Walmart Versus Shannon Watts: Guess Who Wins?

The announcement by Walmart that their stores will no longer sell handgun or assault-rifle ammunition is, if nothing else, a testimony to the hard work and energy of our friend Shannon Watts which has been on display now for the past six years. Shannon began a national gun-control campaign shortly after Sandy Hook focusing on women, particularly women with children, and using public spaces where most women could be found, namely, at the entrance to retail stores, Walmart being at the top of her list.

I remember seeing a group of red-shirted women from MOMS marching in front of the entrance to a Walmart store in 2015.  I had often seen other public advocacy efforts in front of this store, usually people asking shoppers to sign a petition to get someone on the ballot of the upcoming election in the nearby town. But I had never previously encountered anyone marching in front of any public space with messaging that had to do with guns.

Of course right now Shannon’s Walmart strategy has had plenty of help, unfortunately help of the wrong kind. Because until recently, mass shootings were still infrequent enough that if you gave it a couple of days, like any other natural disaster, the media would stop talking about it and public concerns about gun violence would subside. But lately, it seems like once every week a bunch of people get mowed down in a public space.

We’re not talking about an ‘epidemic’ of mass shootings, which means an event which creates a lot of injuries but occurs only from time to time. We are talking about something which, to quote our friend Katherine Christoffel, has become ‘endemic,’ i.e., it’s happening all the time.

The significance of Walmart’s announcement lies in the fact that retail chains tend to watch each other in the same way that drugstore chains are usually clustered where they can keep an eye on what each chain is promoting in a particular week. If overall revenues for Walmart don’t take a hit from this announcement, which I suspect they won’t, it would come as no surprise if other discount chains follow suit. And nobody, but nobody cared when the NRA whined about Walmart’s ‘shameful’ decision.

On the other hand, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to understand that the importance of Walmart’s announcement is much more a symbolic gesture rather than representing anything real. Not that symbols aren’t important – all advocacy relies on symbolic messaging to get their arguments across. But let’s not kid themselves into thinking that a decision by Walmart to pull out of the gun business will have any real impact on injuries from guns.

My gun shop is located less than a mile from a Walmart. The store was never a competitive element when it came to gun sales, because Walmart doesn’t sell handguns and never sold used guns of any kind. And generally speaking, what creates foot traffic in every gun retailing establishment are handguns and used guns of all sorts.

Where Walmart did hurt me was in ammunition sales because there was simply no way I could compete with a big-box’s pricing structure for a commodity as common as ammunition, particularly calibers bought in bulk, like 22LR for target shooting and shotgun shells. But these calibers don’t represent the type of ammo which trauma surgeons have to dig out of people’s chests or heads. I can guarantee you that if I were still doing retail ammunition sales, that within 30 minutes after Walmart’s announcement, my gun wholesaler would have contacted me with a ‘great deal’ on 9mm and 40 S&W rounds.

The real importance of the Walmart announcement is that it places the issue squarely where it belongs – on products that have nothing to do with sporting or hunting guns. In this respect, Shannon has won a major victory that pushes the gun business back to where it really belongs.

Advertisements

Khalil Spencer: It’s Not About Assault Rifles, It’s About Assaults On Decency.

Along with the current discussion about gun control, assault rifle bans, and domestic terrorism, Uncle Sam is working on reinvigorating the nuclear weapons program in New Mexico and South Carolina. Given that a few of us in Northern New Mexico are affiliated with certain large Federal installations involved with making things that can create very large holes in the ground, I see a lot of chatter about both topics. This leaves me uneasy.

Guns and bombs are necessary evils albeit fascinating creations when not employed for their intended purpose. That’s why people enjoy shooting sports, especially with military design rifles, for example, as described here and here. But lethal weapons are solutions of last resort to real problems. Whether someone is kicking down your door or your frontier at o-dark thirty, you need a way to defend yourself. The problem is, when things get to the point of a shooting war, whether in the kitchen or the Ardennes, the less destructive solutions have failed or have been ignored. Cleaning up the blood and lost treasure gets more complicated as weapons become more advanced. During the American Revolution, a few thousand soldiers faced each other and opened fire when they could see the whites of each others eyes. The American Civil War, which bled America white, was the harbinger of WW I with trench warfare and the introduction of modern weapons. Nowadays, advanced heavy weapons and highly lethal infantry weapons (not to mention, nukes) can blow somewhat larger holes in the other side’s strategic interests. High capacity semiauto weapons can drench the neighborhood with a rainsquall of full metal jacket (or jacketed hollow point, I suppose). Or as Bruce Cockburn once sang, “who put that bullet hole in Peggy’s kitchen wall?”. Nowadays, it would be more than one hole. I think Bruce thought up that song when people generally shot at each other with revolvers.

Things won’t get better if we concentrate on more guns and bombs as solutions. There are more of us in the U.S. (and of course on the planet) and here at home, resources are becoming more unequal, leading to rising stress. Our civilization’s reliance on dinosaur juice, methane, and coal to power our cars, homes, and other stuff is on track to double atmospheric CO2 concentrations over Holocene levels by mid-century. This will, by most reputable accounts, lead to global energy retention via the Tyndall effect resulting in heating on the order of 1.5-4 degrees C and the associated climate adjustments that likely are associated with warming (sea level rise, changes in regional precipitation, changes in average temperatures, more extreme weather due to changes in the jet streams, etc). As an aside, note the uncertainties here. We can predict the big picture, but not the details, hence the constant bickering.

If you think forced migration due to climate and political problems is bad now, I suggest a friendly trip in the time machine to see what things will look like in a few decades. For those who are skeptical of forward climate models, we have plenty of historical geochemical records suggesting significant change is likely in the century to come. Even on the regional scale, we see the results on societies of past climate change in the abandoned settlements of the American Southwest and Greenland. I wrote something for the Albuquerque Journal about that here. Far fewer humans lived back then, so there were places to resettle. Where do people resettle in a few years, as their wells run dry and crops wither, now that we live in a No Vacancy world?

Our ability since the Industrial Revolution to change atmospheric chemistry and thus the atmosphere’s ability to retain the sun’s heat, in a nutshell, is why humans can profoundly – at least with respect to our own existence – impact climate.

me, in the Albuquerque Journal


My guess is we will probably deal with climate change using guns and bombs, since that seems to be the historical tradition. Yes, I am increasingly pessimistic. With the world order drifting towards authoritarianism, nationalism, xenophobia, and ethnic/racial extremism and increasingly, with people showing up unannounced at each other’s national doorsteps, I think the stresses will overcome reason. Plus, its been 74 years since we had a world war. Few living today remember what a world war looks like and frankly, I worry that today’s leaders can only see war as an abstraction. Reagan and Gorbachev knew WW II. Putin and Trump do not. My parent’s generation, now pretty much gone, saw it in its smoke, blood, and destruction filled reality.

The bottom line is if we continue to fixate on using Maslow’s Handgun to stave off change rather than hunkering down to fix what is broken, we will kick the underlying problems down the road until a crisis overcomes us and we solve the problems with…guns and bombs. Its the way Homo sapiens has always done it before. Why change now? Because the guns and bombs are too lethal to use? That’s the underlying idea behind deterrence, but it assumes rational actors acting in their best interest. Hmmm. Does anyone see a potential problem with that assumption? Orwell did:

The passage in the Declaration of Independence that starts, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” with its references to equality, liberty, and happiness, is literally impossible to translate into Newspeak. “The nearest one could come to doing so,” Orwell wrote, “would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink.”

Tom Stern, discussing Orwell’s idea of Newspeak.


As Kurt Vonnegut, who himself rode out the WW II Dresden firebombing, ironically enough in a slaughterhouse, would say, “So it goes“. Unless we choose otherwise.

Who Says Guns Can’t Protect Us From Mass Shooters?

              There’s a story going around the alt-white/right network that el Shlump-o is going to propose a national registry of all AR owners that will be managed by the FBI. I’m hardly surprised that Newsmax and other venues which push their content to the paranoids amongst us would trot that one out, but it may also be the work of some clever guy who does marketing for the gun industry since the events of the past weekend will surely result in a spike of assault rifle sales.

              It’s no secret that whenever the tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is a Democrat, gun sales go up, just as when the tenant is a Republican, gun sales go down. And the reason is very simple, namely, that both political parties depend on support from groups and individuals who either do, or do not like guns. In this respect, I have to say that the pro-gun gang is more honest in their intentions and beliefs, because they make no secret about the fact that they really do want to hold onto their toys. On the other hand, I cringe every time that some gun-control proponent starts off by saying that he or she ‘supports’ the 2nd Amendment because that just happens to be a load of crap.

              Yesterday the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean of Washington’s National Cathedral, issued a statement in which he asked, “How long will we tolerate this epidemic of gun violence?” He then went on to note that he grew up hunting birds and target shooting with family and friends, so he was addressing his letter to all his fellow gun owners, since he claims a kinship with them.

              The National Cathedral has an active gun-control group. I am privileged to work with this group and have appeared at one of the public conferences on gun violence which they hold from time to time. Let me break it to the Very Rev. Hollerith as gently as I can: The Cathedral has never asked a bone-fide gun nut to show up and explain why he loves his guns and why he is opposed to every ‘reasonable’ gun-control measure that the Cathedral leadership supports.

              Yesterday our friend John Lott was informed that his Twitter account had been closed down because it was decided that an op-ed he wrote for The New York Daily News somehow violated the guidelines of what Twitter believes is proper content for their site. Lott’s op-ed was a comment about a manifesto published by a mass shooter in New Zealand which somehow tied his anti-Muslim feelings to support for environmentalism – go figure that one out.

              Let me say the following as directly and bluntly as I can, okay?  I am opposed to censorship of any kind. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who censors the writings, statements or public appearances of anyone else forfeits their right to exist (rhetorically speaking) in the public space. Frankly, my liberal friends who decry gun violence on the one hand but applaud attempts to muzzle someone like John Lott on the other should be ashamed of themselves, no matter what.

              Whether we like it or not, people who really believe that the Democrats, the liberals and the gun-grabbers of all stripes just can’t wait to take away their guns aren’t just a bunch of paranoid nuts. They are reacting to real fears, even if those fears are then exploited by the paranoia hucksters on the alt/white-right. If nothing else, these mass shootings will make the gun argument more toxic on both sides.

              A week after the 2008 election, I walked into a gun shop in Houston and the place was mobbed. I asked someone why there were so many people trying to buy guns and he replied in a completely serious tone, “Haven’t you heard? Armageddon’s coming, we have to be prepared.”

              The guy in the Houston gun shop wasn’t buying a gun to go out and shoot up the town. To the contrary, he really believed that he needed a gun to protect himself from some nut. Was he so wrong?

The Assault Rifle Ban In Florida Heats Up.

              Things are heating up in Florida and I’m not talking about the temperature which today hit 94 degrees in Palm Beach. I’m talking about the attempt by Florida’s Attorney General to behave as if she’s on the payroll of the NRA. And since Granny Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist, is right now laying low until the sh*tstorm about Wayne-o’s profligate spending goes away, at least Gun-nut Nation has AG Ashley Moody to carry on the good fight.

              And the good fight involves an attempt by the relatives of several Parkland victims to put a citizen’s initiative on the 2020 ballot that would amend the State Constitution and ban assault rifles in the Gunshine State. The backers of this initiative have collected enough signatures to get their petition approved by the Florida Supreme Court, which would then allow them to collect another pile of signatures required to put the amendment up for a statewide vote.

              You can read the Constitutional amendment right here, and then take a look at Moody’s attempt to block the amendment right here. Her statement that any semi-automatic rifle with more than a ten-round capacity is just another standard sporting gun, is right out of the playbook that the gun industry has been using for years.

              I have owned and hunted with semi-automatic rifles and shotguns made by Remington, Browning, Winchester, Benelli and a few more, and none of them took a magazine which held more than ten rounds. You don’t go out into the woods to shoot Bambi by spraying ammo all over the place. When the hi-flyers come over on their way to Florida, you’re lucky if you get off two shots before the birds disappear out of sight.

              What makes an assault rifle so dangerous and lethal is the fact that the magazine attaches from beneath the gun, which means that no matter how large it is or how many rounds it holds, it can’t prevent a shooter from aiming the gun. The venerable M-1 Garand rifle, which George Patton called “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” was a top-loading semi-auto that only held 8 rounds. When the military decided to go to a full-auto gun, Gene Stoner designed the first M-16 to take a bottom-loading magazine thus increasing the firepower of the gun. And before you start screaming at me about how the gun-grabbers don’t know the difference between a full-auto military gun and a semi-auto sporting gun, the current battle gun known as the M-4 shoots in semi-automatic mode.

Believe it or not, I happen to find shooting an assault rifle to be a lot of fun. You set up a  bunch of bottles down range, you bang away 30 rounds without stopping to reload. It reminds me of the old-time shooting gallery at the circus or the county fair. So I understand that gun nuts will be plenty pissed off if they have to give up this beloved toy. But no matter how you slice it or dice it, a bottom-loading rifle that can take a magazine which holds thirty, forty or even fifty rounds is a killing machine. 

Yesterday a young man cut a hole in a fence, walked into a garlic festival in Gilroy, CA, and used an AK-47 to shoot 15 people, of whom ‘only’ 3 died. He was nineteen, he bought the gun legally a few weeks previously, and other than some suggestive internet rants the day of the shooting, nobody has yet come forward who claims prior knowledge of the event.

So the battle is now joined between the gun industry and their self-appointed public relations director Ashley Moody on the one hand, and the gun-control ‘nuts’ in Florida on the other. The truth is that Gun-nut Nation is terrified that a state like Florida might actually decide that certain guns are simply too lethal to be sold. After all, we’re not talking about a Communist state like Massachusetts or New York. We’re talking about a state which understands that the most sacred duty of every citizen is to protect hearth and home with a gun.

When It Comes To Reducing Gun Violence, Here’s The Real Deal.

There’s a small group of gun-control activists in Florida, who in the space of just several months, have done more to advance the cause of reducing gun violence than all the national, gun-control organizations put together.  I am referring to an advocacy group in Florida that has a website but also something much more important than a web presence – a public partnership with another advocacy group, Americans for Gun Safety Now, (which has both a website and a Facebook page) representing not just a bunch of tree-hugging, anti-gun liberals, but a cross-section of major Republican Party donors and other conservative-minded folks.

BAWN-AFGSN             Let’s get serious, okay? Remember the last time that Jack Nicklaus, the Jack Nicklaus, attached his name to anything remotely connected to liberal politics at all?  If you do, then it wasn’t this Jack Nicklaus who publicly supported Trump in 2016 and campaigned for Romney in 2012. The AGSN group was founded by a major Republican supporter, Al Hoffman, who was not only the Ambassador to Portugal, but also was the former RNC Finance Chair. In other words, when Al picks up the phone and contacts any Republican anywhere in the United States – they listen, okay?

The alliance between these two groups is the most momentous event in the entire history of gun-control advocacy because what has otherwise characterized the debate between Gun-control Nation and Gun-nut Nation is that the latter group can always depend on GOP politicians and GOP-leaning citizens to support their point of view. There’s a reason why our friends in Fairfax, VA are major sponsors of the CPAC meeting every year but don’t show up at the annual meeting of the ADA.

What both created and brought these strange bedfellows together was, of course, the massacre at Parkland, which happens to be a community largely built by Al Hoffman’s real estate development company, but he’s hardly the only big bucks behind the AFGSN group. I noticed that the lineup includes Norman Braman, who just happens to own more than 20 car dealerships in Florida and was a major backer of Marco Rubio’s Presidential bid in 2016. Here’s the bottom line: You don’t get a couple of heavyweights like Al Hoffman and Norm Braman to come out for a liberal issue like gun control every day of the week, or any day of the week, for that matter.

This unlikely collaboration revolves around an unlikely issue, an attempt to put a state constitutional amendment banning assault rifles before Florida voters in 2020, which just happens to be the next time these same voters will be pulling a lever for either the 45th or 46th President of the United States. Until Parkland, Florida was always considered the ‘gunshine state,’ with a strong and organized pro-gun movement run by Granny Marion Hammer, former President and now state lobbyist for the NRA.  She recently sued a Miami resident, Brian Fitzgerald, for cyberstalking, because he sent her several nasty and profane emails after Parkland, a lawsuit which is more embarrassing than real. If our NRA friends think that the old lady is a match for Hoffman, Braman and Nicklaus, they better think again.

When all is said and done, Gun-nut Nation can scream and yell all they want about how gun-control laws rob gun owners of their civil rights, their Constitutional rights, whatever right they want to invent to hold onto their guns. But the bottom line is that when Marion Hammer and other gun-nut zealots refer to advocates for gun control as ‘traitors,’ it’s a strategy that the NRA needs to carefully consider before running it up the flagpole against guys like Braman, Hoffman, et. al. And if Republican stalwarts in Florida now believe that gun violence needs to be contained, let’s not forget for one moment that these folks have plenty of friends in other states where mass shootings have occurred….

What Kavanaugh Said About Assault Rifles Happens To Be True.

I hate to say this, folks, but the big flap over Brett Kavanaugh’s supposed endorsement of assault rifles and other pro-gun issues is nothing other than a big nothingburger. Understand that I’m not trying to find a back-door way to support his nomination. I’m also not trying to imply in any way that his nomination shouldn’t be opposed based on concerns that he might help the Supreme Court undo fundamental decisions that guarantee justice and equality for all.

kavanaugh1              My problem is that I keep reading and hearing things that Kavanaugh allegedly believes about guns, and then when I listen to what he actually says, it doesn’t add up.  Is he a pro-gun guy?  No kidding – gee, what a surprise. Will he tilt the Court to the right if and when another gun-control law comes up for review?  Of course he will.  On the other hand, his response to Senator Feinstein’s question about his views on assault rifles was not only well within accepted legal parameters, but followed directly from the majority Heller opinion written by Scalia in 2008.

First of all, contrary to what appeared on the Giffords website, he did not say that ‘assault weapons can’t be distinguished from handguns.’  What he said was that as semi-automatic weapons they could not be distinguished from semi-automatic handguns as a “matter of law.”  And what he obviously meant by that statement is the fact that since 1934, federal gun law has made a clear distinction between semi-automatic weapons, as opposed to weapons which fire full-auto, the latter being very heavily regulated, the former much less so.

Incidentally, David Hogg is also jumping into the argument by saying that the ‘effective’ range of a handgun is 75 feet but the ‘effective’ range of an AR-15 is 1600 feet; hence, the AR is not a gun to be used for self-defense. David’s a lovely young man, he’s a big and important cog in the gun-control machine. He doesn’t know squat about guns.

I notice that every, single anti-Kavanaugh post somehow neglects to mention the words ‘matter of law.’  But that’s exactly the point. Kavanaugh is absolutely correct in following the precedent set by Scalia whose opinion gave Constitutional protection to privately-owned guns, with the exception of ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons, by which Scalia meant guns designed for military use.

Do me a favor, okay? Please don’t send me a nasty email or accuse me of being some kind of gun-sucking troll until you read what I am now going to say. The problem with the 2008 Heller decision is that Scalia, the Court’s alleged gun nut, really didn’t know much of anything about guns. If he did, he could never have made a distinction between so-called ‘weapons in common use’ and ‘weapons of war’ because most of the handguns owned today happen to be guns that were designed and initially manufactured for military use. The most popular handgun sold today – Glock – was designed for the Austrian Army and is carried by many troops in the field, including American troops. Every, single polymer gun in the Sig catalog is designed on the same platform which was used for the U.S. Army’s new handgun. The most popular handgun of all time, the Colt 1911 45acp pistol was designed for the Army by John Browning in 1907.

The United States is the only country that makes no distinction between small arms for the military and small arms for civilian use. In fact, even the whole idea of full-auto versus semi-auto is nonsense, because the current battle rifle, the M4, can be shot in semi-auto mode.

When the Supreme Court decided to extend Constitutional protection to weapons in ‘common use,’ it created a definition that had nothing to do with history, law or anything else. It was nothing more than an ill-founded opinion by a jurist whose colleagues knew even less about guns. Sorry, but when it comes to guns, the collective stupidity of our highest court can’t be blamed on what Brett Kavanaugh said or didn’t say.

You Don’t Need An Assault Weapon To Kill Lots Of People – Any Old Gun Will Do.

Not that facts make any difference in the argument between the two sides about gun violence, but the Santa Fe shooting was somewhat different from other mass shootings in two respects. First, the shooter killed and wounded 20 people not with an assault weapon like an AR-15, but with a pump shotgun and a 38-caliber revolver, types of guns that have been around forever and don’t usually figure in any discussion about banning this type or that type of gun to prevent mass shooting events. Second, not only was there an armed citizen on the premises, but he happened to be a full-time cop who was seriously wounded during the assault.

santa fe             After nearly 30 minutes, during which time the 17-year old shooter exchanged gun fire with two other cops, the terrible slaughter came to an end. It didn’t end because the shooter committed suicide, which often is the way these things go down. It didn’t end because an ‘armed citizen’ or law-enforcement officer wounded or killed the man who killed 10 people and wounded 10 more. It ended because the kid gave himself up.

As I said above, facts often don’t matter in the gun-violence debate.  Gun-nut Nation will continue to rant about how and why guns are essential to protect our God-given ‘rights.’ One pro-gun idiot even showed up at the high school wearing a MAGA hat and a pistol on his hip, claiming that he was just there to “offer support.” He got himself interviewed and then drove away. No doubt this jerk will probably be invited to attend next year’s NRA meeting to receive some kind of ‘armed citizen’ award.

We can safely ignore or dismiss such stupidities because when the gun-control community talks about gun violence, after all, we rely on evidence-based facts. An example of this concern for shaping the gun-violence narrative on hard data, as opposed to fanciful nonsense promoted by Donald Trump and Fox News, is a new initiative on the part of researchers and activists called ‘A Call For Action To Prevent Gun Violence In The United States Of America,’ which has now been signed onto by more than 200 mental health groups and 2,300 individual experts in the weeks since the Parkland massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. Members of this group have attended conferences, testified at public hearings and published an 8-Point Plan. I can just imagine the thousands of emails which zinged back and forth in the process of devising this plan.

The plan’s eight points address school violence in various ways, first and foremost creating and maintaining positive school environments “that protect all students and adults from bullying, discrimination, harassment and assault.” The plan sets as a second priority “a ban on assault-style weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips, and products that modify semi-automatic firearms to enable them to function like automatic firearms.”

I didn’t notice that the kid who walked into Santa Fe High School yesterday had an assault weapon. I also don’t think he had any high-capacity ammunition mags because the two guns he used to kill and wound 20 people don’t take gun magazines of any kind. The shotgun he carried probably contained eight rounds or less, the revolver could only be shot 6 times before it would have to be reloaded again.

Now that more school students have been shot this year than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in both combat and non-combat roles, I really believe it’s high time for the gun-control movement to stop competing with Gun-nut Nation over concerns for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ If folks who signed onto that 8-point pledge actually believe that you can call for gun regulations but still support private ownership of guns, I suggest that such experts hold their next conference at Area 51. You never know – maybe the Martians have figured out a way to reduce gun violence on their planet because we sure don’t seem to have a clue.

 

 

What The Assault Weapons Ban Needs And Doesn’t Need.

Let’s say that Congress actually passes this assault weapons ban (AWB) and El Schmuck-o signs it into law.  And let’s say that a year after the bill becomes law the cops come into my house and find my Colt H-Bar, which I am allowed to have around because I owned it before the law was passed.  And let’s say I don’t have any paperwork to show when I bought it (which I don’t.)  How do I prove that I’m not breaking the assault weapons ban?  I can’t.

awb            Here’s Problem Number Two. Let’s say that after the law is passed I want to sell my H-Bar to someone else, which I can do because I legally own the gun and therefore can transfer it to anyone else who can legally own the gun. But the proposed AWB law as it now stands requires that all transfers of grandfathered assault guns be done in a dealer’s shop. Which means that, for all intents and purposes, a ‘universal’ background check system has just begun to creep in through the back door.

I’m not listing these problems because I personally care whether Americans can own these particular kinds of guns or for that matter whether they can own any guns at all. My task, as I see it, is not to advocate but to inform and the chips will fall where they may. Obviously, Gun-nut Nation will oppose any kind of bill which regulates anything having to do with guns. But the two issues I have just raised might also create serious opposition to this bill even among people who might otherwise be in favor of regulating assault-type guns.

One thing I wish the supporters of an AWB would eliminate from this bill and from their brains is all the nonsense about banning a gun because it has features like a pistol grip, a barrel shroud, a grenade or rocket launcher, or a folding stock. What makes an AR more lethal than other kinds of rifle designs is the bottom-loading, detachable magazine, which by taping two mags together gives the gun a capacity of 60 rounds or more.  As far as threaded barrels are concerned, if the harebrained scheme by harebrained Donald Trump, Jr., to pull silencers off the NFA list is dumped in the trash can where it belongs, owning a gun with a threaded barrel won’t create any real safety risk at all.

Some of the guns that are banned, such as the Hi-Point carbine, load ammunition through a magazine in the grip rather than underneath the frame. Guns like this simply aren’t assault rifles the way the term is defined in this bill, and if the bill begins to gather some traction, I hope the list of both banned and approved guns will be reviewed by someone other than a well-meaning ‘expert’ from the ATF.  In case you don’t remember, the ATF is the bunch whose mistaken belief that David Koresh and his Waco followers were building full-automatic weapons ultimately led to 75 deaths.  I don’t notice that Waco is ever mentioned in discussions or studies about mass shootings, by the way.

The United States is the only advanced country which regulates gun ownership not by how a gun is designed, but whether the gun’s owner can be trusted to use the weapon in a proper way. And despite Gun-nut Nation’s self-serving attempt to push some cock and bull about how any rifle that shoots in semi-auto mode is a ‘sporting’ weapon, the truth is that a rifle which allows the shooter to touch off 60 rounds in less than a minute is a lot of fun to shoot, which I guess meets the definition of a ‘sporting’ gun.

What’s wrong with going to a video arcade and popping off a hundred rounds in 10 seconds, complete with great graphics and realistic sounds? Oh, I forgot. Not only can you do the same thing with a real AR-15, but the gun will also protect you from ISIS or maybe even an invasion from Mars.

Want To Make A Million In The Gun Business? Start With Two Million.

On July 1, 2016, a stock called American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) hit an all-time high of $30 bucks a share.  In case you didn’t know it, AOBC is actually Smith & Wesson, whose ownership decided to diversify the company into an outdoor sporting conglomerate basically to cover up the fact that all they really make and sell are guns. The company President, Jim Dabney, announced the new name back in December 2016 with this statement: “We believe that American Outdoor Brands Corp. is a name that truly represents our broad and growing array of brands and businesses in the shooting, hunting and rugged outdoor enthusiast markets.”

sw             This strategy replaced an earlier strategy which had S&W marketing all kinds of consumer crap – blankets, clothing, watches, jewelry – that can now be found on eBay for a fraction of what the stuff originally cost. Once the geniuses who run S&W realized that the only thing which consumers would purchase that carried the company’s distinctive name were guns, forget about promoting the brand through other channels, let’s just buy some small companies with other brand names.

Except the problem is that consumer brands that don’t carry a high price-tag usually don’t market products that anyone really wants to buy. Ever hear of a brand called Bog-Pod? How’s about Hooyman or Old Timer?  These are some of the products which the company claims will help it build a “rich, diverse product and brand offering to address new opportunities in the rugged outdoor markets.”  Hey guys, stick with the guns, okay?

Actually, for a few years the boys at 2100 Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield read the handwriting on the wall correctly, marketing a cheap line of AR-15 rifles, which boosted overall revenues significantly and got the company into the expanding tactical rifle market at exactly the right time.  The company first began shipping its ‘black gun’ in 2006, by 2010 they were selling more than 100,000 units each year, the other major assault-rifle manufacturers (Bushmaster, DPMS) were producing about half that number each year.

There’s only one little problem with the success story, however, which is that what goes up in the gun business can also go right back down.  Which is exactly what happened to AR sales by the end of the Obama regime, if only because at a certain point everyone who wanted to own what is euphemistically referred to as a ‘modern sporting rifle’ had one sitting at home.

But gun makers are used to dealing with market saturation because, if nothing else, the things they manufacture don’t wear out.  If you sell someone a droid, for example, chances are that a certain number will have to be replaced within a year or so. Selling someone one droid usually means that the manufacturer will rack up another sale. Not so with guns, which is why companies like S&W knew that at some point sales of their assault rifles would go flat.

But what S&W didn’t know, what nobody in the gun industry could predict, was the firestorm which erupted after the Parkland massacre which was aimed at the whole gun industry, but obviously is a bigger threat to companies which make black guns, of whom S&W happens to be the biggest target of all.  When a global asset manager like Black Rock and a commercial bank like Bank of America announce they want to meet with gun makers to see what the industry’s response will be to what happened in Parkland, we’re not talking about the ‘arm teachers’ nonsense peddled by the White House idiot, we’re talking what counts: bucks.

What we say in the gun business is that if you want to make a million, start with two million. If you bought 50,000 shares of S&W on July 1, 2016 yesterday the joke would have come true.

Which is why S&W stock closed yesterday at under $10, the lowest price since the end of 2014.  If you owned 100,000 shares of S&W  on July 1, 2016 and held those shares today, your investment would have lost  2 million bucks.

Will Condolences And Prayers Stop Mass Shootings? Of Course.

The day after a 29-year old security guard named Omar Mateen walked into The Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12, 2016 and began blasting away with his trusty Sig assault rifle, killing 49 people and wounding another 58, then-candidate Donald Trump immediately started yapping about how the shooting wouldn’t have happened if someone in the nightclub had been carrying a gun. Of course his real campaign manager, a.k.a. Chris Cox of the NRA, had to  remind him that the boys in Fairfax didn’t actually endorse mixing alcohol with guns. But that didn’t stop Trump from continuing to promote the necessity of arming civilians for the remainder of his campaign.

prayer            Now that candidate Trump has transmogrified into President Trump, the narrative has all of a sudden changed. When word reached the White House that a shooting rampage in a Florida high school was going to end up costing an untold number of lives, Trumpo’s first tweet was: “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” An hour later, when the death toll had reached 17, and it may go higher, America’s guardian of the 2nd Amendment couldn’t resist another burp, this one saying, “Just spoke to Governor Rick Scott. We are working closely with law enforcement on the terrible Florida school shooting.”

In case you’re wondering, Trump the Shlump was demonstrating his leadership by talking to the same Rick Scott who signed 5 gun laws in one day on June 23, 2014, one of which which made it easier for residents of the Gunshine State to get concealed-carry licenses, another making it easier for defendants to justify violent behavior under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, all of which made him, according to the NRA, the Governor who “has now signed more pro-gun bills into law — in one term — than any other Governor in Florida history.”

As for the boyfriend of Stormy Daniels ‘working closely with law enforcement,’ I wonder if he was referring to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who would have been the chief law-enforcement officer on the scene. You may recall that just two weeks before we had to start putting up with this schmuck of a President, the exact date was January 6 2017, a guy named Esteban Santiago-Ruiz got off a flight from Alaska, collected his luggage, then pulled out a 9mm pistol and quickly shot 5 people dead. When a few Florida lawmakers then talked up a law allowing guns to be carried in certain areas within airports, Sheriff Israel spoke out against the measure, claiming that letting civilians walk around with guns would just make it more difficult for police officers to tell the good guys from the bad.

Incidentally, the day of the airport shooting, although not yet President, the New York landlord was obviously practicing for how he would respond to mass shootings from inside the Oval Office, because he tweeted that he had ‘spoken’ with Governor Scott and was ‘monitoring’ the situation. Oh yea, don’t forget the thoughts and prayers.

What I find interesting about this charade of concern is that Obama also responded to rampage shootings by first always mentioning how the victims were in his thoughts and prayers. But he would then call for some kind of ‘action’ in response to the shooting, which of course meant a new law regulating guns. The moment he switched from ‘thoughts and prayers’ to ‘regulations and laws,’ the various Gun-nut Nation mouthpieces accused him of ‘politicizing’ the event.

Remember when Wayne-o reminded us after Sandy Hook that it’s the bad guys we need to worry about, not the guns? Sooner or later I figured they would have to come up with a new slogan to keep the discussion away from whether we should be doing something about the guns. Who can argue with condolences and prayers? Perfect, just perfect.