When It Comes To Gun Laws, The NRA Isn’t The Last Word.

              All of a sudden the boys down at Fairfax have become very concerned about doing everything with guns in a very legal way. The NRA website no longer contains those obnoxious, crazy videos from Dana, ‘home-school Queen’ Loesch, or the dance-and-prance shooting lessons from Colion Noir. Instead, now we get a whole menu of tips and tricks about how to make sure that everything you do with a gun stays completely within the law.

              Except there’s only one little problem with the NRA‘s new-found concern for making sure that all gun laws are properly observed.  And the problem happens to be the fact that the way the NRA chooses to describe certain gun laws may not be the way some of those laws actually work. Take, for example, their advice on how to purchase a gun as a gift for someone else.

              The comment starts off like this: “Giving someone a firearm carries a certain level of legal responsibility that does not come with gifting iPads or socks. You should know the laws that apply to buying firearms as gifts for another person.” Fair enough. I have no problem with the NRA‘s advice up until now.

              But then things get a little sticky, because the text then goes on to mention the fact that if you purchase a gun from a dealer, you must undergo a background check which involves declaring that you are buying the gun for yourself. But what if you knew that after buying the gun you were going to walk out of the store, wrap the gun up as a gift and give it to someone else? And let’s say further that you live in a state where giving that gun to someone else doesn’t require another background check? Which still happens to be the law in 29 of the 50 states.

              Here is what the NRA has to say about that: “Even if you are not keeping the gun, you are the owner of that firearm until you legally transfer it to the intended recipient.” Sorry,  but that’s not how the background check law works at all. Because what the law says is that you have committed a felony if you knew you were going to transfer the gun to someone else at the time you first purchased the gun and claimed on the 4473 background-check form that you were buying it for yourself.

              This issue was decided by the Supreme Court in Abramski v. United States, which was argued and decided in 2014. Bruce Abramski was a part-time cop who walked into a gun shop in Virginia and bought a Glock. He then took the gun to Pennsylvania and gave it to his uncle who had earlier sent him the money to purchase the gun. But to take the gun out of the shop in Virginia, Abramski had to undergo a background check, and even though he was buying the gun for his uncle, he certified that he would be the legal owner of the gun.

              Had Abramski paid for the gun in Virginia but let the dealer ship it to another dealer in the uncle’s hometown, he would have been following the law. But by walking out of the Virginia gun shop with a gun which he knew was going to be given to someone else, he had committed what we call a ‘straw sale.’

              Abramski didn’t lie on the 4473 because he was going to sell the gun to a ‘street thug.’ He lied to save himself the cost of shipping the gun to a dealer in another state.

              The real problem with gun laws, and this is probably true of the legal system in general, is that you can’t write a law that compensates for stupidity, and there’s plenty of stupidity floating around the NRA.

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Does Public Health Research Really Explain Gun Violence?

 Before I get into the body of this column, let me make one thing very, very clear. Mike the Gun Guy™ has not decided to switch sides and begin promoting the false narratives about gun violence used by my friends in the NRA. I do not believe that having a gun around is more of a benefit than a risk; I do not believe that civilians, trained or not, should be walking around with guns; I do not believe that when Mike Bloomberg, et. al., takes away all the guns, that only the ‘bad guys’ will have guns. 

On the other hand, the fact that I do not subscribe to the most hallowed beliefs of Gun-nut Nation doesn’t mean I am willing to accept the basic assumptions or arguments about gun violence promoted by the gun-control side. And the reason I cannot accept the current gun-control narrative is that it is based on public health research by scholars at first-rate institutions like Johns Hopkins and Harvard, and I find most of this research to be fundamentally flawed.

Public health gun research does not lead to substantive advances in firearm regulation for three reasons: (1). The researchers know absolutely nothing about the industry which they believe needs more effective regulation; (2). the research never focuses on the behavior of individuals who commit 85% of all intentional gun violence by picking up a gun and shooting someone else; (3). the research uses data which is chosen to promote an answer to the problem of gun violence rather than to figure out how to understand the problem itself.

Along with raising these concerns about the value and validity of public health gun research, I want to raise one more issue which is the most troublesome of all. To put it bluntly: I have never (read never) encountered a field of academic research in which the researchers are as unwilling and/or unable to engage in critical, public discussions about their own work. If these scholars consider that the absence of such a critical dialog helps them better understand both the possibilities and the limits of their research, then all I can say is that this field of academic research fundamentally differs from every other academic field, including other research done by public health.

Yesterday I attended a presentation about a new strategy for diagnosing autism that is being tested at the Harvard School of Public Health. The lecture was presented before a room of clinicians and medical students who were encouraged to ask serious questions about the methods and findings of the strategy itself. Do any of the scholars who conduct gun violence research ever appear before audiences other than various gun-control groups who already agree with what they are going to say? They don’t.

Here’s an example of how seriously flawed gun research can be and how such flaws take us further, rather than closer to solving the public health crisis caused by guns. David Hemenway has made an international reputation for himself by arguing that the United States suffers an inordinately high level of fatal violence because we have so many guns. He has made this argument in numerous articles as well as in his formative book. 

In the book (2nd edn., page 2) he compares gun homicides in the U.S. with homicide rates in other ‘frontier’ countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and finds that the overall U.S. rate is  6.1 (for 1999 – 2000) while in the other countries it is 1.7 or 1.8. That difference is because we have twice as many households with guns, even though rates of non-fatal violent crimes in those other countries (burglary, robbery, rape) are either higher or the same.

I don’t recall the last time I listened to a public discussion about gun violence or looked at a gun-control website that I didn’t see reference to this argument again, again and again. But what I find most interesting about Hemenway’s approach is not what he says, but what he doesn’t say. Because the fact is that the non-gun homicide rate in the U.S. is more than twice as great as the non-gun homicide rate anywhere else. And while Hemenway gives us those comparative numbers, he ignores what they really mean.

Because if you think the imbalance in violence between the United States and other advanced countries started when the NRA or John Lott began promoting a gun culture, think again. In fact, we were killing people at a much faster rate than other advanced countries all the way back to the decades prior to World War I.

It’s one thing to argue that we are a violent society because we own so many guns. But are there other, equally compelling explanations that might inform us as to why the United States may be a more violent society pari passu? I’m not saying that Hemenway’s argument is totally wrong; I am saying that it is, at best, incomplete. And I am still waiting for anyone in the public health research community to consider that using incomplete arguments as a guide to public policy just doesn’t work.

If any of my public health research friends want to submit a response, I’ll be happy to post it here.

Why Do (Many) Americans Own Guns?

All my friends in the gun-control movement keep telling me that we can reduce gun violence by just enacting some ‘reasonable’ or ‘common-sense’ laws. I suppose that what they mean are laws that even gun owners will agree should be passed, like extending background checks to personal transfers, red-flag laws, ‘common-sense’ things like that. Our friends at the Hopkins group have published a big study which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that most gun owners really do support those ‘reasonable’ laws.

That’s all fine and well except for one, little thing. If you asked the average gun owner what he thinks would be the best way to reduce gun violence, he’d probably say that we should get rid of all gun-free zones. Or maybe put armed guards in all schools. Or better yet, allow everyone who wants to carry a gun to carry it from state to state.

In other words, all these ‘common-sense’ gun laws whose benefits are touted by every gun-control organization are only considered ‘reasonable’ by people who, for the most part, don’t own guns. And if all those folks really want to find a way to communicate with gun owners in order to come up with some ‘reasonable’ regulations that might really gain Gun-nut Nation’s support, maybe they would start out by trying to figure out why people own guns. After all, a gun isn’t like a car- you don’t need to own a gun in order to get to work. And you also don’t really need to own a gun to protect yourself from ISIS, or a street thug, or even from gun-grabbers like Joe Biden or Crazy Bern.

Back in 2015, our friends at Harvard published a very detailed study on who owns guns in America and why they own their guns. What they found is that gun owners own handguns primarily for protection  and own long guns for hunting and sport. It took a whole study to figure that one out? After all, it’s not as if you can’t take down Bambi with a Glock, but that’s not the way it’s usually done.

If our public health friends want to really help us figure out how to talk to gun owners about how to reduce gun violence, they might ask whether just knowing that people buy handguns for personal protection really tells them anything at all. Colt began making and selling a self-defense pocket pistol in 1903, which was long before Dana Loesch got on NRA-TV to warn all America’s housewives to defend themselves against street ‘thugs.’

It’s not as if walking around with a Glock in your pocket is the only way people can protect themselves from crime. In fact, most people aren’t wandering around with a Glock and they don’t seem to feel any more vulnerable than the guys and a few gals who walk around armed. If public health researchers think they are really explaining anything when they publish another study showing that the number of people who actually use a gun to prevent a crime is somewhere between zero and zilch, maybe they should think again. The folks who come into my gun shop to buy a gun for ‘personal protection’ couldn’t care less what some egg-head from Harvard believes.

All I know is that the rate of violent crime across the U.S. continues to decline, but the percentage of the population which believes that having a gun around is more of a benefit than a risk continues to increase. How do we account for such cognitive dissonance when it comes to the question of guns?

We don’t. We simply pretend that somewhere, somehow we can create a magic formula that will get gun owners and non-gun owners on the same page. In the meantime, deaths from intentional shootings have increased by more than 25% over the last ten years.

Isn’t it about time we substituted the word ‘effective’ for words like ‘reasonable’ or ‘common -sense’ when it comes to promoting new gun laws?

Bye-Bye American Pie.

              When I was a kid, my father’s favorite gadget was a hand-held electric drill which he used to make holes in the walls whenever we needed an additional shelf to hold clothing, books, toys, or any other household crap. The drill was made by Remington; that’s right, the same company which made all those rifles and shotguns over the years.

              I don’t know at what point Remington gave up making drills, but I never imagined that the company would ever give up making guns. Guess what? To all intents and purposes, the gun maker founded in 1816 has given up the ghost. Which it looks like may happen now to another iconic gun brand which first started making guns back in 1852.

              Earlier this week, Smith & Wesson announced they were going to dissolve a company formed in 2016 known as American Outdoor Brands (AOBC). This was Smith & Wesson plus a few small companies making gun accessories and other consumer ‘outdoor’ products, but basically it was the Springfield gun maker operating under a different name.  When the bait-and-switch took place in 2016, the company’s stock was selling for $22 a share. Yesterday it closed at $8.36. So much for how Wall Street has reacted to what Jim Dabney, the company President, refers to as the “potential for organic and inorganic growth.”

              Going forward, Smith & Wesson will be a separate company making guns. American Outdoor Brands will focus on building its unique collection of outdoor consumer products with such iconic names as Hooyman and Lockdown.  In case you haven’t heard of these great products, Hooyman makes hand saws used by hunters to build a tree-stand in the woods, Lockdown makes shelving for the interior of gun safes. If you take a look at the brands which comprise the AOBC family, you’ll notice that virtually every product appeals to the same consumers who happen to own guns. Incidentally, when AOBC made its announcement about splitting the two companies, the stock price jumped sky high from $7.90 to $8.46. Now it’s drifting back down to where it belongs.

              What’s really going on here is that the folks who run Smith & Wesson see the handwriting on the wall and the handwriting ain’t good. A big chunk of the company’s revenues come from sales of their AR-15 assault rifles, and following the Supreme Court’s announcement which lets the Sandy Hook lawsuit go forward, at some point this product line may well disappear. The kid who shot himself and five other students yesterday at Saugus High School used a 45-caliber pistol which is the type of weapon on which the entire financial livelihood of S&W and therefore AOBC depends. Think there won’t be a new gun law if Trump and his Senate GOP allies go bye-bye next year? Think again.

              For all the talk about armed, self-defense and how the 2nd-Amendment gives Americans the ‘right’ to own guns, I always thought the gun business was something much more suited to the life I experienced as a kid than the lives that most of us lead now. And while it’s true that as many as 40 percent of American homes contain guns, it’s not as if the number of guns being carried around are even a fraction of the number of people walking around with droids. Last night we were eating dinner in a local restaurant where the dining room contained about 15 tables, and at every table there was at least one person playing around with their phone. How many diners do you figure had guns on their persons? One – me.

              The joke used to be that if you wanted to make a million in the gun business, you had to start with two million.  I’m beginning to think that maybe the joke should go like this: Want to make a million in the gun business? Go into another business. Guns may be as American as apple pie, but many of us are now eating fresh fruit for dessert.

Guess What? Gun Violence Has Become an Investment Opportunity.

              Sooner or later I knew it would happen. Gun violence has become an investment opportunity. Or I should say, talking about gun violence has now become a way to bring investors together who can try to make a buck by putting dough into various new ventures and other schemes.

              Want to get in on the ground floor?  There’s a conference being held in New York City  on December 12 whose chief sponsor is an outfit called Northwell Health, which owns and operates more than 20 hospitals in New York State. Chief among these hospitals are Long Island Jewish Hospital and North Shore Hospital which, along with more than 700 outpatient clinics and other facilities, employs more than 68,000 and runs more than 50 of those cutsie, little ‘urgent care’ centers which keep popping up all over the place.

              I think it’s really interesting that a medical conglomerate which doesn’t operate a single health facility in any inner-city neighborhood would get interested in health issues related to guns. If I were to take the time to analyze gun-violence rates in the areas served by Northwell’s hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehab and dialysis centers, pharmacies, imaging and everything else, the baseline number for gun-violence injuries would be somewhere around zilch.  So how come a medical system which treats the patient population least likely to suffer gun injuries is all of a sudden so concerned about what their CEO refers to as ‘this public health crisis?’

              Maybe it’s because Northwell has teamed up for this big deal with a private investment firm, Landmark Ventures, which holds what they refer to as ‘carefully curated’ events connecting ‘thought leaders, C-level executives, innovators and entrepreneurs.’ The purpose is to ‘build strategic relationships and partnerships with top industry dealmakers.’ In other words, Davos Lite.

              So there you have it. Gun violence has now become a vehicle for talking about the latest and greatest investment opportunities that might just be relevant to the medical field. After all, the medical industry now cranks out more than $3.65 trillion every year. That’s not chopped liver even in my book.

              Coming up with new medical products happens as well to be a particular end-game for Northwell Health, which runs a medical-products lab that has gone heavily into a new medical technology, ‘bioelectronic medicine’ which promises to replace pain-killing drugs with electronic impulses that will control the nerves which create pain. These products, none of which are yet on the market, also are being developed to control bleeds. Is that the connection with injuries caused by guns? Maybe they are working on some kind of electronic impulse that will inhibit all those street thugs from taking out their Glocks because ‘he dissed me.’

              In any case, you may recall that back in February, the American College of Surgeons hosted a national, gun-violence ‘summit’ where representatives of more than 40 medical organizations showed up, spent a day blabbing back and forth and issued the usual laundry-list of recommendations for reducing gun violence through the application of various ‘sensible’ gun laws. Then everyone went home and that was the end of that.

              Funny, but the invitation sent out by Landmark Ventures for the ‘carefully curated’ New York event went to the same groups who showed up at Chicago, along with companies like Wal Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, who have stopped selling black guns. Oh well, you never know what will happen when you get a bunch of sporting-goods salesmen in a room with a high-level assortment of innovators and entrepreneurs.

              If you catch a slight bit of sarcasm in my text, it’s not by accident but by design. Five or six years ago, you could go to any number of conferences which bring ‘thought leaders’ together but you wouldn’t hear any discussions about guns. Now such conclaves seem to be breaking out all over the place.

              There’s only one little problem. Basically, these confabs don’t accomplish a friggin’ thing. Unless what you’re just trying to accomplish has really nothing to do with the violence caused by guns.

The Sandy Hook Case Moves Forward.

              On December 14, 2012 a 20-year old first murdered his mother, then shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, quickly killing 20 young kids and 6 adults before taking his own life.  He left behind a community so devastated that the school building had to be torn down.

              Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court, that’s the court with all those pro-gun judges, declined to hear an appeal of a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to allow a lawsuit against the gun maker to go forward. After seven years, it appears that the parents of some of those victims will finally get their day in court.

              The gun industry will also get its day in court. And when this day dawns, the gun industry will, for the very first time, have to prove that at least one of its products isn’t too dangerous to be manufactured and sold.

              Way back in the good old days, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the gun industry made most of its products for hunting and sport. Companies like Winchester, Ithaca, Remington and Harrington & Richardson made millions of rifles and shotguns that could be found in just about every rural home. When those homes all disappeared, ditto the guns.

The gun industry, not wanting to go the way of the companies that made mixmasters or typewriters, moved quickly into new product lines based on the idea that guns make us safe and secure. The studies which claimed that guns protected their owners from crime had more holes than a slice of Dorman’s swiss cheese, but since when do we decide what to buy based on facts?

The bottom line is that the guns which started to sell more frequently beginning in the 1990’s weren’t designed for hunting or sport. They were designed to do one thing and one thing only – to kill or injure men, women and children, regardless of how or why those killings and injuries occurred.

The gun industry knew full well that pretending that a military rifle like an AR-15 was just another ‘sporting gun’ had no basis in truth. But so what? Nobody was going to sue gun manufacturers just because they came up with a clever slogan as a way to sell more guns.

At the same time the gun industry was avoiding the issue of product lethality, our friends in Gun-control Nation were doing exactly the same thing. Instead of holding gun makers accountable for the dangerousness of their products, they began promoting the idea that we can reduce gun violence by keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ But what happens when it turns out that most of the mass shooters commit their rampages with an perfectly legal guns?

The two sides in the gun debate avoid the issue of lethality because each side feels it incumbent upon themselves to pretend reverence for the cherished 2nd Amendment.  The pro-gun side never misses an opportunity to ballyhoo (and usually mis-state) the Heller decision, even though prior to 2008 Americans were armed to the teeth without the benefit of any Constitutional protection at all. The anti-gun gang has no choice but to pretend an equally-strong belief in the 2nd-Amendment. After all, who among us would ever dare question the validity of Constitutional ‘rights,’ even if one of those ‘rights’ allows me to yank out my Glock and pop a cap on your head?

The Sandy Hook case cuts through all that nonsense and puts the issue of lethality right where it belongs; namely, whether the manufacturers of this particular commodity can pretend that this item is no more dangerous than any other product bought at the corner store.

The courts have long held that government has a ‘compelling interest’ to protect the community from harm. If someone knows anything more harmful than some jacked-up kid wandering around with an assault rifle and a bunch of 30-shot mags, I’d like to know what it is.  

Richard Douglas: The Difference Between AR-15 and Mini-14

In this post I’m going to show you the difference between the AR-15 and Mini-14.

Including:

  • Performance
  • Build
  • Specifications
  • Lots more

So if you’re wondering the difference between these two proven workhorses, this article is for you. Let’s get started!

Performance

The reliability and accuracy of both of these assault rifles in the field are up to par with autoloader standards, which are typically slightly less than those of pump or bolt action rifles.

However, the slight edge favors the Mini-14 with its conventional gas piston operated action which requires less maintenance and upkeep over time as opposed to the AR-15’s direct impingement gas operating system.

Many personal reviews draw the conclusion that the AR-15 rifle is simpler to operate and has a more intuitive feel and design. On the other hand, others prefer the more durable and cleaner operating action of the Mini-14.

The AR-15 is extremely accurate within 500 yards, especially if you attach accessories like a .17 HMR optic. On the other hand, the Mini-14 is accurate within 200 yards since it’s designed to be used as a varmint-style ranch rifle. That said, they’re both mechanically accurate rifles.

Look & Feel

Both of these rifles have an easily-recognizable, signature look.

The AR-15 sports a lightweight, tactical body weighing in around six pounds without magazine. On the other hand, the Mini-14 looks more like a hunting rifle that weighs approximately seven pounds and four ounces empty.

The Mini-14 can prove the more conspicuous, low-profile rifle in practice. The all-black, synthetic look of the AR-15 might be off putting for those who intend to transport it around in the back of the pickup truck among other places, without attracting unwanted attention.

Materials & Build

These rifles are both manufactured by American companies: AR-15 by Colt Manufacturing Company and the Mini-14 by Ruger Firearms. The build quality of both of these firearms are on par for top-notch American built hardware.

The AR-15 features a 16” barrel made of steel while the Mini-14 barrel is slightly longer at 16⅛” and made of stainless steel — which could prove vital for boaters and those who live in areas of humid climate where rust abatement is a constant issue.

The buttstock and handguard of both rifles consists of black synthetic plastic with the option of upgrading to a wooden buttstock for the Mini-14 rifle for the more outdoorsy look.

Specifications & Price

The AR-15 and the Mini-14 both conveniently share the same caliber — .223 Remington or 5.56 mm NATO. This versatile caliber proves ideal for small game hunting, home defense, and even when SHTF moments.

The AR-15 measures in as the shorter rifle with the overall length averaging around 32-⅝” to 35-¾” depending on attachments and modifications compared to that of the Mini-14 which ranges from 34” to 37-¾”. The shorter length gives the slight edge of maneuverability and portability to the AR-15. 

The price department also offers a slim advantage to the AR-15 with an average MSRP of $899, while the Mini-14 typically sells for $989. These prices apply to basic models with no aftermarket attachments or modifications such as telescopic sight, bipod stand, tactical flashlight or laser, etc.

Final Thoughts

The final breakdown of the differences between the AR-15 and the Mini-14 reach the long-awaited conclusion, drumroll please…

The Colt AR-15 offers many advantages such as a lightweight and compact design with intuitive handling, while the Mini-14 boasts a more reliable firing mechanism along with a stainless steel construction for easy maintenance and greater durability.

These two titans in the semi-automatic game, stand unequaled in providing enthusiasts with non-stop thrills in the shooting range or on the hunt for big game. The only way to settle this tireless debate would be for you to test it yourself and send some lead down the shooting range. 

That said, I’d like to turn it over to you:

Do you prefer the AR-15 or Mini-14? Or perhaps both? Let me know in the comments down below.

Bloomberg-Watts Vs. LaPierre Isn’t A Fair Fight.

              I went to my first NRA show in 1980. It was held in Philadelphia (of all places) and featured an appearance by a Presidential candidate named Ronald Reagan. I don’t recall his speech attracting much attention, I also don’t recall that there were any vendors promoting ‘tactical’ products or any of the other crap which currently provides the gun industry with its marketing mantra about how and why guns are needed for personal defense.

              That was then, this is now. The last time I went to the NRA, which was the 2014 Indianapolis gathering, you would have thought we were one step away from having to defend ourselves from an ISIS invasion or from a complete and total disarming of the American population, or both. No matter where you looked, there was endless signage exhorting everyone to prove their patriotism by making sure that liberals, gun-grabbers and all sorts of other left-wing radicals (including the African-born occupant of the White House) would never get a chance to take away ‘our’ guns.

              At some point during the Indianapolis hoopla I wandered into the business meeting where the now-deposed head of the NRA-ILA, Chris Cox, was giving a speech. And here was the sentence that I remember most of all: “The 5 million members of the NRA will not allow Michael Bloomberg to lie his way, buy his way, or bully his way into taking away our Second Amendment rights!” The reason I remember this line was because the week prior to the show, the New York Times carried an article which claimed that Mayor Mike had decided to ante up $50 million to promote gun-control programs, chiefly through investing in the growth of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, founded by Shannon Watts.

              Yesterday the Washington Post took some time out from celebrating the doomed Presidency of Schmuck-o Trump to interview Shannon Watts, the headline reading: “The NRA is weaker than they’ve ever been.” Which, if anything, is something of an understatement given what has happened to the boys in Fairfax over the last couple of years. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has gone from getting the red-carpet treatment at the White House to shutting down its media channel, losing Board members and spending what little dough it has in the  bank account to defend itself from legal threats all over the place. You think the investigation into the NRA‘s non-profit status being conducted by the state whose Governor wrote the infamous Clinton plan to regulate the gun industry isn’t a serious threat?  Think again.

              In the olden days, the only reason the NRA was considered such a powerful force was that the other side, the gun-control side, didn’t have any kind of financial or organizational clout. But once Mayor Mike decided to move into the business of growing a gun-control movement, I knew that the NRA‘s dominance in the public discussion about guns would quickly come to an end. And I didn’t have to be any kind of self-appointed genius to figure that one out. I simply made a quick comparison between the achievements and experiences of Mike Bloomberg versus Wayne LaPierre.

              Mike Bloomberg took a $10 million partnership payment from Salomon Brothers in 1981 and created an international media company which today has locations worldwide, employs more than 20,000 and may have annual revenues in excess of $10 billion bucks. He’s probably worth more than $50 billion, which makes Wayne-o’s alleged financial excesses look like chump change.

On the other hand, Wayne LaPierre has never worked in the private sector and his experience in building any kind of organization adds up to zilch.  When he took over the NRA in 1991, he pushed the membership from 2.5 to 3.5 million; in the process he entirely used up the organization’s financial reserves. So much for Wayne-o’s business acumen.

If the NRA stops trying to lead the alt-right and goes back to representing the legitimate needs of hunters and sport shooters, this would be a very good thing. Going up against Shannon and Mike is something they better avoid.

Think The NRA Throws So Much Money Around? Think Again.

              The mail today included a new and interesting messaging resource for the gun debate, namely, a printed newsletter, The Brady Report, published by our friends at the Brady Campaign. It’s a glossy, four-page document containing brief stories about how the Brady organization is coming down hard on Gun-nut Nation as we gear up for next year’s national campaign. 

              I get almost daily mailings from the NRA, along with a clothing catalog and requests for money from Wayne-o who seems to think that the stink which came out of the stories about his financial flim-flams are a thing of the past. But this is the first time I have ever received a printed communication from the good guys on the other side.

              What caught my eye about the Brady newsletter, however, was a comment from Kris Brown, the President of Brady, who said this: “the gun industry has been making massive donations to their political defenders, making it nearly impossible to pass sensible, lifesaving measures or even to hold manufacturers accountable and put unscrupulous dealers out of business.”

              I’ve been hearing about these ‘massive donations’ made by the gun industry to their political friends for lo, these many years. With all due respect to our friends at Brady and in particular to a dedicated and committed activist like Kris Brown, I’m just not sure this so-called ‘massive’ financial support for pro-gun members of Congress is really all that massive or makes all that much difference at all.

              In 2018, the average cost of a Congressional campaign was $1.5 million for a House seat, more than $5 million for a statewide race. According to Open Secrets, the NRA gave a total of just under $700,000  to all GOP Congressional candidates, which means that, on average, each member of the red team got $2,500 bucks. That’s less than two-tenths of 1 percent of the money needed to run a Congressional campaign. Some of the key GOP leadership in both houses got more – Cruz (R-TX) gets $9,900, Scalise (R-LA) gets $5,450, but most of the spear-carriers are given a whole, big two grand for their campaigns.

              As for the gun manufacturers themselves, companies like Smith & Wesson, Glock and Sig don’t have a PAC.  In fact, even though they benefit from the lobbying done on their behalf by the NRA, in the greater scheme of things they don’t give zilch. The NRA‘s lobbying arm, NRA-ILA, gets its money from the same nickel-and-dime donations the NRA receives from its four million or five million or whatever number of members the organization claims to have.

              Let me make one point very clear, okay?  If the NRA were to close down tomorrow it would make no difference to me.  In fact, they would probably first try to sell off all their nice embossed polo shirts and I’d jump at the opportunity to buy a couple of their shirts at half price. But the argument they make about being the ‘first line of defense’ for the 2nd Amendment has about as much reality behind it as the argument made by Brady and other gun-control groups who claim they are the ‘last line of defense’ against the all-powerful NRA.

              The reason most red-state politicians vote pro-gun is because they represent constituents for whom owning a gun is no different than owning any other basic consumer item found around the house. The average gun owner who walks into my gun shop to buy another gun puts about as much psychic concern into that decision as he puts into deciding which lottery ticket to buy when he stops at the mini-mart for coffee on his way to work.

              Until and unless the gun-control movement confronts the fact that gun nuts don’t think of their guns as ‘weapons of war,’ or ‘threats to public health’ or any other fearsome sobriquet used to describe what is, to them,  just another adult toy, there won’t be the slightest chance that the gun industry will actually have to start putting its money where its mouth is to continue keeping America awash in gun.

Is Concealed-Carry Good Or Bad?

              Last week when I was at the gun show, I overheard a conversation between three gents standing in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk, which was the most popular booth at the show. The topic being discussed in very serious tones was this: If you could only keep one handgun to carry around for self-defense, which gun would it be?

              Now readers of this column may find such a discussion ridiculous, stupid, or worse, but what do you want three guys on Social Security to talk about – the national debt? I mean, what could be more important to the future of American civilization than whether I should be walking around with a Sig, a Springfield or a Glock?

              The truth is that most, if not nearly all the 15 to 20 million Americans who go to the trouble of getting a concealed-carry (CCW) permit rarely, if ever actually carry a gun. First of all, you don’t need to carry a gun because it’s not as if you will ever find yourself in a situation where the gun would make the difference between getting or not getting hurt. Second, the gun is heavy and unless it’s kept concealed you’re going to wind up in the back of the patrol car with your gun comfortably resting on the front seat. Third and most important, sooner or later you’ll put the gun on the floor so that you’re more comfortable while you take a dump, and the gun will somehow not go back into the holster while you hitch up your pants.

              There isn’t a single boy in the United States who by the age of twelve hasn’t seen hundreds of bad guys being shot in video games, movies or TV.  If anything makes America exceptional, it’s how we have created a culture which celebrates ‘virtuous violence’ with the use of a gun. How many states now have stand-your ground laws?  Try thirty-three.

              Notwithstanding the sanctimonious and holier-than-thou preaching of so-called gun experts like David Hemenway and John Donahue, the fact is that gun owners with concealed-carry licenses are not only extremely law-abiding, but rarely, if ever, engage in unlawful or dangerous behavior with their guns. The last time I checked, the Violence Policy Center has still been unable to identify more than 600 CCW-licensed individuals who committed a fatal gun assault over the last 12 years.  Fifteen million people have CCW, less than 50 commit a fatal gun assault every year and that makes CCW-holders a threat to community safety?  Give me a break.

              On the other hand, anyone who thinks that these law-abiding armed citizens constitute the frontline of defense against all those street ‘thugs’ is also just blowing smoke.  Sure, every once in a while someone pulls a gun out from underneath the counter and plans to rob the mini-mart go awry. But the NRA has never been able to validate such acts of civilian bravery more than 50 times a year.  The bottom line is that the notion that we are becoming a nation of armed citizens basically gets down to the old guys who were amusing themselves talking about their favorite handgun while standing on the Dunkin’ Donuts line.

              What motivated me to write this column was an exchange between Corey Booker and Meghan McCain on The View, in which Meghan claimed that her brother would never give up his guns if Booker became President in 2021 and instituted a gun buyback plan. If the government repurchased all AR rifles there would be plenty of black guns that wouldn’t get turned in. But such a buyback would also result in no more new assault rifles being made or sold.

              Now if someone would finally be honest enough to admit that by repurchasing all guns which really cause gun violence (i.e., handguns) then maybe, just maybe we could end gun violence once and for all.  But if we did that, what would those guys waiting for their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee have to talk about?  The national debt?