Only A Gun Can Protect You From The Impending Collapse.

              Several weeks ago, I posted a column about a GOP lawmaker in Michigan who walked into a legislative session carrying an AR-15 on his back and a Glock in his waist. He wanted to let everyone know that he was an ardent supporter of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ This idiot then went home, left the guns out on the kitchen table and drove off to go somewhere else. Whereupon someone broke into his home and swiped the guns. The cops believed that the burglary occurred because the bad guy had gone to the politician’s Facebook page and seen this idiot walking through the State House toting his guns.

              I thought this dope in Michigan had committed the stupidest bit of behavior by any pro-gun politician this year, but I warned my readers that there would no doubt be even dumber examples coming right along. And yesterday what I predicted turned out to be true, thanks to a state legislator in Georgia named Matt Gurtler, who now holds the title of dumbest pro-gun politician of the year. Now remember, my award cuts both ways and I have already given out a ‘dumb’ award to a state rep in Massachusetts who is vociferously anti-gun. But let’s get back to the idiot from the Peach State.

              Gurtler has decided that the shutdown of public offices that process concealed-carry licenses makes residents of those jurisdictions more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus than if they were to stand in line waiting for their CCW applications to be processed and approved. After all, how can you compare the threat of the ‘Chinese flu’ to the threat of not being able to protect your family and your home?

              So, this moron is proposing that the Governor use his emergency powers to override the State Constitution and allow residents to walk around with a concealed weapon whether they have been granted a CCW license or not. He puts it this way: “We need to suspend enforcement especially during the state of emergency, when so many individuals need to be able to defend themselves and their families and their loved ones and their property.”

              Now I’m going to pretend that my name is Michel Foucault because I want to engage in a brief effort to deconstruct what Gurtler says. Note that he believes not just in the idea of armed, self-defense, but he wants to extend this belief to include the ability of anyone to walk around in the street with a gun. Not just in the street, but maybe to the supermarket, maybe to the liquor store; in other words, to any location that is still providing an essential service or selling products which everyone still needs.

              The whole point of the 2008 Supreme Court decision on the 2nd Amendment is that the majority opinion clearly states that every law-abiding person living in America has Constitutional protection for keeping a loaded, unlocked handgun in their home for personal defense. In Georgia, this decision would apply to everyone who legally owns a gun, or at least a handgun.

              But for reasons that can only be explained in terms of where Gurtler’s IQ lands him on the bell curve, he believes that folks can only protect themselves, their families and their property if they can walk around with a gun. Which, by the way, happens to be an idea that Gun-nut Nation has been pushing for years.

              Georgia and other states have seen a spike in gun sales over the last few weeks. According to the manager of a Florida shop, “Our sales are up 80 percent, with a huge increase in first-time buyers who are worried about martial law, economic collapse, unemployment, shortages, delinquents roaming the streets.”

              This comment takes me back to a wonderful movie, War of the Worlds, which I saw when it was released in 1953, then Spielberg redid it in 2005. Is there the slightest chance that the guy knocking on my front door is anyone other than the kid delivering my pizza with anchovies and extra cheese?

Want To Learn Armed Self-Defense? Move To Monsey, N.,Y.

              If I had to choose one news story about gun violence which ranks as the craziest, most bizarre example of the American experience with guns, it would be an article I read yesterday detailing a class held in armed, self-defense last week in Monsey, NY. The class was attended by 150 residents of Monsey and other towns, all of whom happen to be extremely religious,  ultra-orthodox Jews. The class gave attendees an opportunity to fool around with various self-defense guns like an AR-15 and some handguns, and it was conducted by a guy who runs a security and self-defense so-called training program which, of course, is staffed by ‘elite’ members of Israel’s Defense Forces, a.k.a., the vaunted IDF.

              What brought the crowd out for the evening’s entertainment was the recent machete attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, along with a shooting that left three dead at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, as well as several individual attacks. Of course before anyone knew anything, Governor Cuomo called the Monsey assault a case of “domestic terrorism,” which has become the standard description of every violent event requiring a response from some politician who wants to make sure he’s staying ‘in touch.’

              I don’t mean to make light of any kind of behavior that creates fear of physical or emotional violence. Of all the threats to the human community, the only threat we still do not understand how to solve is the threat of violence. We may not have the political will or the political alignment to solve the threat of global warming, but we know what to do. Ditto other threats to the human community like famine or disease. But when it comes to the threat posed by violence, what I know is that you can’t go out, buy an assault rifle and think that now you are ready to protect yourself from a violent event, or that this purchase will do anything to reduce violence overall. What you have basically done by plunking down your thousand bucks for that black gun is to ratchet up the possibility that more violence will occur.

              Not only doesn’t violence prevent violence, but before we even get to that issue we first have to make sure that when we use a word like ‘violence,’ we all can agree on what we are talking about. So, for example, the Anti-Defamation League publishes an annual report on anti-Semitic attacks which claims there has been a disturbingly-high number of such events over the last several years. But if you read the fine print, you discover that while incidents of vandalism and harassment have increased, the number of physical attacks have gone down. So what should members of the Jewish community do? Walk around with an assault rifle handy in case someone tries to paint a swastika on the synagogue wall?

I notice, by the way, that the promoters of armed self-defense at the Monsey meeting forgot to mention that bringing a gun into a synagogue during Shabbos (Sabbath) religious services happens to be a violation of Jewish law. You can’t carry metal objects in your pockets during Shabbos; you can’t wear any kind of ornamental items like a holster on your pants.  Maybe the alleged security experts from Israel can provide the Orthodox residents of Monsey with the name of a Shabbos goy (a gentile to perform prohibited tasks during the Sabbath) who can walk around the synagogue with a gun.

Forgive me for sounding just a little bit less than enthusiastic about the spread of armed, self-defense into the Orthodox Jewish community. And if anyone wants to tell me that by being disarmed,  these Jews are just inviting another nut to show up and slaughter some more innocent folks, do me a favor and in the words of my late friend Jimmy Breslin, go lay brick.

What did Solomon say in Ecclesiastes?  “A time to kill and a time to heal.” He didn’t say that after someone is killed, you should go out and by an AR-15.

Josh Montgomery: Staying Stable While Shooting.

Staying Stable While Shooting

The importance of shooting stability is often overrated – especially the fact that it is linked with the safety of the shooter and not only. The truth is that the two of them are connected. You need to have the right posture in order to increase your shooting accuracy. And the right posture can be achieved through stability. There is a study that analyzes the relationship between the two.

On that note, today, we will introduce you to some handy tips. These tips should help you optimize your stability when shooting. It’s important to become more responsible shooters, especially if you want to safeguard the safety of your family and children.

The Right Shooting Stance

Some people might think that the way in which you stand doesn’t impact the way you shoot. This is not true, though. This is basically the very foundation of shooting. And when you don’t have a steady foundation, the odds are that your shooting performance will be affected, to some extent or another.

It goes without saying that recoil and loud explosions are in no way fun or expected. Not to mention that they could really jeopardize your safety. If we were to get technical, there are three primary types of stances – namely Weaver, Isosceles and Chapman. These represent different variations of leg and arm placement. 

When you have the right shooting stance, this will help you stay stable. And most importantly, this will allow you to get better at shooting. The right technique can really make the world of a difference. We can say just the same about picking the right gun. Whether we are talking about lighter and smaller guns for women or big, massive rifles, your shooting stance is an essential element. Make sure you have it right. And if you don’t, it’s never too late to learn a bit more about it.

The Importance of Handgun Grip

The next thing on the list is definitely the handgun grip. When you hold a gun, you need to be serious about it. Just as you would be about holding your future or your safety, so to speak. That doesn’t mean you should grip the handgun as hard as you can since this could backfire as well. You need to feel confident whenever you take the gun in your hand. And this has to do with a firm, secure grip.

When you have a firm handgun grip, this will diminish the movement of your non-trigger-fingers. This is, essentially a good thing. Not to mention that the manner in which you hold your gun will impact your accuracy. Ideally, the distance between your trigger finger and your thumb should be high. In this way, the grip will contain the recoil of the slide that moves back and forth.

Usually, it’s advisable to keep your support hand really high on the back of the gun. You might even attempt to get some of your hand behind the grip if that’s a possibility. Once you do that, you can even keep the thumbs forward – depending on the size of your hands. Or you can keep the thumbs high. This will keep your wrists in place. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that your grip also has to do with your individual hand and the size of your finger – of course.

Now, let’s say your hands are smaller, which would make your fingers a bit shorter. In this case, your thumbs will imminently be pointed more upright. This only means that you should keep experimenting, testing different techniques and pinpointing what works best to boost your stability.

Keep Your Elbows Bent

Did you ever think that the way in which you keep your elbows has to do with your shooting stability? This should go without saying.

Most people assume that they enjoy more control over the handgun if they keep their elbows locked, so to speak. But this is rarely the case. Usually, you get more control and stability by keeping your elbows a bit bent. Why would you do that? There are several ways in which we could explain this.

For one thing, this will help your elbows to act as natural shock absorbers. Therefore, you will control the recoil better. Another aspect worth noting would be that this determines you to keep your wrists in place so that you maintain the sights aligned with your eyes. Meanwhile, a slight bend in the elbows will allow you to deter driving the first shot low whenever you’re in a hurry to shoot.

You might even keep your elbows a bit up. This will create inward crushing pressure.

Take Your Time

A common mistake most people do is lifting the finger off immediately after every shot and looking at the target. The truth is that the target won’t run anywhere. It will still be there a few seconds later, which only means you should take your time. When you take off the finger too quickly, the likelihood of firing too fast and jerking the trigger is higher. Another risk that comes with the territory would be adding excess movement to the gun.

Not to mention that you’ll make your life more difficult when you’ll shoot the next fire. This is where proper trigger reset can make the world of a difference. This can maintain the trigger all the way at the end. In addition to that, this will release the trigger at the right time – when you’ll feel the click. It’s a good thing not to rush yourself, especially if you’re just starting out. Even when it comes to experienced shooters, this doesn’t make it appropriate to do things in a rushed way, as this could impair your safety.

The Bottom Line

Shooting is not as simple as it may seem. And if you’re concerned about the importance of safety when shooting, these tips should come in handy. The bottom line is that you won’t become a pro in a matter of days. These things take time, and you should be patient with yourself. You’ll get there before you know it with perseverance and determination.

Todd Palin – GVP Man Of The Year.

Although I can only speak for myself, I think the gun violence prevention (GVP) community should start handing out an annual award to the person whose behavior best exemplifies what preventing gun violence is all about.  In that respect, I nominate Todd Palin for this year’s award based on the way he behaved in a confrontation this past weekend with his eldest son, a rather disturbed young man by the name of Track.

palin1 According to court papers, the kid showed up at Ma and Pa Palin’s residence, determined to have it out with the old man about something involving a truck.  Finding the front door locked, he began banging and yelling to be let in, at which point his father came to the front window holding a gun.  The story gets a little muddled at this point; none of the Palins has ever been accused of getting their facts straight. But the bottom line is that evidently Todd pointed a gun at Track who responded by breaking through a window, slamming the old man to the floor and proceeded to beat him up.

Even though Sarah Palin has been quoted endless times as saying that she’s always armed and ready to defend herself because self-defense is a God-given right, on this particular occasion she actually did what everyone should always do – she called the police. By the time the cops arrived both she and Todd were driving away in separate cars while Track was still inside the house.  The police report noted that Todd had “injuries to his face and head based on the visible blood running down his face.” Alaska’s former Governor was “visibly upset.” The kid is due back in court on December 27, facing charges of burglary, assault and criminal mischief, the last charge referring to the cost of the window that Track broke in order to gain entrance to the home.

The good news for Track Palin, as well as for his parents, is that the kid didn’t end up on a slab.  Which is the reason I want the GVP to give Todd Palin this award, because he could have done what many people do in a similar situation, namely, pull the trigger of his gun.  And what we find again and again in situations where an argument breaks out between two people, one of whom is armed, “if you walk around with a gun, it will go off sooner or later.” So says Walter Mosely.

I just took a random glance at the website of the Violence Policy Center which contains specific descriptions of instances in which people with concealed-carry licenses kill themselves or others with the gun they are supposed to be carrying for self-defense.  Here’s a description of a shooting that occurred in Maine: “On October 6, concealed handgun permit holder Merrill “Mike” Kimball, 70, shot and killed Leon Kelley, 63, following a confrontation at Brown’s Bee Farm, a beekeeping business in North Yarmouth.” They got into an argument about honey!  About honey, get it?  They got into an argument about nothing but one of them had a gun. To quote the brilliant Lester Adelson, “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”

The FBI defines a home invasion as” the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft.” It turns out that more than one-third of all home invasions which occur each year involve the behavior of someone who had legal or social access to that particular home.  Which creates a big problem for proponents of armed self-defense because if you fire a gun at a home invader, there’s a one out of three chance that you knew the person who might wind up dead.

And that’s the reason I want GVP to honor Todd Palin because he didn’t use his gun to protect himself against this particular home invader, who happened to be his son.

Guns And Black Swans Go Together.

As the gun violence prevention community (GVP) continues its search for narratives about gun violence which may find a responsive echo within the gun ‘rights’ movement, I suggest that everyone take some time and read Nasim Taleb’s remarkable book, Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Because the basic point in this work is the degree to which strongly-held beliefs are based on things which are simply not true. And if there’s one Black Swan belief which is as improbable as any, it’s the idea that walking around with a gun will protect you from crime.

swan             That gun ownership is a necessary response to crime is the fundamental axiom upon which the entire gun ‘rights’ movement and narrative is built. After all, being able to protect yourself is a God-given right, recognized in every legal tradition. And if packing a gun gives you the best chance of defending against an attack, how could anyone support any law that might threaten or limit the ownership of guns?

The fact is, however, that credible studies clearly show little, if any connection between access to a gun and protection from crime. This is mostly because the probability that someone packing a gun will actually be attacked ranges from scant to none. Further, even if John Lott is correct in arguing that because criminals believe that more Americans are frequently armed, this tends to make them shift their criminality to non-violent crime, the data to support this idea remains in dispute.

We are all familiar with surveys which show that a majority of gun owners now say that the primary reason they own a gun is for self-defense. But is this a classic Black Swan or is it based on some degree of reality or truth?  I decided to test this Black Swan with a survey which I am asking gun owners to take, and nearly 100 self-described gun owners have been engaged. You can view the survey here.  My selection methodology is based on running Facebook ads sent to FB pageholders who have indicated an interest in guns with the usual key words: guns, hunting, shooting, etc.  In another week or so I am going to publish the final results, but here is what I have learned so far.

Nearly 80% of the respondents believe that having access to a gun makes them less afraid of being a victim of violent crime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly 1% of the American population age 12 or over are victims of a violent crime each year.

In my survey, 4% have been victims of a violent crime. One of the victims claimed that his sister was raped, one was assaulted, another was held up while pumping gas late at night. One victim, a man above the age of 50, was kidnapped but provided no details.

I inserted a number of demographic questions in the poll to make sure I was capturing real gun owners and I am.  Respondents are, on average, older white males, have owned guns for more than 15 years, purchased a gun in the last 12 months and 65% live in the Midwest or the South.

Now here’s the Black Swan. I didn’t ask poll-takers to tell me whether they had ever used a gun for self-defense. But 96% of the respondents couldn’t have done so because they had not been victims of a serious crime. So why do more than 80% of the respondents believe that having access to a self-defense gun will make them safe?

Here’s what I have learned from the more than 90 people who took the time to answer my survey. Just about everyone who believes in the validity of armed self-defense is holding that belief for reasons other than what has happened to them. And all these surveys which show that a majority of gun owners support self-defense use of guns don’t tell us anything at all. In particular, these surveys shed no light on how to turn the Black Swan into a White Swan.

 

 

An Important Book On Gun Violence Is Worth Waiting For.

A new voice is about to be added to the debate about gun violence, and for those who take this debate seriously (because there are some debate participants who don’t) this is a voice with something important to say.  I am referring to Caroline Light, who directs undergraduate studies of women, gender and sexuality at Harvard and is about to publish a book, Stand Your Ground, America’s Love Affair With Lethal Self-Defense.

blacks-gunsNow you would think that a Harvard faculty member would, of course, be anti-gun.  But Professor Light happens to be a Southern girl who, not surprisingly, grew up in a family where there were guns. And while she clearly understands that gun violence can’t be separated from the existence of guns, particularly so many guns, she’s not barking up the usual, gun-control tree.  What she is after in her narrative, and certainly succeeds in this respect, is to explain how and why ‘stand your ground’ (SYG) laws have become so evident and pervasive throughout many parts of the United States.  Because the point is that 33 states now have such laws. And most of these states also grant residents the unquestioned right to walk around with a gun. Put two and two together and what do you get?  The legal sanctioning of gun violence, which is what the book Stand Your Ground is really all about.

Like most of our legal system, these laws came from the British common law tradition, which, on the one hand, recognized that a person had the right to protect himself from attacks except that the attack had to occur within the home; i.e., the ‘castle doctrine’ as it was known.  British law did not sanction lethal self-defense outside of one’s domicile, in fact, it was presumed that in a civilized, ordered society, retreat in the face of possible injury was always preferred.

The sanctity of human life transcending the necessity to protect oneself from possible injury disappeared, however, in the evolution of American penal law.  For that matter, the law’s recognition of armed self-protection in the case of home invasions (the ‘castle doctrine’) was extended to justify lethal self-defense in any location where the defender had the legal right to appear.  Cases which upheld this kind of reasoning appeared as early as 1806 and became common in the decades following the Civil War, particularly in the South.

Here is where Professor Light’s narrative gets interesting.  Because what she argues is that armed, self-defense, as codified in SYG laws coupled with concealed-carry laws (CCW) reflect a culture which celebrates the dominance of white men, particularly in the South, where ‘rugged individuality’ is a code for keeping women and African-Americans in their (subservient) ‘place.’ And rather than guns being used to equalize the power relations between white males and everyone else, what the author refers to as do-it-yourself (DIY) security just hardens the degree to which white male dominance continues to control the perceptions of crime, gender and race.

This is a complicated subject and I cannot really do justice to this book or fully discuss its subtle twists and turns. But it should come as no surprise that when we talk about anything related to gun culture (which certainly would embrace SYG) that we are basically talking about the South, because that’s where a majority of the civilian-owned guns and a majority of NRA members happen to be.  And while SYG and CCW laws have spread far beyond Dixie, this region gave birth to those laws and this is where such laws have resulted in significant increases in ‘lawful’ violence against women and Blacks.

The South may have lost the Civil War, but the mind-set which justified slavery back then is the same mind-set that embraces inequality today.  And anyone who believes that owning a gun endows them with more freedom than someone who is unarmed is drinking the same Kool-Aid that Jefferson Davis drank before Fort Sumter when he believed that Lincoln would back down. But plenty of that Kool-Aid is still going around.