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How Do We Define Mass Shootings?

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            Someday shortly, I am going to start advertising a little book (90 pps.) that I have written about mass shootings. I wrote this book, Understanding Mass Shootings, because once again we are having a debate about mass shootings and typically, neither side in this debate really know what they are talking about.

            Now I don’t really mind if my friends in Gun-nut Nation shoot their mouths off and say things that really aren’t true, because the folks who belong to Gun-nut Nation just love their guns so they don’t really care what they say as long as they can’t be accused of not loving their guns. In fact, I have another book coming out (next month I think) titled, Why (Some) Americans Love Their Guns, in which I explain how and why gun owners think about their guns.

            This second book also attempts to explain how and why members of Gun-control Nation think about guns. But I do mind when my friends in Gun-control Nation get it confused or get it wrong because these are people who claim to be committed to ‘evidence-based’ information or are the actual creators of this so-called ‘evidence-based’ research.

            What I have never understood about the researchers and advocates who are seriously committed to reducing gun violence, is how they contribute to this debate without knowing anything about guns. They know all about the number of people who are killed or injured with guns. They know all about the laws we have passed that regulate guns. But they don’t know squat about guns.

            One of the leading gun-control researchers who first got into injury research by working with Ralph Nader told me that he didn’t need to know anything about the gun industry because when he worked with Nader, he didn’t know anything about the automobile industry, but he was still able to figure out how to make cars safer to drive.

            And this was my response: A car is designed to get someone from here to there. If there’s an accident before the car gets from here to there, you figure out if the accident was caused by a design problem, a mechanical defect, or the way the driver drove the car. But if I pull my Glock 17 out and blow your head off, that gun is operating exactly the way it was designed to operate.

            So, if you don’t know how guns are designed and how they operate when they are used the way they are designed to be used, how do you know what to do to change the result? You don’t.

            And by the way, the World Health Organization defines violence as the attempt to injure yourself or someone else. But the WHO doesn’t differentiate between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad’ violence, the way my friends both in Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation discuss these two different types of violence when the issue is violence caused by guns.

            If you shoot someone in self-defense, you still committed a violent act. That’s such a worthwhile way to behave? How about just run away or better yet, keep your mouth shut so that you avoid an argument which then becomes deadly because you or the other guy pull out a gun.

            Is it so terrible to back down? Of course, if you have a gun in your pocket you don’t have to back down, right? Anyway, back to my little book about understanding mass shootings which will be available in the next couple of days.

            Some of the experts say that a mass shooting is four or more persons killed in the same place more or less at the same time. Other experts define a mass shooting as four or more persons injured or killed.

            Why is the number of shooting victims who wind up either in the morgue or in the morgue and the ER set at four? It used to be five. Now it’s four. Some science, I must say.

            In my little book I focus on mass shootings not by the number of victims per se, but rather by how many targets the shooter tries to hit. To me, a mass shooting or what Louis Klarevas calls a ‘rampage’ shooting, is when someone tries to shoot as many persons as he can, regardless of whether he has any personal connection to any of his victims at all.

            Most, if not nearly all the shootings where 4 victims are hit, happen to be disputes between two individuals, one of whom pulls out a gun and starts banging away, and a couple of other persons get hit because they happen to be standing close by. The cops tell me that over the past few years, what they see is young guys who used to get off one or two shots and now just spray the gun all over the place.

            To lump such behavior in with the kid who shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and then popped off more than 150 rounds which killed 26 people in less than five minutes, is to guarantee that we won’t ever figure out how or why either type of shootings occur.

            My little book is an effort to place these episodes of mass violence within the context of how products manufactured and marketed by the gun industry have changed. I bring to the discussion about mass shootings the only thing I bring to every gun violence issue about which I write, namely, I know something about guns.

Fareed Zakaria – Another Gun Expert Heard From.

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            Fareed Zakaria is one of the country’s best-known and most active spielers, i.e., someone who earns a living by talking to whomever will listen to what he says. An Ivy Leaguer (Yale and Harvard) he now does a twice-weekly show on CNN, Fareed Zakaria Public Square, which allegedly reaches 200 million homes.

            Most of Zakaria’s spieling involves politics and current affairs, so it’s no surprise that a recent show covered gun violence which, as you can imagine, is a problem which concerns Zakaria in the same way that it concerns every other liberal spieler; we must get something done!

            The show, Global Lessons on Guns, was broadcast this past Saturday, and you can listen to Zakaria’s spiel right here. If I had a nickel for every mistake and every piece of misinformation that has been crammed into some 40 minutes of spieling by Zakaria, I would have enough money to pay the greens fee at the Saratoga National Golf Course, which is a course I love to play.

            Zakaria starts off by talking about three countries from whom we could learn how to do a better job of regulating guns – Japan, Switzerland, and Australia. As for Japan, he notes that the country has very strict rules covering private gun ownership and thus only 4 deaths from gun assaults occurred last year.

            At the same time, Zakaria makes a point of saying that the United States suffers almost 40 million deaths from shootings each year, of which half are self-inflicted fatal gun injuries, i.e., suicides committed with guns. What he doesn’t say is that Japan has no appreciable suicides with guns but meanwhile the country has basically the same suicide rate as the United States.

            So, if you’re going to lump gun homicides and gun suicides together to show what a problem we have with guns, how do you explain that Japan has no guns but equals our overall suicide rate? You don’t explain the issue, you ignore it, okay?

            Now we hear about Switzerland which, according to Zakaria, has guns in many homes because most men are enrolled in the country’s national militia, and keep their militia-issued guns in their homes. But meanwhile, Switzerland has a very low gun-violence rate.

            Currently Switzerland has 120,000 active professionals and volunteers in their national militia, which represents 1.4% of the country’s population as a whole. In other words, less than 2% of the country’s civilian population has daily access to guns. The United States has 450,000 active members of the National Guard and while these weekend soldiers don’t take their military guns home, many of them own guns.

            If we let the National Guard members take their military guns home and nobody else had privately-owned guns, this would mean that 1/10th of one percent of Americans would have daily access to guns. And Zakaria believes that the situation in Switzerland is something that we need to understand in order to do a better job of regulating guns?

            The last comparison is the situation in Australia, where a 1996 mass shooting resulted in the government spending $500 million to get rid of 700,000 guns. Zakaria claims that after the buyback, gun violence in Australia went down. Maybe it didn’t, maybe it did. But once again Zakaria misses the point.

            If we were to buy back every single gun of the same types that were returned in Australia, this would result in a reduction of gun violence of -ready? – less than 2 percent. Australia’s gun buyback only covered semi-automatic rifles (and some shotguns). It did not require Australians to turn in handguns. As terrible as mass shootings committed with assault rifles (Sandy Hook, Parkland, Uvalde, San Bernardino, Highland Park, etc.) may be, the guns which are used overwhelmingly to kill and injure more than 100,000 Americans every year are handguns, particularly bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols, which are designed only for the purpose of committing violence with a gun.

            That’s right. The WHO defines violence as a conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else. Stick the word ‘gun’ in front of the word ‘violence’ and you have what I thought was the topic of Zakaria’s talk.

            But in fact, the real topic of Zakaria’s show is whatever he believes his audience wants to see and hear. So-called journalist-commentators like Zakaria don’t ‘investigate’ anything. The content of their shows is nothing more than some well-worn cliches that avoid any controversial arguments at all.

            What does Zakaria believe we should do about gun violence? He gives us some stupid cross-national comparisons and then promotes the standard grab-bag of gun-control laws – background checks, red flags, safe storage – which have had absolutely no impact on gun violence at all.

            Does Zakaria even mention the fact that we are the only country in the entire world where someone can walk into a gun shop and walk out ten minutes later with a Glock which holds 17 rounds of military-grade ammunition, along with a few extra hi-capacity magazines so that the gun can be fired more than 60 times in one minute or less?

            So much for another expert shooting his mouth off about guns.

Thinking about buying a self-defense gun? Home | Shooting And Firearm (myselfdefensegun.com).

Let’s Talk About Guns.

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            I started writing about guns and gun violence in the Summer of 2012, six months prior to the massacre at Sandy Hook. I was motivated to write after I learned that the NRA, of which I had been a member since 1955 (I am still an Endowment Life Member) was promoting a law in Florida and elsewhere that passed but eventually was overturned, which would have criminalized physicians who counseled patients about the health risks represented by guns.

            I thought this law was stupid and offensive to the extreme. How could any rational human being deny that a consumer product designed for the specific purpose of fatally injuring human beings didn’t represent a medical risk?

            For that reason, my writing about guns and gun violence has focused primarily on how physicians and public health researchers create and disseminate narratives about the risks represented by guns. I write from this perspective because I hope my more than 50 years’ experience in the gun business will help health professionals and researchers understand an industry which has little if any direct connection or relevance to their lives.

            Unfortunately, I don’t think my attempts to communicate with gun-control researchers and physicians have made much of an impact on the way they think and talk about guns.

            First of all, despite how medicine and public health rely on evidence-based knowledge to develop approaches to medical threats, the research which is used to justify gun-control narratives is often superficial or just plain wrong, simply because the researchers don’t know anything about guns or the industry which produces and sells the guns.   

            Several years ago, I sent an email to several dozen leading gun researchers asking if they had any knowledge about an organization called the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW), Every year the NASGW holds a meeting attended by the 30 national gun wholesalers, the major gun and ammunition manufacturers and the national marketing groups which do the advertising and sales to move guns into the retail supply chain.

            Not a single gun researcher had ever attended an NASGW show, nor had a single person to whom I sent this email query even heard of the NASGW, which they could join for a whole, big hundred bucks a year.

            How can you justify doing research to regulate an industry more effectively when you have absolutely no idea how that industry functions or designs and sells the products which the industry makes?

            The bigger problem with the researchers and physicians who claim to be so worried about gun violence is that when it comes to promoting their ideas and strategies for dealing with gun violence, they spend all their time communicating with groups and individuals who already agree with what they believe.

            Maybe I’m wrong and I’m happy if anyone wants to correct me on this point, but I don’t know one, single public health or medical professional who ever goes out to speak with groups that represent people who own guns. Sorry, but I’m not terribly impressed when one of my gun-control colleagues tells me how he or she gave a talk to some group which is holding a gun buyback or running a memorial gun-violence parade. If you believe that owning a gun may create an unacceptable risk, shouldn’t you be expressing such ideas to people who own guns?

            When the gun-control researchers and physicians do go out and communicate with other like-minded folks, the narrative they employ is referred to as ‘safe behavior’ which they claim represents a ‘consensus’ between the two sides.

            The World Health Organization (which we rejoined after Trump took all the ‘declassified’ documents back home) defines ‘violence’ as the conscious attempt to injure yourself or someone else. Note that the WHO doesn’t make any distinction between ‘good’ violence and ‘bad’ violence. It simply says that violence of any kind creates a threat to health.

            The gun industry can promote the idea all it wants about how guns save rather than end lives, but the bottom line is that the guns promoted as products which can commit ‘good’ violence, i.e., violence to protect ourselves or others, aren’t designed to be used in a ‘safe’ way. The semi-automatic pistols made by companies like Glock, Sig, Kahr, Springfield, Smith & Wesson, et.al., were designed to be used to injure human beings – which is exactly how they are used more than 100,000 times every year.

            Do my friends in public health or medicine ever point this out? No, they don’t. Instead, they busily go around talking about how they are developing a ‘consensus’ approach to using guns which combines the best ideas for gun safety from both sides and will satisfy everyone while reducing gun violence at the same time.

            This is pure, unadulterated crap and the physicians or public health researchers who promote such nonsense should be ashamed of themselves.

            The bottom line is that someone who is thinking about buying a self-defense gun isn’t going to be convinced otherwise because a physician pulls out some public health research which shows that access to a gun increases risk. Such research was published back in 1993 and its impact on gun sales has been squat. In fact, it’s precisely since this research was published that guns used for armed, self-defense are the types of guns which mostly sell today.

            When it comes to gun violence, of which I have published more than 2,000 comments on my own website and on Huffington Post, my agenda is very simple – to inject a degree of reality into the discussion about guns, how they are used and how they should not be used. In that respect, I have just put up a new website which speaks directly to men and women who are thinking about buying, owning, and carrying a self-defense gun.

            Here it is: Home | Shooting And Firearm (myselfdefensegun.com).

The website contains specific, industry-based information about how to decide whether to purchase a self-defense gun, as well as how to determine which kind of gun to buy, how to train with the gun and how to store it properly when it is not being used. It includes a simple (free) manual whose exercises allow someone to train and maintain necessary muscle memory without actually using a gun.

Please feel free to tell me and other readers what you think.

Gun Violence Isn’t Just Violence.

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            Back in 1993, two eminent medical researchers, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara, published studies which definitively showed a causal link between homicide and suicide with access to a gun in the home. It then took the CDC another 28 years to announce that gun violence was a ‘serious public health threat.’  

            Now we have a statement from the World Health Organization which also finds gun violence to be a serious public health threat. You can download the WHO statement right here.

            So, now that the CDC and the WHO have joined forces in the fight against gun violence, we should be able to develop a medical response to this public health crisis based on evidence-based research which has been conducted over the years.

            And here’s what the research tells us, according to the WHO: “Jurisdictions with restrictive firearms legislation and lower firearms ownership tend to have lower levels of gun violence. Measures include bans, licensing schemes, minimum age for buyers, background checks and safe storage requirements. Such measures have been successfully implemented in countries such as Austria and Brazil and in a number of states in the United States of America.”

            There’s only one little problem with this statement. When the WHO says that these various measures have reduced gun violence in ‘a number of states’ in the USA, the actual number of states which have seen a decrease in gun violence between 1998 and 2020 happen to be -ready? – three. That’s quite a number of states, wouldn’t you agree?

The national gun violence rate for all 50 states has actually increased by 25% over those same 22 years. And while we only passed one national gun law over that period of time, many states have implemented universal background checks, or red-flag laws, or safe-storage laws, or blah, blah, blah, and blabbety-blah.

While the liberal media and the medical community find it proper to refer to the current ‘epidemic’ of gun violence, I prefer to think about gun violence as ‘endemic’ to America, which is a fitting description that you can consider by reading a paper published by Dr. Katherine Christoffel when she was engaged in gun-violence research.

Incidentally, Dr. Christoffel’s paper was published in 2007. Since that date, somewhere around 525,000 Americans have been shot and killed either by themselves or by someone else who used a gun. And the WHO believes that this problem can be solved if every jurisdiction implemented the same laws that have worked so well in a ‘number of states?’

Am I missing something here? I guess the problem is that although I earned a PhD, my wife, who is an attending physician specializing in adolescent medicine always reminds me that I’m not a ‘real doctor.’  Maybe if I were a ‘real doctor,’ I would understand how and why the medical and public health communities which are concerned about gun violence continue to promote mitigating responses to the problem that ignore the most important factor in explaining the gun carnage which occurs in this country every day.

What is that factor? The existence of guns which are designed and manufactured only for the purpose of being used to commit a fatal and/or life-threatening injury to yourself or someone else. And it should be noted that the WHO doesn’t define violence in terms of ‘good’ versus ‘bad.’ Either you try to injure someone else, or you don’t.

The United States is the only country in the entire world which gives law-abiding residents free access to products which function properly when the front of the barrel is pointed at a human being, the trigger is pulled, the gun goes bang! and someone drops down dead.

The only reason that most of the people who take a bullet in their bodies survive the is because the shooter didn’t shoot straight. Nobody pulls out a gun and aims it at someone else’s knee. Otherwise, everything which leads up to the moment the shooting occurs is exactly the same whether someone dies or not.

I make this last point because every time one of the gun-control expert researchers talks about gun violence, they always start off by telling us that because of guns, the rate of fatal violence in the U.S. is 7 to 20 times higher than in any other advanced nation-state. Talk about making an irrelevant argument out of whole cloth….

I’m not against gun ownership, believe it or not. What I’m against is arguments on both sides of the gun debate being made and believed by well-meaning individuals who don’t know squat about guns.

Why Don’t We Regulate the Gun Industry?

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            Last week the House voted another assault weapons ban which will probably die in the Senate or at least will be sidetracked until after the mid-terms. But even if the bill doesn’t go forward, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to understand what such a bill really means and how it should be used as we continue to look for ways to reduce a threat to public health called gun violence which kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year.

            What I have never understood about my friends who advocate for more gun control is their reluctance to focus on the only issue which can really result in a meaningful decline in gun violence, namely, regulating the industry which produces the products which are used to commit deaths and injuries from guns.

            Every other country that regulates guns to reduce gun violence focuses first and foremost on regulating the guns themselves.  Canada just imposed a temporary ban on handgun imports until a new gun-control law is passed which will eliminate the ownership of handguns that are used in most Canadian gun assaults.

            Countries like France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K. also impose severe restrictions on owning certain types of handguns, while imposing few or any conditions on purchasing or owning long guns.

            How do we regulate the industry whose products are the only products whose access and availability creates gun violence? We regulate how the products move from the manufacturer to the retailer to the customer. We also try to regulate the behavior of the customer, the gun owner, by imposing a background check on whether they are law-abiding before they purchase a gun.

            So how is it that with regulations that only allow newly manufactured guns to move from manufacturers to dealers to consumers, all of whom have to be either licensed or prove themselves to be law-abiding, we wind up with 125,000 guns being used to commit fatal and non-fatal injuries every year? 

            WTFK. And if you need someone to tell you what that acronym means, ask any 12-year-old kid.

            Want to reduce the number of Americans who are killed or injured with guns every year?  It’s very simple. Regulate the gun industry the way we regulate every other consumer industry by regulating what types of products can and cannot be sold.

            I was a VP of IT at one of the largest insurance companies in the United States which routinely introduced new insurance products all the time. Every, single one of these products had to be examined and approved by a regulatory body in every state to make sure the product conformed to the relevant laws for what kinds of insurance could be sold in that state.

            Want to get a new food product onto the shelves of Stop and Shop or some other grocery chain? Either the state agency which tests and approves foods gives you the green light or you can stick your new product you know where or try to sell it to Venezuela or Belize.

            So, we have a very comprehensive regulatory system for making sure that just about everything a consumer can buy meets some very clear standards in terms of safety and design. Except when it comes to guns, which even if they were regulated like roller skates or motorcycle helmets are still as dangerous as all gitgo.

            Want to manufacture and sell a gun to American consumers?  All you need to do is get a manufacturer’s license from the ATF, which is nothing more than passing a background check. Then make sure that the gun is a certain length if it’s a rifle or a shotgun, otherwise it’s a handgun. Then make sure that when someone loads the gun and pulls the trigger, only one bullet comes out at a time.

            And that’s it. That’s how you will be regulated if you want to make a consumer product that has killed more than 375,000 Americans over the past ten years.

But gun makers producing assault rifles will be regulated by having to make sure their guns meet certain design standards if the new law somehow gets to the Senate floor and gets passed. Too bad that assault rifles account for a small fraction of the fatal and non-fatal gun injuries that occur every year.

            Either my friends in Gun-control Nation cut the bullshit about gun control and start holding meaningful discussions about how to regulate the products made by the gun industry that cause all those injuries or as Grandpa would say ‘gurnisht’ (read: nothing) will change.

            And this goes for my friends in public health research as well who spend all their time doing research on the effectiveness of this law and that law which regulate how people behave with guns but oh, we can’t regulate the gun makers because they have 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ to produce and sell whatever they want to produce and sell.

            Gaston Glock designed a gun to be used by the military and the United States is the only country which lets civilians own this type of gun. Gun makers shouldn’t have any such ‘rights’ at all.

Does Right-to-Carry Increase Crime?

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            If I have one problem with my friends in Gun-control Nation who do research on gun violence, it’s that they know next to nothing about guns. Virtually all of their research is based either on medical data from various branches of the CDC which yields a lot of information about who gets shot with guns, but very little about who does the shooting or why the shooting occurs.

            Alongside medical data, the other sources used by gun-control researchers are first-person surveys of gun owners which attempt to explain how gun owners change or don’t change their behavior in response to changes in gun laws.

            In that regard, I’m looking at a paper just published by NBER, which is a study of the effects of right-to-carry laws on crime and policing in various cities. The lead author, John Donohue, has been looking at the intersection of laws and behavior in the gun world for s number of years, and is considered an important scholar in this respect.

His scholarship in the area covered by this paper has become more important in the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision – NYSRPA v. Bruen – which extended the 2008 Heller decision granting 2nd-Amendment protection to handguns in the home to similar Constitutional protection for carrying a concealed handgun outside of the home.

I’m going to leave alone the whole issue of whether regression analyses, particularly synthetic controls, can really explain causal relationships between such dynamically variable factors as robbery and homicide, except to say that using such methodologies demands a very clear understanding of the social contours and circumstances in which events like violent crimes actually occur. Unfortunately, when the violent crimes involve the use of a gun, Donohue and his colleagues demonstrate major gaps in what they know about guns which makes it impossible to accept the validity or relevance of this research for developing effective gun-control policies.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in this paper is the assumption that laws covering the carrying of guns has anything to do with the way in which people who use guns for criminal purposes think about using guns. The fact that certain crimes increased coincident with the passage of RTC laws, doesn’t necessarily mean that the behavior of one trend has anything to do with the behavior of the other, unless you set out to prove this to be the case.

Since more violent crimes are committed without guns than with guns, you would think that researchers would want to know what factors go into a decision that someone makes to use a gun to commit a violent crime. In fact, there has not been one, single study which has ever asked criminals who commit gun violence to explain the process which led them to: acquire a gun, acquire ammunition for the gun, load the gun, carry the gun, pull out the gun, point the gun at a potential crime victim, and in the case of an assault or homicide, pull the trigger of the gun.

Whether this sequence occurs over a brief period of time or over many years, if someone does not engage in all seven steps, a gun violence event will not occur. Should we assume that the passage of an RTC law in any way influences the decision-making process that results in someone using a gun against someone else? Sorry, but I’m not impressed with the idea that a regression analysis can give us a definitive answer to that question.

And Donohue isn’t sure either. So, what he does is to assume that RTC leads to more gun violence because of secondary results of RTC laws, namely, that more guns are stolen from individuals who are now walking around with a gun.

For the issue of gun theft, Donohue relies on research published by the Harvard Injury Control group, which estimates that 250,000 guns are stolen every year, and that the rate of theft is higher among gun owners who report carrying a gun as compared to those who leave the gun at home: “We find that owning many guns, owning guns for protection, carrying guns, and storing guns un[1]safely are associated with having guns stolen.”

How did Hemenway’s research team determine which respondents to their survey were carrying guns? They asked the following question: “In the past 30 days, have you carried a loaded handgun on your person?” If a respondent answer with a ‘yes,’ Donohue then assumes in his study that this type of individual was probably more frequently found in jurisdictions where RTC was in effect.

To their credit, Hemenway’s team makes it very clear that their research has significant limitations, up to and including the fact that they have absolutely no idea when guns were stolen, what kinds of guns were stolen, and a number of other limiting factors which gave the team a publishing credit but certainly doesn’t inform us about how guns move from legal to illegal gun-owners at all.

Does Donohue even suggest that perhaps the work on which he relies for his estimates about gun thefts has as many self-admitted holes as the piece of Dorman’s Swiss cheese that I’m going to eat when I finish this piece? Not one bit.

If the team which sent the new Webb telescope into orbit knew as little about outer space as Donohue knows about guns, we would have wasted nearly 10 billion dollars putting the Webb package into orbit last year.

In this respect, unfortunately, scholars like Donohue continue to publish research that are clever exercises in statistics but tell us next to nothing about the individuals who use guns to commit crimes.

That being the case, how can you use this research to design or implement effective laws to prevent people from committing crimes with guns?

It’s People Not Guns That Win Elections.

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            I’m waiting until tomorrow to write anything about the Tuesday primary results because a couple of the races have not yet been called. But I did want to sneak a story in about one race, which was the Senate GOP primary in Missouri, where the lawyer Mark McCloskey, received less than 3% of the primary vote.

            McCloskey and his wife were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment in June 2020 after standing in front of their home as a Black Lives Matter group marched by in the street, and waving their guns at the crowd, because according to them, their house was about to be attacked.

            Nobody else in the vicinity of their suburban home outside of St. Louis saw anything which even remotely resembled an assault against either their property or against the couple themselves. But appearances can be deceiving and who knows what mayhem might have occurred if McCloskey hadn’t come out with his AR-15 to uphold his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

            What McCloskey got for his stand in support of the Constitution was an invitation to speak at the GOP convention and a digital pat on the back from the NRA.  They were interviewed by Dana Loesch, who used to be a big deal on NRA-TV, where they said they had a ‘right to bear arms,’ among other things.

            I have to give my friends at The Trace credit for digging up some very interesting news about McCloskey and his wife. It turns out that these two stalwart defenders of gun ‘rights’ have actually made a nice buck suing gun companies whose guns misfire and in one case resulted in the shooter’s death. In fact, the gun held by Patricia McCloskey in the picture just below looks suspiciously like one of the guns that was a defendant’s exhibit in a liability case.

            You’ll also notice by the way in the picture above, that both the McCloskey’s have their fingers on the triggers of their guns, which is an absolute no-no even among the gun-nut population which sent in money to help the McCloskey’s pay for their defense.

            So, these two schmucks are found guilty, are sentenced but then their sentences are commuted by the Governor and this act paves the way for McCloskey to run for Senate this year with a really original campaign sloganNever Back Down!

            On his website, McCloskey states that “a violent mob stormed onto his property and threatened his family,” although we’re still looking for that violent mob. For that matter, so is just about everyone else, given that McCloskey got less than 20,000 votes out of nearly 620,000 votes cast.

            Ever since Orange Shithead got up at a campaign rally in January 2016 and said that he could shoot someone dead in the street and he wouldn’t lose any votes, some of his most enthusiastic supporters have been trying to prove him correct.  The way they do it is to show up at public events brandishing their guns, like the Nazis who marched down the street in Charlottesville VA waving their AR-15’s and chanting anti-Semitic slogans on August 12, 2017. That’s when Trump said there were ‘good people’ on ‘both sides, a comment which basically guaranteed that he would only serve one term and never win another election again.

            The point is that anyone who tells you he needs to wave an AR-15 around in public for any reason at all is basically just full of shit. And if nothing else, yesterday’s GOP primary vote in Missouri tells me that even in a red state like the ‘show me’ state, which is also a big gun state, nobody’s buying that nonsense at all.  

Want To End Gun Violence? Be Responsible with Your Guns.

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 Since this past Saturday, according to our friends at the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), there have been 385 shootings throughout the United States where someone with a gun tried to kill someone else who either did or didn’t have a gun. 

The result? 154 dead and 388 wounded, numbers which are probably somewhat underestimated since the GVA relies on media sources for its numbers which means a few shootings are missed here and there.

What the GVA doesn’t give us, and it’s not their fault, is the number of times that someone pulled out a gun, pointed the gun at someone else, pulled the trigger and missed.

You know that old saying, ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ Right?

The point is that we don’t really know the true extent of gun violence in America. In fact, we’re not only not close to knowing, but if anything, we seem to be moving further away from trying to figure it out.

An article in yesterday’s USA Today summarizes the research on gun violence that has been funded by the CDC since the agency resumed its support of such work last year.  The reporter breaks $75 million in research grants awarded so far into three basic categories: community initiatives to reduce gun violence, veteran’s suicides and keeping children safe. The research director at the Giffords Law Center then sums it all up by saying she hopes we can finally gather some “’really basic data.’”

All fine and well, except there’s only one little problem. None of the studies which have been funded by the CDC have anything to do with gathering data at all. And if the only way I can get any idea about the extent to which guns are used to kill or injure anyone is to rely on media accounts gathered by the GVA, would the CDC track the incidence of Covid-19 by running a daily Google alerts scan?

Every few years the public health gun researchers get together for a meeting (they enjoy attending meetings) where they kvetch and moan about not having sufficient data to really understand gun violence. Which doesn’t seem to stop them from doing research because it’s better than working for a living, right?

I have said this again and again, but I don’t mind talking to myself, so I’ll say it one more time. It’s very simple. The United States experiences morbidly high rates of gun violence because we are the only country in the entire world which allows residents to own guns – semi-automatic handguns chambered for military-grade ammunition – that are designed only for the purpose of committing violence, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else.

What’s the response of public health gun researchers to this state of affairs? They look for ways to somehow mitigate the violence caused by such guns without getting rid of the guns. Have you heard one public health researcher call for an absolute and total ban on such weapons? You won’t.

Oh! I forgot! Want to be taken seriously by your public health colleagues when you conduct research on gun violence? Make sure to state that you have no intention of depriving Americans of their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

It’s what the physicians and public health experts who claim to be concerned about gun violence refer to as the ‘consensus’ approach. All we need to do is figure out strategies that will reduce gun violence but, by the way, still let Americans have free access to the cause of that gun violence, which happen to be the guns.

Of course, there’s always another approach we can use to take care of the problem without pissing off too many people on either side. We can promote the idea of being ‘responsible’ with guns, what some of the gun-control groups refer to as gun ‘sense.’

How touching. How polite. It’s not sense, it’s nonsense. Okay?

I can walk into the local Stop and Shop, pull out my Glock 17 and kill maybe 15 people in two minutes or less. Who says I’m not behaving responsibly with my gun?

Isn’t that what my Glock 17 was designed to do?

Think California Is a Safe State? Think Again.

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            Want to read a story about gun violence which gets the whole thing wrong? Take a look at this article in Time Magazine, which claims the whole country can learn how to control gun violence by looking at what has happened in California over the last several years.

            California, so the article says, “has one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the country. Its residents are less likely to die from a gunshot than almost anywhere else in the country, and are 25% less likely to die in a mass shooting.”

            That’s very impressive, isn’t it? And in fact, in 2020, California’s gun mortality rate was the sixth lowest rate of any state, just behind Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

            What’s the story here? What’s the reason California is such a safe state? As usual, the explanation is provided by Garen Wintemute, an ER doctor in California, who heads the gun-research effort at UC Davis, and is always ready to explain what he thinks we need to know about guns.

            Wintemute says that the low gun-violence rate in California is due to the passage of various gun-control laws, in particular laws which closed down companies making cheap guns within the state, closed private-sale loopholes and restricted individuals convicted of a violent misdemeanor from owning a gun.

            Wintemute and his research group had a hand in all three of those new regulations, so I can’t blame him from taking a moment to pat himself on the back. That being said, maybe Wintemute or one of his colleagues might want to go back to this article and revise their remarks.

            Why? Because what they are saying and what the article is saying based on what they are saying, happens to be wrong. Not a little bit wrong. Completely wrong.

            Notice the article talks about gun ‘mortality,’ meaning any way that someone is killed with a gun. But the gun violence which has become so overwhelmingly evident in the last several years happens to be the violence which happens when someone picks up a gun and shoots someone else. Every day it seems we get yet another report about people getting shot in front of a mini-mart, or inside a shopping mall, or somewhere where they happen to be.

            The World Health Organization defines violence as the attempt to injure yourself or someone else. The most effective and efficient way to injure yourself is to shoot yourself with a gun. No other method even begins to compare. Ditto when it comes to trying to injure someone else.

            But the truth is that the demographics, causes and circumstances behind gun suicides as opposed to gun homicides are so completely and totally different, that to lump them together  into one statistical category, when the only thing they have in common is the use of a gun, is to create an explanation and/or a mitigating strategy which has absolutely no reality behind it at all.

            And yet this is exactly what has been done in the article which tells us that California’s response to gun violence is something that should be copied in all the other states, and it is exactly what Wintemute and his research colleagues promote as well.

            In 2000, California had a gun-homicide rate of 4.36.  In 2020 the state had a gun-homicide rate of 4.40. That’s a decline in gun violence over the last 20 years? That’s what Grandpa would call ‘vishtugadach,’ (read: not worth mentioning.)

            The states which rank lowest in suicide rates since 2000, regardless of how the victim chose to end his life, happen to be the same states which have the lowest rate of gun mortality. Gee, what a surprise.

            It’s no surprise because these are also states which are overwhelmingly urban and have all instituted various public health programs to identify and reduce suicide risk.

            What does this have to do with gun violence? Nothing, except for the fact that gun researchers like Wintemute can confuse two very different types of violent behavior and pretend that when it comes to solutions, they are both the same.

            And by the way, the gun-control laws which Wintemute cites as being what makes California such a ‘safe’ state have nothing to do with suicide whatsoever.

            It’s high time that my friends in the gun-control community stop pretending that the only difference between gun homicide and gun suicide is the direction in which someone points a gun.

            We can do better than that. We really can.

There’s Nothing Like a Good Conspiracy Theory to Promote 2nd-Amendment ‘Rights.’

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            Ready? Here comes the single craziest statement that anyone has ever made about gun violence in the United States.

            And who made it?  None other than Marjorie Taylor Greene who said in a podcast that the recent mass shootings in Highland Park on July 4th were ‘staged.’

            Why was the shooting which killed seven people and injured dozens more nothing other than a phony event? Because it would galvanize public opinion and push Republicans to support gun control.

            That’s what she said. She really did. Which is why we have the 1st Amendment in this country so that people like MJT can get away with saying such loony, hurtful things.

            Except maybe they can’t, if it turns out that what they said really did result in someone else getting hurt.  After all, the Constitution doesn’t protect someone who stands up and yells ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater, right?

            It just so happens that one of America’s most notorious fire-throwers, Alex Jones of Infowars, will be shortly going on trial both in Texas and Connecticut for having promoted the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was faked, a non-stop series of talking points on his show which resulted in harassments and death threats suffered by the parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook.

Jones has been ducking this one for years, and finally had to admit that his conspiracy theories about what happened at the Newtown elementary school were concocted out of whole cloth and that he was suffering from mental illness at the time he made those claims up. Now he’s defending himself against the damages suffered by the parents of dead Sandy Hook children by claiming that he has the ‘right’ to say anything he wants.

            The judges both in Texas and Connecticut disagree. It should be noted that the Connecticut judge, Barbara Bellis, also heard the original lawsuit against Remington whose gun was used in the massacre at Sandy Hook. In that case, she found that Remington’s argument that they weren’t liable for injuries at the school was strong enough to move the case into Federal court where Remington lost.

            That decision paved the way for Remington to make a settlement with the plaintiffs for $73 million. Obviously, Jones thinks he has a chance to move his case into Federal court over the issue of free speech.

            And who better than Marjorie Taylor Greene to come out and defend Alex Jones? For that matter, who better than MJT to explain the Highland Park killings as another fraud?  Hasn’t she been talking about the 2020 election fraud for the last couple of years?

            I said it this morning on my Medium column and I’ say it again. We are being ruined by the extent to which anything and everything which appears on the internet gets reported as some kind of newsworthy event. The idea that something as stupid and self-aggrandizing as a podcast comment on how and why the slaughter at Highland Park didn’t take place should be repeated by any internet news source just blows my mind.

            On the other hand, maybe there’s some way to bring MJT’s comment to the attention of the courts in Texas and Connecticut where the trials of Alex Jones are due to take place. Maybe jurors in those trials need to understand that every ‘right’ protected by the Bill of Rights has limits – even the ‘right’ to free speech.

            On the other hand, maybe we really need to ask ourselves if it really matters that Alex Jones has friends and supporters like Marjorie Taylor Greene.

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