Back To Business As Usual.

How do I know that things are back to normal? Because my friends in Gun-control Nation have launched an all-out assault on my good buddy John Lott. The campaign was kicked off by a writer for Media Matters about how John was doing some kind of gig for the Department of Justice and how come taxpayer money is being spent to support this ‘discredited fraud?’

I happen to believe, and I have published a long, academic paper to this effect which you can download here, that John’s work is not only a valid and important piece of academic research, but happens to raise issues that my friends in Gun-control Nation have made absolutely no attempt to figure out at all.

In particular, John’s argument directly addresses why a solid majority of Americans believe that access to a gun is more of a benefit than a risk. And until the gun-control movement tries to figure out why gun owners believe they are safer with their guns than without, how do you ever come up with a valid narrative to convince these gun owners that more, not less gun control should be the order of the day?  You don’t and you can’t.

I happen to like John’s research for two reasons. First, his book, More Guns, Less Crime, is published by The University of Chicago Press. I also happen to be a Chicago Press author, and this premier academic publishing house isn’t in the habit of publishing junk. Much of the so-called academic criticisms of John’s work are the product of individuals who have absolutely no academic credentials or training at all. They use John as a whipping-boy to generate more financial support for organizations that promote gun control. Good for them.

As to the research itself that underlies John’s work, it happens to be another contribution to what has been a cottage industry in academic life, seeking to explain the extraordinary decline in violent crime that began in the early 1990’s and notwithstanding a recent upsurge, continues to this day.  The rate of reported violent crime in 1991 was 716.  In 2016, it was 366.

How and why did this country become a much safer place over the last three decades? One argument is that it’s the result of locking up more bad guys for longer periods of time. Then there’s the argument about better policing of criminal ‘hot spots,’ the use of computer technologies and all that. And let’s not forget what has to be the single most stupid, racist piece of nonsense ever published in any branch of the social sciences, namely the argument linking crime decline to abortion access in the ghetto – the idea being that less children are born into desperate circumstances and hence they commit fewer crimes.

What John found was that violent crime began to drop in many jurisdictions at roughly the same time that these jurisdictions began issuing licenses to carry concealed guns. The tricky part, of course, is to make a cause-and-effect argument between any two trends. And here is where John’s work has been criticized, sometimes valid criticisms, sometimes not.

Want to blame John Lott as the reason why so many Americans own guns? Want to blame John Lott for the extraordinary spike in gun sales which accompanied the emergence and spread of Covid-19? You go right ahead. But I notice, incidentally, that handgun sales in October were 30% less than June sales, even though the virus has been expanding exponentially over the last couple of months.

I was really pleased to see how quickly and effectively the gun-control movement joined up with the Biden campaign. Brady, Everytown, Moms and everyone else did what needed to be done. Now Gun-control Nation can get back to business as usual, which means chasing around after John Lott, which is much more fun than trying to figure out why there are so many gun nuts like me.

It’s Always Fun To Play Around With A Gun.

              Since it has now become fashionable to show your support of Donald Trump by waving a gun in the air, or maybe to show up at one of those Communist/Socialist/Anarchist demonstrations and pull the trigger a few times, I wanted to draw your attention to a recent incident in San Diego where a gun nut really showed us how much fun you can have playing around with guns.

              I am referring to an event which took place several weeks ago, where a member of a private Facebook group, Loaded Guns Pointed At B[?]enis, actually pulled the trigger of his 45-caliber pistol and shot himself right through the balls. The next day he reported that he was ‘fine’ and actually reported for work.

              You should know, incidentally, that this group has 1,800 members, and apparently they play a version of Russian Roulette by loading a gun, pointing the gun at their crotch and then see how close they can actually get to pulling the trigger all the way through without the gun actually going off. I suspect that the person who comes closest to shooting himself but actually releases the trigger just before the hammer drops, is awarded with a MAGA hat.

              Although the spent round from the pistol luckily only grazed his nuts, it did go through his mattress and his box spring before lodging in the floor. No doubt he will now charge admission for anyone who wants to come into his bedroom and view the hole in the carpet underneath his bed.

              The guy who runs this Facebook page was, of course, quite supportive in talking about the event. In particular, he made it clear that the poor schmuck who ended up in the local hospital getting his balls sewn back on really didn’t need to be criticized for what he had done. After all, according to the group leader, “he’s learned his lesson without the entire world calling him an idiot.”

              Exactly what lesson do you think this guy learned? Oh, he learned not to point a loaded gun at his nuts. He needed to learn that lesson? Is the group leader serious? No, he’s not serious. He’s as dumb as the guy who shot himself, okay?

              I’m thinking about that two dummies, the man and wife, who stood in front of their St. Louis home and waved guns at a group of BLM/Communists/Socialists/Anarchists who went marching by. They got indicted for this remarkable demonstration of stupidity, but they also got their minute of fame as a featured act at last week’s RNC.

              Come to think of it, I’m surprised that the guy who shot his balls off hasn’t yet been invited to the White House to give the President and his staff a demonstration of one of the really funny and interesting things you can do with a gun. Maybe the crowd should also include some of those bikers who wandered around Sturgis without masks and now have contracted Covid-19.

              We won’t know until a week from today whether anyone who attended Trump’s airport rally in New Hampshire will come down with the Chinese flu. We also won’t know for another week who gets sick from coming to the airport at Latrobe. What Trump is doing, and it’s a very clever strategy, is creating and promoting a virtual reality which basically says that the worst is behind us and the best is yet to come.

              So why not have the guy from San Diego visit the White House and demonstrate how you can shoot your balls off and still go back to work the next day? After all, if everyone starts walking around with a gun to protect themselves and everyone else from those marauding thugs, sooner or later a few more guys will accidentally shoot themselves with their guns.

              To quote Walter Mosley: “If you walk around with a gun, it will go off sooner or later.”  What’s so bad about that?

How Come Only Good Guys Use Guns In Self-Defense?

I want to applaud NBC for giving space to a very committed pro-gun advocate, because if nothing else, it’s important to see just how far away from reality some of Gun-nut Nation has moved. In this case, the lack of reality is being pronounced by the Attorney General of Arkansas, a woman named Leslie Rutledge, who happens to be the first female and first Republican elected to the office of AG, a state which in 2018 had a gun-fatality rate of 19, which happens to be almost twice the national gun-fatality rate.

Attorney General Rutledge begins her rhetorical voyage into never-never land with a rather unique description of the 2nd Amendment:  “The Second Amendment ensures that Americans can protect themselves, their families and their businesses, especially when the government is unwilling or unable to do so.”

Now it’s true that the 2008 Heller decision rests on the idea of using guns for personal defense. But nowhere in our friend Tony Scalia’s opinion is there any mention of the personal-defense argument somehow being contingent on whether the government is ‘’unwilling or unable’ to provide protection. In fact, the decision states quite clearly that the government can regulate firearm ownership precisely because the government is responsible for guaranteeing what we refer to as the ‘common defense.’

I’ll talk in a minute about how two armed Americans  protected themselves and their home from all those rampaging anarchists and thugs, but let’s first look at how Ms. Rutledge makes the case for liberal attacks against 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ First and foremost, according to the Arkansas AG, is the attempt by New York’s Attorney General to dissolve the NRA.

Why would the disappearance of the NRA be a blow against the decision by many Americans to defend themselves with guns? Because “The NRA promotes responsible and safe firearm ownership and self-defense, and it encourages favorite pastimes like hunting and recreational shooting.” And we know for a fact that liberals hate anyone who uses a gun for hunting or recreational shooting, right?

In fact (note the word ‘fact), the NRA has been the main cog in the gun industry’s public relations arsenal promoting armed, self-defense, and if the Arkansas AG really believes that a handgun which holds 15 rounds of military-grade ammunition is used to shoot a bird out of the tree, then there must be some pretty funny hunting going on in Arkansas, that’s for sure. Why shouldn’t a not-for-profit outfit be closed down when the Executive VP spends tens of thousands of donated dollars on designer clothes and the hand-picked Board of Directors doesn’t bother to ever examine the books?

The GOP sunk to the lowest possible level of political pandering when they gave that husband-and-wife team from St. Louis a program slot to tell everyone why they felt it necessary to stand in front of their home and wave guns at the BLM demonstrators who were marching past their front lawn. I’m surprised that Leslie Rutledge didn’t make a point of saying just how much she felt these two putzes should be honored for demonstrating how and guns keep us safe and free.

Don’t ask me why and don’t ask me how, but whether it’s a gang-banger from Bed-Stuy- Do-Or-Die, or a cop in Kenosha, WI, whenever anyone picks up a loaded gun, points it at someone else and pulls the trigger, it’s always a case of self-defense. And by the way, every cop is taught that a 1985 Supreme Court decision (Tennessee v. Garner) precludes the use of lethal force if someone who has been told to stand still turns around and runs away. The cop can still shoot the guy if he believes that the man fleeing the scene may be about to attack someone else. Who was sitting in his car when Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back? His three kids.

Oh – I forgot! The cops said that Blake was in possession of a knife.

They said.

Thank you Linda for posting that pic.

Is There A Connection Between The Surge In Gun Sales And An Increase In Gun Violence?

              I hate to say it, but once again my friends in the gun-control research community have produced a study which, if anything, attempts to explain gun violence in a way which demonstrates absolutely no necessary connection between guns and violence at all. And worse, the study represents yet another narrative which the gun-control community will use to make sure that the gulf between gun owners and non-gun owners stay as wide as ever, if not getting a little worse.

              The study comes from the Wintemute group at U.C./Davis, and is based on two data sets: (1). The number of guns transferred over the counter nad subject to FBI-NICS background checks; and, (2). the number of shootings scraped from media reports by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA.) The study finds what the researchers refer to as an ‘association’ between an increase in background checks and shootings coincident with the spread of Covud-19 over several months.

              The authors are clear on the limitations of their data, stating it like this: “GVA and NICS data provide imperfect measures of firearm violence and purchasing, respectively. To bias our results, however, there would need to be similarly-timed differential changes across states in GVA or NICS reporting. Disagreement between NICS checks and purchased firearms would most likely result from an increase in multiple-firearm transactions during surges in purchasing, which would introduce a conservative bias in estimates of the number of firearms purchased during surges. Additionally, we have no information on whether the excess firearms acquired were those used in violence.”

              After all the blah-blah-blah above, note the last sentence. So they have “no information” on whether any of the guns that folks rushed into gun shops to buy during the pandemic were used in a single shooting event during the same period of time. So what does this study actually tell us about the threat to public safety when gun sales go up? It tells us nothing at all. Period. End of story.

              I learned about this study because it was mentioned in my current copy of American Rifleman magazine which arrived today. And of course the article was reviewed in negative terms, because the last thing the NRA is about to do is question the decision by members of Gun-nut Nation to buy another gun as a protective response to Covid-19. When do gun sales surge? Only when people get scared. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re afraid of a disease, or natural disaster, or a gun-control President in the White House, guns are purchased out of fear.

              But guns used in gun violence for are used for reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with the reasons that people who can pass a background check buy guns. And since, as the authors of this study admit, they have absolutely no idea whether any of the ‘excess’ guns purchased during the Pandemic had anything to do with the recent surge in shootings, the study’s argument about some kind of ‘association’ between legal gun sales and shootings is nothing but whole cloth.  And worse, it’s an argument designed to give Gun-control Nation ‘ammunition’ to use in demanding more stringent regulations over the ownership and use of guns, as if this study does anything to explain whether there is any connection between legally-purchased weapons and guns that are used to shoot people down in the street.

              As long as a majority of Americans believe that access to a gun is more of a benefit than a risk, as long as this belief continues to spur gun sales during periods of national anxiety and concern, there will be no (read: no) effective change in gun laws at all.  And maybe some of my friends in Gun-control Nation would actually sit down and try to figure out a narrative which would convince at least some gun owners that guns aren’t a benefit but are a risk.

              You’re not going to develop a rhetorical or lawful response to gun violence by conducting a study which shows an ‘association’ between legal gun purchases and violent crimes committed with guns. You won’t.

Is Panic Buying Of Guns Causing More Gun Violence?

              Last week our friend Gail Lehmann shared with us the FBI’s latest report on background checks, which showed an extraordinary bump in handgun sales during June. Generally speaking, gun sales, particularly handgun sales, tend to go South during the Summer because nobody’s worried about protecting themselves at the beach.  June handgun checks in 2019 were just shy of 500,000, slightly more than handgun checks for June, 2018.

              The handgun check number for July, on the other hand, went into the stratosphere, with 1,371,811; June 2019 handgun checks were 497,915. The big ‘winners’ on a state-by-state basis were Florida (133,285) and Texas (121,926). These two states accounted for almost 20% of all handgun checks in June and together contain 15% of the country’s population.

              There does seem to be an increase in gun violence coincident with the Covid-9 crisis. In New York City, which used to be one of the safest urban zones, shootings in 2020 are up by 46 percent in the first six months of the year, homicides have increased by 21 percent. In Chicago, June-to-June shootings have increased by 75 percent. Louisville, KY has doubled its shooting numbers from 117 non-fatal gun assaults in 2019 versus 246 this year.

              The information about spiking gun sales was contained in an email sent out by one of the gun-control websites – Guns Down America – which of course asked recipients for a donation to help reduce gun violence. Here’s what they have to say about the influx of more guns into the civilian arsenal: “Panic buying of guns has now reached record levels and it only increases the chance of death and injury.”

              The only problem with this very compelling argument is that it may or may not be true. Everyone who believes that Americans own too many guns has probably read the fundamental research on this issue, a series of articles published by David Hemenway which finds that the U.S. rate of fatal violence is much higher than what occurs ion other advanced (OECD) countries because we have so many guns lying around. We are the only country where the per-capita number of privately-owned guns is higher than the number of residents, and gun access is the fundamental difference between the level of lethal violence here as opposed to everywhere else.

              I would be willing to agree with Hemenway except for the messy little fact that most of the guns sitting in the civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I published a study on the types of guns picked up by law-enforcement agencies in over 100 separate jurisdictions, and nearly all of them were handguns, particularly the small and concealable ones. When I did a scan on the entire list of 9,000 guns using the names of the six largest manufacturers of hunting rifles and shotguns, not one showed up.

              The biggest problem we have trying to figure out gun violence is that we also have no idea how, when, or why guns that are legally purchased end up in the ‘wrong’ hands. And the bottom line is that most, if not nearly all of the people who have shot other people this year (or any other year) didn’t get to that point in their lives as decent, law-abiding folks and then one day simply explode. To the contrary, the research by Marvin Wolfgang and others clearly shows that nearly all of the people who commit violent assaults were already exhibiting violent behavior by the time they were twelve years old.

              My point is that I am not sure that an increase in gun sales necessarily leads to an increase in gun violence pari passu, particularly when the increase in violence occurs during the same months that schools are shut down. And let’s not forget that thanks to the overwhelmingly stupid non-response of the Trump Administration to the virus, school summer vacation this year started back in March.

              I’m not trying in any way to diminish concerns about the increase in gun violence or the increase in gun sales. I would just like the discussion about both issues to be rooted not in fear but in facts.

Check out our other blog: https://lovethedeepstate.com/.

Another New Study on Gun Violence Gets It Wrong.

Here we go again. A group of well-meaning but entirely ignorant researchers publish an article about gun violence in a so-called peer-reviewed medical journal and they get it completely wrong. Not a little bit wrong, not just a difference of opinion here and there. Completely and totally wrong.

The study, which has been done at least three other times using different dates but the same CDC-generated data, comes to the following conclusion: “States with stricter gun laws and laws requiring universal background checks for firearm purchase had lower firearm-related pediatric mortality rates.” Any study about the use or misuse of guns which refers to subjects above the age of 15 as ‘children’ is simply using an age-based, medical definition which completely distorts how, why, and when people of any age use guns.

In all 50 states, anyone above the age of 15 (in some states the age is 14) can take a safety course and then apply for a hunting license, which is granted without a background check because the individual is hunting with a gun, not buying a gun. The law doesn’t differentiate between hunting with a rifle or shotgun, or going out into the woods with Daddy’s Glock.

Why did the researchers find some kind of correlation between states with comprehensive background checks and states with fewer fatal ‘pediatric’ gun injuries? Because by and large, the states that have imposed comprehensive background checks happen not to be states with lots of residents who go out and try to bag themselves a Bambi every year. Of the 21,241 ‘children’ who died from gun injuries over the five years covered in this study, somewhere around 60% or more of these victims were at least fifteen years old.

Did the researchers ask themselves whether there might have been a connection between whether or not any of these kids had hunting licenses and ended up dead?  Of course not. The entire research team conducting this study happens to be faculty and staff from the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.  That’s a really big hunting area for sure.

I’m not saying these fatal accidents occurred when Grandpa or Daddy and Junior were out in the field. I am saying that in families that go hunting, every hunter in the family always has access to the guns. This happens to be a reality of gun ownership that none of the researchers who study gun violence acknowledge or even understand. But how do you study unintentional gun fatalities without taking this issue into account?

Not only don’t the researchers understand this issue, they also don’t recognize the extreme limitations of their research because the CDC data which they and every other gun-researcher uses does not give the slightest indication of how the fatal accident actually occurred. And I guarantee you that if they had such data, it would clearly indicate that the ‘child’ got shot for the same reason that just about everyone gets injured by an accidental discharge of a gun: “Duhhh, I didn’t know it was loaded.”

Over the fifty years that I have had guns in my house, I have shot off a gun accidentally at least seven times. One round went through the front door and out into the street. Another time I knocked a stack of books off a wall. A third time, my twenty-year old son picked up my 45-caliber pistol and blew a hole through our storage shed. Did I ever take the gun-safety course?  I teach the friggin’ course.

Until and unless my friends who do gun-violence research take the time and trouble to sit down with a couple of gun nuts and ask for some help and advice to help them understand the use and abuse of guns, we will continue to be treated to exercises in research that are nothing more than junk science and should be ignored.

I don’t mean to sound so belligerent or nasty, but right now there’s enough nonsense floating around about the COVID-19 problem. We don’t need any more misinformed ideas.

Tom Gabor: Canada’s Assault Weapons Ban—Can the US Follow?

Following the murder of 22 people in Canada, the country’s worst multiple murder, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would ban the use, purchase, sale, transportation, and importation of assault-style weapons.  One of the guns used by the perpetrator was classified by investigators as “a military-style assault rifle.”  The ban covers 1,500 models and types of firearms and took effect on May 1, less than two weeks after the murder spree.

Trudeau asserted that “These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

The government outlined the justification for the ban.  Assault-style firearms were deemed unsuitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes, given their inherent danger to public safety. The firearms prohibited were designed for military uses and were capable of injuring or killing humans quickly in large numbers given their tactical design and capability of holding a quickly reloadable large-capacity magazine. While some of these newly prohibited firearms were previously used for hunting or sporting purposes, the Canadian Government took the view that the significant risk they pose to public safety outweighs any justification for their continued use, given that numerous types of firearms remain available for recreational purposes.  The new ban also correctly notes that many of the deadliest mass shootings around the world have been perpetrated with assault-style weapons.

A large majority (80%) of Canadians support the ban and Canada is by no means an anti-gun country.  In fact, it has one of the world’s highest per capita gun ownership rates, with about 35 guns per 100 people.  Canada’s response to the massacre is similar to bans of entire classes of weapons seen in Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand following large-scale mass shootings and murder sprees in those countries.

The Canadian Prime Minister announced a two-year “amnesty period” to allow gun owners to comply with the law.  The government is planning to buy back the banned weapons, although they left open the possibility that existing owners could apply to have them grandfathered.  This issue, as well as the planned compensation for those who currently possess the banned weapons, will be addressed in future legislation.

The Trudeau Government should be applauded for its decisive and prompt action, as the political will to undertake such a significant step tends to wane with time, especially as there are financial costs to such a broad buyback of arms.  In addition, discussing but failing to impose the ban immediately has been known to lead to a surge in sales of the weapons expected to be the subject of an anticipated ban.

One of the lamest but most common criticisms of the ban was voiced by Canada’s Conservative Party leader:   “The people who will not follow these new regulations are the drug dealers and the gun traffickers, and the people who choose to do evil with firearms. So we believe this is completely ineffective.” 

This is utter nonsense.  Many mass shootings are committed by people without criminal records and, often, the weapons used are obtained legally.  By failing to ban these arms, we are making it easier for a prospective mass shooter to purchase them legally.  Studies in the US show that over half of all mass shootings are domestic killings, some of which spill over to include other victims.  In addition, not everyone has easy access to illicit markets.  For example, teenagers who target a school may find it difficult to purchase an AR-15 from traffickers or to afford such weapons once they are available through illicit markets only.  Like prohibited drugs, the cost of smuggled firearms may be many times that of the same models obtained from a gun shop.

As the Nova Scotia shooter is believed to have obtained some of his weapons illegally from the US, concern remains that some people can circumvent a ban by obtaining the prohibited weapons south of the border.  There is no doubt that additional resources are required at crossings along the 4,000 mile US-Canada border to minimize trafficking into Canada.  Even with a porous border, the ban will prevent the legal purchase of many highly lethal models of firearms within Canada.

The Canadian Government has kept the door open for the possible grandfathering of existing weapons covered by the ban.  What justification is there for the grandfathering of a weapon the government claims is meant for war and unsuited for civilians?  Exempting weapons already manufactured at the time the US Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 took effect had the perverse effect of increasing the arsenal of weapons to be banned as manufacturers ramped up production when the ban was imminent.  This situation seriously undercut the impact of the ban as models subject to the ban could still be sold once the law had taken effect.  The prompt Canadian ban will prevent the arsenal from increasing but, with grandfathering, a large number of weapons now subject to the ban (estimated at 100,000) will still be in circulation.

The new regulations recognize the possibility that new models of firearms, with simply cosmetic modifications, can be developed to get around the ban.  Rather than simply identifying models covered by the ban, I would like to see a clear definition of an “assault weapon”.  While several features should be considered as part of this definition, I’ll leave it to the gunsmiths to come up with one. 

Opponents of the ban argue that it is handguns that ought to be banned as they are used in far more crimes than assault-style rifles.  In Canada, handguns have been restricted and subject to registration since the 1930s.  Very few Canadians are authorized to carry guns for self-defense.  Still, they are more frequently used in crime than semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.  Further restrictions on handguns may be considered at a later date. 

By contrast, in the State of Florida alone, two million people have permits to carry concealed weapons.  Most US states have “shall issue” laws, requiring the granting of such permits when basic conditions are met.  Then, there are about a dozen states that allow the carrying of handguns without any permit or training at all.  In some states, guns can even be carried into public buildings, including legislatures that are in session, as we saw recently in Michigan.   America is an outlier not just in number of guns per capita, but in the permissiveness of right-to-carry laws in many states.  At the same time, the US has by far the most serious gun violence problem among affluent countries.  The gun homicide rate is 25 times that of these other countries, when they are considered together.  Still, gun rights advocates argue that guns make us safer as a society.  There is not a shred of credible evidence to support this fantasy.

Can the US follow Canada in banning assault-style weapons?  Of course it can.  In the landmark 2008 Heller ruling, Justice Scalia of the US Supreme Court noted that weapons deemed to be “dangerous” were not protected by the Second Amendment.  The Framers would never have envisioned weapons like the AR-15.  In fact, Michael Waldman, the Second Amendment scholar from the Brennan Center for Justice, found that in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and in the notes of James Madison and the other participants, private gun ownership never came up at all!    

Oh My God! Everyone’s Buying Another Gun!

              Per usual, my friends on both sides of the gun debate are trying to ramp up fears about the virus by promoting their views on guns. On the one hand, Gun-nut Nation wants everyone to buy a gun because sooner or later, your house will be invaded and ransacked by desperate neighbors who want to grab your toilet paper stash. On the other hand, Gun-control Nation is absolutely convinced that the recent spike in gun sales will result in all kinds of violence and deaths.

              As far as I’m concerned, both sides need to tone it down. But why miss an opportunity to get your message in front of a captive audience since everyone has nothing better to do these days than sit at home and read Facebook posts, right?

              I opened my gun shop on August 1st, 2001. Five weeks later the planes slammed into the towers and gun sales spiked. You had Newt Gingrich saying he expected an ISIS invasion of Philadelphia at any moment. It was really that dumb. And since there wasn’t really any kind of grass-roots, gun-control movement the way there is today, Gun-nut Nation more or less had the public narrative all to themselves.

              Except by the time that The New York Times reported an increase in gun sales in a story that appeared on December 9, the spike was over, at least in my store. I suspect the same thing will happen again. Granted, FBI-NICS background checks for handguns jumped almost 50% from February to March, but comparing year-to-year monthly sales has to take into account that until the COVID crisis, gun sales have been in the toilet over the course of the Trump regime. If anything, the increase in sales will make up maybe 2% of the revenues that gun companies have lost over the last three years. Yesterday, Smith & Wesson stock closed at $9.64. A month before the 2016 election it was trading at $30 a share.

              As for my friends in Gun-control Nation, they need to calm down a bit and stop believing that every time some guy walks into a store and buys a gun, that this represents a threat to the common good. What it really represents in most cases is the fact that the guy got his income tax refund or maybe that bonus check signed by Trump. Either way, it’s found money  ‘The wife’ hasn’t claimed her share, so why not go out and buy another toy? Worst comes to worst, if the washing machine breaks down or the truck needs new tires, you can always sell the damn thing back.

              Or maybe you can sell it to a friend.  This constitutes the biggest bugaboo to Gun-control Nation because until we get comprehensive background checks covering every transfer of every gun, we know for a fact (I love the term ‘for a fact’) that a lot of those legally-purchased guns are going to wind up in the ‘wrong’ hands. We know this ‘for a fact’ even though there has yet to be one, single evidence-based piece of research which shows that legal gun owners sell their guns, consciously or unconsciously, to someone who shouldn’t get their hands on a gun.

              The other narrative being promoted on the gun-control side is the idea that during periods of financial stress, suicides and domestic violence go up, trends that would be aggravated if more guns are floating around. In fact, in the years directly after 9-11, the gun-suicide rate remained about the same, the rate of women killed with guns actually went down.

              I think my Gun-control Nation friends should stop ignoring the fact (there’s that word ‘fact’ again) that every time cops are asked whom they fear least, the guys walking around with legally-owned guns always make the top of the list. I’m not excusing those jerks who show up at the stupid, little anti-lockdown rallies with their AR’s. They’re just dumb as hell and have nothing better to do. But the last thing we need right now is more sturm und drang because some guns are flying off the store shelves.

              Better we should dump Trump.

Why Do We Have Gun Violence? My New Book Attempts An Answer.

I remember watching the TV news on February 1, 1968 when this film of a suspected Viet Cong agent being assassinated by a South Vietnamese Army colonel flashed across the screen. The shooting took place during the Tet Offensive and this one picture changed the entire course of the war.

Until that moment, there were still lots of folks who were against the war but hoped that maybe, just maybe we could find a way to wind things down but also protect the South Vietnamese. War was bad, but so was an immediate retreat. The picture above put an end to that argument once and for all.

This picture can be found on the final page of my latest book on guns which is available on Amazon as of today. The book is in print right now, the Kindle edition will appear shortly. It is Volume 10 in my Guns in America series, it is also the longest book by far, running some 66,000 words along with charts, graphs, maps nd copious footnotes – the whole bit. Incidentally, the previous 9 volumes can be purchased en toto in a Kindle edition for $49.95. I’m not trying to stack up my royalties; in fact, I just found out that Amazon has created this Kindle offer.

The reason I end the new book with the photo of the shooting in Saigon is because the whole point of this book is to discuss the way we have been talking about gun violence over the last seven or eight years. Concerns about gun violence were raised here and there from time to time going back to the assassination of JFK in 1963 and the passage of the big gun law in 1968. But it wasn’t until the massacre at Sandy Hook in December, 2012, that gun control became a continuous discussion, particularly within the many gun-control groups that sprang up after that date. The Newtown massacre also provoked the medical profession to get more involved in talking about guns and gun violence, ditto more research attention paid to this issue within the academic world, particularly public health.

The problem I have with this far-reaching concern about gun violence is that virtually all of the discussions within the gun-control community focus on the issue of violence without any concern or even awareness about the issue of guns. The gun-research community has published endless studies which explain who gets shot, where they get shot, how they got shot and why they get shot. But I can’t think of a single piece of research which tells me anything about the people who do the shooting. How can you create an ‘epidemiology’ of gun violence (the public health researcher’s favorite word) if you don’t know how and why the behavior which causes the injury actually spreads?

Which is what I try to do in this new book. Talk about how and why a certain number of individuals pick up a gun and use it to harm themselves or someone else. I trace this behavior – with data and personal testimonies – back to long before there was any professed concern about the violence caused by guns. And that’s why the book ends with the picture of one guy shooting another guy in South Vietnam, because when all is said and done, there’s really no difference between a shooting on a street in Saigon and a shooting on a street in Chicago’s West Side.

Like Walter Mosley says, ‘You walk around with a gun and it will go off, sooner or later.’

Is COVID-19 Social Distancing A Template For Dealing With Gun Violence?

For all the talk by physicians about gun violence, the only doctor in the entire United States who is actually doing something tangible to reduce this public health threat is Mike Hirsh, a pediatric surgeon at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. He has been running a region-wide gun buyback which is now in its 18th year. The city of Worcester is now into its third year without having suffered a death from penetrating trauma, and while the buyback is certainly not the only reason for the city’s lack of gun violence, what Mike has really achieved is a remarkable degree of coordination and respect between physicians on the one hand, and uniformed services on the other.

If there is one thing about the public health and medical response to gun violence which I find wrong to the point of absurdity, it’s the refusal of both groups to talk about the fact that more than 80% of all gun injuries happen to be crimes. What I hear the gun-control medical groups and public health folks saying again and again are variations on the theme of ‘we need to do more research.’ What I never hear them saying is ‘we need to work with the cops to deal with the illegal use of guns.’

The story in Worcester is very different. The story in Worcester is that every year there is an active collaboration between doctors and cops to spread the word about gun risk which now occurs not just in the city of Worcester, but in more than 20 surrounding towns. It didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t just a one-shot deal.  It took a year-after-year commitment on the part of white coats and blue coats to bring this about.

This year Mike Hirsh was named Medical Director for Worcester and has found himself in the middle of a new threat to community health which still doesn’t seem to be understood as a threat by Schmuck-o in the White House. But at least in Worcester and surrounding towns, a coordinated effort is being done to make sure that everyone who has to play a frontline role in responding to the COVID-19 virus knows what they have to do. Whether it’s responding to emergency calls, or organizing and coordinating facilities, or getting the word out via social media and other communication venues, the bottom line is that the Worcester hospitals have not experienced the kind of patient ‘crush’ that is happening elsewhere and creates serious roadblocks for dealing with this disease. In other words, the degree of citizen compliance seems to be having a positive effect.

Yesterday, the State Board of Health updated their numbers on viral infections and mortality and reported 8 new deaths in Suffolk County (Boston) and 2 new deaths in Worcester County. The population of both counties is roughly 800,000 and of course these number could change. But Boston doesn’t have anyone coordinating the activities of all medical and uniformed first responders, even though the city has 1,200 employees working for its Health Commission, Worcester has 28.

The more I think about how to implement and manage a social distancing strategy to deal with COVID-19, the more I think it’s what we should be doing about gun violence as well. After all, social distancing simply means that we take it upon ourselves to behave in a certain way based on an informed awareness of what needs to be done. Isn’t that what everyone should be doing in response to gun violence – behaving in a certain way with guns based on an informed awareness that guns represent a risk to health?

If the latest estimates are correct, the COVID-19 virus will begin to disappear after we suffer some 60,000 deaths. We suffer more than 100,000 deaths and serious injuries from guns, year after year after year. Maybe what Mike Hirsh is doing in Worcester for COVID-19 could become a national template for dealing with guns.