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

              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.

              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.

              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.

              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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh My God! Everyone’s Buying Another Gun!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

              Better we should dump Trump.

It’s The Ammunition, Stupid.

Was it Jeff Cooper who said, ‘there’s nothing as useless as an unloaded gun?’ Maybe it was Bill Jordan. Anyway, I have never really understood why my friends in Gun-control Nation get all hot and bothered about regulating guns but almost never seem to be concerned about the ammunition which goes into the gun.

This issue came home to me yesterday when a judge in California stopped the state from enforcing a law requiring gun owners in the Golden State to pass a background check before purchasing ammunition for their guns. He said the law violated 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The head of the Brady Campaign said the ruling was ‘contrary to what the Framers intended.’ And I thought the daily CONOVID-19 briefing from the White House was a lot of hot air. The statements by Judge Benitez and Kris Brown from Brady are just as far off the mark.

When the law called Proposition 63 was passed in 2016, it did some good things. It banned high-capacity gun magazines, it also contained a provision penalizing anyone who didn’t report a lost or stolen gun. But the law also exempted reloaded (i.e., home-made) ammunition from any controls, which basically nullified the law’s intent.

If you are going to require that someone pass a background check to buy ammunition, all you are doing is telling the bad guys to go out and make their own ammo, or go to a shooting range and buy reloaded rounds. For that matter, anyone in California can drive to a neighboring state and buy all the ammunition they need. My state, Massachusetts, requires a background check for purchasing ammunition, but I can drive into New Hampshire and load up with ammo (and fireworks), no questions asked.

That being said, I nevertheless don’t understand how Judge Benitez could find Prop. 63 to be an infringement on the 2nd Amendment when the government has always been given authority to regulate the ownership and sale of explosive devices, which is what ammunition happens to be. Now maybe the explosion that occurs when the firing pin of a gun hits the primer of a 9mm round doesn’t create the same degree of noise or destructive power caused by a stick of dynamite going off, but it’s an explosion, nonetheless.

Here’s how the ATF defines explosive device: “Explosive materials are any chemical compound, mixture, or device, the primary or common purpose of which is to function by explosion. The term includes, but is not limited to, dynamite and other high explosives, black powder, pellet powder, initiating explosives, detonators, safety fuses, squibs, detonating cord, igniter cord, and igniters” Now take a look at the bottom of a handgun round, let’s say 9mm or 45acp. The little, round cap in the middle of the shell’s base is called the primer, and it happens to be an igniter because when it is struck by a firing pin it explodes inside the casing, ignites the powder and the round goes – boom!

Has anyone ever said that the ATF’s regulation of igniters is a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ For that matter, is there any mention anywhere in the Constitution about any kind of ammunition at all? Last time I looked at the 2nd Amendment it says something about keeping and bearing ‘arms.’ Doesn’t say anything about ammo – not a single word.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives any guidance about whether or not ammunition should be regulated the way we regulate guns. But the courts have been very clear over the years in defining governmental authority to set limits on how we behave and what we can buy based on the compelling state interest doctrine, otherwise known as keeping the community safe. El Schmuck-o Trump learned that one in spades last week.

Next time my friends in Gun-control Nation run one of their surveys to see whether gun owners like or dislike ‘reasonable’ gun laws, maybe they should throw in a question about whether background checks should be carried out for all purchases of ammunition as well. I know the answer to that one.

Do Guns And Politics Mix?

              I don’t know what’s worse. Is it the fact that I have to stay shut up at home or the fact that I continue to read stories about all the gun-nuts in America galvanizing around the anti-lockdown demonstrations, thus giving El Schmuck-o Trump another opportunity to attack the fake news? The latest such missive comes from, of all sources, none other than The Washington Post, whose online caption, ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ may be referring to the possibility that Jeff Bezos hasn’t paid the paper’s current electric bill.

              Here’s the WaPo headline: “Pro-gun activists using Facebook groups to push anti-quarantine protests.” This is then followed by a picture of the two schmucks standing in front of the State Capitol in Lansing, MI with their assault rifles guarding the other 15 schmucks who were standing on the steps of the building – of course one of the patriots can’t wear a mask because then he wouldn’t be able to take a drag on his cigarette.

              The WaPo reporter tells us about a father, Ben Dorr, and his two sons, who own a bunch of Facebook pages devoted to gun groups which have become “digital hubs for the same sort of misinformation spouted in recent days at state capitol buildings — from comparing the virus to the flu to questioning the intentions of scientists working on a vaccine.”  The story then goes on to detail how the various Facebook gun groups have aligned themselves with the rest of the alt-right internet cabal to promote anti-lockdown rallies in various Democratic states.

              What a journalistic coup! Is WaPo actually saying that gun-nut activists tend to be right wing? Is it possible that the AR-15 putzes who show up at these rallies to protect their Constitutional ‘rights’ are the same AR-15 putzes who show up every time a state legislature controlled by Democrats tries to pass a gun bill? Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so.

              Incidentally, it should be noted that the size of these ‘massive’ demonstrations to keep us from descending into a Socialist state (it should only happen, God forbid) are also being hyped not only by the alt-right media but by the mainstream media as well. A website called the 2nd Amendment Daily News claimed that last week’s protest attracted “tens of thousands of protestors.”  Meanwhile, the State Police estimated that maybe 1,000 cars rolled through Lansing, which means that each car held 10 occupants, kind of like the clown car at the Barnum and Bailey Circus, right?

              But the real crowd crush occurred in Austin, TX where a crowd of 200 helped “fuel” what none other than The New York Times says are conservative protests against the lock-down here, there and all over the place.  Two hundred people in a state of 29 million, that was some rally in Austin.  But let’s get back to all those gun groups on Facebook that have become the front line for the pro-Trump, anti-lockdown surge.

              I happen to belong to a bunch of those Facebook groups. One group talks about Remington rifles, another group loves Glocks, a third group is all about the Colt 1911 pistol. These groups have thousands of members and thousands of ‘likes.’ But I notice that the people who put up posts and make comments tend to be the same handful every day.

              The problem with Facebook groups is that if you don’t post fresh content all the time, the page very quickly becomes stale. And then group members stop going to the page and then they don’t click on the ads. Which is what Facebook (and the rest of the internet) is really all about. The ads.

              I really wish my friends in the ‘fake news’ media would stop trying to manufacture stories that are just attempts to get people upset about nothing at all. Two dopes walking around with their assault rifles at the ready represent nothing more than two dopes. I’m much more interested in the yard signs sprouting up that as us to vote for ‘any functioning adult.’

              Thanks to Paula Schaap for suggesting this column.

Khalil Spencer: Did You Buy A Gun This Week?

Sunday’s Santa Fe New Mexican reported a run on guns and ammo at the Outdoorsman of Santa Fe. Apparently this is not unusual right now and is happening elsewhere in the state, in part due to news that the Albuquerque City Council will vote on a proposed expansion of emergency powers to shutter gun shops. Whether that happens, and whether it is lawful, is beside the point. That, along with all of the other uncertainty and worry going on due to COVID-19 is resulting in a mad buying binge. But we don’t need a buying binge right now. We need a caring binge.

As far as Santa Fe as reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Daniel Chacon:

“That rack is usually full of basic pump-action shotguns — all gone,” salesman Jay Winton said last week as he pointed to an empty rack in the store at DeVargas Center. “People … want to defend their home from the ravening hordes that they’re convinced are coming, so we’re selling lots of ammunition, lots of firearms.”
But at times like these, its perhaps best to remember Franklin Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address:

“…So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days…”
But really. If you bought a gun, or are considering buying one right now, consider the following:

1. The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed more people than World War I and about a half percent of the U.S. population. We persevered.
2. The Great Depression unemployment rate peaked at 25%. We persevered.
3. Do you know how to use that gun in a crisis when a few seconds count? Do you know Jeff Cooper’s Four Rules? Do you know the laws of the use of deadly force? Do you know how to store a firearm safely, esp. if there are kids around? If you are a first time firearm owner, do you know where to sign up for a gun safety class before you put a round in the chamber?  If you are unsure of any of these questions, lock that gun up until you can pass my quiz with an “A”. You are more of a hazard to yourself and others than a resource.
“Bullets don’t have a reverse gear”  -Me
We cannot shoot a virus. We can only shoot each other and quite possibly, live the rest of our lives  with the knowlege of having made a fatal mistake. We need to help each other and find common cause in working through this pandemic rather than fearfully arming up against hypothetical “ravening hordes” or collapses of civilization that will only happen if we as a people affirmatively make it happen.

So if you have a few  hundred bucks to burn, perhaps its a better idea to donate it to the Red Cross, the food bankSanta Fe Community Fund, or some organization trying to raise funds for COVID-19 test kits or ventilators. Yesterday we bought water containers and distilled/deionized water and delivered same to a close and elderly friend with serious medical conditions who has some medical contraption that needs DI water to function. She is, as she said to us, “one of the people for whom a COVID diagnosis would likely be a death sentence”.

Stop and think. Look around you. As FDR so beautifully said, we have nothing to fear…but fear itself.

Disclaimer: I am on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Sportsman’s Club. These are not club views or Board views but my views alone.

A Christmas Story.

This picture appeared last night on a social media site visited and maintained by gun owners. I am a member of maybe a dozen such sites because I like to know what gun owners really think, not what some freelance writer who is paid to write 1,000 words on guns for some liberal news blog wants me to know what he or she thinks gun owners are thinking about.

The happy lady’s caption was: “Look at my new baby!” The first two comments were: “Love it, its for conceal carry or for home defense?” and “We use the Garand for home defense :).”

Incidentally, her new baby happens to be a Walther PPK. It is similar in design and function to the guns whose use causes nearly all the 125,000 intentional gun injuries (fatal and non-fatal) each year. This number happens to represent probably 90% of all gun injuries, by the way.

On the other hand, what would you expect this lady to say? Should she have captioned her pic by thanking someone who gave her a present that she could use to kill or injure 6 or 7 people happily sitting around their Christmas tree? On Christmas eve, 6 people were shot at one time in High Point, NC. The lady’s new ‘baby’ could have easily been used to do the trick.

I’m willing to bet you that this happy lady is the legal owner of that gun. And I suspect that if she picked up her telephone and someone said they were running a national survey about guns and then asked her if she would support a ‘reasonable’ gun law like comprehensive background checks, she’d probably say, “Sure. Why not?”

This woman happens to be clueless. She wouldn‘t understand what Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara said about the risk of handguns in the home if her life depended on it. Unfortunately, her life or the life of someone else does depend on it. Which is exactly what my friends in the public health gun-research community don’t understand. They don’t understand the issue for which the CDC has just added $25 million to its research budget because these happy academic folks never (read: never) talk to gun owners at all.

Why bother to talk to the people whose little hobby ultimately accounts for every, single gun injury that occurs every day? After all, you can always hire some hot-shot survey outfit who will do the talking on your behalf. Or you can wander around a bunch of gun shows looking for illegal sales, an activity which launched the career of one of our most celebrated gun researchers a number of years ago. If Garen Wintemute had spent some time just talking to gun owners rather than trying to get everyone hot and bothered over some illegal sales, he might have actually made a serious contribution to figuring out what to do about guns.

Am I asking too much of my gun-researcher friends in public health to devote a small fraction of that new CDC stash to try and figure out what’s in the heads of people like the woman pictured above? Because until and unless this issue is addressed and understood, too many people will submit to all those ‘reasonable’ gun laws while they stand in a gun shop buying a gun.