Maybe a couple of more states will enact ERPO statutes or require that all gun transfers only go forward after a background check.

              But this country has lived (and died) with its arsenal of privately-owned guns for more than two hundred years. And as long as some of these gun owners can get together at a weekend gun show or a banquet or a bar-b-que, the NRA will be around.

              Maybe next year Wayne-o will send me a jacket with the Golden Eagles patch. Last year he sent me a Golden Eagles knife which I use to cut some chicken treats each night for Leonard the Cat. And believe me when I tell you that feeding Leonard the Cat some chicken treats is a lot more important than defending my guns and my freedoms from the ‘tyranny’ of the Deep State. 

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