It’s Time For Some Real Push-Back About Violence Caused By Guns.


I’m going to make a prediction that my friends in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community won’t like but it needs to be said nonetheless. And my prediction goes like this: Unless and until the advocates for reducing gun violence get it together and start slugging it out toe-to-toe with the pro-gun gang, the possibility that we will see a significant decline in gun violence will remain somewhere between nothing and nil. Let me give you an example.

kim             Last week the boys in Fairfax posted a story about Kim Kardashian’s latest attempt to inject a little reality into the debate about guns. Basically she called for more restrictions on people who are convicted of a misdemeanor, or have been served a temporary restraining order; in other words, closing some of the loopholes which allow an awful lot of dangerous people to legally get their hands on guns.

The NRA referred to Kardashian’s comments as ‘barely-intelligible’ and ‘ignorant’ despite the fact that what she said about legal loopholes wasn’t all that different from what we know to be true. Would her comments pass muster in an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court? Of course not. But when was the last time that any mouthpiece for Gun-nut nation said anything that remotely aligned with the truth?

On the same NRA webpage which carried the attack on Kim, the NRA also linked to a Breitbart posting that calls out Shannon Watts for promoting female political candidates who, once in office, will push more gun-control laws. Of course there’s nothing about Shannon’s views which should surprise because she’s simply a creation of Bloomberg’s big bucks.

In these two stories alone I count at least five errors along with slanted, misleading opinions and a generally nasty attitude towards two women who don’t deserve to be attacked by media organizations which claim to be publishing the latest ‘news.’ But if we have learned anything from the last six months and our sleep-deprived President, it’s that what used to be the line between facts and opinions has disappeared. And nowhere is this more the case than in the so-called ‘debate’ about guns.

But in fact there isn’t any debate about whether the existence of 300 million personally-owned guns gives the United States a level of gun violence that is seven to twenty times higher than gun-violence rates in the rest of the OECD. In a recent column I mentioned that a new study by pediatricians at Mt. Sinai Hospital found that 80% of all gun injuries suffered by children occurred in the 16-19 age group, whereupon a pro-gun advocate told me that these gun-violence victims were all gang members or criminals, hence, they weren’t ‘kids.’ This is the kind of nonsensical thinking that Gun-nut Nation employs every time that any credible research on gun violence appears. Is it different from stating that anything Kim Kardashian or Shannon Watts says is stupid and wrong because they are being promoted by Bloomberg’s big bucks?

Enough is really enough. If James Comey can sit down in front of a Senate Committee and call that schmuck in the Oval Office a ‘liar,’ then it’s high time that GVP took off the gloves and started talking like they mean it as well. With all due respect to my public health friends at Harvard and Hopkins, evidence-based research just won’t do it alone; you also need to push back with the same degree of anger and volume that appears in every comment made by the other side.

When a right-wing ‘think’ tank says that banning assault weapons won’t do anything to curb gun violence, they are lying and they need to be called ‘liars’ in direct and no-nonsense terms. When an organization that is supported by a publicly-granted tax deduction says that guns don’t kill people, only people kill people, they need to be told that what they are saying is a BIG LIE. The problem with GVP is that it’s too polite. And politeness only provokes the other side to behave even worse.



When It Comes To Guns, Breitbart Gets It Wrong And Moms Gets It Right.


Readers who follow my column no doubt understand that I spend most of my time debunking what I consider to be mistakes, intended or otherwise, made by anyone and everyone who writes about guns.  And while some organizations and writers on both sides get it right most of the time, there are others who virtually every day get it wrong.  Topping that latter list is breitbart.com, which pushes out a comment on guns just about every day, and just about every day gets it wrong.  Their latest is a comment about women and guns that was made by Moms Demand Action activist Kristen Moore, who was interviewed by Michigan Radio following Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to approve a new law which allows women to have their CCW applications expedited in situations where they face potential domestic violence.

Typically, the Breitbart story started off by falsely accusing the Moms group of stating that it was “wrong” for women to carry guns.  But that’s not what Ms. Moore said at all.  What she said very clearly was that if women were thinking about applying for a CCW and purchasing a gun for self-defense, that they needed to make an “informed” choice in the matter, which means understanding whether, in fact, having a gun around the home or in the pocketbook provides any real safety at all.

open                The gun industry has been going all out for the last twenty years trying to make us all believe that guns serve a positive social utility because when we own and carry one we are more safe.  First we had the nonsense produced by Gary Kleck, who claimed on the basis of 213 telephone interviews that millions of crimes were thwarted by gun-carrying individuals each year. Then we had the bigger nonsense by John Lott, who basically said the same thing, even though it’s never been clear whether he had any real data at all.  If the gun industry wants to promote the virtues of arming citizens in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that’s fine.  After all, they’re in the business of selling guns, not conducting research about gun risk. But the reason that so many people read Consumer Reports is that maybe, just maybe, the manufacturer’s claims aren’t always exactly true.  That’s what the Moms group means when they talk about making an “informed” choice.

For me, the issue of whether anyone will be protected by carrying a gun, however, goes to something else.  Because it’s not just a question of whether the statistics show that a gun makes you safer or not, it’s also whether someone who decides to carry a gun is trained so that their gun could even be used for self-defense.  It turns out that Michigan requires that anyone applying for CCW must show that they have shot a gun a whole, big 30 times.  Meanwhile, a 2006 FBI study of violent assaults on police officers concluded that criminals who used guns to attack cops practiced using their guns roughly two times every month!

If anyone thinks that raising the issue of “informed” choice about CCW is a back-door way of getting rid of all the guns, go right ahead and delude yourself as much as you can. The real reason that keeping a gun around for self-defense means first of all that the wrong person may get his hands on the gun, which is why, as Kristen Moore pointed out, women are five times more likely to get killed in domestic disputes when there’s a banger stuck in a drawer, a closet, or even a safe.  But even if the gun can only end up in the ‘right’ hands in the event of an attack or a threat, does the person to whom those hands belong really know how to use that gun to protect themselves just because they spent a few evenings fooling around at the local range?  As Ian Fleming says, “Shooting hell out of a piece of cardboard doesn’t prove a thing.”

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