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When It Comes to Gun Violence, Will the Two Sides Ever Agree?

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              Right now, there’s a debate going on in the Washington State legislature about a proposed law which would not only prohibit the sale of assault rifles but would also prohibit the transfer of currently owned assault guns from one person to another, basically sooner or later making Washington State completely free of such guns. You can read the bill’s text right here.

              You don’t need to wade through 16 typed pages – just take my word for the fact that this law, if voted up, will certainly be signed by Governor Jay Inslee and that will be the end of that.

              It goes without saying, of course, that the usual gaggle of gun ‘rights’ groups have joined with the usual gaggle of alt-right political groups to oppose this law, trotting out their usual bromides about how the statute would ‘unfairly target (no pun intended of course) lawful gun owners’ and do nothing to reduce gun violence in the state.

              The head of a group called Conservative Ladies of Washington, claims that the bill is ‘politically motivated’ and would ‘infringe on 2nd-Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.’ At the same time, almost 90% of all ‘gun violence is caused by people who are possessing firearms illegally,’ says this conservative lady (her name is Julie Barrett) which means that the new law wouldn’t reduce gun violence at all.

              What caught my eye about Ms. Barrett’s comment is how on the one hand, she feels compelled to pull the usual 2nd-Amendment rabbit out of the usual Constitutional hat, while on the other hand, adopting language which is never (read: never) used by the gun ‘rights’ gang at all.

              I’m referring to the lady’s use of the term ‘gun violence,’ a term found in just about every narrative produced by Gun-control Nation but considered to be a linguistic phrase rated at the highest level of toxicity by all those freedom-loving Americans who know for a fact that armed, self-defense is America’s oldest and most cherished civil right.

              That’s because in the gun-nut world, to link the word ‘gun’ to the word ‘violence’ is to violate the maxim found on the NRA’s favorite bumper sticker about how guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

              On the other hand, what she’s saying about how most acts of gun violence are committed by individuals who use illegal guns also happens to be true, yet it’s a truism which rarely finds itself mentioned in the narratives of all those tree-hugging liberal groups lining up to support this new bill.

              So, it occurs to me that maybe without realizing it, Julie Barrett has come up with a strategy which will finally begin to bridge the rhetorical gap between the two sides in the gun debate and possibly create the basis on which a rational and (God forbid) effective discussion about guns and gun violence might occur.

              Going forward, let’s agree that Gun-nut Nation will begin to inject the phrase ‘gun violence’ into their narratives about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ and Gun-control Nation will begin to substitute the word ‘crime’ for the word ‘safety’ in their hallowed phrasing about guns.

              Let me break something gently to my gun-control friends. Lecturing a gun owner about behaving in a safe way with his guns is to insult that gun owner to a degree that will render any discussion between the two sides totally and completely moot. Think that gun owners don’t know how dangerous their guns happen to be? Why do you think they bought the damn things in the first place, okay?

              As for the idea that guns, not people, cause gun violence, is to create and promote a fantasy about the use of guns which cannot be sustained in the brains of anyone more than six years old.

              The bottom line is that both sides in the gun debate need to stop using language whose only rationale is to create instant messaging used to raise funds whenever there’s a mass shooting or a new gun-control law, or both.

              Which is what the gun debate has always been about – keeping your organization’s bank account full to bursting while the annual toll from shootings goes on and on.

How Come Americans Stand Their Ground?

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              On August 9, 2014, an eighteen-year-old Black youth named Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO. The town of some 20,000 residents, is a largely African American community located five miles north of downtown St. Louis.

The shooting unleashed nearly two weeks of angry, violent demonstrations and rioting during which time Ferguson became a battleground between two populations: the many Black residents of the town and nearby towns who staged daily and nightly marches protesting the behavior of the cops, versus armed members of so-called ‘militias’ who showed up to help the cops ‘keep the peace.’

              Six years from the date of Brown’s death, a couple stood on the front porch of their St. Louis home, brandishing an assault rifle and a pistol at a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators who were marching to protest the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May, demonstrations which occurred in many American cities over those several months.

              In the Michael Brown incident, three separate investigations by the town, the state and the feds could not find any fault with the behavior of the cop who shot and killed Brown. It was determined ultimately that Brown responded to an order from the cop to stop walking down the middle of the street by charging the officer in his car and attempting to grab his gun.

              In the St. Louis incident, on the other hand, the AR-wielding attorney and his pistol-packing wife were indicted and convicted for unlawful use of a weapon, but their convictions were thrown out by a Republican Governor who was trying to score some points in a political year. Meanwhile, the attorney, Mark McCloskey and his wife, were invited to speak at the GOP National Convention and were also lionized by the NRA.

              So, here we have two examples of a unique, American behavior known as ‘stand your ground,’ (SYG) about which I have decided to write a book. And the reason I am writing this book is because the issue of SYG really sums up everything which creates the narrative about gun violence on both sides of the gun debate.

              This debate, which has been going on for nearly 30 years, consists of two diametrically opposed points of view about the presence and use of guns in American life. On the one hand, we have what I am going to refer to as the ‘positive social utility’ argument about guns, which basically says that a gun in the hands of a law-abiding individual represents a proper and effective way to keep the community safe. On the other hand, we have what I am going to refer to as the ‘negative social utility’ argument about guns, which basically says that a gun in the hands of anyone, law-abiding or not, increases the odds that a serious injury leading up to death will take place.

              Both of these narratives are backed up by what is referred to as ‘evidence-based’ research. The research which first defined the positive social utility argument was published by the criminologist Gary Kleck in 1995 and has been the subject of endless positive and negative responses ever since. The research which first defined the negative social utility argument was published by two medical researchers, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara in 1992 and 1993, and has also generated scores of commentaries on both sides.

              Unfortunately, because the debate focuses primarily on the issue of guns, the more fundamental question of behavior is largely ignored. But what the research of criminologist Marvin Wolfgang in the 1970’s and the authoritative textbook treatment of homicide by coroner Lester Adelson tells us is that guns just make it easier for either or both combatants in a dispute to avoid backing down. And the United States happens to be the only country which not only has an SYG behavior running through its culture, but sanctions SYG through its legal system as well.

            There are now 40 states which either have enacted SYG provisions in their criminal codes, or support SYG defenses in court cases brought against individuals accused of threats or assaults. The appearance of SYG in American jurisprudence first during the colonial period is skillfully discussed by Caroline Light (Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense) but her work does not convey the degree to which SYG now permeates American society writ large.

              After all, if you watch the videos of those jerks who stormed up and into the Capitol on January 6th, and if you listen to the speeches by Trump and his pack of fools on the Ellipse earlier that day, you’ll hear endless invocations to the idea of not backing down. Wasn’t SYG the basic message which defined ‘stop the steal?’ Of course it was.

So, I am going to write a book about how and why this country is enamored of SYG behavior which permeates every facet of the culture, from political campaigns to hip-hop and beyond. Because until we understand this remarkably unique type of American behavior, America’s vibrant entrepreneurial community will figure out some way to take this culture and use it to make a buck, whether the bucks come from selling guns or selling something else.

A Gun Book Which You Should Read.

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              Mary Anne Franks is Professor of Law at the University of Miami Law School. Several years ago, she published a book, The Cult of the Constitution, which has a very interesting sub-                      title: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech.

I somehow missed this book when it first appeared, but for that matter, so did just about everyone else in both Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation. So, I’m going to make up for lost time right now and begin by saying that Professor Franks has written a significant and important book.

I’m no Constitutional scholar, so my ability to write a seriously critical review of this work is somewhat limited, except when it comes to discussing the 2nd Amendment, or what the author refers to as ‘the cult of the gun.’ When the author talks about cults, she is really focusing on what she refers to as Constitutional ‘fundamentalism,’ which basically means interpreting the Constitution the way it was written by a group of 55 white men who came to Philadelphia to write and replace the Articles of Confederation with a new document which would serve to maintain the patriarchal social structure of a bunch of former British colonies now reborn as states.

What Professor Franks doesn’t mention is that of those 55 delegates, 34 happened to be attorneys, whose legal expertise and knowledge was largely a function of the British Common Law tradition, which still marks much of contemporary American jurisprudence to this very day.  Indeed, if you read the District of Columbia v. Heller opinion by Justice Scalia, which gave Constitutional protection to private ownership of handguns back in 2008, you will note that much of his text is a discussion of legal notions and definitions from the Common Law.

The author’s concern about how fundamentalist attitudes have crept into the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly the 2nd Amendment, grows out of the idea that ‘reverence and ignorance’ form the bedrock of fundamentalist beliefs. These beliefs are then strengthened by promoting the idea of victimhood, particularly the victimization of white men living in a world increasingly diverse and less open to the traditional patriarchal, heterosexual authority of those white, gun-owning men.

I can’t think of another public narrative out there which is more strongly promoted by one side over the other than the totally false and reverential idea that walking around with a gun will protect someone from becoming the victim of a crime. This nonsense has been the basic way in which the gun industry has kept itself in business for the last forty years since Americans stopped hunting and quit buying hunting and sporting guns.

On the other hand, I think the author’s attempt to push what she refers to as the gender, racial and socio-economic disparities between how armed, self-defense is protected for white men as opposed to everyone else, may be creating an argument which goes a little too far.

The biggest, single problem we encounter in discussing gun violence is that not only is most gun violence committed by individuals who do not have legal license to own or use a gun, but we have absolutely no idea about how many illegally owned guns are out there being carried around. So, to compare changes in gun laws (e.g., making it easier to carry a concealed gun) to changes in gun violence is to connect two phenomena which may have no real connection at all, no matter what those regression analyses endlessly promoted by public health researchers happen to say.

The smartest thing the NRA ever did to keep itself in business was to start referring to gun owners as ‘law-abiding gun owners’ as opposed to armed individuals who use their guns to break the law. And here is where Professor Franks needs to possibly reconsider her narrative because the idea of not backing down in the face of a real or imagined threat happens to be a longstanding American behavior which transcends the whole issue of the ownership and use of guns.

Between legislation and court decisions, standing your ground has become accepted behavior in more than 40 states. You can’t pin that widespread culture on the nefarious behavior of the NRA. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has always been reactive to the way the average person thinks, not the other way around.

That being said, The Cult of the Constitution is a very good and thoughtful book. Professor Franks has written a work which needs to be read.

Matt Gaetz – The ATF’s Best Friend.

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              I never thought I would ever agree with any legislative proposal promoted by Matt Gaetz, particularly anything having to do with guns. This is because when he was a State Senator in Florida, he introduced a bill that would allow someone shot in a public space that was declared to be a gun-free zone, to sue for damages against the individual who owned that space. The bill went nowhere, by the way.

              But this week Gaetz got back into the gun thing big time by introducing a bill that would abolish the ATF. And while his reason for wanting to do away with the federal agency which regulates the gun industry is a nonsensical response to an ATF proposal which actually makes a lot of sense, I wouldn’t mind seeing the baby flushed out with the bathwater and the ATF be put to bed.

              The problem with what the ATF does or doesn’t do can only be understood if we first examine what regulating the American gun industry is all about.  The United States is the only country with a regulatory system covering guns which focuses on the behavior of people who own guns, as opposed to the design and use of the guns themselves.

              As a result, a law-abiding individual can buy and usually carry around any kind of gun as long as it doesn’t fire in full-caliber mode. To own what is called a machine gun, you have to go through a long, detailed police check, which is why the last time someone killed someone else using a machine gun in a criminal event was 1947 or maybe 1948.

              On the other hand, anyone who thinks that a semi-automatic gun is much less lethal than a full-auto gun, doesn’t know very much about guns. The kid who killed 25 children and 5 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School committed all this carnage in maybe 3 minutes or less. And the rule being developed by the ATF which has provoked the wrath of dumb-ass Gaetz, would make these semi-automatic guns even more lethal than the gun used at Sandy Hook.

              The ATF has its eye on something called a pistol ‘stabilizing brace’ which attaches to the grip of a handgun and turns it into a rifle because now the gun can be balanced against the shooter’s shoulder which means less recoil and more control. But if the barrel of this stabilized gun remains 4 or 5 inches in length, then the gun is being used as a rifle except it’s still, legally speaking, a handgun.

              Under federal law, a rifle must have a barrel at least 16 inches long. But the whole point of attaching a stabilizing brace to a handgun is to give the gun the aiming and shooting characteristics of a long gun so – voila! – all of a sudden someone has taken a Glock pistol and turned it into an assault rifle.

              Despite what some of the media has been saying, the ATF isn’t saying you can’t buy or own a stabilizing brace. They are saying that a stabilizing brace should be considered like a machine gun, which can be purchased only after a long and very detailed background check.

              On the other hand, what would be what Grandpa would call the ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if we got rid of the ATF? Most of their work consists of going into gun shops and conducting inspections which invariably turn up a couple of guns for which the paperwork is either missing or incomplete.

              The last time the ATF inspected my gun shop they found more than 500 documents which contained errors that were all defined as ‘threats’ to community safety and needed to be immediately corrected in order to make sure that we were operating the shop on the up and up.

              Know what the error was? It was that in the space on the 4473 form where you list the buyer’s home county, the kid running the shop put a two-letter abbreviation for the county instead of spelling it out. Oh…my…God!

              When the ATF inspectors began noticing this mistake, you could see the gleam in their eyes. Now they could justify the fact that they went out each day during the audit and treated themselves to a nice lunch for which I’m sure they were reimbursed.

              It’s very simple. All we need to do to get rid of gun violence and all the crimes committed with guns is to stop making and selling the types of guns that are used in violence and crimes. I’m talking about semi-automatic, bottom loading pistols and rifles which are chambered for military-grade ammunition like 9mm or .223 rounds.

              Those guns and that ammunition were designed specifically for military use, and I don’t know a single military action which has anything to do with hunting or sport.

              Too bad that a bill to eliminate the ATF is the brainchild of a schmuck like Matt Gaetz. Nobody’s going to take him seriously which makes him the best friend the ATF ever had.

Want To Be a Gun Expert? Work For RAND.

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              So now the RAND Corporation has gone to the trouble of compiling a list of ‘experts’ whose views are consulted whenever RAND wants to say anything about guns. And RAND has been saying a lot about gun violence lately, with a goal to “establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.”

              You don’t fool around with RAND. After all, this outfit has nearly 2,000 employees spending all their time doing what they call ‘objective research’ on the key policy areas about which both the public and private sectors need to be informed. Which is why I spent most of last night looking at RAND’s list of the go-to people when it comes to understanding what we need to do about the violence caused by guns.

              You can see the names of the individuals whom RAND considers to hold expertise on gun issues by downloading this report which RAND published for the second time in 2021. Among other things, this report gives the list of every ‘expert’ who was invited to participate in the survey which constitutes the basis of this document.

              The experts are divided into two categories. The first category is ‘academic researchers,’ and to make this list you either needed to have published five or more pieces of research about guns, or you are the first author in any piece of published research which has been cited more than 30 times.

              The second group of experts are individuals who are nominated for their expertise by ‘advocacy and professional’ organizations, of which 37 such organizations were sent requests for nominations, a list which included the usual gun-control and gun-nut suspects, like Brady and the NRA.

              RAND also invited 20 staffers from Senate and House committees which play some role in fashioning national gun legislation on The Hill. In particular, this group included staff from the Judiciary Committees of both the upper and lower chambers, which is where gun laws usually start and, by the way, usually end. All of this information can be found on pp. 8 – 14 of the report.

              RAND defines gun policy experts as “a diverse group of people with a professional interest in understanding and communicating the likely effects of gun policies.” This is all fine and well except for one little problem, the existence of which makes this entire survey and all the work being done by RAND on guns and gun violence to be nothing but what Grandpa would call ‘vishtugidach,’ (read: horsesh*t, and I’m being polite.)

              Why do I say that? Why do I take such a distaff view of the work of all these experts brought together by RAND? Because what I don’t see in any of the categories whose membership comprises what RAND considers to be the country’s experts on the issue of guns, is a single person whose job rests entirely on his/her ability to ‘understand and communicate’ about the laws we use to regulate guns, namely, someone who works for a company which manufactures the goddamn things.

              You think that Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig, Kahr, Springfield and all the other gun makers don’t spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to figure out how to deal with public and private efforts to regulate both the kinds of products they sell and the way they go about selling those products to gun nuts both here and abroad?

              Many years ago, The New Yorker ran a great cartoon which showed an Archie Bunker type sitting in his living room and picking up the phone. He’s just gotten a call from some outfit which is doing a public opinion survey and the first question is: “What should we do about cigarettes?” He answers: “Ban the damn things.” The next question: “What should we do about drugs?” Answer: “Ban the damn things.” Last question: “What should we do about guns?” Answer: “Don’t ban them! That won’t do anything at all!”

              The point is that the gun industry is the only consumer products industry in which if there’s a certain political alignment in D.C. and another Hinckley comes along and takes a pot-shot at the President, a bill could easily slip through Congress which would get rid of privately-owned guns once and for all.

              Everyone who works for a gun company lives with this reality. That being the case, how does RAND take seriously the idea that it can create a ‘diverse’ group of gun experts and not include one representative of one gun company at all?

              Because believe it or not, the NRA and that phony 2nd-Amendment Foundation represent themselves, and they raise money to pay themselves by figuring out what to say to their donors every time a gun-control law is introduced up on The Hill.

              RAND gets away with promoting its so-called research on guns because its audience and its donor base happen to be populations which also don’t know anything about guns. RAND would never dare create a research initiative into trading practices on the stock exchange without soliciting the views of staff from Merrill-Lynch or Wells Fargo because everyone has a 401K.

              On the other hand, somewhere around two-thirds of American households somehow manage to feed and clothe everyone in the household without having legal title to a single gun.

              I have been saying for years that the problem with Gun-control Nation is they only talk to themselves. There’s a nice gun show coming up near me the weekend of January 28th. Lots of good food, lots of MAGA t-shirts, lots of old guns.

              If any of The RAND gun experts would like to learn the first thing about the industry they are trying to regulate in more effective ways, just send me an email and I’ll take you around at the show.

              I’m willing to bet that of the 325 ‘experts’ contacted by RAND, less than 10 have ever been to a gun show.

              Better yet, wait until November and I’ll meet you at the NASGW show. I’m sure there aren’t ten RAND gun experts who even know what the acronym NASGW means.

A New Book on Children and Guns.

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              By the time I had read a few pages of John Cox’s Children Under Fire, An American Crisis, I knew I had to read the whole book. Why? Because the book opens with the description of a shooting in the Southeast neighborhood across the Anacostia River from downtown D.C., which is now an underserved, violence-ridden, overwhelmingly Black ghetto. But I happen to have spent the first five years of my life in that neighborhood.

              That’s right. From 1944 until 1950, me, my older brother and my parents lived in an apartment on Hillside Road just off Benning Road, about a mile away from where six people were shot in one week, of which the last one killed was the father of seven-year-old Tyshaun McPhatter whose experiences become the initial content of this book.

              The young boy’s experiences and the experiences of other children who are connected in some way to acts of gun violence also form the basic argument of this book’s narrative, which is that we underestimate the damage caused by guns to the young population, which then produces a seemingly unstoppable cycle of violence over which we exercise little, if any control.

              As long as the author stays focused on the lives of children who are either victims of gun violence or experience it as seeing it damage or kill family and friends, the book reads as a genuinely moving and emotional perspective on an American problem which we do not seem to be able to eliminate or even control.

              But there seems to be some unwritten rule in the publishing world that you can’t publish a book about guns or gun violence unless you stick in some kind of half-cocked plan for what needs to be done. And the plan to reduce gun violence found in this book is as stupid as they come.

              The author begins by trying to figure out how many children are damaged in some way or another by shootings which occur in and around schools? The author puts the number [pp. 27-28] at more than 350,000, maybe half a million, maybe more.

              Except what he doesn’t say is that almost all of these shootings occur on school playgrounds and involve boys and young men who happen to be hanging out in the playground because it’s a convenient spot to buy and sell drugs, particularly in the evening hours after school has let out. Under federal law, schools are required to submit annual reports about violence on school property, and schools happen to be much safer physical environments than the surrounding neighborhoods in cities where gun violence takes place.

              The author also makes a mistake by using the term ‘children’ to define anyone under the age of 19 or 20, even though a pediatrician who treats a 20-year-old patient isn’t dealing with a kid. The military trains men and women who have not yet attained their 20th birthday to go into combat zones. Does that mean we are sending children to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq?

              As for the ubiquitous dopey plan to reduce gun violence, John Cox tells us that the three most important strategies should be: (1). Universal background checks on all gun transfers; (2). effective ‘safe storage’ laws, usually referred to as child access prevention (CAP) laws; and (3). more research to figure out what will “protect children from gun violence.” [pp. 289-292.]

              There has never been one, single study which shows that universal background checks or CAP laws reduce gun violence at all. Not one.

              As for more research, did it ever occur to this author ‘noch besser’ (read: better yet) a Pulitzer Prize nominee, that maybe, just maybe we can eliminate gun violence simply by getting rid of certain types of guns? Since when does the 2nd Amendment give carte blanche to owning any kind of gun? It doesn’t, and if you don’t believe me, I refer you to the assault rifle ban passed by the city of Highland Park and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

              The reason we have gun violence committed by and against kids (and adults) is very simple: the United States is the only country in the entire world which allows residents to own guns that are designed for military use. Sorry, but a Glock 17 pistol chambered for military-grade ammunition isn’t a ‘sporting’ gun.

              We don’t need any more research to figure that one out. We just need the authors of books about gun violence to know something about guns.

A New Gun Book You Should Read.

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              Nikki Goeser is a lady in her mid-40’s who graduated from the University of Tennessee, went to work as a financial adviser at a local technical college at Nashville and in 2008 married the ‘love of her life’ Ben. Her husband was a commercial designer who did fix-it work on the side and he and Nikki also did a karaoke show at various Nashville restaurants and bars.

              On the night of April 2, 2009, they were doing a karaoke gig when Nikki spotted a guy in the audience who had been to some of their previous shows and had then started sending Nikki some inappropriate messages through MySpace which she ignored.

              All of a sudden, the guy was sitting next to her husband. Then he went to the bathroom, came back out, walked over to where Ben was sitting putting a batch of songs into the computer, pulled out a Colt-45 pistol, and after shooting Ben in the head, continued standing over him and popping six more rounds.

              The shooter calmly walked away from the spot where he had just killed another man, and was promptly tackled by a U.S. Marine who, with the help of several other customers, disarmed the guy and held him down until the cops arrived.

              It turns out the guy who killed Nikki’s husband had been stalking Nikki for months. He had never spoken to her but had sent her endless internet messages and for some reason, never explained, was obsessed with her and felt that Ben’s existence was keeping him from getting into a relationship with this woman who was lighting up his life.

              When Nikki first saw this guy pull his gun, she immediately realized that she had left her own gun locked in her car. The restaurant where Ben and Nikki were doing their karaoke show had a gun-free policy, typical of public spaces where liquor is served. As the shooter pulled out his weapon, Nikki thought to herself: “Oh my God, I don’t have my gun! He is going to shoot somebody and I don’t have my gun!” [p. 22] I will return to Nikki’s comment below.

              After several more emotionally-charged chapters covering the immediacy of this terrible event, Nikki then then covers the events leading up to and covering the shooter’s trial, for which he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years. These chapters are written beautifully, and they remind me of Dominick Dunne’s description of the trial of the man who killed his daughter which appeared in Vanity Fair.

              For me to compare the writing of any newly published author to the prose of Dominick Dunne is to make it clear that the author whose book I am reviewing has a great deal of talent when it comes to telling a story which you might want to read.

              That being said, of course I also have to make some critical comments about this book, if only because every book review needs to be somewhat balanced between the good and the bad. In this instance, what I am calling ‘bad’ are the last few chapters in which Nikki Goeser swerves away from a heart-rending and personal account about the emotional and social traumas that she has survived and gives us the usual song-and-dance about why everyone should be walking around with a gun.

              To that end let me refer again to Nikki’s statement that she was unable to help her husband avoid getting killed because she didn’t have her gun. According to her story, maybe two or three seconds at most passed from the time she realized the assailant had a gun until the time her husband took a round in the head.

              What could Nikki have done with her gun if it had been in her pocket instead of out in the car? Nothing. Not one, goddamn thing.

              This is the biggest problem with gun violence, a problem discussed brilliantly by Lester Adelson, who was Cuyahoga County coroner (Cleveland) for nearly 40 years, so he saw plenty of people whose lives were ended by the use of a gun. Adelson sums it up this way:

. “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing. Facile access to firearms is an invitation to their wrongful use by the neurotic, the psychotic, and the socially maladjusted.”

              By the time Nikki Goeser gets done talking about the trial of her husband’s killer, there’s simply no doubt that this guy exactly fit Lester Adelson’s description of the kind of individual who will use a gun in a ‘wrongful’ way. And the real problem is that most of these nut-jobs plan their ‘wrongful’ behavior well in advance, and the idea that someone legally authorized to carry a gun will proactively prevent such individuals from carrying out their misdeed is a wonderful fantasy but simply is not true.

              That being said, for the clarity of its language and the emotional impact of its tone, I recommend Nikki Goeser’s book as a good, solid and informative read.

Another Stupid Idea to Reduce Gun Violence Courtesy of The New York Times.

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              Last week The New York Times published yet another guest editorial on what to do about gun violence.  This time it’s an editorial by the Mayor of San Jose (thank you Gail) who I’m sure is a decent and civic-minded guy. He’s also a Democrat, so he can’t be all that bad.

              But like every other individual who has contributed their two cents or their three cents to the ongoing effort by The New York Times to explain what we should do to reduce the 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur in the United States every year, Mayor Sam Liccardo (pictured above) doesn’t know anything about guns.

              Because if he did, he might still succumb to the temptation to promote himself and his administration for their recent initiatives to stop the slaughter in the streets of San Jose, but at least he would know that what he’s saying, to quote Grandpa, is ‘hai cock and a bubbe’ (read: bullsh*t and horsesh*t – take your pick.)

              In San Jose between 2013 and 2018, there were 206 city residents who were either treated for gun injuries or didn’t require any treatment because they were dead. Of this total number, 89 were murdered, 31 shot themselves, another 86 were either ‘unintentional’ or ‘undetermined,’ for a grand total of 206.

              Maybe the first thing the Mayor should do is get the people responsible for coming up with those numbers to spend some time figuring out what they are really trying to do. Because if the city uses those numbers to come up with some new initiatives that will reduce those numbers, the idea that 40 percent of all known shootings were either ‘accidents’ or nobody knows why they occurred simply cannot be a basis upon which to proceed.

              Which is maybe why the two gun-control programs being touted by Mayor Liccardo are so stupid and so far removed from anything having to do with preventing or reducing gun violence that they simply cannot and will not work.

              Although the fee has not yet be determined, at some point every gun owner in San Jose will be required to pay a fee to the city which will then be distributed by some non-profit group to pay for mental health and suicide prevention programs, as well as a gun-safety course.

              The other program will require every gun owner to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of unintentional shootings, even though the city doesn’t actually know how many unintentional shootings occur.

              The Mayor claims that liability insurance will provide gun owners with a financial incentive to behave safely with their guns – lock them up, lock them away, all the usual safe-gun bromides that are trotted out by Gun-control Nation in its unending quest to make guns as benign as possible for both sides.

              Do you think that Mayor Liccardo actually believes that when Dick Cheney accidentally filled another hunter’s head with buckshot back in 2006, that the Vice President would have been more careful with his gun if he was paying insurance premiums on a policy that would compensate the guy he shot? Is the Mayor of San Jose in this world or does he live somewhere else?

              As for the idea that gun violence will be reduced if every gun owner in San Jose shows up and pays the city for the privilege of owning guns, this initiative is even crazier than the insurance scheme, for the simple reason that the people in San Jose and every other place in America who commit intentional gun assaults aren’t about to admit to any governmental agency that they own a gun.

              How often do you think someone walks into a gun shop, buys a gun, passes a background check, and then walks across the street to stick up the mini-mart, or walks down the street and shoots someone who just dissed him, or maybe just happened to be in the way?

              Do law-abiding gun owners sometimes shoot someone else intentionally? Of course they do. Sh*t happens, particularly when the old lady really pisses you off.

 But they sure don’t do it very often and I am still waiting for the first so-called public health gun researcher to actually publish a study showing how many Americans are murdered each year with legally owned guns. If it’s 5 percent of the 19,384 who were victims of gun homicides in 2020, send me a MAGA baseball cap and I’ll eat it, okay?

              Want to reduce gun violence in San Jose? Pass a law which says that anyone found with a semi-automatic, bottom-loading pistol chambered for military-style ammunition must either move out of town or will get sent out of town to spend a couple of years in Wasco, San Quentin, or Pelican Bay – take your pick.

              And if the San Jose Mayor thinks that the Supreme Court will buy into the 2nd-Amendment bullsh*t about how the city can’t decide for itself that certain kinds of guns represent a threat to community safety, I suggest he should consult the assault rifle ban passed by Highland Park and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015.

If Guns Were Safer, Gun Violence Would Go Down, Right?

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              Today is the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre and now the effort to reduce gun violence has morphed into its third phase. In the pre-Sandy Hook days, when we talked about how to deal with gun violence, we referred to the various strategies as ‘gun control.’

              Following Sandy, it was decided by the various advocacy organizations that the gun control movement would refer to themselves as the ‘gun violence prevention’ movement, or GVP.

              Now we have entered the third phase in an effort to win the hearts and minds of enough Americans to pass some more legal restrictions on how gun owners should behave with their guns and this is being called the ‘gun safety’ movement, which is analyzed in detail this week in a long article in The New York Times.

              The essay, written by a free-lance journalist, David Cullen, claims that the gun safety movement emerged after Sandy Hook and is led by two powerhouses – Everytown and Giffords – who “are run by data-driven professionals who employ polling, focus groups and election post-mortems to help candidates test and hone effective messages.”

              Cullen sees the growth in gun safety organizations in terms of more laws being passed in individual states, with 67 new state laws passed in 2019 alone. In 2022 another 45 gun-safety laws have been put on the books in various states, while the NRA has become the ‘walking wounded’ when it comes to what goes on in D.C.

              All of this sounds very nice, upbeat, and positive, except there’s only one little problem. What Cullen doesn’t mention is that not only is gun violence on the upswing, but the rate of shootings continues to climb even as the alleged reason for the recent upsurge – Covid-19 – is beginning to fade. Throughout 2020 we were told that gun violence was worse because: a) the Pandemic sparked all kinds of misery and fears, and b) so many people were buying guns.

              According to the CDC, weekly Covid-19 cases are now less than half of what they were back in July. As for gun sales, November 2020 background checks were 2 million, November 2021 were 1.5 million and November 2022 were 1.3 million. In other words, sales have dropped by 35% since the Pandemic was in full force. And Smith & Wesson stock, which was at $30 a share back in July 2021, is now trading at under $9 bucks.

              There is little, provable connection between how many Americans pick up a gun and use it to shoot someone else, and how many laws are passed which will mandate that Americans buy, own and use ‘safe’ guns. Know why? Because the guns which are used to kill and injure 100,000+ Americans every year can’t be used in a ‘safe’ way.

              Guns which are bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols chambered for military-style ammunition aren’t designed to be ‘safe.’ They are designed to deliver lethal injuries to human beings, which is why they are carried by just about every military and tactical unit worldwide.

              Know why the United States suffers from the daily ravages of gun violence. Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns whose sole purpose is to end human life. And very few of these guns are actually used to kill or injure someone by a person who first acquired the gun and passed a background check.

              But when several million guns which fit into the palm of an adult hand get into the market every year, some will get lost, and some will get stolen, and some will be sold. And when that happens, these guns will remain usable for upwards of thirty years.

              Want to end gun violence? Stop the manufacture and sale of the guns which are used to commit that violence. And before you shake your head and tell me that we can’t prevent Americans from buying such lethal products because it’s a ‘violation’ of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I’ll save my response for another column, but let me say right here and now that banning the pistols made by companies like Glock and Sig wouldn’t be a violation of the 2nd Amendment at all. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue more than once.

              Would it be such of what Grandpa would call a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if David Cullen and all the other advocates for ‘safe’ guns would maybe just say in a whisper that the way to make a gun ‘safe’ is to get rid of the gun?

How Many Folks Walk Around with Guns?

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              Doesn’t it seem like there’s a shooting which kills and injures scores of victims just about every day? Last week there was a shooting in a Walmart that killed six employees and wounded five more.  The week before there was a shooting in Colorado Springs that left five dead and seventeen with wounds. A week before that, five people were gunned down in Maryland.

              These were the big shootings. The day-to-day random gun violence which kills one here or wounds two there is also way up. But those ‘normal’ shootings are so frequent that they don’t even make the local news.

              What’s going on? The Pandemic, which was blamed for the increase in gun violence in 2020 and 2021 is under control. The economic slowdown, which is always trotted out as an explanation for gun violence, is a narrative which simply can’t be taken seriously when the unemployment rate in most cities is under 4 percent.

              On the other hand, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals who have been given legal sanction to walk around with a gun, which we refer to as concealed-carry, or CCW (‘W’ meaning weapon.) Is there a connection between more people walking around with legally carried guns and the increase in gun violence over the last several years?

              Several of our friends who conduct gun-violence research at Harvard and The University of Washington have published what they claim is one of the few serious attempts to determine the frequency of concealed guns being carried around, a particularly significant issue now that the Supreme Court has basically invalidated the ability of public authorities to arbitrarily decide who can versus who cannot walk around legally armed.

              The idea that anyone who passes a background check can traipse around with a Glock in their pocket has always been the most precious dream of Gun-nut Nation and the worst nightmare for folks who want more control over guns. These attitudes are based on the continued attempt by both sides to view guns either as the best way to prevent crime (the gun-nut argument) or the way which produces more crime and violence (the gun-control argument.)

              Both arguments happen to be incorrect, or better said, are based on research which is either incomplete, or simply wrong, or both. The latest contribution to the debate, the article produced by our friends at Harvard and U/Washington, happens to be incomplete at best.

              As usual, the article is based on what is always referred to as a ‘nationally-representative’ group of gun owners, who were asked if they ever carried a gun around, and if so, how frequently did this behavior occur?

              It turns out that one-third of the respondents said they were armed at least once during the previous thirty days, of whom about 40% of those self-armed gun owners carried their guns around every day.

              So, when you extrapolate this and extrapolate that, you wind up with 6 million Americans carrying their guns on a regular basis, a figure that was repeated throughout the liberal media as an explanation for why we now have shootings all over the place.

              The reason the media is circulating research which happens to be wrong both in its method and its result is because the researchers forgot to ask one question. And that question is this: Do you carry a legally owned gun?

              Of course, the respondents are legal gun owners. You think that someone is going to admit to some Ivy League researcher that he’s walking around with an illegal gun? What kind of sh*t is that?

              But if you don’t try to figure out how many folks are walking around with guns which they’re not supposed to have, what have you learned about anything having to do with gun violence today?

              There has never been one, single study of any kind which tells us how many individuals commit violent crimes with legally owned guns, or for that matter, with guns which aren’t legally owned. And if there isn’t any connection between legal gun ownership and gun violence, who cares how many people are walking around with their legal guns?

              This column will be sent to the researchers who published their ‘nationally-representative’ survey on CCW behavior, and I will be happy to circulate any response which I receive from that group. Not that I’m expecting to receive any response, because the folks who conduct public health research on gun violence are obsessively afraid to ever engage in public critiques about their own work.

              Which is the reason I wrote this column and will continue to publish critical reviews of all public health gun research. Because as Einstein said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

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