Are Americans Finally Getting Fed Up With Guns?

Sleazy Don can talk all he wants about how the mid-term election was a big win, but yesterday announcement that a bump-stock ban is coming out of the White House is just more proof that he and his Beer Hall gang took the November 6th results right on the chinny, chin-chin. Had the House remained under GOP control, particularly with a gun nut like Keven McCarthy in the Speaker’s seat, I can guarantee you that the last thing which would have come out of the White House was anything that smacked in any way of being anti-gun.

              For that matter, another story started floating around the ‘drive-by’ media yesterday that the GOP has also given up on trying to finish work on Gun-nut Nation’s most cherished dream, a.k.a., a national concealed-carry law that would let anyone and everyone wander all across and through the ‘fruited plane’ with a gun. I enjoy using various Rush Limbaugh catch-phrases like ‘drive-by’ and ‘fruited plane’ because as we move towards the convening of the 116th Congress on January 2, 2019, the alt-right noise machine led by hot-air balloons like Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, et. al., is going to have to find something more important to talk about than whether the Mexican caravan represents a global terrorist threat.

Meanwhile, in what might or might not be a more important development in Gun-nut Nation was the news, reported by our friend Alex Yablon at The Trace that the media folks who produce some of the shows for NRATV have been let go. Is this because the NRA has hit a rough revenue patch, or is it because viewing numbers are down, or a combination of both? There is also the possibility that the boys in Fairfax are perhaps re-thinking a video messaging strategy that has promoted some of the worst, dumbest and lowlife pandering that I have ever seen.

Between home-school queen Dana Loesch talking about the ‘violent Left,’ or that dopey, speech-mangled lawyer with the made-up name – Colion Noir – prancing around a shooting range extolling the virtues of self-defense with an AR-15, the NRA video channel has been nothing more than a platform for keeping the NRA image beyond even the Breitbart fringe. But maybe the fact that the House of Representatives went blue because a number of gun-loving GOP members lost seats in gun-rich states has caught the NRA by the seat of its political pants.

One of the more outstanding myth that floats around Gun-control Nation is the idea that the NRA sets the tone for the gun ‘rights’ debate and the organization’s members then line up and repeat whatever the NRA tells them to say.  I happen to believe this narrative is simply not true.  If anything, the NRA tends to reflect the views of its members rather than the other way around. For example, the group’s endorsement of  Sleazy Don in May, 2016, a departure from their usual endorsement near the end of a Presidential campaign, simply reflected the fact that the Republican National Committee had already declared Sleazy Don to be the presumptive GOP nominee.

What may really be happening is that the financial and media problems within the NRA are just another reflection of the overall slowing down of the gun business and perhaps a turning-point in America’s love affair with guns. The FBI reported that NICS-background checks for Black Friday was the lowest number for the great sale day since 2014. And even though the gun industry’s feel-good mouthpiece, the NSSF, tried to balance this bad news by claiming that gun sales on days prior to Black Friday were up, anyone who thinks that the gun business is in recovery mode should check today’s Smith & Wesson stock price.

Next week I’ll do my monthly report on the exact state of the gun industry when official FBI-NICS background check numbers are released. In the meantime, if you want to make a million in the gun business, maybe you have to start not with two million but with three.

Advertisements

Sooner Or Later Dana Loesch Will Shut Up.

Folks, I think it’s time to figure out what noisemakers like that idiot Dana Loesch is really trying to achieve on behalf of the pro-gun movement, because if we don’t, we’re going to waste an awful lot of time being concerned about something which I think has been completely misunderstood by our friends in the mainstream (i.e., liberal) media like The New York Times and MS-NBC.

dana              Of course the GVP needs all the help and allies it can get. But such relationships shouldn’t foreclose a basic responsibility we share to make sure that when it comes to the public debate, we get it right. And the reactions by many of my media and GVP friends to statements from Loesch which are usually referred to as being beyond anything which should be said in public simply are wide of the mark.

I’m talking about her new video trailer which has her about to burn a copy of The New York Times but then she pauses and says, “You know, I don’t even have to do this. You guys are doing a good enough job burning down your reputations all by yourselves.” Our friends at Media Matters posted this video and now the expected responses are coming in about how Loesch and the NRA are enemies of the press, the 1st Amendment, the usual bit. Home-school Queen Dana has been going after The New York Times for the past year, with this video being just her latest attempt to show her audience how outrageous, insulting and fascist-leaning she can be.

Want to know what’s really behind her continued attempt to say the most outrageous and provocative crap coming out of the mouth of any employee of the NRA? Take a look at the January NICS background checks which just came out.  Handgun checks were 501,638, which is the lowest January total since January 2014. Month-to-month long gun checks, 2016 to 2017, were down by 25 percent!  These numbers don’t represent just a little slippage in gun sales, they represent what could be the beginning of an industry-wide collapse.

What I find most funny in Dana’s continued attacks on ‘the old lady’ (a.k.a. The New York Times) is what has happened to the stock price of the ‘failing’ New York Times since Dana first began her rants.  A year ago the stock price was $14.80. Even after the big sell-off earlier this week, the current price is sitting at $24.80. Yea, talk about the paper failing away.

Now let’s compare the ‘failing’ New York Times to the recent stock history of a company called American Outdoor Brands, which used to be known as Smith & Wesson until the management, fearing that Hillary would be elected President and would shut down the gun business decided to rebrand themselves with a new name that would make everyone ignore the fact that 88% of company revenues still comes from the sale of guns.

When Dana first started spieling for NRA she presented herself as just another Mom who carried a gun in order to protect herself and her kids, the strategy being to open the female market to guns. If that approach is working, it sure hasn’t done much for Smith & Wesson or American Outdoor Brands or whatever they now want to call themselves.

Dana then set to work pushing the new NRA training and insurance program, Carry Guard, which has a whole big, two classes listed on the program website – two classes in the whole country? That’s right. Two.

Dana’s obnoxious rants against The New York Times are nothing more than a stupid and obvious attempt to retain some social media following now that the gun business doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of revival or long-term strength. Which is why the best thing my friends in the mainstream media and GVP could do is to should simply ignore her because sooner or later she’ll do us all a favor by shutting up and going away.

Can The New York Times Survive Dana’s Attack? Of Course It Can.

Now that Dana ‘clenched fist’ Loesch has decided to take on the ‘failing’ New York Times, many of my liberal friends, particularly in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community believe that the NRA has really gone over the edge.  Endorsing Trump was hardly unexpected, pumping millions into his campaign was certainly the least the boys from Fairfax could do given how pro-gun Trump appeared to be. But lately, the tone and rhetoric of NRA messages, particularly the ones read off the teleprompter by Home School Queen Loesch seem to be almost open invitations to the use of violence in order to protect the ownership of guns.

nyt             Her first message in this respect was an angry rant directed at nobody in particular but clearly aimed (pardon the pun) at the liberal ‘elite’ who just can’t bring themselves to accept the Age of Trump.  The second video stupidity was a direct attack on The New York Times, complete with endless misstatements about the paper’s coverage of Benghazi and other events, and closing with an ominous ‘coming to get you’ line right out of a Rambo flick

It’s one thing to accuse GVP-minded folks of being against the 2nd Amendment, that’s par for the course. And if the NRA wants to burnish its rather flimsy claims to relevance by describing itself as ‘America’s oldest civil rights organization,’ that’s okay too.  For all their talk about ‘defending gun rights,’ Americans owned more than 250 million firearms before the Supreme Court ever said that the 2nd Amendment protected private ownership of guns. Protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Big, friggin’ deal.

Since the issue of gun ‘rights’ appears to be settled, at least as long as the Oval Office is occupied by You Know Who, the NRA needs a new message to maintain the allegiance of the faithful, and instead of just protecting our guns, the organization wants to be known as an outfit which will protect us from the menace and threats of the ‘radical Left.’  And since they can’t openly call for armed violence, even under President Trump this might land Wayne-o in jail, they want everyone to be openly armed as a warning against whomever – Muslims, leftists, terrorists – might be planning an attack.

Dana Loesch and other paid NRA-panderers can always lash out verbally at anyone who is guilty of aiding and abetting those murderous hordes on the Left, and what better target in that respect than the ‘failing’ New York Times? This is where, it seems to me, the NRA is transforming itself into an organization which wants to promote not just gun ownership and gun ‘rights,’ but also to lead the debate over what should constitute the American way of life. No doubt this strategy will help promote aggressive marketing of the consumer crap on display this weekend at the NRA’s Milwaukee show, but since when did political and consumer huckstering not go hand in hand?

I don’t think that anyone in the GVP community or anywhere else in the level-headed world should be all that concerned about Dana or the possibility that her contrived sputterings will set off a tidal wave or even a small ripple of anger towards the ‘mainstream media’ or The New York Times. I have been in the gun business for more than 50 years, I have met thousands of gun owners, and the only gun owner I know who reads The New York Times is – me. In fact, while Dana has 600,000 followers on Twitter, which is a pretty good number, the Old Lady’s Twitter is just a tad under 40 million – Trump should be doing so well.

Dana and the other NRA hirelings are preaching and selling to the converted. She only breaks into the mainstream when the mainstream reacts to something she says. After all, when was the last time The New York Times carried an ad for the new NRA insurance or their ‘gold standard’ Carry Guard training program? Don’t worry – it’s just more marketing schlock.

 

Women Do Need To Protect Themselves But Not With A Gun.

It figures that while the women were marching around the NRA headquarters, the boys in Fairfax would crank up the usual pro-gun noise to promote the idea that what women really need to do to make themselves safe is to own and carry a gun.  The march, incidentally, was in response to the NRA video narrated by home-schooling queen Dana Loesch which features the usual, racist crap America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ has been throwing out for years. Notice that I’m not providing a link to the video because I believe that it should be, and should have been ignored.

ccw             When it comes to women and guns, the real issue as far as I’m concerned is not whether an alt-right media personality can promote herself by pimping for the NRA, nor is it whether the NRA did or didn’t say anything after the police murder of Philando Castile (which, in fact, they did.) The real issue is the issue of women and guns. Because the latest data shows that men outnumber women as gun owners by a margin of two to one, which means that women still represent an untapped market for gun sales, a particularly important issue because gun sales continue to lag and sag during the Age of Trump.

Meanwhile, although the gun violence prevention (GVP) folks often find themselves on the defensive when it comes to new laws on guns, they have scored some notable successes in one area, namely, the push to keep guns out of the hands of (usually) men charged with domestic abuse, with new restrictions being passed in 23 states since 2014.  In this regard, it’s the NRA which has been on the defensive, even though they recently scored victories in Indiana and Tennessee, but what these laws do is allow domestic abuse victims quicker access to guns, they don’t make it easier for the abuser to keep or get his hands on a gun.

Gun-nut Nation’s legal strategy to sidestep the issue of guns which cause injuries to domestic abuse victims and concentrate instead on why guns are everyone’s essential tool for self-defense flows directly from the way the NRA has been talking about domestic abuse for years, namely, to not talk about it at all.  One of the most popular courses in the NRA training curriculum is something called ‘Refuse To Be A Victim,’ which the Fairfax boys claim has been taught to more than 100,000 people and is allegedly an ‘award-winning’ crime prevention program although it’s not clear which organization actually gave the NRA this award.

I am, in fact, a certified NRA trainer in this particular course, and I took the certification because I wanted to see what the course was all about. What’s it about is a mélange of half-baked, vague bits of paranoia which cobbles together all the usual crap about online security and identify theft, buying and installing a burglar alarm, making sure that nobody’s following you down that dark street or about to jack your car. The student manual says the course was designed by the ‘women of the NRA’ and presumes that everyone taking the course lives in a nice, split-level suburban home. The curriculum says absolutely nothing about guns.

It also says next to nothing about domestic abuse. The student manual contains one statement to the effect that people who want information about domestic abuse situations should contact a national, non-profit hotline, but that’s as far as it goes. In fact, you would think from the course content that online identity theft for women is a much bigger threat than the fact that women are assaulted domestically millions of times each year.

NRA’s effort to promote female gun ownership as a response to domestic abuse is an insult and a sham. And idiots like Dana Loesch who pretend to represent all those tough, gun-owning women just waiting to pull out their guns on some street ‘thug’ only dishonor themselves and the organization they claim to represent.

 

THANKS TO GAIL LEHMANN.

Check Out The New Betsy Riot Website!

I was just about to post one of my usual, boring columns when I found myself looking at a new website which just went up today: https://betsyriot.com/.  As someone who got into media long before there was an internet, I have ambivalent feelings about the fact that anyone can turn on their computer or their tablet and become an immediate sensation just by putting something online which strikes some kind of chord.

betsy             But the world changes, thank God, and maybe the open-source media universe is a very good thing. Because if we had to depend on market-based media for all our information and news, it would preclude us from engaging with the kind of folks who are running this Betsy Riot website and frankly, what they are doing should be seen by as many people as possible both within the U.S. and around the globe.

Let’s start right at the beginning and ask: Who is Betsy?  Actually, that’s not the right question. What we need to ask is what is a Betsy since Betsy isn’t someone’s name, it’s a descriptive for how certain people think and behave. And the answer is right on the front of the website: “an unapologetic feminist patriot who has fucking had enough of Trump culture and gun culture and the death and terror they inflict on America.”

I like this approach because I’m frustrated at the degree to which many people who don’t like Trump and reject his embrace of a pro-gun narrative tend to be quite polite. And politesse is a generic issue with liberals, because they tend to be educated and education teaches people to be polite. You can’t yell out obscenities in a classroom the way Trump does at his rallies; for that matter, you can’t do it in front of an MSNBC camera, but you can do it if you’re in a studio owned by Fox.

Let me make it clear that when I talk about obscene language, I’m not talking about using words like sh*t and fu*k. To me, saying something obscene means something hurtful, nasty, racist, homophobic or something you know not to be true. I can’t recall a single Trump tweet which isn’t obscene. I have never seen an NRA video which doesn’t contain language which isn’t obscene. When that dope Dana Loesch does a video I which she talks about how she uses a gun to protect herself from ‘street thugs,’ she’s both a liar and a racist and that’s obscene.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong by talking about gun violence with the same language which Gun-nut Nation uses to promote the idea that anyone opposed to gun ownership is un-American, unpatriotic and worse. I like the fact that the Betsy Riot website refers to the ‘gun lobby’ as the ‘death lobby.’ It’s appropriate and it’s true. I like the fact that Trump’s staff is referred to as ‘dutiful fascists’ because that’s what some of them are. And most of all, I like when they say that their mission is to “rescue our country from this fascist fucking sideshow” because frankly, I can’t think of a more apt and accurate description of what’s going on in the Oval Office right now.

The reason Trump made common cause with the NRA and the reason that the boys from Fairfax continue to promote Trump’s agenda is because both Trump and ‘America’s oldest civil rights organization’ have a vested interest in mainlining gun violence if it’s the kind of gun violence which suits their ends and needs. The NRA promotes gun violence if someone defends himself by shooting a ‘street thug,’ and Trump made a point of telling his campaign rallies that violence committed against anti-Trump protestors was a good thing.

It’s time to stop being so polite and let the other side know in no uncertain terms that what they are promoting is violent, dangerous and wrong. And the message needs to be delivered in a direct and no-nonsense way.

Go to it Betsy Riot – go, go, go.

She’s Ba-ack! Dana Loesch Appeals To The Hard-Core Crazies Again.

I just finished watching the 60-second screed from Dana Loesch which is getting all kinds of responses, most of them castigating her for appealing to violence in response to the resistance against Trump.  I have now watched this video three times, because I want to make sure that I don’t misunderstand or misinterpret anything she says. Not that it’s difficult to follow what she says –  Dana’s so friggin’ dumb and her rants appeal to such a low intellectual denominator that I suspect my wife’s 14-month old grandson could figure her out.

loeschnranews             Dana has been traipsing around on the alt-right circuit for a few years, she’s now employed both by Glenn Beck’s Blaze and the NRA.  Neither organization has a real interest in anything other than audience share, and if you’re offended by the tone and content of her remarks, you can chalk it down to the fact that the alt-right is not only having difficulty maintaining its audience now that the occupant of the Oval Office is someone they are supposed to support, but if anything, the momentum on social media now belongs to the other side.  Trump has 32.9M followers on Twitter, the Old Lady (a.k.a. New York Times) has 38.5M.  Get it?

Dana debuted on the NRA media channel back in September, 2015. She claimed that she represented America’s ‘moms,’ and just like ‘millions’ of other American women, because she is a mom, she also owns guns. She then went on to whine about how the media refuses to carry stories about women who defend their homes and their families from a ‘home-invading thug,’ but will always run a story on someone who was killed in their home because they didn’t do what Dana claims she does – own a gun.

Dana spent the next year basically huckstering the sale of guns to women, claiming in another video that ‘millions’ of women were flocking into gun stores and getting armed. There’s only one little problem – what she was saying about a surge in female gun buyers simply isn’t true. Even the NSSF’s vaunted marketing report which claims to show that more women are getting into guns contains some vague data about the number of women who ‘participate’ in gun events, but that’s a far cry from walking around strapped or having a gun in the house to, as Dana says, stick it into the face of a ‘thug.’

I have to admit that in the new video where Dana portrays herself and other like-minded folks as the protectors of freedom against all those resistance people being manipulated into blocking highways, burning trash cars and beating up on a Trump supporter, I didn’t see or hear any overt appeal to violence, even though at the end of her spiel, she says that ‘the only way we stop this violence of lies is with the clenched fist of truth.’  Dana lowers her voice a bit when she utters the last two words but at least she didn’t reach into her bra and yank out her gun.

What Dana’s video really demonstrates is the degree to which the alt-right, pro-gun messaging has become so muddled during the Age of Trump. After all, to accuse Obama of being a gun-grabber and therefore the 2nd Amendment protected us from government ‘tyranny’ was an easy sell because Obama was a gun-grabber, it’s not something he tried to hide. And Hillary was a gun-grabber, too.

But now we have a government being run by a guy who says that his supporters will remain loyal even if he would ‘shoot someone down in the street.’ Which makes it pretty difficult to promote an argument that says we should all be armed because otherwise the government can take away our ‘rights.’

I think Dana’s video should be seen for what it is: a desperate attempt to maintain support from a base which is increasingly becoming nothing more than a lunatic fringe. And this will only get worse as the ‘deep state’ tries to take back the government again.

 

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.

Hillary Takes On Race And Guns And Gets It On!

To her immense credit Hillary has raised the issue of race in a direct and immediate way. The Republicans, after all, have been playing the race card ever since Saint Reagan joked about the ‘welfare queen’ during the 1980 campaign, and it’s time that someone finally came out and called it what it is.  And let’s not screw around and pretend that Trump with his wretched disdain for minorities is somehow outside the mainstream of Republican beliefs.  The red team has never (as in never) tried to make itself attractive to the minority vote.  In fact, if it were up to the GOP, minorities wouldn’t be able to vote at all.  Or am I wrong and did that recent North Carolina voting rights decision throw out a law pushed through the state legislature by Democrats from the Tar Heel state?

hillary3           When it comes to defining political issues in racial terms, of course, Trump has also dipped quite easily into the playbook authored by the NRA.  Because if you think for one second that Gun-nut Nation’s push for concealed-carry laws is something other than a direct appeal to racial animosities and prejudices, think again.  Why should everyone be walking around with a gun?  To protect us from crime. And who are all those people committing all those crimes?  The same people who, according to Mister Trump, are going to show up on election day, vote as many times as they can, and guarantee that the result will be ‘rigged.’

Trump’s biggest problem, and it’s been a problem for the entire Republican Party, is that they are slowly but steadily losing the party’s base.  Because it was the same Republican Party, by the way, that blocked immigration from Europe after 1924.  And it never occurred to those dopes and racists back then that what they were really setting in motion was a situation that would eventually lead to a basic change in the ethnicity of new Americans, due largely to the immigration reform law signed by Saint Reagan in 1986.  Because this law allowed American farmers to employ non-citizens as ‘temporary’ farm workers, most of whom after the harvest season decided to stick around.  Remember all those ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ from Mexico that Trump discovered when he first announced his candidacy?

So what we ended up with is a Presidential candidate who until he realized last week that his racist jeremiad wasn’t working, told every Ku Klux Klan rally– oops! – I mean campaign rally, that he was going to throw ‘them all the hell out.’ And, by the way, if any of those criminals and rapists are left over after the mass deportations, we can always depend on all those law-abiding, 2nd-Amendment-loving NRA members to protect us with their guns.

There’s a reason why the NRA decided to break with its own tradition of endorsing the Republican candidate in October and, instead decided back in April to go with Trump.  Because the NRA has been playing the same fear-mongering racial card to its own members since it began promoting gun ownership as a response to crime. And this new advertising strategy served two purposes: it helped the gun industry make a product transition from sporting and hunting to self-defense, and it gave Republican politicians a leg up in races for various Congressional seats.

When Dana Loesch makes a video for the NRA saying she needs a gun to protect her and her family against ‘street thugs,’ does anyone have any trouble figuring out the skin color of those so-called thugs?  Loesch and her NRA sponsors pander to many Americans who mistakingly believe that crime is on the rise.  And they also believe that a gun will make them safe, even if they don’t own a gun.

Calling Trump a racist takes guts but is also an easy one to see.  The real challenge for Hillary is to give Americans who are afraid of crime or terrorism ways to assuage their fears without going out and buying a gun.

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.