Home

What Happened To ‘Thoughts and Prayers?’

3 Comments

              At least to Joe’s credit, he didn’t say that his ‘thoughts and prayers’ were with the families of the people gunned down yesterday in San Jose. Joe’s got a different slogan in response to gun violence – Enough!  Which leads me to ask a question: Enough of what?

              Way back in 1968 our friend Frank Zimring put together a report on gun violence included in an initiative by President Lyndon Johnson to study the causes of violence in the United States. Too bad ol’ Lyndon didn’t ask anyone to explain the causes of violence that we were committing at the same time in Viet Nam. Oh well, oh well.

              Zimring’s study of gun violence was published in 1969. I may be the only living person other than Frank Zimring who actually owns a copy of that report, and here’s what it says: “Times and dangers have changes from frontier days when a gun was often necessary for survival. The extent to which guns are actually useful for defensive purposes must be reappraised.” [Page 61.]

              Folks – that was written more than fifty years ago. And the appraisal has yet to take place. Or I should say, to the extent that guns are still considered useful for defensive purposes, what we are now told is that we need guns to defend ourselves against the tyranny of the government and the national state.

              Too bad the guy who killed eight people in the transit depot in San Jose had to then shoot himself at the end of his spree. Because if he were still alive, I’d really like to find out if he went on that rampage because somehow the San Jose Transit Authority represented the political tyranny which puts his Constitutional ‘rights’ at risk. Or better yet, maybe the poor bastards he gunned down were all secretly working for the Deep State.

              The loonier and crazier Gun-nut Nation becomes when they have to respond to another instance of mass slaughter perpetrated with a gun, the more I am convinced that the days when any red-blooded American patriot can simply walk into a gun store and walk out a minute later with a ‘sporting’ gun designed to end the lives of scores of men and women may be coming to an end.

              Why do I say that?

              Because on the one hand, we are the only country in the entire world which lets people settle a dispute with lethal force. It’s called ‘stand your ground,’ and no other society sanctions this kind of behavior and also allows its citizens to engage in such behavior by using a gun. The two guns that Sam Cassidy used to shoot and kill eight co-workers yesterday weren’t ‘sporting’ guns. They were semi-automatic pistols, designed to be used the way they were used in yesterday’s assault.

              On the other hand, like it or not, this country is becoming more diverse, more color-blind and more gender-heterogeneous every day. And as that happens, the attitudes which promote the kind of gun violence we witnessed yesterday in San Jose will fade away.

              The promoters of walking around with a gun for self-protection are no longer all that interested in protecting themselves against co-workers or anyone else who pisses them off. Their gun is the only way they can be ‘free’ and protected from the encroachments of the tyrannical state. Now the fact that this statist tyranny only seems to rear its ugly head when the Democrats are in power, duhhh, that’s just a nuance which should never be taken to question the monthly arrival of my social security check.

              The extraordinary racial, cultural and gender diversity of this country is the product of laws and court decisions enacted by that tyrannical, national state. And as the social dimensions of those laws continue to reverberate throughout American society, the anger about such remarkable changes will slowly but surly go away.

              As that anger and fear disappears, the guns will disappear as well.

All my gun books right here: Gun Violence | TeeTee Press.

Do We Reduce Gun Violence By Making Sure The Data Is Correct? I Don’t Think So.

3 Comments

              So, it turns out that the kid who shot and killed 8 people at the FedEx depot in Indianapolis used two assault rifles that he legally purchased last year after the cops took away his shotgun after his mother complained that he was mentally ill.

              Hey – wait just a darn minute! I thought that Indiana had a ‘red flag’ law, which is a statute that allows the cops to disarm someone after a judge decides that the individual in question might otherwise be a danger to himself or someone else.

              In fact, Indiana does have a ‘red flag’ law, known as the Jake Laird law, which was passed in 2005.  The law allows the cops to disarm someone who they consider to be too dangerous to have access to guns, and then a court hearing must occur within two weeks to determine whether the guns stay in the police station or are returned.

              The guy who loses his guns can petition the Court to get them back after six months. The Court will then hold another hearing to determine whether or not the former gun owner is or is no longer a ‘danger’ to the community or to himself. If the guns don’t go back to the owner after five years, the Court can tell the cops to destroy the guns.

              Incidentally, the law was named after an Indianapolis cop who responded to a call that someone was walking down the street shooting an assault rifle. The shooter had already killed his mother and he then killed Tim Laird when the officer appeared on the scene. The shooter’s guns had been taken away the previous year after he threatened a cop but were returned to him several months before the fatal killings took place. Now let’s get back to last week.

              When the Indianapolis Police Chief, Randal Taylor, was asked about the FedEx shooter losing his shotgun but then going out and buying two assault rifles, he made a comment which I’m sure he would love to forget.  Referring to the fact that the cops didn’t return the kid’s shotgun he said, “I don’t know how we held on to it, but it’s good that we did.”

              The reason that Chief Taylor didn’t know that the kid’s shotgun was still sitting in the evidence locker at his Department is because after the gun was no longer in the possession of the shooter, no red flag hearing was ever held. And because there was never a hearing, the kid was able to go out and buy two more guns. God only knows how Chief Taylor could ever imagine that swapping a shotgun for two assault rifles was a good thing.

              But here’s the point of this sad tale. You can pass all the laws you want, but don’t ask me why, don’t ask me how, laws have a funny way of sometimes not being carried out. Recall back in 2015 that another young guy walked into a church in Charleston and killed 9 people who were attending a Bible class. In this case, the cops forgot to notify the FBI that the shooter should have been disqualified from buying the gun he used to commit his rampage because he took a plea on a drug charge.

              This communication failure between the local police and the FBI-NICS, or maybe the lack of information-sharing was between the court and the local cops, has come to be known as the ‘Charleston loophole.’ Except there was no loophole at all. Someone simply forgot to do what the law said they were supposed to do.

              Cops are paid for making arrests and closing as many cases as they can. They aren’t paid to sit around and update this or that database. As long as we continue to believe that we can reduce gun violence by making sure that all the information we have on gun owners is complete, like we say in IT, ‘garbage in, garbage out.’

Please don’t forget: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow.

Want To End Gun Violence? Try Drinking A Little Less.

3 Comments

              I don’t know what’s worse about the media’s reaction to shooting rampages, like the rampage that took place last week at FedEx, or the shootings that took place the previous week, or the week before that, or the week before that. At a certain point I tend to lose track of these events, but the media’s reaction is always the same.

              First, they play some dumb-ass, pro-gun politician like Cruz or McConnell making the usual ‘thoughts and prayers,’ comment or reminding us that nutty people shouldn’t be allowed to own guns. This is balanced it out with a comment from some anti-gun person about the ‘fact’ that America has too many guns.

              I’m not surprised when some right-wing jackass pretends to be all caught up in a religious response to gun violence – that’s what the script has always been. But when someone who claims to be a ‘scholar’ gives us an explanation that is no more valid as to why some kid pulls up in a FedEx parking lot, climbs out of his car with not one but two legally purchased assault rifles and starts banging away, there’s really something wrong.

              I’m referring to an interview on CNN with Adam Lankford, who made a big splash a few years ago when The New York Times picked up on his research which found a connection between the number of mass shootings and the number of guns we have floating around. Lankford never produced any data to validate his argument about the number of mass shootings which take place in the United States or anywhere else, but why would anyone need to rely on evidence-based research in order to become a gun-violence expert on media today?

              Data or no data, facts or fiction, Lankford’s at it again. His interview on CNN starts off with the biggest piece of gun-control nonsense of all, namely, that we have so many more mass shootings than any other country because we own so many more guns. He claims that we have 5% of the world’s population and 40% of the civilian-owned guns, and firearm access “seems to be a critical factor” in explaining why we have many more mass shootings than any other place.

              My retail gun shop normally carried an inventory of about 200 guns, of which maybe half were new, and half were used. I sold about 40 guns a month, which was a pretty good turn. With each gun I also tried to sell a box of ammunition or some other accessory item because the mark-up on guns was never more than 20%, the markup on ammo and accessories was 40% or more. 

              Of those 200 new and used guns, the best-sellers were the small, semi-automatic pistols made by Glock, Sig, Beretta, S&W, Springfield Armory, and Kahr. The assault rifles made by Bushmaster, S&W and Panther Arms also sold pretty well. But my shop was located in an area where folks hunted deer in the Fall, turkeys in the early Spring, and birds year-round. So, most of what I sold, and what just about every gun shop sells, were hunting guns – shotguns, bolt-action rifles, long-barreled revolvers – which never (read: hardly ever) figure in gun violence at all.

              We don’t suffer more than 125,000 deaths and injuries from guns every year because we have ‘too many’ guns. Gun violence is a public health issue because we are the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to the types of guns that are designed only for the purpose of being used to end the life of the gun owner or of someone else.

              How many assault rifles are floating around out there?  Maybe 20 million. How many small, semi-automatic handguns have been sold over the last 30 years? Somewhere around 40 million – you can count up an exact number right here.

              Sixty million guns isn’t three hundred million. If we bought back all those guns at $700 a clip, the whole big deal would amount to less than one-fifth of what we spend on booze each year.

              Want to cut down your drinking by 20 percent for one year and end gun violence once and for all?

Want To End Gun Violence? There’s One Thing We Still Don’t Know.

2 Comments

              So now a terrible shooting rampage in the Indianapolis FedEx facility may actually be the camel’s straw that gets one of Joe’s gun-control bills through the Senate and onto his desk. Which is all fine and well, but I hate to be a spoilsport and remind my friends in Gun-control Nation that none of those measures passed earlier this year by the House will really do very much to reduce gun violence in the United States.

              Yesterday the State Senate in Alabama passed a measure called the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act. The law makes it a crime for any gun law from the Biden Administration to be enforced anywhere in the state. This effort is nothing more than an attempt by the state GOP to buy loyalty from local voters in the wake of Orange Head’s demise. But it also is a reminder of what gun-control laws represent.

              What such laws mean to supporters of Brady, Everytown and the other gun-control groups are nothing more than ‘reasonable’ measures aimed (pardon the pun) at gun owners to behave in a ‘responsible’ way. What these laws mean to most gun owners is just another bothersome thing they have to put up with in order to play around with their guns.

              Know all those surveys which purportedly show that most gun owners support comprehensive background checks? Those surveys are nonsense because they never ask gun owners to state what they believe would be effective measures to reduce gun violence. If they did, the same ‘responsible’ gun owners who have no problem with only transferring a gun following a background check would overwhelmingly support a national, concealed-carry law as a better way to reduce gun violence and crime.

              In 1959, the Gallup Organization did a national poll which asked respondents whether they would support a ban on the ownership of handguns. Not stricter licensing, mind you, but an absolute ban. The result was that 60% claimed they would support such a ban.

              If the finding of this survey had been transformed into law, we wouldn’t have gun violence at all. The reason our gun-violence rate is 7 to 20 times higher than any other OECD country is because we are the only country which gives residents access to what I call ‘killer guns.’ You can see how I define a ‘killer gun’ right here.

              In 1995, our friend Gary Kleck published research which stated that individuals who used or brandished guns were responsible for preventing millions of crimes every year. His thesis that more guns meant less crime was then taken up in the research of our friend John Lott. 

              These research efforts have been critiqued and discounted by the most respected gun-control researchers like our friends David Hemenway and Phil Cook. But their arguments have never gained any traction at all among the majority of Americans who believe that a gun is more of a benefit than a risk. By 1993, before either Kleck or Lott had published anything at all, the support for a national ban on handguns had fallen to 39%.

              The last time Gallup asked the handgun ban question in 2020, the percentage of handgun banners has now fallen to 25%.  And even with the terrible rampage shootings committed with assault rifles since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, only 47% of Gallup respondents want to see assault rifles outlawed.

              Want to blame the continued existence of a strong gun culture on the NRA? Go right ahead. Want to blame it on research published by Gary Kleck and John Lott. Ditto. You happen to be wrong on both counts.

              At best, the NRA membership maybe counts 6% or 7% of the people whose households contain a gun. And the last thing that any gun nut is going to do when he flips on his computer and goes to buy some crap on Amazon is to order John Lott’s book.

              Has any gun-control scholar ever attempted to figure out how and why so many Americans believe they need to protect themselves with a gun? Nope. Not one.

              Please add your name:  https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow and https://www.change.org/Ban_Assault_Rifles_Now.

Why Are Guns Lethal: 9781536814002: Reference Books @ Amazon.com

Mass Shootings – A New Study.

1 Comment

              Back in 2015 a car pulled up in front of a barbershop in Tulsa, a guy got out of the car with an AK-47, walked into the shop and started blasting all over the place.  He was trying to kill a customer who was sitting waiting his turn, but instead a bullet went through the head of the barber and he was dead. Now hold that thought.

              Our friend Tom Gabor has just published a book, Carnage, Preventing Mass Shootings in America, which analyzes 1,029 mass shootings that took place in 2019 and 2020. The data for this study comes from the Gun Violence Archive, which is one of eight groups or organizations which track mass shootings in the United States. Gabor says that he used the GVA because they have a ‘professional staff’ and derive their information from more than 2,500 law enforcement and media venues every day.

              Unfortunately, most of the internet media operations which report gun violence events (or any other event, for that matter) cut and paste their texts from another source which has cut and pasted the same text from yet a third, or a fourth, or a fifth source. Frankly, Gabor could have gotten more or less the same data by just entering a few key words like ‘shooting’ and ‘guns’ into Google Alerts and receiving a daily Gmail feed.  How do you think I come up with a new story almost every day?

              Gabor identifies seven organizations plus one author, our friend Louis Klarevas, who try to keep track of mass shootings in an ongoing way. These folks all define a mass shooting as an event in which a minimum of two to four people are injured and/or killed. So, the question immediately occurs: how come the magic number for counting something as a mass shooting is set at two, three or four?  Why not set it at five? How about six? Nobody seems to know.

              It turns out, moreover, that when all is said and done, the ways which we usually define shooting events by the reason they occur, where they occur, the types of people involved, and the types of guns which are used in the assaults, is really little different for mass shootings as opposed to the humdrum, daily, one-on-one shootings that take place a couple of hundred times every day. And since, as Gabor notes, mass shootings result in roughly 2% of all the yearly gun-violence casualties, what’s the big deal?

              Let’s go back to what happened at the Gifted Hands Barber Shop in Tulsa on February 5th, 2015. The guy with the AK-47 was trying to kill the guy sitting in a chair waiting to get his hair cut.  He sprayed bullets all over the place and one of the rounds from the AK went through the barber’s head.

              I talked to one of the cops who investigated this shooting, an officer who had been doing homicide work in Tulsa for more than a dozen years.

I asked him, “Why did the guy with the AK-47 shoot up the whole place? Didn’t he just want to put one into the guy who was waiting his turn?”

Please read the officer’s response slowly and carefully: “That’s what they always do. They always want to shoot the gun as much as they can. They want to spray bullets all over the place.”

I define a mass shooting not by how many people get hit, but how many bullets come out of the barrel of the gun. If what the Tulsa cop told me is not unusual for how people use guns to shoot other people, then we have an explanation for the increase in mass shootings which says something much more serious and profound than all the usual bromides – poverty, drugs, inner-city hopelessness -put out there about gun violence today.  

Are we developing not just a culture of violence but a celebration of violence as well?

Please sign our new petition: https://www.change.org/bankillerhandgunsnow

Why Do We Have So Many Mass Shootings?

5 Comments

              So, here we are, two days after this asshole shot and killed 10 people in Boulder, CO and a team of cops, prosecutors and FBI agents still don’t know why the kid did what he did. But The New York Times has already figured it out.

              You can read the paper’s analysis in a piece written by Max Fisher, who says that the shooting occurred because Americans own so many guns.  That’s it. As Grandpa would say, “prust und prushit.” Which means nothing more needs to be said. Thanks Grandpa.

              This so-called research which explains the fatal and non-fatal injuries which 125,000+ Americans suffer each year from gun shots has been going on since the 1990’s and is perhaps most frequently cited in the work of public health specialists like our friend David Hemenway, who regularly publishes articles which correlate the high rate of fatal violence in the United States with all the enormous pile of guns we have lying around.

              No other advanced country has so many killings, no other country has so many guns. The United States contains 4% of the entire world’s population but owns 42% of the world’s non-military guns. That explains that.

              Our friend Max Fisher seems to think, incidentally, that words like ‘homicide’ and ‘mass shootings’ mean the same thing. He tosses the words back and forth as if one can simply be substituted for the other. If we have a much higher rate of homicide because we own so many guns, when it comes to explaining mass shootings, the same argument can be made.

              Incidentally, the word ‘research’ is also bandied about in Fisher’s commentary to describe the works which he referenced in order to end up saying what he said. I must be a really old guy because when I went to graduate school to do research on the origins of capitalism, I had to go out, find some previously undiscovered data, analyze the data, and use the results to make an argument based on what I believed was a new set of verifiable events.

              The ‘research’ that Fisher has read to come up with his explanation for mass shootings isn’t based on analyzing previously unknown or unstudied data at all. The scholars who tell us that more guns equal more violence simply take some data which is in the public domain, run it through a regression analysis model and – voila! The result shows them what they want to believe. Want to believe something different?  Change the analytical model. 

              Regression analysis is a very handy tool for comparing how two separate trends change over time. Everyone can understand a cute, little chart with two wavy lines. But if you try to use this methodology to explain how one line’s movement affects the movement of the other line, you’re skating on very thin ice.  But so what? At least The New York Times gets something into print, right?

              The issue isn’t whether or not Americans own too many guns. The issue is what types of guns are used to commit mass murders and how many of those guns are floating around. So, we have 270 million guns in the civilian arsenal. So what?  Most of those guns are the types of guns that are never used to kill anyone. Many of the people who own guns don’t even know where the gun is located in their home.

              This kid was arrested in Boulder with an assault pistol, i.e., a short-barreled gun with a collapsible stock and a hand grip for extra control. He obviously knew enough about guns to put together a custom-made model which he could take undetected into a public space and then start blasting away. This type of behavior and planning is quite unlike what happens in virtually 99% of all shootings which occur because two dopes get into an argument, neither backs down and out comes a gun.

              If we really want to do something about mass shootings, then at the very least we need to understand exactly what we’re talking about. What we learn from Max Fisher doesn’t really explain anything at all.

Please sign our petition to ban assault rifles: http://chng.it/vKPcgVB7

Want To End Gun Violence? Here’s How.

6 Comments

Want to get rid of gun violence?  Here’s a way to do it, and I guarantee it will work. No fuss, no muss, no bother.  Here’s what we need to do.

Get the Democrats in Congress (forget the Republicans) to pass a law which says it is illegal to own or possess any semi-automatic gun which loads from a magazine inserted from beneath the frame. This designation will remove from the civilian arsenal at least three-quarters, if not more, of the guns which are used to kill and injure 125,000 Americans every year.

And by the way, these were the types of guns what were used to kill 18 people in Georgia and Colorado over the last week.

Here’s the twist. The law will also require that everyone who currently owns such a gun needs to turn it in, no questions asked. When the gun is surrendered, the guy gets paid for giving up property which was legally purchased at some point in time.

How many of these guns are out there? I’m probably pretty close to the real number if I say there are 20 million such long guns, and 80 million handguns, give or take a million here or there.

How much are they worth?  The long guns were probably bought for around a thousand bucks apiece.  The handguns went for half that amount.  As Bill Clinton would say, do the math. I’ll do it for you – it totals 60 billion bucks.

Right now, Joe is preparing to send a spending bill to Congress with a $3 trillion price tag. What’s $60 billion of that number worth? Try 2 percent.

Look at it another way. The latest report, probably somewhat overstated, is that gun violence costs us $280 billion very year. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s only $250 billion. Spend 2% of the money we are setting aside to fix all the potholes to save $250 billion annually which doesn’t even begin to reflect the pain and suffering felt by families and friends of people shot with guns? 

The whole thing might cost a bit more because we’d have to buy off Joe Manchin with some little doodad for the residents of West Virginia, maybe some extra bucks for all Bernie’s gun huggers in Vermont. What the hell, a penny spent is a penny earned.

If we have learned one thing from the last two weeks, it’s that the only way we will end gun violence in this country is to get rid of the guns which are used to commit the violence each and every day. Comprehensive background checks won’t do a goddamn thing, ditto ‘red flag’ laws, ditto mandated safety courses, ditto, ditto, and ditto.

Sorry, but the public health template that was used to reduce auto injuries doesn’t work for guns. Cars are made to get you from here to there. If the car doesn’t get you from here to there, it’s either because it needs to be redesigned or you need to drive in a safer way.

On the other hand, the guns that were used to kill 18 people in two mass shootings, never mind another 100 or so gunshot victims who were shot randomly here and there, were designed to do exactly what they were used to do.

Want to continue promoting the nonsense that an AR-15 is a ‘sporting’ gun? Go right ahead. I’m sure both the Proud Boys and QAnon followers will agree. By now, Alex Jones is probably saying that the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder didn’t actually occur.

Right now, there may be enough momentum behind Joe’s legislative energy and a general disgust about anything which smacks of Mister Orange Head’s response to any problem, to get this deal done.

The day this bill is introduced, we need to make sure that Orange Head calls up one of his media sycophants on Fox and announces that the measure is nothing more than another nefarious attempt to enlarge the chokehold of the Deep State.

Think Congress wouldn’t vote this law through? 

Was The Atlanta Shooting a Hate Crime?

1 Comment

              What if I were to say that the killing of six Asian-American women in Atlanta had nothing to do with racism? What if I were to say that before we go running off with another anti-racist rant, that we stop for a second and try to figure out whether what we are saying about the Atlanta shooting even remotely aligns with the facts?

              The facts as we know them so far is that a 21-year old nincompoop shot up three so-called ‘spas’ in Atlanta, then got in his car and started driving to Florida where he evidently was planning to do the same thing again.

              It didn’t take long for a self-appointed representative of the AAPI (read: Asian-American, Pacific Islander) community to tell us that the attack represented “the intersections of racism, xenophobia, and gender-based violence.” Did she leave anything or anyone out?

              The spokesperson, who happens to be a Georgia State House rep, Bee Nguyen, echoed the concerns of other anti-hate advocates in the AAPI population, given the disturbing increase in hate crimes associated with the spread of Covid-19, a.k.a., the ‘Chinese flu.’

              There’s only one little problem with this rush to judgement regarding the motives of the Atlanta shooter. It may not be true. In fact, the gunman told arresting officers that he was “addicted to sex” and was trying to get rid of people and places where his addiction played out.

              So, I’m thinking, maybe this dope was on his way to the rub joint in Palm Beach where Bob Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was arrested when he tried to pay for sex in 2019. The arrest occurred because Kraft was caught on a tape that the cops were watching because they were running a multi-county investigation of some of these joints whose owners were suspected of human trafficking, among other crimes, although nobody was charged.

              God forbid that Bob Kraft, a multi-billionaire and good buddy of Orange Head would just drop a couple of dimes, find a nice motel room somewhere and get it on with a sex partner without worrying that the cops might break down the front door. Maybe he just liked the ambience of the place. Who knows?

              Several years ago, a bunch of massage parlors were closed down in Hampshire County, MA where I happen to live. When the owner showed up in Court to answer various charges, including trafficking, the whole thing was postponed because he claimed not to speak a single word of English and there wasn’t a Mandarin-speaking translator on call. This guy rented space in four different commercial locations and he couldn’t speak English at all? Give me a break.

              Remember Jeffrey Epstein? He was charged with trafficking underage girls for himself and his well-heeled friends. He didn’t make it to Court either if you recall. My only regret about Epstein’s demise was that I was hoping we would see his good buddy Al Dershowitz please for leniency before Epstein was led away.

              To quote don Corleone, the way a man earns his living doesn’t bother me as long as what he does isn’t a conflict with what I do. So, I have no problem with a service industry that provides sex instead of fast food, as long as the providers are legally allowed to do what they do. But from what I know and what I hear, the ‘spa’ industry often employs kids alongside adults, and the employers happen to be members of the AAPI community as well.

              And by the way, our friend Gail Collins wrote an op-ed about the Atlanta shootings but her approach was to use the event as a reminder that the GOP defense of the filibuster rule could doom passage of the law voted by the House  to expand background checks on gun transfers to all private sales.

That’s all fine and well Gail, but the fact is that the kid who tried to cure his sex addiction by putting bullets into all those Asian-American women happened to have bought the gun legally just the other day.

Is there any chance we’ll ever get anything other than hot air when it comes to talking about crimes committed using guns?

Is The Ar-15 A ‘Modern Sporting Rifle?’ Like I’m Voting For Donald Trump.

17 Comments

              Back in October the FBI released their crime report for 2018 which showed that violent crime not only fell another 4% from the previous year, but dropped 14.6% over the last decade. Immediately the hot-air balloon for the gun industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) issued a press release contrasting this trend with the continued strong sale of assault rifles, the obvious conclusion being that guns protect us from crime.

              So the gun industry is finally admitting to something that they have been trying to deny for years, namely, that the so-called ‘modern sporting rifle’ is nothing more than a marketing scam to pretend that a gun that was designed for military and tactical purposes is just another good, old hunting gun. And how could anyone feel that any kind of hunting gun shouldn’t be protected by the 2nd Amendment, right?

              The fact is that the AR is advertised and sold as a ‘self-defense’ gun.  Now maybe companies like Bushmaster and Smith & Wesson are thinking of AR-owners as using their ‘black’ guns to defend themselves against an invasion from Iran, Iraq or from outer space. But let’s not quibble over technicalities; anyone who thinks that a bottom-loading gun which can discharge 100 rounds of military-grade ammunition in 4 minutes or less is a ‘sporting’ weapon has about as much of a grasp on reality as someone who believes that Rudy Giuliani is in love with the American way of life.

              When I first started writing about guns back in 2012, the most vicious and angry comments I received from Gun-nut Nation was whenever I stated that the AR-15 was a military gun. ‘How can you call this a military gun when the Army uses guns that are full-auto and this gun is just another semi-automatic gun?’  That was one of the more polite comments I used to receive.

              In fact, the current battle weapon carried by our troops, the M-4 carbine, can be set to fire in semi-auto mode or 3-shot burst. And I have yet to receive an answer from any of the Gun-nut Nation hot-air balloons when I ask them to explain how, if he sets the gun to fire once time every time the trigger is pulled, a soldier can go into battle with a modern sporting rifle.

              Which brings us back to the claim made by the NSSF that the decline in violent crime has something to do with the continued popularity and sales of the AR-15. Except this drop in violent crime happens to have occurred at the same time that the homicide rate has gone up.  Meanwhile, the percentage of murders committed with guns (72%) has remained constant over the last several years.

              In fact, guns have been the weapon of choice for people who kill other people for a century, if not more. According to Brearley’s study of homicide, data from the U.S. Division of Vital Statistics, of the 63,906 murders committed between 1920 through 1926, 45,666 were committed with firearms, which just happens to be 72%. Of course in 1920 the national population stood at 106 million, which means the homicide rate was, on average, around 10 percent. In 2017 the CDC says that the U.S. homicide rate was around 6 per hundred thou.  

              On the other hand, in both 1981 and 1991 the overall homicide rate was above 10 and in both years, guns figured in roughly 70% of all homicidal events. Up, down, no matter which way the murder rate goes, each year the number of people who kill someone else without using a gun stays more or less the same. And guess what? The U.S. murder rate which doesn’t have anything to do with guns is also higher than what happens in other advanced nation-states.

              The bottom line is that talking about gun violence as uniquely American may obscure the fact that America is an exceptionally-violent country with or without guns. Anyone have an answer for that one?

Bye-Bye American Pie.

8 Comments

              When I was a kid, my father’s favorite gadget was a hand-held electric drill which he used to make holes in the walls whenever we needed an additional shelf to hold clothing, books, toys, or any other household crap. The drill was made by Remington; that’s right, the same company which made all those rifles and shotguns over the years.

              I don’t know at what point Remington gave up making drills, but I never imagined that the company would ever give up making guns. Guess what? To all intents and purposes, the gun maker founded in 1816 has given up the ghost. Which it looks like may happen now to another iconic gun brand which first started making guns back in 1852.

              Earlier this week, Smith & Wesson announced they were going to dissolve a company formed in 2016 known as American Outdoor Brands (AOBC). This was Smith & Wesson plus a few small companies making gun accessories and other consumer ‘outdoor’ products, but basically it was the Springfield gun maker operating under a different name.  When the bait-and-switch took place in 2016, the company’s stock was selling for $22 a share. Yesterday it closed at $8.36. So much for how Wall Street has reacted to what Jim Dabney, the company President, refers to as the “potential for organic and inorganic growth.”

              Going forward, Smith & Wesson will be a separate company making guns. American Outdoor Brands will focus on building its unique collection of outdoor consumer products with such iconic names as Hooyman and Lockdown.  In case you haven’t heard of these great products, Hooyman makes hand saws used by hunters to build a tree-stand in the woods, Lockdown makes shelving for the interior of gun safes. If you take a look at the brands which comprise the AOBC family, you’ll notice that virtually every product appeals to the same consumers who happen to own guns. Incidentally, when AOBC made its announcement about splitting the two companies, the stock price jumped sky high from $7.90 to $8.46. Now it’s drifting back down to where it belongs.

              What’s really going on here is that the folks who run Smith & Wesson see the handwriting on the wall and the handwriting ain’t good. A big chunk of the company’s revenues come from sales of their AR-15 assault rifles, and following the Supreme Court’s announcement which lets the Sandy Hook lawsuit go forward, at some point this product line may well disappear. The kid who shot himself and five other students yesterday at Saugus High School used a 45-caliber pistol which is the type of weapon on which the entire financial livelihood of S&W and therefore AOBC depends. Think there won’t be a new gun law if Trump and his Senate GOP allies go bye-bye next year? Think again.

              For all the talk about armed, self-defense and how the 2nd-Amendment gives Americans the ‘right’ to own guns, I always thought the gun business was something much more suited to the life I experienced as a kid than the lives that most of us lead now. And while it’s true that as many as 40 percent of American homes contain guns, it’s not as if the number of guns being carried around are even a fraction of the number of people walking around with droids. Last night we were eating dinner in a local restaurant where the dining room contained about 15 tables, and at every table there was at least one person playing around with their phone. How many diners do you figure had guns on their persons? One – me.

              The joke used to be that if you wanted to make a million in the gun business, you had to start with two million.  I’m beginning to think that maybe the joke should go like this: Want to make a million in the gun business? Go into another business. Guns may be as American as apple pie, but many of us are now eating fresh fruit for dessert.

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: