Want To Make A Million In The Gun Business? Start With Two Million.

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Although it’s less than a month before the replacement of that notorious gun-grabbing President with a guy who really understands the need to carry a gun for self-defense, the real question is whether the next four years will be a milestone or a millstone for the gun industry, since gun sales have traditionally been a function of whether or not you can buy a gun. And if there’s a chance you won’t be able to buy a gun, you run out and grab as many as you can. But if there’s no gun ban on the horizon, oh well, need a new set of tires for the car.

trump5            The problem in trying to figure out whether the gun industry will continue strong under (ugh) Trump or begin to slow down is difficult to figure out because it’s next to impossible to get a real fix on exactly how many guns are actually sold.  Or to put it more exactly, how many new guns are sold.  Because remember, a NICS background check is conducted every time a gun goes across a dealer’s counter, and since most gun shops carry a healthy assortment of used guns, many NICS phone calls just mean that a gun already in the civilian arsenal is changing hands. Ditto for many of the guns which go from an auction website to a dealer’s shop, particularly for interstate sales.  Obviously, the civilian gun arsenal increased enormously under Obama – Smith & Wesson stock didn’t jump from $5 to $30 between 2009 and 2016 just because the company makes some nice-looking guns. On the other hand, that same stock has lost 30% in value since November 8th, which says something about the industry’s future prospects under a President named (ugh) Trump.

But if I had a nickel for every time a stock went up or down because market predictions turned out to be incorrect, I also could buy a new set of tires for my Subaru without selling one of my guns.  Remember when gasoline prices went over $2 a gallon back in 2005 and the experts were all predicting a $10 price by the end of the decade?  We’ll have some rough idea about the health of the gun market when Smith & Wesson releases its 10-Q for the quarter ending September, 2017.  But the number of new guns produced and sold each year is not necessarily an accurate measure of whether a pro-gun President like (ugh) Trump will help or hurt gun sales.

The real problem is trying to figure out the size of the potential market; i.e., how many people out there might be interested in buying a gun. Because when all is said and done, the success of any consumer product is based not so much on its replacement rate (consumers who already own the product buying a new one) but on the number of new consumers who decide that a particular product is something they just must have.

What apparently has happened under Obama is that the replacement rate for guns has soared – the same people who started out as gun owners in 2008 just kept buying more and more guns. These folks didn’t need to be educated on why Obama was a threat; as long-time gun owners they always knew that a gun ban might be in the works. And most gun owners had lived through the terrible Clinton gun and magazine bans enacted in 1994.

As for new consumers entering the gun market, I’m not so sure that the slow but steady decline in the percentage of American households with a legal gun will continue under (ugh) Trump, and I’m going to tell you why. Because what this election showed, if nothing else, is that a lot of people bought Trump’s message that government doesn’t work.  Which is exactly the long-time message used by the gun industry to sell self-defense guns. On the other hand, if Trump (ugh) makes government more efficient, do you really need to protect yourself with a gun?

              Wishing Everyone a Healthy and Happy 2017.

 

Shannon Watts Gets Attacked For The Usual Reason: Telling The Truth.

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Yesterday Shannon Watts got into a Twitter kerfuffle with home-school queen Dana Loesch and gun-toting enthusiast Kimberly Corban about whether guns could be carried into the NRA’s annual meeting in Nashville.  What set off the argument was Shannon’s tweet that guns weren’t allowed into the hall where Wayne-o gave his pep talk to the crowd: “@NRA fails to mention that its annual meeting was a ‘safe space’; no guns while their chief lobbyist spoke,” a comment that was branded a lie by the Gun-nut Nation noise machine, a judgement then seconded by Loesch who accused Shannon of ‘blocking and obsessing’ rather than telling the truth.

 

watts

Shannon Watts

The truth is that what Shannon said about the NRA show was absolutely true. If you were licensed to carry a gun in Nashville, you could bring your gun into the main exhibition hall.  But guns weren’t allowed into the auditorium where Wayne-o rallied the troops, ditto during the appearance of Trump.  Which is exactly what Shannon said; i.e., no guns when Wayne-o gave his speech.

What caught my eye, however, was not that Ms. Watts was criticized for saying something she didn’t say.  If Shannon had a nickel for every time she’s been accused of saying something that wasn’t true when what she said happened to be true, she could pay off the mortgage on her house.  So that kind of attack is hardly new news.

What I found interesting about this exchange was the statement by Kimberly Corban that carrying a gun around creates a ‘safe space.’ What space is she talking about?  I guess she’s referring to the space that was between her and the guy who came through a window into her apartment in 2006, held her against her will and then raped her; an attack that she immediately reported to the police and then followed through by testifying at the trial in which the creep was convicted of sexual assault. According to Kimberly, the situation would have been different if she had been able to grab a gun even though by the time she woke up the attacker was already standing next to her bed.

I’m not trying in any way to downplay the terrifying ordeal and subsequent emotional trauma suffered by Kimberly Corban or any other woman who is the victim of rape.  But a year after the attack she was training rape counselors at a local center, and now she’s morphed into a national celebrity, complete with the requisite appearances on Fox, as well as challenging President Obama during his CNN town hall gun debate.

So the woman who claims that she wants to “educate the public on sexual assault” now basically spends her time promoting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  Which makes her a perfect pitchman for the NRA’s continuing effort to get a gun into every American home, because who’s going to argue with a woman who knows how it feels to be unable to defend herself from a rape?

There’s only one little problem.  Granted, Kimberly’s experience makes her testimony about rape a compelling and deeply-troubling description of this traumatic event.  But that terrible moment doesn’t make her an expert on how to defend herself or her kids. And it certainly doesn’t give her any expertise at all when it comes to defending herself or others with a gun.

Want to consult an expert on using a gun for self-defense?  Let’s start with Gary Kleck, the famed criminologist who invented the idea that Americans used guns to protect themselves from crimes more than two million times each year. And while Kleck doesn’t believe his own numbers any longer, leave it to ‘experts’ like Kimberly Corban to continue promoting the myth.  Contrary to that nonsense, Kleck published an article in 2004 which showed that resisting sexual assault with a gun was no more effective than using other self-defense measures, like yelling for help.

Hey Shannon, keep telling it like it is. Keep pushing back on self-promoters like Kimberly Corban and Dana Loesch. The worst result from your efforts is that people will learn the truth.

 

Just Because Cops Like Guns Doesn’t Mean They Oppose Gun Control.

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During the campaign one of Trump’s poster-boys for getting out the gun vote was Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who has been a featured speaker at the national meeting of the NRA. America’s oldest civil rights organization has long promoted the alleged support of law enforcement when it comes to protecting gun ‘rights’ and solicits and receives pro-gun homages from many of the nation’s sheriffs.

cops Why sheriffs?  Because they are responsible for law enforcement in just about every part of the country outside the larger urban centers, and in case you didn’t notice it back on November 8th, rural areas and small towns usually vote red. And since sheriffs, as opposed to police chiefs, are elected not appointed, the political views of most American sheriffs tend to reflect the political views of the people they are sworn to protect. It’s hardly a surprise, for example, that more than 50 sheriffs sued Colorado’s Governor, claiming that the state’s new gun laws were unconstitutional. The suits went nowhere, but it gave the sheriffs something to do besides running down to Dunkin’ Donuts to bring coffee back for the boys.

There are somewhere upwards of 765,000 full-time law enforcement officers working in the United States, along with some 400,000 part-timers.  Roughly half are attached to departments that number 10 sworn officers or less. Not only do law enforcement personnel in these smaller agencies patrol wide swatches of underpopulated territory, they usually come from the same community themselves. Which means that their views on all subjects is often no different than the views of the people whose neighborhoods they patrol.  And let’s not forget that the further you move away from cities, the higher is the per capita ownership of guns.

To quote an officer serving in a small, rural department: “I grew up in a rural county, so everyone hunted. I’ve been around guns since I was a kid.” Another officer from the same department said: “My views are shaped [by rural life] because that’s how I was raised—around guns.”  These and other comments by members of a rural sheriff’s department appear in a remarkable article written by Rachael Woldoff, a sociologist at West Virginia University who, with the help of researchers from Washington & Jefferson and the FBI, spent several years conducting detailed interviews with 20 members of a rural sheriff’s department to better understand what she refers to as ‘complex views’ on gun control held by these cops. [Download the article here.]

And what she learned and has explained in impressive detail is that, when it comes to views about guns, police both reflect the views of the communities in which they were raised and served, as well as separating themselves from some of those views because of the nature of their work and experiences.  She refers to this process as the ‘multiple identities’ that police in rural areas must learn to incorporate into their work even if they tend to come on the job from a pro-gun background.

What does Woldoff mean by a ‘nuanced’ view on guns?  She learned that rural police overwhelmingly rejected the concept of ‘gun control’ while embracing the notion of ‘individual rights. Nevertheless, these same officers supported expanded background checks and mandatory, pre-licensing training prior to concealed-carry issuance.  Here again, the multiple identities that these cops must fold into a ‘police identity’ is reflected by the fact that they view rural gun owners as responsible gun owners, “but also as unsafe and insufficiently trained to own and use firearms.” Wow.

This article is a very serious academic effort and the reader must work through some lengthy discussions about identity theory and other sociological methodology, but it’s worth it.  The fact that these cops unstintingly line up on the side of rural gun culture doesn’t necessarily make them averse to supporting reasonable measures to curb gun violence.  And advocates for gun violence prevention shouldn’t take anyone for granted in terms of pushing their message as far and wide as they can.

Want To Message About Gun Violence? Do’t Forget The Gun.

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Following the October, 2015 mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, MoveOn.org announced a petition drive asking gun-owning members of the organization to ‘push for common-sense gun control measures;’ an activity which netted support from more  than 32,000 gun-owning MoveOn members within one month.  Practically speaking, the petition went nowhere, but at least it demonstrated that not every politically-minded gun guy supports the NRA.

ruger             And this is good news for the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, because it runs counter to the usual assumption that the basic fault line dividing Gun-nut Nation from Gun-sense Nation is the ownership of guns.  Not that 32,000 gun-owning MoveOn members compares to the alleged 4 million gun-toters who line up for NRA.  But it’s enough of a base to convince other MoveOn members to get involved, which can’t but help grow the strength of the mainline gun-sense organizations like Shannon’s Moms, Everytown, Violence Policy Center, and the Brady Campaign.

I’m not optimistic about the chances of national gun regulations moving forward in the Age of Trump, but if The Donald gets on his high horse and starts ranting about the 2nd Amendment (a subject that has yielded a curious silence from the 26th Floor of since he ended his campaign,) there’s nothing that gets the opposition more worked up than being able to identify a threat from the other side.  But if Gun-sense Nation wants to mobilize a wider swath of active supporters, particularly folks who largely sit on the sidelines today, they are going to have to come up with a message that reaches beyond simply reminding people about the number of people killed with guns.

And this is where the activities of public service organizations like MADD and the anti-smoking groups aren’t such a good fit. Because everyone drives a car and everyone knows someone else who smokes.  But as an important article published today in The Trace points out, even in cities with high (and increasing) gun-violence rates, like Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Lou, there are many neighborhoods where gun violence remains at historically low levels, and it’s in these more affluent areas, both within the cities and the suburbs, where folks who need to be motivated about gun violence tend to live.

So coming up with a message to which people not directly affected by gun violence will understand is not such a simple or obvious thing. And if the GVP community thinks they can adopt or own a phrase that promotes ‘responsible’ gun ownership, the gun industry itself has been using that exact messaging for over thirty years, and I know they have no interest in sharing idea with the other side. Now I’m not talking about the NRA’s phony Eddie Eagle safety campaign whose effectiveness has never (read: never) been evaluated at all.  I’m talking about the gun industry itself and the basic message that has been promoted by the world’s largest manufacturer of small arms – Sturm, Ruger & Co. – for the last thirty years.

Back in the 1980s, America’s most iconic gun designer, Bill Ruger, adopted the slogan ‘Gun Makers For Responsible Citizens’ to go with the unique heraldic eagle logo that had originally been designed by his partner, Alexander Sturm.  Ruger considered himself a designer and manufacturer of sporting arms, his first hunting rifle to incorporate military-style engineering, the Mini-14, shipped from the factory with a 5-shot mag. In the run-up to the 1994 assault weapons ban, Ruger endorsed not a gun ban but a ban on hi-cap mags, a stance he then quietly abandoned when talk about a company boycott started to spread around.

In recent years, Sturm, Ruger has moved into promoting small, concealable hi-caliber pistols, a product shift which gives GVP an opportunity to push its own definition of responsible gun ownership focusing not on the behavior of gun owners but on the guns themselves.  A 9mm pistol no bigger than a droid simply isn’t a sporting arm. And that’s what causes gun violence – it’s the gun, stupid, it’s the gun.

 

Does Anyone Ever Think About The Cost Of Regulating Guns? The NRA Does.

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If you listen to the media’s spin on the NRA, the first thing they always tell you is that the success of the gun lobby is due to the amount of cash they spread around.  And while it’s true that they give substantial amounts of money to this candidate and that, and they spent a ton of dough on television ads for he-who’s-name -shall-not-be-mentioned even though he’s soon to become 45th President of the United States, the fact is that the NRA’s real success on the legislative playing field is due not to what is spent, but what is not.

laws             At the Federal level, most of the NRA’s lobbying activity consists of shooting down gun bills promoted by the other side.  And the funny thing about increasing gun regulations, such as expanding background checks to cover private sales, for example, is that someone has to foot the bill.  The gun owner who wants to give a gun to his son or sell it to a neighbor or friend has to pay a gun dealer to do the requisite paperwork and background check; the FBI will have to hire more staff to respond to the increased volume of NICS calls; the ATF will want to increase the number of agents because the dealers whose stores they inspect will have lots more transactions on their books.

Like it or not, most schemes to regulate anything, not just guns, live or die based on the ability of the relevant government agencies to ensure through enforcement that the new regulations are being followed and kept.  When Nixon dropped the speed limit to 55 mph in 1974 it was estimated that gasoline consumption declined by a whole, big 1% because most states ignored the rule and drivers were rarely, if ever ticketed for exceeding the new limit on speed.  But guns are already a highly-regulated industry, so additional regulations would be enforced.

The real political clout of the NRA is felt at the state level because this is where the entire licensing procedure for gun ownership takes place.  Thirteen states require a pre-purchase permit requirement for hand guns, long guns or both which means finding the time and money to process such transactions; carrying a concealed weapon is now legal everywhere but requires some kind of permit in 44 of the 50 states.  Again, the issuing authority for these licenses needs to spend money to get the job done.

Take a look at laws which the NRA is promoting at the state level, again and again such laws would cost nothing at all.  Texas is now the eighth state to allow students to bring concealed guns onto college campuses, a law that might make a college administrator decide to hire some more security, but it won’t be at the taxpayer’s expense.  Back in 2014 Georgia passed a ‘guns everywhere’ law which opened bars, restaurants, churches and just about every other public place to those hardy souls who just can’t walk around without their guns. Did this law require an uptick in the state budget bottom line?  Not one bit.

A recent study from three researchers at the Harvard Business School tracked state legislative responses to mass shootings from 1999 through 2014. What they found was that after a mass shooting, laws that loosened gun restrictions increased in Republican-controlled state governments by 75%, no comparable activity for tightening gun restrictions in states with blue governments was found.  I’m not sure that I entirely buy their research because Connecticut, New York and Maryland all passed restrictive gun laws after Sandy Hook, but all three laws mandated new regulations which could only become effective with enforcement at every turn.

Going forward, Gun-sense Nation will have to tread carefully when it comes to advocating new gun regulations which bear any cost.  Because we are clearly entering a time when ‘tax relief’ and ‘downsizing government’ will be the orders of the day. And since most laws cost money to enforce, this puts Gun-nut Nation in the driver’s seat because they don’t want any gun laws at all.

Now Here’s A Sheriff Who Really Knows His Law.

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There’s a little town in the middle of Indiana called Goshen which is the birthplace of the great Hollywood movie director, Howard Hawks, but will now become famous as the residence of America’s most intelligent, perceptive and downright stupid champion of the 2nd Amendment, namely, Brad Rogers, who happens to be the Sheriff in Goshen and recently opined at length in a local newspaper about the importance of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

rogers              The editorial begins with a question about whether safe storage laws should be required for everyone in Indiana who owns a gun.  And Rogers demonstrates his profound knowledge of Constitutional law by stating, “The elephant in the room is the government making those laws” because the government, according to this eminent scholar, exists only for the purpose of ‘protecting’ rights, and since we have the right to own a gun, obviously mandating safe-storage would somehow infringe on that right.

Rogers then goes on to tell his readers that safe storage doesn’t “have much of an impact on safety or crime” and he quotes John Lott “of Yale Law School” whose book, Safe Storage Gun Laws, contains the following verbiage: “15 states that passed safe storage laws saw 300 more murders, 3,860 more rapes, 24,650 more robberies, and over 25,000 more aggravated assaults in the first five years.”

I wonder if anyone in the Goshen News editorial department even bothered to check anything that Rogers wrote, because if it had been checked, they would have quickly discovered that John Lott was a Resident Scholar at Yale only from 1999 to 2001 and that he has never published any book about safe storage laws.  But that doesn’t mean that he can’t be the source for a bunch of meaningless statistics about gun violence and crime that prove nothing at all about the efficacy of safe storage laws, because the real question which needs to be asked is how many gun shootings would have occurred if those states hadn’t implemented CAP laws?

Sheriff Brad is equally opposed to mandated training before someone can buy a gun.  To support his idea, he gives the example of a woman who is the victim of domestic abuse. “She decides to purchase a firearm for her own protection. The gun dealer is not authorized to give her the gun she just purchased, because she has not yet received the required government mandated training and the certificate of proficiency. This woman is not protected from a government created to protect her rights.”  Did you follow that?  I couldn’t and I really tried. The fact that this woman might accidentally shoot herself or someone else because she didn’t know how to use the gun never popped into the sheriff’s head.

There’s an outfit out there called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association that has been going around the last couple of years drumming up support among sheriffs to oppose any Obama-inspired gun laws. I can’t figure out exactly what they are going to do now that a pro-gun President’s coming to town, but for the last eight years they’ve had a good run. On the other hand, you have to remember that most sheriffs are responsible for law enforcement in rural areas that tend to vote red.  Goshen went 60-40 for Trump over Hillary, so one shouldn’t be surprised that Sheriff Rogers would be against gun control since he has to stand for re-election in 2018.

On the other hand, before everyone in the gun violence prevention community (GVP) gets completely hot and bothered about Sheriff Brad’s stance on guns, there’s also a lesson to be learned here by GVP.  Because like it or not, many of the sensible ideas for reducing gun violence bear on the ability and activity of law enforcement agencies to enforce new laws.  And enforcement costs time, and time costs money, and the last thing a local police department wants is to be given a new law to enforce without the funding necessary to carry it out.

 

 

 

Doctors For Responsible Gun Ownership Show How Irresponsible They Really Are.

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Yesterday the medical quacks who run a website called Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO) decided to demonize physicians who regard gun ownership as a health risk by descending to the lowest, possible level of pandering to the lowest, intellectual denominator – a style promoted successfully by our soon-to-be President which now serves as the rhetorical burnishing for the thoughts of every jerk, dope and creep climbing out from underneath their rock to bask in the light of the Age of Trump.

docs versus glocks             What I am referring to is a scurrilous attack on an up-and-coming public health researcher, Bindu Kalesan, whose group continues to publish articles on guns and gun violence that really pisses Gun-nut Nation off.  And the reason their work attracts such negative attention from the Jerks and Dopes Brigade is because Dr. Kalesan and her colleagues make no secret of the fact that they are not enamored of guns.  Kalesan even comes down out of the Ivory Tower to serve as the Vice President of a neat GVP organization which attempts to “assist in the funding required to promote mental and emotional healing” of gun victims, something which the medical quacks who slither around the DRGO website know and care absolutely nothing about.

What got the so-called physicians who spearhead the Jerks and Dopes Brigade so hot and bothered was an article published in a peer-reviewed medical research journal that correlated school shootings with such factors as handgun background checks, state-level mental health expenditures, education funding and gun-ownership rates, among others. By the way, the DRGO claims that this is the first of a series of articles that will be produced by the DRGO Publication Review team which consists of ‘medical scientists and statisticians,’ although none of these august individuals is actually identified by name.

And to show you DRGO’s commitment to medicine and science, the first thing that caught my eye was their finding of a major error in Kalesan’s piece, namely, that she neglected to mention a school shooting which occurred in Boston on April 18, 2013.  Now if you want to characterize this event as a ‘school shooting’ you are either delusional or dumb, or both.  Because this happened to have been a shooting of a campus cop at MIT by the two Tsarnaev brothers (the Marathon Bombers) who were trying to evade a citywide manhunt and might have been stopped by the cop after their pictures were broadcast all over the place by the FBI. If this purposeful misuse of evidence constitutes what the DRGO feels represents the work of statisticians and scientists on their behalf, then there’s really no sense in taking them seriously at all.

But the misrepresentation of evidence is not the lowest degree to which this bunch of fools can sink; in fact, they go one step further (or perhaps I should say ‘lower’) in their attempt to guttersnipe at Kalesan’s work and name.  Because they also turn their attention to the journal in which this article was published – Injury Prevention – and note that the editorial staff is “dominated by foreigners unfamiliar with and likely hostile to America’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”  Note the use of the word ‘foreigners,’ and it’s not by accident that this comment is placed in an attack on a researcher who, by dint of her name, might also be part of the horde that’s coming over here to destroy everything about America that’s good and right.

This is what I meant above when I talked about how disgustingly low the DRGO creeps have sunk.  It’s not bad enough that they use their so-called medical credentials to spread absolute falsehoods about the non-risk from guns.  What they are now beginning to do is resort to the same, malicious and dangerous racism and hatreds which infected the Presidential campaign.  In the process they not only demonize evidence-based research upon which all medical knowledge and practice depends, but show themselves to be nothing more than crude hucksters for the gun industry hiding behind medical degrees.

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