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How Come People Who Want Gun Control Don’t Know How to Talk to People Who Own Guns?

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            Carolyn Maloney is a House member who chairs the House Oversight Committee and is today chairing the hearing on banning assault rifles prior to a House vote on a bill thar will die in the Senate. Since 2013, she has been pushing a bill to criminalize gun trafficking, parts of which were incorporated into the gun-control bill just signed by Joe.

            Maloney didn’t do groups and individuals who are concerned about gun violence and mass shootings any favors in the way she led this hearing. The witnesses were from two companies that manufacture assault rifles – Daniel Defense and Sturm Ruger – versus Ryan Busse from Giffords and a staffer from the Brady Campaign.

            The fifth panelist was a young, African-American woman from the Gun Owners of America (GOA) nut-job gang, who claimed that Black women were the fastest-growing demographic of gun owners, a statement for which there is absolutely not a shred of real data but so what?  Who needs facts to back up an argument about guns, right?

            The other side, of course, has its own interesting deployment of data to bolster its point of view. In particular, there’s this whole thing about all the so-called ‘new’ gun buyers who have armed themselves over the last couple of years. The numbers come from both the gun industry and from public health research.

            There’s only one little problem, however, with this argument about how the Pandemic has increased the number of Americans who own guns. Has anyone bothered to figure out how many gun owners died from Covid-19 who otherwise might be alive if China hadn’t sent us the ‘kung flu?’ And let’s not forget to mention that this virus is particularly virulent among older people, who just happen to be the demographic most likely to own guns.

            Anyway, back to the hearing.

            So, the Democrats on the panel tossed easy questions to the panelists from Gifford and Brady, the POS/GOP members tossed softballs to the guys from the two companies that manufacture the AR-15. Nobody on either side said anything that hasn’t been said before – the gun-control people want to ban assault rifles; the pro-gun advocates want to toss all the potential bad people with a gun into jail.

            What struck me as I watched the proceedings, however, was the degree to which none of the House members nor the panelists tried to say anything that might be of interest to the other side. These two groups – gun ‘rights’ versus gun control – never (read: never) ask themselves to come up with an argument that might resonate with even one person who doesn’t agree with what they are always going to say.

            I’m not expecting to hear a rational or defensible argument from the pro-gun side, because there is no rational or reasonable argument to be made for keeping an AR-15 or a hi-capacity, semi-automatic pistol like a Glock or a Sig around the house.

The reason I have those kinds of guns around my house is very simple: I like guns. Maybe it’s a case of arrested mental development, maybe I want to believe that I can be a real, tough guy if I walk around with a gun. Maybe I’m just full of shit.

Anyway, it really doesn’t matter what I think as long as I have the GOA protecting my 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

Several years ago, an old man came into my gun shop and bought a gun. He had trouble filling out the background-check form and started cursing ‘that goddamn Kennedy,’ even though Ted Kennedy never promoted gun-control measures in his public remarks.

Finally, I got pissed off at the guy and said: “Hey Mister, if you had two brothers who were shot to death by men who used legally purchased guns, wouldn’t you be in favor of more gun control?”

The guy stopped filling out the form, looked down, then looked at me and replied, “You know, nobody ever said that to me before.”

I am still waiting for one of the gun-control groups to come up with a meaningful way to explain gun risk to gun owners without lecturing them on being ‘responsible’ with their guns. I am also still waiting for the public health researchers to discuss the same thing.

How come it’s so hard to figure out something to say to gun owners that they haven’t already heard?

Canada Bans Assault Rifles. Can We Do It Here?

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Okay. Here we go. The Canadian government, or I should say, the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has just announced an immediate ban on assault weapons following the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia committee by a guy who had both handguns and long guns, although the actual types of rifles has yet to be disclosed. The list of banned weapons runs some 1,500 different guns and is basically every model of every AR-type of guns that has ever been made.

What Trudeau is proposing is that none of the guns on this list will be available for sale in Canada as of today. The government will at some point issue guidelines for compensating owners of these guns when they are turned in or keeping them under lock and key in some kind of grandfathering procedure not yet worked out. So what Trudeau is doing is somewhat along the lines of what Australia did after a mass shooting back in 1996. The possible amnesty provision in Trudeau’s new law appears to reflect the fact that Australia announced an amnesty for those possessing an illegal gun in 2016.

Were it not for the fact that the COVID-19 problem has sucked the air out of every other advocacy movement in the United States, you could be sure that this restriction on assault rifles in Canada would have been greeted by a loud response down here by both sides. But even the boys in Fairfax had next to nothing to say about Trudeau’s move; the main NRA website didn’t mention it at all, the daily news digest on the NRA-ILA site posted a 70-word comment last Friday which has already disappeared.

For those of you who wish that what Trudeau just did in Canada needs to be done down here, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the fact that Canada has a parliamentary system whereas we have a Federalist system means that a Chief Executive sitting in the Oval Office couldn’t ban assault rifles in the exact, same way. Of course he could. He could just order the ATF to revise the definition of a gun to take into account certain design features which are inherent to the AR. For example, under current law, a long gun must have a barrel that is at least 16 inches long. Make the minimum length of the barrel to be 24 inches and that’s the end of that. Or modify the law and ban folding stocks.  If the ATF were to make those two changes in the current regulations, and bye-bye the AR.

Of course Congress might then get into the act and pass a law overriding what the ATF had just done. But think about this: if the blue team can move 4 red seats in the Senate onto their side of the aisle in November, they control both the Senate and the House. And if Joe racks up the majorities in the 4 or 5 swing states which the polls say right now he enjoys, then the stage is set for the United States to do exactly what Canada just did regarding guns.

The good news for the Democrats is that right now there seems to be a much greater sense of bi-partisanship in terms of how to deal with COVID-19 than there has ever been when it comes to dealing with guns. Can you imagine George Bush doing a video calling for an end to partisanship if the issue involved guns? This is the same George Bush who allegedly became President because the NRA helped him win Gore’s home state.

But before you begin to dream about ginger snaps and gun control, just remember this. What the gun makers have increasingly done is taken the technology and design of assault rifles and build assault-style handguns, which if anything, are probably more lethal and more dangerous than the long-barreled assault guns. I don’t see any of those models on Trudeau’s list, by the way, which means that Canada hasn’t necessarily been made safer from the violence caused by guns.

Sorry, But The AR-15 Isn’t Just Another ‘Sporting’ Gun.

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              Back in 2016 the Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, issued an order which effectively made the Bay State assault-rifle rein. Not only did her ukase extend the state’s continued adherence to the extension of the Clinton assault-rifle ban, but it expressly prohibited the sale of assault-style guns which were jimmied around one way or another to circumvent the Clinton ban.

              The problem with the Clinton approach (which was actually copied from an earlier assault-rifle ban enacted in California) was that the definition of an ‘assault rifle’ was based largely on whether the gun had certain design features (folding stock, flash-hider, hand grip, etc.) which made it look like a military gun, but didn’t really make the gun any more lethal than many other semi-automatic guns. Which made it both easy and plausible foe Gun-nut Nation to attack the ban since, according to those savants, law-abiding gun owners would be deprived of owning what was just another ‘sporting’ gun.

              I happen to own a bunch of assault rifles, an AR, an AK and a couple of Mini-14s, and they are all fun to shoot. Set up some tin cans (or better yet some pumpkins) at the range, go prancing around blasting away a la Colion Noir and have a good time. But whenever I refer to these guns as ‘adult toys,’ which is what they are, I get all kinds of angry responses from my gun-nut friends who tell me in no uncertain terms that I’ve become a Judas Goat because I don’t understand that Americans need these guns to guarantee their sacred right to self-defense.

              Last week I received my annual dues notice from the local gun group which asked me to make an additional donation so that they can petition the Supreme Court to “take up our challenge of AG Maura Healey’s 2016 gun ban.” And why do they want to challenge the ban? Because according to them, “self-defense is a human right.” By the way, Maura’s ban was upheld by the First Circuit and I can’t imagine that in the current climate the SCOTUS would even consider hearing the case.

              The problem for Gun-nut Nation in fighting against an assault-weapon ban is that they are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, they argue that since the AR is a semi-auto gun it is no different from any other semi-auto ‘sporting’ gun, which would make a ban on such a product clearly a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ On the other hand, they have also been promoting these guns as necessary for self-defense, and like the gun-nut brigade in Massachusetts claims, self-defense is a human right.

              Both arguments happen to be total and complete crap. The AR is designed to do one thing and one thing only, which is to deliver massive amounts of man-killing ordnance in a brief period of time. And even with my cold, not-yet-dead hands (to paraphrase Charlton Heston), I can get off 30 rounds with my AR is 15 seconds or less. As for self-defense, the idea that I need to protect myself with 30 rounds of military-grade ammo when that ‘street thug’ breaks down my back door is, if anything, an invitation to commit more harm than good. The round from an AR is lethal out to 500 yards or more; a shotgun blast travels 40 or 50 yards. Which gun would be safer to use if my house is located across the street from someone else?

              I understand why my gun-nut friends view the attempt to ban assault rifles with a mixture of fear and alarm. I don’t disagree with the idea that once you ban this kind of gun, it’s easier to ban another type of gun next time around. But sooner or later we must confront the fact that some guns are simply too lethal to be in anyone’s hands, law-abiding hands or not. And anyone who thinks that an AR-15 is no different from the 22-caliber Sears Roebuck shooter that used to go under the Christmas tree, doesn’t know anything about guns.

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