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Do We Need Any More Stinkin’ Gun Laws?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Start a Militia Movement.

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              I have a great idea for what we can do to make a buck and also have a lot of fun. Let’s form a militia. We’ll call it, hmmm, the Citizen’s Liberal Militia, or CLM.  I’ll get my stepdaughter to design a logo because she’s a designer who trained at Parsons, no less.  I’ll get my son who’s an internet macher to design a website.

              Why do we need a militia?  That’s an easy one. We need a militia to protect us against all those enemies of the Deep State. And they’re out there, make no mistake about it. They’re getting stronger and are becoming more of a threat every…single…day!

              The CLM website, of course, will have an online store. We’ll start with t-shirts for $29.95, hoodies for $49.95, some swanky camo outfits that CLM troops can wear when we are forced to abandon home and hearth and bivouac out in the woods. And let’s not forget some two-way radios and other electronic gear. After all, the CLM has to be ready for any assault from the enemies of truth, freedom, and the American way.

              Of course, then we come to the tricky part, which is the issue of guns. I mean, you can’t be a militia that will be taken seriously unless you’re armed, right? There’s an outfit at Georgetown University Law School, the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (whew!) which just got a whole page of free advertising from our friends at The Trace. They submitted a brief to the SCOTUS in the case – New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Kevin P. Bruen – which may or may not allow Americans to cross state lines with a concealed gun.

              In their brief, the Institute for Constitutional whatever they are leads off by saying that “unfettered access to firearms poses a grave national security and public safety threat to the Nation.” They go on to cite two examples of how guns used by alleged terrorists killed scores of people in two mass shootings in California at a welfare center and in Florida at The Pulse. The shooters in these two events were about as much a pair of terrorists as my cat Leonard is a terrorist trained in the Near East.  The shooter in Florida was a domestic abuser, the guy in California had been fired from the staff of the organization, so then he went back and shot the place up.

              What I clearly recall from the January 6th riot was that all those so-called militia groups advised their members to leave their guns home. If Trump had done what he should have done and called out the National Guard to deploy in force while his schmucky fans were listening to his stupid speech before they began their march towards the Capitol, there would have been no riot, there would have been no insurrection, there would have been no attack.

              I spent a day with the now-famous Michigan Militia, some years after Timothy McVeigh showed up at several of their meetings before he blew up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995. I met them at a gun range where they were having a good time shooting off their guns. But what these overweight, overage Boy Scouts did for most of the afternoon was wolf down pizza and soft drinks, because as one of them told me, it was a public range, so beer wasn’t allowed.

              I think we can do better than that. Our militia will also give out food when we get together to shoot our guns, but we’ll have some real food, like a kale salad, a baked gruyere cheese pie with almond pieces, and maybe an espresso or a latte to sip.

              Rather eat a hot dog? Go join the Proud Boys.

              The militia movement is a bunch of nobodies hoping to get noticed by the media so that they can send a Facebook link back to Momma and Poppa or drive around in their Dodge Ram 1500 with a Trump flag fluttering out the back.

              To quote Joe in one of his better moments: “Want to take on the U.S. Government? Show up with an F-15.”  

You Can’t Commit Gun Violence Without a Gun.

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              Yesterday I got an email from our friends at Everytown asking for some dough. Which is fine. They do an excellent job and I’m happy to support them as well as their sister group, Shannon’s MOMS.  But they might want to rethink yesterday’s messaging just a bit, because to tell you the truth, it didn’t make sense. At least, it didn’t make sense to me.

              Their email starts off by saying that the Supreme Court will shortly rule on a case which challenges concealed-carry in New York State.  If the plaintiffs get their way in this case, it opens the door for individuals with concealed-carry (CCW) status to take their guns with them no matter where they go. And now that many states allow residents to carry guns as long as they have the legal right to own a gun, what this means is that America will be turned into even more of an armed camp.

              To quote the email from Everytown: “If the court strikes down New York’s critical gun safety law, that could mean more people with more guns in high density places like the subway.”

              Note the reference to ‘New York’s critical gun safety law.’  This law, which was passed in 1911 and has been on the books for over one hundred years, has been about as critical and valuable for protecting New Yorkers from gun violence as the man in the moon. In November 2020 there were 115 shootings in the Big Apple, the year before, November 2019, the number of shootings was 51.

              Fine. 2020 was the Pandemic and violence increased in just about every big city. But an increase of 112%? And by the way, for the year as a whole, New York City shootings basically doubled, while overall crime was more or less flat. So much for the ‘critical’ value of the Sullivan law,

              Know what would happen if the Supreme Court ruled that law-abiding folks could carry a gun from state to state?  I guarantee you that New York State or New York City or both would pass a law which would prohibit someone from bringing a gun into New York City unless they possessed a carry license issued by the NYPD.

              I still am waiting for someone – anyone – to do a definitive study which shows a connection between the number of people walking around in any community with legal guns and the number of individuals in that community who end up getting injured because someone shoots them with a gun.

              For that matter, the argument made by Gun-nut Nation about how gun violence and crime in general go down when more people are walking around with legal guns is just as much based on bunko as the argument about more legal guns result in more crime, an argument made all the time by my Gun-control Nation friends, i.e., what Everytown said in their email to me.

              When it comes to the violence caused by guns, we have a very simple problem in this country which goes like this. Ready?  Gun violence is overwhelmingly caused by the fact that we are the only country in the entire world which lets its residents purchase, own and carry guns that are designed for the sole purpose of being used in violent ways.

              Do you think that Gaston Glock designed his pistols to be used to shoot a bird out of a tree? Do you think that John Browning designed his Hi-Power pistol to pop one into Bambi’s rear end? I happen to own both of these guns and believe me, there’s nothing ‘sporting’ about them at all.

              Now you can refer to gun violence as being used to commit an assault or as being used to protect someone from an assault. I really don’t care. Violence is violence and we should be trying to reduce or eliminate violence any way we can.

              The idea that we can reduce or eliminate violence by giving people access to products designed only for the purpose of committing violence is so far-fetched and so removed from reality that I’m amazed our gun-violence numbers aren’t a lot worse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s Buying All Those Guns?

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              Now that the great gun splurge provoked by Covid-19 appears to have come to an end, or it at least slowing down, what did it all mean? Why did people buy all those guns, and who were the people buying all those guns?

              Here are rounded-off baseline numbers for FBI-NICS background checks:

              2019 – 12,110,000

              2020 – 20,270,000

              2021 – 17,450,000

              Two months ago – January – the FBI processed sightly less than 1,120,000 checks.  In January 2021 they processed 1,961,000 checks. Last month the total number was 1,261,000 compared to 1,314,000 in February 2021.

              In fact, what drove the explosion of gun purchases in 2020 wasn’t the Pandemic as much as it was the murder of George Floyd and subsequent street unrest.  Floyd (of blessed memory) was killed on May 25,2020.  The FBI-NICS call center processed 2,125,886 background checks in June. Nobody had ever seen 2 million checks in one single month, although that number would be surpassed by monthly totals in early 2021.

              When did that idiot attorney in Missouri come out on his front steps and wave an AR-15 at a group of BLM marchers going past his home?  Try June 29, 2020. McCloskey, the guy with the gun, is now running for the U.S. Senate.  Imagine living in Missouri and having Mark McCloskey and Josh Hawley representing you in the Senate. Perfect, just perfect.

              In the meantime, let’s get back to all those gun buyers, particularly the new buyers.

              My good friends at Harvard and Northeastern have published a new study which attempts to figure out who was buying all those guns over the last several years.  You can read a summary of their excellent article here or you can download the entire article here.

                The survey gathered data on gun ownership and purchases from 19,000 adults, of whom one-third said they owned guns. Of the gun-owning group, one-third said they had purchased at least one gun since 2019, and of that group, 23% said that the gun they purchased in 2019 or 2020 was their very first gun.

              In other words, most of the guns purchased in 2020, when total sales were 60% higher than in 2019, were bought by people who were already gun owners which meant they were older, White men. The bottom line: “The number of new gun owners created 1 January 2019 to 26 April 2021, was sufficiently large (an estimated 7.5 million) and diverse (approximately half were female and almost half were people of color) to have a modest effect on the prevalence of firearm ownership and on the demographic profile of current gun owners. Note the word ‘modest.’

              When the researchers conducted a previous study of gun owners in 2015-2016, they found that the number of new owners in those years was only one-quarter as many as the number of people who bought their first gun in 2020-2021. In other words, the survey appears to show that the post-Pandemic gun-owning population is somewhat more diverse – gender-wise and racially – than what was typical of Gun-nut Nation before the Pandemic and the unrest precipitated by the murder of George Floyd.

              Our friends at The Trace have just published a long article which takes an in-depth look at this new gun-owning demographic and finds that “Black women are arming themselves – and pushing against stereotypes of who owns firearms.” The article is based on interviews with African-American women who attended a gun class held by the Phoenix chapter of the National African American Gun Association which claims to have 40,000 members nationwide.

              Don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of diversity no matter where it occurs and where it is found. The only problem with promoting the idea of a more diverse gun-owning community is a problem which isn’t mentioned either by the Harvard-Northeastern research team or the reporter at The Trace. And the problem has to do with using and understanding the word ‘ownership’ when it comes to guns.

              Guns are the only consumer item which cannot be purchased or owned except by an adult who can pass an FBI-NICS background check. So, the fact that someone walks into a gun shop, buys a gun, and has his or her background validated by the FBI, doesn’t mean that the buyer is actually the person who is going to use that gun.

              This may come as a great shock to my friends in Gun-control Nation, but many of the individuals who walk into a gun shop and commit a felony by trying to buy a gun for someone else, don’t even know that what they are doing happens to be illegal as hell. I would love to see just one survey in which non-gun owners are asked to define a ‘straw’ sale.

              “Oh, he just forgot his glasses so he can’t fill out the form.” That’s the usual comment when someone reads Question 21a on Form 4473 which asks whether they are going to be the actual owner of the gun. And they aren’t lying, by the way. They just don’t know.

              My friends who do research or write media articles about guns often make the mistake of putting their brains in someone else’s head. With all due respect to how the Pandemic has fostered a new gun culture in the United States, I’m still waiting to see if it’s true.

Just What Your Kid Needs – An AR-15.

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              It figures. Now that Remington has agreed to shell out $73 million because its AR-15 assault rifle was used to kill 26 adults and kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, a gun-maker announced that it will be marketing an assault rifle designed specifically to be used by younger kids.

              What makes this new gun a kiddy product? According to the gun maker, it will be the first assault rifle which will have a ‘safety’ feature that allows adults to ‘control’ how and when the gun is used. This feature is a knob on the side of the gun which has to be rotated by an adult in order to unlock the trigger and fire the gun. 

              Why does this safety knob keep kids from shooting the gun without intervention by an adult?  Because allegedly the spring which holds the safety knob in place is too strong to be manipulated by anyone who doesn’t have adult-size hands.

              Otherwise, the gun, which is 80% the size and weight of a standard AS-15, is exactly like the gun that was used in the massacre at Sandy Hook, except that it is chambered only for 22LR ammunition, not for the more lethal .223 ammo which the adult gun fires.

              On the other hand, the manufacturer is going to ship the gun with a hi-cap magazine that holds 15 rounds. Thank God for that.

              Yesterday I was able to get to the gun maker’s website, today the website is blocked. I suspect there have been numerous efforts to hack the site and why not?  This new product may represent the single dumbest and most cynical product launch in the entire history of the gun industry, bar none.

              First of all, the gun is allegedly designed to be used by consumers who aren’t old enough to actually buy or own a gun.  The website had a picture of some pre-adolescent girl shooting what the company says is a product that ‘looks, feels and operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.” Legally speaking, Mom or Dad would also have to be the owner of this ultra-safe gun.

              Of course, I can just see Josh Hawley introducing a bill in Congress that will drop the legal age for gun ownership down to twelve, or maybe get rid of any age requirement at all, as long as the gun has a safety device that can only be operated by an adult. For sure, the bill will easily get co-sponsorship in the House from Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.  And maybe the company will run ads on the new social media platform – Truth – owned by Donald Trump.

               Ever since the 1970’s, when the term ‘outdoor sports’ started to mean floating down some stream in a kayak rather than tramping through the woods to take a pot-shot at Bambi, the gun business has been trying to figure out how to get consumers interested in their products who aren’t older, White men. 

              They’ve gone after women, they’ve gone after minorities, they’ve gone after the gun ‘rights’ crowd and they have failed every, single time. The only time that some newbies got interested in becoming gun owners was during the Covid-9 pandemic, an event which happens (hopefully) about once every hundred years.

              Want to know what happened to gun sales in January, which is usually the biggest month for gun sales all year?  They dropped by 50 percent from the number of guns sold in January 2020, right back to the total for January 2019. Oh well, oh well, oh well.

              There’s an old joke in the gun business which says that if you want to make a million dollars in guns, start with two million bucks. If the guy whose company is making this gun doesn’t have two million, maybe he can hire Rudy Giuliani to hit up one of his Ukrainian friends.

              I can see it now. Next week all the faithful will be gathering in Orlando for the CPAC conference to pledge undying to the conservative cause. The usual bromides will be coming out of the mouths of Trump, DeSantis, Cruz and all the other wannabees for 2024.

              After the spiels, the audience can go wandering around the area where displays are set up and buy a Trump-2024 banner, or a Ted Cruz for President hat, or a Mike Pompeo coffee mug. Then they can sign a petition at the WEE1 Tactical booth to lower the minimum age for gun ownership to – duhhh – five! 

              Right now, there are some 60 million Americans between the ages 5 to 20 years old. Talk about a new market for guns.

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Training to Walk Around with a Gun!

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              Our good friend Jennifer Mascia, who is a feature writer at The Trace, has just published an article which is sure to get everyone in Gun-control Nation upset. What Jennifer is talking about is the continued spread of states which allow residents to walk around with a concealed gun even if they have never shot that gun or any other gun before.

              Her article was prompted by yet another attempt in Florida to pass a law that will enable residents to carry a concealed weapon without first applying for a concealed-carry permit or taking any kind of safety or proficiency course. What is referred to as ‘permitless carry’ is now the law in 32 states, up from 26 states back in 2016.

              In other words, a majority of states now allow any law-abiding resident to walk into a gun shop, buy a Glock or a Sig, pass a background check, and then stick the gun in their pocket and walk down the street with a loaded and extremely lethal pistol, having never actually even experienced what would happen if they pulled out the gun, pointed it at someone, pulled the trigger and – blam!

              There isn’t a single jurisdiction anywhere in the United States which allows someone to get behind the wheel of an automobile or a truck, turn the ignition and roll off down the highway without first demonstrating that they actually know how to drive. And even though gun deaths have now exceeded vehicle deaths for the fourth consecutive year, somehow the state legislatures in 32 states don’t seem to think that walking around with a gun that you have never fired represents any kind of danger at all.

              The Trace has performed a valuable service by pointing out the continued spread of concealed-carry licensing without proof of proficiency, except unfortunately, Mascia’s article creates the assumption, based largely on interviews with so-called gun trainers, that states which require training in gun usage and proficiency are imposing a valuable requirement on gun owners which will make us all just a little bit safer when it comes to being around guns.

              With all due respect to Jennifer Mascia’s careful and conscientious reporting, the idea that the pre-purchase training imposed by a minority of states makes us any safer when it comes to gun violence is an idea that can only be believed by members of two groups: the so-called gun trainers who earn some extra bucks by running a training course, and people who have little or no experience carrying and using guns, a group which happens to include lots of American who own guns.

              Every couple of years we get a new survey which claims that so-and-so many American households contain a gun. The number goes up, it goes down, but it usually sits somewhere around 40 percent. I’m still waiting for the first of these surveys to ask gun owners how often they actually pick up one of their guns. I mean, the idea that some rusted piece of shit shotgun sitting somewhere in the basement represents anything other than a rusted piece of shit is a joke.

              As to these so-called gun trainers, the fact is that there does not exist any industry-developed process to certify someone who wants to call themselves a gun trainer. Want to be a gun trainer? Call yourself a gun trainer. Or better yet, take a one-day class from some old guy who stands up there and mumbles his way through the NRA training manual, pass a short-answer quiz which everyone passes and guess what? You’re a ‘certified’ NRA trainer.

              Mascia mentions that even states that require some kind of training don’t make the applicants actually fire a live gun. But what about the states that do impose a live-fire requirement? In Florida you have to fire a gun once. In Connecticut, I believe the minimal live-fire requirement is 5 rounds. Of the 18 states that still require live fire, 10 of them require shooting 30 rounds or less.

              When I was in the service, which is what we used to call the military before anyone who reads this column was born, I would have given anything to have been forced to shoot only 30 rounds before I ran in for chow.

              And by the way, I can guarantee you that none of these live-fire exercises require that you hit the target within a specific period of time. I can just see some guy yanking a gun out of his holster and telling the bad guy who’s coming towards him to slow down so that he can point his gun at center mass just right.

              Let me break the news to you gently, okay? Want to walk around with a gun that holds 15-16 rounds of military grade ammunition? Join the police department in your town. Otherwise, if you are really worried about self-protection, when you leave your house, don’t go to the gun shop. Take a ride to the pound.

An Important Step Forward Against Gun Violence.

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              Far be it from me to suggest that anyone out there besides myself has a plan to end gun violence, but there is a group headed by a physician in California, which has been trying to help America rid itself of this scourge, and the purpose of his column is to give that group some publicity and support.

              The group, Americans Against Gun Violence, was founded in 2016 and is headed by its founder, a retired emergency physician, Bill Durston, who is a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. He was cited for ‘courage under fire,’ so I think he knows a little bit about guns.

              The group has just announced a rather unique approach to dealing with gun violence, which is an essay contest for high school students in which the top twelve essays submitted before the April 16 deadline will receive cash awards ranging from $3,000 down to $500, for a total of $15,000 cash.

              This is the 5th year that the contest is being held, and this year the contestants need to submit an essay of 500 words or less describing their thoughts about a statement made by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1991, when he referred to the 2nd Amendment as a ‘fraud.’

              Burger’s statement, you should know, was made seventeen years before the Supreme Court radically revised its stance on the 2nd Amendment in the Heller case that was decided in 2008. If anything, Burger’s concern about how the 2nd Amendment represented the handiwork of ‘special interest groups’ would have been much more vigorous at that latter date.

              Be that as it may, the bottom line is that what Bill Durston’s group is doing by sponsoring an essay contest about guns for high school students represents what I think is the single, most important approach to reducing gun violence that I have seen.

              I’m not talking about whether we should try to junk the 2nd Amendment, which happens to be a fundamental goal that Americans Against Gun Violence would like to achieve. I’m talking about something much more important, which is the necessity to get high school students all over the country to think about how and why we continue to endure a daily pandemic of gun injuries which seemingly has no end.

              From 2015 through 2019 (the last year for which we have data), there were just short of 100,000 Americans who were murdered, of whom 70,000 were murdered by someone using a gun. Thanks to the research of Al Lizotte and others, most of the shooters of those 70,000 victims first got interested in guns at the beginning of their high school years. Get it?

              The problem with all the well-meaning efforts to regulate gun violence by passing laws that require law-abiding gun owners to be even more law-abiding with their guns (take a look at the new laws just enacted in San Jose) is that most of the 100,000+ homicides and aggravated assaults involving guns are committed by young men who have absolutely no interest in behaving in a law-abiding way at all.

              Most of the perpetrators of gun violence also don’t finish high school. But they usually drop out at the end of the 10th grade. Which means that the only time that these kids can be warned about the dangers and risks of guns is when they start high school, which is also the time when they start playing around with guns.

              If gun violence is a public health issue, and every gun-control group says that it is, then we must come up with a pro-active approach to the problem because this is what public health is all about.

              The essay contest suggests that students discuss their submission with ‘teachers, parents, friends and other mentors’ and that they be high school students ‘in good standing’ in order to receive a cash award. Maybe next year the contest would require essay writers to show the work to a teacher because that’s how ideas about guns and gun risks can be spread.

              And by the way, you can also go to the Membership page of Americans Against Gun Violence and send them a few bucks. And don’t give me any nonsense about how ‘broke’ you are thanks to Covid-19, okay?

What’s So Bad About Owning Lots of Guns?

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              Back in the 1970’s when I lived in South Carolina, my house was located about a half mile from a sand pit which measured some 200 yards across. Maybe three times a week, I would go out to my garage, load up 50 rounds of 357 magnum, 9mm or 45scp, and then take either my Colt Python, or my Browning Hi-Power, or my Colt 1911, go out to the pit and blast away.

              Over a three-year period I shot 20,000 rounds or more, every one of those rounds handloaded on my own ammunition press. It probably ran me about three bucks for 50 rounds, which was primarily the cost of the powder (I used Hercules 2400 rifle powder) and the primers since I made the bullets myself by melting down wheel weights, molding the lead and re-using the brass.

              Those same 50 rounds manufactured by Remington or Federal or Winchester would have run about fifteen bucks. So not only was my handloaded ammo much cheaper, but it performed better because every round was carefully loaded by hand.

              When I reloaded ammo, I was engaged in an activity which made shooting for me not just a hobby but an art. I never thought of my guns as self-defense ‘tools,’ or weapons of any sort. Handloading ammunition and trying to produce the most accurate round was no different than how guys took clay and shaped a landscape around which they ran their model trains.

              And by the way, back in the day if you went to a model train show, or a ham radio show, or a gun show, you saw the same guys.

              A reader recently tipped me off to an organization, The Cast Bullet Association, whose members are still doing what I did back in South Carolina fifty years ago. The group was founded in 1976, the exact same year that I started handloading, and the picture above is the presentation of a trophy to the Grand National Champion at the 44th annual national tournament held in Kansas City in September 2021.

              You’ll note that last year’s champion and the presenter of the trophy, the organization’s Vice President, are both real youngsters just like me. The group doesn’t conduct any kind of demographic survey, but I suspect that if I were to show up at one of their events I would be seen as just another kid, even though I’m 77 years of age.

              I just finished reading the CBA’s most recent Newsletter which runs some 40 pages, and on the very last page there is a brief statement of the organization’s purpose which contains these words: “Conducting the Associations affairs in a manner which presents a favorable impression of the private ownership of firearms to the general public and to otherwise support the citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.”

              This sentence is the only commentary in the entire Newsletter (the same words can be found in a page on the website) which says anything about gun politics or anything else having to do with gun ‘rights’ at all. People join this organization because they want to share knowledge about a hobby and a passion which like all hobbies and passions has its own language, its own culture, and its own lore.

              Several years ago, our good friends at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center published an article in which they found that a relatively small number of gun owners owned more and more of the guns. They referred to this group as ‘super hoarders,’ and the article got Gun-control Nation all in a tizzy because here were these guys, some of whom owned hundreds of guns. Since gun-control advocates can’t imagine owning even one gun, how come there are people out there who own fifty guns or more?

              I happen to be one of those guys. Right now, I have somewhere around 60 personally-owned guns lying around. I’m kind of light. Ask me why I have all these guns sitting upstairs, downstairs, every which way stairs, I’ll think for a moment and then say, “Because I like guns.”

              Ask someone why he is a member of an organization which promotes casting your own bullets and you’ll get the same response. The guy likes guns, and he likes making the ammunition for some of those guns. He also likes the idea that he can test his ammo-making competence by taking out one of his guns, loading it with his homemade ammo and put three shots in an inch-wide circle at 100 yards.

              Maybe one of these days my good friends in Gun-control Nation will begin to understand that paying the ATF to regulate the behavior of gun nuts like me and gun nuts like the members of the Cast Bullet Association is a waste of money and time.

              Mind you, I’m not holding my breath. I wouldn’t look very healthy if all of a sudden, I turned blue.

It’s the Handguns, Stupid!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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