Hopkins Has A New Online Course About Gun Laws.

Several years ago I ran a national survey asking gun-control advocates and activists some basic questions about gun laws. The questions covered the laws that have been part and parcel of the strategies of all gun-control groups: enhancing background checks, better regulation of dealers, purchasing and moving guns across state lines – the usual stuff. I ended up getting more than 250 responses from residents of 46 states, which was certainly representative enough for me.

The survey contained 12 questions; the average correct number was 6.  In other words, at least half the respondents who took the quiz on basic gun laws failed. And I specifically solicited responses from individuals who considered themselves to be involved in some kind of gun-control activity. Incidentally, I ran another gun-law quiz soliciting responses from individuals who considered themselves to be pro-gun.  The average score for that bunch was also around 6 correct answers – they also failed.

But the last thing you’ll find gun nuts supporting are more or stronger gun laws. On the other hand, the gun-control organizations that send me endless emails asking for more money (Everytown, Giffords, Brady – I support them all) consider laws and regulations to be the cornerstone of every strategy designed to reduce violence from guns. So, you would think that folks who donate time, money and energy to gun-control activities would want to understand how current gun laws work and what needs to be done to make such laws more effective.

In any case, our gun-research friends at the Hopkins Bloomberg School are trying to remedy this knowledge deficit by posting an online, interactive course covering the basic law which requires a background check before someone purchases a gun. The effort is part of a new distance-teaching approach being developed for internet users known as a ‘teach out,’ which is a digital version, if you will, of the old teach-ins that occurred on college campuses during the Viet Nam War. 

The Hopkins teach-out can be found here, it will be running for several more weeks, and I strongly urge everyone to register (for free) and support this effort before the course closes down. In particular, I think my gun-nut friends should sign up because the course also includes a nifty give-and-take between the instructors and the people who view the videos, an interactive Q and A that should be of value for both sides.

Now let me make it clear that this effort, like everything that comes out of the Bloomberg School, is a no-nonsense attempt to educate and inform. Which means that anyone who just wants to drop some nasty or snarky comment about all those tree-hugging, anti-gun liberals should stay away. The teach-in hosted by Dr. Cassandra Crifasi creates a forum for a serious, respectful and informed exchange about an important issue that should engage both sides. Want to rant and rave about your beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Do it somewhere else.

At the same time, I’m not about to simply let the other side off the hook. I learned about this effort because one of my gun-nut friends sent me an email about the online course. Did I get anything from Everytown, Brady, Giffords or one of the state-level gun-control groups who were all vociferously complaining last week when Gun-nut Nation showed up at Richmond for a jamboree? Not one, friggin’ word. And the lack of interest and support for this effort by Gun-control Nation is, to put it bluntly, a disgrace.

You would think that an open-source program that advocates extending the background-check system to private sales and permit-to-purchase licensing would be exactly the kind of effort that would be front and center on the agenda of every gun-control group. But if I have learned one thing from writing more than 1,500 columns on my website over the last eight years, it is the degree to which most gun-control organizations are more concerned about protecting their own, little turfs than getting together to promote a serious and sustained response to the violence caused by guns.

Anyway, enough complaints from me.  Sign up for the course – now!

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What Should Mike Bloomberg Be Saying About Guns?

Tout à coup, Mayor Mike’s entry into the Presidential sweepstakes is beginning to look serious, and not just a function of the money he can spend. The most recent Morning Consult poll shows him beginning to pull even with Lizzie Warren, and by the way, Bloomberg’s increased numbers have come at the expense of the three leading contenders – Joe, Bern, Liz – all of whom have lost a bit of ground since Mike began to surge after December 29th.

I hate to give Sleazy Don any credit for anything, but I believe that some of Bloomberg’s support stems from the fact that being a business guy and being a politician is no longer a contradiction in terms. The only other candidate who promoted himself politically based on his business career, was Ross Perot, and all he accomplished back in 1992 was to get Bill Clinton into the White House with a minority of the popular vote. Gee, how come all my liberal friends weren’t complaining about the electoral college back then?

What makes Bloomberg really different from the other guys and gals still in the race, however, isn’t the fact that he can spend a gazillion dollars on his campaign. I signed up the day he announced and of all the candidates who send me daily emails, he’s the only one who has yet to ask me for one, thin dime. That’s a refreshing change.

What makes his candidacy different is the fact that for the first time the issue of gun violence would be front and center in a national campaign. Because if Bloomberg is known for anything, it’s not those bike lanes on New York City streets that are primarily used by the kids who deliver Chinese food; it’s not the tax he tried to put on soft drinks that was overturned by an appeals court; it’s not even his ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy which became a non-issue as soon as it was raised by other Democratic Presidential wannabees in the current campaign.

Front and center is the issue of guns. And most of Bloomberg’s baggage in this respect isn’t due so much to anything he has done or said, rather, it’s because he’s been a convenient target for Gun-nut Nation’s continued attempt to push the false issue of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ into the national debate.

The only thing Mike did in New York City to regulate gun ownership was to increase the annual license fee for owning a gun.  Now granted, a fee of $340 for a handgun renewal is a pretty steep price, but the good news is that you can now do the entire application process online. In the good old days, you had to shlep down to 1 Police Plaza, stand online in front of Mrs. Skeba’s desk, wait an hour or so for Jose to find your file, and wait another hour or so until your name was called. In other words, you lost an entire day of work. Frankly, I’d rather pay the $340 and avoid the trip downtown.

The law covering gun ownership in ‘da friggin’ city’ has been in effect since 1912. It hasn’t changed and it didn’t change under Mayor Mike. What did change during his mayoralty tenure was a steep decline in the number of New Yorkers shot with guns.  The year before he became Mayor, the city recorded 650 gun deaths; in his last year the number was 325. 

The 2020 Presidential campaign will probably come down to the same swing states that from blue to red in 2016 – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida – a few more. If Mike is our candidate, you can bet your bottom or top dollar that Sleazy Don will pull out all the stops to sell himself as America’s staunchest supporter of gun ‘rights.’

What Bloomberg needs to do is sell himself as a supporter of everyone’s ‘right’ to walk down the street and not duck for cover if a gun goes off. That’s not a violation of the 2nd-Amendment; that’s common sense.

GO MIKE!

Josh Montgomery: Importance of Pistol Light.

When it comes to pistols, most people take into account only the gun’s model, power, stability, recoil, and so on. In short, few people actually consider whether they should use a light on their pistol.

This is because most gun users and owners don’t understand that, when it comes to self-defense situations, one has to expect danger at all times and be prepared for it as well!

In unpredictable circumstances, visibility makes a difference and can help you overcome an attacker with ease. As such, in today’s article, we’ll talk about the importance of pistol light – and why you should choose mounted instead of hand-held.

Carry Convenience

As mentioned above, we’ll also point out some of the reasons why you should always pick a mounted light instead of a hand-held one.

When talking about light in general, we have to admit that having a flashlight, for example, would mean having to carry an extra thing on you, at all times. After all, by doing so, you can deter attackers at any given time of the day.

On the other hand, when using a light specially designed for a pistol, you don’t need to constantly remind yourself that you have to grab your flashlight. Moreover, if you conceal carry, it will be easier to manage a mounted light.

Recoil Counterweight

Believe it or not, a mounted pistol light does a very good job as a counterweight, as it can help reduce the muzzle climb of a handgun.

As such, a pistol light can improve your accuracy on any follow-up shots, in case you are required to fire them. Naturally, this comes in very handy when you are surprised by an attacker and you need to fire your gun quickly and experience little to no muzzle movement as well.

On top of that, competitive shooters are known to add such counterweights to their handguns to increase their accuracy for follow up shots.

Target Identification

Obviously, this is one of the main reasons why you should have a pistol light – namely, for easier target identification, especially during the night.

First of all, a pistol light can be very helpful even in locations with dimmed lights as you can easily search and identify targets or suspicious places.

Then, it is worth mentioning that the majority of self-defense situations occur either during the night or in dark areas. Therefore, a pistol light is almost mandatory for those that return home during and after the sunset.

Easier to Shoot with Pistol Light

As mentioned, when compared to a hand-held flashlight, a special pistol light makes it much easier to shoot with the handgun.

First of all, if you choose a hand-held light, you will instantly lose some stability and accuracy as you will be holding the pistol with one hand only. True, you can use the back of your other hand to stabilize the gun, but it wouldn’t offer the same stability as a two-hand grip.

Moreover, it is much more difficult to hold both a flashlight and a handgun – don’t let yourself fooled by all of those movies.

Overall, with a mounted light, you avoid putting your safety in a one-handed shot that you can miss quite easily. On top of that, not having to prepare a flashlight also makes you much faster in terms of fastening the pistol, so to say.

Blind the Attackers

Obviously, a source of light directed straight to your eyes doesn’t feel good at all – especially if the light is quite powerful.

As such, you can already determine what’s probably the best use of a pistol light. With it, you can catch your enemy off-guard and blind them. As a result, you could even take them down without firing a single bullet. All you need is them closing their eyes for a split second so that you could approach and take them down – if they are not armed, of course.

However, the fact that you can blind an enemy basically means that you won’t meet any resistance when firing your gun, if necessary. Blinding them will also provide you with a couple of seconds when you can decide whether the perpetrator is dangerous or not.

Home Defense

Naturally, a pistol light is not meant to be used only by authorities or the military. For example, if your home is attacked, you surely won’t spend time turning on any lights – especially if the noise coming from your living room is heavy.

In such scenarios, a pistol light can also scare the attackers away! The light will help you scout your house without fearing that there might be someone hidden behind your minibar or in a dark spot of a certain room.

The Importance of Pistol Light

Let’s now take a closer look at everything that we learned today:

  • Defending Your Home – a pistol light makes searching your home and protecting yourself from attackers a lot easier.
  • Stun Gun – when aimed properly, a handgun with a light attached can blind enemies and leave them unresponsive for a second or two – just enough for you to make your move.
  • Target Identification – naturally, a pistol light makes it easier for you to identify your target and not shoot randomly or waste bullets.
  • Recoil Counterweight – as mentioned, a pistol light can improve your aim as it reduced the recoil of your handgun when it comes to any follow-up shots.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, pistol light can be very important, depending on the situations that you may have to face. For example, most police officers think that one shouldn’t be given a service pistol without a mounted light. Why?

This is because, as a police officer, you are often faced with tasks that require a free hand – opening a door or checking something, without lowering your gun.

On the other hand, a pistol light is just as important for the common folk, so to say. No matter whether you conceal or open carry, you should have a light mounted on your pistol as it will increase your chances of successful self-defense!

There Ain’t No Such Thing As Gun ‘Rights.’

Our good friend Eric Foner has just published a book, The Second Founding, which gives a concise and compelling explanation for how the Federal Government got into the business of defining our basic rights. Which makes this book required reading for everyone who wants to have anything to say about guns and gun violence, since so much of this debate turns on the issue of gun ‘rights.’ If you don’t believe me, just read any of the news accounts of the demonstration which took place in Richmond, VA on MLK Day to protest a new law that Trump claims is an infringement on gun ‘rights.’

The Federal Government first started defining Constitutional rights following passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments following the end of the Civil War. These Amendments ended slavery (13th), defined citizenship as a birthright (14th) and granted universal suffrage to all male Americans. Foner refers to the passage of these Amendments as a ‘second founding’ because these laws (to quote a Republican Senator from Missouri) “made the liberty and rights of every citizen in every state a matter of national concern.”

 Foner points out that none of these fundamental Constitutional changes would have taken place were it not for the fact that Southern legislatures were dominated by Black officeholders from 1867 through 1877 when Reconstruction came to an end. But precisely because Reconstruction ended only ten years after it began, the Civil Rights laws passed in 1866 and 1875 to give some legal teeth to the Amendments, were either watered down in court decisions or simply ignored.

Both civil laws were attempts to define what ‘rights’ would be protected under the Constitution once the founding document contained protections which applied to every male citizen in the land. The 1866 Act enforced the implementation of laws that covered the following rights: “to ‘make and enforce’ contracts, own property, testify in court, sue and be sued, and ‘enjoy the full and equal benefit of laws for the protection of persons and property.’” (p. 64.)

See anything here about self-protection?  See anything here about armed, self-defense? You won’t find any reference whatsoever to that terminology in the entire text of the Constitution or any of its Amendments, not even in the blessed 2nd Amendment from which all gun ‘rights’ allegedly spring forth. When the NRA proclaims itself to be the ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ is it referring to the rights embodied in the 14th Amendment and enumerated in the Civil Rights Act of 1866?  No. It’s not referring to anything other than what a clever advertising agency figured out would help promote the sale of guns.

In fact, if you take the trouble to read the 2008 Heller decision where our late friend Tony Scalia propounded his view of gun ‘rights,’ you will note that it is not only a very narrow definition of what the 2nd Amendment says a gun owner can do with his guns (he can keep one handgun in his home) but it’s far from being an uninfringeable right because the government has great leeway in determining who can and cannot own guns.

Not only are gun ‘rights’ not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, nor in any of the federal laws that have been passed to define or enforce Constitutional texts, there is also no mention of the other hallowed Gun-nut Nation ‘right,’ i.e., the ‘right’ to self-defense. When the Constitution talks about being protected from harm, the reference is to equal standing in the courts, not to passing a background check so that you can walk around with an AR-15 on your back.

There’s also the non plus ultra for carrying your Glock, which is that self-defense is a ‘God-given right.’ I hear this all the time from my Gun-nut Nation friends and my answer is simply this: If you want to live in a country where laws are first and foremost the handiwork of Almighty God, move to Iran, okay?

Foner’s book isn’t about guns. It’s a solid work about how the word ‘rights’ should be defined and used in any important discussion about current events. In this respect, the way our friends in Gun-nut Nation use the word fails both historical and legal tests.

Meet The Biggest Celebrity At The Richmond Gun Rally.

Know who was the most photographed person attending Monday’s big gun rally in Richmond?  It wasn’t Alex Jones who has finally admitted that maybe, just maybe the slaughter of 26 adults and children at Sandy Hook actually occurred.  It also wasn’t Dick Heller who still can’t keep an assault rifle in his DC apartment although, thank God, at least he can protect himself with a loaded handgun. No, the day’s celebrity was a guy from Bergen, NY who showed up toting a sniper rifle that can deliver a 50-caliber shell out to a thousand yards or more.

The owner of this piece of equipment lives in Bergen, NY, a small, upstate town located in the middle of nowhere.  In fact, where he lives is just a few miles up the road from Attica, the maximum-security prison that holds several thousand not-very-nice guys and is occasionally visited by folks who remember the ‘uprising’ which occurred there in 1971. The town has about 3,000 residents and the primary business location is Ralph and Rosie’s Pizzeria which has been operated by the same family for more than forty years. In other words, Bergen is a serious and strategic location and if you control Bergen, you probably can easily threaten the major industries located in Rochester or Buffalo.

I have to assume that the reason someone in Bergen, NY goes out and spends a couple of thousand bucks on a 50-caliber sniper rifle is because, sooner or later, he will find himself perched on some rocky outcrop over the town, trying to get those terrorist invaders into the cross-hairs of his sniper scope. I can’t imagine he would use this piece of hardware to defend himself and his loved ones if someone just happened to try and break into his home. First of all, he’d have to pick the damn thing up, swing it around, aim it at the intruder and drop a cap (which means: pull the trigger.) That takes way too long.

For that kind of threat, the guy probably has at least three Glocks sitting around the house – one in the living room, another in the bedroom and a third hitched up to the holster on his pants. So, if he’s got a Glock riding on his waist, why does he need another one sitting next to his bed?  Because he’s not about to get into bed wearing his pants, okay?  Being prepared means always being prepared.

On the other hand, those Glocks won’t help him at all when the parachutes start dropping out of the sky and the invasion of Bergen begins to take place. And the enemy won’t just be coming from above. Bergen is only 15 miles from Lake Ontario, which means that the town is also potentially threatened by a deployment of troops brought in through the St. Lawrence Seaway. I mean, you never know.

When I was 9 years old, this was 1953, I somehow saved up a few dollars, walked down to the hardware store on the corner and bought myself a Daisy Red Ryder bb-gun.  I took the gun home, loaded it with bb’s, and for the next year or so I managed to kill Cochise and his entire Apache band of warriors again and again and again. Where did I think I was sitting? On some bluff overlooking Monument Valley in Utah where every cowboy movie was filmed.  Where was I really sitting? In the backyard of the home that was smack dab in the middle of Washington, D.C.

The only difference between what I was doing in my backyard with my Daisy Red Ryder and what the guy from Bergen was doing toting his rifle around the Richmond rally is that I wasn’t old enough in 1953 to buy a real gun. Believe me, I have made up for that situation many, many times over the past 67 years. I’m not a gun nut for nothing.

And neither is the guy from Bergen who told all those reporters that he wanted to demonstrate his support for 2-Amendment ‘rights.’ The truth is he’s just like me. He likes guns.

What Happened To All Those ‘Reasonable’ Gun Owners?

Yesterday I spent some time looking at various YouTube videos of the gun ‘rights’ demo in Richmond, VA. Frankly, I was surprised by the size of the crowd, if only because the organization that was the primary sponsor of the event, the Virginia Citizens Defense League, isn’t exactly as big or as financially well-endowed as AARP. But to the group’s credit, they not only pulled off a large-scale event, they did it without having to worry about any of the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, the last time a large group of gun-owners went marching around a town in Virginia showing off their guns.

The media mentioned something about a counter-demo that occurred at the event, but the pro-gun rally not only dwarfed the numbers who showed up to protest gun ‘rights,’ but the gun-toters showed little or no concern for the presence of protestors from the other side. The truth is that if Gun-control Nation were to put together a public event to support Governor Northam’s new gun bill, I would be pleasantly surprised if 500 people showed up, and I suspect that most of them would have to be brought down from somewhere in and around D.C.

Despite Schmuck-o Trump’s claim that the mainstream media is the ‘enemy of the people,’ the last thing the mainstream media ever figures out is how to report anything that isn’t within their usual scope of news and events. And a pro-gun rally just isn’t something that the mainstream media is going to understand, if only because most educated, liberal-minded people (which is who usually ends up working for the mainstream media) don’t happen to own guns.

When I went to the Virginia Citizens Defense League website, I noticed there are now 136 counties, cities and towns in Virginia that have become or are becoming ‘2nd-Amendment ‘sanctuaries,’ a pro-gun movement that I suspect is gathering steam in other gun-rich states as well. Does this development align itself with the 2020 Trump campaign? Of course. But how come I don’t see where Gun-control Nation has attempted to enroll a single jurisdiction in any kind of sanctuary movement that would protect residents from the violence caused by guns?

What we have instead on the gun-control agenda are the continued efforts by gun-control organizations and gun-control researchers to come up with ‘reasonable’ laws that will be supported by both sides. According to our friends at the Bloomberg School, gun owners are almost as strong as non-gun owners in their support for the following laws: “universal background checks, greater accountability for licensed gun dealers unable to account for their inventory, higher safety training standards for concealed carry permit holders, improved reporting of records related to mental illness for background checks, gun prohibitions for persons subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders, and gun violence restraining orders.”

How come the researchers didn’t ask these same gun owners how they feel about being able to walk around in public with an AR-15? How come all these ‘reasonable’ gun guys, like the gun guys who showed up yesterday at the Richmond rally, weren’t asked how they feel about gun-free zones? Why is it that every time Gun-control Nation tries to figure out what the other side thinks about gun violence, they always ask questions that gun owners don’t consider to be important at all?

I am still waiting for one, single researcher from the gun-control community to sit down and ask a group of gun owners what they believe needs to be done in order to reduce the violence caused by guns. Come to think of it, if Daniel Webster from Bloomberg or David Hemenway from Harvard really wanted to know what gun owners think would reduce the 125,000 intentional injuries that we suffer annually from guns, they could have come down to Richmond yesterday and talked to some of the thousands of gun nuts who were happily milling around.

And by the way, let me tell you something that all gun nuts hold in common – they love to talk about their guns.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our friend Clarence Jones is Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther KIng, Jr., Institute at Stanford University. He previously served as Dr. KIng’s personal attorney and wrote the initial draft of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Several years ago he and I had a conversation and part of what we said to each other went like this:

Mike Weisser: If Dr King were alive today, how would he feel about the progress we have made in civil rights?

Clarence Jones: Civil rights was not Martin’s chief focus or concern. He was first and foremost committed to non-violence and in that respect, if he were alive today, he would believe he had failed.

Mike Weisser: Why would he believe that?

Clarence Jones: Because we are a much more violent country today than we were in 1968.

Richard Douglas: Tips When Stopped By Police and Carrying a Firearm

A routine traffic stop can become ugly fast if you don’t know the right way to handle it.

Police, especially today, have an increased concern for anyone armed (other than them), and the old advice of telling the officer: “I have a gun” will usually not end well for you.

That’s why in today’s article, I’m going to cover:

  • 3 tips for the right and wrong way to handle a traffic stop when you’re carrying
  • How to handle being asked to step out of your vehicle when you’re carrying
  • Cool video showing EXACTLY how it’s done

Without further ado, let’s get started.

The Scenario

You’ve got your SHTF guns or your hunting rifle equipped with a 6.5 Creedmoor scope and you’re ready. But if you’re driving while carrying a firearm, traffic stops can get tricky…fast. There are good ways and bad ways to handle this, and you need to know the best way.

Guns & Ammo Host Tom Gresham and Lethal Force Institute’s Massad Ayoob give us the best how-to’s for handling a traffic stop when you’re carrying.

In the U.S. every state has its own laws about firearms. Knowing the laws in your state is the crucial first step.

FIRST TIP – Your License For Carrying A Firearm

When you hand the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance, include your carry permit.

This is a more “relaxed” way to inform the officer you’re carrying, and have the documentation to do so.

It signals to the officer that you know what you’re doing, take gun ownership and carrying a firearm seriously, and should help lower his or her concerns.

Also, it helps keep this fact between you and the officer, which, if you’re in a crowded area, is usually a GOOD thing! 

Being heard saying “I have a gun” to a policeman can get folks upset nowadays.

Arizona, Texas, and Michigan requires you inform any police officer you encounter when you’re carrying.

This is the best way to handle letting them know.

In the video, the presenter asks the officer how he’d respond to someone saying “I have a gun,” and the officer pretends to draw his weapon and replies “me too.”

Obviously something to avoid.

Another important part of this tip pointed out in the video: An experienced police officer may not get ruffled when you say the word “gun.” But what about his rookie sidekick fresh from the academy?

His reaction to the word “gun” might get things rolling down a bad path for you both.

SECOND TIP – Step Out of The Vehicle

What do you do if the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle?

This is where things get a little bit tricky.

Trying to hand the officer your permit and license, etc. at this point could seem like non-compliance to the officer, and you do not want that!

The best bet according to the video is to inform the officer (before you move from the car):

“I’m licensed to carry, I have my license, and I am carrying. What would you like me to do?”

This gives the officer some peace of mind, because it again shows you know what you’re doing, and that you’re one of the “good guys” who knows how to use his firearm properly.

Remember that he or she doesn’t know you, or what you might be thinking about doing with that firearm.

THIRD TIP – Use Your Body Language

Keep your hands visible and away from your firearm. It sounds obvious, but please don’t make any sudden, or fast movements.

You might be nervous, too. And it’s important to remember to act as calmly and precisely as you can.

Be smart. Use your body language to tell the officer he or she is safe — you are NOT going to even touch your firearm.

Some officers will “secure” your weapon, some won’t. Either way, be calm. It’s only going to help you.

Don’t remove your seat belt until the officer tells you to. Here’s the video source for this article:

And that’s it! Now I’d like to hear from you:

Have you ever been pulled over while carrying a firearm? If so, what was your experience?

Gun Violence: The Enduring Debate

              Back in the 1930’s, a Belgian medievalist and archivist, Henri Pirenne, began publishing a series of articles which tried to provide an answer to the basic issue of Western history: Why did Western Civilization, which had emerged and been rooted in the Mediterranean (Greece, Rome) suddenly turn its back on ‘mare nostrum,’ moved inland and to the North? When the Pope travelled to Paris in 800 A.D. to crown Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, a new chapter in the entire history of Western Civilization opened up.

              These articles, which came to be known as the ‘Pirenne thesis’ provoked a thirty-year debate among historians which probably accounted for more doctoral dissertations, publishing credits and tenure appointments than any other subject in the entire universe of historical research.  The debate ended not because anyone came up with a definitive explanation of why this transition occurred, but because with the emergence of more sensitivity to the growth and importance of national states in China, Latin America and Africa, the whole notion of ‘civilization’ fell into disuse.

              I have been following the gun debate for more than twenty years, and it is reminding of the debate about the ‘Pirenne thesis’ more and more. On the one side we have public health research, beginning with formative articles by Kellerman, Rivara, et. al., which ‘prove’ that access to guns increases injury (suicide, homicide) risk. On the other hand, we have criminologists like Kleck and Lott, claiming that guns represent a benefit (protection from crime) that far outweighs any risk.

              There are all kinds of ways in which these two, basic arguments have spawned various subsidiary discussions and debates.  On the one hand we have endless attempts to figure out whether some gun regulations are more effective than others in reducing gun violence. On the other hand, we have the continued academic drumbeat about how guns not only provide an extra margin of safety, but also fulfill the basic Constitutional guarantee known as 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

              Meanwhile, the debate drags on seemingly independent of the fact that gun injuries are not only endemic to American society, but as of late appear to be going up. For twenty years or so, the pro-gun gang could claim that while more guns were being sold every year, shootings were going down. Unfortunately, since 2014, the annual rate of intentional gun injury has increased by nearly 15 percent. Oh well, another good argument bites the dust.

              For that matter, it’s not as if my friends in Gun-control Nation have fared all that much better with their attempts to explain the value of what they want to do.  What’s the Number One item on the gun-control agenda?  Universal background checks. These checks happen to be effective in eleven states. Which of these eleven states have experienced an increase in gun violence since 2014?  Every, single one.

              What I am beginning to wonder is whether we need to step back from this debate and refer again to what finally brought the argument about the ‘Pirenne thesis’ to an end; namely, looking at the way in which we define gun violence pari passu, which is a fancy way of saying, in and of itself. Because it seems to me that behind the argumnts on both sides is a basic assumption about the use of violence; i.e., that it can be a good or bad thing.

              When Gun-nut Nation promotes gun ownership for protection against crime, they are basically saying that if someone attacks someone else, the deservey to get shot – the shooter is doing a good thing for himself, for his family, for society, blah, blah, blah and blah. Conversely, when gun-control advocates decry the 125,000 injuries we suffer from guns every year, aren’t they basically saying that any kind of violence caused by a gun is bad?

              At some point either we agree whether violence is a good thing or not. Until we figure that one out, the argument about guns is just a more contemporary version of the argument initially provoked by Henri Pirenne.

Want To Learn Armed Self-Defense? Move To Monsey, N.,Y.

              If I had to choose one news story about gun violence which ranks as the craziest, most bizarre example of the American experience with guns, it would be an article I read yesterday detailing a class held in armed, self-defense last week in Monsey, NY. The class was attended by 150 residents of Monsey and other towns, all of whom happen to be extremely religious,  ultra-orthodox Jews. The class gave attendees an opportunity to fool around with various self-defense guns like an AR-15 and some handguns, and it was conducted by a guy who runs a security and self-defense so-called training program which, of course, is staffed by ‘elite’ members of Israel’s Defense Forces, a.k.a., the vaunted IDF.

              What brought the crowd out for the evening’s entertainment was the recent machete attack at a rabbi’s home in Monsey, along with a shooting that left three dead at a kosher supermarket in New Jersey, as well as several individual attacks. Of course before anyone knew anything, Governor Cuomo called the Monsey assault a case of “domestic terrorism,” which has become the standard description of every violent event requiring a response from some politician who wants to make sure he’s staying ‘in touch.’

              I don’t mean to make light of any kind of behavior that creates fear of physical or emotional violence. Of all the threats to the human community, the only threat we still do not understand how to solve is the threat of violence. We may not have the political will or the political alignment to solve the threat of global warming, but we know what to do. Ditto other threats to the human community like famine or disease. But when it comes to the threat posed by violence, what I know is that you can’t go out, buy an assault rifle and think that now you are ready to protect yourself from a violent event, or that this purchase will do anything to reduce violence overall. What you have basically done by plunking down your thousand bucks for that black gun is to ratchet up the possibility that more violence will occur.

              Not only doesn’t violence prevent violence, but before we even get to that issue we first have to make sure that when we use a word like ‘violence,’ we all can agree on what we are talking about. So, for example, the Anti-Defamation League publishes an annual report on anti-Semitic attacks which claims there has been a disturbingly-high number of such events over the last several years. But if you read the fine print, you discover that while incidents of vandalism and harassment have increased, the number of physical attacks have gone down. So what should members of the Jewish community do? Walk around with an assault rifle handy in case someone tries to paint a swastika on the synagogue wall?

I notice, by the way, that the promoters of armed self-defense at the Monsey meeting forgot to mention that bringing a gun into a synagogue during Shabbos (Sabbath) religious services happens to be a violation of Jewish law. You can’t carry metal objects in your pockets during Shabbos; you can’t wear any kind of ornamental items like a holster on your pants.  Maybe the alleged security experts from Israel can provide the Orthodox residents of Monsey with the name of a Shabbos goy (a gentile to perform prohibited tasks during the Sabbath) who can walk around the synagogue with a gun.

Forgive me for sounding just a little bit less than enthusiastic about the spread of armed, self-defense into the Orthodox Jewish community. And if anyone wants to tell me that by being disarmed,  these Jews are just inviting another nut to show up and slaughter some more innocent folks, do me a favor and in the words of my late friend Jimmy Breslin, go lay brick.

What did Solomon say in Ecclesiastes?  “A time to kill and a time to heal.” He didn’t say that after someone is killed, you should go out and by an AR-15.