Why Do Republicans Love Guns?


              You would think that in the aftermath of the recent horrific, mass shootings, which even have occurred in Southern states, that at least a few members of the GOP House caucus would find some way to join with the other side and come up with some kind of mild measure to cut back on the violence caused by guns.

              Maybe those stalwart defenders of the 2nd Amendment aren’t quite ready to abandon one of their most cherished beliefs, so we shouldn’t expect them to jump onto the assault rifle ban bandwagon quite yet. But isn’t there some other, less dramatic way that the GOP can figure out to demonstrate some degree of worry for the seemingly endless shootings that are taking place?

              According to Gallup, more than 60% of American adults are dissatisfied with the gun-control laws we now have on the books and would like to see gun regulations increased. And while 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are satisfied with current gun laws, this number is a drop from the 69% who were satisfied two years ago.

              Think the gun-control issue won’t be an electoral concern in 2024? Think again. I get weekly emails and snail mails from the NRA and the gun-control groups like Brady and Giffords, and next year’s election is mentioned almost every time.

              Even after the killing of three adults and three children at a Christian school in Nashville, the House GOP Majority Leader, Steve Scalise, refused to talk about any kind of gun -control legislation in positive terms. Meanwhile, back in 2017, Scalise took a bullet in his rear end during a practice session of the GOP House baseball team.

              How can we explain or even just understand the complete and total refusal of the GOP House caucus to acknowledge the unending spate of gun violence which, if you recall, was blamed on the life stressors caused by Covid-19 in 2020-2021, but the Pandemic has now receded while gun violence seems to be getting worse all the time? The truth is that we can’t explain it, but given the fact that the ten states with the highest current rates of gun violence all send a majority of House members to the GOP side of the aisle, there would be at least a slight murmur about this issue from the red team.

              To the contrary, the GOP’s reaction to gun violence has been to introduce a bill in the House – H.R. 1095 – which would make “an AR–15 style rifle chambered in a .223 Remington round or a 5.56x45mm NATO round to be the National Gun of the United States.” I’m quoting from the text of the bill.

              So far, this bizarre piece of legislation only has five sponsors, including (of course) Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and George Santos. Can you imagine something this crazy as representing the response to shootings in Uvalde, Nashville, and a few other supermarkets and public sites?

              But before you take what I have written so far and consign the GOP to the nuthatch of history, let’s not forget that the primary reason that someone sits in a Congressional House seat is because he or she wants to get elected again. And to keep a seat in a legislative body where everyone has to face the voters every two years, you better make sure that what you say and what you think is what those voters want to hear.

              The Rand Corp. recently published research which breaks down household gun ownership on a state-by-state basis, and I happen to think that this particular study (as opposed to many others) is pretty good. Rand estimates that 32.4% of American households contain at least one gun. But of the 25 states which gave Trump a plurality in 2020, you would find a gun in more than half the households in 14 of those states. Only 2 states which gave Joe a plurality, contained gun-owning households above 50%, and they were Oregon -.508% and Vermont – .505% respectively.

              Let’s not forget that what matters in Congress is which party has the majority and this number increasingly reflects the outcome of elections in just a few states for the Senate and just a few CDs for the House.

              In that respect, no matter how devastating gun violence may prove to be, it may be an issue which the GOP has no choice but to ignore.

The Democrats Need The Electoral College.

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Gassaway, WV

              It took 7 weeks from the day that Joe and Kammie were inaugurated, but I think it’s safe to say that as of this past Friday, we have seen the last of Donnie Trump. For all the talk about how he’s going to run again in 2024, and how he’s going to campaign for certain favored candidates in 2022, and how the MAGA movement is growing every day, the truth is that all he’s managed to do is give the Democrats not only the Oval Office and both houses of Congress but helped move the GOP into a permanent minority state.

              Well, maybe not permanent as in forever, but permanent for a bunch of national elections down the road.

              Why do I say that? Because of his remarkably stupid decision to refer to the Covid-19 virus as the ‘Chinese flu,’ and an even more dumb decision by some elements in the GOP to continue singing Trumpie’s tune.

              Mister Orange Head began talking about the ‘Chinese flu’ because every time he talked about anything, he tended to express it in racist terms. He was in many respects, the single, most racist public figure in any Western society over the last 76 years. Count back 76 years from 2021 and you’ll know the last politician to voice an even greater degree of racism than Donnie Trump.

              The racist messaging represented by the ‘Chinese flu’ has come full circle with a significant increase in hate attacks against Asian-Americans during the Pandemic year. And to the extent that the GOP has now decided to go after Joe for his alleged failure to clean up the Southern border mess, the racism of Trump’s immigration messaging lives on as well.

              Good. Let the GOP continue to promote itself as the ‘White’ party. Indeed, we need to encourage them to do and say everything they can to maintain the MAGA notion that the White race should continue to make the rules.

              And by the way, at the same time that we should try to keep the GOP obsessed with its whiteness concerns, we should also drop any discussion about getting rid of the Electoral College if we are seriously committed (as I am) to keeping the Republican Party in 2nd place.

              Why do I say that? Here’s why.

              According to demographic estimates from the Pew Organization, the RAND Corporation, and the Center for American Progress, among others, there are eleven states which will contain a majority or a near-majority of non-White residents within the next four to six years. Together, those eleven states, which include such biggies as California, Texas, Florida, and New York, count 217 electoral votes.

              Of those eleven states, eight of them voted blue last year, two others – Texas and Florida – could easily flip the next time around. If the Democrats can’t pick up another 53 electoral votes from the other 18 states that went blue in 2020, the DNC might just as well fold up its tent and quit.

              Want to live in a state surrounded only by White neighbors for the rest of your life?  Go live in Montana or West Virginia, okay?  Have you ever lived in West Virginia? Have you ever even driven through West Virginia?

Next time you drive through West Virginia on Interstate 79, stop off in the town of Gassaway.  According to the 2010 census, Gassaway is 98.6% White. The only jobs in Gassaway are at a nearby county hospital which pays minimum wage to change sheets and empty bedpans. You can get a job there any time you want.

The picture above is Gassaway’s main street. Think about how much you’ll enjoy walking down that street on a Saturday night and lining up for a table at one of the town’s gourmet eating spots. Or maybe you can browse around in one of the local clothing boutiques.

I really want the GOP to continue promoting the Trumpian brand of politics because this will insure that they will always control the election outcomes in towns like Gassaway, WV. Except maybe even in Gassaway there will come a time when ethnic and non-White residents will begin to appear.

I’ll take Gassaway over the Guatemalan city of Villa Nueva and its 50% poverty rate any time.

Are Republicans That Dumb?


              Back in the 1950’s, when I was a kid, Republicans were Protestants, Democrats were Catholics and Jews. Republicans were also from England and they were White, Democrats were ‘ethnics’ or they were Black.  I don’t remember any Hispanics and the only Chinese was the family that owned the laundry or the little take-out that we referred to as ‘the Chinks.’

              Friday night was pizza night because you could order a big, family-size pie which didn’t have any meat. And if you lived in any New York City neighborhood outside of Manhattan, which is where all the Protestants lived, you didn’t eat meat on Friday whether you were Catholic or not.

              Obviously, the world has changed. Jews can now get executive positions in finance, banking and insurance, Italian Americans aren’t assumed to be members of the Mafia, we even have elected another Catholic as President of the United States, and we are well on our way (hope, hope) to electing a woman as President who will not only be a woman but will also be a woman of color as well!

              But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, or at least it seems to be no different today than it was when I was a kid. And what hasn’t changed is that, generally speaking, Republicans also tend to be dumb. How else do you explain the fact that after leading the single worst, most corrupt and ineffective political administration of all time for the last four years, that Donald Trump in 2020 still received more than 74 million votes?

              I’m not saying that everyone who voted for Trump has an IQ located somewhere on the left side of the bell curve. Exceptions can always be found for every rule. But a recent poll on whether people will get themselves vaccinated against Covid-19 needs to be taken seriously in terms of what it says about the relative intelligence of the Left versus the Right.

              Back in December, when vaccines first started rolling out, a national poll found that Republicans were four times more likely than Democrats to resist getting the vaccine, The poll found that vaccine resistance was 26% among GOP voters versus only 6% among Democrats who responded to the poll.

              Now we’re in March and enough people have gotten vaccinated for us to have a pretty good idea about whether the vaccinations are dangerous health-wise or not. Has vaccine resistance among Republicans gone down? No. In fact, it’s gone up.  A recent poll found that 44% of individuals who claimed to be GOP voters are saying they will ‘never’ get the shots.

              Recently we have seen a spate of articles in the right-wing press which claim that red states like West Virginia and South Dakota, are outpacing blue states like New York and California in terms of the rate in which the state’s residents are getting immunized against Covid-19. The per-100K vaccination rates in West Virginia and South Dakota are 13%, in New York and California, the rates are 9%.

              How many people have been vaccinated in West Virginia and South Dakota? Try 550,000, give, or take a few. How many vaccinations have been delivered in New York and California? Try 11 million, okay?  Want to compare how much work is involved getting the populations of states like West Virginia and South Dakota vaccinated as opposed to doing a comprehensive vaccination rollout in New York or the Golden State?

              There are now 18 states which have yet to administer at least one vaccine dose to 18% of the residents in that state. Of those states, 16 were carried by Trump both in 2020 and 2016.  To quote Al Franken back in 2000, these are truly the ‘dumb states.’

              If the dumb states receive enough vaccines to give everyone a dose, they’ll have plenty of medicine left over when the vaccination lines disappear. How can anyone actually believe that vaccines don’t work? Something tells me that none of those dopes who stormed the Capitol on January 6th are going to get their Covid-19 shots.

What Are You Doing on September 25th?


Even if you have something else to do, you might think of coming to DC next week to participate in a national demonstration aimed at getting Congress to pass some rather obvious laws that will reduce gun violence. The laws are such draconian measures as expanding background checks, banning assault rifles, you know, all those terrible infringements on our beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Except the only ‘right’ protected by the 2nd Amendment in its current (2008) iteration is to keep a handgun in your home.

That being said, I guarantee you that in the morning’s Judiciary Committee hearing on banning assault rifles, virtually every member of the NRA – oops! – I mean the GOP, will make an impassioned plea to forestall any and all attempts to regulate anything having to do with guns. And what they will all say, because they’ve all said it so many times that they know the script by heart, is that they simply cannot allow a bunch liberal, do-goods from around the country to pressure them into backing down from their sacred duty to protect Constitutional guarantees.

And these do-gooders, incidentally, will represent various organizations from all over the place, and they will get together on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building at 1 P.M. This is hardly the first time that folks have come together in DC to ask Congress to do something, anything about gun violence and it won’t be the last. The simple fact is that most GOP politicians still feel they can respond to gun violence by voicing their thoughts and prayers whenever a particularly nasty shooting takes place. As my grandfather used to say, they’re basically a bunch of “dem fools.”

Incidentally, one of the largest contingents is coming to DC from the Windy City led by Father Pfleger and his Saint Sabina group. The buses they are renting for this trip don’t come cheap, and if you want to help them out you can make a donation right here. You know the old line: Money Talks, Bulls**t Walks.” We’ll hear enough bulls**t from the minority members of the House Judiciary Committee next week, okay?

Let’s get it on, folks. Let’s keep Congress on their toes. Let’s show up in DC next week and get this thing done!

Sorry Gun-Nut Nation But Gun Buybacks Do Work.


To celebrate the fact that Donald Trump has moved from being the presumptive GOP nominee to the actual (how in God’s name did that happen?) I am going to make one change in the nomenclature which I use for talking about guns. Going forward, when a pro-gun noisemaker, individual or organization, spouts a misstatement about gun violence, I am no longer going to say that they are incorrect, or wrong, or anything polite like that.  I am going to say that they are lying because the pro-gun mob has access to the same data and documentation that I read. And if someone (including me) can’t distinguish between facts and factoids, then they should keep their mouths shut.

buyback             One of the most common lies floating around Gun-nut Mob these days is the lie that gun laws won’t work because criminals don’t obey laws.  Now the truth is that there have been gun laws passed here and there which really didn’t work, or didn’t work all that well.  But that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Of course criminals don’t obey laws.  That’s what makes them criminals, duhhh?

On the other hand, there are some gun regulations which, in terms of lowering gun violence, have worked very well.  And chief among those laws, believe it or not, is the idea of gun buybacks, in particular those buybacks which took certain types of highly-lethal firearms out of private hands. The presumptive Democratic candidate, HRC, has been targeted by the Gun-nut Mob because of comments she made about the gun buyback law implemented in Australia in 1996 and 2003.  But in fact, the result of this program, according to researchers, “seems to have been incredibly successful in terms of lives saved.” It should be noted, incidentally, that the Australian buyback was directed not at all guns, but primarily at high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles, the absence of which in Australia can be directly linked to the complete disappearance of mass shootings, which have become all too commonplace in the U.S. today.

The problem with using Australia’s buyback experience as a model, however, is that it really wasn’t a typical buyback program (cash for guns) because the government first declared certain types of legally-owned guns to be illegal, and thus had to compensate owners because otherwise it would have been a case of seizing property without compensation, which is something that democratic governments simply don’t do.  But I recently came across a study that analyzed the effects of a major, countrywide buyback program in Argentina that collected more than 100,000 firearms, paid compensation for each gun and guaranteed anonymity for everyone who turned guns in.  If you want to read the study, you can download it from my website here.

What the researchers discovered was that the Argentine buyback program, which occurred in 2007 and 2008, did not really change suicide or homicide rates involving guns, but did lead to a ‘significant’ reduction in unintentional deaths.  Did criminals turn in their guns?  The researchers did not believe they did.  Did the program reduce the civilian-owned gun stock by as much as ten percent which significantly reduced gun accidents?  The positive evidence here was clear.

Which brings us back to the big, fat lie endlessly promoted by the Gun-nut Mob that criminals won’t obey laws that seek to control guns.  The lie in this case is the fact that gun buybacks have anything to do with criminals at all. They don’t.  They are simply a mechanism for getting guns out of circulation which people don’t want or don’t need.  And you know what?  It’s the guns that people don’t want and are happy to give up for some cash that end up being guns that are used carelessly, or are stolen and are then used in crimes.  Because folks who use guns responsibly and safely don’t need to give them up. But there’s nothing in a home more lethal than a gun which is just lying around.


Could Gun Control Be The Defining Campaign Issue In 2016? Don’t Bet Against It.

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I can see it now.  The tumultuous last night of the 2016 Republican Convention.  The newly-nominated Presidential candidate strides up to the podium flanked by family members and whomever is going to be the VP.  Then he bends down, can’t be seen for a second stands back up and  raises an AR over his head.

You think it can’t happen?  You think that gun control couldn’t be the defining issue of the next Presidential campaign?  I beg to differ with you and frankly, I even wish this little fantasy would come true.  Why?  Because if the election does turn on the gun issue, the folks who agree with the New York Times about banning assault rifles might just win.

heston              Before explaining, I have to mention the decision by the SCOTUS that denied certiorari to the appeal of the 7th Circuit’s decision that upheld the assault weapons ban in the town of Highland Park, Illinois.  The ban was passed after Sandy Hook, as were similar bans enacted (and upheld) in Connecticut and New York.  What was interesting about the denial of certiorari in the Highland Park case was the margin was 7 to 2; in other words, when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of assault-rifle owners, as of now the usual 5-4 conservative majority that ruled in favor of Heller in 2008 has collapsed.

Given what just happened in San Bernardino, this decision should come as no great surprise.  And luckily for all the Republican candidates, the news that the slaughter did constitute a real, ISIS-inspired terrorist attack, gave them all some way of responding without having to spend much time or verbiage on what has become the standard, red-meat rhetoric about the virtues of an armed citizenry, the dangers of gun-free zones, and all that other crap.  This time around, defending the gun industry was left to Jerry Falwell, Jr., whose father, you may recall, blamed gays and lesbians for the World Trade Center attacks.

But let’s get back to which party would be helped and which would be hurt if an assault weapons ban was the driving campaign issue in 2016.  And make no mistake about it, ISIS or no ISIS, there’s every good chance that between now and next November, at least one idiot will bring out his Bushmaster or his DPMS and try to even some real and/or imagined score. And I’ll take the short odds right now that the Republicans will make “defending the 2nd Amendment” the Number One plank in the GOP Platform next year, which means that the Democrats will have no choice but to call for some kind of ‘sensible gun control,’ which could mean a ban on black guns.

Here’s the bottom line on next year from a gun point of view.  If Hillary gives up Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota and Florida but keeps the other states that voted blue in 2012 she still wins.  Doesn’t win by much, but she wins.  With the exception of Colorado, the others are all solid, gun-rich states.  The bad news is that if she gives up those states, she has to keep states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio in the Democratic column, which are also states with lots of voters who own guns.  But ‘lots’ and 50% plus 1 is not the same thing.  And it was the Democratic turnout in large, metropolitan areas in these states in 2012 which kept them blue.  And most of those voters could care less about the 2nd Amendment or about guns.

The Democrats used to keep themselves below the radar screen on gun control as a campaign issue because the NRA took Gore to the showers in his defeat by George Bush.  But 2016 isn’t 2000, and the country may not buy one more Sandy Hook.  I don’t want any election to turn on the loss of human life, but put an AR in the wrong hands and it could work out that way, like it or not.

The GOP Response To San Bernardino: Nearer My God To Thee.

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Want to know what the pro-gun crowd thinks about gun violence?  Or I should say, what the pro-gun crowd wants everyone else to think about gun violence?  All you gotta do is wait for a mass shooting to occur, then check the Twitter accounts of the so-called GOP Presidential candidates. I say ‘so-called’ because the idea that any of this bunch has demonstrated even a sliver of leadership, never mind the slightest attention to facts, makes me wonder how we could remotely imagine one of these clowns sitting in Oval Office after January 20, 2017. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

san bernardinoI knew we were in for a know-nothing treatment of gun violence when, in putting together a game plan for 2016, the GOP decided that the 2nd Amendment would be the ‘values’ niche issue this time around. They used to have abortion and then gay marriage to gin up the base, but when Donald Trump started boasting about defending himself by carrying a gun, I knew the NRA’s wildest dream about defining the social agenda for America was finally coming true.

Then we had the shooting of two television journalists in Virginia, and while killing only 2 people is hardly worth mentioning in the same breath as dispatching ten victims in Oregon, nine in Charleston, never mind fourteen in San Bernardino, what was impressive in a bizarre way about the Virginia shooting was that the entire thing was caught on tape.  And the very next day, there was Trump telling us that the problem had nothing to do with guns, it was caused by the lack of mental hospital space which was needed to lock all the crazies away.

Once Trump defined the issue in accordance with the standard NRA lexicon that it’s not guns that kill people, etc., everyone else fell into line.  The next opportunity for the GOP pretenders came a month later in Oregon when the killing of ten faculty and students at Umpqua Community College unleashed a torrent of pro-gun commentary from the GOP Presidential field.  Once again Trump knew the nuts were “coming out of the woodwork;” Ben Carson called for better detection of “early warning signs,” and in case there was any doubt about why the shooting occurred, we had self-appointed gun fantasists like John Lott telling us that we couldn’t expect anything else to happen in a gun-free zone.

This time around, however, the Republicans might have overshot their mark. Because when Hillary spoke out about the Umpqua massacre, she made a point of tying it to enacting “sensible gun-control measures,” and promised to lead the effort after she took over the Oval office in 2017.  This was the first time that the Democrats made gun ownership a campaign issue, and it caught the GOP entirely off guard.  Let’s remember it was Hillary’s husband who decided that Democrats lost the White House in 2000 due to the power of the NRA. So I knew that, going forward, the GOP would have to come up with a revised game plan to avoid having to appear condoning gun violence while still keeping the gun-nut vote on their side.

And to the credit of their campaign PR teams, it seems to me that the Republican Presidential wannabes have indeed come up with an approach to gun violence which gets them all off the hook; namely, that gun violence is an act of God, so what can mere mortals do?  Here’s a selection of Twitter feeds from last night: Trump – “Good luck to law enforcement and God bless.” Cruz – “Our prayers are with the victims.” Bush – “Praying for the victims.” Paul – “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

Any mention of guns?  Here’s Hillary: “We must take action to stop gun violence now.”  And what Hillary knows is what the pro-gun gang and its new crop of Presidential pretenders don’t want to imagine; that maybe most Americans are sick of the shootings, sick of guns, and fed up with the NRA.