There’s Nothing Like A Good Story To Help Sell Guns.

Sooner or later someone in the gun business would figure out how to merge reality with fantasy and take advantage of the upsurge in left-wing political activities since the election of the nut-job known as Donald Trump.  It started with the home-school queen, Dana Loesch, who popped up in an NRA video production whining about threats posed by the Left. She goes on and on about how the Left is doing one dangerous and violent thing after another and her rant concluded with, “the only way we save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of lies with a clenched fist of truth.”

tactical              Now notice – no mention of guns, no mention of armed, self-defense – the whole thing is about as subtle as getting whacked over the head with a two-by-four. But now a gun company, admittedly not yet a major player in the industry, has started running messaging on its Facebook page which explicitly takes Dana’s message about fighting left-wing violence to another level and making the clearest possible connection between politics and armed, self-defense; in this case, using an AR-15 assault rifle to defend everything that patriots hold dear.

The company is called Spike’s Tactical out of Florida, which sells various AR-15 models and claims they build the finest AR-15’s ‘on the planet,’ even though every other AR outfit basically says the same thing.  The good news about the AR design is that it’s kind of like a Lego set; you can buy all the individual parts and put the gun together any way you want. The bad news is that AR sales have hit rock bottom, the proof is simply the fact that the new guns cost about half of what they were selling for during the heady days of the Obama regime.

When assault rifles first hit the market as a mass product, the gun industry tried to picture them as nothing more than just another type of ‘sporting’ gun, no different from any other rifle that a hunter or sportsman would take into the field. The industry even invented a new term, the ‘modern sporting rifle,’ as if there was the slightest similarity between these guns which take 30-round magazines and the Browning or Remington semi-auto hunting rifles which held 4 or 5 rounds. This attempt to present the AR as just nothing other than a 21st-century version of the Daisy Red Ryder found under every Christmas tree began to take some serious lumps after a guy stuck his ‘sporting gun’ out of a hotel window in Vegas, killing or wounding more than 600 folks, but leave it to the fertile imaginations of the people selling guns at Spike’s Tactical to turn the idea of ‘sporting arms’ on its head and make the concept of killing people with an AR-15 a virtue instead of a vice.

The release of the ad, which shows four armed citizens protecting us from a murderous, threatening Antifa bunch, happened to appear at the same time that one of America’s most beloved patriots, Cliven (‘let me tell you about your Negro’) Bundy, had all the charges against him and his sons dropped that came out of the standoff at his ranch in 2014. And as soon as he emerged from the courtroom, ol’ Clive made it clear that he’s ready to resume his fight. His Facebook page is already selling sweat shirts and I’m sure there’s more consumer crap to come.

If I were the owner of a tactical gun company, I would release a Cliven Bundy limited edition rifle, complete with a carrying case and t-shirt because the profit is always in the add-ons, and I notice that Spike’s Tactical is already promoting a clothing company under another brand name. The point is that notwithstanding the usual liberal lament about how the gun industry increasingly pushes products toward the most extreme elements on the alt-right, the truth is that what works for the gun business best of all is messaging based on fantasy, not on fear.

 

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It’s About Time: Maura Healey Takes Aim At Assault Weapons And Scores A Bullseye.

It took more than twenty years, but finally a public figure with brains, leadership and guts has demolished the NRA’s most sacred cow in one fell swoop.  I am referring to yesterday’s announcement by Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Attorney General, that assault rifle are no longer welcome in the Bay State.  If you own an assault rifle you can keep it (thank goodness because I own three,) but if you want to buy one from a dealer, or if a gun dealer wants to buy one from a wholesaler or manufacturer, that’s not going to happen any more.

AR2           The Enforcement Notice issued by Healey’s office restates the definition and description of ‘assault weapon’ incorporated into the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban law, but then prohibits guns from being sold in Massachusetts which meets either a ‘similarity test’ or an ‘interchangeability test’ which basically means an AR without a flash hider, a folding or telescoping stock, or a pistol grip; in other words, if it looks and acts like an AR, it is an AR, extra doo-dads or not. What the AG has done is fashion a legal directive based on the ‘I know it when I see it’ reasoning used by Associate Justice Potter Stewart for deciding pornography cases that came before the Supreme Court.

To understand the gist of Healey’s approach, however, you have to consider the history surrounding the original Assault Weapons Ban.  Because recall that the 1994 law expired after ten years, but states that wanted to maintain it could opt out of the expiration, of which Massachusetts was one of seven states which continued the ban. But the 1994 law didn’t ban assault rifles; it banned assault rifles that contained certain design features, such as pistol grips, bayonet lugs, flash hiders and so forth, none of which in any way reduced the lethality of these guns.

What makes the AR design so exceptionally lethal, what makes the AR a weapon of war, is that the manner in which the stock lines up against the bolt and the receiver, the manner in which high-capacity magazines can be dismounted and remounted within the gun and the manner in which the gun can then be charged after receiving a new, fully-loaded magazine allows the operator to get off as many as 60 shots of deadly military ammunition in one minute or less.

Why do I call the AR a weapon of war?  Because the AR used by battle-zone troops today can be shot in the same semi-auto mode that makes the gun legal for civilian sales.  Yes, the military gun also allows for three-shot bursts, and it is the selective-fire feature of the military rifle, the M4, which is touted again and again by Gun-nut Nation as the essential reason why the AR is nothing other than a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ which is no more lethal or dangerous than any other semi-automatic rifle lugged by a hunter or sportsman into the woods. So does this mean that if a trooper on the battlefield decides to set his rifle in semi-auto mode, that he’s now carrying a ‘sporting’ gun?

This totally fabricated crap about how the AR isn’t lethal has set the tone for Gun-nut Nation’s approach to all guns.  The issue of gun lethality, not just for the AR, but for all small arms, has been pushed aside in favor of an argument which tries to create the fiction that guns are only dangerous if they get into the ‘wrong’ hands.  When guns are carried by law-abiding, armed citizens, they represent an important, indeed indispensable tool for insuring safety and security of all.

Maura Healey’s announcement is a resounding shot across the bow because it sweeps away the rhetorical nonsense cynically foisted on the public to disguise the fact that some guns are simply too dangerous to be put in anyone’s hands. Which is why the AR is not a sporting rifle, because no sporting gun requires a magazine that holds 30 rounds.

With Friends Like Slate’s Rachel Larimore, Gun Violence Prevention Doesn’t Need Enemies.

When you have friends like Rachel Larimore and you are trying to do something about gun violence, you don’t need enemies.  Because Ms. Larimore has posted a column about guns in, of all places, Slate, which is so woefully misinformed and so heavily biased in favor of Gun-nut Nation’s arguments that if Glenn Kessler wanted to award ten Pinocchio’s for misinformation instead of the usual three that he just gave Chris Murphy, he could start right here.

slate          Larimore’s argument seems to be that if the gun-control community wants to have what she calls a ‘healthy conversation,’ about gun violence, then they need to get the facts straight.  And since “the mainstream media lobbies hard for gun control, it’s impossible to start a dialogue when you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.” Notice, by the way, Ms. Larimore’s assumption that a ‘dialogue’ with Gun-nut Nation rests on the ability of the gun-control folks to play it straight with the facts – I’ll return to that point further on.

So what are some of the facts about guns that these well-meaning but basically ignorant Gun Violence Prevention boobs don’t understand?  Well, first and foremost is confusing assault ‘weapons’ with assault ‘rifles,’ the latter being only used by the military, whereas the former is a civilian gun which happens to look something like the military one. And which mainstream journalist does Larimore quote to prove her point?  None other than Rachel Maddow, who talked on her show about how the Sig MCX was too lethal to be put into civilian hands.

Now maybe I know a bit more about guns than either Ms. Maddow or Ms. Larimore, but I can say without fear of contradiction that what Rachel said regarding the lethality of the MCX was exactly right on.  Here’s how Rachel described the MCX: “Less muzzle flip. Faster follow-on shots. Less recoil impulse into the shoulder.”  Which is exactly why this type of gun is much more lethal than what Gun-nut Nation calls a ‘modern sporting rifle,’ and is exactly why Larimore’s attempt to disparage the information presented by Maddow is simply dead wrong.  She then goes on to make sure her readers understand that the difference between ‘assault weapons’ and other semi-automatic are ‘cosmetic’ and don’t ‘increase the gun’s lethality.’  And where did Larimore get this nugget of information?  Where else – from Gun-nut Nation who, if you read through this entire polemic posing as an op-ed piece, aren’t questioned about anything they say at all.

Now you would think that if Larimore were truly interested in writing an honest piece of journalism about the lack of a dialogue about guns, that maybe, just maybe she’d dig up at least one little example of false information from the other side.  How about the idea that walking around with a gun protects you from crime?  Gun-nut Nation has been promoting that one for more than twenty years, and even if a majority of Americans believe it to be true, it happens to be a big, fat lie.

Let’s get back to her assumption that there could be a meaningful dialogue about guns if only the mainstream media and others pushing gun control based their arguments on facts.  You mean the only reason that a couple of weak-kneed, little gun regulations didn’t get through the Senate yesterday was because the folks who are interested in reducing gun violence don’t come to the table anxious to tell the truth?

Let me break it to you gently, Ms. Larimore.  There are certainly many gun-violence issues that we still don’t understand, and more research needs to be done.  But to say that the only thing preventing a discourse about guns is the inability of the Gun Violence Community to come to the table armed with facts is to assume that Gun-nut Nation has any interest in facts about guns.  They don’t; and if you think they do then Slate has no business referring to you as a journalist at all.

Gun Sales Going Through The Roof Now That Obama And Hillary Want To Ban Assault Rifles? Don’t Count On it.

Right after Obama and the Hillary (or maybe it was the other way around) came out with strong calls for more gun control, followed by the New York Times editorial calling for a ban on assault rifles, there was an immediate spate of stories about how gun sales were once again going through the roof.  And the ‘proof’ of this sales explosion was, of course, an increase in NICS background checks which showed a one-day surge on Black Friday that eclipsed previous Black Friday numbers by upwards of five percent.

ARnew               Every time there’s a mass slaughter or a gun-grabbing threat or anything else which the NRA can use to prove that the 2nd Amendment is in jeopardy, every gun nut in America rushes out to add to his stockpile.  Which means more guns in circulation, more guns ending up in ‘the street,’ more gun violence, yadda, yadda and yadda.

But before we get too concerned, perhaps we should take a deep breath and ask ourselves whether what we are saying aligns with the facts.  Or better yet, when the media says it, do we simply accept what they say if it’s bad news about guns, or do we actually take the time to do a little data-mining for ourselves.  In that regard I want to share a bit of data mining on NICS checks to see whether and to what degree the American private gun arsenal continues to expand.

Here are the real numbers.  NICS checks for November, 2014 were 1.797,163.  For the same month this year, the NICS total was 2,236,457, a month-to-month increase of almost 25 percent.  Wow! The gun nuts are going crazy.  In fact, I have to admit that I even bought a gun in November – a lovely Ruger in .222 caliber.  Which tells you that I’m a real gun nut because I refer to a rifle as ’lovely.’  Anyway, there’s lonely one little problem with those numbers – the increase had little to do with gun sales.

Ready?  NICS background checks for gun transfers in 2014 totaled 1,256,129.  In 2015 the total increased to 1,354,845, i.e., a whopping 7 percent!  So where did that 25% increase in NICS checks come from?  It came from a doubling in the number of checks conducted to validate gun licenses, usually concealed-carry licenses which in some states requires a separate background check before a CCW license can be issued, or a re-check of the individual’s legal qualifications at some point after the license has been issued.  In other words, what kept NICS so busy in November wasn’t what the pro-gun gang wants; i.e., more guns, it was what the GVP community wants; i.e., more background checks.  Hello. Hello-o.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  The way I check the health of the gun market is not by looking at NICS data but looking at the market cost of guns.  Because gun prices tend to be very elastic.  The worst thing for a gun maker Is having unsold inventory sitting in the warehouse, ditto the wholesaler, ditto the retailer although in the case of the retailer, what he does when sales slow is to stop ordering guns. And the way I check prices is to go to the largest online retail seller, Bud’s Gun Shop, and take a quick look at what’s selling and what’s not.

Know what’s not selling?  Assault rifles.  Right after Sandy Hook you couldn’t buy a decent AR for under a thousand bucks.  You can buy one today from Bud for less than $700, and although his listed prices for the premium guns are over a thou, next to every price there’s the tell-tale ‘Make Offer’ which means the real (lower) price is between him and you. Now you would think that after San Bernardino the price of assault rifles would be going through the roof.  In fact, the prices seem to be heading for the basement.  And that’s a very interesting turn of affairs. It really is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could Gun Control Be The Defining Campaign Issue In 2016? Don’t Bet Against It.

I can see it now.  The tumultuous last night of the 2016 Republican Convention.  The newly-nominated Presidential candidate strides up to the podium flanked by family members and whomever is going to be the VP.  Then he bends down, can’t be seen for a second stands back up and  raises an AR over his head.

You think it can’t happen?  You think that gun control couldn’t be the defining issue of the next Presidential campaign?  I beg to differ with you and frankly, I even wish this little fantasy would come true.  Why?  Because if the election does turn on the gun issue, the folks who agree with the New York Times about banning assault rifles might just win.

heston              Before explaining, I have to mention the decision by the SCOTUS that denied certiorari to the appeal of the 7th Circuit’s decision that upheld the assault weapons ban in the town of Highland Park, Illinois.  The ban was passed after Sandy Hook, as were similar bans enacted (and upheld) in Connecticut and New York.  What was interesting about the denial of certiorari in the Highland Park case was the margin was 7 to 2; in other words, when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment rights of assault-rifle owners, as of now the usual 5-4 conservative majority that ruled in favor of Heller in 2008 has collapsed.

Given what just happened in San Bernardino, this decision should come as no great surprise.  And luckily for all the Republican candidates, the news that the slaughter did constitute a real, ISIS-inspired terrorist attack, gave them all some way of responding without having to spend much time or verbiage on what has become the standard, red-meat rhetoric about the virtues of an armed citizenry, the dangers of gun-free zones, and all that other crap.  This time around, defending the gun industry was left to Jerry Falwell, Jr., whose father, you may recall, blamed gays and lesbians for the World Trade Center attacks.

But let’s get back to which party would be helped and which would be hurt if an assault weapons ban was the driving campaign issue in 2016.  And make no mistake about it, ISIS or no ISIS, there’s every good chance that between now and next November, at least one idiot will bring out his Bushmaster or his DPMS and try to even some real and/or imagined score. And I’ll take the short odds right now that the Republicans will make “defending the 2nd Amendment” the Number One plank in the GOP Platform next year, which means that the Democrats will have no choice but to call for some kind of ‘sensible gun control,’ which could mean a ban on black guns.

Here’s the bottom line on next year from a gun point of view.  If Hillary gives up Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota and Florida but keeps the other states that voted blue in 2012 she still wins.  Doesn’t win by much, but she wins.  With the exception of Colorado, the others are all solid, gun-rich states.  The bad news is that if she gives up those states, she has to keep states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio in the Democratic column, which are also states with lots of voters who own guns.  But ‘lots’ and 50% plus 1 is not the same thing.  And it was the Democratic turnout in large, metropolitan areas in these states in 2012 which kept them blue.  And most of those voters could care less about the 2nd Amendment or about guns.

The Democrats used to keep themselves below the radar screen on gun control as a campaign issue because the NRA took Gore to the showers in his defeat by George Bush.  But 2016 isn’t 2000, and the country may not buy one more Sandy Hook.  I don’t want any election to turn on the loss of human life, but put an AR in the wrong hands and it could work out that way, like it or not.

What Would We Do If Ben Carson Wasn’t Protecting Our 2nd Amendment Rights?

Uh-oh, the gun industry just suffered a minor jolt that could become a knockout punch because a Federal judge has decided that the suit against Bushmaster brought by the parents of children murdered at Sandy Hook must be heard in a state, as opposed to a federal court.  What this means is that the manufacturer, Bushmaster, will have to prove that their gun was not too dangerous to sell to the public, notwithstanding the fact that Adam Lanza was able to kill 20 kids and 6 adults in slightly more than five minutes’ time.

We don’t yet know which weapons were used to kill nine people at Umpqua Community College on October 1, but we do know that one of the guns carried into the school by Christopher Harper-Mercer was an assault rifle. The fact that the Connecticut Bushmaster suit was revived the day before another school slaughter took place is a horrifying coincidence that, if nothing else, tells us two things: 1) these mass shootings are become so frequent as to be almost routine; 2) the shooter’s access to an AR-15 in both incidents simply can’t be overlooked or ignored.

carson                I’m hoping that if the Bushmaster case is argued in open court that Ben Carson will decide to weigh in on the side of the gun. His recent rise in the polls has coincided with a shameless effort to grab every single pro-gun vote, even if it means saying things that physicians should never say.  Here’s a sample that was posted on his Facebook page although now it’s been taken down: “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”  Does this jerk have any idea how stupid, pandering and medically-unethical such a comment can be?  Does he have any idea how reprehensible it is for a physician to compare the effects of any injury to a legal state of affairs?

Ben – you’re a creep. Nobody’s taking anybody’s rights away. What is going to happen when the Bushmaster suit is re-opened in state court, is that the whole issue of gun violence is finally going to be discussed by people who will be under oath and won’t be able to pretend that a marketing slogan can be used to obscure or fudge the truth.  Because here’s the truth about the gun that Adam Lanza and probably Chris Mercer used when they opened fire in classrooms on both coasts. They didn’t use a ‘modern, sporting rifle,’ if by ‘sporting’ the gun industry tries to pretend that it’s no different than the old Remington 700 or Winchester 64 that I lug into the woods. It’s a military gun, pure and simple. it’s used by military and para-military forces worldwide, and just because some of the military guns can be set on full-auto doesn’t alter the fact that many armed forces units fire it in semi-auto mode as well.

But the argument about whether a semi-automatic weapon is just as lethal as a full-auto gun misses the whole point.  And to understand the degree to which gun jerks like Carson will go to drag the argument away from the reality-lethality, here’s what he said today on Fox: “Guns don’t kill people. We need to figure out who is the dangerous person so we can intervene.”  Okay Ben, how do you propose we ‘figure out’ the identity all those dangerous persons?  Should we administer a Rorschach test to every gun buyer after they fill out a 4473? Or maybe you would prefer we use the Minnesota Multiphasic exam.

I don’t think there’s much chance that Ben Carson’s going to be the tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January 20, 2017.  But I’d give anything for him to represent the gun industry when the case against Bushmaster comes into court.  I can’t wait to hear him tell the parents of the kids gunned down at Sandy Hook that those lethal wounds weren’t as important as our 2nd Amendment rights. I just can’t wait.

Want To Get A New Assault Rifle For $5 Bucks? Join The NRA.

If any of you think that anyone in the gun industry might want to reconsider their commitment to assault rifles in the wake of ‘black’ guns being tossed out of Walmart, think again.  I just received my 3rd or 4th or maybe 10th email from Wayne-o reminding me to pony up five bucks for the 3rd Annual NRA Gun Raffle, and choose any one of 12 guns or, if I like, all 12 twelve guns which “any American gun enthusiast would like to own.”   And in case there was any doubt in my mind about why I should enter with a chance to win, Wayne-o’s email goes on to remind me that I don’t want to ”miss this opportunity to enter to WIN the guns that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg want to BAN, along with many other great firearms!”

I know something about gun raffles because my gun shop used to be the site for an annual raffle to benefit the state Ducks Unlimited chapter which, in case you don’t know them, is a conservation and hunting organization founded in 1927 as an offshoot of the original hunting-conservationist effort, Boone & Crockett Club, that was started by Teddy Roosevelt and some friends in 1887 before TR went scampering up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.  Hunters and conservationists were one and the same back in those days, because hunters understood the necessity to preserve and extend natural areas for the survival and protection of game.  The Ducks Unlimited raffle that I supported raised money for wildlife programs and preservation of wetlands in and around my state; you didn’t have to even own a gun to feel this was something worthy of your support.

duckslogo                If memory serves me correctly, the Ducks Unlimited raffle gave away five or six guns, all of them rifles and shotguns used for sport or the hunt.  There was always a beautiful Beretta over-and-under, usually with a Ducks Unlimited logo engraved on the case and the gun; a Marlin 39A 22-caliber lever-action carbine with the gold-inlaid stock; a magnum-caliber Weatherby for elk and a Marlin 336 for white-tail deer.  One year the guy who won the Weatherby told me he really didn’t want the gun so I bought it from him and it’s still sitting around somewhere in the basement or out in the garage.

Want to know what are the guns you can win from the NRA?  The raffle’s main prize is a Ruger SR-762, which has nothing to do with the Ruger 77 bolt-action rifles that the old man designed and made Bill Ruger’s name famous both here and abroad.  The SR-762 is a 30-caliber assault rifle which retails for more than $2,500 and shoots a 30-caliber round through a piston-type of operating system that promises to deliver “superior operating endurance” for every tactical need.

You can choose a Ruger for your raffle ticket but you can also select five other assault-style guns, including the Larue Tactical PredetAR rifle, the M4 V1 carbine from Daniel Defense, the KRISS Vector CRB Carbine and theTavor-IDF IDF 16 rifle with a Mepro 21 sight.  The last-named gun comes out of Israel and is made by the same company which many years ago gave us the lovely little machine pistol known as the Uzi which, if you recall, was considered by the Bush Administration too dangerous to be imported after 1989. I love it when Wayne-o tries to make believe that only Democrats, Liberals and native-born Kenyans want to ban guns.

Fully half of the twelve guns in this year’s NRA raffle are assault rifles, and don’t give me any crap about they’re not assault rifles, they’re really some figment of the NSSF fantasy-world called ‘modern, sporting’ guns.  Make no mistake, they are designed to kill human beings and they have nothing to do with hunting or sport. That’s the way the gun industry has changed, and that’s the reason the industry needs to be kicked in the ass until it returns to honesty and common sense.