And As For All The Gun Nuts Who Love Trump – Enough Is Enough.

The Boston Globe carried a Sunday story about how some of Trump’s supporters are beginning to lay the groundwork for an armed rebellion if their man loses the election come November 8th.   Here’s a quote from a 50-year old man at a Trump rally: “‘We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed.’” A female supporter chimed in, “’All I know is our country is not going to be a country anymore, I’ve heard people talk about a revolution.’”

trump-toilet            And while Trump’s campaign disavows such statements, he has promoted and approved violence at his rallies and let’s not forget his claim that his people would stand behind him even if he shot someone dead in the street. He’s actively telling people to watch out for voter fraud, he’s already whining that he can’t win because the system is ‘rigged,’ and instead of buying hats that say ‘Make America Great Again,” how about an armed rebellion instead?

I really hope Mister Trump gets his ass kicked in on November 8th. And then I hope he refuses to concede. And then I really hope that a hardy band of Trump Minutemen throw their gear into their F-150s, go out to an abandoned small town in some dumb state and declare that the revolution to take back America has begun. They’ll occupy the empty post office building, issue a stamp which they’ll sell on their Facebook site, and their first law will be a requirement that nobody can live in this new republic who doesn’t own an AR-15.

Back in 2013 a goofball named Adam Kokesh, who is some kind of libertarian radio jock, announced that he and a group of goofballs were going to march from Virginia into Washington DC, openly carrying rifles on July 4th. He then decided to cancel the event, claiming that he didn’t have the time or resources to put the whole thing together.  But the truth is that the only resource he lacked was the cash he would have needed for bail, because the cops let it be known that he and all the schmucks who were planning to liberate the District of Columbia would wind up in jail.

And how about those other freedom fighters led by the sons of Cliven ‘Let me tell you about your Negro’ Bundy, who took over and barricaded themselves into an empty administrative building on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge at the beginning of this year?  They stayed up there for a week or so, wives and girlfriends dutifully trudged through the snow to supply them with home-cooked meals every night, and then that was the end of that.

But let’s get back to the rebellion that Trump Nation is planning to undertake.  By the second day of their ‘occupation’ of some buildings in what once was a small town will become a media circus because, of course, Trump himself will appear.  Then Wayne-o and Chris Cox will come by and issue honorary NRA memberships to the insurgents who will, of course, announce that the entire Constitution of the new Republic will consist of the words from the 2nd Amendment alone.  Boy, I’d give anything to have an exclusive pizza concession for the duration of that event.

I’m getting sick and tired reading about all these patriots who believe that the present government is so corrupt that we need a violent rebellion led by Donald Trump. Funny how these jerks only get exercised about government ‘tyranny’ when the government happens to be led by a progressive guy from Chicago who also happens to be black.  Funny how 16 other Presidents have issued more Executive Orders than the guy who we know was born in Kenya, regardless of what his birth certificate says.

Know what? Let’s get back to what I said above – Trump really needs his ass handed to him on November 8th.

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How Easy Is It To Buy A Gun? Not As Easy As The Boston Globe Thinks.

As I am sure everyone knows, Gun-nut Nation has been celebrating what they claim is a tremendous surge in gun sales which started when Obama moved into the White House and allegedly hasn’t let up.  The result for a publicly-owned company like Smith & Wesson is an increase in share price from $5 in 2009 to nearly $26 last week; for the gun industry in general a conviction that guns are becoming so mainstream that sooner or later there will be one in every American home.

dealers           Actually, surveys about gun ownership keep pointing to a different reality; namely, that fewer and fewer people own more and more guns.  The gun researchers at Harvard and Northeastern have done the latest study on gun owners and found that only 22% of adults own guns, of whom 3% re considered ‘super’ owners because their gun stash is between 8 and upwards of 100 guns.

But surveys conducted by phone or computer are one thing; hard data is something else. And here is where the problem gets sticky, because the data that is usually used to figure out how many are being sold is probably less exact and reliable than the surveys of gun owners like the Harvard-Northeastern survey that’s currently making the rounds.

I am referring, of course, to the monthly totals of FBI-NICS background checks published by the ATF, which shows a nearly 80% increase in annual checks between 2009 and he current year. The problem with this number, is that it hides more than it explains, because NICS is utilized for any over-the-counter transaction which means that used guns, which for many shops count for 30-40% of their inventory, are not being sold for the first time but are being resold.  NICS is also used for checking the issuance and status of gun licenses, this type of check has recently been responsible for 25% of all NICS calls, and then there is the requirement in a growing number of states that all gun transactions take place at the countertop whether the dealer sold the gun or not. I’m not saying that gun sales haven’t increased under Obama – of course they have.  But I’m not about to drink the gun industry Kool Aid which, if true, would make it appear that just about everyone out there is grabbing a gun.

On the other hand, it’s not only Gun-nut Nation mixing up a pitcher of Kool-Aid for everyone to drink; Gun-sense Nation also has a tendency from time to time to offer up their own flavor of Kool-Aid when it comes to discussions about how many people buy or own guns. I am talking in this instance to a story that just appeared in The Boston Globe in which the reporter, Matt Rocheleau, looked at the ATF listing of gun dealers for Massachusetts and discovered, much to his concern, that the Bay State has more people holding federal firearms licenses (FFL) than it has cities and towns. According to Rocheleau, there are 389 license-holders in Massachusetts and only 351 municipalities, with some locations having as many as six or more – oh my God!  If you live in Massachusetts, it sure must be easy to buy a gun.

There’s only one little problem with this article – it bears no relationship to reality at all.  You can have as many FFLs as you want, but if you don’t have a state dealer’s license you can’t sell a gun to anyone except yourself.  And you can’t even sell a gun to yourself unless it is approved for civilian ownership in Massachusetts both by the Executive Office of Public Safety and the AG; which means you can’t own a new Glock, Springfield or Taurus handgun, as well as any gun that looks like an AR-15.

I’m not surprised when writers for Gun-nut Nation take liberties with the truth because, after all, their job is to promote guns. But when The Boston Globe promotes their version of gun sense, at least they should get it right.

Another American Revolution Begins In Massachusetts But This One Is About The AR-15.

As we all know, the American Revolution began when a group of colonials exchanged fire with British troops in Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1776.  You can visit the battlefield today, it’s a national monument beautifully kept by the U.S. Park Service, located a half-hour’s drive from the office of Maura Healey, who happens to be the current Massachusetts Attorney General, a.k.a., the AG.

 

     AG Maura Healey

AG Maura Healey

Maura started her own little revolution last week by issuing a regulation that basically banned the purchase of AR-15 assault rifles throughout the Bay State.  Current AR-15 owners (like me) can keep their guns, they can also transfer them to anyone else who can own firearms in Massachusetts, but in terms of the civilian arsenal being increased through the addition of more AR rifles, to all intents and purposes Massachusetts is now ARrein.

Two things happened within 24 hours after the ban was announced: (1). Every, single AR in the inventory of every single gun shop in Massachusetts was sold; and, (2). The Gun-mob Nation noise machine started going full blast.  The NRA got right into the act by calling the AR order “obviously incorrect;” the National Review said that her action meant that Healey could make the state gun law “mean what she wanted it to mean;” and a Republican state legislator in Massachusetts, who is known for his outspoken reverence for anything having to do with the 2nd Amendment, filed a bill to strip the AG from having any ability to alter rules and regulations over gun sales.

Now the fact that gun sales are legal commerce, the fact that someone who purchases a gun in a gun shop is, ipso facto, a consumer, the fact that the AG’s office runs a very active operation known as the Department of Consumer Protection, the fact that this means the AG has the authority to promulgate and enforce rules on items that are sold to consumers in Massachusetts, none of these facts mean anything to State Senator Don Humason or his Gun-mob Nation supporters at all. Because the truth is that Gun-mob Nation doesn’t want gun sales or gun ownership to be regulated because any type of gun regulations are, you know the rest of this sentence, a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Now it just so happens that such rules are not a violation of anything within the Constitution or without.  But just tell that to Senator Humason and his Gun-mob Nation friends.

In particular his Gun-mob Nation friends, who began peppering various media venues like Facebook with some of the worst, most offensive comments about Maura that have ever been seen.  Calling her a ‘fascist,’ a ‘’bitch,’ a ‘c**t,’ the language made a Donald Trump speech sound like something out of Mary Poppins.  According to the Boston Globe newspaper, one big-mouth tweeted that he wanted to hire a homeless person to rape and disembowel the AG.

Now don’t get me wrong.  Gun issues provoke strong emotions on both sides of the fence.  And while I thought that the AG was absolutely correct in calling attention to the fact that removing a few, cosmetic doo-dads from an AR-15 doesn’t in any way diminish the lethality of the gun.  Nevertheless, gun owners have every right to voice their anger, and even State Senator Humason has the right to do a little grandstanding by filing his stupid bill.

Let me break the news to my friends in Gun-mob Nation.  There’s a pretty good chance that a certain person will be President next year and I don’t mean Donald Trump.  And there’s a good chance that she will send a gun bill to Congress, but being committed to the usual process, she’ll invite input from both sides. So Gun-mob Nation will have a choice – either get a seat at the table or stand around outside.  And I guarantee you that if they use the language that Massachusetts Gun-mob Nation is using against Maura Healey, they’ll be standing outside.

Are Guns Pathogens? Yes. They Cause A Disease Called Gun Violence.

            You may recall that last year eight national medical organizations plus the American Bar Association issued a manifesto calling for medical professionals to become more involved in the debate about gun violence. Actually there wouldn’t be any reason for physicians to justify or explain their professional responsibility to counsel patients on gun violence if it weren’t for red-meat politicians at the state and federal level who gin up political support from Tea Party elements by pretending that guns aren’t a risk to health.

 docs versus glocks           Of course we all know that guns don’t kill people, right? Know how many gun homicides and suicides were recorded by the CDC in 2014?  32,743.  Know how many homicide-suicide deaths occurred with every other type of device?  26,354. Nah, guns aren’t lethal, people are lethal. And if you really agree with Wayne-o and all the other gun promoters on that one, please don’t waste your time sending me a snarky tweet or a nasty blog.  Go lay brick.

            When the Florida gun-crazies passed the physician gag law I was actually somewhat pleased in a perverse kind of way.  Because the truth is that prior to Docs v. Glocks, medicine had allowed itself to get sidelined on the gun issue through a combination of inadvertence, lack of specific counseling guidelines and the refusal of the federal government to fund gun-violence research through the CDC.  And even though medical academies like the AAP had issued pronouncements about gun violence over the years, stating a concern about a medical problem is one thing, doing something about it is something else.

            But last year’s manifesto by the 8 medical organizations marked a turning of the tide, and a recent editorial in the Boston Globe demonstrates that the medical community is moving back into the center of the gun debate where it happens to belong.  The editorial, “Doctors should talk to patients about guns,” is a no-holds barred declaration by the newspaper’s editors that doctors need to go beyond voluntary screening for gun risk and incorporate such questions into their everyday contact with patients.  The editorial recommends the development of clinical guidelines that would not only give guidance for what kinds of questions should be asked, but would “lay the groundwork for breakthrough research on the effect of gun ownership and the roots of gun violence.” In this regard, doctors in Massachusetts have a willing and forceful ally in State Attorney General Maura Healey, who has offered the resources of her office to help develop and implement treatment guidelines as well.

            The Globe editorial was acknowledged several days later in a Letter to the Editor from two prominent Massachusetts pediatricians, Judith and Sean Palfrey, the former a past-President of the AAP, the latter a leader in the campaign to rid lead from environments in which children live and play. What makes this letter so important is the following statement: “Guns, and the bullets they shoot, are deadly pathogens….” 

            Like it or not, that statement happens to be the truth.  The evidence to bolster that statement has been published again, and again, and again.  And I believe that as physicians get more involved in counseling their patients about guns, their approach should be governed by this one fact above all: guns are pathogens.  And a pathogen is something which causes a disease.  And 120,000 violent deaths and injuries each year is a disease.  Period.  Let’s cut the nonsense, okay?

            By the way, calling a gun a pathogen has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  I happen to be carrying around 30 pounds of excess weight.  And when I see my beloved internist he would be remiss if he didn’t tell me to cut out some of those carbs that I love to eat.  But it’s my choice if I want to keep eating more than I should.  And it’s his responsibility to remind me of how what I choose to eat might affect my health.  Think it’s different with guns?  Think again.

Want To Get Rid Of Gun Accidents? Get Rid Of Guns.

It took both sides in the gun debate about two days to respond to the horrific incident in Hayden, ID and as usual, both sides behaved in kind.  Pro-gun bloggers like Robert Farago immediately attacked gun-control organizations as “bloody shirt wavers of the civilian disarmament industrial complex” because they suggested that Veronica Rutledge probably had “little” required training.  Robert can be excused for his flights into rhetorical hyperbole because:  a) his audience expects it;  and, b) his audience expects it.  But the proof he offered to contradict the claim of insufficient training, a statement from the Idaho CCW manual about the student needing to shoot a whole, big 98 rounds actually underscores what Ladd Everitt’s Coalition to Stop Gun Violence actually said.  Poor Veronica Rutledge held a CCW permit from Washington State, by the way, so Farago’s attempt to push back on the Coalition’s statement was both silly and wrong.

kid guns                Not that pundits on the other side of the issue were necessarily any more discerning in trying to explain the how’s and why’s of the tragedy at the Walmart store.  On Wednesday, the Boston Globe ran a major editorial on the incident by Michael Cohen, who is a Fellow at the Century Foundation, a liberal think-tank that was started by Edward Filene, who also founded the Filene Department Store chain.  I love think tanks that claim to be “non-partisan” but somehow always wind up on one side of the fence.  I guess it has to do with their tax-exempt status or maybe they actually believe that their approach to certain issues embraces all sides of the political spectrum; it’s no wonder the Century Foundation isn’t known for speaking out about guns.

In any case, Michael Cohen says right up front that he’s “no fan of guns.” He also believes, and here all the evidence certainly comes down on his side,  that guns don’t make us safer and that, in fact, firearm ownership increases the risk that someone will be injured or killed with a gun.  He takes issue with the cops in Hayden who termed the shooting a ‘tragic accident’ because, according to Cohen, it was an avoidable tragedy and not an accident of any kind.  “These incidents,” concludes Cohen, “will continue as long as gun-owning parents remain lax when it comes to the issue of gun safety.”

Let me make one thing very clear.  I am the last person who would ever give gun owners a ‘pass’ on locking up or locking away their guns. And I have drawn my share of fire from pro-gun zealots like Farago whenever I argue that, NRA-inspired nonsense to the contrary, guns simply don’t make us safe. But I think that advocates like Cohen need to ask themselves how to really explain the lethality of guns because otherwise they may end up making arguments which just don’t bear any fruit.

According to the CDC, intentional gun deaths have risen from 27,427 in 1999 to 32,288 in 2012, an increase of 18%, most of the increase coming from gun suicides but gun homicides are up as well.  Over the same period, unintentional gun deaths (like the unfortunate death of Veronica Rutledge) have dropped from 824 to 548, a decline of 33%.  During these same fourteen years, accidental deaths from machinery have stayed exactly the same;  accidental drownings have also remained just where they were. There is no other category of unintentional fatal injuries that has shown the same degree of decline as the decline in fatal accidents involving guns.

Let me break the news gently to Michael Cohen and his friends who are concerned about violence from guns.  As emotional and frightening as the incident in Hayden may be, when only 548 people die yearly from gun accidents in a country which contains more than 300 million guns, the only way that unintentional gun injuries will completely disappear is if we get rid of all the guns. Remember lawn darts?