The Dumbest Writing About Guns In 2016.

Our good friends at The Trace have just published what they call the gun violence reporting which inspired them in 2016.  It’s a good, solid list and it contains some reportage that I hadn’t previously seen, so I recommend it highly for everyone in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community, as well as for everyone in Gun-nut Nation (I’m trying to be more compassionate and inclusive as we head into 2017.)

ccw             I’m going to steal a little thunder from the folks at The Trace and publish my own list of don’t-miss gun journalism, but in this case I’m going to nominate one article for my list known as The Dumbest Gun Article of the Year.  Now you might think that I would nominate something written by John Blowhard Lott, or maybe an editorial from NRA-ILA, or perhaps a prancing video produced by Colion Noir, but nothing from Gun-nut Nation comes even close to making my dumbest list for the simple reason that I expect gun messaging from the Gang That Can’t Think Straight to be dumb. Anyone who sincerely believes that owning a gun makes him ‘free’ is simply incapable of understanding any discussion about anything that uses language taught beyond the second grade. Consequently, I reserve my concerns about dumb gun journalism for writers who should know better because they are allegedly crafting their messaging for folks from our side; i.e., the population that is concerned enough about gun violence to think and talk about it in intelligent terms.

Okay, enough with the forshpayz and here we go. For dumbest writing about guns in 2016 I nominate an article just published in GQ, written by someone named Ashley Fetters, entitled “Why Women Own Guns.” I did a quick online search and I can’t find any other article that Ms. Fetters has ever written about guns; her reporting specialties appear to focus on pop culture, a smattering of political stuff and some articles about restaurants and food. Now maybe she knows how to hold a knife and fork, but she sure doesn’t know how to hold a gun. Just take a look at the pic which leads off the story and notice that the lady’s trigger finger is stuck behind the trigger which is one place your trigger finger should never be.  But that bit of stupidity pales with what comes next.

The article’s second sentence states that “a curiously large proportion of U.S. gun owners are women,” and then cites the standard NRA noise about women getting into shooting which has never been validated at all.  She further says that a Harvard-Northeastern study found that 50% of gun owners with one gun are women, but what she doesn’t say is that most male gun owners own more than one gun. She then gushes over the comments made by four women gun-toters, including a woman who hucksters a product called the Flashbang Bra Holster which both gives her more ‘lift’ and puts her on equal ground with anyone who might do her harm.

Now here’s where things get about as stupid as they might get.  The author wants you, the reader, to know why she’s writing this piece.  Because she believes that “a gun isn’t just a weapon – it’s also an unambiguous way to signal to someone that they should fuck off and leave you alone.”  Wow! How decisive!  How hip!  How cool! How…GQ! We are then treated to the requisite stories about the bad guy standing on the back porch and the stranger at the front door, both to convey the vulnerability of womenhood in the modern age.

Let me break the news to you gently Ashley.  Gun-nut Nation has been peddling guns based on fear for the past thirty years, and the idea that women constitute a special type of victim if they venture outside the home is really rather quaint.  Women are as capable today as men (if not moreso) of making informed decisions about everything in their lives. And grabbing a gun just isn’t all that informed.

Advertisements

If Minorities Are Buying Guns, It’s Not To Exercise Their 2nd-Amendment ‘Rights.’

During the Presidential campaign there were all sorts of stories floating around about how some of Trump’s supporters were planning armed insurrection if it turned out that their candidate was somehow cheated out of his rightful prize.  And even The New York Times ran a story based on some interviews with Trump loyalists, none of whom actually said that they would lead an armed revolt (which even to verbally promote such nonsense happens to be a federal crime) but they knew other people who were ready to take their guns into the streets.

hate           Luckily we were saved from a revolutionary situation because Shlump actually won.  But in the aftermath of his victory, while the guy who really understands the ‘common man’ lines up an Executive management team which represents the billionaire class, we are now being treated to the opposite of the ‘Trump loss equals armed revolt’ crap with stories about how people who consider themselves targets of Shlump-o’s fascist-populist message are arming themselves in response to the impending warfare that will sooner or later break out.

This latest effort to sensationalize every aspect of political news and commentary was the handiwork of NBC, which ran a story about how ‘fearful minorities’ (read: African-Americans) were ‘buying up guns,’ the reportage based entirely on interviews with a black lady who lives in Alpharetta, GA, a black gun-shop owner in Virginia and the guy who heads something called the National African American Gun Association, which just happens to be occasionally featured on the Breitbart website (where else?) because of the group’s strong support for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

This idea that African-Americans should become gun owners predates the 2016 campaign, reflecting an attempt by the gun industry to reach out to new markets, in particular women, Hispanics and blacks.  The problem is that none of these demographics have ever shown any serious inclination to join Gun-nut Nation, and while noisemakers like Dana Loesch (for the women segment) and Colion Noir (for the African-American segment) push their stupidly-contrived videos on the NRA website and YouTube, they are basically speaking for themselves. The FBI, under statute, does not maintain or release data on the racial breakdown of NICS-background checks (my request for such information was politely refused last year) and anecdotal evidence is anecdotal but it’s not evidence.  What we do know from the latest Pew survey is that roughly one out of five African-American and Hispanic households contain guns, so there’s plenty of room for growth.

But let’s assume for the moment that even with the shallowness of the reportage, the NBC story about how minorities are streaming into gun shops is true.  You would think this would be a salutary news event for Gun-nut Nation, given how the gun industry has tried to promote the ownership of its products to non-white groups. But judging from a Breitbart story based on the NBC report, the enthusiasm is less than real.  Because the problem that Gun-nut Nation now faces is to find a way to promote the idea of minority gun ownership while, at the same time minimizing (or simply lying about) the reason why African-Americans are buying guns.  And the reason is very simple:  the incoming President of the United States has made it clear that minority communities can expect little, if any protection from a federal government whose Chief Executive pollutes the digital airwaves daily with a mixture of racism, appeals to violence and outright scorn.

If, as the NBC story suggests, minorities are considering gun ownership out of fear of what an unbridled racism promoted by Donald Shlump might bring, this also creates an important turning-point for the gun violence prevention (GVP) community as well. Because the one thing we know is that defending yourself or your community by going around armed basically does nothing except create circumstances and situations in which more gun violence occurs. I’m not denying the reality of a palpable sense of fear created by the shenanigans of Jerk Trump. But sticking a gun in your pocket will only make it worse.

The NRA Doesn’t Believe That Gun Suicide Is Gun Violence Since They Don’t Believe That Guns Cause Violence At All.

If you are active in the field of Gun Violence Prevention, you can tell you are making a difference if you get attacked by the NRA, or better yet by Breitbart, which is one and the same thing.  Breitbart has been pimping for the NRA since it first started up in 2007 because if you want to become known as the loony voice on the Right, what better way to do it than to say something crazy about guns?  And at least for the next couple of months the craziness will be spread even further by a guy named Trump.

suicideSo it was no surprise to me that yesterday’s NRA-ILA political blog would carry a lead story attacking (and distorting) the views of one of our most dedicated and distinguished public health scholars, who happens to be Shannon Frattaroli, a faculty member at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Professor Frattaroli has been an outspoken advocate in many areas of gun violence, in particular helping to frame the discussion around taking and keeping guns away from individuals involved in domestic disputes.  She is also an authority on the issue of restricting gun use by persons who are strong self-harm candidates, and helped the California Legislature draft its 2014 law that allows family members and intimate partners to directly petition a judge to determine if an individual might be a threat to themselves or someone else.

The gun industry has always been reluctant to acknowledge the fact that two-thirds of gun deaths each year are caused by people who use a gun to end their own lives.  For some of the more extreme Gun-nut Nation elements, this isn’t a worrisome aspect of gun violence, it’s all about ‘personal choice.’  But there are more enlightened approaches being taken about gun suicide by the gun-owning community, witness the recent announcement by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to develop resources for gun dealers, shooting ranges and gun owners about suicide and guns.

About the last thing that the NRA is going to endorse is any effort by anyone to develop ‘educational’ resources about anything; their definition of ‘education’ is to have an invented YouTube character with a phony name like Colion Noir prance around with his AR, or home-school queen Dana Loesch come down from her perch and lecture all those soccer moms on how they could defend the ‘real America’ if only they would all go out and buy guns.

But when the NRA really wants to concoct an argument completely out of whole cloth, they can always count on Breitbart to help them out.  And the story they relied on for this week’s attack on Shannon Frattaroli comes right out of the Breitbart land of make-believe.  Pulling some of Frattaroli’s comments out of context from an article in New America Media, the Breitbart writer, a Gun-nut Nation noisemaker named AWR Hawkins, accuses her of trying to disarm the senior, gun-owning population because older gun owners tend to be the most adamant supporters of 2nd-Amendment rights.

Actually, what Frattaroli is really saying reflects nothing more than common sense, namely, that guns are problematic when they are on the hands of an aging population, because the older we get, the more we become susceptible to physical and mental conditions that make us more vulnerable to the risks posed by guns. The CDC reports that in 2014, for example, while the overall gun-suicide rate per 100,000 was 6.54, the rate for ages 70 and above was 12.4, more than twice as high.

The NRA has never felt comfortable with saying anything about guns which leads to a discussion about risk.  This is because the only gun-risk they believe exists is when you don’t own a gun. Which is why they find it convenient and necessary to attack what Shannon Frattaroli says.  All the more reason why it’s very important to read what she has to say.

 

 

The Way Things Are Going Isn’t Good News For People Who Love Their Guns.

The other day a student studying public health came to my gun shop and spent an hour talking to me about guns. After going through the current numbers, which depressingly appear to be going up, she asked me if I could predict the eventual role of guns in American life. And I told her that predictions seem to be based more on what you want to see happen than what you know will happen, and this is certainly the case with guns.  On the other hand, the annual demographic projections made by Pew have just been released, and if the way that different demographic groups behave with guns continues to be the way they will behave with guns, the issue of gun violence in the long run may take care of itself.

Because the truth is, and I won’t back down on this no matter how many Gun Nation trolls send me the crazy emails that I will receive, if you aren’t walking around with a shield on your chest, you simply don’t need a gun.  You might like guns; you might (like me) want to own lots of guns; you might not understand why everyone doesn’t want to have a gun, but you don’t need a gun.  Even Ted Nugent eats mostly store-bought food and the number of people who honestly have used a gun to defend themselves from criminals, contrary to John Lott’s bullsh*t, is absurdly small.  So owning a gun just isn’t like owning a car or even a droid.  And if you want to believe that a gun makes you “free,” then you go right ahead because something called the Constitution, not your AR-15, allows you to believe anything you want.

That being said, the bottom line of the Pew demographic report is that this country is steadily and inexorably moving towards a population profile that just doesn’t favor guns.  Right now we are still racially more than 60% White, but the flood of non-White immigration will not abate no matter what Trump says, and twenty years from now the non-White and the immigrant-based population will be climbing towards 50%. Colion Noir can prance around a shooting range all he wants, but the bottom line is that non-Whites, generally speaking, aren’t particularly attracted to guns.

Perhaps the bigger change, because it encompasses racial categories, is the degree to which women are steadily moving ahead into positions of economic power and cultural influence both within the public arena and at home.  The proportion of single-parent households continues to increase, the proportion of women who are the sole primary family financial provider is pushing towards 50%, and women continue to make gains in the workplace in terms of leadership on the job.  I don’t care how many times home-schooling queen Dana Loesch tells us that she loves her guns, most women don’t agree. And the fact that, according to the NSSF, there’s been a surge in women participating in the shooting sports is a function of changes in how families participate in social activities, not in the number of women who buy and own guns.

Let’s understand something: a prediction is not a fact.  So it could turn out, although I doubt it, that Pew’s projections of how the country is changing will ultimately be at variance with what the country’s population looks like down the road.  For that matter, who can say for sure that women, new immigrants and minorities will continue, in the main, to be anti-gun.  But there are two reasons why what I see in the current trends will end up being true.

First, Pew’s work isn’t just a one-shot deal.  They base their predictions on the continuation of trends they have been following and charting for more than thirty years.  Second, Gun Nation really hasn’t come up with a solid argument for gun ownership beyond what they have been saying for the last thirty years, and these groups have remained resistant to guns over that entire span of time. And unless Gun Nation can figure out a way to make their case to new immigrants, minorities and women, the country will contain less people who want to own guns.  And guess what?  Less guns means less gun violence.  It’s as simple as that.

 

When It Comes To Reaching Hearts & Minds About Gun Violence, The NRA Doesn’t Stand A Chance.

This morning I sat down and watched the NBA-Everytown gun ads again.  They really get a message across.  And it’s a very simple message; if a gun gets into the wrong hands, someone’s going to get hurt.  And of course it’s not just the message, but the messengers.  I mean, is anyone going to accuse Carmelo Anthony of being a shill for Mike Bloomberg when his salary tops $22 million a year?

carmelo              On the other hand, sooner or later I’m expecting to see the NRA’s Number One shill, the so-called Colion Noir, prancing around with his AR-15 on a basketball court in Dallas, telling all those folks who pretend to be his camp followers about the value of their 2nd-Amendment rights.  In fact, his latest attempt to promote Mossberg, FN and the other gun companies who sponsor his amateurish digital nonsense has him lecturing four African-American brothers who, like eeny-meeny-miny-moe, sit around mouthing various nothings while Colion explains the dangers of gun control because “as soon as they get their hands on the plastic stuff, they’ll be after the wooden stuff next.”

It might come as something of a surprise to Colion or whatever his name is that for forty-nine years before the 2008 Heller decision, which extended 2nd Amendment protections to private ownership of guns, the only thing that the 2nd Amendment actually protected were guns kept at home by Americans who used them for what we call the ‘common defense;’ i.e., service in military units like the National Guard.  And do you know how many guns all those liberals confiscated from law-abiding Americans between United States v. Miller in 1939 and District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008?  None.  Not one.

This is one of the two biggest falsehoods that the NRA and gun-loving sycophants like Colion Noir repeat all the time.  And Colion is allegedly a lawyer so he knows that what he is saying just isn’t true.  The other big falsehood which Colion also repeats again and again is that without access to guns we would all be the victims of violent crime.  The last time I checked, there were on average 250 justifiable homicides each year and between 2007 and 2011 less than 1% of all violent crimes resulted in someone protecting themselves with a gun.  Occasional anecdotes aside, the chances that a card-carrying member of the NRA would find himself in a situation where he needed to protect himself with a gun are about the same as that individual walking out of his home and being run over by a rhinoceros.  Walking around with a gun to protect yourself may sound good, may feel good, may provide Colion with some footage for one of his video rants, but it’s got nothing to do with the reality of guns.

I’m going to say something that’s probably going to get me into hot water with my gun-nut friends but I really don’t care. I happen to think that this whole notion of guns as being necessary for self-protection is a case of arrested development and nothing else. If, according to the Police Foundation, cops on the job aren’t adequately trained to deliver lethal force, then how in the world can all these CCW civilians believe they have the training and experience to defend themselves with a gun?  Has Colion Noir ever used a gun in self-defense?  Of course not.

Colion gives the whole thing away when he talks about “taking back the narrative for a new generation of gun enthusiasts.”  Want to listen to the new narrative?  Listen to NBA star Carmelo Anthony when he introduces a national PSA on gun violence with, “the gun should never be an option.”  Now who is the next generation going to listen to?  Colion Noir who says that guns are the most important option for self defense?  Or Carmelo Anthony who doesn’t have to get your attention by proving anything at all?

Want To Be In A Movie With Kevin Bacon? Everytown Just Produced One And It’s Great.

I always wanted to be in the movies.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in the movies? And I want a speaking part.  Doesn’t have to be a big part, a few words will do.  And I want to be in a movie with a big star – someone I really like.  Well now my dreams have come true.  I can go to a new website posted by Everytown, download a video cam and say, “We can end gun violence.”  Then I shoot the file up to the website and I’m in the same video as Kevin Bacon.  Kevin Bacon!  I mean we’re not talking about some nobody.  We’re not even talking about President Obama, who also appears in the video.  We’re talking about Kevin Bacon.  Wowee – kazowee.

baconAfter I get done writing this column I’m going to get ready for my cameo appearance: need to put on a different shirt, comb the little hair I still have left, stand in front of the mirror and say the line again and again until I have it right.  Should I emphasize the word ‘we?’  Or put a little juice into the word ‘end?’  Or just run off the whole string but change my expression when I get to the word ‘violence?’  Decision, decisions.  Look, it’s not every day that my family and every friend I have in the whole world can see me and Kevin Bacon go at it, right?

I have spent the last two years waiting and hoping that the GVP community would get into the video environment big time.  Because this is the way that an increasing number of people get their information, particularly the up-and-coming generation whose decisions about what to buy and how to behave will set the tone in the years ahead.  And it seemed to me that until I saw this new video, that the pro-gun gang seemed to understand this issue much better than the other side.

Take a look at the NRA website.  It’s all about video – a message from Wayne-o that tells you why the 2nd Amendment can protect you from anything and everything; a video of Colion prancing around saying something I can’t understand, some men and women sitting in front of a Sig-Sauer logo with this one guy lamenting that kids don’t learn about the ‘real’ American history; i.e., the value of guns.  I can’t imagine anyone actually sitting all the way through any of these insipid, boring commentaries, most of all because they are completely contrived.  The scripts come right out of the NRA marketing department even though there’s an announcement that tries to make you believe that you’re getting some kind of personal opinion from the spokesperson him or herself. But if you are an NRA member, every time they post a video you receive an email linking you to the latest missive which all have one thing in common, namely, that guns are a food thing.

Well maybe they are and maybe they’re not, but I’ll tell you this.  When the NRA says that “guns don’t kill people, it’s people who kill people,” what they conveniently forget is that the easiest and most efficient way for one person to kill or injure another is to use a gun. And if you take the guns away, there would still be plenty of violence, there would still be plenty of crime, there would still be plenty of people who would want to end things without waiting for nature to take its course. But the annual death and serious injury toll in this country would be minus 100,000 because that number represents what happens with guns.

What makes this new Everytown effort so powerful and so different from the video contrivances posted by the NRA is that these are real people, many related to someone who was shot with a gun, and their message is so simple and so direct that there’s nothing more that needs to be said.  Don’t want to end gun violence?  Kevin Bacon’s got plenty of other co-stars.

 

Is The NRA America’s Oldest Civil Rights Organization? Not By A Long Shot.

Now that Colion Noir, or whatever his name is has spiked my Huffington column views by denouncing me as a not-so-closet racist and as someone who knows nothing about guns, I think it’s time to finally set the record straight as to why I find his video arcade to be so appallingly amateurish, silly and without serious content of any kind.  Because behind his verbal pitter-patter and the prancing around in his endless collection of baseball caps, what we have is an effort to promote the ‘gun culture’ as some kind of uniquely American lifestyle that deserves our interest, attention and support.

But what Colion is really supporting is nothing more than the continued marketing campaign of the gun industry to convince us that the real enemy is the ‘mainstream,’ liberal media who wants nothing other than to take away all the guns.  And this is particularly serious for our man Colion, who sees himself as the last line of defense against people like me and my “pathetic attempt to manipulate Black people away from the gun rights issue.”

noir           But what exactly does Colion mean when he talks about ‘gun rights?’  What he and the NRA want you to think is that gun-grabbing liberals (like me) are really devils in disguise, because we pretend to be in favor of equal rights when, in fact, we are endlessly trying to strip Black folks of their most precious and hard-won right, namely, the right to defend themselves with a gun.

This nonsense about how the so-called ‘tradition’ of African-Americans arming themselves for self-defense is part of the bigger pile of historical untruthfulness that the NRA endlessly promotes every time it proclaims itself to be ‘America’s oldest civil rights organization.’  The NRA was founded in 1871, and had it actually been concerned with civil rights, perhaps the African-American community wouldn’t have had to wait until a century following the end of the Civil War to gain the same legal and social equality that the White citizens of this country enjoyed once the Constitution was ratified in 1788.

In fact there was a tradition of Black armed, self-defense which grew up in the decades following the Civil War.  And when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began preaching the strategy of non-violence, he found himself in disagreement with other Black leaders, like Robert Williams, who publicly made no bones about the fact that they wanted and needed access to guns. But let’s make one thing very clear: civil rights activists like Williams didn’t want guns to protect themselves against crime.  They needed guns to protect themselves against organized, state violence in the form of racist sheriffs and the KKK.  To Southern civil rights activists, Black and White, terrorism wasn’t something which existed in the Middle East.  It was home-grown, violently racist and bent on keeping Blacks ‘in their place.’

There is simply no relationship, historical or otherwise, between the century-long struggle for civil rights in this country and the cynical attempt by the gun industry to pretend that their promotion of the 2nd Amendment is an equivalent effort to strengthen Constitutional rights.  I happened to be living in Chicago in 1969 and working on the city’s West Side when a unit of the Chicago Police Department mounted a machine gun on the roof of a backyard garage, opened fire, and assassinated the local leader of the Black Panthers – Fred Hampton – as he lay sleeping in his bed.  I was at the scene shortly after the murder took place, the bedroom wall sustained more than 200 rounds of high-power ammunition from which Freddie had absolutely no chance to escape.

The Panthers got their start in California and it was their public display of guns which resulted in a gun-control law signed by a Governor named Ron.  But the Panthers didn’t arm themselves for protection against ‘thugs.’  And if Colion wants to pretend that he’s fighting for the ‘rights’ of minorities by prancing around for the NRA, what you’re seeing is a modern version of the minstrel show.

 

 

My Response To Colion Noir: Guns Don’t Make You Free.

I knew that something had been posted about me on the internet when I started to receive a more-than-usual number of emails which began with ‘Dear Mike Rat-Ass,’ or ‘Hello Mike You Jerk,’ and other bright and cheery salutations.  And it turned out that the NRA, in response to my comments about its racist appeal to the membership, unleashed their African-American attack dog, Colion Noir, who went after me today in a video he stuck up for everyone to see.

And Colion’s correct in that I did mistakenly accuse the NRA of identifying a young man who was shot in a Chicago playground as a bad-ass who shot and killed a young girl in St. Louis; same name, wrong picture, but it doesn’t change the validity of what I said.  And what I said, and I won’t back down, is that the NRA has been and continues to pander to racial animosities as a way of doing what they do best, namely, using fear to promote the ownership of guns.

noir                Fear is the most dangerous of all human emotions.  A little bit is a good thing, because we need ways to warn ourselves that something is too risky or will yield results that will hurt more than help.  But fear can also spur over-reactions which lead to violence and destruction – a phenomenon in history we have witnessed too many times.  I support the NRA 100% when they talk about gun ownership for hunting, collecting and sport. But when they promote guns by pandering to fear, that’s where I draw the line. If Colion doesn’t like it, he can lay brick.

A new study conducted by Nobel Prize-winner Angus Deaton has found that white males, ages 45 to 54 with no more than a high-school education have recently shown an alarming increase in mortality due to substance abuse; typically alcoholic liver disease or overdoses of heroin and other opioid drugs. The numbers constitute an ‘epidemic’ and parallel an unprecedented increase in suicides within the same group.  Not surprisingly, this population has also been unable to surmount the economic difficulties of the past decade, with household incomes dropping by as much as 19 percent!

 

Middle-age white men with high school education at best – is there a particular group in America which fits that profile to a greater or lesser degree? It’s the group which remains the core of the gun-owning population, no matter what Colion Noir and Dana Loesch try to pretend about all those women and minorities going out to buy guns. Noir can call me all the names he wants, but when he says that what I’m doing is trying to ‘manipulate’ black people away from the ‘gun rights’ issue, he’s just going back to the same old crap that the NRA has been using to try and convince African-Americans that guns are their first line of defense against the depredations of ghetto life that many still endure.

On the other hand, if you are a white, middle-age male without a job and without much of a future, you become susceptible to alcohol, to drugs, to depression, and there’s a good chance you’ll walk around all day feeling pissed off.  And it’s this anger, this fear of yet the next unpredictable catastrophe that makes some respond to the NRA message which says that you are more in control and have less to fear if you walk around with a gun.

The Huffington column has been corrected and I apologize to Wayne-o for what was my error, not his.  But if Colion or Collins or whatever his name believes that prancing around with an AR-15 makes him ‘free,’ then he’s either appealing to the lowest common intellectual denominator or to a messed-up mind of some teenage-boy who spends all day playing video games and watching tv.

Want to walk around with a gun?  That’s fine.  But understand you are increasing, not diminishing risk and if the NRA would just come out and admit what Colion wants to pretend he doesn’t know, Wayne-o would get no argument from me.

The NRA Admits The Truth About How Often We Actually Use Guns To Protect Ourselves From Crime.

So my man Colion, he of the prancing around with his cute little AR, has just stuck up a new video on the NRA website, and it is simply a remarkable commentary on the Big Lie that the NRA has been spreading around for the last thirty years. And the lie I am referring to is the idea that armed citizens carrying their own guns are an effective response to crime.  In the old days they had real personalities like Charlton Heston drumming up the ‘guns protect us from crime’ doggerel, now it’s left to made-for-video characters like Colion Noir or AM Talk Radio hamsters like John Lott to spread this nonsensical and dangerous line around.  Why is it nonsensical?  Because it’s based on data which (I’m being polite) doesn’t exist.  Why is it dangerous?  Because it diverts attention from the fact that guns create risk.  Notice that I have bolded, underlined and italicized the word ‘fact.’  Get it?

noir                Anyway, so Colion has this new video in which he’s up on a stage and with lots of canned applause, ooohs and aaahs, performs a card trick in which it appears as though he is laying out 52 cards in a certain order and then tries to do it again.  And the odds of anyone being able to perform such a trick, he admits, are somewhere above a gezillion to one.  Which he then says – are you ready, are you ready? – that these are about the odds of an American getting attacked and, in their moment of peril, needing to use a gun.

What?  A spokesperson for the NRA actually coming out and saying that we aren’t all facing an immediate and continuous threat to our lives from the you-know-who’s that are stalking us down every street?  No.  Play it again Colion, play it again.  And here it is: “The odds of you or me needing a gun to protect our lives is not that much better than Colion the Incredible putting these cards back in the exact order.”   Then he drops the other shoe: “But the odds of someone needing a gun to protect their life with is a hundred percent.”

So what he’s saying in a somewhat scrambled way is that even though guns are the best way to defend yourself, the chances that you will ever have to defend yourself are a gazillion to one.  And this segues into the usual nonsense about how people who are anti-gun have no right to tell anyone else how they should defend themselves, and nobody has the ‘right’ to tell someone else that they don’t have the ‘right’ to do something.  I’m actually quoting our man Colion word for word and maybe he’s decided that if Donald Trump can get a big following by talking to his audience on a third-grade level, then Colion will get an even bigger response if he ratchets his language down to second grade.  I don’t really know whether he’s dumb, playing dumb or figuring his audience is dumb, or all three.  But I do know this: I never imagined I would ever hear anyone connected to the NRA admitting that the odds of ever using a gun in self-defense were about the same as bumping into a rhinoceros while you were taking Fido for his evening walk.

But come to think of it, that’s not really the reason why Wayne-o and the other NRA noisemakers tell us over and over again that we should be carrying guns. What the NRA has really been saying is that you shouldn’t be carrying a gun just to protect yourself, you should be carrying it to protect everyone else!  Remember the ‘only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun?’

Colion my man, it’s refreshing to see someone from the ‘other side’ of the gun debate actually saying something that’s based on a bit of the truth.  But don’t push the truth too far or you might find yourself looking for a job.

Colion Noir Is Having Trouble Finding People Who Like Guns.

I don’t usually give the pro-gun gang free publicity, but I think that everyone who is concerned about reducing gun violence should take out 15 minutes and look at the recently-posted NRA video with Colion Noir. Nobody would pay Colion much attention if it weren’t for the fact that he’s such an atypical gun owner that he gets noticed no matter what he says or does.  He’s Black, hip, cool, a real dude in Armani clothing who talks the talk and walks the walk, the talk being how much funs it is to be into guns.  And in particular he talks up the whole issue of armed, self-defense which has become the rallying-cry for the surge in gun sales over the last few years.

noir                Actually, the real reason why gun sales have nearly doubled in the last few years has to do with one thing and one thing only, namely, the Kenyan, or the Muslim, or whatever Donald Trump thinks the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue happens to be.  And if someone like Trump or any other red-meat Presidential pretender moves into the People’s House in 2017, I guarantee you that gun sales will fall back down to where they were under George W. Bush, 9-11 or no 9-11.

All the more reason why the gun industry is trying to convince everyone that a gun is the best protection against crime.  But there’s only one little problem.  Violent crime keeps going down.  Or at least it keeps going down in neighborhoods where most gun owners happen to live.  Because most gun owners are married, White men who live in smaller cities or rural areas, and these are locations that, generally speaking, don’t experience a lot of crime.

Enter Colion with this video attempt to make gun owning to the demographics that don’t seem particularly interested in buying guns: racial minorities, urbanites, women and millennial men.  He’s got them all in this video; more than twenty people appear and most actually have something to say.  The only problem is that by the end of the production, you really understand what the industry will be up against when the current White House tenant moves back to Illinois.

The video begins with a very realistic and forbiddingly well-done scene in which a young woman screams her head off because someone has just broken down her door.  We then segue to a series of discussions between Colion and passerbys on a Houston street, some conversation snips between him, this guy and that guy, a stupidly-banal verbal exchange between Colion and four old high school friends, the requisite appearance of two hip-looking lesbians, and a final, philosophically-concerned exchange between Colion and his female friend, Ja-Mes Sloan.

In this final scene Colion gives the whole thing away because in responding to the doubts about gun ownership voiced by Ms. Sloan, here’s what Colion has to say: “I have the right to defend myself however I choose to defend myself.”  He’s a lawyer and he said that?  He has the ‘right’ to decide for himself what kind of a weapon he’s going to use? Even gun-nut Antonin Scalia said in Heller that the government can regulate and even outlaw weapons considered too dangerous for civilian use.

But maybe what we’re looking at in this video is Colion’s own attempt at cinema verité because if I were Colion, I’d be pissed off and frustrated by the time I got done speaking with all these old and new-found friends.  And the reason I might feel that way is that not one single person says that he or she would ever want to own a gun – not one!  In fact, the only person who expressed an interest in self-defense said she would rather get herself a dog. So here we have a video produced by the NRA which starts out with a home invasion but then says that when push comes to shove, most Americans would rather trust Man’s Best Friend, and that friend isn’t a gun.