John Lott Reviews Sandy Hook.

The ugly truth behind Obama's war on the Second Amendment
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Sometimes, when the government abuses its tremendous power to scapegoat someone, even proponents of government power find it to be too much.

Mike Weisser is a liberal who writes frequently for the Huffington Post in favor of gun control. Indeed, I have been the target of some of his attacks. But in a new book, “Sandy Hook: A Man Sold A Gun,” Weisser tells the story of a friend of his, Dave Laguercia, whose life was destroyed by the Obama administration in its quest to be seen as proactive in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Weisser describes Laguercia as an honest, law-abiding, decent man.

The emotions at the time were understandable. Adam Lanza had just massacred 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Laguercia’s “offense” was that he had legally sold firearms to the shooter’s mother, Nancy Lanza. He sold a Bush Master AR-15 style “assault rifle” in 2011 and a Sig 226 semi-automatic handgun in 2010. All the paperwork was properly filled out, and Nancy Lanza had passed the background check. Laguercia did nothing wrong. 

Weisser sums it up nicely: “For selling a legal product to a consumer and selling it following exactly the rules and regulations which governed such sales, Dave lost his entire business and millions of dollars in sales, inventory and future profits, lost his reputation, spent thousands of dollars on legal fees and now sits at home still waiting for the legal aftermath of Sandy Hook to come to an end.”

Weisser describes a regulatory system where it is essentially impossible not to make tiny recording errors. Wanting to blame someone for the Sandy Hook shootings, the Obama administration was determined to go through Laguercia’s records until they found some violations. If they didn’t find enough dirt on Laguercia, they’d make up false charges.

The administration was not above constantly leaking false, damning stories of a “rogue” gun dealer with a “troubled history.” One story, leaked to the New York Post and other papers, blamed Laguercia for selling another gun in 2010 to another mass shooter. But he hadn’t sold that gun.

Another story described how Laguercia came under scrutiny by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for 33 guns that were stolen from his store. But Laguercia was the person who caught the thief and provided the videos that the government used to convict the miscreant, who was a part-time employee.

Laguercia cooperated fully with officials after the Sandy Hook attack. Nonetheless, on Dec. 20, 2012, the ATF pulled up to Laguercia’s shop in military Humvees, with 21 or 22 agents wearing tactical gear. Many agents were heavily armed. As though worried that Laguercia and his wife were about to engage in a shoot-out with agents, authorities patted his wife down and searched her purse for a gun. Even if the Laguercias hadn’t been told of the raid, advance word was leaked to the media so that TV trucks could line up outside the store.

Many of the ATF reporting requirements are nonsensical. A customer putting an abbreviation for a county name is considered a “serious” mistake, even though the address and zip code make that information redundant. An ATF inspection of “a good sized store” can span several weeks and essentially shut down sales during that period.

Weisser elucidates the ATF’s arbitrary, dictatorial powers. The agency, he says, “has a virtual carte blanche to decide for itself what it can and can’t do to the gun dealers whose business practices and behavior they regulate.”

President Obama claimed in 2016, “We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.” If you have any question about whether Obama was right, Weisser will clear it up. I can only wonder how unnecessarily expensive guns are because of the nutty, useless regulations that dealers face.

Still, Weisser’s liberal views prevent him from seeing some things clearly. He calls Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” comment during the 2008 primary campaign a mere “verbal slip.” He doesn’t see Obama using Sandy Hook as an opportunity to push for the gun control regulations that he always wanted. Rather, he says, “The public reaction to Sandy Hook was so intense that Obama would be swept up in the wave of emotion.”

Weisser also claims that Obama’s “Fast & Furious” operation was simply an expansion of an operation launched under the Bush administration. While both operations involved guns being sold to Mexican drug gangs, the Bush administration tracked the guns and worked with the Mexican government. The Obama administration made no attempt at tracking them.

I would also have cut chapter 3, which included a discussion on the lethality of “assault weapons. Weisser suggests that Adam Lanza wouldn’t have been able to kill with his Sig P226 semi-automatic handgun, but needed the “assault weapon,” which was also a semi-automatic.

The truth is that 68 percent of mass public shootings during the Obama administration were perpetrated just with handguns. In another 16 percent, handguns were used in conjunction with other weapons.

Despite my quibbles with the book, Weisser helps show how government power can easily be abused. Civil libertarians will find this book a valuable addition to their libraries.

John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “The War on Guns.”

Review in The Hill.

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Why Own A Gun? Because It’s Fun.

Back in 2006 one of GVP’s stellar researchers, Kristin Goss of Duke University, wrote a book in which she tried to explain why there was no mass movement for gun control in the United States. As opposed to mass movements which sought to end the Vietnam War, or reduce drunk driving, what she found after mass shootings like Columbine was the following pattern: “collective outrage, followed by a momentary flurry of unorganized calls and letters and donations from thousands of individuals, and then a quick return to the status quo.” Otherwise, the issue of gun violence would lie dormant between the random, high-profile shooting events.

gun-sales             Goss argues that the pro-gun folks were much more successful than the gun-control crowd in building a mass movement for two reasons: they were funded both by industry and private sources whose resources the gun-control groups couldn’t match; they took advantage of a fragmented, federalist political system which rewards political initiatives at the local level but frequently restricts the implementation of national policies even when such policies gain broad, popular support.

Is it time to revise Kristin’s argument about the lack of a mass movement for gun control given how the landscape appears to have changed in the ten years since she wrote her book? To some degree yes. Despite the sycophantic utterings by Forbes and various other pro-gun media outlets, the decision by Mike Bloomberg to pour 50 million bucks into gun-control initiatives each year isn’t chopped liver, and money like that always has an effect. There has also been a shift in the tactics of gun violence prevention (GVP) organizations towards a greater focus on state-level gun issues rather than only thinking and organizing in national terms; an example of this being the spread of laws which force persons served with a domestic abuse order to turn in their guns.

Of late there also appears to be some parity developing between the two sides on social media venues which have become an important, indeed necessary venue for how organizations connect with the folks they represent.  Right now on Facebook, the NRA page has 630,000 Likes, the Moms Demand page has 570K.  As for website traffic according to SimilarWeb, the NRA site registers around 300,000 visitors a month, visits to Everytown are around 200K every thirty days. How many years has the NRA been around? At least 150 years longer than Everytown or Moms – I would say that the numbers for those GVP sites are pretty substantial and pretty good.

On the other hand, over the last five days I received six email communications from the NRA, including three messages offering to sell me clothing, backpacks and all kinds of other consumer crap. During that same five-day period I received only three emails from the GVP, and every message consisted of asking me to donate money to the cause.  Several of the NRA emails were also straight out of the organization’s fundraising kit, but overall the NRA messaging did one thing that the GVP messaging didn’t do – it conveyed the idea that being involved with the NRA is not only important but also fun.

The idea that you can have a good time by being a member of America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ is an important aspect of the pro-gun messaging strategy that I’m not sure the GVP community understands. It certainly isn’t mentioned or analyzed in Kristin’s book. But later today I’m going to drive over to Marlborough where the semi-annual gun show is going on, and the reason I’m going to the show is the same reason that millions of people attend gun shows all over the country every weekend – the shows are fun. I can wander around, play with lots of guns, eat a hot dog and wash it down with a full-calorie drink and buy a Make America Great Again baseball cap for under five bucks.

Spending money on some useless junk may not be the preferred method for raising political awareness within the GVP, but it sure works for the NRA.

Do Guns Win Elections? Not So Far This Year.

Earlier this year a special election to fill the Montana House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke created something of a dilemma for gun violence prevention (GVP) advocates because the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, ran a series of television ads using a rifle to destroy a likeness of his Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, who was running ads stating that Quist was ‘soft’ on gun ‘rights.’ No surprise, the NRA endorsed Gianforte for the seat which he comfortably won, and the fact that Quist had earlier made a foolish remark about backing a ‘national’ gun registry (actually he didn’t know what he was talking about) may have contributed a bit to the margin of Gianforte’s win.

strange2             Until the gun issue reared its ugly head, liberals both within and without Montana had no trouble supporting Quist.  He was in favor of universal health care and expanding social security, both of which are standard talking-points for politicians on the Left. But in Montana being in favor of universal health care is one thing, being ‘against’ guns is something else. Montana has only slightly more than 1 million residents but I’ll bet you there are at least a couple of million guns kicking around in the trucks, barns and ‘family’ rooms of the Big Sky state. Guns are so normal in Montana that the issue is never discussed at all and would have remained unmentioned in this election if Quist had just kept his mouth shut instead of blurting out something stupid about gun registration as he was walking away from a campaign event.

Last week guns got back into electoral politics in a big way when Luther Strange, running for the Republican line in the upcoming Senate election against Ray Moore in Alabama, yanked out a handgun at a campaign rally to prove that he was ‘pro-gun.’ He was responding to a series of attack ads which accused him of being against 2nd-Amendment ‘rights even though he had earned the coveted NRA endorsement, along with the endorsement of YKW. If you have been following my blog you know that YKW refers to the individual who currently occupies a certain executive position in Washington, D.C.  So ol’ Luther gets up on the stage Monday night and pulls out a gun.  At least he had the good sense to keep his finger off the trigger while he waved the piece around.

Incidentally, it should be pointed out that the gun ol’ Luther was carrying was either a Smith & Wesson Model 36 or a Charter Arms Undercover, both of which only hold 5 rounds. Those are hardly the guns of choice any more when you can buy a Glock or a Kahr pistol which is smaller and has a capacity of 8 rounds. On the other hand, there’s a good possibility that Alabama will become a ‘constitutional carry’ state next year, which means that no matter whether your handgun holds 5 rounds, or 10 rounds or even 20 rounds, you’ll be able to walk around with it in Alabama without going through any kind of permit process at all.

But back to the election which took place last night. Regardless of his stance on guns, Luther Strange was handily defeated by Ray Moore who continues to cast himself as America’s public official most dedicated to ‘one nation under God’ which means, of course, that he’s a good guy when it comes to the issue of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Guns in Alabama are like guns in Montana, everybody has one (or two or three) and the idea that gun ownership could become a deciding issue in any political election is simply too far-fetched to be believed.

On the other hand, we now have gone through two electoral contests in two gun-rich states and when it comes to using guns as a way to garner votes, the ‘I love guns’ strategy is zero for two. So much for the idea that cozying up to the ‘gun vote’ can help you win.

What’s The Difference Between Accidental And Non-Accidental Shootings? No Difference.

When I entered graduate school in 1967, the very first book I purchased was a big, fat compendium known as the Chicago Manual of Style. It was published by The University of Chicago Press and was considered the non-plus-ultra guide to anything having to do with writing or editing scholarly and non-fiction articles and books. And since I was studying economic history, I was going to be writing lots of academic papers which needed to meet the standard for how to do footnotes, end notes, quotations, references and all that other bothersome stuff which writers of academic works need to pretend they understand.
kids and gunsOf course in 1967 there was no internet, for that matter there were no such things as word processors and I don’t recall even putting my fingers on the keyboard of an IBM Selectric typewriter until 1970 or 1971 (although I had actually seen one a few years prior to that date.) Because I come from the Stone Age in terms of communication technologies and skills, I don’t take for granted the degree to which so much of what I had to do by hand when I first started writing is now done online. And one of those online resources which helps me and countless other writers and bloggers get things done in an efficient and orderly way is the AP Stylebook which is an extremely useful reference work containing definitions, topics, themes and other information to be used when an event or an issue has to be quickly understood and described. I just clicked on the topic – hurricanes – and up came a whole list of definitions for every type of tropical storm, the name and address of various federal agencies that deal with hurricane relief, and so on.

The AP Stylebook stays up to date by giving users an opportunity to suggest either new topics and/or content which should be added or revised. In this way, writers who are covering topical events can feel confident that if they utilize a resource from the Stylebook it will reflect the most recent way in which that issue is described or understood. One of our good GVP friends, Ladd Everitt, has just initiated a campaign through his organization, One Pulse for America, to have the Stylebook revise its definition of an ‘accidental’ shooting because, as Ladd says, “’Accidental’ implies that nothing can be done to prevent such shootings, when nothing is further from the truth.” Most accidental shootings, as Ladd points out, occur either because of negligence (the gun was left unsecured) or the owner was acting like a dope. The AP Stylebook team responded by saying they would consider changing the description of ‘accidental shootings’ when a new edition appears next year.

There is no question that referring to unintentional injuries caused by guns as ‘accidents’ gives a misleading impression about whether or not anyone should be blamed when a gun goes off when it’s not supposed to go off. But I also think that making a clear distinction between accidental, as opposed to non-accidental gun injuries can create its own misleading impression for what gun violence is really all about.
Lester Adelson was the coroner for Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) nearly 40 years, during which time he saw thousands of individuals who were killed with guns. In 1992 he published a summary article on gun violence, “The gun and the sanctity of human life; or The bullet as pathogen” which for me, ranks as the single most incisive and profound work ever published on this issue, and you can download it here. Here’s what Adelson says is the most salient feature of gun violence: “With its particular lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”

Does it really matter if the gun is used intentionally or not? To quote the novelist Walter Mosley, “If you walk around with a gun it will go off sooner or later.”

Now Available: What Really Happened At Sandy Hook

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It is now almost five terrible years since a young man got into his car, drove five miles from his home to the elementary school he had once attended, shot his way through the locked front door, and then proceeded to murder twenty first-graders and six school staff, including the school principal, who happened to be the first adult to get killed. The death toll ended up at 28, because the shooter had already killed his mother before setting out for the school, and at the end of the rampage he shot himself.

Before writing this book I conducted an informal survey to get some sense of the effect of this event on Americans who lived both near and at a distance from Sandy Hook. Over a period of several days I randomly called about a dozen people, six of whom lived within the tri-state area surrounding Sandy Hook (CT, NY, MA) and six other people who lived in the Midwest or the West Coast. I asked them all to tell me what they remembered about the event, and with one exception, every one of them not only remembered where they were and what they were doing when they heard about the massacre, but they remembered details – the shooter’s name, his mother’s first name, the type of gun he used, and so forth.

Most of the individuals who took my brief ‘survey’ also remembered the fact that a week after the rampage, the ATF raided the gun shop where Nancy Lanza purchased the AR-15, which I found very interesting, because as much as I know about mass shootings, I couldn’t tell you the name of any shop which supplied the guns used at Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or Aurora, or any of the other mass shootings which seem to occur on a continuous basis within the United States.  Nevertheless, just about all the respondents with whom I talked mentioned the gun shop being closed down by the ATF, and several even remembered the name of the store -Riverview Sales.

I happen to know the owner of Riverview, Dave Laguercia, because my gun shop was located about twenty miles away from his shop and we both purchased inventory from the same wholesaler, so we would meet from time to time when we went to pick up guns, ammo and other stuff for reselling in our respective stores. I called Dave after I completed my little survey and asked him why he thought his shop was so prominent in what people remembered about Sandy Hook and he said, “Oh, that’s easy. Once the ATF raided my store, there were more stories about the fact that I sold the gun than there were stories about what happened at the school.”

It was Dave’s comment that persuaded to write a book about Sandy Hook from the perspective of what happened to him. But understand one thing: the book is not an apologia for the gun dealer, in no way is this book an attempt to shift the discussion about Sandy Hook and other gun violence events away from where the discussion needs to focus and remain, namely, the inability of the most advanced society in the contemporary world to prevent 125,000 gun deaths and injuries from occurring every year.

What this book attempts to explain is that the only difference between what happens when someone shoots someone else as opposed to someone shooting lots of people is a difference in degree, but certainly not in kind. And to the extent that mass shootings like Sandy Hook are considered by the experts to be unique events, this both distorts and obscures what gun violence – every type of gun violence – is really all about. The book goes into detail to explain this point of view.

The families and friends of the Sandy Hook victims will never overcome their loss. Neither will the families and friends of anyone else whose life is shattered by the irrational and unstoppable violence caused by guns.

Print edition.

Kindle edition.

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Are Evangelicals Moving Away From A Pro-Gun Stance? Not So Fast.

Today our friends at The Trace discussed a new survey of Evangelical leaders which shows a majority (55%) might support stronger gun-control laws, even though this same majority reported that they personally own guns. This survey comes as something of a surprise to the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, given the fact that Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported you-know-who in the 2016 election, and you-know-who ran as the candidate of the NRA.  From now on, incidentally, I’m going to refer to the present occupant of the Oval Office as you-know-who, or YKW for short, because his shenanigans don’t deserve to let him be accorded any kind of proper name. Anyway, back to the Evangelicals.

guns and church             I think the idea of a possible shift in Evangelical views on guns needs to be understood in a somewhat more nuanced way. First of all, the Evangelical support for YKW in 2016 was basically rooted amongst white Evangelicals, who constitute a majority of the total Evangelical population, but certainly do not represent the Evangelical movement as a whole. If anything, Evangelicalism appears to be growing fastest within the new-immigrant community, most of whom are considered ‘white’ in a racial sense, but share little of the values, outlook and most of all, religious activity and behavior with the traditional Evangelical population which is overwhelmingly located in rural or suburban areas, primarily in the South.

To drive to my office in Springfield I go down the main street of Chicopee, MA, which used to be the location of enormous manufacturing plants owned by Spalding and Westinghouse, but is now just another, inner-city pile of rubble surrounded by crummy housing, welfare offices and mini-marts. On the six blocks of Main Street which I take to get to work, I pass eight storefront Evangelical churches, whose congregations are entirely comprised of recent immigrants, most of whom do not speak English as a primary language and have as much in common with white Evangelicals siting in those mega-churches as I have with the man in the moon.

Given this division within the Evangelical community, it should come as no surprise that a slight majority of the religious leaders responding to a survey conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals would be in favor of stricter gun-control laws. After all, the NAE sent a public letter from its leadership criticizing YKW for his initial order barring immigrants; it also issued a very strong condemnation of white supremacy after Charlottesville (“The NAE condemns white supremacy and all groups, such as the KKK and Neo-Nazis, that champion it.”) and immediately called on Congress to protect DACA after YKW announced his intention to terminate the program over the next six months.

Where did YKW deliver his first commencement speech after taking office? At Liberty University to which he was returning following a campaign appearance at the school in 2016. In both appearances, Trump made no attempt to hide his pro-gun credentials, given the fact that the school’s President, Jerry Falwell, Jr., is a strong advocate of concealed-carry and recently announced the construction of a shooting range where students can get trained and apply for CCW, although Liberty University, believe it or not, does not allow students to walk around the campus toting guns. So much for Falwell’s nonsense about the virtues of being armed.

Obviously, whenever any faith-based group or organization pushes the idea of stricter gun laws, such news should be shared around the community which advocates reducing the violence caused by guns. But in evaluating the impact of such pronouncements, the gun-violence advocacy community needs to fully understand both the motives and the context in which such ideas might arise. Would it have been better had the NAE survey disclosed that a majority of respondents were against stricter regulations on guns? Of course not. But by the same token, to believe that the Evangelical movement as a whole may be moving away from a pro-gun position is to make an assumption which is simply not true.

 

Are Silencers Used For Hunting? Yea, Right.

Now that a bill which removes gun silencers from the list of weapons that are strictly regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 has cleared a House Committee by a party-line vote, both sides in the gun debate are gearing up for what will no doubt be a contentious and loud debate when the bill gets to the House floor.    It should come as no surprise that most of the truth-stretching about silencers is coming from the pro-gun side, because they have a lot more to gain if silencers are dropped from the NFA list.  Anyone can go to Amazon, for example, and purchase a light or a laser which fits on a gun; this would be the case with silencers as well.

silencer             Our friends at The Trace tell us that since 2010, the number of NFA-registered silencers has increased from 285,087 to 902,805, a serious problem if you believe that silencers can somehow be linked to the rate of gun violence which during the same five-year period has not gone down but is actually trending somewhat up. But like everything else in the gun business, using national data to understand how, why and where people own and use anything having to do with guns hides important local and regional differences which need to be explained and understood.

Back in 2010, there were an average of 5,700 silencers registered in each of the 50 states, but seven states (AZ, FL, GA, IN, PA, TX, VA) were the location of 47% of all registered silencers at that time. At the beginning of 2016, the per-state average had increased to 18,056, but these 7 states alone still accounted for nearly 44% of all registered silencers owned. Last year these same seven states issued 3,677,143 hunting licenses, which was 23% of hunting licenses issued by the 50 states. The state which issued the most licenses, Texas, sold 1,132,099, or 7% of the national total. But Texans own 18% of all the registered silencers in the U.S., and the number of silencers in the 7 silencer-rich states represent twice the percentage of all silencers than the percentage of hunting licenses issued by these same states.

Wait a minute. I thought the whole point of owning a silencer was to use it when you go out into the woods to take a crack at Bambi, right?  If that’s the case, how come silencers outpace hunting licenses by a margin of two to one?

What seems to be lost in the silencer debate, and the anti-silencer contingent seems to ignore this issue as well, is that in order to put a silencer on a gun you have to replace the standard barrel with a threaded barrel or the silencer simply won’t work. And while some of the silencer companies have started selling threaded gun barrels in addition to the silencers themselves, unless the gun you want to silence is of modular design, which happens to be only about 10% of all current handgun models along with variations of the AR-15, buying a silencer means buying another gun. This is particularly true when it comes to standard bolt-action or semi-auto hunting rifles because the barrel in most cases is welded to the receiver, so you can’t just pop out one barrel and pop in another the way you might do it with a Glock. When was the last time that someone went hunting deer or high-flyers with a Glock?

The bottom line is that the argument for silencers based on the idea that they are nothing more than a new accessory for hunters is simply not true. And the folks who are trying to prevent the gun industry from turning silencers into a product that is no different from a flashlight should be pointing this out. You can certainly find a story here and there about how a gun with a silencer was involved in this crime or that, but the threat represented by silencers is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the crimes and injuries caused by guns.

Smart Guns Take A Giant Step Forward.

The development of ‘smart’ guns has been flopping around for more than twenty years, largely because the gun industry regards the technology, with good reason, as something that might be imposed on them by the government, and if you think that any industry looks favorably at government regulation, spend some time around Wall Street and you’ll quickly discover that when it comes to government, the business community just wants to be left alone.  The gun industry faces a double whammy in this regard, because not only does the government regulate what kinds of products it can make and sell, it also regulates the behavior of gun consumers, because it sets the criteria for who can and cannot legally buy and own guns.

smart             But the long-time opposition to ‘smart’ technologies by gun makers and their supporters also reflects a more subtle but nevertheless powerful factor at work, namely, the perception created by the ‘smart gun’ community that guns are inherently a risk. Forgetting for a moment that numerous credible studies indicate that all categories of gun injury go up in households with access to guns, the gun industry has tried, with some success, to promote the idea that whatever small risk might be incurred by keeping a gun in the home, this is more than counterbalanced by the ‘fact’ that guns make us safe.  Actually, they don’t. But why quibble over facts when emotions can carry the argument any day, right?

Last year, a former NYPD officer turned State Senator and now Borough President of Brooklyn, Eric Adams, announced a ‘smart gun’ competition with a prize of one million dollars going to the team which submitted the best proposal; the entrants being connected to a college-level engineering program located in New York. Yesterday the five finalists presented their concepts to a press conference at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, and the group from NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering walked off with the prize.

In the interests of full disclosure, as they say, Mike the Gun Guy was a member of the panel that chose the recipient student team which received the award. But it was a tough choice because all the submissions were serious, contained multiple technologies, and most of all indicated a great deal of thought and hard work. The fact that four teams did not win doesn’t mean that any of the student engineers will necessarily abandon the quest. In fact, there is no reason why the group from NYU wouldn’t profit from ideas generated by research conducted by other teams.

The truth is that making a ‘smart’ gun doesn’t mean that someone has to make a new gun. Most current handgun designs are modular, consisting of a frame, a slide, a barrel, a trigger and hammer assembly – stick the parts together like a jigsaw puzzle and, as my Uncle Ben (who was a gun maker) used to say, det’s it. If you want to add some smart technology, figure out whether you need an RFID chip or a print-reader or whatever will be used to authenticate the user and stick the components into the gun.

The real trick is not developing the technology itself, but making sure it really works. But here is where the student developers have a real advantage, because remember they are training to become engineers. And no matter what kind of engineering these students want to pursue, if it doesn’t work they might as well go back to school and learn something else. So becoming an engineer means not only designing a product, but also designing a valid test methodology which will move your idea from R&D to something sitting on a retailer’s shelf.

What safe gun development has lacked first and foremost is an industry standard which will define a safe gun and a test protocol that will validate that standard as a workable idea. The million-dollar award announced by Eric Adams is a major step in meeting those requirements which means that, yes Virginia, safe guns will appear.

What Happened To Hillary? Here’s What Happened.

In April 1994, I drove across better than half the country and spent several hours each day listening to Rush. This was the first time I heard him and was also the first time I heard the beginnings of what we now refer to as the alt-right. The internet only sent brief messages without pictures or sound, Fox News as a cable network didn’t exist, Glenn Beck was enrolled in a sobriety program, Sean Hannity was working at a small, AM talk-show radio station in Georgia and Alex Jones was sitting in a classroom in Austin Community College twiddling his thumbs.

poster2              So here I am driving through Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois, and listening to Rush who talked endlessly about Whitewater without telling his audience that his entire story-line was picked up each day from the Whitewater coverage in the most mainstream of all mainstream publications, a.k.a., The New York Times.  The Times was obsessed with Whitewater, probably because they blew the Watergate scoop, and it was their reportage, particularly error-riddled stories written by Jeff Gerth, which provoked more than six years of government investigations that ultimately came up with nothing at all.

What was most interesting listening to Rush’s daily excoriation of possible Clinton malfeasance was what happened every time that Rush opened the phone lines and took a listener’s call. Just about every caller told Rush he was doing a ‘great’ job by exposing the Clinton’s dark side, but the real anger was directed at Hillary, not Bill. A story had just broken that Hillary cleared nearly $100,000 in commodity trading with an initial investment of $1,000 in 1978-79. Where was the story? In The New York Times. Rush never mentioned Whitewater without also talking about the commodity profits, reminding his audience that it was Hillary, not Bill, who profited from those trades. And the people who called in to voice their reactions to Rush’s daily riff always emphasized that Hillary was the villain, the evil force behind all the shady deals.

I was recalled this when I read Hillary’s new book, What Happened, which puts her back into the center of things thanks to a fifteen-city publicity tour. The book is actually about Hillary and what she likes and doesn’t like, eats and doesn’t eat, wears and doesn’t wear, along with an exhaustive list of the wonderful, talented and extraordinarily expert people who worked on her campaign. A little mistake here and there? What the hell, we’re human and we all make mistakes.

On the other hand, the chapter on the gun issue is very well done, perhaps the clearest and least self-aggrandizing section of the book. But here again, it wasn’t her, it was that damned NRA which has become “one of the most dangerous organizations in America” because Wayne-o saw Hillary as such a mortal threat.  Hillary admits that her gun-control rhetoric was particularly aimed at female voters in swing states. So how was it that in those critical swing states most of the Republican women stuck by the man?

I’ll tell you why. Because those female voters, along with many voters who switched from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016, didn’t vote against the message, they voted against the messenger who has been a toxic presence in the political arena since I started listening to Rush. I’m not sure how and why Hillary has been such an easy target for the alt-right/white, but the bottom line is when it came to going after her, the NRA couldn’t wait.

Hillary did the GVP community an important service by bringing the gun issue back out of the closet where it had been snoozing since the alleged impact of the pro-gun vote in 1994. But if we learned anything from the unthinkable success of You Know Who last year, voters are as much or more influenced by who says it than what they say.

Want to use the next election as a mechanism for promoting sensible gun regs?  Find a candidate whom the voters really like, not someone with a shopworn name.