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Don’t More Guns Equal Less Crime? Not Any More.

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What’s going on?  After year-to-year declines in the violent crime rate going back twenty years, all of a sudden in 2015 things turned around and now violent crime rates are going back up.  Now the good news is that the overall violent crime rate – 372.6 per 100,000 – is well below what it was five years ago when it stood at 404.5.  It’s also about 20% lower than it was ten years ago and more than 70% lower than its alarming peak in 1994. So yes, we are a lot safer than we were twenty years ago, on the other hand, a two-decade drop in violent crime may have come to an end.

conference program pic            What’s more disturbing about the overall increase is that the biggest year-to-year increase occurred within the murder category which is, for most of us, the sine qua non of violent crime.  Every violent crime category – murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery – showed an increase from 2014 to 2015, but rape was up 5%, aggravated assault increased by 4%, robbery was just slightly higher, but the homicide rate jumped by 10%, and that’s a lot more dead bodies, 1,532 more dead bodies to be exact. And although the difference was not all that great, you might as well know that the percentage of murders committed with guns also slid up from 69% to 71%.

Now according to Gun-nut Nation, as the number of privately-owned guns goes up and, in particular, the number of gun-owners who are allowed to walk around carrying a gun goes up, violent crime is supposed to go down.  The idea that more guns equals less crime is not only the title of a book written by one of Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished mouthpieces, it has been the watchword of the entire marketing scheme for guns since white suburbanites became afraid of crime and people stopped hunting, both of which became kind of obvious even to the gun industry back when Ronald Reagan was making room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the first George Bush.

Remember Willie Horton?  Bush’s 1988 opponent, Mike Dukakis, had the bad luck of having supported the furlough program which let Horton out of slam for a weekend furlough whereupon Horton went down to Maryland, raped a young woman and then was arrested and thrown back into jail.  Maybe the Horton ad swung the election for Bush and maybe it didn’t, but the one thing it certainly did was to focus attention on the issues of race and crime.  And this was the same time that the NRA began ramping up the campaign to get states to issue concealed-carry licenses (CCW), with only a handful of states going along with the idea in 1987 but more than 30 states granting near-automatic CCW by 1995.

It was also in the mid-90’s that a serious increase in violent crime due primarily to the crack-cocaine epidemic began to abate with a ten-year cycle of increasing crime rates from the mid-1980s being replaced with annual declines of violent crime which continued for the next twenty years.  And what accounted for this year-after-year decline in violent crime?  The ‘fact’ that so many Americans owned guns and more and more Americans were carrying concealed weapons outside their home.  The argument was first made by a Florida criminologist named Gary Kleck, then refurbished and expanded by another ersatz academic named John Lott, and just before the FBI released the 2015 numbers the gun industry’s official broadcaster, the National Shooting Sports Foundation blared on its website: “Gun Crimes Plummet As Gun Sales Rise.”

But how will the NSSF explain away the increase in violent crime while gun sales and CCW permits continue to soar?  I’ve got it!  Just blame it on the possibility that Hillary might defeat Trump and then immediately ban all guns. No matter which way you cut it, you’ll always find someone who believes the Martians have established a colony at Area 51.

‘Good Guys With Guns’ Is A Must-Read Book.

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I maintain a short-list of ‘must-read’ books on gun violence, and right now a book written by a sociologist way up at Northland College in Wisconsin sits at the very top.  Angela Stroud’s book, Good Guys With Guns, should be read by everyone in the Gun Violence Prevention community because what she says is what everyone needs to know and understand about Gun-nut Nation’s obsession with guns.

ccwnew           And it has become an obsession, at least with small percentage of gun owners who together, according to the recent Harvard-Northeastern study, own upwards of one hundred million guns, which works out to roughly fifteen guns apiece.  And this obsession takes its most evident form in the growth of concealed-carry permits, which is what Professor Stroud’s book is all about.

What she did was to go down to Texas (she happens to be a Texas native now transplanted to the shores of Lake Superior) and conduct interviews with 36 gunnies – 20 men, 16 women – who have concealed handgun licenses (CHL), along with going through a CHL course herself.  And while she made no attempt to conceal either her academic background or her research agenda, she had no trouble getting her interview subjects to blab about themselves at length.  And by the way, without realizing it, Professor Stroud quickly learned one thing about the residents of Gun-nut Nation, which is that they love to talk about their gun. So you have your work cut out for you if you want to weave a coherent and readable narrative out of interviews with 36 of these folks, but in this case the result is a very coherent, very readable and a very important book.

How representative are these 36 interview subjects for understanding the motives and views of the 14 million or so Americans who have been issued CHL-licenses over the past twenty or so years? In several respects – gender, income – they probably are somewhat outside the everyday demographic that we associate with gun nuts (mostly male, usually high school but no more) because this group was almost equally split between men and women and nearly half finished college and many hold advanced degrees.  But note that I am comparing the demographics of the author’s interview group with what we know about gun owners in general, not what we know (because we don’t know) about the backgrounds of people who hold a license which permits them to walk around with a gun.

And as far as this latter group is concerned, Professor Stroud hits the proverbial nail right on the proverbial head when she notes that CHL-licenses are usually given out to “white men and women in suburban areas” who are simply not going to be victims of crime.  In fact, with the exception of one woman who claimed to have been raped many years before, not a single person interviewed by the author had ever been menaced or victimized in any kind of criminal affair.

So why do these people fervently embrace the idea that guns are must-have “tools” to protect them from crime?  Because, and here is the most compelling aspect of this book, getting involved in what the author calls the CHL “culture” changes the way people think about threats, violence and self-defense.  And this comes out of perceptions about race and crime in which many Americans ‘privatize’ their response to social inequality by substituting an ‘I can fend for myself’ approach, thereby negating the value of structural (read: government) responses to the inequalities and inequities of inner-city life.

Remember how Reagan called government the ‘enemy’ during his 1980 campaign?  For some folks the government ‘enemy’ and the street ‘thug’ enemy is one and the same.  But you can protect yourself from both by carrying a gun. And the manner through which Angela Stroud explains all these connections is why she has written a brilliant book.

An Important Book On Gun Violence Is Worth Waiting For.

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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.

Is Trump Appealing To Racism When He Supports Armed Citizens? You Betcha.

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Back in 2008 Obama had his ‘guns and religion’ moment, which briefly appeared to undo his Presidential campaign, now Hillary has created her moment too with the comment about ‘deplorables.’  And while you might think that an entire national campaign never really rises or falls on a few words, just ask George Bush, the first George Bush, whether or not he’s still asking people to read his lips.

trump2On the other hand, go back to a Reuters poll in June, and maybe the deplorability needle gauging the attitudes of Trump supporters is set just about right.  Because in that poll, half the folks who described themselves as supporting Trump said that Blacks were more ‘violent’ than Whites, and also said that Blacks were more ‘criminal’ than Whites.  And there is no question that Trump has been echoing and encouraging those attitudes every chance he gets, and in that respect he’s getting plenty of help from the NRA.

This whole notion of walking around with a gun in your pocket to protect yourself and others against the criminal ‘element’ has been a watchword of NRA gun propaganda since the 1980s, when the gun industry discovered that White America was no longer going out hunting but was afraid of crime.  Gallup has been asking this question since 1965: ‘Is there any area near where you live – that is, within a mile – where you would be afraid to walk alone at night?’ The affirmative response hit its high-water mark in 1982 with 48% saying ‘yes.’  And it was in the 1980s that the NRA unleashed ads which, for the first time, explicitly promoted gun ownership as a response to crime, and they have been running with this notion ever since. And who exactly are all these criminals committing mayhem in the streets? If you need help figuring out the answer to that question, you need a functioning brain, never mind another gun.

There really are people out there who believe they can protect themselves and others by walking around armed even if they have little, practical training or experience in using a self-defense gun.  Never mind civilians, by the way, even with some degree of training, most cops can’t protect themselves or anyone else with their gun.  A study by the Police Policy Council found that when a New York City police officer encountered an armed suspect, the average ‘hit probability’ was 15 percent!  A study by the RAND Corporation set the number at 18 percent.  Now we’re not talking about internet scam-artists like the United States Concealed Carry Association or a former town constable named Massad Ayoob who earns a nice living going around the country as a reincarnation of Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. We’re talking about the RAND Corporation, okay?  But why trust them when you have such noted researchers as Dana Loesch and Ted Nugent telling you that you’ll always be safe as long as you carry a gun?

The Supreme Court may have gotten it right back in 2008 when it said that the 2nd Amendment gave Americans a Constitutional protection to keep a loaded handgun in their home.  But that’s all the Court said.  It didn’t say there was any Constitutional protection for citizen-protectors who believe it is their duty to walk around armed in their neighborhood streets. Sorry, even though George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder, he wasn’t exercising any Constitutional ‘right’ when he gunned down Trayvon Martin in 2012.

My issue is not whether guns do or don’t make you safe.  And it certainly isn’t whether or not anyone should own a gun.  The issue is the fact that a gun is a very lethal product in even the most capable hands, and to pretend otherwise has become a not-so-disguised way to promote and exploit racism and fear.  And God only knows that we have been getting a big dose of both from a certain New York City landlord in the current Presidential campaign.

 

A New Video Explains What The 2nd Amendment Is All About.

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Sooner or later I knew that the attempt by a student-led coalition at the University of Texas campus to protest the law allowing guns on campus would lead to efforts by various factions of Gun-nut Nation to remind everyone that walking around with a gun is a good thing. And the reason that we should allow guns to be carried anywhere and everywhere is that we all know that guns protect us from crime. After all, a majority of Americans now believe that a gun makes you safer than if you don’t have a gun, so it must be true.

campus           Back in 2008, you may recall that there was a little Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia vs. Heller, which defined the 2nd Amendment as giving Americans the Constitutional protection to keep a handgun in their home.  But the reason I call this s ‘little’ decision is that from the moment the opinion was announced, Gun-nut Nation has been trying to pretend that anything and everything they want to do with a gun comes under the protection of 2nd-Amendment rights.  Want to walk into a Starbucks with an AR slung over your shoulder? You’re just exercising your 2nd-Amendment rights.  Want to walk around with a pistol in your pocket without having to demonstrate that you even know how to load the damn thing, never mind actually use it?  You’re just exercising your 2nd-Amendment rights.

In fact, you aren’t exercising any 2nd-Amendment right at all.  You may be doing what the state you live in lets you do, but there are all kinds of state and local laws covering all kinds of things which let you do this or that, but nobody has ever seen fit to figure out whether such laws are covered by any Constitutional guarantee at all.  But when a group of conservative attorneys decided to test the definition of the 2nd Amendment by using the fact that the District of Columbia wouldn’t let a security guard named Dick Heller keep a handgun in his apartment, the SCOTUS said he could because the 2nd Amendment, as a majority of the Court defined the text, granted him and everyone else Constitutional protection for this specific type of behavior and nothing else. 

One of the areas in which Gun-nut Nation has been particularly busy trying to expand the definition of the 2nd Amendment to go beyond what it means is carrying guns on college campuses.  And the reason for this, hare-brained nonsense to the contrary about how college campuses are rife with crime, is because the gun industry has noticed that the up-and-coming consumer generation – Millennials – don’t seem particularly enamored of guns.  Droids? Yes. Kayaks? Yes. Guns? No.  But if you can get the kids to understand the value of a gun for self-defense, then maybe the gun industry will survive beyond the time that Gun Nuts of my generation disappear.

The anti-gun protest at UT didn’t do anything to reverse the new campus-carry law, but it did generate gobs of publicity because the event organizers cleverly decided to distribute sex toys like dildos as a way of pointing out the stupidity of walking around a college campus with a gun.  And the response to this event took the form of a video which shows a young woman who comes home from participating in the protest, suddenly finds herself confronted by a home invader, whereupon she points the dildo at him in order to defend herself, whereupon the guy pulls out a pistol and shoots her in the head.

The video has been criticized by Students for Concealed Carry as being offensive, but let me break the news gently to that bunch.  If you’re going to promote something as stupid and dangerous as guns on college campuses, then you should hardly be surprised when your argument is taken to the extreme.  After all, aren’t you saying that every law-abiding’ citizen should have the 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ to shoot someone else in the head?

Of All Places – A University In Gun-Rich West Virginia Bans Guns.

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            “The possession and/or use of any dangerous weapons is strictly forbidden on university property. Weapons include but are not limited to the following: Firearms, BB guns, pellet guns, paintball guns, blowguns, bows and/or arrows, dangerous knives, firecrackers, ammunition, and other explosive material. Possession of the above will result in the immediate suspension from the residence halls, and may also result in expulsion and possible legal action.”

WLU           Folks, this isn’t from the student manual at Berkeley, or Johns Hopkins, or Harvard, or some other bastion of liberalism where students are taught first and foremost to be politically correct in everything they do or say.  This is from the student manual from West Liberty University which happens to be located in Wheeling, West Virginia. Now don’t confuse West Liberty University with Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by one of America’s most successful televangelists, the late jerry Falwell, which prepares its students, according to the school’s website, to become a ‘Champion for Christ.’

West Liberty University was founded in 1837, at a time when the state hadn’t yet been admitted to the Union, but its location at the far western corner of West Virginia meant that it was considered to be the westernmost spot where liberty and justice was guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence.  The school was actually started to provide a liberal arts education to the Appalachian region, which it has done from then up until the present day.

So the school is quite different in terms of culture and content from what goes on at Liberty University in Lynchburg, and nowhere is this difference more apparent than as regards the issue of guns. Because you may recall that our illustrious Republican Presidential Pretender, Donald the Shlump, made an appearance at Liberty University back in January, misquoted the Scripture but still managed to give the University a big pat on the back because the University President, Jerry Falwell Jr., is an unabashed supporter of anyone and everyone who wants to walk around his campus carrying a gun.  He went so far as to say back last December that if more people had been carrying guns in San Bernardino, that the Muslims could have been ‘killed’ before they walked in the door.

Falwell’s message evidently hasn’t gone over very well with the Board and Administration at West Liberty University in the neighboring state. In fact, the decision to ban all guns from the campus, even guns locked away in automobiles, was in response to recent mass shootings on college campuses and elsewhere, and I quote the University President’s statement right here: “We want our students to feel safe, secure, and comfortable. I don’t know how comfortable someone would feel knowing that someone on campus is carrying a dangerous weapon.”

So when it comes to college campuses and guns, the veritable cat has finally been let out of the veritable bag, namely, this school has decided that all of the NRA and Gun-nut Nation crap about how guns in the hands of civilians protect us from crime is simply not true.  And furthermore, this enlightened University administration is equally unimpressed by the other Gun-nut Nation crap about the lure of gun-free zones.

What really prompted West Liberty University to promote and enforce its campus ban on guns was the recent constitutional-carry law in the Mountain State which basically means that anyone who can legally own a gun in West Virginia can also walk around armed.  The bill was originally vetoed by the Governor but the Legislature overlooked opposition from the law enforcement community and told Governor Tomblin to stick his veto you know where.

The Administration and Board of West Liberty University, a school located in what is probably one of the most gun-rich states, had the intelligence, common sense and leadership to decide that guns and education simply don’t mix.  College-age students often drink, they sometimes get depressed, and most of all, they sometimes do silly and impulsive things.

Go Hilltoppers! When it comes to a gun-free campus, let’s hope your message spreads.

 

Don’t Ask Me How, But The Great Trump-NRA Love Affair Seems To Have Cooled.

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Now that Donald Street Thug Trump figures he can’t win anyway because the whole system is ‘rigged,’ it didn’t take him very long to start throwing the people under the bus who got him there in the first place.  And I am referring to the rather interesting state of affairs that appears to be developing between the Trump campaign (if you can call it a campaign) and the NRA, in which it’s beginning to look like the hail-fellow-well-met tone of the initial connection is being replaced with a vague sense of discomfort on both sides.

trump2           For starters, take a look at the NRA-ILA website and scroll through the videos that start right up when you go to the home page.  Last week the montage included, indeed was kicked off with a video and picture of Street Thug himself, now Trump no longer appears.  And while you can still view the 30-second campaign plug by Mark Geist about Benghazi, you really can’t tell whether the NRA has endorsed a Presidential candidate at all.

Trump made a big deal out of the fact that he received the NRA endorsement back in April at the national confab, in previous campaigns the NRA usually waited until the last several weeks before the actual election to endorse the candidate whom everybody knew they were going to endorse anyway.  But let’s remember that it was Trump’s shout-out about his support of CCW after the mass shooting in Paris which forced all the other Republican Presidential wannabes to line up and fervently bless the 2nd Amendment as well.

But then the love affair started to cool down because Trump as usual couldn’t keep his mouth shut and declared himself in favor of prohibiting people on the ‘no-fly’ list from getting their hands on guns while the NRA was, as usual, hewing to its standard line that the government couldn’t deny anyone gun access without due process, which in case you didn’t know what ‘due process’ means to the NRA it basically means no process at all.  Then there was supposed to be a kiss-and-let’s-make-up meeting to straighten things out which never took place and finally the whole thing was forgotten because no doubt Trump stuck his foot in his mouth off about something else.

You can put that whole episode down to just a misunderstanding except that right around the same time an incident occurred that changed the whole tone of the Trump-NRA love affair because in response to Trump’s statement after massacre at the Pulse that things would have ‘turned out different’ if patrons inside the club had been armed, the NRA sent its chief political honcho, Chris Cox, onto to ABC-Television to say that the NRA would never support carrying guns into nightclubs and that such an idea ‘defied common sense.’ Woops! The guy the NRA endorsed for President didn’t possess common sense?

But things got even better this past week when the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising letter that was received by gun owners in which they were asked to rate the importance of different items which together comprise the ‘Trump Agenda’ or what he will do after he takes office on January 20, 2017.  And while the agenda contains the usual bromides like tax reform, fighting Islamic terrorism and negotiating better trade deals, protecting the 2nd Amendment is completely missing from the list.

Of course the argument can always be made that the Trump mob doesn’t need to be reminded about their guy’s fervent love of gun ‘rights’ because, after all, look who’s running for the Dems.  But I have watched numerous Trump rallies on YouTube and today I saw yesterday’s rally in Columbus, Ohio at which Street Thug spoke for an hour and didn’t mention the 2nd Amendment even once.  So the bloom is off the rose and it will be interesting to see if the two sides can recapture the passion that emerged when they first began their affair.  On the other hand, the NRA would hardly be the first Trump supporter to jump ship.

A New Gun Survey Has Some Good News And Some Not So Good News Too.

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My job, as I see it, is to deliver the news about guns to the Gun Violence Prevention community.  I’d be happy to deliver the news to Gun-mob Nation as well, but they don’t seem very interested in what I have to say. Or I should say that if Gun-mob Nation is interested, it’s just to tell me that whatever I have to say isn’t what they want to hear. But occasionally I also have to tell my GVP friends some news that they would rather not hear.  But that’s my job.

18d107c334bf4dfdb66f20012db87ef4            And one bit of gun news that might not set well with people who are trying to figure out what to do about this curse called gun violence (and it is a curse) is contained in an AP poll that was published this past week. The poll was conducted by GfK, and what I like about this outfit is they not only announce the results of their polls, they also give you the detailed responses on which the poll results are based. Well, you know what they say – the Devil is in the details, and this poll contains some devilish little details that most of the stories about the poll overlooked.

And the reason these details were overlooked was because the big headline about this survey of 1,000+ Americans was that a strong majority said they were in favor of stronger gun-control laws.  In fact, nearly two-thirds said that gun laws should be made stricter, with only 11% saying that the laws should be loosened, and about one-quarter saying that the laws should be left as they are.

When you drill down to the specifics, the poll continues to register solid majorities in favor of tightening current laws: 73% ware in favor of universal background checks, 53% agree that high-capacity magazines should be banned, 57% say that AR rifles should also be banned and 65% favor criminal penalties for adults who violate Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws.

Obviously the poll results are skewed in the usual way; i.e., Democrats are stronger when it came to stricter laws, Republicans less so.  Women are less pro-gun than men; urbanites and suburbanites favor more controls, rural folks want less.  Not only have these profiles been consistent among all polls that survey gun attitudes, but this poll validated other studies insofar as gun ownership continues to remain at about one-third.  The NRA can talk all it wants about how declining gun ownership is a ‘myth,’ but I’ll give the Fairfax gang credit for being steadfastly consistent in their refusal to face the facts.

As I said earlier, however, this poll also contains some facts that the GVP community  needs to face. By a narrow margin (53 – 44) respondents to this poll favored a national concealed-carry law which would allow armed citizens to move from one state to another with the same reciprocal legal status which now exists for the license that every state issues to drive a car.  But at least all fifty states require a road test before you can drive. How many states impose a real competency test as part of the CCW process? None. Not one.

More worrisome is the response to Question 11: “Do you think that owning a gun does more to protect a person from being a victim of a crime or more to put their safety at risk?”  By a margin of 2 to 1, respondents said that owning a gun would protect them from crime.  Which means that even many non-gun owners believe Gun-mob Nation’s biggest lie, namely, that a gun is more of a benefit than a risk.

I would strongly urge my GVP friends to consider the implications of this last response. Because if nothing else, as long as a majority of Americans believe that a gun is a legitimate way to respond to crime, then Gun-mob Nation will find it much less difficult to prevent any change in gun laws. Which is exactly their plan.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Training To Carry A Gun. No Stinkin’ Brains, Either.

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This week the ‘show me’ state, a.k.a. Missouri, found itself embroiled in a major debate over gun violence because a bill known as SB 656 was sitting on Governor Jay Nixon’s desk awaiting his signature.  What the bill got was a veto, and while this immediately provoked calls for an attempted override, right now thanks to the Moms Missouri chapter, efforts by Gun-nut Nation to introduce ‘Constitutional carry’ into Missouri may be dead.

moms           Not that the NRA won’t try to explain Governor Nixon’s behavior as just another example of how out-of-state money (read: Bloomberg) surged into Missouri to help defeat what otherwise would have been a sensible effort to give the state’s citizens a little help in defending themselves against terrorism and crime. In fact, the NRA immediately issued a statement after Nixon’s veto, stating that “if events in Orlando and San Bernardino have taught us anything it’s that the need for self-protection can occur anywhere at any time.”

But the Governor’s refusal to sign the bill had nothing to do with making a pro or con judgement about the right to self-defense.  The real issue in this instance had to do with whether or not people who want to go around armed can prove that they possess even the slightest ability to defend themselves or others with a gun.

There’s a Youtube character named Yankee Marshal who shoots his mouth off about various gun issues and he’s an entertaining sort of fellow if you like to be entertained on a third or fourth-grade level, and he’s put out a video in which he claims that training to use a gun is a waste of time: “I think that most people with common sense and average intelligence can figure out how to safely operate a firearm.”  And he then goes on to say that if you want to carry a gun, you should also be able to exercise that ‘right’ without getting any training at all.

Which brings us back to the 2008 Heller decision that defined the 2nd Amendment – clearly and explicitly – as a Constitutional ‘right’ to keep a loaded handgun in the home for personal defense.  Not in the street, not in a holster or fanny pak as you walk around – in the privacy of your home. And what Heller unleashed was a torrent of nonsense from Gun-nut Nation, Yankee Marshal to Donald Trump, that everyone also has the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun.

Now the good news is that the judiciary hasn’t seen it that way.  We have the Peruta decision in California which upheld the ‘right’ not of the gun owner but of the county government to decide whether or not someone who owned a gun could also carry it outside his home. And back in 2014 the Supreme Court with Antonin Scalia alive and still well refused to review a New Jersey decision which basically said the same thing.

But those decisions haven’t stopped a growing movement known as ‘Constitutional carry’ which basically says that anyone who is qualified to own a gun is, ipso facto, entitled to carry it around not just within their home, but any place they damn well please.  There are now 10 states that do not require any special licensing to carry a gun outside the home, and Missouri would have been the 11th had Jay Nixon not shown some common sense and political backbone by vetoing the bill.

I would love to see whether idiots like Yankee Marshal or Donald Trump, for that matter, could actually pull a gun out of their pants and hit the broad side of a barn. The Police Foundation estimates that half the active law enforcement officers can’t do it, but why should we impose gun training requirements on civilians that we don’t even require for cops?

OK Moms.  You know what you have to do. Won a big one in Missouri but make sure it sticks.

 

Trump May Think That Liberty University Is No Longer A Gun-Free Zone, But He’s Wrong.

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Because repetition is the key to good teaching, I’ll say it again.  Donald Trump represents the single, biggest and most menacing threat to GVP since there was a GVP.  And if you don’t believe me (which of course you do), take a look at the current newsstand issue of Time Magazine, which contains an article about how Trump is making inroads into the Evangelical community, using as his point-man, Jerry Falwell, Jr.  And the article states that after Falwell declared that Liberty University students could carry guns on campus, he received a personal phone call from Trump who congratulated him on the new policy and told him not to “apologize” for it to anyone.

trump2            Now in fact the Liberty University policy is not quite as broad as the campus-crazy crazies would like.  It ‘amends’ the long-standing prohibition against guns on the LU campus, and replaces it with a new policy which vests responsibility for deciding whether students over the age of 21 can bring a gun onto campus with the University police.  The operative phrase from the new policy is: “members of the University community that are over 21 with concealed weapons permits can seek permission from LUPD to carry concealed weapons ON CAMPUS and store them in their locked vehicles.”

Oops!  This is exactly what the CCW movement is against. It’s a “may issue” policy, which means that the cops determine who carries and who does not.  And it goes further because the policy expressly forbids students from carrying or storing weapons in dorms and ‘residence halls.’  So unless I don’t know how to read English, and the last time I checked I believe I do know how to read English, the report from NBC News and other media which stated that Liberty University students could bring guns into their dorms is simply not true.  And if you want to double-check what I just said, you can download the LU gun policy here and pay particular attention to Section 3D.

Why?  Because even a student who holds a valid CCW license is prohibited from bringing a gun into a dormitory and there are no exceptions to this rule. And note one other issue about the LU guns-on-campus policy: it applies only to individuals who possess a CCW issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and no exceptions here either, including that phony state-reciprocity nonsense that scam websites all over the country advertise as being the next best thing to a national, CCW law.  The University doesn’t break down its on-campus enrollment on a state-by-state basis, but it does claim that its residential population represents all 50 states as well as 85 countries worldwide. Which means that under the ‘revised’ guns-on-campus policy, none of these students can bring a gun onto campus at all.

There’s one aspect of the policy that deserves mention.  Here’s the University’s official response to the following question:  What Should I Do If I Notice Someone Carrying a Weapon? “You are encouraged to call the University Police, give a description of the individual, and location. You may remain anonymous. A police officer will be dispatched to locate and contact the person to confirm that they are lawfully carrying the weapon.”  In other words, anyone who brings a gun onto the LU campus could, at any time, be challenged by the University police. Let me break it to you gently folks, this is hardly what the campus-carry gang has in mind.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the Liberty University policy on campus guns is either enlightened or benign.  What I am saying is that we have someone running for President who is trying to gain an electoral advantage by taking the most extreme positions on guns that have ever been injected into a national election and, in the process, trying to make people believe that concealed-carry of guns is a new normal that needs to be invoked at every turn.

And that’s why Trump is the biggest menace to GVP of all time.

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