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The Know-Nothings Talk About Guns.

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              So, today Trump the Shlump chimes in on the shooting at the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park, CA which killed ten and wounded ten more. Well, at least we were spared the usual ‘thoughts and prayers’ routine. Instead, what we got was something much more bizarre and much worse.

              Here’s the statement from a former President of the United States who is trying with great diligence to be remembered as the biggest public asshole of all time: “10 dead in California shooting, horrible gun wielding ANTIFA protest against our great police in Atlanta. Nothing will happen to them despite night of rage and destruction. Yet our January 6th protestors, over a Rigged Election, have had their lives ruined despite nobody killed except true Patriot Ashli B.”

              What’s he talking about? What does anything that happened at the Star Ballroom have anything to do with the bunch who ran up the Capitol steps on January 6th and then swiped the stationery off of Nancy Pelosi’s desk?

              As for what happened in Atlanta, opposition to a new police training  center has been going on for months, not because of any animus towards the cops, but because the facility is going to be built in what has been an 85-acre greenspace in DeKalb County which has generated the usual opposition from a bunch of tree-huggers who don’t want any development of any open space.

              One week ago the cops broke up what they called an ‘illegal occupation’ of the wooded area  by a group of activists which ended in a gunfight between state police and one individual who was shot and killed after allegedly opening fire with his own gun. Last night’s demo on downtown Atlanta was to protest the previous week’s violence, things got rough at some point, some store windows were smashed, a car was set on fire, five were arrested and that was the end of that.

              So how did any of this have anything to do with ANTIFA, or was Trump the Shlump just doing what he always does, which is to say whatever will get him mentioned by social media no matter how stupid he sounds?

              But wait just one goddamn minute. Trumpo-Shlumpo didn’t blame ANTIFA for the Atlanta riot out of thin air. He got this information from another public figure who has never, never said anything that wasn’t completely true and backed up by hard, cold facts.

              Who’s that? None other than Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had this to say about what happened in Atlanta: “It’s happening again TONIGHT in Atlanta. When will our federal agencies start taking left-wing TERRORISM seriously? ANTIFA/BLM = DOMESTIC TERRORISTS!”

              So, what we now have on one side when it comes to the issue of gun violence are the incomprehensible rants of Trumpo-Shlumpo on the one hand, and the hysterical lies of MTG on the other.

              But if my dear friends in Gun-control Nation think that the people speaking for them have any better grasp on the reality of gun violence, you might want to consider some remarks made yesterday on CNN by Nanette Diaz Barragan, whose 44th CD happens to be adjacent to the 43rd CD which is where the Monterey Park shooting occurred.

              Rep. Barragan happens to be a member of Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce, which was founded in the House of Representatives after Sandy Hook and now has 165 House members, all Democrats, of course.

              When asked her feelings about the massacre in the Star Ballroom, Congresswoman  Barragan said that the only way to prevent such violence was to pass much-needed laws, in particular universal background checks and prohibitions against private gun sales at gun shows.

              California happens to be one of the states which currently requires a background check whenever a gun is transferred or sold. And even if the transfer of a gun from seller to buyer occurs at a gun show, a background check must be accomplished before the transfer can take place.

              When all is said and done, I don’t think there’s really much difference between a sop head like Marjorie Taylor Blah Blah Blah finding an ANTIFA member under every bed, and the sober and careful statements about gun laws by a member of the House gun safety caucus which happen to be just as wrong.

              At the very least, you would think that someone who evidently takes the gun violence issue seriously would take the trouble to learn the gun laws in her own state.

              I must be asking too much.

If Guns Were Safer, Gun Violence Would Go Down, Right?

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              Today is the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre and now the effort to reduce gun violence has morphed into its third phase. In the pre-Sandy Hook days, when we talked about how to deal with gun violence, we referred to the various strategies as ‘gun control.’

              Following Sandy, it was decided by the various advocacy organizations that the gun control movement would refer to themselves as the ‘gun violence prevention’ movement, or GVP.

              Now we have entered the third phase in an effort to win the hearts and minds of enough Americans to pass some more legal restrictions on how gun owners should behave with their guns and this is being called the ‘gun safety’ movement, which is analyzed in detail this week in a long article in The New York Times.

              The essay, written by a free-lance journalist, David Cullen, claims that the gun safety movement emerged after Sandy Hook and is led by two powerhouses – Everytown and Giffords – who “are run by data-driven professionals who employ polling, focus groups and election post-mortems to help candidates test and hone effective messages.”

              Cullen sees the growth in gun safety organizations in terms of more laws being passed in individual states, with 67 new state laws passed in 2019 alone. In 2022 another 45 gun-safety laws have been put on the books in various states, while the NRA has become the ‘walking wounded’ when it comes to what goes on in D.C.

              All of this sounds very nice, upbeat, and positive, except there’s only one little problem. What Cullen doesn’t mention is that not only is gun violence on the upswing, but the rate of shootings continues to climb even as the alleged reason for the recent upsurge – Covid-19 – is beginning to fade. Throughout 2020 we were told that gun violence was worse because: a) the Pandemic sparked all kinds of misery and fears, and b) so many people were buying guns.

              According to the CDC, weekly Covid-19 cases are now less than half of what they were back in July. As for gun sales, November 2020 background checks were 2 million, November 2021 were 1.5 million and November 2022 were 1.3 million. In other words, sales have dropped by 35% since the Pandemic was in full force. And Smith & Wesson stock, which was at $30 a share back in July 2021, is now trading at under $9 bucks.

              There is little, provable connection between how many Americans pick up a gun and use it to shoot someone else, and how many laws are passed which will mandate that Americans buy, own and use ‘safe’ guns. Know why? Because the guns which are used to kill and injure 100,000+ Americans every year can’t be used in a ‘safe’ way.

              Guns which are bottom-loading, semi-automatic pistols chambered for military-style ammunition aren’t designed to be ‘safe.’ They are designed to deliver lethal injuries to human beings, which is why they are carried by just about every military and tactical unit worldwide.

              Know why the United States suffers from the daily ravages of gun violence. Because the United States is the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns whose sole purpose is to end human life. And very few of these guns are actually used to kill or injure someone by a person who first acquired the gun and passed a background check.

              But when several million guns which fit into the palm of an adult hand get into the market every year, some will get lost, and some will get stolen, and some will be sold. And when that happens, these guns will remain usable for upwards of thirty years.

              Want to end gun violence? Stop the manufacture and sale of the guns which are used to commit that violence. And before you shake your head and tell me that we can’t prevent Americans from buying such lethal products because it’s a ‘violation’ of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I’ll save my response for another column, but let me say right here and now that banning the pistols made by companies like Glock and Sig wouldn’t be a violation of the 2nd Amendment at all. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue more than once.

              Would it be such of what Grandpa would call a ‘gefailach’ (read: big deal) if David Cullen and all the other advocates for ‘safe’ guns would maybe just say in a whisper that the way to make a gun ‘safe’ is to get rid of the gun?

Why Can’t We Screen People for Guns like We Screen Them for Flights?

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              All of a sudden, it seems, some of the more moderate, or responsible, or whatever you want to call the non-MAGA wing of the GOP, have begun quietly talking about the one issue which nobody in the GOP ever talked about until this year, which is the issue known as gun control.

              Oh…my…God! Republic(ans) supporting anything that would infringe upon our God-given ‘right’ to own guns? No. Not possible. And yet, such blasphemy is beginning to occur.

              I’m referring today to an op-ed in The Hill where the writer, identified as a Professor of Computer Science and expert in data-driven, risk-based decision-making argues that what we need to do to reduce gun violence is to pay the costs of reducing the risk of guns getting into the wrong hands.

              How are we going to do this? By implementing for gun owners a strategy and program to weed out the bad guys similar to the TSA Pre-Check program used to keep the nuts off of plane flights. The program would require that every gun owner engage in some sort of continuous vetting procedure which would be renewed on a regular basis and would be required for anyone looking to buy or sell a gun.

              This guy’s brilliant idea is actually just a riff on the whole idea of universal background checks, which Gun-control Nation has been promoting for years. And it has always been assumed, without the slightest bit of evidence by the way, that forcing every gun owner to only transfer ownership of a gun after passing a background check wouldn’t eliminate gun violence but would at least reduce the annual carnage down to more ‘acceptable’ levels.

              What the editorial in The Hill does is stretch the background-check strategy to cover not only every gun transfer, but to cover the behavior and mental status of gun owners, whether they are or are not buying or selling a gun.  Which is what the TSA Pre-Check program is all about because your ability to be enrolled in the program has to be renewed whether you are taking a flight somewhere or not.

              Yea, yea, I know about all those times that some drunk asshole made an idiot of himself on a flight by trying to slap around a stew who didn’t sell him another drink or punched another passenger who had just told him to shut the f*ck up.

              As Aunt Florence used to say, I got news for you. Passengers abusing other passengers on public conveyances has been going on since the days of the Pony Express.  The reason we are more aware of it today is because everyone sitting on an airplane has a droid with a video feed. And when the nightly news has nothing better to talk about, they’ll show a video that some passenger on a United Airlines flight sold the station when he got off the plane.

              But the real issue of safety in air travel has nothing whatsoever to do with the behavior of the passengers while the plane is in flight. It has to do with the fact that every commercial airline operating in the U.S. needs to be equipped with GPS, which it only took the TSA twenty years to implement. That’s not bad timing to get a government program running, right?

              The problem with using background checks to weed out the people who shouldn’t have guns is that nearly all the 100,000+ yearly events where someone uses a gun to shoot someone else are committed by individuals who could never qualify to purchase, own, or carry a legal gun.

So, what would a screening program like the one being advocated in this editorial accomplish to reduce gun violence to any significant degree? Not one, goddamn thing.

I am still waiting for my friends who do research on gun violence for Gun-control Nation to come up with the first research project which actually tells us how many gun assaults are committed each year by individuals who have no legal permission to own a gun, or how many such individuals are walking around with guns they shouldn’t be allowed to own.

When that research is actually accomplished, maybe just maybe we’ll be able to figure out how to create and manage gun-control regulations which actually work.

Remember, it only took us twenty years to figure out how airline accidents could be almost entirely eliminated by using GPS.

Is Gun Violence Worse? We Don’t Know.

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              Our friend Eric Fleegler and his colleagues at Harvard, Emory, Brown, and Montefiore have just published what may be the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of gun violence produced over the past 30 years. And as expected, the numbers have been growing at an alarming rate over the last several years.

              The research is not only important in terms of the demographic details covering all the victims of this carnage, but even more important, the data has been connected and aggregated at the county level, the latter issue extremely significant since even within specific states, gun deaths can vary enormously between urban versus rural locales.

              This article is getting plenty of notice in the media and digital outlets which promote and support more controls over civilian-owned guns. I consider myself a member of that group, but I also feel it is necessary to approach such research from a critical point of view, particularly when the researchers in this instance claim that what they have published “may inform interventions to decrease firearm fatalities by targeting populations in specific geographic areas who have higher rates of firearm fatalities from homicide or suicide.”

              In that respect, I am drawn to the comments in this study where the authors list the ‘limitations’ which might influence or impact the value of their work. First and foremost, the paper makes no mention of the degree to which any study of gun violence is sadly incomplete because the data covering such events can only be recovered and analyzed for fatal shootings, which are probably less than 30 percent of all gun assaults.

              If it were possible to collect, aggregate and analyze non-fatal shootings, would having access to such data change the profile of gun violence created only by using data covering gun deaths? We don’t know.

What we do know, or at least I know, is that the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun violence events is that in the latter category, the guy who pulled the trigger didn’t shoot straight. As opposed to car accidents, where factors like speed, weather, time of day and chemical impairment of the driver will significantly determine the number of fatal versus non-fatal accidents, whereas no such environmental differentiations can or should be made when it comes to analyzing intentional injuries caused by guns.

The second limitation in this article which is not mentioned by the authors but is generic to all public health gun research, is the degree to which we learn an awful lot about the victims of intentional gun assaults, but nothing at all about the perpetrators. And since the goal of these researchers, as mentioned above, is to help develop more effective ‘interventions’ to deal with gun violence, how do you develop any interventions, legal or otherwise, when you have such limited information about the people whose behavior requires the development of more effective interventional strategies in the first place?

The good news is that, at least for the next two years, we will continue to have an Administration in place which is committed to seeking and implementing better controls over guns, particularly the types of guns which are used to commit the more than 100,000 intentional fatal and non-fatal gun injuries which occur every year.

Would it be asking too much for my friends in the public health-medical research community to sit down and try to figure out how to access data which would allow them to conduct the same kind of analysis about the shooting population which this article so productively presents about the population which is shot?

I would hope not.

What Does the New Assault Rifle Law Really Say?

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            So, once again the country will be treated to yet another Congressional debate about guns, with one side saying we already have too many goddamn gun laws, and the other side saying that we can reduce gun violence by passing yet another law.

            The law being debated would ban certain types of new guns from coming into the market because these types of guns, known as assault rifles, are being used in shootings where twenty people or more get killed in the same place and at the same time. And when these people happen to be a bunch of little kids and the place where they are killed happens to be their elementary school, as Grandpa would say, that’s ‘nisht gut’ (read: no good.)

            Now, it turns out that if we were to take the total number of people killed with these assault rifles each year and deduct that number from the total number of people killed every year who get shot by guns, it wouldn’t reduce the overall fatal toll of gun violence by even one percent.

            But you got to start somewhere, right? And since we can’t seem to figure out how to stop forty thousand or so people from picking up a gun and using it to kill themselves or someone else every year, if we get rid of assault rifles, at least these really bad, mass shootings may disappear. Maybe they’ll disappear. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

            You can read a text of the House or Senate bills, which basically say the same thing, but I’ll save you the trouble and summarize them as follows. Once this law goes into effect, nobody in the United States will be able to buy a new rifle or handgun which shoots in semi-auto mode and loads with a detachable magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.

            There are a few more bits and pieces to the law, but what I said in the previous sentence is what this ban is all about. If you happen to own a gun like this now, you can keep owning it or you can sell it to someone else. Or maybe you can sell it to someone else. The devil is always in the details., and the Senate version of the bill has an interesting, little devil lurking within, namely, a paragraph which only allows the current owner of an assault rifle to dell the gun to someone else by taking the gun to a federally licensed dealer and having the dealer run a background check on the prospective new owner of the gun.

            The House bill also has an interesting little devil that so far has avoided any public mention, which is a provision that requires everyone who currently owns an assault rifle to store the gun in a way which would prevent anyone not legally allowed to access such a weapon to get their hands on it.

            The NRA has posted a review of the proposed ban which quotes the usual suspects from both sides of the gun debate who say that the law, once enacted, would have little impact on gun violence in the United States. But none of these experts have obviously bothered to read the text of these bills. Because if they did, they would have to see that by requiring universal background checks to transfer previously owned guns (the Senate version) or requiring safe storage of such guns (the House version) would move the gun-control needle strongly in the direction that gun-control activists would like the needle to move.

            And by the way, I don’t notice any of the pro-gun loudmouths in the House or the Senate taking notice of these provision as well. Jim Jordan, the GOP member from Ohio, one of the staunchest promoters of the idea that the 2020 election was ‘rigged,’ came out with a statement about the gun ban, calling it a ‘direct’ attack on the 2nd Amendment and would do nothing to reduce gun violence. Thank you, Congressman Jordan, for your insightful remarks.

            I would be very surprised if either version of this bill makes it to Joe’s desk because when it comes to anything having to do with guns, the moment someone mentions the word ‘ban,’ every member of Congress begins looking for cover, particularly those members who come from purple zones.

            On the other hand, if the bill does get to the Oval Office with either of those two provisions for background checks or safe storage in the bill, even though these procedures would only apply to assault guns, it would still mark a major step forward for our friends in gun-control – oops! – I mean gun ‘sense’ land.

            Maybe if we’re lucky, before voting, maybe nobody in either chamber will actually take the time to read the bill.  

Think California Is a Safe State? Think Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            We can do better than that. We really can.

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence?

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              Earlier this week I posted a story about a terrific new video produced by the Engagement Lab at Emerson College which featured a group of parents and friends who spent some terrible hours waiting to be told whether their child or their friend would survive a gunshot wound.

              What I am now going to say is in no way to be taken as a criticism of the Engagement Lab’s work. To the contrary, the video is awesome and if you haven’t watched it, you should watch it now. Or even if you have watched it, take 20 minutes or so out of your very busy day and watch it again.

              That being said, what also needs to be said is that the messaging about gun violence in this video is the usual way in which we frame the discussion about a type of behavior which kills and seriously injures more than 125,000 Americans every year, namely, the discussion invariably turns on the victims, their families, and their friends.

              But if we are ever going to do something meaningful and substantive about reducing gun violence, we have to approach the issue proactively, which means looking first and foremost at the individuals who commit gun violence and figure out ways to get to them before they pull out a Glock or a Sig and go – bang!

              And I’m not talking about all those wonderful and compassionate programs which give some inner-city kids a job, or some mentoring about a career, or any other life-fulfilling activity like that. Those gigs are all fine and well but by the time an adolescent connects up to them it’s usually too late.

              When do boys get interested in guns? According to Al Lizotte’s research, in their early teens. When do some of these kids start behaving in a way which eventually leads them to become the young men who commit the most violent crimes? Thanks to the research published by Marvin Wolfgang fifty years ago, in their early teens. So, the point is that when some distraught mother starts talking about how her son would have grown up to be a decent and dependable adult if he hadn’t gotten shot, there’s another mother out there who could also be asked to talk about what she did or didn’t do with her son before he became the boy who shot and killed the other kid.

              What I’m saying is that in the discussion about gun violence, we focus our attention on the victims, not on the ones whose behavior is the reason that gun violence exists. Because the simple fact is that you can’t commit gun violence without a gun. And getting to the point where you pull out a gun, load it, then point it at yourself or someone else and pull the trigger is not something which happens overnight.  It’s not like some kid who goes into the corner deli and swipes a little package of M&M’s.

              Back in 2015, a 13-year old was shot and killed in St. Louis because a man thought that the kid was going to assault him. The shooter got off because what he did was legal under Missouri’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) law. Why did the shooter believe that a 13-year old kid who had broken into the man’s car was going to attack him instead of running away from the scene? Because the shooting occurred at 1 A.M. and the man couldn’t see because there was no street light.

              The media lit up when the shooter was found innocent of the murder charge because how often does a 13-year old get shot and the shooter walks away scot-free? Then we were treated to the requisite interview with the poor, overwhelmed mother of the victim who acknowledged that her son was committing a crime by trying to break into the man’s car but even so, he shouldn’t have paid for his crime with his life.

              Did anyone bother to ask this woman why her son was riding around in the back alleys of St. Louis looking for a car to break into at 1 A.M?

              So, even when we focus on the victims of gun violence, we often don’t ask the questions we need to ask because in half of all fatal shootings, it was something done by the victim which precipitated the gun being pulled out and used.

              This kid in St. Louis was committing serious crimes when he was 13 years old. And what do you think he would have ended up doing if he had lived through that incident. He probably would have decided to get himself a gun.

              Either we start thinking about how gun violence affects the families and friends of both the shooters and the victims, or we don’t. And if we don’t, we can talk about gun violence all day long and that’s just what it is – talk.

A Must-See Video on Gun Violence.

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              Emerson College is a cute, little private college in the middle of downtown Boston which is known for concentrating on programs that deliver quality education in communication and the arts. The tuition and fees are more than 50 grand a year, so the student body isn’t comprised for the most part of kids from nearby inner-city neighborhoods like Dorchester or the South End.

              One of its programs, on the other hand, is a unique and enterprising look at a condition of life which is typical of what goes on in Dorchester and the South End of Boston, as well as in other inner-city neighborhoods all over the United States.

              I’m talking about a program called the Engagement Lab, which creates multimedia featuring a collaboration with community organizations that focus on issues of importance to these organizations and groups, one of which is the issue of gun violence. If there’s another college or university in the United States which has inculcated gun violence into its curriculum, it’s news to me.

              The program at Emerson is a collaboration between the college and two other organizations which play important roles in trying to respond to gun violence on Boston’s inner-city streets. One of Emerson’s partners in this effort is the Center for Gun Violence Prevention at Mass. General Hospital which promotes safety in the home through clinical care and education. The other is the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a community-based organization founded by the mother of a teenager who was gunned down in 1993 on his way to a meeting of a group called Teens Against Gun Violence, believe it or not.

              Both of these groups are highlighted briefly in a new and provocative video created by Emerson’s Engagement Lab which is called Quiet Rooms and can be viewed right here.

              The video, which runs some 20 minutes plus, is basically a compilation of first-hand narratives of parents who sat in a Boston hospital waiting to be told whether their child was going to survive the heroic attempts of a trauma team to keep the victim alive after being shot by a gun. The term ‘quiet room,’ is how physicians in these hospitals refer to the room where parents, relatives and friends of a shooting victim have to sit and wait for what is often the worst news.

              This video is hardly an amateur production. The images are sharp, the dialog is clear, and most of all, the music which plays in the background sets and completely underscores the mood. And what is the mood or what we usually refer to as the ‘message’ of this film? The message is that the families which suddenly lose a child or an adult to gun violence, are totally unprepared to deal with the event, and the resources which they need to help them through this terrible and tragic event are few and far between.

              This is a different perspective than the one which is usually connected to gun violence, because there are many studies, anecdotal and evidence-based, which look at the individuals who are killed or wounded with a gun. In general terms, for homicide and aggravated assault, which together count for at least 100,000 hospital- ER admissions every year, we know the victims are mostly male, mostly minority, mostly residents of inner-city neighborhoods, mostly without jobs and mostly not in school.

              But the point of the Quiet Rooms video is that the person who’s brought to the ER with a bullet in his or her body isn’t the only victim of a gun assault. The people sitting in that quiet room waiting for the trauma surgeon to tell them what’s what are also victims of the same assault. And the way they are sometimes treated makes them feel like the perpetrator of a gun-violence event.

              I only hope that the Emerson Engagement Lab makes a follow-up video to Quiet Rooms which focuses on the testimonies of family and friends of shooting victims who explain how they and the injured or dead family member dealt with gun violence before the individual lying on a gurney down the hall was shot.

              Because gun violence doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere, the way someone gets bit by a mosquito or a tic. Half the time that someone is murdered with a gun, they actually committed the behavior which created a conflict with someone else who happened at that moment to be carrying a gun.

              The only way to make a substantial dent in gun violence numbers is to deal with its causes proactively, not after the violence takes place. Emerson’s Engagement Lab states that its goal is to “transform the narratives of gun violence.”

              The Quiet Rooms video is a great first step. I hope they will take the next step soon.

              And by the way, send them a donation when you get a chance. And don’t tell me how you’re broke because of what the mainstream media says is the ‘ruinous inflation.’ The latest inflation rate is 8.3%.  Give me a friggin’ break, okay?

What Is Violence?

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              What’s going on?  Over the Easter weekend, there were shootings that killed or injured four or more victims in ten different cities. Easter weekend, right? A time of quiet devotion and family moments celebrating good times. 

              Just several weeks earlier, ten people were shot by a crazy man on a subway in Brooklyn, and several weeks before that event, 6 were killed and at least 60 were wounded in another weekend of shootings where four or more were shot in the same place at the same time.

              Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  We celebrated the holiday by having at least 57 people wounded by gunfire and 12 people killed.

              I thought that what Grandpa would call the ‘chuchems’ (read: experts) were saying that last year’s spike in gun violence was due to the Pandemic, plus everyone was running into a gun shop to buy a gun.

              Meanwhile, the virus seems to be abating or at least contained in most locations, and April gun sales were down by almost 25% from April gun sales last year. So, what the f*ck is going on?

              The truth is nobody really knows. That’s what the f*ck is going on. Nobody really knows.

              And frankly, I’m getting a little sick and tired of saying that we don’t know why we have so much gun violence, since we have only been doing research on the issue for at least thirty years.

              That’s right.  It’s thirty years since Kellerman and Rivara published the first of two articles which found that guns in the home  created a risk for suicide and homicide. But most gun violence doesn’t take place in the home. It occurs in the street. And not only do the number of street shootings keep going up, but the shootings themselves seem to involve not only more victims, but – and here’s the important point – more shots being fired as well.

              Next time you watch the TV news and there’s a story about the latest shooting in your town, notice that the cops always mark where they find every spent shell with a little yellow plastic pyramid in the street. Note that the number of these little markers is usually many more than the number of bullets that end up in the bodies of the victims in a shooting event.

              There’s been endless debate over how to define a ‘mass’ shooting. Is it the total number of people who are killed and wounded in one place at the same time? Is it only the number of people killed? Of late, both numbers appear to be going up.

              I think the way we should define mass shootings is by the number of shots that were fired in a particular location because no matter how many people are killed or wounded, the only reason that everyone wasn’t killed is because the shooter didn’t shoot straight.

              I would be willing to bet you that if someone could get access to the data on how many shots were fired, and it exists in the documents of most police departments which cover murders and assaults, the number of rounds which go off in intentional shootings has gone up faster than the number of shootings themselves.

              Why do I say this? Because the kids walking around with Glocks and Sigs in their pockets want to shoot their guns. That’s the whole point of owning a gun. And all this talk about having a gun for self-defense or for protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ is nothing but talk – doesn’t really mean anything at all.

              In order to commit gun violence, you have to make seven different decisions, and every decision has to be ‘yes.’ Here they are: (1). Interested in guns, (2). Get a gun, (3). Get ammunition, (4). Load the gun, (5). Carry the gun, (6). Point the gun, (7). Pull the trigger and – blam!  These decisions are usually made over a span of years, starting when a boy is 12 or 13 years old. But if at any time a kid asks himself one of those questions and answers with a ‘no,’ he won’t commit gun violence.

              And by the way, let me make one thing very clear.  The medical definition of violence, as defined by the WHO or the CDC doesn’t differentiate between offense and defense. If you try to injure yourself or someone else, you have committed a violent act.

              Why are guns used so frequently to commit violence? Because certain guns are designed specifically and only for the purpose of committing violence. Using one of these guns is an efficient and usually successful way to engage in a violent act, particularly the more rounds you spray around the location where the violence occurs.

              Most of the kids and young adults responsible for the recent wave of gun violence have absolutely no awareness of consequences no matter what they do. All they know is that last week someone else yanked out a gun and popped some caps (read: shot a gun) all over the place. And the odds that someone gets caught for committing gun violence is hardly a risk, in many cities less than one out of five are arrested for aggravated assault.

              We know why people who want to commit violence often do it with a gun. But why do they want to commit violence with or without a gun?

Gun Violence | TeeTee Press

How Should We Reduce Gun Violence?

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The World Health Organization (WHO) defines violence as a deliberate attempt by someone to injure themselves or someone else. In 2019, there were 1.5 million times when someone in the United States tried to kick the sh*t out of someone else, of which in roughly 100,000 of those assaults, the sh*t-kicker used a gun.

So, in less than 7% of the really serious assaults a gun is involved, but it’s these assaults which result in the worst injuries and the greatest number of deaths.

There’s just no other way that you can do to the human body with a club, a first or even a knife what you can do to the human body when you use a gun. Around 20% of all serious assaults result in the victim getting killed, of which more than half involved a gun.

So, the question is: how we reduce the number of times that someone dies because he or she was attacked by someone else who pulled out a gun, pointed it at the victim and – bang! If the shooter at Oxford High School had walked around the school punching out other kids, he probably would have been stopped either by other kids or by a teacher or by a resource officer (fancy name for a cop patrolling the school), and that would have been the end of that. No big deal.

What we are told, on the other hand, is that we need to identify the people whose background, family situation, current family environment and a few other socio-economic factors which usually show up in the profile of guys who use a gun to hurt someone else. Then we need to watch these individuals closely and keep them from getting their hands on a gun.

This approach happens to be the strategy for reducing gun violence adopted and promoted by every medical, public health and gun-control advocacy group. Aligned with this strategy is the idea that anyone who owns a gun most store it and use it ‘responsibly’ to prevent the gun from ending up in the hands of the 7 percent whose profiles make them ‘high risk’ when it comes to how they will behave with guns.

That’s the reason we have background checks before someone can buy a gun and that’s the reason the entire gun-control community wants background checks to be made universal and applied to every transfer of a gun, whether the transfer is from a dealer to a buyer, or between two individuals who want to buy, sell, or otherwise transfer a privately-owned gun.

There’s only one little problem with this approach to reducing gun violence which, as far as I’m concerned, renders this strategy not only useless, but not worth the additional costs of creating a nationwide background check system that would allegedly keep guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands.

The guy who shot and killed 59 people at a Las Vegas rock concert in 2017 was legally entitled to own every gun that he took up to his rented room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. The kid who shot and killed 25 adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012 had the legal right to borrow his mother’s AR-15. The young man who slaughtered 49 club-goers at The Pulse in 2016 was using a legally-purchased gun.

The point is that when you have 60 million or 70 million bottom-loading, semi-automatic handguns and rifles chambered for military-grade ammunition floating around, the idea that we will somehow figure out who should and shouldn’t be able to get their hands on one of those guns is absurd, particularly when it turns out that many of the individuals who commit the worst acts of gun violence use legally-acquired or legally-borrowed guns.

And by the way. If you’re going to attempt to engage in what Grandpa would call this facockta (read: stupid) ‘safe hands’ strategy, the very least you have to do is remember to make inquiries into the state of mind of individuals who might be thinking about shooting up a movie theater of a school before the incident takes place. The parents of the Oxford High School shooter met with guidance counselors and teachers on the same day that their son would later commit his unspeakable act of mass violence. Did anyone think to ask his parents whether they owned guns? Nope.

You can’t commit an act of gun violence without a gun. But you don’t just pick up a gun and use it the way you pick up a baseball bat or a kitchen knife. You have to make seven independent decisions in order to commit gun violence, and the decision-chain looks like this:

  1. Get interested in a gun.
  2. Get your hands on a gun.
  3. Get your hands on ammunition for the gun.
  4. Load the gun.
  5. Put the gun in your pocket or your backpack.
  6. Pull the gun out.
  7. Point and shoot the gun.

These decisions can me made over a brief period of time or they can be made over weeks, months, or years. If there is an intervention at any point during this process and the decision chain is broken, gun violence will not occur. Period.

When does this decision-chain first appear? When boys are between the ages of 12 and 14. Guess what? Until at least to age 14, just about every boy in the United States is in school and every one of these kids is still receiving vaccinations which are required in order to attend school.

Want to reduce gun violence? Stop screwing around with such nonsense as determining who is and is not ‘at risk’ for using a gun.

Get rid of the guns which have no purpose other than to be used to inflict injuries on human beings. Then it doesn’t matter whether anyone or everyone can get their hands on guns.

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