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Want To Reduce Gun Violence? Just Ask Donald Trump How To Do It.

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              Over the last ten years, the United States has contained roughly 4% of the world’s total population.  Every year, the per-100K homicide rate in the U.S. stands around 5.5, in the other advanced countries, the rate is somewhere around 3.5.

              How does the United States, with the fifth-highest per-capita GDP income in the OECD, wind up with a homicide rate that is almost twice as high as every other advanced nation-state?

              The answer has been supplied to us by our good friend David Hemenway at the Chan – Harvard University School of Public Health. And what David has been saying is that the difference between our rate of violence and what occurs throughout the rest of the OECD is basically caused by the three hundred, or maybe four hundred million guns that we have floating around. You can download and read David’s research right here.

              David’s work comes on top of the research published in 1993 by Art Kellerman and Frederick Rivara, who found an indisputable causal link between homicide and access to guns in the home.  You can also download and read this article here.

              The publication of the Kellerman-Rivara research ignited a firestorm on the other side of the debate, i.e., the gun industry and its supporters who didn’t like being told that their beloved toys represented a threat to public health. This bunch, in and out of academe, even got the CDC to stop funding gun research, although of late,  that funding has been restored. Fine. Good. Big deal.

              The reason I am skeptical of what might actually be the result of this new wave of gun research can be found in a lengthy and detailed document published by the World Health Organization and the United Nations back in 2014. Entitled, ‘Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, 2014,’ you can also download and read it here. But I suggest you give yourself plenty of time to download this report, which happens to be 275 pages in length and contains specific data from 133 countries, which in 2014 represented nearly 90 percent of everyone living on the globe.

              Why did the WHO-UN group conduct this research and publish this report? Because interpersonal violence, which they define as homicide, results in between 450,000 and 500,000 deaths every year, is the third-highest cause of death for males in the 15-44 years age group, and is usually preceded by non-fatal sexual or physical abuse which then leads to “lifelong ill health – particularly for women and children – and early death.” That sums it up kind of nicely, doesn’t it?

              The problem with this report, all the data notwithstanding, is that we aren’t given any real guidance for bringing the homicide rate in the U.S. down to where it would be equal or less than what occurs throughout the OECD. In fact, of the 52 specific legal and programmatic categories which the report covers for every country, the United States only lacks two specific violence-related laws, one which would make gang membership a specific criminal offense, and the other providing funds for victim representation in court.

              In other words, the country with the highest rate of homicide in the OECD also ranks highest in the number of laws and programs which exist in response to homicides which take place. And nowhere in this entire report is this anomaly pointed out. Nowhere. Thanks a lot.

              In fact, what makes this report so difficult for me to read or accept is that the data on U.S. interpersonal violence is lumped into a basked called ‘the Americas,’ which contains data from countries like Honduras and Guatemala, nice, peaceful countries like that.

              There is, however, one interesting comparison that can be made between the rate of violence in the United States versus the rate in countries both within and without the OECD. In the United States, the percentage of homicides committed with a gun is 68 percent. In the U.K., the percentage is less than 10 percent. In Italy, it’s 45 percent, Germany is 13 percent.

              Now let’s look at the other American shooting galleries – oops – I mean countries.. In Honduras guns are used in 83 percent of all homicides, the percentage for Guatemala is 82 percent. Mexico, however, is just like the U.S.- the use of guns in homicides is only 68 percent. Colombia, with all those drug cartels, has a gun-use percentage of 78 percent.

              Know what the percentage is in Cuba? Try zero. That’s right. None. But let’s not forget that Cuba, after all, is a Communist state and we know ‘for a fact’ that the first thing the Commies always do when they take over is they rid of all the privately-owned guns.

              The per-100,000 homicide rate in Colombia was 34. Our rate is 5.5. Cuba’s homicide rate is 4.8. Want to have guns or do you want to have murders? We seem to be the only advanced country which has both.

              The good news is that at least the voters in America had the sense to get rid of the very first President who claimed that he would do anything to make sure that Americans could own guns to protect themselves from crime. Except the data in the WHO-UN report completely contradicts that nonsense, but since when does Donald Trump ever base anything he says on evidence-based facts?

              The WHO-UN report says that the United States has laws which ‘regulate’ civilian access to guns, but the report also notes that the laws vary from state to state.

The bottom line is this: As long as certain kinds of guns are regulated and not banned, we will continue to experience a level of violence which makes us a 3rd-world country in this respect.

Don’t like what I just said? Go argue with the WHO and the UN, not with me. And while you’re at it, don’t waste your time with Trump.

Why Do Americans Like Guns?

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              Yesterday I received an email from one of the gun-control organizations telling me that the time has come for all of us to support “bold, evidence-based comprehensive policies” to overcome “well-funded information campaigns” which have led a majority of Americans to believe that guns will keep them safe.

              Gun-control Nation has been running this narrative about the ‘well-funded’ pro-gun campaigns up the flagpole for almost the last thirty years. At the same time, evidence-based studies on gun violence definitively show that access to a gun increases, not decreases risk.

              How do we account for this cognitive dissonance between what the research shows and what a majority of Americans believe? It has to be all that money which Gun-nut Nation spends to define and promote their side of the debate, right?

              Unfortunately, there’s only one little problem with this point of view. And the problem lies in the assumption made and supported throughout Gun-control Nation-land, that people make up their minds about issues because one side outspends the other in getting their message across.

              And even if this assumption was true, the NRA happens to be broke, and none of the other pro-gun organizations have ever been known for spending money on politics at all. And even if they did, how do you compare what Gun-nut Nation gives in political donations to what Mike Bloomberg forks up alone? You can’t.

              According to Gallup, right now somewhere around 40 percent of American homes contain at least one gun, a number that has been dropping but-by-bit over the last twenty years. At the same time, the number of Americans who believe a home is safer with a gun is twice as high as the number who believe that a gun in the home makes you less safe.

              I don’t care how much money pro-gun groups like NRA spend on spreading their unique brand of ‘disinformation’ around about guns because little or any of that money is spent to reach Americans who don’t own guns.

              If you represent a state like my state – Massachusetts – in Congress, you don’t vote pro-gun. You don’t vote pro-gun because most Massachusetts residents don’t own guns. You vote pro-gun if you come to D.C. from states like Montana or Nebraska because everyone in those states owns a gun.

              But the issue of how people make up their minds about guns isn’t just a function of gun ownership. If the Gallup gun polls are at all accurate, there happen to be a lot of Americans who don’t own guns but also believe that having a gun is a better way to protect yourself than not having a gun. Forty percent of American homes contain a gun, but sixty percent of Americans think that a gun keeps you safe. Get it?

              I look at these polls and then I receive a well-intentioned email from a gun-control group complaining about the ‘disinformation’ being produced by the other side in the gun debate. My reaction is that there’s something wrong with what my friends in Gun-control Nation either believe or what they want me to believe, or both.

              If gun-control advocates and activists are convinced that we need more meaningful and effective gun laws in order to reduce gun violence, then how do you get such laws through Congress when a majority of your fellow Americans don’t happen to share your views on the risks represented by access to guns?

              You’re not going to persuade a lot of Americans who believe the ‘disinformation’ coming out of Gun-nut Nation to change their minds because you have done evidence-based research which shows that not owning a gun makes you safer than owning a gun. The only way you can possibly persuade these individuals to change their minds and come over to the gun-control side is to – ready? – try to figure why they believe a gun makes you safe.

              Back in the 1980’s two-thirds of gun owners said they owned a gun for hunting or sport, one-third said that the primary reason they owned a gun was to protect themselves and their families from harm. Forty years later, those percentages have reversed. Now for every American who says he owns a gun to go hunting, there are two gun owners who say they want to protect themselves with a gun.

              The standard explanation for this shift is usually the idea that hunting is simply an outdoor activity which is no longer why people go out to the outdoors. But I don’t think this is true. Because if it was, how come the people who stopped hunting or never hunted decided they needed a gun for self-defense? Why didn’t they just decide not to buy a personal-defense gun?

              For all the talk by Gun-control Nation about the dangers to community safety that exist because so many people own or are buying guns to protect themselves or protect someone else, I have yet to see a single, serious piece of research which even attempts to figure out why almost two-thirds of Americans believe that a gun keeps you safe.

              Given how the gun-control community seems to venerate evidence-based research to develop strategies for reducing gun violence, you would think that there would be at least some attempt to do some research that would provide answers to one, very simple question: Why do people like guns?

              Not a single researcher has ever asked me to explain why I have 50 or 60 guns lying around.

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.

Want To Get Into Politics? Learn How To Shoot An Assault Rifle.

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              Way back in 2000, Charlton Heston stood up at the annual meeting of the NRA, raised a plastic version of a flintlock musket over his head and vowed that in order to take away his gun, the government would have to take it from his “cold, dead hands.”  I was at that meeting, but I didn’t attend Heston’s speech. What I do remember is that after the speech, lots of kids and even some adults went walking past my booth with a clenched fist in the air and shouted, “from my cold, dead hands.”

              The use of a musket to represent what makes America ‘great’ has been a fixture of American culture for years. After all, it’s how Davey Crockett ‘kilt’ him a bar when he was only three.’ Or maybe he was six. I don’t remember which was which.

              Then of course there was the Alamo where Crockett, James Bowie and William Travis held off Santa Anna’s Mexican Army for almost two weeks with their trusty flintlock guns.

              But time moves on and things change. And one of the things which appears to be changing is the use of AR-15 rifles as prop in campaign ads for candidates from both sides.

              As of last week, six Republicans have announced their intention to run in the 2022 election to replace Missouri’s retiring GOP Senator, Roy Blunt. One of those candidates is none other than Mark McCloskey, the idiot who stood in front of his house and waved an AR-15 at some BLM protestors who were marching by. He and his wife, who was waving a pistol at the crowd, copped a misdemeanor plea last week so McCloskey immediately went out and bought himself another AR-15.

              How do we know he now owns another AR-15 to replace the gun taken from his ‘cold, dead hands’ as part of his plea deal?  Because he immediately posted a pic of himself with the gun on his Twitter page, where else?

              It goes without saying, of course, that McCloskey’s Senate campaign will probably be based on trying to get every gun-nut in Missouri to show up and vote to protect their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ I mean here’s a guy who used a gun to defend himself, his wife, and his home from a Black ‘mob.’ Which trigger-head in Missouri wouldn’t vote for him?

But let’s not sit back, my fellow members of Gun-control Nation, shake our heads in dismay and assume that only members of the red team believe that using a gun as a stage prop is a quick and easy way to pile up the votes.

Back in 2017, Montana held a special election to fill a House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke who was picked to run the Interior Department for Trump. Both candidates ran TV ads showing them shooting guns. But the guns in their ads were old-style, lever-action rifles right out of the Old West. You don’t see guns around like that anymore. Those lever-action guns are just as old-fashioned as the flintlock that Charlton Heston held over his head.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming, however, that it’s usually a GOP candidate like McCloskey who runs campaign ads featuring what the gun industry calls a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ even though it’s really just an assault rifle known as the AR-15.

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District is currently represented by a Democrat named Conor Lamb. The 17th District is about as rural and country as you can get. What kind of TV ads did Lamb run when he won his Congressional seat in 2018? An ad showing him banging away at a shooting range with his trusty AR-15.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a gun as a prop in ads for political campaigns. But that doesn’t mean we have to let civilians own those guns. After all, nobody who saw Charlton Heston raise a flintlock over his head at the NRA show went out and bought one of those guns to keep around the house for self-defense.

    

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

      

        

         

       

     

Don’t make the mistake of assuming, however, that it’s usually a GOP candidate like McCloskey who runs campaign ads featuring what the gun industry calls a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ even though it’s really just an assault rifle known as the AR-15.

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District is currently represented by a Democrat named Conor Lamb. The 17th District is about as rural and country as you can get. What kind of TV ads did Lamb run when he won his Congressional seat in 2018? An ad showing him banging away at a shooting range with his trusty AR-15.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a gun as a prop in ads for political campaigns. But that doesn’t mean we have to let civilians own those guns. After all, nobody who saw Charlton Heston raise a flintlock over his head at the NRA show went out and bought one of those guns to keep around the house for self-defense.

So What Do We Do With All Those People Buying Guns?

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              So last night I turn on the local TV news and the show leads off with a story about the huge spike in gun sales in Massachusetts, the state where I happen to live. And this tremendous surge in gun ownership, we are told, is a result of Covid-19 and people getting worried about protecting themselves. But it’s not the virus they want to ward off with a gun; it’s all those riots and property destruction caused by the Black Lives Matter mob who are running amok in the streets of every American city and town.

              I didn’t make up that last sentence. The local TV station actually went down to Connecticut and got someone from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) who said exactly that. And after all, the NSSF is the trade group that represents the gun industry, so they must know what they’re talking about, right?

              So I took a look at the monthly data for background checks posted by the FBI and yep, year-to-year gun transfers in Massachusetts went up from 6,511 background checks in September, 2019 to 11,807 FBI-NICS checks in September of this year. Just my luck. I stopped doing retail sales in my gun shop a couple of years ago and now everyone in Massachusetts wants to own a gun. Oh well, oh well.

              Of course, there’s also been all kinds of violent demonstrations in Massachusetts since the cops stomped the shit out of George Floyd and shot a few other Black folks. So much violence has occurred, in fact, that Governor Baker has called out the National Guard. And now not only do we have the Black Lives Matter bunch marching through downtown Boston, the ISIS terrorists have also flown in.

              Actually, the only demonstration I have seen in Massachusetts this year was a small group of fat, middle-aged bikers who were standing around on a street corner in Greenfield last weekend waving their MAGA hats at passing motorists, most of whom responded with the middle finger salute, or a ‘fuck yourself’ shout, or both.

              Know what the real problem is going to be because of the purchase of all those guns? It’s not going to result in more gun violence, despite what my friends in Gun-control Nation contend. The real problem is that next year when we finally get a vaccine and the virus disappears, most of those guns purchased last month will wind up back in those gun shops because the guys who bought them will need to pay for a new set of tires for themselves or a new washing machine for ‘the wife.’

You may not know this, but the most popular first name for a woman married to a gun nut isn’t Tina, or Marge, or Melinda or Sue. It’s ‘the wife.’ That’s her real name. And I can prove this because every time some guy ever bought a gun in my gun shop, he would tell me that he had to figure out how to get it past ‘the wife’ and sneak it into the house. Because if ‘the wife’ sees that he’s bought another gun, she’s going to ask him in a not-so-pleasant voice, “Why did you just buy another friggin’ gun?”

If you think for one second that any of those guns purchased last month in Massachusetts or anywhere else for that matter will wind up anywhere except in the same drawer, or closet, or gun safe with all the other guns, think again. Yea, yea, I know how the NSSF keeps saying that 40% of all the guns recently purchased represent customers who never previously bought a gun. This is the selfsame organization which includes the sales of kayaks when it calculates how much revenue the gun industry contributes to the gross domestic product every year.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the first thing Joe will do if he’s elected President next month (hope, hope) is to defund the police, which will give me a reason to buy another gun.

Now where’d I stick the last gun I bought? Oh, right! Under the bed.

A New And Good Gun Book.

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              The problem with much of the gun-control advocacy activities that have become more frequent over the last several years, is that most of the people who get involved in the movement to reduce gun violence don’t have much involvement, interest, or experience with guns. Which means that most folks who work on solutions to an ongoing problem which accounts for more than 125,000 preventable deaths and injuries every year, have absolutely no understanding or awareness of how guns are owned or used.

              You can gain some very perceptive insights into this issue by reading a new book, American Druthers, written by Michael McNaney, who describes himself as a “highly trained, gun owning and otherwise ‘everyday’ American,” who was born in Iowa and later lived in South Georgia, two places where basically everyone has a gun.

              By the time McNaney was twelve, he had gone hunting with family members countless times and had started shooting one of the 22-caliber rifles that was around the house. He bought a 30-caliber M1 carbine and a shotgun at Kmart when he was sixteen, and at nineteen bought a Ruger 22-caliber target pistol as well as an Italian-made copy of the 9mm P-38.

              The first 20 or so pages of this book-memoir lead up to what the author describes as a “definite turning point for myself and guns.” Prior to that point in time, which was November, 2012, McNaney had owned, borrowed, shot, and sold countless guns, for years he had a whole arsenal of weapons, at other times he was unarmed.

              In reading the accounts of his life and his guns, what comes out is how normal and typical he believed guns and gun ownership to be. He always knew gun owners, he often talked to others about guns, but most important, he never found it necessary to question whether or not he needed or didn’t need to own a gun. He also never thought about whether guns were ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ They were just something which was or wasn’t around.

              These first pages of his book, what he refers to as the ‘pre-Utah’ period of his life, should really be read by everyone in the gun-control community, particularly those who, as I said earlier, haven’t been owners or users of guns. What comes across in this text is not only the normalcy of guns and access to guns, but how this normalcy would never have made McNaney think about guns one way or the other, until one afternoon in early November, 2012 when he was shot four times.

              I’ll let you read the details of the shooting, suffice it to say that it’s a true miracle that McNaney is still alive. It also was the case, not very frequent in gun assaults, that McNaney had been sitting and minding his own sweet business in the moments just before the assault took place. Most shootings between to individuals grow out of long-time, continuous disputes. In this instance, McNaney had gone out of his way to avoid contact with his assailant prior to the attack.

              The rest of the text, and the book is an easy and pleasant read, are McNaney’s ideas about what we should do with our guns. He’s not opposed to gun ownership, the fact that someone tried to kill him for no reason whatsoever has not turned him against guns. But it has made him commit to the following goal: “All firearm owners in the United States to be highly trained, non-threatening and perfectly respectful with, and ultimately responsible for, their firearms.”

              How McNaney believes we could get to that point is explained in a series of proposals which are found in a ‘Solutions’ chapter near the end of the book. I’ll leave it to each reader to decide whether McNaney’s on the right track.

              I liked this book for one simple reason, namely, that the author is a decent and honest man. And no matter whether I agree with them or not, when it’s honest, I’m always willing to hear what they have to say.

              The book is available on Amazon.

Once Again, NPR Gets It All Wrong About Guns.

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              Once again, National Public Radio treats its audience to another completely stupid and wrong spiel about guns. But it’s not as if the NPR audience knows enough about guns to understand that they are being lied to or not.  After all, we know that it’s Trump and the alt-right who are the liars, but when NPR says something, it’s got to be true, right?

              I’m referring to an interview on Weekend Edition yesterday about the alleged increase in Black gun ownership over the past several months. Why this increase in Blacks owning guns? It’s obvious, isn’t it? Blacks are getting shot by cops and threatened by alt-right gun nuts all the time. Two of those armed racists even got stage-time at the RNC.

              So the segment starts off with a quick introduction of a Black political consultant named Kat Traylor who just purchased a self-defense gun. She’s perfect – a Democrat, a woman and a Black. She bought her gun because she’s worried about the growing unrest on both sides. She says it like this: “If it looks like communities of color and people that support communities of color are rising up against white supremacy, that could be a problem for us.”

              So she and her husband bought a gun and now go to the range and practice shooting their gun.  Just like the White folks do.

              For a little background, the NPR reporter tells us that the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which she describes as a ‘trade group,’ says that gun sales to Blacks have grown more than sales to any other ethnic group. How can you argue with that?

              The NSSF isn’t just some ‘trade group.’ It happens to be the gun industry’s premier PR mouthpiece, which will say anything they can say without getting into legal trouble as long as it promotes anything having to do with guns. Ever since the gun industry discovered that the same White men keep buying all the guns, they have been promoting the total PR bullshit about how women, minorities, Jews and just about every other group they can think of has been getting into guns.

              There’s only one little problem. This nonsense has absolutely no hard data behind it at all. In fact, when you go into a gun shop and fill out the form used to check your background, you must describe your age, your gender, and your race or ethnic group. But the FBI isn’t required to collect or publish this data – the only data they publish is the number and type of guns sold each month.

              So the NSSF can say anything it wants about all those new gun owners flocking into stores to buy guns. And whom does the NPR reporter rely on to validate the NSSF’s claim about how Blacks are now a new buying group getting their hands on all those guns? None other than Philip Smith, who claims to be the ‘founder’ of the National African American Gun Association, which according to him, is growing like cray with members in every state.

              Know what the NAAGA is?  It’s just another commercial website started by a self-styled internet entrepreneur who promises that at some point there will be a national network of trained, certified gun-safety instructors who are especially sensitive to the culture and outlook of Blacks. You can join for $29, which gets you a monthly newsletter and, most important, discounts at the online NAAGA shopping cart. What can you buy at the online store? The same clothing and crap you can buy at every other online store.

              In other words, this entire NPR production was based on interviews with people who have a vested interest in promoting the idea that Black Americans have become a new and vital force in Gun-nut Nation today. Did the NPR reporter make the slightest effort to validate anything that anyone said?  Why bother?

              Liberals who do ‘research’ into the highways and byways of Gun-nut Nation are like the anthropologists who went to the Amazon to study all those ‘primitive’ tribes. And the tribal members are so primitive that they know exactly how to tell the researchers (or in this case, the NPR reporter) exactly what they want to hear.

John Lott Doesn’t Cause Gun Violence.

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              The news that James Bennett has ‘resigned’ as Opinion Editor at The New York Times (nobody’s ever fired at  the NYT, they always resign) didn’t make it much harder for me to enjoy my morning coffee today. To the contrary, it’s a move long overdue. If nothing else, the way he characterized John Lott in an editorial back in 2018 told me that he was using the editorial page to make judgements and pronouncements that should have remained on the copy room floor.

              The editorial in question was a criticism of what appeared to be an attempt by Trump and his Congressional allies to sabotage the crime bill, even though ultimately Trump signed legislation that had bi-partisan support. The editorial cited a study by Lott about crime rates and immigrants, with Lott being described as a ‘disreputable economist’ who misused data “to suit his own ideological ends.”

              This idea that Lott is some kind of disreputable researcher has been floating around Gun-control Nation ever since he pissed off all my gun-control friends by publishing a book which argued that violent crime had gone down after the early 1990’s because more people were walking around with legal guns.  I have published my own critique of John’s work, but despite the hysterical attacks made against him by some gun-control advocates who have never done any research on their own, his book is basically just another contribution to the debate on why violent crime fell so dramatically after the early 1990’s and should be read and regarded in those terms.

              What the gun-control advocates who hate John’s work would like to ignore is the fact that a majority of Americans believe that a home containing a gun is safer than a home without a gun.  And since the number of homes that contain guns is somewhere around 30%, obviously a lot of non-gun owners also think that guns are more of a benefit than a risk. If everyone who buys into the idea that guns keep you safe owned a copy of John’s book, he wouldn’t need to ask people for a few bucks for the think-tank where he works.

              I have been asking my friends in Gun-control Nation to stop thinking that citing some data which shows that guns are a risk is an effective way to talk to gun owners about their guns. I have also stated again and again that the idea of lecturing gun owners on safe storage is a fool’s errand for two reasons. First, believe it or not, gun owners do safely store their guns, and when they don’t, it’s because they are human beings, and like all of us, sometimes they are careless and they forget.

The second reason that safe storage is a dead-end strategy is that there is not one, single study which shows that when gun owners safely store their guns, that gun injury rates go down. The studies on safe storage find that after gun owners are instructed about safety, more report that they safely stored their guns. But does this mean that gun-injury rates changed? It doesn’t mean squat.

My friends in Gun-control Nation can continue to rant and rave about John Lott but it such behavior will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on how America thinks about guns. And how America thinks about guns is how they will think about gun violence and how they will think about any so-called ‘reasonable’ measures to control guns.

Know why laws like comprehensive background checks and red-flag procedures are considered ‘reasonable’ to the point that even a majority of gun owners support such ideas? Because the truth is that such regulations won’t really prevent gun owners from buying more guns. And the further truth is that as long as Americans can walk into a gun shop and walk out with a little Glock, Kahr or Sig pistol that holds 15 rounds of military-grade ammo, gun violence isn’t going to decline at all.

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

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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!

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              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.

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