Are We a More Violent Country?

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              Back when Eric Adams was Borough President of Brooklyn, I did some work for him concerning guns. Eric had been a cop in Brooklyn’s 88 Precinct, done his twenty and now is Mayor of New York City.

              At some point I asked him how policing had changed since he first went on the job. His immediate response: “Today nobody backs down.”

              I think of this comment when I think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Because even though Dr. King is considered America’s most foremost champion of civil rights, in fact his primary commitment was to non-violence, a commitment he maintained throughout his entire life.

              We have made remarkable progress in civil rights since Dr. King was murdered in 1968, progress not just for African-Americans, but also for women, for alternate genders, for alternate family relationships, for diversity of all kinds.

              So, we have come a long way in terms of fulfilling the civil rights dream that Martin Luther King preached on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

              But what about non-violence? Are we a less violent society and a less violent culture now as opposed to back then?

              To the contrary. I believe we are a much more violent society and now I’m going to tell you why I believe this to be the case.

              What is violence? What does the word ‘violence’ mean?

              According to Merriam-Webster, violence is “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” The World Health Organization defines violence as the “intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else.”

              Violence is usually, but not always considered to be a crime. And according to the FBI, the violent crime rate in the United States is about half as great as it was in 1994, although there has certainly been an uptick in the past two Coviod-19 years.

              Except I don’t define violence in terms of reported crimes. I define violence by whether we see violent behavior as a necessary and normal part of our lives. When Eric Adams said that ‘nobody backs down,’ he was talking about the acceptance of violence as a positive standard of behavior and belief.

              For me, what demonstrates how normal and natural violence has become is the fact that any American adult with a clean record can purchase, own, and carry products whose sole purpose is to be used to commit violence and to make it easier for people not to back down.

              I’m obviously talking about the several million handguns that are added to the civilian arsenal each year, guns which were designed for one purpose and one purpose only, namely, to inflict serious injuries on human beings. I’m sorry, but anyone who believes that a Glock or a Sig pistol is a ‘sporting’ gun is either lying or is what Grandpa would call a ‘vilde chaya,’ (read: damn fool.)

              The definitions of violence found in the dictionary or in medicine don’t differentiate between ‘offensive’ versus ‘defensive’ violence. You’re not less violent just because you shoot someone whom you believe is about to attack you.

              The idea that violence can be justified if it is used to achieve a positive end has been part and parcel of the American legal tradition since colonial times, and is now codified in the Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws in three-quarters of the 50 states.

Eric Adams wasn’t talking about a SYG law when he told me that ‘they never back down.’ New York State doesn’t have a SYG law. He was talking about the sixteen-year-old kids who walk the streets of the 88 Precinct in Brooklyn, many of them carrying guns.

Unfortunately, my friends in Gun-control Nation are as confused on this issue as the pro-gun advocates on the other side. These well-meaning folks also want to believe that somehow, we can find a way to support the 2nd Amendment because we are so in love with the other amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

Except the 2nd Amendment doesn’t give Constitutional protection to any kind of handgun; it protects whatever type of handgun the government decides can be kept in the home for self-defense.

Want to spend a little time thinking about how to reduce violence on the birthday of America’s foremost advocate of non-violence? Spend some time thinking about getting rid of the guns which are the means by which so much violence occurs.

It’s as simple as that.

It’s the Handguns, Stupid!


              Way back in 1968, a Presidential Commission under Milton Eisenhower (Ike’s younger brother) was put together to study the causes and prevention of violence following the large-scale riots and disturbances that broke out after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Commission published its final report on December 10, 1969, and the 337-page document included a chapter, ‘Firearms and Violence in American Life’ co-authored by our good friend Franklin Zimring, who now teaches law at Boalt Hall on the Berkeley campus.

              I have now tried to upload this report to the media file on my website four times and the upload has failed every time. But if you would like a copy of the document, just send me an email (mweisser3@outlook.com) and I’ll send it right out to you.

              The other co-author of this chapter is a very distinguished attorney, George Newton. The Commission staff also included Marvin Wolfgang, who without a doubt was the most brilliant criminologist ever to hold an academic position in the United States.

              The chapter starts off with the following statement: “The availability of guns contributes substantially to violence in American society.” The idea that more guns = more violence is an accepted cornerstone (thanks to David Hemenway) of current gun-control narrative. And the report also underscores today’s argument for stricter gun control when it notes that the proportion of guns used in violent crime tends to parallel how many guns are sold to the public at any point in time.

              The report then goes on to note that Americans are increasingly buying guns to be used for self-defense. But this finding is followed by this: “From the standpoint of the individual householder, then, the self-defense firearm appears to be a dangerous investment.” And what Zimring and Newton are referring to here is the degree to which guns are used for self-protection to a much lesser degree than they figure in injuries within the home.

              The whole notion of access to guns as a cause of fatal injuries – homicide, suicide – was the finding of two articles published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1992 and 1993.  These two articles not only inaugurated the attention and concern of public health research on guns and gun violence, but also were the primary reason the CDC stopped funding gun research for nearly twenty-five years.

              Zimring and Newton made the same argument about guns as risks to public health in 1969.

              Finally, in its conclusion, the report notes that “It is the ready availability of the handgun, so often a weapon of crime and so infrequently a sporting arm, which is the most serious part of the current firearms problem in this country. The time has come to bring the handgun under reasonable control.”

              Here is where the work by Zimring and Newton establishes a very clear standard for how to think about and implement effective gun control. Note, in particular, the acknowledgement that handguns are ‘infrequently’ used as ‘sporting’ arms.

              How many Americans have been victims of gun homicides since Zimring, and Newton’s chapter was published more than fifty years ago? I think that 700,000 would be a good guess. How many Americans have been seriously injured because someone took a shot at them but didn’t aim straight? Maybe 3,500,000, give or take a couple of hundred thousand more or less.

              These numbers exist because we are the only country in the entire world which pretends that handguns designed and issued to the military beginning in 1911 and continuing to the present day, are considered, legally-speaking, to be ‘sporting arms.’ Zimring and Newton figured this one out in 1969. What have all my friends in public health gun research been doing since that time?

              They have been creating, affirming, and reaffirming a patently false narrative that we would not suffer from 100,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun assaults every year if everyone would just lock up their guns. This is what my friends in Gun-control Nation mean when they talk about ‘responsible’ gun ownership, okay?

              The argument made by Zimring and Newton in 1969 and indisputably supported by research published in 1992 and 1993 did not qualify gun violence as being the result of unlocked guns. It is the presence of handguns designed as non-sporting weapons which, to quote the 1969 report, doesn’t cause’ gun violence but ‘facilitates’ it to a degree which otherwise would not occur.

              It’s really time for my friends in Gun-control Nation to drop their Alice-in-Wonderland approach to the issue of gun violence and start developing strategies for controlling guns which Zimring and Newton brought to our attention more than a half-century ago.

              Or to paraphrase a statement from Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign – it’s the handguns, stupid. The handguns.

Not Yet 21 But Need A Handgun? You Can Buy One Now.


Yesterday, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals just gave the gun industry a very nice gift. They decided a case which if the opinion stands, will allow persons between 18 and 20 years of age to buy and own handguns. There happen to be about 13 million men and women in that age bracket which means that every, single one of them might now be considered as possible customers for owning a handgun.

If you take the trouble to read the majority opinion written by a judge who was put on the bench by Donnie Trump, you’ll find yourself in the same kind of never-never land thinking that was thrown out of virtually every court that Rudy Giuliani and a couple of other so-called attorneys tried to convince about the 2020 election ‘theft.’  The entire opinion, which basically throws out a provision of the gun-control law passed in 1968 (GCA68), rests on a long-winded historical recitation of pre-Constitutional militia laws, plus a selective reading of data on whether guns in the hands of people under the age of 21 represents a community threat.

Behind this approach is the majority’s concern about gun-control laws which would relegate the 2nd Amendment to a ‘second-class’ status, a phrase first used by Clarence Thomas when the SCOTUS refused to hear another 2nd-Amendment case. The dissenting judge, who was appointed by Obama, responded to this concern with this: “Indeed, in a country that boasts a Congress, bench, bar, academy, and electorate that are all attentive to the prerogatives of gun owners, where many may conceal their weapons,1 carry them openly,2 or “stand their ground,”3 and where civilian gun ownership rates are second to none,4 the majority’s second-class status concern is simply surreal.” [pp. 89-90.]

The dissenting judge also reminded his colleagues that GCA68 does not make it illegal for persons under the age of 21 to own or possess handguns, the law simply prevents federally-licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to anyone who is not yet 21-years-old. The judge then goes on to say, and here’s where the rubber truly meets the road, that “the Second Amendment is exceptional not because it is uniquely oppressed or imperiled, but rather because it is singularly capable of causing harm.” [ p. 90.]

Bingo!  That’s what this case is really all about.  Forget all this malarky about whether a kid who was in some state militia back in 1764 could walk into the town’s gun shop and buy a handgun to take home.  There weren’t any gun shops doing business in 1764.

Forget this nonsense about how all these millions of law-abiding Americans are walking around with guns and keeping themselves and their neighbors safe. There’s about as much truth to that crap as there is to the claim that thousands of phony mail-in ballots mysteriously showed up in Pennsylvania and moved that state’s 20 electoral votes to Joe instead of to – what’s his name?

But sometimes even the most flagrant lies and distortions end up being regarded as true. It turns out, for example, that the self-styled militia groups like the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers are now realigning themselves to oppose the government’s promotion of getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Want to prove you’re a real American? Spend a week on a ventilator at your local ICU.

In sum, I happen to think this 4th Circuit decision to let gun dealers sell handguns to kids is a good thing. Because maybe, just maybe it will make my friends in Gun-control Nation ask themselves what we really should do to reduce the injuries and deaths caused by the use of guns.

We don’t need to prevent someone who is 19-years-old from buying a semi-automatic pistol which holds 17 rounds of military-grade ammunition and can be reloaded in 5 seconds or less.  We need to restrict everyone from buying and walking around with those types of guns.

Want to keep a handgun in your house in case one of those ‘street thugs’ tries to break his way in?  I’ll sell you a nice, used, six-shot revolver for $299.95. It will do the job just fine.

Josh Montgomery: Top Elements to Consider When Looking for a Good Pistol.


So, it’s your first time buying a gun, but you don’t know what to look for and you feel overwhelmed. That’s normal, but choosing a handgun is actually not that hard if you consider some key factors. There are a lot of things to take into consideration, each of them contributing to the functionality of the gun itself, as well as how you will use it.

Guns are not toys, and this means that you can’t just easily pick one and start playing with it. They need to be carefully chosen and handled, so safety is ensured. So, if you don’t know what to look for in a good pistol, here are some tips to help you throughout the choosing process.

  1. Quality

Quality is one of the most important aspects when choosing any type of item. You want something that works properly and doesn’t pose any type of danger.

When it comes to handguns, the price rule could apply, depending on the model. That being said, it’s a case of “you get what you pay for”. If you buy a very cheap one, you might end up having issues with it later on, which is not something to long for. After all, it’s an object that’s meant to offer you protection, not cause you trouble. Also, why spend money on an unreliable firearm that doesn’t help you feel safe when you could spend more and end up with a high-quality one?

Generally, a good quality gun is around $500. If you think that a gun would make you feel much safer in your household, then you should really consider spending money wisely. Trying to protect your life with something cheap that barely works may only end badly on your behalf.

  1. Purpose

This aspect should be self-explanatory, as you must have a good reason for purchasing a handgun in the first place. Is it for self-defense, or because you want shooting to become a hobby? Regardless of your answer, this could help you choose the right type of gun only based on what you want to use it for. Therefore, make sure you have a clear picture of it in your head.

  1. Smooth Trigger

The trigger of the gun is really important, mostly because it needs to offer you control and accuracy when you shoot. Having said that, it’s relevant to have a trigger that’s smooth enough to make you feel in control.

Therefore, a smooth trigger can only help you shoot better in case of an emergency, not being in your way or making you feel unsure.

  1. Caliber

Each gun has a certain caliber, and it all comes down to what you’ll be using the gun for. As such, don’t expect a handgun to have the same caliber a hunting gun would have. For instance, if you only want a handgun that fits your pocket and will be used for safety only, you will look for a .380. Conversely, if you want something to accompany you when hunting, you should look for something bigger, like a .45ACP caliber gun. As you can see, it all comes down to the purpose of the weapon.

  1. Thumb Safety

Safety is an important factor when you’re looking for such a dangerous item, which is why you shouldn’t overlook the thumb safety either. It may feel way more comfortable to have a handgun with a mutual thumb safety as opposed to a trigger one. This all depends on the person, though, so it’s not a rule.

Therefore, regardless of the features that your weapon comes with, you should always remember to pay attention to the safety features. It contributes to the way you use the gun while reassuring you that you and those nearby will be safe in any situation.

  1. Grip Size

The grip is one of the most important factors too because you can’t just go with the first handgun you set your eyes on. It needs to have a grip of the perfect size, so you can operate it properly.

The only way to choose the perfect grip is when you actually pick up the pistol. It would be hard to know any other way. It’s one of those things that you are only able to discover once you experience them.

Basically, if the gun fits in your hand just right, then the grip is perfect. You should also know that there are handguns with replaceable backstraps and grips, thus allowing you to somehow adjust the grip. If you happen to have larger hands, it might be harder dealing with smaller weapons, as you will have a more difficult time finding one that fits.

  1. New or Second-Hand?

Would you rather buy a new gun, or save some money by buying a used one? This comes down to your personal decision, but it also depends on your buying habits and overall budget. There may be problems with it too, such as possibly buying a gun that doesn’t perform very well. For that reason, you should always take a good look at the seller, price and the gun itself before buying.

  1. Cleaning Ability

A pistol needs some cleaning every now and then, so you shouldn’t overlook this fact. It is important to choose a model that will be relatively easy to clean. You will also need a cleaning kit and some supplies that go along with your weapon. So, if you want it to function properly for a long time, you need to make sure it’s clean too.

Final Thoughts

Don’t go out there and purchase a gun like it’s a child’s toy. As you can see, there are many things to take into consideration, some of which were described above. Make sure you take a good look at any pistol before you buy and see if it could serve you for the right purpose before you spend your cash.

As such, whether you will choose a sub 1K pistol or not, you will be able to know if it’s the one that works the best for you.

A New Monthly Chart On NICS Background Checks.


I have decided to keep a running record of FBI-NICS checks to help keep our friends in Gun-nut Nation at least somewhat honest, although as John Feinblatt has just reminded us, keeping that bunch honest is about as easy as keeping me on a diet. But be that as it may, with certain caveats that I am going to quickly list, the monthly background check numbers published by the FBI are still an effective measurement of the health and welfare of the gun industry, which usually stands in direct opposition to the health and welfare of the general population.

The caveats about using the NICS numbers as an industry measurement are as follows:

  • Only a handful of states require that all gun transfers go through NICS, so a large number of guns move from one person to another without any paper trail being created at all.
  • On the other hand, what NICS does indicate is the number of new guns that are added to the civilian arsenal each month, and that’s the most important number of all.
  • Of course NICS doesn’t capture the new gun transfers in any universal sense, because many states opt out of the NICS system when a resident holding a concealed-carry license buys a gun.

nicsBut the bottom line is that what we do get from NICS is a very clear trend of the degree to which America is or isn’t arming up. And basically this is the trend which is most important for determining the extent to which America will continue to suffer from gun violence, because without guns, there is no gun violence – it’s as simple as that. And please, please don’t give me the bromide about all we have to do is keep the guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ Enough already, okay?

The total NICS number for each month is comprised of 24 different categories, of which only 4 categories – handguns, long guns, other guns, multiple sales – represent contacts with the FBI call center to get authorization to sell or transfer a gun. The other categories represent either checking the validity of gun licenses, or redeeming previously-pawned guns, or transfers between individuals rather than between a dealer and a customer; in other words, background checks which don’t represent any new guns being added to the civilian arsenal at all.

I am going to start publishing a monthly NICS chart which will compare numbers over time and will cover the following categories: handguns, other guns and personal transfers of hand guns. Why only handguns and other guns? Because these are the guns we need to worry about since handguns are usually what are used in gun violence of all kinds, and other guns are assault-rifle receivers to which the owner then attaches a bolt and a barrel and he’s got a very lethal gun.

Here’s our very first chart:

Jun-17 Jun-16 2017 to date 2016 to date.
Handguns 569,149 582,821 3,777,008 4,083,589
Other Guns 29,730 49,220 195,537 218,023
Private transfers 1,884 1,198 11,845 8,231


These are some interesting numbers, and they fly in the face of comments from various Gun-nut noisemakers that there hasn’t been any ‘Trump slump’ on guns.  Well, I guess a drop of more than 306,000 new handguns hitting the market between January and June isn’t anything to worry about, and a 30% increase in background checks between private buyers and sellers clearly indicates that gun owners just won’t go along with private NICS checks. Incidentally, I’m not going to track long gun transfers, but you should know that long gun checks dropped from 2.5 million in 2016 to 2.3 million so far this year. As handguns go so does the whole gun market, oh well, oh well.

If I had to estimate, I would say that a drop in handgun and long gun sales of roughly 500,000 units means a loss of revenue for the gun industry of somewhere around $150 million bucks. I don’t think that really makes up for Wayne-o going to the White House for the Easter Egg roll.

It’s Not Guns That Cause Gun Violence. It’s Handguns.


By the time I went to bed last night, the ether was filled with reactions to the Alexandria shootings, most of them reflecting the alt-right view of things about guns and violence, namely, that if there had been more good guys at the ballfield with guns, the bad guy wouldn’t have shot anyone at all. But at least one sane voice emerged belonging to Chelsea Parsons and her colleagues at the Center for American Progress (CAP) who put up a podcast, ‘Too Many Guns in America,’ and discussed the event.

cap-logo1CAP has been a mainstay in the effort to strengthen gun regulations, and much of their approach can be found in their report, America Under Fire, which makes a persuasive argument that gun violence and laws regulating gun ownership and access go hand-in-hand; i.e., more laws equal less injuries caused by guns. You can download the report right here.

Much of yesterday’s podcast was devoted to talking about the efficacy of different gun laws which exist in a minority of states, which also happen to be the states where less gun violence occurs.  In particular, the podcast mentioned universal background checks, regulating assault rifles and hi-cap mags, and preventing domestic violence abusers from getting their hands on guns. Chelsea and her colleagues made a point of saying that all three strategies enlist wide, public support, although you wouldn’t know that from the GOP-alt-right chorus that was braying last night.

I want to make it clear that I am four-square in favor of government regulation of guns. I don’t believe anyone should be walking around armed who isn’t either required to carry as part of a job, or can’t demonstrate skilled, appropriate and continuous proficiency. And that means real, live shooting evaluated by the public authority that issues the license for carrying a gun.

The problem which comes up again and again whenever the gun violence prevention (GVP) community talks about gun violence, is not how they define ‘violence’ caused by guns, which should include suicide because self-violence happens to be part of the definition of violence used by the World Health Organization; rather, how GVP defines a ‘gun.’  Because when it comes to the ten ‘indicators’ of gun violence cited by CAP to create the America Under Fire report, nine of those ten indicators contribute to the annual gun-death toll not because of the existence of guns per se, but the existence of handguns, which poses all sorts of different issues than the existence of guns overall.

Take gun trafficking for example.  Ever notice that when the cops bust a bunch of dopes for bringing guns from down South into New York that most of the guns are small, concealable pistols, Glocks and stuff like that?  Sure, there’s a rifle here and there, but what sells in the street are the little bangers – the shooter in Alexandria, the shooter at the Pulse, the shooter at Aurora, the shooter at Sandy Hook – they used assault rifles that were all legally owned.

What frustrated me about the CAP podcast was that neither Chelsea, Igor or Michele said one word about the discussion’s title, namely, the existence of too many guns.  And with all due respect to the work that has been done linking gun violence to lax gun laws, it’s the number of weapons floating around which is the numero uno reason why so many Americans get shot with guns. But even noted scholars like our friend David Hemenway gets it wrong when he says that our rate of gun violence compared to other ‘advanced’ countries is so much higher because we have so many more guns, because if he compared per capita ownership of handguns rather than all guns, the disparities between our level of gun violence and the gun violence suffered by other societies would be two or three times worse.

Sorry to repeat what I have said so many times, but we will continue to suffer an extraordinary level of gun violence until we get rid of the guns. The little ones. Those guns.


A Fun Gun Story For The New Year.


I recently received a note from a reader who wanted me to write some ‘fun’ stories about guns. And why not?  After all, for those of us who enjoy guns because we just like to shoot them, or talk about them, or play with them, guns are a lot of fun.  So here’s one of those stories which ends in heartbreak but that’s how most good stories end.

M&P              I used to have a friend in the gun business named Joe DeSaye. He owned a wholesale gun company called J&G (named after himself and his ex-wife Grace), which is still a family-owned business even though Joe, of blessed memory, is long gone.  Anyway, Joe used to sell most of his inventory through a gun newspaper called Shotgun News.  Most of Joe’s ads were for used handguns, many of them police trade-ins, and many of them guns that he bought from me.  I’ll spare the details of how I accumulated and sold Joe upwards of 10,000 used handguns every year; it was all legal commerce and Joe only dealt with customers who held a valid FFL.

One day in 1984 or 1985 Joe calls me (he lived in Arizona and I was in New York) and tells me that he’s got a “line” on an “incredible stash of guns.”  But he couldn’t talk on the phone because he was at some place where he might be overheard, so I had to call him back that night when he got home.  That night Joe tells me that the United States Postal Inspectors had just purchased 4,000 new Smith & Wesson stainless magnum revolvers – the 4-inch Model 66 – and were giving them out to every postal inspector who was turning in his own gun.  Evidently the Postal Inspectors had been allowed to carry whatever sidearm they chose, but now the force was getting modern and everyone was going to carry a Model 66.

Joe then further told me that the 4,000 duty weapons previously carried by the Inspectors were sitting in a warehouse at the Marine base in Quantico but Joe had “friends” in the Post Office, and these friends had agreed to let Joe enter a sole bid for the guns.  So I was going to go down to Quantico, take a look at the guns to make sure they were in good enough shape to be resold, and then Joe would submit the bid.

The next day I drove down to Quantico, and after checking me out at the security gate, I was taken to an unmarked, corrugated-metal storage building somewhere on the base.  Got out of the car, walked into a big room, lights went on, and I was surrounded by 4,000 handguns neatly stacked in piles all over the floor.  And what piles!  Over here were beautiful, commercial versions of the Colt 1911 with the shiny, royal blue Colt finish, not a blemish or a scratch.  Over there were Smith & Wesson 45-caliber M&P revolvers, the 5-inch models manufactured before World War II. There were even some original Colt, Single Action Army guns in 44-40 and 45. I was dizzy; I was beside myself with joy.  I couldn’t have cared less how much Joe and I would make on this deal, I just wanted to keep about 100 of the guns for myself.

Know what happened?  The next day there was a story about a local police chief in Virginia who sold some confiscated guns to a gun shop who sold one of the guns to a jerk who then shot his wife with the gun.  And the day after that, the Postal Service loaded the entire pile on a cargo plane, flew the plane over the ocean and dumped my 4,000 guns into the sea.

I suppose it’s better that those guns ended up underwater than even one of them ending up in the wrong hands.  But they still could have let me take 100 of them home.  I could have always made room by throwing out some of my Lionel trains.


There’s A Petition Out There You Really Should Sign.

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There’s a new petition in town that deserves your support.  It’s a project of the group called Doctors For America, whose founders back in 2008 included a guy named Vivek Murthy whom you might remember had some initial difficulties becoming Surgeon General because of another guy named Rand Paul. I’m playing a little tongue-in-cheek here because I can’t remember another politician who made as much of a jerk out of himself as Rand Paul did by temporarily blocking Murthy’s nomination because Murthy didn’t appreciate the virtues and benefits of guns.  After all, as a physician, why should Murthy or anyone else be concerned about 100,000 gun injuries and deaths every year? Oh hell, messed it up again; we know that it’s people who kill people, right?  When they use a gun to kill someone else it must have been to stop a crime.

cdc                Anyway, to return to reality, the DFA petition asks Congress to restore funding of gun research by the CDC.  Incidentally, for anyone who’s interested in numbers, what we are talking about is a whopping $3 million or less each year which is probably about what Congress spends on replacing worn-out parking meters in downtown DC.  In a funny way I suspect that one of the reasons the funding ban continues is precisely because it represents a budgetary item which hardly anyone can see, and therefore doesn’t attract enough attention to turn its annual defunding into a political fight.

When the NRA and its puppet Congressman Jay Dickey first pushed through the ban, the rationale they used was that the CDC was supporting not gun research per se, but gun-control advocacy which was not a proper way to use taxpayer’s funds.  Actually, it wasn’t the CDC that was doing the advocacy; rather, it was the GVP community that was utilizing the results of CDC-funded research to support its point of view.  Which shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone since what CDC-funded scholars were discovering was a rather remarkable state of affairs, namely, that guns were actually lethal weapons, a finding which came as a complete surprise to the NRA!

You have to understand something about the gun nuts who work at Waples Mill Road in Fairfax, VA.  Some of them, perhaps a majority of them actually believe that there’s no risk from guns.  Or to put it more exactly, if there is some kind of risk, it’s clearly outweighed by the benefits of owning a gun. Now when I joined the NRA back in 1955, owning a gun usually meant a rifle or shotgun which was used for hunting if you lived out in the country or for some kind of sport shooting if you lived closer to town. My father had one friend who owned a handgun, but it was a slightly-rusted Colt pistol that he brought back from World War II. But this began changing in the 1980s when hunting and sport shooting began to disappear and the gun industry recalibrated its products by launching an all-out campaign to sell handguns as a necessary response to crime.  The research that supported the notion that guns make us safe was so shabby that it would never have been published had it been funded by the CDC.

Over the nearly twenty years since the CDC ban went into effect, private funding sources have continued to support gun research and the evidence continues to mount that guns represent a risk that far outweighs the benefits of ownership, whether the gun industry agrees or not.  But most people who support the efforts of the GVP community really don’t need more evidence to convince them of what they already know.  Because what they know is that when you pick up a loaded gun and pull the trigger, someone in the way of that bullet is going to get badly hurt. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a good guy or a bad guy; gun violence is a national shame that can’t be ignored.  Sign the petition. Sign it now.

There’s Nothing Like Openly Carrying A Handgun To Protect Us Against Everything – Real Or Imagined.

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In the weeks following the unspeakable gun violence in Charleston, there was one public voice notably absent, namely, the NRA.  As opposed to the belligerent screed from Wayne-o after Sandy Hook, this time America’s “oldest civil rights organization” kept their collectives mouths shut.  Well, almost all of them did, and the one exception was Charlie Cotton, a Board member from Texas, who quickly posted a statement blaming Clementa Pinckney for hastening his own demise because of his opposition to guns, and then just as quickly took the post down.

open carry                Good ol’ Charlie epitomizes the Mark Twain saying, “it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”  And if you don’t believe me, here’s a few samples of other Cotton comments obligingly sent to me by a friend.  In February, he supported a bill that would have eliminated corporal punishment in Texas public schools with this gem: “a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet into him later.”  He once referred to Black-on-Black shootings as “thug on thug,” and in case the readers of his blog didn’t get the not-so-veiled, racist comment he added, “cops know what I really mean.”

In addition to proving his stupidity on issues far and wide, Cotton has also been a driving force behind the NRA-backed gun legislation in the Lone Star State, including the recent law that legalizes “open carry” of handguns in public venues.  The open-carry question has a contentious history in Texas; just last year the NRA publicly scolded a group of Texans who were parading around a fast-food outlet with AR rifles in plain sight, but the ensuing uproar on the part of open-carry activists forced the NRA to back down.

For our boy Charlie, the zeal of open-carry proponents in Texas has been a difficult fence to straddle, given the ambivalence of the NRA towards the spectacle of open-carry demonstrations on the one hand, while not wanting to piss off the open-carry fringe on the other.  In 2013, when then-candidate Greg Abbott was willing to support whatever loony idea would get him a few more votes in the race for Governor, he endorsed the idea of open-carry of handguns, and ol’ Charlie pulled a classic on-the-one-hand-this-but-on-the-other-hand- that, by supporting the legislation but warning Open Carry Texas and other nut-job groups that sitting in Starbucks dangling AR-15s might lead to public “panic.”

Now that open carry of handguns is legal in Texas, our boy Charlie Cotton still finds himself in something of a predicament, because it’s not quite clear what mainstream America thinks about turning every American city into the O.K. Corral.  The NRA’s post-Charleston silence is a pretty clear indication that the whole notion of gun ownership may still be up for grabs, 2nd Amendment or no 2nd Amendment.  And this came home to me last night when a friend sent me ol’ Charlie’s latest comment about open carry on his blog, in which he claimed he was still in favor of concealed carry because letting everyone know that you own a handgun might result in you being “attacked or burglarized” if a thug who saw the gun decided to follow you home. For that matter, sitting in IHOP with an unconcealed handgun would make you an immediate target if a “6-man hi-jack team” hits the store intending to do something other than ordering waffles and grits.

Did Charles Cotton, who happens to be a licensed attorney, actually make a public statement conjuring up the image of an IHOP invasion by a “hi-jack team?”  Let’s not forget that Texas is where a serious internet discussion is being carried on by residents who truly believe that a Pentagon-directed military exercise called Jade Helm is actually the beginning of a federal invasion of Texas, followed by martial law and the seizure of all guns.  If Charlie Cotton and the NRA have decided they need such paranoid lunatics to promote the ownership of guns, the gun-sense movement is much closer to victory than they believe.



Breitbart Does What It usually Does About Guns – Gets It Wrong.

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I don’t usually waste anyone’s time with reactions to editorials or other commentary on the gun business because everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.  But as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, “we are all entitled to our own opinion but not our own facts.”  And every once in a while someone published an opinion that is so at variance with the facts about guns that I feel it almost to be a civic duty to set the facts straight. This is the case with an editorial published in the Brietbart News calling for the Republican-led Senate to repeal the “burdensome and frivolous” gun control law of 1968 which, according to the editorial’s author, prevents Americans from going to other states, purchasing a handgun and returning with the gun to the state in which they live.

According to the author, A.W. Hawkins, the 1968 Gun Control Act is a “burdensome and unnecessary” law because while at allows residents o one state to travel to another state to purchase a rifle, it prohibits the same kind of transaction as regards handguns.  The author goes on to state that, “the arbitrary nature of the ban is evident in the fact that by law, a law-abiding citizen from one state can walk into a retail store and buy an AR-15, AK-47, or shotgun in another state.”  Not only does this rob consumers of the opportunity to support a “national” consumer market for small arms, but is an example of a “freedom-crushing law” that the Republican majority was elected to remove or change.

control cartoon                Let me break the news gently to Mr. Hawkins.  The prohibition on interstate sales of handguns was not the handiwork of the Gun Control Act of 1968, it was codified in the National Firearms Act of 1938, which amended and extended provisions of the original National Firearms Act of 1934.  The latter statute was passed to control the transfer and sale of automatic weapons, like the so-called ‘Tommy Gun’ that was used by the Capone mob and other gangsters during the Prohibition era, and then became props in all those Hollywood shoot-‘em-ups about Ma Barker, Alvin Karpis and Pretty Boy Floyd.

The 1938 National Firearms Act made it illegal for guns to move across state lines unless they were shipped from one gun dealer to another, a prohibition that covered all firearms and, for the first time required such dealers to acquire a license for interstate traffic in guns from the Treasury Department for the grand total of one dollar per year.  The 1938 law also for the first time created certain categories of “prohibited persons.” Like felons and fugitives, who could not own guns.  The only problem with the 1938 law was that it required dealers to record the sources of all firearms shipped to them from other states, but did not create any kind of regulatory process to verify or validate that dealers were actually maintaining such information.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 closed some of these loopholes by bringing all activities of gun dealers under the regulatory authority of the ATF.  For the first time, dealers not only had to maintain records of the sources of their inventory, but also were required to utilize the Form 4473 for recording detailed personal information about individuals to whom they transferred guns.  The dealer had to verify the gun recipient’s personal information by dint of a driver’s license or other standard type of ID.  Most important, the ATF could visit any dealer, inspect these records, and therefore have access to information about everyone who purchased a gun.

I’m not saying that GCA1968 is a perfect law.  Far from it.  But at the very least it does codify the idea that certain types of people simply should not be allowed to get access to guns.  The Brietbart editorialist isn’t against laws per se; he’s just doing what the pro-gun folks usually do whenever the discussion turns to guns -reduce the debate to the lowest, dumbest denominator because that’s the argument which the NRA can always win.



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