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

              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.

              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?

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.

              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?

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.

              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.

Hopkins Has A New Online Course About Gun Laws.

Several years ago I ran a national survey asking gun-control advocates and activists some basic questions about gun laws. The questions covered the laws that have been part and parcel of the strategies of all gun-control groups: enhancing background checks, better regulation of dealers, purchasing and moving guns across state lines – the usual stuff. I ended up getting more than 250 responses from residents of 46 states, which was certainly representative enough for me.

The survey contained 12 questions; the average correct number was 6.  In other words, at least half the respondents who took the quiz on basic gun laws failed. And I specifically solicited responses from individuals who considered themselves to be involved in some kind of gun-control activity. Incidentally, I ran another gun-law quiz soliciting responses from individuals who considered themselves to be pro-gun.  The average score for that bunch was also around 6 correct answers – they also failed.

But the last thing you’ll find gun nuts supporting are more or stronger gun laws. On the other hand, the gun-control organizations that send me endless emails asking for more money (Everytown, Giffords, Brady – I support them all) consider laws and regulations to be the cornerstone of every strategy designed to reduce violence from guns. So, you would think that folks who donate time, money and energy to gun-control activities would want to understand how current gun laws work and what needs to be done to make such laws more effective.

In any case, our gun-research friends at the Hopkins Bloomberg School are trying to remedy this knowledge deficit by posting an online, interactive course covering the basic law which requires a background check before someone purchases a gun. The effort is part of a new distance-teaching approach being developed for internet users known as a ‘teach out,’ which is a digital version, if you will, of the old teach-ins that occurred on college campuses during the Viet Nam War. 

The Hopkins teach-out can be found here, it will be running for several more weeks, and I strongly urge everyone to register (for free) and support this effort before the course closes down. In particular, I think my gun-nut friends should sign up because the course also includes a nifty give-and-take between the instructors and the people who view the videos, an interactive Q and A that should be of value for both sides.

Now let me make it clear that this effort, like everything that comes out of the Bloomberg School, is a no-nonsense attempt to educate and inform. Which means that anyone who just wants to drop some nasty or snarky comment about all those tree-hugging, anti-gun liberals should stay away. The teach-in hosted by Dr. Cassandra Crifasi creates a forum for a serious, respectful and informed exchange about an important issue that should engage both sides. Want to rant and rave about your beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Do it somewhere else.

At the same time, I’m not about to simply let the other side off the hook. I learned about this effort because one of my gun-nut friends sent me an email about the online course. Did I get anything from Everytown, Brady, Giffords or one of the state-level gun-control groups who were all vociferously complaining last week when Gun-nut Nation showed up at Richmond for a jamboree? Not one, friggin’ word. And the lack of interest and support for this effort by Gun-control Nation is, to put it bluntly, a disgrace.

You would think that an open-source program that advocates extending the background-check system to private sales and permit-to-purchase licensing would be exactly the kind of effort that would be front and center on the agenda of every gun-control group. But if I have learned one thing from writing more than 1,500 columns on my website over the last eight years, it is the degree to which most gun-control organizations are more concerned about protecting their own, little turfs than getting together to promote a serious and sustained response to the violence caused by guns.

Anyway, enough complaints from me.  Sign up for the course – now!

There Ain’t No Such Thing As Gun ‘Rights.’

Our good friend Eric Foner has just published a book, The Second Founding, which gives a concise and compelling explanation for how the Federal Government got into the business of defining our basic rights. Which makes this book required reading for everyone who wants to have anything to say about guns and gun violence, since so much of this debate turns on the issue of gun ‘rights.’ If you don’t believe me, just read any of the news accounts of the demonstration which took place in Richmond, VA on MLK Day to protest a new law that Trump claims is an infringement on gun ‘rights.’

The Federal Government first started defining Constitutional rights following passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments following the end of the Civil War. These Amendments ended slavery (13th), defined citizenship as a birthright (14th) and granted universal suffrage to all male Americans. Foner refers to the passage of these Amendments as a ‘second founding’ because these laws (to quote a Republican Senator from Missouri) “made the liberty and rights of every citizen in every state a matter of national concern.”

 Foner points out that none of these fundamental Constitutional changes would have taken place were it not for the fact that Southern legislatures were dominated by Black officeholders from 1867 through 1877 when Reconstruction came to an end. But precisely because Reconstruction ended only ten years after it began, the Civil Rights laws passed in 1866 and 1875 to give some legal teeth to the Amendments, were either watered down in court decisions or simply ignored.

Both civil laws were attempts to define what ‘rights’ would be protected under the Constitution once the founding document contained protections which applied to every male citizen in the land. The 1866 Act enforced the implementation of laws that covered the following rights: “to ‘make and enforce’ contracts, own property, testify in court, sue and be sued, and ‘enjoy the full and equal benefit of laws for the protection of persons and property.’” (p. 64.)

See anything here about self-protection?  See anything here about armed, self-defense? You won’t find any reference whatsoever to that terminology in the entire text of the Constitution or any of its Amendments, not even in the blessed 2nd Amendment from which all gun ‘rights’ allegedly spring forth. When the NRA proclaims itself to be the ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ is it referring to the rights embodied in the 14th Amendment and enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1866?  No. It’s not referring to anything other than what a clever advertising agency figured out would help promote the sale of guns.

In fact, if you take the trouble to read the 2008 Heller decision where our late friend Tony Scalia propounded his view of gun ‘rights,’ you will note that it is not only a very narrow definition of what the 2nd Amendment says a gun owner can do with his guns (he can keep one handgun in his home) but it’s far from being an uninfringeable right because the government has great leeway in determining who can and cannot own guns.

Not only are gun ‘rights’ not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, nor in any of the federal laws that have been passed to define or enforce Constitutional texts, there is also no mention of the other hallowed Gun-nut Nation ‘right,’ i.e., the ‘right’ to self-defense. When the Constitution talks about being protected from harm, the reference is to equal standing in the courts, not to passing a background check so that you can walk around with an AR-15 on your back.

There’s also the non plus ultra for carrying your Glock, which is that self-defense is a ‘God-given right.’ I hear this all the time from my Gun-nut Nation friends and my answer is simply this: If you want to live in a country where laws are first and foremost the handiwork of Almighty God, move to Iran, okay?

Foner’s book isn’t about guns. It’s a solid work about how the word ‘rights’ should be defined and used in any important discussion about current events. In this respect, the way our friends in Gun-nut Nation use the word fails both historical and legal tests.

What Happened To All Those ‘Reasonable’ Gun Owners?

Yesterday I spent some time looking at various YouTube videos of the gun ‘rights’ demo in Richmond, VA. Frankly, I was surprised by the size of the crowd, if only because the organization that was the primary sponsor of the event, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, isn’t exactly as big or as financially well-endowed as AARP. But to the group’s credit, they not only pulled off a large-scale event, they did it without having to worry about any of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, the last time a large group of gun-owners went marching around a town in Virginia showing off their guns.

The media mentioned something about a counter-demo that occurred at the event, but the pro-gun rally not only dwarfed the numbers who showed up to protest gun ‘rights,’ but the gun-toters showed little or no concern for the presence of protestors from the other side. The truth is that if Gun-control Nation were to put together a public event to support Governor Northam’s new gun bill, I would be pleasantly surprised if 500 people showed up, and I suspect that most of them would have to be brought down from somewhere in and around D.C.

Despite Schmuck-o Trump’s claim that the mainstream media is the ‘enemy of the people,’ the last thing the mainstream media ever figures out is how to report anything that isn’t within their usual scope of news and events. And a pro-gun rally just isn’t something that the mainstream media is going to understand, if only because most educated, liberal-minded people (which is who usually ends up working for the mainstream media) don’t happen to own guns.

When I went to the Virginia Citizens Defense League website, I noticed there are now 136 counties, cities and towns in Virginia that have become or are becoming ‘2nd-Amendment ‘sanctuaries,’ a pro-gun movement that I suspect is gathering steam in other gun-rich states as well. Does this development align itself with the 2020 Trump campaign? Of course. But how come I don’t see where Gun-control Nation has attempted to enroll a single jurisdiction in any kind of sanctuary movement that would protect residents from the violence caused by guns?

What we have instead on the gun-control agenda are the continued efforts by gun-control organizations and gun-control researchers to come up with ‘reasonable’ laws that will be supported by both sides. According to our friends at the Bloomberg School, gun owners are almost as strong as non-gun owners in their support for the following laws: “universal background checks, greater accountability for licensed gun dealers unable to account for their inventory, higher safety training standards for concealed carry permit holders, improved reporting of records related to mental illness for background checks, gun prohibitions for persons subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders, and gun violence restraining orders.”

How come the researchers didn’t ask these same gun owners how they feel about being able to walk around in public with an AR-15? How come all these ‘reasonable’ gun guys, like the gun guys who showed up yesterday at the Richmond rally, weren’t asked how they feel about gun-free zones? Why is it that every time Gun-control Nation tries to figure out what the other side thinks about gun violence, they always ask questions that gun owners don’t consider to be important at all?

I am still waiting for one, single researcher from the gun-control community to sit down and ask a group of gun owners what they believe needs to be done in order to reduce the violence caused by guns. Come to think of it, if Daniel Webster from Bloomberg or David Hemenway from Harvard really wanted to know what gun owners think would reduce the 125,000 intentional injuries that we suffer annually from guns, they could have come down to Richmond yesterday and talked to some of the thousands of gun nuts who were happily milling around.

And by the way, let me tell you something that all gun nuts hold in common – they love to talk about their guns.

Run Mike, Run.

So this morning I started off 2020 by taking a look at Mike’s website and volunteering to help his campaign. I’ll get into the reasons why I am supporting him below (actually it’s one reason) but before that, I took a look at what he has to say about guns. After all, if Trump’s the first President to fashion an entire political image around his so-called support of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ so Mike’s the first Presidential candidate who has made a national name for himself by trying to do something about the violence caused by guns.

And in case you slept through the 2018 Congressional campaign, there may be a whole bunch of first-time members of Congress who owe their seats to the money they received from Mike, along with millions of dollars he put up to support gun-control initiatives in various states. And let’s not forget that he also has been instrumental in helping our friend Shannon build the first, truly grass-roots organization which fights the good fight against guns. But back to his 2020 campaign.

Mike has a whole section on the website devoted to his plan for controlling guns. To his credit, there isn’t a single word on his website about supporting the 2nd Amendment. He isn’t pandering to Gun-nut Nation by talking about ‘sensible’ gun laws, a la Liz Warren, or ‘respecting’ the 2nd Amendment, which is what Joe says on his site. I really wish the Democrats would stop pretending that anyone believes them when they say how much the 2nd Amendment can somehow co-exist alongside ‘reasonable’ gun laws. Give me a friggin’ break, okay?

Mike’s plan to deal with gun violence is basically to apply the same gun laws throughout the United States that have existed in New York City since 1912; i.e., the strict licensing of all guns which requires a permit prior to every purchase along with registration of all guns.

There’s only one little problem with this approach, however. And the problem happens to be the fact that while New York City now has a remarkably low level of gun violence, a trend that started under Rudy’s administration, accelerated under Mike but now have jumped up again under Bill, the city’s gun laws haven’t changed one bit no matter who is in charge, except that Mike did increase the licensing fees.

Why did gun violence decline so much in New York after it rose to epidemic proportions in 1993? Nobody really knows, except that the downward trend in the Big Apple occurred in virtually every large city throughout the United States. And endless books, articles and hot-air to the contrary, we don’t really know why that happened either, for that matter. All we know is that it did.

So I’m not going to bat for Mike because of his stance on guns. I’m going to support him because I believe, with all due respect to my friend Joe, that Mike has the best chance to beat Trump. And I further believe that in order to beat sh*t-head Trump or sleazy Don or whatever you want to call him, Mike just has to do one thing:

When the time is right Mike, just release your tax returns and that will be the end of that.

Have a great 2020 everyone!