Want To Get Serious About Armed Self-Defense?

As my readers know, I’m not enamored of the gun industry’s attempt to convince every American that they should be walking around with a gun. First of all, most of us will never (read: never) need to protect ourselves from all those bad guys out there, because if you can believe the FBI, the number of bad guys floating around keeps going down. The agency just released crime data for 2019 and once again, violent crime isn’t a big deal in the places where most of us live.

The other problem I have with armed, self-defense is that unless you keep yourself in shape and continuously train and retain muscle memory, you’re simply not going to pull out a gun, point it at the threat and stop the man in his tracks in two seconds or less. Which is the amount of time you’ll have to defend yourself if someone decides to come at you to commit bodily harm.

But there are people who really do need an extra measure of protection. There are people whose livelihoods often require that they carry and know how to use a gun. And although I rarely get into product reviews on this website, I’m going to do such a review right now.

There’s a company called Craft Holsters which recently sent me one of their products and asked me if I would try it out and then post a review. And to their credit, they made it clear that I could write a good review or a bad review; this was no Ukraine-type quid pro quo.

So I got the holster the other day and used it with my Glock. I walked around with it and then went down to my range where I ran through the Tueller drill, which means that I reached for the gun, pulled it out of the holster, raised the gun, pointed the gun and got off a double-tap in 2 seconds or less. And by the way, I did the drill 10 times, popped 20 rounds and hit the center-mass target 15 times. Which ain’t so good but ain’t so bad.

This company is making a very good holster. It’s a quality leather, double-stitched and cleanly made. It holds the gun firmly but not too firmly; when you pull the gun up and out there’s no slip but also no rub so it doesn’t hold back. To pull a gun up, point, shoot and hit a target two times in 2 seconds or less, you want to make sure that when you reach down for the gun it’s in the exact same place every time, and when you pull it up the gun comes quick and clean.

This company, Craft Holsters, makes a holster that you should want to own. They come out of Eastern Europe which is increasingly a location for many companies producing products for American shooters – both accessories and guns. And by the way, their prices are right in line.

And I like the detailed instructions for how to break in their leather and keeping your holster clean. Well done Craft Holsters, well done.

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Want To Protect Yourself In The Jungle? Carry A Gun.

Yesterday I got my Shooting Times which contained the single, dumbest ad for a gun that I have ever seen in that magazine which I have been reading now for more than forty years. The ad promotes a new self-defense pistol made by Springfield Armory, a 9mm thing called the Hellcat.  The pic is above.

The text of the ad begins with: “It’s a jungle out there.”  Now take a look at the jungle surrounding the kid who happens to be walking away from his broken-down car.  That’s some jungle. It looks much more like a road running through Nebraska or North Dakota.  But of course, the kid better keep that little pistol in his pocket because you never know whether a lion or tiger will jump out of the grass and eat him alive. Or maybe try to steal his car.

 Incidentally, in his left hand, he’s carrying his trusty water bottle. You don’t expect him to go trekking off through the jungle without being able to keep himself hydrated, right? That would never do. It’s a jungle out there.

The jungle is so dangerous that the FBI has just reported that violent crime in 2019 has declined 3% from the previous year.  In 1994, the violent crime rate was 708.94.  In 2018, it was 368.9.  That’s quite a jungle out there.

Leaving aside the fact that the attempt by the gun industry to talk about crime rates in totally unreal terms is both stupid and wrong, the ad actually has an even more bizarre theme; namely, the idea that a country road can be used to somehow symbolize a jungle environment.

Want to see what most Americans consider to be the ‘jungle?’ Try this one:

A black and white photo of a store

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Now that’s a jungle, okay? But even the gun business has now become politically correct. You can’t talk about the urban jungle the way we used to talk about the urban jungle because then you have to say or at least hint at the issue of race. And that’s a no-no except when Donald Trump stands up at a campaign rally and shouts, “Where’s my Negro?”

You would think that if the gun business wanted to be taken seriously, they would do an ad showing some Black guy walking down an inner-city street. But that wouldn’t work, not only in terms of how racist the ad would be, but because in most cities the cops don’t give concealed-carry permits to Black residents anyway.  So, what’s the point?

The point is that this Springfield Arsenal ad is so far away from any kind of reality that it should be used by my Gun-control Nation friends to point out the degree to which the manufacture and sales of self-defense weapons has nothing to do with protecting yourself at all. The messaging is about as reality-based as the Growing Up Gotti TV show had anything to do with how those snot-nosed kids were being raised.

On the other hand, from the point of view of reducing gun violence, maybe the Hellcat ad is a blessing in disguise. Because if the owners of Springfield Arsenal have to go to such ridiculous lengths to justify the development of their products, then maybe the entire argument about the need for self-defense is beginning to finally become undone.

Back in 2010, the percentage of Americans favoring stricter gun control as opposed to not changing the laws was roughly the same, with both sides running around 45 percent. As year, for every American who thinks that we have enough gun control, there are two Americans who believe that gun laws should be tightened up. If this trend continues and if the blue team wins back the White House in November, what else can the gun business do except run crazy ads making people believe that crime is a bigger threat than COVID-19?

I’m not going to the gun show this weekend because being around lots of older adults may represent a serious health risk.  Stay safe everyone!

Want To Train Yourself To Use A Gun? Try This Crazy Scheme.

Several weeks ago I posted a column to give an award to the dumbest pro-gun legislator this year. The award went to a State rep in Michigan who showed up at a hearing on a gun bill with an AR slung over his back, and then had the rifle plus a handgun stolen out of his house. Now maybe someone else will top this guy for being the dumbest pro-gun legislator around, but it won’t be easy.

In the interests of fairness and honesty, however, I’m also obligated to give an award to the dumbest, anti-gun legislator each year. And while it’s only March, I’m willing to bet that the award I am about to present might also be regarded as the dumbest, anti-gun legislative idea for 2020, or maybe of all time.

I am referring to Massachusetts House Bill 2091, filed by Representative David Linsky, which can be downloaded right here. The bill is entitled, “An Act Requiring Live Fire Practice For A Firearms License,” which is a tip-off that no such licensing requirement exists in the Bay State right now.

Massachusetts is currently a B+ state according to the Brady campaign, which means it is one of the 10 most-regulated gun states within the country as a whole. In 2018, it also registered the second-lowest rate (3.63) of gun violence of all 50 states, a situation usually explained as resulting from its strict gun laws. The state’s most restrictive and comprehensive law took effect in 2000, and it not only required all gun transfers to be done with a background check, it also mandated that all new guns meet certain design and safety features before they could be brought into the state.

In the interests of what my medical friends refer to as ‘full disclosure,’ it should be pointed out that the 1999 gun-violence rate in Massachusetts, the year before this new law took effect, was 2.99. In other words, the result of the law which made Massachusetts one of the most heavily-regulated gun states, was that gun violence went up, not down. Oh well, oh well.

Representative Linsky has decided that perhaps a pathway to reducing gun violence in Massachusetts might be to require some kind of live-fire exercise prior to applying for a license to own a gun. Currently, any state resident who wants to own a gun must first take a safety course approved by the State Police, the usual nonsense where you sit in an overheated room, some old guy drones on and on from some book for a few hours, you take a quickie test which everyone passes and you’re good to go.

Several years ago our friends at The Trace discovered that 26 states did not require any live fire in order to apply for a license to walk around with a concealed gun. Massachusetts happens to be one of those states. In fact, for all the talk about how the gun restrictions make Massachusetts such a safe state, it happens to be one of a handful of states in which the license to own a gun and the license to carry a concealed weapon are one and the same. The cops do have the authority to restrict the right to carry, making Massachusetts a ‘may issue’ state, but this authority is almost never exercised outside of Boston and a couple of other large, urban sites.

So now along comes Representative David Linsky who’s going to solve the whole problem because his bill mandates a five-hour practice session at a shooting range before a gun application can be approved. Not to carry a gun, but just to own a gun. There is no other state which requires that an applicant for a gun license first engage in no less than 300 minutes of range time.

But the five-hour time requirement is not what makes Linsky the dumbest, anti-gun legislator to date. The bill says and I quote: “Said curriculum must include a minimum of at least 5 hours of live discharge of firearms, rifles, and shotguns at a license gun club, including the discharge of at least 50 rounds of ammunition.” Note that it’s not either 5 hours or 50 rounds. It’s both.

I can just see it now. Some newbie will show up at the Rod & Gun Club, pop off a box of reloads in about 10 minutes, then sit around for the rest of the afternoon until his five hours has expired and he can go home. Incidentally, according to the way the bill is written, the would-be candidate could fire all 50 rounds into the air.

If any of my Gun-nut Nation friends can come up with a better example of stupidity on the part of any legislator who wants to promote restrictions on guns, please send it along and we’ll consider it as competition against the Linsky award.

Thanks to Dave Buchannon for this tip.

Is Concealed-Carry Good Or Bad?

              Last week when I was at the gun show, I overheard a conversation between three gents standing in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk, which was the most popular booth at the show. The topic being discussed in very serious tones was this: If you could only keep one handgun to carry around for self-defense, which gun would it be?

              Now readers of this column may find such a discussion ridiculous, stupid, or worse, but what do you want three guys on Social Security to talk about – the national debt? I mean, what could be more important to the future of American civilization than whether I should be walking around with a Sig, a Springfield or a Glock?

              The truth is that most, if not nearly all the 15 to 20 million Americans who go to the trouble of getting a concealed-carry (CCW) permit rarely, if ever actually carry a gun. First of all, you don’t need to carry a gun because it’s not as if you will ever find yourself in a situation where the gun would make the difference between getting or not getting hurt. Second, the gun is heavy and unless it’s kept concealed you’re going to wind up in the back of the patrol car with your gun comfortably resting on the front seat. Third and most important, sooner or later you’ll put the gun on the floor so that you’re more comfortable while you take a dump, and the gun will somehow not go back into the holster while you hitch up your pants.

              There isn’t a single boy in the United States who by the age of twelve hasn’t seen hundreds of bad guys being shot in video games, movies or TV.  If anything makes America exceptional, it’s how we have created a culture which celebrates ‘virtuous violence’ with the use of a gun. How many states now have stand-your ground laws?  Try thirty-three.

              Notwithstanding the sanctimonious and holier-than-thou preaching of so-called gun experts like David Hemenway and John Donahue, the fact is that gun owners with concealed-carry licenses are not only extremely law-abiding, but rarely, if ever, engage in unlawful or dangerous behavior with their guns. The last time I checked, the Violence Policy Center has still been unable to identify more than 600 CCW-licensed individuals who committed a fatal gun assault over the last 12 years.  Fifteen million people have CCW, less than 50 commit a fatal gun assault every year and that makes CCW-holders a threat to community safety?  Give me a break.

              On the other hand, anyone who thinks that these law-abiding armed citizens constitute the frontline of defense against all those street ‘thugs’ is also just blowing smoke.  Sure, every once in a while someone pulls a gun out from underneath the counter and plans to rob the mini-mart go awry. But the NRA has never been able to validate such acts of civilian bravery more than 50 times a year.  The bottom line is that the notion that we are becoming a nation of armed citizens basically gets down to the old guys who were amusing themselves talking about their favorite handgun while standing on the Dunkin’ Donuts line.

              What motivated me to write this column was an exchange between Corey Booker and Meghan McCain on The View, in which Meghan claimed that her brother would never give up his guns if Booker became President in 2021 and instituted a gun buyback plan. If the government repurchased all AR rifles there would be plenty of black guns that wouldn’t get turned in. But such a buyback would also result in no more new assault rifles being made or sold.

              Now if someone would finally be honest enough to admit that by repurchasing all guns which really cause gun violence (i.e., handguns) then maybe, just maybe we could end gun violence once and for all.  But if we did that, what would those guys waiting for their Dunkin’ Donuts coffee have to talk about?  The national debt?

Why Do People Believe In Armed, Self-Defense?

              There’s a guy out in Gun-nut Nation named Chris Bird, who is regarded as one of the patron saints of the concealed-carry movement, and I have just finished reading his book, The Concealed Handgun Manual, which is considered a must-read book by all the noisemakers who believe that we are a safer country because we have access to guns. And since Chris may think that some of the things I’m going to say about his book aren’t all that positive or nice, I’ll give the book a plug because you can buy it right here.

              As a matter of fact, I strongly urge my friends in Gun-control Nation to read this book, because if there’s one thing that strikes me about activists who want to see us reduce the violence and injuries caused by guns, it’s the degree to which they seem to have little, if any awareness of what is said or believed by the other side. Ask the average gun-control true-believer to explain the difference between an ‘internet’ sale and a ‘personal, sale of a gun and you’ll get the deer-in-the-headlights look. Then ask the same person to explain the difference between an assault rifle and a semi-auto long gun and you’ll probably get much the same look.

              I wouldn’t recommend Bird’s book were it not for the fact that the issue of concealed-carry basically defines the entire gun debate. Why? Because everyone (except me) seems to believe that the 2nd Amendment gives Americans the ‘right’ to own a gun. But where the break occurs between the two sides is explaining why someone should or shouldn’t own a gun. And the gun industry has been selling its products for the last thirty or so years by telling customers that a gun is an essential ‘tool’ for self-defense, even though there is absolutely no valid research which shows this argument to be true.

              So what we get down to here is a mind-set in the heads of many Americans who as a group form the market for continued gun sales. And Chris Bird happens to write books which appeal directly to that mind-set, whether there’s any reality behind it or not. If my friends in Gun-control are really serious about coming up with ‘reasonable’ gun restrictions which will appeal to ‘reasonable’ people on the other side, reading Bird’s book might give them some insights into why those gun owners believe they should own guns. 

              Bird begins the book with a lecture on ‘situational awareness,’ a self-defense concept first developed by Jeff Cooper (whose widow passed away yesterday at the age of 99) back in the 1970’s, which is when, thanks to Glock, the idea of owning and carrying a small, concealable, hi-powered and hi-capacity handgun first took hold. The argument made by Bird is both simple-stupid, namely, that all of us are at all times possible targets of predators who can only be repulsed with personal armed force because the cops never arrive on time.

              The book then goes through a whole series of episodes where armed citizens saved themselves from a criminal attack; it then covers how to choose a handgun, how to practice with your gun, and how to ‘win a gunfight’ with references all the way back to the OK Corral. If you’re a bone-fide member of Gun-control Nation and read this book, you’ll quickly decide that it represents nothing more than a marketing scam designed to mislead delusional people into believing they really need to own a gun.

I disagree. I know many of the folks who take seriously what Bird has to say, and their views might run counter to the prevailing liberal orthodoxy on gun violence, but there’s no reason to believe that what they think about armed, self-defense should simply be considered the product of deranged minds. These folks choose to be gun owners with the same degree of diligence that many of my friends believe that gluten-free foods will prevent chronic fatigue syndrome or worse.

Want to reduce gun violence? At least try to understand what the other side thinks.

Want To Argue About Nothing? Try Concealed-Carry Or Gun-Free Zones.

One of the issues which can always get everyone hot and bothered on both sides of the gun debate is the issue of gun-free zones. On the one hand, proponents of armed, self-defense (John Lott, et. al.) argue that denying folks the right to carry their self-defense gun into a public space makes that space a likely target for any nut who wants to commit mass mayhem using a gun. On the other hand, maintaining and/or expanding gun-free zones is seen by Gun-control Nation as a fundamental strategy for reducing the 125,000+ injuries that we suffer each year from the use/abuse of guns.

I happen to believe that both arguments are bunk and do not, in any way, shape or form, align with the relevant facts. This is because we don’t know the relevant facts, nor has anyone even attempted to figure them out. But making arguments without any factual underpinnings is hardly a new approach when it comes to advocating for or against anything, particularly when it comes to advocating an issue as emotionally-laden as the issue of guns.

It just happens to be the case that most public spaces are gun-free zones, and that’s not about to change. The reason that John Lott says that most large-scale shootings occur in gun-free spaces is because prohibitions on carrying personal firearms are typical of shopping centers, auditoriums and stadiums, which happen to be the places where many people congregate at the same time. Federal law also designates all public K-12 schools as gun-free zones. 

The other problem in the gun-free zone universe is that the issue is confused because it’s often attached to a second gun argument which is equally mis-stated on both sides, namely, the issue of mass shootings which, by definition, occur in places where lots of people congregate at the same time. The commonly-accepted definition of a ‘mass shooting’ is an event in which four or more persons are killed, but this usually excludes shootings in private residences or shootings in the street between rival gangs. So, for example, the gunfire which erupted on May 17, 2015, between two motorcycle gangs in a Waco, TX restaurant parking lot wouldn’t necessarily make the mass-shooting hit list, even though 18 bikers and bystanders were injured and another 9 ended up dead.  And by the way, how come we don’t hear about this event as being the ‘proof’ that armed citizens can prevent crimes when just about everyone standing outside the Twin Peaks Restaurant that day was carrying a gun?

On the other hand, what makes my friends in Gun-control Nation crazy about expanding gun-free zones is that invariably this proposal is tied to the increase in concealed-carry licensing, which is on its way to covering more than 20 million gun owners at last count. But if you want to argue that an increase in armed citizens leads to an increase in gun injuries you’ll find yourself facing two facts which don’t bear this out.

First, although the latest numbers of CCW puts the national figure at 17.5 million, this figure may represent more than five times the number of people actually walking around on a regular basis with a loaded gun. Do these 3 million gun-toters represent a serious threat to community safety and health? To answer that question we turn to our friends at the Violence Policy Center whose report, Concealed Carry Killers, found that between 2007 and 2017, roughly 1,000 people shot themselves or others with legally-carried guns, the division between homicide and suicide about 50 percent. Over that same eleven-year period, more than 350,000 Americans overall died from gun homicides and suicides. Ok? Get it?

Nobody has yet to come up with a definitive explanation for whether or not shooters, particularly mass shooters, are attracted to gun-free zones. But as far as I’m concerned, the whole issue of concealed-carry and gun-free zones is a side-show when compared to figuring out what to do about the daily, run-of-the-mill shooting events that each year now claim more than 40,000 lives.

Do Gun Owners Carrying Around A Gun Represent A Threat?

              One of Gun-control Nation’s most respected researchers, John Donahue,  has just published a new and very detailed study which allegedly proves that the more people who walk around with legally-accessed guns, i.e., folks with the legal right to carry (RTC) a gun on their person, the result is more violent crime. Donahue has made his reputation in the gun-control debate by being a no-nonsense opponent of John Lott and the Lott ‘more guns equals less crime’ thesis, as well as by analyzing public-access data from the CDC within a new regression methodology known as synthetic controls.

              Before we get to the substance of Donahue’s argument, a brief comment about whether regression analysis of open-source data is a sufficient method to explain how and why gun violence occurs at different rates in different places and at different times. In defense of this methodology, Donahue and his co-authors state that “synthetic control approach uniformly supports the conclusion that RTC laws lead to substantial increases in violent crime.” But when the authors attempt to make a cause-and-effect connection between crime rates and RTC, they always fall back on a vague reference of one trend being ‘associated’ with the other, which basically is a polite way of admitting that there’s no substantive cause-and-effect connection at all.

              I wouldn’t even consider this article to merit any attention on my part if it were simply an argument based on an analysis of data, whether the data is used or abused. But the larger part of the article doesn’t focus on data analysis. Instead, it’s a discussion of how and why  RTC-holders constitute a threat to public safety based on numerous examples of guys with RTC who committed violent crimes, usually gun assaults, by using their legally-owned guns. 

              The fact that out of 125,000+ gun injuries each year that less than one-tenth of one percent involve RTC-holders says nothing about the risks of RTC. Worse, the assumption made by Donahue about RTC behavior on which this entire article is based, is so far away from reality that I simply don’t understand how such shabby research gets published at all. The assumption proceeds from an article published by two psychologists in 2016 which found that gun owners tended to overestimate their ability to use a gun safely, thus leading to criminal misconduct, accidents, and lost or stolen guns. Donahue and his co-authors then go on to place the onus for more gun violence in RTC states on the assumption that the more people who have an RTC license, the more guns are being carried around. Do they have one, single bit of evidence to determine whether RTC actually results in more legally-owned guns are being carried by owners who don’t know how to use their guns?  No. Not any evidence at all.

              But these researchers don’t need data to say whatever they want to say. They can just take one trend, tie it to another trend and A must certainly explain B.  So, for example, they note a study which found that guns were stolen from roughly 1 percent of gun owners, and if there are now 16 million RTC holders, this amounts to more than 100,000 guns entering the illegal market each year. But the cited study did not differentiate between people who owned guns and gun-owners who also had RTC. Did it ever occur to Donahue and his colleagues that maybe RTC-holders might be a little more careful with how they stored and protected their guns?  Why bother to question their own totally-flawed assumption? After all, they got the answer they wanted to get.

              This research simply cannot stand against an even cursory analysis of its content, argument or scope. So how does it get published in a major academic journal and then ballyhooed all over the place? Because sad to say, some gun-violence researchers do not understand the difference between research and advocacy; they pretend to be engaged in the former but they really just practice the latter. And they want the CDC to pony up $50 million for their ‘research?’  Give me a break.

Where Are All Those Concealed-Carry Killers?

              Last week our friend Ladd Everitt published an op-ed in The New York Post where he called on Bill DeBlasio to change a New York City gun-control law, the Sullivan law, that has been in effect since 1912. Basically, what this law does is to make it very difficult for a New York City resident to walk around with a gun. Additionally, it also prohibits transporting a handgun for which a city resident has a license outside of the city itself. For that matter, a resident of any other county in New York State outside of the five counties within the Big Apple, can’t bring a licensed handgun into the city.

              The law is being challenged by some pro-gun group which believes that if someone happens to own a home both within the city as well as another home somewhere else in the state, that it’s a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ to require said individual to have gun licenses issued by both jurisdictions in order to move from one location to another with said gun. After all, the same driver’s license can be used both in Da City and the rest of the state. How come we can’t enjoy the same ‘equal protection under laws’ when it comes to transporting our guns?

              For reasons that we will only learn if and when the SCOTUS publishes an opinion on this case next year, the great fear being bandied about in Gun-control Nation is that the High Court will use this case to strike down various state and local concealed-carry laws (CCW) and pave the way for one, national CCW that will let every armed American wander around anywhere he wants to go toting his gun.

              I happen to believe that the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement’s opposition to national CCW is correct. I also happen to believe, however, that the GVP opposition to CCW is based on arguments which have little or no validity at all. So before you get all hot and bothered that Mike the Gun Guy™ is once again showing his true colors as an NRA flack, read on.

              The opposition to CCW is based on the wholly-unsupported claim that CCW increases the possibility that gun violence rates will go up. Now you can always find an example of someone shooting someone else with a legal concealed weapon – the murder of  Trayvon Martin being perhaps the most notorious case in point. But one example is simply one example, okay?

              Our friends at the Violence Policy Center (VPC) issue an annual report on the number of times that folks with CCW kill someone by using a gun. In fact, of the 722 documented cases analyzed by the VPC between 2007 and 2017, it turns out that 45% were either non-criminal suicides or unintentional shootings.  In other words, over this eleven-year span, fatal injuries committed by CCW-holders averaged less than 40 per year. This country finds itself awash in intentional gun assaults which rack up more than 14,000 homicides a year, and the 40 or so people killed by CCW-holders constitutes a threat to public health?

              The reason I am opposed to national concealed-carry is the same reason I am opposed to all local or state-level CCW, namely, that I have yet to see a single jurisdiction granting CCW that actually imposes any kind of test to determine whether the CCW-recipient actually knows how to use a gun. Sorry, but sitting in a stuffy room, listening to some old guy drone on for a couple of hours about the ‘three rules of handgun safety’ and then firing a few shots at a fixed target doesn’t constitute any kind of ‘training’ at all. And for all the difficulty imposed by New York City to get a CCW license, there’s no training requirement whatsoever. Read: none.

              My problem with CCW is that it’s just another marketing scam to make guns as normal and useful as a droid. But guns aren’t just some household or business convenience. Guns are designed to kill. Get it?

Does The 2nd Amendment Protect Carrying A Gun Outside The Home?

While my friends in the gun-control community continue to go ga-ga over something as silly and unimportant as plastic guns, a decision just came down from the 9th Circuit Federal Court which could have a much greater impact on the whole issue of gun violence and how America will and will not regulate guns.  I am referring to an appeal brought before the Court by a resident of Hawaii, George Young, who was denied an application both to openly a gun as well as to carry the same gun concealed.

glock1             Basically, what the Court said in a 2 – 1 opinion, was that the State of Hawaii couldn’t have it both ways. Either they had to let Young carry a weapon outside the home openly, or they had to let him carry his weapon concealed. But to deny him any ability to leave his home armed was to deny his 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ The Court found that Hawaii’s statute denying carrying of weapons except in cases of engaging in ‘protection of life and property’ was too vague and could not sustained under current 2nd-Amendment interpretations, up to and including the Heller decision rendered in 2008.

In fact, Scalia’s 2008 Heller opinion specifically avoided the issue of carrying a gun outside the home, because the D.C. law which Heller appealed only dealt with whether or not a resident of the District could keep a loaded, self-defense gun in the home. The relevant section in the 2nd Amendment is the phrase, ‘keep and bear arms,’ with decisions since 2008 coming down on both sides of this issue when deciding whether ‘keep’ and ‘bear’ refer to only inside the home or outside the home as well.

If you go back and read Scalia’s Heller opinion, what I find interesting is that virtually the entire 20,000-word text is devoted to historical and legal discussions about the words ‘keep’ and ‘bear.’  On the other hand, the word ‘arms’ is given very short shrift, Scalia dispensing with it altogether by noting that modern military weapons, like an M-16 rifle, could lie outside of 2nd-Amendment protection because such a gun isn’t commonly found in the home (page 54 et. seq.) In other words, for purposes of defining the types of weapons which fall under 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ Scalia is basically saying that a gun used by the military may, in fact, be what he calls a ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapon, which should not be owned by civilians at all.

If my friends in the gun-control community decide to appeal the 9th Circuit’s ruling, which I’m sure they will, and/or if the issue of 2nd Amendment protection for carrying a gun outside the home finally arrives at the doorstep of the Supreme Court, perhaps some consideration might be given to looking at the whole issue not from the point of view of prohibiting or regulating the behavior of people who own guns, but rather, in terms o the lethality of the guns themselves.

Because it just so happens that if we define a gun not in terms of whether it can be found in a gun-owner’s home, but rather in terms of whether the gun was designed for military use and is used by the military today, then all of a sudden, the whole question of what constitutes a gun whose existence in civilian hands is covered by the 2nd Amendment begins to change.

The fact is that the most popular handgun in America – Glock – was designed specifically as an army gun and is carried by troops in the field, including U.S. troops, all over the globe. Ditto the guns manufactured by Sig, whose M17 model just became the official sidearm of the Regular Army of the USA.  Ditto the Beretta M9, the list goes on and on.

The reason that other advanced countries don’t suffer our level of gun violence is because they recognize that arms designed for the military are too lethal to be in civilian hands. How come this issue never seems to be arise when my friends in the gun-control community decry the violence caused by guns?

 

Why Does Everyone Hate John Lott?

I have just posted a detailed paper on SSRN with the above title and it is available for download right here.  This paper is an attempt not to exonerate Lott for any of his shortcomings, nor to play devil’s advocate for what he says or writes, and certainly not to push some backdoor kind of support for his work. I have previously written about him and by just mentioning his name without adding the usual gun violence prevention (GVP) sobriquet like the ‘discredited’ or ‘dangerous’ John Lott I have been accused not only of being his partner, but also of being a secret mole for the NRA.

People who make comment like that without bothering to read what I actually have said about Lott’s work are doing their best to make sure that no common ground between gun owners and non-gun owners will ever exist. What? Am I saying that the GVP isn’t interested in finding ways to communicate with ‘responsible’ gun owners who will support ‘reasonable’ policies to regulate guns? No. What I’m saying is that the gun-control community never refers to themselves as being ‘responsible;’ it’s always the other side which needs to meet some kind of responsibility test. And funny, when pro-GVP scholars ask gun owners what kinds of ‘reasonable’ public policies they would support, the list always seems to start and end with policies which reflect what GVP advocates feel should be supported, and never policies advocated by the other side.

This may come as a great shock to my GVP friends, but while there is clearly strong support among gun owners for background checks and the like, I’m willing to bet that if you asked the average gun owner what he’s doing to reduce gun violence, there’s a good chance he’ll tell you that he keeps a loaded handgun by his side. It may be kept at home, it may be dangling from his belt, but since more than 60% of Americans believe that a gun makes you safer than not having a gun, then the gun owner who tells you that the best way to protect yourself from violence is by owning a gun isn’t just whistling in the dark. And since guns are apparently found in only 40% of all American homes, this means that a lot of non-gun owners buy the ‘gun makes you safer’ line as well.

Lott’s an easy target because anyone who makes an occasional appearance on Fox or is interviewed by an AM talk-show jock is, by definition, an enemy of the folks who care about reducing the carnage America suffers from guns. But Lott has never (read: never) said anything about the extraordinary cultural shift which has moved us from 60% supporting a total handgun ban in 1960 to the current number which is below 25%. By the time Lott wrote his first paper, only one in three Americans supported a handgun ban, so Lott was able to capitalize on this shift in public opinion, but he didn’t make it up.

What we are looking at is an extraordinary case of cognitive dissonance in which the people who decide they need a gun to protect them, particularly if they want to walk around toting the damn thing, happen to be the people least likely to ever be victims of violent crime. Several years ago I was at a gun show in Lancaster, PA, which is a nice farming town about 60 miles due west of the Liberty Bell. Pennsylvania had just changed their right to carry (RTC) law from ‘may issue’ to ‘shall issue,’ and the sheriff’s office in Lancaster was overwhelmed with folks wanting to apply for their license to carry a gun. I happened to overhear several guys talking who had just spent four hours waiting on line, and when one of them laughed and said, “Well, there’s never any crime out here anyway,” the other responded in a very serious tone, “Yea, but they could come out from  Philly. You never know.”

What my paper really talks about is what we need to understand about this cultural shift in attitudes towards guns and how we need to incorporate this shift into the public narrative promoted by the GVP. Because we can sit around all day and shoot verbal arrows at John Lott but so what? The bottom line is that too many Americans have decided that the only thing between them and mayhem is owning and carrying a gun. The fact that their decision results in more mayhem somehow escapes from being said.

And despite what you may think, you simply can’t blame that attitude on John Lott.