Want to Live in New York City and Own a Gun?

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              Last week it appeared likely that Congress would actually pass a new gun-control law for the first time since 1994. We’ve only had some 2.5 million Americans killed and injured by intentional shootings since the 1994 law was passed, so no big deal. But the real problem if the new law makes it to Joe’s desk is how my friends in Gun-control Nation will deal with the fact that they have been using the lack of new gun laws to raise money and now maybe the well will run dry.

              But not to worry. Thanks to an expected ruling from the Supreme Court on New York’s gun law, my friends in gun-control land will be able to make a big deal out of what is expected to be the Court’s overturning of the licensing procedure for walking around with a gun in New York which has been on the books since 1911 (the infamous Sullivan Law) and will make it more difficult for the other few, remaining states whose process for granting concealed-carry permits copies the New York law.

              As late as the mid-1970’s, there were only a handful of states which allowed residents to carry a concealed weapon, regardless of whether or not people applying for such a license could prove any kind of real need. Now we have gone to the other extreme and most states allow people to walk around with a gun as long as they can pass the background check which is required when they buy that gun.

              At present there are 25 states which have what Gun-nut Nation calls ‘Constitutional carry,’ which means that if you can legally buy a gun, you can also carry it around on your person, no questions asked. Another 18 states require some kind of concealed-carry licensing process but do not allow the cops to decide who can and cannot carry a gun. These states are referred to as ‘shall issue’ states.

              Finally, there are still seven Communist states (I happen to live in one such state) that still give police the final authority to decide whether someone can carry a concealed gun outside the home. These are known as the ‘may issue’ states, of which New York has always been the toughest state of all to convince the cops that you need to stick the ol’ shootin’ iron in your pocket when you leave your abode.

              So yesterday, the Fake News decided to inform its readers exactly what this New York law is all about, and here’s what they said in The Washington Post: “New York’s law requires a gun owner to obtain a license to carry a handgun. To get the license, they must demonstrate to local authorities a specific need for carrying the gun.”

              What the story doesn’t say is that the New York law which covers what a resident needs to do even just to buy and own a gun is almost as restrictive as the law which covers carrying the gun around town. And since I lived in New York City and went through the whole, stupid process that eventually allowed me to own a gun, here’s what the process involves.

              First, you have to go online and register an account with the NYPD.  Then you fill out an online application and upload some forms. Then you upload some more forms. These forms include a birth certificate, some kind of ID, some form which proves where you live, etc.

              You will then receive a message giving you an appointment to come down to the licensing division to be fingerprinted and to pay applicable fees. You must be ready to pay $340 for the license plus another $88.25 for the prints. You also must bring the original copies of all the forms you uploaded to the NYPD.

              Ready?  The cops have six months to decide whether to give you a license to own a gun and keep it in your apartment or home. Not to carry the gun around town. That’s a whole different procedure which is much more complicated and takes more time to complete.

              Now that you finally get your license to own a gun, you still need to apply for a permit to actually buy a gun. This involves sending in a request to the license division listing the type of gun, the caliber, and the manufacturer. After this application is approved, you are sent a purchase order which you then take to the dealer and exchange it when you buy the gun. But you’re still not done because you then have to bring the gun down to the licensing division and have it inspected by a cop to make sure it’s the gun model that was approved for your purchase order.

              Now you are finally ready to keep a gun in your residence. Great.

              Note that New York City does not require that a gun owner take any kind of test to demonstrate either proficiency with the gun or a knowledge of laws relevant to owning a gun. In other words, the NYPD couldn’t care less if you actually have any degree of ability to use a gun, as long as you have paid all the requisite fees to get a license to on a gun.

              Now if you want to explain to me how and why this process does anything to keep guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands, when I can go to a gun show in Vermont or Virginia, walk around, and ask this guy or that guy if the gun he’s carrying is for sale, then bring the gun back to New York City and either keep the gun or sell it to someone else, I’m all ears.

              And this is what Gun-control Nation believes is a law which will be overturned by the SCOTUS and make us all less safe?

Who’s Afraid of the NRA? Nobody, That’s Who.

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              So, here’s the good news about the Uvalde massacre, if there can ever be any good news about an event as dreadful as what happened almost two weeks ago at the Robb Elementary School.

              For the first time in my memory, the organizations which have been in the forefront of efforts to reduce gun violence (e.g., Everytown, Brady, etc.) can’t complain that their efforts are being frustrated because of the power and influence of the NRA. If anything, what is remarkable about the debate which has broken out over Joe Biden’s call for a new gun law is the virtual absence of the NRA.

              Recall what happened after Sandy Hook, when Wayne LaPierre went on national TV a week after the slaughter in Newtown and gave a fiery, no-holds-barred speech castigating liberals, Hollywood video producers, inept parents and 2nd-Amendment enemies as the reasons for mass shootings, and called for all schools to be immediately turned into armed camps.

              This time around, America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ released a two-paragraph statement which contained the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ bromide but then went on to thank everyone in Uvalde who tried to help out after the massacre occurred. Period. Nothing more.

              The NRA held its annual meeting in Houston, but attendance was far below the number of people who usually show up for this event, and there were probably more folks demonstrating outside the Convention Center during Trump’s speech than there were folks inside the Convention Center listening to him whining away.

              The NRA’s post-Uvalde silence has been so noticeable that GOP candidates running in this year’s election cycle have been forced to rely on advice from a variety of organizations, all of whom are saying that any talk about Uvalde is not going to work. The basic argument being made by conservative political consultants and messaging experts is to avoid talking about the 2nd Amendment or gun ‘rights’ until the media decides that gun violence is no longer a topic of interest and ramps up stories about something else.

              Which means that if Gun-control Nation wants to press for a new gun law, they won’t be able to use the NRA as their favorite stalking horse – they’ll have to fashion and promote their gun-control argument on its own terms.

              They also won’t have Donald Trump to kick around anymore, because following the primary results in Georgia, his so-called ‘victory tour’ seems to have run out of steam.

              Meanwhile, the NRA happens to be quietly celebrating two victories this week which just a few months ago seemed to be beyond their wildest dreams. During the annual meeting in Houston, Wayne LaPierre was re-elected as Executive Vice President, a move which just about everyone had been saying wouldn’t take place. But it did take place, and all those stories about Wayne-o’s million-dollar wardrobe and his over-the-top vacation jaunts have disappeared.

              More important was a decision from a New York State judge which denied an attempt by the state’s Attorney General to dissolve the NRA because the organization’s alleged financial mismanagement had not created ‘public harm.’  A lawsuit seeking relief for the siphoning of monies and what the judge referred to as the ‘greed’ of Wayne-o and others can proceed, but the group’s basic legal existence remains intact.

              Meanwhile, I continue to get my weekly email from Wayne-o reminding me to renew my Golden Eagle membership which gets me a lovely, plastic wallet card which I can show to a cop as I hand over my driver’s license because I was driving too fast. I can also buy a couple of golf shirts from the clothing catalogue which just arrived and this coming weekend I can drive 20 minutes to a gun show at Sturbridge and hang out at the NRA booth.

              Know how many public events the Brady Campaign is holding anywhere near where I live between now and Labor Day? None, as in a big, fat zero.

              I have been a member of the NRA for 66 years. It’s very simple. I like guns. I am also a registered Democrat and if the Democrats and their allies in Gun-control Nation manage somehow to pass a new gun-control law, I’ll still vote the blue team every single time.

              On the other hand, I’d also like to see the gun-control argument being made on its own terms simply because I’m against violence in any and all its forms. Aren’t you?

We Need Guns to Protect Ourselves from Evil People.


Inside and outside NRA show.

Figures it would finally happen after a mass shooting in Texas. By that I mean a debate about gun control which focuses not on control, but on guns.

But before I get to that issue, I’ll take a second and give you a link to the single most bizarre public performance of all time by any President of the United States. Here is how Donald Trump ended his NRA speech after reading off the names of the victims killed at Uvalde. Watch this.

Now back to guns.

You see, in this country we go about protecting ourselves from gun violence by trying to control the behavior of people who, left to their own devices, will walk into a public space with a military weapon and see how many people they can kill with the twenty, or thirty, or forty rounds of ammunition which the gun holds.

In every other country which has a system for controlling guns, you simply can’t buy a gun which lets you walk into a public space and begin blasting away. Live in Canada and want to own an AR-15 with a thirty-round mag? Move to the United States. And Canada has a much more permissive attitude towards gun ownership than say England, or France, or Japan.

We actually began controlling guns with a 1934 law which differentiated between guns that civilians could own versus guns that were too dangerous to be just sitting around in pawn shops and hardware stores waiting to be bought and taken home. But the only guns which this law identified as too dangerous for instant sale were machine guns, the full-auto thingies that Al Capone used to wipe out another Chicago mob.

And this has remained the only way we have ever defined the risk and danger posed by how guns are designed, which is whether they can deliver 600 bullets a minute or less. And if it’s less, if someone can walk into a classroom and kill 20 kids in a minute or so, as long as the shooter has to pull the trigger for every shot, the gun is no more dangerous than a b-b gun.

Want to know why we have all these mass shootings and other advanced countries don’t? Because we are the only country which lets people buy, own and walk around with guns that were designed primarily for the military, in other words, guns whose sole purpose is to be used by soldiers to kill other soldiers.

But hold on, you say. The guns used by the Army fire the way that the guns used by the Capone gang in Chicago were used — they are machine guns, they are full-auto guns.

That’s not true. That’s not true at all, and anyone who tries to promote that nonsense either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or doesn’t know anything about guns (a not unusual combination, by the way.)

The battle rifle that our troopers carry into the field can be set to fire either in semi-auto mode or in a three-shot burst. So, if the trooper decides that he wants to shoot one round every time he pulls the trigger, is he going into battle with a sporting gun? Yea, right.

It figures, by the way, that the speech Trump gave at Houston yesterday, where there were more people outside protesting than inside listening, was written for him by someone who went back and dusted off Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense, which starts off with a brief comment on how there are lots of ‘evil’ people out there and you always need to be ready if one of them comes at you.

The only problem with this endless attempt to sell guns by making them out to be a better way to protect yourself than running away is that it’s pretty hard to convince people that the little kids who were killed at the elementary school in Uvalde were ‘evil people.’ Even a devoted fan of false arguments like Donald Trump can’t pull that one off.

But of course, there’s always the time-worn argument about guns which was trotted out the other day by Ted Cruz, which is that for all the grief and suffering caused by gun violence, we simply can’t compromise on our beloved Constitutional principles, in this case the 2nd-Amendment guarantee of gun ‘rights.’

Maybe you don’t own a gun, but you still support the Constitution, right?

Wrong motherf*cker, wrong.

The 2nd Amendment isn’t a ‘right.’ It’s an amendment. And we define every word in the Constitution by passing laws, as in what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong.’ And walking into an elementary school where you then spend an hour in target practice because the local cops and the state police didn’t know what to do isn’t ‘right.’ It’s goddamn wrong. Period. End of that one, okay?

The NRA loves to refer to itself as America’s ‘first civil rights organization.’ Know when the first civil rights law was passed? In 1866, two years after we passed the 13th Amendment which took 4.5 pieces of chattel property and turned them into human beings. So, we had to figure out what this now meant for all these new people, which is what the 13th Amendment did.

Guess what? There’s no reason why we can’t pass a law that will define whether certain types of guns are too dangerous to be bought and sold. Want to give me a definition of ‘dangerous’ which is more exact than how a kid used an assault rifle made by Daniel Defense to kill 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School?

What has kept Gun-nut Nation going in political terms has been one, simple fact, which is that most gun crimes are committed by people who can’t legally own guns, whereas most of the people who do own guns legally happen to live in the South, particularly in Texas. So as long as you can build a nice, electoral foundation by appealing to ‘law-abiding gun owners,’ you’ll keep the gun-control wolf away from the front door.

Which is why I began this column by saying that a mass shooting in Texas is what Gun-control Nation needs to finally get the gun ‘rights’ monkey off their backs.

Here’s a new website which sums it all up: www.bantheseguns.org.



Do We Really Care About Gun Violence?


              I have been involved, in the gun business, one way or another, since 1964.  Luckily, I didn’t usually depend on it for a living because if you want to make a million dollars in the gun business, you usually have to start with two million. But there’s nothing about the business I don’t know.

              I have published fifteen books on guns and I’m writing another book right now. I self-publish my books because nobody’s really interested in gun books anyway and I need another IRS-990 like I need a hole in my head.

              I have also published more than 1,800 blogs on this website, have been profiled in The New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine and blah, blah, blah, and blah. Big deal.

              In other words, I know a little bit about guns and because of what I know, I try to write and publish correctives to the mistakes made by advocates on both sides of the gun debate.

              The debate breaks down to an argument about the social utility of guns. One side, the gun-owning side, insists that guns protect us from crime and threats to our personal security, so having access to a lethal consumer product is a good thing. The other side says that most guns are used to kill and injure either the gun owner or someone else and access to such lethal consumer products, on balance, is not a good thing.

              The gun argument waxes and wanes but is usually driven by mass shooting events. The first event was when Charles Whitman killed 16 people from the tower at UT in 1966, which carried over to the passage of the gun-control law in 1968. The second was the Columbine massacre in 1999, which made Clinton try to push more regulations down the throats of gun makers, an effort which failed. The last, which was also the worst, was Sandy Hook in 2012, which also failed to produce any federal legislative response at all. The Sandy Hook event did, however, result in a lawsuit by a brilliant, young lawyer named Josh Koskoff, which found the gun maker liable for injuries caused by his gun.

              I’m neither surprised nor shocked by the reaction of Gun-nut Nation to these events.  After all, the job of organizations like the NRA and the NSSF is to sell guns. And if you think there’s a single gun owner who doesn’t know that his gun represents a risk, then you have never talked to a gun owner, okay?

              Which is why the pro-gun folks aren’t concerned about gun violence because they know what can happen if a gun gets into the wrong hands. And why should they be blamed for the behavior of people who shouldn’t be allowed to get their hands on guns? There’s no gun violence problem in this country according to the NRA. There’s a problem because nobody wats to enforce all those gun laws already on the books.

              As for my friends in Gun-control Nation, they finally got what they have been dreaming to get for the last twenty-five years, namely a resumption of gun research funded by the CDC. And the head of the CDC has even stated for the record that gun violence is a public health ‘threat,’ which is why the CDC and NIH recently awarded $25 million to folks who will now try to figure out how to reduce violence caused by the use of guns.

              One of the CDC grants will pay for an ER doctor who claims to be a ‘4-H certified gun trainer,’ whatever that means, to go around and talk about gun safety to kids who bring their little 22-caliber rifles to 4-H club shooting ranges. Now how these discussions will help this researcher and his friends develop a way to explain to teen-age dropouts walking around inner-city neighborhoods with Glocks in their pockets is beyond me.

              But not to worry. We’ll find this out in 2024 when the grant recipients publish an article in some ‘evidence-based’ academic journal, making sure to thank the CDC for funding their research. And that will be the end of that.

              Want to reduce gun violence in the neighborhoods where it occurs? Here’s three very simple thing that can be done today:

  1. Hold a gun buyback not once a year, or never, but every month. The point of a buyback is not how many guns are turned in. The point is to circulate the narrative about gun violence again, and again, and again.
  2. Put up signage in high-violence neighborhoods which declare the area to be a ‘gun-free’ zone. Put a large sign in red letters on every corner. Don’t we put up a sign when we want motorists to slow down?
  3. Go to a PTA meeting and demand that the kids attend a monthly program which tells them to stay away from guns. Guns start showing up in middle schools and by the time you get to high school, it’s too late because the kids who will later commit gun violence have all dropped out.                                                                                                                                                                

There is not one, single community in the United States which is impacted by gun violence that has ever implemented even one of these strategies, never mind all three. And I didn’t need the CDC to award me one, single dollar to figure it out.

The fact that efforts like these aren’t happening anywhere tells me that nobody on our side really gives one rat’s damn about gun violence. And I don’t expect the other side to ever be concerned about gun violence at all.

Do We Need Any More Stinkin’ Gun Laws?


              Every time the Democrats have a majority in both chambers on Capitol Hill and a Democrat sitting in the Oval Office, my friends in Gun-control Nation ramp up the call for more gun laws. Know what happens?  They get squat.

              The last federal gun law was passed in 1993, which was the Brady law, and required an instant background check for any over-the-counter transfer of a gun.

              Know how many victims of gun-violence events there were in the five years leading up to Brady?  Try 172,856 homicides, suicides and people shot by cops.

              Know how many victims of gun-violence events there were in the five years leading up to and including 2020?  Try 338,606 homicides, suicides and people shot by cops.

              Wow!  The Brady law made a big difference, right? Yea, right. 

The per-100,000 homicide rate before Brady was 13.48, now it’s 20.41. That’s only an increase of 50 percent. No big deal, right? No big deal at all.

              What the hell are we talking about here? A ban on ‘ghost’ guns? When I was a kid, we called them ‘zip’ guns. Those guns only fired a 22-caliber round. You think a 22-caliber bullet isn’t lethal if it hits you in the head?

              I love those members of Congress like that schmuck from Arizona, Andy Biggs, who says he’s not concerned about ghost guns because he needs to ‘fight’ for the ‘rights’ of gun owners to be protected by the 2nd Amendment.

              But the truth is that the two sides in the gun debate keep saying the same, goddamn thing every time. And I’m not surprised to hear the same goddamn thing from my friends in Gun-nut Nation, because what are they supposed to say? They don’t believe that laws which regulate legal gun ownership make any real difference in terms of the number of Americans who are killed or wounded by guns.

              Know what? The gun-violence numbers I gave you above from the CDC happen to prove that schmucks like Andy Biggs may be right. There really hasn’t been a correlation either way between gun laws and gun violence, and for that matter, there doesn’t even seem to be a connection between how many guns are bought legally and how many people get shot with guns. Our friends who do gun research at UC-Davis couldn’t find any direct relationship between increases in violent crime during the Pandemic and increases in the sale of guns.

              Here’s what we do know for sure about the relationship between guns, laws, and violent crime. And we know this because it has been studied and published multiple times going back some fifty years to when it was first studied and published by Marvin Wolfgang. What he found was that the most violent and vicious criminals who committed most of their criminal behavior between 16 and 35 (afterwards they were either dead or in jail), were almost all serial delinquents by their mid-teens.

              This research was then supplemented by the research of Al Lizotte, who found that the men who committed crimes with guns first got interested in guns in their mid-teens, the same years which they were already exhibiting serious and sustained delinquent behavior.  

              In other words, we suffer from gun violence not because we don’t have enough gun regulations on the books, but because we lose track of the boys who begin to exhibit criminal behavior and get into guns at the same time.

              I have yet to see one, single gun-control advocacy organization show the slightest interest or even awareness of the connection between adolescence, delinquency, and guns, even though this knowledge has been out there, published and validated, for fifty years.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation face a serious choice. They can keep saying the same thing they have been saying about how we need more gun laws, whether these laws really help reduce gun violence or not. Or they can come up with a strategy which deals with the fundamental reason why someone picks up a gun, points it at someone else and pulls the trigger – on average – 275 times every day. 

Do We Think Rationally About Guns?


              Yesterday I spent a couple of minutes watching Alex Jones explain why he didn’t come out right after Sandy Hook and say what he knew to be the truth, that a horrible massacre of kids and teachers in an elementary school had taken place. Jones is being sued for defamation by some of the parents of children who died on that terrible day and he’s finally showing up to give his side of the story in that case.

              If Jones didn’t invent conspiracy theories, he should be given credit for doing it anyway. This guy can turn just about any event into a contest between good and evil, with ‘good’ being all the people who tune into his Infowars website, the ‘bad’ being liberals, one-world government people, the Deep State and now his latest target which is something he calls ‘corporate media.’

              So, the question is this: How do we explain the mass cognitive dissonance which is represented by people who believe what Alex Jones says, or for that matter still believe that Trump lost the 2020 election only because it was ‘stolen’ from him? A reporter from The Guardian cruised around at Trump’s Michigan rally last week and found that many of the rally-goers were still absolutely convinced that the election was a fraud.

              The reason I am asking this question on a blog which is all about guns, is because when it comes to guns and gun violence, many people who own guns often believe things about those guns which are simply not true.  Not only are their beliefs about guns not true, these beliefs could never be true. And yet the beliefs go on.

              Example: We should all be carrying guns because it’s the most effective way to protect ourselves from crime or threats of crime. This idea of guns being used as a self-protective device was first promoted by our friend Gary Kleck, who published a paper in 1995 which, based on a national telephone survey, argued that people who defended themselves with guns were preventing more than 2 million violent crimes every year.  

              Several years ago, Kleck reduced his estimate somewhat of the number of crimes that were stopped each year because of Americans who walked around with guns. But in 1999 our friend John Lott published a book with somewhat different numbers but in terms of using guns to prevent crimes, he basically said the same thing.

              The problem with both studies is that it is simply impossible to validate whether someone is telling you the truth in a phone interview, particularly when they are asked not to explain what they did, but why they did what they did. That’s the reason why to a certain extent we can trust telephone polls about how people are going to vote, because you can then compare the pre-election polls to the votes that come out on the election day itself.

              In 2020, even before Joe was the Democratic nominee, in virtually every Biden v. Trump matchup, Biden was ahead by 7 points. There has never been a national election in which the polls were as steady and unmoving as the polls which showed Joe up by 7 points over Trump.

              So even with the increased turnout for Trump, Joe ended up winning the whole thing by 7 points – gee – what a surprise!

              Another big problem with surveys about guns and crime is that most gun violence is committed by younger males who live in inner-city neighborhoods and don’t own legal guns. So, if you’re going to do a ‘nationally representative’ phone survey about using guns for anything having to do with crime, you’re going to be talking to a lot of people who have never and will never be involved in serious crimes.

              For that matter, claiming that the issuance of concealed-carry licenses demonstrates why people might not want to attack someone who may be armed is also not a valid analysis because the typical victim of a serious crime is an inner-city resident who won’t be given a concealed-carry license by the cops.

              The problem with my argument, however, is that I am making an assumption about people basing what they believe about guns, or crime, or anything else on rational and reasonable thoughts.

              If we have learned one thing from both Donald Trump and Alex Jones, it’s that such thoughts are often in very short supply.

Let’s Hear It for Shannon Watts and her MOMS.


              It turns out that last year and again this year will go down as two very bloody and violent years.  We don’t yet have official numbers from government sources like the FBI or the CDC, but our friends at the Gun Violence Archive estimate that gun deaths in 2020 increased by more than 25% from 2019, and the gun-death number for 2021 increased over the previous year again.

              At the same time, what I find just as interesting is that the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be all that interested or even concerned with the degree to which Americans continue to blast each other apart. While the media reports this violence from time to time, it’s not as if my daily Google word search for phrases like ‘gun violence’ and ‘guns’ contains all that many alerts.

              This past weekend, there were at least 12 people killed and wounded by gunfire in Chicago and another 10 gun victims in Atlanta.  The local media carried stories about both events but neither made even a ripple on the national news. Twenty-two people killed and wounded in two cities over the weekend? No big deal.

              There’s no question, at least in my mind, that gun violence has become much less important for the media under Joe than it was under Trump. Of course, this could change if, God forbid, some nut walked into a shopping mall or a movie theater with an AK or an AR and mowed down 30 or 40 people in one fell swoop.

              But even if such an event were to happen, I suspect it would generate headlines for a couple of days and then gun violence would quickly disappear from the front page. We often refer to gun violence as an ‘epidemic,’ but to quote our dear friend Katherine Christoffel, gun violence really has become endemic to how we think and behave.

              It wasn’t until the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook that folks concerned about gun violence began to think in organizational terms. Until then, when it came to guns, the grass roots was owned by the NRA. Then a woman who had a background in internet marketing but was at the time a stay-at-home Mom decided to put together an organizational challenge to the Fairfax boys. She put together a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense and started getting the message out.

              Shannon Watts worked tirelessly for a couple of years and what she got for her efforts was the beginnings of a national movement, some nasty and often profane messaging from the other side, and a complete emptying of her bank account.

              Then, by the grace of God, she found herself becoming an important and financially supportable object of Mike Bloomberg’s largesse, and she now runs a national organization that rivals and probably exceeds the influence of the NRA.

              Before Shannon and her gals (and some guys) came along, the NRA did a pretty good job promoting itself through various membership activities like sponsoring gun shows, holding weekend dinners and shooting events, and telling members to stand up for their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              What impresses me most of all about the MOMS organization is that if you compare what they have coming up for membership events versus what the NRA is planning over the next couple of months, guess who has more events and activities coming up? Take a look at Shannon’s Facebook page and you’ll see what I mean.

              In the pre-MOMS’ days, lots of folks would get all riled up when a bad shooting occurred, like the shootings at Aurora, Santa Isla, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook. But as horrendous as these events might be, what drives our gun violence rate to its stratospheric and endemic level are the run-of-the-mill shootings that occur in every state just about every day.

So, it’s all fine and well to call out the troops to go marching around when some bozo tries to see how many people he can kill one morning with his AR-15 or his Glock 17. But what you really need to fight back against Gun-nut Nation and their bizarrely-stupid ideas, is to get into the trenches, push every day a little bit here and there, and not worry about whether CNN gives you any time or space.

              Want to see how dumb the pro-gun gang has become?  Try this one on for size: Second Amendment Foundation (saf.org)

              Here’s what makes Shannon Watts someone I admire and trust. She understands that dealing with gun violence is ultimately a one-on-one thing. You have to take the time and the trouble to sit down and talk honestly and directly to people who own guns. You also need to do the same thing with people who write the laws covering guns.

              Know what? I’m going to send Shannon some extra bucks this month and you should send her some bucks as well. Got something better to do with your money?

Why Do Americans Keep Buying Guns?


              I bought my first gun when I was 12 years old. It was a Smith & Wesson K-frame revolver which I got at a tag sale off of Highway 441 in Florida for fifty bucks. This was in 1956 and since then I have probably bought and traded for at least another 300 guns. Right now, I own around 60 guns, maybe a few more, maybe a few less.

              I like guns. I’ve always liked guns. And if you were to ask me why I like guns, my answer would be that I just like guns. I have liked guns ever since I sat in the movie theater near my home and watched Alan Ladd outdraw Jack Palance in the movie ‘Shane.’ Sometimes as I walked to school I would even stop and pretend that I was yanking out my revolver and winning a quick-draw contest against a bad guy right then and there.

              I never actually needed any of those guns, then or now. I need a car, or I can’t get to work. I need clothes or I can’t leave my house. I need food or at some point I won’t feel very good. And I need my pills or my blood pressure and my A1C will get out of control – let’s hear it for Big Pharma!

              The point is that I really need to buy certain consumer products every day. But the category of consumer products that I require in order to lead a normal life doesn’t include guns. And I’m not at all unusual in that respect.

              The truth is that if we have 300 million or more personally-owned guns sitting in the basements, attics, garages, glove compartments and coat pockets of law-abiding American adults, not a single one of these weapons is needed for any tangible purpose at all.

              Gun-nut Nation loves to talk about how guns represent a unique American tradition – the 2nd Amendment and all that. Know what American tradition guns really represent? The American tradition and practice of consumer product marketing, which we do better than anyone else.

              Want to know what made our Industrial Revolution a real revolution? It was the fact that over the second half of the nineteenth century, we began manufacturing cheap, mass-produced consumer products that went into every American home. When was the first Sears catalog published? 1888.  When was the first advertising agency founded?  It was a company in Philadelphia named N. W. Ayer which started operating around the same time.

              And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the marketing of guns for ‘self-defense’ is an advertising strategy that’s just become commonplace over the last several decades.  The picture above is an ad for Iver Johnson handguns, a company that started operating in Fitchburg, MA in 1871. Where the factory was located in Fitchburg is now a Dairy Queen.

              I don’t know whether the gun industry was listening to consumers when they started promoting the idea of self-defense guns or whether it was the other way around. What I do know is that for all the talk about how the recent gun-buying splurge is a reaction to the insecurities engendered by the Pandemic or the fears of unrest following the mass demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd, the fact is that even though there appears to be an increase in the number of first-time gun consumers, most of the guns purchased over the last several years ended up in the hands of consumers who already owned guns.

              The NSSF says that 5 million consumers bought guns for the first time in 2020, which if this calculation is correct, means the total number of gun-owning consumers in the United States increased by roughly ten percent. Now there’s no consumer product industry that wouldn’t like to see a ten percent increase in the size of its market, but let’s not assume that every law-abiding American is rushing out to buy a first-time gun.

              Using FBI-NICS checks as the proxy for determining gun sales, the total sales volume for 2020 appears to have been 65% higher than 2019. In other words, the same consumers who like to spend their money on guns keep spending their money on guns.

              Why does a certain group of consumers keep buying the same product again and again? Since I’m one of those consumers, my reason is what I stated above – I happen to like guns.

It’s the Handguns, Stupid!


              Way back in 1968, a Presidential Commission under Milton Eisenhower (Ike’s younger brother) was put together to study the causes and prevention of violence following the large-scale riots and disturbances that broke out after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Commission published its final report on December 10, 1969, and the 337-page document included a chapter, ‘Firearms and Violence in American Life’ co-authored by our good friend Franklin Zimring, who now teaches law at Boalt Hall on the Berkeley campus.

              I have now tried to upload this report to the media file on my website four times and the upload has failed every time. But if you would like a copy of the document, just send me an email (mweisser3@outlook.com) and I’ll send it right out to you.

              The other co-author of this chapter is a very distinguished attorney, George Newton. The Commission staff also included Marvin Wolfgang, who without a doubt was the most brilliant criminologist ever to hold an academic position in the United States.

              The chapter starts off with the following statement: “The availability of guns contributes substantially to violence in American society.” The idea that more guns = more violence is an accepted cornerstone (thanks to David Hemenway) of current gun-control narrative. And the report also underscores today’s argument for stricter gun control when it notes that the proportion of guns used in violent crime tends to parallel how many guns are sold to the public at any point in time.

              The report then goes on to note that Americans are increasingly buying guns to be used for self-defense. But this finding is followed by this: “From the standpoint of the individual householder, then, the self-defense firearm appears to be a dangerous investment.” And what Zimring and Newton are referring to here is the degree to which guns are used for self-protection to a much lesser degree than they figure in injuries within the home.

              The whole notion of access to guns as a cause of fatal injuries – homicide, suicide – was the finding of two articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1992 and 1993.  These two articles not only inaugurated the attention and concern of public health research on guns and gun violence, but also were the primary reason the CDC stopped funding gun research for nearly twenty-five years.

              Zimring and Newton made the same argument about guns as risks to public health in 1969.

              Finally, in its conclusion, the report notes that “It is the ready availability of the handgun, so often a weapon of crime and so infrequently a sporting arm, which is the most serious part of the current firearms problem in this country. The time has come to bring the handgun under reasonable control.”

              Here is where the work by Zimring and Newton establishes a very clear standard for how to think about and implement effective gun control. Note, in particular, the acknowledgement that handguns are ‘infrequently’ used as ‘sporting’ arms.

              How many Americans have been victims of gun homicides since Zimring, and Newton’s chapter was published more than fifty years ago? I think that 700,000 would be a good guess. How many Americans have been seriously injured because someone took a shot at them but didn’t aim straight? Maybe 3,500,000, give or take a couple of hundred thousand more or less.

              These numbers exist because we are the only country in the entire world which pretends that handguns designed and issued to the military beginning in 1911 and continuing to the present day, are considered, legally-speaking, to be ‘sporting arms.’ Zimring and Newton figured this one out in 1969. What have all my friends in public health gun research been doing since that time?

              They have been creating, affirming, and reaffirming a patently false narrative that we would not suffer from 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun assaults every year if everyone would just lock up their guns. This is what my friends in Gun-control Nation mean when they talk about ‘responsible’ gun ownership, okay?

              The argument made by Zimring and Newton in 1969 and indisputably supported by research published in 1992 and 1993 did not qualify gun violence as being the result of unlocked guns. It is the presence of handguns designed as non-sporting weapons which, to quote the 1969 report, doesn’t cause’ gun violence but ‘facilitates’ it to a degree which otherwise would not occur.

              It’s really time for my friends in Gun-control Nation to drop their Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the issue of gun violence and start developing strategies for controlling guns which Zimring and Newton brought to our attention more than a half-century ago.

              Or to paraphrase a statement from Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign – it’s the handguns, stupid. The handguns.

Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Safe’ Gun?

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              I started writing and blogging about guns and gun violence in May 2012, when I learned that the NRA was sponsoring a law in Florida and elsewhere that would criminalize physicians for counseling patients about guns. Since I first went started this effort, I have produced somewhere around 1,800,000 words on guns and gun violence, much of my writing connected to the issue of guns, medicine, and public health.  This output includes 1,760 blogs on my website,  15 self-published books, 252 weekly columns I wrote for Huffington Post and 9 academic papers I have published on SSRN.

              I’m not listing all this output to pat myself on the back. I’m mentioning it because in all my writing about guns and gun violence, I have realized that I have ignored the most important issue of all.

              This is the issue of risk. And if you don’t understand and apply a proper definition of risk to the issue of gun violence, then you can’t understand anything about guns. Which unfortunately, appears to be the case with my friends in medicine and public health who honestly endeavor to find solutions to the problem of gun violence and yet again and again either ignore. misunderstand or mis-state guns and risk.

              How do we define risk from a medical point of view? We define medical risk as the probability of suffering harm when exposed to a specific risk factor. What is the risk factor in gun violence?  The gun. How do we know this? Because Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara found that the presence of a gun in the home created homicide and suicide risks. Is there any medical risk that is more serious than death?

              How has medicine and public health responded to the evidence that assigns a high level of medical risk to the presence of a gun? They have decided and they promote the idea that this risk can be mitigated and reduced by making the causal factor – the gun – something ‘safe.’ The gun will be made ‘safe’ because it will be used in a ‘responsible’ way, or it will be made ‘safe’ because it is locked up or locked away, or it will be made ‘safe’ by allowing people to go before a judge and take the gun away from someone who isn’t using the gun in ‘safe’ way.

              This is total and complete nonsense, and the only reason that such absurdly ridiculous strategies get any traction at all in the public domain is because my friends in medicine and public health actually believe that gun owners will take them seriously if they can just convince these gun owners that nobody wants to take away their guns. It’s what various medical and advocacy groups now refer to as ‘consensus,’ the idea being that we’ll come up with solutions to the 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur every year by incorporating life-saving strategies from ‘both sides.’

              Is there a single physician or public health specialist in the United States who would dare suggest that we should arrive at a ‘consensus’ approach to cigarettes? Should we develop a plan to reduce childhood obesity by asking some overweight kids or their overweight parents to tell us which full-calorie soft drinks they should imbibe?

              What none of these well-meaning gun-control advocates seem to understand is that the overwhelming number of fatal and non-fatal gun violence isn’t caused because gun owners not behaving properly or responsibly with their guns. Gun violence in this country is caused because we are the only country in the entire world which allows consumers to buy, own and use guns that are designed only for the purpose of ending human life.

 My Glock 17 pistol, which holds 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition, wasn’t designed by Gaston Glock to shoot a bird out of a tree.  My Colt AR-15 rifle, which allows me to get off 30 rounds of military-grade ammunition in 20 seconds or less wasn’t designed by Gene Stoner to take a pot-shot at Bambi or pop one into Smokey the Bear’s rear end.

These guns represent a level of risk that can only be reduced by restricting their ownership and use. If and when Gun-control Nation and their academic/clinical partners finally figure this out and begin promoting strategies that reflect the risk of such weapons, we might actually experience a decline in gun-violence rates.

If not, we won’t.

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