I Would Still Like To Know Why Gun Owners Love Their Guns.

Despite what some of my dear Gun-nut Nation friends may think, I have no ego invested in explaining why some of the beliefs they share for reducing gun violence or explaining gun violence are simply wrong. Nor have I decided to go over to the ‘other side’ and make common cause with Wayne-o, Chris Cox or John Lott. Folks should understand that pointing out what may be errors in GVP policies or research supporting those policies isn’t a backhand effort to justify violence caused by guns.

NRA showI joined the NRA in 1955. At that time the organization focused on the use of guns for hunting and sport. There was a bit of talk about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ but nobody within the organization believed that the occasional gun-control bills introduced in Congress reflected the coming of Armageddon or any attempt to turn America into a Fascist state. Even the Gun Control Act of 1968 was a half-hearted attempt, at best, to pretend that dividing the population up between good guys and bad guys would help the cops in their fight against crime.

Obviously, the world has changed in many respects over the intervening sixty-plus years. But I still believe that guns play a positive role in my life because I enjoy buying them, selling them and even occasionally shooting them since those activities usually afford me the opportunity to get together with other gun nuts like me. And don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why, but I always have a good time talking to other gun nuts about guns.

On the other hand, I will not and cannot accept the idea that we should ever assume that armed citizens can or should take the place of police in keeping the community safe. Sorry, but listening to someone drone on for a couple of hours and then shooting a few rounds into a non-moving, paper target doesn’t qualify anyone to either walk around with a self-defense gun or even think they are prepared to use that gun in a proper and effective way. I’m not saying there aren’t instances, documented or not, where a gun-owner picks up his/her gun and prevents some serious crime from taking place. But handguns and assault rifles are designed to do one thing and one thing only, namely, to shoot someone else. And to quote the great novelist Walter Mosley, “If you walk around with a gun, it will go off sooner or later.”

Notwithstanding my implacable and determined stance against self-defense guns, I am still waiting for someone in the GVP research community to explain how and why a remarkable example of cognitive dissonance exists when it comes to how America feels about guns.  Ready?

In 1959, a Gallup survey found that 60% supported a ban on private ownership of handguns. Not more restrictive licensing, not some kind of permit-to-purchase, but an absolute ban. This number has now dropped to slightly above 20%. At the same time, public health researchers have published endless studies showing that guns increase risk. And since less than 40% of American adults own guns, obviously the idea that a gun is not a risk but a benefit, is shared by many non-gun owners as well.

I cringe every time a GVP-leaning outfit produces a survey showing that Gun-control Nation and Gun-nut Nation agree on various ‘reasonable’ gun regulations (example: comprehensive background checks) because these so-called ‘reasonable’ policies invariably reflect the agenda of folks who want more regulation of guns, not the other way around. How come these surveys never include ask the two sides how they feel about getting rid of gun-free zones or a national, concealed-carry law?

This is the first time that the noise being made by Gun-control Nation seems to be matching, if not exceeding, the noise made by the other side. But arguments need to be based not just on noise, but on facts. I’m still waiting for my GVP research friends to supply some of those much-needed facts.


Want A Good Conspiracy Theory About Mueller? Try Sandy Hook.

Today our friend Charles Blow has a column comparing Trump’s reaction to Mueller to how Nixon and Clinton responded to Watergate and Lewinskygate in previous years. The difference, however, is that Mueller’s investigation has yet to uncover a specific connection between the Russians and Trump. And until or unless such a connection is found, is Trump all that wrong when he says that Mueller’s work is just a big ‘witch hunt?’

jones2   On the other hand, it takes one to know one, and if there’s one person out there who knows how to fabricate a conspiracy based on unproven assertions, it’s the guy sitting in the Oval Office whose public persona was nourished on conspiracy theories, beginning with the ‘birther’ conspiracy, which Trump continued to peddle even after Obama released a bone-fide birth certificate proving his live birth in the United States.

Trump’s infatuation with conspiracy theories took a big jump forward when he appeared on InfoWars and told Alex Jones that he wouldn’t let Jones down. This was several years after Jones first began promoting the idea that the Sandy Hook massacre was a government-organized hoax, a continuing signature story that eventually got him sued for defamation by parents of some of the children who were shot and killed.

What gave a bit of credibility to the Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists was, unfortunately, the fact that the national media who invaded Newtown right after the massacre began releasing information that again and again turned out to be wrong. The first mistake was made by CNN, which identified the shooter not as Adam Lanza but as his older brother whose driver’s license was found in the car that Adam drove to the school. The ‘honor roll’ of news organizations that had to go back and change something they initially said, included CNN, CBS, AP, The New York Times and NPR. Once these seasoned reporters admitted that they were wrong, their admissions of wrongdoing made it easy for the conspiracy gang to claim the whole thing was a mis-managed, government affair.

I can’t think of a more delicious irony than the idea that the Mueller investigation is just another conspiracy theory, this time peddled not by the Right but by the Left. Because the truth is that the liberal mainstream still can’t believe that someone as seasoned, as professional, as experienced, as deserving as Hillary Rodham Clinton, could have lost this election to a know-nothing, rabble-rousing racist and moronic loudmouth like Donald Trump.

Now the fact that she spent twice as much money on her campaign as he did on his, the fact that she couldn’t be bothered to make a campaign stop in Michigan where she lost the whole state  by less than 16,000 votes; somehow these kinds of facts seem to have vanished from the post-election narrative being peddled by Hillary’s friends. And please, please do me a favor and shut up about the so-called need to change the Electoral College, okay?  I didn’t notice anyone complaining when Bill Clinton won the 1992 election with a whopping 43% of the popular vote, thanks to the presence of Ross ‘I’ll talk to my people and you talk to your people’ Perot.

The big difference between the Mueller conspiracy theory and the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory is that the latter was based on the idea that the government created something out of nothing in order to push through some kind of ban on privately-owned guns. The funny thing about Obama’s attempt to pass a gun-control bill, which went nowhere the following year, is that it was backed by a guy named Trump, who five days after the massacre, tweeted his support for Obama’s stand.

If Trump really wants to pull the rug out from underneath Mueller, what he needs to do is figure out some kind of connection between Mueller’s investigation and the continuing efforts of David Hogg and the Parkland kids to generate support for a national, gun-control bill. Run that story on InfoWars and Brietbart and it will take on a life of its own.


More Guns Equals More Gun Violence: A Response From David Hemenway

murder  Yesterday I wrote a column in which I argued that using the gun-ownership rate in the U.S. as the ‘driver’ for gun violence is flawed if we count all guns, rather than only counting handguns which are involved in nearly all gun violence.  The esteemed gun-violence researcher, whose book, Private Guns – Public Health, sets a standard for research in the field, sent a response and has given me permission to post it here:

Dear Mike.

    I beg to differ.  Three of the key factors which makes the US such an outlier compared to the other high income countries with regard to firearms are that (a) we have the weakest gun laws, (b) we have the most guns per capita, and (c) our guns are disproportionately handguns.  By (c) I don’t mean to imply that most of the guns in our gun stock are handguns, though the US handgun/long gun ratio has been growing.  Instead I mean that we have a far higher percentage of handguns in our gun stock compared to the other high-income countries.  For example, Canada has a sizeable number of long guns, but fairly few handguns.  So if we calculate per capita handgun ownership for developed countries, the U.S. becomes even more of an outlier.  And we know that most violent crime involves handguns rather than long guns; handguns are much more likely than long guns to be used in violent crime.  

    We could disaggregate handguns still further into those more (vs less) likely to be used in violent crime in the US, and if we did, I suspect that the US would become even more of an outlier compared to the other high income countries (in terms of the number of the “type of handguns likely to be used in violent crime” divided by the country’s population) –but I don’t have data on how many of the type of “handguns likely to be used in violent crime” are in the gun stocks of the other high-income countries, so I can’t prove my suspicion.    



Want To Reduce Gun Violence? Go After The Guns Which Cause The Violence.

If there is one argument that has found its way into every, single comment ever made by every, single gun-control organization, it’s the idea that the U.S. suffers from an extraordinary high level of gun violence because Americans own so many guns. The basis for this argument is research published by our good friend David Hemenway, who explains the fact that the U.S. homicide rate is 7 times higher than other advanced countries, driven by a gun-homicide that is 25 times higher, thanks to all those guns we have floating around.

chicago cops             Since we don’t require universal or even partial gun registration (no mater what Gun-nut Nation says) we actually have no idea how many guns are in private hands. The estimates go from a low of 270 million to a high of nearly 400 million, so let’s say that the real number is somewhere in between. Nevertheless, whether we take the high or the low estimate, we are still the only country whose per-capita gun ownership number approaches or exceeds one, even if the percentage of Americans who actually have a gun in their residence is somewhere between 30 and 40 percent.

The only problem is that while it appears to be an obvious argument bottom line that our fatal violence rate is a function of the existence of all those guns, the argument happens to be wrong. Why? Because most of the guns sitting around in basements, garages or even in living rooms or bedrooms happen to be guns that are just lying around.  And if a particular type or model of gun doesn’t play any role in the events which we refer to as ‘gun violence,’ then why should the existence of this type of gun be counted as having anything to do with gun violence at all?  It shouldn’t, but it is.

The more guns = more gun violence argument is undercut by some data published by our friends at The Trace, who analyzed the types of guns recovered by the Chicago cops in 2014. Of the total 4,505 guns picked up by the cops that year, nearly 40% (1,757 guns) appear to be the most popular handgun models, and while less than 4% of the confiscated weapons were shotguns, the total number of assault rifles was exactly five. How many bolt-action hunting or target rifles were picked up? None.

Of the 1,757 most popular handguns confiscated by Chicago PD, most of those models, like the Smith & Wesson VE and the various Glocks, didn’t even exist prior to 1985.  And 1985 is an important year to use as a yardstick for estimating the size of the civilian gun arsenal, because that was the year, according to Gary Kleck (Point Blank, Guns and Violence in America) that the number of weapons in private hands approached or exceeded 200 million guns.

Since 1985, the gun industry has manufactured another 140 million guns, of which roughly half are shotguns and rifles, the latter including at least 10 million or so assault rifles, which are rarely picked up by the cops. What this all boils down to is that the total number of civilian-owned guns which wind up contributing to gun violence is somewhere around 70 million or less. It’s certainly not the 300 million figure that is bandied around by Gun-control Nation and their research friends in public health.

If we calculate per capita gun ownership based on the guns used in violent crimes, rather than all guns held within the civilian population, the U.S. gun-ownership number drops from being way ahead of everyone else to somewhere in the middle of the pack. Would a per-capita gun ownership number which would be a fraction of the number currently used change the degree to which gun ownership could explain our excessively high rate of fatal crime? It would.

Want to use laws to reduce gun violence?  Base the laws and regulations on a better understanding of how guns are and aren’t used in violence and crime. It’s not like the data isn’t there.

Latest Chapter In Butinagate.

Now that one of the ongoing Russia-gate investigations has finally connected some actual Russians to the Russian government in an effort to swing the 2016 election to Trump, the most important thing is to ramp up the PR to make sure that everyone understands what’s at stake. I’m referring to the announcement made last week that the prosecutorial team leading the attack against Butina, Torshin and the NRA has added yet another ‘expert’ to its ranks, in this case a prosecutor who has vast experience in gun trafficking and related affairs.

butina2              The expert in question, Will Mackie, evidently was involved in a gun-trafficking case brought against an Arizona arms dealer named Marc Turi, who may or may not have violated an arms embargo against shipping weapons to Libya during the heady days of the Quadaffi regime. Like all these weapons shipments that are going one place but end up somewhere else, the facts are never all that clear. The story invariably reads like the script of a le Carré novel turned into a movie (e.g., The Night Manager) and the characters involved are usually somewhere between extras from Central Casting to guys who hang around outside supermarkets hoping that some old lady needs help taking her groceries out to her car.

Here’s how exporting guns works. First, you apply to the ATF for a Federal Firearms License because otherwise you can’t keep any guns around that you are planning to ship either to another location within the United States or anywhere outside the USA. Then you apply to the State Department for an export license which lists the types of weapons being shipped, the country where the guns will end up, and the name of the individual or company who is receiving the goods. Some countries engage in licensing gun importers the way we do it here; other countries don’t. Allegedly the Office of Export Controls at State checks out the outfit who will receive the guns, as well as certifying that the country itself isn’t on a list of locations to whom we will not sell arms.  The exact same procedure and the exact same forms are used whether you want to sell an AR-15 abroad or an F-15 jet. As far as the State Department is concerned, it’s the correctness of the paperwork that counts.

Why is the paperwork so important? Do you actually believe that when your container arrives at dockside in Bayonne or Baltimore on its way to some customer overseas, that the customs guys at the port are going to interrupt their lunch to open up your container and check to make sure that the guns you claim to be shipping to wherever are actually what’s inside the shipping cartons about to be loaded onto a ship?  Give me a break.

So now we have yet another paperwork expert being added to the Butina/Torshin investigation because, after all, the gun trafficking efforts of our Russian spies are just as much a threat to national security as when Julius and Ethel allegedly shipped the Soviet Union an atom bomb.

Except there’s only one little problem. Maria Butina hasn’t been involved in any kind of gun trafficking at all, ditto the ‘oligarch’ Torshin. The latter happens to be the owner of the company that manufactures the original AK-47 in Russia, and to bring the gun into the United States market they have set up a factory in Florida, following all the import laws and rules as defined by the ATF. Now the problem is that Torshin’s Russian company has been hit by sanctions first imposed by the Obama regime fand recently again by Trump. But that issue has absolutely nothing to do with gun trafficking at all.

Whether it’s Ambler, le Carré, Daniel Silva or Alan Furst, give me a good spy novel and I’ll read it through without taking anything except a bathroom break. But I’m still waiting for the best spy novel  yet to be published, which will be the final report of the Department of Justice’s investigation of Maria Butina and her gun-nut friends.

Michael Siegel: When It Comes to Firearms, 3D-Printed Guns Aren’t the Biggest Threat.

Last Tuesday, a federal district court judge in Washington State issued a temporary restraining order, barring the implementation of a settlement agreement that would have allowed a company named Defense Distributed to publish computer-aided design files for the production of 3D-printed firearms. These files would enable virtually any individual who owns a 3D printer to produce a mostly plastic single-shot pistol. The company would also have been allowed, under the settlement, to continue posting blueprints for 3D-printed handguns as it develops them.

plastic gun1The revelation that it is possible to produce a functioning firearm with a 3D printer led to a national scare, prompting attorneys general from eight states and the District of Columbia to file the lawsuit seeking the injunction that prevents the implementation of the settlement agreement, thus prohibiting Defense Distributed from posting any design files, at least temporarily. The scare also prompted several United States senators to file a bill that would ban the online publication of designs for 3D-printed guns.

The Trump administration has come under attack for agreeing to the settlement that permits the publication of 3D-printable gun designs. According to many critics, this has—for the first time—made it possible for virtually anyone to produce a functioning firearm in the comfort of their own home. Furthermore, critics claim, it allows individuals to manufacture firearms that are all-plastic and therefore undetectable by security equipment.

Let’s face it: the idea of people printing their own 3D guns is inherently scary. However, this is a scare that has been greatly overblown. There are reasons to be frightened, but the potential publication by Defense Distributed of computer files for 3D-printed pistols should be near the bottom of the list.

First, there is nothing new about the publication of design files for 3D-printable guns, and the injunction against Defense Distributed will not prevent anyone from viewing its design files. The cat is already out of the bag. Design files for the Liberator (single-shot pistol) have been posted on other internet sites. Files for four- and six-shot 3D-printed pistols are also available.

Second, 3D-printer designs are not enabling people to produce guns in their own homes. They already have that ability. The internet has for years provided access to blueprints for DIY guns and people have been producing homemade guns for decades. There are numerous internet sites where you can download instructions to produce firearms. These tend to use materials that are much more durable than plastic so you have a real weapon, not a gun with a plastic frame that cannot withstand more than one or at the most six shots. The truth is that you can’t manufacture an AR-15 rifle solely using a 3D printer, but you can make yourself an AR-15 by following relatively straightforward internet instructions. The bottom line is that there are already ways for anyone who wants to manufacture a gun to do so without having to purchase a 3D printer, and they can do it much less expensively and end up with a much more durable weapon.

In fact, a large number of the federally licensed gun producers listed in the annual ATF manufacturing report are not companies, but individuals. In 2014, there were 942 listed gun manufacturers who produced fewer than 10 guns in the entire year. Private individuals can and are producing their own firearms.

Third, the perceived need to prohibit plastic-only 3D-printable guns that cannot be detected by security equipment is not clear, because manufacturing, selling, or possessing such a gun is already prohibited by federal law. The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1998 makes it a felony offense to produce or own a firearm that cannot easily be identified by metal detectors and X-ray machines.

Fourth, 3D-printable gun designs are only one-half of what Defense Distributed offers for home firearm production. One can produce a metal, fully functional AR-15 lower receiver using a computer numeric control (CNC) milling machine which uses a rotary cutter to essentially mold a gun out of a workpiece by shaving off parts according to a computer-controlled pattern.

The reality is that if all firearms were made by 3D printers, it would be a far safer country, because these weapons can only be fired a few times, are inaccurate, and probably pose as much of a danger to their owners as to others. Furthermore, most (if not all) of the individuals who are interested in 3D printing of guns are true gun aficionados, not criminals. It is far easier and much more effective for someone who wants to commit a crime to obtain a firearm legally or to purchase a trafficked gun.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t closely monitor 3D-printing technology and be concerned about the development of technology that may allow the manufacture of highly functional and truly undetectable firearms. But the reality is that right now, what should scare the public is not 3D-printable weapons but the run-of-the-mill commercially manufactured firearms that are involved in more than 36,000 fatalities each year. What should scare the attorneys general and US senators is that in most of their states, people who have a history of violent crime already have legal access to “regular” firearms that are not produced using a 3D printer but are much more lethal.

More specifically, what should really scare us is not the availability of firearms or even the type of firearms available or how they are manufactured, but the weak legislation in most states that allows people who are at a high risk of violence to possess guns. All stakeholders—including gun owners and even the NRA—agree that people who are a danger to themselves or others should not have access to firearms. But few politicians are willing to support laws to enforce that principle.

For example, last week, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked the Trump Administration: “Why are you allowing dangerous criminals easy access to weapons?” But in his own state, a person under a permanent restraining order because of a risk of domestic violence to a dating partner has easy and legal access to firearms and cannot be denied a concealed carry license. In fact, there are 38 states in which you can buy a gun without a background check, 29 states in which a misdemeanor assault conviction does not automatically disqualify you from possessing a gun, and 23 states in which you can carry a gun even if you have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

3D-printed guns may seem scary, but we should be more frightened by who is allowed to own commercially manufactured ones.

Michael Siegel, M.D., is a School of Public Health Professor of Community Health Sciences.


Should We Be Policing The Internet For Content About Guns?

Now that Google and Facebook are finally admitting what we always knew, namely, that they sell personal user information to any quick-buck scam artist selling on the web, just about every organization which uses those sites for communicating with their membership is jumping on the bandwagon to make sure that nothing offensive, illegal or immoral is allowed to move through the cloud.

armed citizen            The latest effort in this respect by Gun-control Nation was a decision last week by a Federal judge to suspend the go-ahead received from the State Department by Cody Wilson to upload the plans of his 3D gun (which doesn’t work, btw) and issue an injunction preventing any website from hosting the plans.

The internet has always been a sore spot for Gun-control Nation ever since Bloomberg’s gun-control group first began talking about how easy it was for criminals, nut jobs and other bad guys to buy guns over the web. The fact that the same ads for private gun transfers on the internet can be found in the classifieds of just about every weekly shopper published throughout the United States is never mentioned by Bloomberg because those weekly shopping publications don’t circulate in New York. But because of pressure by Bloomberg and others, websites like Amazon, Craigslist, eBay and other online shopping sites began to police and remove advertisements for guns.  Okay, fair enough.

The problem with going beyond gun advertisements per se and trying to eliminate gun-related content, as opposed to selling an actual gun, is that the ox could be gored both ways. Let me give you an example which I happen to know very well.

I currently sell a book on Amazon entitled The Myth of the Armed Citizen. The book discusses in detail the argument about whether guns are a risk as opposed to protecting us from violence and crime. I come down very clearly on the former; i.e., gun ownership is definitely less of a benefit and more of a risk.  How much of a risk remains to be understood, but this book in no way promotes concealed or open carry of guns. And believe me when I say that I have received God knows how many nasty emails from members of Gun-nut Nation who accuse me of actually promoting violence because I believe that people shouldn’t be able to defend themselves with guns.

Now what would happen if a whole bunch of pro-gun folks would send a message to Facebook telling them that my book promotes violence and should be removed? How would this be any different from Gun-control Nation spamming Google or Facebook and telling them that they have found various pro-gun content that should be taken down? Here’s the official statement from YouTube on what they allow and don’t allow in search terms: “we want to help you get to the information you are looking for as quickly as possible, but we also want to be careful not to show potentially upsetting content when you haven’t asked for it. For these features, we have developed policies to exclude things like porn, hate speech or violence from appearing.”

And who is to say whose definition of ‘violence’ we are going to accept? I happen to share many of the goals and objectives of Gun-control Nation and have promoted those goals and objectives in  the daily columns that I write. I also happen to be the co-founder of a national, gun buyback organization which connects buybacks to medical centers so that medical residents can get first-hand exposure to discussions with community residents about their guns. So I don’t need to justify my views about guns or gun violence to anyone at all.

Be that as it may, I’m still not persuaded that anyone should have veto power over any content that I or anyone else puts out online. I’m sorry, but I’m somewhat of an old-fashioned guy, and I want to decide for myself whether something I am reading is hurtful, or wrong, or even worse.

Can The Gun Business Recover From The Trump Slump? Elect Lizzie Warren in 2020.

On August 8, 2016, Smith & Wesson stock was selling at just under $30 bucks a share.  Yesterday, the stock closed at $9.39.  On August 8, 2016, investors paid around $13 for a share of New York Times stock.  This morning the stock opened at $23.  In the last two years, Smith & Wesson has dropped by two-thirds, the price of New York Times shares have gone up by almost 50%.

charQuestion: What accounts for such a radical difference in the performance of these two companies?

Answer: Donald Trump.

This past Saturday I walked into a nice, little gun shop in Vermont and bought 300 rounds of 22LR ammo which we use for running the gun-safety course in my shop. This wasn’t cheap stuff; this was the best 22LR ammo you can buy – CCI.  I paid 7 cents a round ($20 for a 300-round box) which is about half of what I paid for the same ammunition back when Smith & Wesson stock was selling for $30 a share.  Want to know how the gun business is doing? Just check the price of ammo.

If Hillary had done what she was supposed to do, namely, win in a landslide, I guarantee you that Smith & Wesson stock would now be selling for $50 a share and the price of New York Times stock would be somewhere around $5 or less.  Know why? Because Hillary would have gone out of her way in her inauguration speech to make a big deal out of gun control, if only because Gun-control Nation was one of the groups which went all out to try and get her moved back into the White House.

Would there have been a national walk-out after Parkland if Hillary’s campaign staff hadn’t run the worst and most inept Presidential campaign of all time? And anyone who doubts what I just said, btw, should ask themselves how she could have lost Michigan – Michigan! – by less than 11,000 votes. Would Lockton have stopped selling liability insurance to the boys in Fairfax if they hadn’t responded to mass shootings by trying to become the leading voice of the alt-right?

The problem facing Gun-nut Nation isn’t the existence of Trump in the Oval Office per se, it’s the fact that Trump has chosen again and again to communicate to his so-called ‘base’ in violent and incredibly stupid ways.  Remember what he said about Charlottesville, that there was ‘violence’ on both sides? There was only one little problem – the counter-protestors who showed up and marched against the Nazis and the Klan weren’t carrying AR-15s. And the fact that Trump didn’t understand how the ‘average’ American would react to seeing a gun-toting jerk with an assault rifle slung over his back shows how little understanding he really has about all those ‘average’ Americans whose interests he claims to represent.

For that matter, the NRA leadership appears not to have understood this as well. Over the last two years, they have produced some of the dumbest video messaging of all time, in particular the rants of Dana Loesch, who has tried to convince her audience that it’s the leftist elite which is responsible for violence against Trump, not the other way around. By the way, monthly visits to the NRA website since February, 2018 have dropped from 3.2 million to 860,000. So much for how Gun-nut Nation does such an effective social media job, right?

In July, 2016 the FBI conducted 1,143,824 background checks on gun transfers. Last month the same number was 739,968.  That’s not a drop in month-to-month sales, it’s a collapse. Frankly, I’m surprised that a share of Smith & Wesson stock is still worth $9 bucks. On the other hand, if the Congress turns blue in November, and Trump announces he’s out in 2020, and Lizzy Warren’s campaign starts to take on some steam, maybe buying some Smith & Wesson shares (NASDAQ: AOBC) isn’t such a bad idea….



What The 2nd Amendment Means And Doesn’t Mean.

Yesterday this website carried an op-ed by one of our Contributing Editors, Greg Gibson, whose son was murdered on the campus of the college he was attending, a terrible story that became a book written by Gibson, Gone Boy, which has become something of a small classic in the literature about violence caused by guns. Greg has gone on to do some important gun-advocacy work, he also has a rather unique perspective on the issues of gun violence and gun control, and his comments about the 2nd Amendment created quite a storm on several Facebook pages where I posted what he wrote.

2A              Basically, Greg was defending the 2nd Amendment based on the assumption that the Framers didn’t intend to give gun rights to the kind of people who shouldn’t have guns:  criminals, nut-cases, or what Gibson refers to as “teenagers with still-developing brains.” Most of the comments about his piece came from activists who, for various reasons, don’t believe that gun owners should get any kind of Constitutional protection at all. Here was a typical comment that I received: “militia means a standing army not right wing nut jobs carrying assault rifles and terrorizing communities.”

The 2008 Heller decision, which said that Americans could keep a handgun in their home for self-defense, was decided by looking at the historic and legal precedents of two words: ‘keep’ and ‘bear,’ as in ‘to keep and bear arms.’ And even though many of the examples advanced on both sides of the SCOTUS debate were only marginally connected to the 2nd Amendment. Scalia was able to cobble together enough instances of early statutes and events to make his case.

What is most interesting about the Heller decision, however, is not what the majority and minority opinions say about the historical and legal meaning of the relevant text, but what isn’t said. And what isn’t said is any discussion about the word ‘arms,’ because Scalia dispensed of this issue in less than 100 words out of his 20,000-word opinion, by noting that Constitutional protection of private gun ownership only covers weapons that are commonly found in the home, and not “unusual” weapons like the kinds of weapons designed for use in war.

There’s only one little problem with Scalia’s formulation however, an argument that was unstintingly accepted by the minority opinions as well. The reason we suffer 125,000 gun injuries each year is because we give ourselves free access to these self-same weapons of war. Americans aren’t killed or wounded in large numbers by the millions of shotguns lying around in basements here and there. The 12 people killed in Chicago last weekend didn’t die because the shooters used several of the millions of hunting rifles manufactured by Remington, Winchester, Ruger or Savage Arms.

We suffer gun violence because legally or illegally, lots of our fellow citizens are walking around with handguns made by Glock, Smith & Wesson, Sig, Ruger, Colt, etc., all of which were designed and used as weapons of war. Gaston Glock designed his pistol for the Austrian army; his gun is now carried by armed forces worldwide, including the armed forces of the United States. Sig just landed the contract to supply their pistol to the U.S. Army, and celebrated this financial whirlwind by releasing 50,000 of the guns for civilian sale.

We are the only Western country which has decided that handguns, which are designed for only one purpose (to kill human beings) should be allowed to be purchased and owned with no greater degree of regulation than what we impose on someone who wants to buy and take a  shotgun into the woods.

The issue isn’t whether or not we should keep the 2nd Amendment. The real issue is whether the 2nd Amendment should protect the ownership of guns whose design and lethality has nothing to do with anything other than committing an act of violence in the extreme. You can be an Originalist all you want, but the Framers couldn’t have meant to enshrine murder as a Constitutional ‘right.’


Greg Gibson: Taking Back The 2nd Amendment.

The Second Amendment is truly remarkable. We alone among nations have, not only the unfettered right to keep and bear arms, but an access to guns that is unequaled by any other stable society in the world. This constitutional right bespeaks a deep faith in the civility, wisdom, and maturity of all Americans – a fundamental trust in the average citizen that is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.

2nd amendmentPeople talk about American exceptionalism, and we ARE exceptional as a nation, in part because of our right to keep and bear arms, and the ways in which this right has become a part of our heritage. It is more than a privilege, more than an custom. It is a unique and glorious right.

And look what we’ve done with it. Just open the paper, turn on the TV, take out your phone.

Guns falling into the hands of madmen, domestic abusers, and teenagers with still-developing brains. Guns to keep people safe from people with guns. Guns on night stands. Guns in pockets and purses. Guns in shopping malls, on college campuses. 300 million guns.

35,000 gun deaths a year. 125,000 injured. Hundreds of thousands suffering the grief, trauma, and displacement that trail in the wake of gun violence. Whole communities turned into vengeful, dysfunctional battlegrounds.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

We’ve defiled this right. Through our own inaction and inattention we’ve let custody of the Second Amendment slide into the hands of ideologues, profiteers, and fear-mongerers, overseen by a cowardly Congress unable to act on the will of the people.

Don’t you think it’s time we reclaimed our Second Amendment?

Sensible people like you and me. Gun owners and non-gun owners. Red people. Blue people. Plain, unassuming, reasonable men and women, standing millions strong, facing down fanatics of every stripe.

We’re here for our Second Amendment, guys. We want our amendment back… NOW!