If The ATF Believes That Gun Violence Is Caused By Thefts From Gun Shops, The Martians Have Landed At Area 51.

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The ATF, which is the responsible government agency for regulating firearms, has just released another report about its activities which actually obscures more than it explains. But that’s the usual state of affairs with the ATF, a group of bumblers who still haven’t explained how they managed to lose two thousand guns in a sting operation called Fast and Furious that was supposed to uncover a vast manufacturing enterprise to convert AK-47 semi-auto rifles into full-auto machine gun and didn’t turn up even one.

atf              This new ATF report, which covers guns stolen or missing each year, comes out of the same division within the ATF which claims to be “leading in the fight against violent crime and terrorism,” a.k.a. the vaunted National Tracing Center. Let me tell you right now that if the National Tracing Center is what’s protecting us against terrorism, I would strongly urge all the readers of this column to drop whatever else they are doing, immediately start building their underground bunkers and stock their bunkers with a generous assortment of Glenn Beck’s freeze-dried food. And don’t forget to load up the bunker with an AK-47 and a couple of thousand rounds.

The last thing the ATF is going to do with its tracing activities is protect us or themselves from anything, unless the ‘anything’ happens to be a cut to their operational budget. They can talk all they want about how hard it is to conduct those hundreds of thousands of traces they conduct on ‘crime guns’ each year, but in fact, less than 20% of the traces they conduct each year have anything to do with serious crimes. For that matter, all the ATF’s whining about how their hands are tied because they can’t go beyond the first transfer of a gun is simply not true at all, because most gun shops sell as many used as they sell new guns, which means that all the transfers of previously-sold guns can be traced as well.

But let’s go back to the stolen/missing report which the ATF has just issued for 2016. The data represents what is reported to the ATF by federally-licensed dealers, but the information comes from the ATF in two very different ways. The reports on guns that have been stolen are usually supplied by dealers themselves who are victims of some kind of criminal activity, usually a burglary, which results in a loss of guns. Occasionally there’s a really spectacular burglary event, like the idiot in Janesville, WI, who allegedly stole more than 30 guns out of a gun shop and then sent mailed a threat to President Trump. But most of these thefts are a gun here or a gun there, and are frequently the work of a gun shop employee who just can’t resist the temptation to make an extra bit of cash.

The guns that are reported ‘missing’ by dealers, on the other hand, are guns for which paperwork can’t be found when the ATF conducts the inspection of a shop.  This doesn’t mean that the guns were stolen or fell into the wrong hands, it just means that the paperwork examined by the ATF can’t be found for a particular transaction, even though the transfer of that particular gun was legal in every respect. My last ATF inspection covered more than 11,000 transfers which occurred in my shop between 2002 and 2013. Know how many transactions ended up being reported as missing? Exactly five.

If the ATF wants to do something about curbing the theft of guns, why don’t they figure out a strategy or at least some messaging to highlight the fact that every year two hundred thousand or more handguns get stolen from private homes? The ATF will immediately tell you that regulating private gun ownership isn’t their legal mandate or their organizational concern. Which is why the agency’s value as regards reducing gun violence is both overstated and misplaced – gun violence is caused by the existence of so many privately-owned guns.

What’s the difference between a modern sporting rifle and a weapon of war? A court decision, that’s what.

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When it comes to court decisions, it hasn’t been a particularly good few days for my friend at the NRA or, for that matter, the NSSF.  It’s the latter group, after all, that has been promoting this marketing scam known as the ‘modern sporting rifle’ to make everyone believe that an AR-15 or AK-47 is just a modern version of the same, old semi-auto hunting rifle that Grandpa used to lug out into the woods.

AR2            I used to own one of these guns.  In my case it was a Remington Woodmaster 742 which had a magazine that held 4 rounds and was almost as accurate as my bolt-action Remington 700 – the best hunting rifle I ever owned.  The Woodmaster was a heavy old thing and it didn’t work so well with the lighter-weight 30-06 bullets, but put a 220-grain Federal Express cartridge up the pipe, aim the gun at Bambi standing 200 years downrange, and parts of Bambi ended up in the pressure cooker that night.

Folks – that Woodmaster was a ‘modern sporting rifle.’ My Colt AR H-Bar, which means it has a heavy barrel is not. And it’s not a sporting rifle because it’s a weapon of war. Yea, yea, I know that Colion Noir and all the other Gun-nut stinkheads like to post videos of themselves prancing around in some sandpit blasting away with their ARs at this Coke bottle or that tin can. And of course they’ll all repeat the NSSF nonsense about how their AR can’t be a military weapon because it only fires in semi-auto (one trigger pull, one shot) mode. But what these marketing warriors all fail to mention is that the standard rifle used by our troops in the field also can be set to fire one round at a time.  So if a trooper decides to set his battle rifle in semi-auto, is he now taking a modern sporting rifle into the field?

The good news is that the 4th Circuit Appeals Court understood this issue exactly when they upheld the new Maryland law on assault rifles which basically puts Maryland back to the situation that existed for ten years after the 1994 Clinton assault rifle ban.  The law defines an ‘assault rifle’ as any semi-auto rifle with a detachable magazine and other military-style attachments (handgun grip, etc.) and also bans magazines which hold more than ten rounds. The majority opinion says that such guns are ‘weapons of war’ and therefore do not fall under the 2nd-Amendment protections enumerated by the Heller decision handed down by the SCOTUS in 2008.

Last week another court case rocked Gun-nut Nation, in this case where the 11th Circuit tossed out the Florida law that criminalized the behavior of doctors who counsel their patients about guns.  In the 8-3 decision, which is about as definitive as you can get, the Court held that doctor-patient discussions are protected by the 1st Amendment’s protection of free speech because in order to fulfill their professional responsibilities, physicians must be able to talk about anything they please.  Of course such conversations are entirely confidential and, like any other counseling by a physician, the patient is always free to reject the doctor’s advice or refuse to discuss the issue at all.

Right now Gun-nut Nation is 0-2 on issues that have been at the forefront of the promotion of gun violence over the past twenty years.  And why do I say that this bunch is trying to promote gun violence instead of, as they claim, just protecting all our 2nd-Amendment rights?  Because the argument that 125,000 gun deaths and injuries each year are the price we have to pay to protect ourselves with guns is an argument with no basis in truth.

But let’s remember that we are in the Age of Trump where truth and evidence-based information have little relevance to the public debate on gun violence or anything else. At least the majority of two federal courts have chosen to disagree.

Comment On The Upcoming Senate Gun Vote.

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pulse           In preparation for the Senate vote on Monday which may or may not involve extending background checks to private transactions, I thought I would take a look at Armslist, a national website that allows, indeed encourages private sales of guns. And when you go to the website, the first thing that greets you is a ‘disclaimer’ which says that anyone using the site should follow all laws regarding the sale and transfer of firearms.  But what if there are no laws? What if you happen to live in one of the 40 states that does not require a background check except at the initial point of sale?

Here are some examples of what you can do.

  • A resident of Birmingham, AL, wants to buy a Glock 27, which holds 10 rounds of S&W 40 ammo and is less than 6 ½ inches long. So it’s a very concealable gun, the ammunition is extremely lethal, and if you want to ‘load up’ as we say in the gun business, you can get magazines that hold 13, 15 or 22 rounds!  Imagine that – a handgun that hold 22 rounds.  Slip into a club some night with this gun and 4 extended mags and you can equal the body count that was registered at the Pulse. The guy who wants to buy such a gun is named Josh and he says that he’s “not a paranoid gun owner” and will give someone $450 for the gun but doesn’t require a ‘bill of sale’ or a ‘photo ID.’ But we know he’s a law-abiding citizen because at the end of the notice he makes sure to add: “God Bless America!” and that takes care of that.
  • There’s a fellow who lives in Broward. FL, who wants to sell or trade his Bushmaster ACR. This gun happens to be a look-alike for the Sig MCX, except it has more design options and can be ‘adapted’ to more shooting environments, hence the acronym ‘ACR’ which means ‘Adaptive Combat Rifle.’ So if you’re ready to go into combat in a nightclub, or a schoolyard, or anywhere else where terrorists are running amok, just shoulder your Bushmaster ACR and you’re ready to go.  The seller of this gun says it “has never been fired” and he has “no practical use for it.”  Well at least he’s admitting that there’s no real reason for anyone to shell out $1,400 for this gun.
  • Maybe rather than an AR-15 or the ACR I’d rather like to go with a Yugo SKS.  I was always partial to the SKS because most AR-15 rifles shoot the .223 shell but the SKS takes a 30-caliber round which basically means more tissue damage for each pop.  And if I happened to live in Nebraska, there’s a guy in Central Nebraska who’s got a Yugo with a folding stock for $600 bucks.  And what makes this gun really neat is it also comes with a real bayonet, so if I run out of ammo I can still defend myself with this sharp, metal stick. The seller, incidentally, says that the buyer has to pay ‘shipping,’ and while the Feds say he can’t ship the gun directly to me if I live in another state, ho-hum, ho-hum, ho-hum.

Now don’t get wrong.  I’m not saying that anyone who buys or sells a gun on Armslist is trying to evade the law. Because the truth is that I have purchased 4 or 5 guns that were listed on Armslist and in every, single case the transaction not only occurred in a completely legal way, but the sellers all insisted that we fill out an online gun transfer form that is required for private sales in my state.

What I am saying is that requiring background checks for transfers of such lethal weapons as 22-round Glocks or AR and AK-style guns is in no way, shape or form a violation of 2nd-Amendment rights. Tell that to Senator Grassley. Yea, right.pulse

Once Again The ATF Celebrates Much Ado About Nothing.

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It’s been a quiet few days in the gun violence world.  According to our friends at the Gun Violence Archive, since Friday there have only been 200+ shootings resulting in 59 deaths and 144 injuries, what Ralph on The Honeymooners would call a “mere bag of shells.”  But I was rescued by the ATF which issued a press release touting the work of its National Tracing Center (NTC) in tracing guns picked up overseas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and several Central American countries.  To quote the ATF: “Firearm trace data provides valuable investigative leads and specific trend data for our international partners.” Maybe some Mexican police agency will ask the ATF to trace one of the AK-47’s that the ATF shipped to Mexico between 2006 and 2011, of which at least one thousand are still floating around.

atf           The truth is that the ATF does very little to fight illegal guns except pat itself on the back.  And one of its most common back-patting activities involves the tracing of so-called ‘crime’ guns.  The ATF has been promoting its prowess in gun tracing since the licensing of commercial firearms sales was placed under its jurisdiction by the Gun Control Act of 1968.  And over the years, this tracing activity has yielded, according to the ATF, “critically important information” about the origins of millions of ‘crime’ guns.  In 2014, the ATF was able to identify the origin of 174,000 guns – do the arithmetic as Bill Clinton would say, and that adds up to at least a couple of million guns over the last forty-seven years.

The ATF has used this miasma of data to promote to build a basic argument about the commerce in crime guns.  I am referring to the notion, repeated ad nauseum by every GVP activist group and GVP-leaning politician, that gun ‘trafficking,’ (i.e., the illegal movement of guns from one location to another) is a major factor in gun violence and needs to be curbed. So I looked at the ATF report which, based on the data generated by the NTC, details the origin of all the traced guns in Massachusetts, which is where I happen to live.  In 2014, the NTC was asked to run 1,538 traces of which they could only identify the origin of 979 guns. Of those 979 guns, it turns out that 676 were initially purchased in MA and the surrounding, contiguous states.  And all those guns that get trafficked up the I-95 ‘pipeline?’  They accounted for roughly 15% of guns traced in MA. Gee, what a surprise that most of the crime guns in my state came from places which are. at most, a half-hour’s car ride away.

Of course the ATF says they are hamstrung in their efforts to do even more in their unrelenting battle against gun trafficking because they can’t look at how guns move from hand to hand since they can only check a dealer’s gun log which records the very first sale. And this lie is then innocently repeated by GVP advocates who really do want to see an end to the traffic in illegal guns. And why is it a lie? Because the ATF just issued a ruling defining how dealers can keep their records of acquisitions and sales electronically, which means the ATF can easily find out not just the first time that a gun was sold, but every time it was sold in a gun shop. And guess what? In my shop upwards of 40% of my guns were used, and these used guns had previously been sold by me or by some other dealer down the road.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to search an Excel spreadsheet by any unique identifier and thus gain a much clearer picture on the history of a gun picked up at the scene if a crime. The boys in Fairfax must get a good laugh when they consider the behavior of the agency that regulates guns.

Is It Possible That Unarmed Good Guys Stopped A Bad Guy With A Gun?

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This past week, what could have been a horrifying terrorist act was thwarted by the immediate response of three young Americans who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Of course I’m talking about the incident on a high-speed train that was an hour out of Paris coming from Amsterdam in which a 26-year old Moroccan, already known to authorities as a possible terrorist threat, began shooting an AK-47 but was taken down and subdued by the quick actions of Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, who just happened to be vacationing together and had made a last-minute decision to board the train.

france                The three first met in a California middle school and have remained close friends ever since.  Sadler was getting ready to return for his senior year at California State University; Skarlatos and Stone are military personnel, Skarlatos having just finished a nine-month Afghanistan deployment, Stone was on leave from Lajes Air Base in the Azores where he serves as a medical tech. The trip to Europe had been planned since May – eating, drinking, tourism was on the agenda, stopping a heavily-armed terrorist was not.

The train was carrying 500 passengers and the gunman had 300 rounds for his AK.  He also was carrying a Lugar pistol and a razor-knife cutter, although it is reported that he denied he was planning any kind of terrorist attack.  Maybe he was just hoping to sell the AK-47 to someone else on the train, but the bottom line is that he shot and wounded one passenger, shot out a window with another round, and had enough ammunition to kill several hundred people if three young Americans, along with a Brit and a Frenchman, hadn’t gotten in his way.

Everyone, from President Obama on down, is celebrating the bravery and pluck of these three young men.  In a ceremony at the Elysee Palace, they were awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Hollande, who said, “Your heroism must be an example for many and a source of inspiration,” thoughts that have been echoed everywhere else.  Except in one place.  And the one place that has been conspicuously silent since the events on the train occurred is the building at 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA, which just happens to be the headquarters of the NRA.

The NRA usually goes out of its way to posture itself as the organization which celebrates American courage, heroism and resolve.  They drape themselves in patriotism every chance they get; the organization’s website has endless references to the military as well as their new tactical line of clothing and other crap.  And let’s not forget the monthly recitation of all those events when armed citizens stopped someone from committing a crime.

Whoa.  What did I just say?  Armed citizens?  Is that what I said?  There’s not a peep out of the NRA or any of their dopey armed-citizen promoters who are always ready at a moment’s notice to remind us about the virtues and values of walking around with a gun.  Know why?  Because Skarlatos, Stone and Sadler didn’t have a gun.   

Last year the FBI released a detailed analysis of 160 shootings between 2000 and 2013 in which the gunman killed or wounded multiple victims.  The definition of these events, known as ‘active shootings,’ was that the shooter “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”  The FBI found that exactly one of these active shootings ended when an armed civilian opened fire with a gun.  But 21 of these shootings came to an end because unarmed civilians intervened.

Want to show me any place that is more confined and populated than a high-speed train?  If that gunman had been able to shoot up the train we’d be hearing nothing but endless “I told you so’s” from the NRA.  But not a word out of them when three young Americans, two of them active military, got the job done without using a gun.  Frankly, the silence is refreshing.

 

Want To Be Good Guy With A Gun? Join The Bandidos.

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One thing we can say for sure about the parking lot in front of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco – sure isn’t a gun-free zone.  When the fracas came to an end last Sunday, at least nine people were dead, another eighteen were injured and more than 150 biker gang members had either been arrested or detained for additional questioning, a number which kept changing as the cops ran out of usual spaces (read: jail cells) to stick all the guys who engaged in the rumble.

And if you think that it was only the parking that was an unfree gun zone, the Waco Police Department issued a list of all the weapons found in the restaurant before, during and after the gang members were being carted off to the hoosegow.  Ready?  Along with an AK-47, the cops found 118 handguns stuffed into potato chip sacks, flour bags, hidden on shelves in the restaurant’s kitchen and simply lying around on the floor. And here’s the best of all; someone actually tried to flush a handgun down a toilet.

motorcycles                I remember back in the 1980s when Glock first started promoting gun sales, the company ran a very clever advertisement called the Glock “torture test” which showed someone dropping a Glock from the roof of a building, then coming downstairs, picking up the gun and it still worked.  The test was a riff on Timex watches and how they take a licking but keep on ticking. So I’m thinking that maybe someone in the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant wanted to update the Glock test by first trying to flush the pistol down the toilet. Dumber things with guns happen all the time in the Lone Star State.

In any case, the Waco mess apparently grew out of a fight that started inside the restaurant and then spilled outside.  The melee evidently involved members of at least four biker gangs, including but not limited to members of the Scimitars, Vaqueros, Cossacks and Bandidos, the last-named bunch having been dubbed a “growing criminal threat” by the Department of Justice, even though their French subsidiary allegedly runs a Toys for Tots drive every year – in France.

Biker gangs have been around almost as long as motorcycles have been around, but they achieved their unique counter-cultural status in the 1960s when they were rhapsodized and condemned by “gonzo” journalist Hunter Thompson, whose relationship with the bikers ended when he got the crap beaten out of him by several members after Thompson rebuked one of them for punching out his wife.  Two years later the Angels and other biker gangs engaged in a slugfest at the Altamont rock festival, which both ruined the festival and stripped the biker gangs of any last vestige of romantic imagery in the media or the popular imagination.

Meanwhile back in Texas, a bill to allow open carry of handguns appears to be ready for passage which Governor Abbott has promised to sign. The bill’s supporters, of course, claim that what happened in Waco shouldn’t have anything to do with this law, but the mess outside of the Twin Peaks restaurant, it seems to me, does have something important to say about the NRA’s most cherished project, namely, to get rid of all gun-free zones.  Recall what Wayne-o said after Sandy Hook:  “Only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.”

But think about this:  There may have been more than 100 bikers at Twin Peaks, all of whom believed they were ‘good guys’ who needed to carry guns in case a ‘bad guy’ from another gang was also armed.  So if everyone can decide for themselves who are the ‘good guys’ and who are the ‘bad guys’ and back up this decision by strapping on a gun, the incident in Waco won’t be the last time that bullets and bodies go flying.  Do people become ‘good’ because they walk around with a gun?  The Bandidos and the NRA would definitely agree.

 

 

What’s Wrong With Using A Gun To Have Some Fun?

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Last week I received an email advertising a “Level II Defensive Carbine Class” that will be held at a gun range in a neighboring state.  The class will be led by a gun trainer whose website offers the usual list of shooting courses, some of which I also teach.  According to the email, you show up with 150 bucks and either an AR or AK-style gun, and before the class is over you will, among other things, learn how to shoot while moving, shoot behind cover, shoot from the side, close-contact with the target and so forth.  In other words, by the time you’re finished shooting upwards of 700 rounds, whether it’s Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, a marauding band of local criminals or anyone else, you’ll be ready to take them all on..

assault                These tactical shoots and classes have become much more popular over the last few years, just as assault-style rifles have supplanted bolt-action rifles and shotguns as the one long gun that everyone needs to have. And while you’re at it, after you buy the gun and the thousand rounds of ammunition, let’s not forget the indispensable gear like a night-vision scope, some extra hi-cap mags, a pair of tactical boots and a camo battle jacket that will hold everything and anything you might need out in the field.  For good measure go online and buy a couple of instructional videos from Daniel Defense or watch and play the latest Youtube tactical video from Combat Arms.

Now whenever the gun control gets together, the first thing they always want to do is eliminate all this fun.  Hi-cap magazines?  Ban ‘em.  Tactical rifles?  Ban ‘em.  And while you’re at it, why not ban night-vision scopes as well?  After all, imagine how much more damage James Holmes might have committed if his assault rifle had been mounted with a night-vision scope.  Never mind that rifles, regardless of design or caliber account for less than 10% of all gun homicides and assaults each year.  Ask the average man or woman who’s active in any kind of gun control organization and they’ll tell you that getting rid of those assault rifles needs to be done.

But let’s get back to the group that’s going to be shooting their AR’s and AK’s in the defensive carbine class.  The truth is that none of these guys (and gals) will ever have to defend the homeland from a terrorist attack.  And if anyone has used an assault rifle recently to shoot someone breaking down their door, it hasn’t made the evening news.  I looked at the stories posted by the NRA on their Armed Citizen website which contains 40 accounts of how good guys shot or shot at bad guys since April, 2014, and there wasn’t a single incident listed in which the gun used was a rifle of any kind, never mind an AK-47 or an AR-15.  Training with an assault rifle to repel an attacker is like getting instructions for putting on the oxygen mask before the airplane takes off.  You have to know how to do it but the odds that you’ll actually need it are somewhere between non-existent and zilch.

The real reason that people are going to show up for this carbine class is because they’ll have a lot of fun.  They’ll get to shoot their gun again and again, compare one gun to another, maybe play a little game to see who can shoot accurately, and spend a day with other folks who share their enjoyment in shooting those guns.  Do you really think there’s any difference between a bunch of guys running around a sand pit shooting at Osama Bin Laden Zombie targets and the way we used to run around the back yard with our Red Ryders pretending there was an Indian behind every tree? Anyone who thinks that 30,000 gun fatalities and 50,000 gun injuries each year isn’t a problem has at least one screw loose if not two, but that problem won’t be solved by taking the toys away from grown-ups who still enjoy acting like kids.

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