Weapons Of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of Police.

A new column from our friends at Ammo.com.

The claim often heard from gun grabbers in their efforts to pass more gun control legislation is that all they’re trying to do is get the “weapons of war off our streets,” but it’s simply untrue that “weapons of war” are available to the general public. You’d last about three minutes in a real war with an AR-15, even with one of the most aggressive builds you can get your hands on. The truth is that the only people with “weapons of war” on America’s streets are, increasingly, the police.

Thanks primarily to the 1033 Program which allows law enforcement agencies to get their hands on Department of Defense technology and the Bush-era War on Terror, American police have received a startling amount of heavy-duty, military-grade hardware. Between 1998 and 2014, the dollar value of military hardware sent to police departments skyrocketed from $9.4 million to $796.8 million.

And just as when “all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”, militarized police have become more willing to use their new weapons when carrying out law enforcement tasks. For example, the number of SWAT raids in the United States grew dramatically from about 3,000 in 1980, to a whopping 50,000 SWAT raids in 2014, according to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

To say that the militarization of the police is nothing new is to ignore America’s recent history as well as the long-standing model of a peace officer. As the police have militarized and the Pentagon backs major players in Hollywood, the focus has shifted from one who keeps the peace to one who enforces the law – and that’s an important difference.

What Is the Difference Between a Law Enforcement Officer and a Peace Officer?

The model for police, and the constables and sheriffs before them prior to the late 20th Century, was that of a peace officer. In many states, it’s not even true that police are law enforcement officers – even though it’s a term frequently used by the police and their fans in the “Blue Lives Matter,” “Thin Blue Line,” and “Back the Blue” movements.

It’s a subtle, but important, distinction: Is the role of the police to enforce the law or to keep the peace? Consider the difference between the police force of a typical American city and the fictional Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show. The former is concerned primarily with enforcing the law for its own sake and catching as many “lawbreakers” as possible. The latter, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with keeping the peace. Sometimes that means looking the other way when laws get broken.

This isn’t simply a matter of how pleasant or unpleasant it is to deal with the police. Law enforcement officers might be writing parking tickets in the middle of a burglary epidemic due to their need to enforce all the laws all the time. Conversely, a peace officer is going to ignore a lot of low-level, habitual crime – even when there are clear victims (for example, vandalism or loitering) – because he emphasizes going out and catching violent and dangerous criminals. There’s no impulse to arrest a guy who habitually smokes weed on a street corner if he’s providing the police with valuable information leading to the arrest of violent criminals.

Peace officers might have the need for a sidearm and a shotgun, but they have little or no need for, say, a tank, to say nothing of the variety of nasty DARPA weapons police departments are increasingly wanting and getting.

The Origins of Militarized Police

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceBefore we begin talking about the militarized American police, it’s worth mentioning that United States law specifically prohibits the military from enforcing the laws in the U.S. That’s why we don’t have the Army enforcing the law, and also why we don’t have a military-style gendarmerie as is common in Europe. This law, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, was passed after the removal of federal troops from the Southern states following the end of Reconstruction. With rare exception, the federal government is not allowed to use the Army or the Air Force to enforce the law and the Navy has strict regulations for both the Navy and Marine Corps regarding the use of either for domestic law enforcement.

However, this law has been somewhat undermined due to police forces becoming so much like the military, which began during Prohibition in the 1920s. Organized crime got its first foothold in American life thanks to the lucrative black market in liquor. This was also the golden age of bank robbery with figures like Bonnie and ClydePretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger becoming folk heroes. The Thompson submachine gun and the Browning Automatic Rifle were increasingly used by organized crime and the “stars” of bank robbery.

The Prohibition Era saw domestic police departments wielding automatic weapons for the first time. There was nothing nefarious about this from the perspective of local police departments. In fact, it was the police departments most regularly in contact with vicious organized crime, such as Chicago and Kansas City, who led the way in arming their officers with automatic weapons and armored vehicles. At least two rounds of ammunition, the .38 Super and the .357 Magnum, were developed with the express purpose of being able to penetrate the early bulletproof vests worn by gangsters in the Prohibition Era.

Overall crime increased by 24 percent during the first two years of Prohibition. This included a nine-percent increase in theft and burglary, a 13-percent increase in homicides, and a 13-percent increase in assault and battery. Overall, police department costs increased by 11.4 percent. However, because the police were busy fighting the scourge of demon alcohol, it was difficult for them to target crimes unrelated to this. In fact, a study of South Carolina counties that enforced Prohibition versus those who didn’t found a whopping 30- to 60-percent increase in homicides in the counties who enforced the law. All of this is according to Charles Hanson Towne in The Rise and Fall of Prohibition: The Human Side of What the Eighteenth Amendment Has Done to the United States.

This era of militarization drew to a close with the end of Prohibition itself. However, the militarization of police would resume again a few decades down the line.

The Second Wave of Militarized Police

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceThe second wave of police militarization begins with the race riots in the 1950s and 1960s, with the Watts Riots in 1965 gaining a sort of gravitas. The LAPD used military-style weapons and tactics to end the riots. What’s more, an increasingly militant civil rights movement was seen by the CIA as an arm of international Communism. While there is some merit to this view, it’s certainly true that it led to a philosophy of increasingly militarized police.

The militarization of police is not by any means based on manufactured and artificial paranoia. Even in the case of Prohibition, it’s a simple fact that organized crime used weapons with firepower far in excess of what the police had access to. Similarly, the second wave of militarized police was partly in response to an increasingly militarized organized crime thanks in part to the beginnings of the War on Drugs.

On one hand, the police were encountering more and more dangerous organized crime syndicates, such as the Medellin Cartel and street gangs like the Gangster Disciples. Urban unrest included not just race riots like the aforementioned Watts Riots and the 1967 riots in Detroit, but also the riot outside of the 1968 Democratic Party Convention. Domestic terrorist organizations like the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the Earth Liberation Front likewise offered increased challenges to law enforcement.

Unrelated to the War on Drugs, the 1986 FBI Miami shootout was a game-changer for law enforcement budgets. Police outnumbered suspects by a factor of four. Despite this, they were pinned down by suppressive gunfire. The incident lasted five minutes and 145 rounds were fired. The suspects were hit multiple times, but continued to fight in part because the officers’ and agents’ service revolvers did not have sufficient stopping power. In response, there was a movement to increase the firepower of service revolvers. This is when semi-automatic pistols began to replace the revolver and larger magazines became the rule. Rifles, shotguns, and heavier body armor also saw increased adoption after this shootout.

Another incident accelerating the militarization of police is the North Hollywood shootout of 1997. This bank robbery left two dead (the perps) and 20 wounded – 12 police officers and eight civilians. It lasted 44 minutes, an eternity in terms of police shootouts, with approximately 2,000 rounds fired. The perps got off approximately twice as many rounds as the police officers on the scene, but the game-changer was the arrival of the SWAT team, who had much more appropriate weaponry. This led to everyday police officers getting equipment that was customary for SWAT teams in the 1990s.

The 1033 Program

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceThe 1033 Program was enacted in the wake of the 1997 North Hollywood shootout. Created by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997, it allowed law enforcement agencies to get their hands on military hardware. Unsurprisingly, the preference was given to law enforcement engaged in anti-drug and counter-terror activity, underscoring the vital role of wars on abstract concepts in increasing the militarization of the police force. Bill Clinton – he of the massacres at Waco and Ruby Ridge – signed the bill into law.

$5.1 billion in material was transferred from the Department of Defense to local law enforcement between 1997 and 2014, with ammunition being the most common requisition. 8,000 law enforcement offices participate as of 2014.

Also included in this total are 20 different school law enforcement agencies. The Los Angeles School Police Department has requisitioned 61 assault rifles and three grenade launchers. Ten school police departments in the State of Texas and have requisitioned 25 automatic pistols, 64 M16s, 18 M14s, and tactical vests.

The program has come under bipartisan criticism lead by Rand Paul. Senator Paul stated that the program has “incentivized the militarization of local police precincts and helped municipal governments build what are essentially small armies.” Senator Claire McCaskill led the first investigation of the program starting in September 2014. At least one study found a correlation between the 1033 program and increased fatalities at the hands of law enforcement.

21st-Century Police Militarization

One of the big game-changers for militarization of police was the 9/11 attacks. This greatly eroded the Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure. Now police – local, state and federal – need to suspect “terrorism.” This provides the same convenient cover for police overreach that was previously offered by the War on Drugs.

President Obama gave new directives for the 1033 program that forbade police from acquiring certain weapons from the military. These include weaponized vehicles, grenade launchers and bayonets. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended these restrictions upon assuming office in 2017.

The propaganda war for militarization often comes under the rubric of a “war on police.” However, there is no factual basis for the idea that police officers are under some kind of unprecedented siege. The year 2015 had one of the lowest levels of police murders on record. Not only were fewer police officers being killed on the job, far fewer people were attempting to hurt police officers.

The weapons that come to local police departments through the 1033 pipeline are direct from the military and, by extension, the War on Terror.

Training with military units is also increasingly common according to a report from the Cato Institute. The training generally takes place not with regular infantry units, but with specialized and elite groupings within the United States military – such as the Navy SEALs and the Army Rangers.

The Role of Civil Asset Forfeiture

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceCivil asset forfeiture (CAF) is a major driver in the militarization of the police force. Put simply, CAF is a legal principle that allows police to seize money and property from “suspected” criminals, which they can do without a warrant because the suspect’s property doesn’t have the presumption of innocence. Note that police do not have to convict or even indict. Indeed, indictments are not even filed in over 80 percent of all cases. Police can simply seize property, more or less at will, with some property harder to seize than others. Seizure of anything under $20,000 will almost certainly stand because that’s about what it’s going to cost you to fight CAF in court.

Most of the money raised through civil asset forfeiture is filed under “other.” This can be anything from a $600 coffee maker to a tank. Because the burden of proof is so low and the benefits are so high, CAF is effectively a legally allowed form of theft by police officers, allowing them to purchase military-grade hardware with stolen property. Here is a short list of military hardware purchased with civil asset forfeiture funds:

  • $5 million helicopter for the Los Angeles Police Department
  • $1 million mobile command bus for Prince George County, Maryland
  • $227,000 for a tank in Douglasville, GA, a town with a population of 32,000
  • $54,000 for 27 M-4 assault rifles in Braselton, GA, a town with a population of 9,476

While not the sole, nor even the primary, means by which the police are becoming militarized, this is a significant method for police departments to bankroll their own militarization.

Highlights of Police Militarization

It’s one thing to discuss police militarization simply in terms of weapons acquisition. It’s another to discuss police militarization in terms of actual incidents. Some high-profile incidents involving heavily militarized police are worth examining.

  • MOVE: In 1985, the Philadelphia police came into conflict with a militant black nationalist organization called MOVE over the clearing of a building. An armed standoff resulted in shots exchanged between the compound’s inhabitants and the police. Eventually, this erupted into a firefight involving both semi-automatic and automatic weapons. On the orders of the police commissioner, the building was bombed twice. The resulting fire spread to a total of 65 different houses in the neighborhood and caused 11 deaths, including five children under 13. Over 250 were left homeless due to the fires.
  • Ruby Ridge: This is notorious within in the Second Amendment and liberty movements, so it hardly needs to be repeated. In 1992, the United States Marshal Service attempted to serve a bench warrant at Ruby Ridge, the home of Randy Weaver and his family. His wife Vicki and his 14-year-old son Sammy were shot by USMS and FBI agents armed with M16s, sniper rifles and weaponized vehicles. Randy Weaver’s attorney made accusations of criminal wrongdoing and a resulting 14-day Senate investigation called for sweeping law enforcement reforms to avoid another similar incident. Federal officers also killed the Weaver family dog.
  • Branch Davidians: This is perhaps one of, if not the, archetypal example of a militarized police force greatly overreaching. Armed with .50 caliber rifles, M728 Combat Engineer Vehicles (which are effectively tanks) and M79 grenade launchers, the FBI and ATF engaged in a firefight with Branch Davidians inside. Controversy remains to this day with regard to who fired first and who started the fire that consumed the building, leaving 82 members of the church dead.

These are the big three, but there are many smaller events also worth mentioning. During the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina, private Blackwater contractors patrolled the streets with automatic weapons. They were accused of summary execution of looters. In a low point for militarized police in 2014, a SWAT team in Cornelia, Georgia severely mutilated the face of an 18-month-old baby boy with a flash bang grenade in a fruitless search for drugs.

The Role of SWAT Teams

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceSWAT teams are effectively the military of the police force. Begun in 1965 in Philadelphia, SWAT teams were conceived as a way to restrain urban unrest, deal with hostage situations or handle barricaded marksmen like Charles Whitman.

Indeed, early uses of SWAT seemed to be well within the range of appropriateness. In December 1969, the LAPD’s SWAT team squared off with the Black Panthers, with Daryl Gates requesting and receiving permission to use a grenade launcher. In May 1974, the same SWAT team had a several-hours-long gun battle with the Symbionese Liberation Army.

However, SWAT teams gradually began to tackle missions that were not, strictly speaking, appropriate for the tools in their toolbox. What’s more, once LAPD’s SWAT team became famous, every city seemed to want one. The number of SWAT teams in cities of 50,000 or more doubled between the mid-80s and late-90s, at which point 89 percent of all cities of this size had a SWAT team.

Some startling facts when it comes to SWAT teams:

  • 62% of all SWAT deployments were for drug raids
  • 79% of these were done on private residences
  • Only 7% of all raids were done for situations SWAT was invented for – namely barricades or hostage situations

Even smaller cities have SWAT teams now, which raises the question of why. Mission creep is the short answer, with SWAT teams now being used for operations far beyond the original scope of their work. Put simply, the SWAT team was not created to serve every search warrant that comes across the desk of a small-town police force.

SWAT teams ostensibly exist to respond to “high risk” scenarios. But there are seemingly no guidelines for what makes a situation high risk. Sometimes local SWAT teams use a threat matrix. However, these matrices are highly subjective and vulnerable to abuse. Partial responses are discouraged. Either the SWAT team is not deployed at all or there is a full-throttle response.

To use one example of why these matrices don’t work, let us consider the presence or absence of weapons. There is no way of knowing whether or not weapons will be present. So officers must subjectively guess whether or not they believe weapons will be present. Unfortunately, officers are pretty bad at this guessing game. According to an ACLU report, SWAT officers believed weapons were present in 35 percent of cases, but only actually found them in a scant 13 percent. In 36 percent of cases where SWAT was deployed to find drugs, no drugs were found.

Fusion Centers: Surveillance and Snooping

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceAs the military’s tools for surveillance become more powerful, this too will trickle down to the local police.

In at least one case, it already has. Fusion Centers are hubs for local, state and federal police to share information. They’re effectively intelligence-gathering done by various police agencies who pool their resources. While this isn’t an uncommon practice, the Fusion Centers have virtually no oversight and are filled with zeal for the War on Terror. While its primary existence was to surveil in the fight against terrorism, Fusion Centers have quickly ballooned to gather intelligence on just about anything – and it’s not just the police. The military participates in Fusion Centers, as does the private sector, which means they’re a privacy nightmare.

The federal government has pushed Fusion Centers and largely bankrolled them. Hundreds of FBI agents work with Fusion Centers, with the federal government providing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid. In the case of the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, the federal government created a Fusion Center at the state level, only eventually turning control of an ostensibly state agency to the state. 30 percent of these “state” agencies are physically located in federal office space.

Private sector companies collect, store and analyze data for Fusion Centers. This would be dangerous on its own, but the lack of any oversight makes it particularly troublesome. Even if a private sector has the best of intentions, malicious third-party actors could access some of your most sensitive data if it’s been datamined by a Fusion Center. A company without the best intentions can do all kinds of “government-approved” snooping into your personal affairs.

Another nasty surveillance tool currently being deployed by the police is the Stingray phone tracker. This is effectively a phony cell phone tower that snoops on cell phone calls, which can extract significant information about you from your cell phone. Originally to be used only in terrorism investigations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that the LAPD “has been using it for just about any investigation imaginable.” They can also be used to jam or otherwise interfere with your phone signal. Stingrays are highly mobile and can be mounted to just about any vehicle.

All of this is part of an overall drive for increased police surveillance starting at the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security and trickling down. “Total Information Awareness” was one of the more Orwellian euphemisms of the early Bush and Department of Homeland Security years. It was quickly renamed Terrorism Information Awareness, then codenamed “Basketball.” Its goal is to know everything, or at least as much as it can. In 2012, the New York Times reported that this program was “quietly thriving” at the National Security Agency.

The Information Awareness Office, established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA – who we will discuss more later), oversaw Total Information Awareness. They collect emails, social network identities, records for phone calls and credit card purchases, medical records and a host of other information with no need for a warrant. Congress defunded this program, but it exists under the auspices of a number of different agencies according to Edward Snowden.

Technologies developed by the Information Awareness Office (and in the wake of Snowden’s revelations, it’s worth noting that these are just the technologies that have been made public) includes:

How much of this has trickled down to your local police department is largely unknown.

The Detriments of a Militarized Police Force

There are a number of negative consequences arising from the existence of a militarized police force.

  • Civil Liberties: Chief among the problems presented by a militarized police force are civil liberties. Militarized police seems to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which forbids using the military to enforce domestic law in most cases and under ordinary circumstances.
  • Surveillance: The militarized police force also uses military-style forms of surveillance. A January 2017 report from the Cato Institute accused militarized police of “mission creep,” going beyond simple weapons and tactics and into surveillance.
  • Force: Veterans on the police force tend to have more complaints about excessive force and are more likely to discharge their weapons, according to a report from the Marshall Project.
  • Alienation: Militarized police are the antithesis of community policing, which leverages good community relations and the resources flowing from those relations to prevent and solve crimes. Military-style training for police, battle dress uniforms and even just the color black might provoke more aggression from officers. Named missions such as “War on Drugs” likewise make community policing more difficult.
  • Killing Dogs: There’s significant evidence suggesting that the more militarized a police force is, the more likely it is to shoot a dog. Yes, really. The Puppycide Database Project tracks these things.
  • Lack of Oversight: At the local, state and federal levels, there is little-to-no oversight when it comes to the militarization of the police. Most states do not keep tabs on the statistics of their SWAT teams. Where they do, reports are frequently incomplete and little-to-no action is taken on their basis. No federal agency collects information about local SWAT teams. There is little oversight of 1033 or SWAT teams either by the Department of Justice or the Department of Homeland Security.

All of this is perhaps why, under the Obama Justice Department, there was a push toward demilitarization of the police force. In 2015, the Task Force for 21st Century Policing recommended restriction of military hardware such as grenade launchers and armored vehicles. President Donald Trump has since reversed this, reinstating the entire 1033 program and remilitarizing police.

DARPA: Police Militarization of the Future

Weapons of War On Our Streets: A Guide to the Militarization of PoliceSince there is a clearly established pipeline running from the Pentagon’s latest and greatest toys, it’s not much of a stretch to say that the weapons being developed by the Pentagon today are going to be used on the streets of America in the very near future.

In fact, there’s an entire department of the Pentagon dedicated to developing futuristic weapons to help the United States win the new arms. It’s called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly known as DARPA. This agency has not only developed weapons, but also a number of contemporary technologies most people take for granted – such as GPS, graphic user interface, the mouse, and even the internet itself. Recent research includes more intuitive prosthetic limbs as well as brain implants that will help those with memory loss regain their memory.

But DARPA isn’t just working on projects like these with the promise to revolutionize medicine and increase the quality of human life. They also work on some rather nasty little projects that will almost certainly trickle down to your local police department through the 1033 program. Some of the futuristic weapons currently in development by DARPA include:

  • Active Denial System: The active denial system is an invisible ray gun heating the skin of people in a given area to 130 degrees. The targets instinctively flee, something that DARPA calls the “goodbye effect.” The end result can leave second- or third-degree burns on up to 20 percent of the body’s surface. The weapon has already been tested in Afghanistan.
  • Taser X12: Nearly everyone is familiar with the Taser. The Taser X12 is effectively that in 12-gauge shotgun form. This extends the reach of a Taser weapon from about 20 feet to about 100 feet.
  • Skull Piercing Microwaves: Yep, you read that right. One of the projects DARPA is working on right now leverages the audio effect of microwaves. This creates shockwaves inside the skull, which are read by the brain as sound. This can result in discomfort, incapacitation and brain damage.
  • Long-Range Acoustic Device: Sirens might not sound like a big deal, but the current ones being worked on by DARPA are so loud they can cause permanent hearing damage very quickly. Pittsburgh police already used this against protestors in 2009. More advanced sonic weapons can be deadly, including the Thunder Generator developed by the Israelis
  • Voice of God: This one sounds impossible, but it’s not. The Voice of God is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a weapon beaming words directly into your head so that you think God is talking to you. This leverages the same technology in LRADs, but for different effect.

These are just a few of the weapons that we know about. There is almost certainly far more frightening classified weapons coming down the pike over the next decade.

The tendency is strongly in the direction of increasingly militarized police. This renders the notion of “weapons of war on our streets” as a gun grabber argument exceptionally weak. The most heavily armed gang on the street isn’t your local street gang – it’s law enforcement. They have weapons far in excess to that of the average citizen or even the average criminal. This means resisting them can easily be deadly, even when you’re within your legal rights.

This raises a point worthy of consideration: The usual suspects will cry and rage at your ability to legally own an AR-15, a right codified by the United States Constitution. Rare is the gun grabber who makes any kind of stink when police use directed energy weapons. Remember that gun grabbers aren’t against guns – they’re just against yours.

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Want To End Gun Violence? Join The NRA.

From time immemorial I have been listening to my friends in Gun-control Nation complain about the power and influence of the NRA.  They have so much money, so many political connections and now they even have an unabashed booster in the Oval Office, even though his boosterism seems, of late, to have begun to fade.

              There’s no question that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has hit a rough patch. Revenues are have gone South, corporate partnerships are in disarray, their vaunted, new training program CarryGuard is a flop, and viewership of the NRA-TV media channel is down and staff has been laid off.

The biggest problem the NRA faces is that the gun industry has not shown any recovery from the doldrums into which it sank immediately after out first Kenyan-born President moved from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into a private home.  Try as they might, gun makers have simply never found a marketing message which makes people want to buy guns unless these same people are afraid that they won’t be able to buy or own guns.

Putting all these factors together means that an organization that was able to count on the unquestioned support and loyalty of four or five million gun owners, all of a sudden finds itself on the wrong side of the curve. But there is an answer to their problem which Gun-control Nation should address. The NRA doesn’t  have any membership requirement that forces a member to own a gun. For that matter, the boys in Fairfax also cannot demand that any member necessarily agree with what the organization says or does. The last thing the NRA is about to do is impose some kind of membership qualification based on speech. After all, how can America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ be seen as being against free speech?

What does it cost to become a member of the NRA? A whole, big $45 bucks a year.  You can join right here, and very quickly you will start receiving a monthly magazine of your choice, along with at least one daily email from Wayne-o or Chris Cox. And don’t tell me you can’t afford the 45 bucks, okay?  I paid that much for a party pizza and a couple of six-packs last weekend which lasted until half-time of the Patriots and Jets (boy do my beloved Jets suck this year.)

I know a number of Gun-control Nation fanatics who tell me they would never join the NRA because such an act would be tantamount to giving care and comfort to the enemy. But that’s a very short-sighted and self-defeating view. What if MOMS, Brady, Everytown and Gabby told all their supporters and Facebook followers to sign up?  Could the NRA find itself with a million new email addresses?  Sure. Could these new members form their own social media groups and respond to every email from Wayne-o and Chris by publicly announcing their objections to what the NRA leaders have to say?  Of course.  What would happen if Ollie North received 500,000 emails from NRA members which told him to dry up and get lost? Think that wouldn’t make media headlines?  Think again.

I would understand Gun-control Nation’s anger over NRA messaging were those messages coming from a closed, private group.  But joining the NRA takes about 5 minutes, and all of a sudden, you are now part of an organization which never forgets to tell its members that they are special and unique.

What makes NRA members so special?  Allegedly it’s because they own at least one gun. If anything, I think that NRA members who didn’t own guns would constitute an even more unique and special group. So why not take advantage of the opportunity to pay the paltry sum of $45 a year and use your membership to promote Gun-control Nation’s views on guns from inside the tent, rather than always standing outside and trying to piss in? Remember, it’s only going to cost you what you’ll pay for another party pizza delivered before the 3rd quarter begins.

 

Are Americans Finally Getting Fed Up With Guns?

Sleazy Don can talk all he wants about how the mid-term election was a big win, but yesterday announcement that a bump-stock ban is coming out of the White House is just more proof that he and his Beer Hall gang took the November 6th results right on the chinny, chin-chin. Had the House remained under GOP control, particularly with a gun nut like Keven McCarthy in the Speaker’s seat, I can guarantee you that the last thing which would have come out of the White House was anything that smacked in any way of being anti-gun.

              For that matter, another story started floating around the ‘drive-by’ media yesterday that the GOP has also given up on trying to finish work on Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished dream, a.k.a., a national concealed-carry law that would let anyone and everyone wander all across and through the ‘fruited plane’ with a gun. I enjoy using various Rush Limbaugh catch-phrases like ‘drive-by’ and ‘fruited plane’ because as we move towards the convening of the 116th Congress on January 2, 2019, the alt-right noise machine led by hot-air balloons like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, et. al., is going to have to find something more important to talk about than whether the Mexican caravan represents a global terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, in what might or might not be a more important development in Gun-nut Nation was the news, reported by our friend Alex Yablon at The Trace that the media folks who produce some of the shows for NRATV have been let go. Is this because the NRA has hit a rough revenue patch, or is it because viewing numbers are down, or a combination of both? There is also the possibility that the boys in Fairfax are perhaps re-thinking a video messaging strategy that has promoted some of the worst, dumbest and lowlife pandering that I have ever seen.

Between home-school queen Dana Loesch talking about the ‘violent Left,’ or that dopey, speech-mangled lawyer with the made-up name – Colion Noir – prancing around a shooting range extolling the virtues of self-defense with an AR-15, the NRA video channel has been nothing more than a platform for keeping the NRA image beyond even the Breitbart fringe. But maybe the fact that the House of Representatives went blue because a number of gun-loving GOP members lost seats in gun-rich states has caught the NRA by the seat of its political pants.

One of the more outstanding myth that floats around Gun-control Nation is the idea that the NRA sets the tone for the gun ‘rights’ debate and the organization’s members then line up and repeat whatever the NRA tells them to say.  I happen to believe this narrative is simply not true.  If anything, the NRA tends to reflect the views of its members rather than the other way around. For example, the group’s endorsement of  Sleazy Don in May, 2016, a departure from their usual endorsement near the end of a Presidential campaign, simply reflected the fact that the Republican National Committee had already declared Sleazy Don to be the presumptive GOP nominee.

What may really be happening is that the financial and media problems within the NRA are just another reflection of the overall slowing down of the gun business and perhaps a turning-point in America’s love affair with guns. The FBI reported that NICS-background checks for Black Friday was the lowest number for the great sale day since 2014. And even though the gun industry’s feel-good mouthpiece, the NSSF, tried to balance this bad news by claiming that gun sales on days prior to Black Friday were up, anyone who thinks that the gun business is in recovery mode should check today’s Smith & Wesson stock price.

Next week I’ll do my monthly report on the exact state of the gun industry when official FBI-NICS background check numbers are released. In the meantime, if you want to make a million in the gun business, maybe you have to start not with two million but with three.

Greg Gibson: A Slightly Different Angle.

My son was killed in a school shooting in 1992. Since that time I’ve been on what people often refer to as a “journey.” I’m not a big fan of pop psychology. Dr. Phil and Oprah can keep their “closure,” “healing” and the like, but in this case the “journey” metaphor fits. Every survivor of gun violence will be on a journey for the rest of his or her life. Each survivor’s journey is an individual odyssey. Some end badly, some end well. Some result in surprising discoveries.

The administrators at my son’s school knew the killer had a gun and ammunition, but they were too inept to stop  the shooting. I’m a writer, and I was so angry at their failures that I wrote a book about the murders, and about guns in America. It was intended to reveal the stupidity of those college administrators, and it succeeded in that. But it also made me realize that there was no redemption in revenge. Instead, I eventually made peace with the college, and became more involved in the gun violence prevention movement. I advocated for sensible gun laws, wrote op-eds, and did talking head duty on TV.

People were generally respectful of my experience as a survivor, but I was told repeatedly that my views had little grounding in fact, because I knew nothing about guns or gun culture. So, a few years ago, I got my Class A Large Capacity license in Massachusetts and bought a couple of handguns. I’d hunted as a kid and am a Navy vet of Vietnam vintage, so guns weren’t new to me. What surprised me was the fact that I found shooting therapeutic. I was mastering the instrument of my suffering.

Recently I published a piece in the New York Times about the idea, proposed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, that arming teachers would reduce school shootings. In this article I proposed to look into the matter of how much training it would take to transform an average gun owner such as myself (or a teacher or a rabbi with my level of skill) into someone capable of reacting instinctively and flawlessly to an active shooter situation. I was, in essence, trying to imagine myself in the library where my son had been killed. How much training would I have needed to save him?

The answer, of course, was “a hell of a lot.” In short order I became convinced that, instead of training teachers and rabbis to shoot like special forces operatives, it would be wiser and more humane if we could train special forces operatives to be teachers and rabbis.

My article was well-received by the people who already agreed with it. But unexpectedly, this writing project carried me to a place in my 26-year survivor’s “journey” that I could never have imagined.

As research for the article, I began taking lessons in defensive handgun use. By the time it was published, I had become engrossed in the training. I saw how complex and physically challenging tactical defensive shooting could be – like learning ballet or gymnastics but with lethal implications. Given my history, I was surprised at myself for being so interested in this intense and specialized activity.

Then the real surprise came along.

I’d been working away with my Ruger LC9s and my Sig Sauer P229, but I was having some difficulty with the way each gun fit the task. The Ruger felt too jumpy and small, and that first pull on the DA/SA Sig was a bitch. To make matters worse, I have small hands and I’m left handed. Sometimes it felt as if the guns were working against me.

Toward the end of the fourth session my instructor, who’d been steadfastly encouraging me through my difficulties, went inside his big black bag and came out with a pistol, a little smaller than my 229. “Try this,” he said. “It’s striker fired. It’s simpler to operate, and it’s ambidextrous. You can work the slide release and safety with either hand, and you can turn the mag release around to work lefty.” He put the gun in my hand and suddenly my hand was happy. I took a few shots – nice trigger action, comfortable to hold and shoot. “Wow. What is this thing?” It was a Sig P320. I took a few more shots, and then I didn’t want to give it back to him. For the rest of that afternoon and all that evening, I kept remembering how right it had felt to hold and shoot that gun.

If you’re reading this essay, you’ve probably had a similar experience. You find a gun that just feels right. But I’m a gun control advocate and a survivor of gun violence. It wasn’t supposed to be happening to me.

The next day I took my Ruger and my 229 down to my local gun shop and swapped them for a Sig Sauer P320C 9 mm. and a couple of boxes of shells. I drove home happy, feeling as if I’d satisfied a deep need or sorted out a troubling situation.

My training has gone smoothly since then. I’ve learned to extract the pistol from its appendix holster, put rounds in the target, clear a jam, and swap out magazines without posing a danger to myself or others. Soon I’ll be moving and shooting. My instructor says I’ll get faster and smoother. He says it’s all about establishing good habits and repeating them until they become muscle memory. I know I’ll never achieve the proficiency of those guys in the You Tube demos, but that’s all right. I’ve already had a remarkable and unexpected turn in my “journey.” I’ve had a romance with a pistol.

Will I continue to advocate for sensible gun laws and better education about gun safety, mental health and situational awareness? You bet! But I’ll be coming in on these issues from a slightly different angle now.

 

 

 

Should Social Media Play A Role In Letting People Own Guns?

A friend who labors for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (send them a few bucks) sent us the text of a new bill just introduced in the New York State Senate that would amend the process of issuing handgun licenses in a rather interesting and unique way. The bill, NYS09191, would require that anyone applying for or renewing a handgun license give the cops approval to review the following social media accounts – Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram – and search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. The purpose of this review, according to the text of the bill, would be to “ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of a licensee presents any good cause for the revocation of a license….”

              The bill was introduced by Kevin Parker, who represents the 21st Senate District, which happens to cover Flatbush but borders on two other neighborhoods, Brownsville and East New York, which remain serious contenders for suffering from high rates of gun violence every year. Since Parker is the Democratic Whip, and since both chambers of the Legislature are now controlled by the blue team and the author of the state SAFE law is still the executive in charge, what do you think are the odds that this new bill will become law?  I’d say the odds are good to better than good. Which means that using social media as a criteria to determining the issuance of gun licenses in ‘may issue’ states will probably spread beyond the borders of the Empire State.

When and if this law gets to a public hearing, you can bet that Gun-nut Nation base their opposition to this law on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ because they oppose every gun law based on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But I’m willing to bet that America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization,’ the NRA, will also oppose this law based on their fervent belief in the 1st-Amendment’s protection of free speech. After all, isn’t that what social media’s all about?

Putting aside the rantings and ravings of the gun-nut lunatic fringe, the fact is that this amendment to New York State’s gun-licensing process really does move the issue of gun control into uncharted waters that will certainly need to be explicated by an appellate court.  The courts have held again and again and again that government has a ‘compelling interest’ in public safety, which means that the cops can always be asked to decide whether any particular individual might be a threat to public safety, and then take steps to reduce or eliminate the threat.  But until now, the authorities have based such decisions on overt acts of potentially threatening behavior, as in ‘I’d like to shoot that m-f,’ or other such declarations of intent.  That being said, does the fact that some guy goes on Google to search for ‘mass shootings’ mean that the guy has any intention to precipitate such an event?

The kid who walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and shot the place apart had access to an AR-15 that his mother kept in their home.  The kid also spent much of the previous year compiling a large, digital library on mass shooting events.  But there is no evidence that he ever said anything about committing such an act himself. The Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 used the internet to share and spread hatred-filled remarks about the Muslim threat, but again, never made any specific mention of wanting to gun people down.

I have no problem with cops using social media to determine my fitness to own a gun; more than 150 jurisdictions have spent nearly $6 million to equip themselves with social media tools which are used to deal with crime. But giving law enforcement carte blanche to create a profile of me based on how I meander around the World Wide Web raises all kinds of issues which need o be sorted out.

That being said, I think Senator Parker is onto a good thing.

Want To End Gun Violence? Get Rid Of The Stinkin’ Guns.

Now that the 116th Congress is going to convene in January with a solid blue House majority, and to the extent that this majority owes something to the hard work of my Gun-control Nation friends, perhaps it’s time to have a serious and deliberate discussion about the gun-control legislation that might begun to be put into place.

             After all, for the last eight years the gun-control gang could talk themselves blue in the face about assault rifle bans, comprehensive background checks and all that other good stuff. But the odds that any gun-control law might rear its head and emerge from Congress ranged from zero to zilch. Guess what? For the same reason that the blue Senate team slipped backward in 2018,  the GOP in 2020 will have a difficult time holding its majority in the Upper House. And anyone who wants to make book that Sleazy Don will be sitting in the Oval Office in 2021  better be willing to take very, very long odds.

Since it normally requires multiple Congressional sessions for a serious gun-control measure to get up to speed (the 1968 GCA68 law was initially introduced in 1953; the Brady bill that was passed in 1993 was first filed in 1991,) the folks who will be creating, pushing and sustaining the narrative for a new gun law better start working on it now.

The two legislative remedies for gun violence which appear to have the best chance of ending up in serious and positive floor votes are comprehensive background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.  The former initiative appears to have support across the board, the latter could easily happen if a couple more nuts wander into a school, a shopping center, a house of worship or some other public venue and start blasting away.

The problem with both of these gun-control strategies, however, is that they don’t really get to the core of why we have a problem with gun violence and therefore, even if enacted, wouldn’t make that much of a difference in the rates of gun violence that we currently absorb.

The core problem is that the system that regulates the ownership and use of guns is fundamentally flawed because it is based on regulating the behavior of gun owners, rather than on the design and function of the guns themselves. If I walk into a gun shop today and but a rusted, old shotgun that probably doesn’t even work, I have to jump through the exact, same legal hoops that I would jump through if I bought a 16-shot Glock 19, along with 4 extra hi-capacity mags.  That old shotgun will only injure someone if I load it with modern ammunition, pull the trigger and the gun blows up. How many of the 125,000 gun injuries suffered last year resulted from someone using a Glock or another concealable, hi-powered handgun?  Most of those injuries, that’s for sure.

Again and again the discussion among gun-control advocates turns on the ‘fact’ that we own so many guns – somewhere between 300 and 400 million. But a majority of those guns are sporting rifles and shotguns which rarely show up in gun crimes at all. We are the only country which gives its residents relatively free access to handguns; we are the only country which suffers from an unacceptable level of gun violence. Want to end gun violence? Get rid of the guns that cause the violence.

Notice I didn’t state my approval for a handgun ban. But personally speaking, I have never supported an advocacy narrative simply because it might succeed.  I support advocacy that is rooted in truth. And the truth is that handguns cause gun violence. Period. End of story. End of debate.

Why Do Gun Nuts Like Me Buy Guns?

I like to do my Black Friday shopping the day before Thanksgiving, so when I finish this column, I’m going to drive to the ol’ gun shop and buy myself a gun.  I haven’t bought a gun in a few months, so it’s time to maintain my membership in what the researchers at Harvard refer to as the ‘super’ gun owners, or what The Guardian calls the ‘hardcore super gun owners,’ i.e., gun nuts like me who have at least 17 guns lying around.

              When this study was released back inn 2016, it provoked the usual hue and cry from the usual organizations laboring mightily to reduce violence caused by guns.  How could it be otherwise?  After all, everyone knows that the more guns lying around, the more injuries caused by guns.

This narrative has no reality behind it at all.  The ‘average’ size of the arsenal owned by the hard-core gun nuts is 17 guns?  Are they serious?  I currently own maybe 60 guns (actually I’m not really sure of the exact number) and in the world of hard-core gun nuts, this makes me kind of light.  The two brothers who ran my gun shop probably had 200 guns stashed in the family home, and one of my customers had at least twice that number of guns lying around here and there.

Know why I opened a retail gun shop?  Because back in 2000 my wife informed me that our house didn’t have enough room for her shoes and my guns.  And the shoes weren’t about to go. You think there’s any intrinsic difference between my dear wife buying shoes and me buying guns?  If you do, then you have absolutely no understanding about why people like me (hard-core gun nuts) buy guns.  If pressed, we’ll come out with the usual nonsense about protecting ourselves from an ISIS invasion or strengthening our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  But when gun nuts get together, you’ll never hear them say anything about any legal issue except to bitch about the fact that every time they want to buy a gun from a dealer, they have to fill out one of those friggin’ forms.

Today I’m going to buy the new Sig P320 pistol, the civilian version of the new military gun, the Sig M17.  What makes the P320 a ‘civilian’ gun as opposed to the weapon that will be carried by our troops in the field? The model name, that’s it.  Otherwise, it’s the exact, same gun.

I’m buying the Sig because I want to buy a gun.  Six-hundred and change – no big deal.  If I take the family out to dinner tomorrow night I’ll pay just as much for a slice of dry turkey, some mashed-up vegetables and a piece of ‘homemade’ pie.  Maybe I should cancel the dinner and buy another gun.  Get my point?ow

Here’s the real point. Recall that back in 2008 my dear, departed friend, Tony Scalia, decided that handguns deserved Constitutional protection as long as they were the types of weapons that were ‘commonly’ found in the home.  His opinion exempted weapons manufactured for military use, such guns being designed for battlefield exigencies, not for self-defense.

The fact is that just about every handgun Americans use for self-defense, as well as for shooting someone who gets in their way, happens to have been designed and manufactured for military use, viz., Glock, Beretta, Colt and a few more. The decision to allow civilians to own such guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and it’s the reason we suffer from gun violence and other OECD countries don’t.

So here’s my Thanksgiving thought for all my gun-control friends: Stop the nonsense about how much you respect the ‘right’ of other people to own guns as long as they follow some ‘sensible’ rules. Take the bull by the horns and say what we all know to be true.

If you want to end gun violence, cut the bullshit and get rid of the guns.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

Shouldn’t ER Doctors Know What To Do About Gun Violence?

Yesterday a horrendous shooting occurred in of all places a city named Chicago.  But as opposed to most shootings in Chicago, this shooting didn’t take place in the street.  In fact, it happened at Mercy Hospital, located on the city’s South Side. The hospital treats its share of shooting victims from the surrounding streets. This time, the victims were hospital staff themselves.

              The story behind the shootings was the same old, same old. Guy gets into an argument with girlfriend, out comes the gun and bang, bang, bangity-bang. The first victim was an ER doctor named Tamara O’Neill, evidently the former fiancée of the shooter, a relationship she broke off at some point prior to yesterday’s attack.  The shooter, identified as 32-year old Juan Lopez, may have possessed a concealed-carry permit which, no doubt, he obtained in order to validate his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The episode started with an argument between Lopez and O’Neill in the hospital parking lot; the ER doctor was shot dead right on the spot, Lopez then ran into the hospital, killed two more people, then was either shot by the cops or killed himself.

There’s probably a good chance that the late Dr. O’Neill was a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the professional organization which sets treatment protocols and lobbies for ER medicine at both the federal level and individual states. The organization’s website recently posted a study in which nearly half of 3,536 ER doctors reported that they had been physically assaulted during their work in an ER. Not a single respondent to this national survey claimed that the person who attacked them used a gun.

Perhaps this is the reason why ACEP gives generous political donations to Congressional members representing various districts throughout the United States, but also representing the NRA. What I mean by that is there are 15 current House members who receive the coveted A+ rating from the boys in Fairfax, which means they make sure that what the NRA is what the NRA gets.

The leader of this pack of fools is Richard Hudson (R-NC) who has received $20,000 of the $143,000 that ACEP has contributed to the campaigns of these 15 NRA reps in 2016 and again this year. Why does Hudson rank Numero Uno when it comes to ACEP’s political support? Because he sponsored Public Law 115-83, which eases registration requirements for EMS companies to use controlled substances during an emergency call. One other NRA rep, Ralph Abraham, was given $1,000 and he is listed as a co-sponsor of the bill. Not a single other NRA Congressional toady was a co-sponsor of this legislation, but ACEP found it convenient to give them $122,000 over the last two campaigns.

This bill was passed in the House with a unanimous vote by both parties, no debate. A real tough one, okay? ACEP needed to give Hudson 20 grand for this? And by the way, Hudson also happens to be a major supporter of the national concealed-carry bill, which if it had passed and he was still alive, Dr. O’Neill’s killer could have carried his gun into any other state. Of course after Parkland, Congressman Hudson tweeted his ‘prayers.’

I am sure that within a few days, the ACEP website will contain a loving and glowing tribute to Dr. O’Neill. Maybe the organization will establish a scholarship in her name. In the meantime, let me break the news to some of my friends who happen to be members of APEC and have yet to make a single peep about how their organization funds Members of Congress who, when it comes to gun issues, are the worst of the worst.

Here’s how you end gun violence.  Get rid of the goddamn guns. I don’t mean Grandpa’s rusted, old shotgun that has been sitting in the basement for the last twenty years or the little, 22-caliber rifle that you fired at summer camp. I mean guns like the type used by Tamara O’Neill’s ex-boyfriend to shoot her dead.

Can’t ER doctors figure this one out?

 

Don’t More Gun Injuries Mean More Business For Emergency Rooms?

Last week our friends at The Trace published an article on a brief but noisy exchange which broke out between a group of ER doctors and the NRA. The physicians have put up a website which claims to be collecting and distributing funds that will be awarded to gun researchers to make up for gun-research dollars no longer provided by the CDC.  The NRA is the NRA.

            This same bunch of physicians, whose gun-violence research credentials are impeccable, also put up a chain letter that could be sent to the NRA.  The letter was in response to an op-ed on the NRA website which basically told the medical community to stick its concerns about guns you know where.  The NRA editorial was the organization’s response to yet another medical article which found that, believe it or not, a connection between guns and gun injuries. Gee, what a surprise. And of course it’s even a bigger surprise that the NRA would deny that such a connection even exists.

Physicians and public health researchers have been publishing credible research on gun violence for more than twenty-five years. Know what these well-meaning and dedicated researchers have gotten for all their efforts? The elimination of CDC funding for gun research. That’s it. Period. Zilch. In fact, over the last several years, gun-violence rates appear to be going back up.  Oh well, oh well. Maybe another research article on gun violence will push the rates back down, right?  Wrong.

The good news, of course, is that the physicians who want you to sign their chain letter to the NRA also happen to be members of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the folks who usually have to figure out how to keep someone alive who has a bullet in their head. And they are remarkably skilled in this respect; of the 75,000 or so who suffer injuries from gun assaults each year, only 12,000 or so end up dead. The rest come back to the hospital on a much too-frequent basis and after a few more visits, also end up dead.

And how does the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) respond to this problem? They give substantial financial support to the politicians who make a career goal out of preventing even the most minimal gun reforms from moving ahead.

How does this happen? It happens because the ACEP has a PAC which over the last two election cycles donated almost $150,000 to the election campaigns of 15 House members who are rated A+ by the NRA. The NRA gives an A rating to just about every member of the House GOP caucus, but these 15 are in a group all their own. They are the spear-carriers, the most pro-gun guys in Congress, and they do whatever is necessary to make sure that no gun legislation rears its ugly head.

So here we have a remarkable situation in which some physicians use social media to advance their gun-control agendas (and their public personalities) while their professional organization uses their dues monies to advance the cause of the NRA. Now you would think that when a doctor named Michael Siegel began writing about this issue, his concerns would be shared and amplified by the members of APEC who would like you to believe they are tirelessly working to end gun violence, right? Wrong again.

The Trace article quotes one of the self-appointed, gun-violence leaders of the medical community, Garen Wintemute, who says that physicians should ‘privately’ approach politicians about gun violence because to raise these issues publicly would be ‘divisive’ and would hurt “relationships with elected officials with whom they work on a range of policies”.

Let me break the news to you gently Garen – you don’t know what you’re talking about, but God forbid you would admit to nec sciunt quicquam and keep your mouth shut. More than any other profession, doctors should be the loudest and most vociferous contributors to the public debate on gun violence, which means first and foremost telling public officials to stop being handmaidens for the NRA.

 

 

A New Approach To Gun Violence By Gun-Owning Physicians

Today’s Newsletter from our friends at The Trace contains a story about a new report issued by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) based on the work of an ACS Task Force comprised of 18 gun-owning surgeons who have been caring for trauma patients, on average, for roughly 28 years.  You can examine the gun-owning creds of this group in a downloadable spreadsheet, but I’ll quickly tell you that ten of the Task Force members own both handguns and long guns, they all own a total of 60 shotguns, 52 rifles, 13 assault weapons and 91 pistols or revolvers. Nine are either current or former members of the NRA.

Just about every medical society has gone on record about gun violence and supporting the standard litany of regulatory enhancements – comprehensive background checks, better NICS data sourcing, red-flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah. This is the first time, however, that any of the medical societies have queried gun-owning members whose views, it is assumed, would be somewhat different from the usual rank-and-file doctors, most of whom don’t tend to own guns.

In fact, the views of these gun-owning surgeons is different in one very important respect, a difference which our friends at The Trace, unfortunately didn’t pick up.  If you take the trouble to read the entire report carefully, an astonishing recommendation at the bottom of Page 7 jumps out and I’ll quote it verbatim right here:

Principle: A firearm should be transferred with registration in accordance to federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9] just as are other properties, such as vehicles or a home. This would include the private sale and the transfer of property that is bequeathed from an estate or among family members.

Recommendation: We support firearm registration and the development and implementation of an electronic database for all registered firearms.”

Did I actually see that? Is there a professional group representing any profession which is actually calling for comprehensive registration of guns? This issue happens to be the absolute bête noir of the gun-rights movement, it is always presented by the NRA as the one thing above all that will lead to the government taking away everyone’s guns. There is simply nothing which is as toxic both for Gun-nut Nation as well as to the groups who advocate ‘sensible’ restrictions on the ownership of guns. Gun registration, by the way, has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Anyone who says otherwise knows as much about Constitutional law as Leonard the Cat.

I trust going forward that the endorsement of gun registration by gun-owning members of the ACS will be discussed and considered by other medical societies and result ultimately in a united front that will promote the idea beyond the healthcare industry itself. But while they are at it, the ACS gun-nut group might consider dealing with another issue within their professional organization that needs to be addressed.

Last year Congressman Don Young (R-AK) told an audience that it wouldn’t have been Standing-Room-Only at Auschwitz and  Bergen-Belsen of Jews hadn’t lost access to their guns. He obviously got the idea from an even bigger idiot named Ben Carson, who no doubt thought this message would garner him the Jewish vote. Young received $5,000 to finance his 2016 campaign; the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave him $2,500 in each of the last two campaigns. Young happens to be one of 15 House members who go out of their way to promote NRA gun ‘rights’ priorities; as a whole, this sorry bunch received over $80,000 in campaign donations from the ACS. For the same two election cycles, ACEP donated almost $150,000 to the same crew of pro-NRA stooges.

If the ACS, the ACEP and other medical groups want to reduce gun violence, they don’t need to tell other stakeholders what to do. They can put their money back into their own pockets instead of giving it to the NRA.