Want Another Quid Pro Quo About Arms? Try Trump And The NRA.

Last week the White House announced that it was going to release details of a new gun bill ‘very soon.’ Instead, we now learn that Trump had a meeting with Wayne-o and asked him for support against a possible impeachment in return for not pushing any new legislation about guns. Isn’t this kind of quid-pro-quo exactly what Trump did with the President of Ukraine? After all, Trump tried to extort a promise from Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden in exchange for a shipment of guns.

The White House, of course, denied that any such discussion between Trump and the NRA took place. But this report was filed by Maggie Haberman and she has never been accused of writing a story which turned out not to be true.

It’s one thing, however, to try and enlist the head of another nation-state to help your political campaign. It’s another to ask a tin-horn nobody like Wayne Lapierre to save the ship of state. After all, if the NRA is keeping itself afloat by borrowing against the life-insurance policies of its executive staff, how much clout does America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ wield these days?

Which brings us to the report just issued by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on the NRA and the Russian ‘spy’ affair. I am still convinced, and I have seen nothing to convince me otherwise, that the Russian ‘spy’ in this case, Maria Butina, was just a dopey kid running around on behalf of the Russian company, Izhmash, which makes the original AK-47 and has been trying to get a toe-hold into the American gun market for the last ten years. The American gun market is worth millions because the gun is the non plus ultra assault rifle of all time.

Wyden’s report, however, covers new territory and contains information which, if true, could really put the final ka-bosh on Wayne-o and the NRA. The 77-page report goes into great detail about a 2015 trip to Russia by several NRA Board members, including Pete Brownell, whose company makes and sells all kinds of accessories for small-arms, although the outfit does not, as has been alleged at various times, actually manufacture guns. Nevertheless, where there’s a civilian gun market, there’s a demand for gun parts, accessories and all kinds of other gun-related junk, and during the Russian trip Brownell evidently had meetings with various Russian businessmen to discuss possible commercial relationships between Russia and the USA.

Here’s what the Wyden report is all about: “The minority staff investigation confirms that members of the NRA delegation participated in the Moscow trip primarily or solely for the purpose of advancing personal business interests, rather than advancing the NRA’s tax-exempt purpose.” The whole point of holding a tax-exempt status requires the tax-exempt organization (read: NRA) to refrain from engaging in the sort of business activities which might result in personal gain for a company owned or operated by a member of the tax-exempt organization’s Board. Brownell was Vice President of the NRA when he went to Russia in 2015 (he has subsequently resigned.) Several other NRA members were specifically designated as representing the NRA on this trip, and they also met with Russian business counterparts involved in the manufacture and sale of small arms.

I think the Wyden report is much ado about nothing and is only getting some traction because it’s easy right now to dump on the NRA. Many non-profit organizations have business big-shots on their Boards and many of these big shots find it convenient, from a business perspective, to promote their own business interests while, at the same time, helping the non-profit achieve its organizational goals. The report could not cite a single instance in which any blabbing between NRA officials and anyone in Russia resulted in an exchange of money, goods or anything else.

But we’re not talking about just any non-profit, we’re talking about the organization whose support of Donald Trump is considered by many to have been what allowed El Shlump-o to grab the 2016 brass ring. Now that it’s pay-back time in DC, what otherwise might have simply been seen as ‘boys being boys’ could turn into the issue which brings the NRA curtain down.

Thanks to Tom Johnson for tipping us off about the Wyden report.

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Should Doctors Base Their Response To Gun Violence On What Everyone Wants To Hear?

              Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on an assault-rifle ban, and what made the headlines was the testimony of a former cop, Diane Muller, who told Jerry Nadler and the other Congressional gun-grabbers that she wouldn’t give up her gun. Muller says that she is the organizer of The DC Project, which describes itself as a ‘nonpartisan initiative to encourage women to establish relationships with their legislators, and reveal the faces and stories of real firearms owners and 2nd Amendment supporters.”

              This ‘organization’ is nothing more than an online shopping cart selling the usual retail crap (clothing, concealed-carry purses, etc.) with some exhortations about personal safety, getting involved, protecting civil rights, the whole nine yards.  Websites which focus on female self-protection as a vehicle for selling gun-related junk keep popping up, but no matter how they slice it or dice it, the gun industry has never been able to persuade women to buy guns.

              Diane Muller’s claim to be running a ‘non-partisan’ advocacy organization is about as truthful as my claim that the 45th President is smarter than Leonard Mermelstein, who  happens to be my cat.

              I don’t really care if hucksters like Diane Muller pretend to be committed to views from both sides. The fact that someone with so little real presence in the gun world would be representing the 2nd-Amendment bunch in front of a Congressional committee says an awful lot about the gun ‘rights’ movement during the waning days of Donald Trump. On the other hand, when physicians get together to talk about gun violence and also claim to be ‘non-partisan’ in their approach, this doesn’t just rankle me, it really gets me pissed off.

              Physicians aren’t supposed to be dealing with a medical crisis like gun violence by finding a ‘non-partisan’ cure. But it has now become fashionable in medical circles to talk about a ‘consensus’ approach to gun violence, which is how the ‘historic’ Chicago summit meeting in February of 43  medical organizations promoted their Magna Carta for reducing gun violence.  In fact, what they produced was nothing more than the same load of recommendations which the medical community has been using to chase after its gun-violence-prevention tail for the last twenty years: expanded background checks, safe storage, red flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah. Oh, and let’s not forget the all-important research money from the CDC.

              Now we have a new medical group on the scene, courtesy of a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, which calls itself FACTS, a.k.a., Firearms Safety Among Children and Teens Consortium. Most of its members are the same research crew which show up everywhere else, and they also promise to take a consensus-based approach to understanding violence caused by guns. The consensus in this instance is provided by a single individual representing gun owners who runs something called Gun Owners for Responsible Gun Ownership, which like the DC Project, is just a website but doesn’t yet have anything for you to buy.  I’m sure a shopping cart will appear in time. The odds that what this guy references as ‘responsible’ gun behavior could ever remotely pass muster with most people who own guns is about a great as the odds that #45 is smarter than Seymour Sliperman, who happens to be another one of my cats.

              Doctors who promote the idea that their research represents some kind of consensus are doing nothing more than hoping that if the CDC starts giving out research monies on guns, they can pretend that their work is not intended to be used for gun-control advocacy because, after all, what they will say reflects the views of both sides.

              The day that physicians all agree that treating disease should be based on remedies which meet everyone’s interests and concerns, is the day I stop going to the doctor and hope for the best. This is nothing more than cynical pandering at its worst and physicians should know better than to engage in such nonsensical crap.

There Really Is A Way To End Gun Violence.

              One of the favorite games played by members of Gun-Control Nation (myself included) over the last couple of years was to look at the monthly background check report issued by FBI-NICS and announce with glee that the number of checks for gun transfers each month was going down. We all figured that if the slide continued through four years of Trump (and God forbid eight years if he won again) that the problem of gun violence would take care of itself because as a consumer item, the guns would simply go away.

              Guess what? We forgot that gun sales have always been pushed or pulled by the fear that guns might disappear. And now that virtually every 2020 Democratic candidate has promised to do ‘something’ about gun violence, the fear has returned within the ranks of Gun-nut Nation and the virus is beginning to spread.

              When it comes to gun retailing, August is always the slowest month of the year. Guns can’t compete with the beach. By the time you pay for that beach house rental, buy some sand toys for the kids and eat at the Clam Shack every night, the five hundred bucks you stashed away because you just have to have that little walkaround Glock, is money that has been spent.

              It turns out that not only did the August NICS numbers show a 15% increase over the August numbers for 2018, they were the highest numbers for any August going all the way back through the years of the hated Obama regime. The increase was strongest in the ‘other’ category, which happens to be the category which usually designates ‘black’ guns, a.k.a., AR-15’s. In Florida, where our friends are trying to get a Constitutional ban on assault rifles on the 2020 ballot, the increase in ‘other’ background checks was 48.7 percent.

              The good news for gun nuts is that this spike in sales has not yet generated any upward movement in prices for either ammunition or guns. One of the big online resellers, Cheaper Than Dirt, is listing quality 22LR ammunition for five cents a round, which is a price in adjusted dollars out of 1975. Another outfit has fully-assembled AR’s for less than $500 bucks. When Obama was turning America into a Muslim state, you couldn’t find a black gun anywhere for under a thou.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation who are busily promoting an expansion of background checks or Red Flag laws or some other type of ‘reasonable’ restriction that will keep guns out of the ‘wrong’ hands, need to remember that every, single one of the more than one million NICS checks done in August represents a gun being transferred into the ‘right’ hands. How do any of those new additions to the civilian gun arsenal wind up being used by someone to blow someone else away, which happens to be most of the gun injuries which happen every day?  We have absolutely no idea.

              Back in 1993 and 1994, Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research which definitively found that access to guns increased homicide and suicide risk. And by the way, these studies didn’t differentiate between guns that were, or were not safely stored. These studies got the gun industry to push their friends in Congress to delete gun research from the budget of the CDC, a budget item that my friends in public health are now clamoring to restore.

              If there had been a grass-roots movement for gun control in the 1990’s, the findings by Kellerman and Rivara might have been translated into a law to strictly regulate the ownership of assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols. This kind of law exists in every other advanced nation-state, which is why they don’t suffer from gun violence and we do.

With all due respect to my liberal friends who remain enthralled by the 2nd Amendment, we don’t need no stinkin’ research,  we don’t need no stinkin’ reasonable laws.  We just need to get rid of certain guns which were never designed for hunting or sport.

Gee, that was a tough one to figure out.

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie.

I bought my first AR-15 in 1977. It was manufactured by Colt and along with a 2X scope ran me around 400 bucks.  Filled out the form, showed the dealer my driver’s license, stopped off at the ol’ sand pit on my way home and ran a couple of hundred rounds through my new toy. I lived about a mile from a large military base, so getting my hands on some .223 military ammo wasn’t a big deal. In fact, I think I bought the gun because there was plenty of ammunition lying around.

Those were the days when nobody cared about guns, nobody cared about ammo, nobody cared about mass shootings, nobody cared about background checks, nobody cared about the 2nd Amendment, nobody cared about ‘reasonable’ gun laws, and most of all, nobody cared about whether anyone shared the 88 letters they posted on their Twitter account.

I was reminded of all this yesterday when Colt announced they were dropping the AR-15 from their product line, citing an overproduction of ‘black’ guns and an excess of military orders keeping their AR assembly line humming along. But even if Colt didn’t need to ship this gun to retailers, there’s no reason to make a public statement that the second-most iconic gun model the company ever produced (the first, of course, being the 1911 pistol) was being withdrawn. And by the way, for all the talk by Gun-nut Nation about how Dick’s Sporting Goods would ‘suffer’ because they were no longer selling guns, my bank account should suffer the way that Dick’s stock price has suffered over the past year.

The real problem for the gun industry is that it simply isn’t all that easy to make a convincing argument that civilians have any real reason to walk or drive around with a military-style gun. When Bill Ruger designed the Mini-14 rifle, he consciously gave it the look and feel of the 30-caliber carbine carried onto all those Pacific Islands by my Dad and the Marines. Ruger shipped the gun with a 5-shot mag because he wanted to get into the market with a ‘sporting’ gun.

The AR-15 that I bought in 1977 was called the Colt ‘Sporter.’ But trying to pass off an exact copy of the M-16 didn’t work. Nobody took an AR into the field to hunt Bambi, so the industry then decided to promote the weapon as a self-defense gun. This approach worked a little better, if only because the idea of being able to defend yourself with a gun that held 20 or 30 rounds; oh well, you never know, maybe the Taliban is right over the next hill.

What the gun industry has never been able to reconcile is the fact that guns are designed to do one thing and one thing only; which is to inflict serious damage on living things. Now if the ‘living thing’ happens to be a duck or a goose flying between Florida and Canada, that’s fine. If it’s an antelope in West Texas or an Elk in Wyoming, that’s also okay. But if the ‘living thing’ happens to be a human being, and that human being is sitting in a first-grade classroom in Newtown or a high-school classroom in Parkland, then all of a sudden the discussion about whether or not the AR-15 is a ‘sporting’ gun comes to an end.

When Chuckie Whitman climbed to the top of the Texas Tower in 1966 and shot 44 people with a bolt-action hunting rifle, the one thing he forgot to figure out was how to get back down. The AR-15 , on the other hand, not only delivers massive firepower but allows the shooter to shoot and run at the same time. Which is why it’s impossible for the gun industry to pitch the nonsense that the AR is some kind of ‘self-defense’ gun.

Colt probably anticipates that sooner or later the gun will be banned. After all, even the most imaginative ad agency can’t figure out why anyone needs to defend themselves from a bunch of school kids or some shoppers in a Walmart store.

What Are You Doing on September 25th?

Even if you have something else to do, you might think of coming to DC next week to participate in a national demonstration aimed at getting Congress to pass some rather obvious laws that will reduce gun violence. The laws are such draconian measures as expanding background checks, banning assault rifles, you know, all those terrible infringements on our beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Except the only ‘right’ protected by the 2nd Amendment in its current (2008) iteration is to keep a handgun in your home.

That being said, I guarantee you that in the morning’s Judiciary Committee hearing on banning assault rifles, virtually every member of the NRA – oops! – I mean the GOP, will make an impassioned plea to forestall any and all attempts to regulate anything having to do with guns. And what they will all say, because they’ve all said it so many times that they know the script by heart, is that they simply cannot allow a bunch liberal, do-goods from around the country to pressure them into backing down from their sacred duty to protect Constitutional guarantees.

And these do-gooders, incidentally, will represent various organizations from all over the place, and they will get together on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building at 1 P.M. This is hardly the first time that folks have come together in DC to ask Congress to do something, anything about gun violence and it won’t be the last. The simple fact is that most GOP politicians still feel they can respond to gun violence by voicing their thoughts and prayers whenever a particularly nasty shooting takes place. As my grandfather used to say, they’re basically a bunch of “dem fools.”

Incidentally, one of the largest contingents is coming to DC from the Windy City led by Father Pfleger and his Saint Sabina group. The buses they are renting for this trip don’t come cheap, and if you want to help them out you can make a donation right here. You know the old line: Money Talks, Bulls**t Walks.” We’ll hear enough bulls**t from the minority members of the House Judiciary Committee next week, okay?

Let’s get it on, folks. Let’s keep Congress on their toes. Let’s show up in DC next week and get this thing done!

Why Do We Enact Gun-Control Laws?

              Tuesday night C-Span carried the debate and vote of the House Judiciary Committee about the ‘red flag’ law. The statute was sent to the full House where it will pass and then no doubt languish until sometime next year when the GOP begins to read the tea leaves seriously and decides what legislation will and will not help or hurt them in the 2020 race.

              There’s a chance that three gun bills will be waiting Senate action during the current Congressional session: comprehensive background checks, red-flag laws and another assault-weapons ban. If there’s a blue sweep come next November, we might even seen these bills consolidated into one, major piece of legislation, which would mark the fifth time the Federal Government enacted a gun-control law, the previous laws having been passed in 1934, 1938, 1968 and 1994. The initial assault weapons ban was also enacted in 1994, but it was stuck onto the Omnibus Crime Bill which was also passed that year.

              The four statutes which got the Federal Government into gun-control big time, defined certain guns as being too dangerous for ordinary purchase and sale (1934), defined the role and responsibilities of federally-licensed gun dealers (1938), created the definition of ‘law-abiding’ individuals who could purchase or possess guns (1968), and brought the FBI into the mix to make sure that people who claimed to be law-abiding gun owners were, in fact, what they claimed to be.

              These laws approached the issue of gun control from four different perspectives, but they all shared one common thread; namely, they were enacted to help law enforcement agencies deal with the issue of crime. Here’s the preamble to the 1968 law: “The Congress hereby declares that the purpose of this title is to provide support to Federal, State and local law enforcement officials in their fight against crime and violence….” The other Federal gun laws basically say the same thing. In other words, these laws may have been enacted to regulate the ownership and commerce of guns, but their real purpose was to help fight crime.

              Every other advanced nation-state also enacted gun-control laws, for the most part either before or after World War II. Most of these laws were patterned after our initial law, the National Firearms Act of 1934, but these laws were all different from our gun-control laws in one, crucial respect, namely, they prohibited the purchase of handguns except under the most stringent and restrictive terms.

              Why do we suffer from a level of gun violence that is seven to twenty times’ higher than any other advanced nation-state? Not because we have so many more guns floating around, but because we make it very easy for folks to get access to handguns, which happen to be the guns that kill and injure just about all those 125,000+ Americans every year. Oh, I forgot. Some of them aren’t real Americans. They snuck in here, got on welfare and deserve to get shot.

              The reason that countries like France, Italy and Germany banned handguns had nothing to do with crime. The gun-control laws passed in these and other countries were based on government fear of armed, rebellion from the Left – Socialist and Communist labor unions to be precise. The United States Federal Government also once had to deal with a serious, armed rebellion, but this was a rebellion not about class oppression or workers versus owners. It was a disagreement about race.

              For all the nonsense about how guns keep us ‘free,’ the truth is that owning and carrying a Glock has nothing to do with freedom at all. It has to do with a totally irrational belief that we are surrounded by predators who just can’t wait to invade our homes, beat us up and run off with that wide-screen TV. Since we know this to be a fact, how come the violent-crime rates in countries where nobody can protect themselves with a handgun are lower than the rate of violent crime in the United States?

Josh Montgomery: 7 Tips To Overcome Your Fear Of Guns.

Perhaps you are happy with the Second Amendment, but you’re jittery about carrying a gun, it is high time you get over the fear so that the amendment can benefit you. If you have made up your mind to overcome the anti-gun culture, then adopt the tips in this post to overcome a fear of gun.

Tip #1: Face Your Fears Head On

Just merely seeing a gun makes the guts of some people scream, and seeing someone handle it makes the matter even worse for such people. A good number of people have emotional reaction when they behold this piece of metal called gun, even when it is obvious that the gun is not loaded. So, the first step towards overcoming the fear of gun is to start handling it. You should let someone who is already handling the metal properly to assist you in learning how to hold a gun. You should practice with an unloaded gun.

#2: Proceed to Learning How to Shoot Your Gun

You should move from handling a gun to actually shooting a gun, still under the tutelage of an experienced gun user. One of the things you will learn when you start shooting proper is that it takes a lot of effort to hit a target. You will also get to know that many guns’ trigger pull is so hard that accidental firing isn’t something that comes as simple as some TV shows present it.

Tip #3: Reassess the Gun You’re Using Currently

If it appears you are not getting along with your current gun, you should make a reassessment and see if it’s time to change your gun. For instance, a friend of mine started shooting with a little semi-automatic that he termed mean, but later had to replace it with a revolver that was friendlier.

An experienced gun user can help you make a better selection. You can also rely on your local Federal Firearms License holder to help you get the right gun for you — in fact, the licensed gun guys may be willing to help you sell your current gun and choose a more suited gun for you.  

Those super-portable guns that easily fit into your purse can be hard to control, and are bad tempered. The gentler ones are the big ones, and this is because of their sturdy built. If you are a new gun user, you are likely to shoot better with a gun that is not really trim.

Tip #4:  Get a Friendly Option When You want to Carry

Bear in mind that when it comes to holsters, what you pay is what you get. So, the best bet is to experiment with inexpensive ones, rather than go for the ones that cost a fortune. Particularly for ladies, finding a comfy and friendly way to carry can be a tricky thing.

Also, there are factors such as being straighter or curvier, especially for ladies — there are different carry options for each shape. Also, the different dresses such as pants or skirts or dresses also complicate choice making. The smartest move is to locate the part of your body that a holster wouldn’t be very obtrusive — then you can go ahead and make your choice.

Tip #5: Don’t Practice in a Scary Way

Start working on your aim and a laser grip will help you accomplish this. Get the unloaded gun and point it and subsequently activate the laser, to help you see whether you are aiming well or not. Experiment with different  positions — a ready position,  then a relaxed position.

Next, leave your gun in its holster or storage and start the drill, so that you can practice the entire motion. Try getting the feel of a trigger pull with dry-firing (unloaded gun), accomplished without stress, bang, or even incurring expenses on bullets. This practice is one of the ways to overcome fear and anxiety of shooting an actual gun.

Tip #6: Don’t Get too Worked Up

Also, in order to overcome the fear of guns, you need to loosen up. Perhaps, the International Defensive Pistol Association may be a more fun way for a starter to start getting comfortable with the world of gun. Look for a gun club and get in touch with the person leading the club, so that he can assist you on becoming more familiar with your gun. Even the club members with different shooting experiences won’t hesitate to show you tactics for shooting safely and shooting straight. Well, the point is that the Second Amendment did both good and ill —- good that you can defend yourself if messed-up people pick up the gun to harass or attack you — bad that anyone can now carry gun, thereby empowering the mess-up people to carry and use the gun as they wish.

Tip #7: Watch Video Tutorials on Using and Shooting Gun

It will also be very helpful to locate valuable tutorials on how to start handing and shooting with gun. This will help you learn gun shooting techniques. These tutorials would also provide you with tips on how to overcome the fear of handling and shooting with a gun.

However, when you start to practice shooting gun on your own, especially with a loaded gun, ensure there’s an experienced gun user guiding you. If you must start on your own, do that with unloaded gun as instructed earlier, for safety and other beneficial purposes.

Go ahead and adopt these tips to overcome your fear of guns.

Smith&Wesson vs. Walmart. Guess Who Wins?

I Last week I promised to cut down on writing columns and already did a column this week, but a story out of Delaware caught my eye today and I just need to respond. The story, in a Delaware news website, is based on an interview with some Delaware residents who represent the gun ‘rights’ gang, and of course are extremely disappointed that Walmart has decided to stop selling handgun and assault-rifle ammunition because, after all, keeping a good supply of self-defense ammo around is just as important as making sure that your house gets clean water from the tap.

The problem for these pro-gun guys, of course, is that maybe they don’t need to get a latte at Starbucks or Panera, but there really isn’t anyone who can afford to boycott Walmart when it comes to buying the things we really need. And this creates something of a dilemma for Gun-nut Nation because the only way they can really express their anger or disappointment when a retailer says ‘no’ to guns, is to say ‘no’ right back and take their business somewhere else.

But the comment that really caught my attention was from Jeff Hague, who is identified as President of the Delaware Sportsman’s Association who said this: “It’s a shame (Walmart) made such a bad business decision based on a political issue.” And then he added this line: “I’m just glad I’m not a stockholder.”

That statement about not wanting to own Walmart stock may not be the statement which is furthest from reality in the gun debate this year, but it’s close. And to show you how desperate Gun-nut Nation has become in their efforts to craft a narrative that will bring them back to even with the other side, what Jeff Hague should do is pretend he owns Walmart stock and has decided to sell it so that he can buy stock in Smith&Wesson, just to show that he will put his money where his mouth is when it comes to guns.

Ready? Three years ago, Walmart stock was selling for roughly $70 bucks a share. Yesterday it closed at $115. Three years ago S&W shares were going for $26 a share, yesterday they closed under $6. And Jeff Hague says he’s ‘glad’ he doesn’t own Walmart stock? Does this guy live on the same planet that I live on?

See you next week.

Greg Gibson: Stop The Gun.

Our son Galen was killed in a school shooting in 1992. In the aftermath of shootings like the ones that have taken place recently in Texas and Ohio, and then in Texas again, friends still send emails and texts. They can imagine the pain such incidents evoke, and they want us to know that they’re thinking about us.

 As much as we appreciate these expressions of love and support, and as important as they’ve been to our survival, they’re somewhat off the mark by now. Mass shootings no longer re-awaken the trauma and pain that accompanied Galen’s senseless murder. The fact is, my family doesn’t follow the reports of these incidents very closely. My wife and daughter spend time with friends on social media. My son and I are addicted to what sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy once referred to as Moron Sports Talk Radio. A survival tactic, no doubt.

 When I do turn my attention to reports of mass shootings, I’ve begun to notice a formulaic aspect to way this news is delivered. Reports are likely to feature the 911 call, squad cars and SWAT teams responding, smartphone footage recorded during seconds or minutes of mortal terror, traumatized survivors weeping and hugging, and ambulances wheeling away. The perpetrator, of course, is of interest. Sometimes we even get a mug shot of the crazed young man. We desperately need to know, and we will never know, Why did he do it? If we could figure that out, we think, we might be able to prevent the next one from happening. So we read on. Mass shootings account for only about 2% of gun deaths each year, and yet they suck up a far greater percentage of our attention.

 Without our even being aware of it, we’ve entered into a sort of symbiotic relationship with the phenomenon of mass shootings. The news media commodify reports of these horrific events as “content” and we unwittingly consume this content along with the rest of the news. Not because we need more data in our tireless quest to end gun violence, but because these reports feed our news habit.

 We know that mass shootings have become creepy memes that morph and evolve on the basis of information gathered from prior shootings. Yet we continue to make that information available – in mind-boggling abundance – to the next wave of racists and madmen. I understand that there is not a conscious conspiracy between the news media and the forces of evil. But I do believe the time has come to take a hard look at the role the media play in this problem.

 It’s clear by now that cultural change will be an important factor in reducing gun violence. It’s equally clear that, as much as reporters rely on cultural activity to create content, the content they create helps shape the culture upon which they report.

 Why do we not hear more about the destructive effects of gun violence – 100 deaths each day – on families and communities, particularly among people of color? Where is the reporting on the devastation that trails in the wake of suicide with firearms by teens, vets, and law enforcement officers – which has risen by 30% since 2013? Why do we not hear more about the link between ownership of firearms and domestic violence?

 In my experience, people who are affected on a daily basis by gun violence – people of color who live in specific, socially isolated areas in almost any big city – hardly ever ask why? They’re more interested in how. Ruth Rollins, one of the founding members of Boston’s Operation LIPSTICK told me that when someone is killed in her neighborhood the first thing people want to know is where the gun came from? How did it get into the shooter’s hands? She said, “If you stop that gun you stop a shooting.”

 We need to dispense with the 911 tapes, the second-by-second descriptions of the carnage, the postmortem psychological profiling, and the gnashing of teeth over warning signs disregarded.

 Let’s talk instead about what kind of gun did what kind of damage. We need solid reporting on how the shooter got his hands on the weapons he used, and where they came from. It’s as true in your town as it is on the streets of Roxbury, Massachusetts or El Paso, Texas.

 You stop that gun and you stop a shooting.

Walmart Versus Shannon Watts: Guess Who Wins?

The announcement by Walmart that their stores will no longer sell handgun or assault-rifle ammunition is, if nothing else, a testimony to the hard work and energy of our friend Shannon Watts which has been on display now for the past six years. Shannon began a national gun-control campaign shortly after Sandy Hook focusing on women, particularly women with children, and using public spaces where most women could be found, namely, at the entrance to retail stores, Walmart being at the top of her list.

I remember seeing a group of red-shirted women from MOMS marching in front of the entrance to a Walmart store in 2015.  I had often seen other public advocacy efforts in front of this store, usually people asking shoppers to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot of the upcoming election in the nearby town. But I had never previously encountered anyone marching in front of any public space with messaging that had to do with guns.

Of course right now Shannon’s Walmart strategy has had plenty of help, unfortunately help of the wrong kind. Because until recently, mass shootings were still infrequent enough that if you gave it a couple of days, like any other natural disaster, the media would stop talking about it and public concerns about gun violence would subside. But lately, it seems like once every week a bunch of people get mowed down in a public space.

We’re not talking about an ‘epidemic’ of mass shootings, which means an event which creates a lot of injuries but occurs only from time to time. We are talking about something which, to quote our friend Katherine Christoffel, has become ‘endemic,’ i.e., it’s happening all the time.

The significance of Walmart’s announcement lies in the fact that retail chains tend to watch each other in the same way that drugstore chains are usually clustered where they can keep an eye on what each chain is promoting in a particular week. If overall revenues for Walmart don’t take a hit from this announcement, which I suspect they won’t, it would come as no surprise if other discount chains follow suit. And nobody, but nobody cared when the NRA whined about Walmart’s ‘shameful’ decision.

On the other hand, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to understand that the importance of Walmart’s announcement is much more a symbolic gesture rather than representing anything real. Not that symbols aren’t important – all advocacy relies on symbolic messaging to get their arguments across. But let’s not kid themselves into thinking that a decision by Walmart to pull out of the gun business will have any real impact on injuries from guns.

My gun shop is located less than a mile from a Walmart. The store was never a competitive element when it came to gun sales, because Walmart doesn’t sell handguns and never sold used guns of any kind. And generally speaking, what creates foot traffic in every gun retailing establishment are handguns and used guns of all sorts.

Where Walmart did hurt me was in ammunition sales because there was simply no way I could compete with a big-box’s pricing structure for a commodity as common as ammunition, particularly calibers bought in bulk, like 22LR for target shooting and shotgun shells. But these calibers don’t represent the type of ammo which trauma surgeons have to dig out of people’s chests or heads. I can guarantee you that if I were still doing retail ammunition sales, that within 30 minutes after Walmart’s announcement, my gun wholesaler would have contacted me with a ‘great deal’ on 9mm and 40 S&W rounds.

The real importance of the Walmart announcement is that it places the issue squarely where it belongs – on products that have nothing to do with sporting or hunting guns. In this respect, Shannon has won a major victory that pushes the gun business back to where it really belongs.