About mikethegunguy

Author of 7 gun books and more than 1,000 gun columns on my website and Huffington Post. Lifetime Patriot Legacy NRA member. Gun retailer, wholesaler, importer and safety trainer.

Let’s Stop Being Afraid of the Second Amendment.

              I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was twelve years old. At a flea market on Route 441 somewhere in the Florida Glades. Now Route 441 is an endless collection of strip malls, condo developments and more strip malls. Then 441 marked the western edge of the Glades.

              Between 1956 and 2008, when the Supreme Court gave Constitutional protection for the private ownership of guns, I probably bought and sold 500 handguns and long guns. That’s ten guns a year which isn’t all that many for a certified gun nut like me. Every one of those transactions was legal (well, most of them were legal) and none of those transactions had any Constitutional protection at all.

              Whenever some well-meaning person who supports gun control starts off by saying that they don’t want to infringe on 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I want to cringe. What’s so bad about infringing on all these 2nd-Amendment rights, particularly when most of these so-called rights don’t really exist? The 2008 Heller decision does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun. It does not (read: not) give AR-15 owners the ‘right’ to show up at Charlottesville with an assault rifle strapped to their backs. It does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to wander all over the United States with their guns. It gives gun owners one ‘right,’ which is to keep a handgun in their home. Period. That’s the ‘right.’

              I want this issue to be clearly understood not because it will make any difference to how Gun-nut Nation talks about gun ‘rights.’ Want to know the latest Gun-nut take on gun ‘rights?’ Check out this spiel on NRA-TV by a noted foreign policy expert about how people in Venezuela are unable to fight back against the Maduro regime because they don’t have any guns. The country happens to have the second-highest murder rate in the world, but no doubt all those murders are committed with clubs and knives, not guns.

              So let’s not worry about how Gun-nut Nation promotes gun ‘rights.’ But we have an election next year. And every Presidential candidate lining up against Sleazy Don has announced their support of stronger gun laws. At the same time, all these candidates are steadfast in their desire to ‘respect’ the ‘right’ of Americans to own guns.

              As far as I’m concerned, my gun-control friends can pat themselves on the back as much as they want for supporting Constitutional guarantees, but by getting up on the barricades and proclaiming their fealty to the 2nd Amendment, they are giving away the argument before it begins. And they should stop doing it – right now!

              I just donated one hundred bucks to Moms Demand every month. I can guarantee you that I am the only donor to Moms who also happens to be a Lifetime Benefactor member of the NRA. Why do I swing both ways? Because I believe in an equal fight. But what I don’t believe is that Gun-control Nation levels the playing field by pretending that there’s no  disagreement with Gun-nut Nation when it comes to Constitutional ‘rights.’

              The reason we have a problem known as gun violence is not because all our guns aren’t safely stored. It’s not because we don’t require a background check every time we transfer every gun. It’s because we pretend that the 2nd Amendment only allows us to pass ‘reasonable’ gun laws. And if anyone out there really believes that a ‘reasonable’ gun law would prevent anyone from getting their hands on a concealable handgun holding 15 or more rounds of military-grade ammunition, you might as well follow Alice down the rabbit hole. Ending gun violence means ending the demand for guns which are used to commit gun violence, not ending the supply.

              There are still at least fifteen Presidential candidates who have yet to tell us what they would do about gun violence. Maybe one of them will figure it out.

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Will Cory’s Plan To License All Guns Work?

              Yesterday, one of the umpteen 2020 challengers of Sleazy Don, Cory Booker, announced a plan to reduce gun violence which should be taken seriously, because Cory lives in Newark, so he should know something about guns. Seriously, his plan goes further than any of the other gun-control plans so far announced, because he’s calling for some kind of national gun licensing. To quote the Senator, “If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to own a gun.”      

              I have to hand it to my Gun-control Nation friends. Who would have ever imagined that coming up with an approach to gun violence would become a de rigueur requirement for a 2020 national campaign? Can it actually be the case that the NRA Emperor doesn’t wear any clothes? Maybe he never had any clothes in the first place.

              Booker’s plan to create a national licensing system is something of a muddle because he wants the system to be run by the FBI but the actual vetting will be done by the local police. So even if the devil is in the details, the bottom line is that Booker has just injected the unmentionable into the gun debate, namely, that ownership of all guns needs to be regulated the same way no matter where the gun owner happens to live. If nothing else, his plan is an implicit recognition that the patchwork of state and local gun laws that currently exists simply doesn’t work.

              But why doesn’t it work? According to current research, places with more lax gun laws have more gun deaths.  Conversely, jurisdictions with stricter laws have fewer gun deaths. Incidentally, before I go further, note that gun violence is defined only in terms of mortality rates when, in fact, gun deaths probably constitute less than one-third of all injuries caused by guns. But the data on non-fatal gun injuries simply can’t be trusted, so we are making the assumption that the relationship between gun laws and gun deaths would also hold true if we could count all the injuries caused by guns.

              Much of the argument that more laws = less gun violence rests on data from Massachusetts, where I happen to live. I have also been a gun dealer in Massachusetts since 2001, so I know how the system in this state works and doesn’t work. And what I know is that if anyone wants to use Massachusetts as a template for how stricter gun laws results in less gun violence, they are creating an argument that has as many holes in it as a slice of swiss cheese.

              Here is what the experts say about the Massachusetts law.

  • David Hemenway:  “All other things equal, [places] where there’s strong laws and with few guns do much better than places where there’s weak laws and lots of guns.”
  • Cassandra Crifasi: “The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall, and then you have fewer firearms around, and less exposure.”

Note the caveat; i.e., the number of guns. In other words, is it the severity and comprehensiveness of the laws per se? Is it that there were less guns in a particular locality before a new gun law was passed? Is it a combination of both or maybe something  else?

The current regulatory system in Massachusetts, which makes it one of the most regulated of all the states, dates from 1999. Since that date, the aggregate gun-violence rate in Massachusetts is the lowest of all 50 states. Prior to 1999, the Massachusetts gun-violence rate was the second-lowest state rate. Now in fact, the gun-violence rate in Massachusetts under the more restrictive law is lower than it was before that law was passed. However, the gun-violence rate also happens to be lower in the other 50 states.

The truth is that the relationship between gun laws and gun violence is a classic case of the chicken and the egg. What we don’t need is to hatch the egg and wind up with a turkey, okay?

Phil Cook: What Cops Can Tell Us About Gun Violence

From Youth Today.

I began my research program on gun violence prevention in the early 1970s, when my children were just starting school. Now I am the proud grandfather of two preschoolers, with renewed worries. In the United States, gun violence poses an outsized threat to children and youths. That threat is made vivid to students who are subjected to active shooter drills on a regular basis, just as my generation drilled for nuclear attack. In some communities children are traumatized by the sounds of gunfire in the streets; their older siblings and parents are all too often the targets.

Much of my research, like that of others who initiated this field of study, has been concerned with the prospects for mitigating criminal violence by regulating the design, marketing and use of deadly weapons. In the 1980s we were joined in this effort by researchers from the public health field, a welcome expansion of resources and scope.

Philip J. Cook (headshot), professor emeritus of public policy, economics, sociology at Duke University, man with short white hair, gray mustache, green fleece jacket.

Phil Cook

But recently I have parted ways with some of my colleagues in the public health field over differing perspectives on law enforcement. In my view, effective law enforcement is a vital part of the mix in gun violence prevention, and developing and evaluating police investigation methods should be a central aspect of the research agenda for gun violence prevention.

The public health approach to gun violence prevention has been widely touted as providing fresh ideas and real promise of ultimate success. Government officials, scholars and other commentators associated with medicine and public health advocate for more research funding, stronger regulation on guns and measures to promote a fairer and more just society.

These ideas are clearly important but not in any sense new or distinctive. What distinguishes the public health approach as usually articulated is its tendency to ignore, downplay or outright reject the role of police and criminal justice in gun violence prevention. And in that respect, I believe it has the potential to do real damage to our shared cause.

POLICE CAN HOBBLE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

Most gun violence is criminal, as opposed to accidental, self-inflicted or legally justified. For the U.S. population as a whole, 70 percent of gunshot victims suffered their wounds as a result of a criminal attack, and for children and youths the percentage is still higher, at about 80 percent. Whether a horrendous rampage shooting in a school or the far more common violence of the streets, the police are tasked with investigating the crime, identifying and arresting the perpetrators and gathering evidence against them that will stand up in court.

The police response is not just a clean-up operation. To the extent that their investigation is successful and shooters are arrested and convicted, the rate of subsequent shootings is arguably reduced. The well-established causal mechanisms by which law enforcement prevents crime are incapacitation and deterrence. But there is also a reasonable expectation that if the police do their job well, the victim and his associates will be less inclined to seek revenge and continue the cycle of violence. The point is that while the police investigation follows the crime, its success also prevents subsequent crimes. The police are in the prevention business.

This claim is often discounted or contradicted by those who espouse the public health perspective. While there is strong evidence in support for both deterrence and incapacitation when it comes to gun violence, the evidence may be trumped by a distaste for punishing the perpetrators, who in many cases are, like their victims, low-income minority youths living in distressed neighborhoods.

But if the police fail to do their part in controlling gun violence, it is hard to see how we can hope to achieve the overriding objective of making those neighborhoods safer, a precondition for the families living there to thrive. Unfortunately, a number of our major cities are in effect running this “experiment” by arresting fewer than 20 percent of the shooters. Regardless of what other services these cities may be able to offer or what gun regulations may be in place, that strikes me as a recipe for failure.

If we do embrace the goal of increasing arrest and conviction rates for criminal shooters, then what? First is that police investigation should be recognized as an important topic for research on gun violence prevention. In fact, research and policy agendas put forward by public health groups and medical associations have routinely ignored the police and criminal justice system.

In the pursuit of evidence-based gun violence prevention, it only makes sense that the research incorporate the front-line capacity for preventing violence and determine how to make it more effective. There are a variety of options, from increasing the priority that police departments give to investigations of gun assaults, providing training to investigators, investing in programs to improve victim and witness cooperation, making better use of available technology and much else. An overriding concern is to improve police-community relations, since investigations are greatly handicapped if the relevant community views the police as uninterested or hostile.

The ultimate goal is to pre-empt the epidemic of gun violence in some distressed neighborhoods. Gun regulation can help if well designed (and enforced!). But we also need to preserve and enhance a credible response by the authorities to criminal violence.

Philip J. Cook is Terry Sanford Professor emeritus of public policy, economics and sociology at Duke University, and an honorary member of the National Academy of Medicine. His most recent book (with Kristin A. Goss) is “The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

Daily Comment: Socialism Vs. Freedom NRA-Style.

I normally don’t post a Friday column, but today the golf course is just too wet. Plus, I wanted to get this up here before it becomes stale.

All the week the media had a grand time covering the so-called collapse of the NRA, given the leadership contretemps that emerged during the 2019 meeting at Indy. Front and center to those stories was the relationship between the boys in Fairfax and their long-time advertising agency, Ackerman-McQueen, which appears to have been double or maybe triple-billing for producing NRA-TV.

I suspect that most of the readers of my website have never watched NRA-TV. For that reason, and as a public service, here’s the latest NRA-TV production featuring the ‘relentless’ Dana Loesch. Dana got started as a spieler for Glenn Beck’s network before it went bust. She then moved to NRA-TV. She competes with some other, alt-right female spielers like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, both of whom, along with Dana, try to outdo each other in terms of throwing insulting commentary at the liberal ‘elie,’ and never appear in front of a camera without a little chain around their necks displaying their Christian-identity cross.

Lately, the NRA-TV website makes a point of making sure that the title of every segment contains the word ‘socialism,’ as in how the Left, or the Democrats, or whatever you want to call the enemy of God-fearing Americans represents an international, Socialist threat. And how do these spielers define socialism? Simple. It’s any politician who wants to take away your guns.

The decision to frame 2020 as a contest between America’s new greatness and the dangers of socialism hasn’t been finalized yet, although Schumck-o Don has been running it up the flagpole here and there. But this theme has clearly become the centerpost for gun-rights groups like the NRA, who have been warning of the dangers of a Socialist state whenever any kind of gun-control narrative rears its ugly head.

Remember how Ben Carson knew for ‘a fact’ that disarming the Jews in Germany resulted in the Holocaust? You can read the same argument in a book published by an NRA attorney, Stephen Holbrook, who happens to be a very nice guy, even though he’s totally misinformed.

Having grown up during the 1950’s, when there was a Red under every bed, I find this new appeal to the dangers of socialism to be rather quaint. After all, it’s not as if anyone has yet to suggest that we should protect ourselves from the socialist menace by re-instituting loyalty oaths or the Blacklist. Speaking of the Blacklist, I just finished reading Stefan Kanfer’s remarkable book, Journal of the Plague Year. You might want to try it out.

I simply can’t believe that even the NRA would stoop so low as to put its name alongside a commentary by Dana Loesch which is so completely stupid, filled with obvious mistakes and goes beyond anything even remotely connected to the truth. If this is what Gun-nut Nation is going to promote as an attempt to capture the 2020 vote, the last thing my friends in Gun-control Nation should do is to try and shut the NRA down.

Can We Reduce Gun Violence With A Public Health Approach?

              Our friends at the Coalition  to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) recently posted an editorial that described gun violence as a ‘public health crisis’ because it has an “adverse impact on community health.” The notion that we can reduce and ultimately eliminate the 40,000 gun deaths suffered each year by taking a public health solution to the problem has become the standard mantra in gun-control circles, not the least of which because of the possibility that CDC research money on gun violence may be coming back into play.

              We love the notion of public health. Maybe we didn’t invent it, but we sure have used the public health approach to deal with serious threats to the human community, most notably and recently AIDS. And since gun violence is certainly widespread enough to be considered a threat to the human community, and since it also tends to impact most severely on certain identifiable groups within the community, obviously we can and should utilize the public health approach to this health threat as well. So say all the public health experts on gun violence.

I’m not a physician. I’m not a public health researcher. I can, if I choose, ask to be introduced as ‘Doctor Weisser,’ but that’s only because I earned a lowly Ph.D.

 On the other hand, I know something about guns. And based on what I know and what all these public health experts don’t know,  I disagree.

I disagree with the ‘public health approach’ to gun violence because the information that we need to evaluate in order to figure out a valid public health response to this particular threat to the human community doesn’t exist. And it won’t exist even if the CDC dumps not just 50 million into gun research, but 500 million or more.

I don’t hear any of the public health experts talking about this problem at all. In fact, these experts go out of their way to deny the importance of even collecting such data, despite saying again and again that any public health strategy must be ‘evidence-based.’

A public health approach requires that first you figure out why certain people get sick. Then you figure out how the sickness spreads from victim to victim, then you figure out how to prevent the spread of the illness either through immunization strategies, public policies or both. In the case of gun violence, we know who gets sick. But we have absolutely no idea how the illness spreads from one person to another because we don’t know anything about the agent who spreads the disease – the shooter – and we don’t know anything about the instrument whose presence creates the disease – the gun.

We don’t know anything about the agent because in the case of self-inflicted fatal injuries the agent is dead. In the case of the agent spreading the disease, he either isn’t identified or if he is, he’s locked up in jail. At which point we aren’t dealing with a public health issue. We’re dealing with a crime. Finally, both groups of agents use the same instrument, a gun, and we don’t know how they got their hands on the gun.

Back in March, three major public health scholars appeared before a House committee and testified about the need to restore CDC gun research funds. When asked, all three esteemed experts denied the necessity to create a national gun registry – not needed at all. A national registry happens to be the only way to figure out the movement and use of the instrument which has to be present in every instance of gun violence. Somehow, this never gets said.

I’m saying it now. Either my friends in the public health community stop promoting the nonsense that whatever they are doing won’t threaten the beloved 2nd Amendment, or they can stop pretending that they can come up with any kind of serious public health solution to the threat posed by guns. It’s simple.  Either – Or.

Do Universal Background Checks Work?

              Now that all 125 Democrats who have decided to run against Sleazy Don in 2020 have announced their support of universal background checks (UBC), I think it’s finally time to ask what would happen to gun violence rates if everyone in America had to undergo a background check every time they either received or gave away a gun. After all, why bother to go through the whole hassle of a big legislative fight unless we can show that the UBC would make a difference, right? So here goes.

             There are currently 11 states which require UBC: CA, CO, CT, DE, NV, NJ, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA. Together these states currently count a total population slightly under 95 million, of whom 57 million live in California and New York. Some of these states, like New York and New Jersey, have for a long time required UBC for handgun purchases, others just implemented UBC in the last several years. But if we take these states in the aggregate and compare gun-violence rates between 2014 and 2017 (the latest year for CDC data) we get a pretty representative picture of the impact of universal UBC in these 11 states.

              The picture looks like this.  In 2014, these states had an aggregate gun-violence rate of 7.4; i.e., for every hundred thousand residents, there were 7.4 intentional fatal gun injuries: homicide, suicide and individuals shot by cops.  In 2017, the rate was 7.8.  The national rates were significantly higher – 10.31 and 11.96.  Obviously, the increase in national gun-violence rates would have been higher if we only looked at states that don’t have UCB. 

              Louisiana, for example, has jumped from 18.71 to 20.09.  Alabama has gone up from 16.05 to 22.30.  Alaska, 18.46 to 22.98.  Montana, 16.47, 22.85.  In states like Montana and Alaska, the increase is driven by gun suicides, in Alabama and Louisiana it’s homicide. One could therefore argue that while UBC has not driven down the gun-violence rates, perhaps it has kept the increase from being larger than  it otherwise might be.

              You can argue all you want one way or the other, but folks, let me break it to you gently, okay?  Until and unless we develop a system that allows us to analyze not only the geography of gun violence, but the circumstances which result in guns getting into the hands of the 145,146 individuals who committed intentional fatal gun injuries between 2014 and 2017, the correlation between gun violence rates and presence or absence of UCB  doesn’t explain anything at all.

              We have endless studies which show that gun violence which occurs in UBC states results from guns brought into those states from other states where UBC doesn’t exist. But there is not one, single study which has been done or could be done which shows how those guns got from State A to State B.  Are these guns stolen? Are these guns trafficked after a straw sale? We don’t know. We also have no idea how many guns would continue to float around even if UBC became law of the land.

              Know why UBC is always promoted as the first, legislative response to gun violence if the 2020 election results give the blue team the upper hand? Because survey after survey indicates that all those meanies who own all those guns are also in favor of UBC. Maybe I’m just a little bit old fashioned, maybe my advocacy experiences reflect what happened during the Viet Nam war. But I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe now that advocacy should rest on what public opinion says. I always thought that advocacy should set the terms of debate, not be based on what the debaters say.

              The only way we will make a significant response to gun violence is to create a national gun registry so that we will be able to track the ownership and use of every gun. Oh my God! We can’t do that – it’s a violation of the 2nd Amendment!

              No it’s not.

It’s Time To Stop Talking To Ourselves.

              Here’s the takeaway from last week.  The NRA dumped Ollie North, who turned out to be a very good fundraiser for himself, and replaced him with a woman best known for her involvement with a group which preserves a Confederate memorial that graces the side of a mountain considered sacred ground by the Ku Klux Klan. On the other side of the ledger, the House Appropriations Committee put $50 million for gun research into the  budget of the CDC. 

              In the greater scheme of things, neither of these two events will make a big difference in how we try to deal with the 300 intentional gun injuries that we suffer from each day. But they do symbolize, to quote a Nobel-prize winner, as something ‘blowing in the wind,’ and the wind seems to be getting a lot stronger every day. Maggie Astor got it right yesterday in the ‘failing’ (ha-ha) New York Times, when she said that the national gun-control movement has now built “an infrastructure that had previously existed only on the conservative side of gun policy.”

              I see evidence of this infrastructure in terms of the number of fundraising emails I receive (and I get them from both sides), in terms of media coverage where outlets like The New York Times now seem to carry a feature about guns and gun violence seemingly every other day, and most of all, I see it in the pronouncements by the 20-odd candidates who have announced their intention to chase schmuck-o Don out of Washington, D.C. Just four years ago, conventional wisdom still considered it to be a big risk if you ran for public office and were anti-gun. That bit of received sagacity has disappeared. Fartig (read: finished.)

              Before you read further, let me make one point. My perspective on gun control and gun violence doesn’t date back to Sandy Hook and 2012. It doesn’t date back to 1999 and Columbine or 1994 and the Assault Weapons Ban. It dates back to 1966 when Chuckie Whitman climbed to the top of the Texas Tower and began blasting away. That’s when I first started paying attention to gun violence, okay? So when I say that we are in a very new and different state of affairs as regarding what to do about America’s love of guns (including my love of them) I’m taking the long view, probably longer than any of you. And my long view tells me this.

              Sooner or later, if you want to make a real dent in gun violence, the gun-control community is going to have to start talking to gun owners not as enemies but as friends. And this doesn’t mean just coming up with some ‘reasonable’ gun laws which allegedly garner support from both sides in the debate. What it really mean is talking to gun owners about why the ‘good guy with the gun’ narrative is a myth.

             So here’s my challenge to my friends in Gun-control Nation. There are somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 gun shows held in the United States every year. This means that on any given weekend, there are probably 100 locations where 5,000 to 10,000 bone-fide gun nuts get together to play around with guns. I’m going to a nearby show next weekend, in fact. Here’s a calendar of upcoming shows.

              I am willing to pay the costs of renting a table at one gun show a month for the next 12 months. I’ll send a check to the show’s sponsor which will be in the name of the gun shop that I own. And then you come to the show, sit behind the table, maybe give out some literature or whatever, and engage the gun owners who attend the show in a discussion about their guns.

              I don’t care what you say. I don’t care which organization you represent. Or maybe you’ll just represent yourself. Fine with me. But let’s stop talking just to ourselves, okay? Let’s see what happens when we talk to the other side. And by the way, I have been to hundreds of gun shows and the food is always great.

North Vs. LaPierre.

              Now that the NRA has decamped from Indianapolis with LaPierre still standing and Oliver North down for the ten-count, let’s try and figure out what really took place. Because I’m sorry to say., but most of the reportage about the big battle at the annual meeting didn’t get it all wrong, but did miss some of the most important points.

              On the second day of the confab, a letter from North was read to the membership in which the NRA President informed the faithful that he was going to resign. Later at that same meeting, Wayne-o delivered his standard ‘us’ versus ‘them’ speech (patriots versus gun-grabbers) and didn’t even bother to thank the newly-retired President for his service or time. Because the Democrats haven’t yet decided who is going to run against sleazy Don in the 2020 electoral campaign, he rambled on about Andy Cuomo’s hatred of the NRA.

              The big deal got started when The New Yorker magazine published a detailed article by our friend Mike Spies, which went into details about how the organization’s finances were in tatters because of some sweetheart contracts between the boys in Fairfax and their long-time PR agency, Ackerman-McQueen.  The title of the piece, ‘Secrecy, Self-Dealing and Greed at the NRA’ set off a media wave which then set off a nasty exchange between Ollie and LaPierre, which ultimately resulted in North announcing that the NRA Board would not sanction another Presidential term, so goodbye.

              Two days before the Spies article appeared, The New York Times published what I thought was a much more significant article describing  a just-filed lawsuit against Ackerman-McQueen by none other than the NRA! This suit, which you can download here, claimed that the two parties had been negotiating for almost a year, discussions which centered around the behavior and compensation of Oliver North, who has evidently been double-dipping salaries from both the NRA and the PR agency, a clear violation of not-for-profit regulations in New York State (which is where the NRA has been registered since 1871.)

              North was hired by the NRA precisely to help the organization recover from the deficit it ran by giving sleazy Don $30 million or more for his 2016 campaign. In fact, the 2016 operating deficit of $45 million was cut to $17 million in 2017, despite the fact that revenues also declined by some $25 mil. You may recall that North ran for Senate against Chuck Robb in 1994.  He lost the race but set a single-year record for direct-mail donations of $16 million bucks. He has remained a prodigious fundraiser for various right-wing causes ever since, and no doubt his efforts in this respect are what pushed him into the President’s position of the NRA.

              If you read the lawsuit between NRA and Ackerman-McQueen, particularly Section D, you’ll discover that North has, indeed, made good use of his fundraising abilities, largely for himself.  It appears that as an Ackerman-McQueen employee, North may have not only oversold the value of his name, but didn’t even deliver the content to NRA-TV that was going to generate more cash both from sponsors and fans. 

              The boys from Fairfax have made some dumb business decisions over the last several years, chief among them moving from face-to-face to digital training with the accompanying Carry Guard insurance scam. Both of these programs have weakened the organization’s membership base, but anyone who thinks that or hopes that the NRA is now facing Armageddon doesn’t know how to read the tea leaves.

              I’ve said it in previous columns but I’ll say it again. The NRA‘s existence reflects the fact that a clear majority of Americans, including non-gun owning Americans, believe that owning a gun for self-defense is more of a benefit than a risk. And it really doesn’t matter that the evidence proves exactly the reverse. Until and unless my friends in Gun-control Nation figure out a convincing argument in response to this remarkable case of cognitive dissonance, we will remain enamored of those little pieces of polymer which fit neatly in the pocket and hold 16 rounds,

Daily Comment – April 26, 2019.

Today I start a new feature – a daily comment on whatever happens to hit me about guns and the gun world. Short and to the point. Feedback always appreciated.

Today our friends at The Trace have sent out a link to a website called WalletHub, which claims to publish serious stuff that can help you figure out how to keep your finances under control, or something like that.

Today they have a report, so called, on the gun industry, specifically, the dependency of each state on the gun industry. They claim that gun sales have declined by 6% under Trump (the real number is somewhere around 10%) which might be a good thing for people who don’t like guns, but may be a bad thing for ” state economies relying heavily on the firearms industry.”

Which state is most reliant on the gun industry? New Hampshire. Which state is least reliant? New Jersey. How do they figure this all out? The look at the number of jobs and the amount of revenue generated by the industry on a per-capita basis, add it up and away we go.

There’s only one little problem. This report is junk. And what isn’t junk is crap. Why do I say that? Because it is overwhelmingly based on the annual report about the gun industry’s contribution to the economy issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a.k.a, the NSSF, which happens to be the folks who bring us the annual gun trade show, a.k.a., the SHOT show, and has a vested interest in promoting the gun industry every chance it can get.

The WalletHub story cites ‘fact’ after ‘fact’ after ‘fact’ from this industry promotional hype without doing the slightest due diligence at all. Every year they come up with an overall industry ‘contribution’ to the national economy of somewhere around $50 billion, a little more, a little less.

This year together, Smith & Wesson and Glock will probably have net sales of about $1.2 billion. These companies account for roughly 40% of all new handgun sales and handguns account for roughly 60% of all new gun sales. Which means that the entire annual revenue from gun sales is somewhere around $5 billion. And the rest of the industry creates $45 billion in revenue? Is that some kind of joke?

To put these numbers into perspective, I just bought a 1 1/2 oz. bag of potato chips for a buck. Which means that if I bought a pound of potato chips the tab would be around 10 bucks. It is estimated that every, single American consumes 6.5 pounds of potato chips in a year. Which means we each spend $65 on potato chips, which means the total revenue for the potato chip industry is $20 billion bucks. I guarantee you that potato chips contribute more to the economy than we get from all the gun companies.

The point is that what the NSSF is trying to do is respond to our concerns about gun violence by saying look at the positive side of things – the value of the gun industry to the pocketbooks of people who might be your neighbors or your friends.

Let me put it a different and more honest way: we suffer from an extraordinary level of gun violence from an industry whose total financial contribution to the national economy doesn’t count for squat.

It’s Time To Stop Worrying About The NRA.

Now that the NRA is about to celebrate the importance of gun ‘rights,’ in Indianapolis, it’s not by accident that an energized Gun-control Nation has started throwing as much dirt as possible at America’s ‘defender of freedom,’ or ‘America’s first civil rights organization,’ or whatever the boys from Fairfax are calling themselves these days.

It wasn’t that long ago that the annual NRA meeting attracted almost no attention at all. However, if you’re a gun-control advocacy group, it’s become almost de rigueur to jump on the bandwagon and energize your membership by revealing yet another scandal that can be laid at the feet of the NRA.

The piece written by Mike Spies concerning various financial flimflamming by Wayne-0 and his friends has been ballyhooed all over the place, but in terms of serious financial violations, it doesn’t really amount to a row of beans. The fact that Everytown has sent a letter to the IRS claiming that the tax-exempt status of the organization needs to be reviewed is also, to quote my beloved grandmother, hai cock and a bubba, which means it doesn’t mean anything at all.

In that regard, my friends at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have joined the parade by issuing a report, “Guns, Lies and Fear, Exposing the NRA’s Messaging Playbook,” which claims that the way the NRA promotes gun ‘rights’ is no different from the “authoritarian and undemocratic political regimes around the world that deploy disinformation campaigns to secure control over public discourse,” strategies employed by, among others, Erdogan in Turkey, Orban in Hungary and Putin in what we used to call the U.S.S.R.

The demagogue communication playbook now being used by the NRA consists, among other things, of constructing an ‘us versus them’ political identity, creating an atmosphere of crisis, controlling media and vilifying the opposition. So by dint of gun owners versus gun grabbers, the ‘slippery slope,’ the NRA-TV videos and the demonization of every office-holder who doesn’t parrot the NRA line, Wayne-o now takes his place alongside some of the worst, most anti-democratic political drek-meisters floating around these days.

Let me make one thing very, very clear. Despite the fact that I have been an NRA member since 1955 and currently hold the membership status of Life Patriot Benefactor which means I get multiple fund-raising emails from Fairfax every day, if I were to receive a letter from Wayne-o tomorrow telling me the NRA is kaput, I couldn’t care less. I’ll always be a gun nut, I’ll always enjoy going to a gun show or wandering into a gun shop, and if I could drive to the NRA show in less than 10 hours, I’d be there this coming weekend because the show’s a lot of fun. But I have made it clear again and again and again and again that the NRA‘s promotion of armed, self-defense is simply wrong and has no basis either in logic, safety or effective self-defense. For that matter, this whole notion that our Constitutional freedoms rest on the 2nd Amendment has about as much basis in reality as my decision this morning to go back on my diet.

That being said, I also have to say that the CAP report comparing Wayne-o to some tin-horn politicians in various banana, goulash or halvah republics is simply nothing but crap. The only reason the NRA is considered such a formidable political lobby is because until Sandy Hook, when it came to lobbying for or against guns, they were the only game in town. The so-called demagogue playbook which CAP believes has been used so effectively by the NRA, actually reads exactly like the messaging strategy of a certain New York landlord who, if we are lucky and work hard, can drag his fat ass back to New York City in 2021.

In the meantime, let’s stop pretending that the NRA is the enemy when, in fact, one-third of American adults are legal gun owners but two-thirds believe that a gun keeps you safe. Are my friends at the CAP and other advocacy organizations ever going to explain that one to me?