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Want To End Gun Violence? There’s One Thing We Still Don’t Know.

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              So now a terrible shooting rampage in the Indianapolis FedEx facility may actually be the camel’s straw that gets one of Joe’s gun-control bills through the Senate and onto his desk. Which is all fine and well, but I hate to be a spoilsport and remind my friends in Gun-control Nation that none of those measures passed earlier this year by the House will really do very much to reduce gun violence in the United States.

              Yesterday the State Senate in Alabama passed a measure called the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act. The law makes it a crime for any gun law from the Biden Administration to be enforced anywhere in the state. This effort is nothing more than an attempt by the state GOP to buy loyalty from local voters in the wake of Orange Head’s demise. But it also is a reminder of what gun-control laws represent.

              What such laws mean to supporters of Brady, Everytown and the other gun-control groups are nothing more than ‘reasonable’ measures aimed (pardon the pun) at gun owners to behave in a ‘responsible’ way. What these laws mean to most gun owners is just another bothersome thing they have to put up with in order to play around with their guns.

              Know all those surveys which purportedly show that most gun owners support comprehensive background checks? Those surveys are nonsense because they never ask gun owners to state what they believe would be effective measures to reduce gun violence. If they did, the same ‘responsible’ gun owners who have no problem with only transferring a gun following a background check would overwhelmingly support a national, concealed-carry law as a better way to reduce gun violence and crime.

              In 1959, the Gallup Organization did a national poll which asked respondents whether they would support a ban on the ownership of handguns. Not stricter licensing, mind you, but an absolute ban. The result was that 60% claimed they would support such a ban.

              If the finding of this survey had been transformed into law, we wouldn’t have gun violence at all. The reason our gun-violence rate is 7 to 20 times higher than any other OECD country is because we are the only country which gives residents access to what I call ‘killer guns.’ You can see how I define a ‘killer gun’ right here.

              In 1995, our friend Gary Kleck published research which stated that individuals who used or brandished guns were responsible for preventing millions of crimes every year. His thesis that more guns meant less crime was then taken up in the research of our friend John Lott. 

              These research efforts have been critiqued and discounted by the most respected gun-control researchers like our friends David Hemenway and Phil Cook. But their arguments have never gained any traction at all among the majority of Americans who believe that a gun is more of a benefit than a risk. By 1993, before either Kleck or Lott had published anything at all, the support for a national ban on handguns had fallen to 39%.

              The last time Gallup asked the handgun ban question in 2020, the percentage of handgun banners has now fallen to 25%.  And even with the terrible rampage shootings committed with assault rifles since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, only 47% of Gallup respondents want to see assault rifles outlawed.

              Want to blame the continued existence of a strong gun culture on the NRA? Go right ahead. Want to blame it on research published by Gary Kleck and John Lott. Ditto. You happen to be wrong on both counts.

              At best, the NRA membership maybe counts 6% or 7% of the people whose households contain a gun. And the last thing that any gun nut is going to do when he flips on his computer and goes to buy some crap on Amazon is to order John Lott’s book.

              Has any gun-control scholar ever attempted to figure out how and why so many Americans believe they need to protect themselves with a gun? Nope. Not one.

              Please add your name:  https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow and https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now.

Why Are Guns Lethal: 9781536814002: Reference Books @ Amazon.com

Will We Get A New Gun Bill?

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              Now that we really can sit back and relax about last year’s election result, Gun-control Nation can begin beating the drums for the passage of a new gun bill. And this time we have a friend in the Oval Office who says he wants a new gun bill too.  So, what are the odds that a gun bill might really come about?

              Getting a gun bill onto Joe’s desk won’t be all that easy, given that the blue team would need 100% support from its own members, as well as 10 additional votes from the red side. And nobody seems to think that right now there are more than a couple of members of the Senate GOP caucus who are willing to make such a move. 

              But next year might be different. Next year is an election year. Next year there may be some GOP Senators who will read the tea leaves in their states and decide that being pro-gun isn’t such a smart way to go. Gun control certainly played a role in the blue team’s smashing House victory in 2018. Did Biden’s gun-control stance in 2020 make a difference for him? WTFK?

              The Federal Government has passed four gun-control bills: 1934, 1938, 1968 and 1994. The Democrat(ic) Party controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the Oval Office all four times. And even though most of the House and Senate members from the Confederacy (why did we take those states back?) voted against the bills, there were enough Democrats and even a few Republicans from the other 37 states to get the job done.

              The deciding factor in all four votes was that the bills were initially introduced in response to an attempted, and in one instance, a successful assassination of a sitting President: Roosevelt was almost gunned down in 1933, JFK was killed in 1963 and Reagan was wounded in 1981.

              This time around, the media is promoting the idea that a gun bill might get through Congress because shootings, and particularly mass shootings, are going way up. Just yesterday there was a bad shooting of a doctor, his wife, two grandchildren and two HVAC installers in South Carolina, and all the news reports mentioned the possible approval of a new gun bill.

              In the last ten years, there have been 19 shootings in which 20 or more people were wounded or killed. Drop the victim count down to 18 and you can add 6 more. I’m not taking about mass shootings in which 4 people get shot, which is the criteria used by various gun-control organizations and scholars to count the number of such events. I’m talking about 18 victims adding up to a grand total of 1,448!

              Believe me, I’m not hoping that we get a gun bill because someone takes a pot-shot at Joe. But I’m not assuming that the recent spike in gun violence during the Covid-19 pandemic will provide the public opinion impetus for a new law. When Joe proposed some new executive actions to regulate guns, he said that gun violence was a ‘national, public health crisis.’  Know how long I’ve been hearing that one?

              Generally speaking, the media treats a shooting, even a mass shooting, like a big pileup on the Texas interstate, or a California forest fire, or a hurricane that slams the Gulf Coast, or a tornado that rips through wherever tornados rip through. in other words, shootings are like natural disasters. And natural disasters happen all the time so the best thing to do is just duck.

              Joe says that gun violence is a ‘national crisis.’ But in 2019, more than half the people who were victims of gun homicides lived in just 15 states. Which states? The 13 Confederate states plus throw in a couple of border states like West Virginia and Tennessee. Like I said above, why did we ever take them back?

              Joe wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. Why don’t we make reducing gun violence an infrastructure priority just like repairing a bridge or paving a road? 

Biden Goes After Gun Violence.

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              So, Joe’s now making good on his campaign promise to do something about gun violence, and the first something he’s doing is nominating a former ATF agent, David Chipmen, to head the agency which regulates guns.  I’ve had several brief interactions with Chipman and he strikes me as a bright, responsive guy who’s not trying to prove to anyone how important he is. It remains to be seen, however, whether he has the management skills and temperament to clean up the ATF mess.

              I wrote a book about the ATF several years ago in which I pointed out that the agency has machine guns on the brain, among other things. They knew ‘for a fact’ that the Branch Davidians were building machine guns in their compound outside of Waco, but after the building was burned to the ground causing the death of 75 members of the sect, not a single machine gun or even parts for a machine gun could be found.

              The ATF also knew ‘for a fact’ that some guys were building machine guns in a car-repair shop in Tucson and then smuggled the gun over the border into Mexico, the resulting ATF investigation causing the death of a U.S. border agent even though no machine guns ever turned up.  This little ATF fandango was known as ‘Fast & Furious,’ a completely unnecessary and stupid exercise whose only purpose was to justify the agency’s attempt to get approval for a federal wiretap so that the ATF could take its place alongside the FBI and the DEA as a first-class law enforcement agency on the crimefighting front.

              The ATF has one statutory responsibility which it acquired thanks to the Gun Control Act of 1968. Namely, it’s a branch of the Treasury Department which regulates the interstate commerce of ammunition and guns. Which means that it regulates the behavior of federally licensed gun dealers, and all its other so-called responsibilities just reflect the way that given half the chance, any bureaucracy will find a way to expand its size and its budget in order to justify how it does its job.

              There’s only one little problem, however, when it comes to this approach as regards the ATF. Because even though the ATF has been allegedly regulating gun commerce for more than 50 years, the rate of gun violence keeps going up. And there has never been one, single study which shows any connection between what the ATF is doing out there and whether what they are doing out there makes any difference in terms of gun violence or not.

              The ATF, of course, insists they could do a better job if they were just given the money and resources they need. Let me tell you a little story about their staff and their resources, okay? 

              The night after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook, the ATF dispatched a squad of agents in full battle dress and carrying live guns to invade the gun shop owned by Dave LaGuercia, which happened to be the shop that had sold the AR-15 to Nancy Lanza which her son then used to shoot up the Newtown elementary school.

              The transfer of the AR-15 from Dave’s gun shop to Nancy Lanza was done entirely correctly and in fact, it was Dave who first called the ATF to inform them that he had sold the AR-15 and a Sig pistol to the mother of the shooter at Sandy Hook. So, after a completely legal sale, these ATF militia spent the whole night tearing Dave’s shop apart and looking for God knows what.  The entire military exercise was put on hold for an hour, however, while the troops ordered and then wolfed down a generous supply of pizza pies, paid for of course, by the American taxpayer, folks like you and me.

              If Shipman wants to help solve the problem of gun violence, he can try to make the ATF into an agency that spends taxpayer dollars to regulate gun commerce instead of blowing its own horn. It would be a welcome and long-overdue change.

There’s another petition up there. Please sign: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow

Two New Gun Laws And What They Really Mean.

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              As much fun as I’m having writing about the disappearance of Donald Trump, every once in a while, something happens in the gun world which makes me return to my written roots, so to speak. And this past week what happened is that the House once again passed a bill that would require universal background checks on guns.

              This is the second time that the House has passed this bill, but this time there’s a Democratic majority in the Senate, so the odds that universal background checks will be required in every state have gone up. If we have learned one thing from the Covid-19 relief bill, it’s that the Democrats don’t need to make any deals with the GOP if they want to get something done.

              The standard argument for making every gun transfer subject to a background check is that this process keeps guns out of the wrong hands. The assumption here is that if someone can’t pass a background check, he or she is the kind of person who will use a gun to commit a crime. Sounds kind of obvious, right? Right.

              I happen to think that what the whole background check system accomplishes, more than anything else, is to give a useless bunch of government bureaucrats something to do, this useless bunch being the people who work for the compliance-inspection division of the ATF.

              These are the self-important bumpkins who wander into gun shops and make sure that all the federal laws on guns transfers are being observed. What this means is they sit there and read through the various forms that a dealer and his customers fill out in order to buy a gun. The dealer has to fill out something called the Acquisition and Disposition book (A&D) which contains information on who sent guns in to the shop and who took guns out; the buyer has to fill out the 4473 form which is then used to conduct the background check.

              The ATF inspectors like to think they are law-enforcement agents but they’re not. They are clerks who get paid $80,000 a year to go around and make sure that every piece of paperwork connected to gun commerce is filled out properly and stored in the gun shop. The last time they inspected my shop they examined over 1,200 transactions and I couldn’t find all the paperwork on exactly four guns. Boy – talk about a threat to public safety. Yea, right.

              Meanwhile, I notice that for all the sturm und drang about gun violence during the pandemic, all of a sudden nobody cares. Gun sales are still much higher than they were before the Chinese virus began to spread, every weekend there seems to be a mass shooting somewhere or other. But the passage of those the gun bills in the House made the media for 24 hours and then disappeared. What’s going on?

              I’ll tell you what’s going on. The NRA has gone back to being what it was before the advent of Donald Trump – a quiet, self-contained organization which nobody pays attention to unless they own a gun. Frankly, if it weren’t for the NRA’s loud promotion of Trump’s 2016 campaign, my friends in Gun-control Nation would have had nothing to talk about for the last four years. For that matter, the NRA also ramped up its noise machine by endlessly attacking Mike Bloomberg and his big bucks.

              Remember NRA-TV which featured appearances by Dana Loesch who told American women that they would be able to protect their families if they went out and bought a gun or the prancing around by Colion Noir as he explained why you should protect yourself with an AR-15?

              That’s all gone now. The NRA’s back to selling cigars and clothing on its website. They still claim to have 5 million members even though member dues dropped by one-third from 2018 to 2019.

              If the NRA didn’t exist, Gun-control Nation would have to invent it. That’s what these two new gun laws are all about.

Gun Violence And The 2nd Amendment Aren’t Connected At All.

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              Now that our friends in Gun-control Nation have helped Joe Biden become the 46th President of the United States, it’s time to get back to figuring out how to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by the misuse of guns.

              Of course, the moment that groups like Everytown and Brady start making noise about gun violence, the other side will ramp up its campaign to defend 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And first and foremost, in the arsenal of pro-gun narratives will be the phrase, ‘the right to bear arms.’

              Once Gun-control Nation begins reminding everyone that the 2nd Amendment and the ‘right to bear arms’ is just as important as anything else in the Bill of Rights, the gun-control organizations and public health researchers will fall all over themselves pledging total and unquestioned fealty to gun ‘rights,’ as long as some way can be found to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by all those guns.

              There’s only one little problem, however, which is that for all the attempts to explain how and why the 2nd Amendment came to give Constitutional protection to personally owned guns, the discussion invariably talks about the legal and historic meanings and precedents of the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear,’ while the word ‘arms’ gets no attention at all.

              My late friend Antonin Scalia’s 2008 Heller opinion which redefined 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ runs toughly 20,000 words. Know how many words are devoted to the issue of ‘arms?’ Try less than two hundred. And what Scalia says is that the 2nd Amendment refers to handguns that are traditionally found in the home, not the guns designed for the military, i.e., ‘weapons of war.’

              What Scalia doesn’t say, nor is it ever mentioned by anyone who has contributed verbal or written hot air to the gun debate on either side, is that the guns whose use is responsible for at least 80% of all gun violence, maybe more, happen to be weapons of war. Try Glock, try Beretta, try Sig, try Colt, – these are all guns that were designed for military use and are carried by troops everywhere.

              Now the fact that we are the only country which lets civilians have free access to those weapons of war doesn’t mean that such guns should be covered by Constitutional protection just because they happen to be in the home. You can also buy and keep a full-auto machine gun in your home, except you need to go through a much more intensive and expensive licensing process, which is why the last time someone was murdered with a full-auto gun was 1947 or so.

              Not only did Scalia totally misunderstand and mis-state this issue, but the other side, the Gun-control Nation side, gets it wrong too. Why do we have so much gun violence? Because according to our friend David Hemenway, we own so many guns, perhaps as many as 300 million, perhaps even more.

              But if David would take the trouble to do a slight amount of research into what kind of guns actually are used in fatal and non-fatal assaults, he would quickly realize that most of the guns sitting in the American civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I own a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle chambered in .270 Winchester caliber, the Remington factory has probably produced and sold more than 20 million of these guns over the years.

              How many Remington 700 rifles mow someone down in the street? None. Ditto the fabled Winchester Model 70 rifle or the Browning Auto-5 shotgun which has taken millions of high-flyers out of the sky. The only person who ever got injured with a semi-auto shotgun was the guy that Dick Cheney shot by accident, okay?

              If my friends in Gun-control Nation would stop obsessing about the 2nd Amendment and learn a few quick facts about how guns are designed and used, maybe just maybe they could sit down and come up with a strategy that would have a real impact on how many Americans are killed and injured each year with guns.

Another Plan To End Gun Violence That Won’t Work At All.

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              Back on October 13, 2020 S&W received a court order from Jersey’s AG, Gurbir Grewal, which requires the company to produce “true, accurate, and complete copies of all advertisements for your merchandise that are or were available to New Jersey concerning home safety, concealed carry, personal protection, personal defense, personal safety, or home defense benefits of a firearm, including a Smith & Wesson firearm.”

              Smith & Wesson has been in the business of making guns since 1852. The picture above is an ad for the Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver, which was manufactured between 1870 and 1915. Want to tell me how digging up this advertisement does anything to advance the debate about guns and gun violence right now?

              There happen to be exactly four states – Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, Massachusetts – which have a lower rate of gun violence than New Jersey. I’m not saying there isn’t room for improvement, we can always do better in any area of public health. But Jersey recorded a rate for automobile fatalities that was twice as high as the death rate from guns. Do you see the AG showing up and demanding advertisements covering the personal benefits of owning a car from General Motors or Ford?

              Then there’s another issue about gun violence in New Jersey, and that has to do with what my public health friends refer to as the epidemiology of where this violence occurs. In 2018, according to the CDC-Wonder database, one-third of all fatal shootings in New Jersey took place in two counties which together hold 14% of the state’s total population. If the gun-violence in these two counties was no higher than the rate in the state’s other 13 counties, New Jersey would be far and away the safest state in the United States.

              I’m talking about Essex and Camden Counties. Ever take a ride through Newark’s Springfield-Belmont neighborhood? They only had 7 murders there last year. But if you really want to get a taste of gun violence in New Jersey, the city of Camden ranked third in the entire United States after East St. Louis and Chester, PA. East St. Louis always ranks first.

              This extraordinary level of human carnage in just two cities, and actually only within certain neighborhoods within those cities, has absolutely no connection to how Smith & Wesson advertises or sells its guns at all. And if the New Jersey AG wants to make neighborhoods in Newark or Camden safer places to live, it’s not going to happen no matter how many advertisements he forces S&W to produce.

              Every, single handgun that’s shipped from S&W in Springfield to a gun dealer in New Jersey can’t leave the retailer’s shop unless the purchaser is first granted a permit which allows him to buy one gun – not two, not three, one. Now the idea that someone goes to the trouble of first getting a state gun license and then getting a permit to purchase a handgun and then takes the gun out of the store after passing a background check so that he can walk down the street and gun someone down…. I mean, c’mon. Gimme a break.

              If the New Jersey AG wants to do something really serious about gun violence, he needs to sit down with the state’s Congressional delegation and ask them to promote a national gun-control plan, such as moving handguns onto the NFA list, or creating a national registry, or some other method t0 prevent guns from moving illegally into New Jersey from other, less-regulated states.

              I’m still waiting for our friends at Giffords or Brady or any of the other gun-control organizations to admit or even understand that we have gun violence because we allow free access to handguns that were designed for one purpose and one purpose only, which is to end human life.

              Until and unless my friends in gun-control nation stop fooling around with half-assed measures like suing Smith & Wesson for misleading ads, there won’t be the slightest change in how many Americans are killed and wounded each year with guns.

Do Safe-Storage Laws Protect Our Kids?

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A group of medical researchers have just published a JAMA article about the effectiveness of child-access prevention (CAP) laws, which are also referred to as safe-storage laws. You can download the article right here. Or you can go to JAMA and read it there.  Either way, this is an important article for two reasons:

  1. CAP laws have become a priority with all gun-control organizations and now exist in 27 states.
  2. For the first time, we have a major piece of gun-violence research which clarifies the definition of ‘child.’

Most gun studies define children as being 0 to 20 years old.  The articles cited in the above link to Giffords use 17 and 20 as the maximum age for their studies. But virtually all 50 states grant hunting licenses to anyone above the age of 15, so to refer to them as ‘children’ is nothing more than an attempt to make the problem of gun injury worse than it is, since most gun injuries, intentional or unintentional, occur after the age of 14. To the credit of the researchers who wrote this JAMA piece, they use the age of 14 as their cut-off point.

Here’s the headline: “more-stringent CAP laws were associated with statistically significant relative reductions in pediatric firearm fatalities. Negligence laws, but not recklessness laws, were associated with reductions in firearm fatalities.” Fine – all well and good. But as usual, the devil’s in the details and I noticed one detail which remains unexplained.

This study looked at changes in gun injuries to children beginning in 1991 and ending in 2016, with the before-and-after comparison being set at 1997 when injury rates began to decline in both CAP and non-CAP states. Over the next eleven years – from 1998 through 2008, the decline was greater in the non-CAP states. Only after 2008 do injury rates in CAP states continue to level off (although they do not continue any downward trend) whereas injury rates in non-CAP states show an increase over the last few years.

The research team carefully explains a number of factors that might influence the results, such as an awareness of CAP laws, misclassification of data, etc. But what they don’t discuss is possible explanations for the decline of child gun injuries in non-CAP jurisdictions. A decline which, until 2008, was almost the same in both CAP and non-CAP states.

If you want to understand the effects of any law designed to require a certain type of behavior, at the very least you need to compare the effects of that law to whether or not the same behavior changed in places where the law didn’t exist. But there is also a bigger issue involved with this research.

The researchers make a distinction between laws which deal with access of children to guns in terms of ‘negligence’ (not locking the gun up or away) to ‘recklessness,’ which basically means that someone took a gun out of safe storage and used it in a stupid or careless way.

I happen to live in the state – Massachusetts – which has the most stringent CAP law of all states with such laws. The law states that unless the gun is under ‘direct control’ by a qualified (licensed) individual, it must either be fitted with a ‘tamper-proof device’ or be locked away at all times. No exceptions of any kind.

Guess what happens? The guy is fooling around with his gun in the living room; his son is playing a board game with a friend on the floor. Phone rings in the kitchen, guy jumps up to answer the phone but leaves the gun behind. Kid picks up the gun, points it at his friend – boom!  This act of utter recklessness, which cost an 8-year old his leg (but at least he’s still alive) was committed by a long-time veteran cop who had served his town with distinction for more than 20 years.

I want to commend the authors of this piece for bringing some important clarity to the CAP debate. I also want to remind them and everyone else that we don’t require seat belts for guns.

Don’t Ban Guns. Just Ban The Ammunition.

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              Ever since my late friend Tony Scalia decided that the 2nd Amendment protected the personal ownership of guns, Gun-nut Nation has been falling over themselves reminding everyone that any attempt to regulate gun ownership is an infringement of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Now the fact that a Constitutional Amendment isn’t a ‘right’ of any kind, so what?  It still sounds good.

              Meanwhile, the Scalia opinion does create some problems for Gun-control Nation because the last thing that any liberal wants to be accused of, is being against the Constitution. After all,  wasn’t it a very liberal Constitutional scholar, Sandy Levinson, who reminded us liberals that if we want to use the Constitution to protect free speech, we also have to use it to protect private ownership of guns?

              But it occurs to me that in all this talk about what the 2nd Amendment means or doesn’t mean, there’s one thing for sure that it doesn’t cover. Nowhere in the Constitution can we find the slightest mention of ammunition, and since it’s the ammunition which is what really causes all those gun injuries every year, who cares about whether or not everyone can walk around with a gun?  Just ban the ammunition for those guns; there’s absolutely no Constitutional protection for ammunition at all.

              Hey, wait a minute! How can you have a gun without ammo?  How can you use a gun without ammo?  I play around and shoot unloaded guns all the time. Last night I was watching one of my favorite movies, The Usual Suspects, and every time that Kevin Pollak (Hockney) or Stephen Baldwin (McManus) stuck his gun in someone’s face, I raised my Sig 226 and shot the guy dead.  I have probably pulled the trigger of my Sig or my Colt Python thousands of times sitting on my couch and nobody’s ever gotten hurt. You show me a gun-nut who doesn’t dry fire his guns all the time and I’ll show you a gun-nut whose wife made him sell all the guns.

              If you take the trouble to read Scalia’s Heller opinion, you’ll note that he makes a distinction between guns that have always been found in the home, as opposed to ‘unusual’ weapons; i.e., weapons of war. The former are protected by the 2nd Amendment, the latter not. So, in making a somewhat arbitrary definition of civilian versus military arms, his opinion rests on what he and other conservative judges call the ‘originalist’ interpretation of legal texts. But when it comes to the ammunition used by these so-called personally-owned guns, the argument falls flat on its face.

              The most popular ammunition caliber currently sold to civilians who own all those self-defense guns is the 9mm caliber, sometimes called 9×19, sometimes called 9mm Luger, but whatever it’s called, it was designed specifically for military use. The inventor of this caliber was Georg Luger, who also happened to be the inventor of the Luger pistol, a.k.a., the P-08. The gun and the ammunition were standard issue to the German Army from 1900 until 1943.

              Want the second most popular ammunition caliber? It is probably the 45acp round that was developed by John Browning for his Colt 1911 pistol, the military sidearm for the U.S. Army until 1976.  Both the 9mm and 45acp calibers were developed for one reason and one reason only – to give soldiers and other armed forces a highly-lethal round that could be carried in a handgun.  Now if anyone out there wants to claim that ammunition developed for the sole purpose of killing human beings is a ‘sporting’ round, go right ahead.

              It seems to me that if my friends in Gun-control Nation really want to get serious about reducing gun violence, they might consider coming up with a plan that will strictly regulate the ownership of ammunition because those products don’t have any Constitutional protection at all.

              Of course, I can just see my Gun-nut Nation friends starting to yell and scream about ‘threats’ to their ammunition ‘rights.’ Good. Let ‘em yell and scream.

When Are We Really Going To Start Talking About Gun Violence?

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Last week I wrote a column raising concerns about the so-called ‘consensus-based’ approach to gun violence being promoted by physicians and public health researchers, many of whom seem to be convinced that as long as they claim to ‘respect’ the 2nd Amendment, that Gun-nut Nation will be more amenable to support all those ’reasonable’ gun laws, one such law having just been blocked by the Virginia State Senate.

This idea of not being opposed to the 2nd Amendment is a riff on another idea which started to appear in the medical literature when doctors began talking about counseling patients who own guns, the riff being the importance of ‘respecting’ the ‘culture’ of people who own guns. Here’s a sample of this approach from several of our most dedicated and respected gun-violence researchers:  ”The provider’s attitude is critical. Patients are more open to firearm safety counseling when providers are not prescriptive but focus on well-being and safety—especially where children are concerned—and involve the family in respectful discussions. Conversations should acknowledge local cultural norms; be individualized; and, when possible, occur within a well-established clinician–patient relationship.”

Given the fact that most physicians aren’t gun owners themselves, exactly how should these clinicians gain the knowledge they need in order to counsel about guns while taking care not to make negative judgements about ‘local cultural norms?’ The only peer-reviewed resource which attempts to define the cultural ‘norms’ associated with gun ownership is the research published by our friend Bindu Kalesan, who asked 4,000 respondents to report on the degree to which their social activities were in some way or another connected to their ownership of guns. What she found was that roughly one-third of the gun owners reported some degree of social contact with other gun owners.

Based on this research, should physicians assume that a patient who owns guns may also feel somehow identified with the social activities that revolve around gun ownership and gun use; i.e., shooting range visits, hanging around a gun shop, joining a gun club? Sounds fair to me.

There’s only one little problem. What do all these social activities involving guns have to do with reducing gun violence? Nothing. Why do I say nothing? Because the guys who go to the shooting range to sight in their beloved shotgun before hunting season, or the guys who stop off at the gun shop to play around with the latest toys on display, or the guys wandering around the gun show munching on a donut because the wife doesn’t need the grass cut or the driveway cleared that weekend, aren’t the folks whose behavior or culture or whatever you want to call it creates 85% of the injuries that we define as ‘gun violence’ each year.

That’s right. Assuming that intentional, non-fatal gun injuries run around 75,000 – 80,000 a year, add that number to the 15,000 fatal intentional gun injuries in 2017, and divide it by that number plus the 20,000 suicides.  Sorry, it’s only 83%. Of course, we know that all this mayhem is created by legal gun owners, right? Yea, right.

The public health ‘threat’ known as gun violence happens to be the handiwork of young men, most of whom live in inner-city neighborhoods and start fooling around with guns by the time they are 14 years old. And by the way, these are also the kids who have overwhelmingly dropped out of school, even though school attendance is never (read: never) used as an indicator of gun risk by all my friends doing all that public health research designed to ‘inform’ policy-makers about the efficacy of various ‘reasonable’ gun laws.

Want to sample gun culture?  Try: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZGJcV19gRw. After you watch it, watch it again. Then talk to me about how we need to ‘respect’ the culture of gun owners, okay?

What I am saying is simply this: Either we begin to talk realistically about the causes of gun violence or we don’t. Right now, we don’t.

The Dumbest Pro-Gun Legislator This Year – So Far.

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              I used to think that Matt Goetz (R-FL) was the dumbest pro-gun politician in America because when he was a State Senator, he introduced a bill that would have made a business owner financially liable if his premises were a gun-free zone and a customer got shot because some jerk walked in, yanked out a banger and went bang. But I am beginning to think that maybe Goetz has been upended by a State legislator from Michigan, Beau LaFave, who had two guns, a handgun and an assault rifle, stolen from his residence last week.

Just because someone has guns stolen out of their home doesn’t necessarily mean that they deserve the Dumbest Pro-Gun Legislator Award (and yes, we also give out an award to the dumbest gun-control public figure each year.) But in LaFave’s case, his being situated at the lowest point on the left side of the bell curve is much more a function of what he did before the theft took place, and what he said after he lost his guns.

              Back on January 29, just before Michigan’s Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, delivered her State of the State address, this jerk walked into the State Capitol with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder to protest what he claims are her “proposed unconstitutional gun laws.” Whitmer has proposed a red-flag law which is bottled up in some committee; she is also on record favoring some kind of assault rifle ban, although she claims to have no issue with state residents who own guns for self-protection or sport.

              What does LaFave really want when it comes to gun laws?  He probably doesn’t want any new laws. After all, Michigan already requires background checks for private handgun sales. Isn’t that enough? The fact that the state does not require persons convicted of domestic abuse to surrender their firearms even if they are prohibited from owning guns should be reason enough to consider the passage of a red-flag law. But according to LaFave, all a red-flag law would do would be to disarm all those law-abiding state residents who have the ‘right’ to own a gun.

              So, over the weekend, while LaFave was out wandering around, someone broke into his home and stole the AR-15 that he carried into the State Capitol building, along with a .40-caliber handgun. The two guns were nestled side by side in the clothing chest drawer where LaFave keeps his underwear and socks.

              Punto Stupido Numero Uno: The guns weren’t locked up. The guns weren’t locked away. Want to break into someone’s house and find something valuable in 30 seconds or less? Start by looking through the clothing drawers – that’s the first lesson in Burglary 101. Why weren’t his guns locked or locked away? Because according to LaFave, he needed to be able to get his hands on his guns just in case he needed to “access them quickly.”

              Punto Stupido Numero Dos: Right after LaFave pranced around the Capitol building he tweeted a picture of himself with his trusty gun. That’s what he did. You don’t go to all the trouble of making a complete fool out of yourself and then forget to make sure that everyone is reminded as to exactly what a dope you happen to be.

              Did it ever occur to this idiot that maybe, just maybe he was telling everyone that if they took the trouble to break into his house, they might find a stash of guns? In talking to reporters, LaFave denied there was any connection between his self-promoting armed march through the State Capitol and the theft of his guns. Yea, right. No connection at all.

              My friends in Gun-nut Nation still seem unable to accept the fact that somehow, don’t ask me how, every single gun used to commit a fatal or non-fatal gun assault was first bought by someone who could legally own a gun. So how do these guns wind up in the hands of people who commit an act of gun violence against someone other than themselves? 

              I can guarantee you that the guy who swiped the guns from Beau LaFave isn’t some gun hobbyist who just wanted to add two bangers to his private collection. And Beau did everything he could, including advertising the guns on his Twitter account, to make sure that his guns ended up in the wrong hands.

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