A New Gun Violence Report That Should Be Required Reading.

Our friends at The Urban Institute have just released a new report, ‘We Carry Guns to Stay Safe,’ which they say represents ‘perspectives on guns and gun violence from young adults living in Chicago’s West and South Sides.’ You can download the report from the Institute’s website, or from my website right here.  The report is a sobering account of the reasons behind the decision by many inner-city youths to carry guns in a city where gun violence in certain neighborhoods exceeds gun violence just about anywhere else.

urban             In 2017, Chicago experienced more homicides than New York City and Los Angeles combined; the Windy City’s population was 2.7 million; the total population of New York and LA  was five times as great. But the fatal violence doesn’t occur in equal amounts throughout ChiTown; neighborhoods on the West Side like West Garfield Park or Englewood on the South Side have a killing rate above 80 per 100K. That’s higher than the killing rate of any country in the entire world.

To understand the degree to which this problem appears to be simply uncontrollable, the research team at The Urban Institute interviewed 345 residents of these killing zones, of which almost all were African-Americans between the ages of 18 and 26, and slightly more than half were males. The research teams strikes a somewhat defensive tone in discussing their methodology because they seem to believe that the manner in which they recruited respondents may have biased the selection and therefore skewed the results. Let me break it to Jocelyn Fontaine and her colleagues: to the degree that they believe their findings should be taken with a small grain of salt in terms of overall validity, the value and importance of this work goes far beyond what has previously been produced in the entire field of gun violence research. In other words, this report should be required reading for anyone and everyone concerned about how and why 125,000+ Americans get injured every year with guns. Period.

Why am I willing to describe this effort in such grandiose terms? The best way to answer that question is to let the researchers explain why they did what they did: “The purpose of this research was to learn from young adults firsthand whether and why they decide to carry guns, how they acquire firearms, how they experience gun violence, and what they view as the best strategies to reduce gun carrying and promote safety in their communities.” So, for the very first time, we learn about gun violence from the individuals most at risk for committing gun violence which, if nothing else, should serve as a reality jolt for all the public policy aficionados promoting this gun-control law and that gun-control law without ever speaking to the people whose behavior, it is hoped, will be positively influenced by new regulations and laws.

I’m not going to go through all the report’s findings because I don’t want to save anyone the ‘trouble’ of reading the report. But one point deserve special mention: Of the one-third who said they carried a gun, albeit illegally in most cases, more than 90% claimed the gun was for self-protection.  Now it turns out that study after study confirms that guns increase, not decrease, the risk of injury. Yet every public opinion survey confirms that a majority of legal gun-owners Americans believe that their gun is a positive, self-protective device.  Guess what?  The illegal gun owners believe the same thing, if anything, to a much greater degree.

Advocates for gun control talk endlessly about imposing new regulations that will keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’  So here we have a survey in which virtually every respondent represents a pair of ‘wrong hands.’ Not only do they have no more trouble buying a gun than someone with ‘right hands,’  but the folks with the ‘wrong hands’ are becoming gun owners for the exact, same reason as the folks with the ‘right hands.’

Please read and think about this report, okay?





Meet The Bogle Family – A Very Special Bunch.

Want to meet an exceptional American family? Read Fox Butterfield’s just-released book, , and spend a few hours with the Bogle family. Actually, if you want to meet any member of the Bogle clan, you’ll have to get on the visitor’s list of one of any number of prisons scattered throughout the Midwest, the southwest and the far west, because that’s where most of the Bogle family happens currently to reside. In fact, beginning in 1923, when the progenitor of the Bogle family, Louis Bogle, was jailed for bootlegging, at least 60 members of the family have spent multiple sentences in prison, costing the United States taxpayers, according to Butterfield’s estimate, somewhere between $250 and $430 million bucks. And that’s just the penal cost, never mind the costs incurred by the victim of all their crimes.

bogleThree of the Bogles’ went to jail for murder, at least a dozen were convicted of robbery and/or burglary, a few kidnapping charges here and there, God knows how many assaults and, of course, most of the Bogle bunch have served time for drugs. We’re not talking about jaywalking, a traffic ticket or perhaps a tax lien. Butterfield spent ten years (ten years) researching this work, combing judicial archives, interviewing everyone he could find, even up to and including a man, Jeremy Vanwagner, now 40 years old, who had a cellmate named Bobby Bogle and discovered that Bobby was, in fact, his father because the latter recalled that he once had sex with a woman who sported an interesting tattoo on her rear end and Jeremy, outing together the time, the place and the tattoo, realized he was sharing a prison cell with his old man.

The 60 Bogle men and women who ended up doing time were all related, in some way or another, to Louis Bogle, whose five children were each responsible for creating families which then spawned the criminality that characterized the Bogle clan as a whole. And what Butterfield found in interviewing members of each family, along with talking to assorted welfare, penal and other social service professionals was not just that these families existed in poverty, but these families also existed in a state of violence, chaos and rootlessness which affected every family member from pre-adolescent ages on. Almost without exception, every Bogle child was viewed as a school ‘problem’ in their early grades, assuming that they attended school at all. With one or two exceptions, none of them learned trades, none held steady jobs; there were simply no positive role models within the Bogle clan. In fact, many of the parents often took young children with them when they were committing a burglary, drug deal or other crime.

The author has immersed himself in the relevant research literature about domestic violence where the inter-generational element looms large. But those studies are just numbers; Butterfield’s narrative brings the cold data to life. And if nothing else, you are made aware of the extent to which violent criminality is not an aberration within this family environment. If anything, it is considered a validating form of behavior to demonstrate an understanding and acceptance of the family’s social norms.

Given my specific interests, however, one thing struck me as somewhat odd. You would think that a family whose entire identity and existence revolved around violent crime would also be a family where guns were frequently used, as well as found. This happens not to be the case at all. None of the homicides involved guns, the assaults were the usual mélange of barroom brawls, domestic abuse, or grabbing a handy 2 X 4 and whacking someone over the head. How is it that the propensity for violence in this family doesn’t involve guns? After all, they live in Texas where everyone has a gun.

Any chance that people who use a gun to hurt someone else are exhibiting a behavior learned from someone else in the home? After all, kids learned how to use guns for hunting from good old Pa or Gramps, right?

Tom Gabor: Democrats and Republicans – Where Have They Stood on Gun Rights Versus Public Safety

I usually deliver a nonpartisan message but we are approaching the midterm elections and voters should be aware that the two parties have a very different record over the last 50 years.  When we look at major pieces of legislation passed at the federal level, the Democrats have supported laws designed to regulate guns to improve public safety and the Republicans have passed laws that have promoted the rights of gun owners, reduced oversight of the gun industry, impeded research on gun violence, and resisted gun regulation.  Let’s look at their records.


The Democrats:

  • In 1968, after the assassinations of Senator Robert Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, signed into law The Gun Control Act of 1968. This comprehensive Act established categories of individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms (many felons, mentally ill individuals, those dishonorably discharged from the military, fugitives, etc.).  The Act also mandated the licensing of those engaged in the business of selling firearms.


  • In 1993, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. This law, as an interim measure, imposed a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm from a licensed dealer.  The Brady Law also mandated the instant background checks introduced in 1998 to determine whether buyers from a licensed dealer fall in a prohibited category.


  • In 1994, President Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which prohibited the manufacture of certain semi-automatic weapons defined as assault weapons, as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines.


  • In 2013, following the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barak Obama, a Democrat, in what he called “a pretty shameful day for Washington”, saw his proposals to expand criminal background checks to all gun sales, to ban certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines voted down by a Republican-controlled Senate.


One exception was Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission was formed in 1972, inserted a provision exempting guns and ammunition from the agency’s oversight.  The CPSC regulates the safety of about 15,000 consumer items, from toys and hair dryers to mattresses and lawn mowers.  Rep. Dingell served on the board of the National Rifle Association.


The Republicans:


  • In 1986, President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. This Act strengthened the rights of gun owners and dealers by prohibiting the development of a gun registry, ending recordkeeping for ammunition, and limiting dealer inspections to one per year.


  • In 1996, Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, inserted an amendment into the Federal Government Omnibus Spending Bill which effectively prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from funding research on gun violence.  This amendment was a major priority for the NRA.


  • In 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired under the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican.


  • In 2005, President Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Several cities had filed lawsuits against gun makers and dealers, claiming that their actions had compromised public health and created huge financial obligations for the municipalities.  The Act shields the industry from lawsuits relating to the use of firearms and ammunition, when “the product functioned as designed and intended.”  The PLCAA provides broad protection to companies in the gun industry that make unsafe products and engage in distribution practices that result in easy access by criminals. No other industry benefits from such protection.

Above, we see the factual record over the last half century.  On the major initiatives at least, there is a clear pattern.  Democrats support reasonable gun regulation, such as expanding background checks to all sales and banning assault-style weapons.  Republicans are more concerned about the rights of gun owners, protecting the gun industry from liability, and obscuring the role of guns in deaths and injuries by suppressing research on gun violence.


Tom Gabor, Ph.D. is a criminologist and author of Confronting Gun Violence in America.    

So What If The CDC Gun-Violence Numbers Are Wrong?

Our friends at The Trace dropped a real bombshell last week by exposing the fact that the gun-injury data published by the CDC may or may not be correct. And if the data which we use to understand gun violence isn’t any good, then how can we figure out what to do about the problem that kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year? Or maybe the real number is as high as 160,000, or maybe it’s around 90,000; according to the intrepid Trace reporting team, the CDC estimate could be off either way by as much as 30 percent.

cdc             To arrive at this shocking state of affairs, the reporters from The Trace enlisted the help of another organization whose expertise, when it comes to figuring out data, is above reproach.  I am talking about the help they received from a team that works for Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight website – remember how accurate they were in predicting the outcome of the Presidential election in 2016?

With all due respect to this earthshaking news about the possible lack of precision in CDC gun-violence numbers, I published not one, but two columns on exactly this problem back in June. I also was unable to get a list of the hospitals that provide the data for the injury estimates, but I did find a national map which indicates the location of each medical center whose injury numbers are gathered by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and then forwarded to the CDC.  The Trace quotes the editor of a major medical journal as stating that if the hospital sample includes sites which treat lots of gun injuries, this will influence the overall estimate in significant ways. This is nothing more than someone saying something because he’s been asked to say something; if you look at the map of participating hospital sites, you discover that, au contraire, some of them are located in places where gun violence rarely occurs.

Of course no article on anything having to do with public health gun research can be published by The Trace unless they get some quotes from some usual suspects such as major public health researchers like David Hemenway and Philip Cook. The former says he doesn’t trust the numbers, the latter was actually trying to figure out how many gun injuries end up resulting in deaths (the ‘case-fatality’ rate) which is a somewhat different issue than just trying to validate the non-fatal injury rate itself.

This report is grist for the mill of groups and organizations who are trying to re-start gun-research funding from the CDC. And I would certainly never (read: never) state or insinuate that there should be any kind of prohibition on such funding in any way. But this article raises two concerns that The Trace team does not appear to acknowledge or understand, nor are these issues found on the radar screen of their friends at 538.

With the exception of live births and deaths, both of which must be reported as accurately as possible to the U.S. Census so that we know how many people are actually living in the United States, virtually all of the data produced by the CDC on illness and health issues are estimates, and while the CDC does a much more comprehensive tracking of heart attacks than gun-shot wounds, take a look at the data on heart disease and you’ll notice that the reported numbers always are preceded by the word ‘about.’

More important the fact is that while everyone keeps barking up the tree about how we need more funding, I see little attention paid to another branch, namely, research not on the victims of gun violence, but on the perpetrators of this dread disease. If 75,000+ individuals didn’t pick up a gun every year and use the weapon to try and kill someone else, we wouldn’t experience a gun-violence rate that is many times higher than the rest of the OECD. Any chance The Trace might try to figure that one out?


Does Emma Need To Be Afraid Of Those Dopes With Their AR-15s? I Hope Not.

“Going up against the country’s largest gun lobby organization was obviously something that needed to be done, but it means that the people we’re arguing against are the ones with the guns. I am personally deathly afraid of them, and I know, from traveling the country during the summer for the Road to Change tour, that many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

emma             This is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Emma Gonzalez published today in The New York Times.  The piece is making the rounds in Gun-control Nation, and will be used by every gun-control organization to energize the troops for the big showdown on November 6th.

I notice, by the way, that over the last five days, according to Nate Silver, that the odds of the House going blue have slipped from 80.4% to 73.9%, and over that same period, the odds that the GOP will retain control of the Senate have gone from 68.1% to 78%. Weren’t both trends supposed to be going the opposite ways?  This mid-term election is beginning to smell slightly like the national election in 2016, a contest on which Gun-control Nation pinned all its hopes and dreams which then came to nothing at all.

That was then, this is now. Now we have remarkable kids like Emma Gonzalez whose determination to inject a note of reality into the gun debate has energized Gun-control Nation like nothing before.  It has also, of course, provoked a response from the other side, the Gun-nut Nation side, specifically responses like the one Emma says here: “many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

Last time I checked, the gun industry claims to have sold somewhere around 15 million AR-15s, or what they used to refer to as ‘modern sporting rifles,’ over the last ten years. The industry no longer promotes this ‘sporting’ nonsense because the word ‘sporting’ is out and the word ‘tactical’ is in.  When the President of the United States finds it convenient to excuse the fact that a bunch of schmucks were marching around Charlottesville wearing Nazi armbands and toting their assault rifles to protect a statue of Robert E. Lee, you have to figure that the United States has a tolerance for stupidity unmatched by any other national state.

Unfortunately, the same people who tell you they have a Constitutional ‘right’ to own an AR-15, will also tell you that the Constitution gives them the ‘right’ to wave it in your face. And I am sure that Emma is not exaggerating when she says that she has been threatened by acolytes of Gun-nut Nation in appearances here and there; God knows I get enough crazy emails from the same bunch and I’m not leading a national, gun-control movement like the movement that has emerged in the wake of activities by Emma, David, and their other high school friends.

But in measuring the degree of animosity created by Emma, I think we have to distinguish between serious threats and what, in many cases, is nothing more than an increase in the general volume of hot air. Of course, you can argue that had authorities in Florida responded when Nikolas Cruz first began making a nuisance of himself, perhaps the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School wouldn’t have occurred. Which is probably true.

On the other hand, why should we surprised when some dopes say they will only debate Emma if she’s in the crosshairs of their guns when the President tells a raptured audience that he would still get elected even after shooting someone down in the street? My friends in Gun-control Nation need to acknowledge that right now verbal excess is not only condoned but expected, particularly when the discussion happens to be about guns.




Want To Go Into The Gun Business? Now’s Not The Time.

There used to be a joke in the gun business which went like this: “Want to make a million in the gun business? Start with two million.”  Well, the FBI has just released the monthly NICS background-check numbers for September, and if things keep going the way they are going, the old joke will have to say that if you want to end up with a million bucks from guns, better start with three million, or even more.

business            Yea, yea, I know that FBI-NICS checks only count the initial sale of a gun, except that since most gun shops have an inventory which consists of at least 30% used guns, the background check number each month is a very good indicator of the overall trends within the gun industry. And lately, the trend has been going down.

September is a benchmark month for the gun business, because guns have never been able to compete with the beach.  The only reason I kept my gun shop open in July and August is because the air-conditioning system worked better in my store than it did at home. But come Labor Day, those boring beach vacations are over, the kids are back in school, the leaves in northern states are just beginning to turn, and the hunting season is in the air. And don’t for one moment believe that hunting is no longer a key activity for driving gun sales. Even if a majority of gun owners claim that their primary reason for having a gun is self-defense, there is still something about Fall weather that translates into an interest in guns.

My point is that September gun sales always show a significant increase compared to the prior month. But if we compare September background checks this year to background checks in the month of September in previous years, the decline of the industry becomes very clear.

The NICS checks cover four separate categories: handguns, long guns, ‘other’ guns and ‘multiple’ sales.  The first two categories are self-explanatory; ‘other’ guns refer usually refer to a receiver without a barrel, which is often how AR-15 rifle kits are sold – it’s still a gun because the receiver is serialized but it might be a handgun or a long gun, depending on what length barrel is then attached. Multiple guns means that the purchaser bought more than one gun; he could have bought two, he could have bought ten. In doing my numbers for this column, I’m assuming that ‘multiple’ equals two.

So here we go. Last month NICS background checks for gun transfers from dealers to customers totaled 869,636.  A year earlier the total was 957,597. Ready?  In 2016 the September number was 1,100,334. That’s a two-year drop of 20 percent.  Want to find the last year that September NICS numbers were under 900,000? You have to go back to 2011, which was before Sandy Hook put gun control on Obama’s brain.

Given the fact that I’m a yellow-dog Democrat what I am now going to say may sound like it shouldn’t be said, but from the point of view of reducing gun violence, I’m not sure that what we need in November is a blue wave. Because the truth is that unless the Hill goes blue and Sleazy Don decides to shove Wayne Lapierre under a bus in order to make a deal with the Democrats for something he really needs, I’m willing to bet that the slide in gun sales over the last two years may well continue at least until the next Presidential year, by which time NICS numbers could be almost half of what was registered during the Obama regime.

And when all is really said and done, you can talk about armed, self-defense and terrorism and all that other stuff, but an industry that is selling half as many products as it did ten years earlier, is an industry that will begin to look like…remember something called pay phones?

Don’t Worry About School Security. Joe Da Plumber Will Keep Your Kids Safe.

Remember Joe da Plumber?  Actually, his name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, and he became a right-wing media icon during the 2008 Presidential campaign, when he asked Barack a question during a campaign stop.  Joe claimed that he wanted to buy a plumbing business, but the proposed Obama tax program would have screwed up the whole deal, which immediately got Joe linked to the McCain campaign as representing the ‘average American’ who McCain was going to help.

joe            Now the fact that Joe da Plumber wasn’t actually a licensed plumber; the fact that McCain got involved with Charlie Keating, the banker who rooked tens of thousands of ‘average’ Americans out of their life savings; oh well, oh well. But until and even after the 2016 election, Joe da (unlicensed)  Plumber made a nice few bucks shooting his mouth off on Fox News.

Joe then got a job with Chrysler, but now he’s started a new gig involving school security products, which is clearly a growth field.  Joe’s hawking something called Swiftshield, a device that locks school or office doors against anyone trying to break in; the website claims that for $139.99 you get a product that is ‘virtually indestructible’ and ensures ‘peace of mind.’

For all the talk  by Republicans about the virtues of the free market, it’s amazing how they have no trouble cozying up to the ‘deep state’ when there’s money involved. The latest giveaway is $350 million that schools can use to ‘harden’ their entrances, but this dough is a drop in the bucket compared to what would have to be spent to protect all our school kids. The group which lobbies for the security manufacturers, the Security Industry Association, says that a comprehensive, nationwide security plan for all schools would run about $11 billion.

No wonder school systems have either implemented or are considering programs to arm classroom teachers. After all, a Glock only costs around $600, and I’ll sell you my used Model 19 right for $400 bucks.  The fact that being trained to respond to lethal force with lethal force is something that even most cops don’t do very well shouldn’t stand in the way of sticking guns in every teacher’s desk, and more than 200 school districts around the country evidently agree.

Now what I am about to say should not in any way be considered as diminishing the pain, tragedy and community trauma which follows from a mass shooting within a school building (e.g., Sandy Hook, Parkland, etc.) But notwithstanding those horrific events, the fact is that public K-12 schools happen to be very, very safe environments, and the safety level has been remarkably stable for the past 25 years.

The data for the graph comes from the National Center for Education Statistics, which just happens to be a branch of the Department of Education:

These numbers, incidentally, include not only students who die from violence within a school building, but also going to and from school, as well as going to school events at some other location.  In 2015, there were roughly 51 million children enrolled in public K-12 schools. Which means that the national violent death rate was less than 1 percent, and even though homicide is the second leading cause of death for the age cohorts 5 – 18, less than 2% of those 2015 deaths occurred within an educational environment. The bottom line is that schools are often much safer environments for children than the neighborhoods in which schools are located.

The takeaway from this data is very simple, namely, that once again a terrible but relatively rare event, like a mass school shooting, creates an atmosphere of fear and exaggerated concern which leads to solutions that simply don’t fit the problem at hand. But why should we be surprised? After all, with guys like Joe da Plumber leading the conversation, why should we expect anything less?


When It Comes To Gun Violence, Nothing Like Knowing Your Market.

If and when Gun-control Nation decides to give out an award to the person who has done more to elevate the national discussion about gun violence, I suspect the winner will be David Hogg.  Ever since the Parkland massacre, this 18-year old has been roaming around the United States, appearing on an almost a daily basis at some kind of gun-control event. Occasionally he shows his youth and lack of smarts when, for example, he urged a gathering of Canadians to come across the border and vote for ‘gun-sense’ candidates next month. But by and large, he has captivated audiences with a combination of determined and well-spoken messages about the violence caused by guns.

gays             The only drawback with David’s activities, however, and this is in no way a criticism of anything he has said or done, is that most of his efforts have been spent preaching to the converted, so to speak, whereas it’s the ‘other side,’ the pro-gun folks, who need to hear what he has to say. Which is why it might come as something of a surprise to my Gun-control Nation friends to learn that Gun-nut Nation also has a new poster-boy promoting their point of view, and in this case, he’s yet another Parkland survivor, Kyle Kashuv, who has been appearing at various pro-gun events and even met Sleazy Don during a visit to Washington, D.C.

Back in April, Kashuv gave an interview to the news website Vox, in which he claimed to have never actually touched a gun. The same week he posted a picture of himself on his Twitter page standing at a shooting range holding an AR-15. He was later interrogated by the local cops because school officials at Parkland decided that any school student who promoted using an assault rifle might be considered a threat. The contact with the cops got Kashuv an appearance on the Tucker Carlson nightly show, at which point he became the equivalent of David Hogg for the pro-gun side.

I’m not at all surprised that Gun-nut Nation has developed an alternate reality to explain what happened at Parkland earlier this year. I’m also not surprised that just as David Hogg has become a formidable brand name for media that markets to the gun-control crowd, so Kyle Yashuv has been equally promoted and adored by media which chases the market known as gun ‘rights.’

I started following the ins and outs of the gun debate in 1968 because that’s when the federal government got into gun control big time, which meant that the gun business would be increasingly conditioned on what advocates from both sides had to say about guns. And what I noticed, right from the beginning, was that the media never reported on any gun issue without making sure they had input from ‘both sides.’ And this obsession with making sure that we have ‘balance’ in the gun debate has, if anything, become even more intense as the demand for digital content inexorably grows.

Recall that after the Pulse massacre in 2016, the gay community got more involved in gun-control activities and some of their efforts were circulated through the national print and digital press. Know what also happened after Orlando? The gay-rights groups which promote self-defense guns also got into the media act. And don’t underestimate the appeal of self-defense guns to LGBTQ – as the reporter who wrote a glowing article about gays and guns in Rolling Stone said, “gay rights and gun rights are a natural fit.”

I personally think that identity politics and responses to gun violence are a load of crap. And I further think that it’s just another attempt by self-promoting internet news and product hucksters to enlarge their marketing niche.

The truth is that I don’t care who you are – your age, gender, sexual orientation or a anything else.  In the words of Walter Mosely, “If you walk around with a gun, sooner or later it’s going to go off.”


Self-Defense Rifles: Just What The Neighborhood Needs.

One of the ways I stay current with the gun industry is my subscription to The Outdoor Wire (http://www.theoutdoorwire.com) which is a daily newsletter that contains content about products and people in the gun industry. And if you happen to be interested in reducing gun violence, you might want to start looking at this resource because, after all, it might be helpful to know something about the industry which you believe needs to be better regulated and controlled.

speer              Of course I understand and appreciate the degree to which most of my gun-control friends would much rather base their concerns about gun violence on opinions rather than facts. After all, facts are boring and just get in the way of how we usually develop ideas – just ask Sleazy Don Trump about how and why facts are not relevant to any comment he ever makes. Be that as it may, I still recommend a daily dose of the Outdoor Wire digital newsletter because as Don Corleone says, ‘keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.’

One of last week’s newsletters starts off with an advertisement for personal-protection ammunition from Speer, an ammo company whose Gold Dot handgun ammunition is a product often found in the duty weapons carried by the men and women in blue. The reason that cops carry Gold Dot or other, similar brands is because the manufacturing process creates a hollow-point which expands to about twice the diameter of the actual round, meaning that this kind of bullet creates a much larger wound and is lethal even if it hits someone in a non-critical part of their body.

In the Stone Age, bullets like this were called ‘dum-dum’ rounds, and they were banned in warfare by an 1899 international treaty. But the United States didn’t sign the treaty, and even if we had signed, this lethal ammunition was only proscribed in warfare, not for just walking around the urban ‘warfare zones’ of Baltimore, Chicago or Washington, D.C.  In the gun industry, we refer to this ammunition as ‘premium ammo,’ because a box containing 20 rounds can set the armed citizen back $30 bucks. But why skimp when it’s a question of protecting yourself and/or your ‘loved ones,’ right?

In this case, the ammunition being offered by Speer is actually the bullets themselves which can be handloaded into brass cases filled with powder, a process which results in “superb accuracy and immediate, threat-stopping performance.” Shooters who reload their own ammunition are usually doing it to save some bucks. But in this case Speer is promoting these new products because they are the non plus ultra in self-defense loads.

Now you would think that this ammunition would be produced in the standard handgun calibers like 9mm, 40 S & W or the venerable 45acp. But what caught my eye is the fact that these new ammo loads are being made available in rifle calibers which have never been considered to be self-defense calibers at all. Speer calls this ammunition ‘personal protection rifle bullets,’ and they are at the local gun shop in .264, .277 and .308 loads.  I happen to own rifles in all three calibers; they are bolt-action rifles made by Remington and Ruger, and I would never imagine ever using these guns for anything other than sporting weapons to take out into the woods whenever I go on a hunt.

What’s happening is that gun makers are now beginning to deliver assault rifles, like the AR-15, not just chambered for the usual .223 military round, but also capable of handling what used to be considered hunting cartridges. Both Ruger and Bushmaster are now shipping assault rifles in other calibers besides .223, Smith & Wesson has a model in .243, all of these products now being sold for use in self-defense guns.

The good news is that if I run out of bad guys who force me to carry a gun in self-defense, I can always keep my trusty self-defense rifle on the ready when Bambi comes charging out of the woods.



A New Group Promoting Gun Control? Yea, Right.

A new group has just popped up in the gun world.  It’s a 501c3 organization and its mission statement reads as follows:

“Reduce incidents of suicide by firearms, gun negligence through education and proactive programs that identify risks, raise awareness, and provide solutions to those who choose to own firearms responsibly and the public at large.”

colionThis has got to be another bunch of tree-hugging, gun-grabbing liberals, right? Wrong.  In fact, the Board of Directors reads like a standard group of pro-gun activists right out of central casting, including a a lawyer, John Renzulli, who defends the gun industry in negligence cases; Colion Noir, the NRA spieler who prances around in various videos proclaiming the joys of arming yourself for self-defense; the head of the national gun wholesaler’s association, Kenyon Gleason; and a self-proclaimed gun training expert, Rob Pincus, who sells a whole swatch of videos that are a cross between the usual shooting games combined with messaging which extolls the virtues of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

These new-found promoters of what Gun-control Nation likes to refer to as ‘gun sense’ also claim to have “created alliances between the leading experts and organizations in the Firearms and Mental Health Industries,” although the website does not contain the name of a single mental health organization or expert whatsoever. There is a Board member named Suzanne Lewis, who claims to be ‘very passionate’ about mental health issues; maybe she represents the alliance between guns and mental health. Nobody else on the current Board of Directors appears to have any connection to the mental health ‘industry’ at all.

On the other hand, this group, which claims to represent a ‘catalyst for change,’ does include several guys whose work, it can safely be said, has been fundamental in helping to embed the idea of self-defense gun ownership as a positive and joyous thing. The lawyer John Renzulli, for example, was the lead attorney in the Hamilton v. Accu-Tek case, which ultimately resulted in the gun industry being exempted from class-action suits. Want to get an idea about how Colion Noir pushes guns for the NRA? Watch his disgusting NRA video where he openly taunts the Parkland kids for using their 1st-Amendment freedoms to criticize the 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ of Colion and his friends.  The only alliance that this loud-mouth could ever make with mental health professionals are with the mental health professionals who still believe that solitary confinement works wonders on the criminal brain.

I would like to believe that this foray into the gun-sense landscape will quickly come to an end with a quiet, little thud. But I’m not so sure. The fact that a spokesman for the NRA, along with the head of a major, gun industry trade group and a lawyer whose firm participates in just about every litigation attempt to defend gun products have publicly stated their intention to “develop programs for suicide prevention, firearms negligence, trauma mitigation, and child safety,” tells me that the strident and uncompromising stance of the NRA may be coming to an end.

I don’t have any evidence for what I am about to say, but there is simply no way that this new group of pro-gun activists would be out there promoting a strategy right out of the gun-control playbook if they first hadn’t reached some understanding with the gun industry’s Powers That Be. After all, Kenyon Gleason runs the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) which means his salary is paid by the national gun wholesalers responsible for every one of those shiny, new guns ending up on the local gun shop’s shelves.

For the past thirty years, the gun industry has been promoting itself through fearsome messaging about a world without guns. Maybe the industry now wants to test a different approach, namely, a world without the unsafe use of guns. Anyone believing such nonsense would feel right at home living with the Martians at Area 51,  but maybe Sleazy Don Trump is building a luxury hotel there right now.