What Doctors Don’t Know About Guns Could Kill You – Part 1.

              Back in February, representatives from 44 ‘major’ medical organizations came to Chicago to hold a ‘summit meeting’ on gun violence. Four years previously, eight of these same organizations published a ‘Call to Action’ on the same topic. Obviously, the medical community’s concern about how to deal with what they refer to as a ‘public health’ issue resulting in 125,000 or more fatal and non-fatal injuries every year has reached a fever pitch.

              FolIowing the February conference, the group published a Magna Carta to define what physicians and public health specialists need to do about guns. Having now read this entire epistle, along with most of the 80 research papers on which it is largely based, I happen to believe that this approach is taking the medical community down the wrong path. While the programmatic and research efforts recommended by the summit participants may help some of them burnish their CV’s or perhaps get them interviewed on the Ambulance Driver or one of the other medical blogs, I don’t believe that any of the recommendations contained in this document will result in a substantive decline in gun violence at all.

              The paper begins by offering a very novel revision of what its authors believe to be the basic reason why gun deaths, as opposed to deaths from traffic deaths, heart disease, cancer and HIV haven’t declined, which is because gun injuries have been treated not as a medical but as a political problem. Many of the earlier medical efforts were “mired in a debate about personal liberty and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Instead of this dead-end strategy, the Summit wants “research agendas to understand and address root causes of violence,” an approach which “mirrors the public health model that has been so effective in improving outcomes in traffic-related injury.”

              Over the next several weeks, I am going to devote a number of columns to the specific research agendas and programs advocated by this Summit. I am going to make a point of sending those columns, as well as this column, to the authors of this document asking them to reply.  What is unique about gun-violence research, as opposed to research in other medical fields, is the remarkable paucity of public discussion and debate within the research community itself. This document, for example, references 80 peer-reviewed articles but I do not believe that the findings or the data of any one of those articles was ever challenged in print.  Are we all so completely correct in our work?

              Unfortunately, understanding and addressing the ‘root causes’ of violence is simply not the same thing as understanding and addressing the root causes of gun violence, a distinction which the authors of this piece don’t acknowledge or attempt to explain. On a yearly basis, somewhere around two million individuals suffer violent attacks. A significant number (i.e., most) of these victims exhibit the same socio-economic status, family backgrounds and personal histories as the less than 5 percent whose injuries are caused by guns. So the issue here isn’t violence per se; it’s a very specific type of violence that needs to be understood on its own terms.

              A bigger problem involves the belief that the public health model for understanding and responding to automobile injuries can be just as effective when the model applies to guns. This is wishful thinking to the nth degree. It simply flies in the face of reality because cars aren’t designed to do the one and only thing which guns are designed to do, namely, to kill yourself or somebody else. If your car smashes into someone and they die, you weren’t driving the way you’re supposed to drive. If you pull out your Glock and blow the guy’s head off, the gun is being used exactly the way it’s supposed to be used.

              How do you design a valid research agenda about a threat to public health when the threat is so poorly defined? I’ll continue this next week while I await any replies from the authors of this piece.


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

              Everyone in Gun-control Nation is exulting over the latest news about how the NRA is in a state of free-fall collapse. But there was another piece of gun news which is far more important in terms of what it says about the future of America’s love affair with guns that gun-control advocates and noisemakers completely missed.

              I am referring to news out of South Carolina that a company named Ellett Bros., has filed for bankruptcy, an event hardly making a ripple in Gun-control Nation, but I can guarantee you was of great importance to the gun industry itself. This is because Ellett’s happens to be, or happens to have been, one of the largest gun wholesalers in the United States, and if you are or were a retail gun dealer, sooner or later you bought something from the sweet ‘thangs’ salesgirls who used to answer the Ellett phones.

              I visited Ellett’s back in 1976. As a certified gun nut, going to Ellett’s was the equivalent of a Muslim making the pilgrimage to Mecca during Holy Week. You could stand at the end of a big room and watch all the women busily taking orders and whispering sweet nothings into their customer’s ears, or you could glimpse inside the warehouse and see thousands of guns stacked up just waiting to be shipped. You might even get an opportunity to shake hands with one of the Ellett family members himself!

              What made the Ellett operation so successful back in the day was that it was the only gun wholesaler whose inventory basically contained not only every, single gun that was being made, but you might also be able to buy parts for old guns that needed to be repaired. For those of my readers who don’t know anything about the gun business, which happens to be most of my readers, always bear in mind that guns don’t wear out. So just about every guy who comes into a gun shop sooner or later needs a new part for an old gun. And who carried all those parts?  Ellett’s, that’s who.

              In addition to an enormous inventory, Ellett’s also pioneered telephone marketing at a time when most of the other gun wholesalers were still relying on catalog sales. This direct-sales approach, along with an annual dealer’s show which drew just about every retailer in the Southeast, made Ellett’s the powerhouse wholesale operation for much of the country east of the Mississippi River, particularly when they acquired another wholesale house, Jerry’s Outdoor Sports, which catered primarily to retailers in the Northeast.

              So what happened to bring about the collapse of Ellett’s at a time when, thanks to Obama, the gun business had enjoyed its best sales years of all time? To begin with, nobody in the gun business believed that Sleazy Don was going to move into the White House in 2017, which meant that Ellett’s, along with everyone else in the distribution chain, loaded up inventory anticipating that Hillary’s election would prolong and even increase the demand for guns which occurred during the Obama ‘regime.’

              The other problem in the gun business is that the distribution system is regulated end-to-end because of licensing requirements, which means you just can’t dump unsold inventory into a job-lot retailer or maybe ship the stuff overseas. The moment that gun owners stop coming into retail stores to buy more guns, and it’s always the same people who keep buying guns again and again, the retail inventory backs up, the wholesale inventory doesn’t ship out and someone gets stuck with the unsold load.

              Not only did Ellett’s bet the wrong way in 2016, but so did everyone else. Another major wholesaler, Accu-Sport, filed Chapter 11 last year, which means that the unsold inventory of two major distributors is available at rock-bottom prices. Which means that if you want to make a million in the gun business, now you have to start not with two million but with three.

Will The NRA Survive?

              I have been reluctant to join my many friends in Gun-control Nation who have been exulting in the possible demise of the NRA because as a long-time member (I joined America’s ‘first civil rights-organization’ in 1955) I see the gun group from two very different perspectives. On the one hand, it has become a major political and PR force, using its money and influence to maintain a very public presence in and out of the government-lobbying ‘swamp’ in Washington, D.C.  On the other hand, it continues to be an important social and cultural grass-roots circle for gun owners and gun enthusiasts (read: hobbyists) in hundreds of local communities throughout the fifty states.

              On the political front, I always thought the NRA‘s decision to get into bed with Sleazy Don was a mistake. By cozying up to him so early in the 2016 campaign, the NRA was hitching its wagon to someone who was going to force them not only to support a very radical messaging narrative, but also require a complete and abrupt messaging turnaround from the previous eight years. The NRA was always comfortable demonizing liberals like Obama, but how do you maintain even a shred of credibility when you try to justify the AR-15’s that the dopes were carrying at Charlottesville, particularly the dopes representing the Nazis and the KKK?

              Of course the NRA was going to endorse Trump, they always endorse the Republican candidate, but the endorsement has usually been near the end of the Presidential campaign when it doesn’t really count for all that much. This time around, it was almost as if the NRA‘s ad agency, Ackerman-McQueen, was actually working for the Trump campaign, given the extreme messaging of noisemakers like Dana Loesch who, it turns out, was an employee of the ad agency and not, as it was claimed, working for the NRA.

              Meanwhile, the attempt by NRA to become a media presence through its video channel, NRA-TV, appears to be collapsing alongside the crumbling of the organization itself. Since February, monthly visits to the website have dropped from 370,000 to 200,000, with the decline since the April meeting a startling 35 percent! There is simply no way that this trend can continue much longer without severe repercussions for both Ackerman-McQueen and the NRA.

              On the other hand, the less-noticed but more fundamental activity of the NRA continues to grow and expand. I am referring to the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any lessening of interest and activity on the weekend gun show circuit, with estimates for yearly shows running between 2,000 and 5,000 events, each of which usually attracts at least 5,000 gun nuts who will stroll past the NRA booth which is present at just about every show. Between now and mid-October, Friends of the NRA will be holding 8 social events just within 70 miles of where I live. If I lived in Baltimore, MD I could easily get to 10 weekend NRA events over the same three months. In Georgia, I can go to five events just in July and August alone. At every event there’s some good bar-b-que to eat, a gun raffle, you sit around and shoot the you-know-what with your gun nut friends.

              When it comes to this kind of activity, Gun-control Nation can’t begin to compete with the NRA. And this isn’t just a function of a long-time organizing effort, it also reflects the degree to which many gun owners define their social behavior around their ownership of guns.

              What seems to have happened over the last several years is a clear disconnect between the behavior of the NRA as defined by the leadership of the home office, as opposed to the way the organization relates to its membership in the field. Not to worry, because If the current fight between the NRA and its ad agency results in the collapse of the Fairfax operation, somebody will figure out how to capture and maintain the enthusiasm of all us nuts who really love our guns.    

A Great Gun Story From Joyce Carol Oates

If you want to read a remarkable piece of writing which really captures what guns are all about, see if you can pick up a collection of stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Faithless, and read ‘Gunlove,’ which I read again last night. If there’s another piece of fiction out there which brought home to me why guns are such a problematic issue in American life, I haven’t seen it yet. And when all is really said and done, the ability of someone with this writer’s remarkable talents to capture the most profound dimensions of what guns represent, goes far beyond what we get from even the most authoritative scholarly research.

The story is narrated in first-person by a young woman who is recalling certain events and people over the course of her life, all of which involve the use of guns. A gun is brandished, a guns is used for self-defense, a gun is played with, a gun is taken to a shooting range, a gun is carried around for protection, a gun figures in a suicide or maybe it was an accident. In other words, every vignette which together creates the story’s text, gives us a quick portrait of all the different ways that Americans think about using guns.

And then there are the guns themselves, described and even named: Bauer 25-caliber pocket pistol, 12-gauge Remington shotgun, a Saturday-night special Arcadia, a Colt 45-caliber Army gun, a Winchester 22-caliber rifle, a Sterling pistol, a 44-magnum, a Colt Detective Special, even a Glock! And the fact that the Glock is actually an AMT pistol makes the whole thing even better because the ditz-brain narrator of this story, who spent her college years at Vassar continuously stoned and/or high, really didn’t know one gun from another. Which is exactly the point. It doesn’t really matter which gun is which.

These guns float through the life of the story’s narrator in the same quick and easy way that her relatives, friends and lovers come and go. At one point, she appears to be getting serious about shooting – goes to a shooting range in Staten Island but finds it difficult to actually pull the trigger and hit the target downrange. On the other hand, she has no trouble buying at last four different oils and cleaning fluids, cleaning patches and rags, various gunsmith tools and other crap. She easily spends a hundred bucks or more on this stuff, takes it back to her apartment, but never actually cleans her gun. She’s the type of customer that the gun business loves.

At the end of the story, she meets up with a sometime lover who gives her a remembrance gift because after a final embrace (in the middle of Central Park, no less) he’s evidently going to clear out of town. She goes back to her apartment, unwraps the package and of course it’s a gun – a 9mm Glock. She thinks for a minute about possibly giving it up but she can’t. She ‘loves’ her gun.

Of course the gun which she loves isn’t a Glock at all. She describes it as having a stainless steel frame but Glock never produced any guns except with polymer frames. So she has absolutely no idea what she is talking about but she’ll never get rid of this gun. Perfect.

By the end of this story, what you come to understand is that this ditz-brain has absolutely no idea why she loves her guns. But one reason for her obsessive gun infatuation which is never mentioned is any concern for her 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ She couldn’t care less about the 2nd Amendment.

And here’s the dirty, little secret about guns: Nobody else cares about the 2nd Amendment. Gun owners will tell you in no uncertain terms that they support the 2nd Amendment because otherwise they might have to admit that their decision to own this lethal consumer product has nothing to do with any kind of reality or necessity at all. They love their guns because guns are fun. And if you don’t believe me, just read this penetrating story by Joyce Carol Oates.

Download and read the story here.

Does PTP Reduce Gun Violence? The Jury’s Still Out.

              All of a sudden, two of the blue-team candidates, Cory and Pete, are talking about something which has never been even so much as whispered in a national political campaign, namely, a federal gun licensing system. This is kind of like a driver’s license for gun ownership, except in this case the license will be issued by the feds. It’s still something of a halfway house, because such a procedure wouldn’t require gun owners to register their guns. On the other hand, if you combine national gun licensing with universal background checks (UCB) you’re almost there. Not quite, but at least almost.

               All of this new-found political concern about gun violence should be a sweet tune to the ears of gun-control advocates and advocacy groups, but I’m not so sure. In fact, in the process of moving from being marginal to central in the gun debate compared to the ‘other’ side, there’s a good chance that this transition may provoke splits and arguments within the gun-control movement itself. After all, when nobody’s listening, it doesn’t really matter whether this group agrees with that group. But when every gun-control group now finds itself being heard and can use its new-found voice to grow its influence and organizational strength, all of a sudden the last thing you want to do is sound like everyone else.

              Last week our friends at Everytown announced they were sending a questionnaire to all Presidential candidates asking them where they stand on 18 different gun issues: background checks, assault weapon bans, the usual gun-control things. One of the questions they did not ask was where candidates stood on pre-purchase gun licensing, which is known as permit-to-purchase, i.e., PTP. The reason this question wasn’t on the Everytown list is because, according to John Feinblatt who runs Everytown, PTP procedures, including Corey’s idea for a national licensing system, “has not been fully researched and proven to have public support.”  This statement immediately drew criticism from some self-appointed gun experts in the gun-control community, who are now lining up behind a PTP law that was recently introduced.

              Except there’s only one little problem with the gun-control activists who think they can support PTP to increase their own presence while taking Everytown down a peg or two.  When it comes to whether or not PTP‘s value has been shown true through evidence-based research, Feinblatt’s hesitation happens to be correct.  The PTP procedures haven’t been fully researched, partly because the definition of PTP happens to differ significantly from state to state.  In New Jersey, every separate purchase of a handgun requires approval from the cops. In Connecticut, you get one license from the state police whether you buy a gun or not. The fact that Connecticut’s homicide rate is lower than other comparable states without a PTP process doesn’t mean the difference is due to PTP. Possible? Yes. Definitive? Absolutely no. At least not yet.

              The PTP bill just filed by Congressman Raskin (D-MD) authorizes the Department of Justice to make grants to states that enact some kind of PTP law which will only allow handguns to be purchased if the applicant passes a background check with fingerprints and is 21 years or older. The bill, however, does not require any licensing authority to determine whether the applicant really needs to own a handgun, the whole point of PTP being that the cops should get to decide the fitness of handgun owners based on something more than whether they can pass a background check.

              Before gun-control advocates jump on the PTP bandwagon, they might take the trouble to understand how PTP laws work and don’t work. On the other hand, making your voice louder in any advocacy community doesn’t necessarily require that what you say bears any relationship to the truth. If you yell loud enough, someone will respond and join your parade. Trump proves that one true every day.

Do We Really Need FBI-NICS Background Checks?

              If there is one new gun law which everyone seems to agree we should enact, it’s the law which would require a background check every time that anyone transfers a gun. Right now, according to our friends at Giffords, roughly half the American population resides in states where some kind of background check beyond the initial over-the-counter check takes place. But even in the states where some kind of additional background check occurs after the gun has been sold for the first time, there’s no consistency and the process varies from state to state.

As for states which require no kind of background check when a gun owner sells or transfers his gun to someone else, most of those states happen to be the same states where a majority of the residents own guns.  And don’t think for one minute that it’s only a coincidence that states with lots of gun owners usually have fewer gun laws.

I have no problem with universal background checks for guns if I thought for one second that this procedure might result in less violence caused by guns. After all, right now we Americans own somewhere between 260 and 350 million guns and gun researchers have been telling us forever and ever Amen that we suffer from an extraordinarily-high rate of gun violence, precisely because we have too many guns floating around and they can easily move from ‘good’ to ‘bad’ hands. So if we instituted universal background checks, so the argument goes, we wouldn’t have less guns but at least they wouldn’t so easily end up in the wrong hands.

This sounds like a very logical and reasonable proposition, which is why Gun-control Nation has gotten behind universal background checks (UBC) because the process is, after all, reasonable, which happens to be a favorite gun-control word. And UBC wouldn’t be a threat to 2nd Amendment ‘rights’ because everyone, even the nuttiest of the gun nuts agrees that only law-abiding citizens should be able to own guns.

Mike the Gun Guy doesn’t agree. Mike the Gun Guy™ actually believes that deciding whether or not to institute UBC shouldn’t be considered in terms of reasonableness or 2nd Amendment ‘rights’ at all. In fact, Mike the Gun Guy™ (that’s right, it’s trademarked) would feel much more sanguine about the whole background check issue if his friends in Gun-control Nation would stop proclaiming the virtues of UBC and try to understand what the term ‘universal’ as in Universal Background Checks really means.

What it means is that a lot of time, energy, paperwork and money is going to be spent making sure that a lot of guns which have absolutely nothing to do with gun violence end up being regulated simply because such items meet the legal definition of the word ‘gun.’ When our friends at The Trace published a list of more than 9,000 guns that were confiscated by more than 1,000 police agencies between 2010 and 2016, I ran the entire batch through a word search using the words Remington, Winchester, Savage, Marlin, Browning and H&R to see how many times these words came up. 

These six words happen to be the names of gun companies who together probably manufactured and sold 100 million hunting rifles and shotguns over the past hundred years; most of those guns, believe it or not, are still in private hands. Know how many times these words appeared in the list of more than 9,000 ‘crime’ guns?  Exactly six times and in every, single case, those guns were confiscated because the owner didn’t have a gun license – that was the big, serious crime.

If  we believe that background checks will reduce gun violence, why do most background checks involve guns that aren’t connected to gun violence?  Sorry, but the idea that I have to drive forty miles round trip to a gun shop to run a background check on my son before I give him my old, single-shot Sears Roebuck bird gun just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Do Gun Laws Make Us Safe?

              If I had to quickly name the two most beloved regulatory strategies being promoted by Gun-control Nation, it would be: 1) expanding FBI-NICS background checks to secondary sales; and 2) ‘red flag’ laws. Well, maybe safe-storage laws are also up there near the top of the list, as well as permit-to-purchase (PTP) laws.  Taken together, the current narrative is that if you lived in a state where all these laws were on the books, you would be living in a state which would not suffer from gun violence.

              I happen to live in a state – Massachusetts – whose gun-regulatory environment contains all those laws. And the Bay State has another gun-safety law, shared only with California, namely, that no new gun can be sold in the state unless it is certified as having a child-proof safety design. Oh yes, I forgot. You can’t even purchase ammunition in Massachusetts unless you possess a valid gun license issued by the State Police.

              Thanks to all these laws, Massachusetts is currently ranked by Giffords and Brady as the ‘safest’ state.  It also has one of the lowest rates of gun violence of all 50 states, according to the  CDC. Because of its comprehensive gun laws, Massachusetts is so protected from gun violence that even a state resident like David Hemenway, a foremost authority on gun violence, admits to feeling very safe. 

              The safe storage law deserves special mention because Massachusetts is the only state in which you can be charged with a felony if any gun in your home is not either locked away or equipped with a ‘tamper-proof’ device, whether an injury with that gun occurs or not. If the cops come into your home and Grandpa’s old shotgun is sitting over the mantlepiece without a trigger lock, you could spend some time at Concord, and I don’t mean Concord as in Paul Revere’s ride. Concord is the state pen.

              The gun laws in Massachusetts are so strict that not only can’t you own a gun without first taking a safety course, you then have to be interviewed by the police who have discretion as to whether or not to grant you a gun license even if your background check comes up clean. You can’t even walk into a gun shop and put your hands on a gun without first showing your gun license to the dealer before he hands you a gun.

              There’s only one little problem with all these laws which make Massachusetts so safe. The problem is that, in terms of gun violence, Massachusetts was just as safe before all those laws were passed and went into effect. With the exception of the ‘red flag’ law, which Governor Baker signed this year, all the other gun regulations – secondary background checks, childproof design, PTP, ammunition purchase requirements, safe storage, have been on the books since 1999.

              Of course the fact that Massachusetts is such a ‘safe’ state doesn’t necessarily mean anything to someone who lives, for example, in the city of Springfield, which is where I happen to live. Last year, Springfield recorded 14 gun homicides, giving the city a gun-violence rate of 11, almost three times the national rate and five times the overall state rate. My office is located four blocks away from the intersection of Stebbins and Union Streets. This year, two men have been shot within 50 feet of the corner. Isn’t it wonderful that all the state’s gun laws make David Hemenway, who lives in a fancy suburb of Boston, feel so ‘safe?’

              I don’t know why Massachusetts, with all its gun laws, has so little gun violence and neither does anyone else. I also don’t know why some neighborhoods in this ‘safe’ state suffer from extraordinarily-high levels of gun violence, and neither does anyone else.

              But I do know this: every one of those shootings involved the use of a gun. And there’s no law in Massachusetts or anywhere else which does anything to get rid of guns.

Josh Montgomery: Muzzle Sweep: What You Need to Know – Top 7 Facts

Muzzle sweeps: not many people know precisely what this term means, but regardless, many have gone through it. The only differentiating factor is on what end of the muzzle sweep you were. This occurs mostly with newbie shooters – and if not handled carefully, the result can be rather dangerous.

Still, what do you need to know about muzzle sweeps – and how do you ensure that you stay safe throughout everything? By being informed, of course. Not only do you need to know precisely what muzzle sweeping is, but you must also know how to protect yourself against it – no matter if you are the one holding the gun or not.

What Is a Muzzle Sweep?

Muzzle sweeps tend to happen fairly often in groups where multiple people hold a gun – and most of them happen accidentally. A muzzle sweep happens when you aim your gun in a careless manner towards someone – but you do not intentionally mean to do so.

Gun owners who have just begun shooting tend to be at the cause of this, but it can also happen when a person upholsters their gun. Most of the time, they do so without knowing – but whatever the circumstances, this is regarded as a mistake.

When someone is muzzle sweeping, they are violating the second rule of safely using firearms – the one that says that you should not point a gun at a target unless you are actually planning to shoot at it. Guns can discharge accidentally, and you may cause injury when it wasn’t even your original intention to do so.

Obviously, a gun that has been holstered may sometimes point at your body parts or at someone else (e.g. when you are sitting at a table and someone passes by you), but in this case, there should not be any dangers. A holstered gun is unlikely to go off unless you actually put your finger on the trigger.

Top Facts to Know

Have you ever muzzle swept anyone, or were you a victim of such an occurrence? Here are a few facts that you might want to know.

  1. A gun won’t go off unless someone is handling it

Many people are sent into panic mode when they see a holstered gun pointing at them. One awkward move, or one finger sitting awkwardly on the trigger, and the gun – no matter if it is a concealed or a hunting gun – could go off.

However, a good gun will not go off just like that when holstered. For instance, if you go for a gun with the best sniper scope in the world, the only danger will appear when you are locking on a target and accidentally sweeping over something else. Still, a good quality gun delivers awesome value, and won’t simply go off just like that.

  • Bullets can go through anything

As a gun owner, you may be thinking that if you muzzle sweep and shoot through a wall, the bullet will remain stuck there and will not be hurting any innocent bystander. However, because of the speed of the bullet, not only do you risk the bullet bouncing back, but it can also go through a surface.

Therefore, let’s say that you are at the shooting range, practicing some moves. You can’t just assume everyone is safe simply because you have a bit of wall between you two. With the muzzle energy of firearms, a bullet can be very destructive even through a wall.

  • The safety isn’t always reliable

Many people end up carelessly muzzle sweeping while touching the trigger because “the safety is on anyway.” However, human error can happen – and when you think the safety is “on,” it can actually be “off.”  You should never assume anything when it comes to guns.

  • Muzzle discipline is not as easy as it seems

You might think it’s just as simple as that to keep the gun pointed in the right direction. However, it is very easy to muzzle sweep yourself accidentally – particularly if you are the owner of a handgun.

When you are just learning concealed carry techniques, you do not even notice when the gun is not facing a safe direction. You only notice it when someone is either yelling at you or you see the gun pointing at your leg. You may be careful when placing the gun in the holster – but it is not as easy as it seems.

  • Muzzle habits are built with time

Yes, they are prohibited in the laws of firearms from the very start – but this doesn’t mean that people are perfect. Every good habit is built through repetition – regardless if we are talking about firearms or anything else. By handling several firearms or replicas throughout time, you will get into the habit of pointing your gun in a safe direction.

  • Sweeping in a room will create a panic

Muzzle sweeping in a room full of people will create panic. It does not matter if the gun is unloaded or not. Every gun owner is trained to “see every gun as being loaded,” thanks to the gun rules. So, when they see the gun pointed at them, they will obviously go into distress. Bear in mind that if you muzzle sweep a shooting range continuously, you might just get yourself kicked out of the place.

  • You should also point out anyone muzzle sweeping

Yes, you should avoid muzzle sweeping people. But the fact is that most accidents occur when muzzle sweeps aren’t reported. Let’s say that you notice someone being careless with a gun. Even if they say it’s unloaded, there is always a chance that they forgot to unload a chamber. Some people might accuse you of overreacting – but you never know what might happen.

Final Thoughts

Muzzle sweeps should not be done, regardless of where you are. You may be at the shooting range, you may be on the hunting grounds – or you may be in your own house. Whatever the case, assuming that it’s alright to muzzle sweep can prove to be dangerous, and it can get you in trouble.

Pete Buttigieg Needs To Deal With A Gun Violence Problem Right Now.

              Until Pete Buttigieg announced that he was a Presidential candidate, he only thing I knew about South Bend, IN was Notre Dame.  I went to graduate school in Chicago and every time I drove back home to New York, I could see the Golden Dome as we zipped past the campus on the interstate, but  that was as close as I ever got to South Bend.

              The city is an old manufacturing center, having been the location of several major manufacturing companies that supplied parts for the auto industry, and even before Buttigieg captured national attention with his announcement, he was known for having pushed some economic redevelopment plans that prevented South Bend from ending up in the downward spiral which trapped other rust-belt towns.

              In addition to the Golden Dome, the city also has an annual music festival, several interesting museums, some pretty park space, all the usual amenities of medium-sized population centers (roughly 100,000 people live in the city itself, roughly another 200,000 folks live nearby) which are larger than small towns but not yet major, urban sites.

              Unfortunately, it now appears that South Bend may be experiencing a life-style change which resembles many major, urban centers, and I’m not talking about a life-style represented by the appearance of Starbucks or a new shopping mall or a farmer’s market with ‘organic’ goat cheese selling at $30 a pound.  I’m talking about the urban life-style known as gun violence which has seen 11 South Bend shootings so far in June alone.

              The good news about violent crime in South Bend is that overall the number of homicides have gone down. There were 18 in 2012, Buttigieg’s first year in office, last year there were 9. The bad news about South Bend violence is the number of aggravated assaults went from 235 in 2012 to 782(!) last year. Guess what happens when two guys get into an argument and one of them pulls out  gun? An assault turns into a shooting and using a gun is a very efficient method for turning a bloody nose into a bullet lodged in the head.

              Right now, Indiana ranks 16th of all 50 states in the statewide murder rate, with an overall score of 6 per 100,000 residents for the Hoosier State. I always thought that Indiana’s murder rate was basically a function of street violence in Indianapolis which, Indy 500 notwithstanding, has always been known as a tough town. The nine murders which occurred in South Bend last year may not sound like a lot of people, but it means that the city’s murder rate is 50 percent higher than the state’s rate as a whole. That ain’t good. 

              And it particularly ain’t good for Mayor Pete’s Presidential campaign, because he has been proposing the one gun-control law that Gun-nut Nation hates most of all, i.e., a national gun-licensing system. Now it happens to be true that without a national gun registration of some kind, all the other ‘reasonable’ gun-control schemes may help reduce gun violence a little bit here and there, but the real big kahuna for gun control is national registration, no ifs, ands, or buts.

              You might want to believe that if South Bend continues to be a murder-rich place, that this news could be used by Pete to underscore the need for better controls over guns. Except that’s not how the world works, at least the world as defined by the pro-gun noisemakers (Trump, Fox, NRA, et. al.) who will lead the charge for the other side.

              Because what they will say, I guarantee it, is that the murder rate in South Bend points up the need for letting civilians walk around with guns. And since gun registration will result in gun confiscation, nobody will be protected and the crime rate in South Bend and everywhere else will zoom straight up.

              I hope that last week’s gun mayhem in South bend was a blip and not the beginning of a trend. Because if it’s the latter, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign could be derailed.

How Can You Advocate For Gun Control Unless You Know The Facts? You Can’t.

              The first time I got involved in advocacy was 1958. I was a 14-year old big shot. I got on a bus with a bunch of other kids and some adults, Blacks and Whites, and we ‘sat in’ at a lunch counter in a diner on Route 1 in Towson, MD. That’s right – in those days you could take a ‘freedom ride’ to Maryland.

              Then civil rights morphed into the anti-war movement. And because I went to graduate school in Chicago, I was at the meeting in Lincoln Park with Abby, Jerry, Dave Dellinger, John Froines and Tom Hayden, along with a bunch of undercover cops posing as anti-war protestors, when we planned the demonstrations outside the Democratic Convention in 1968.

              In the 70’s, I was back in New York and stayed active by going to various meetings where speakers like Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem gave stirring speeches about why women had the right to choose, as well as the right to get paid as much as men for doing the same work.

              The advocacy for gender equality then took a slight turn in the 1980’s when folks, including me, began marching for the right to follow one’s own sexual orientation. My greatest Harley experience wasn’t going out to Sturges, it was driving my Low Ryder from Greenwich Village to Times Square alongside the New York City Lesbian Harley Club during the Halloween Night parade.

              All of these advocacy movements shared one thing in common: you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that dropping napalm on a peasant village, or depriving people of the right to vote, or telling a woman that someone other than her would decide whether she should give birth, or making a gay man or woman hide their most precious and personal feelings was – wrong! It was as simple as that. It was wrong. Period. No questions asked. Wrong. Okay? Wrong.

              But this is where the gun-control advocacy movement, of all the advocacy that I have experienced over the last sixty years is different. What makes it different is that the moral issue of ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’ is simply not so clear. What creates a muddle in this respect is the fact that gun violence occurs because people own guns. And most folks who have access to a gun aren’t breaking any laws. In fact, au contraire, they believe that not only do they have a legal ‘right’ to own a gun, but this right is both enshrined in the Constitution and acknowledged to be correct by the same liberal legal scholars who have supported civil, gender and gay rights.

              So how does someone advocate against guns (and please, spare me the nonsense about how you ‘support’ the 2nd Amendment) that can stand up against such a potent argument from the other side?  What you have to do, it seems to me, is take the trouble to learn about guns – how they are sold, why they are sold, what laws exist which regulate guns, which laws need to be improved, you get the drill. The point is that if you get into a discussion with a pro-gun person and you don’t know these facts, you end up in an emotional exchange which goes nowhere very fast.

              Every person concerned about gun violence should sign up for the online study exercise created by our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg school. In fact, Giffords, Everytown, Brady and all the other gun-control groups should insist that their members spend a few hours drilling through the curriculum, taking the self-help tests and sending feedback to the faculty who worked overtime to create this course. Oh, you don’t ‘have time’ to do this self-paced exercise and God forbid replace some of your own feelings with the facts? Give me a break.

              And while you’re at it, let’s not forget to watch this video and send the group in Florida a few bucks. If you have time to read my column, you can’t be that pressed for time or cash.