Ted Nugent Explains Jews And Gun Control To The World.

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For a whole bunch of reasons, some personal, some having to do with my regard for his musicianship, I have refrained until now joining my GVP friends in condemning NRA Board Member Ted Nugent’s gun rants.  I figured that it’s not as if he says anything that really deserves to be discussed, frankly, I usually feel that he should simply be ignored.  But this time he’s crossed a line which, given the fact that I’m Jewish-American by origin although certainly far away from being of practicing belief, requires me to respond.  And I’m referring of course to his Facebook posting containing pictures of 12 Jewish politicians, GVP influencers and other activists who he labels as ‘punks’ because “they would deny us the basic human right to self defense & to KEEP AND BEAR ARMS.”  And just to make sure that nobody missed the point, Ted followed this up several hours later with another post consisting of a photo of Jews being herded forward by a Nazi soldier, the caption reading: “Soulless sheep to the slaughter. Not me.”

nugent              Now before I go forward, let me make one thing very clear.  Nobody’s ever accused Nugent of being a rocket scientist and you don’t have to score very high on an IQ test to strum a guitar.  The fact that what he says is often dumb, dumber and dumbest has proven to be a clever way to keep his name in lights considering that he hasn’t released a hit record in more than twenty years. And frankly, many of the comments he makes about minorities and liberals aren’t that much different in tone and results from what his good buddy Donald Trump says every time he wants a boost in his polls.

But what drew me to Ted’s post was the fact that the only way a viewer would know that all of the individuals pictured were Jewish was because each face was adorned by an Israeli flag.  Now Ted might actually believe that this flag is some kind of universal Jewish symbol or logo but it’s not.  The flag design has only been in existence since 1897 when it was flown at a Zionist conference in Basel, and was then adopted as the official State of Israel flag in 1948.

So what is Ted really telling us by placing this flag on the faces of Mike Bloomberg, Dianne Feinstein, Alan Dershowitz, et. al?  Is he also saying something about the link between these American Jews and Israel?  Because if so, without intending it I’m sure, he has raised a very interesting issue as regards American liberalism, gun control and support for Israel that deserves to be understood.  The fact is that the same ‘anti-gun’ Senators pictured in Nugent’s Facebook rant (Blumenthal, Boxer, Feinstein, Lautenberg, Levin) have all supported domestic regulation of guns, but they have also been legislative leaders in insuring that Israel receives more than $3 billion in military aid each year, which now totals more than $70 billion since the monies started flowing in 1949.  In fact, no other country in the world has received this much military assistance from the Pentagon, and for all the hue and cry over Iran’s alleged attempt to build a nuclear arsenal, the next time you visit Israel, don’t try to book a tour of Dimona, which happens to be where Israel builds its nuclear bombs.

Why are folks like Feinstein and Boxer so supportive of arming the Israel Defense Forces and, at the same time, just as willing to support gun-control legislation at home?  Because the truth is that Israel really does need arms to protect itself from its enemies, but Americans who follow Nugent’s advice to arm themselves aren’t protecting the rest of us from anyone at all. And the good news is that a majority of Americans support Israel and a majority of Americans also support sensible gun controls.  Which are both ideas much too obvious for an idiot like Ted to understand.

Does The NICS System Work? It Not Only Works, It’s Getting Better.

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One of the enduring myths of the gun debate is the notion that the FBI-NICS background check system is broken and probably beyond repair. Or to put it in the usual Gun Nation vernacular, we don’t any more gun-control laws because the laws we have now don’t work.  And then what happens is that someone who passes a NICS check does something stupid with a gun, like the Umpqua shooter or the man and wife in San Bernardino, and see, we told you so, the system really doesn’t work. Which then becomes the rationale for preventing background checks on all gun transfers because since the system doesn’t work, why ask it to do more?

nics              Actually, I think the system not only works very well but, as I am going to show below, many states are constantly trying to upgrade it so that it will work better.  The reason I think the system works is because the low denial rate (at or below 1%) tells me that most legal gun commerce is exactly that – people buying guns who are legally allowed to own guns.  The fact that ‘bad guys’ find other ways to get their hands on guns has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not NICS is working the way it was designed to work.

Despite rumor-mongering and plain stupidity to the contrary, the Brady system was not established as a crime-fighting measure; it was initially designed to delay the purchase of handguns for five days.  Would this procedure have kept guns out of the hands of criminals?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  But that was not the law’s intent.  The intent of the law, which was revised when an instant background check was substituted for the five-day waiting period to allow for a manual background check, was to prevent the impulsive purchase of handguns by anyone who wanted to use a gun to violently attack themselves or someone else.   When the National Research Council concluded their review of research on whether the NICS system had been an effective instrument in reducing crime, they didn’t say that NICS had been ineffective, they said that more research was needed in order to determine Brady’s true effects.  You can thank the Republicans who cut CDC gun-research funding for this gap.

When the Brady bill became law, every state was given two choices in order to comply with the requirement that every first-time gun sale first be approved with an instant background check.  The check could be run by the FBI-NICS operation located in West Virginia, or it could be run by the state itself, this latter system being known as a Point of Contact system, or POC.  Everyone uses the same three databases, which are compiled nationally but obviously require data from every state.  And here is the problem which creates headaches for NICS administrators and excuses for the gang which doesn’t want any controls over guns, namely, that in our federal system, every state has a different way of keeping track of crime, every state uses different software for their systems, every state has gobs of legacy data that is often not even online, every state developed its own criminal-data system without the slightest interest or concern about how crime data was being created, used or stored in any other state.

Now if you listen to Mike Huckabee and the other Republican clowns, you might think that the NICS system is so badly broken that there’s no sense in trying to fix it at all. In fact, over the last seven years, 26 states have spent more than $95 million improving their NICS data, the biggest chunk of dough going to New York, with second-place Florida not far behind.  Much of this money has gone for improving interfaces between criminal and mental health reporting, tracking involuntary commitments, updating county systems and training staff.  And when was the law passed which authorizes this funding?  Under a pro-gun President named George W. Bush.

 

How Violent Is Gun Violence? More Than You Think.

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One of the continuing debates within the GVP community is how to define ‘gun violence.’  On the one hand there are the obvious categories: homicide, assault and robbery with a gun.  Then there is suicide with a gun, which results in death but is certainly a different sort of violence than what happens when a gun is used in a criminal act. And of course we also differentiate between intentional, as opposed to unintentional acts of gun violence; indeed, the latter may not actually be gun violence, even though someone still ends up being injured by a gun.

conference-program-pic              Incidentally, outside the GVP, gun violence doesn’t exist.  As far as I know, the NRA and the NSSF have never used the term ‘gun violence’ in anything they have ever said about guns. The various pro-gun noisemakers (Emily Miller, Dana Loesch, every Republican Presidential candidate, et. al.) prattle on about violent ‘thugs’ who use guns, but it’s people who kill people, remember?  It’s got nothing to do with the gun.  Now back to reality.

Adding up all the categories above, the national gun violence toll in 2013 was 117,894.  At least this is the number published by the CDC. By the agency’s own admission, this number is understated.  Why?  Because when we count nonfatal injuries, any kind of injury, we are estimating the actual number based on reporting from a ‘representative’ group of emergency medical facilities, and sometimes the estimations are close to reality and sometimes they are not. So the death toll is close to accurate but the injury numbers may or may not be exact.  And this is a serious gap in what we know about gun violence because gun injuries are more likely to be significantly more serious than any other type of injury, unless you fall out of a fifth-story window and somehow manage to survive.

My friends at the Gun Violence Archive, by the way, have gun morality numbers which match up pretty close to the CDC.  In 2014 the CDC found 12,265 gun deaths from every type of shooting except suicides.  The GVA number for 2014 was 12,585.  Obviously, the GVA calculation for non-fatal gun injuries is far below the number recorded by the CDC, because most shootings that don’t result in a death aren’t newsworthy enough to get media mention, which is the basic source of information used by the GVA.

Which brings me to the point of this commentary, namely, the fact that by focusing on gun deaths, as opposed to overall injuries, the main issue of gun violence is obscured, if not altogether lost.  The gun violence issue is driven by homicides, particularly when a mass shooting occurs.  But in terms of how many people are seriously affected by shootings, gun mortality is the tip of the iceberg, and we need to understand the totality of the problem if we are going to map mitigating strategies that will really work.

There’s a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Bedford-Stuyvesant, a.k.a., ‘Bed-Stuy, Do or Die.’ Like many Brooklyn neighborhoods, it’s beginning to experience a degree of gentrification, but the area around Fulton and Atlantic Avenues is still the Wild West.  So far this year the neighborhood has experienced 2 murders, which if the carnage continues, the yearly homicide rate per 100,000 will top 20.  But the total number of shooting victims is now 6, which will yield an annual gun violence rate of 60; further down Atlantic Avenue in East New York the GV rate could top 140 by end of year.

Numbers like this don’t describe an ‘epidemic’ of gun violence.  Frankly, I don’t know whether we have invented terminology which accurately describes this state of affairs. But there are neighborhoods all over the United States which experience gun violence at levels equal or above to what goes on in Bed-Stuy; higher even than the violence experienced in Honduras or the Ivory Coast. I’m not even sure that a word like ‘violence’ describes what is really going on.

 

 

 

 

Does Knowledge About Guns Laws Promote More Gun Laws? Maybe Yes, Maybe No.

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A new study conducted by researchers at Yale University and covered in The Trace appears to confirm a truism in how people develop and hold opinions, namely, the more you want to believe in something, the more you can make yourself believe in something.  In this case, the issue is guns, and what two Yale researchers discovered in a survey of 1,384 people, is that people who support stronger gun-control laws also know that background checks are not conducted on all gun transfers, whereas people who are less inclined to support less gun-control laws believe that universal background checks are already in place. In other words, if you believe there is a gun “problem” and you further believe that new laws could help solve the problem, you will be in favor of more laws.  And to quote an old Spanish saying: If not, not.

peacenow              I have two issues with this survey, but I want it understood that I am not trying to throw out the baby with the bathwater; I’m just trying to make the bathwater a bit more warm.  To begin, I am always somewhat suspect of public surveys about guns if the survey purports to reflect the views of a ‘representative’ group of Americans without distinguishing whether this particular group includes gun owners or not. Because on any issue related to guns, these folks are going to have plenty to say, particularly if they happen to be among the minority if gun owners who really do ‘cling’ to their guns because it’s a lifestyle and a hobby that is very important to them.  They are not necessarily the majority of gun owners and it certainly isn’t a majority of Americans, but it may be a majority in certain gun-rich states and it’s for sure just about everyone who turns out when a new gun law comes up for debate.

In this respect the Yale researchers ask the following question: “Could it be that public misperceptions of existing gun control laws also contribute to the absence of public mobilization for new legislation?”  Let me break it gently to our GVP colleagues from Yale – the folks who are against new gun laws never have any trouble mobilizing for a public debate, whether they know anything about the law in question or not.  It’s the 89% of respondents to this survey who both know there are no universal background checks and want an expansion of gun-control laws who usually don’t show up.

The authors focused this survey on questions about background checks because, according to them, “universal background checks for gun purchases could substantially reduce the number of gun-related deaths in the USA.”  They cite two well-known studies to bolster this statement, but that’s not what either study actually says.  The research by Eric Fleelger and his group correlates gun fatalities with the presence or absence of gun laws in every state, but background checks are just one of 17 different legal procedures that are used to monitor public traffic of guns.  As for the study by Daniel Webster, et. al., on the effect of the repeal of Missouri’s handgun-purchase law, a permit-to-purchase procedure conducted at the state level is, by definition, a much more rigorous method for weeding out unqualified handgun purchasers than a 60-second conversation between a gun shop owner and an FBI staffer at NICS.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying or implying that the problem of gun violence can be effectively addressed without additional laws.  I am also not saying that researching the effect of gun-control laws with an eye towards making those laws more effective shouldn’t be done.  But what I am saying is that if we believe in public policy as a mechanism for change, then the question we really have to ask is not whether folks understand the ins and outs of specific policies, but whether they are willing to come out and show themselves when a public policy is being addressed.  Perhaps that’s the question which should have been asked.

 

Want A New AR Rifle? Don’t Buy A New Gun, Just Buy A New Part.

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One of highlights of the gun business is going to the SHOT Show each year and looking at new products.  The gun industry is awash each year in new products for the simple reason that gun makers have to find ways to sell more guns to the same consumers, even if these same consumers already own more guns than they really need to own.  Actually, the last time the gun industry changed the basic design of any product was when Gaston Glock substituted a striker for a hammer and stuck it inside a polymer frame. Otherwise, all the various doo-dads that you find on guns may change the look, the finish or the feel, but a gun is still a gun.

ar              This may not be the case with a new product from an AR custom shop out of Nevada, Franklin Armory, that specializes cobbling together various components to create various different styles of black guns.  And while a gun is a gun is a gun, this time around the folks at Franklin Armory appear to have come up with not just a new type of AR rifle, but a new technology design which differs very significantly from the traditional way in which assault rifles actually work.

It’s called a binary-trigger system, which means that you don’t just get off a shot every time you pull the trigger, you also get off a shot by letting the trigger snap back to its standard firing position rather than waiting for the trigger to snap back to the firing position while the bolt slams shut and then pulling it again. In other words, because the firing mechanism is activated by the trigger moving in either direction, you are getting 2 shots even though you are only pulling the trigger once.

The company has sent relevant engineering and design documentation to the ATF, and while they haven’t gotten an official ‘yes’ as regards this new design, they also haven’t received a ‘no.’  The ATF test lab is the last word on whether any gun can be sold in the United States, which means that right now there’s a teeny chance that all guns sold with this firing system will have to be recalled, but I wouldn’t bet the barn that this would happen anytime soon.

You can catch a discussion about this new firing technology on a video posted on the Guns America website following SHOT.  You can also see the BFS system in actual use by going to the recoil.com website linked above. In the interests of full disclosure, I have not personally tested the Binary Firing System myself.  But if it performs the way it appears in the videos I have watched, there may be a real change in assault-rifle technology looming ahead.

The AR-style platform is popular because of its modular design, which means you can pull out just about any part of the gun and replace it with another, similar part of your own choice.  It’s the ability of gun owners, particularly younger owners, to customize virtually every piece of the AR which makes the gun so popular because you don’t have to buy a new gun to get a new product, all you have to do is buy a new part.  And if or when Franklin Armory gets the official go-ahead from the ATF, I’ll guarantee they will start selling this BFS module to any AR owner who wants to use it with their own gun.

Now here’s the problem for my friends in GVP.  Because of the way the binary trigger works, a gun with this system delivers shots faster than the standard AR. It’s not a full-auto gun, but you are basically shooting semi-auto mode twice as quickly as when the trigger has to be pulled for every shot.  If I need to spell out the implications of this technology to anyone who is concerned about the lethality of an AR, I suggest you go back and read this column again.

 

Want To Live Where You Don’t Need Training To Walk Around With A Gun? Live Just About Anywhere.

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Anybody who thinks The Trace isn’t a source for serious journalism about gun violence ought to think again. Last week Mike Spies authored a story about the conflict between hunters and ranchers in places like the Malheur Reserve, and went far beyond any of the cliché-ridden nonsense that spewed forth from the media before and after the Bundy Boys tried to protect their Constitutional rights.  This week we have another important contribution to GVP journalism with Jennifer Mascia’s report on training required for concealed-carry permits, although her research clearly demonstrates that in most cases this so-called training amounts to no training at all.

training              You may recall that before he was found groping between stalls in a public toilet, Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) had introduced the first national, concealed-carry bill. The bill went nowhere, but it has of late been gaining steam, and last year fell just a few short of getting a positive Senate vote.  It goes without saying, of course, that the entire clown act running for the Republican Presidential nomination would sign such a bill into law.

What Mascia’s article points out is that even without formal, national reciprocity, Gun Nation has managed to create a state-by-state reciprocal infrastructure which allows CCW-holders to carry concealed weapons in a majority of states and, in many cases, to do so without being required to experience any live-fire instruction or proficiency-testing whatsoever.  And why does an organization allegedly devoted to training and gun safety like the NRA promote such dangerous behavior?  Because, as one trainer told Mascia, “I agree with it from the safety perspective, but disagree with it constitutionally.”  In other words, according to this constitutional expert-turned-gun-trainer, the 2nd Amendment grants Americans the unfettered right to own and use a gun, and nobody can be prevented from exercising this ‘right’ just because in the process of doing so they might prove to be dangerous to themselves or someone else.

Now let’s not waste anyone’s time by reminding the ‘I can do whatever I want with my gun’ crowd that, in fact, the majority opinion in District of Columbia vs. Heller explicitly gives public agencies authority to regulate the use of guns.  And let’s also not waste anyone’s time by reminding the same crowd that the courts have said again and again that “preventing danger to the community is a legitimate regulatory goal.” Because the truth is that Gun Nation believes that walking around with a gun is, in fact, a way of preventing community danger, and they cling to this belief even if it means that people are out there protecting the rest of us by carrying guns that they haven’t shot at all.

Or maybe they shot the gun a whole, big 25 rounds which is what the Nevada CCW requirement entails. Does anyone in their right mind actually believe that standing in front of an unmoving paper target and taking as much time as needed to hit a humanoid outline 4 out of 5 times prepares someone to safely deliver lethal force with a gun?

Never mind shooting the gun.  How about just holding it?  Take a look at the picture of the concealed-carry class in Utah which adorns the top of Mascia’s text.  Notice the kid is sitting in a crowded classroom with his finger on the trigger of his gun. Of course he knew the gun was empty, of course he knew. He checked, right?

Anyone who thinks I applaud this journalism because The Trace is anti-gun can go lay brick.  If Gun Nation had one, single media venue whose concern for accuracy and evidence-based reportage was even a fraction of what is practiced in The Trace, we might actually engage both sides in a serious and substantive discussion which might yield some fruit. But as long as pro-gun organizations continue to deflect concerns about gun violence through some half-baked reference to their 2nd-Amendment rights, we might as well ignore the 30,000+ gun deaths each year because nothing’s going to change.

 

Why Can’t We Use The Militia To Defend Ourselves?

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Now that the Bundy Militia has decided that eating dinner at home is better than freezing in the administration building on the Malheur Preserve, I decided to spend a bit of time reading about the whole notion of militias, if only because the bunch at Malheur seem convinced that they represent some kind of unquestioned Constitutional mandate to protect liberty and justice forever.

rubio               Actually, if the modern-day Boy Scouts who go out on weekends and play soldier boy in some gravel pit with their AR rifles would take the trouble to read the Constitution, they might actually discover that as members of a militia they are first and foremost required to follow the dictates of their most hated enemy, a.k.a., Barack Obama, who happens to be Commander in Chief.  I quote from Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 which says: “The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.”

But why let facts or legal texts stand in the way of shooting your mouth off on Fox News?  And it stands to reason that the group at Malheur would call themselves a militia since the modern militia movement has descended directly from anti-government ‘patriot’ groups which, if traced back to their origins, bear a certain clear resemblance to racialist groups which go all the way back to the Ku Klux Klan.  How could it be otherwise when Ammon Bundy’s father Cliven was about to be lionized by Sean Hannity until he screwed up the whole thing by saying, “Let me tell you about your Negro,” followed by a few other choice words.

In this respect, I just read an interesting Letter to the Editor of the Kansas City Star. The author pointed out that the Kansas State Constitution requires the Legislature to organize and equip the state’s militia, and he was wondering (obviously tongue-in-cheek) whether this meant that the Legislature had to supply these self-styled militias with guns.  It’s an interesting concept when you think about it, because currently 23 states have organized militias, usually referred to as State Defense Forces, which can be pressed into service if the National Guard units have been deployed somewhere else. And although such units are sanctioned by Title 32 of the U.S. Code, they are wholly volunteer outfits serving solely at the discretion and direction of state officials, normally the Governor and the Adjutant General who also commands the National Guard.

Not surprisingly, these modern-day militias tend to be called out in response to natural disasters, more than 2,000 SDF personnel participated in rescue and cleanup efforts after Hurricane Katrina, to cite one very important case. On the other hand, SDF units do not receive any regular training nor do the Feds provide any dough for weapons or other equipment and supplies.  Know what happens when a state government has to bear the entire cost of any program?  There usually isn’t a program.

Maybe the Bundy boys and their militia buddies aren’t really so off the mark when they claim to be standing up for their Constitutional rights against the abusive power of the Feds.  After all, wasn’t it Rick Perry who, as Governor of Texas, raised the possibility that Texas might secede?  Which means he would need some kind of armed force to make good on his threat, which means maybe he would use the state militia, which means that the Bundy brothers and their gang could drive down to Texas, volunteer for militia service and finally get a chance to use all those AR rifles to defend their God-given rights.

If you are thinking that I’m just having a little fun because Donald Trump lost the Iowa primary you’re right.  But let’s remember that it was Marco Rubio who took a day off from campaigning to buy a gun as a response to the looming ISIS threat. You think the boys at Malheur are the only crazy ones around?

 

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