Want To End Gun Violence? Switch To Knives And Clubs.

Every once in a while, I find myself unable to understand why some of my friends in the public health research community keep doing the same gun research over and over again. The latest example comes from two very distinguished researchers, Anthony Braga and Philip Cook, who spent a good part of last year analyzing gun injuries in Boston which the cops believed were all associated with crimes. After examining all the police reports, as well as coroner reports (for the injuries which turned out to be fatal) covering 592 shootings between 2010 and 2014, the researchers reached an astonishing conclusion: the more powerful the caliber involved in the attack, the better chance that the victim would wind up dead.

small guns             To their credit, Braga and Cook at least admit that they aren’t exactly tilling new ground. The notes cite a number of other studies which say the same thing, beginning with Zimring’s classic study published in 1972. So how is it that 45 years later, Braga and Cook come up with the same results that Zimring previously published, but nevertheless, feel the necessity to say the same thing again? Because over the years since Zimring’s work first appeared, public health gun research is increasingly designed to substantiate the development and/or implementation of more gun regulations, which means that most public health gun studies end up suggesting, supporting or endorsing various gun-control laws.

The reason we suffer from an inordinate amount of gun violence, is because our regulatory system is set up to focus primarily on the behavior of people who own and use guns, rather than on the design and lethality of guns themselves. And what has happened in the nearly 50 years since Zimring first published his seminal article, is that the gun industry has introduced technologies which allow them to manufacture and sell highly-concealable guns which also happen to be extremely lethal because the alloys and polymers now used to make guns can withstand much higher pressures from much more powerful shells.

Guns like the Glock Model 43 or the Sig Model 938 didn’t exist when Zimring did his research.  These guns fire a standard, military round – 9mm – but are no bigger and weigh little more than a droid. The whole point of the gun industry is to make consumers feel that carrying a tiny, but extremely lethal gun will not only protect them from all sorts of bad things, but can be stuck into their pocket and carried around like any other consumer item – no fuss, no mess, no bother at all.

When Zimring conducted his 1972 study, most of the attacks involved .22-caliber guns, with some .32 and .38 calibers, but nowhere did he find many crime guns chambered for 9mm, 40 S&W (which wasn’t even invented in 1972) or 45acp. These are now standard street calibers, and the only reason that .22LR ammunition sells as much as it does is because: a) it’s cheap, and, b) it’s also used in rifles for target shooting and sport.

What conclusion did Braga and Cook come up with once they learned that highly-lethal handgun calibers are now ‘standard issue’ in the street? According to them, their research “suggests that effective regulation of firearms could reduce the homicide rate.”  And what kind of regulation are they talking about? Regulating what kind of guns can be made and sold, because “simply replacing larger-caliber guns with small caliber guns with no change in location or number of wounds would have reduced the gun homicide rate by 39.5%.” To which Braga and Cook add one more remarkable line: “It is plausible that larger reductions would be associated with replacing all types of guns with knives or clubs.”

With all due respect to my friends Braga and Cook, I get the distinct impression that this entire article was written tongue in cheek. I mean, are we reduced to talking about effective gun regulations based on requiring the substitution of knives and clubs? Maybe so.

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So What If Ghost Guns Make It Impossible To Regulate Guns?

I’d like to congratulate my friends in the gun control movement for getting everyone so riled up over this completely phony issue of 3-D, plastic guns that even the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said he would ‘look into it,’ and the Washington Post published a major editorial saying that by letting Cody Wilson post his 3-D drawings on the internet, ‘carnage’ was a step away.

plastic gun1             Why doesn’t WaPo publish an editorial saying that they have ‘proof’ Martians have landed at Area 51?  It would have the same degree of honesty and credibility as saying that “Ghost guns are already a problem; they are used not just by lone shooters but as part of criminal enterprises.”

In fact, these guns haven’t been used by anybody because they don’t work. Not only don’t they work, but the first thing you have to do after downloading Wilson’s blueprint, is to glue a 6-ounce piece of steel into the receiver which makes the gun detectable by even the most primitive security scanners, a point somehow completely missed by some sheriff who wrote a separate op-ed for WaPo warning everyone about the danger posed by ghost guns.

When it comes to molding public opinion, nobody on either side ever concerns themselves with narratives based on facts. However, this so-called threat to national security has finally given the gun-control gang an issue around which they can mobilize public opinion and win a hot-air battle against the gun-nut bunch. Which brings up a question: To the degree that Cody Wilson’s own rhetorical flourishes about ending government gun regulations of all kinds might actually come true, what would be the effect if the current regulatory environment defined by the Gun Control Act of 1968 went away?

First of all, it would mean that several thousand ATF staffers would be out of work – no great loss. It would also mean that the public health gun researchers at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and elsewhere would have to find some other topic to justify their whining about not having enough research funds to explain why gun laws reduce gun violence – also no great loss. But would the ability of someone to buy a gun with no more legal concerns than what’s involved in buying a Hershey bar lead to total carnage and a national security threat?

Let me begin by breaking the news to my gun-control friends. If I could walk into a gun shop tomorrow  and buy a gun without having to fill out any paperwork at all, it would never occur to me to do anything illegal or inappropriate with that gun. I’m not a law-abiding citizen because I own guns; I’m law-abiding because I just am. And so are just about everyone else in America whether they own guns or not. The U.S. happens to be an extraordinarily law-abiding country and the one category where we do rank above everyone else is automobile theft, which happens to be a function of the fact that just about every one of us owns a car.

You would think the way my friends in the gun-control gang lament gun violence, that everyone who commits a violent act against someone else is someone who has gotten their ‘wrong hands’ on a gun.  In fact, of the more than 1 million arrests made each year for aggravated assault, less than 7 percent try to beat the sh*t out of someone else by using a gun. So how come the other million who really try to hurt another person don’t use a gun? It’s not like they can’t get their hands on a gun, right? Guns are all over the place.

Sooner or later the sturm und drang over ghost guns will die down because nothing stays in the middle of the 24/7 news cycle for more than a week. Which means the gun-control gang will have to find a different way to rile everyone up. Which means they’ll give me a new topic to write about. I can’t wait.

Does The 2nd Amendment Protect Carrying A Gun Outside The Home?

While my friends in the gun-control community continue to go ga-ga over something as silly and unimportant as plastic guns, a decision just came down from the 9th Circuit Federal Court which could have a much greater impact on the whole issue of gun violence and how America will and will not regulate guns.  I am referring to an appeal brought before the Court by a resident of Hawaii, George Young, who was denied an application both to openly a gun as well as to carry the same gun concealed.

glock1             Basically, what the Court said in a 2 – 1 opinion, was that the State of Hawaii couldn’t have it both ways. Either they had to let Young carry a weapon outside the home openly, or they had to let him carry his weapon concealed. But to deny him any ability to leave his home armed was to deny his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The Court found that Hawaii’s statute denying carrying of weapons except in cases of engaging in ‘protection of life and property’ was too vague and could not sustained under current 2nd-Amendment interpretations, up to and including the Heller decision rendered in 2008.

In fact, Scalia’s 2008 Heller opinion specifically avoided the issue of carrying a gun outside the home, because the D.C. law which Heller appealed only dealt with whether or not a resident of the District could keep a loaded, self-defense gun in the home. The relevant section in the 2nd Amendment is the phrase, ‘keep and bear arms,’ with decisions since 2008 coming down on both sides of this issue when deciding whether ‘keep’ and ‘bear’ refer to only inside the home or outside the home as well.

If you go back and read Scalia’s Heller opinion, what I find interesting is that virtually the entire 20,000-word text is devoted to historical and legal discussions about the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear.’  On the other hand, the word ‘arms’ is given very short shrift, Scalia dispensing with it altogether by noting that modern military weapons, like an M-16 rifle, could lie outside of 2nd-Amendment protection because such a gun isn’t commonly found in the home (page 54 et. seq.) In other words, for purposes of defining the types of weapons which fall under 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ Scalia is basically saying that a gun used by the military may, in fact, be what he calls a ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapon, which should not be owned by civilians at all.

If my friends in the gun-control community decide to appeal the 9th Circuit’s ruling, which I’m sure they will, and/or if the issue of 2nd Amendment protection for carrying a gun outside the home finally arrives at the doorstep of the Supreme Court, perhaps some consideration might be given to looking at the whole issue not from the point of view of prohibiting or regulating the behavior of people who own guns, but rather, in terms o the lethality of the guns themselves.

Because it just so happens that if we define a gun not in terms of whether it can be found in a gun-owner’s home, but rather in terms of whether the gun was designed for military use and is used by the military today, then all of a sudden, the whole question of what constitutes a gun whose existence in civilian hands is covered by the 2nd Amendment begins to change.

The fact is that the most popular handgun in America – Glock – was designed specifically as an army gun and is carried by troops in the field, including U.S. troops, all over the globe. Ditto the guns manufactured by Sig, whose M17 model just became the official sidearm of the Regular Army of the USA.  Ditto the Beretta M9, the list goes on and on.

The reason that other advanced countries don’t suffer our level of gun violence is because they recognize that arms designed for the military are too lethal to be in civilian hands. How come this issue never seems to be arise when my friends in the gun-control community decry the violence caused by guns?

 

Why Not Make A Big Deal Out Of ‘Ghost Guns?’ Got Something Better To Do?

Today, in a rare show of unanimity, the Giffords group, Everytown and Brady all got together to announce they would be going into federal court in Texas to stop a threat both to public safety and national security because  kid named Cody Wilson, who owns a company called Defense Distributed, can put plans online which show how to build a plastic gun. Not surprisingly, Senator Chuck Schumer is getting ready to introduce a bill that will prevent Cody and others from posting plastic gun designs online, something which Schumer claims would create an ‘enormous’ danger and needs to be stopped.

The problem with all this heated rhetoric, and the fundraising exhortations which accompany it, is that what one gun-control activists referred to in an email as an ‘immediate’ crisis is neither immediate nor a crisis at all.  If you think that people can’t get their hands on extremely lethal guns fresh out of the factory which don’t have serial numbers, can’t be traced and cost a fraction of what it costs to make a plastic gun, then the truth is, you don’t know anything about guns.  And this lack of gun knowledge happens to be consistent within the ranks of the gun-control gang, make no mistake.

I can walk into Walmart this afternoon, plunk down $90 bucks, and walk out with a Gamo P-25 pellet gun without showing any kind of identification at all. I don’t need to be of a certain age, I don’t need to pass a background check, and I don’t have to worry about whether I have the machinery, parts or skills to assemble a gun.  I just have to buy some pellets and I’m good to go.  Oh, in case you’re wondering, the ammunition is also legal to purchase and own in most places, even if I’m 12 years old.

Are these guns lethal?  You have to know how to aim them at a lethal spot, like someone’s head. But they can cause plenty of damage and there are pellet rifles which fire ammunition at the same speed or faster than the ammo which comes out of a 22-caliber gun.  By the way, these guns are picked up by the cops at various crime scenes, certainly much more frequently than anything that might be considered a plastic gun.

There’s a website out there which is peddling the latest twist in self-made guns, known as ‘ghost’ guns, which refers to any gun which is built at home, doesn’t have a serial number and therefore can’t be traced.  These are the guns that, according to Schumer and the gun-control merry band, are the real threats to public safety and national security, because God knows what happens if something like this gets into the ‘wrong’ hands.

The website that has got everyone in the gun-control world hot and bothered is a site called Ghost Guns, which says it sells ‘unserialized’ and ‘unregistered’ guns, and claims to ‘help you build the very best mission ready and combat-tested weapon,’ which is just so much crap.  Combat-tested my rear you know what. And any time you see the phrase ‘mission ready’ you’re in make-believe, gung-ho land.

Here’s a picture of one of the guns being sold on their site:

ghost1911

              Note the red circle that I have drawn.  That’s where you have to drill space in the frame to fit the trigger assembly which you then have to attach to the hammer, wind the spring around the sear, and make sure the whole thing works. They don’t tell you that you need to know how to use a tool which can accurately cut steel, which is the reason that what you are buying isn’t a real gun.

My friends in the gun-control community would be doing us all a big favor if they stopped getting hysterical about ‘ghost’ guns and try to figure out what to do about the 300 million real guns that are floating around. But why miss an opportunity to make a big deal out of nothing, right?

An Open Letter To Ted Nugent.

Hey Bro!  Why don’t you stop appealing to the lowest, common mental denominator and start talking seriously about guns?  Nobody doubts your fervent joy in hunting with a bow or a gun, nobody can argue with the fact that you honestly believe in 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But the fact that our current President uses profanity and insults to explain his positions on various public policies isn’t a reason that you should do the same. You make a very powerful argument when you tell Andy Parker that the Constitution gives him the freedom to protest your promotion of guns. But other than selling a few more concert tickets, calling him a ‘piece of sh*t’ or a ‘dumb fu*k’ does nothing to explain or justify your beliefs

nugent1If you would take the trouble to actually sit down and think through the issue of the Constitution and guns, you would discover that the most powerful defense of the 2nd Amendment was made not by your buddy Alex Jones, but by a pointy-headed, liberal intellectual named Sandy Levinson, whose 1989 Yale Law Review article first raised the issue of the 2nd Amendment as a ‘civil right.’ Basically, what Levinson argues was that if liberals wanted to be taken seriously in their defense of 1st Amendment guarantees, particularly the protection afforded speech, then they also needed to defend the 2nd Amendment’s protection of guns. Levinson’s liberal defense of private gun ownership, not surprisingly, became part of the argument made by gun-rights advocates in the run-up to the Heller decision in 2008.

Which happens to be the same argument that you are making, Bro, about the 2nd Amendment, with one difference. And the difference happens to be your continued attempt to present yourself as some kind of right-wing, radical noisemaker who won’t accept the slightest degree of compromise when it comes to the issue of guns. And maybe this is your way to keep your name in front of your fans, maybe it’s a way to sell a few more albums, maybe it’s simply something you do because you have nothing better to do except when you’re on a stage strumming your guitar.

But here’s the point, Bro.  There’s a good chance that the Congress may shift from red to blue next year, and if that happens, I guarantee you that a new gun-control law will wind up on 45’s desk. And if you think for one second that your buddy Trump wouldn’t shove the NRA under a bus if, all of a sudden, he has to make some kind of deal with Democrats on the Hill, then you don’t know your ass from your elbow about Donald Trump. Want to know how much he really values the loyalty of his friends? Just ask Mikey ‘I’ll do anything to protect the President’ Cohen – he’ll be glad to fill you in.

As of today, Americans believe two to one that gun laws should be stricter than they are right now. The last time we had numbers like this was 1993, right before we got both Brady and the Assault Weapons Ban. For gun nuts like you and me Bro, those laws are just a pain in the rear end, because neither us nor just about any other legal gun owner needs the government to tell us how to behave properly with our guns.

Which is why someone like you needs to be given a seat at the big table when it gets down to talking about a new gun bill. Not that you have to compromise your views, but what you should do is stop pretending that gun ‘rights’ are the next best thing to Godliness and start talking without indulging in the profanity and vulgarity that some of your fans enjoy, but for the rest of us just mark you down as being a big, dumb jerk.

I want people promoting gun ownership whom I can respect, not because I agree with what they say, but because they say it in a proper and decent way. Maybe you can, but maybe you can’t.

 

Do Laws Prevent Gun Violence? Tell That To Canada.

Ever since the gun-control movement decided that the United States was the only country with an exceptional level of gun violence, we never question the fact that other Western countries may contain lots of guns, but somehow these weapons aren’t used to kill many people.  The latest such argument was made recently by Erin Grinshteyn and David Hemenway, who found that the U.S. gun-violence rate is 25 times higher than other countries in the OECD.

murderThe disparity between U.S. gun violence and other countries is explained first and foremost by the ease at which Americans can get their hands on handguns, as well as the degree to which such guns move from the legal to the illegal market, given the lack of background checks beyond the initial point of sale.  So, for example, although the ownership gun rate in Canada is roughly one-third of what it is here, very few Canadians can purchase or possess handguns, accordingly, gun-homicide rates are a fraction of rates in the U.S.  In 2016, the U.S. gun-homicide rate was 4.16; in Canada it was 0.61, or seven times less.

That being said, how do all my public health friends explain the fact that so far this year, gun violence in Toronto is up 167% over 2017? That’s right. 167 percent.  Last year downtown Toronto counted a total of 34 shootings, through May of this year the number is 24, and through May 31st of last year, the total number of shootings was nine. So in the two police precincts that cover the downtown area, Divisions 51 and 52, shootings are up far beyond anything experienced in the last five years.

How can this be happening in a country where private handgun ownership is virtually unknown? According to endless and countless public health research, the more gun laws you have, the more gun violence is supposed to go down. If you don’t believe me, take a look at a study published in 2013; here’s another study which says exactly the same thing. And here’s a third study which claims that gun violence will be reduced if the process of purchasing a handgun is made more strict. So what happens if you can’t buy a handgun at all? Shouldn’t that mean that there won’t be any gun violence?

Not only do the conclusions from all these studies fly in the face of what is going on in Toronto, but the public authorities in Canada don’t have the faintest clue as to why, all of a sudden, the streets of their capitol city are so unsafe.  So what are the authorities doing to figure out a solution? They’re conducting a ‘study’ by interviewing some kids and young men between the ages of 15 and 30 who have been locked up for criminal behavior involving guns. And how many subjects have they interviewed? Exactly ten. And what have they learned from these interviews? Exactly what every public health researcher in the United States has learned from the same type of research, namely, that people walk around with illegal guns because they believe having a gun will protect them from getting shot.

Know what’s funny about all those public health studies which find that guns are carried by kids and adults who end up using the gun to shoot someone else? They all say that their gun was being carried for self-defense. None of them ever admit (nor are they asked) whether maybe, just maybe they are carrying a gun to help them commit a crime.

Let me tell you something about those street punks who promote the completely phony idea that they ‘need’ to protect themselves with a gun. Funny, but the kids who don’t get into trouble and don’t commit crimes, which happen to be the majority of kids living in high-crime neighborhoods, don’t believe they need to carry a gun. And these kids come from the same, disadvantaged backgrounds which produce the kids who walk around with their ‘self-defense’ guns. Any chance my public health research friends will ever figure that one out?

Sorry, But Butina-gate Isn’t What You Think.

Gun-control Nation couldn’t be more ga-ga over the news that a young Russian woman who has been hanging around the NRA for the past several years has been indicted not once, but twice by the Justice Department for ‘Conspiracy to Act as an Agent for a Foreign Government,’ according to the indictment itself. And the conspiracy consists of ‘developing and executing a plan to identify and exploit personal connections with U.S. persons having influence in American politics, who were in positions to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.’

butina             So now we finally have the connection between the Russian government and the Trump Administration, a linkage fostered and developed through our friends at the NRA.  What could be a better story for stoking up anti-NRA (and anti-gun) feelings than doing what Robert Mueller hasn’t been able to do in  fourteen-month investigation, namely, show that Trump is now controlled by Putin via connections made at various NRA events? Wow!  Just as the Parkland kids seem to be fading off center stage, we’ve got a new media personality named Maria Butina whose behavior can be used to energize Gun-control Nation to rally against the ‘rights’ of Americans to own guns.

Yesterday our friends at Everytown issued a press release demanding that the boys in Fairfax answer six questions about the organization’s relationship with Ms. Butina, starting off with this: “Have any NRA officers, directors, employees, or affiliates testified in front of the Grand Jury or otherwise been questioned by the FBI?” Since the head of Everytown, John Feinblatt, happens to be an attorney, perhaps he should tell his PR staff that the whole point of appearing before a Grand Jury is that such activity requires an absolute guarantee of secrecy on both sides.

But since when does legality or honesty have anything to do with how Gun-control Nation or Gun-nut Nation frame the issues which they want their followers to believe? The indictment of Maria Butina is a God-given gift to Gun-control Nation because no matter what anyone says, the bottom line is that: a) she evidently was working for a foreign government; b) she was hanging out with persons who had ‘influence’ in American politics; and, c) these influential persons could therefore ‘advance’ the interests of the Russian Federation.

Except there’s only one little problem. According to the indictment, Ms. Butina was working for Alexander Torshin, a buddy of Putin who had been in the Russian legislature and then moved over to a position in the Russian Central Bank.  But the Bank isn’t actually part of the government; it’s an independent entity which operates very similarly to the way we operate our Fed, namely, it’s responsible for currency and making sure that the country’s banking system runs in a stable way.

Now granted, Maria may have lied on her visa application when she stated that her employment as a representative for Torshin and the Central Bank ended in 2016. But the fact that she stayed in contact with Torshin and used his flopping around at NRA meetings to promote herself and her cocky little organization that supported Russian gun ‘rights’ (talk about a contradiction in terms) doesn’t necessarily mean that she was representing anyone at all other than herself.

I’m not trying to deny the possibility that Russia actively intervened in the 2016 election; Mueller didn’t indict 12 different Russian operatives for stealing and disseminating politically-sensitive emails without having some degree of real evidence that this bunch was up to no good. But Butina has been at NRA meetings at least since 2014, she led a delegation of NRA somebodies and gun nuts to Russia in 2013, and Torshin’s Central Bank happens to be a major investor in the Russian arms company which has now set up an AK-47 manufacturing plant in Boca Raton.

The indictment of Maria Butina doesn’t prove anything about a connection between Trump, Russia and the NRA. Frankly, if I want to promote myself in the gun business, I’d also go to the NRA show.

Want To End Gun Violence? It’s The Guns That Count.

I just came across an article in the website of a local CBS affiliate station in Wisconsin – WKBT – concerning a new effort to deal with gun violence in Madison, WI. It’s a brief statement, but evidently Madison has been dealing with a growing crime and gun-violence problem over the last several years, with the Police Chief saying that it’s the worst he’s ever seen in his entire career.

may22Crime in Madison?  Are you serious?  This town of roughly 250,000 people is the location both of the State Capitol and the flagship campus of the University. It’s got great schools, lovely parks, plenty of local theater and arts groups and thanks to the university and the legislature has an unemployment level of somewhere around 4 percent or less. In 2008 Madison was ranked as the least armed and dangerous city in the entire United States.  So what’s going on?

Nobody seems to know, but there will now be a ‘coordinated approach to gun violence with a new program that includes representatives of agencies from the city and Dane County, including nonprofit groups.’ They will meet on a weekly basis at a local church ‘to share updates on incidents and discuss ways to address violence that go beyond police work.’

When it comes to dealing with crime, the term ‘coordinated approach’ happens to be a euphemism usually employed to disguise the fact that the police don’t have enough men and women in uniform to put an officer 24/7 on every corner where crime might otherwise occur. Because, like it or not, individuals who are prone to commit crime, particularly crimes of violence, seem to avoid hanging around with the cops. Think this is just a theory? Take a look at New York City where violent crime has dropped to the lowest levels in more than 60 years, okay?

Now one could argue that the most effective way to reduce violence, particularly gun violence, is to get rid of all the guns. But since owning a gun happens to be a Constitutional ‘right,’ the next best thing, according to my Gun-control Nation friends, is to pass laws which make it more difficult for these Constitutionally-protected items to fall into the ‘wrong hands.’ And according to the Giffords Law Center, Wisconsin sits somewhere in the middle of all 50 states when it comes to laws that regulate guns; the state gets a C- for the effectiveness of its gun-control policies and has a gun-death rate which puts it in the lower third of all states. That being the case, how come things are so much worse in Madison than in the rest of the state?

I’ll tell you why. Because the one piece of data which my dear friends in Gun-control Nation never seem to take into account is strength and activity level of the gun business in any particular state. And that’s because while the NICS checks can be analyzed on a monthly basis for each state, I have yet to see a single piece of research on the reasons or gun violence which takes this data into account.

In 2018, the FBI performed 26,058 background checks for gun transfers in Wisconsin, which works out to a per-100,000 monthly rate of 449.66. Now in California, the FBI conducted 67,661 2018 background checks, for a per-100K monthly rate of 171.  In other words, on a per capita basis, three times as many guns changes hands in Wisconsin as changed hands in the Golden State. And you don’t think this disparity wouldn’t in some way or another impact gun violence in Madison?  In 2014, of the 2,802 ‘crime’ guns whose origins could be traced by the ATF, nearly 85% were guns initially sold within Wisconsin – so much for the impact of gun ‘trafficking’ in this state.

There happens to be a very clear connection between gun violence rates and how many guns float around in a particular state. This isn’t because of weak laws – it’s because guns are legal commerce and the more guns bought and sold, the more guns end up being used the wrong way.

What’s The NRA – Russian Connection? It’s Called The AK.

Since everyone in Gun-control Nation is piling on the Marina Butina case, I’ll offer my two cents as well.  The Brady Campaign, for example, issued a press release saying, among other things, that “we have serious concerns about a Russian national with deep ties to the NRA, an organization that helped fund and elect President Trump, being arrested on charges of espionage.”  Shannon Watts posted photos on her Twitter of Butina with Wayne-o, Scott Walker and former NRA President David Keene.

AK47             The arrest of Butina for allegedly trying to connect various Russians with various Americans tied to the Trump campaign, is the latest in a swirling mass of interesting NRA– Russian tidbits which, according to our friend Ladd Everitt, who has compiled an online dossier of these contacts, goes back at least to 2010. The big question, of course, is whether the Russia-NRA connection resulted in back-door money going from Russia to the MAGA, insofar as at least $30 million went from the boys in Fairfax to the 2016 Trump campaign.

In fairness to the Fairfax bunch, it should be pointed out that there is little, if any evidence which ties payments to the NRA from Russian citizens, which would be a violation of American law were such payments made in the form of political donations which then found their way into any American political campaign.  A major story in Rolling Stone (and cited by Everitt) paints the picture of a conscious Russian effort to ‘infiltrate’ the NRA and use the organization to promote various right-wing politicians with the intention of becoming and ultimately directing the shape of American politics from within the political system itself.

Is this behavior any different from what the Soviet Union attempted to do when it infiltrated the American Communist Party and used this connection to set up various front-organizations before and during the Cold War?  After all, didn’t an American President named Richard Nixon owe most of his political success to unmasking an alleged Communist spy within the U.S. government named Alger Hiss? So Russian meddling in the American political system is hardly new, but I have yet to see any actual evidence of how, when and where all this secret Russian money actually changed hands.

What is clear, however, is that the Russians have designs on another important American activity for which an NRA connection can’t hurt at all, in this case the activity happens to be what the NRA is all about, namely, convincing every American to own a gun. And the gun which the Russians would love to see in the hands of every American is the AK-47, without doubt the single, most popular small arm ever made.

Down in Boca Raton there’s a little factory called Kalishnikov – USA, which almost got a nice tax break from the Florida state government until it turned out that the company’s owners back in Russia were the same bunch whose gun company was hit by U.S. sanctions after Russia invaded the Ukraine. And along with those investors, another Russian has been deeply involved in the finances of this company, a banker and political buddy of Putin named Alex Torshin, whose payroll also includes a young lady named Maria Butina – gee, what a happy coincidence for all concerned.

The Kalishnikov company had a booth at the 2018 SHOT show but has yet to actually produce or ship the gun. On the other hand, their advertising sets the retail price for the AK-47 at $1,300, give or take a few nickels and dimes, which would probably net the company about $300 on the sale of every gun.

If the AK-47 finally gets into retail stores, and if the gun tests out as well as it should, the Kalishnikov company could easily sell 50,000 units every year, which means a net profit of 15 million bucks – believe me, the Kalishnikov brand is that strong. And that’s enough of a reason for the Russians to try and get into bed with the NRA.

Sorry – But Plastic Guns Aren’t Guns.

plastic gun1             Now that Cody Wilson and his merry band of libertarian gunsmiths have been given the green light to post their 3-D gun drawings online, the gun-control movement might take a minute before going into overdrive about the terrible threat which this poses to our lives and our limbs, and at least figure out what it really means.  It doesn’t mean, contrary to some of the messaging floating around Gun-control Nation, that we will end up surrounded by all kinds of illegal, untraceable guns. It also doesn’t mean that after downloading a 3-D drawing, cutting and assembling the various parts, then fitting all these parts together means that – voila! – you now have in your hands a real, workable gun.

First of all, 3-D gun drawings have been floating around on the internet for years. The pic below is a drawing for the AR-15.

AR15 drawing

You’ll notice that I have drawn a circle around one part of the gun, the part known as the ‘receiver.’  This is the only part of the entire pile of parts which makes a gun, because it is the receiver on which is stamped the unique serial number, a number which is then registered by the gun’s manufacturer and follows the gun to a wholesaler, a retailer and a retail buyer, a.k.a., the gun’s owner.  There are hundreds of companies making and selling all the other parts that go into the AR-15, none of those parts carry a serial number, none of them require any kind of licensing process prior to purchase, none of those parts can be traced at all.

There are also lots of people out there – machinists, lathe operators, tool & die makers, do-it-yourselfers – who can take a block of carbon steel, set their cutting machine to the proper specs and produce a homemade receiver as well.  But here’s the point: you can build an AR-15 or an Abrams Tank, as long as you live in a state which has no legal barrier to buying or owning heavy ordnance like the 120mm shell fired from a tank.  What you can’t do is sell or give your homemade weapons system, rifle or tank, to someone else.

Which happens to be the same law that applies to any and every gun that Cody Wilson would like to design. And frankly, the idea that a ‘mentally disturbed’ individual would go to the trouble of buying one of Wilson’s $1,700 cutting machines, then learn how to use it, then actually cut and then assemble all those parts before ever firing the gun – that’s absurd. As for all those criminals out there who can’t wait to manufacture their own guns, give me a break. Know how difficult it is to simply go out to the street and buy a gun?

And now we get to the most important a point that seems to be ignored by everyone in Gun-control Nation busily spreading the alarm about the threat posed by 3-D guns.  The simple fact is: they don’t work. Cody Wilson stopped making his 3-D gun because the gun he designed, a 22-caliber thingie called the ‘Liberator,’ was, according to Wilson, successfully tested except that as far as anyone can tell, not only does the gun fail to shoot at all after 8 or 9 shots, but a weapons lab in England warned that the chances of the gun blowing up and injuring the shooter was more apt to happen even if the 3-D gun was only fired once.

Want to own a gun that can’t be traced?  You don’t need to go through all the rigamarole, spend two grand and wind up with a piece of plastic junk. All you have to do is get your hands on any old gun and run the receiver’s serial number against a metal lathe. No serial number, no trace.

My friends in the GVP should stop worrying about plastic guns and get back to dealing with the real reasons why we suffer from 125,000 gun deaths and injuries every year.