A Different Look At America’s ‘Exceptional’ Gun Violence.

If there is one truism about gun violence which is subscribed to by everyone who is active in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, it’s the idea that the United States has a higher rate of fatal violence than any other advanced country because we have so many guns. The studies which confirm this notion first began to appear in the 1970’s, reappearing with regularity every few years. In addition to finding a link between fatal gun violence and the size of the civilian arsenal, a more recent study suggests the same link also exists between mass shootings and the number of guns in civilian hands, although the author of this study has made no attempt to give us even the slightest hint about the data he used to develop this idea.

gun violence everytown             If the defining characteristics of intentional gun injuries was similar to what we find in other injuries from commonly-owned consumer products (ex., automobiles, bikes) I would have no issue with this approach to understanding injuries caused by guns. But it’s not. Gun injuries are unique among all product injuries tracked by the CDC because in every other category, the person who commits the injurious behavior and the person who gets injured are one and the same. As for gun violence, and violent behavior in general, other than suicide, the injured party and the party who commits the injury are two different people, so we need to understand the behavior of both.

Additionally, gun violence is skewed in terms of where it happens and who is involved.  Of the 3,100 counties in the United States, more than half are not the locations for any gun homicides at all. And less than 2% of all U.S. counties are the locations for more than half of all fatal gun injuries each year.  Furthermore, within these high-risk counties, most of the perpetrators and victims of intentional gun violence are men between the ages of 16 and 34, a majority of whom happen to be from non-white racial groups.

Now let me make one thing very clear.  I am not trying in any way, shape or form to assign certain behavioral characteristics to any particular racial or ethnic group. Nor do I ever make judgements about the relative cultural values of one population group versus another. My approach to understanding gun violence is very simple, namely, the data either explains something or it does not. And the strategies that we adopt for reducing gun violence can either be justified by a rigorous analysis of the data or they can’t. In that regard, I am afraid that the way we analyze data on fatal gun violence, particularly when we use the data for cross-national comparisons, simply doesn’t work.

I have just posted a very detailed paper examining how we define and use data for cross-national comparisons about fatal gun violence that raises substantive questions about whether the accepted narrative about the exceptional rate of American gun violence leads us towards more effective GVP strategies or not.  The paper is available on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and can be downloaded here.  You can also send me comments about the paper to which I will quickly respond.  This is the second paper I have posted and I am pleased to join more than 370,000 scholars worldwide who use SSRN to share research with other scholars in their field. Without such intellectual cross-fertilization, our body of knowledge would expand at a much slower pace.

Regardless of how we feel about guns, everyone has a vested interest in feeling secure and safe. And it doesn’t matter whether risks to our safety are felt more in one area or among one population group as opposed to another, either we share a commitment to the commonweal or we don’t. My only hope is that part of this commitment will rest on validated data culled from serious research.

 

 

Conspiracy Theorists Aren’t The Only Ones Who Got It Wrong At Sandy Hook.

I’m not sure that the defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones by Sandy Hook parents Pozner and Heslin is a good thing or a bad thing. Obviously, anything that would take a little wind out of Jones’ sails is a good thing; the bad thing is that Jones will promote himself as an innocent ‘victim’ and use the suit to inflame and widen his audience a little more.

jones             You should know that Jones is hardly the only conspiracy theorist to trot out the idea that the massacre at Sandy Hook never took place.  Another conspiracy theorist, James Tracy, lost a tenured position at Florida Atlantic University because he not only promoted the idea that the whole episode was a hoax, but was accused by one of the Sandy Hook families of harassing them in an attempt to dig up more details. A conspiracy video called ‘The Sandy Hook Truther – Fully Exposed,’ racked up over 5 million views within the first week after it aired on YouTube in 2013.

The problem with the conspiracy gang is that the main target of all their conspiracies, a U.S. President who was born in Kenya, is no longer around. So, it’s not clear the degree to which this kind of nonsense will maintain its audience share when the last thing that someone like Alex Jones will do is to accuse D.D.D. Trump of using the government to promote his nefarious ends. After all, it’s pretty tough to attack the guy whose entire political agenda is based on cleaning out the ‘deep state.’

But getting back to the issue of Sandy Hook, unfortunately, self-promoters like Alex Jones were aided in their efforts to push the conspiracy line by the mainstream media, whose representatives descended on Newtown like locusts in a wheat field and very quickly began screwing their news reports up, down, sideways and everywhere else.  Early that afternoon news reports began identifying the shooter by name, except the person who allegedly shot everyone wasn’t Adam Lanza, rather, it was his older brother Ryan who was on his way home from his job in lower Manhattan when he learned that he was being accused of killing a whole bunch of school kids.

How did the media blow this one so bad?  Because directly after the shooting scene was secured, the cops searched Adam Lanza’s car and found Ryan’s driver’s license which was in the car for reasons that were never made clear. During the search, a reporter grabbed one of the cops, asked him what they had found, and the cop said, “Oh, we know who it is because he left his driver’s license in the car.”  And once this news got out, every network and every media venue reported it all over the place.

Six days after the massacre, NPR ran a detailed account of the mistakes made by media in the initial reportage about Sandy Hook, and named themselves, The New York Times, CBS and the Associated Press among others who got it wrong before they got it right. The lack of early media diligence was explained by the hyper-competitive situation which now characterizes all media news, but the bottom line is that the moment that a mainstream media venue had to retract or change a story, this gave the conspiracy theorists all the ammunition (pardon the pun) they would need.

I would hope that our friends in the responsible media would learn from this episode, particularly because Sandy Hook parents like Leonard Pozner and others continue to suffer from this outrageous fusillade of lies while still trying to overcome their grief. But I am still waiting for the Las Vegas Police Department to explain how photographs from within Stephen Paddock’s hotel room appeared on the internet before the cops even confirmed the shooter’s name.

It’s easy to blame Alex Jones for pushing a false story about Sandy Hook. But are we so sure that we can trust our friends in the mainstream media to tell us what really happens when someone starts banging away with a gun?

Does Public Health Research Explain Gun Violence?

Now that the gun-grabbing, liberal elite has decided that the way to reduce gun violence is through a ‘public health’ approach, I thought I would summarize what we know:

  • 74% of all victims of intentional fatal gun injuries committed by one person against another are men and women ages 14 – 30, of whom 40% are African-Americans who account for less than 15% of all Americans within that age group.

public healthThat is what public health research can definitively tell us about gun violence.  The research does state many other things, such as the link between gun laws and gun violence rates; such as the connection between lack of safe gun storage and gun injuries; such as gun homicides increasing when permit-to-purchase procedures are replaced by instant background checks. None of those findings, however, are definitive, and when public health scholars refer to gun violence as embracing an epidemiological approach to the problem, they are surrounding their research with an aura of scientific nomenclature which it doesn’t yet deserve.

Not to worry, I’m not turning into a pro-gun curmudgeon who all of a sudden believes that gun violence prevention (GVP) goals and objectives need to be thrown aside.  To the contrary, thanks to the Parkland kids and the overwhelming revulsion of D.D.D. Trump, his pimp attorney Cohen and the rest of the merry band, there may actually be a chance for some effective and much-needed gun-control strategies to become law of the land. All the more reason why we need to scrutinize what we know and still need to know about gun violence with a fine-tooth comb.

And here is where taking a ‘public health approach’ to gun violence can make things fuzzy rather than clear. The first time an illness appears, it may be due to nothing other than some spontaneous, physiological event. But the moment it appears in more than one person, we need to figure out how it got from Victim A to Victim B – the transmission mechanism – which often requires us to figure out the identity of the carrier, even if that individual never exhibits the symptoms of the germ himself.  It didn’t take long to figure out that AIDS was found overwhelmingly in the gay community and amongst individuals who were addicted to injected drugs. But what was the exact manner in which it spread?

We face exactly the same problem with understanding gun violence because, as opposed to most injuries (cars, falls, etc.) in the case of guns it takes two to tango; the injured party and the person whose behavior resulted in the injury aren’t one and the same. So, while public health research tells us an awful lot about the victim of this medical event, we know next to nothing about why someone else transmits this medical condition by shooting off a gun.

Our friends at the UC-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program have put up a very comprehensive resource to can be used by health-care providers who want to identify gun risk amongst their patients and counsel about same. The website contains a basic checklist of symptoms which indicate risk (violent behavior, abusive parents, substance abuse, et. al.,) behavior which has been validated by endless public health research over the past 25 years.

There’s only one little problem – these symptoms are exhibited by people who commit violence whether or not they use a gun. And less than 5% of the individuals who try to physically injure someone else each year use a gun. How come the other 95% don’t? With 300 million guns floating around, it can’t be because there’s any great difficulty getting their hands on a gun.

Until and unless we focus on the shooters and not just on the victims, I am afraid that the ‘public health approach’ to gun violence will not necessarily provide the answers we seek. And if we don’t fully understand how and why people use guns in inappropriate or illegal ways, how do we craft effective public policies to make those behaviors change?

That Old Time Religion Ain’t So Pro-Gun.

Back in April, 2016 when D.D.D. Trump showed up at the NRA meeting and was endorsed by America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ a lot of folks in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement began to think that if the worst of all possible worlds happened and Schmuck-o Trump actually became President, their efforts to reduce gun violence might come to a crashing halt. Because it’s one thing to have a President who is ‘pro-gun’ just because every Republican politician is pro-gun; it’s another to have a President who builds an entire political campaign out of being pro-gun.

billboard16x9             But it now appears that not only has the presence of D.D.D. Trump in the White House provoked a resurgence of GVP activity, along with significant political gains, but more important there has been a growth in the number and type of GVP organizations which did not exist a year or even six months before.  Part of this new GVP wave is due, of course, to the kids from Parkland, make no mistake about that. But I am seeing something much deeper and wider than just a response to the mass shootings; I am seeing what appears to be a significant social and cultural change.

How do you explain the fact that a billboard telling Christians to support gun control has just gone up in a North Carolina county that gave Trump-o 55% of the vote?  Now granted, the group which paid for this – the North Carolina Council of Churches – has always been a liberal voice among religious groups. But they didn’t run a roadside message like this after Sandy Hook, and evidently this billboard is going to be placed in other locations throughout the Tar Heel state.

When the groundswell first started after Parkland, the immediate response of the gun-rights noisemakers was to dismiss the entire effort as just another example of how the gun-grabbing elitists were ‘using’ kids like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez to promote their own, nefarious aims. And in previous pro-gun, anti-gun contests, selling the idea that the liberal elite was trying to deny average Americans the ‘right’ to defend themselves was an argument that usually worked. But this is different. You can argue with Bloomberg, you can argue with Soros, but it’s not all that easy to argue with Jesus Christ.

Over the years, much of the so-called strength of the pro-gun movement has been explained as not reflecting the size of their movement per se, but the degree of energy and commitment that promotes their cause. Again and again, public surveys find that gun owners are much more likely to engage in political activity about regulating guns than advocates from the gun-control side.  But when outfits like Delta, United, Avis, Hertz and the bank which was issuing NRA credit cards all cut their ties to the Fairfax boys, this sends a much more powerful message than some jerk-off ‘good guy’ who sends a snarky or profane email to a Facebook page promoting more regulation of guns.

How much of the new-found GVP effort is tied directly or indirectly to the growing disillusionment and disgust with Trump? Just as nobody was willing to imagine or predict that Schmuck-o would win the election, so nobody ever imagined that his behavior since moving into the Oval Office could provoke such an anti-Trump storm. But the good news about building a political movement is that it’s always easier to attack than defend, something which the pro-Trump collective is now realizing in spades.

Take a look at the new gun law that just went into effect in Vermont.  This law takes Vermont from the least to one of the most regulated of all 50 states, and it was signed by a Republican governor who, until last week, was rated an ‘A’ by the NRA. Vermont has an active and energetic gun-rights group, some of whom showed up to heckle Governor Scott as he signed the gun bill. Guess what?  The ‘good guys’ lost a big one and the virus may spread.

How Does U.S. Gun Violence Compare To Other Nation-States?

If there is one argument about gun violence which has taken on a life of its own within the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, it’s the idea that the U.S. has a much higher level of lethal violence because we have so many more guns. The most recent research in this respect was published several years ago by two eminent GVP scholars who compared the rate of intentional mortality injuries in the U.S. to the same injury category in 23 other ‘wealthy’ nations and found the U.S. rate to be much higher than anywhere else.

gun violence everytown             Here is their basic finding: “U.S. homicide rates were 7 times higher than in other high-income countries, driven by a gun homicide rate that was 25.2 times higher.” Wow.

It’s always tricky to make cross-national comparisons when it comes to gun violence because often the data required to develop and study a problem just isn’t there. Or if it is there, sometimes the researcher won’t let anyone have access to the information, so it’s as if the numbers don’t exist even if they do.  A case in point is a celebrated article by Adam Lankford, who claims to have done a cross-national comparison of 171 countries and determined that the U.S. rate of mass gun violence is much higher than anywhere else because Americans own so many guns.  But nowhere in his paper or downloadable from the journal in which it appeared can we even view the figures which he allegedly used.

The good news about the study which compared mortality in the U.S. to other high-income countries, however, is that all the data either accompanies the article itself or is referenced to other published works (Small Arms Survey, World Bank, et. al.) Which brings me to a much more concerning problem with this research, namely, the decision to base murder rates on overall population totals, which could distort the whole issue of violence caused by guns.

In fact, there are two issues which need to be addressed if we are going to make a valid comparison between the United States versus everywhere else. First, the fact that a country’s civilian population owns a lot of guns doesn’t really explain any causal connection to gun violence unless we know what kinds of guns are actually owned. Of the 24 ‘wealthy’ countries whose violence rates were compared, the United States is the only country that grants its residents more or less free access to handguns, which happen to account for at least 80% or more of all intentional gun deaths. In terms of understanding relative gun risk, counting Grandpa’s rusted old shotgun sitting in the basement doesn’t explain anything at all.

The more important issue, however, is whether we should be comparing gun-violence rates from an epidemiological perspective (i.e., creating an injury rate on overall population, the way we create a rate to understand the risk of an infectious disease.)  By using overall population counts to compute gun violence rates, we are assuming that a gun injury is just like any medical event which causes an injury, but it’s not. Intentional gun injuries can only occur if someone makes a series of conscious, calculated decisions to get their hands on a gun, load a gun, carry a gun, and use the gun in an improper or illegal way.  There is no other medical event of any kind, even other intentional, physical injuries, that require so much forethought and work.

Know what happens when we compare gun violence rates between wealthy countries using the number of civilian-owned guns found in each nation-state? The U.S. rate is no longer 7.5 times higher than any other country; in fact it is right smack in the middle of the average rate for all 24 ‘wealthy’ states.

It would be folly to argue that we don’t have a serious and protracted problem with gun violence. Of course, we do. But when we compare gun violence on the basis of ownership rates, we discover that the U.S. may not be such a violent place.

 

No Matter Where It Happens, Gun Violence Is Still Gun Violence.

Like it or not, much of the discussion about gun violence flows over to the issue of race, or more specifically, how racial minorities are disproportionately the victims of violence caused by guns. According to our friends at the Violence Policy Center (VPC), black Americans “are only 13% of the U.S. population, yet represent 50% of homicide victims,” of whom 83% were killed with guns.

town              Things don’t get any better when we break the numbers down by racial and age groups. In 2016, the leading cause of African-American mortality for men and women ages 15-24 and 25 -34 was homicide, accounting for 42% of all deaths for the 15-24 group, and ‘only’ 26% for the age group 25 to 34.  For whites in those some age groups, homicides ranked 7% and 5% respectively for all deaths.

These are terrible numbers, for the most part reflecting the degree to which African-American communities continue to experience the socio-economic manifestations of poverty which divide such populations from everyone else. I recall the shock and dismay when Michael Harrington ‘discovered’ this seemingly-intractable indigence in his classic The Other America, published in 1962. In the more than half century since that time have things really changed?

I think it’s a major step forward when a Parkland kid like David Hogg, who refers to himself as ‘white and privileged’ makes it clear that he wants to speak not just for his classmates but for “all of the people that have died as a result of gun violence and haven’t been covered the same can now be heard.” As terrifying as mass shootings are, let’s not forget that such events add a tiny fraction to the overall gun violence body count, and most of that count are bodies which are young and black.

The purpose of this column, however, is not to advocate for more attention paid to inner-city gun violence, but rather to discuss another aspect of the gun violence issue which is too-often ignored.  Because if we are going to concentrate our concerns on what gun violence does to the quality of life and the length of lives in our inner cities, we skip over what gun violence does in communities not of color, but communities where only folks in the majority race tend to live.

Ever been to Wirt County in West Virginia?  It covers some 250 square miles of rolling hills and small farms some 40 miles north of Charleston, in 2016 four out of five voters marked their ballots for D.D.D. Trump. The county is home to some 5,800 people, median family income is around $36,000 (the U.S. median is now just under $60,000) and the racial diversity is zero; i.e., it’s all white.  In 2014, there were 9 murders in Wirt County, which doesn’t sound like a heckuva lot except on a per-100,000 basis, which is how we figure crime rates, it works out to 155.  The last time I checked, the murder rate in gun-happy Philadelphia was 16.

Look at the murders in Wirt County from another point of view.  The population density in New York City is 66,000 per square mile, which means that in Manhattan, the average city block is home to roughly 3,300 folks.  Put two city blocks together and you have about the same number of people that live in Wirt County.  How would you feel if 9 people were murdered in one year on the block where you lived?

In 2016, more than 8,600 white men and women were murdered, three-quarters with guns. But we don’t hear about these killings because they take place in small, dispersed, isolated places like Wirt County, and believe me, there are plenty of Wirt Counties all over the national map.

I’m really hopeful that the Parkland kids will create more pressure on the media to talk not just about the spectacular, rampage shootings, but as well spend more time reporting about the humdrum, one-on-one shootings which happen every day. But let’s just remember to include all the victims of gun violence in those reports.

 

Ted Nugent And Alex Jones: A Perfect Pair.

Let me say this about Ted Nugent.  He is a remarkably-talented musician.  And the few moments when he played some licks for Alex Jones demonstrated why this guy has sold more than 30 million albums in a musical career that is in its sixth decade. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy Ted’s music, you also have to listen to him and Jones repeating the same clichés over and over again although the media reports that he wanted liberals shot down like ‘rabid coyotes’ wasn’t exactly true.

nugent1              Ted’s beginning to remind me of what I experienced every time I went to Florida to visit my grandparents who lived in South Miami Beach before it became known as South Beach. My grandfather and several of his cronies would sit on a bench in Flamingo Park debating this subject and that, and whatever came out of their mouths was true because it came out of their mouths.  God knows what the filtering mechanism was that put the ideas into their brains in the first place. But what always struck me about their conversations was the degree to which they knew that what they said was completely and totally true.

I’m not sure how many times in the hour-long conversation Ted said that he was always guided in everything he did by “truth, logic and common sense.” I stopped counting when he repeated this brief homily for the ninth or tenth time. But every time he repeated this profound phrase his interviewer, whose entire career has been built on never saying anything which remotely connect to the truth, nodded his head up and down.

I never realized until I watched this video that Nugent considers himself to be a true, civil rights pioneer.  He pridefully mentioned how much he loved various Black musicians like Little Richard and James Brown, noting that it was America’s ‘freedom’ that allowed these artists and other Black performers to achieve fame and renown. That civil rights laws were the handiwork of all those liberals and Democrats who are trying to destroy what patriots like Nugent try to protect went unmentioned. But why let a few facts get in the way of opinions, right?

The best part of the show was when Nugent and Jones were out on the shooting range and Ted was trying to explain to Alex why the AR-15 was just like any other sporting gun. What makes the AR just another sporter, according to Ted, is the fact that it only shoots in semi-auto mode, and “no society would be so irresponsible to send the military into war with a semi-automatic weapon.” The fact that the current battle rifle carried by U.S. forces can be set to semi-automatic firing status probably means that the guns will only be shot that way when a trooper is wandering around Ted’s ranch.

Ted also made a point, multiple times, about how he’s ‘studied’ all the mass shootings, and every such event, including the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, could have been prevented if patrons inside the club had been allowed to carry guns. You may recall that D.D. Trump said the same thing during the 2016 campaign, and it was left to Chris Cox to remind him that the NRA didn’t support the idea of people mixing booze with guns.

The one thing I never did while listening to my grandfather and his friends concoct one harebrained explanation after another was to speak up and interject my own ideas. Because if I had said anything that didn’t support their nonsensical views, I would have been immediately told to shut up and learn something from what the older generation knew to be true.

When Ted Nugent stops playing his guitar and starts shooting off his mouth, what you have is a quintessential case of arrested mental development; here’s a guy who has not been told to his face that he’s full of sh*t for at least fifty years. But he sure knows how to play that guitar.

Thank God The Liberal Media Can Still Find Someone Who Loves Guns.

Now that the Parkland kids have managed to put gun-control laws in the middle of the upcoming off-year election campaign, we have to assume that Gun-nut Nation will rev up their noise machine and say whatever they can say to deflect attention away from the whole issue of violence caused by guns.  Except the last time I looked, all those 2nd-Amendment stalwarts who have been marching around with their trusty AR-15 rifles slung over their backs seem to have quit the scene.

antifa            But where are all the pro-gun marches that were going to be held to counter the national protests on March 24th?  Where are all the gun-toting patriots screaming to lock up Hillary at all those Town Halls? Even Ted Nugent ends up going from a White House dinner to a boring interview with Alex Jones.

But not to worry about how the 2nd-Amendment gang is being marginalized and pushed to the sidelines in the continuing discussion about guns. Because we can count on the mainstream media (read: liberal, gun-grabbing media) to keep Gun-nut Nation alive.  Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a story about a young guy down in Texas who finally saved up enough dough to buy his first AR-15.  The compassion, the humanity of this new AR owner dripped from every page.  Here’s some of the better quotes:

“He’s here this weekend [at a gun show where he bought the gun] not because he worries about an imminent ban, but because he just sold his Mustang and finally has the cash.”

“Rodriguez has long been a gun enthusiast. He learned how to shoot when he was in elementary school, and he purchased his first gun at 18.”

“He learned more about guns through YouTube, got a job and settled into a responsible life with a gun hobby on the side.”

Get it?  This guy’s not a nut; he’s not going to run into a school with his AR and start blasting away.  He’s actually a married man with a real job and he always wanted an AR because taking it out to the range is a “lot of fun.”  He’s not even worried about a terrorist attack and says that for self-protection, he would rather rely on a handgun than on his newly-purchased AR.  Of course, it turns that he’s never actually been involved in a criminal event of any kind. But he knows that if it actually happened, he would have no trouble engaging in defensive gun use because, “Can you think of a more honorable way to [die] than trying to save people’s lives?”

Okay, our boy has a few fantasies about life and death, so do we all.  But does the WaPo reporter at any point even hint at the possibility that this kid just spent a thousand bucks on a new toy?  Of course not. Because the truth is that these same reporters couldn’t stop writing about all those gun-toting, proto-fascist kids last year who were getting ready to mount the barricades and defend freedom against the Antifa hordes.

What happened to all that nonsense?  I’ll tell you that happened. It was nothing except whatever the mainstream media decided it should be. And once the brouhaha about Charlottesville died down and nobody really cared whether this Civil War statue or that Civil War statue stayed up or came down, the whole big deal about crazies running around with guns also died down. Instead, we now have an African-American gun instructor, Michelle Tigner, whose goal is to train one million women to use guns and also touts herself as “the  perfect mediator for a civil dialogue between ‘unwilling’ to talk gun advocates and ‘uninformed’ anti-gun crusaders.”

All of a sudden everyone’s interested to talking to both sides. Am I the only person out there who sees this as nothing more than the latest manifestation of good, old American entrepreneurship to make a quick buck by promoting the idea that most gun owners are actually normal people when it comes to what they do with their guns?

Should I Join The Golden Eagles? You Decide.

Yesterday in the mail I received my 2018 Defender of Freedom Award from the National Rifle Association.  I am proud to place this plaque on my wall just below my 2017 NRA Freedom award.  The plaque comes with a very inspiring letter from Wayne-o LaPierre, which even appear to be personally signed by the NRA’ distinguished Executive Vice President. You know, Wayne-o is the guy who has actually sat right next to Draft Dodging Trump in the White House, so getting a letter from Wayne-o is like getting a letter from Draft Dodger himself.

freedom             I am so proud and humbled to receive this award that I want to quote directly from Wayne-o’s letter to me.

“Whenever powerful anti-gun politicians and their allies launch an all-out attack on the Second Amendment, you always stand firm and fight to defeat gun bans, ammo bans and gun owner registration.”

This Award is only bestowed on exceptional NRA members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership well above their peers – and whose inspiration to gun owners has contributed significantly to the defense of the Second Amendment.”

Now I’ve heard all about the push for a new assault weapons ban, but I didn’t know that the gun grabbers were also going after ammunition as well. On the other hand, we all know that extending background checks to personal gun transfers will certainly push us down the slippery slope to gun registration, then gun owner registration, then gun confiscation, then Fascism, then another Holocaust – no wonder I have just been recognized as a Defender of Freedom. It’s one and the same package after all.

But the letter from Wayne-o contains something else beyond congratulating me for my fervent defense of America’s most important civil right.  It also states that because I am a Defender of Freedom I can join the NRA Golden Eagles Club, which is certainly a rare honor and one I should not pass up.  The Golden Eagles, according to Wayne-o, “have stood on the front lines of the greatest gun rights battles of our generation. Golden Eagles recognize that there I no greater gift we can bestow on future generations than to win the battle for freedom today.”

I can’t believe it. Little ol’ Mike the Gun Guy gets to serve the cause of freedom alongside such patriots as Oliver North and Dana Loesch! That’s right. They’re also Golden Eagles and I can’t believe that I could be counted as being in the same company as two fine, upstanding Americans like them. In fact, my Defender of Freedom plaque is embossed not only with Wayne-o’s signature but with the signature of LtCol North – I can’t wait to show this to my kids and my grandkids.

Of course, in order to be a member of the Golden Eagles, I have to demonstrate that my commitment to America’s first freedom doesn’t run just skin deep. Wayne-o’s asking me to give him two hundred bucks to help keep freedom alive. This dough will also help the NRA fight the good fight in the upcoming elections because if the ‘tens of millions’ that Bloomberg and Soros are pouring into ‘gun-ban schemes’ bears fruit, the gun-grabbers could “wipe out everything you and I have worked so hard to achieve.”

I have until May 21st to make a decision, but this is too important a decision to make on my own. So, here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m asking you – my readers – to tell me whether I should support America’s freedoms by taking this poll. I’ll run it until May 15th or so and then announce the results. If you tell me to join the Golden Eagles I’ll whip out the ol’ checkbook and join away. I’ll be guided by what you say and thanks for helping me decide what I should do.

 

 

 

How Come Gun Sales Haven’t Shown A Parkland ‘Spike?’

Whenever a mass shooting occurred under the Obama ‘regime,’ the President would deliver a teary speech, the usual suspects in Congress and the gun violence prevention (GVP) community would call for a new gun-control law and gun sales would go through the roof.  This was the scenario after Aurora, after the shooting of Gabby, after Sandy Hook.

march              Parkland has been different because the gun-control organizations won’t be getting their marching orders from the liberal political establishment and Draft Dodging Trump; this time the whole shebang is being led by a bunch of kids. And if you don’t think that Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg haven’t pushed the whole issue of gun control into a totally different context, just ask Laura Ingraham how she’s doing getting new sponsors for her television show.

What has also changed since Parkland is the degree to which the gun industry can no longer live off of panic buying generated by fears that guns will no longer be around. The FBI has just released its NICS numbers for March, an event which used to be greeted by Gun-nut Nation with paroxysms of joy, but the numbers for last month landed with a dull thud.

Here are the relevant numbers:  Handgun checks in March 2018 were 781,452; the number for March 2017 was 751,866, which is basically the same. Overall month-to-month NICS checks did increase from 1,274,419 in 2017 to 1,417,463 this year, a gain of 11%, but checks in February 2013, when Obama was ramping up his post-Newtown gun bill were more than 1.5 million, a number that won’t happen again.

One interesting caveat is that the number of NICS checks for the category known as ‘other’ doubled from 38,684 in 2017 to 68,192 this year.  For the most part, a background check classified as ‘other’ is used when someone buys a serialized receiver which isn’t connected to a barrel or a stock. The transaction still requires a background check but the owner has to then add various components so that he actually can fire the gun, which is increasingly how AR-15 rifles are now sold. One of the reasons the AR-15 is so popular is that the polymer frame can easily be adapted to all kinds of accessories and do-it-yourself parts; this also reduces the price of the gun by as much as half.

I truly believe that the Parkland kids have accomplished what none of the organizations which comprise the GVP community have ever done before; namely, they have shifted the argument about gun violence away from the political arena to where it really belongs, namely, as an issue which ultimately needs to be decided by the people who own guns. Because either the gun-owning community will realize that they simply don’t need to own any more of the damn things or people who don’t own guns will decide that they don’t need to own them at all. If Gun-nut Nation stops registering its fears about losing their guns by stampeding into gun shops every time a liberal politician says something about needing more gun control, passing sensible and effective gun laws will be a piece of cake.

In the interests of full disclosure, however, I must add a note about the current regulatory environment itself. I am not particularly sanguine about enhancing gun regulations if it means granting more power or authority to the ATF.  The ATF lab is probably the best forensic lab in the world, but the regulatory division contains the biggest bunch of liars, inept fools and misfits who could ever be put together in any federal agency at all. This is the bunch that violated countless laws because they thought that a repair garage in Arizona was converting semi-auto AK rifles into full-auto jobs. This is also the bunch which convinced themselves that David Koresh was making machine guns in his compound outside of Waco, a totally-mistaken belief which cost 75 lives.

I am really happy that a bunch of kids are leading the effort rather than a bunch of GVP organizations taking their cues from on high. But give the ATF more authority to regulate guns?  Please.