Want To Be a Gun Expert? Work For RAND.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Trump Appealing To Racism When He Supports Armed Citizens? You Betcha.

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Back in 2008 Obama had his ‘guns and religion’ moment, which briefly appeared to undo his Presidential campaign, now Hillary has created her moment too with the comment about ‘deplorables.’  And while you might think that an entire national campaign never really rises or falls on a few words, just ask George Bush, the first George Bush, whether or not he’s still asking people to read his lips.

trump2On the other hand, go back to a Reuters poll in June, and maybe the deplorability needle gauging the attitudes of Trump supporters is set just about right.  Because in that poll, half the folks who described themselves as supporting Trump said that Blacks were more ‘violent’ than Whites, and also said that Blacks were more ‘criminal’ than Whites.  And there is no question that Trump has been echoing and encouraging those attitudes every chance he gets, and in that respect he’s getting plenty of help from the NRA.

This whole notion of walking around with a gun in your pocket to protect yourself and others against the criminal ‘element’ has been a watchword of NRA gun propaganda since the 1980s, when the gun industry discovered that White America was no longer going out hunting but was afraid of crime.  Gallup has been asking this question since 1965: ‘Is there any area near where you live – that is, within a mile – where you would be afraid to walk alone at night?’ The affirmative response hit its high-water mark in 1982 with 48% saying ‘yes.’  And it was in the 1980s that the NRA unleashed ads which, for the first time, explicitly promoted gun ownership as a response to crime, and they have been running with this notion ever since. And who exactly are all these criminals committing mayhem in the streets? If you need help figuring out the answer to that question, you need a functioning brain, never mind another gun.

There really are people out there who believe they can protect themselves and others by walking around armed even if they have little, practical training or experience in using a self-defense gun.  Never mind civilians, by the way, even with some degree of training, most cops can’t protect themselves or anyone else with their gun.  A study by the Police Policy Council found that when a New York City police officer encountered an armed suspect, the average ‘hit probability’ was 15 percent!  A study by the RAND Corporation set the number at 18 percent.  Now we’re not talking about internet scam-artists like the United States Concealed Carry Association or a former town constable named Massad Ayoob who earns a nice living going around the country as a reincarnation of Jeff Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense. We’re talking about the RAND Corporation, okay?  But why trust them when you have such noted researchers as Dana Loesch and Ted Nugent telling you that you’ll always be safe as long as you carry a gun?

The Supreme Court may have gotten it right back in 2008 when it said that the 2nd Amendment gave Americans a Constitutional protection to keep a loaded handgun in their home.  But that’s all the Court said.  It didn’t say there was any Constitutional protection for citizen-protectors who believe it is their duty to walk around armed in their neighborhood streets. Sorry, even though George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder, he wasn’t exercising any Constitutional ‘right’ when he gunned down Trayvon Martin in 2012.

My issue is not whether guns do or don’t make you safe.  And it certainly isn’t whether or not anyone should own a gun.  The issue is the fact that a gun is a very lethal product in even the most capable hands, and to pretend otherwise has become a not-so-disguised way to promote and exploit racism and fear.  And God only knows that we have been getting a big dose of both from a certain New York City landlord in the current Presidential campaign.


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