Home

Close The Charleston Loophole? We Need To Ban Assault Weapons – Now!

2 Comments

              So Joe goes on TV yesterday, gives a very strong, sober and brief address about the Colorado shooting, and tells the Senate to act on the two gun-control bills already passed by the House. One of the bills, H.R. 8, would expand background checks to most private sales. The other bill, H.R. 1446, would close what is referred to as the ‘Charleston loophole,’ a problem with the current NICS system which allegedly let Dylann Roof buy a gun, then walk into a church in Charleston, S.C. and kill 9 Black members of a Bible study class.

              Under current law, the FBI has 3 days to respond to a background check request, but if the necessary information isn’t given to the FBI within 3 days, the sale and transfer of the gun can proceed. H.R. 1446 would extend the time that the FBI would need to complete a background check to 10 days, the theory being that 10 days would provide time for more background information to be accessed and a final ‘proceed-don’t proceed’ decision to be made.

              There’s only one little problem, however, with the narrative which promotes the idea that Dylann Roof wouldn’t have been able to buy the gun he used in his assault on the church in Charleston if the FBI had been able to take more than 3 days to check him out.  In fact, what happened was that Roof had pleaded guilty to a drug charge which should have disqualified him from owning guns, but the information somehow never got forwarded from the local cops to the FBI.

              The people working for the FBI-NICS operation could have been given a year to decide about Roof’s legal fitness for gun ownership and they still wouldn’t have come up with anything that would have disqualified him from buying that gun. Somehow, and nobody has ever figured this out, the information about Roof’s drug arrest simply got lost.

              But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that there had been a proper referral of information about Roof from the local cops to the Feds. And let’s say, for the further sake of argument, that Roof had been told by the dealer that he couldn’t buy the gun.

              How difficult do you think it would have been for Roof to get his hands on a gun without going through a background check?  I lived in South Carolina. In South Carolina everyone has a gun.

              The problem with both bills waiting for Senate action is that they are responses to gun violence which regulate the behavior of people who own or ant to own guns. We use laws to regulate all kinds of behavior, but when it comes to regulating how someone behaves with a gun, all you need is one crazy nut to walk into a movie theater, a school, a night club, a concert, a supermarket, or any other place where there are a lot of people and the carnage can be beyond belief.

              The only way to prevent such horrendous events from happening on a regular basis is to regulate the products which are used to create these unspeakable tragedies again, and again, and again.  

              Of course, the moment we start talking about regulating the guns, the other side starts screaming about protecting their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.” Ever hear of a legal doctrine called ‘negligent entrustment?’ It means that a seller of any product is liable for the damage caused by that product if he knows that what he is selling is too dangerous to be sold.

              This doctrine is the basis for the lawsuit against Remington on behalf of the families of the children who were murdered at Sandy Hook. And the Federal courts have held this lawsuit to be valid not once, but twice. So, we have a clear recognition that banning assault weapons because it’s simply too dangerous to give anyone the opportunity to kill 20 human beings in 4 minutes or less, has nothing to do with so-called 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ at all.

              Please sign our petition to ban assault weapons and please send it to all your friends.

              Thank you:  http://chng.it/pHTVCLJqjr

Gun Violence And The 2nd Amendment Aren’t Connected At All.

3 Comments

              Now that our friends in Gun-control Nation have helped Joe Biden become the 46th President of the United States, it’s time to get back to figuring out how to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by the misuse of guns.

              Of course, the moment that groups like Everytown and Brady start making noise about gun violence, the other side will ramp up its campaign to defend 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And first and foremost, in the arsenal of pro-gun narratives will be the phrase, ‘the right to bear arms.’

              Once Gun-control Nation begins reminding everyone that the 2nd Amendment and the ‘right to bear arms’ is just as important as anything else in the Bill of Rights, the gun-control organizations and public health researchers will fall all over themselves pledging total and unquestioned fealty to gun ‘rights,’ as long as some way can be found to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by all those guns.

              There’s only one little problem, however, which is that for all the attempts to explain how and why the 2nd Amendment came to give Constitutional protection to personally owned guns, the discussion invariably talks about the legal and historic meanings and precedents of the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear,’ while the word ‘arms’ gets no attention at all.

              My late friend Antonin Scalia’s 2008 Heller opinion which redefined 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ runs toughly 20,000 words. Know how many words are devoted to the issue of ‘arms?’ Try less than two hundred. And what Scalia says is that the 2nd Amendment refers to handguns that are traditionally found in the home, not the guns designed for the military, i.e., ‘weapons of war.’

              What Scalia doesn’t say, nor is it ever mentioned by anyone who has contributed verbal or written hot air to the gun debate on either side, is that the guns whose use is responsible for at least 80% of all gun violence, maybe more, happen to be weapons of war. Try Glock, try Beretta, try Sig, try Colt, – these are all guns that were designed for military use and are carried by troops everywhere.

              Now the fact that we are the only country which lets civilians have free access to those weapons of war doesn’t mean that such guns should be covered by Constitutional protection just because they happen to be in the home. You can also buy and keep a full-auto machine gun in your home, except you need to go through a much more intensive and expensive licensing process, which is why the last time someone was murdered with a full-auto gun was 1947 or so.

              Not only did Scalia totally misunderstand and mis-state this issue, but the other side, the Gun-control Nation side, gets it wrong too. Why do we have so much gun violence? Because according to our friend David Hemenway, we own so many guns, perhaps as many as 300 million, perhaps even more.

              But if David would take the trouble to do a slight amount of research into what kind of guns actually are used in fatal and non-fatal assaults, he would quickly realize that most of the guns sitting in the American civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I own a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle chambered in .270 Winchester caliber, the Remington factory has probably produced and sold more than 20 million of these guns over the years.

              How many Remington 700 rifles mow someone down in the street? None. Ditto the fabled Winchester Model 70 rifle or the Browning Auto-5 shotgun which has taken millions of high-flyers out of the sky. The only person who ever got injured with a semi-auto shotgun was the guy that Dick Cheney shot by accident, okay?

              If my friends in Gun-control Nation would stop obsessing about the 2nd Amendment and learn a few quick facts about how guns are designed and used, maybe just maybe they could sit down and come up with a strategy that would have a real impact on how many Americans are killed and injured each year with guns.

It’s The Ammunition, Stupid.

2 Comments

Was it Jeff Cooper who said, ‘there’s nothing as useless as an unloaded gun?’ Maybe it was Bill Jordan. Anyway, I have never really understood why my friends in Gun-control Nation get all hot and bothered about regulating guns but almost never seem to be concerned about the ammunition which goes into the gun.

This issue came home to me yesterday when a judge in California stopped the state from enforcing a law requiring gun owners in the Golden State to pass a background check before purchasing ammunition for their guns. He said the law violated 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The head of the Brady Campaign said the ruling was ‘contrary to what the Framers intended.’ And I thought the daily CONOVID-19 briefing from the White House was a lot of hot air. The statements by Judge Benitez and Kris Brown from Brady are just as far off the mark.

When the law called Proposition 63 was passed in 2016, it did some good things. It banned high-capacity gun magazines, it also contained a provision penalizing anyone who didn’t report a lost or stolen gun. But the law also exempted reloaded (i.e., home-made) ammunition from any controls, which basically nullified the law’s intent.

If you are going to require that someone pass a background check to buy ammunition, all you are doing is telling the bad guys to go out and make their own ammo, or go to a shooting range and buy reloaded rounds. For that matter, anyone in California can drive to a neighboring state and buy all the ammunition they need. My state, Massachusetts, requires a background check for purchasing ammunition, but I can drive into New Hampshire and load up with ammo (and fireworks), no questions asked.

That being said, I nevertheless don’t understand how Judge Benitez could find Prop. 63 to be an infringement on the 2nd Amendment when the government has always been given authority to regulate the ownership and sale of explosive devices, which is what ammunition happens to be. Now maybe the explosion that occurs when the firing pin of a gun hits the primer of a 9mm round doesn’t create the same degree of noise or destructive power caused by a stick of dynamite going off, but it’s an explosion, nonetheless.

Here’s how the ATF defines explosive device: “Explosive materials are any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion. The term includes, but is not limited to, dynamite and other high explosives, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, detonators, safety fuses, squibs, detonating cord, igniter cord, and igniters” Now take a look at the bottom of a handgun round, let’s say 9mm or 45acp. The little, round cap in the middle of the shell’s base is called the primer, and it happens to be an igniter because when it is struck by a firing pin it explodes inside the casing, ignites the powder and the round goes – boom!

Has anyone ever said that the ATF’s regulation of igniters is a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ For that matter, is there any mention anywhere in the Constitution about any kind of ammunition at all? Last time I looked at the 2nd Amendment it says something about keeping and bearing ‘arms.’ Doesn’t say anything about ammo – not a single word.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives any guidance about whether or not ammunition should be regulated the way we regulate guns. But the courts have been very clear over the years in defining governmental authority to set limits on how we behave and what we can buy based on the compelling state interest doctrine, otherwise known as keeping the community safe. El Schmuck-o Trump learned that one in spades last week.

Next time my friends in Gun-control Nation run one of their surveys to see whether gun owners like or dislike ‘reasonable’ gun laws, maybe they should throw in a question about whether background checks should be carried out for all purchases of ammunition as well. I know the answer to that one.

There Ain’t No Such Thing As Gun ‘Rights.’

9 Comments

Our good friend Eric Foner has just published a book, The Second Founding, which gives a concise and compelling explanation for how the Federal Government got into the business of defining our basic rights. Which makes this book required reading for everyone who wants to have anything to say about guns and gun violence, since so much of this debate turns on the issue of gun ‘rights.’ If you don’t believe me, just read any of the news accounts of the demonstration which took place in Richmond, VA on MLK Day to protest a new law that Trump claims is an infringement on gun ‘rights.’

The Federal Government first started defining Constitutional rights following passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments following the end of the Civil War. These Amendments ended slavery (13th), defined citizenship as a birthright (14th) and granted universal suffrage to all male Americans. Foner refers to the passage of these Amendments as a ‘second founding’ because these laws (to quote a Republican Senator from Missouri) “made the liberty and rights of every citizen in every state a matter of national concern.”

 Foner points out that none of these fundamental Constitutional changes would have taken place were it not for the fact that Southern legislatures were dominated by Black officeholders from 1867 through 1877 when Reconstruction came to an end. But precisely because Reconstruction ended only ten years after it began, the Civil Rights laws passed in 1866 and 1875 to give some legal teeth to the Amendments, were either watered down in court decisions or simply ignored.

Both civil laws were attempts to define what ‘rights’ would be protected under the Constitution once the founding document contained protections which applied to every male citizen in the land. The 1866 Act enforced the implementation of laws that covered the following rights: “to ‘make and enforce’ contracts, own property, testify in court, sue and be sued, and ‘enjoy the full and equal benefit of laws for the protection of persons and property.’” (p. 64.)

See anything here about self-protection?  See anything here about armed, self-defense? You won’t find any reference whatsoever to that terminology in the entire text of the Constitution or any of its Amendments, not even in the blessed 2nd Amendment from which all gun ‘rights’ allegedly spring forth. When the NRA proclaims itself to be the ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ is it referring to the rights embodied in the 14th Amendment and enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1866?  No. It’s not referring to anything other than what a clever advertising agency figured out would help promote the sale of guns.

In fact, if you take the trouble to read the 2008 Heller decision where our late friend Tony Scalia propounded his view of gun ‘rights,’ you will note that it is not only a very narrow definition of what the 2nd Amendment says a gun owner can do with his guns (he can keep one handgun in his home) but it’s far from being an uninfringeable right because the government has great leeway in determining who can and cannot own guns.

Not only are gun ‘rights’ not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, nor in any of the federal laws that have been passed to define or enforce Constitutional texts, there is also no mention of the other hallowed Gun-nut Nation ‘right,’ i.e., the ‘right’ to self-defense. When the Constitution talks about being protected from harm, the reference is to equal standing in the courts, not to passing a background check so that you can walk around with an AR-15 on your back.

There’s also the non plus ultra for carrying your Glock, which is that self-defense is a ‘God-given right.’ I hear this all the time from my Gun-nut Nation friends and my answer is simply this: If you want to live in a country where laws are first and foremost the handiwork of Almighty God, move to Iran, okay?

Foner’s book isn’t about guns. It’s a solid work about how the word ‘rights’ should be defined and used in any important discussion about current events. In this respect, the way our friends in Gun-nut Nation use the word fails both historical and legal tests.

Thank God for the 2nd Amendment. How Else Would The Militia Keep Us Safe?

8 Comments

In case you’ve forgotten, the revered 2nd Amendment requires that every male citizen own a gun in order to serve in the militia and thus protect our country from harm. While of late the term ‘militia’ has become synonymous with crazy, government-resistance strategies promoted by dummies like Cliven ‘let me tell you about your Negro’ Bundy, the idea of para-military citizen’s groups defending themselves, their families, their friends and their communities remains central to Gun-nut Nation’s messaging about guns.

It just so happens that we actually possess a first-person accounting of how one of these citizen-militia groups behaved back in the good old days long before enemies of the ‘right to bear arms’  like Mike Bloomberg or Pete Buttigieg reared their ugly heads. The narrative is found in a book, The Pine Barrens, written by John McPhee. The author has been teaching writing at Princeton University for more than forty years, and has contributed more than 100 pieces to The New Yorker magazine since 1963.

 To many of my readers, the Pine Barrens is associated with a great episode from The Sopranos, where Paulie and Christopher drive into the area in mid-Winter to bury a guy they have killed who then turns out not to be so dead. Their victim runs off, the two North Jersey gumbahs quickly find themselves in the middle of millions of acres of semi-wild woodlands, they end up spending the night cursing at each other inside their semi-frozen car.

What McPhee explains in his brief and beautifully-written book, is that the Pine Barrens weren’t so barren in times past. In fact, the woodlands provided all kinds of raw materials used before and during the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution, such as iron ore, charcoal and wood. But as new technologies and modern modes of transportation emerged, the villages in the Barrens began to disappear and the whole region reverted to a semi-natural state, a process still occurring in many areas that were settled in the pre-industrial period and are now lacking in human presence again.

I live less than 30 miles from an area in my state (Massachusetts) called the Monroe Plateau. The Plateau used to be a farming zone, then it saw the development of water-powered mills, now it basically supports beavers, bears, moose and deer. Walk a half-mile into the woods from one of the roads that runs through the Plateau and you better know how to get out or you won’t get out.

McPhee spends a chapter discussing life in a town called Martha, which had an industrial furnace that started operating in 1793. There were 50 houses in the town, a school, a central main house and a hospital. The town also had a militia which, according to the records studied by McPhee, enrolled all the able-bodied men in the settlement  who had to turn out for drills on something called Training Day.

The militia officers wore uniforms and ‘barked out’ orders which ‘nobody obeyed.’ In fact, according to the town register which listed all events between 1808 and 1815, the training days invariably ended up in drunken brawls. On April, 1, 1814 a militia captain named Townsend was court-martialled for being too drunk to give orders; the trial took place in Bodine’s Tavern, which was also the public space used whenever the town put any issue to a vote.

Note that the description of the militia’s activities were written while the United States was just coming out of the War of 1812. Note how what went on in the town of Martha was really no different than what happened when Cliven Bundy’s son and his buddies organized themselves into a citizen’s militia and took over the Malheur Forest Range. They sat there for a few days, ate some pizza brought up by their wives, then turned themselves in because they forgot that the building which they liberated didn’t have heat.

Whenever my friends in Gun-nut Nation extoll the virtues of a citizen’s militia it sounds rather quaint. Better they should spend a weekend tramping around and defending the 2nd Amendment in a picnic grove; at least that way they won’t get hurt.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ 2nd Amendment.

3 Comments

              I bought my first, real gun in 1956 from some swamp rat at a tag show in the Florida Glades. From then until 2008, when my friend Tony Scalia told me I had a Constitutional ‘right’ to own a gun, as long as it was a handgun and I kept it in my home, I probably bought and sold at least 500 guns. At an average of 10 guns a year, for a gun nut that’s no big deal.

              One of those guns was a Colt Single Action Army manufactured in 1886. Another was a beautiful, pristine Colt 1911 built in 1919. There was also a Walther P5 that I bought from a Lufthansa  crew member one night when we were all sitting around drinking in some Hofbrau Haus on East 86th Street in New York. At some point, I think I traded those guns and some others for a Harley Low Ryder. I then rebuilt my gun stash when I sold the Harley the following year.

              Not one of those transactions had any Constitutional protection at all. In not one instance when I either bought or sold a gun was I exercising any kind of Constitutional ‘right.’ Know what? As far as the Feds were concerned, there wasn’t a single one of those transfers that was against the law. Well, maybe I wasn’t old enough to buy that beautiful Smith & Wesson K-38 when I was twelve years old, but you get my point. Americans bought and sold millions of personally-owned guns, probably hundreds of millions before the 2008 Heller decision, and nobody cared.

              I have been writing about guns and gun violence since 2012, there are now nearly 1,400 columns on my blog, 10 books in print, profiles in The New Yorker and The (failing) New York Times. I have been consistent in my argument from first to last, namely, that guns should be owned for hunting and sport. Anyone who thinks they should be walking around defending the neighborhood with a gun in his pocket is concocting an argument that has no basis in reality at all. Unless, of course, he also happens to be wearing a shield, because that’s what he’s being paid to do.

              Every time I say the above in print I receive emails and Facebook posts from my friends in Gun-nut Nation accusing me of being a Bloomberg stooge, a liberal jerk pretending to be a ‘gun guy,’ or worse. When I first started writing I received some threats, but those seem to have stopped appearing since the internet has become somewhat patrolled. I never took the threats seriously, by the way, although our friend Shannon Watts is still obliged to hire protective services when she appears.

              The truth is that all this talk about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ ramping up again as even Trump says something about supporting background checks, is nothing more than sturm und drang nonsense that has nothing to do with guns or gun ownership at all. The government is never (read: never) going to ‘take away’ everyone’s guns; the slide into Fascism that was accompanied by a restrictive gun law passed by Hitler isn’t going to happen here.

              Notwithstanding last week’s mass shootings and Trump’s encouragement of racist (‘send ’em back’) screeds, we happen to live in a remarkably law-abiding country, something which is often forgotten on both sides of the debate about guns. Most of the folks fervently supporting more gun laws happen to live in neighborhoods where gun violence rarely, if ever occurs. For that matter, all those armed vigilantes who fantasize going around and protecting their neighborhoods also happen to live in peaceful, quiet zones.

              So why is there such a big deal about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Because that’s how the narrative has been framed over the last ten years, and most folks find it easy and convenient to repeat what they hear from someone else without taking the trouble to think it through on their own.

              Remember ‘make love not war?’ Now we can say ‘make noise not war.’

Move Over Obama. There’s A New Gun-Grabber In The White House.

2 Comments

              Back in April, 2016 when Trump the Shlump showed up at the NRA show to be anointed as the spear-carrier for America’s gun-nut contingent, I thought (and said) that the boys at the Fairfax home office were making a big mistake.  America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ always endorsed the GOP Presidential candidate, but they waited until October to get the word out. By tying the organization to a guy who had never previously run for any political office of any kind, particularly this guy, Wayne-o and his buddies made a deal which bound them to someone over whom they would have no control.

              Whatever else you want to say about him, Trump’s a through-and-through New York guy. Which means that he’s about as connected to guns and gun culture as the man in the moon. For all his bluster and bull  about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights, he’ll say anything to consolidate his alt-right base. And if it ever suited his political fancy to throw the NRA leadership under a bus, get out the broom and start sweeping the street because that’s exactly what happened last week.

              Of course the minute bullets started flying around the Wal Mart in El Paso and then inside a Dayton bar, Trump yanked out the old ‘thoughts and prayers’ even though he thought the Dayton bar was actually located in Toledo. Not that his putative challenger, Joe Biden, did any better, because he got up and told everyone at a San Diego fundraiser how sorry he was about two mass shootings that occurred in Houston and Michigan. 

              Meanwhile, by the middle of last week it began to appear that we may have hit some kind of critical turning-point in the argument about guns. One of the Fox News anchors, Shepard Smith, delivered an impassioned commentary which could have been written for him by Everytown, and by week’s end Trump was openly promoting the idea of ‘intelligent’ background checks. He also made a point of saying that he had talked to both Pelosi and Schumer about going forward with a background-check bill, those two names being at the top of the most-hated list for Gun-nut Nation, no questions asked.

              Trump may be President but he’s also a 2020 Presidential candidate, and in that respect his support of a background-check bill makes him probably the 20th candidate to come up with some kind of gun-control scheme.  There’s Booker with his national ID card, Biden wants a national gun buy-back, Buttigieg wants an AR ban, Kamala wants dealers to be regulated more strictly, blah, blah, blah and blah. But the biggest and best plan was just unveiled by Pocahontas, except it’s not really a plan. It’s a pledge to reduce gun violence by 80 percent, although she admits she doesn’t have the faintest idea of how to make this actually work.

              All of this Democratic yapping clearly reflects the degree to which an energized and organized Gun-control Nation may have been an important factor in turning a number of red Congressional districts blue in 2018. And if anything, the public response to California, Texas and Ohio may well presage an even stronger Democratic result built around gun violence next year.

              Except there’s one little problem, a problem named Donald Trump. Because when all is said and done, his quick pivot on gun control and the reaction of Gun-nut Nation to his new-found gun concerns reminds me of what happened when Nixon went to China in 1972. If you were a Congressional Democrat after 1949 and so much as quietly hinted that we couldn’t ignore one-quarter of the world’s population, it was Nixon who stood up and called you a ‘pinko stooge’ or worse. If gun control becomes a political lightning-rod for next year, Trump’s fervent support of gun-nuttery gives him all the protection he needs.

What’s the NRA going to do if Trump signs a background-check bill? Tell their membership to vote for some Socialist who will take away all their guns?

Why Do People Like Guns? Because They Like Guns.

3 Comments

              Earlier this week one of my readers sent me a link to the video of a debate I had at Northern Michigan University with John Lott.  The event was held in a large auditorium on campus and the place was filled with students, faculty and nearby residents, many of whom were gun nuts.  How do I know they were gun nuts?  Because at the beginning of my remarks I asked all the gun nuts in the audience to identify themselves by holding up their hands, and then I asked some of them to prove their gun-nuttiness by telling me and the audience how many guns they actually owned.

              As I recall, the guys who were willing to ‘fess up about the size of their gun collections said they owned somewhere between 10 and 30 guns.  I laughed in response to every single answer and then told the audience that I currently owned around 60 guns, give or take a few, and that at the moment my private collection was kind of ‘light.’

              I speak to pro-gun groups all the time. I’m something of a contrarian and I enjoy telling people what they don’t expect to hear. And when someone tells a group of gun guys that he owns 60 guns but would like to see a more serious effort made to reduce the 125,000 gun injuries we suffer every year, I can say without fear of exaggeration that this is an argument that Gun-nut Nation doesn’t often hear. I make it clear that I don’t buy into the nonsense about how all those ‘good guys’ with guns can protect us from all those ‘bad guys’ with guns. I also say that just because someone sits in a room for a couple of hours and falls asleep while someone else reads through some boring text about gun ‘safety,’ that this experience doesn’t meet even a minimal qualification for using a gun.

              What I don’t do in my public appearances is talk about the research on gun violence which has been published on both sides, for the simple reason that I don’t believe that the average person makes up his mind or even thinks about making up his mind based on data or facts. At least not the average person who owns a gun.  Why do I say this? Because I happen to have sold guns to more than 10,000 residents of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont over the past 17 years; I have also taught the required gun-safety course to more than 7,000 residents in Connecticut and Mass., and I earn my living now by doing lethal-force certifications for local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies. So I know a heckuva lot more about how gun owners think about guns than anyone else in either Gun-control Nation or Gun-nut Nation, that’s for sure. And here’s what I know.

              People who buy and own guns do it for one, simple reason. They want to buy and own a gun. They may tell you that they need a gun to defend themselves, or they need a gun because it’s their 2nd-Amendment ‘right,’ or maybe they need a gun because pretty soon they won’t be able to buy a gun. I had a female customer, an educated business executive, come into my gun shop two weeks before the 2016 Presidential election who told me she ‘knew’ that if Hillary was elected, that she wouldn’t be able to own a gun.  How did such a crazy idea get into her head?  By the same token, I love how some gun-control advocates tell me about the ‘debunked’ research published by John Lott. As if they’ve ever read his research. Yea, right.

              I’m going to continue talking to pro-gun audiences and gun owners as often as I can. I wish that some of my dear friends in Gun-control Nation would spend a little less time talking to each other and try talking to the other side. Who knows? They might actually learn why people like their guns.  

Let’s Stop Being Afraid of the Second Amendment.

4 Comments

              I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was twelve years old. At a flea market on Route 441 somewhere in the Florida Glades. Now Route 441 is an endless collection of strip malls, condo developments and more strip malls. Then 441 marked the western edge of the Glades.

              Between 1956 and 2008, when the Supreme Court gave Constitutional protection for the private ownership of guns, I probably bought and sold 500 handguns and long guns. That’s ten guns a year which isn’t all that many for a certified gun nut like me. Every one of those transactions was legal (well, most of them were legal) and none of those transactions had any Constitutional protection at all.

              Whenever some well-meaning person who supports gun control starts off by saying that they don’t want to infringe on 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I want to cringe. What’s so bad about infringing on all these 2nd-Amendment rights, particularly when most of these so-called rights don’t really exist? The 2008 Heller decision does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun. It does not (read: not) give AR-15 owners the ‘right’ to show up at Charlottesville with an assault rifle strapped to their backs. It does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to wander all over the United States with their guns. It gives gun owners one ‘right,’ which is to keep a handgun in their home. Period. That’s the ‘right.’

              I want this issue to be clearly understood not because it will make any difference to how Gun-nut Nation talks about gun ‘rights.’ Want to know the latest Gun-nut take on gun ‘rights?’ Check out this spiel on NRA-TV by a noted foreign policy expert about how people in Venezuela are unable to fight back against the Maduro regime because they don’t have any guns. The country happens to have the second-highest murder rate in the world, but no doubt all those murders are committed with clubs and knives, not guns.

              So let’s not worry about how Gun-nut Nation promotes gun ‘rights.’ But we have an election next year. And every Presidential candidate lining up against Sleazy Don has announced their support of stronger gun laws. At the same time, all these candidates are steadfast in their desire to ‘respect’ the ‘right’ of Americans to own guns.

              As far as I’m concerned, my gun-control friends can pat themselves on the back as much as they want for supporting Constitutional guarantees, but by getting up on the barricades and proclaiming their fealty to the 2nd Amendment, they are giving away the argument before it begins. And they should stop doing it – right now!

              I just donated one hundred bucks to Moms Demand every month. I can guarantee you that I am the only donor to Moms who also happens to be a Lifetime Benefactor member of the NRA. Why do I swing both ways? Because I believe in an equal fight. But what I don’t believe is that Gun-control Nation levels the playing field by pretending that there’s no  disagreement with Gun-nut Nation when it comes to Constitutional ‘rights.’

              The reason we have a problem known as gun violence is not because all our guns aren’t safely stored. It’s not because we don’t require a background check every time we transfer every gun. It’s because we pretend that the 2nd Amendment only allows us to pass ‘reasonable’ gun laws. And if anyone out there really believes that a ‘reasonable’ gun law would prevent anyone from getting their hands on a concealable handgun holding 15 or more rounds of military-grade ammunition, you might as well follow Alice down the rabbit hole. Ending gun violence means ending the demand for guns which are used to commit gun violence, not ending the supply.

              There are still at least fifteen Presidential candidates who have yet to tell us what they would do about gun violence. Maybe one of them will figure it out.

Khal Spencer: How To Pass A Gun Law That Nobody Likes.

2 Comments

Laws work best when we believe in their fairness. It is advisable to build consensus when crafting legislation. In the case of New Mexico’s new universal background check (UBC) law, the opposite of consensus building occurred.  In an act that has been repeated elsewhere in the U.S., urban and rural constituencies have rejected each other’s thinking with polarizing results.

This latest round of discord has been covered in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s editorial page, to wit, the Attorney General’s admonishment to Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties to enforce the law. But I doubt more political posturing will bring people together. What, may I ask, could have? Here are several suggestions our legislators ignored.

Not all guns or gun transactions represent a credible threat. A recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows most guns recovered from criminals are handguns.  But the new law treats the exchange of a 22 rimfire rifle between country neighbors with the same gravity as selling a concealable Glock pistol to a perfect stranger in Albuquerque’s “War Zone”.

Its not clear that we even know how prohibited persons in New Mexico get their guns. National and state studies give us hints. In that same BJS report, and similar studies carried out by Prof. Phillip Cook and colleagues in Illinois, we see that the lion’s share of criminals obtain their guns from a combination of acquaintances, the underground market, or less likely, theft. The BJS report breaks it down into about a quarter from family or friends and almost half from the underground criminal market. Less than 1% get them from “gun shows” and a few from dealers.  The new law would work on that part of the market where law abiding citizens are exchanging guns only if we obtain buy in from the gun owning public. Instead, our legislative gun control advocates treated gun owners with disdain.

The bill was oversold.  Gun deaths often rise and fall independently of gun laws, most dramatically shown with century-long data in New York City, or when comparing recent trends in gun violence in New York City and Chicago, where enforcement and social networking differences far more than laws contribute to different trends in violence rates. Gun violence student Dr. Michael Weisser says that in Colorado, gun homicides rose after its 2013 UBC law went into effect. Judicial and sociological issues strongly influence violence rates.

Finally, one would hope your legislators care about your opinion. In 2017, I worked closely with my representative, Stephanie Garcia-Richards, trying to craft a background check bill with gun owner buy-in. I offered to do the same with my Santa Fe representatives this time and was met with studied silence or for the most part, cursory replies. I heard from a leader of the NM Shooting Sports Assn. that other gun owners met studied silence. Its not hard to figure out why. Although the NRA is the left’s boogeyman, Everytown for Gun Safety lavished almost $400,000 in campaign cash on our Legislature, dwarfing the NRA’s efforts, to ensure their voice drowned out everyone else’s.

A carefully written background check bill that hits the target of our violence problems while obtaining maximum buy-in from New Mexico’s gun owning public would be a great idea and could only help. What the bill’s supporters did instead was broaden the abyss between gun rights and gun control. The present political standoff was predictable and perhaps preventable.

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: