Want To End Gun Violence? Join The NRA.

From time immemorial I have been listening to my friends in Gun-control Nation complain about the power and influence of the NRA.  They have so much money, so many political connections and now they even have an unabashed booster in the Oval Office, even though his boosterism seems, of late, to have begun to fade.

              There’s no question that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has hit a rough patch. Revenues are have gone South, corporate partnerships are in disarray, their vaunted, new training program CarryGuard is a flop, and viewership of the NRA-TV media channel is down and staff has been laid off.

The biggest problem the NRA faces is that the gun industry has not shown any recovery from the doldrums into which it sank immediately after out first Kenyan-born President moved from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into a private home.  Try as they might, gun makers have simply never found a marketing message which makes people want to buy guns unless these same people are afraid that they won’t be able to buy or own guns.

Putting all these factors together means that an organization that was able to count on the unquestioned support and loyalty of four or five million gun owners, all of a sudden finds itself on the wrong side of the curve. But there is an answer to their problem which Gun-control Nation should address. The NRA doesn’t  have any membership requirement that forces a member to own a gun. For that matter, the boys in Fairfax also cannot demand that any member necessarily agree with what the organization says or does. The last thing the NRA is about to do is impose some kind of membership qualification based on speech. After all, how can America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ be seen as being against free speech?

What does it cost to become a member of the NRA? A whole, big $45 bucks a year.  You can join right here, and very quickly you will start receiving a monthly magazine of your choice, along with at least one daily email from Wayne-o or Chris Cox. And don’t tell me you can’t afford the 45 bucks, okay?  I paid that much for a party pizza and a couple of six-packs last weekend which lasted until half-time of the Patriots and Jets (boy do my beloved Jets suck this year.)

I know a number of Gun-control Nation fanatics who tell me they would never join the NRA because such an act would be tantamount to giving care and comfort to the enemy. But that’s a very short-sighted and self-defeating view. What if MOMS, Brady, Everytown and Gabby told all their supporters and Facebook followers to sign up?  Could the NRA find itself with a million new email addresses?  Sure. Could these new members form their own social media groups and respond to every email from Wayne-o and Chris by publicly announcing their objections to what the NRA leaders have to say?  Of course.  What would happen if Ollie North received 500,000 emails from NRA members which told him to dry up and get lost? Think that wouldn’t make media headlines?  Think again.

I would understand Gun-control Nation’s anger over NRA messaging were those messages coming from a closed, private group.  But joining the NRA takes about 5 minutes, and all of a sudden, you are now part of an organization which never forgets to tell its members that they are special and unique.

What makes NRA members so special?  Allegedly it’s because they own at least one gun. If anything, I think that NRA members who didn’t own guns would constitute an even more unique and special group. So why not take advantage of the opportunity to pay the paltry sum of $45 a year and use your membership to promote Gun-control Nation’s views on guns from inside the tent, rather than always standing outside and trying to piss in? Remember, it’s only going to cost you what you’ll pay for another party pizza delivered before the 3rd quarter begins.

 

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Are Americans Finally Getting Fed Up With Guns?

Sleazy Don can talk all he wants about how the mid-term election was a big win, but yesterday announcement that a bump-stock ban is coming out of the White House is just more proof that he and his Beer Hall gang took the November 6th results right on the chinny, chin-chin. Had the House remained under GOP control, particularly with a gun nut like Keven McCarthy in the Speaker’s seat, I can guarantee you that the last thing which would have come out of the White House was anything that smacked in any way of being anti-gun.

              For that matter, another story started floating around the ‘drive-by’ media yesterday that the GOP has also given up on trying to finish work on Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished dream, a.k.a., a national concealed-carry law that would let anyone and everyone wander all across and through the ‘fruited plane’ with a gun. I enjoy using various Rush Limbaugh catch-phrases like ‘drive-by’ and ‘fruited plane’ because as we move towards the convening of the 116th Congress on January 2, 2019, the alt-right noise machine led by hot-air balloons like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, et. al., is going to have to find something more important to talk about than whether the Mexican caravan represents a global terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, in what might or might not be a more important development in Gun-nut Nation was the news, reported by our friend Alex Yablon at The Trace that the media folks who produce some of the shows for NRATV have been let go. Is this because the NRA has hit a rough revenue patch, or is it because viewing numbers are down, or a combination of both? There is also the possibility that the boys in Fairfax are perhaps re-thinking a video messaging strategy that has promoted some of the worst, dumbest and lowlife pandering that I have ever seen.

Between home-school queen Dana Loesch talking about the ‘violent Left,’ or that dopey, speech-mangled lawyer with the made-up name – Colion Noir – prancing around a shooting range extolling the virtues of self-defense with an AR-15, the NRA video channel has been nothing more than a platform for keeping the NRA image beyond even the Breitbart fringe. But maybe the fact that the House of Representatives went blue because a number of gun-loving GOP members lost seats in gun-rich states has caught the NRA by the seat of its political pants.

One of the more outstanding myth that floats around Gun-control Nation is the idea that the NRA sets the tone for the gun ‘rights’ debate and the organization’s members then line up and repeat whatever the NRA tells them to say.  I happen to believe this narrative is simply not true.  If anything, the NRA tends to reflect the views of its members rather than the other way around. For example, the group’s endorsement of  Sleazy Don in May, 2016, a departure from their usual endorsement near the end of a Presidential campaign, simply reflected the fact that the Republican National Committee had already declared Sleazy Don to be the presumptive GOP nominee.

What may really be happening is that the financial and media problems within the NRA are just another reflection of the overall slowing down of the gun business and perhaps a turning-point in America’s love affair with guns. The FBI reported that NICS-background checks for Black Friday was the lowest number for the great sale day since 2014. And even though the gun industry’s feel-good mouthpiece, the NSSF, tried to balance this bad news by claiming that gun sales on days prior to Black Friday were up, anyone who thinks that the gun business is in recovery mode should check today’s Smith & Wesson stock price.

Next week I’ll do my monthly report on the exact state of the gun industry when official FBI-NICS background check numbers are released. In the meantime, if you want to make a million in the gun business, maybe you have to start not with two million but with three.

Greg Gibson: A Slightly Different Angle.

My son was killed in a school shooting in 1992. Since that time I’ve been on what people often refer to as a “journey.” I’m not a big fan of pop psychology. Dr. Phil and Oprah can keep their “closure,” “healing” and the like, but in this case the “journey” metaphor fits. Every survivor of gun violence will be on a journey for the rest of his or her life. Each survivor’s journey is an individual odyssey. Some end badly, some end well. Some result in surprising discoveries.

The administrators at my son’s school knew the killer had a gun and ammunition, but they were too inept to stop  the shooting. I’m a writer, and I was so angry at their failures that I wrote a book about the murders, and about guns in America. It was intended to reveal the stupidity of those college administrators, and it succeeded in that. But it also made me realize that there was no redemption in revenge. Instead, I eventually made peace with the college, and became more involved in the gun violence prevention movement. I advocated for sensible gun laws, wrote op-eds, and did talking head duty on TV.

People were generally respectful of my experience as a survivor, but I was told repeatedly that my views had little grounding in fact, because I knew nothing about guns or gun culture. So, a few years ago, I got my Class A Large Capacity license in Massachusetts and bought a couple of handguns. I’d hunted as a kid and am a Navy vet of Vietnam vintage, so guns weren’t new to me. What surprised me was the fact that I found shooting therapeutic. I was mastering the instrument of my suffering.

Recently I published a piece in the New York Times about the idea, proposed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, that arming teachers would reduce school shootings. In this article I proposed to look into the matter of how much training it would take to transform an average gun owner such as myself (or a teacher or a rabbi with my level of skill) into someone capable of reacting instinctively and flawlessly to an active shooter situation. I was, in essence, trying to imagine myself in the library where my son had been killed. How much training would I have needed to save him?

The answer, of course, was “a hell of a lot.” In short order I became convinced that, instead of training teachers and rabbis to shoot like special forces operatives, it would be wiser and more humane if we could train special forces operatives to be teachers and rabbis.

My article was well-received by the people who already agreed with it. But unexpectedly, this writing project carried me to a place in my 26-year survivor’s “journey” that I could never have imagined.

As research for the article, I began taking lessons in defensive handgun use. By the time it was published, I had become engrossed in the training. I saw how complex and physically challenging tactical defensive shooting could be – like learning ballet or gymnastics but with lethal implications. Given my history, I was surprised at myself for being so interested in this intense and specialized activity.

Then the real surprise came along.

I’d been working away with my Ruger LC9s and my Sig Sauer P229, but I was having some difficulty with the way each gun fit the task. The Ruger felt too jumpy and small, and that first pull on the DA/SA Sig was a bitch. To make matters worse, I have small hands and I’m left handed. Sometimes it felt as if the guns were working against me.

Toward the end of the fourth session my instructor, who’d been steadfastly encouraging me through my difficulties, went inside his big black bag and came out with a pistol, a little smaller than my 229. “Try this,” he said. “It’s striker fired. It’s simpler to operate, and it’s ambidextrous. You can work the slide release and safety with either hand, and you can turn the mag release around to work lefty.” He put the gun in my hand and suddenly my hand was happy. I took a few shots – nice trigger action, comfortable to hold and shoot. “Wow. What is this thing?” It was a Sig P320. I took a few more shots, and then I didn’t want to give it back to him. For the rest of that afternoon and all that evening, I kept remembering how right it had felt to hold and shoot that gun.

If you’re reading this essay, you’ve probably had a similar experience. You find a gun that just feels right. But I’m a gun control advocate and a survivor of gun violence. It wasn’t supposed to be happening to me.

The next day I took my Ruger and my 229 down to my local gun shop and swapped them for a Sig Sauer P320C 9 mm. and a couple of boxes of shells. I drove home happy, feeling as if I’d satisfied a deep need or sorted out a troubling situation.

My training has gone smoothly since then. I’ve learned to extract the pistol from its appendix holster, put rounds in the target, clear a jam, and swap out magazines without posing a danger to myself or others. Soon I’ll be moving and shooting. My instructor says I’ll get faster and smoother. He says it’s all about establishing good habits and repeating them until they become muscle memory. I know I’ll never achieve the proficiency of those guys in the You Tube demos, but that’s all right. I’ve already had a remarkable and unexpected turn in my “journey.” I’ve had a romance with a pistol.

Will I continue to advocate for sensible gun laws and better education about gun safety, mental health and situational awareness? You bet! But I’ll be coming in on these issues from a slightly different angle now.

 

 

 

Should Social Media Play A Role In Letting People Own Guns?

A friend who labors for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (send them a few bucks) sent us the text of a new bill just introduced in the New York State Senate that would amend the process of issuing handgun licenses in a rather interesting and unique way. The bill, NYS09191, would require that anyone applying for or renewing a handgun license give the cops approval to review the following social media accounts – Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram – and search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. The purpose of this review, according to the text of the bill, would be to “ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of a licensee presents any good cause for the revocation of a license….”

              The bill was introduced by Kevin Parker, who represents the 21st Senate District, which happens to cover Flatbush but borders on two other neighborhoods, Brownsville and East New York, which remain serious contenders for suffering from high rates of gun violence every year. Since Parker is the Democratic Whip, and since both chambers of the Legislature are now controlled by the blue team and the author of the state SAFE law is still the executive in charge, what do you think are the odds that this new bill will become law?  I’d say the odds are good to better than good. Which means that using social media as a criteria to determining the issuance of gun licenses in ‘may issue’ states will probably spread beyond the borders of the Empire State.

When and if this law gets to a public hearing, you can bet that Gun-nut Nation base their opposition to this law on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ because they oppose every gun law based on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But I’m willing to bet that America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization,’ the NRA, will also oppose this law based on their fervent belief in the 1st-Amendment’s protection of free speech. After all, isn’t that what social media’s all about?

Putting aside the rantings and ravings of the gun-nut lunatic fringe, the fact is that this amendment to New York State’s gun-licensing process really does move the issue of gun control into uncharted waters that will certainly need to be explicated by an appellate court.  The courts have held again and again and again that government has a ‘compelling interest’ in public safety, which means that the cops can always be asked to decide whether any particular individual might be a threat to public safety, and then take steps to reduce or eliminate the threat.  But until now, the authorities have based such decisions on overt acts of potentially threatening behavior, as in ‘I’d like to shoot that m-f,’ or other such declarations of intent.  That being said, does the fact that some guy goes on Google to search for ‘mass shootings’ mean that the guy has any intention to precipitate such an event?

The kid who walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and shot the place apart had access to an AR-15 that his mother kept in their home.  The kid also spent much of the previous year compiling a large, digital library on mass shooting events.  But there is no evidence that he ever said anything about committing such an act himself. The Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 used the internet to share and spread hatred-filled remarks about the Muslim threat, but again, never made any specific mention of wanting to gun people down.

I have no problem with cops using social media to determine my fitness to own a gun; more than 150 jurisdictions have spent nearly $6 million to equip themselves with social media tools which are used to deal with crime. But giving law enforcement carte blanche to create a profile of me based on how I meander around the World Wide Web raises all kinds of issues which need o be sorted out.

That being said, I think Senator Parker is onto a good thing.

Want To End Gun Violence? Get Rid Of The Stinkin’ Guns.

Now that the 116th Congress is going to convene in January with a solid blue House majority, and to the extent that this majority owes something to the hard work of my Gun-control Nation friends, perhaps it’s time to have a serious and deliberate discussion about the gun-control legislation that might begun to be put into place.

             After all, for the last eight years the gun-control gang could talk themselves blue in the face about assault rifle bans, comprehensive background checks and all that other good stuff. But the odds that any gun-control law might rear its head and emerge from Congress ranged from zero to zilch. Guess what? For the same reason that the blue Senate team slipped backward in 2018,  the GOP in 2020 will have a difficult time holding its majority in the Upper House. And anyone who wants to make book that Sleazy Don will be sitting in the Oval Office in 2021  better be willing to take very, very long odds.

Since it normally requires multiple Congressional sessions for a serious gun-control measure to get up to speed (the 1968 GCA68 law was initially introduced in 1953; the Brady bill that was passed in 1993 was first filed in 1991,) the folks who will be creating, pushing and sustaining the narrative for a new gun law better start working on it now.

The two legislative remedies for gun violence which appear to have the best chance of ending up in serious and positive floor votes are comprehensive background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.  The former initiative appears to have support across the board, the latter could easily happen if a couple more nuts wander into a school, a shopping center, a house of worship or some other public venue and start blasting away.

The problem with both of these gun-control strategies, however, is that they don’t really get to the core of why we have a problem with gun violence and therefore, even if enacted, wouldn’t make that much of a difference in the rates of gun violence that we currently absorb.

The core problem is that the system that regulates the ownership and use of guns is fundamentally flawed because it is based on regulating the behavior of gun owners, rather than on the design and function of the guns themselves. If I walk into a gun shop today and but a rusted, old shotgun that probably doesn’t even work, I have to jump through the exact, same legal hoops that I would jump through if I bought a 16-shot Glock 19, along with 4 extra hi-capacity mags.  That old shotgun will only injure someone if I load it with modern ammunition, pull the trigger and the gun blows up. How many of the 125,000 gun injuries suffered last year resulted from someone using a Glock or another concealable, hi-powered handgun?  Most of those injuries, that’s for sure.

Again and again the discussion among gun-control advocates turns on the ‘fact’ that we own so many guns – somewhere between 300 and 400 million. But a majority of those guns are sporting rifles and shotguns which rarely show up in gun crimes at all. We are the only country which gives its residents relatively free access to handguns; we are the only country which suffers from an unacceptable level of gun violence. Want to end gun violence? Get rid of the guns that cause the violence.

Notice I didn’t state my approval for a handgun ban. But personally speaking, I have never supported an advocacy narrative simply because it might succeed.  I support advocacy that is rooted in truth. And the truth is that handguns cause gun violence. Period. End of story. End of debate.

Why Do Gun Nuts Like Me Buy Guns?

I like to do my Black Friday shopping the day before Thanksgiving, so when I finish this column, I’m going to drive to the ol’ gun shop and buy myself a gun.  I haven’t bought a gun in a few months, so it’s time to maintain my membership in what the researchers at Harvard refer to as the ‘super’ gun owners, or what The Guardian calls the ‘hardcore super gun owners,’ i.e., gun nuts like me who have at least 17 guns lying around.

              When this study was released back inn 2016, it provoked the usual hue and cry from the usual organizations laboring mightily to reduce violence caused by guns.  How could it be otherwise?  After all, everyone knows that the more guns lying around, the more injuries caused by guns.

This narrative has no reality behind it at all.  The ‘average’ size of the arsenal owned by the hard-core gun nuts is 17 guns?  Are they serious?  I currently own maybe 60 guns (actually I’m not really sure of the exact number) and in the world of hard-core gun nuts, this makes me kind of light.  The two brothers who ran my gun shop probably had 200 guns stashed in the family home, and one of my customers had at least twice that number of guns lying around here and there.

Know why I opened a retail gun shop?  Because back in 2000 my wife informed me that our house didn’t have enough room for her shoes and my guns.  And the shoes weren’t about to go. You think there’s any intrinsic difference between my dear wife buying shoes and me buying guns?  If you do, then you have absolutely no understanding about why people like me (hard-core gun nuts) buy guns.  If pressed, we’ll come out with the usual nonsense about protecting ourselves from an ISIS invasion or strengthening our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  But when gun nuts get together, you’ll never hear them say anything about any legal issue except to bitch about the fact that every time they want to buy a gun from a dealer, they have to fill out one of those friggin’ forms.

Today I’m going to buy the new Sig P320 pistol, the civilian version of the new military gun, the Sig M17.  What makes the P320 a ‘civilian’ gun as opposed to the weapon that will be carried by our troops in the field? The model name, that’s it.  Otherwise, it’s the exact, same gun.

I’m buying the Sig because I want to buy a gun.  Six-hundred and change – no big deal.  If I take the family out to dinner tomorrow night I’ll pay just as much for a slice of dry turkey, some mashed-up vegetables and a piece of ‘homemade’ pie.  Maybe I should cancel the dinner and buy another gun.  Get my point?ow

Here’s the real point. Recall that back in 2008 my dear, departed friend, Tony Scalia, decided that handguns deserved Constitutional protection as long as they were the types of weapons that were ‘commonly’ found in the home.  His opinion exempted weapons manufactured for military use, such guns being designed for battlefield exigencies, not for self-defense.

The fact is that just about every handgun Americans use for self-defense, as well as for shooting someone who gets in their way, happens to have been designed and manufactured for military use, viz., Glock, Beretta, Colt and a few more. The decision to allow civilians to own such guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and it’s the reason we suffer from gun violence and other OECD countries don’t.

So here’s my Thanksgiving thought for all my gun-control friends: Stop the nonsense about how much you respect the ‘right’ of other people to own guns as long as they follow some ‘sensible’ rules. Take the bull by the horns and say what we all know to be true.

If you want to end gun violence, cut the bullshit and get rid of the guns.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Shouldn’t ER Doctors Know What To Do About Gun Violence?

Yesterday a horrendous shooting occurred in of all places a city named Chicago.  But as opposed to most shootings in Chicago, this shooting didn’t take place in the street.  In fact, it happened at Mercy Hospital, located on the city’s South Side. The hospital treats its share of shooting victims from the surrounding streets. This time, the victims were hospital staff themselves.

              The story behind the shootings was the same old, same old. Guy gets into an argument with girlfriend, out comes the gun and bang, bang, bangity-bang. The first victim was an ER doctor named Tamara O’Neill, evidently the former fiancée of the shooter, a relationship she broke off at some point prior to yesterday’s attack.  The shooter, identified as 32-year old Juan Lopez, may have possessed a concealed-carry permit which, no doubt, he obtained in order to validate his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The episode started with an argument between Lopez and O’Neill in the hospital parking lot; the ER doctor was shot dead right on the spot, Lopez then ran into the hospital, killed two more people, then was either shot by the cops or killed himself.

There’s probably a good chance that the late Dr. O’Neill was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the professional organization which sets treatment protocols and lobbies for ER medicine at both the federal level and individual states. The organization’s website recently posted a study in which nearly half of 3,536 ER doctors reported that they had been physically assaulted during their work in an ER. Not a single respondent to this national survey claimed that the person who attacked them used a gun.

Perhaps this is the reason why ACEP gives generous political donations to Congressional members representing various districts throughout the United States, but also representing the NRA. What I mean by that is there are 15 current House members who receive the coveted A+ rating from the boys in Fairfax, which means they make sure that what the NRA is what the NRA gets.

The leader of this pack of fools is Richard Hudson (R-NC) who has received $20,000 of the $143,000 that ACEP has contributed to the campaigns of these 15 NRA reps in 2016 and again this year. Why does Hudson rank Numero Uno when it comes to ACEP’s political support? Because he sponsored Public Law 115-83, which eases registration requirements for EMS companies to use controlled substances during an emergency call. One other NRA rep, Ralph Abraham, was given $1,000 and he is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill. Not a single other NRA Congressional toady was a co-sponsor of this legislation, but ACEP found it convenient to give them $122,000 over the last two campaigns.

This bill was passed in the House with a unanimous vote by both parties, no debate. A real tough one, okay? ACEP needed to give Hudson 20 grand for this? And by the way, Hudson also happens to be a major supporter of the national concealed-carry bill, which if it had passed and he was still alive, Dr. O’Neill’s killer could have carried his gun into any other state. Of course after Parkland, Congressman Hudson tweeted his ‘prayers.’

I am sure that within a few days, the ACEP website will contain a loving and glowing tribute to Dr. O’Neill. Maybe the organization will establish a scholarship in her name. In the meantime, let me break the news to some of my friends who happen to be members of APEC and have yet to make a single peep about how their organization funds Members of Congress who, when it comes to gun issues, are the worst of the worst.

Here’s how you end gun violence.  Get rid of the goddamn guns. I don’t mean Grandpa’s rusted, old shotgun that has been sitting in the basement for the last twenty years or the little, 22-caliber rifle that you fired at summer camp. I mean guns like the type used by Tamara O’Neill’s ex-boyfriend to shoot her dead.

Can’t ER doctors figure this one out?

 

Don’t More Gun Injuries Mean More Business For Emergency Rooms?

Last week our friends at The Trace published an article on a brief but noisy exchange which broke out between a group of ER doctors and the NRA. The physicians have put up a website which claims to be collecting and distributing funds that will be awarded to gun researchers to make up for gun-research dollars no longer provided by the CDC.  The NRA is the NRA.

            This same bunch of physicians, whose gun-violence research credentials are impeccable, also put up a chain letter that could be sent to the NRA.  The letter was in response to an op-ed on the NRA website which basically told the medical community to stick its concerns about guns you know where.  The NRA editorial was the organization’s response to yet another medical article which found that, believe it or not, a connection between guns and gun injuries. Gee, what a surprise. And of course it’s even a bigger surprise that the NRA would deny that such a connection even exists.

Physicians and public health researchers have been publishing credible research on gun violence for more than twenty-five years. Know what these well-meaning and dedicated researchers have gotten for all their efforts? The elimination of CDC funding for gun research. That’s it. Period. Zilch. In fact, over the last several years, gun-violence rates appear to be going back up.  Oh well, oh well. Maybe another research article on gun violence will push the rates back down, right?  Wrong.

The good news, of course, is that the physicians who want you to sign their chain letter to the NRA also happen to be members of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the folks who usually have to figure out how to keep someone alive who has a bullet in their head. And they are remarkably skilled in this respect; of the 75,000 or so who suffer injuries from gun assaults each year, only 12,000 or so end up dead. The rest come back to the hospital on a much too-frequent basis and after a few more visits, also end up dead.

And how does the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) respond to this problem? They give substantial financial support to the politicians who make a career goal out of preventing even the most minimal gun reforms from moving ahead.

How does this happen? It happens because the ACEP has a PAC which over the last two election cycles donated almost $150,000 to the election campaigns of 15 House members who are rated A+ by the NRA. The NRA gives an A rating to just about every member of the House GOP caucus, but these 15 are in a group all their own. They are the spear-carriers, the most pro-gun guys in Congress, and they do whatever is necessary to make sure that no gun legislation rears its ugly head.

So here we have a remarkable situation in which some physicians use social media to advance their gun-control agendas (and their public personalities) while their professional organization uses their dues monies to advance the cause of the NRA. Now you would think that when a doctor named Michael Siegel began writing about this issue, his concerns would be shared and amplified by the members of APEC who would like you to believe they are tirelessly working to end gun violence, right? Wrong again.

The Trace article quotes one of the self-appointed, gun-violence leaders of the medical community, Garen Wintemute, who says that physicians should ‘privately’ approach politicians about gun violence because to raise these issues publicly would be ‘divisive’ and would hurt “relationships with elected officials with whom they work on a range of policies”.

Let me break the news to you gently Garen – you don’t know what you’re talking about, but God forbid you would admit to nec sciunt quicquam and keep your mouth shut. More than any other profession, doctors should be the loudest and most vociferous contributors to the public debate on gun violence, which means first and foremost telling public officials to stop being handmaidens for the NRA.

 

 

A New Approach To Gun Violence By Gun-Owning Physicians

Today’s Newsletter from our friends at The Trace contains a story about a new report issued by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) based on the work of an ACS Task Force comprised of 18 gun-owning surgeons who have been caring for trauma patients, on average, for roughly 28 years.  You can examine the gun-owning creds of this group in a downloadable spreadsheet, but I’ll quickly tell you that ten of the Task Force members own both handguns and long guns, they all own a total of 60 shotguns, 52 rifles, 13 assault weapons and 91 pistols or revolvers. Nine are either current or former members of the NRA.

Just about every medical society has gone on record about gun violence and supporting the standard litany of regulatory enhancements – comprehensive background checks, better NICS data sourcing, red-flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah. This is the first time, however, that any of the medical societies have queried gun-owning members whose views, it is assumed, would be somewhat different from the usual rank-and-file doctors, most of whom don’t tend to own guns.

In fact, the views of these gun-owning surgeons is different in one very important respect, a difference which our friends at The Trace, unfortunately didn’t pick up.  If you take the trouble to read the entire report carefully, an astonishing recommendation at the bottom of Page 7 jumps out and I’ll quote it verbatim right here:

Principle: A firearm should be transferred with registration in accordance to federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9] just as are other properties, such as vehicles or a home. This would include the private sale and the transfer of property that is bequeathed from an estate or among family members.

Recommendation: We support firearm registration and the development and implementation of an electronic database for all registered firearms.”

Did I actually see that? Is there a professional group representing any profession which is actually calling for comprehensive registration of guns? This issue happens to be the absolute bête noir of the gun-rights movement, it is always presented by the NRA as the one thing above all that will lead to the government taking away everyone’s guns. There is simply nothing which is as toxic both for Gun-nut Nation as well as to the groups who advocate ‘sensible’ restrictions on the ownership of guns. Gun registration, by the way, has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Anyone who says otherwise knows as much about Constitutional law as Leonard the Cat.

I trust going forward that the endorsement of gun registration by gun-owning members of the ACS will be discussed and considered by other medical societies and result ultimately in a united front that will promote the idea beyond the healthcare industry itself. But while they are at it, the ACS gun-nut group might consider dealing with another issue within their professional organization that needs to be addressed.

Last year Congressman Don Young (R-AK) told an audience that it wouldn’t have been Standing-Room-Only at Auschwitz and  Bergen-Belsen of Jews hadn’t lost access to their guns. He obviously got the idea from an even bigger idiot named Ben Carson, who no doubt thought this message would garner him the Jewish vote. Young received $5,000 to finance his 2016 campaign; the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave him $2,500 in each of the last two campaigns. Young happens to be one of 15 House members who go out of their way to promote NRA gun ‘rights’ priorities; as a whole, this sorry bunch received over $80,000 in campaign donations from the ACS. For the same two election cycles, ACEP donated almost $150,000 to the same crew of pro-NRA stooges.

If the ACS, the ACEP and other medical groups want to reduce gun violence, they don’t need to tell other stakeholders what to do. They can put their money back into their own pockets instead of giving it to the NRA.

Religious Belief And Advocacy To End Gun Violence Meet Here.

Progressive political movements have always attracted a fair share of faith-based groups and religious leaders.  I’m thinking, for example, of the Berrigan brothers, Dan and Phil, who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998; or Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker’s Movement, or the Society of Friends, a.k.a. the Quakers, or as we referred to them during the anti-war days, the Quakes.

The intertwining of religion and progressive social protest has reaffirmed itself again in the growth and strength of the movement to end gun violence, or what I am going to start calling it – the anti-gun movement.  Because that’s what it is.  If you are against gun violence ultimately you are against guns. Yea, yea, I know all about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But the fact that someone has the ‘right’ to own a gun doesn’t mean he or she has to own a gun, okay? Anyway, back to the issue of faith-based organizations and gun violence.

One of the religious groups that has moved into focus as regards gun violence is Rabbis Against Gun Violence, which describes itself as “a national grassroots coalition of Jewish American leaders and faith activists from across the denominational spectrum mobilized to curb the current gun violence epidemic plaguing our country.” That’s a fairly standard approach for faith-based advocacy, wouldn’t you say?  And in this respect, the RAGV group is a valuable addition to the anti-gun organizational lineup, particularly given the fact that the list of mass shootings in houses of worship now includes the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

On the RAGV website, you can find a nice, 50-page primer which can be used to explain a proper Jewish response to gun violence.  The resource is built around the holiday of Shavuot which is celebrated in late Spring and commemorates the transfer of Jewish law – the Talmud – on Mount Sinai.  Since Torah is the fundamental guide to Jewish belief, Shavuot is an important yearly event.

The Shavuot guide to gun violence opens with the following list:

Childproof caps on medicine bottles • Seat belts and airbags in cars • Bike helmets • Fences around swimming pools or construction sites • Smoke detectors • Drivers’ license tests • Designated drivers • Banning food additives • Standards for bars on cribs.

Here’s the answer: “As a modern society, we have decided that there are times it is appropriate to have laws and regulations designed to safeguard ourselves and others from injury or death, for reasons of health and safety.”

The guide then goes on to list things that Jews (and everyone) can do to protect themselves from injury and death, safety procedures, including safe storage, that are explained with reference to Biblical texts. So gun safety thus becomes justified through religious belief.  Fine.

There’s only one little problem. The list of various safety measures such as childproof caps, seat belts, helmets, et. al., happens to be comprised of products in which design features had to be changed because otherwise the way these products were used resulted in unacceptable levels of injury and deaths.

That being said, let me break the news gently to my rabbinical friends and, for that matter everyone else in the gun-control community. Guns, particularly handguns, are perfectly designed to do only one thing: injure or kill someone else. Wane to make a design change to prevent such injuries? You no longer have a gun.

I don’t understand why well-meaning gun-control advocates like members of RAGV won’t accept a very common-sense idea that there is simply no way to pretend that a handgun could ever be used except to do what it is designed to do.  Isn’t it about time that we stopped all the nonsense about ‘safe’ gun ownership and simply promote the idea that we need to get rid of guns?

Such an idea might be anathema to my friends in Gun-control Nation. But it happens to align perfectly with part of the most important religious text of all: Thou Shalt Not Kill.  If we really want to align religious faith with advocacy against gun violence, shouldn’t we begin right there?