Does Either Side In The Gun Violence Debate Know Anything About Guns?

Nothing has been as joyfully received by Gun-nut Nation than the surge of gun-control activism following the Parkland massacre event. Because there’s nothing like a healthy and noisy opposition to get people interested again in buying guns. I’m willing to bet that gun sales, which have been in the toilet since Draft Dodger Don took the oath, will probably start moving back up. And DDD has now agreed to show up at the NRA, which will provoke more outrage from the other side, leading to more interest in guns.

NRA show             Yesterday our friends at The Trace sent out their daily newsletter with a story about a pro-gun rally in Minnesota which may have drawn as many as 2,000 hardy souls, along with another rally of red-blooded patriots which ‘packed’ the Pennsylvania State House to celebrate the annual rally to ‘Protect Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms.’ These two events probably brought 5,000 freedom-loving Americans together to celebrate their ‘God-given gun rights’ but I doubt if these events would have drawn a fraction of those numbers were it not for the Parkland kids.

What I find most interesting in the increased attention being paid to gun violence is the degree to which both sides find it convenient to wrap their strategies and beliefs around ideas which have absolutely no basis in truth. Gun Nuts are an easy target in this respect, because some of them, particularly the ones who troll my Facebook page, really believe that owning a gun is a God-given ‘right.’ Now the fact that our legal system is based on a secular document drawn up by a bunch of lawyers who spent a hot summer in Philadelphia, doesn’t mean that what these proponents of gun ‘rights’ either say or believe should ever be tested against what happens to be true.

But when it comes to arguing about guns, don’t make the mistake of thinking that stupidity only comes from the pro-gun crowd. Because there’s plenty of stupidity and dumbness on the gun violence prevention (GVP) side as well, a recent column on the Vox website easily making the grade. The Vox piece cites an article which recently appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in which the first sentence says, “Despite the high rates of unintentional firearm injuries…” and then cites three articles which don’t say anything about whether gun accident rates are high or not. The articles just say that gun injuries occur in homes which contain guns. Wow! What a remarkable finding; i.e., you need to own a gun in order to get injured when it goes off.

The NEJM article which found a reduction in gun accidents during NRA shows went all through the GVP media mélange like a horse let out to eat in a field where the grass was just cut. I mean, it tore through the GVP world and now is tearing through it again because the NRA show is coming right up.

The authors claim they used a “beneficiary-level multivariable linear regression of firearm injury,” which is short-hand for telling all you boobs out there that this is really an evidence-based piece of work.  It is so evidence-based that the authors didn’t even stop to ask why the NRA show happens to be scheduled every year at roughly the same time, and how this scheduling might play a role in how and when gun accidents occur.

The NRA show, which is usually but not always located in a Southern state, and draws most of its attendees from the South, just happens to be scheduled when hunting seasons in all Southern states have come to an end and just before folks start thinking about the beach. Guns don’t compete with the beach. And hunting accidents always go down just before and after hunting season comes to an end.

For all their hifalutin jargon, these public health researchers concocted a study examining a certain type of behavior about which they know nothing, not the slightest bit. But that didn’t stop Vox from taking this nonsense and making it a ‘must read’ for the gun-control side.  After all, why let facts get in the way of opinions, right?

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Who’s Worried About The 2nd Amendment? Not The Gun Guys I Know.

For most gun owners, there is scant interest in the debates about the 2nd Amendment which break out whenever a particularly senseless act of mass gun violence occurs. The latest discourse started off last week when retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens published an op-ed calling for a repeal of the entire amendment, as if such an idea has even the slightest chance of ever taking place. Thank you Justice Stevens for filling up some space in The New York Times criticizing the 2008 Heller decision by repeating much of what you said in your Heller dissent.

constitution             But now another voice has emerged in the form of Laurence Tribe, not just a Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, but the oracle whenever the Establishment feels that a constitutional legal issue needs to be to be explained to the unwashed, semi-literate masses like you and me. Professor Tribe takes issue with Stevens, noting that eliminating the 2nd Amendment would probably make it more difficult to pass specific gun regulations, noting further that the Heller decision already gives the government authority to ‘regulate’ gun sales.

Further, according to Professor Tribe, repealing the 2nd Amendment is a sideshow when the real problem is protecting our children from the carnage and the fears of carnage represented by events like Parkland and Sandy Hook. And what is the real problem says Professor Tribe? It’s the “addiction of lawmakers to the money of firearms manufacturers and other unimaginably wealthy funders.” So what he’s suggesting is not getting rid of the 2nd Amendment, but getting rid of the ability of gun companies and other ‘unimaginably wealthy funders’ to pay the costs of pro-gun, political campaigns.

And exactly what does Professor Tribe hope would happen if his solution to the problem of gun violence was actually invoked? Let me break the news to you gently, Professor Tribe, nothing would happen, nothing at all.

I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was 12 years old – bought it at a tag sale in Florida, thus engaging in my first ‘straw’ sale. Over the next 52 years, until 2008, I personally bought and sold 500 guns, at the rate of 10 guns a year isn’t such a big deal for a gun nut like me. During that same half-century, the arsenal of guns privately owned in this country probably grew by roughly 100 million guns, if not more.  Know how many of those millions of transactions were protected by some kind of constitutional shield? Not a single one.

I went to my first NRA show in 1980 held in a large auditorium in Philadelphia not far from Constitution Hall. I think Reagan came through and gave a quick speech because this was during his Presidential campaign, but I don’t recall that people walked away from the exhibits to listen to the Gipper, nor did anyone seem to care. It’s seductively easy to promote the idea that the reason we have so many guns around is because there’s this great, big conspiracy between the gun manufacturers, right-wing politicians, Conservatives with money and the NRA. But that’s not the reason why Americans own 300 million guns.

Last night I debated John Lott at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. We drew a pretty big crowd, perhaps half were local folks, many of whom came over from the nearby Upper Peninsula, which is about as strong a gun area as anywhere within the USA. I began by asking the gun-nuts in the audience to identify themselves, and a lot of older, white men raised their hands. They also smiled and laughed – they liked the idea that the guy who was about to lecture them on why we need more gun control also knew how to use the language they use among themselves.

If Professor Tribe believes for one second that these guys own guns because they want to be ‘free,’ – oops, I forgot. Professor Tribe’s a Constitutional scholar, but he doesn’t know anything about guns.

 

Khalil Spencer: The Gun War Is Joined.

I’ve said before that the firearms community should be involved in firearms violence prevention. Two reasons come to mind. One, we know more about firearms than the typical non-shooter. Two, we need to engage and try to reduce the harm out there while moderating the discussion. Unfortunately, the loudest voices are not always the most careful ones. While some of the gun violence prevention folks tend to suggest ideas that many gun owners loathe, the 2nd Amendment purists are typically the Party of No, regardless of the question.

spencer2As a result of the latest high school shooting in Florida, all Hell is breaking loose on the “gun prevention”, so to speak, side. An example is the Sunday editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican, which pretty much threw everything the Editorial Board could think of at gun owners and then tossed the kitchen sink along for good measure. Given the blood-soaked circumstances, who can blame them? Among the suggestions are”…bans on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, better background checks and numerous other laws…an amendment to the state constitution removing the prohibition on local governments passing any gun restrictions, or even rewriting a provision upholding gun rights…” A law abiding citizen who has never raised a gun in anger might find himself or herself suddenly on the wrong side of the law simply by virtue of having bought a gun with a 12 rd magazine. Its not even about “common sense gun laws” but about retaliation for the NRA and GOP’s intransigence and, as many Progressives would like to do, make many if not most of today’s modern, high capacity semiauto guns (see below) scarce and inconvenient to own.

But protecting the 2A, and the state constitution’s analog, from emasculation should not have as a price tag more and more bullet-spattered schools, theatres, and churches. Something is going seriously wrong in the country and its not just one issue but as our Los Alamos Catholic priest said yesterday, a host of variables are responsible of which the firearm is the enabler, even if the culture is the ultimate culprit. As anyone who reads knows, we have always had guns. Lots of them. Actual household ownership rates are probably down even as sheer numbers have gone up (based on recent research). What’s changed?

When I was a teen, I legally carried a box of 22 Long Rifle ammo to school in my book bag as I was a member of the Rifle Club. One could mail order a rifle or walk into the local K Mart and see racks and racks of military surplus, “NRA-Fair-Good-Excellent” rifles that could be had for a few greenbacks. Indeed, these could be had without telling your life story to the FBI’s NICS system as these were pre-background check days.  Most of those surplus guns were purchased to be modified to be sporting and hunting rifles. We didn’t have endless mass shootings by me-too youths, or self-styled militias of the right and left parading under banners of intolerance. Its the culture that has changed, and in part, the kinds of guns flying off the shelves reflects the change in culture. Guns used to be primarily for sport and secondarily for guarding the hearth. Nowdays, Gun Culture 2.0, as Wake Forest Sociology Professor David Yamane calls it, is about self defense and even the shooting sports reflect that, i.e., NRA Precision Pistol has given way to International Defensive Pistol Association matches. The look and function of the guns follows the paradigm shift. Black rifles, high capacity or pocket pistols, and short barrelled shotguns with only a pistol grip to make them street legal replace Grandpa or Dad’s Model 70 Winchester or Smith and Wesson revolver.When you are planning for a personal defense moment, more bullets are better. My concern, articulated here before, is that Maslow’s Hammer has become, in part due to this paradigm-shift in gun culture, Maslow’s Handgun.

I think those of us who enjoy firearms need to hustle over to the Middle of the Road and help find some solutions. For the life of me, I don’t know why an immature nineteen year old with emotional problems should be able to walk out of a gun store with a weapon designed to control a battlefield, no questions, other than the innocuous NICS ones, asked. As I have said before, anyone old enough to get a driver’s license can drive. Not everyone is allowed to drive a Freightliner. If I want to drive a Freightliner, I owe it to society to show I can handle it safely.

As far as armed teachers and the like? Aside from the fact that teachers are underpaid as it is while not being asked to get into firefights with heavily armed terrorists, surprise matters. Pearl Harbor showed that its not enough to be armed. A school shooting is a surprise attack, and will succeed just as the Japanese naval air forces succeeded. Sure, someone can eventually shoot back to limit the damage but meanwhile, people are getting shot. More guns is not the answer. More sanity, perhaps, is.

Gun-nut Nation Gets Kicked In The Ass By Its Favorite Federal Court

If the Gun-nut community wanted a judicial decision about gun rights in their favor, they couldn’t have gone anywhere more likely to help them out than the 5th Circuit, which oversees the federal judiciary in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana and is considered to be the most conservative Circuit Court in the United States. Not only was a gun case argued in front of this court, but the case had already been decided at the district level in favor of gun rights, it was now being appealed by the Department of Justice run by you-know-who, and all three judges who heard the case were appointed by either George H. W. Bush or his son.

constitution             The court not only decided against the gun-rights gang, they dashed the hopes of the gun-loving contingent to get rid of one of the legal issues which pisses off gun nuts more than just about anything else, namely, the prohibition against going across a state line to buy a gun. Actually, the prohibition against buying a pistol or revolver in a state other than where you live has been on the books since 1939, when the feds first required individuals engaged in the ‘business’ of selling guns to purchase a federal firearms license and keep records of their sales. The reason that inter-state handgun purchases required a transfer between dealers was because it was recognized that allowing handguns to be moved across state lines without any form of regulation made it easier for criminals to get their hands on guns.

What gun-rights advocates are claiming, however, is that the prohibition against buying a handgun in a state other than where someone resides is no longer necessary because every purchase from a gun dealer, no matter where he is located, requires a background check. Which means that if I had been convicted of a felony in my home state, the felony and the consequent prohibition on gun ownership would come up no matter where I tried to purchase a gun. In 2015 two gun-rights activists decided to test this law by going to Texas and attempting to buy a handgun. After the purchase was denied, they found a district court judge who decided that their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ had been violated; hence, the appeal and decision by the 5th Circuit, effectively standing the district court’s ruling on its head.

Not only did the 5th Circuit reaffirm the prohibition against non-resident handgun purchases, it went further and actually used one of Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished legal principles – strict scrutiny – to find the prohibition constitutionally sound. According to judicial rules, for a law to pass strict scrutiny muster it must be shown that the particular law is justified by a ‘compelling government interest,’ and must be written specifically to ‘serve that interest.’ Lawyers for Gun-nut Nation have frequently used the strict scrutiny argument to attack gun regulations (e.g., New York’s SAFE law’s regulation limiting gun magazines to 7 rounds or less) and they no doubt hoped to do the same thing here.

The 5th Circuit reviewed the discussions leading up to GCA68 which codified the inter-state prohibition and concluded that Congress decided there was every good reason to maintain and strengthen the prohibition because otherwise it would be easy for someone to circumvent the laws and regulations of their home state and hence increase the possibility that an out-of-state purchase would result in a crime gun. The opinion points out that a dealer in one state cannot possibly know the gun regulations which exist in other states (e.g., some states require 10-shot magazine capacities, other states do not) and such knowledge has nothing to do with whether a potential buyer can pass a background check.

The decision by the 5th Circuit is clear on one basic point: the government has a compelling interest to safeguard public safety and a gun even in the hands of a legally-qualified individual could still be a risk. This decision by a conservative court is both a victory for the gun-control movement and a victory for common sense.

A New And Different Book On The 2nd Amendment.

I hereby issue an invitation to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a radical activist and author who has just published a book about guns: Loaded – A Disarming History of the 2nd Amendment – to attend my gun safety course that is required in my state – Massachusetts – before someone can apply for a license to own or carry a gun. The reason I want Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz to visit my gun class is I think she might gain some fundamental correctives about why some but not all Americans are so invested in the ownership and use of guns.

loaded             The author’s thesis is that today’s gun culture grows out of an amalgam of racist ideologies and practices which justified gun ownership as a necessary adjunct to the settlement and exploitation of the wilderness with the consequent destruction of Native American communities, followed by the subjugation of the few surviving indigenous peoples as well as African-American slaves. Since this process could only be accomplished by armed force, the 2nd Amendment was inserted into the Constitution to give legal sanction for the emergence of a nation state ruled by white men. I think that’s what she’s trying to say.

The reason I would like Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz to come to my class is because she will spend some time with some folks who may decide to purchase and own a gun after they finish my safety course, which means going to the local police department, getting photographed and fingerprinted and having their backgrounds checked. Is there the slightest possibility that a single person in this class gives one rat’s damn about how the Wampanoag Indians got chased out of the Bay Colony in 1676 by a bunch of white men who wanted more land? That may sound like a pretty heartless thing to say, but such thoughts are the furthest from anyone’s mind.

Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz would like us to believe that current-day gun ‘culture’ isn’t just a figment of the gun industry’s fertile imagination to create the idea that guns are necessary to protect us from real or imagined harm.  In that respect she critiques the study by Pamela Haag (The Gunning of America) of how Winchester marketed its products noting that this work too narrowly construes the importance of the 2nd Amendment in justifying the conquest of Native American lands long before the Winchester Repeating Rifle helped ‘win’ the West. What Dunbar-Ortiz ignores is the fact that the tool which wiped out Native American society wasn’t the gun, it was the plow. Hence, the decision by Winchester to concoct a marketing scheme.

I am sure the students in my gun safety classes would respond politely to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s attempt to make the 2nd Amendment the deus ex machina for everything and anything having to do with guns. I also suspect they wouldn’t really understand anything she says. Because the truth is that folks who decide they need a gun to defend themselves aren’t going to spend one second thinking about whether the gun they buy and the Constitutional statute which protects that purchase has any historical or cultural meaning at all. They are going to buy a gun because they believe in some fashion or another that having a gun will protect them from crime.

I support gun ownership but I don’t support the idea that anyone should walk around armed just because they think it’s the thing to do. They need lots of training and they need to meet a government-mandated proficiency standard before they can walk around carrying a gun. And none of those requirements in any way limit or threaten so-called 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

I only wish that someone as experienced and knowledgeable as Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz had written about the 2nd Amendment in a manner that would make her book accurate and relevant when it comes to the issues of safe gun use that gun-control advocates deal with every day.

As for the final sentence of her book about ‘you’ll never have justice on stolen land.’ How profound.

How Come You Have To Be Pro-Gun To Enjoy Shopping?

I would say that I get about 30 weekly emails asking me for money.  The Wilderness Society is pretty aggressive, ditto Brady and MOMS, a local charity that feeds the homeless also sends something out every week and let’s not forget the Democratic Senate Committee to whom I recently some dough because of the mess in Alabama, which unfortunately now appears to be tilting back towards harm’s way.

NRA certs crop2

But the Numero Uno when it comes to pestering me for cash is America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ to which I have belonged since 1955.  And to prove that I’m not just a regular member, the pic above are several of the diplomas that I have been awarded by the NRA, the Defender of Freedom certificate containing not only the signature of Wayne-o, but also the signature of a real freedom defender, none other than Ollie North.

These little wall decorations come to me because I’m still of the belief that at some point in time the NRA will stop trying to convince Americans that guns aren’t a risk and get back to doing what it used to do, namely, helping sports-minded shooters enjoy the ownership of their guns. The truth is that I find all this blabber about ‘2nd-Amendment rights,’ ‘protecting our freedoms,’ and ‘keeping us safe’ not only total nonsense but boring and silly at best. Every time I pick up one of my guns, it’s like petting Leonard the Cat; makes me feel good to know that an old friend is still around. But it’s nothing more than that and I wish more gun nuts would stop taking themselves so damn seriously. I mean, give me a break.

On the other hand, maybe the gun violence prevention (GVP) community would also think of lowering the decibels a tiny bit.  Nobody’s saying that we should accept, justify or excuse 30,000+ gun deaths and 75,000 gun injuries each and every year, a number which lately appears to be creeping up. On the other hand, when I send money to the GVP groups, which I do on a regular basis, I get back an email acknowledging the donation and that’s it. When I donated to Obama’s campaigns, I got a nice picture of Barack and Michelle, and at the end of the year I received a pretty Christmas photo of the parents and the kids. The photos have become wall decorations stuck right next to the certificates from the NRA.

This may sound kind of corny and stupid, but I like to feel that I’m part of something, that somehow I’m in a group which, for a certain kind of issue, believes the way I believe. I’m not saying that GVP organizations should or could ever attempt to become merchandising operations like the Fairfax boys. About the only thing you can’t buy on the NRA website these days is a gun or a truck. But sportswear, gifts, accessories and gear abounds.

On the other hand, I go to the Brady Campaign store and what do I see? A bunch of coffee mugs, a tote bag, the usual t-shirts with slogans – hey, there’s got to be some more interesting consumer items out there which can make me feel more excited about supporting the GVP campaign.  I’m not saying that gun violence isn’t serious, but why can’t I enjoy giving money to a good cause?

I wouldn’t be diluting my commitment to reducing gun violence just because I can do a little online shopping on the same website which reminds me that I’m supposed to make a donation to a good cause. Consumerism and advocacy go hand-in-hand. If anything, a nice online shopping consumer experience might tempt me to donate a little more dough. It sure seems to work for the NRA.

The 2nd Amendment Haa Nothing To Do With What Happened in Vegas.

Thanks to our friend Shaun Dakin, all of a sudden I’m beginning to see pro-gun folks coming out of the woodwork to express their concerns about what happened in Vegas and isn’t staying in Vegas. And this is taking the form of some comments appearing here and there about how there really are some good, compassionate gun owners out there who shouldn’t be blamed just because some nut decided to set a new record for the number of people killed and wounded by one shooter using (we think but don’t actually know) one gun.

2A             The first story appeared on Medium, where a self-described libertarian who says he knows enough about guns “to do serious damage to a fundamental human right I hold dear.” We’ll get to how the writer defines this ‘fundamental human right’ in a minute, but he goes on to lament the fact that most people who advocate reducing gun violence damage their own arguments because they don’t know anything about guns.  He then goes on to list various examples of egregious errors made by the gun violence prevention (GVP) crowd, including the usual canard about how the GVP always wrongly defines an assault-style gun.  The writer ends up by saying that he would love to have a frank discussion about gun policy with the ‘other side,’ but first we need to learn the proper way to talk about guns.

Incidentally, this guy never gets around to explaining the fundamental ‘human right’ which he feels duty-bound to protect, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that he’s talking about something having to do with the 2nd Amendment, even though I always thought that the Bill of Rights enumerated certain Constitutional rights, which may or may not have anything to do with so-called human rights at all.

The second compassionate, pro-gun contribution by someone desperately trying to bridge the gap between Left and Right on the issues of guns was published in The Federalist, which has been promoting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ since before most of you were born. Like the blogger on Medium, this writer also hopes that we can have a “better conversation about guns and the Second Amendment in America,” which is shorthand for letting the GVP community know that it’s the other side which really understands why we all need to protect ourselves with guns.

The author of this piece wants us all to understand and appreciate the fact that someone can feel nothing but horror and despair about what happened in Vegas and yet still fervently believe that all law-abiding citizens should have access to guns. Forgetting for a moment that Stephen Paddock was as law-abiding as you can get, the writer wants us all to know that “a person can watch this, ache, hurt, and be profoundly affected by these events and not change his or her position on the Second Amendment.”

These banal attempts to ‘normalize’ support of the 2nd Amendment while at the same time attempting to join to co-op what appears to be a growing national concern about the destructiveness of firearms is nothing but pure, unadulterated crap. No matter how horrific the assault, no matter how many lives are lost or damaged beyond repair, you can count on even the most compassionate pro-gun advocates to remind us of their sacrosanct Constitutional ‘rights.’ Except there’s only one little problem. What they say and have been saying about the 2nd Amendment isn’t true.

When the Supreme Court reversed a long legal precedent by ruling in 2008 that private gun ownership was a Constitutional ‘right,’ there were already more than 300 million privately-owned guns floating around, none of which enjoyed any kind of Constitutional protection. And despite this failure to guarantee our God-given right to protecte ourselves, there has never been any law in any jurisdiction which stripped Americans of their ability to own a gun. So let’s cut out the nonsense and return the post-Vegas discussion to where it belongs, namely, what needs to be done to end gun violence once and for all.

 

Do Guns Win Elections? Not So Far This Year.

Earlier this year a special election to fill the Montana House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke created something of a dilemma for gun violence prevention (GVP) advocates because the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, ran a series of television ads using a rifle to destroy a likeness of his Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, who was running ads stating that Quist was ‘soft’ on gun ‘rights.’ No surprise, the NRA endorsed Gianforte for the seat which he comfortably won, and the fact that Quist had earlier made a foolish remark about backing a ‘national’ gun registry (actually he didn’t know what he was talking about) may have contributed a bit to the margin of Gianforte’s win.

strange2             Until the gun issue reared its ugly head, liberals both within and without Montana had no trouble supporting Quist.  He was in favor of universal health care and expanding social security, both of which are standard talking-points for politicians on the Left. But in Montana being in favor of universal health care is one thing, being ‘against’ guns is something else. Montana has only slightly more than 1 million residents but I’ll bet you there are at least a couple of million guns kicking around in the trucks, barns and ‘family’ rooms of the Big Sky state. Guns are so normal in Montana that the issue is never discussed at all and would have remained unmentioned in this election if Quist had just kept his mouth shut instead of blurting out something stupid about gun registration as he was walking away from a campaign event.

Last week guns got back into electoral politics in a big way when Luther Strange, running for the Republican line in the upcoming Senate election against Ray Moore in Alabama, yanked out a handgun at a campaign rally to prove that he was ‘pro-gun.’ He was responding to a series of attack ads which accused him of being against 2nd-Amendment ‘rights even though he had earned the coveted NRA endorsement, along with the endorsement of YKW. If you have been following my blog you know that YKW refers to the individual who currently occupies a certain executive position in Washington, D.C.  So ol’ Luther gets up on the stage Monday night and pulls out a gun.  At least he had the good sense to keep his finger off the trigger while he waved the piece around.

Incidentally, it should be pointed out that the gun ol’ Luther was carrying was either a Smith & Wesson Model 36 or a Charter Arms Undercover, both of which only hold 5 rounds. Those are hardly the guns of choice any more when you can buy a Glock or a Kahr pistol which is smaller and has a capacity of 8 rounds. On the other hand, there’s a good possibility that Alabama will become a ‘constitutional carry’ state next year, which means that no matter whether your handgun holds 5 rounds, or 10 rounds or even 20 rounds, you’ll be able to walk around with it in Alabama without going through any kind of permit process at all.

But back to the election which took place last night. Regardless of his stance on guns, Luther Strange was handily defeated by Ray Moore who continues to cast himself as America’s public official most dedicated to ‘one nation under God’ which means, of course, that he’s a good guy when it comes to the issue of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Guns in Alabama are like guns in Montana, everybody has one (or two or three) and the idea that gun ownership could become a deciding issue in any political election is simply too far-fetched to be believed.

On the other hand, we now have gone through two electoral contests in two gun-rich states and when it comes to using guns as a way to garner votes, the ‘I love guns’ strategy is zero for two. So much for the idea that cozying up to the ‘gun vote’ can help you win.

The Supreme Court Isn’t Interested in Concealed-Carry, At Least Not Yet.

There’s dancing in the GVP streets today because the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Peruta v. California, which is the sine qua non of all legal cases covering what Gun-nut Nation calls ‘constitutional carry,’ i.e., the ‘right’ to carry a concealed gun outside the home.  Other than getting rid of the background check system altogether, this concealed-carry crap stands at the head of the wish-list for making America fully-armed. The case attracted more than 20 briefs and everybody who’s anybody in Gun-nut Nation submitted something about this case.

2A             What made Peruta so important for the promotion of gun ‘rights’ was the fact that California law grants concealed-carry issuing authorities, a.k.a., county sheriffs, determine an applicant’s qualification based not just on a background check, which is the policy in most states, but on the applicant’s ability to show proof that he would be in harm’s way unless he could walk around with a gun.  In other words, California still retains the ‘may issue’ approach to CCW with the emphasis on a very narrow definition of ‘may.’

I lived in South Carolina in the 1970s and the only way to get concealed-carry was to become a state constable, an appointment that came out of the Governor’s Office  based on a recommendation by the Chief of the State Police.  How did you get recommended by the Chief?  You knew the Chief.  And the system for granting CCW in South Carolina back in those days was typical of most states; as late as 1987, only six states gave out CCW on a shall-issue basis and 16 states had no CCW policy of any kind.  Other than the Communist northeast and California, every other state now has a shall-issue policy and 12 states don’t require any special licensing for CCW at all.

The problem, of course, is found in the 2008 Heller decision which reversed a long tradition of considering the 2nd Amendment to be operative only in connection with military service, and instead pronounced that Americans now had a Constitutional ‘right’ to own a gun. But the ‘right’ was limited in two ways: First, the case only granted Constitutional protection to the ownership of handguns, when Heller went back to Court and tried to get the same protection extended to his assault rifle, he was told to get lost. Second, the 2008 decision specifically protected handguns kept inside the home, in fact, there was no mention of carrying a gun outside the home at all.

In his dissent to the Court’s refusal to hear Peruta, Justice Thomas claims that the phrase ‘bear arms’ means that someone should be able to carry a gun on their person outside the home. And how does he justify this definition of 2nd-Amendment wording which, if correct, could be used to give constitutional protection to unlimited CCW?  He quotes Eugene Volokh’s UCLA Law Review article which, among other things, contains a remarkable defense of carrying guns into places which serve alcohol, which if not allowed places a ‘fairly substantial’ burden on the individual who wants to go into a saloon toting his gun.

The bottom line in the Thomas dissent, and the reason he relies so heavily on the idiotic propositions of Volokh, is because the Court’s refusal to hear the appeal of the 9th Circuit’s decision still leaves open the issue of whether the 2nd Amendment protects not just private ownership of guns, but the ability of private citizens to go outside their home with a weapon based simply on their qualification for gun ownership, rather than any specific need for self-defense.

You don’t have to read between the lines of the Scalia-Gorsuch dissent to know how they would vote if this issue were to come before the Court.  And even though the NRA’s pit bull in the Oval Office seems to have more on his mind than promoting gun issues, the national, concealed-carry bill is still alive and well. The fight to get constitutional protection for the nuttiness of concealed-carry isn’t finished, not by a long shot.

Will The World End If We Lose Our 2nd-Amendment Rights?

A week after the Presidential election in 2008, I walked into a gun shop in Houston. The place was packed.  In particular, customers were lining up to buy assault rifles along with as much ammunition as they could carry out of the store. I walked up to one guy who was waiting in line to fill out the 4473 form and asked him what was going on. And he turned to me with a very serious look on his face and whispered, “Armageddon’s coming.”

 

gun-sales

Ever notice how many products Glenn Beck peddles like freeze-dried food or gold bars which portend doom?  And we have long noticed that the gun industry has been selling fear as well as selling guns since old timers like me began to fade away and hunting became something of legend instead of a real-time activity.  Owning a gun is now a statement about the importance of self-defense in an age of terrorism, along with, of course, the standard bromide about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

But there’s one other message which resonates among Gun-nut Nation, and it’s the idea that if you own a gun then you have something in common with every other gun owner, and if you don’t own a gun, then you’re not only sh*t out of luck, but you’re also on the outside looking in.  I’m a member of AAA but they never try to make me feel special just because I own a car. Ditto AARP, whose almost daily hearing-aid advertisements just remind me that I’m one of more than 46 million people age 65 or more. In fact, I didn’t even know that May was Senior Citizens Month.

But I do know that I am a member of a very special oppressed minority known as law-abiding gun owners who have to make sure that what makes us so special and so oppressed is the possibility that at any moment, my ‘right’ to own a gun could be taken away. And if you think that the purchase of more than 150 million guns under the Obama ‘regime,’ compared to 75 million during the previous eight years of the ‘decider’ was due to anything other than the fear that I might wake up one day and the gun wouldn’t be there, think again.  Because if sales levels continue for the second half of 2017 like they were in the first half, things will be back to where they were in 2007-2008.

Back last October, I was finishing up my weekly gun-safety class which is required in my state (MA) before you can apply for a license to own or carry a gun. And a well-dressed, professional woman came up to get her safety certificate and said, “Boy, I’m glad I could get into this class.” And when I asked her why she was so excited, she replied, and I am quoting her word for word, “Because Hillary’s probably going to win the election and then I won’t be able to buy a gun.”

How did such a crazy idea get into this woman’s head? I must admit that I simply don’t know because even though the NRA spent $30 million or more during the campaign to tell its members that Hillary would take away their guns, I simply do not believe that any normal adult could think such nonsense was true.

But you know what? That guy standing on the line in the Houston gun shop wasn’t grinning or laughing when he told me that he was willing to wait half an hour for the background check to be completed because he didn’t want to face the end of the world unarmed. He meant it, and if we want to do something reasonable to reduce gun violence, we’d better figure out how to get inside that guy’s brain. Because what’s in his brain is in the brains of lots of folks who own guns.