It’s Not Just Keeping Guns Out Of The Wrong Hands, It’s Keeping The Wrong Guns Out Of Everyone’s Hands.

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My first introduction to the gun business was 1965 in North Carolina working for my Uncle Ben.  Like all my immigrant relatives, Ben had been in the iron-mongering business back in the Old Country, so when he came to America he opened a junk yard where he traded scrap metal this for scrap metal that. At some point he started manufacturing a small, 22-caliber revolver which he sold to pawn shops for $15 bucks; the pawnbrokers then resold this little piece of junk for $24.95. This gun was a quintessential ‘Saturday Night Special,’ which might fire one or two shots before it broke.


            Glock 43

Glock 43

So here we are, fifty years later, and Uncle Ben’s cheap, little piece of junk for $24.95 has been replaced by, among other models, the Glock 43, which retails for somewhere around five hundred bucks.  But the Glock 43, which is actually smaller and more concealable than Uncle Ben’s crummy, little gun, isn’t a 22-caliber revolver with a capacity of six shots.  It’s an extremely-lethal 9mm pistol which holds seven rounds and with a magazine extension the capacity goes up to nine. If you’re not enamored with Glock, other gun companies like Ruger and Kahr make 9mm pistols which are basically the same capacity and size.

What has happened to the gun business over the last half century is the guns have gotten smaller, lighter, more concealable and much more lethal.  When Franklin Zimring did a study of the calibers found in 1,115 gun attacks in Chicago in 1970, he found that gun attacks with 38-caliber weapons were more than twice as fatal as attacks committed with 22-caliber guns.  When the California Department of Justice published a list of calibers that caused gun injuries in 2009, five times as many guns were used in high-powered calibers like 9mm, 40 S&W and 45 acp than guns chambered for the 22.  You simply can’t compare the damage to human tissue caused by a 9mm round as opposed to a 22-caliber shell. The latter can be lethal if, and only if the shooter is either extremely lucky or is a very good shot.  As for a 9mm or a 40 round, if it hits you anywhere except in your earlobe, you’re going down.

Back in 1968 and again 1994, we passed gun-control laws based on the idea that we could reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands.  Which meant keeping guns away from people whose background and behavior indicated that they might represent a threat to public safety or themselves if they could get their hands on a gun.  The current effort to extend background checks to secondary sales is an effort to strengthen our ability to identify more ‘wrong’ hands, as are the strategies designed to tighten the regulatory environment in which gun dealers operate so as to keep ‘bad apple’ dealers from selling guns to people with ‘wrong hands.’

I happen to believe that this approach, while necessary, actually doesn’t respond to the primary cause of gun violence, namely, the degree to which most guns sold today are capable of being used to commit a much higher level of gun violence than ever before.  There is a bill before Congress that recognizes the lethality of assault rifles and is an effort to revive the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004.  But while this law reflects concerns about the lethality of the AR-style gun, pro-gun advocates are not wrong when they say that, mass shootings notwithstanding, injuries caused by AR-15’s are relatively few and far between.

Know what causes most of the 115,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun injuries each year? It’s those small but powerful handguns which are increasingly the weapons of choice for most Americans who own guns. So instead of spending all our time, energy and money trying to keep guns out of the wrong hands, shouldn’t we also be trying to figure out how to keep the wrong guns out of everyone’s hands?


Do Guns Make College Campuses Safer? Not At All.


The Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University has just issued an important report on guns and college campuses which is summarized in a Washington Post op-ed or you can download the entire report here. Basically, the report argues that, Gun-nut Nation’s claims to the contrary, allowing guns on college campuses does not enhance security or safety, but will result in more, not less gun violence in academic environments.


      The Texas Tower

The Texas Tower

The Hopkins report follows shortly after the University of Texas ended its ban on campus-carry, which makes it the eighth state to allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns with them to school.  But there are also 24 states which grant colleges and universities a local option to allow guns within their campus domains, which leaves only 18 states whose college campuses are still gun-verein.  Some of the states where guns aren’t allowed in academic environments are heavily regulated states like New York, Massachusetts and Illinois.  But there are also some surprises on the no-campus list, including gun-rich states like Missouri, Georgia and the Gun-shine State most of all.  Gun-nut Nation tries year in and year out to open college campuses to guns in Florida, but so far common sense prevails.

In trying to assess whether guns are a risk or benefit to college life, the authors note that they are forced to rely on data which measures this question for society as a whole. But this approach still yields sufficient evidence to make a judgement about one of the cardinal tenets of Gun-nut Nation’s infatuation with campus carry, namely, the notion that educational settings attract the real gun nuts – the mass shooters – because colleges and universities tend to be gun-free zones.

The evidence that gun-free zones attract mass shooters comes from one place and one place only, namely, the alt-right media postings of my good buddy John Lott.  I enjoy following his rants if only because you can always count on John to invent a definition that will justify what he is trying to argue regardless of whether the definition bears any relationship to reality at all.  His latest attempt to promote the idea that gun-free zones attract mass shooters is to define a gun-free zone as any place where residents don’t have easy access to owning guns.  So even though mass shootings have never been a feature of New York City life, as far as John is concerned, the Big Apple is a completely gun-free zone.  Get it?

The real problem with any analysis of mass shootings is that we are forced to infer the motives of mass shooters because most don’t survive the shooting incident itself.  These events are usually, but not always, homicides followed by a suicide, thus our understanding of the how and why of such events is a function of looking for similarities in the circumstances surrounding those shootings, such as where they took place, who were the victims, and so forth. The one mass shooter who has supplied an overwhelming amount of in-person, forensic evidence is Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011, but if you want to download, read and try to figure out his motives from the 1,500-page Manifesto he posted online prior to the event, good luck and Godspeed. Even the court-appointed psychiatrists who examined him prior to trial couldn’t figure him out.

While nobody can say for sure why gun violence, particularly mass gun violence, occurs in certain places and not others, the Hopkins report aggregates and summarizes enough research to state (beyond any doubt) that gun assaults and gun suicides occur much more frequently wherever guns are present, regardless of whether concealed-carry is sanctioned or not.  If John Lott didn’t exist, Gun-nut Nation would invent him, because there is simply no research which shows that our society, and particularly our college campuses are safer because civilians are walking around with guns.  But since when did the pro-gun argument have anything to do with facts anyway?



Trump May Believe That The 2nd Amendment Protects Gun Ownership, But He Happens To Be Wrong.


It only took about two minutes Wednesday night for the Hillary Clinton – Adolph Trump debate to get to the question of guns. And it was Adolph who raised the issue when he said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would uphold the 2nd Amendment because it was ‘under siege.’  So Wallace then flipped he question to HRC and asked her to explain her comment that the 2008 Heller decision was ‘wrong,’ to which our candidate gave a fairly sensible and cogent response:

     “You mentioned the Heller decision. And what I was saying that you referenced, Chris, was that I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in that case, because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them. And the court didn’t accept that reasonable regulation, but they’ve accepted many others. So I see no conflict between saving people’s lives and defending the Second Amendment.”

2ALet’s not waste our time with Adolph Trump’s rejoinder because it was an incomprehensible ramble about how he was going to do this and that. The bottom line is he said what he needed to say, namely, that if she won the election, guns would be taken away.  Because to Gun-nut Nation, saying that the 2nd Amendment is ‘under siege’ is just code for saying that private gun ownership won’t be allowed.

Incidentally, I don’t care if anyone reading this column gets offended because I refer to Trump by the first name of a certain Fascist dictator who’s ass we finally kicked in 1945. This new guy has done everything he can to demean the democratic process, to pander to the worst, most violent and extremist elements of the far Right, and his narcissism and arrogance knows no bounds. So screw him, the horse he rode in on and the whole cavalry behind him.  I’m done being polite.

Anyway, as I was saying above.  So what we got from Hillary Wednesday night was a reasoned and sober attempt to balance the constitutionality of private gun ownership against the government’s need and legitimate interest in regulating safe behavior with guns.  But why is it necessary to worry about abiding by the 2nd Amendment?  Whose constitutional ‘rights’ are even threatened if the 2nd Amendment is ‘under siege?’

I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was 12 years old.  I was walking around a flea market in the Florida Glades, old boy had a Smith & Wesson blue box on the table with a 38-special banger inside, wanted 50 bucks for the gun which sounded like a good deal to me.  I wasn’t a Florida resident so for some reason that wasn’t explained, give the fifty dollars to ‘nuther ol’ boy standin’ down yonder at the end of the table and he gives me the gun. Things were much simpler in those days.

Between 1956 and 2008 I probably bought and sold 500 personally guns.  Sound like a lot? Hell, it’s less than ten guns a year.  That’s not a lot of buying, selling and trading if you’re a gun nut like me. Know how many of those transactions were protected by the 2nd Amendment?  Not one.  Know how many of those transactions made me legally vulnerable because I didn’t have the blessed 2nd Amendment protecting my back?  Not one. The Supreme Court ruled in 1939 that I did not have any constitutional protection for any of my personally-owned guns, and that ruling remained law of the land until 2008.

The truth is that all this crap about the 2nd Amendment is nothing more than a cynical and nonsensical attempt by pro-gun noisemakers to persuade gun owners like me to fork over our $30 annual dues to the NRA.  And while I’m at it, I can send a few bucks to the Adolph for President campaign. After all, without Adolph running things, maybe all my guns will be taken away.  Like all my guns were taken away before the Court handed down Heller in 2008.


What Do States That Vote GOP Have In Common? They Love Their Guns.

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Take a look at the projected electoral map on Nate Silver’s website.  Now take a look at the map which shows state-level gun-violence rates constructed by our friends at the Center for American Progress (found on Page 6 of their report, America Under Fire.) Notice anything?  I’ll give you a little hint: The states with the highest levels of gun violence are also the states that will probably end up voting for the GOP.  And if you want to talk about the elephant in the living room when it comes to guns, this is it.  Simply put: red states are where most gun violence occurs.

conference-program-pic           You won’t ever see this elephant if you listen to Gun-nut Nation, because as far as they are concerned, gun violence is only a problem in minority neighborhoods, and many, if not most of those neighborhoods are located in cities (Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles) within states which contain relatively few voters who back the GOP.  So when The Groper stands up at one of his Klan rallies and says that violent crime will go down if we make sure to be armed when we walk around those crime-infested spots, he’s pandering to the racist mentality of the lunatic fringe, but he’s also saying something that simply isn’t true.  Gee – what a surprise that Groper Trump would say something that isn’t true.

What is true is that gun violence appears to correlate most of all with lax gun laws, which is a polite way of saying that in many red states that there are no gun laws at all.  Or if there are any laws covering guns, they tend to be laws that actually give people more, not less legal use of guns.  The worst in this respect are ‘stand your ground’ laws (SYG) which allow people to use any level of lethal force if they believe they might otherwise face imminent harm, and they do not have to retreat or otherwise try to avoid the problem before yanking out a gun.  These laws now exist in 22 states, of which The Groper will probably win 17 or 18 of those states unless he screws things up a bit more. And what happens when an SYG law is put into effect?  According to a very comprehensive study from Everytown, the justifiable homicide rate goes up by more than twice.

Why are red-leaning states so resistant to passing laws that reduce gun violence, in particular laws which in other states appear to work?  Why is it so hard, for example, to get extended NICS-background checks in these states when all the polls show that even a healthy majority of gun owners believe that requiring background checks for private transfers would be a good thing? It would be tempting to put it down to the fact that since these are the states where most people own guns, therefore Gun-nut Nation can easily rally the troops, so to speak, whenever a new gun is being discussed.  But the issue goes deeper than that, and here is what it’s really all about.

The most powerful argument that Gun-nut Nation puts forth to block any kind of gun regulations is the ‘slippery-slope’ argument; i.e., if you let ‘them’ have any new law at all, then they’ll take another bite here, another bite there, and sooner or later there won’t be any guns at all.  And there happens to be a bit of truth to this argument, if only because most gun-sense activists, no matter how much they claim to ‘respect’ the 2nd Amendment, would be just as happy if all the guns really did go away.

Because the truth is, and here’s the real elephant in case you didn’t know, there’s one thing and one thing only which accounts for every act of gun violence, and that’s the existence of a gun. I apologize for putting it in such clear and uncompromising terms, but if you pull the trigger of a loaded gun, it’s going to go – bang!



Want To Help Reduce Gun Violence? Support The Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance.

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A new gun violence prevention organization has just popped up and their goals are worthy of mention here and elsewhere.  The organization is called the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance (CFSA) representing a coalition of physicians, law enforcement, prosecutors, lawmakers and gun violence prevention (GVP) advocates, and its goal is to reduce gun violence committed by or against kids.

cfsa          You may recall that back in 2011, Granny Hammer got a bunch of her ass-backward Florida legislators to pass a bill that basically made it a felony for physicians to counsel patients about guns.  The case is still awaiting a final appellate decision and there are several other dumb states that have enacted similar ‘gag’ laws.  Until Docs vs. Glocks was enacted, the medical community had been fairly reticent to speak out about gun violence beyond the obvious policy pronouncements about the dangers of guns.  But one thing that always seems to happen when it comes to any kind of public policy – push hard in one direction and someone will push back.  Which is exactly what has happened when it comes to physicians and guns.

Last year eight of the most important medical associations, along with the American Bar Association, published a manifesto which declared that gun violence was a serious public health problem that required the medical community to get involved.  And many of the national and state-level organizations followed by issuing their own statements of concern, as well as supporting and sponsoring educational programs to bring the issue of gun violence to the fore.

The CFSA represents another important step towards the involvement of the medical community in efforts to reduce gun violence, because although it is a physician-led organization, its membership embraces all of the major stakeholders who have an interest in GVP. According to the CFSA website, its mission is: “To reduce senseless child unintentional deaths and injuries in every state by advancing legislation holding adult gun owners responsible and educating the public how to keep children safe if a gun is in the home.” And to that end, their intention is to advocate for stronger and more comprehensive child access prevention (CAP) laws, of which there are no laws at all in more than 20 twenty states.

Of course the response of the Gun-nut Nation noise machine to physicians getting involved in gun safety is that such activity should not be within the scope of medical activities because most doctors don’t know anything about guns.  This is the argument made by a handful of dopey doctors who run a website called Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, which happens to be supported by the 2nd Amendment Foundation, get my point?

But the fact is (note use of the word ‘fact’) that physicians have played a leading role in campaigns to protect children from all kinds of injuries and unintentional harm, including efforts to mandate harnesses and seat belts, safety barriers around in-ground pools, removing lead from paint and toys, and child-resistant bottle caps to guard against the ingestion of toxic substances and meds.  I don’t hear anyone stating that doctors need to get certified as automobile mechanics before they remind parents to buckle in the kids.  Nor for that matter do they need to become lifeguards in order to ask whether there’s a fence around that pool which just got installed in a patient’s backyard.  But guns?  Nobody except a licensed gunsmith should be allowed to voice an opinion about safety and guns, right?

I am pleased to be able to spread the word about the Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance and I urge you to give them your full support. Yea, yea, I know you just have to send Hillary a few more bucks this week but as regards the CFSA, you might also consider sending a donation their way.  And just in case you missed their website address up above, don’t bother to scroll up because here it is again.  Click here, check out their website and sign up for a great cause.


You Might Think The NRA Supports Trump, But They Really Support The NRA.

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I’m going to way out on a limb and before I saw myself off, assume that HRC is going to win. I know, I know, the old evil eye.  But if every poll except that crazy LA Times tracking poll is somehow correct, then it looks like this one can be put to bed. Which brings me to ask myself (and all of you) the following question: If Trump-o really gets stomped, what does this result portend for the future of the NRA?

trump4           Because the NRA has done several unprecedented things in this election cycle which deserve to be better understood.  To begin, the organization endorsed Trump at their annual meeting in April, and turned what is usually a stop-off for all the national Republican candidates into a showcase for just one.  Then they followed this unprecedented move by ponying up more than $21 million for television ads which, according to our buddy Tim Johnson, is almost twice as much as they have ever spent on any previous Presidential campaign.

For me, the most inexplicable thing about all this spending is that it’s not as if the NRA’s membership needs to be convinced to vote for Trump.  Talk about preaching to the converted, isn’t Gun-nut Nation and Make America Great Again basically one and the same? And while states like Florida and North Carolina are important swing states where lots of people own guns, what makes them swing states is the potential voter turnout by demographics that don’t own guns.

Given the degree to which Hillary has been the NRA’s favorite punching-bag for longer than I can recall, and given the fact that the average NRA member can be counted on to vote for the Red Team no matter who is quarterbacking the squad, why did the NRA go so far out on a limb for Trump? Or to put it another way, what did they hope to achieve? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, if nothing else, Clinton really represents a threat to Gun-nut Nation far beyond what has previously been faced. She is the first blue national candidate to make gun control a central plank of her campaign; and she didn’t do this just to outflank Bernie, she did it because she knows that in a national campaign against someone like Trump, trying to present herself as a ‘defender’ of the 2nd Amendment is a waste of time.

But I also have to assume that at some point Trump made it clear to the NRA leadership that, if elected, he would consider himself to be their President in terms of advancing and supporting a political agenda that meets NRA’s needs.  And this agenda would primarily consist of a national concealed-carry permit valid in all 50 states, as well as using the 2nd Amendment as a litmus-test for nominations to the nation’s highest court.

The only problem in this little NRA-Trump love fest, of course, is that even back in April, the polls showed that Trump’s chances of actually succeeding Obama were slim to none.  So why does the NRA continue to dump money into his campaign when the campaign has become nothing more than the candidate claiming that he didn’t say and do what we all know he said and did?

Because what the NRA hopes will come out of this campaign is a feeling on the part of Gun-nut Nation that America’s oldest civil rights organization is really fighting for them. In 2013 the revenue from membership dues was $175 million, in 2014 it dropped to $128 mill.  So in 2013 they ended up more than $50 million in the black, in 2014 they lost $35 million bucks.

And the greater the victory margin (we hope) for Hillary, the more the NRA can say that when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment, they’re the only game in town. In fact, their advertising campaign isn’t about Donald Trump; it’s about the NRA.

And As For All The Gun Nuts Who Love Trump – Enough Is Enough.

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The Boston Globe carried a Sunday story about how some of Trump’s supporters are beginning to lay the groundwork for an armed rebellion if their man loses the election come November 8th.   Here’s a quote from a 50-year old man at a Trump rally: “‘We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed.’” A female supporter chimed in, “’All I know is our country is not going to be a country anymore, I’ve heard people talk about a revolution.’”

trump-toilet            And while Trump’s campaign disavows such statements, he has promoted and approved violence at his rallies and let’s not forget his claim that his people would stand behind him even if he shot someone dead in the street. He’s actively telling people to watch out for voter fraud, he’s already whining that he can’t win because the system is ‘rigged,’ and instead of buying hats that say ‘Make America Great Again,” how about an armed rebellion instead?

I really hope Mister Trump gets his ass kicked in on November 8th. And then I hope he refuses to concede. And then I really hope that a hardy band of Trump Minutemen throw their gear into their F-150s, go out to an abandoned small town in some dumb state and declare that the revolution to take back America has begun. They’ll occupy the empty post office building, issue a stamp which they’ll sell on their Facebook site, and their first law will be a requirement that nobody can live in this new republic who doesn’t own an AR-15.

Back in 2013 a goofball named Adam Kokesh, who is some kind of libertarian radio jock, announced that he and a group of goofballs were going to march from Virginia into Washington DC, openly carrying rifles on July 4th. He then decided to cancel the event, claiming that he didn’t have the time or resources to put the whole thing together.  But the truth is that the only resource he lacked was the cash he would have needed for bail, because the cops let it be known that he and all the schmucks who were planning to liberate the District of Columbia would wind up in jail.

And how about those other freedom fighters led by the sons of Cliven ‘Let me tell you about your Negro’ Bundy, who took over and barricaded themselves into an empty administrative building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at the beginning of this year?  They stayed up there for a week or so, wives and girlfriends dutifully trudged through the snow to supply them with home-cooked meals every night, and then that was the end of that.

But let’s get back to the rebellion that Trump Nation is planning to undertake.  By the second day of their ‘occupation’ of some buildings in what once was a small town will become a media circus because, of course, Trump himself will appear.  Then Wayne-o and Chris Cox will come by and issue honorary NRA memberships to the insurgents who will, of course, announce that the entire Constitution of the new Republic will consist of the words from the 2nd Amendment alone.  Boy, I’d give anything to have an exclusive pizza concession for the duration of that event.

I’m getting sick and tired reading about all these patriots who believe that the present government is so corrupt that we need a violent rebellion led by Donald Trump. Funny how these jerks only get exercised about government ‘tyranny’ when the government happens to be led by a progressive guy from Chicago who also happens to be black.  Funny how 16 other Presidents have issued more Executive Orders than the guy who we know was born in Kenya, regardless of what his birth certificate says.

Know what? Let’s get back to what I said above – Trump really needs his ass handed to him on November 8th.

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