Do Guns and Social Media Mix?

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              I have been a fan of Vivek Murthy ever since that fake physician Rand Paul put his first nomination to be Surgeon General on hold back in 2014. Paul was doing nothing other than pimping for Gun-nut Nation which opposed Murthy’s nomination because the incoming SG had the audacity to raise the possibility that 100,000+ fatalities and serious injuries from guns represented a public health threat.

              I therefore looked with great anticipation at the advisory just issued by Murthy’s office on the health effects of social media access by children and adolescents, since so much social media content promotes the presence and use of guns.

              It also should be understood that access to guns which are used to commit violence (as opposed to guns used for hunting or sport) begins to show up when boys are in their teens, and by the time boys (and a few girls) reach the age of 20, more than 2,500 of these young persons have killed someone else with a gun.

              Unfortunately, the Surgeon General’s advisory on social media stays only within the boundaries of mental health, with the issue of social media and violent behavior left entirely undiscussed – you can download the report from my website right here. The report defines social media as follows: “internet-based channels that allow users to opportunistically interact and selectively self-present, either in real-time or asynchronously, with both broad and narrow audiences who derive value from user-generated content and the perception of interaction with others.” [Pg. 21]

              The report then goes on to say: “For the purposes of this product, we did not include studies specific to online gaming or e-sports.” [Pg. 21]

              But online gaming is where the violence, the violent behavior and the use of guns occurs. And most of the shooting games can be played with multiple players at the same time. That’s not interacting with others?

              The most popular shooting game right now is something called Free Fire, an app which can accommodate as many as 52 players at the same time. There are 15 different game modes, with such names as Team Deathmatch and Clash Squad. The most popular mode has up to 52 players landing on an island without weapon which they must then arm themselves by stealing or scavenging guns.

              How does a player win this game?  By killing all the other players and being the last man standing.

              The winner is then given a ranking, kind of like the way that people who play online chess can also achieve rankings which can be used to register for online chess tournaments, except in chess games, nobody’s getting killed.

              In 2021, it is estimated that revenues for Free Fire in the U.S. alone topped more than $100 million. This figure represents about 15% of the game revenues worldwide, with the game being played each day more than 150 million times worldwide.

              But here’s the difference between shooting games like Free Fire being played in the U.S. as opposed to being played anywhere else.

              Ready? The United States is the only country in the entire world where the kinds of guns which are used in video shootouts can also be purchased and used in real time.

              Notice in the picture above the young lady in black holding an assault rifle with a hi-cap mag? In most states, that young lady at the age of 18 can walk into a gun shop and buy that gun.

              Notice the girl slightly above and to the right of the girl with the AR? In her right hand she’s holding a Glock. Or maybe it’s a Sig. Either way, this game which was not considered relevant enough to be included in the SG’s advisory on social media, is giving gun companies like Glock and Sig one helluva free advertising ride.

              Back in 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) adopted a resolution which called for more research on the connection between violence and violent video games. You can download and read the report right here. The resolution was amended slightly in 2018, but the conclusion remained the same: “APA endorses the development and implementation of rigorously tested interventions that educate children, youth and families about the effects of violent video game use.”

              Given the recent surge in gun violence, much of it committed by young men who are just above adolescent age, I simply don’t understand how the Surgeon General could issue an advisory on the effects of social media and ignore the issue of how social media and gun violence are wrapped around each other in a way which promotes both.

              Unless, of course, Dr. Murthy and his colleagues believe that a 16-year-old walking down the street with a Glock in his pocket doesn’t represent a threat to public health.

              But of course, they do.

A New And Exciting Response To Gun Violence.


              Right now, the city of Miami and surrounding Dade County seem to be caught in a spiral of gun violence that doesn’t want to end. Increased community meetings, increased police presence, increased seizures of crime guns – the violence goes on.

              Meanwhile, in addition to an uptick in daily gun violence, there have been two mass shootings, including a drive-by outside a location where a graduation party was taking place that left 3 dead and 5 injured, with no suspects arrested or even identified as of yet.

              What caught my eye in all of this, however, was a bill filed by State Senator Jason Pizzo, which is a unique approach to the problem, but because it was not only a new legislative perspective on gun violence but may have made a difference if it has been signed into law, the bill never got out of committee. We’re talking about the Gunshine State, ze hais?

              Senator Pizzo has refiled his bill this year (SB1310) but it will languish in some committee, but perhaps it will become a template for similar gun bills in states which aren’t so completely under the control of a wannabe Donald Trump like Ron DeSantis. The bill prohibits minors from posting pictures of guns on social media and will require parents of such kids to enroll in education classes if their child used one of their guns for the pictures that are displayed in a social media account that is “openly viewable by the public.”

              This would be an easy law to enforce because such sites – Facebook, Instagram, etc., – are not only viewable by the public but also by the police. And if the parents of juveniles don’t know that their kids are brandishing guns online, it’s something they need to learn and something they need to stop from happening again.

              The problem with enforcing strict penalties for the illegal use of a gun, which is Gun-nut Nation’s universal prescription for how to reduce the violence committed by using a gun, is that such a strategy can only be employed after the criminal event involving gun use has already occurred. The real issue, it seems to me, is how to proactively prevent gun violence before it happens before someone gets it in their head to settle an argument or respond to being dissed by pulling out a gun.

              Our friend Al Lizotte has done the fundamental research on how and when kids get interested in guns and you can download it here. When do kids who use guns for crimes first get interested in guns? In their early teens. When do they start carrying guns? In their middle teens. When does gun violence become the principal cause of homicidal and aggravated assault behavior? From ages 16 on up.

              You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that kids who move from toy guns to real guns in their early teens become the most at-risk population for committing gun violence even before they actually get their hands on a real gun. If they can use a real gun to spice up their appearances on social media, then the transition from gun interest to gun access has already occurred. And even if they only use a plastic imitation of a gun for their social media post instead of the real thing, the intent is clear.

              In 1999, that’s more than twenty years ago, the gun-homicide rate in the United States was 3.88, now it’s 4.39. The gun-assault rate in 2001 was 14.40, it was 18.82 in 2012 and then the CDC stopped trying to compute the non-fatal gun assault rate.

              Never mind the number of gun deaths and injuries that have occurred over the past twenty years. How about the number of young kids who have moved from interest to access, to criminal use of guns during those same twenty years?

              Pizzo’s bill is a good idea. I hope it gets copied in other states.

What Is An Assault Rifle?: Weisser, Michael R.: 9798728410980: Amazon.com: Books

American Democracy Under Threat? Enough Is Enough.

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Notwithstanding all the hot air and bullshit on both sides of the political spectrum about how we are facing a melt-down of the political system due to the attempts by Trump and the alt-right to maintain some media presence after the ass-kicking they took on November 3rd, if we’ve learned anything over the past seven weeks, it’s how remarkably stable our two-party, political system happens to be.

The election was called for the blue team the very night it occurred, a call that was first made by a media network (FOX) that hasn’t been particularly friendly to the winning political party over the past twenty years. The Electoral College met and voted as scheduled last week, the Congress will validate the results on January 6th, and the 46th President will be sworn in exactly two weeks after that date.

Between November 4th and this past week, there has not in any way been a threat to democracy at all. It was nothing more than a lot of play-acting by alt-right media personalities like Trump and Giuliani who in one month will be looking for new jobs. Evidently, Trump has been musing about bringing back ‘The Apprentice’ because he’s used the phrase ‘you’re fired’ even more times as President than he used the same phrase on his weekly TV show.

Ditto all those supporting actors like Stephen and Jason Miller, Jared Kushner, Sydney Powell, and the rest of that bunch. In fact, the alt-right media has already stopped talking about election ‘fraud’ and switched to discussing the ‘fraud’ represented by vaccines for Covid-19.

Want to get an idea about how incredibly stable our government is compared to other democratic regimes? Let’s go back exactly one century and compare. Italy and Germany, as we know, collapsed into dictatorships, the latter perhaps being the worst, most vicious and destructive government of all time. The 4th Republic in France collapsed from the threat of a military coup in 1958, and there was basically no central government until a new Constitution was written and DeGaulle established the 5th Republic in December of that year. The British parliamentary government faced three ‘no-confidence’ votes and had to reassemble a governing coalition three times since 1919.

Know how many different governing coalitions have been responsible for running Israel since the Zionist State came into existence in 1949?  Try 36 different governments in 71 years.  How’s that for stability, okay?

We have absolutely nothing like that type of merry-go-round here. At the end of Joe and Kammie’s first term in 2024, since 1960 the blue and red teams will have controlled the Executive Branch exactly the same amount of time – 32 years.

As for Congress, the Democrats controlled both Houses from 1960 to 1980, although for most of that time the Southern Democrats often out-GOP’d the GOP. Republicans controlled the Senate from 1981 through 1986, then the blue team took over both Houses until 1995. Since then, Congress has been more red than blue, but the control of both Houses may shift back to the blue team on January 5th.

For all the talk about the ‘deep state’ on the one hand, and ‘armed rebellion’ or ‘secession’ on the other, there is simply no mistaking the fact that American government just rolls smoothly along. And this is true whether we are talking about federal, state, or local governmental affairs.

The United States is the only country in the entire world where you can drink the water from any tap (except in Flint), where you can drive on paved roads between every, single town, where meat is inspected before it can be bought or sold and where children get on a bus every weekday morning even if they live around the corner from the school.

If the Russians want to do some real hacking that will make a difference, why don’t they just hack all those internet news websites and blogs?  I’d be happy to fold up and go away If CNN, MSNBC, Vox, Huffington and Politico would do the same.

The Accidental President Becomes The Artificial President.

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              Want to really understand what the Trump Administration has been all about for the last four years? Forget the Mexican wall, forget the love affairs with Kim Jong-un and Vlady Putin, forget Manafort, Kelly, Stone, Cohen and all the other putzes who have been indicted, convicted, and sent off to Otisville or some other federal resort. Also forget Warp Speed which brought the vaccine to the UK before we got it here. Forget all that shit.

              Take a few minutes and read a little story in the (failing) New York Times. [thanks Paula.] But just before you do, you might want to glance at the NYSE ticker because you’ll notice that the day Trump was inaugurated, the NYT stock price closed at $17.65.  Yesterday it closed at $46.74, a gain of 170%. The Dow has gained 50% over the same four years.

              Anyway, there’s a 21-year-old kid named Josh Hall who lives in Mechanicsburg, PA. In case you didn’t know it, Pennsylvania happens to be one of those states which counted millions of illegal ballots that will give Joe and Kammie (and their Deep State Communists-Socialists-Fascists-terrorists buddies) four years in D.C. that they don’t deserve. These votes were so illegal and so corrupt that yesterday the Supreme Court threw out a last-gasp appeal with a one-sentence statement – no dissents. Okay, back to the real news, or the fake news, or whatever the news.

              The kid drives a food delivery truck around town. He says he wants to have an AM shock-jock radio show. He also likes to fool around on social media. His particular talent lies in creating false accounts on Twitter, including one account allegedly belonging to a group called ‘Gay Voices for Trump,’ which raised $7,300 that went into his pocket instead of going to the Trump campaign. In that respect, incidentally, he’s not doing anything all that different from what Trump has been doing with his own fundraising efforts over the past several months.

              Our boy Josh started creating fake Twitter accounts in April, ran a phony GoFundMe that netted him $800 bucks, and began posting the usual mélange of conspiracy theories and pro-Trump diatribes, basically the same kind of stuff which Steve Bannon used to raise more than $1 million to construct a chunk of the Mexican wall which went into his pocket instead.

              Over a few months, the kid created accounts for various members of the Trump family, including Fred Trump III (Donald’s nephew), Maryanne Barry, the President’s sister who is a Federal judge, and Trump’s son Barron, whose name he used to push out an August tweet that the coronavirus was a ‘scam.’

              Josh Hall hit paydirt with his fake tweets on November 20th, when Donald Trump posted a tweet thanking his sister for voicing her support for his efforts to overturn the ‘corrupt’ vote. The sister’s account was almost immediately outed as being a fake, it was deleted by Twitter along with all the other phony accounts that Hall had set up over the previous months.

              Now here’s the point. The President of the United States has nothing better to do than to actually sit there in front of his computer and read fake tweets about himself. Does he have the faintest idea about the degree to which social media has become nothing more than a playground for a bunch of children (and so-called adults) who have nothing better to do? Doesn’t he even remember how the Tik Tok kids demolished his Tulsa rally by trolling fake emails all over the place?

              I have been referring to Trump as the ‘accidental’ President since he only won in 2016 because Hillary and her team ran such a lousy campaign. What Trump has now become is the ‘artificial’ President because his entire Administration is reduced to whatever social media presence he continues to have. Except he doesn’t know anything about social media other than what he reads on his Twitter account, assuming he knows how to read.

Should Social Media Play A Role In Letting People Own Guns?


A friend who labors for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (send them a few bucks) sent us the text of a new bill just introduced in the New York State Senate that would amend the process of issuing handgun licenses in a rather interesting and unique way. The bill, NYS09191, would require that anyone applying for or renewing a handgun license give the cops approval to review the following social media accounts – Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram – and search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. The purpose of this review, according to the text of the bill, would be to “ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of a licensee presents any good cause for the revocation of a license….”

              The bill was introduced by Kevin Parker, who represents the 21st Senate District, which happens to cover Flatbush but borders on two other neighborhoods, Brownsville and East New York, which remain serious contenders for suffering from high rates of gun violence every year. Since Parker is the Democratic Whip, and since both chambers of the Legislature are now controlled by the blue team and the author of the state SAFE law is still the executive in charge, what do you think are the odds that this new bill will become law?  I’d say the odds are good to better than good. Which means that using social media as a criteria to determining the issuance of gun licenses in ‘may issue’ states will probably spread beyond the borders of the Empire State.

When and if this law gets to a public hearing, you can bet that Gun-nut Nation base their opposition to this law on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ because they oppose every gun law based on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But I’m willing to bet that America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization,’ the NRA, will also oppose this law based on their fervent belief in the 1st-Amendment’s protection of free speech. After all, isn’t that what social media’s all about?

Putting aside the rantings and ravings of the gun-nut lunatic fringe, the fact is that this amendment to New York State’s gun-licensing process really does move the issue of gun control into uncharted waters that will certainly need to be explicated by an appellate court.  The courts have held again and again and again that government has a ‘compelling interest’ in public safety, which means that the cops can always be asked to decide whether any particular individual might be a threat to public safety, and then take steps to reduce or eliminate the threat.  But until now, the authorities have based such decisions on overt acts of potentially threatening behavior, as in ‘I’d like to shoot that m-f,’ or other such declarations of intent.  That being said, does the fact that some guy goes on Google to search for ‘mass shootings’ mean that the guy has any intention to precipitate such an event?

The kid who walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and shot the place apart had access to an AR-15 that his mother kept in their home.  The kid also spent much of the previous year compiling a large, digital library on mass shooting events.  But there is no evidence that he ever said anything about committing such an act himself. The Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 used the internet to share and spread hatred-filled remarks about the Muslim threat, but again, never made any specific mention of wanting to gun people down.

I have no problem with cops using social media to determine my fitness to own a gun; more than 150 jurisdictions have spent nearly $6 million to equip themselves with social media tools which are used to deal with crime. But giving law enforcement carte blanche to create a profile of me based on how I meander around the World Wide Web raises all kinds of issues which need o be sorted out.

That being said, I think Senator Parker is onto a good thing.

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