Shouldn’t ER Doctors Know What To Do About Gun Violence?

Yesterday a horrendous shooting occurred in of all places a city named Chicago.  But as opposed to most shootings in Chicago, this shooting didn’t take place in the street.  In fact, it happened at Mercy Hospital, located on the city’s South Side. The hospital treats its share of shooting victims from the surrounding streets. This time, the victims were hospital staff themselves.

              The story behind the shootings was the same old, same old. Guy gets into an argument with girlfriend, out comes the gun and bang, bang, bangity-bang. The first victim was an ER doctor named Tamara O’Neill, evidently the former fiancée of the shooter, a relationship she broke off at some point prior to yesterday’s attack.  The shooter, identified as 32-year old Juan Lopez, may have possessed a concealed-carry permit which, no doubt, he obtained in order to validate his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The episode started with an argument between Lopez and O’Neill in the hospital parking lot; the ER doctor was shot dead right on the spot, Lopez then ran into the hospital, killed two more people, then was either shot by the cops or killed himself.

There’s probably a good chance that the late Dr. O’Neill was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the professional organization which sets treatment protocols and lobbies for ER medicine at both the federal level and individual states. The organization’s website recently posted a study in which nearly half of 3,536 ER doctors reported that they had been physically assaulted during their work in an ER. Not a single respondent to this national survey claimed that the person who attacked them used a gun.

Perhaps this is the reason why ACEP gives generous political donations to Congressional members representing various districts throughout the United States, but also representing the NRA. What I mean by that is there are 15 current House members who receive the coveted A+ rating from the boys in Fairfax, which means they make sure that what the NRA is what the NRA gets.

The leader of this pack of fools is Richard Hudson (R-NC) who has received $20,000 of the $143,000 that ACEP has contributed to the campaigns of these 15 NRA reps in 2016 and again this year. Why does Hudson rank Numero Uno when it comes to ACEP’s political support? Because he sponsored Public Law 115-83, which eases registration requirements for EMS companies to use controlled substances during an emergency call. One other NRA rep, Ralph Abraham, was given $1,000 and he is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill. Not a single other NRA Congressional toady was a co-sponsor of this legislation, but ACEP found it convenient to give them $122,000 over the last two campaigns.

This bill was passed in the House with a unanimous vote by both parties, no debate. A real tough one, okay? ACEP needed to give Hudson 20 grand for this? And by the way, Hudson also happens to be a major supporter of the national concealed-carry bill, which if it had passed and he was still alive, Dr. O’Neill’s killer could have carried his gun into any other state. Of course after Parkland, Congressman Hudson tweeted his ‘prayers.’

I am sure that within a few days, the ACEP website will contain a loving and glowing tribute to Dr. O’Neill. Maybe the organization will establish a scholarship in her name. In the meantime, let me break the news to some of my friends who happen to be members of APEC and have yet to make a single peep about how their organization funds Members of Congress who, when it comes to gun issues, are the worst of the worst.

Here’s how you end gun violence.  Get rid of the goddamn guns. I don’t mean Grandpa’s rusted, old shotgun that has been sitting in the basement for the last twenty years or the little, 22-caliber rifle that you fired at summer camp. I mean guns like the type used by Tamara O’Neill’s ex-boyfriend to shoot her dead.

Can’t ER doctors figure this one out?

 

Don’t More Gun Injuries Mean More Business For Emergency Rooms?

Last week our friends at The Trace published an article on a brief but noisy exchange which broke out between a group of ER doctors and the NRA. The physicians have put up a website which claims to be collecting and distributing funds that will be awarded to gun researchers to make up for gun-research dollars no longer provided by the CDC.  The NRA is the NRA.

            This same bunch of physicians, whose gun-violence research credentials are impeccable, also put up a chain letter that could be sent to the NRA.  The letter was in response to an op-ed on the NRA website which basically told the medical community to stick its concerns about guns you know where.  The NRA editorial was the organization’s response to yet another medical article which found that, believe it or not, a connection between guns and gun injuries. Gee, what a surprise. And of course it’s even a bigger surprise that the NRA would deny that such a connection even exists.

Physicians and public health researchers have been publishing credible research on gun violence for more than twenty-five years. Know what these well-meaning and dedicated researchers have gotten for all their efforts? The elimination of CDC funding for gun research. That’s it. Period. Zilch. In fact, over the last several years, gun-violence rates appear to be going back up.  Oh well, oh well. Maybe another research article on gun violence will push the rates back down, right?  Wrong.

The good news, of course, is that the physicians who want you to sign their chain letter to the NRA also happen to be members of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the folks who usually have to figure out how to keep someone alive who has a bullet in their head. And they are remarkably skilled in this respect; of the 75,000 or so who suffer injuries from gun assaults each year, only 12,000 or so end up dead. The rest come back to the hospital on a much too-frequent basis and after a few more visits, also end up dead.

And how does the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) respond to this problem? They give substantial financial support to the politicians who make a career goal out of preventing even the most minimal gun reforms from moving ahead.

How does this happen? It happens because the ACEP has a PAC which over the last two election cycles donated almost $150,000 to the election campaigns of 15 House members who are rated A+ by the NRA. The NRA gives an A rating to just about every member of the House GOP caucus, but these 15 are in a group all their own. They are the spear-carriers, the most pro-gun guys in Congress, and they do whatever is necessary to make sure that no gun legislation rears its ugly head.

So here we have a remarkable situation in which some physicians use social media to advance their gun-control agendas (and their public personalities) while their professional organization uses their dues monies to advance the cause of the NRA. Now you would think that when a doctor named Michael Siegel began writing about this issue, his concerns would be shared and amplified by the members of APEC who would like you to believe they are tirelessly working to end gun violence, right? Wrong again.

The Trace article quotes one of the self-appointed, gun-violence leaders of the medical community, Garen Wintemute, who says that physicians should ‘privately’ approach politicians about gun violence because to raise these issues publicly would be ‘divisive’ and would hurt “relationships with elected officials with whom they work on a range of policies”.

Let me break the news to you gently Garen – you don’t know what you’re talking about, but God forbid you would admit to nec sciunt quicquam and keep your mouth shut. More than any other profession, doctors should be the loudest and most vociferous contributors to the public debate on gun violence, which means first and foremost telling public officials to stop being handmaidens for the NRA.

 

 

A New Approach To Gun Violence By Gun-Owning Physicians

Today’s Newsletter from our friends at The Trace contains a story about a new report issued by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) based on the work of an ACS Task Force comprised of 18 gun-owning surgeons who have been caring for trauma patients, on average, for roughly 28 years.  You can examine the gun-owning creds of this group in a downloadable spreadsheet, but I’ll quickly tell you that ten of the Task Force members own both handguns and long guns, they all own a total of 60 shotguns, 52 rifles, 13 assault weapons and 91 pistols or revolvers. Nine are either current or former members of the NRA.

Just about every medical society has gone on record about gun violence and supporting the standard litany of regulatory enhancements – comprehensive background checks, better NICS data sourcing, red-flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah. This is the first time, however, that any of the medical societies have queried gun-owning members whose views, it is assumed, would be somewhat different from the usual rank-and-file doctors, most of whom don’t tend to own guns.

In fact, the views of these gun-owning surgeons is different in one very important respect, a difference which our friends at The Trace, unfortunately didn’t pick up.  If you take the trouble to read the entire report carefully, an astonishing recommendation at the bottom of Page 7 jumps out and I’ll quote it verbatim right here:

Principle: A firearm should be transferred with registration in accordance to federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9] just as are other properties, such as vehicles or a home. This would include the private sale and the transfer of property that is bequeathed from an estate or among family members.

Recommendation: We support firearm registration and the development and implementation of an electronic database for all registered firearms.”

Did I actually see that? Is there a professional group representing any profession which is actually calling for comprehensive registration of guns? This issue happens to be the absolute bête noir of the gun-rights movement, it is always presented by the NRA as the one thing above all that will lead to the government taking away everyone’s guns. There is simply nothing which is as toxic both for Gun-nut Nation as well as to the groups who advocate ‘sensible’ restrictions on the ownership of guns. Gun registration, by the way, has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Anyone who says otherwise knows as much about Constitutional law as Leonard the Cat.

I trust going forward that the endorsement of gun registration by gun-owning members of the ACS will be discussed and considered by other medical societies and result ultimately in a united front that will promote the idea beyond the healthcare industry itself. But while they are at it, the ACS gun-nut group might consider dealing with another issue within their professional organization that needs to be addressed.

Last year Congressman Don Young (R-AK) told an audience that it wouldn’t have been Standing-Room-Only at Auschwitz and  Bergen-Belsen of Jews hadn’t lost access to their guns. He obviously got the idea from an even bigger idiot named Ben Carson, who no doubt thought this message would garner him the Jewish vote. Young received $5,000 to finance his 2016 campaign; the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave him $2,500 in each of the last two campaigns. Young happens to be one of 15 House members who go out of their way to promote NRA gun ‘rights’ priorities; as a whole, this sorry bunch received over $80,000 in campaign donations from the ACS. For the same two election cycles, ACEP donated almost $150,000 to the same crew of pro-NRA stooges.

If the ACS, the ACEP and other medical groups want to reduce gun violence, they don’t need to tell other stakeholders what to do. They can put their money back into their own pockets instead of giving it to the NRA.

Religious Belief And Advocacy To End Gun Violence Meet Here.

Progressive political movements have always attracted a fair share of faith-based groups and religious leaders.  I’m thinking, for example, of the Berrigan brothers, Dan and Phil, who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998; or Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker’s Movement, or the Society of Friends, a.k.a. the Quakers, or as we referred to them during the anti-war days, the Quakes.

The intertwining of religion and progressive social protest has reaffirmed itself again in the growth and strength of the movement to end gun violence, or what I am going to start calling it – the anti-gun movement.  Because that’s what it is.  If you are against gun violence ultimately you are against guns. Yea, yea, I know all about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But the fact that someone has the ‘right’ to own a gun doesn’t mean he or she has to own a gun, okay? Anyway, back to the issue of faith-based organizations and gun violence.

One of the religious groups that has moved into focus as regards gun violence is Rabbis Against Gun Violence, which describes itself as “a national grassroots coalition of Jewish American leaders and faith activists from across the denominational spectrum mobilized to curb the current gun violence epidemic plaguing our country.” That’s a fairly standard approach for faith-based advocacy, wouldn’t you say?  And in this respect, the RAGV group is a valuable addition to the anti-gun organizational lineup, particularly given the fact that the list of mass shootings in houses of worship now includes the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

On the RAGV website, you can find a nice, 50-page primer which can be used to explain a proper Jewish response to gun violence.  The resource is built around the holiday of Shavuot which is celebrated in late Spring and commemorates the transfer of Jewish law – the Talmud – on Mount Sinai.  Since Torah is the fundamental guide to Jewish belief, Shavuot is an important yearly event.

The Shavuot guide to gun violence opens with the following list:

Childproof caps on medicine bottles • Seat belts and airbags in cars • Bike helmets • Fences around swimming pools or construction sites • Smoke detectors • Drivers’ license tests • Designated drivers • Banning food additives • Standards for bars on cribs.

Here’s the answer: “As a modern society, we have decided that there are times it is appropriate to have laws and regulations designed to safeguard ourselves and others from injury or death, for reasons of health and safety.”

The guide then goes on to list things that Jews (and everyone) can do to protect themselves from injury and death, safety procedures, including safe storage, that are explained with reference to Biblical texts. So gun safety thus becomes justified through religious belief.  Fine.

There’s only one little problem. The list of various safety measures such as childproof caps, seat belts, helmets, et. al., happens to be comprised of products in which design features had to be changed because otherwise the way these products were used resulted in unacceptable levels of injury and deaths.

That being said, let me break the news gently to my rabbinical friends and, for that matter everyone else in the gun-control community. Guns, particularly handguns, are perfectly designed to do only one thing: injure or kill someone else. Wane to make a design change to prevent such injuries? You no longer have a gun.

I don’t understand why well-meaning gun-control advocates like members of RAGV won’t accept a very common-sense idea that there is simply no way to pretend that a handgun could ever be used except to do what it is designed to do.  Isn’t it about time that we stopped all the nonsense about ‘safe’ gun ownership and simply promote the idea that we need to get rid of guns?

Such an idea might be anathema to my friends in Gun-control Nation. But it happens to align perfectly with part of the most important religious text of all: Thou Shalt Not Kill.  If we really want to align religious faith with advocacy against gun violence, shouldn’t we begin right there?

Is The NRA Over The Hill?

Our friend Bob Spitzer has just published an interesting op-ed in The [‘failing’] New York Times, which not only goes into detail about how the gun issue impacted the outcome of various political races, but also raises the idea that maybe the vaunted invincibility of the NRA is coming to an end. In a careful and well-documented piece, Spitzer shows that the NRA was not only outspent in this election cycle by the gun-safety side, but also saw a number of House seats flip from red to blue in districts where gun-control messaging had previously been a dead end.

              I was pleased to review the latest edition of Spitzer’s book, The Politics of Gun Control, and I’m happy to give it a plug here as well. And while he makes it clear that he’s no advocate for Gun-nut Nation, both this book as well as the op-ed piece are balanced efforts to explain both the recent failures as well as previous successes of the NRA.  His basic point is that the election returns ‘suggest’ that the NRA may not possess the clout of former years, but this doesn’t mean that the boys in Fairfax are just going to shut up and fade away.

Not only is America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ not about to disappear (pardon the double negatives)  but anyone who thinks that the NRA can’t recapture its dominance in the gun debate doesn’t appreciate how or why the organization has been in the forefront for so long.

Looking first at the money:  Spitzer says that gun-control groups outspent the NRA by $12 million to $11 million in the mid-terms, largely due to the combined efforts of Gabby and Mike.  As of October 26, Open Secrets put the amounts at slightly less than $10 million and $8 million respectively, but either way, gun-safety groups come out ahead.

On the other hand, what counts going forward is the amount spent not just on political campaigns, but on day-to-day lobbying of elected officials. After all, when it comes to gun-control laws, this is where the rubber meets the road.  Over the last five years, gun-safety groups have spent a total of $8.6 million on Capitol Hill; lobbying for gun ‘rights’ during the same five-year period adds up to $60 million bucks! Even in 2018, the impoverished NRA has outspent Gun-control Nation’s lobbying efforts by almost ten to one – $10 million to $1.5 mil.

Can our friends at Everytown and the Giffords Law Center begin to match those numbers year after year?  I doubt it and my doubt is based on the NRA’s one basic strength which the gun-control groups simply do not share. This has to do with the fact that when all is said and done, at heart the NRA is a membership organization, and they have the care and feeding of their members down pat.

In addition to the NRA, I also belong to the Wilderness and Audubon Societies, along with AARP.  Like the NRA, I pay annual dues to these groups, monies which they use for lobbying and donating to political candidates who protect their interests and promote their views. Every year I receive a lovely calendar from Audubon and Wilderness, every month I get a magazine from AARP. That’s it.

I not only receive at least one email from Wayne-o and Chris Cox every day, I also get the monthly magazine and most important, I can meet other gun nuts at frequent NRA dinners and other social events, or attend hundreds of gun shows every weekend where the NRA has a hospitality booth right at the front door.

I’m happy that Gun-control Nation has begun to level the playing-field when it comes to the public debate about guns. But if my gun-control friends want to get the football across the gun-nut goal line, they have to understand it’s not just money that counts. People support the NRA because they like guns. Can the other side advance an argument as compelling as that?

 

 

Now That Gun Control Can Win Elections, What Should We Do?

It’s still to early to make a definitive judgement about how much the election results reflected concerns about gun violence, but it certainly can be said that how America voted on November 6th put to bed the idea that gun control is a toxic issue for the blue team. If anything, regulating gun ownership may have been in the forefront of several contests which flipped from red to blue, nor can it be said that the GOP’s long-time romance with the NRA helped them to any great extent.

             Let’s assume that various gun-control bills are re-introduced in the  116th Congress after January 3rd, 2019, and if the Senate goes blue in 2020, all of a sudden, some serious gun-control legislation has a chance of getting passed. I don’t think this is such a way out assumption, by the way, because we can also assume that mass shooting rampages and day-to-day gun violence will continue to increase. It’s not as if ‘thoughts and prayers’ stops anyone from picking up a gun, right?

The question then becomes: what should Gun-control Nation set as their Numero Uno legislative priority?  The usual suspects: universal background checks, assault weapons ban, raising minimum purchase age, safe storage, required safety course, etc. This is all fine and well except these solutions only bite around the edges of the gun-violence problem.  They don’t get to the core of the issue for one, simple reason; namely, that gun violence is overwhelmingly a function of free access to handguns. And because we are the only advanced country which permits its citizens to own handguns with only minimal, legal restrictions, we are the only advanced country that suffers alarmingly-high levels of gun violence.

I recently published a detailed analysis of the 850,000 crime guns collected by more than 1,000 police organizations between 2010 and 2018. At some point I set up the entire database in Excel and then conducted a word search using the names of manufacturers who have introduced tens of millions of hunting and sporting guns into civilian hands – Remington, Winchester, Browning, Marlin, Savage, et. al. he products from these gun makers accounted for less than 3% of all guns picked up by the police. On the other hand, when I searched under names like Glock, Sig, Springfield and Smith & Wesson, the percentage jumped to half. And most of the remaining guns were various ‘Saturday night’ specials, many of which are no longer being made. But when you load those guns with ammunition and pull the trigger, they still go bang!

Incidentally, at least one-third of the handguns collected by the cops were manufactured prior to 1968.  Which means that you can trace these guns from here to high heaven and never figure out how they ended up in the ‘wrong’ hands. This isn’t meant to be a criticism of universal background checks, it’s simply a necessary corrective for the narrative about the value of universal checks.

Two years ago, nobody imagined the gun issue might play a potent role in the electoral outcomes in 2018. Two years ago nobody imagined that support for stricter gun laws would consistently run above 60%, a level not seen for the last twenty-five years. Which means that when Gun-control Nation tries to figure out their priorities, this isn’t just an exercise in talk.

I have been told again and again by gun-control activists that pushing a strategy to severely limit handgun ownership is a dead end.  I am told that it not only can’t succeed but it will turn off many people, including gun owners, who would otherwise support ‘sensible’ gun laws. I think it’s a stale argument and like the alleged electoral ‘power’ of the NRA, needs to be put to rest.

If the goal is to end gun violence, why start off by pushing laws that simply won’t get you to where you want to go?  If the gun issue played any role in last week’s results, it seems that people are simply fed up. That’s what should guide the gun-control strategy, nothing more, nothing less.

The Gun Business Ain’t Gettin’ Any Better. In Fact, It’s Gettin’ Worse.

Once again I have the honor and pleasure of presenting to my reading audience the monthly portrait of the gun business as rendered by the background check data published by the FBI.  Believe it or not, the gun industry is the only consumer product industry whose health and welfare can be understood with reference to government-issued data which doesn’t lie. Because no matter how many guns are floating around, no matter how many gun transfers do or do not require  background checks, unless the gun makers can make and sell more guns, sooner or later it’s bye-bye guns. And since most gun shops try to keep the new-gun inventory as light as possible if only because the damn things cost so much, the overall number of new-gun transfers recorded on the background-check form (ATF4473) really gives a very accurate picture of what’s happening on the factory floors.

             And what’s happening is that the gun industry is in the dumps.  For October, the total number of completed 4473 forms covering gun transfers was 928,474.  A year ago, the October number was 1,056,548, a month-to-month drop of 12 percent.  Since the beginning of the year, handgun transfers have totalled 5,281,038.  Over the same period in the last year of the Obama regime, handgun transfers were 6,492,102. That’s a drop of nearly 20 percent.

The only problem with these numbers is that the 4473 form doesn’t distinguish between the transfer of new and used guns. But we can assume that the breakdown between new and used guns in most gun shops is somewhere around half and half. So if the entire retail gun segment has sold around 2,600,000 new guns this year, there’s a reason why the price of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped from $28 to $14 since 2016.

In 2013, the year following Sandy Hook when Obama tried (but failed) to pass a new gun law, the gun industry produced around 5 million handguns, which was the biggest single production year the industry ever had.  That same year, in rough numbers, the FBI processed 5,750,000 handgun background checks.  In other words, dealers cleaned their shelves.  Now here’s the real number to consider.  The population of the U.S. in 2013 was 316 million (give or take a couple of hundred thousand) the population at mid-2018 is estimated to be 327 million and change.

So here’s the bottom line. So far this year the number of new hand guns that entered the civilian arsenal was somewhere around 795 guns per 100,000 population; in 2013 that same number was 1,012.  In other words, the per-capita purchase of new hand guns since 2013 is down by more than 20 percent.

If you can find another consumer industry that can sustain itself over any period of time when its market drops by 20 percent, give me the name and I’ll short the stock.  What we have here folks, is a consumer industry whose market share is not only slowing down, but isn’t even keeping pace with the size of the potential market itself.  Because if the population of the U.S. goes up roughly 1 percent a year, no consumer industry will survive over the long term if the size of its market doesn’t at least increase by the same 1 percent. This isn’t rocket science, by the way, it’s simple business math.

All these numbers would be slightly less dismal had I looked not just at data on handguns but data covering all guns manufactured and sold. The reason I didn’t bother to break down sales of rifles and shotguns is that the gun industry has all put its product eggs into the handgun basket.  Now you can always pretend that an AR-15 is a personal defense weapon even if it happens to be a long gun. But walking around with a concealed weapon doesn’t mean that you can strap on an AR-15.

The joke in the gun business is that if you want to make a million, start with two million. It may not be a joke.

The Election’s Over And Now The Real Work Begins.

From the perspective of Gun-control Nation, yesterday’s election results were good but could have been better. Which is another way of saying that the House is now blue, but the Senate is still red. And one of those red seats still belongs to Ted Cruz, who has been a staunch defender of every stupid and pandering gun ‘rights’ law that gets introduced. On the other hand, a Democratic majority in the House means that no matter how many nutty, pro-gun bills come out of the upper chamber, none of them will get to Sleazy Don’s desk.

voted             A really bright spot appeared for the blue team in Colorado, where a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Jason Crow, got rid of GOP-incumbent and long-time NRA favorite Mike Coffman by making a clear pitch for gun control during the campaign. On the other hand, even with the help of Fred Guttenberg (he is the father of a Parkland victim who confronted Brian Kavanaugh as the latter’s Senate confirmation hearing began) a strong, gun-control Democrat in Pennsylvania – Scott Wallace – was unable to unseat the Republican incumbent – Brian Fitpatrick – in a hotly contested race.

Since I live in Massachusetts, which not only sends an entirely blue Congressional delegation to D.C. but of nine House members, three run unopposed, it’s not like I have to sit up all night to learn the results of every local race.  But if I were living in Virginia, on the other hand, I would have been very pleased with the results in CD 10, where a real NRA favorite, Barbara Comstock, was dumped by Jennifer Wexton, as well as what happened in CD 7, where a former cop named Abigail Spanberger said the right things about gun control and got rid of David Brat. You may recall that Brat was the Tea Party guy who knocked off Eric Cantor in a primary campaign; he got an ‘A’ rating from Gun Owners of America, a bunch of gun-nut loonies that make the NRA sound almost like a Democratic Party front.

For me, the single most important House race, however, was in the Michigan 11th, where a GOP seat flipped blue by seven points.  The determining factor in this race wasn’t guns at all; it was IQ which the Republican candidate, Lena Epstein, doesn’t register a discernible number at all. This idiot let Mike Pence come in for a rally alongside a self-styled phony rabbi named Loren Jacobs, the latter invoked Christ’s blessings for the victims of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation several days previous to the Pence event.

It just so happens that Ms. Epstein is also Jewish but couldn’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, an appearance by a Christian minister who pretends to speak for Jews was something her campaign really didn’t need. She’s not just a dope, she’s what my grandmother would have called, a shonda fin dem goyim, which basically means that you’re too dumb to call yourself a Jew. My grandmother was from a shtetl in the Old Country, okay?

Getting back to the big picture, early exit polls appear to support the idea that House Democrats grabbed the brass ring basically over health care and immigrant rights, but the real issue which moved the needle was antipathy towards Trump. Obviously, advocates for ‘sensible’ gun laws are not about to find common cause with Sleazy Don, but these polls (subject to change as more exit polls emerge) point up the fact that even with horrific events like Pittsburgh, Parkland and Sandy Hook, the gun issue just doesn’t resonate as a top-tier problem that will necessarily sway election outcomes this way or that.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think a liberal political agenda should ever rest on a single issue campaign. What did Mao say? Let a hundred flowers bloom? That’s okay with me as long as what to do about gun violence is part of the bouquet.

 

 

Want To Prevent Another Pittsburgh? Train With The Israel Defense Forces.

With the exception of that jerk in the White House, the two topics that are usually never mentioned in the public space are religion and race. What I mean is that both topics can be talked about in positive terms, but woe betide anyone other than Sleazy Don who moves the discussion about either issue into a negative space.

IDF              I have decided to depart from that tradition today to talk about religion and guns, in particular a story sent to me by our good friend Shaun Dakin, regarding how some members of the Jewish faith are reacting to the horrific event in Pittsburgh by going out and loading up with guns.

Of course I can afford to say something less than supportive about Jews arming themselves with guns because I happen to be Jewish myself. So in this instance, I not only can talk with some degree of authority about guns and how they are used; I can also talk with the same degree of authority about what it means to be Jewish and want to walk around with a gun.

It seems that in Philadelphia a reporter for the Inquirer newspaper has discovered that a bunch who claim to be Israeli combat veterans have opened a shooting range and so-called ‘tactical school’ named Cherev Gidon. You can translate Hebrew into English about a million different ways, but the two words basically refer to a weapon – cherev – and the Biblical general Gideon. Take it from there.

The school promises “to provide average American civilians with the skills Israeli security personnel rely on for their survival and to defend the security of the state.” And the fact that the courses are taught by Israelis who depend on a well-armed civilian population to protect them from enemies both within and without the Zionist State, means that the students will get a level of training and small-arms preparedness that simply can’t be beat.

So the intrepid newspaper reporter took a ride out to Honesdale, which used to be the location of some high-end summer camps (catering to non-religious Jews, btw) and interviewed several of the new recruits who are paying anywhere from $300 to $500 to get prepared in case another nut job wanders into their synagogue intent on doing them harm.  And of course the story wouldn’t be complete without the requisite quote from an older woman who never leaves home without her Ruger pistol because she takes seriously the idea that Jews could always be facing a threat: “I lost all my aunts and uncles in the Holocaust, and I’m going to go down fighting. I’m not walking into a gas chamber.”

Recall during the early stage of the 2016 campaign when Ben Carson was competing with Trump to see who could make the dumbest statement of all?  Carson may have easily won the contest when he stated and then re-stated that European Jews could have prevented the Holocaust if they had owned guns. But you know what? You can be guilty of making the stupidest comment in the public arena and there will always be someone out there who not only agrees with you, but will take what you say and use it to justify their own stupid beliefs.

Does this 61-year old Jewish lady makes sure to strap on her Ruger LCP because otherwise she won’t be able to resist being pushed into an oven in Merion, PA?  This is the town in which this lady happens to live, and the idea that anyone in Merion could ever imagine being herded into a boxcar for a trip to the American equivalent of Bergen-Belsen simply boggles the mind.

Tomorrow we’ll have some idea from exit polls as to whether my Jewish landsmen really do believe that without Trump and the Israel Defense Forces protecting them, the world might come to an end.  So if you haven’t done it yet, make sure you go out and, as we used to say in The Bronx, VOTE EARLY – VOTE OFTEN!

When It Comes To Guns, Things May Be Different This Time Around.

Back in February after the Parkland shooting, I figured there would be some upsurge in gun-control advocacy and activity, if only because there’s always some increase in concern about gun violence after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day. I also assumed that the public outcry for more gun control would last a few months and then go away. Because that’s what always happened after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day.

time             I was wrong.  The Parkland ‘kids,’ as they came to be known, started showing up here and there; the media began following them around, some of the real idiots in Gun-nut Nation ratcheted up the noise by accusing Hamm and Gonzalez of being dupes for the International Socialist Conspiracy to take away our guns and the beat went on.

By the summer, the debate about guns and gun violence began to morph into the political campaigns of both the red and blue teams, and I started receiving the daily emails from both sides asking for money because either I would vote blue and keep us from going around killing ourselves, or I would vote red and keep the 2nd Amendment alive.

I have been following politics since the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and I have also been involved in the gun business since roughly the same time. This was the first election in which the narrative about guns not only was used to define the political stance of both parties, but was being used as an effective wedge issue in political contests that might decide whether the Congress stays red or goes blue.

Obviously, nobody knows how things will end up when the dust settles and the smoke clears, but I never imagined that I would ever see the headline that I saw today in The [‘failing’] New York Times: “Bearing F’s From the N.R.A., Some Democrats Are Openly Campaigning on Guns.” Now the Times isn’t talking about political contests in liberal states like California or New York. The story concerns three campaigns in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Iowa, where gun control may be the issue that swings the vote in all three CD’s. I am sure that none of the red candidates in those districts ever believed that getting a good rating from the NRA might be the last thing they would need.  But somehow, this year may turn out to be different.

And what makes me suspect that there’s a new culture emerging about guns is represented by the contents of two magazines I received this week.  I have been subscribing to Time Magazine out of force of habit for at least 30 years. When I first started getting it, this flagship Luce publication was considered the sine qua non of politics for the respectable Right. The content has gradually moved more to the middle, but nobody would accuse Time of slavishly following the Bloomberg-Soros line. From the remarkable cover through the interviews and brief memoirs, this week’s issue is all about guns. The content is balanced and fair, but it’s no ringing endorsement for Gun-nut Nation’s cherished beliefs.

More remarkably was the latest issue of People Magazine that floated in the other day.  The issue contains a section entitled: “25 Women Changing the World,’ and the headliner is none other than our friend Shannon Watts, who graces a two-page photo of herself and some members of her organization, along with a commentary about the importance of getting politically involved.

When the editors of People Magazine decide that Shannon Watts is their exemplar for change, then something very definite and different is going on. I’m not saying that the content of Time or People will necessarily tilt the election in favor of the blue team; I’m saying that gun violence is no longer a marginal issue that public figures would rather avoid. And I believe that once the discussion gets into the mainstream, the American people will do the right thing.