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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.

How Do We Reduce Gun Violence? The Same Old, Same Old.

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              Readers may have noticed that after a month’s hiatus in writing about guns and posting columns on my gun blog, Mike the Gun Guy, I’m back doing it again. There were two reasons that I switched over to a more general political perspective, in particular writing critical comments about the liberal, political media and press.

              First and foremost, I reject and resent the continued attempt by the mainstrem liberal media to promote the idea that Trump represents some kind of Fascist threat. I lived in Spain during the worst, most repressive years of the Franco regime, and Trump’s about as much of a Fascist as Leonard Mermelstein, who happens to be my cat.

              Second, to be as candid as I can, if I’m going to write for public consumption, I’d rather be a large fish in a small pond, then a tiny minnow in a large sea. And when it comes to politics, as opposed to guns and gun violence, everyone’s an expert and everyone seems to have something to say.

              As regards the latter, I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome a new voice to the online community writing about guns. Her name is Caroline Light who, several years ago published an important book on Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws. She has just opened up a blog about gun violence and promises at least one new comment every week. Way to go Caroline, and welcome to our little pond.

              Which brings me to an observation about some content newly posted by our friends in The Trace. I’m referring to what has become the basic approach to reducing gun violence in communities where the violence takes the form of one person shooting another, as opposed to gun violence where the shooter shoots himself.

              The former type of gun violence probably accounts for at least three-quarters of all intentional injuries committed with the use if guns, although we really don’t have an accurate number on intentional, non-fatal gun assaults because the CDC has given up trying to keep the score.

              Anyway, the bottom line is that most of this violence occurs in inner-city, minority-based neighborhoods which always seem to have high rates of violent behavior, with or without guns. And what my friends in Gun-control Nation promote is the idea that we can reduce gun violence in these communities by putting together some kind of domestic Marshall Plan to provide jobs and financial support because we all know that poverty makes people angry and anger results in violence and yadda, yadda and yadda again.

              So, for example, the current issue of The Trace has a lead article on how Baltimore is hoping to reduce gun violence by making the city’s public spaces safer spots for children to play. Money will be spent on after-school programs, better recreational facilities, all the usual stuff.

              Of course, such programs are always short of cash. Which is why when the dough runs out, gun violence rates go up again. But the bottom line is that either we take a ‘public health approach’ to gun violence or we don’t. And if we don’t upgrade the environment where gun violence occurs, it’s no different from how typhoid reappears if the drinking water isn’t always kept clean.

              I happen to think this approach is bunk. Why? Because violence is one thing, gun violence is something else. And the latter problem can’t exist without the presence of, and access to guns. It just so happens that we are the only country in the entire world which gives its residents free access to guns which are designed and used only for the purpose of committing gun violence, i.e., ending a human life.

              I know I’m repeating myself from yesterday, but if my friends in Gun-control Nation repeat the idea every chance they get, that we can reduce gun violence by going into poor neighborhoods and planting a bunch of trees, I reserve the right to remind them about the issue of guns every chance that I get.

              I carry a Glock 17 pistol with 16 rounds of military-grade ammunition. This gun wasn’t designed for ‘sport’ or even for ‘self-defense.’ It was designed to do what it does very well, which is to put a half-ounce piece of lead into someone’s head.

              Want to reduce gun violence by taking a public health approach? Get rid of what causes the violence, which happens to be certain types of guns.

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? Just Ask Donald Trump How To Do It.

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              Over the last ten years, the United States has contained roughly 4% of the world’s total population.  Every year, the per-100K homicide rate in the U.S. stands around 5.5, in the other advanced countries, the rate is somewhere around 3.5.

              How does the United States, with the fifth-highest per-capita GDP income in the OECD, wind up with a homicide rate that is almost twice as high as every other advanced nation-state?

              The answer has been supplied to us by our good friend David Hemenway at the Chan – Harvard University School of Public Health. And what David has been saying is that the difference between our rate of violence and what occurs throughout the rest of the OECD is basically caused by the three hundred, or maybe four hundred million guns that we have floating around. You can download and read David’s research right here.

              David’s work comes on top of the research published in 1993 by Art Kellerman and Frederick Rivara, who found an indisputable causal link between homicide and access to guns in the home.  You can also download and read this article here.

              The publication of the Kellerman-Rivara research ignited a firestorm on the other side of the debate, i.e., the gun industry and its supporters who didn’t like being told that their beloved toys represented a threat to public health. This bunch, in and out of academe, even got the CDC to stop funding gun research, although of late,  that funding has been restored. Fine. Good. Big deal.

              The reason I am skeptical of what might actually be the result of this new wave of gun research can be found in a lengthy and detailed document published by the World Health Organization and the United Nations back in 2014. Entitled, ‘Global Status Report on Violence Prevention, 2014,’ you can also download and read it here. But I suggest you give yourself plenty of time to download this report, which happens to be 275 pages in length and contains specific data from 133 countries, which in 2014 represented nearly 90 percent of everyone living on the globe.

              Why did the WHO-UN group conduct this research and publish this report? Because interpersonal violence, which they define as homicide, results in between 450,000 and 500,000 deaths every year, is the third-highest cause of death for males in the 15-44 years age group, and is usually preceded by non-fatal sexual or physical abuse which then leads to “lifelong ill health – particularly for women and children – and early death.” That sums it up kind of nicely, doesn’t it?

              The problem with this report, all the data notwithstanding, is that we aren’t given any real guidance for bringing the homicide rate in the U.S. down to where it would be equal or less than what occurs throughout the OECD. In fact, of the 52 specific legal and programmatic categories which the report covers for every country, the United States only lacks two specific violence-related laws, one which would make gang membership a specific criminal offense, and the other providing funds for victim representation in court.

              In other words, the country with the highest rate of homicide in the OECD also ranks highest in the number of laws and programs which exist in response to homicides which take place. And nowhere in this entire report is this anomaly pointed out. Nowhere. Thanks a lot.

              In fact, what makes this report so difficult for me to read or accept is that the data on U.S. interpersonal violence is lumped into a basked called ‘the Americas,’ which contains data from countries like Honduras and Guatemala, nice, peaceful countries like that.

              There is, however, one interesting comparison that can be made between the rate of violence in the United States versus the rate in countries both within and without the OECD. In the United States, the percentage of homicides committed with a gun is 68 percent. In the U.K., the percentage is less than 10 percent. In Italy, it’s 45 percent, Germany is 13 percent.

              Now let’s look at the other American shooting galleries – oops – I mean countries.. In Honduras guns are used in 83 percent of all homicides, the percentage for Guatemala is 82 percent. Mexico, however, is just like the U.S.- the use of guns in homicides is only 68 percent. Colombia, with all those drug cartels, has a gun-use percentage of 78 percent.

              Know what the percentage is in Cuba? Try zero. That’s right. None. But let’s not forget that Cuba, after all, is a Communist state and we know ‘for a fact’ that the first thing the Commies always do when they take over is they rid of all the privately-owned guns.

              The per-100,000 homicide rate in Colombia was 34. Our rate is 5.5. Cuba’s homicide rate is 4.8. Want to have guns or do you want to have murders? We seem to be the only advanced country which has both.

              The good news is that at least the voters in America had the sense to get rid of the very first President who claimed that he would do anything to make sure that Americans could own guns to protect themselves from crime. Except the data in the WHO-UN report completely contradicts that nonsense, but since when does Donald Trump ever base anything he says on evidence-based facts?

              The WHO-UN report says that the United States has laws which ‘regulate’ civilian access to guns, but the report also notes that the laws vary from state to state.

The bottom line is this: As long as certain kinds of guns are regulated and not banned, we will continue to experience a level of violence which makes us a 3rd-world country in this respect.

Don’t like what I just said? Go argue with the WHO and the UN, not with me. And while you’re at it, don’t waste your time with Trump.

What Can We Do About Gun Violence?

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Yesterday afternoon I sat and listened to an interesting and lively discussion by a group of informed and dedicated activists who want to put an end to the violence caused by the inappropriate use of guns. The discussion focused on two basic areas of concern, one being the laws that need to be enacted to regulate gun ownership and use in more effective ways, the other being efforts to redo the culture and outlook of young people before they get involved with guns.

With all due respect to the energy and commitment of the folks who engaged in yesterday’s event, I would like to propose a much different perspective on this whole question of gun violence and what we need to do to bring it to an end.

The United States passed its first national gun law in 1934.  This law was based on the idea that what needed to be regulated to the point of almost complete prohibition were guns that were considered too dangerous for commercial sale, i.e., fully-automatic guns, a.k.a., machine guns. The 1934 law, known as the National Firearms Act, is still on the books and it still defines certain types of weapons as requiring all kinds of vetting and licensing before they can be sold.

Most other advanced countries, particularly in Western Europe – England, France, Italy, Germany – also passed national gun laws around the same time that we passed our first law, and in every single case these countries patterned their gun laws after our 1934 law.

There was, however, one basic difference between the NFA34 law in the United States and gun laws everywhere else. Namely, that in England, France, Italy, et.al., handguns and semi-automatic rifles were also considered too dangerous for civilian sales.

The reason we have gun violence that is 7 to 20 times higher than gun violence in other advanced countries is because we are the only country which gives residents basically free access to the purchase, ownership and use of guns that were designed and are still used as military weapons both in the United States and abroad. These guns, manufactured by companies like Glock, Sig, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Kahr – want a few more? – are the weapons used to kill and injure more than 100,000 Americans every year.

So, here’s what happens in the land of the free and the home of the brave when it comes to buying and owning a gun.  On any given day, some young guy walks into my gun shop, plops a rusted, piece of sh*t on the counter and wants to sell it to me for twenty bucks. He found the gun in a closet of his parent’s home while Mother was being carted off to long-term nursing care and Dad, of course, had already departed the scene.

I give him a Hamilton, he’ll buy a pizza on his way back to Boston, I’ll put the gun out on the rack for twenty bucks.

Now the gun doesn’t work. It’s a rusted, old piece of sh*t. But it has a serial number on the size of the receiver, so it’s a gun.

A few minutes later, an old geezer wanders into my shop. He was a machinist years ago and likes to play around with old, metal junk. His eyes light up when he sees this piece of sh*t on the rack, and he offers me ten bucks.  Thank you very much but I need fifteen, which he grumbles as he yanks a fiver out of the front pocket of his pants.

While the old guy is wandering around the shop looking to kill some time before going down to Wal Mart to pick up ‘the wife,’ another guy walks in, quickly comes up to the counter and says – “great! Just what I’m looking for! A Glock 17.”

The second customer pulls out a Visa because he usually doesn’t walk around with $600 cash, but what the hell, since he’s got the credit card, he’ll also buy four, hi-cap mags.

So now the two customers line up at the counter so that we can do all the paperwork and they can leave with their guns. One guy has a gun that doesn’t even shoot. The other guy is standing there with a military weapon and if he walked into a school with all five of his magazines fully loaded up, he could kill or injure 80 adults and children in 3 minutes or less.

Ready?  Under our regulatory system, these two guys have to jump through the exact, same legal hoops to walk out of my store with their guns.

That’s crazy. That’s bizarre. That’s the reason why we have gun violence and other countries don’t. Period. End of story.

As long as we avoid regulating the guns which are used to commit gun violence and instead try to regulate the behavior of people who might commit gun violence, even though we really have no way of telling exactly whom those people might be, we won’t make any dent in the number of Americans whose lives either end or are dramatically and woefully different because they or someone else shot them with a gun.

As for the kids who run around on inner-city streets and need to have their culture reset so that guns no longer play a central role, do you have any idea the resources that would be required to track all these kids from their early school years? The young men who commit the worst, most violent crimes (murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery) are usually clinically and habitually delinquent by the 4th or 5th grade. Our dear, late friend Marvin Wolfgang had that one figured out fifty years ago, okay?

Want to pass another law that will tell law-abiding gun owners what they can and cannot do?  Hey – I got no problem with new laws. Fine with me.

Want to get rid of the violence caused by guns? Get rid of the guns that cause the violence.

After all, you can’t shoot someone with a baseball bat.

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.

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