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Do Guns Protect Us Or Hurt Us?

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              Ever since Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research in 1993-94 which definitively linked gun access to increased homicides and suicides, the issue of whether guns protect us from harm or create more harm has been the basic dividing-line between the two sides.

              The ‘guns keep us safe’ argument is identified most frequently in the work of our friend John Lott, whose book, More Guns, Less Crime makes the connection between the issuance of concealed-carry licenses and violent crime rates to argue that as the former number goes up, the latter number goes down.

              The ‘guns make us less safe’ argument is identified most frequently in the work of our other friend, David Hemenway, who makes the connection between per-capita gun ownership and violent crime rates to argue that as the former number goes up, the latter number goes up as well.

              I happen to believe that both of my friends know a lot about statistics and how to use data to develop interesting arguments based on regression methodologies. I also happen to believe that neither of my two friends know anything about guns. Because if they did, they would never use only the numbers on murders committed with guns to make their argument, regardless of whether or not they argue pro-gun or anti-gun.

              Why do both John and David restrict their definition of gun violence only to the number of people who end up dying because someone else shot them with a gun? Because they can’t get good data, verifiable data on the number of people who are shot by someone else but still manage to survive the event.

              The CDC never had good numbers on injuries from non-fatal gun assaults, their estimates were, at best, off by more than thirty percent. And a few years ago, they stopped publishing any data on non-fatal gun assaults, so the whole argument about gun violence rests only on the number of people who are shot and killed.

              And this is where the analysis of gun violence, either pro-gun or anti-gun, comes up short when it’s being done by well-intentioned researchers like John Lott and David Hemenway, neither of whom know very much about guns.

              Here’s the bottom line: The only difference, repeat, the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter instance, the guy using the gun didn’t shoot straight. He didn’t shoot straight because either he was pointing the gun at a moving target, or the event took place at night in low light, or he just hadn’t practiced enough to hit the target where the bullet would hit a vital spot.

              Guys walking around with guns don’t ever pull their gun out with the intention of shooting someone else in the leg, or the arm, or some other non-vital spot. The gun is yanked out, and if it’s a semi-automatic pistol the trigger will be pulled again and again, and either the victim goes down or he doesn’t go down. That’s the end of that.

              Both Hemenway and Lott are making arguments about guns and violent crime that don’t even remotely capture the reality of gun violence in the United States. So, for example, John Lott recently published an op-ed in which he compared the total number of homicides, with or without a gun, against the estimates for defensive gun uses and found the latter to outnumber the former by four or five to one.

              But if John had compared defensive gun events to the total number of gun assaults, fatal and non-fatal assaults, his argument about the value of guns used for self-protection would collapse. By the same token, David’s comparison of fatal gun violence to per-capita gun ownership is equally invalid, for the simple reason that most of the guns in America’s civilian arsenal happen to be guns designed for hunting and sport and never (read: never) end up being used in any kind of gun violence at all.

              If it were the case that the research published by my two friends never went beyond an entry on their CV’s, I wouldn’t really care what they said or didn’t say. But this research is what is used by both sides in the gun debate to promote and/or justify their ideas about what we should do to reduce the number of injuries and deaths cause by the use of guns.

              Know what happens when you create a law to regulate a problem but don’t understand what the problem is all about? The law has no real effect at all.

              Gee – what a surprise that gun violence keeps going up, not down.

An Must-Read Article On Gun Violence.

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              Our friend Tom Gabor has just published an interesting and important perspective on how to think about gun violence which you can download and read right here. By training and academic experience, Tom’s a criminologist, but in this particular essay he moves into a wide range of issues having to do with both Constitutional and international laws.

              The article draws from many different sources and tries to answer the following question: Do Americans have the right to be safe in their communities? Obviously, with a gun-violence rate that is 7 to 20 higher than any other advanced country, it could be argued that Americans don’t really have such a right.

              Or at least if they do or should have a right to community safety, the 120,000 gun-deaths and injuries each year would indicate that this particular right is not being strictly or even loosely observed.

              Gabor begins his essay by noting that from at least the 17th Century, if not earlier, political philosophers and jurists declared that safety and security were the basis of the social contract which held society together and required governmental intervention whenever the contract got frayed or fell apart.

              The author then notes, and this is a very perceptive observation on his part, that whenever the issue of guns and safety is discussed, the pro-gun argument with its fidelity to the

2nd Amendment tends to win out. And this has been particularly the case since the 2008 Heller decision which, while it left room for the government to restrict gun ‘rights’ by keeping guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands (e.g., criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill, etc.) ultimately comes down as defining the ‘right’ to use a gun for self-defense as being more important than the ‘right’ to avoid getting shot while sitting in a classroom or walking down the street.

              But here is where Gabor’s attempt to find the ‘right’ to be protected by the state against violence caused by the use of guns hits a little snag. And the snag happens to be a rather unique legal and cultural issue in the United States, namely, the ‘right’ to self-defense.

              Ever country recognizes the notion that protecting yourself or others from a threat is consistent with the idea that we have a ‘right;’ to life, and Gabor notes the existence off this concept in international covenants as well. But the United States is the only country in he entire world whose legal system also allows its residents to respond to a perceived threat of injury by not backing away but standing in place and resisting the potential onslaught with force.

              More than half the 50 states have passed laws, called Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, which basically say that if someone comes on your property without prior invitation or consent, that their presence is ipso facto proof that they might represent a threat which can be responded by you with lethal force.

              In 2015, a 50-year old Black man in St. Louis was sentenced to three years’ probation for killing a 13-year old kid because he believed that the teenager represented a threat to his life. He was sentenced because he killed the kid with an illegal gun. But under Missouri SYG law, he could not be convicted or even charged with murder or aggravated assault because the kid had come on his property to steal something out of the man’s car.

              Laws which allow Americans to pick up a gun and shoot someone who is considered a threat just because that individual has come on their property uninvited happen to be laws that are completely and totally inconsistent with the traditions and precedents that form the basis of our legal system, i.e., the Common Law. And such laws do not (read: not) exist in any other country, such as Australia or South Africa, whose legal systems derive from the Common Law.

              Guess what? At the same time that SYG law started spreading throughout the United States, pro-gun groups like the NRA and others also began successfully promoting laws which make it easier, indeed almost invite residents to walk around town with a gun. These laws, known as CCW laws, first started appearing in the 1980’s and now just about every state allows anyone who can legally own a gun to carry it on their person whether they feel threatened o not. In fact, next month the Supreme Court will hear a case which may determine whether the 2008 Heller decision grants Constitutional protection to carrying a gun outside the home.

              One other point about Gabor’s essay which needs to be considered as well, and that’s his assumption, shared by moist people, that our inner-city neighborhoods are places where so much violence occurs because such neighborhoods contain mostly residents who happen not just to be Black, but are also very poor. Gabor states it this way: “Violence is especially foreseeable in low income neighborhoods with persistently high levels of violence, poor public services, and policing that may not comply with international standards.”

              This connection between poverty and violence has a long pedigree both in research and common belief. Is it really true? Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for the sake of a more realistic view of the endemic issue of racism in the United States, it may not be so true. Here’s an article which posits that race causes class, rather than the other way around. It is based on many community studies which find Blacks lagging behind Whites even when the socio-economic circumstances of the two races are the same.

              On the other hand, if you take the trouble to read Gabor’s essay all the way to the end, you’ll discover that the very last sentence of this refreshing and perceptive piece says this: “our national and state governments need to be held accountable when public safety is subordinated to the interests of a minority of citizens to own and carry a wide array of weapons, including those designed for military uses.”

              The last five words of Gabor’s piece are the most important thing he has to say. This country, our country suffers more than 120,000 conscious acts of gun deaths and gun injuries every year because we give folks free access to weapons of war.

              That’s right – all those semi-automatic pistols made by Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, et. al., and all those semi-automatic assault rifles made by the same and other gun companies are designed and carried by our troops and the military of other countries in the field.

              We don’t have a ‘problem’ of gun violence in this country. We have a problem because we define ‘sporting’ guns in a way that has no reality behind the definition at all.

              I invite Tom Gabor to respond to what I have said above, and I’ll be happy to post his response as a column on this blog.

What Can We Do About Gun Violence?

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Yesterday afternoon I sat and listened to an interesting and lively discussion by a group of informed and dedicated activists who want to put an end to the violence caused by the inappropriate use of guns. The discussion focused on two basic areas of concern, one being the laws that need to be enacted to regulate gun ownership and use in more effective ways, the other being efforts to redo the culture and outlook of young people before they get involved with guns.

With all due respect to the energy and commitment of the folks who engaged in yesterday’s event, I would like to propose a much different perspective on this whole question of gun violence and what we need to do to bring it to an end.

The United States passed its first national gun law in 1934.  This law was based on the idea that what needed to be regulated to the point of almost complete prohibition were guns that were considered too dangerous for commercial sale, i.e., fully-automatic guns, a.k.a., machine guns. The 1934 law, known as the National Firearms Act, is still on the books and it still defines certain types of weapons as requiring all kinds of vetting and licensing before they can be sold.

Most other advanced countries, particularly in Western Europe – England, France, Italy, Germany – also passed national gun laws around the same time that we passed our first law, and in every single case these countries patterned their gun laws after our 1934 law.

There was, however, one basic difference between the NFA34 law in the United States and gun laws everywhere else. Namely, that in England, France, Italy, et.al., handguns and semi-automatic rifles were also considered too dangerous for civilian sales.

The reason we have gun violence that is 7 to 20 times higher than gun violence in other advanced countries is because we are the only country which gives residents basically free access to the purchase, ownership and use of guns that were designed and are still used as military weapons both in the United States and abroad. These guns, manufactured by companies like Glock, Sig, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Kahr – want a few more? – are the weapons used to kill and injure more than 100,000 Americans every year.

So, here’s what happens in the land of the free and the home of the brave when it comes to buying and owning a gun.  On any given day, some young guy walks into my gun shop, plops a rusted, piece of sh*t on the counter and wants to sell it to me for twenty bucks. He found the gun in a closet of his parent’s home while Mother was being carted off to long-term nursing care and Dad, of course, had already departed the scene.

I give him a Hamilton, he’ll buy a pizza on his way back to Boston, I’ll put the gun out on the rack for twenty bucks.

Now the gun doesn’t work. It’s a rusted, old piece of sh*t. But it has a serial number on the size of the receiver, so it’s a gun.

A few minutes later, an old geezer wanders into my shop. He was a machinist years ago and likes to play around with old, metal junk. His eyes light up when he sees this piece of sh*t on the rack, and he offers me ten bucks.  Thank you very much but I need fifteen, which he grumbles as he yanks a fiver out of the front pocket of his pants.

While the old guy is wandering around the shop looking to kill some time before going down to Wal Mart to pick up ‘the wife,’ another guy walks in, quickly comes up to the counter and says – “great! Just what I’m looking for! A Glock 17.”

The second customer pulls out a Visa because he usually doesn’t walk around with $600 cash, but what the hell, since he’s got the credit card, he’ll also buy four, hi-cap mags.

So now the two customers line up at the counter so that we can do all the paperwork and they can leave with their guns. One guy has a gun that doesn’t even shoot. The other guy is standing there with a military weapon and if he walked into a school with all five of his magazines fully loaded up, he could kill or injure 80 adults and children in 3 minutes or less.

Ready?  Under our regulatory system, these two guys have to jump through the exact, same legal hoops to walk out of my store with their guns.

That’s crazy. That’s bizarre. That’s the reason why we have gun violence and other countries don’t. Period. End of story.

As long as we avoid regulating the guns which are used to commit gun violence and instead try to regulate the behavior of people who might commit gun violence, even though we really have no way of telling exactly whom those people might be, we won’t make any dent in the number of Americans whose lives either end or are dramatically and woefully different because they or someone else shot them with a gun.

As for the kids who run around on inner-city streets and need to have their culture reset so that guns no longer play a central role, do you have any idea the resources that would be required to track all these kids from their early school years? The young men who commit the worst, most violent crimes (murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery) are usually clinically and habitually delinquent by the 4th or 5th grade. Our dear, late friend Marvin Wolfgang had that one figured out fifty years ago, okay?

Want to pass another law that will tell law-abiding gun owners what they can and cannot do?  Hey – I got no problem with new laws. Fine with me.

Want to get rid of the violence caused by guns? Get rid of the guns that cause the violence.

After all, you can’t shoot someone with a baseball bat.

What’s This Billboard Doing Up Here?

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              Yesterday I was driving home from my office on the interstate loop which runs right past the Smith & Wesson factory in East Springfield, MA and I saw the billboard – the pic is above. For a second, I thought maybe S&W was advertising its AR-15 assault rifle but I’ve never known the company to go in for billboards to push their brand. Plus, the AR-15 produced across the highway from this sign can’t be sold in Massachusetts anyway. So, what’s going on?

              What’s going on is Manuel Oliver and his wife, Patricia, who lost their son in the Parkland massacre have started an organization, Change the Ref, to raise more awareness about gun violence through public art and other initiatives and events. When this billboard went up in Springfield last week, it immediately hit all the media stations in the area which carried stories over the next several days.

              The billboard is also stuck up in Boston, and the project is sponsored not only by Manny and Patricia Oliver, but also by a Massachusetts group, Stop Handgun Violence, which was founded in 1994 and was a key player in the very strong gun law that Massachusetts enacted in 1998.

              The Massachusetts gun law gets the stated rated in the top five of all states when it comes to the degree to which gun owners face comprehensive regulations covering their guns. You cannot own or buy a gun in Massachusetts, even a private sale, unless you have been given a state-issued gun license. You also must lock up or lock away all your guns and if you don’t, even if nobody gets hurt, you could be facing a felony charge. Finally, any new gun cannot be sold in the states unless it has first been certified as meeting various child-safety designs.

              In 1996, two years before the gun law was passed, there were 34 homicides in Massachusetts and 8,496 aggravated assaults. Now, I don’t know how many of these violent crimes reported to the FBI involved the use of guns. But we have to assume that the 1998 law was in response to this criminality, particularly the homicides which are almost always committed with guns.

              In 2002, four years after the law took effect, there were 57 homicides and 9,899 aggravated assaults. The gun ls is still on the books and in 2019, the state recorded 102 homicides and 11,785 aggravated assaults. In 2000, the state had a population of 6,349,097. The estimated population today iss 6.892 million.

              Over the last twenty years, the state’s population has increased by slightly less than 9%.  During the same time-frame with this tough, gun law still being enforced, the murder number has almost doubled, and the aggravated assaults have only increased by about 20 percent.

              This is how gun laws prevent crime? 

              But a review of this data should not be taken as my attempt to dismiss the work of the Olivers who have decided to promote gun laws as one way to remember their beloved son. My problem with this approach is that I don’t think that promoting more gun laws by looking at whether gun assaults go up or down is necessarily the best and most powerful way to frame the gun violence debate.

              I think guns need to strictly be regulated because the most popular guns these days – assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols – are designed only to do one thing. And that one thing is to end human life. Period. As Grandpa would say, “Gevalt.”

              And by the way, I’m not interested in all the nonsense about how guns are the best way to defend yourself and you have a God-given ‘right’ to self-defense. Do me a favor. Take your God-given ‘right’ and stick it you know where. Or as I said yesterday, if you want your ability to walk around with a Glock in your pocket to be approved by God, move to Iran.

              What’s important about gun laws is they remind us that guns aren’t toys. Some of us need to be reminded of this again and again.

What Are Guns Designed To Do?

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As we move towards the Fall and a new session of the Supreme Court of the United States, we will certainly see more and more comments, editorials, and high-strung debates about gun ‘rights.’ This is because the Court is going to take up a challenge to New York’s Sullivan Law and by extension, the existence of discretionary approval for concealed-carry of weapons (CCW) in New York and a few other states.

Ever since two formidable gun researchers, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara, published work in 1993 and 1994 which found a clear connection between access to guns and increased rates of homicide and suicide, the debate about the social value of guns has swung back and forth.

Our friends in Gun-nut Nation cite research by Gary Kleck, which proposes that using a gun for self-defense results in many violent crimes, perhaps several million violent crimes not being committed each year. On the other hand, research by supporters of Kellerman and Rivara find the opposite to be true.

I happen to think that both sides in this debate tend to ignore a fundamental point. What we do know about gun violence is that the overwhelming number of deaths and injuries caused by using a gun happen to involve guns that are designed for one purpose and one purpose only, which is to shorten human life.

Why do we suffer 14,000 gun homicides as against 75,000 or more non-fatal gun assaults each year? Because the shooter didn’t shoot straight.  It’s really as simple as that. The United States is the only country in the entire world which grants its citizens free, legal access to guns that are issued to our troops. Does this unique legal tradition result in a lower rate of violent crime than we find elsewhere? Not one bit. To the contrary, it gives us a much higher rate of violent crimes that end in a death.

The latest manifesto about the value of walking around with a gun is a piece in National Review where the author takes issue with the ACLU for putting up a podcast which claims that the 2nd Amendment has been used to deprive Blacks of gun ‘rights.’ The podcast’s main speaker is Carol Anderson, whose book on how the 2nd Amendment was drafted and used as a racist code was reviewed by me right here.

Basically, what I said in that review is that her history of the 2nd Amendment’s historical roots may be true, but it’s certainly not the case today that giving Whites CCW licenses but denying the same privilege to Blacks results in more Whites killing Blacks.  Homicide, particularly committed with a gun, is an intra-racial, not inter-racial affair. Yes, shootings have spiked during the Pandemic, but it’s not because Whites are assaulting Blacks or Blacks assaulting Whites.

The reason that Gaston Glock’s gun became the handgun of choice for military, police and gang-bangers was not because it has a polymer frame and not because it takes a double-stack mag. It’s because the barrel is cut with polygonal rather than spiral grooves. What this means is that the bullet runs up the barrel without the escape of gas, which makes the bullet move much faster when it leaves the barrel, which makes the gun much more lethal, even if the bullet doesn’t hit a vital spot.

In other words, what Glock’s gun was designed to do, and this design was then quickly adopted by just about every other company manufacturing guns for the military and police, was to disable or kill someone no matter how quickly the gun would be drawn, pointed, and used.

The issue isn’t whether the 2nd Amendment gives any law-abiding the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun. The issue is whether the 2nd Amendment should give Constitutional protection for the purchase and ownership of guns that were designed only for the purpose of ending human life.

And before you start telling me that you have a ‘right’ to own any gun you want, just remember that what is considered ‘defensive’ gun use to one person may be ‘offensive’ gun use to someone else.

Gun Notes: Research on Guns (Guns in America): Weisser, Michael R.: 9780578453149: Amazon.com: Books

Will The ‘Public Health Approach’ Reduce Gun Violence?

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              There seems to be a general consensus in Gun-control Nation that the most effective way to deal with gun violence is to take a ‘public health approach.’ What this means is that we first define gun violence as a public health ‘threat, then we try to figure out which populations are more susceptible to the threat, then we figure out why the threat occurs, and then we come up with a plan which takes all those issues into account.

              Isn’t this what we did with Covid-19?  First, we learned that a lot of people were getting sick, and the sickness was a serious medial event. Then we learned that the most vulnerable populations were the seniors. Then we figured out that the disease spread mostly through close contact between hosts and potential hosts. Then we developed a vaccine and tried to get everyone to take the shot.

              Last year, probably 130,000 people were victims of gun violence. This year, it looks like the number will be more. So, what have we learned about how to deal with this problem using the ‘public health approach?’

              First, we have learned, and we have known this for many years, that most of the people who are both victims and spreaders of this particular health threat are males. We also know that with the exception of suicides, most of the victims and spreaders of gun violence are between the ages of 16 and 35. We also know that most of the victims and spreaders had some degree of contact before the outbreak of the violence itself. Finally, we also know that most of the victims and spreaders are located in high-crime, inner-city neighborhoods, and a disproportionate number are non-White.

              All the foregoing information can be found in a new book, Gun Violence Prevention, A Public Health Approach. The book, co-edited by our good friend Linda Degutis, was just published by the American Public Health Association, and is designed as “both a primer and a handbook for public health practitioners, advocates, students, policymakers and the public, and will make information about the public health approach to gun violence accessible.”

              The book is a collection of well-referenced articles covering just about all the relevant topics for which the public health approach should be understood and used – homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, social justice, media, advocacy – the works.

              I applaud Linda Degutis and her co-editor, Howard Spivak, for putting together a fairly comprehensive analysis of how public health research and methodologies can be brought to bear against the violence caused by access to guns. There is, however, one little problem with the ‘public health approach’ to gun violence, which the co-editors mention at the very beginning of the text, but do not actually see it as a problem at all.

              Here’s what they say: “This is NOT a book about taking all the guns away. This is NOT about the Second Amendment. This is about creating an environment in which we can be safe given that there are guns present.”

              If the purpose of public health is to create a zero-sum result for any large-scale threat to health, then I hate to break it to Drs. Degutis and Spivak, but you can’t ever achieve that goal as long as the guns are around. The co-editors justify their argument by citing how public health has been used to make cars safer and reduce vehicular injuries while still allowing people to own and drive cars.

              But the analogy between auto injuries and gun injuries doesn’t work. And it doesn’t work for one, simple reason, namely, if someone is injured while driving from here to there, then we figure out whether it was the fault of the driver, or the fault of the car’s design, and we come up with strategies to fix one or both.

              If I were to walk into a room occupied by 15 people, then pull out my Glock 17 and empty the mag, I could kill everyone in that room in 20 seconds or less.

              Know what? That gun would be functioning exactly the way it should function and I would have used it the way it was designed and sold to be used.

Isn’t It About Time We Opened Up That ‘Secret’ Gun Business?

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              Our good friends at The Trace have just published a story about how an old law suit may be used to bring the gun industry out of the shadows and give everyone access to all those gun-industry ‘secrets’ which we have never been told before. The story concerns a lawsuit by the city of Gary, IN charging gun makers with failing to prevent their products from ending up in the ‘wrong hands.’

              One of the common mis-perceptions about the gun business which floats around in Gun-control Nation is the idea that the gun industry is this secret cabal of bloodthirsty gun makers who go out of their way to keep their business as quiet and as far away from public scrutiny as they can.

              The ‘public’ face of the industry, so it is said, is the NRA. But behind the scenes, working to make sure that guns end up being used to kill, injure, and maim, are these bloodsucking, ‘opaque’ gun makers whose behavior is really the reason that gun injuries even occur.

              And what is worse, these stealthy manufacturers are protected by the federal government because they are not only immunized against class-action suits under the notorious PLCCA law,  but their products are also not controlled in any way by the Consumer Products Safety Council which was set up to track injuries caused by all consumer products like bicycles and teddy bears.

              No wonder the gun industry gets away with murder in a literal sense.

              Except there’s only one little problem with this scenario, which our friends at The Trace appear to have discounted as well. And the little problem is that it’s simply not true. In fact, the gun industry is regulated to a much greater degree than any other consumer-product industry, believe it or not.

              If I want to open a store and sell cigarettes to the residents in my town, I just need to get a retail license from the Town Clerk which costs $20 bucks and open an account with the State Department of Finance so that I can send them a monthly payment for the sales tax that I collect. I also have to make sure that my store isn’t across the street from a school, and I have to post a sign in the store that I will not sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of twenty-one.

              Want to know what I have to do to sell guns along with those cigarettes? I not only have to get the retail and sales tax licenses and post the same signage in my shop, I also have to get both state and federal dealer’s licenses to receive and sell guns, along with having my shop inspected by the local police chief who then signs off on my federal license application to the ATF.

Once I get my dealer’s license from the Feds, I then have to keep meticulous records on each and every sale of a gun. I also have to make sure that every customer who buys a gun is first approved for that purchase by the FBI, and these records can all be examined at any time by an ATF team which can walk into my shop without prior notification of a any kind, and hang around checking these records for as long as they like.

Incidentally, these ATF inspectors can and do also show up and examine the same information at every gun-making company and every wholesaler who sells guns to retailers like me.

Are you going to tell me that cigarettes are less dangerous than guns, particularly now that many of the most devoted cigarette addicts are switching to vapes whose health risks we still don’t even understand?

The article in The Trace laments the fact that 16,000 people will be killed this year in gun homicides. The CDC says that more than 440,000 people will die from smoking this year.

And everyone’s so concerned about bringing the ‘secret’ gun industry into the open? Give me a break.

Amazon.com : what is an assault rifle?

Chicago Wants To Reduce Gun Violence By Doing A Gun Buyback That Isn’t A Buyback.

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              There’s a self-styled entrepreneur in the neighborhood where I work who walks around every day with a shopping cart picking up empty bottles and cans. When his shopping cart is full, he goes to some redemption center, dumps the bottles and cans in some kind of big machine which turns them into metal and glass that can be used to make more bottles and cans. Then he gets some cash, goes home and the whole process begins again the next day.

              This guy does particularly well in the summer months because that’s when everyone’s sitting outside on the stoop drinking soda and beer to keep cool. Most of the neighborhood folks dump their empties in a garbage can next to their homes which makes it easier for this guy to fill up his shopping cart without having to run around picking up just one can here or one bottle there.

              I started thinking about my neighborhood can and bottle collector when I read a media story out of Chicago where Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced a new program to reduce gun violence by paying residents of the 2nd City to turn in unwanted guns. She’s setting up a million-dollar fund which will be used to pay anyone who brings a gun to the police – details to be forthcoming soon.

              What Mayor Lightfoot is referring to as a “bold and creative action” is no different than what happens at gun buybacks which take place in various cities from time to time. In New York, the Attorney General has been sponsoring gun buybacks in different cities since 2013 and has collected more than 3,200 guns.

              Do gun buybacks work? It depends on what you mean by using the word ‘work.’ There doesn’t seem to be any direct connection between the number of guns collected in a buyback and the before-and-after stats on violent crime. But there does seem to be some value in buybacks because they alert the community both to the issue of gun violence, as well as helping to promote more governmental and police attention to reducing the violence caused by guns.

              What bothers me about the Chicago program, however, is not whether the buyback will work or won’t work. The problem is that the program is designed, according to Mayor Lightfoot, to incentivize people to turn in ‘illegal’ guns.

“We need everyone’s help to make sure we are doing everything we can to address this horrible plague of illegal firearms,” says Her Honor, the Mayor.

Actually, the good citizens of Chicago don’t have to turn up at the po-leece and drop off an ‘illegal’ gun. All they have to do is give the cops a ‘tip’ as to where the cops can find an illegal gun. 

So, this program isn’t a gun buyback. It’s a gun tip-off. Call the cops, tell them that so-and-so next door has a gun he’s not supposed to have, and you get some kind of reward.

Did it ever occur to Mayor Lightfoot that crimes are usually solved because the cops get an ‘anonymous’ tip? How can you give an anonymous tip about a gun crime if you want to get a reward? And by definition, anyone in possession of an ‘illegal’ gun has already committed a crime.

I don’t want to play Friday morning quarterback but to me, this scheme (to quote Grandpa) sounds pretty fa-cocktd.  Over the July 4th weekend, the Windy City celebrated our country’s independence with 104 people shot, of whom 19 were killed. In other words, we have a gun-violence pandemic in Chicago which is much worse than the pandemic from Covid-19.

Over the July 4th weekend, an average of 5 persons were admitted to a Chicago hospital for Covid-19 illness each day. Admissions to hospitals for gun injuries should be so low.

Back in 2007, our good friend Kathy Kaufer Christoffel published a fundamental article on gun violence, “Firearm Injuries: Epidemic Then, Endemic Now.” 

I think we need to give Dr. Christoffel’s article a new title because gun injuries were epidemic back then, but for sure they are pandemic now.

What Can We Do About Crime?

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              So, yesterday Joe holds a meeting at the White House to figure out what to do about crime which seems to be out of control in cities like Chicago and New York. He’s got all the usual suspects sitting around the table – the cops, the big-city mayors, the ones who always show up when we get worried about crime. And crime is a big problem for Joe right now because the latest polls show that this issue could kill the Democrats in 2022 with the suburban vote. 

              One of the attendees at the meeting was our friend Eric Adams, the newly-elected Mayor of New York City who says he’s particularly concerned about losing wealthy residents to low-crime states like Florida because, as he puts it, “they’re not worried about high taxes, they’re worried about high crime rates.”

              I can just see it now. Some dude who lives in Scarsdale or Chappaqua, one of those wealthy New York suburbs, gets up in the morning and takes the commuter train down to New York. Then he gets off the train in Grand Central Station and switches to the subway for a quick ride downtown to Wall Street.

              Except since he’s all worried about crime, instead of getting off the subway at the Wall Street Station, he gets off at the Fulton Street stop, switches trains and takes the subway out to the Utica Avenue stop, or maybe the stop at Ralph Avenue.

              Know where this dude has ended up?  In the middle of a Brooklyn neighborhood called East New York. Which happens to be not far from the 88 NYPD Precinct, where Eric Adams did his 20 years when he was on the job. It also happens to be the neighborhood where a large number of the city’s 225 murders and 11,033 aggravated assaults have taken place this year.

              By the way, for all the screaming headlines about how crime is ‘out of control,’ the year -to-date increase in New York is around 5%. Granted, this increase is on top of a much greater spike in crime that occurred in 2020, when the ‘Chinese virus’ was supposed to disappear by April but managed to stick around.

              On the other hand, what is alarming is the increase in shootings from last year to this. The increase from 2020 to 2021 in the number of people shot is up by 22%, the number of shooting incidents is up by almost 30%.  To quote Grandpa, this is ‘nisht gut.’

              Now if that dude from Scarsdale wants to walk around East New York or one of the other high-crime Brooklyn neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy (‘do or die’) instead of going down to his Wall Street office at Morgan Stanley and getting to work, he probably should be carrying a Glock or a Sig because, after all, why would he ever want to go anywhere without being able to exercise his 2nd-Amendment ( and God-given) ‘right’ to defend himself against crime?

              But you can’t just walk around New York City with a gun in your pocket the way you can walk around in places where the state legislature has wisely given residents the freedom to strap on a gun. Because in New York City, the Sullivan law makes it almost impossible for the ‘good guys’ to carry guns. It’s only the ‘bad guys’ who carry guns.

              Now the fact that the ‘bad guys’ who commit all that gun violence are using their guns to shoot other ‘bad guys’ happens to be an aspect of gun violence that is usually overlooked. Know how many murders occurred last week in the area around Wall Street? None. Know how many shootings were reported in that same area? None.

              But that dude from Scarsdale who comes into the city every day completely unarmed is making plans to move to Florida because he’ll be able to protect himself from crime once he settles down in the Gunshine State.

              I love how the discussion about gun violence continues to fill the room with hot air.

Catalog | TeeTee Press

Will Andrew Cuomo End The Gun Business?

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Yesterday Andy Cuomo signed a law that he hopes will help reduce gun violence in New York. When it comes to going after the gun industry, Andy is, without doubt, the strongest and most dedicated public official in the United States. He’s the guy who, in 1999, wrote the agreement that Smith & Wesson signed with the Clinton Administration that almost put S&W out of business.  In 2013, he rammed the SAFE ACT through the New York State Legislature which was the toughest gun-control law passed after Sandy Hook.
So now, in response to a startling increase in shootings in New York City, we now have another gun law in New York which responds to “the dangers to safety and health and creation of a public nuisance caused by the sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing and marketing of firearms.”

Basically, the law says that any dealer who sells a gun that winds up being used in an act of gun violence will not only be subject to legal sanctions imposed by the state government, but also can be sued by anyone who was damaged by someone else who assaulted them by using that gun. 

In other words, this law gets around the immunity from personal damages that the gun industry has enjoyed under the Federal PLCCA law and was specifically drafted to avoid being in conflict with the PLCCA law.

And by the way, the law clearly states that a dealer who sells a gun which ends up in the ‘wrong hands’ can be held responsible even if this dealer had absolutely no intention of using his business to sell any kind of illegal gun. If I were a dealer in New York State, I’d close my shop down by the end of this week.
And also by the way, the law isn’t just aimed (pardon the pun) at dealers who do business in New York State. It specifically says that anyone engaged in the business anywhere who sells a gun that is used to commit gun violence in New York State can be held liable under this law. Which means that if a dealer in, say, South Carolina, sells a gun to someone who then has the gun stolen and this gun somehow winds up being picked up by the cops in Brooklyn after a shooting of someone on Bushwick Avenue, the dealer in South Carolina can be sued because maybe he didn’t take proper precautions to make sure the gun would always be kept in a safe and proper way.
This new law won’t be on the books two weeks before the gun industry goes into court and tries to get the statute overturned. Because new laws have a way of spreading from state to state and if this version of the ‘Albany flu’ were to be copied in some other Communist state like California, or Illinois, or anywhere else where the blue team rears its ugly head – watch out!  Bye-bye guns.
Last week the Commies who rule the city of San Jose passed a law which requires gun-owning residents to carry liability insurance on their guns. The monies would be used to cover the costs of police response to shootings, medical costs of treating gun injuries and even the charges for carrying the wounded to a hospital and the dead victims to the morgue.
Why San Jose? Because recall that on May 26th a guy showed up at the city’s public transportation hub with his trusty assault rifle, shot and killed 9 people and then shot himself. 
Remember when every neighborhood had a drug store, a hardware store and even a clothing store? They’re all replaced by chains. What makes this New York State law a threat to the gun industry is the fact that guns are the only consumer item that are still sold in small, independent retail stores. And the owners of these stores don’t have money to hire lawyers if they get sued for selling a ‘crime’ gun. 
The New York State gun law could be the start of bye-bye American pie.
                  

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