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If You Read One Book About Gun Violence, Read This Book.

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              Philip Cook is an economist who began studying and publishing on gun violence in the late 1970’s, and it would not be an overstatement to say that he has been the singularly most influential and significant scholar in this field for the past forty years. I’m two years older than Phil, so I can afford to be magnanimous in my praise of his academic work and impact on the field.

              Anthony Braga is a criminologist who ranks as the best and the brightest of the next generation of scholars producing original and important research on issues related to gun violence, in particular, the effectiveness of policing strategies which focus on proactive measures to control violent criminality occasioned by the use of guns.

              The good news is that working together, Braga and Cook have now produced a book-length study, Policing Gun Violence, whose title perfectly encapsulates their respective primary research concerns: Braga on cops and Cook on guns.

              What we get from this vaunted collaboration is an approach to understanding the how and why of reducing gun violence which creates a more penetrating and hopefully more productive narrative for reducing gun violence than what is being bandied around the gun-control community today.

              If you look at the messaging from the major gun-control organizations – Brady, Everytown, Giffords – what has now become the standard response to a couple of thousand fatal and non-fatal gun injuries each and every week is the idea that law-abiding gun owners have to keep their guns safe – use them safely, store them safely, sell them to someone else safely, on and on again and again.

              Where does Gun-control Nation get this nonsense?  They get it from public health researchers who have become enamored of the ‘consensus’ approach to gun violence, which means coming up with gun-control strategies acceptable to both sides.

              This would be like asking the CDC to come up with a solution for tobacco use that would be preferred by smokers, or maybe a way to deal with alcoholism by figuring out how to solve the problem which the binge-drinkers among us would also prefer.

              On the very first page of their spellbinding treatise, Braga and Cook waste no time getting to the heart of the matter: “Gun violence is a multifaceted problem requiring a multifaceted response. But an essential component of any comprehensive effort is more effective policing. Most instances in which one person shoots another are crimes.”

              Bingo! That’s it. We finally have an analysis of gun violence which starts at the beginning of the problem and not at the end. The end of gun violence is the guy lying in the street with a bullet in his head. The beginning of the problem is the decision by someone else to commit a violent crime. And that decision is in no way going to be influenced or affected by whether or the gun used in that assault was used safely or not.

              It’s too bad that one out of every seven or eight Americans lives in a crime-ridden, underserved, urban neighborhood. It’s too bad that many, if not most of the people living in those neighborhoods happen to be black. It’s too bad that the median household income for blacks is 40 percent lower than the median household income for whites. But mitigating and ultimately eliminating the ‘root causes’ of violence means nothing to the kid who disses another kid and then finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun.

              This past weekend two young guys got into an argument at the food court in my nearby shopping mall. One thing led to another, a gun got pulled out, a shot was fired and a third individual, described as an ‘innocent bystander’ fell down dead. This mall has a stated policy  as a gun-free zone. There are also armed security guards on continuous patrols.

              You think the guy who walked into this mall with a gun in his pocket spent one second thinking that he was violating the rules when he decided not to leave his gun out in his car? But the point of Braga and Cook’s book is an analysis of the methods and strategies that cops need to use to keep this guy from ever getting his hands on a gun.

              Which is why this book so timely, so coherent, and so important for everyone to read.

Let The Experts Explain Gun Violence.

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              Here we go again. A couple of mass shootings take place over a couple of days, and the experts weigh in on why the shootings occurred. And who is going to challenge the expertise of people from Johns Hopkins University or the Rockefeller Institute, particularly when they are backed up with data gathered by the Secret Service?

              Duhhh … I’m going to challenge the opinions of these experts because all they’re doing is making sure the next time CNN needs 30 seconds of audio to go along with a video of some SWAT team rushing here or rushing there, that maybe they’ll be the mouths providing the noise.

              Here are the so-called reasons why the number of shootings resulting in four or more persons getting shot has gone up.

              Reason #1: “Americans have more guns now than they did before. US gun sales reached a record 23 million in 2020 – a 65% increase from 2019 – and remained high in 2021.” This brilliant example of expertise comes from Josh Horwitz, who used to be the head of a totally useless organization, The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, and now spiels at Johns Hopkins University.

              What’s the connection between more guns being sold to legal gun owners (the gun sales data comes from the monthly FBI-NICS background checks) and more shootings which kill and/or injure four persons or more? WTFK. 

              Why WTFK? Because we have no idea whether the shooters were using legally-owned guns, or guns they stole from someone else, or guns the shooters bought on the street corner, or anything else. 

              The more guns = more gun violence argument would be like saying that the reason we have more fatal car accidents is because we have more cars driving around on the roads. In fact, the number of cars registered in the United States has increased roughly 4 percent every year since 1960, and the fatal accident rate keeps going down.

              Reason #2: “Rise in life stressors, both in general and as a result of the pandemic, especially hardships related to finances, employment or family and relationships.” These issues, according to the lady who runs the gun group at Rockefeller, “can lead some people to act out or respond violently.”

              ‘Can lead some people?’ Which people? We are told (from the Secret Service report) that 93% of the 34 mass attacks which occurred in 2019 were committed by individuals who had experienced at least one of the stressors mentioned above over the previous five years.

              Over the previous five years? If we were to figure out how many Americans have found themselves experiencing a job loss, marital or relationship breakdown, mental health issues, substance abuse or other serious, life-changing events over the past five years, do you think the total number would be less than 200 million? I don’t. Some people. Thanks a lot.

              Reason #3: “Toxic masculinity.” This bizarre statement comes from the Rockefeller lady and is based on the ‘fact’ that mass shooters tend to be almost entirely men. She then adds, “If we are trying to understand the root causes of gun violence, we need to start by understanding why people pick up firearms in the first place to inflict harm, regardless of the target of that harm.”

So, what are these two experts really telling us? They are saying that all we need to do is figure out why this guy and that guy can’t just own guns because they want to own guns but need to own guns in order to use their guns to shoot themselves or shoot someone else.

              Incidentally, the reason I use the phrase ‘shoot themselves’ is because many mass shootings, particularly the shootings where lots of people get injured or killed, end up with the shooter killing himself. In other words, the event combines homicide and suicide, which happened to account for 6 of the 34 mass shootings discussed in the Secret Service report.

              Why do some people who want to kill themselves with a gun first make sure to take some other people with them when they decide it’s time to take off for the great beyond? WTFK.

              You would think that two research organizations as important and qualified as Hopkins and Rockefeller could come up with some reasons for gun violence which would allow me to go beyond repeating WTFK. But they haven’t and they won’t. Know why?

              Because the so-called experts in these two groups who claim expertise in gun violence know absolutely nothing about the guns which are used to cause the violence and know even less about the industry which manufactures and sells those guns.

              What they do know how to do is say the same, useless things that they have now been saying for nearly thirty years, which is that all we need to do is figure out how to predict which of the 165 million males living today in the United States will commit gun violence tomorrow or the next day and pass yet another law to keep guns out of their hands.

              Sounds reasonable, right?

Who Says Liberals Are Against Armed, Self-Defense?

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I love how FOX NEWS runs a piece which is not only completely based on nothing but wrong opinions but then refers to itself as ‘news.’  In this instance, one of many, FOX ran a story on Joe Biden which was a collection of comments he made about guns, and as you can imagine, the comments all demonstrate that when it comes to the beloved 2nd Amendment, Joe is either a demented fool, or a gun-grabber, or both.

              The story was obviously put together to appeal to the FOX audience, which is patently conservative and therefore pro-gun. And when the White House tenant is a Democrat, this obviously means that privately-owned guns are likely to be regulated more than they are regulated now, or maybe just gotten rid of entirely.

              Except to show you how full of sh*t FOX happens to be, or better yet, how full of sh*t the whole pro-gun advocacy world happens to be, what FOX didn’t bother to mention is that Joe Biden happens to be the only national politician of either party who admits to using a gun for the reason that the pro-gun movement believes a gun should primarily be used, which is for self-defense.

              That’s right. Joe Biden is on record as recommending that keeping and using a loaded shotgun in the home is a proper way to keep your home safe. And Joe goes further and admits, in a 2013 interview, that he has taught his wife, Jill, how to use a shotgun to keep a bad guy from doing her any harm.

              Here is the direct quote from the February 20, 2013, issue of Parents Magazine: “If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun, have the shells, a 12-guage shotgun, and I promise you, as I told my wife – we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded – I said ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.’”

              Note that Joe didn’t tell his wife to first pick up the phone and call the Secret Service boys. Note that Joe didn’t tell Jill to run downstairs and lock herself in a basement room. What he told her to do is exactly what the NRA and every other gun-nut group has been telling Americans to do for the last umpteen years – rack up the ol’ shotgun and blast away.

              Now you would think the moment that Parents mag hit the newsstands, that the guys who run Mossberg and Remington and all the other companies making shotguns would have been getting online outside Joe’s office (he was Vice President at the time) to present him with a new shotgun for Jill to keep in their home.

              Can you think of a better photo op for the gun industry, particularly at a time when the President was a notorious gun-grabber who would do anything to take everyone’s guns away? I can’t, that’s for goddamn sure.

              To the contrary.  The guys who run the gun industry are so friggin’ stupid that they all got hysterical about Joe’s support of armed, self-defense, and went out of their way to tell their bunch that what Joe said was not only wrong, but illegal as well. One of the dumb asses, his name escapes me now, even went so far as to say that it’s a crime in Delaware to shoot a shotgun off into the sky because a pellet might come down and hit someone in the head.

              Now the fact that Delaware happens to be a state which sits directly in the middle of the North-South path of about a gazllion ducks which fly back and forth between Canada and Florida every year, and the fact that there must be at least ten thousand guys with shotguns who blast away at the birds as the flocks fly overhead, and the fact that there’s absolutely no law in Delaware or anywhere else which prevents a hunter from pointing his shotgun in the air and popping off a few rounds, oh well, oh well.

              The  bottom line is that when it comes to talking about guns and gun violence in American society today, if you’re a Democrat it’s something to be worried about, if you’re a Republican you just have to remember to mention your ‘thoughts and prayers.’

              And if you think the two sides in the gun debate are going to come together and figure out some kind of ‘consensus’ approach to a problem which results in more than 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year, think again.

A Gun Book Which You Should Read.

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              Mary Anne Franks is Professor of Law at the University of Miami Law School. Several years ago, she published a book, The Cult of the Constitution, which has a very interesting sub-                      title: Our Deadly Devotion to Guns and Free Speech.

I somehow missed this book when it first appeared, but for that matter, so did just about everyone else in both Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation. So, I’m going to make up for lost time right now and begin by saying that Professor Franks has written a significant and important book.

I’m no Constitutional scholar, so my ability to write a seriously critical review of this work is somewhat limited, except when it comes to discussing the 2nd Amendment, or what the author refers to as ‘the cult of the gun.’ When the author talks about cults, she is really focusing on what she refers to as Constitutional ‘fundamentalism,’ which basically means interpreting the Constitution the way it was written by a group of 55 white men who came to Philadelphia to write and replace the Articles of Confederation with a new document which would serve to maintain the patriarchal social structure of a bunch of former British colonies now reborn as states.

What Professor Franks doesn’t mention is that of those 55 delegates, 34 happened to be attorneys, whose legal expertise and knowledge was largely a function of the British Common Law tradition, which still marks much of contemporary American jurisprudence to this very day.  Indeed, if you read the District of Columbia v. Heller opinion by Justice Scalia, which gave Constitutional protection to private ownership of handguns back in 2008, you will note that much of his text is a discussion of legal notions and definitions from the Common Law.

The author’s concern about how fundamentalist attitudes have crept into the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly the 2nd Amendment, grows out of the idea that ‘reverence and ignorance’ form the bedrock of fundamentalist beliefs. These beliefs are then strengthened by promoting the idea of victimhood, particularly the victimization of white men living in a world increasingly diverse and less open to the traditional patriarchal, heterosexual authority of those white, gun-owning men.

I can’t think of another public narrative out there which is more strongly promoted by one side over the other than the totally false and reverential idea that walking around with a gun will protect someone from becoming the victim of a crime. This nonsense has been the basic way in which the gun industry has kept itself in business for the last forty years since Americans stopped hunting and quit buying hunting and sporting guns.

On the other hand, I think the author’s attempt to push what she refers to as the gender, racial and socio-economic disparities between how armed, self-defense is protected for white men as opposed to everyone else, may be creating an argument which goes a little too far.

The biggest, single problem we encounter in discussing gun violence is that not only is most gun violence committed by individuals who do not have legal license to own or use a gun, but we have absolutely no idea about how many illegally owned guns are out there being carried around. So, to compare changes in gun laws (e.g., making it easier to carry a concealed gun) to changes in gun violence is to connect two phenomena which may have no real connection at all, no matter what those regression analyses endlessly promoted by public health researchers happen to say.

The smartest thing the NRA ever did to keep itself in business was to start referring to gun owners as ‘law-abiding gun owners’ as opposed to armed individuals who use their guns to break the law. And here is where Professor Franks needs to possibly reconsider her narrative because the idea of not backing down in the face of a real or imagined threat happens to be a longstanding American behavior which transcends the whole issue of the ownership and use of guns.

Between legislation and court decisions, standing your ground has become accepted behavior in more than 40 states. You can’t pin that widespread culture on the nefarious behavior of the NRA. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has always been reactive to the way the average person thinks, not the other way around.

That being said, The Cult of the Constitution is a very good and thoughtful book. Professor Franks has written a work which needs to be read.

Want To Be a Gun Expert? Work For RAND.

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              So now the RAND Corporation has gone to the trouble of compiling a list of ‘experts’ whose views are consulted whenever RAND wants to say anything about guns. And RAND has been saying a lot about gun violence lately, with a goal to “establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.”

              You don’t fool around with RAND. After all, this outfit has nearly 2,000 employees spending all their time doing what they call ‘objective research’ on the key policy areas about which both the public and private sectors need to be informed. Which is why I spent most of last night looking at RAND’s list of the go-to people when it comes to understanding what we need to do about the violence caused by guns.

              You can see the names of the individuals whom RAND considers to hold expertise on gun issues by downloading this report which RAND published for the second time in 2021. Among other things, this report gives the list of every ‘expert’ who was invited to participate in the survey which constitutes the basis of this document.

              The experts are divided into two categories. The first category is ‘academic researchers,’ and to make this list you either needed to have published five or more pieces of research about guns, or you are the first author in any piece of published research which has been cited more than 30 times.

              The second group of experts are individuals who are nominated for their expertise by ‘advocacy and professional’ organizations, of which 37 such organizations were sent requests for nominations, a list which included the usual gun-control and gun-nut suspects, like Brady and the NRA.

              RAND also invited 20 staffers from Senate and House committees which play some role in fashioning national gun legislation on The Hill. In particular, this group included staff from the Judiciary Committees of both the upper and lower chambers, which is where gun laws usually start and, by the way, usually end. All of this information can be found on pp. 8 – 14 of the report.

              RAND defines gun policy experts as “a diverse group of people with a professional interest in understanding and communicating the likely effects of gun policies.” This is all fine and well except for one little problem, the existence of which makes this entire survey and all the work being done by RAND on guns and gun violence to be nothing but what Grandpa would call ‘vishtugidach,’ (read: horsesh*t, and I’m being polite.)

              Why do I say that? Why do I take such a distaff view of the work of all these experts brought together by RAND? Because what I don’t see in any of the categories whose membership comprises what RAND considers to be the country’s experts on the issue of guns, is a single person whose job rests entirely on his/her ability to ‘understand and communicate’ about the laws we use to regulate guns, namely, someone who works for a company which manufactures the goddamn things.

              You think that Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig, Kahr, Springfield and all the other gun makers don’t spend lots of time, energy and resources trying to figure out how to deal with public and private efforts to regulate both the kinds of products they sell and the way they go about selling those products to gun nuts both here and abroad?

              Many years ago, The New Yorker ran a great cartoon which showed an Archie Bunker type sitting in his living room and picking up the phone. He’s just gotten a call from some outfit which is doing a public opinion survey and the first question is: “What should we do about cigarettes?” He answers: “Ban the damn things.” The next question: “What should we do about drugs?” Answer: “Ban the damn things.” Last question: “What should we do about guns?” Answer: “Don’t ban them! That won’t do anything at all!”

              The point is that the gun industry is the only consumer products industry in which if there’s a certain political alignment in D.C. and another Hinckley comes along and takes a pot-shot at the President, a bill could easily slip through Congress which would get rid of privately-owned guns once and for all.

              Everyone who works for a gun company lives with this reality. That being the case, how does RAND take seriously the idea that it can create a ‘diverse’ group of gun experts and not include one representative of one gun company at all?

              Because believe it or not, the NRA and that phony 2nd-Amendment Foundation represent themselves, and they raise money to pay themselves by figuring out what to say to their donors every time a gun-control law is introduced up on The Hill.

              RAND gets away with promoting its so-called research on guns because its audience and its donor base happen to be populations which also don’t know anything about guns. RAND would never dare create a research initiative into trading practices on the stock exchange without soliciting the views of staff from Merrill-Lynch or Wells Fargo because everyone has a 401K.

              On the other hand, somewhere around two-thirds of American households somehow manage to feed and clothe everyone in the household without having legal title to a single gun.

              I have been saying for years that the problem with Gun-control Nation is they only talk to themselves. There’s a nice gun show coming up near me the weekend of January 28th. Lots of good food, lots of MAGA t-shirts, lots of old guns.

              If any of The RAND gun experts would like to learn the first thing about the industry they are trying to regulate in more effective ways, just send me an email and I’ll take you around at the show.

              I’m willing to bet that of the 325 ‘experts’ contacted by RAND, less than 10 have ever been to a gun show.

              Better yet, wait until November and I’ll meet you at the NASGW show. I’m sure there aren’t ten RAND gun experts who even know what the acronym NASGW means.

A New Gun Book You Should Read.

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              Nikki Goeser is a lady in her mid-40’s who graduated from the University of Tennessee, went to work as a financial adviser at a local technical college at Nashville and in 2008 married the ‘love of her life’ Ben. Her husband was a commercial designer who did fix-it work on the side and he and Nikki also did a karaoke show at various Nashville restaurants and bars.

              On the night of April 2, 2009, they were doing a karaoke gig when Nikki spotted a guy in the audience who had been to some of their previous shows and had then started sending Nikki some inappropriate messages through MySpace which she ignored.

              All of a sudden, the guy was sitting next to her husband. Then he went to the bathroom, came back out, walked over to where Ben was sitting putting a batch of songs into the computer, pulled out a Colt-45 pistol, and after shooting Ben in the head, continued standing over him and popping six more rounds.

              The shooter calmly walked away from the spot where he had just killed another man, and was promptly tackled by a U.S. Marine who, with the help of several other customers, disarmed the guy and held him down until the cops arrived.

              It turns out the guy who killed Nikki’s husband had been stalking Nikki for months. He had never spoken to her but had sent her endless internet messages and for some reason, never explained, was obsessed with her and felt that Ben’s existence was keeping him from getting into a relationship with this woman who was lighting up his life.

              When Nikki first saw this guy pull his gun, she immediately realized that she had left her own gun locked in her car. The restaurant where Ben and Nikki were doing their karaoke show had a gun-free policy, typical of public spaces where liquor is served. As the shooter pulled out his weapon, Nikki thought to herself: “Oh my God, I don’t have my gun! He is going to shoot somebody and I don’t have my gun!” [p. 22] I will return to Nikki’s comment below.

              After several more emotionally-charged chapters covering the immediacy of this terrible event, Nikki then then covers the events leading up to and covering the shooter’s trial, for which he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years. These chapters are written beautifully, and they remind me of Dominick Dunne’s description of the trial of the man who killed his daughter which appeared in Vanity Fair.

              For me to compare the writing of any newly published author to the prose of Dominick Dunne is to make it clear that the author whose book I am reviewing has a great deal of talent when it comes to telling a story which you might want to read.

              That being said, of course I also have to make some critical comments about this book, if only because every book review needs to be somewhat balanced between the good and the bad. In this instance, what I am calling ‘bad’ are the last few chapters in which Nikki Goeser swerves away from a heart-rending and personal account about the emotional and social traumas that she has survived and gives us the usual song-and-dance about why everyone should be walking around with a gun.

              To that end let me refer again to Nikki’s statement that she was unable to help her husband avoid getting killed because she didn’t have her gun. According to her story, maybe two or three seconds at most passed from the time she realized the assailant had a gun until the time her husband took a round in the head.

              What could Nikki have done with her gun if it had been in her pocket instead of out in the car? Nothing. Not one, goddamn thing.

              This is the biggest problem with gun violence, a problem discussed brilliantly by Lester Adelson, who was Cuyahoga County coroner (Cleveland) for nearly 40 years, so he saw plenty of people whose lives were ended by the use of a gun. Adelson sums it up this way:

. “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing. Facile access to firearms is an invitation to their wrongful use by the neurotic, the psychotic, and the socially maladjusted.”

              By the time Nikki Goeser gets done talking about the trial of her husband’s killer, there’s simply no doubt that this guy exactly fit Lester Adelson’s description of the kind of individual who will use a gun in a ‘wrongful’ way. And the real problem is that most of these nut-jobs plan their ‘wrongful’ behavior well in advance, and the idea that someone legally authorized to carry a gun will proactively prevent such individuals from carrying out their misdeed is a wonderful fantasy but simply is not true.

              That being said, for the clarity of its language and the emotional impact of its tone, I recommend Nikki Goeser’s book as a good, solid and informative read.

Do Doctors Know Anything About Guns?

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              In 1964, the Surgeon General issued a report which linked cigarettes to specific health risks, most of all lung and bronchial cancers, but other diseases as well. This was followed by Federal laws which banned cigarette advertising on broadcast media and required a health warning on all cigarette packs.

              These efforts sparked smoking cessation programs at the community level, as well as anti-smoking education in public schools. Those programs and others are coordinated by the CDC and have made a significant difference in the size of the smoking population as well as the number of deaths from illnesses caused by cigarette smoke.

              Last year the CDC announced that guns were also a health threat. It only took the CDC twenty-eight years to figure this one out after two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine definitively found a link between gun access and both murder and suicide.

              And what has the medical community decided is the best way to deal with this threat which only kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year? Back in 2019, a ‘summit meeting’ took place attended by 44 major medical and injury prevention organizations and hosted by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the objective being to “develop effective injury prevention strategies.”

               The summit group decided to adopt a ‘systems approach’ to the problem based on a public health model. This model “requires engagement, responsibility and partnership across disciplines, geographic regions, and philosophic differences. It requires professionalism, humility, and mutual respect. When applied to firearm injury prevention, this approach requires engaging firearm owners as a part of the solution rather than as part of the problem.”

          Now let’s circle back for a minute to how the CDC dealt with smoking as a public health issue. Basically, the research indicated that if cigarettes are being smoked in the home, the rates of serious diseases like cancer and cardiac problems reach unacceptable levels and will remain at those levels until the cigarettes are removed from the home.

          Does the CDC recommend that smokers be engaged in deciding the strategies that will allow them to keep smoking, even though everyone agrees that smoking represents a risk? Of course not. Smokers may be asked to help figure out the best ways to break the smoking habit, but sooner or later, the cigarettes have to be gone from the home.

          Why should a public health approach to reducing gun violence be any different? How come doctors are being told that figuring out how to get the guns out of the home should be a process which requires input from the population which will have to give up their guns in order to meet the evidence-based research which clearly demonstrates that guns in the home represent a risk to health?

          Doctors are being told this because this bunch who held their ‘summit meeting’ about gun violence in 2019 decided that they could ignore the research published in 1993 about the risk to health represented by guns as long as doctors would advise their gun-owning patients to own and use guns in a ‘safe’ way.

          The only thing which exceeds the arrogance of this approach is its ignorance. Know why it’s ignorant? Because most fatal and non-fatal gun injuries, perhaps three-quarters or more, are caused by individuals who own and use guns that are designed solely for the purpose of ending human life. Guns manufactured by companies like Glock, Sig, Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Kahr – want me to name a few more? – are guns carried and used by military and tactical units worldwide. The United States is the only country in the entire world which allows its residents to buy and own these kinds of guns.

          Nowhere in the entire discussion about gun violence found in the proceedings of that 2019 ‘summit’ is this issue even mentioned, never mind discussed. Nowhere did all those medical and public health experts demonstrate even the slightest awareness of how the American gun industry profits by selling military-style handguns to the so-called law-abiding crowd.

          Oh, I forgot. This same bunch of injury experts have no problem saying that we need to do a better job of regulating the sale and ownership of assault rifles, up to and maybe even reinstating a partial ban. Big fu*king deal. We’ll get rid of the guns which account for less than one percent of the gun violence events which occur every year, but the sale of guns responsible for the other ninety-nine percent of gun injuries shouldn’t be disturbed.

          The physicians and public health researchers who came together in this summit, produced this absolute nonsense and are now spreading it merrily (with the help of the CDC) throughout the entire medical profession should be ashamed of themselves.

          But this bunch are too arrogant and too stupid to admit that maybe, just maybe they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

          The truth is that if gun violence did slow down or disappear, the CDC would stop funding their useless research and then what would these folks do? Spend their time seeing patients? What’s the point of that?

          I’m going to send this column to everyone who attended that 2019 summit and invite them to respond. Any response I receive will get reprinted in full.

          Don’t hold your breath, okay?

Is Political Violence a Threat?

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              So, now we have the entire editorial board of The New York Times pronouncing what we need to do about gun violence. And when you get done reading through this entire epistle, you’ll understand why we haven’t done anything to reduce gun violence over the past twenty years.

              To understand the context in which the esteemed editors of America’s most esteemed public media venue produced their remarks, the per-thousand rate of deaths from intentional gun assaults (i.e., homicide) in 2001 was 3.98. In 2020, the rate was 5.88. Or to put it in raw numbers, 11,348 people were shot to death by someone else in 2001, in 2020 that number was 19,384.

              According to this bunch of Ivy-educated lowbrows, America has a ‘toxic’ gun culture because “a growing number of American civilians have an unhealthy obsession with ‘tactical culture’ and rifles like the AR-15.”

              I know something about that unhealthy obsession because I happen to be the person who advised the law firm representing the litigants who sued Remington for making the AR-15 used to slaughter 26 adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. And what I told the Koskoff law firm about the AR-15 is what they used in an argument which basically said the rile was too dangerous to be in civilian hands.

              That was then, this is now. And now we are being told that “the American gun industry has reaped an estimated $1 billion in sales over the past decade from AR-15-style guns, and it has done so by using and cultivating their status as near mythical emblems of power, hyper-patriotism and manhood.”

              Let’s start right there. One billion dollars over ten years? That’s the big deal? It just so happens that until recently when sales began to flag and retailers began cutting prices, that the average cost of a fully assembled AR-15 was about a thousand bucks.

So, let’s divide a billion by a thousand and what do we get? We get one million AR-15’s sold to a potential market of some eighty to ninety million Americans who own guns. No wonder the price of a share of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past year.

What is worse than all those military-style guns floating around, is how they keep showing up at political events carried by super patriots on the alt-right. The editorial references an earlier ‘analysis’ by the newspaper which found that 77 percent of some 700 political demonstrations attracted people openly carrying guns.

In fact, the analysis was no analysis at all. The NYT simply cribbed some data put together by a research outfit, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which first started operating in Great Britain, but now is housed in multiple academic locations in the United States.

The ACLED group has done a detailed analysis of all armed political demonstrations in the United States from January 2020 through June 2021, a period which saw perhaps as many as 30,000 public demonstrations, of which somewhere around 560 events involved at least one person openly carrying a gun. That’s less than two percent.

Of the demonstrations which attracted armed demonstrators or onlookers, there were 9 fatalities reported to have occurred, of which two men were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha during the BLM violence in August 2021. How many of the other 7 people killed in these 560 demonstrations were shot with guns? I can’t find any data on the ACLED website which breaks down fatal violence committed with or without guns, but an article on political violence in The Guardian  (based on ACLED data) says that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of BLM demonstrations were peaceful and that many of the deaths at these events were actually deadly crimes carried out near where the demonstrations took place.

In other words, for all the efforts of the gun industry to market its products through appeals to manhood, patriotism, and the endless bleating about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ this country continues to exhibit a remarkable level of peace and calm, notwithstanding all those gazillions of guns floating around.

Several weeks ago, the NYT ran another story about how the gun ‘culture’ has become an intimidating element in the public debate, with a tag-line which read “Armed Americans, often pushing a right-wing agenda, are increasingly using open-carry laws to intimidate opponents and shut down debate.”

If I had a nickel for every story the NYT and other liberal media ran about how the mid-term elections would be rife with violent threats and violent acts, I wouldn’t have to finish this commentary up right now in order to report for work.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor summed it up by saying, “There was no violence. At least for now, the serious threats that loomed over democracy heading into Election Day – domestic extremist violence, voter intimidation, and Republican refusal to respect election outcomes – did not materialize in any pervasive way.”

If the Editorial Board of America’s ‘paper of record’ (a term they have been using to describe themselves since 1924) wants to really do something about gun violence, instead of promoting this cockamamie nonsense about how the Boogaloo Boys are one step away from committing the next Civil War, why don’t these editors sit down and figure out what to do about the 50 kids and young men who get gunned down every day on inner-city streets?

Is that too much to ask these so-called editorialists to do? I guess it is.

Let’s Go to a Gun Show This Weekend.

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              When I started writing about guns, the national gun-homicide rate was 3.55, the lowest since the CDC started keeping this number beginning in 1981. The rate started increasing in 2015 and hit 5.88 in 2020, an increase from 2015 of more than 60%.

              Meanwhile, by 2015 gun violence was routinely described as a ‘public health issue,’ which has now become an official proposition thanks to last year’s announcement by the CDC. And what does the CDC intend to do about this newly discovered threat to public health? They will provide more funds to conduct research and “applying science to identify effective solutions.”

              There’s only one little problem, however, with this approach. I have read, without exaggeration, just about every, single piece of gun research which has been published by scholars at leading universities all over the United States – schools like Harvard, Hopkins, University of California, Duke, places like that.

              With all due respect, I have yet to encounter the research of one, single scholar committed to figuring out how to reduce gun violence who happens to know anything about guns.

              So, I have decided that enough is enough. I am going to publish at least one column every week in which I raise questions about what I consider to be the shortcomings in this research, and I have further decided not to publish me remarks in a particularly polite way.

              Because if anything pisses me off about the so-called research being conducted by all these researchers who claim to be looking at ways to reduce gin violence, it is the degree to which this entire research community is obsessively afraid to ever engage in any public criticism of their own work.

              That being said, I’m going to start off by reviewing a scholarly article published in 2017 which is an attempt to explain how and why gun owners respond to the alleged stigma attached to their ownership of guns, and by so doing, “facilitate the unfettered exchange of potentially dangerous goods, promote the invisibility of oppressive structures, and normalize violence.” You can download the article right here.

              The authors of this brilliant piece, two academics at the University of Nevada – Reno, have structured their so-called research around something they call ‘collaborative event ethnography,” which means they wander around some public event, then sit down and compare what they saw, and then come up with some kind of explanation for what it all means.

              In this case, the researchers visited seven gun shows in three states which they believe showed how gun owners hide the ‘stigma’ attached to guns and in the process, ‘normalize’ violence which obviously results in more violence committed with the use of guns.

              When the team sat down to compare results, they decided that this normalization occurred in three different ways: “(a) adopting a casual attitude to their actions and the events as everyday activities; (b) juxtaposing innocuous items next to potentially dangerous weapons; and (c) making these events “family friendly.”

              The ‘casual attitude’ they observed was the fact that so many people were walking around the shows carrying guns. The ‘innocuous items’ were t-shirts, jewelry, and various bric-a-brac crap that vendors were trying to sell. The shows were all ‘family friendly’ because there were lots of kids running around.

              What were people supposed to bring to a gun show? Fishing rods? What were the vendors supposed to do? Hide their non-gun inventory under their tables when the whole point of renting a display table for 60 or 70 bucks was to go home with some cash in your pocket? And were the fresh-faced brats running around with cotton candy smeared all over their faces getting groomed to shoot someone with a gun?

              If the academics who published this nonsense had even the slightest degree of understanding about guns and the people who own guns, they would have gone to each gun show several times. What they would have discovered was that gun shows are no different from shows that feature the sale of any kind of crap – model trains, old tools, picture postcard collections – which otherwise just sits in the garage or the attic waiting to be thrown out.

              If these researchers had visited the same gun show several times, they would have also discovered that the same people show up both as buyers and sellers at every, single show. And guess what happens at these shows? Mostly what happens is that everyone stands around and talks – and talks, and talks, and talks.

              That’s right. You’ll see a rusted, old bayonet for sale which allegedly was taken off a ‘Jap’ soldier at Iwo Jima, you’ll be able to buy a holster which has a Nazi swastika engraved on its side, and of course you can always purchase a Purple Heart medal, complete with a little display case.

              Know why you can buy these items at a gun show? Not because the vendors are all a bunch of racists, not because the people who paid eight bucks to attend the show are trying to find some way to disguise their attachment to the ‘stigma’ of owning guns.

              You can buy these items because guns have always been part-and-parcel of the militaria retail industry and if you walk into an Army-Navy store just about anywhere in the United States, you’ll find posters advertising guns or maybe you’ll find some real guns to buy as well.

              I have visited hundreds of gun shows in maybe 20 or more states. I have exhibited at gun shows in Pennsylvania and New York, as well as at the national gun shows run by the NRA and the NSSF.

              If I could have one concession at the NRA show it would be the booth which rents out those electric buggies which people use to get around at the show because they’re basically too fat or too old to walk.

              These folks, and everyone else at the gun show, are much more concerned about which snack bar they are going to eat at than whether or not they can hide the stigma attached to their guns.

Is Gun Violence a Public Health Threat?

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              Almost thirty years ago, two medical researchers, Art Kellerman, and Fred Rivara, published research which definitively found that access to guns created medical risk. Since that research appeared, more than one million Americans have died from gunshot wounds, and at least another two million or more Americans have suffered non-fatal gunshot wounds.

In many cases, the victims of gun injuries who survived their wounds ended up having their lives shortened anyway. In just about every one of these three million instances where guns were used to end or shorten lives, the financial and psychological costs of this threat to health have been extreme.

In the past several years, gun-violence numbers appear to be mounting up, in many jurisdictions the increase in gun injuries has been in the order of 30 percent or even more.

Given what Kellerman and Rivara said about gun violence, findings which have been replicated again and again over the past three decades, I don’t understand why everyone now seems to agree that while gun violence constitutes a public health threat, the problem isn’t being treated as a public health issue at all.

And before anyone starts yapping to me about the sanctity of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ mandating legal sanctions or rules to protect the community from a threat to public health has absolutely nothing to do with the Bill of Rights.

While the issue of closing public facilities or requiring social distancing in response to Covid-19 might have occasionally sparked a degree of phony outrage on the part of some freedom-loving conservatives, as well as that jerk who was elected President in 2016, the bottom line is that if a community vests a public body like a Health Department to set standards of public behavior to control a threat to health, what this body decides to do is what gets done.

I recall at one point during the Pandemic that Charlie Baker, the Governor, was waffling as to whether to issue a statewide masking mandate covering all public sites. Meanwhile, the Board of Health of the city of Chicopee, which happens to be adjacent to where I live, decided not to dilly-dally around, and pronounced a masking mandate covering every public facility in the town. I happened to pull into a convenience store in Chicopee that day and there was a notice posted on the door stating that nobody was allowed into the premises who wasn’t wearing a mask.

Know what would have happened if some patriotic supporter of the Constitution had gone into the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to demand that he be allowed to walk into that convenience store without wearing a mask? He would have been told, to quote Grandpa, ‘gai cocken’ (read: stick it up your you-know-what.)

But getting back to the issue of guns as a threat to public health, it’s not just the research which shows this concept to be true. Last year, the new Director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, stated that her agency believed that guns were a public health threat.

What did the CDC then do to respond to this threat? They put up a website to be the source for promoting that agency’s response to gun violence, stated as such: “CDC’s approach to preventing firearm injuries focuses on three elements: providing data to inform action; conducting research and applying science to identify effective solutions; and promoting collaboration across multiple sectors to address the problem.”

With all due respect to the CDC, virtually every jurisdiction in the United States already has an agency which can conduct these three tasks to inform and manage the threat of gun violence within the agency’s respective geographic domain. After all, isn’t this what virtually every Board of Health has been doing to protect its subject populations from Covid-19? Isn’t this what Health Boards have been doing for the last century in response to other public health threats like unclean water, or breakdowns in sanitation, or other health problems which need to be addressed in a community-wide way?

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the CDC refers to as the ‘root cause’ of gun violence – it’s a medical threat which occurs when certain individuals have access to guns which they use to inflict a serious injury to their own health or the health of someone else.

If the CDC wants to get serious about reducing gun violence, the agency should furnish every Board of Health with the monies to cover the costs of developing an action plan to deal with the problem, hiring an individual to administer the plan, and changing or fine-tuning the plan in response to how gun violence numbers change.

I don’t believe such a program currently exists in any public health jurisdiction within the United States. That being the case, why do we even bother talking about gun violence as a public health threat?

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