Do Cops Need To Carry Guns?


              Now that the surge in gun violence seems to be getting worse while the spread of Covid-19 seems to be getting better, I’m waiting for my friends in Gun-control Nation and my friends in Gun-nut Nation to come up with a new theory as to why so many Americans are walking around shooting at so many other Americans on a daily basis. 

              Here’s the basic argument that divides the two sides: More guns mean more gun violence versus more guns means more people can protect themselves from violence. So, either we take the guns away from people who use them to commit violence, or we take guns away from people who use them to protect themselves from violence.

              But the one group whose access to guns has never previously been questioned, and this group happens to use guns for both purposes, are the cops. After all, cops use guns to shoot people, which is the definition of gun violence, and they also use guns to protect themselves and others from people who would commit violence, right?

              It turns out that this question has now become an issue in the heated New York City mayoralty campaign when Maya Wiley, the ‘progressive’ candidate, who has been endorsed by that Communist or whatever-she-is rabblerouser, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, stated in a debate that she ‘wasn’t sure’ whether NYPD officers should be walking around with guns.

              Wiley got slammed by all the other Democratic candidates who couldn’t get over their joy in being able to shit attention away from having to explain exactly how they would go about cleaning up the mess that has been created by eight years of Bill DeBlasio’s tenure in City Hall, with our friend Eric Adams saying how ‘alarmed’ he was that someone would want to take away the tools needed by the cops to deal with the ‘thousands’ of guns flooding the city’s streets.

              The only problem with what Adams and the other mayoral candidates is saying is that it’s really not clear whether there really is a connection between the cops protecting the city from crime and the cops walking around with guns. The idea that a cop needs to have a Glock on his hip while he stands in the middle of an intersection directing traffic has never been questioned except there have just been too many recent incidents where cops shot the wrong people with their guns.

              So far this year, at least 400 people have been shot and killed by cops, although the rate of cop shootings is actually slightly lower than it has been in any year since 2015. So far in June, there have been at least 20 fatal cop shootings around the United States and in only one case was the shooting caught by a body cam, so we have to rely on the account by the shooters themselves as to what actually took place. And I hate to say it, but why should we assume that how a cop describes why he shot someone is necessarily more accurate than how a civilian describes doing the same thing?

              My friends who do research on gun violence are always quick to trot out the idea that we suffer so many shootings because we are the only country which gives all law-abiding residents access to guns. Wouldn’t the same argument apply to cops?

              The United States has a rate of cop killings which is 10 to 20 times higher than any other country in the OECD, which is about the same difference in the number of guns floating around between the U.S. and the rest of the OECD

              The cops will tell you that the reason they need to carry guns is because all the ‘bad guys’ out there have guns. But there have just been too many cop shootings recently, like the shooting of Patrick Warren in Killeen, TX where the victim was completely unarmed.

              I know cops have a tough job. I know they are underpaid, underappreciated, and usually undertrained. But that doesn’t change the fact that a Glock in anyone’s hands is a threat to public safety, okay?

Gun Violence | TeeTee Press

The Dumbest Gun Law Passed This Year.


              I used to think that the dumbest gun law ever produced came from Matt Gaetz who, when he was a State Senator in Florida, introduced a law (which went nowhere) that would have allowed patrons who were shot by someone in a gun-free zone to sue the owner of the property who had made his space gun free.

              But the Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, is about to sign into law a bill which is even dumber than the law put out there by child-molester Gaetz. This is a law called the ‘2nd-Amendment Preservation Act,’ which prohibits the police in Missouri from enforcing federal laws which would be “considered infringements on the people’s right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by Amendment II of the Constitution of the United States.”

              Exactly what laws are they talking about? The most egregious infringements on gun ‘rights’ in Missouri would be any federal law which would result in “any registration or tracking of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition.”

              So, if a local police department shows up at a crime scene, let’s say a murder, and finds a gun next to the corpse which was evidently used to kill the guy, according to this new law the cops can’t ask the ATF to trace the gun in order to figure out who may have actually committed the crime.

              And why do the good people of Missouri need such a law? Because according to the Governor’s office, this law will “empower people to protect themselves.” The Governor’s spokesperson, Kelli Jones, actually said this. She actually stated those exact words.

              In 2019, the most recent year for which we have data, Missouri was one of 7 states with a murder rate in double digits, specifically the rate was 10.23 murders per 100,000 residents. There were only 4 states in 2019 which suffered from a higher rate of murders where the killer used a gun. So why not make it harder for the cops to figure out who pulled the trigger when they find a dead body on one side of the street with his head blown off and then find the gun on the other side of the street?

              Obviously, the guy who got his head blown off wouldn’t have been a murder victim at all if he had taken the trouble to ‘empower’ and protect himself, right? And how could this guy have empowered himself to make sure he didn’t get his head blown off by someone else?  That’s simple. All he needed to do was go out and get himself a gun.

              I can certainly understand why the head of Missouri’s gun-control group, MOMS, would issue a statement calling this law something with no benefit at all. But that’s not completely true, because after all, as the fear of Covid-19 abates and less people feel they can protect themselves from the virus by buying a gun, the guys who own gun shops in Missouri will need to find some way to boost sales.

              Know how many guns were purchased in Missouri last month? Try 40,192.  Know how many guns were sold in Missouri in April? Try 51,356.  In March it was 65,739.  So, over the last three months, gun sales in Missouri have dropped by almost 40%! That’s no good. No good at all.

              If it weren’t for the idiot state legislator, Jered Taylor, who sponsored this bill, and the idiot Governor, Mike Parson, who signed the bill, the gun business in Missouri might collapse, and then all those state residents who still need to empower themselves to keep themselves safe would be sh*t out of luck.

              Maybe what those poor folks would have to do is sneak into someone’s house when they’re not around and swipe one of their guns. And if the neighbor reports the theft to the cops and the cops want to trace the gun, then the local cops will also be sh*t out of luck.

              Missouri’s known as the ‘show me’ state. Want to show me a law that is dumber than this new gun law? 

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

A New Gun Law That Could End America’s Love Affair With Guns.


              Sooner or later, someone would figure out a way to get around the tort immunity enjoyed by the gun industry since 2005 when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).  The law basically says that no point in the supply chain – manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer – can be held responsible for the 125,000 shooting deaths and injuries which occur every year because guns are legal products and, hence, the responsibility for how they are used can only be framed around the individual behavior of who actually used the gun to assault themselves or someone else.

              The PLCAA law does not protect gun makers from civil liability if their behavior runs counter to state laws that cover false advertising, such as the Connecticut law known as ‘negligent entrustment’ which is being used to sue the gun maker – Remington – whose gun was the instrument that killed 26 adults and children at Sandy Hook.

       The New York law goes after the gun industry for creating a public nuisance in the way it markets and sells guns, and opens the industry to civil liability if it doesn’t “establish and utilize reasonable controls and procedures to prevent its qualified products from being possessed, used, marketed or sold unlawfully in New York State.”
       In other words, if Smith & Wesson ships a gun to a licensed wholesaler in Massachusetts, who then ships it to a licensed retailer in Virginia, who then sells the gun to a licensed gun owner, who then has the gun stolen by someone who takes the gun to New York, sells it on a street corner to some dope who then pops off a round which hits some kid in the head, Smith & Wesson can be sued because the company didn’t establish ‘reasonable controls’ to prevent that entire scenario from taking place.
        What are the ‘reasonable controls’ that S&W has to put in place?  The legislation doesn’t define those controls. How do we know if S&W has created such controls? Because guns from other states will stop being picked up at crime scenes in New York. 
        Between 2010 and 2015, more than three-quarters of all the crime guns picked up in New York State were originally sold to residents of some other state. Despite the so-called ‘iron pipeline’ which brings guns up I-95 from more gun-permissive Southern states, most of the New York crime guns that came into the state were initially sold in the surrounding and adjacent states. 
        If you are Smith & Wesson, how do you prevent your products from being legally sold in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, then being stolen, or lost and somehow winding up across the Hudson River and used to commit a crime in New York? You don’t and you can’t. To protect itself from the civil liability which this law could potentially impose on S&W, the company would have to cease shipping its guns to any state which might be a source for those guns being used in a criminal event. 
        Maybe S&W could stop making guns and start making handheld power tools. Better yet, what the gun company should really do to keep itself afloat is to stop manufacturing products whose design and engineering hasn’t changed in more than one hundred years, and start looking at electronic, self-defense products like the Vipertek taser pictured above, which provides all the personal security anyone could ever need without creating any kind of liability issue at all.
       Last week I drove past an Apple store and there was a line around the block. For all the talk about surging gun sales, the gun shop nearest me never has more than a couple of folks waiting around to buy a gun. 
      If the New York law that gets around PLCAA begins to spread to other states, it might be the best thing that could happen to the gun industry since smokeless powder was invented in 1884. 
     And don’t worry, all the noisemakers who argue back and forth about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights will find something else to argue about, that’s for sure.

Catalog | TeeTee Press

A New And Exciting Response To Gun Violence.


              Right now, the city of Miami and surrounding Dade County seem to be caught in a spiral of gun violence that doesn’t want to end. Increased community meetings, increased police presence, increased seizures of crime guns – the violence goes on.

              Meanwhile, in addition to an uptick in daily gun violence, there have been two mass shootings, including a drive-by outside a location where a graduation party was taking place that left 3 dead and 5 injured, with no suspects arrested or even identified as of yet.

              What caught my eye in all of this, however, was a bill filed by State Senator Jason Pizzo, which is a unique approach to the problem, but because it was not only a new legislative perspective on gun violence but may have made a difference if it has been signed into law, the bill never got out of committee. We’re talking about the Gunshine State, ze hais?

              Senator Pizzo has refiled his bill this year (SB1310) but it will languish in some committee, but perhaps it will become a template for similar gun bills in states which aren’t so completely under the control of a wannabe Donald Trump like Ron DeSantis. The bill prohibits minors from posting pictures of guns on social media and will require parents of such kids to enroll in education classes if their child used one of their guns for the pictures that are displayed in a social media account that is “openly viewable by the public.”

              This would be an easy law to enforce because such sites – Facebook, Instagram, etc., – are not only viewable by the public but also by the police. And if the parents of juveniles don’t know that their kids are brandishing guns online, it’s something they need to learn and something they need to stop from happening again.

              The problem with enforcing strict penalties for the illegal use of a gun, which is Gun-nut Nation’s universal prescription for how to reduce the violence committed by using a gun, is that such a strategy can only be employed after the criminal event involving gun use has already occurred. The real issue, it seems to me, is how to proactively prevent gun violence before it happens before someone gets it in their head to settle an argument or respond to being dissed by pulling out a gun.

              Our friend Al Lizotte has done the fundamental research on how and when kids get interested in guns and you can download it here. When do kids who use guns for crimes first get interested in guns? In their early teens. When do they start carrying guns? In their middle teens. When does gun violence become the principal cause of homicidal and aggravated assault behavior? From ages 16 on up.

              You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that kids who move from toy guns to real guns in their early teens become the most at-risk population for committing gun violence even before they actually get their hands on a real gun. If they can use a real gun to spice up their appearances on social media, then the transition from gun interest to gun access has already occurred. And even if they only use a plastic imitation of a gun for their social media post instead of the real thing, the intent is clear.

              In 1999, that’s more than twenty years ago, the gun-homicide rate in the United States was 3.88, now it’s 4.39. The gun-assault rate in 2001 was 14.40, it was 18.82 in 2012 and then the CDC stopped trying to compute the non-fatal gun assault rate.

              Never mind the number of gun deaths and injuries that have occurred over the past twenty years. How about the number of young kids who have moved from interest to access, to criminal use of guns during those same twenty years?

              Pizzo’s bill is a good idea. I hope it gets copied in other states.

What Is An Assault Rifle?: Weisser, Michael R.: 9798728410980: Amazon.com: Books

Should Stabilizing Braces Be Regulated By The ATF?


In his wonderful history of the Spanish Armada, Garrett Mattingly describes the Spanish Monarch, Philip II, as sitting at his desk in the Palacio Escorial, poring over documents “eyes red-rimmed, fingers aching, hard at work at his self-appointed task as Chief Clerk of the Spanish Empire.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think my little shack outside of Amherst, MA qualifies as a latter-day Escorial palace, but I do Iike to think of myself as the Chief Clerk of the Gun Violence Prevention empire, whose jobs it is to explain to all my friends in Gun-control Nation what things mean and don’t mean when it comes to guns.

In that respect, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has just released a proposal to regulate a gun accessory called a ‘stabilizing brace,’ a piece of plastic which when attached to a handgun allows the user to shoot it like a rifle, even though the short barrel means that it should be regulated as an NFA gun.  What does that mean?

It means that in order to purchase a stabilizing brace, the prospective owner has to go through a very extensive background check (actually two background checks), pay a substantial licensing fee to the U.S. Treasury, and then sit around for a couple of months until all the paperwork is processed, and he can go to the gun shop and pick up his brace.

Here’s what a standard, Glock pistol looks like:

And here’s what the same gun looks like with a stabilizing brace:

Get it?  With the brace attached to the gun, you get more stability, particularly when you are banging off a lot of shots as fast as you can. More stability means more accuracy, more accuracy means more injuries if you walk into a public space with your brace-equipped gun and start banging away. In fact, guns with stabilizing braces were used in several mass shootings over the recent months, including a shooting in Colorado this past March.

The ATF initially begun looking at the stabilizing brace issue back in December, issuing a notice that was withdrawn five days later after the usual gaggle of NRA-loving members of the GOP caucus started to squawk. Now the notice has been republished and will no doubt generate the usual pro-gun noise but Trump’s out, Joe’s in and that’s the end of that.

The stabilizing braces were sold and promoted as a device that would allow disabled military veterans to shoot their handguns even if they only had full use of one arm. Nobody really paid attention to the issue either way, and of course the moment that any product hits the market that is designed to make life easier for our wounded warriors, who would dare raise a dissenting peep?

I will if you don’t mind. And if some of my readers mind, bully for them.

First of all, anyone who has to point and shoot a handgun using only one arm is doing something which is foolish and unsafe, I don’t care whether the gun is equipped with a stabilizing brace or not. Aiming a handgun with any degree of real accuracy is difficult enough with two arms and two hands, never mind one arm, one hand and a plastic gizmo resting against your chest.

Second and more important, a gun being held in one hand that gives a pretty good kick when it goes off is a gun that is likely to be dropped on the ground or on the table in front of the bench rest.  Know what happens when guns are dropped? No matter what all the advertising says, sometimes they go off. And a gun that discharges a 9mm round at 1,200 feet per second in a direction that isn’t under the shooter’s control is a gun that isn’t safe. Period.

I used to have a collection of model trains. Sometimes I waited more than a couple of months to add a certain car to a model train. So, I waited. So what?

I would give any disabled veteran a pass on paying the NFA license fee, but what would be so bad if all the guys who want to shoot their pistols like rifles have to wait a few months before they can use their new toy?

Sandy Hook: A Man Sold A Gun (Guns in America Book 7) – Kindle edition by Weisser, Michael R.. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

A New NRA Book That Everyone Should Read.


              Want to read a clever, interesting, and unusually original book about guns? Try Firepower, How the NRA turned Gun Owners into a Political Force in American Politics, by Matthew Lacombe, who teaches political science at Barnard College. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because the author teaches at an Ivy League school, that he’s just another tree-hugging liberal out to explain why guns are no good.

              In fact, at no point during the entire text does Lacombe make any value judgements about guns or the people who own guns at all. What he’s bitten off to chew is the role played by the NRA, organizationally speaking, in the contours of the American political scene. And this is a significant topic at the moment, given the possibility that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ may shortly be forced to fold up its tent and disappear.

              Lacombe’s book is an examination of how the NRA turned its membership into an organized, political force that ultimately made common ground with the GOP. He divides this gradual evolution into three, distinct periods: (1). The ‘quasi-governmental’ period which ran from the 1930’s through 1968 when the NRA resisted federal gun laws but didn’t choose political sides; (2). The ‘party-group’ alignment period from the late 1960’s until the 1980’s when the NRA found itself increasingly aligned with the GOP; and (3). The ‘partisan’ period beginning with Reagan and going through Trump when the NRA’s messaging was more about politics and often never even mentioned guns or gun ‘rights.’

              Lacombe analyzes the messaging for each period by comparing editorials published each month in the NRA’s flagship magazine, The American Rifleman, and comparing with Letters to the Editor in four major newspapers, one published on the East Coast, one published on the West Coast, and two newspapers published in between. What Lacombe find is that the topics and the wording which appear in NRA editorials is usually similar to the topics and wording found in letters about guns published in the daily press.

              This content consonance between what the NRA says and what gun-owners then repeating allows Lacombe to posit the idea that the NRA has been especially successful in creating a gun-owning ideology which can motivate the members to respond whenever the politics of gun control rears its ugly head.

              The book is written in a jaunty, relaxed but academically-rigorous style. The reader will have no trouble following the detailed ins and outs of how various national gun bills were developed, introduced, debated, amended and ultimately either voted into law or ended up on the Congressional floor.

              This book should be required reading for gun-control advocates and Lacombe’s findings should be used to craft a narrative about gun violence that might convince at least some gun owners to come over to the other side.

              On the other hand, the book’s attempt to explain how the NRA has created and promoted an ideology which links gun ownership to a wider world view and then propelled NRA members into taking active roles on the political stage, is lacking in one, important respect.

              In addition to my membership in the NRA, I am also e member of Brady, Everytown, The National Parks Conservancy, Audubon, and The Wilderness Fund. I get contacted by voice, mail, or email by all those organizations put together about as often in an entire year as I hear from the NRA every, single month.

Even in the midst of the organization’s current problems with New York State, its former PR firm and a stupidly-contrived bankruptcy effort filed and now withdrawn, when it comes to the care and feeding of its members, the NRA does a job simply second to none.

As long as the NRA has enough money to publish the monthly magazine, put together their great clothing catalog and start taking reservations for the annual meeting and show, they will have no trouble getting their members to overwhelm politicians who would like to see gun ‘rights’ disappear.

Another Gun Expert Joins The Debate And Gets It Completely Wrong.

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              It has to be my fault.  There’s simply no way that a media organization as sophisticated and professional as 24/7 Wall Street could do a story about guns and get it so completely wrong. So, I have to assume that although I have described what the FBI-NICS numbers mean at least two dozen times, obviously I’m doing it in a way that simply doesn’t allow the reporter who wrote about guns for 24/7 to get what I’m saying at all.

              Yesterday, 24/7 ran a story with a headline which said there was one state which already racked up more than 5 millions gun sales this year.  One state has already accounted for the purchase of 5 million guns?  In 2019, the total for all guns manufactured in the United States was 6.5 million, of which 200,000 were exported and the rest were sold here. Now I know the Pandemic increased gun sales exponentially in 2020, but how could one state, identified as Illinois, register more gun sales in five months this year than the total gun sales for the entire United States in 2019?

              In fact, it didn’t happen. It didn’t come close to happening.  So, I guess this means that for the umpteenth time I have to explain the meaning of those monthly FBI-NICS numbers that the reporter for 24/7 Wall Street didn’t understand at all. Here goes.

              In May, the state of Illinois connected up to the FBI-NICS call center 998,926 times. In April the number of calls from Illinois to the FBI-NICS desk was 955,439; March was 1,427,917; February was 902,029, and January was 1,002,118. Round it off and you get 5.3 million background checks for residents of Illinois.

              There’s only one little problem. Ready? Of those 5,3 million calls, roughly 245,000 (I’m rounding off) were for background checks covering the purchase of guns. The rest of those calls, the other 5.2 million calls, were for approval of new gun permits, rechecks of previously issued permits, and guns redeemed out of pawn. Illinois doesn’t yet require background checks for person-to-person private sales which in California, for example, accounts for another 7,000 – 8,000 background checks each and every month.

              What the FBI-NICS numbers really show, if the reporter for 24/7 Wall Street would like to know what he is writing about, is that the great 2020 surge in Pandemic gun sales is, like the Pandemic, beginning to slowly but surely fade away. In May 2020, Americans bought 955,278 handguns, last month that number dropped 20% to 767,314.

              The reason the reporter for 24/7 Wall Street made such a big goof is because he looked at the wrong NICS dataset published by the FBI. He based his story on the dataset which lists calls received by the NICS call center for each state but doesn’t break down the reason for the call: NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State — FBI.  What he should have been referencing was the dataset which shows not only the number of calls per state, but the reason why the calls were made: NICS Firearm Checks: Month/Year by State/Type — FBI

              Unfortunately, the writer of this article is not just some kid reporter. He’s Douglas McIntyre, not only Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief of 24/7 Wall Street, but “an expert on corporate finance, the automotive industry, media companies and international finance. He has edited articles on national demographics, sports, personal income, and travel.” A Magna Cum Laude graduate from Harvard College, obviously McIntyre’s choice of major at America’s oldest University didn’t include a course on guns.

              Am I surprised that someone as educated and professionally experienced as Douglas McIntyre could write a story about the gun business and get it so utterly and completely wrong? To the contrary, I have to assume that his sudden interest in guns reflects an awareness that with the current political alignment in D.C., we might actually see a gun-control bill debated and even passed on Capitol Hill.

              Let’s just hope that if such a debate occurs, that our Congressional friends supporting a new law to reduce gun violence will rely on sources more accurate than 24/7 Wall Street.

Catalog | TeeTee Press

Will We Ever Have An Honest Debate About Guns?


              So yesterday I posted a comment in which I asked my friends in Gun-control Nation to stop playing around and say what they really should say, namely, that they don’t like or want guns. I’m not saying I agree with them, by the way. I’m just saying that when it comes to guns in America, I would like to see an honest and open debate.

              In case you’re interested, the 2nd Amendment says that Americans can keep a gun in their homes, but it doesn’t say they can buy a gun. Many of the guns that colonial residents brought with them when the joined the Continental Army were handmade or homemade, which is the reason that George Washington opened the arsenal at Springfield that made military-standard guns.

              On Tuesday, the Governor of Oregon Kate Brown, signed a gun-control bill that has my friends in Gun-nut Nation all worried and upset. The bill is basically a CAP (child access prevention) law, which requires that guns must be kept locked, or locked away so that they cannot be used by kids or unqualified adults either to hurt themselves or hurt anyone else. Oregon is the 29th state to enact such a law.

              What does this law mean to all those law-abiding gun owners in Oregon who want to keep a gun at the ready in case their home is invaded by some thug? According to the opponents of this new law, locking a gun up is exactly what will invite the bad guys to break int your home.

              Unfortunately, what gun ‘rights’ groups are saying about this new law, a narrative which is being used to promote a 2022 ballot petition against the statute, happens not to be true. Because if you take the trouble to actually read the text of the law, here is what it says: “The liability imposed by subsection (3) of this section does not apply if: the person and the firearm are in the presence of the owner or possessor of the firearm.”

              In other words, if you have a gun in your home and you leave your home to go to work or to go anywhere else, the gun has to be locked or locked away. If you are the owner of the gun and you’re sitting in the living room watching TV or snoozing in the bedroom, the gun can sit there next to you, unlocked and ready to be used.

              This is exactly what I meant yesterday when I said we need an honest debate between the two sides about guns. But if the gun ‘rights’ gang tries to undo this statute in 2022 by claiming that it prevents Mister Joe Gun Owner from using his gun to protect himself, his beloved family, or the sanctity of his home, they are lying, and the debate won’t be honest at all.

              At the same time, I think my Oregon friends in Gun-control Nation also need to know what they are talking about if they want to promote or pass laws that will reduce violence when someone shoots themselves or someone else with a gun. I notice that the new Oregon law requires gun owners to report the theft or loss of a gun to the cops.

              That’s a good idea but what’s not so good is that the same section of the law says that the person reporting the missing gun “may include the serial number of the firearm.”  May include?  Are you serious?

How in God’s name will the cops track the movement of a gun from its owner to a criminal without the serial number? It can’t be done unless the gun has some sort of engraving or other unique identifying mark.

I’m really hoping that the petition to overturn this law and another petition being planned to ban assault rifles in Oregon make it to the ballot for 2022. I’m also hoping that both sides will try to argue for their positions with at least some degree of accuracy, never mind attention to the real facts.

Do We Know How Many Gun Dealers Obey The Rules?


              Yesterday I wrote a comment about how our friends at The Trace have published a rather interesting piece about the ATF’s policy covering gun shop inspections and basically gotten It all wrong. Today I’m going to continue my little exercise in correcting mistakes made by journalists who think they understand the gun industry when they don’t understand it at all, covering yet  another issue that The Trace discussed which adds up to zilch.

              I’m referring to the following statement about the scope of the ATF’s regulatory activities: “The ATF is responsible for policing the 78,000 gun dealers, manufacturers and importers in the U.S. In the 2020 fiscal year, as the coronavirus pandemic snarled government operations, the ATF inspected only 5,827 licensed dealers, or 7.5 percent — the lowest annual inspection rate since 2004.”

              The ATF can’t even inspect one out of every ten retail stores? That’s a pretty piss-poor job if you ask me. Because if 90% of the gun dealers can go a whole year without having to worry about running their business in a legal and legitimate way, no wonder so many guns wind up in the street and are used to commit so many violent crimes.

              Ready? Here we go.

I have been listening to this nonsense about how the country is inundated with gun dealers for years. The statement has absolutely no connection to the reality of the gun business at all. Not one bit.

The fact that someone sends the ATF $300, passes a background check, and is issued a federal dealer’s license doesn’t mean that he will ever sell a single gun to another soul. On the other hand, if I want to open a retail store and sell products to the public – guns, coffee, cat litter, anything else – getting a license from the Feds because it’s guns I’m going to sell is the least licensing requirement I need to worry about.

Before I open my doors to my first customer, I’m going to need to register with the state revenue people because I have to charge, collect, and remit sales tax. In most jurisdictions I’ll also need a local and/or state business license, along with insurance, a commercial bank account and maybe I should register as a corporation just in case.

How many of those almost 80,000 people holding those ATF dealer, manufacturer and importer licenses have gone to the trouble of actually setting up a place to do business, going out and getting all the licenses and fulfilling all the other paperwork and commercial requirements that have to be met before they can sell one, blessed thing?

              Take my state, which is Massachusetts. Right now, there are 364 residents in Massachusetts who hold a current gun dealer’s license from the ATF.  Presently there are 36 retail gun dealers doing business in this state.

              The ATF says it conducted 11 inspections in Massachusetts from 2015 through 2017. So, if we follow the argument made by The Trace, it looks like the ATF inspected 3 percent of the gun dealers in Massachusetts over those three years. In fact, they inspected roughly one-third of all the locations where someone can actually purchase a gun.

              Nearly all the folks holding federal gun licenses use these licenses to buy guns for themselves either directly from other dealers or from wholesalers because on such a direct purchase they will save upwards of 30 percent or more of what they would pay if they walked into a gun shop and bought the same gun over the counter in a retail sale.

Mail-order sales to individuals across state lines were outlawed by the federal gun-control law passed in 1968 (GCA68), because that’s how Lee Harvey Oswald acquired the rifle which he used to assassinate JFK. And which Federal agency did GCA68 designate to regulate dealer-to-dealer movement of guns? That’s right – the ATF.

I am still waiting for the first gun journalist who writes about the shockingly large number of gun dealers selling all those guns that end up in the ‘wrong’ hands to sit down and take the trouble to figure out how many physical locations actually exist where someone can legally purchase a gun.

This exercise has not yet been performed by my friends at The Trace, but they know ‘for a fact’ that the ATF only inspects less than 10% of all gun dealers every year.

They know. Yea, right.

Want To Fix The ATF? Don’t Ask The Trace What To Do.


              Last week our friends at The Trace published a long article based on nearly 2,000 reports of gun shop inspections conducted between 2015 and 2017. The authors note that the ATF is coming under ‘scrutiny’ because a former ATF staffer, David Chipman, is going to start running the agency, and since he previously worked for Gabby Gifford’s group, he’s certainly going to change how the ATF operates and turn what The Trace considers a ‘toothless’ regulatory agency into a tough, go get ‘em outfit that will finally make a dent on violence caused by guns.

              Why do the authors of this totally contrived and error-filled article conclude that the ATF’s activities give gun dealers “immunity” from serious punishment and allows them to “enjoy layers of protection unavailable to most other industries?” Aside from the fact that these authors have obviously never worked for a bank or a brokerage house, the entire argument is based on this: “A single violation is enough to shutter a gun shop if ATF officials can prove that the store willfully broke federal regulations. In the vast majority of the cases analyzed by The Trace and USA TODAY, the ATF gave violators the lightest penalty available.”

              Of course, the so-called gun experts who wrote this nonsense never took the trouble to figure out how the ATF decides that a gun dealer has committed ‘willful’ violations in how he sells guns. And since the ATF only shut down 3 percent of the dealers who committed these horrible, willful violations, obviously gun retailers are being regulated by an agency which doesn’t know how to do its job.

              The article goes into great detail about some egregious examples of gun shops that were allowed to stay in business while they kept selling illegal guns. It starts off with a story about a West Virginia gun shop named Uncle Sam’s, which was allowed to stay in business despite numerous warnings about willful violations over multiple years while the shop operated as the “backbone of a sprawling gun trafficking scheme.” Obviously, the moment a gun dealer starts committing ‘willful’ violations, he’s another Uncle Sam’s and should be shut right down.

               My gun shop underwent a full ATF inspection in 2014.  The ATF team visited the shop numerous times, reviewed somewhere around 4,000 transactions of guns coming in and going out, they also examined hundreds of 4473 FBI-NICS background checks covering retail sales and other documentation covering guns sent to dealers, sold to tax-exempt agencies as well as the forms we filled out whenever anyone purchased multiple guns.

              At the end of this tedious and seemingly-endless exercise in the examination of thousands of pages of paperwork, it was determined that we could not produce requisite documentation on the transfer of – ready? – three guns. It doesn’t mean the paperwork didn’t exist. We just couldn’t produce the paperwork at the time the inspection occurred.

              Several weeks later, I received an inspection report from the ATF.  The report detailed the fact that the inspection team had found more than 1,000 ‘willful’ violations, each of which was considered a ‘threat to public safety’ and could result, under law, in shutting me down. On the other hand, if I showed up for a conference at the ATF, said my mea culpa’s and promised to do a better job, I could continue to operate my gun shop.

              The thousand ‘willful’ violations consisted of one violation repeated more than a thousand times: we didn’t write out the full name and federal license number of the same wholesaler from whom we purchased most of our guns. What made these violations ‘willful’ was the fact that when we received our license in 2002, an ATF agent delivered the license and also made some comments about how to fill out the forms. Incidentally, the two kids who ran the shop and had committed those thousand ‘threats’ to community safety weren’t even in the shop when the ATF agent showed up and allegedly delivered his spiel.

              I wouldn’t be so upset by this half-assed journalism if it weren’t for the fact that this story, reprinted in USA-Today, will become the new narrative used by Gun-control Nation to frame their demands for how the ATF needs to clean up its act.

              More on this tomorrow. 

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