Can We Reduce Gun Violence by Reducing Violence?


              So, a week has gone by, and nobody has walked into a school or a supermarket and blown the place to bits. But I really don’t remember when we had such a spate of mass shootings, and I’m not talking about the pissed off ex-husband who shows up uninvited at a party thrown by his ex-wife and bang-bang-bang, two or three people are dead.

              I’m talking about the really big deals where the guy walks into some crowded space, takes out his trusty ‘sporting’ assault rifle and bangs away. The latest seems to have been down in Allen, TX where some nut job killed and wounded 15 people before the cops shot him dead. Now that’s a serious mass shooting, okay?

              And of course, you know that sooner or later we get a book which will explain what these shootings are all about, along with the requisite list of strategies we should adopt to keep such fearsome events from happening again.

              And here it is! The Violence Project – How To Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic by two criminal justice academics who run a program in St. Paul, MN which claims to be a non-partisan research center ‘dedicated to reducing violence through research.’

              Before I get into some details about the book, I would appreciate it if someone would take the trouble to write and explain to me why all the various organizations and programs devoted to reducing gun violence always make a point of saying they are non-partisan in their approach to their work?

              Is there a partisan way to look at violence? Am I missing something here? Okay, back to the book.

              As far as I know, this book represents the first attempt to understand mass shootings by interviews with mass shooters themselves. The authors wrote to all the mass shooters living in prisons and five shooters responded positively and agreed to talk. They also then interviewed dozens of family members and friends of these five murderers, just to round things out. The purpose of all these discussions “was not the shooting itself but the perpetrator’s life story leading up to the shooting.” [Page 12]

              It turns out, surprise – surprise, that six out of ten mass shooters had some kind of mental health issue in the years leading up to the shooting event. Most also showed various symptoms of mental crisis (agitation, abusive behavior, depression, mood swings) in the days, weeks, months and even years prior to engaging in a shooting spree.

              Obviously, the one factor which somehow connected these behavioral issues with a murderous event was access to a gun. But the authors of this book have next to nothing to say about the fact that these mass killings wouldn’t have happened without access to a gun, and their only prescription for responding to this issue is to support the usual laundry list of gun-control measures (background checks, red-flag laws, etc.,) none of which have ever been shown to reduce gun violence or mass shootings at all.

There’s also the requisite plea to all gun owners to safely store their guns which, by the way, has never been shown to make any difference to the number or rate of gun violence events.

              The authors cite a 2018 survey which found that a “clear majority of Americans favor regulating the lethality of firearms available to the public.” [Page 167] Then they fall back on the idea of a ban only on assault rifles, which are used in an incidental proportion of gun deaths every year.

              God forbid these well-meaning authors/advocates would discuss or even mention the one strategy which would definitively erase gun violence as a behavior resulting in more than 100,000+ people getting killed or seriously injured by someone else every year. To quote Grandpa, would it be such a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) to call for the ban of those bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols whose sale is the real reason that gun violence occurs at all?

              The reason that well-meaning and dedicated activists and scholars like Jillian Peterson and James Densley never go beyond what has become the standard prescriptions for reducing gun violence is very simple – they don’t know anything about guns. Which is true of the entire gun-control community as well.

              So, when these folks talk about ‘non-partisan’ or ‘consensus’ approaches to the problem, they are employing code words which mean they will try to deal with this problem in a way that will at least make it possible to have a discussion with pro-gun groups or advocates which doesn’t end up with a bunch of angry words being thrown back and forth.

              The evidence about gun risk is very clear: access to guns represents medical risk. When C. Everett Koop decided to declare smoking a medical risk, he didn’t try to find a ‘non-partisan’ way to create a narrative which would appeal to both the smoking and non-smoking sides.

              Mass shootings, defined in this book as an event where 4 people are together shot dead in a public space, has been going on for a lot longer than any other health epidemic has ever continued within the United States. To paraphrase Katherine Christoffel, gun violence isn’t an epidemic, it’s endemic.

              You don’t solve an endemic health problem until and unless you focus your energies first on figuring out why the problem exists.

              To paraphrase the 1992 Clinton campaign, it’s the gun, stupid.

Do We Know Anything About Gun Violence?

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              When I opened my third and last gun shop in 2011, a new Glock pistol ran about $500 bucks and a good assault rifle from Panther Arms cost about twice that much. Even at those prices, I sold plenty of both.

              Actually, I didn’t so much as sell them for the manufacturer’s suggested price. I sold them for about half the listed price because just about everyone who comes into a shop to buy a new gun brings in a used gun and makes a trade.

              Guns don’t wear out. And now that they’re made out of polymer, the frame doesn’t even rust. So, you buy a gun, shoot it a few times, then stick it away and take it out next year or the year after and trade it in for another new gun.

              That’s what the retail gun business is all about. It’s kind of like the car business except at some point cars end up being crushed into a square of rusted metal and shipped off to some big oven where they are melted down and the manufacturing process starts over again.

              I own a Colt 1911 pistol that was manufactured in the Hartford factory in 1923. The gun has gone through I don’t know how many owners, but it works fine. It even shoots some ammunition that was made at the Remington ammunition factory in Bridgeport sometime before World War II. 

              The Colt factory in Hartford is now an ‘innovation center’ which means the building’s just an empty shell. The Remington ammunition factory in Bridgeport is rubble. The gun is sitting in my son’s closet unless he sold it to someone else.

              Now according to my inflation calculator, a Glock which cost $500 in 2001 should cost $852 today. An assault rifle from Panther Arms with a retail price of $1,000 in 2001 should set a buyer back $1,705 and change.

              Meanwhile, I see dealers on the internet advertising Glocks for $400 and assault rifles for $600 and change. This means that in real dollars, the types of guns which show up in just about all the gun violence events which are happening today cost about half as much as they cost twenty years ago.

              If there’s a connection between the number of violent crimes committed with guns and the number of guns that are floating around, why should we be surprised when guns have become so much cheaper than they used to be?

              On the other hand, the truth is we really have no idea whether there’s any connection between all those guns floating around and how many crimes are committed by people who don’t have the legal authority to go out and buy one of those cheap guns. Instead, what we get from both sides in the gun debate is a totally unverified assumption that if more people own guns, then crime will either go up or go down, depending on whether all those guns are used either to commit crimes or to protect people from crimes.

              The latter argument, of course, is made by my friend John Lott, who has been saying that more guns equals less crime since he published a book with that title in 1998. The former argument connecting our elevated gun-violence rate to the size of the civilian gun arsenal is made by my friend David Hemenway, who has been making this argument in print since 2004.

              Lott goes around giving his lecture to friendly, pro-gun groups and Hemenway goes around spieling to groups who don’t like guns. Every few years Lott publishes a new edition of his book, Hemenway also updates his research from time to time. Neither Lott nor Hemenway, nor any of the other progenitors in these two cottage industries has yet to even attempt the one, basic piece of research which would definitively determine the link between violence and guns.

              What would that research be? It would be research that would determine exactly how many acts of violence committed with the use of guns are committed by individuals who have legal access to those guns.

              The only time the issue of whether a shooter used a legally acquired weapon is in cases of mass assaults, like last year’s mass shootings in Uvalde, TX or Buffalo, NY which together resulted in 31 deaths, with one shooter killed and the other taken into custody by the cops.

              But even though more than 100,000 Americans are killed or seriously injured by the random shootings which take place just about everywhere all the time, we have absolutely no idea where the guns come from which are used in most of those shooting events.

              I would be willing to take the short odds that less than 5% of all the men and women who are killed or injured each year by someone else who pops them with a gun are the victims of shootings committed by someone who is using a legally-acquired gun or someone who wouldn’t fail a background check even if the gun they used to commit an act of gun violence was acquired in an extra-legal way.

              So why do we continue to argue about laws to regulate the behavior of gun owners who know how to self-regulate themselves? Because the so-called experts who conduct research about gun violence don’t know anything about guns.

American Carnage – A Review.


              The purpose of this book is to provide an antidote to the misinformation which circulates in and around what the authors describe as the ‘intense and acrimonious’ national gun debate. The text is devoted to discussing 37 different ideas which create this misinformation, or what Tom Gabor and Fred Guttenberg refer to as gun ‘myths.’

              To their credit, G&G do an excellent job of describing each myth in clear and concise terms. They also have plumbed the research conducted and published which sheds some reality on each of these myths. If you find yourself in a discussion, debate or argument with a pro-gun advocate, the chances are pretty good that you will have to respond to one or more of the myths listed in this book and you can feel confident using the points made by G&G to provide a contrary case.

              That’s the good news about American Carnage – Shattering The Myths That Fuel Gun Violence. Now the other news, by which I don’t mean criticisms of what G&G have written. Rather, these are several concerns provoked by the book which perhaps require some additional thought. But the whole point of writing any book about a current debate is, after all, to widen the parameters of the debate. As Grandpa would say, ‘ze hais?’ (read: get it?)

              Concern #1. Early on, G&G argue that much of the misinformation about guns reflects the absence of research due to the Dickey Amendment, which prohibited the CDC from sponsoring evidence-based studies from 1997 until last year. But what is not mentioned is that the data on gun injuries produced by the CDC happens to be so insufficient and so lacking in both quantity and quality that our understanding of gun violence remains both minimal and misdirected, government research support or not.

              What I am referring to is the fact that the CDC only publishes estimates on the number of individuals who are killed with the use of guns, i.e., homicides and suicides. The CDC has yet to figure out how to derive and publish a valid estimate on the number of non-fatal gun injuries which occur every year, and my best guess is that this number, if estimated correctly, would increase the total annual gun carnage by two-thirds!

              How can you determine the efficacy of any law or strategy to reduce gun violence if you can’t figure out the number of gun violence events before and then after the law or strategy is put into effect? And let me make it clear that the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun injuries is that in the latter instance, the shooter didn’t shoot straight.

Moreover, there are studies which strongly hint at the possibility that many of the victims of non-lethal gun injuries recover initially but then end up dying earlier than they otherwise would pass away. In other words, the actual fatal gun violence toll may be substantially higher than the number of deaths which occur in any given year.

My second concern, and again this is in no way of criticism of this fine, little book, is that G&G make no distinction between legal, as opposed to non-legal owners and users of guns. These lacunae aren’t their fault, because the absence of such a distinction is rife throughout the scholarly literature on guns. The United States isn’t the only country to sustain a regulatory system for private gun ownership, but it is the only country whose regulatory system is based on the behavior of gun owners, as opposed to a regulatory system which focuses primarily on the lethality and dangerousness of specific types of guns.

There’s a reason you can’t buy a semi-automatic pistol in Canada, which happens to be the same reason that you can’t buy an assault rifle in Britain or France. The only small arm whose ownership is restricted in the United States is a machine gun, but you can even own a full-auto gun if you’re willing to undergo two background checks, wait a couple of months to get approved and then ante up a $250 tax.

Not only do we try to respond to gun violence by looking primarily at the shooters and not at the guns they use to injure or kill themselves or someone else, in fact we have absolutely no idea how many gun violence events are committed by individuals who don’t meet the criteria we have developed to determine who can qualify to own a gun. G&G mention (p. 83) a California study of 18 million adults which showed that access to guns in the home resulted in a risk of fatal injury, but this study didn’t differentiate between legal and illegal guns.

We have absolutely no idea how many of those 400 million guns in the civilian arsenal are in the possession of people who cannot qualify for legal gun ownership. Hence, we have no way of actually determining the efficacy of the various gun regulations (ERPO, UBC, CAP, etc.) that G&G and the entire gun-control community believe, if enacted, will reduce the gun carnage which currently occurs in the United States.

Again, I am not raising these concerns as a criticism of G&G’s work. If anything, hopefully this book will give them a presence in the gun debate which will enable them to raise these issues in a meaningful ad influential way.

American Carnage deserves to be read.

Do Gun Buybacks Work?

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              If there is one issue connected to the debate on gun violence which has been mis-stated and mis-understood over the years, it has been the issue of determining the efficacy of gun buybacks.  Before I explain what the previous sentence means, let me first define the phrase ‘gun buyback,’ which is also mis-understood.

              A gun buyback is an effort conducted within a community or multiple communities to offer financial incentives to people who voluntarily surrender guns. Note the word ‘voluntarily.’ It is not an activity which has any governmental authority or sanction behind it at all. It is not, for example, what happened in Australia in 1996, when the government changed the law and prohibited the ownership of semi-automatic weapons but then reimbursed gun owners a fair market-value for such guns when they were turned in.

              To have forced people to discard property that was legally acquired without compensating them for their loss would have been a major violation of a cornerstone of the legal system because the government can’t arbitrarily penalize citizens who behaved lawfully and now are behaving unlawfully because the law has been changed.

              And yet, here’s a definition of gun buybacks from Newsweek by a reporter who claims she has spent ‘years’ studying gun policies: “Gun buybacks are financed by taxpayer dollars and are generally paid for by local agencies rather than through state or federal funding.” 

              Wrong. Generally speaking, gun buybacks are financed through voluntary contributions by local merchants and advocacy groups which pay for the incentives, usually a gift card to a supermarket or a big-box store, that people receive when they turn in a gun. Last week, the taxpayers in New York State did finance a statewide buyback which brought in over 3,000 guns, but the media coverage hewed to the accepted notion that gun buybacks don’t work: “While gun buyback programs are popular, there is little evidence to show they’re effective in measurably reducing gun violence,” so said an article in USA Today.

              Why don’t gun buybacks ‘work?’ Because after the buyback, according to all the so-called experts, gun violence doesn’t go down. This has been the accepted and unquestioned analysis of the value of gun buybacks ever since Garen Wintemute published a study of a buyback in Milwaukee which concluded that: “Handguns recovered in buyback programs are not the types most commonly linked to firearm homicides and suicides. Although buyback programs may increase awareness of firearm violence, limited resources for firearm injury prevention may be better spent in other ways.”

              God forbid any of the experts who study gun violence would deviate an inch away from what Wintemute said. But Wintemute himself then realized that something as multivariate and complicated as gun assaults can’t just be explained or understood by making a rather primitive argument that if A doesn’t lead to B, there’s something wrong with A.

Wintemute later revised his criticism of gun buybacks, proposing instead that “buybacks may not directly reduce rates of firearm-related violent crime, but they can be an important element in a broader community-based effort to prevent violence.”

What does that statement mean?  Basically, it means nothing. But just to make sure that we understand the value of gun buybacks from Wintemute’s perspective, here’s another judgement from David Hemenway, who does gun research at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health: “An important outcome of the buyback is having people work together, making it more likely they will work together on other aspects of the problem.”

Academics like Wintemute and Hemenway conduct gun research by taking data available in the public domain and twisting it around a new or revised statistical formula which yields a slightly different result from the previous time that the data was analyzed by themselves or someone else. In fact, the data published by the CDC on gun violence is so misrepresentative of the reality of gun violence that to use it in any kind of serious discussion about this issue is to move the discussion into never-never land.

The CDC defines gun violence only in terms of people who are shot and killed with guns, which happens to represent, at best, maybe 30 percent of annual gun violence events. Why is the data used by Wintemute, Hemenway and all their research peers so far away from what gun-violence data should really show? Because the CDC finally realized a few years ago that their sampling methods for estimating non-fatal gun violence were totally and completely wrong.

If any of the gun researchers would take the trouble to read Lester Adelson’s classic textbook on forensic homicide, or God forbid actually walk into a shooting range and shoot a gun, they would discover that the only difference between fatal and non-fatal shootings is that in the latter category, the guy using the gun didn’t shoot straight. Otherwise, to talk about gun violence and ignore the non-fatal events, would be like talking about Covid-19 but ignoring the people who contracted the virus but didn’t go to the hospital for help.

Believe it or not, gun violence in this country exists for one, very simple reason, and the reason is this: We are the only country in the entire world which allows law-abiding residents to purchase, own and walk around with guns whose risk of ownership far outweighs the benefits of owning such guns.

The gun industry would like you to believe that being able to yank a Glock, or a Sig, or a Beretta semi-automatic pistol out of your pocket and either wave it in the face of someone who appears to be a threat, or someone who maybe dissed your girlfriend, or someone who just pissed you off by something they said, is proof that having such a gun means that the benefits far outweigh the risks.

The evidence which proves this nonsense to be false rather than true was first published thirty years ago. And this single issue – risks versus benefits – is what the gun debate is all about. It’s not about the 2nd Amendment, it’s not about the God-given ‘right’ of self-defense. It’s about risk versus benefits of access to certain types of guns.

Ready?  The whole point of a properly organized gun buyback is to inject the risk versus benefit narrative into a community’s thoughts about access to guns.

I am still waiting for any of the so-called gun violence experts to mention this in a single piece of research.

What Do Gun Owners Need to Know About Their Guns?


              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.

How Do We Stop an Epidemic Which Is Endemic?

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              So, to keep things from getting out of control on the gun-control front, the GOP unleashed Vickie Spartz, a House caucus member from Indiana, who explained why locking her guns up or locking them away didn’t make her feel more safe. In fact, the way she put it, she needs her guns close at hand because she never knows if or when the cops will show up.

              This is something of an interesting balance act for the GOP, so to speak, because on the one hand they present themselves as the only think standing between them and those liberal hordes who want to defund the police. On the other hand, if you need to sleep with a gun under your pillow because you can’t be sure if the cops will respond to your call for help, then why should we be paying the folks in blue?

              That being said, the attempt by Congressperson Spartz (no, she’s a Congresswoman) to undercut a cherished idea of Gun-control Nation reflects just how much the GOP needs to keep itself in fighting trim for the gun ‘rights’ gang,  but it also unfortunately reflects the lack of reality in the strategies being promoted by gun-grabbing liberals (which is an oxymoron if there ever was one) to reduce or at least control the current spate of violence caused by the availability of guns.

              Yesterday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 102 deaths and injuries from shootings, of which 30 victims ended up dead and the other 72 are still alive. At that pace, this year would find us at around 11,000 homicides from shootings, which is actually substantially less than the number of individuals murdered with guns over the last several years.

              On the other hand, since 2001, there has only been one year (2014) when less than 11,000 victims were intentionally shot to death, and the number that year was 10,945. To quote our friend Dr. Kathy Kristoffel, we don’t have a gun violence epidemic, because epidemics come, and epidemics then go. The U.S. has gun violence as an endemic condition, which has become as constant and unchanging as the daily replacement of the sun by the moon.

              Unfortunately, cynically stupid politicians like Victoria Spartz, can get away with the nonsense she spouts because the programs and strategies proposed by the gun-control crowd haven’t done much good and worse, don’t even reflect the reality of why and how gun violence actually occurs.

              There is not one, single study, including the research referenced by Idiot Spartz, which goes any further than assuming that maybe there would be a change in gun-violence rates if laws which required locking up the guns were put into effect. Sorry, but telling a gun owner that you believe he maybe might be safer if he locks up his guns, is like telling him that he doesn’t need to worry if he just drinks or smoke a little less.

              My state, Massachusetts, happens to have the strongest and most comprehensive law mandating safe gun storage of all 50 states. If you leave a gun out where other household members can even just touch it, you have committed a felony punishable by five years. The law was passed in 1999 and gun-violence rates went up, not down, over the following four or five years.

              Know why the U.S. has an endemic gun violence problem? Because we are the only country in the entire world which allows residents to own and walk around with guns that were designed specifically to be used to commit gun violence.

              I’m not talking about assault rifles, even though they are usually the weapon of choice when someone wants to blow through a movie theater or a school. I’m talking about my semi-automatic, bottom-loading Glock pistol with a 16-round mag.

              My Glock 17 wasn’t designed to be a ‘sporting’ gun. My Glock wasn’t designed to pop a cap on Bambi’s rear end. My Glock, and virtually every other semi-automatic pistol which together are used for most of the fatal and non-fatal shootings every year, was designed to kill human beings.

              And by the way, for all the chatter out there about how a gun makes you ‘safe,’ the World Health Organization defines violence as a conscious attempt to hurt yourself or someone else. And the WHO, as opposed to that other public health organization known as the NRA, doesn’t differentiate between violence which is ‘good’ and violence which is ‘bad.’

              Meanwhile, I don’t notice one, single public health researcher who has ever said that we can reduce or (God forbid) eliminate gun violence by simply getting rid of the types of guns which show up again and again and again in gun-violence events.

              Which is why I referred above to the lack of reality embodied in the statements and strategies of the well-meaning organizations and researchers who work to reduce violence from guns.

Do Guns Make You Safe?


              So, once again a series of really nasty, mass shootings has opened up the debate on guns, a debate based on a very simple division of opinion, namely, whether a gun makes you more or less safe.

              Obviously, the pro-gun people promote the idea of a gun as being a very effective way to protect yourself, the anti-gun people arguing the reverse.

              Now it turns out that research on this issue definitively shows that access to a gun creates a risk to health. But since when do most people make decisions based on what some article published in a medical journal wants them to believe?

              So, here we go again with the same old, same old which means that the gun-control crowd has to figure out a narrative which will convince gun-owning Americans that they need to re-think how they feel about their guns.

              And by the way, since roughly 40% of Americans own a gun, and 60% believe that a gun represents safety and self-protection more than it represents a risk, there are a lot of non-gun owners out there who also buy the idea that having a gun around protects you and makes you safe.

              So, what do we do to figure out an effective response to the idea that guns are ‘good’ things to keep around?

              Well, the first thing we have to do is figure out why gun owners’ own guns. And for this information, the gun-control gang turns to their friends in public health who run what they refer to as ‘nationally representative’ surveys to figure out what’s on the brain of the people who need to be taught that they don’t need to own guns.

              Unfortunately, the so-called experts who design these surveys, know as much about guns as I know about nuclear fission, and the idea that well-meaning advocates for gun control would use the so-called research of this public health bunch to develop any narrative which would capture the attention of gun owners is a major reason why gun-control laws don’t result in any change at all.

              I can’t remember the last survey of gun owners by public health researchers which didn’t ask respondents why they own a gun? And when the survey is published, invariably the researchers trumpet the idea that they have discovered a fundamental shift in the mentality of gun owners who used to own guns for hunting and outdoor sport, but now own guns for armed, self-defense.

              Of course, you could learn the same thing by simply reviewing the annual report issued by the ATF on gun manufacture, which breaks down the number of handguns and long guns produced every year. In 2020, the gun industry produced 6.5 million handguns and 3.1 million rifles and shotguns. Think any of those handguns were used to pop a cap into Bambi’s rear end?

              But the issue isn’t whether gun owners are stocking up on self-defense guns rather than sporting arms; the real issue, which not one, single public health survey has ever asked, is how many of these folks who went out recently and bought a self-defense gun were already gun owners and decided to switch from guns used for sport to guns used for self-defense?

              Notwithstanding all the exultant crowing by the gun industry PR folks like the NSSF about all these newbies have been streaming into gun shops to buy their first gun, how come not one, single public health researcher has ever taken the trouble to ask a gun dealer (like me) to estimate the number of customers who come into their shop to buy a handgun as their first gun?

              Here’s my answer to that question. Ready? Almost none.

              That’s right. I stopped doing retail in 2015, but between 2002 and when I shut down my retail sales, I probably sold 2,800 handguns. And since my gun shop, like just about all gun shops, sold guns to the folks who lived in my town and the surrounding towns, I knew just about all my customers, and they were either folks who already owned guns or had been raised in a household where guns were around.

              The point is that when and if the gun-control community (of which I happen to be a long-time member) finally sits down and tries to figure out a narrative that will resonate to the other side, as opposed to figuring what to say to each other, they better be prepared to talk to people for whom guns have always been part of their lives, as well as the lives of their parents and probably further back on the family tree.

              Until and unless Gun-control Nation understands and accepts the essential commonality of gun ownership, we will simply continue to sit here arguing about this law and that law and going nowhere fast.

Think Mass Shooters Are Crazy?


              What I am going to say about that bank shooting in Louisville may sound crazy to a lot of the people who read my blog, but what I don’t understand about how people are reacting to the killing of five employees of bank in Louisville, along with the wounding of eight other individuals, including one of the cops who rushed to the scene and exchanged fire with the shooter is this: How come everyone is so surprised?

              Actually, the shooting killed six bank employees, because even though he was apparently going to lose his job at the bank, the shooter, Connor Sturgeon, was also a member of the bank’s staff when he unlimbered an AR-15 and blew the place apart.

              The reason I can’t come to grips with all the anguish and despair being lavished on this latest example of a uniquely American event that we refer to as a ‘mass shooting,’ is because the shooter used his gun exactly the way his gun was supposed to be used. And not only did he use the gun properly, taking full advantage of how the AR-15 is designed, but he bought the rifle legally just a few days before he loaded it up and took it into the Old National Bank.

              Why else would Connor Sturgeon walk into a gun shop and then walk out with a gun for which he may have plunked down a thousand bucks? And let’s not assume that he only bought the gun. What about some extra magazines, maybe a nice carrying case, some cleaning equipment and maybe a scope?

              The bill for those other items could easily have been another couple of hundred bucks, but the kid behind the counter in the gun shop would certainly have told Connor that he needed to be totally and completely prepared.

              Prepared to do what? To kill someone with an AR-15, because in case you didn’t know it, that’s what the AR-15 is designed to do.

              I love how the gun industry has decided that a weapon which can shoot more than 60 rounds of military-grade ammunition in one minute is a ‘sporting’ gun. And when I use the phrase ‘military-grade ammunition,’ I am talking about ammunition which was designed to create the maximum damage when it hits the human frame.

              The point is that when the World Health Organization talks about a medical threat known as violence, they don’t distinguish between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad.’ It doesn’t matter if you shoot someone else because they were attacking you or you were attacking them. Point an AR-15 at someone, pull the trigger and release a 55-grain piece of lead which exits the barrel at 3,200 feet per second, and you have committed a violent act.

              And who’s to say that someone who crashes into a bank or a classroom or a movie theater and tries to kill everyone in the place is mentally ill?  Since when was Connor Sturgeon diagnosed by a competent physician before or after he shot up the Old National Bank?

              Of course, he was crazy. We all know that. He was so crazy that he knew how to walk into a gun shop, buy the right kind of weapon for what he wanted to do, engage the store clerk in some small talk, answer all the questions on the background-check form, take the gun home and begin to plan his big day.

              Want to see how crazy people behave? Spend an hour or so on the grounds of a facility where people who can’t tell what time it is are living there because nobody in their homes can clean, dress, and feed them every day. Or check out the old guy who trudges up and down every aisle in Stop and Shop pulling every, single item off the shelves to check the price.

              These people are ‘mentally ill,’ and their illness prevents from hurting anyone else. But if I get pissed off enough later today to settle a score with the scumbag who lives down the street and insulted me in some way last year, I’m not behaving like a crazy person if I load up my AR-15, go down and stand in front of his house and blast away. I’m behaving exactly the way that Cain behaved when he killed Abel in Genesis, Chapter 4.

              There’s a reason why you only have to read through three chapters of the Bible to get to where we start killing each other after God put us on the Earth.

A New Way to Look at Gun Violence.

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              The other day I received an email from an organization which runs a bunch of recovery centers around the country trying to help poor unfortunates break their addiction to alcohol or drugs. The email asked me to take a look at what this outfit is saying about the connection between gun violence, and addiction, which I did.

              And what came out from reading about the work these recovery centers are doing is the possibility that for the first time, we have a program operating which may really have a positive impact on reducing the number of Americans killed and injured with guns.

              Because it seems to be the case that right now, the so-called gun-violence ‘epidemic’ is out of control. The shootings just seem to be going up, up and up. Meanwhile, for all the well-intentioned talk over the last couple of years about how Covid-19 was creating a stress level in minority neighborhoods which was fueling the increase in shootings and gun deaths, in fact the Pandemic seems to be under control and yet shooting numbers keep going up.

              Basically, what The Recovery Village is saying is that drug and alcohol abuse appear to be causal factors in gun violence, so if we can reduce the former behavioral factors in the human community, then maybe the latter factor will be reduced as well.

              I’m not sure whether this organization has yet to try and determine the validity of this thesis through some kind of evidence-based research, such as (for example) doing a before-and-after study of their patient population to determine whether a decline in substance abuse will also lead to a decline in access to guns, but just the fact that this organization is thinking about such a linkage is a very promising and positive thing.

              The problem with the research done on gun violence by public health specialists who are once again being funded by the CDC, is that what they never seem to be able to do is get beyond what they believe will be sufficient laws and regulations what will keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ And while they admit to the fact that substance abuse is often seen in the families and households of shooters, they claim this problem can be eliminated by extending background checks to all gun transfers, because the current background check procedure includes disqualifying information about substance abuse.

              What the public health researchers at schools like Harvard and Johns Hopkins never do, of course, is actually sit down and talk to individuals who have been substance abusers, then somehow gotten their hands on a gun and use the gun to try and kill themselves or someone else.

              Instead, what we get from the so-called scholarly bunch who do research on gun violence is an analysis of demographic data on violence victims from the CDC which is them ‘associated’ with the behavior of individuals who end up committing violence with a gun.

              I believe that the approach to gun violence being developed by The Recovery Village marks a new and fundamentally more productive response to gun violence than anything coming out of the so-called public health ‘research’ about guns.

              Take your time. Take a look.

The Best Gun Book Of All Time.

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              I have just finished reading (for the second time) what is the best book on anything having to do with guns that I have ever read.  The book, Mooney’s Manifesto, is written by Greg Gibson, who previously published among other books, a non-fiction account of the murder of his college-age son.

              This book is what I would call a fictional memoir, mixing descriptions of various events in the life of a man named Joe Mooney, who is more or less Greg Gibson under a different name and with a story line and an ending which leaves the reader – at least this reader – both deeply disturbed and overwhelmed.

              What makes this book so remarkable is that it is the very first attempt to figure out gun violence by getting inside the heads of people who actually commit that violence, rather than giving us the razzmatazz about poverty, violent family life, lack of education and all the other reasons which explain why a small percentage of the individuals who can’t control their anger demonstrate their lack of control by shooting someone else with a gun.

              Because the real problem in our ongoing discussion about gun violence is that the people who discuss this issue – the researchers and advocates and legislators who create the ongoing burbling of anti-gun violence noise – would never themselves ever imagine picking up a gun and using it in any kind of violent way.

              Most of the people in the gun-control community, in fact, have never even touched a gun. Which was true of Joe Mooney up until the his son was killed as the boy walked across the campus of the liberal arts college where he was enrolled at the time he was shot.

              In fact, Greg Gibson wrote a spellbinding, non-fiction book, Gone Boy, about his son’s murder and subsequent events, which largely focused on his inconclusive struggle to get the administration of his son’s college to own up to their own failings in terms of recognizing the warning signs that another student would commit armed mayhem with a gun. Of course, the book didn’t sell because gun books never sell.

              But whether it sells or not, this new book is different because what the fictional Joe Mooney does in this book is quite unlike what happens to people who suffer a personal or familial loss from gun violence.

              For the most part, relatives and friends of gun victims often attempt to deal with their grief by getting involved with one or more of the advocacy organizations which promote strategies to reduce gun violence. They come to a meeting and tell the audience how their relative or friend got shot, they become activists and try to spread the word about reducing violence from guns, they even use their advocacy activities as a springboard to running and winning a Congressional seat (viz. Lucy McBath.)

              In this fictional portrayal of what Joe Mooney does to deal with the grief of losing a son, he also gets involved with the gun-control advocacy movement, attends meetings, works tirelessly to promote the correct ideas, meets some interesting individuals, and also gets involved with a woman whose nuttiness results in Joe having to separate himself from the gun-control crowd.

              What does he do?  He starts visiting the kid who shot his son, now locked up in jail for life. I’ll let you follow this narrative to see where it goes, but suffice it to say that I don’t know of any other attempt to describe what someone thinks and feels as he’s planning to shoot a public space apart with a gun.

              But then Joe Mooney does something else, which is the most riveting part of the book – he goes out and buys a gun. In fact, he buys two handguns and tries to become something of a shooter with these deadly weapons.

              What does he end up doing with his guns?  I’ll let everyone who buys this book figure it out, but the narrative and style of this text drags us excruciatingly towards what has to be the ultimate and obvious end.

              Want to know what Joe Mooney does with his guns? Buy the book.

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