A New Gun Law That Could End America’s Love Affair With Guns.


              Sooner or later, someone would figure out a way to get around the tort immunity enjoyed by the gun industry since 2005 when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).  The law basically says that no point in the supply chain – manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer – can be held responsible for the 125,000 shooting deaths and injuries which occur every year because guns are legal products and, hence, the responsibility for how they are used can only be framed around the individual behavior of who actually used the gun to assault themselves or someone else.

              The PLCAA law does not protect gun makers from civil liability if their behavior runs counter to state laws that cover false advertising, such as the Connecticut law known as ‘negligent entrustment’ which is being used to sue the gun maker – Remington – whose gun was the instrument that killed 26 adults and children at Sandy Hook.

       The New York law goes after the gun industry for creating a public nuisance in the way it markets and sells guns, and opens the industry to civil liability if it doesn’t “establish and utilize reasonable controls and procedures to prevent its qualified products from being possessed, used, marketed or sold unlawfully in New York State.”
       In other words, if Smith & Wesson ships a gun to a licensed wholesaler in Massachusetts, who then ships it to a licensed retailer in Virginia, who then sells the gun to a licensed gun owner, who then has the gun stolen by someone who takes the gun to New York, sells it on a street corner to some dope who then pops off a round which hits some kid in the head, Smith & Wesson can be sued because the company didn’t establish ‘reasonable controls’ to prevent that entire scenario from taking place.
        What are the ‘reasonable controls’ that S&W has to put in place?  The legislation doesn’t define those controls. How do we know if S&W has created such controls? Because guns from other states will stop being picked up at crime scenes in New York. 
        Between 2010 and 2015, more than three-quarters of all the crime guns picked up in New York State were originally sold to residents of some other state. Despite the so-called ‘iron pipeline’ which brings guns up I-95 from more gun-permissive Southern states, most of the New York crime guns that came into the state were initially sold in the surrounding and adjacent states. 
        If you are Smith & Wesson, how do you prevent your products from being legally sold in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, then being stolen, or lost and somehow winding up across the Hudson River and used to commit a crime in New York? You don’t and you can’t. To protect itself from the civil liability which this law could potentially impose on S&W, the company would have to cease shipping its guns to any state which might be a source for those guns being used in a criminal event. 
        Maybe S&W could stop making guns and start making handheld power tools. Better yet, what the gun company should really do to keep itself afloat is to stop manufacturing products whose design and engineering hasn’t changed in more than one hundred years, and start looking at electronic, self-defense products like the Vipertek taser pictured above, which provides all the personal security anyone could ever need without creating any kind of liability issue at all.
       Last week I drove past an Apple store and there was a line around the block. For all the talk about surging gun sales, the gun shop nearest me never has more than a couple of folks waiting around to buy a gun. 
      If the New York law that gets around PLCAA begins to spread to other states, it might be the best thing that could happen to the gun industry since smokeless powder was invented in 1884. 
     And don’t worry, all the noisemakers who argue back and forth about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights will find something else to argue about, that’s for sure.

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Is America’s Love Affair With Guns Coming To An End?


              Sometime early next week I am going to publish the first chapter of a new book entitled Boom to Bust – The NRA Faces an Uncertain Future. It’s going to come out first in serialized form on the new Kindle-Vella platform which is due to go live perhaps as early as today. I’m going to do a chapter each week and when the entire book is available, I’ll move it as well to a print edition for those who (like me) want to hold books in their hands.

              I started thinking about this book when the NRA found itself in turmoil after Ollie North was dumped as the organization’s President back in 2019. When he was first named President the previous year, I thought the NRA was just hitting a new stride. Between North’s fundraising prowess and Trump’s constant blathering about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ you would have thought that the NRA and Gun-nut Nation in general were going to hit a new high.

              Except it didn’t turn out that way. Not at all. North lasted just one year as NRA President – he was deposed as part of a nasty fight between the organization and its long-time PR firm, Ackerman-McQueen. Wayne LaPierre is facing his own set of nasty allegations about spending all kinds of money on personal expenses which have nothing to with his work for the NRA. And worst of all, America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ is trying to escape from New York State where the Governor just happens to be the single, most anti-gun Governor in all of the 50 states.

              Worst of all, the gun-rights group is broke. Which means that all the money they used to hand out to compliant members of the GOP Senate and House caucuses isn’t there anymore. In 2019, the group spent $3.2 million on lobbying. In 2020 that amount fell to just over $2 million bucks. No money, no honey.

              My book is going to cover all these issues, as well as some of the other messy things that have involved the NRA over the past couple of years, in particular the crazy attempt to form a subsidiary organization in Russia, of all places, which happens to be a country where almost nobody owns a gun.

              All of that said and done, however, there’s another, much more important reason why I am writing this book. Because notwithstanding all the strurm und drang over the spike of gun sales during the Pandemic, a spike which, by the way, seems to have run its course, what I will talk about is my sense that maybe, just maybe the love affair between America and guns is coming to an end.

              To begin with, guns are a very old technology. Other than substituting polymer for carbon steel, the way guns work hasn’t changed one bit in more than a hundred years. And if there’s one thing which is different about the under-30 population, it’s the fact that they are all enamored of technology, particularly in a handheld device.

              Next time you’re in a shopping mall, take a look at the size of the crowd in the Apple store. You will never (read: never) see multitudes like that in any store which sells guns. And even though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that the percentage of Americans who hold hunting licenses has increased from 7% to 10% between 1960 and 2020, these folks sure aren’t buying any guns. The number of shotguns made in the United States in 2018, was exactly the same number manufactured in 1986.

              Know what self-defense weapon has seen a remarkable surge in sales since the “Chinese flu” arrived.  Try stun guns, a.k.a., tasers, with manufacturers reporting recent sales increases of 300%!  And you don’t need to pass a background check or get a gun license in order to buy, own and carry one of these little devices around. It goes without saying that you can buy a taser online.

              The price of Axon stock, a company that manufactures stun guns, has moved up 70% since August 1st of last year. Over the same  9 months, the price of Smith&Wesson stock hasn’t budged one inch. Okay?

How Come Only Good Guys Use Guns In Self-Defense?

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I want to applaud NBC for giving space to a very committed pro-gun advocate, because if nothing else, it’s important to see just how far away from reality some of Gun-nut Nation has moved. In this case, the lack of reality is being pronounced by the Attorney General of Arkansas, a woman named Leslie Rutledge, who happens to be the first female and first Republican elected to the office of AG, a state which in 2018 had a gun-fatality rate of 19, which happens to be almost twice the national gun-fatality rate.

Attorney General Rutledge begins her rhetorical voyage into never-never land with a rather unique description of the 2nd Amendment:  “The Second Amendment ensures that Americans can protect themselves, their families and their businesses, especially when the government is unwilling or unable to do so.”

Now it’s true that the 2008 Heller decision rests on the idea of using guns for personal defense. But nowhere in our friend Tony Scalia’s opinion is there any mention of the personal-defense argument somehow being contingent on whether the government is ‘’unwilling or unable’ to provide protection. In fact, the decision states quite clearly that the government can regulate firearm ownership precisely because the government is responsible for guaranteeing what we refer to as the ‘common defense.’

I’ll talk in a minute about how two armed Americans  protected themselves and their home from all those rampaging anarchists and thugs, but let’s first look at how Ms. Rutledge makes the case for liberal attacks against 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ First and foremost, according to the Arkansas AG, is the attempt by New York’s Attorney General to dissolve the NRA.

Why would the disappearance of the NRA be a blow against the decision by many Americans to defend themselves with guns? Because “The NRA promotes responsible and safe firearm ownership and self-defense, and it encourages favorite pastimes like hunting and recreational shooting.” And we know for a fact that liberals hate anyone who uses a gun for hunting or recreational shooting, right?

In fact (note the word ‘fact), the NRA has been the main cog in the gun industry’s public relations arsenal promoting armed, self-defense, and if the Arkansas AG really believes that a handgun which holds 15 rounds of military-grade ammunition is used to shoot a bird out of the tree, then there must be some pretty funny hunting going on in Arkansas, that’s for sure. Why shouldn’t a not-for-profit outfit be closed down when the Executive VP spends tens of thousands of donated dollars on designer clothes and the hand-picked Board of Directors doesn’t bother to ever examine the books?

The GOP sunk to the lowest possible level of political pandering when they gave that husband-and-wife team from St. Louis a program slot to tell everyone why they felt it necessary to stand in front of their home and wave guns at the BLM demonstrators who were marching past their front lawn. I’m surprised that Leslie Rutledge didn’t make a point of saying just how much she felt these two putzes should be honored for demonstrating how and guns keep us safe and free.

Don’t ask me why and don’t ask me how, but whether it’s a gang-banger from Bed-Stuy- Do-Or-Die, or a cop in Kenosha, WI, whenever anyone picks up a loaded gun, points it at someone else and pulls the trigger, it’s always a case of self-defense. And by the way, every cop is taught that a 1985 Supreme Court decision (Tennessee v. Garner) precludes the use of lethal force if someone who has been told to stand still turns around and runs away. The cop can still shoot the guy if he believes that the man fleeing the scene may be about to attack someone else. Who was sitting in his car when Jacob Blake was shot 7 times in the back? His three kids.

Oh – I forgot! The cops said that Blake was in possession of a knife.

They said.

Thank you Linda for posting that pic.

How About Another Gun To Protect Yourself From Covid-19?


              Now that every red-blooded American has bought that extra gun that will help them to defend themselves, their families and their President from COVID-19, I’d like to use this column to talk about guns and self-defense, because as usual, whenever this argument breaks out between Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation, both sides get it more wrong than right.

              The gun nut gang talks about self-defense and gun ownership as if one automatically presumes the other.  This is basically the argument made by the NRA when they sued Andy last week for shutting down gun shops in New York State. It was also the argument made by my late friend Tony Scalia when he decided that the 2nd Amendment gave Constitutional protection to privately-owned guns because, as he said, keeping a gun in the home was a ‘traditional’ way to defend yourself from an attack. Of course he also mentioned, by the way, that the government could regulate how and when guns could be kept anywhere at all, which just happens to have been the basis upon which Andy told Gun-nut Nation to stick their beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ up their beloved rear ends.

              On the other hand, when the gun-control gang made a big hue and cry over Schmuck-o’s exemption of gun shops from the advisory issued by Homeland Security about which types of individuals and businesses needed to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also pushed an argument that happens to ignore certain salient facts. Chief among those facts is the idea that without access to guns, ammunition and shooting range facilities, not one single cop in the United States could do his or her job.

              More than half the sworn officers in the United States (the term ‘sworn officer’ means someone who has legal authority to effect an arrest) happen to work in agencies which number 50 sworn officers or less. They carry their own guns, they buy their ammunition at a local gun shop, then submit a receipt and get reimbursed. They have to show some proof that they have actually practiced, on occasion, using their gun. Unless some way could be figured out to let the cops enter Mike’s Gun Shop through the back door, closing down gun shops in many states would be tantamount to telling the cops that they can’t do their jobs.

              Of course, we can assume that Schmuck-o probably exempted the gun business from the advisory because he wanted to toady up to the NRA. Fine. So, what else is new? But I suspect there isn’t one, single member of Gun-control Nation who knows anything at all about how cops get their ammunition and their guns. That being said, either we have an informed discussion about how to exempt first-responders from social distancing rules which should apply to you and me, or we don’t.

              I also happen not to believe that the increase in gun sales has much, if anything to do with how much violence is caused by guns. Over the last three years of Schmuck-o’s first (and hopefully last) Presidential term, the gun business has been in the toilet, with annual sales dropping off more than 20 percent since the end of the Obama regime. Meanwhile over the same three years, the number of deaths attributed to guns has gone up by as much as 15 percent.  Hey!  I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. After all, more guns mean more gun violence, right?

              I’m not expecting my Gun-nut Nation friends to engage in an informed discussion about gun violence. After all, they don’t believe gun violence is a problem as long as we keep guns out of the hands of all those street thugs. But I hold my friends in Gun-control Nation to higher standards of discussion and thought.  In that respect, perhaps I’m making another assumption which has no basis in truth or fact.

              So, to quote my beloved grandfather in the midst of this plague year, “det’s det.”

Want To Protect Yourself In The Jungle? Carry A Gun.


Yesterday I got my Shooting Times which contained the single, dumbest ad for a gun that I have ever seen in that magazine which I have been reading now for more than forty years. The ad promotes a new self-defense pistol made by Springfield Armory, a 9mm thing called the Hellcat.  The pic is above.

The text of the ad begins with: “It’s a jungle out there.”  Now take a look at the jungle surrounding the kid who happens to be walking away from his broken-down car.  That’s some jungle. It looks much more like a road running through Nebraska or North Dakota.  But of course, the kid better keep that little pistol in his pocket because you never know whether a lion or tiger will jump out of the grass and eat him alive. Or maybe try to steal his car.

 Incidentally, in his left hand, he’s carrying his trusty water bottle. You don’t expect him to go trekking off through the jungle without being able to keep himself hydrated, right? That would never do. It’s a jungle out there.

The jungle is so dangerous that the FBI has just reported that violent crime in 2019 has declined 3% from the previous year.  In 1994, the violent crime rate was 708.94.  In 2018, it was 368.9.  That’s quite a jungle out there.

Leaving aside the fact that the attempt by the gun industry to talk about crime rates in totally unreal terms is both stupid and wrong, the ad actually has an even more bizarre theme; namely, the idea that a country road can be used to somehow symbolize a jungle environment.

Want to see what most Americans consider to be the ‘jungle?’ Try this one:

A black and white photo of a store

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Now that’s a jungle, okay? But even the gun business has now become politically correct. You can’t talk about the urban jungle the way we used to talk about the urban jungle because then you have to say or at least hint at the issue of race. And that’s a no-no except when Donald Trump stands up at a campaign rally and shouts, “Where’s my Negro?”

You would think that if the gun business wanted to be taken seriously, they would do an ad showing some Black guy walking down an inner-city street. But that wouldn’t work, not only in terms of how racist the ad would be, but because in most cities the cops don’t give concealed-carry permits to Black residents anyway.  So, what’s the point?

The point is that this Springfield Arsenal ad is so far away from any kind of reality that it should be used by my Gun-control Nation friends to point out the degree to which the manufacture and sales of self-defense weapons has nothing to do with protecting yourself at all. The messaging is about as reality-based as the Growing Up Gotti TV show had anything to do with how those snot-nosed kids were being raised.

On the other hand, from the point of view of reducing gun violence, maybe the Hellcat ad is a blessing in disguise. Because if the owners of Springfield Arsenal have to go to such ridiculous lengths to justify the development of their products, then maybe the entire argument about the need for self-defense is beginning to finally become undone.

Back in 2010, the percentage of Americans favoring stricter gun control as opposed to not changing the laws was roughly the same, with both sides running around 45 percent. As year, for every American who thinks that we have enough gun control, there are two Americans who believe that gun laws should be tightened up. If this trend continues and if the blue team wins back the White House in November, what else can the gun business do except run crazy ads making people believe that crime is a bigger threat than COVID-19?

I’m not going to the gun show this weekend because being around lots of older adults may represent a serious health risk.  Stay safe everyone!

Want To Learn Armed Self-Defense? Move To Monsey, N.,Y.


              If I had to choose one news story about gun violence which ranks as the craziest, most bizarre example of the American experience with guns, it would be an article I read yesterday detailing a class held in armed, self-defense last week in Monsey, NY. The class was attended by 150 residents of Monsey and other towns, all of whom happen to be extremely religious,  ultra-orthodox Jews. The class gave attendees an opportunity to fool around with various self-defense guns like an AR-15 and some handguns, and it was conducted by a guy who runs a security and self-defense so-called training program which, of course, is staffed by ‘elite’ members of Israel’s Defense Forces, a.k.a., the vaunted IDF.

              What brought the crowd out for the evening’s entertainment was the recent machete attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, along with a shooting that left three dead at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, as well as several individual attacks. Of course before anyone knew anything, Governor Cuomo called the Monsey assault a case of “domestic terrorism,” which has become the standard description of every violent event requiring a response from some politician who wants to make sure he’s staying ‘in touch.’

              I don’t mean to make light of any kind of behavior that creates fear of physical or emotional violence. Of all the threats to the human community, the only threat we still do not understand how to solve is the threat of violence. We may not have the political will or the political alignment to solve the threat of global warming, but we know what to do. Ditto other threats to the human community like famine or disease. But when it comes to the threat posed by violence, what I know is that you can’t go out, buy an assault rifle and think that now you are ready to protect yourself from a violent event, or that this purchase will do anything to reduce violence overall. What you have basically done by plunking down your thousand bucks for that black gun is to ratchet up the possibility that more violence will occur.

              Not only doesn’t violence prevent violence, but before we even get to that issue we first have to make sure that when we use a word like ‘violence,’ we all can agree on what we are talking about. So, for example, the Anti-Defamation League publishes an annual report on anti-Semitic attacks which claims there has been a disturbingly-high number of such events over the last several years. But if you read the fine print, you discover that while incidents of vandalism and harassment have increased, the number of physical attacks have gone down. So what should members of the Jewish community do? Walk around with an assault rifle handy in case someone tries to paint a swastika on the synagogue wall?

I notice, by the way, that the promoters of armed self-defense at the Monsey meeting forgot to mention that bringing a gun into a synagogue during Shabbos (Sabbath) religious services happens to be a violation of Jewish law. You can’t carry metal objects in your pockets during Shabbos; you can’t wear any kind of ornamental items like a holster on your pants.  Maybe the alleged security experts from Israel can provide the Orthodox residents of Monsey with the name of a Shabbos goy (a gentile to perform prohibited tasks during the Sabbath) who can walk around the synagogue with a gun.

Forgive me for sounding just a little bit less than enthusiastic about the spread of armed, self-defense into the Orthodox Jewish community. And if anyone wants to tell me that by being disarmed,  these Jews are just inviting another nut to show up and slaughter some more innocent folks, do me a favor and in the words of my late friend Jimmy Breslin, go lay brick.

What did Solomon say in Ecclesiastes?  “A time to kill and a time to heal.” He didn’t say that after someone is killed, you should go out and by an AR-15.

Don’t Forget Self-Defense When You Celebrate The 4th.


In case you want to be a real American tomorrow and celebrate July 4th the way real Americans are going to celebrate, here’s an eye-catching advertisement I received from one of the websites that sells all the most important stuff to Gun-nut Nation on this most patriotic day. Actually, the most important stuff for the 4th is the case or keg of beer. But after that item, what counts is how you go about making sure that your personal protection is up to date.

armor3              Let’s see.  Body Armor – Medical Kits – Targets.  Those are the must-have items in case of a terrorist attack, or better yet, making sure you can defend yourself and your loved ones from a flood of illegals from you know where. Trump says that those kids in Texas will be sent to military bases here and there – I can see the FEMA trailers rolling right now into Fort Bliss or Fort Hood.  Let’s not forget to string the barbed wire around the trailers so that the kids can’t escape because all you need is one twelve-year-old invading the town and then God knows all kinds of Hell might break loose.

Now if such an invasion does occur and you and your loved ones are facing a threat, having a complete set of body armor is a prerequisite for personal defense.  You can choose between soft armor, designed for ‘pistol threat protection’ or hard armor, which is ‘rugged, reliable and ‘stress fracture resistant,’ cost based on size and weight.

Do you know what an EPIK is?  Do you have an EPIK?  Well, if the answer to either of those questions is ‘no,’ you better get with the program and purchase an EPIK today.  That’s right – today! Because if you don’t buy your EPIK today, you won’t have it ready for July 4th, which means you won’t be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from come what may.

The EPIK is an Emergency Personal Injury Kit to be used against ‘life-threatening bleeding injuries,’ specifically designed to ‘stop bleeding fast from a gunshot, knife, or other traumatic bleeding wound.’ And this particular product is extremely versatile because you never know how or where the threat may appear.  You can buy an EPIK to fit in your ‘Pocket, Plate Carrier, Backpack, Glove Box, Range Bag, and Survival Kit, anywhere you need it.’ And your personal EPIK starts at only $39.99.

Now you may think that the purpose of this column is to give free advertising to the company that makes and markets all this crap. But that’s not it at all. What today’s column is all about is my continued amazement at the ability of American entrepreneurship to come up with new ways to sell Gun-nut Nation stuff they don’t need.

Of course, what nobody really needs is another self-defense gun, and if what I see and hear from the gun shops around here is any indication of how gun sales are going across the fruited plain, just about everyone in Gun-nut Nation has also bought every gun that they could ever need to own. One of the local gun stores has a big sign out front telling customers that they can take 50 bucks off the retail price of any gun. The dealer won’t make a dime on the sale, but at least he’ll move some iron off the shelf.

Remember Glenn Beck peddling freeze-dried foods that would be edible even after sitting in your backyard bomb shelter for thirty years?  That’s right – the same Glenn Beck who’s now bankrupt. How could anyone in their right mind believe they need to drive around with a personal injury kit, particularly when the average adult doesn’t know squat about how to deal with any kind of traumatic medical injury at all?

God bless America, God bless the free enterprise system, and most of all, God bless our sacred duty to protect ourselves and our loved ones by spending a few bucks on some worthless junk.  Have a great 4th!

Guns And Black Swans Go Together.


As the gun violence prevention community (GVP) continues its search for narratives about gun violence which may find a responsive echo within the gun ‘rights’ movement, I suggest that everyone take some time and read Nasim Taleb’s remarkable book, Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Because the basic point in this work is the degree to which strongly-held beliefs are based on things which are simply not true. And if there’s one Black Swan belief which is as improbable as any, it’s the idea that walking around with a gun will protect you from crime.

swan             That gun ownership is a necessary response to crime is the fundamental axiom upon which the entire gun ‘rights’ movement and narrative is built. After all, being able to protect yourself is a God-given right, recognized in every legal tradition. And if packing a gun gives you the best chance of defending against an attack, how could anyone support any law that might threaten or limit the ownership of guns?

The fact is, however, that credible studies clearly show little, if any connection between access to a gun and protection from crime. This is mostly because the probability that someone packing a gun will actually be attacked ranges from scant to none. Further, even if John Lott is correct in arguing that because criminals believe that more Americans are frequently armed, this tends to make them shift their criminality to non-violent crime, the data to support this idea remains in dispute.

We are all familiar with surveys which show that a majority of gun owners now say that the primary reason they own a gun is for self-defense. But is this a classic Black Swan or is it based on some degree of reality or truth?  I decided to test this Black Swan with a survey which I am asking gun owners to take, and nearly 100 self-described gun owners have been engaged. You can view the survey here.  My selection methodology is based on running Facebook ads sent to FB pageholders who have indicated an interest in guns with the usual key words: guns, hunting, shooting, etc.  In another week or so I am going to publish the final results, but here is what I have learned so far.

Nearly 80% of the respondents believe that having access to a gun makes them less afraid of being a victim of violent crime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly 1% of the American population age 12 or over are victims of a violent crime each year.

In my survey, 4% have been victims of a violent crime. One of the victims claimed that his sister was raped, one was assaulted, another was held up while pumping gas late at night. One victim, a man above the age of 50, was kidnapped but provided no details.

I inserted a number of demographic questions in the poll to make sure I was capturing real gun owners and I am.  Respondents are, on average, older white males, have owned guns for more than 15 years, purchased a gun in the last 12 months and 65% live in the Midwest or the South.

Now here’s the Black Swan. I didn’t ask poll-takers to tell me whether they had ever used a gun for self-defense. But 96% of the respondents couldn’t have done so because they had not been victims of a serious crime. So why do more than 80% of the respondents believe that having access to a self-defense gun will make them safe?

Here’s what I have learned from the more than 90 people who took the time to answer my survey. Just about everyone who believes in the validity of armed self-defense is holding that belief for reasons other than what has happened to them. And all these surveys which show that a majority of gun owners support self-defense use of guns don’t tell us anything at all. In particular, these surveys shed no light on how to turn the Black Swan into a White Swan.



Do We Have A ‘Right” To Self-Defense? Not Unless The Government Says So.


Show me a single statement from anyone in Gun-nut Nation who justifies gun ownership without invoking the ‘individual’ or ‘inalienable right’ to self-defense and I’ll send a hundred bucks to the charity of your choice. Why, do you ask, would I be so quick to give away some of my hard-earned money? Because the idea that we have a right to protect ourselves which goes beyond the 2nd Amendment has been a stock-in-trade of gun ownership long before Charlton Heston stood up at the NRA meeting in 2000 and dared anyone to take the plastic version of an old flintlock rifle out of his ‘cold, dead hands.’

heston             The idea that self-defense is a ‘natural’ right which exists outside the legal system is about as true as the idea that Charlton Heston’s real name was Charlton Heston.  In fact, his name was John Carter, but how could Hollywood let someone with such a prosaic moniker bring down the Ten Commandments? On the other hand, pro-gun advocates have always felt comfortable justifying their ownership of guns as a religious commandment, so if a name could be invented for the actor who received the most holy of all religious texts, why not invent a God-given reason to own a gun?

There’s only one little problem. You can cite this biblical text or that biblical text all you want, but the notion that we have a ‘right’ to defend ourselves isn’t found anywhere in the Constitution at all. And despite what you might glean from those narcissistic tweets which keep tumbling out of the Oval Office, we still have to abide by what the Constitution says, not what we think it says or hope it says. That’s it.

If you want to understand what the Constitution says and doesn’t say about self-defense, I suggest you read the superb article by Darrell Miller, “Self-Defense, Defense of Others, and the State, which was one of the papers presented last year at the Brennan Center Symposium on the 2nd Amendment and can be downloaded from the Duke Law Journal linked here. Miller points out that even though the Heller decision rested upon a ‘basic’ and ‘deeply rooted’ pre-Constitutional ‘right,’ in fact, the legal definition of this self-protection “has been heavily conditioned and constructed by the state.” Further, “the core self-defense right identified in Heller is not as indisputably individualistic, inalienable, and innate as is often assumed. Instead, the state’s role in this concept has been dominant throughout history.”

Miller’s argument creates a serious problem for Gun-nut Nation, because the last thing they want to admit or believe is that the government should be able to define self-defense, because if it can, this means the government can regulate what types of self-defensive behavior can be allowed, which means the government can regulate – oh my God – the use of guns.  And the whole point of promoting self-defense as some kind of ‘natural’ right is to remove gun regulations from the purview of the state, particularly if the state happens to be controlled by gun-grabbers like you know who.

Miller goes all the way back to the origins of common law following the Norman invasion in 1066 and shows that from then until now, the state, either the king or later the Parliament, was always involved in defining who could and couldn’t use self-defense as a justification for committing a capital crime. These definitions changed over time, but the state never withdrew from being the ultimate arbiter of how, when and why someone could engage in an act of self-defense.

Miller’s article is persuasive because it flows from a clear and balanced reading of legal opinions and texts. But when was the last time the pro-gun gang based anything it believes or promotes on a clear or balanced presentation of opinions or facts? With all due respect to the excellent work by Professor Miller and his colleagues who research and write about guns and law, I suspect that much of what they say never gets read by those who need to read it most.


We Don’t Need Cops Because We Can All Carry Guns, Right?

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Back in the 1970s I lived in Columbia, SC, and while my house was inside the city limits, I could jump in my car and within 5 minutes get to a nice, sand pit on the edge of town. So what I would do was reload a couple of hundred rounds of 9mm or 45-caliber brass, then take either my Browning Hi-Power or my Colt 1911 out to the sand pit and bang away.  I made the bullets by melting down and then casting wheel weights that I could scavenge from any gas station around.  At that time a box of factory, 9mm ammo ran about ten bucks, to shoot 50 reloads probably cost me about 60 cents.

ccw            This was what handgun shooting was all about in the 1970s – you loaded your own ammo, went out to a pit or the woods and banged away.  But that’s all changed now because according to Gun-nut Nation, a handgun is an indispensable ‘tool’ for protecting yourself against violent crime, terrorism, God knows what.  Now the fact that all of those folks who stand in line to get concealed-carry permits will almost never be victims of a violent crime is beside the point.  After all, we know for a fact that voter fraud will get Hillary elected this year, even if there’s no evidence whatsoever that there’s any voting fraud at all.  It’s still a fact!

The same thing holds true when we talk about guns.  It’s now more than 20 years since Gun-nut Nation began touting the idea that gun-toting Americans save us from being crime victims at least several million times every year. Now there must be some truth to this argument because handgun sales continue to go up while violent crime rates continue to go down. Of course the possibility that one trend may have absolutely nothing to do with the other is beside the point.  As a gun instructor was quoted by Angela Stroud in her brilliant book, without a gun she didn’t have a ‘self-defense plan.’

Now I always thought that the way you defended yourself against a possible crime, and in fact this happens to be the way it is usually done, is to open your mouth and scream.  Or maybe dial 911.  Or maybe, God forbid, back down. But what Gun-nut Nation wants you to believe is that none of those strategies compares to the protection afforded by pulling out a gun. And in case you need more proof, the Martians have landed at Area 51.

A new study by Andrew Papachristos and colleagues, based on a study of 911 calls in Milwaukee from 2005, found that inner-city residents appear to share Gun-nut Nation’s aversion to viewing police as the primary defenders against violent crime.  The decline in 911 calls took place after a biracial Milwuakee resident, Frank Jude, was severely beaten by several white, off-duty police officers which eventually led to the firing of nine cops following protests in the black community when the news of the attack got around.  The researchers estimate that more than 20,000 calls were not made because of mistrust of the police following the Jude affair, and when people stop asking the cops to protect them from crime, the crime rates have a funny way of going up.

I’m not saying there aren’t occasions when having access to a gun or some other kind of weapon will make it easier to defend against a crime.  What I am saying is that Gun-nut Nation wants you to think that a gun should always be your first line of defense. After all, the average person walking around with a concealed handgun isn’t usually required to demonstrate any competence in using the weapon or, for that matter, even understanding how to determine whether a particular situation might be life-threatening or not.  But citizen-protectors don’t need any training because, after all, the 2nd Amendment gives them the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun.

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