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Celebrate The 4th – Shoot Someone With A Gun!

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The more I think about it, the more I believe that the good residents of the city of Chicago have found the perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday, which is to get out there with their guns in the streets of the Windy City and mow everyone down. 

After all, what’s more uniquely American than the 2nd Amendment? And the 2nd Amendment says that every red-blooded American is entitled to own a gun.

 And by the way, the 2nd Amendment doesn’t say that I have to possess a license to own a gun. It also doesn’t say I have to be of a certain age to own a gun. So why is everyone always making such a big deal about ‘legal’ versus ‘illegal’ guns?

I think we need more, not less Americans to behave on July 4th the way that Chicago behaved on America’s birthday when 17 people were killed and another 87 were wounded with guns.

And don’t think there wasn’t plenty of competition from other cities whose residents decided to celebrate July 4th in this same, uniquely American way.

In Cincinnati, two teens shot each other dead and three other teens were wounded when an argument between two kids turned into a gunfight because they both were carrying guns. In New York City, the weekend shooting toll was at least 25 victims. All in all, the holiday weekend running from July 2nd through July 4th may have produced 500 shooting victims countrywide, including at least 145 who ended up dead.

Every year the TV news always starts its coverage of the July 4th celebration by talking about the crush in airports and on highways because the ‘holiday travel’ story is a demonstration that the country is alive and well. It was particularly an important story this year because it was a reminder again of how we are finally getting out from under Covid-19.

But maybe next year the media might want to consider starting off the holiday weekend coverage with a screenshot of a couple of kids cleaning and loading their guns or shooting at some old tin cans in the back yard. And then the story can always bring in some idiot who brags about how he never leaves home without his gun because he has the God-given ‘right’ to defend himself from all those ‘thugs’ in the street.

Now that the weekend has ended, we will for sure be treated to the other notable American tradition, which will be a noisy argument about what kind of laws we should pass to keep Americans from killing each other in this uniquely-American way. Other countries don’t share this tradition because they already have laws that keep guns not just out of the ‘wrong’ hands but out of everyone’s hands.

Incidentally, the numbers I stated above about how 145 out of 500 shooting victims died over the weekend has to be a serious undercount of the total who got shot. There’s simply no way that the guys who banged away this weekend have practiced enough to kill only one out of three persons who got shot.  I’m willing to bet that the overall holiday shooting toll will be more like 700 or 800 victims, if only that.

For those among you who are concerned about this penchant we seem to have for killing each other with such abandon and evident delight, is that the July 4th holiday only comes once a year. Which means that beginning next weekend, the number of people who get killed and wounded with guns can drift back down to 300 gun murders and assaults – the normal weekend rate.

In 2019, less than 4% of all the victims of gun violence were under 14 years old. The reports from this past weekend, however, seem to indicate that younger kids are now engaged in gun violence both as victims and shooters of guns.

There’s nothing like getting the next generation ready to share in a traditional way of life, right?

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How Do We Know That Gun Violence Is Up?

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              Now that the death rate from Covid-19 is beginning to finally bottom out, with an average count over the past week of less than 350 deaths per day, everyone is starting to get worried again about the number of people dying because they have been shot by guns. So far this year, it appears that gunfire has killed more than 8,100 people, or 54 fatal shootings every day. Meanwhile, during the previous six years, the daily gun-homicide average was 14 deaths per day.

              These numbers come from our friends at the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which has been tracking shootings since 2014.  The GVA scrapes information about gun violence from a variety of open-source venues, including media and other websites, online police reports, government, and other digital repositories, all together totaling 7,500 sources which may or may not contain daily data about injuries caused by guns.

              The good news is that the GVA website gives you current numbers, whereas the information aggregated by the FBI and the CDC is, at best, several years behind. The GVA listings also allow for studying the details about individual gun events and can be searched by individual shooting events in specific states.

              The not so good news is that because most of the data appears to be lifted from online media reports, the degree to which such reports really capture gun violence trends is often determined by the old news adage about how the editors decide what stories get the daily space, i.e., if it bleeds, it leads.

              Unfortunately, a murder always seems to bleed more than an aggravated assault. Which is why the GVA gun violence numbers are probably near reality when it comes to counting homicides, but don’t come close to telling us what we need to know about non-fatal gun assaults. Because the truth is that the only difference, the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter case, the guy with the gun didn’t shoot straight.

              The CDC used to publish an annual number for non-fatal gun injuries but has deleted the numbers for every year since 2012. Prior to that year, their yearly estimate was somewhere around 60,000, give or take another 15,000 shooting events. In other words, the CDC was admitting that it’s methodology for estimating non-fatal gun assaults was so weak that maybe the actual number was 50% higher (or lower) than what their numbers actually show.

              So, when the media carries a story today about the surge in gun violence which seems to be happening throughout the United States, the data being used to track this surge only counts what is probably less than one-third of all such events, and could be even less than one-tenth, or even less than that. 

              The World Health Organization (that’s the organization we used to belong to) defines violence as an intentional attempt to injure yourself or someone else. The injury can be fatal or non-fatal, it can be physical or psychological. Either way, intentional attempts to injure someone else which result in that person’s death, are a small part of a much larger whole.

              We can get a partial image of this larger whole by looking at the numbers published by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) which is an annual report out of the Department of Justice based on interviews with 160,000 respondents in roughly 95,000 households throughout the U.S. Like every other government report, there are the usual complaints about accuracy, reliability, blah, blah, blah, and blah.

              Be that as it may, the 2019 report, which you can download here, shows that there were more than a million assaults that year. Although the type of weapon isn’t specified, we can assume that many of those assaults involved guns.

              The bottom line is that we really have absolutely no idea about whether gun violence is going up or going down. So how do you figure out a new law to prevent or reduce gun violence when you can’t tell whether the law, once enacted, will work at all? 

              You can’t.

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

Why Did We Ever Take Back Those Confederate States?

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              I used to think that Jeff Sessions was the dumbest member of the United States Senate, but he’s been eclipsed by John Kennedy from Louisiana, who is running this lovely PSA on YouTube: https://twitter.com/NRA/status/1396945973830725635.

              For the life of me, I don’t understand why in God’s name we ever took them back. After all, there’s nothing in the Constitution about secession. As for the notion of a perpetual Union, Lincoln made the whole thing up.

              When the representatives from the Confederate states stood up in Congress and threatened to walk out and go home if Lincoln won the 1860 election, a few radical Republicans wanted to let them go. So, we didn’t get compensated for the post office buildings they turned into Confederate property. So what?

              Everyone keeps talking about how Northern cities like Philadelphia and Baltimore have high rates of gun violence because guns continue to flow up I-95, the ‘iron pipeline,’ because Southern states have little or no gun regulations, so guns wind up in the more regulated, Northern states. But if all those mini-vans bringing that contraband had to stop and go through a checkpoint at the Virginia-Maryland border, that would ne the end of that.

              What do we get from those Southern states besides guns? Oh, I forgot. We get tobacco. That’s perfect, just perfect. Two products that we know are risks to health, and both of them come up from the South.

              What else do we get from the South? We get idiots like Senator John Kennedy who tells us that there’s nothing he does which expresses his love of other people as well as walking around with his little gun. At least he carries the gun in a leather holster and not one of those cheap, plastic jobs. That shows class, real class.

              But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Kennedy’s some kind of trailer-park redneck. In fact, he happens to be an attorney who attended Magdalen College at Oxford after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and has published numerous books and articles on product liability and constitutional law.

              He ran for Senate as a Democrat in 2004 and received 15% of the vote. So, he switched parties in 2008, almost beat Mary Landrieu, then ran again as a Republican and won his Senate seat in 2016.

On occasion, he’ll say something that’s not right out of the Trump version of the GOP playbook, such as voting not to confirm several of Trump’s judicial nominees who were so dumb that they struggled to remember their own names. His great line was, “Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge.”

It’s not that Kennedy’s dumb at all. In fact, he’s very smart. And he’s smart enough to know that the best way to keep himself politically relevant in a Confederate state is to pander to the lowest intellectual denominator of all. And what’s the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to convincing the ‘average’ voter that you’re just like him? Pull out the ol’ firearm and pretend that you’re just another guy sitting around the house, cleaning one of his guns.

And if the gun you’re cleaning is one of those little, itty-bitty things that people want to carry around to defend themselves against all those street thugs? Talk about perfect political theater in a Confederate state.

Texas is about to become another state that has legalized ‘Constitutional carry,’ which means that if you can pass a background check, you can walk around the neighborhood with a concealed gun. Not that there’s any mention in the United States Constitution about concealed-carry, nor was the practice discussed by Tony Scalia in his District of Columbia v. Heller opinion that granted Constitutional protection to private gun ownership but not concealed-carry, published in 2008.

I love how all those ‘staunch’ conservatives like Senator Kennedy have invented a Constitutional legalism which doesn’t exist.  

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Is This A New Way To Reduce Gun Violence?

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              Want the best and most powerful statement made about gun violence since the Pandemic began?  Click this link, which will take you to YouTube, then sit back, watch, and listen to a video, ‘Shiny Gun,’ which was first recorded and released by the NoSuga group in 2002 and has just been released again.

              The storyline is very simple. A young man points a gun at his girlfriend believing the safety is on, pulls the trigger and she’s dead.  The NoSuga band wrote and recorded this piece when one night they heard about a fiend who has just committed suicide with a gun, and at the same moment saw a TV report about a young guy who had accidentally killed his girlfriend with a gun.

              The reason that this video is so powerful is not because of the story it tells. We read and hear about accidental shootings all the time. We also read and hear about intentional shootings all the time. Last night there was a shooting in Queens, NY which injured three people, one of them an eight year-old kid. Last week, between May 10th and May 16th, at least 47 people were shot in New York City, including a guy visiting the Big Apple from Ohio. He’ll have plenty to talk about when he gets home.

              What makes the ‘Shiny Gun’ video important is not what it says, buy who will be watching and listening to what it says. Folks my age don’t connect to rap. Folks my age don’t download videos.  Folks my age or even folks twenty or thirty years younger than me don’t subscribe to websites like HipHopDX.

              All that stuff is for the kids. And who do you think we’re talking about when we say that men who end up committing gun violence first had to get interested at some point in guns?

              Our friend Al Lizotte has published numerous papers which show that kids start paying attention to guns and carrying guns in their adolescent years. The gun-carrying behavior among adolescents is found more frequently in gang members, but the word ‘gang’ doesn’t just mean organized, national outfits like the Bloods and the Crips. It can also be a group of kids in a particular neighborhood who hang out together, maybe do a little bit of drug, maybe get into a little bit of trouble with the cops.

              Remember when Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, got in all kinds of trouble with the gun ‘rights’ gang when someone dug up a speech he gave to a bunch of Democratic women when he said that gun violence could be curbed if we would ‘brainwash’ kids about the danger and risks of guns?

You think that rap music doesn’t brainwash kids to want to carry a gun?  Try this video, which was made, incidentally, by a very famous rapper, Nipsey Hussle, who was later shot and killed outside of his clothing boutique in Beverly Hills. In fact, ‘Bullets Ain’t Got No Names’ was the video which launched his career, and when he was shot, many of the gun-control groups who spend all their time and your money complaining about gun violence, jumped on the bandwagon and lamented the loss of a young man who had ‘given back’ so much.

Sorry, I don’t buy it. I don’t think we should be lionizing or promoting anyone, dead or alive, who contributes to a culture which has been spreading the gospel of gun violence through the adolescent population for at least the last twenty years. We are now into at least the second generation of boys and young men whose behavior is responsible for just about every fatal and non-fatal gun assault that occurs every year.

These shooters didn’t learn about guns from listening to Luther Vandross or watching Sesame Street. But who knows? Maybe rap music will take a cue from the new release of ‘Shiny Gun’ and begin to brainwash kids the way they should learn about guns.

Print edition: Welcome To The NRA: Weisser, Michael R.: 9798505387108: Amazon.com: Books.

Why Can’t We Reduce Gun Violence?

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Before I get too deep into today’s column, I would like all my friends in Gun-control Nation to click this link and see where it does. In fact, it takes you to a private Facebook group, the 45/70 Club, whose members trade information about the rifles which are chambered for the 45/70 ammunition round.

The 45-70 cartridge was originally developed as a military round and started being manufactured and loaded into rifles and even some Gatling guns beginning in 1873.  The diameter and weight of the bullet, as well as its speed when it leaves the barrel, makes it a very good choice for bagging big game like hogs, deer, and elk.

There are at least five gun makers currently offering rifle models in this venerable, old round, with Marlin and Winchester leading the pack, with Henry, Thompson Center and Connecticut Valley Arms not far behind.

Because the 45-70 is loaded in a long case which holds lots of powder, the bullet zips out to long range, often at speeds above 1,300 feet per second and still hits with a real – smack!

The size of the bullet and the length of the case also makes the 45/70 a favored round to be reloaded and/or shot from a bench rest.

This particular Facebook group, which I joined a number of years ago, has over 32,000 members. I happen to be a member of a bunch of Facebook groups like the 45/70 group, all devoted to a particular type of gun, or a specific round of ammunition, or some other technical or historical subject involving guns.

I would be willing to bet there are at least 25 such Facebook groups, maybe more. Together, I suspect that these Facebook gun groups have a total membership of somewhere around a million subscribers or more. These groups don’t let anyone advertise the sale of guns; they aren’t doubling down as space where the MAGA contingent can rant. They are exactly what they claim to be – internet zones where people trade information about a hobby or an interest which appeals to them.

I promote my daily column on my website, three Facebook pages, a twitter feed and two gun-control Facebook groups. I also send out a link to my column on a very private email list containing the names of leaders and activists from the national and statewide gun-control groups, journalists who write about guns for the mainstream media, bloggers and researchers connected to at least a dozen universities and other research initiatives as well.

Dollars to doughnuts, I’ll bet there isn’t a single person of the more than 7,000 subscribes to my website, my Facebook pages or is on my email list who has ever joined or even scanned any of these gun groups. By the same token, I suspect there isn’t a single member of any of these Facebook gun groups who has ever taken the trouble to read or think about any of the content on the websites run by Giffords, Brady or MOMS.  The disconnect between the two sides who have been arguing about guns in America for more than twenty-five years is total and complete.

Which is why, when all is said and done, nothing has really changed.  Know what the gun-violence rate was in 1981?  13.73.  Know what it was in 2019?  11.57.  That’s a whole, big decline in the death-rate from all gun violence of 15 percent.  In raw numbers, 7,500 more were shot and killed in 2019 than in 1981.

Yesterday I was watching a news report from Gaza. It occurred to me that Hamas and Israel have been going at it since Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978. Forty-four years of killing, maiming, and brutalizing two populations and there’s no end in sight. I could say exactly the same thing about gun violence in the U.S.A.

 Being a member of the 45/70 Facebook gun group has absolutely nothing to do with gun violence. Being a tree-hugging liberal is not any kind of threat to 2nd-Amendment ‘rights. How do we move beyond such nonsense and get something done?

The print edition: Welcome To The NRA: Weisser, Michael R.: 9798505387108: Amazon.com: Books.

Why Don’t We Just Get Rid Of The Guns That Are Used To Commit Gun Violence?

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              Yesterday’s column raises concerns about the failure of my friends in Gun-research Nation to discuss the issue of banning the guns which cause gun violence, i.e., assault rifles and what I call ‘killer pistols.’ In case you didn’t know it, both types of guns are designed only to kill or injure yourself or someone else. You can get a clear explanation of why such guns are too lethal for commercial sale and private ownership right here.

              Until and unless we bite the bullet (pardon the pun) and get rid of those guns, we will argue with the other side over various half-baked measures that won’t accomplish much at all. Sorry, but universal background checks won’t change matters much unless the data from those checks is tied into a national registration system. Sorry, CAP laws may keep kids from shooting themselves or a playmate, but such shootings account for less than 5% of all gun violence events.

              As for the development of so-called ‘safe’ guns which can only be fired if the user is validated through some kind of electronic gizmo attached to the gun, it will take some intrepid gun nut with a basic understanding of gun design about two hours to figure out how to put the ‘safe’ gun back to being unsafe. And then up goes the video on YouTube, okay?

              By remaining silent on banning guns that have no sporting use at all, we let the other side completely control this discussion, even if what they say has no relationship to the facts at all. For example, Gun-nut Nation says that government can’t ban a semi-automatic gun because the 2nd Amendment protects gun ‘rights.’

              The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with ‘rights.’ It’s an amendment, not a ‘right.’ How do we define ‘rights?’ We pass laws, and what are right and wrong behaviors involving guns, has been defined in four federal guns laws, each and every law upheld by liberal and conservative judges and courts.

              If we are ever going to pass another meaningful law to reduce gun violence, the law has to address the reason we have gun violence. In other words, we must do what other countries do and restrict gun ownership to sporting and hunting guns. 

              But we don’t do that. And worse, the people we depend on to define effective gun reforms go out of their way to avoid discussing this issue at all. The result? A majority of Americans, which happens to include people who don’t own guns, are opposed to any gun ban at all.

              I have been running a survey about banning assault rifles and have collected 957 responses, of whom 70% (680) say they own an AR-15 or another type of assault rifle. A majority of the owners, say they shoot the guns rarely, if at all. Only one-third of the owners of assault rifles say they have the gun for self-defense, but only 2% of the entire respondent population say that an AR-15 is too dangerous to own! You can download the complete survey right here.

              How many of the 957 respondents say they oppose an AR ban?  Try 44, which is less than 5%, and when the ban is defined as not grandfathering in existing guns, support for a ban drops to 2%. 

              Most of the respondents to this survey are gun owners, even if one-third don’t own assault guns. But that’s exactly the point. Because as long as gun owners continue to believe that a gun, particularly an assault-style gun, is something which everyone should have lying around the house, then the idea that we will see meaningful gun reform is about as real as the idea that Donald Trump will get re-elected in 2024.

              I am yet to be convinced that the scholars and advocates who want to reduce gun violence are capable of sitting down and having a frank, open and honest discussion of what they need to say to gun owners about the risk of owning guns.

              I hope I’m wrong.

Mass Shootings – A New Study.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Does Gun Violence Increase Because We Keep Buying Guns?

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              Once again, our friends at the ‘non-partisan’ gun magazine, The Trace, have promoted an argument about the relationship of gun ownership to gun violence which has no basis in fact. The argument has now been floating around for at least 20 years and is accepted as the non-plus-ultra explanation for gun violence in the United States. Unfortunately, the explanation doesn’t work,

              Why do we believe that our high level of fatal violence is because we have so many guns? Because our friend David Hemenway has been pushing this idea for years. And how does he explain the link between gun ownership and fatal violence? By doing a regression analysis using guns as the independent variable and then comparing the United States to other countries with similar demographics but much fewer personally owned guns.

              There happen to be two, actually three fundamental problems with David’s approach. First and most important is his definition of the word ‘gun.’ Because the fact that there are more than 300 million guns sitting around in basements, garages, underneath the living room couch and inside a toolbox out in the truck, doesn’t tell us how many of these guns are actually used in assaults.

              I looked at more than 9,000 ‘crime’ guns collected by police departments, and the types of guns which probably account for at least 75% of the civilian gun arsenal don’t show up on this list at all. Along with another 20 million or so gun owners, I own a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle. When was the last time a gun of this type was involved in a gun assault? As my grandfather would say: ‘shabbos noch schvee,’ (read: never.)

              The second problem with David’s approach is the assumption that there’s any connection between the number of guns owned by law-abiding citizens and the number of times that guns are used to commit crimes. And here is another issue I have with all the so-called gun experts who conduct public health researcher and or write for The Trace. Every time they talk about gun ‘violence’ they only refer to homicides and suicides, with the latter events being twice as great as the number of murders committed with guns.

              In fact, the only difference between fatal and non-fatal gun assaults is that in the latter category, the shooter didn’t shoot straight. Otherwise, everything that leads up to a confrontation that ends up as a fatal or non-fatal gun assault is exactly the same. More than 80% of all the gun injuries which occur in the United States every year are crimes. How come this issue is glossed over again and again?

              I’ll tell you why. Because if there were any degree of honest discussion about gun violence, (and this is the third problem with the more guns = more violence approach) it would have to be admitted that gun violence is a problem experienced in what we politely refer to as the ‘underserved’ population. And since this population is overwhelmingly minority – Hispanic and Black – to single out those two groups would be to inject the racial issue into the gun debate.

              After the last four years of being verbally abused by Trump, I don’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid discussions about social or political events which turn on the issue of race. On the other hand, why let facts get in the way of a good headline that will help gun-control organizations raise some more cash? And by the way, before yet another reader accuses me of being a shill for the NRA, I just renewed my monthly contribution to Moms Demand Action, okay?

              Last but not least, the whole issue of how guns move from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ hands is also a mess. According to the ATF, the average time between when a gun is purchased and when it is used in a crime (‘time-to-crime) is more than 9 years. So even though the number of handguns sold this year has doubled over the number of purchases in 2019, who says that this is the reason why gun violence has been going up? 

              There are all kinds of reasons why we are suffering from an increase in gun violence regardless of how many new guns have been purchased by law-abiding gun owners in the past year. God forbid our friends in gun journalism and public health research would stop trying to scare us with headlines and conduct some serious research.

It’s Always Fun To Play Around With A Gun.

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              Since it has now become fashionable to show your support of Donald Trump by waving a gun in the air, or maybe to show up at one of those Communist/Socialist/Anarchist demonstrations and pull the trigger a few times, I wanted to draw your attention to a recent incident in San Diego where a gun nut really showed us how much fun you can have playing around with guns.

              I am referring to an event which took place several weeks ago, where a member of a private Facebook group, Loaded Guns Pointed At B[?]enis, actually pulled the trigger of his 45-caliber pistol and shot himself right through the balls. The next day he reported that he was ‘fine’ and actually reported for work.

              You should know, incidentally, that this group has 1,800 members, and apparently they play a version of Russian Roulette by loading a gun, pointing the gun at their crotch and then see how close they can actually get to pulling the trigger all the way through without the gun actually going off. I suspect that the person who comes closest to shooting himself but actually releases the trigger just before the hammer drops, is awarded with a MAGA hat.

              Although the spent round from the pistol luckily only grazed his nuts, it did go through his mattress and his box spring before lodging in the floor. No doubt he will now charge admission for anyone who wants to come into his bedroom and view the hole in the carpet underneath his bed.

              The guy who runs this Facebook page was, of course, quite supportive in talking about the event. In particular, he made it clear that the poor schmuck who ended up in the local hospital getting his balls sewn back on really didn’t need to be criticized for what he had done. After all, according to the group leader, “he’s learned his lesson without the entire world calling him an idiot.”

              Exactly what lesson do you think this guy learned? Oh, he learned not to point a loaded gun at his nuts. He needed to learn that lesson? Is the group leader serious? No, he’s not serious. He’s as dumb as the guy who shot himself, okay?

              I’m thinking about that two dummies, the man and wife, who stood in front of their St. Louis home and waved guns at a group of BLM/Communists/Socialists/Anarchists who went marching by. They got indicted for this remarkable demonstration of stupidity, but they also got their minute of fame as a featured act at last week’s RNC.

              Come to think of it, I’m surprised that the guy who shot his balls off hasn’t yet been invited to the White House to give the President and his staff a demonstration of one of the really funny and interesting things you can do with a gun. Maybe the crowd should also include some of those bikers who wandered around Sturgis without masks and now have contracted Covid-19.

              We won’t know until a week from today whether anyone who attended Trump’s airport rally in New Hampshire will come down with the Chinese flu. We also won’t know for another week who gets sick from coming to the airport at Latrobe. What Trump is doing, and it’s a very clever strategy, is creating and promoting a virtual reality which basically says that the worst is behind us and the best is yet to come.

              So why not have the guy from San Diego visit the White House and demonstrate how you can shoot your balls off and still go back to work the next day? After all, if everyone starts walking around with a gun to protect themselves and everyone else from those marauding thugs, sooner or later a few more guys will accidentally shoot themselves with their guns.

              To quote Walter Mosley: “If you walk around with a gun, it will go off sooner or later.”  What’s so bad about that?

Is Panic Buying Of Guns Causing More Gun Violence?

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              Last week our friend Gail Lehmann shared with us the FBI’s latest report on background checks, which showed an extraordinary bump in handgun sales during June. Generally speaking, gun sales, particularly handgun sales, tend to go South during the Summer because nobody’s worried about protecting themselves at the beach.  June handgun checks in 2019 were just shy of 500,000, slightly more than handgun checks for June, 2018.

              The handgun check number for July, on the other hand, went into the stratosphere, with 1,371,811; June 2019 handgun checks were 497,915. The big ‘winners’ on a state-by-state basis were Florida (133,285) and Texas (121,926). These two states accounted for almost 20% of all handgun checks in June and together contain 15% of the country’s population.

              There does seem to be an increase in gun violence coincident with the Covid-9 crisis. In New York City, which used to be one of the safest urban zones, shootings in 2020 are up by 46 percent in the first six months of the year, homicides have increased by 21 percent. In Chicago, June-to-June shootings have increased by 75 percent. Louisville, KY has doubled its shooting numbers from 117 non-fatal gun assaults in 2019 versus 246 this year.

              The information about spiking gun sales was contained in an email sent out by one of the gun-control websites – Guns Down America – which of course asked recipients for a donation to help reduce gun violence. Here’s what they have to say about the influx of more guns into the civilian arsenal: “Panic buying of guns has now reached record levels and it only increases the chance of death and injury.”

              The only problem with this very compelling argument is that it may or may not be true. Everyone who believes that Americans own too many guns has probably read the fundamental research on this issue, a series of articles published by David Hemenway which finds that the U.S. rate of fatal violence is much higher than what occurs ion other advanced (OECD) countries because we have so many guns lying around. We are the only country where the per-capita number of privately-owned guns is higher than the number of residents, and gun access is the fundamental difference between the level of lethal violence here as opposed to everywhere else.

              I would be willing to agree with Hemenway except for the messy little fact that most of the guns sitting in the civilian arsenal have nothing to do with gun violence at all. I published a study on the types of guns picked up by law-enforcement agencies in over 100 separate jurisdictions, and nearly all of them were handguns, particularly the small and concealable ones. When I did a scan on the entire list of 9,000 guns using the names of the six largest manufacturers of hunting rifles and shotguns, not one showed up.

              The biggest problem we have trying to figure out gun violence is that we also have no idea how, when, or why guns that are legally purchased end up in the ‘wrong’ hands. And the bottom line is that most, if not nearly all of the people who have shot other people this year (or any other year) didn’t get to that point in their lives as decent, law-abiding folks and then one day simply explode. To the contrary, the research by Marvin Wolfgang and others clearly shows that nearly all of the people who commit violent assaults were already exhibiting violent behavior by the time they were twelve years old.

              My point is that I am not sure that an increase in gun sales necessarily leads to an increase in gun violence pari passu, particularly when the increase in violence occurs during the same months that schools are shut down. And let’s not forget that thanks to the overwhelmingly stupid non-response of the Trump Administration to the virus, school summer vacation this year started back in March.

              I’m not trying in any way to diminish concerns about the increase in gun violence or the increase in gun sales. I would just like the discussion about both issues to be rooted not in fear but in facts.

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