Don’t Waste Your Time Worrying About H.R. 8

              Before everyone goes nuts and crazy about the amendment that the sore-loser Republicans inserted into the background-check bill (H.R. 8) which yesterday cleared the House, I’m going to explain what the language means and doesn’t mean. The problem is that what Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said about the background-check process (“Well, first of all, if he fails a background check because he’s illegally in the country, that means the system knows he’s illegally in the country. It means they already know that — so what’s the point of reporting him?”) isn’t really true. But what the GOP said about this stupid amendment also isn’t true.

              The amendment says that when someone fails a background check because he/she is an undocumented immigrant, that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, our new Gestapo known as the ICE, has to be notified so that the individual can be found, prosecuted and  charged with all sorts of things. I don’t believe, incidentally, that the amendment contains a specific method for making all of that happen.  In other words, after the FBI-NICS people fail to approve a transaction, who picks up the phone and calls the ICE?

              Here’s what happens when the (hated or beloved – take your pick) background check occurs.  The buyer of the gun fills out fields 1 through 10 on the form and gives name, address, date of birth, all the usual identifiers. The buyer then gives a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to 9 questions covering the various ‘prohibited’ categories (i.e., felon, fugitive, mental ‘defective,’ – I love that one – and so forth.) If the buyer says ‘yes’ to any of those questions, the FBI denies the sale. If the buyer says ‘no’ to any of those questions but the person’s name turns up in one of the databases used by the FBI, the sale is also either prohibited or delayed (the notorious 3-day delay) until more information can be found.

              You should know, by the way, that neither the dealer nor the customer is told why a specific sale was denied or delayed. The customer will be told if he decides to appeal the decision, the dealer is left in the dark. And here comes the tricky part. The customer must also affirm or deny that he/she is a citizen and produce some kind of government ID to validate his/her current address. But there are currently 42 states which will issue a driver’s license to an undocumented immigrant either because they want everyone who drives to have a license, or because they have agreed to issue a license to anyone covered by the DACA program, which enrolls ‘illegals’ up to age thirty-one.

              So the guy who walks into a gun shop, produces a driver’s license and says he’s a citizen is going to fly through the background check process unless the FBI finds that he’s committed some kind of serious crime or is listed in their database for some other disqualifying event. In other words, the authors of that stupid amendment are simply grandstanding by inserting some language about reporting ‘illegals’ to the ICE when said individuals try to legally purchase a gun.

              Pace Jerry Nadler, the only way that someone could fail a background check because they are here illegally is if the individual actually admitted their illegal status at the time they were filling out the background-check form. And anyone doing that should be denied a gun simply because he’s beyond dumb.

If I were someone in the country illegally and wanted to get my hands on a gun, I’m not going to get anywhere near the FBI when it comes to buying a gun or when it comes to anything else. The FBI-NICS system has been operating for more than 20 years and everyone who hasn’t been brain-dead since 1998 knows what the phrase ‘law-abiding’ means when it comes to buying or owning a gun.

When it comes to gun violence, there are more important things to worry about than whether some GOP members of Congress want to score a few points with the anti-immigration gang.

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Here Comes The Dumbest Gun Bill This Year.

              Last month I nominated Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to receive this year’s award for being the dumbest elected official when he told the parents of children gunned down at Parkland that they had more to fear from terrorists crossing the Mexican border than from someone charging into a school carrying an AR-15. But when it comes to gross stupidity, Gaetz has competition from a bunch of members in the West Virginia House of Delegates who just voted for a law that would allow people with concealed-carry permit to bring their guns onto any public college campus in the Mountain State.

              The law, which still needs to go through the State Senate before it can hit the Governor’s desk, is called ‘The Campus Self-Defense Act,’ and I would ask everyone who has even the slightest concern about the issue of gun violence to read carefully the specific text of the law beginning on Page 41 (line 358) which you can download here.

              Before I get into the craziness of this statute, you should know that West Virginia is one of several states which allows for what is called ‘constitutional carry, which means that if you are over the age of 21 and can pass a background check, you can walk around with a concealed gun. You can also carry a concealed weapon between the ages of 18 and 21 but you have to take a course which requires that you fire a gun at least once.

              From the title of this bill, you might imagine that college campuses in West Virginia are as dangerous as the OK Corral, but nothing could be further from the truth.  According to our friend Stephen Boss, there has been exactly one fatal gun assault at any West Virginia campus since 2001, a shooting of two brothers who were students at Shepherd University and were killed by their father, who then turned the gun on himself in 2006.

              As usual, supporters of this measure used the standard script of Gun-nut Nation, citing the ‘right’ to bear arms and defend themselves, along with the idea that shooters are attracted to gun-free zones. How many of the 85,000 fatal and non-fatal gun assaults which occur every year take place in a gun-free zones, God only knows. But since when did the debate about campus carry or any kind of gun carry rely on facts? 

              Getting back to the text of the bill, there are certain on-campus locations where college administrations can still prohibit persons from wandering around with their guns. This includes arenas with seating capacity of 1,000 or more; campus daycare centers; campus police stations and any site being used for a disciplinary hearing during the time when the hearing is actually being held. You mean that maybe, just maybe the idiot delegates who voted for this measure could actually imagine that someone being charged with improper behavior might represent a threat to public safety if he  showed up with his gun?  Wow! One moment of rational thought actually entered the brains of the dopes who wrote this bill.

              But for those of us who feel that even these minimal restrictions on our God-given right to self-defense are a violation of everything we hold dear, the college or university must also provide a ‘secure location’ for storing guns, as well as an ‘appropriate safe’ that can be installed in a dorm room. Not only are gun-carrying students entitled to free storage space, but a policy must be developed to guarantee these gun-owning students that they will have access to their guns at ‘all’ times.

              Want to know what college students really need to protect themselves from as they walk around their campus, sit in their classrooms or relax in their dorms? They need to protect themselves from the stupidity and senselessness of the campus-carry movement which has become yet another vehicle for the assault on gun-free zones. Unfortunately, the members of the House of Delegates who voted for this measure are beyond any help at all.

Thanks to Rachel Woldoff for the tip.

Why Do Physicians Continue To Support The NRA?

              In 1927 a Belgian medievalist, Henri Pirenne, created an academic firestorm with the publication of an article which argued that the shift of Western Civilization away from the Mediterranean (Greece – Rome) to its modern locus in Northern Europe was due to the 7th-Century invasion by Islam into North Africa and Spain. His study provoked the publication of endless responses, revisions and refutations that probably accounted for an unknown number of academic promotions, tenures and teaching careers. When the whole controversy finally died down fifty years after it began, the center of Western Civilization was still located alongside the Île de France.

              I am reminded of Pirenne’s thesis whenever yet another pronouncement is issued calling for more research into the violence caused by guns, even though the formative research by Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara linking higher rates of suicide and homicide to guns in the home was published more than twenty-five years ago.

              The demand for more research has grown exponentially since Sandy Hook, just as the whole gun-control movement has spread outward following that terrible event. In April, 2015 eight national medical organizations published a ‘Call for Action,’ which demanded more “research to support strategies for reducing firearm-related injuries and deaths.” You can download this paper right here.

              Pursuant to that manifesto, three of the organizational signatories have produced their own calls for more research, agendas which allegedly reflect the various specialties which they bring to the issue of guns. I refer to pronouncements made by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in 2016, the American College of Physicians (ACP) in 2018 and the American College of Surgeons (ACS), also in 2018.  You can download all three papers right here: ACEPACPACS.  Feel free to download the Kellerman-Rivara articles here and here.

              According to the ACEP, “high-quality firearm injury prevention research is needed.” Says the ACP, “More research is needed on firearm violence and on intervention and prevention strategies to reduce injuries caused by firearms.” Announces the ACS, “We recommend that research for firearm injury and firearm injury prevention must be federally funded at a level commensurate with the burden of the disease without restriction.”

              So there appears to be a consensus emerging within the medical community that a behavior which results in injuries to more than 125,000 Americans each year is a serious problem and that more research will help develop effective interventions to bring that number down.

              With all due respect to the 39 signatories of these pronouncements who hold MD degrees, what they have published are road maps to help them design and produce more studies to enhance their research careers. Thank you very much.

              The behavior which creates gun injuries is well known – pick up a loaded gun, aim it at yourself or someone else, pull the trigger and an injury occurs. It’s guaranteed to work every, single time. If any one of the 39 medical researchers believes this research to be inadequate, come to my gun shop, we’ll go downstairs to my range, I’ll give you a loaded gun, then you pull the trigger and let’s test the result. Sorry folks, this outcome is validated at least 350 times in America every, single day.

              Incidentally, these three medical groups – ACEP, ACS, ACP – donated nearly $250,000 to the 2016-2018 Congressional campaigns of the worst, most aggressive members of the House GOP caucus whose votes have been primarily responsible for the lack of gun-research funding which these organizations all claim to be their most worrisome concern. Have any of these researchers who are so committed to saving lives said one word about this egregious state of affairs? Not one peep. And these researchers want their concerns about gun violence to be taken seriously by anyone other than themselves? Are they serious? You can download this wall of shame right here. You can also read a new JAMA article which goes in greater detail about medical support for the NRA.

               The research on gun violence is clear: get rid of the guns. I say this as a bone-fide gun nut, not just as some doctor who happens to own or not own a few guns.

The 2020 Gun Battle Has Already Begun.

              Now that a gun-control bill appears to be rolling through the House, probably to be sidelined by the Senate, the two sides in the gun debate are beginning to sharpen their spears for what they assume will be the real-deal confrontation leading up to the 2020 Presidential campaign. It was kicked off by a broadside in The American Rifleman magazine, the NRA’s flagship publication, which has Nancy and Gabby flanked by a headline that reads: “TARGET PRACTICE – Congressional Democrats Target Gun Owners for Persecution with Extreme Firearms Ban,” obviously referring to the background-check bill (H.R. 8) that was introduced almost immediately after the 116th Congress took its seats.

              If the blue team can’t get enough votes to push this bill forward, they really should go home and declare their new House majority to be as good as dead. But if anyone thinks that the passage of this law is just so much strum und drang without any real significance behind it, just remember that the federal gun law passed in 1968 was first introduced in 1963.  I guarantee you that the guy or gal who ends up running against Trump next year will pledge to make H.R. 8 the next gun law.

              Actually, the American Rifleman blast that has Gun-control Nation so upset is a reminder that America’s first civil rights organization’ isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. To be sure, the Russian stuff, the insurance mess and a loss of a number of commercial partners (car rentals, hotel discounts, etc.) made 2018 a pretty tough year. But nothing gets Gun-nut Nation angrier and more motivated than the idea that a bunch of tree-hugging, big-government types led by Nancy Pelosi want to take away their guns.  And for all the talk coming out of the liberal noise machine about how H.R. 8 is a ‘bi-partisan’ bill, so far there are 227 Democrats listed as co-sponsors, and a whole, big 5 (read: five) co-sponsors from the GOP. That’s some bi-partisan bill.

              Take a look at the 5 members of the GOP caucus who signed on to H.R. 8.  Four of them – King, Fitzpatrick, Smith and Mast come from districts where being against guns is an asset, not a liability. Peter King, the initial co-sponsor of the bill, is rated ‘F’ by the NRA.  Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Bucks County, PA earned a ‘B’ rating and you have to work really hard to get less than an ‘A’ rating from the boys in Fairfax. Chris Smith from Joisey, got an ‘F.’  Get it?  By the way, all five of those turncoats signed on to H.R. 8 the very first day that it was introduced, which was January 8th. Nearly half of the Democratic co-sponsors committed to the measure after it had been floating around for at least two weeks. As for the remaining 191 GOP members? Zilch.

              The real reason why the NRA had trouble staying in the driver’s seat in 2017 and 2018 was not because they broke their piggy-bank by giving Trump so much dough in 2016. It was because when the Republicans control both Houses of Congress plus the Oval Office, it’s pretty hard to make the case that gun ‘rights’ are under assault. In a funny kind of way, the resurgence of the blue team last November is exactly what the gun-rights gang needed to get its mojo working again.

               By the same token, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to stop kidding themselves about the degree to which gun laws could ever be sold to gun owners as just a ‘reasonable’ response to the fact that, on average, eight different people somewhere in the United States pick up a gun every hour and shoot someone else.

              By any stretch of the imagination, this kind of behavior isn’t ‘reasonable,’ and sugar-coating it by calling for a ‘reasonable’ response will get you a bunch of blue votes, but won’t move the needle in places where lots of people own lots of guns. And in 2020, those votes will count too.

Coming This Week:

Gun Buybacks Work.

              Earlier this week the North Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill, HB1381, which earns those legislators this year’s award for the single, dumbest piece of legislation enacted anywhere in the United States. The bill not only outlaws taxpayer dollars from being used to fund gun buybacks, but also makes it a misdemeanor for any police agency to support a buyback.

              The supporters of the bill cited a study by Professor Scott Phillips, a former Houston cop who now teaches criminology at SUNY-Buffalo.  He published a paper in 2013 which basically said that gun buybacks don’t work. Why don’t they work?  Because in the city of Buffalo, where gun buybacks collected more than 3,000 guns in buybacks held between 2007 and 2012, rates of gun homicides, gun assaults and gun robberies showed no impact on reducing these crimes.

              Phillips concludes, “Gun buy-back programmes appear to satisfy a local administrator’s need for instant solutions to a problem, despite a lack of evidence demonstrating effectiveness as a violence reduction strategy. If we are to have a meaningful impact on crime,” he adds, “we must enact policies that are based on empirical evidence and not emotion.” Obviously, the North Dakota legislators voted with their heads, not their hearts, right?

              Wrong. Totally and completely wrong. So wrong that anyone who thinks that the value of a buyback can be reduced to a regression analysis comparing number of guns collected to number of gun crimes committed knows nothing either about guns or crimes committed with guns, or both.

              Take a city like Buffalo, where I once spent a lovely afternoon in Ralph Wilson Stadium (now called New Era Stadium) watching Bruce Smith totally demolish the Miami Dolphins offensive line. Last year, Erie County, a.k.a. Buffalo, had the highest gun homicide rate of any county in New York State. Know why there were so many shootings in Erie County? Nobody knows why, okay?  We can assume that one of the reasons for so much gun violence is that there are so many illegal guns floating around. How many illegal guns are floating around in Buffalo?  We have absolutely no idea. Not only don’t we know how many guns are floating around in the ‘wrong hands’ in Buffalo, we don’t know how many guns that might be used to commit a felonious assault are floating around anywhere else.

              If I wanted to do a study, for example, on the outcome of a smoking cessation campaign, I would simply compare the number of people smoking before the campaign started and after the campaign came to an end. But somehow this basic approach for designing a study on the effectiveness of gun buybacks disappears. The first measure of a gun buyback’s impact should be the degree to which the buyback reduced the number of guns. Without that measurement, comparing the numbers of guns taken off the street to the number of guns being used in the street is nothing more than an exercise in self-fulfilling statistical prophecy, or better said, self-fulfilling sophistry.

              I have been involved with a gun buyback program which is now in its 18th year. The program started in Worcester, MA and has now spread to 5 states. We conduct these buybacks in conjunction with Level 1 trauma centers in each state, the buyback sites staffed by medical students and physicians talking  directly to community residents who show up to get rid of their guns.

              What comes out of these interactions is the fact that the buyback gives people, without any threat of government intervention, the ability to decide for themselves whether a gun in their home represents a risk. Until and unless our culture begins to embrace the idea that guns constitute an unnecessary threat to safety, well-being and health, you can pass what Professor Phillips calls laws based on ‘empirical evidence’ and things won’t change worth a damn.

              To quote LaNyia Johnson, a young man who will spend his entire life in a wheelchair thanks to taking a bullet in the spine: “I wish you could have collected one more gun.”

Florida Gears Up For An Assault Weapons Fight.

              Now that our Florida friends are moving forward to place an initiative on the 2020 ballot that would exempt assault rifles from protection under the state’s Constitution, the local gun nut gang will soon start gearing up to defend their gun ‘rights.’ Article I, § 8 (a) says: “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.”

Note the phrase – ‘regulated by law.’ This phrase has been defined by the Florida Supreme Court to mean, “the right to keep and bear arms is not an absolute right, but is one which is subject to the right of the people through their legislature to enact valid police regulations to promote the health, morals, safety and general welfare of the people.”

If regulating a weapon used to kill and injure 34 people at Parkland on February 14, 2018 doesn’t promote the health, morals, safety and general welfare of the people, I don’t know what does. But leave it to my friends in Gun-nut Nation to pretend otherwise, and last Sunday they got some unexpected help from a seasoned news reporter who should have known better than to shoot his mouth off when he didn’t know what he was talking about.

I am referring to a roundtable on WPLG  in South Florida which included a discussion about the afroementioned Constitutional amendment, whose backers are busily gathering signatures throughout the state to put the issue to the voters next year.  Before I get into what was said by Politico’s Marc Caputo, let me just spend one paragraph explaining what the amendment does and, more important, doesn’t do.

Basically, the amendment follows closely the law passed in Connecticut after Sandy Hook, which prohibits assault weapons from coming into the state but grandfathers in guns already in the state as long as the owner registers such weapons with the state Department of Emergency Services and  Public Protection, a.k.a., the police.  Connecticut prohibited new assault rifles by enacting a general law, which in the GOP/NRA-dominated Florida legislature is about as likely to happen as me staying on my diet and losing the 20 pounds I have been trying to lose since I was a bar-mitzvah boy.

So here comes gun-expert Caputo who starts off by saying that the Amendment has no chance of passing even though early polls indicate that it’s a 50-50 split. And then Caputo says: “Basically, this amendment bans basically all types of semi-automatic rifles, except for bolt actions or ones that have a fixed magazine with a capacity of less than 10 rounds,” blah, blah, blah and blah.

Wrong. The amendment prohibits the purchase or ownership of assault rifles not currently owned. And while the registration of any type of weapon is always a bitter pill for Gun-nut Nation to swallow, Florida already requires that purchasing a gun from a dealer requires a 3-day wait so that the state police can do a background check; in other words, the Florida cops already know who owns or may own a gun.

I guarantee you that as soon as Gun-nut Nation realizes that the folks promoting this amendment are serious and have a chance to succeed, Granny Hammer and her minions will launch their usual assault consisting of some riff or another on the idea that ‘they’ are going to take away all ’your’ guns. And the gun nuts will promote this nonsense by playing the video of an experienced, mainstream  journalist telling his audience that this measure ‘bans all types of semi-automatic rifles’ when, in fact, it does not.

The amendment defines assault weapons as, “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than ten (10) rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine.” Want the names of some semi-auto rifles that do not accept magazines with more than 10 rounds? Try Browning, Remington, Benelli, Savage, Winchester – okay?

It would be a nice change if Marc Caputo would make some effort to align his future reportage on this issue with the facts. In the meantime, I’m going to send the folks in Florida another Franklin to help speed their work. You should do it too.

Don’t Think For One Second That Trump And The Gun Nuts Can’t Win Again.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation certainly should be patting themselves on the back for their efforts that helped flip the House from red to blue in 2018. But before everyone decides that the 2020 election will see the end of Trump-world and a good chance to get a gun bill turned into law, we need to step back and ask ourselves whether gun violence is quite the wedge issue that some of the media thinks it might be.

              Trump’s election in 2016 was basically the result of flipping five states – MI, WI, OH, PA, FL – which together counted for 93 electoral votes; recall that his EV total was 304 to Hillary’s 227, which was 34 more than he needed to win. Now hold that thought.

              In 2018, the Democrats flipped 40 seats but only 8 of those red to blue seats were located in the 5 swing states. Overall, the GOP caucus will seat 48 members from those 5 states, the Democratic caucus will only seat 36.  And in not one of those states do the Democrats have a majority of House members now sitting in D.C. 

              Want some more unsettling news? The week after Trump was inaugurated, he was up or tied in terms of likability in 38 states. As of the beginning of February, 2019 he was even or ahead in only 17 states. But 3 of the states where he is still either 50-50 with or without the margin of error are OH, PA and FL, which together count for 67 electoral votes, which gets him over the top again.

              Now here’s the question: What do the states of OH, PA and FL have in common?  Answer: They are what we call ‘gun-rich’ states.  Now they aren’t as rich as states like Montana and North Dakota, but Montana and North Dakota don’t have any people, so their electoral votes don’t count for squat. But if Obama learned anything from the 2008 primary campaign, it was that if you said anything snarky about guns in a state like PA, you could doom your candidacy before you got out of the starting blocks.

              How many gun owners live in FL, Oh and PA? Nobody knows for sure, but I can tell you that when I managed a national gun wholesale business, we shipped plenty of guns to those three states. All three states issue concealed-carry on demand, and both FL and OH have enacted stand your ground laws which are to Gun-nut Nation what Friskies are to my cats.

              Until and unless someone comes up with better numbers, or Trump does something so stupid that even his die-hard supporters begin to fade away, the fact that he still commands a big chunk of followers in those three, crucial states, should give my Gun-control Nation friends some pause. Because if you want to run a political campaign wrapped around the gun issue, it’s a no-brainer in blue states like California, New Jersey or New York. But those states wouldn’t go for Trump even if he donated a million dollars of his own money to the ACLU. Will a slogan like ‘reasonable’ gun laws necessarily work in PA?  It sure hasn’t worked so far.

              I am still not convinced that the gun-control movement has developed effective messaging to convince gun owners that there’s any necessary connection between 125,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun injuries each year and the ‘right’ of any law-abiding American to own a gun. Because when all is said and done, our friends in Fairfax (a.k.a the NRA) have done a remarkable job promoting the idea that no law-abiding gun owner is in any way responsible for what the tree-huggers refer to as gun ‘violence,’ so why do we need any more gun laws?

              This happens to be a powerful message, it resonates very well with folks in Fl, OH and PA whose votes could keep Trump in the White House for five more years. My friends in Gun-control Nation still need to figure this one out.

So What If Gun Violence Is A National Emergency?

              Somewhat lost in all the fru-fru over Trump’s declaration of a national emergency was a statement by the real President of the United States, Nancy Pelosi, that Trump’s announcement would set a precedent for a Democratic President to declare a national emergency on the ‘epidemic of gun violence.’ Which, when you stop to think about it, is a political strategy that my Gun-control Nation friends need to take seriously over the next several years.

              The good news is that most, of not all of the announced or soon-to-be announced Democratic Presidential candidates are hard left when it come to the issue of guns. And given Trump’s continued effort to maintain a stance based on a combination of racism, far-right nationalism and just plain stupidism, there’s no reason right now why the 2020 Presidential campaign of the Democrats has to find some kind of middle ground on any issue at all. What we see again and again are polls which show that the same independent voters who have deserted Trump believe that guns need to be more tightly controlled. These are the voters who turned the House of Representatives from red to blue last year; these are the same voters who might just send fat-boy Trump to a permanent residence at Mar-a-Lago next year.

              Let’s not kid ourselves. The 2020 vote will get down to the same handful of states whose results determine every national race: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Florida and one or two more. Nothing’s going to change the fact that guns aren’t popular in the Communist Northeast or West Coast states, just as nothing will change the fact that every resident of the dumb states (the South, the West, etc.) owns a gun. Which is exactly why declaring a national gun emergency just might be an important wedge issue in the states whose votes will determine whether Trump succeeds himself or not, assuming that (to quote Lizzie) he doesn’t run his 2020 campaign from jail. It wouldn’t the first time that a guy in jail was on the ballot – try Eugene Debs in 1920 and Lyndon LaRouche in 1992. 

              What could the President do by declaring a national gun emergency? For one thing, (s)he could direct the ATF to issue an emergency ‘stop-work’ order, serve it on Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig, Beretta, Springfield and Kahr, which would effectively prevent more than 80% of the new handguns from entering the market, while the agency takes its time auditing every company to make sure that not one, single gun they manufacture ends up in the ‘wrong’ hands. The newly-elected President could also prohibit the manufacture of all ammunition on the same basis, and I note, by the way, that in all the talk circulating around right now about gun control, I don’t notice any of my friends in Gun-control Nation saying anything about regulating ammo sales – not one word.

              Under this national emergency, the President could also direct HHS to come up with a plan to require full and complete reporting injuries by every hospital receiving Medicare/Medicaid funds, which basically means every hospital in the United States. And this would quickly put an end to the kvetching on the part of all my gun researcher friends about how the data they use in their research doesn’t represent any kind of valid numbers on gun violence at all. Of course, God forbid the public health research community would stop using those bogus numbers to tell us about how this law and that law will reduce gun violence today.

              I think the answer to reducing gun violence is very simple – get rid of the guns. Notice I didn’t say I would support such an effort because I don’t take sides. What I am saying is that either gun violence is a national emergency or it’s not. And if it is, then let’s stop screwing around with a little of this or a little of that and tell it like it is – make Nancy Pelosi’s statement about a national gun-violence emergency the litmus test for which Presidential candidate deserves your support.

Can We Be Non-Partisan About Guns?

              Last week I had a brief exchange with a reporter from The Trace, and I happened to notice a statement on the group’s website that raised my eyebrows an inch or two. The statement said that The Trace is an ‘independent, non-partisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis.’ To be sure, the online journal must follow certain rules in order to hold, which it does, a tax-exempt status and operate on the basis of donations received from here and there. Their editorial independence is explained in an editorial which to my untutored eyes, appears to cover this issue as well.

              My problem is the reference to the word ‘non-partisan,’ which seems to crop up in many of the descriptions that organizations connected to Gun-control Nation use to explain their work. Now I always thought that the term had something to do with politics and basically means that the work of a particular individual or organization wasn’t being conducted for the purpose of promoting a particular political party, or a particular political position, or anything having to do with a specific political activity at all. Which is all fine and well except for one thing.

              How can anyone or any organization doing anything related to guns and gun violence claim to be working in a ‘non-partisan’ way?  Such a statement, with all due respect to the very good writing and research that often appears in The Trace, simply has no relationship to reality at all. In fact, I can’t think of a single issue which has become in every respect more partisan than gun violence over the last several years. And if the editors of The Trace actually believe that they are presenting ‘non-partisan’ content to their readers, I simply must assume that these editors don’t read what is published in this online journal every day. Here’s an example of what can only be described as a ‘partisan’ report.

The headline reads: The Unchecked Influence of NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer, and it’s a long story which appeared in The Trace in February of last year. The writing (by Mike Spies) is detailed, sources are identified and there are comments from both sides, including a quote from the Florida Congressman, Matt Gaetz, who gets the all-time award as the dumbest office-holder in the history of the Gunshine State.  But the subject of the story, Granny Hammer, refused to be interviewed, despite being described as bringing laws into existence “that have dramatically altered long-held American norms and legal principles,” including concealed-carry and stand your ground.

              Now let’s be honest, okay? Would The Trace have devoted several thousand words to a story about this old lady if what she was doing aligned with the journal’s mission to ‘shine a light on America’s gun violence crisis?’ The truth is that by even using the words ‘gun violence,’ The Trace is clearly demonstrating that it takes a very partisan position on the issue of guns. Don’t believe me? Listen to all those stupid videos on the NRA-ILA website and see if any of the talking heads promoting gun ‘rights’ use the expression ‘gun violence’ even once.

              Let me make it very clear that I am not in any way criticizing The Trace for what they say or what they don’t say.  They have a job to do and they do it well. And even though on occasion I publish correctives to what I consider to be their reportage which needs a more thorough look, I have never and will never raise the slightest concern about the basic value and legitimacy of their work. In fact, I think that after I post this column I’ll send them a hundred bucks.

              I just have a basic problem with my Gun-control Nation friends who bend over backwards to  appear even-handed to the other side. Gun violence is a partisan issue. Gun violence needs to be addressed in partisan terms. Shooting human beings is not the stuff of compromise, okay? It must come to an end.

P.S. I’m going to send this column to The Trace and if they choose to respond I’ll gladly print what they say.

Josh Montgomery: How Can Shooting Be Meditative?

Shooting is not a hobby that just anyone engages with – it’s not easy and requires a lot of concentration to do it properly. Many individuals are bothered by shooting, as they see it as something loud and violent. Thus, they decide to stay away from it.

However, did you know that shooting can work just the same way meditation does? Yes, it might be totally different compared to sitting down and thinking about life, but it can have just the same effect. That being said, you can do some practice for .308 rifles and meditate at the same time.

Are you wondering how can shooting be meditative, given its nature? You will find the answer to the question throughout this article.

What Is Meditation and How Does It Help?

You’ve most likely heard of meditation, but although many people are aware of its existence, not all of them understand what it actually means.

Meditation is all about training to observe things without judgment, and build awareness – thus, you get a healthy sense of perspective. That being said, it’s not meant to help you become a new person, and it doesn’t require you to turn off your thoughts. What it basically does is teach you how to look at things without being judgmental, thus being able to understand them.

Moreover, you’re not only learning how to observe these things, but you’re also getting to know yourself better as a person and be at peace with yourself.

Shooting and Meditation – What’s the Link Between Them?

It’s hard to think of shooting as a way to meditate. After all, aiming a dangerous object and firing with a powerful sound barely adds up to sitting down and trying to arrange your thoughts.

However, you’d actually be surprised to find out that shooting is not as far away from meditation as it seems. Basically, when you first get into shooting, you are required to be careful and reflect on each shot, like it’s the only one you’ve got.

Whereas many newcomers in the world of shooting focus too much on scores and the target, that’s not the best way to go about it. Where your shots go is not as important – what matters is learning and mastering the technique. And this is where the correlation between meditation and shooting comes into play.

Through a Zen perspective, shooting focuses on the idea of getting the perfect shot – in other words, The Shot. That being said, the most important thing is to reflect and focus on each shot. Once you begin to work on getting better with your technique, you encounter the “Seven Defilements” of mind. With that said, you need to set them aside, which can be done through the Zen Art aspect of shooting.

For this, you need to practice all the time, and soon enough, you will notice that it’s not you who’s shooting the target – the right mindset is doing it.

Your aim when shooting is to polish and cleanse your mind of the everyday routine. This is pretty much the same as meditation, which focuses on arranging your thoughts and looking at them from a non-judgemental perspective. So, you are not only trying to master your way of shooting at the target, but you’re rather polishing the mind.

Shooting – Not Only a Sport

Nowadays, it’s not hard to see that people pick up shooting to entertain themselves, seeing it only as a sport. Whereas it is indeed a way to have fun and quite a unique hobby, shooting is more than that. It is used by a lot of people as a way to develop their mental and spiritual discipline. With that said, many individuals who wish to re-discover themselves pick up shooting, as the mechanics, equipment, and atmosphere are attracting them.

It’s easy to look at shooting like it’s just a game that only needs some skill. Still, the mind needs to be used a lot to get a precise shot, and that’s when personal development begins, especially in the first stages of learning the skill. In addition, shooting can be a great way to give you some peace of mind by letting you feel in power and it also helps you overcome your fears.

Why Should You Consider Shooting as Meditation?

Shooting can be used not only as a hobby but also as a way of life. It’s something that could help you find yourself and strengthen your mind. So, you can simply choose some days when you want to be alone with your thoughts and your rifles, thus trying to put your thoughts in order while focusing on accuracy.

Basically, when you are aiming at the target, you feel powerful, and suddenly your fear is gone. In other words, it’s building a lot of self-confidence and reduces anxiety, so it’s a great way to come at peace with yourself.

Moreover, it’s a way that allows you to see your strengths, as well as weaknesses, in a much easier way. This could also be obtained through usual meditation. As a result, it will be an easier task to work on yourself and improve as a person.

Over time, you will be able to sit back and observe your progress, and maybe even begin to understand other people and see them in a new light without judging them. This is the power that a hobby like shooting could have on you.

Final Thoughts

Shooting is seen as an unusual and dangerous hobby that couldn’t offer anything of value to those practicing it, besides entertainment. However, that cannot be further from the truth, as shooting can have the same effect on you that meditation does. It opens up your mind, allows you to work on developing a technique, while it polishes your thoughts the same way meditation would.

All in all, if simply sitting down and meditating is not too appealing to you, maybe you can pick up shooting. It has the same effect, and you will have a lot of great things to gain from it.