I was born in 1944.  I once asked my mother whether she had a difficult pregnancy with me. She laughed and said, “Oh yes. It was very difficult. My doctor told me I couldn’t drink or smoke for nine months!”

              What medicine knew about the health risks of tobacco took the country another forty years to learn and figure out a response. Walk up to a counter in the convenience store and you don’t even notice the sign which says you will be asked to show an ID before you can buy a pack of cigarettes. Those signs didn’t exist anywhere until the 1980’s if then.

              Thank to research by Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published thirty years ago, we have known that access to guns in the home represents the same kind of medical risk which exists in homes which contain cigarettes. The gun industry can promote the false narrative about how guns protect us rather than harm us, but nobody takes that nonsense seriously, if they ever did.

              So how come, here we are in the midst of what appears to be an overwhelming incidence of gun violence, and the chances are better than even that nothing will get done? How come for every state like Colorado which tightens up gun-control laws, another state like Florida will make it easier for folks to get their hands on guns?

              Given the fact that the latest information we have on this subject, a study by the Rand Corp. which indicates that less than 40% of all American households contain a legal gun, how come it seems to be impossible to find a response to gun violence even though a majority of our population doesn’t own a gun?

              Back in 1980, or maybe it was 1981, I spent a weekend at the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, and along with several other S&W distributors, looked at a very detailed marketing survey which S&W had commissioned to help the company figure out how to respond to what appeared to be the loss of the retail gun market to the hi-capacity, European imports made by Beretta, Sig and Glock.

              Smith & Wesson had taken the commercial handgun market away from Colt sometime around World War II. The company also had a near-total control over guns carried by the cops. Both of those markets, however, were being threatened by these upstarts from overseas, so for the first and only time in its entire, storied history (the company was founded in 1852), S&W wanted to know who was buying handguns and why they were being bought.

              What struck me about this survey was that no matter how you sliced and diced the demographics of the respondents – age, gender, race, income, location, etc., – virtually everyone believed in the 2nd Amendment, i.e., every law-abiding resident of the United States had the ‘right’ to own a gun.

              Now granted, this survey was conducted before Columbine and before the other mass shootings which now almost daily or at least weekly dominate the news. The survey was also conducted before well-financed national advocacy groups like Everytown, Brady and Giffords began to challenge the NRA for media time and space.

              But I’m willing to take the short odds that if a survey asked the average American whether they supported the idea that law-abiding folks could own guns, a solid majority of Americans would say ‘yes.’ And this majority would grow exponentially in the 25 states which delivered their electoral votes to the GOP in 2020.

              I lived in Columbia, SC from 1976 to 1981. Most of the homeowners in my neighborhood were older whites, middle-class blacks lived in a similar neighborhood on the other side of the commercial street which ran from the internet loop down into the middle of town. Not one of my neighbors owned a gun, but they all knew that I had guns lying all over my house, and none of them cared. It goes without saying that South Carolina is now, politically speaking, a very red state.

              My friend Tom Gabor is about to set out on a publicity tour to promote a new book he has co-authored with Fred Guttenberg, which hits Amazon and the trade stores on May 2nd. Evidently, the book attempts to dispel and disprove some of the narratives that the gun industry promotes to sell guns and stop the spread of gun-control laws, narratives like how guns are used frequently to protect us from crimes or how an armed society makes us all safe.

              I’ll be receiving a copy of this book next week. I’ll sit down and read it through and then write a review. But the fact is that I don’t need anyone to tell me that access to a gun creates risk. The real question is whether this book is aimed (pardon the pun) at people like me or people like my neighbors when I lived in a gun-owning state.

              We’ll see what we see.