So What Do We Do With All Those People Buying Guns?

              So last night I turn on the local TV news and the show leads off with a story about the huge spike in gun sales in Massachusetts, the state where I happen to live. And this tremendous surge in gun ownership, we are told, is a result of Covid-19 and people getting worried about protecting themselves. But it’s not the virus they want to ward off with a gun; it’s all those riots and property destruction caused by the Black Lives Matter mob who are running amok in the streets of every American city and town.

              I didn’t make up that last sentence. The local TV station actually went down to Connecticut and got someone from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) who said exactly that. And after all, the NSSF is the trade group that represents the gun industry, so they must know what they’re talking about, right?

              So I took a look at the monthly data for background checks posted by the FBI and yep, year-to-year gun transfers in Massachusetts went up from 6,511 background checks in September, 2019 to 11,807 FBI-NICS checks in September of this year. Just my luck. I stopped doing retail sales in my gun shop a couple of years ago and now everyone in Massachusetts wants to own a gun. Oh well, oh well.

              Of course, there’s also been all kinds of violent demonstrations in Massachusetts since the cops stomped the shit out of George Floyd and shot a few other Black folks. So much violence has occurred, in fact, that Governor Baker has called out the National Guard. And now not only do we have the Black Lives Matter bunch marching through downtown Boston, the ISIS terrorists have also flown in.

              Actually, the only demonstration I have seen in Massachusetts this year was a small group of fat, middle-aged bikers who were standing around on a street corner in Greenfield last weekend waving their MAGA hats at passing motorists, most of whom responded with the middle finger salute, or a ‘fuck yourself’ shout, or both.

              Know what the real problem is going to be because of the purchase of all those guns? It’s not going to result in more gun violence, despite what my friends in Gun-control Nation contend. The real problem is that next year when we finally get a vaccine and the virus disappears, most of those guns purchased last month will wind up back in those gun shops because the guys who bought them will need to pay for a new set of tires for themselves or a new washing machine for ‘the wife.’

You may not know this, but the most popular first name for a woman married to a gun nut isn’t Tina, or Marge, or Melinda or Sue. It’s ‘the wife.’ That’s her real name. And I can prove this because every time some guy ever bought a gun in my gun shop, he would tell me that he had to figure out how to get it past ‘the wife’ and sneak it into the house. Because if ‘the wife’ sees that he’s bought another gun, she’s going to ask him in a not-so-pleasant voice, “Why did you just buy another friggin’ gun?”

If you think for one second that any of those guns purchased last month in Massachusetts or anywhere else for that matter will wind up anywhere except in the same drawer, or closet, or gun safe with all the other guns, think again. Yea, yea, I know how the NSSF keeps saying that 40% of all the guns recently purchased represent customers who never previously bought a gun. This is the selfsame organization which includes the sales of kayaks when it calculates how much revenue the gun industry contributes to the gross domestic product every year.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the first thing Joe will do if he’s elected President next month (hope, hope) is to defund the police, which will give me a reason to buy another gun.

Now where’d I stick the last gun I bought? Oh, right! Under the bed.

Once Again, NPR Gets It All Wrong About Guns.

              Once again, National Public Radio treats its audience to another completely stupid and wrong spiel about guns. But it’s not as if the NPR audience knows enough about guns to understand that they are being lied to or not.  After all, we know that it’s Trump and the alt-right who are the liars, but when NPR says something, it’s got to be true, right?

              I’m referring to an interview on Weekend Edition yesterday about the alleged increase in Black gun ownership over the past several months. Why this increase in Blacks owning guns? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Blacks are getting shot by cops and threatened by alt-right gun nuts all the time. Two of those armed racists even got stage-time at the RNC.

              So the segment starts off with a quick introduction of a Black political consultant named Kat Traylor who just purchased a self-defense gun. She’s perfect – a Democrat, a woman and a Black. She bought her gun because she’s worried about the growing unrest on both sides. She says it like this: “If it looks like communities of color and people that support communities of color are rising up against white supremacy, that could be a problem for us.”

              So she and her husband bought a gun and now go to the range and practice shooting their gun.  Just like the White folks do.

              For a little background, the NPR reporter tells us that the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which she describes as a ‘trade group,’ says that gun sales to Blacks have grown more than sales to any other ethnic group. How can you argue with that?

              The NSSF isn’t just some ‘trade group.’ It happens to be the gun industry’s premier PR mouthpiece, which will say anything they can say without getting into legal trouble as long as it promotes anything having to do with guns. Ever since the gun industry discovered that the same White men keep buying all the guns, they have been promoting the total PR bullshit about how women, minorities, Jews and just about every other group they can think of has been getting into guns.

              There’s only one little problem. This nonsense has absolutely no hard data behind it at all. In fact, when you go into a gun shop and fill out the form used to check your background, you must describe your age, your gender, and your race or ethnic group. But the FBI isn’t required to collect or publish this data – the only data they publish is the number and type of guns sold each month.

              So the NSSF can say anything it wants about all those new gun owners flocking into stores to buy guns. And whom does the NPR reporter rely on to validate the NSSF’s claim about how Blacks are now a new buying group getting their hands on all those guns? None other than Philip Smith, who claims to be the ‘founder’ of the National African American Gun Association, which according to him, is growing like cray with members in every state.

              Know what the NAAGA is?  It’s just another commercial website started by a self-styled internet entrepreneur who promises that at some point there will be a national network of trained, certified gun-safety instructors who are especially sensitive to the culture and outlook of Blacks. You can join for $29, which gets you a monthly newsletter and, most important, discounts at the online NAAGA shopping cart. What can you buy at the online store? The same clothing and crap you can buy at every other online store.

              In other words, this entire NPR production was based on interviews with people who have a vested interest in promoting the idea that Black Americans have become a new and vital force in Gun-nut Nation today. Did the NPR reporter make the slightest effort to validate anything that anyone said?  Why bother?

              Liberals who do ‘research’ into the highways and byways of Gun-nut Nation are like the anthropologists who went to the Amazon to study all those ‘primitive’ tribes. And the tribal members are so primitive that they know exactly how to tell the researchers (or in this case, the NPR reporter) exactly what they want to hear.

Is Panic Buying Of Guns Causing More Gun Violence?

              Last week our friend Gail Lehmann shared with us the FBI’s latest report on background checks, which showed an extraordinary bump in handgun sales during June. Generally speaking, gun sales, particularly handgun sales, tend to go South during the Summer because nobody’s worried about protecting themselves at the beach.  June handgun checks in 2019 were just shy of 500,000, slightly more than handgun checks for June, 2018.

              The handgun check number for July, on the other hand, went into the stratosphere, with 1,371,811; June 2019 handgun checks were 497,915. The big ‘winners’ on a state-by-state basis were Florida (133,285) and Texas (121,926). These two states accounted for almost 20% of all handgun checks in June and together contain 15% of the country’s population.

              There does seem to be an increase in gun violence coincident with the Covid-9 crisis. In New York City, which used to be one of the safest urban zones, shootings in 2020 are up by 46 percent in the first six months of the year, homicides have increased by 21 percent. In Chicago, June-to-June shootings have increased by 75 percent. Louisville, KY has doubled its shooting numbers from 117 non-fatal gun assaults in 2019 versus 246 this year.

              The information about spiking gun sales was contained in an email sent out by one of the gun-control websites – Guns Down America – which of course asked recipients for a donation to help reduce gun violence. Here’s what they have to say about the influx of more guns into the civilian arsenal: “Panic buying of guns has now reached record levels and it only increases the chance of death and injury.”

              The only problem with this very compelling argument is that it may or may not be true. Everyone who believes that Americans own too many guns has probably read the fundamental research on this issue, a series of articles published by David Hemenway which finds that the U.S. rate of fatal violence is much higher than what occurs ion other advanced (OECD) countries because we have so many guns lying around. We are the only country where the per-capita number of privately-owned guns is higher than the number of residents, and gun access is the fundamental difference between the level of lethal violence here as opposed to everywhere else.

              I would be willing to agree with Hemenway except for the messy little fact that most of the guns sitting in the civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I published a study on the types of guns picked up by law-enforcement agencies in over 100 separate jurisdictions, and nearly all of them were handguns, particularly the small and concealable ones. When I did a scan on the entire list of 9,000 guns using the names of the six largest manufacturers of hunting rifles and shotguns, not one showed up.

              The biggest problem we have trying to figure out gun violence is that we also have no idea how, when, or why guns that are legally purchased end up in the ‘wrong’ hands. And the bottom line is that most, if not nearly all of the people who have shot other people this year (or any other year) didn’t get to that point in their lives as decent, law-abiding folks and then one day simply explode. To the contrary, the research by Marvin Wolfgang and others clearly shows that nearly all of the people who commit violent assaults were already exhibiting violent behavior by the time they were twelve years old.

              My point is that I am not sure that an increase in gun sales necessarily leads to an increase in gun violence pari passu, particularly when the increase in violence occurs during the same months that schools are shut down. And let’s not forget that thanks to the overwhelmingly stupid non-response of the Trump Administration to the virus, school summer vacation this year started back in March.

              I’m not trying in any way to diminish concerns about the increase in gun violence or the increase in gun sales. I would just like the discussion about both issues to be rooted not in fear but in facts.

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How About Another Gun To Protect Yourself From Covid-19?

              Now that every red-blooded American has bought that extra gun that will help them to defend themselves, their families and their President from COVID-19, I’d like to use this column to talk about guns and self-defense, because as usual, whenever this argument breaks out between Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation, both sides get it more wrong than right.

              The gun nut gang talks about self-defense and gun ownership as if one automatically presumes the other.  This is basically the argument made by the NRA when they sued Andy last week for shutting down gun shops in New York State. It was also the argument made by my late friend Tony Scalia when he decided that the 2nd Amendment gave Constitutional protection to privately-owned guns because, as he said, keeping a gun in the home was a ‘traditional’ way to defend yourself from an attack. Of course he also mentioned, by the way, that the government could regulate how and when guns could be kept anywhere at all, which just happens to have been the basis upon which Andy told Gun-nut Nation to stick their beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ up their beloved rear ends.

              On the other hand, when the gun-control gang made a big hue and cry over Schmuck-o’s exemption of gun shops from the advisory issued by Homeland Security about which types of individuals and businesses needed to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also pushed an argument that happens to ignore certain salient facts. Chief among those facts is the idea that without access to guns, ammunition and shooting range facilities, not one single cop in the United States could do his or her job.

              More than half the sworn officers in the United States (the term ‘sworn officer’ means someone who has legal authority to effect an arrest) happen to work in agencies which number 50 sworn officers or less. They carry their own guns, they buy their ammunition at a local gun shop, then submit a receipt and get reimbursed. They have to show some proof that they have actually practiced, on occasion, using their gun. Unless some way could be figured out to let the cops enter Mike’s Gun Shop through the back door, closing down gun shops in many states would be tantamount to telling the cops that they can’t do their jobs.

              Of course, we can assume that Schmuck-o probably exempted the gun business from the advisory because he wanted to toady up to the NRA. Fine. So, what else is new? But I suspect there isn’t one, single member of Gun-control Nation who knows anything at all about how cops get their ammunition and their guns. That being said, either we have an informed discussion about how to exempt first-responders from social distancing rules which should apply to you and me, or we don’t.

              I also happen not to believe that the increase in gun sales has much, if anything to do with how much violence is caused by guns. Over the last three years of Schmuck-o’s first (and hopefully last) Presidential term, the gun business has been in the toilet, with annual sales dropping off more than 20 percent since the end of the Obama regime. Meanwhile over the same three years, the number of deaths attributed to guns has gone up by as much as 15 percent.  Hey!  I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. After all, more guns mean more gun violence, right?

              I’m not expecting my Gun-nut Nation friends to engage in an informed discussion about gun violence. After all, they don’t believe gun violence is a problem as long as we keep guns out of the hands of all those street thugs. But I hold my friends in Gun-control Nation to higher standards of discussion and thought.  In that respect, perhaps I’m making another assumption which has no basis in truth or fact.

              So, to quote my beloved grandfather in the midst of this plague year, “det’s det.”

Want To Protect Yourself From COVID-19? Buy A Gun.

              I knew that as soon as the media got tired of running stories about how many people were infected with COVID-19 (a.k.a, the ‘Chinese flu’) they would start telling us about all the people flocking into gun shops to stock up on ammo and guns. Here’s a headline from the South Bend Tribune: “Guns and ammunition become high-demand items in South Bend area.”

The story went on to say that there was a sign in the window of a local gun ship which said that only eight customers would be allowed into the shop at the same time.

              Now for those of you who, as a general rule, don’t frequent gun shops, the fact is that most gun shops don’t have enough floor space to accommodate more than eight customers at any one time. Gun shops aren’t Kroger Supermarkets – they are small, privately-owned affairs, often sharing the sales area with someone selling video games, plumbing supplies or other consumer junk. Many gun shops also happen to be pawn shops, where the gun inventory shares shelf space with so-called designed jewelry and beat-up guitars.

              And let’s not forget that you just can’t walk into Jerry’s Gun-o-Rama, plunk down your cash and walk off with a Glock. There’s a little something called the background check, which can also take up some time. The media has been saying that FBI-NICS checks are soaring thanks to the increased demand for guns. In fact, the background checks for handguns and long guns was 1.1 million in February; in February a year ago it was 950,000. That’s an increase for sure, but it’s not about to wipe the shelves clean. When the bell rang on Friday afternoon, Smith & Wesson stock had closed down at $7.81. The day before it opened at $8.39. 

              I’m not saying there isn’t panic buying of guns when people are scared. And by next week I can guarantee you that the gun-control group like Everytown and Brady will send me emails telling me that now, as never before, they need as much money as possible to confront this new and dire threat. After all, the more guns people buy, the more guns that end up in the ‘wrong hands.’ And the more people walking around with guns in their ‘wrong’ hands, the more people who will get shot. The argument about guns and security cuts both ways.

              Having operated a gun shop before, during and after 9-11, I know a little something about how and why people buy guns during a period of intense and widespread fear. I also know something about how and why people buy guns when things are running along in a normal way. So you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t jump on either side of the Zombie Apocalypse bandwagon right now.

              In my state, Massachusetts, February saw 8,200 FBI-NICS checks. The same month a year ago it was 6,700, an increase of 22%. Not one of the buyers last month was buying his first gun. Why? Because in order to buy or own any gun in Massachusetts, you first need to get a gun license from the cops, a process which right now takes 3 – 4 months. Which means that anyone who walked into a Massachusetts gun shop in February because they needed to protect themselves from the COVID-19 virus, held or applied for a gun license long before anyone knew anything about the COVID-19 virus at all.

              What people who don’t own guns need to understand is that gun nuts really love their guns. And given the slightest excuse for running out and plunking down $500 – $600 to add another banger to their stash, they’ll do it every time. If you think for one second that when we finally get past the current scare that many of those recently-purchased guns won’t come back to the shops where they were bought because the house needs new gutters or maybe the truck needs a new set of tires, think again.

              It may be difficult for gun owners or non-gun owners to understand what I am going to say, but the War of 1812 was the last time Americans had to defend their hearth and home from a serious threat.