The NRA Has A New Scheme To Keep You Buying Guns.

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When Trump went down to Atlanta to talk to his NRA friends, he stood there and said with a majestic tone in his voice: “The eight-year assault on the 2nd Amendment has come to an end.” Well, maybe it wasn’t so majestic but you get the point. And like just about everything he says, this dyslexic, ignorant Head of State got it wrong because what he should have said was that the eight-year gun-buying frenzy has come to an end.

seals              There was never an ‘assault’ on the 2nd Amendment even though there were and still are efforts to regulate gun ownership so that we might not suffer from 120,000+ gun deaths and injuries each year. But I didn’t hear any of the pro-GVP politicians or activists ever say that the 2nd Amendment should be abolished, or that law-abiding Americans shouldn’t be able to own guns. Yea, yea, I know – everyone who says they’re against gun violence is really against guns. So what? It’s not going to happen, it never could happen, from a legal and legislative point of view, guns are here to stay.

But what if people simply stop buying guns? What if everyone who wants to own a gun has more guns than they know what to do with, a situation which happens increasingly to be true?  If you’re in the business of making guns, you better figure out a new way to sell them or you’ll go out of business, that’s for sure. And I’ve been watching and waiting since November 8th to see what the gun industry would come up with to make up for the loss of demand once their customers realized that they didn’t have to worry about losing their guns.

And the first evidence of a change in strategy came in an email I just received from the NRA.  It’s an invitation to become a certified ‘Carry Guard’ instructor, a new training program developed by a self-promoter who claims to be a former Navy Seal with twenty years of naval special warfare experience who also says that he’s a writer and consultant to the outdoor industry, whatever that means.  He claims to have a book coming out, Terminal List, which I suspect will be an attempt to gain the attention of all the Tom Clancy fans (which includes me) now that the real Clancy is dead.

Actually, Carry Guard is an insurance program which claims to protect you from ‘certain’ losses if you engage in an act of self-defense using a legally-owned gun. The training program has been tacked on as an extra feature and is advertised as being the ‘gold standard in concealed carry training,’ although the actual details of the program remain to be worked out. If you send an email indicating your interest in becoming a student or an instructor you don’t get any reply, a note on the website says to check back in June for further information about courses, dates and costs.

The NRA started in 1871 as a training organization and currently claims to have more than 100,000 certified trainers, one of whom happens to be me. The training is basically about gun safety and safe gun use and is usually the course which is mandated by the states that require some training in gun safety prior to applying for a gun license or a concealed-carry permit, a.k.a. CCW or LTC.  The NRA offers  two courses, Defensive Pistol and Personal Protection Outside the Home, which cover aspects of concealed-carry techniques but do not focus on armed self-defense per se.

The gun industry has been venerating the ‘armed citizen’ since the 1980’s. It’s a load of crap. Now they are pushing further into fantasy pretending that military assault and tactical skills are a necessary response to the ‘dangers’ of the modern age.

Want to protect yourself from a sudden event that might change your life? Learn to read and write.

National Concealed-Carry Is Back On The Agenda Again.

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Even though Donald Trump gave an uncharacteristically non-bombast verbal performance at the NRA, both sides in the gun debate are still gearing up for the showdown over national, concealed-carry licenses which has been at the top of Gun-nut Nation’s wish list since a bill was first introduced by then-Senator Larry (‘I was looking for my wallet’) Craig back in the Clinton years. That’s the Clinton who won, not the Clinton who lost.

ccw             Our friends at The Trace are carrying a good summary of the new bill and the reasons why it might and might not get to Trump’s Oval Office desk. But what caught my eye in reading Dan Friedman’s solid piece was the comment by the sponsor of the Senate Bill, John Cornyn (R-TX) who likens such a license to a driver’s license because, as he says, “if you can drive in Texas, you can drive in New York and follow New York laws.” Which is the reason why driving laws tend to be almost the same in every state, as well as the requirements which every state imposes in order to become a licensed driver. And the basic requirement happens to be passing a road test which actually proves that you can control and drive a car.

I happen to think that if someone who does not need to have a gun for work (law enforcement, security, etc.) wants to walk around with a gun, then he/she should be allowed to do so under some very strict conditions. And these conditions would include registering the gun and being able to account for its whereabouts at all times, and most of all, being able to demonstrate that you actually know how to use the damn thing safely and properly. Which means taking and passing a mandated live-fire test supervised by a public official and not just some trainer wannabe who sat through an NRA class and answered some true-false questions, paid the training counselor a couple of hundred bucks and now considers himself an expert with a gun.

Know how many states impose such an onerous requirement on anyone who wants to walk around with a gun? None, as in zero states, okay? Many states have no live-fire requirement for concealed carry (CCW) at all. My state, Massachusetts, is always being reviled by Gun-nut Nation as a tough, anti-gun state, but the CCW license is issued without any live-fire certification at all. You can walk into any gun shop in Massachusetts, buy a gun, load it up with ammo and walk out with the gun in your pocket having never fired a real gun. And Massachusetts is typical of a majority of states in this respect.

As for states which actually require some kind of live-fire exercise before granting CCW privileges, the requirement in Connecticut is five shots, in Florida it’s one. The only state which imposes any kind of live-fire certification that even remotely compares to the process for getting and keeping a driver’s license is New Mexico (thanks to Khalil Spencer) which actually imposes a very mild performance requirement but also requires re-certification every two years.

I find the whole Gun-nut Nation CCW stance not only dumb but certifiably risky because of their refusal to accept the idea that civilians should be able to walk around armed without being required to meet the same performance criteria that we impose on police. It’s not the fact that the cops have to actually hit the target, it’s the idea that most police certifications also require that the shots be delivered within a specific period of time – usually 2-3 seconds from the holster to multiple trigger pulls. At least such a drill approximates to some degree what happens when lethal force is involved.

The reason that Gun-nut Nation will never support mandated CCW performance licensing is because such a process would severely cut handgun sales. All these people running around promoting concealed-carry aren’t doing it will make them ‘safe.’ They’re just pimping for the gun industry and don’t understand how or why.

Want To Stop National Concealed-Carry? Start With This Video.

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Remember Larry Craig? He was the Republican Senator from Idaho who was the staunchest gun advocate in the U.S. Congress and was even a member of the NRA Board. My friends in Fairfax had the good sense to dump old Larry after he spent a little too much time in an airport toilet, but before that unfortunate incident occurred, he was known chiefly for introducing the first national concealed-carry bill in 1997, which this year finally has a chance of becoming law.

carrier             The bill, (SB446 or HB38), not only allows someone with a CCW permit issued in his state to carry a concealed weapon into any other state, but even allows someone who lives in a state that does not require a specific CCW permit to go armed into states where a CCW permit is required for residents in those states. In other words, the ability to carry a concealed weapon throughout the United States becomes even easier than what is required to drive a car from one state to another, because every state requires that you can’t drive without a valid driver’s license, but at least 12 states don’t require any licensing for CCW, a number which may go to 15 or 16 states before the end of this year. And by the way, at least 24 states do not require any kind of training or performance certification before you strap on the old gun.

Folks, let me break the news to you gently. If national CCW becomes law (and Trump promoted the idea again and again during the campaign,) as far as I’m concerned, Gun-nut Nation has won. It’s not the idea that concealed-carry gunnies are necessarily more dangerous than anyone else, or that CCW would mean an increase in violence and crime. What it really means is that walking around with a gun is just as normal and mainstream as walking around with a droid. And the whole point about guns and gun violence is that don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why, but like my man Walter Mosley says, walk around with a gun and it will go off sooner or later.

So this bill represents a real threat to everyone who believes that we shouldn’t be tolerating 120,000 deaths and injuries each year because of guns. And my friends at States United to Prevent Gun Violence have just rolled out a remarkable video to drive this point home. It’s called Carrier or Killer and consists of 5 scenes after which the viewer has to guess whether the person on the camera could or should be considered a threat with a gun.  I actually got one of the five wrong because I swear that this kid standing in a convenience store was holding a gun. He wasn’t, and by the way, he’s now dead.

The most chilling video shows a young man innocently entering a building; there’s absolutely nothing in his dress, demeanor or what he is carrying that might make you believe that he would commit violence with a gun. The video, it turns out, is Dylann Roof entering the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston just before he shot nine people dead.

Folks, you have to watch this video. Then you have to watch the YouTube trailer. Then you have to get involved, put it on your Twitter, or your Facebook, or your Instagram, or however you connect with everyone else. Because national concealed-carry not only represents dreams come true for Gun-nut Nation, it’s a cynical and exploitive attempt to promote gun ownership for all the reasons that guns don’t need to be owned.

You don’t need to carry a gun because you’re afraid. You need to figure out what is causing the fear and deal with the cause, which isn’t the same thing as buying into the gun industry’s nonsense about protecting yourself with a gun. Unless you’re willing to put in hundreds of training hours which you’re not, the gun just increases the risk to you and everyone else.

carrier

Do Armed Citizens Protect Us From Crime? The Cops Don’t Think So.

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If you want to check out one of the truly great internet marketing scams, take a look at the website of the Concealed Carry Association of America, an outfit started by a guy named Tim Schmidt who developed something called ‘tribal marketing’ which entices people to join (and spend money) on websites promoting the idea that membership is a very special kind of thing.  And what’s more special than believing you’re fulfilling God’s work by walking around armed? Tim’s CCAA website gets a membership ‘retention’ rate three times’ longer than the average membership website, and the longer the members hang around, the more they’ll spend.

tombstone              And believe me, there’s plenty to buy, including books, videos, clothing, gifts and novelty items, and all sorts of other stuff. Next month you can go down to Fort Worth and enjoy a fun-filled three days at the annual CCAA trade show, which includes a live-fire range where you can bang away with real guns and a guest appearance by none other than the prancing master, Colion Noir.

When I say that CCAA is a ‘scam,’ it’s not because you don’t get anything for your membership fee.  To the contrary, you get a slick magazine, a pretty decent personal liability insurance policy, a newsletter and, of course, a nice decal to stick on the window of your car. But no matter what CCAA gives you for joining, the real reason it’s a scam is because there’s simply no truth (as in none) that walking around with a gun makes you safe.  I didn’t say that you might be a little safer; I didn’t say there was a chance that carrying a gun made you safe, I said there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that you will be safe or safer if you carry a gun.

I know, I know, examples abound about all these armed citizens who pulled out a gun and chased the bad guy away. There’s only one little problem; all these armed citizens who engaged in what we call defense gun use (DGU) don’t really exist. Gun-nut Nation still cites Gary Kleck’s 1993 survey conducted which pegged yearly DGU’s at maybe 2 million and maybe more.  Funny, but the same folks who promote this survey never seem to mention the study Kleck published in 2004 where he couldn’t find any difference in outcomes for resisting crime by crime victims who didn’t use guns.

If you want to attempt a serious and honest look at whether guns keep us all that safe, I suggest you take a look at the article just published by Julie Mack, who interviewed law enforcement officials in Michigan’s 15 most populated counties asking them whether they knew of any DGUs in their jurisdictions, and “most officials could not cite a single incident in their jurisdiction within the past 12 months.” Now this doesn’t mean that the cops are necessarily opposed to concealed carry (CCW); in fact Detroit’s chief, James Craig, is an outspoken and ardent supporter both of CCW and of Donald Trump. But being in favor of CCW  and knowing that an armed citizen prevented a crime just aren’t the same.

Undaunted by their inability to actually validate the ‘widespread’ occurrence of DGUs, Gun-nut Nation has fallen back on the notion that the increase in CCW licenses, estimated at roughly 14 million nationwide, has been a significant factor in the continued decline of violent crime. Once again, the research shows that this rationale for spreading the gospel of concealed-carry simply isn’t true.

Want to play cowboy, walk around with a gun and pretend you’re in Dodge City, you go right ahead. But Dodge City experienced, at best, two murders each year and Dodge City banned guns in the 1870s, a law that was strictly enforced by lawmen like Wyatt Earp. I don’t know a single man, including myself, who didn’t have a Roy Rogers revolver when he was a kid. But I grew up and some of my Gun-nut friends might think of growing up too.

Does Stand Your Ground Work? Sure Does If You Want To Shoot Someone.

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Caroline Light’s provocative and original book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair With Lethal Self Defense, is making its official debut next week and you can pick up a copy at (where else?) Amazon but I’m sure it will be at your independent bookseller as well.  Its appearance, incidentally, will no doubt coincide with the beginning of another attempt by Gun-nut Nation to push a bill through Congress that will let anyone with a concealed-carry license carry his gun through all 50 states.

light_standyourground_2             The idea that a gun license should be no different than a driver’s license has been a cherished gun-nut dream since then-Senator Larry Craig came out of his men’s room stall to speak in favor of a national, concealed-carry bill on the Senate floor. The bill is routinely filed every two years, it has always been just as routinely ignored, but guess who’s sitting in his office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just waiting to sign such a bill into law?  And what better way to rev up his sturm und drang base and take their minds off the fact that he can’t really get anything done than to announce that they can now run around anywhere in the United States carrying their guns?

And this is what concealed-carry is really all about, namely, playing out a fantasy that I can protect myself from all those street thugs and bandidos because I’m carrying a gun. The fact that most of the folks who have concealed-carry licenses happen to live in places with little or no violent crime is entirely beside the point.  I really loved it when Trump-o said he could stand on the 5th Avenue sidewalk, shoot someone down and his supporters would still give him their votes. If he did, it would be the first time that a violent crime was committed on 5th Avenue since I don’t know when. But that didn’t stop Trump from bragging about how he allegedly walks around carrying a gun.

Caroline Light’s book isn’t about concealed-carry per se, it’s really a study of a peculiarly American legal phenomenon known as Stand Your Ground (SYG.) Because other Western countries may make it more difficult to get a concealed-carry license, but they are issued if you can show cause.  On the other hand, SYG laws are a peculiarly American phenomenon, and Professor Light does a first-rate job of explaining how and why our ‘love affair’ with lethal, self-defense departs so dramatically from Common Law traditions which, in England and other British colonial zones, don’t support the SYG legal position at all.

When the Supreme Court gave Americans a Constitutional protection in 2008 to keep handguns in the home for self-defense, the majority based its reasoning on a rather arbitrary analysis of the phrase ‘keep and bear arms.’ But according to Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, it also reflected an American ‘tradition’ of using guns, particularly handguns, for personal defense. What Light shows is that from the very beginnings of the country, the earliest legal cases which codified SYG involved physical disputes that were settled with a gun. I’m not sure that we yet fully understand exactly how and why guns proliferated in the United States, but the connection between gun ownership and the legal sanction of SYG is made very clear in this book.

The problem we have today, however, is that with so many guns floating around, what to the shooter may be a defensive act could be an offensive act to the person who gets shot.  Recently a 60-year old St. Louis man was found not guilty of assault after he shot and killed a 13-year old kid at a distance of 70 feet.  The teenager was running away after breaking into the man’s car, but under Missouri law, since the man felt ‘threatened,’ he had the right to yank out his gun. What kind of country do we live in where something like this can occur?  Some answers to that question are provided in Caroline Light’s new and important book.

 

 

Want The Craziest Florida Gun Law Of All? Here It Comes.

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Now that Florida legislators are once again debating how and where state residents can and cannot go carrying a gun, a new wrinkle has been added to the discussion by a bill just filed by a longtime, pro-gun State Senator named Greg Steube.  He’s been in the legislature for six years and this year chairs the Judiciary Committee where pro-gun bills died in 2015 and 2016, but he’s going to really lead the fight for SB 140, which would allow guns on college campuses, as well as in airports and public meetings.

pulse             The bill has attracted the usual attention from both sides of the gun debate, particularly in the wake of the Fort Lauderdale shooting in January which killed five and injured a dozen more. But lost in the controversy over this piece of legislation is another bill filed by Steube himself, SB 610, which if enacted, would allow someone who voluntarily left his gun behind when he entered a ‘gun-free’ establishment to sue the owner if they were injured by someone who entered the same location with a gun and proceeded to blast away.

Now the way this crazy law would work is that if an owner decided that his establishment should be free of guns, he could always avoid litigation after a shooting if he elected some kind of reasonable strategy to keep his disarmed patrons out of harm’s way, such as hiring an armed guard or maybe installing a metal-detector at the front door.  You may recall, incidentally, that there was an armed guard at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, who traded gunfire with the shooter before the latter then barricaded himself at the rear of the club.  Fat lot of good the armed security guard (an off-duty cop) did for the 102 club patrons who were killed or wounded in that attack.

Know how all the really crazy stuff like half-and-half and Ronald Reagan first appears in California and then spreads nationwide?  When it comes to the worst laws for encouraging gun violence, they start in Florida; i.e., laws that promote CCW and Stand Your Ground (SYG.)  But this law is the craziest and worst sop to Gun-nut Nation of any gun law that has ever been introduced, because you can make the argument that under certain circumstances and with proper training, a responsible individual might be allowed to walk around with a gun.  As for SYG, while those laws have exacerbated gun violence when the alleged assailant happens to be black, the law itself doesn’t speak to the issue of what kind of weapon might be used to make it easier for someone to remain in place against an attack, it just makes it easier to claim self-defense.

This crazy law, on the other hand, is built entirely around the idea that a person who voluntarily gives up access to a gun should therefore expect the individual whose establishment has a no-gun policy to protect him if he suffers an injury due to an “unlawful or reckless act.”  Now let’s say I’m standing in a bar and someone next to me jiggles the drink I have in my hand and the contents of the glass spill out and soil my new shirt. The whole point of gun-free zones is that if I’m armed and slightly drunk, there’s a good chance that I might pull out my gun.  In the brilliant words of Lester Adelson: “With its peculiar lethality, a gun converts a spat into a slaying and a quarrel into a killing.”  This is what a gun-free zone is designed to prevent – the all-too-often escalation of an argument into a horrific injury or a death because someone had a gun.

Gun-nut Nation’s obsession with ridding the country of gun-free zones is based on no credible research showing that armed citizens make a difference in protecting us from crime.  But tell that to Senator Steube and the other gun-nut supporters from the Gunshine State.

The Federal Courts Review Concealed-Carry And The NRA Ain’t Pleased.

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In a surprising event, the NRA actually lost a major legal argument in a Federal court, and America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ predictably responded by calling the decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. v. Robinson) “the most anti-gun ruling from any court of the modern era.” Which only goes to show how rarely the NRA loses a big one in court. But forgetting for a moment the NRA’s attempt to engage in a bit of Trump-like hyperbole about this new threat to all law-abiding gun owners, the decision does put something of a crimp in Gun-nut Nation’s plan to realize their most cherished ambition, namely, the extension of unquestioned concealed-carry to all 50 states.

ccw            The NRA has been pushing the idea of letting everyone wander around the entire country with a gun in their pockets ever since then-Senator Larry Craig took some time away from his public toilet stall and sponsored a national, reciprocal concealed-carry law back in the Clinton years. Since then, Gun-nut Nation has built up a small but solid phalanx of academics and commercial hucksters who will tell you that walking around with a gun in your pocket is a good thing.

Here’s how it works today and here’s how Gun-nut Nation wants it to work. Licensing for gun ownership is and has always been a state-by-state affair.  Ditto carrying a gun.  Some states make it easier, some make it a little more difficult, but the bottom line is that a gun license isn’t like a driver’s license because no matter where you drive, basically the rules of the road are the same.  In the case of guns, however, the rules covering concealed-carry (CCW) are different in every state.  Which means that if you want to cross a state line with a concealed weapon, you have to make sure that you are meeting the different CCW laws for each state through which you travel, which means you might as well leave the gun home.

Every time a new Congress gets to work, one of the Congressional toadies for Gun-nut Nation introduces a bill to establish national CCW, and every time such a bill is introduced it gets ignored.  But this time may be different because now we have a champion of CCW in the White House and he owes the NRA big-time.  So Gun-nut Nation thought that maybe this time their ship was finally coming home.

The case began when a resident of West Virginia was frisked and an illegal gun was discovered on his person after the cops got a tip that the individual in question (Robinson) was armed.  In this instance the cops were operating under long-established rules which allow for a limited search if the officers believe that the suspect might be ‘armed and dangerous’ even if an arrest has not yet occurred.  Robinson challenged the search, claiming that West Virginia law allowed him to carry a gun.  Possessing a gun may have made him ‘armed,’ but it didn’t necessarily make him ‘dangerous.’  A local judge agreed, but the 4th Circuit tossed Robinson’s argument out.

What the 4th Circuit basically said was that it was reasonable for the cops to assume that someone walking around with a gun, even someone walking around with a legal gun on his person should not only be considered armed, but might be dangerous as well.  And he would be dangerous, as far as the cops would be concerned, simply because he was carrying a gun.

Do you realize what this argument does to Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished dream?  It stands that dream on its head.  Because what the NRA and all their syncophantic CCW-advocates have been saying is that walking around with a gun makes everyone safe and constitutes no threat or danger to law-abiding citizens at all. But the 4th Circuit came down on the side of cops who need to be protected against ‘unnecessary risk.’  And believe it or not, walking around with a gun increases risk.

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