Is Kavanaugh A Threat?A Little Debate.

Ladd Everitt: The Kavanaugh Court is an Existential Threat to Gun Violence Reduction Efforts

“Justice Kavanaugh your life and family are not ruined. Try having a child murdered by a weapon that you refer to as ‘common use.’ You will get through this and hug both of your children tonight.” — Parkland survivor Fred Guttenberg

The national nightmare of Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court has dire consequences for the health and welfare of millions of Americans on a range of different issues. One area of particular concern is the ongoing, high rate of gun violence in the United States (to include daily mass shooting horrors). Kavanaugh — the serial perjurer and subject of multiple allegations of sexual assault — has made it clear he would allow no innovation in firearm regulation and roll back what few gun laws America still has on the books. If he remains on the Court, it seems certain he will join conservative majorities in rulings that cost lives by further bastardizing the meaning of the Second Amendment.

Before Justice Anthony Kennedy retired to make way for Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court rejected a series of cases from lower courts dealing with gun regulations including state assault weapons bans and permitting systems for individual who carry concealed guns in public. After Justice Antonin Scalia’s expansive rewriting of the Second Amendment in the landmark 5–4 ruling in D.C. v. Heller (2008) — which ignored our Founders’ writings and debates about the Second Amendment, choosing instead to exalt gun laws in the antebellum South — Kennedy was apparently unwilling to provide a fifth vote for further efforts to erode public safety. Brett Kavanaugh has no such compunctions.

The scorn with which Kavanaugh treated Parkland survivor Fred Guttenberg at his first confirmation hearing is reflective of his total lack of concern about the human impacts of gun violence.

In a 2011 dissent in a second Heller case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit [Heller v. D.C., commonly known as Heller II], then-judge Kavanaugh articulated a radical and dangerous view of the Second Amendment. While echoing propaganda from gun lobby groups like the National Rifle Association and National Shooting Sport Foundation (NSSF), Kavanaugh opined that the District of Columbia’s popular assault weapons ban and firearms registration law are unconstitutional.

His analysis of D.C.’s assault weapons ban ignored entirely the damage that semiautomatic battlefield rifles like the AR-15 are capable of doing in civilian settings. Because AR-15s and similar weapons are now in “common use” among Americans, Kavanaugh insisted (using an arbitrary test Justice Scalia created in the first Heller case), they must be constitutionally-protected. “Common use” was not defined, but assault weapons wouldn’t seem to be in common use in the United States under any reasonable definition. The NRA and gun industry have been mass-marketing and selling assault weapons since the late 1980s, but in 2014 only 22% of Americans reported owning a gun of any kind, much less an assault weapon. Assault weapons constitute a small percentage of the 393 million privately held firearms in the United States.

Kavanaugh also declared the District’s firearm registration system unconstitutional in Heller II because he believes it is inconsistent with the “history and tradition” of firearms regulation in America.¹ Again, it’s difficult to see how this conclusion was reached. Gun registration requirements are as old as the Militia cited in the text of the Second Amendment. As historian Saul Cornell has pointed out, state governments kept lists of privately-owned weapons required for service in our Founders’ militia. Kavanaugh also ignored the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA), a federal law that requires registration of fully-automatic machine guns held by civilians. The law has been an overwhelming success — machine guns have rarely been recovered from crime scenes in the 80+ years since it was enacted.

While Kavanaugh has never publicly commented on concealed carry, during his time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit he did embrace a lower-court ruling that would have struck down the District’s permitting system as unconstitutional (pending appellate review). In a dissent in the case of Grace v. District of Columbia, Kavanaugh was sympathetic to the plaintiff’s view that the city could not require “good reason” from residents before issuing them permits to carry concealed firearms in public.²

financially-struggling NRA plunked down $1 million to pay for TV ads to get Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court. They knew exactly what they were paying for — a Justice who will reliably vote against gun regulation at each and every turn. Any faith in Chief Justice John Roberts to moderate the Court, or Justice Neil Gorsuch to tarnish his pro-gun bonafides (e.g., Gorsuch has already indicated he believes the Second Amendment confers an individual right to carry a pistol in public) seems to me to be tragically misplaced.

Reform efforts aimed at addressing gun violence (more than 38,000 gun deaths and somewhere between 25,000 and 115,000 injuries per year in the United States³) face an existential threat in the Kavanaugh Court. The practical effect of the Heller I ruling in 2008 was not great (Scalia’s ruling did not affect a single policy being worked on by an American gun control organization), but the gun rulings of the Kavanaugh Court will be devastating. The new conservative majority will cast off important, democratically-enacted laws aimed at disarming violent individuals and demilitarizing our society. They will accomplish this by writing further fiction about the Second Amendment that ignores the original intent of our Founders (who never would have used the amendment as a cudgel to beat off attempts to save American lives being lost to an epidemic of violence). The interests of the gun industry will be prioritized over the safety of citizens. George Zimmermans and Adam Lanzas across America will be emboldened, their violence facilitated. Americans’ most fundamental freedoms (our inalienable rights to life and liberty, the First Amendment right to assemble peacefully in the public space, etc.) will be forfeit in favor of a legally sanctioned gun culture in which the last (white) man standing is king.

Many Americans are questioning the legitimacy of government in the era of Donald Trump, voter suppression, and (unrestrained) foreign interference in our elections/politics. Brett Kavanaugh, with his perjury and partisan threats, further weakened Americans’ faith that our current government represents them. When government repeatedly fails its most basic duty, to protect its citizens,⁴ the people must answer to a higher power and act in order to preserve life and prevent suffering. Gun rulings by the Kavanaugh Court that present a threat to our communities and families should be met with bold and widespread acts of nonviolent, civil disobedience. This should include elected/appointed officials refusing to enforce Court rulings they know will lead to further gun violence, and accepting the legal consequences for their actions.

As other observers have pointed out, this is not an ideal way for democratic government to function, but creative, outside-the-box solutions are needed to prevent the further destruction of American families and communities. The GVP movement should begin planning for the Kavanaugh Court’s rulings now, as pro-choice advocates have. That means communicating about our government’s gross dereliction of duty concerning public safety, preparing advocates to engage in direct nonviolent action (like we saw on Capitol Hill during the Kavanaugh hearings), and offering a clear and inspiring vision of a future America with fewer guns and safer communities.

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ENDNOTES

1. The conservative majority in Heller I took no issue with the District of Columbia’s firearm registration requirement. The majority opinion authored by Justice Scalia ordered the city to allow plaintiff Dick Heller to register his handguns so he could keep them at home.

2. In D.C., permit applicants weren’t allowed to simply say “I want to defend myself.” They were required to cite an actual threat (i.e., from a stalker, because their job requires them to deliver millions in cash, etc.).

3. The figure for gun deaths is from CDC’s WISQARS fatal injury data for the most recent year available (38,658 gun deaths in 2016). Estimates of annual gun injuries range from 25,000 (National Impatient Sample) to over 115,000 (CDC WISQARS).

4. The very first line of the Constitution indicates that one of the chief purposes of the document is to “insure domestic Tranquility.”

You can read Ladd Everitt’s original piece on Medium.

And My Response:

My response to Ladd’s piece should in no way be taken as any kind of personal criticism for what he does or what he says. Ladd has been an extremely effective advocate for gun control and I trust he will continue in that vein. Nevertheless, I believe that those who agree with Ladd (including myself) that gun violence is an irreparable stain on American society, as well as a tragedy of uncalled-for proportions for those whose families, friends and neighborhoods have been impacted by shootings or the threats of shootings, still need to hear different opinions and different points of view. Unless, of course, if Ladd believes that only he should be defining the argument for everyone else, which I am sure is not the case.

Ladd says he is writing about the ‘Kavanaugh court.’ But actually, it happens to be the Roberts court, and Ladd is somewhat selective in explaining how and why the Roberts court has dealt with the issue of guns. In fact, it is not accurate to assume that Kennedy represented a ‘swing’ or ‘soft’ vote on gun issues, and that his replacement by Kavanaugh represents a hard swing to the Right. Yes, Scalia only needed to convince 4 other justices that he could use selective historical information to rewrite legal precedent on Amendment Number Two. But in fact, not five, not four, but only two justices (Scalia and Thomas) agreed with Ladd when he says that the Court “ignored entirely the damage that semiautomatic battlefield rifles like the AR-15 are capable of doing in civilian settings.”

In 2013, a suburb of Chicago, Highland Park, banned assault rifles in their town. They didn’t ‘grandfather’ in existing guns, their law said that if you owned an AR-15 and didn’t want to get rid of it, you had to move out of town. This was the first and only time that a government jurisdiction not only banned the ownership of this gun, but also did not compensate assault rifle owners who had purchased their guns legally in prior years. In other words, Highland Park didn’t copy the Australia assault weapons ban, it also didn’t copy the Clinton assault weapons ban passed in 1994.

The law was upheld by the 7th Circuit and was then denied certiorari by the Supreme Court, with only two justices dissenting. What was the reason why the law was upheld on appeal? Because both the circuit court and then the SCOTUS agreed that the law effectively demonstrated that assault rifles were a threat to public safety, and government has a ‘compelling interest’ in protecting its citizens with properly-written laws. Incidentally, the exact, same opinion was written by the Chief Judge of the 2nd Circuit, William Skretny, who upheld Andy Cuomo’s SAFE ACT because it also was based on the idea that government had the unquestioned authority to deem certain behaviors (such as owning an AR) contrary to public safety and health. You should know, by the way, that Skretny was appointed to the Circuit Court by G. H. W. Bush.

Ladd believes that the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement should begin preparing to deal with a ‘Kavanaugh court’ by “communicating about our government’s gross dereliction of duty concerning public safety,” but to date, every time a governmental authority can show that a new gun-control law is a response to threats against pubic safety, the law has been upheld. In May, a federal trial judge upheld California’s ban on open carry, citing the testimony of none other than John Donohue:

“California relies on the expert report and testimony of Professor John J. Donohue III of the Stanford Law School. . . . Based on the evidence California has submitted, it has shown that the State reasonably could have inferred that there was a relationship between prohibiting individuals from carrying firearms openly in public and promoting and achieving the important governmental objective of public safety. That these objectives would be advanced could be inferred from Donohue’s findings that the enactment of right-to-carry laws lead to increased violent crime rates. . . .”

Could the SCOTUS, with the addition of Kavanaugh, rule on gun laws and ignore what is now a substantial group of recent decisions which supports the government’s right to determine public policy based on government’s ‘compelling interest’ to keep us safe? They might, except that even Kavanaugh’s own opinions and statements about gun control don’t actually support that point of view. Everitt claims that Kavanaugh’s minority dissent in the DC registration case (Heller II) is based on a wrongful claim about whether assault rifles are in ‘common use,’ echoing Scalia’s rationale for Constitutional protection of personally-owned weapons in 2008. He says, “ ‘Common use’ was not defined [in the Heller decision] but assault weapons wouldn’t seem to be in common use in the United States under any reasonable definition.” After all, according to Ladd, only 22% of Americans actually own guns.

For the percentage of American gun owners, Everitt cites a study from the Violence Policy Center which is based on a study by our friend Michael Siegel who published an article that correlated gun violence with gun ownership in all 50 states. But Siegel’s study used a ‘proxy’ for determining state-level gun ownership, namely, the number of gun suicides which occur in each state. Which is all fine and well if you want to believe that regression models should be considered definitive when it comes to explaining cause and effect. The bottom line is that numerous public surveys by the most credible research organizations (e.g., Pew Research) estimate national gun ownership rates at between thirty and forty percent. Not only does Ladd cherry-pick his sources to promote an argument about the Kavanaugh ‘threat’ which may or may not be true, but he certainly knows that in many states, particularly the South, the Midwest and the mountain states, gun ownership runs much higher than fifty percent.

I happen to believe, and I have said this again and again in print, that walking around with a gun in or outside of your pocket does not, as Ladd says, ‘promote domestic tranquility.’ I also agree with Ladd that the GVP should be “offering a clear and inspiring vision of a future America with fewer guns and safer communities.” But it just so happens that many Americans think that the benefit of gun ownership far outweighs the risk, despite clear evidence which points the other way.

Ladd is an effective and ardent communicator for his cause. But he might think of channeling a bit of his strength and talent to crafting a gun-control message that would appeal to gun owners rather than just preaching to his own side.

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Tom Gabor: Democrats and Republicans – Where Have They Stood on Gun Rights Versus Public Safety

I usually deliver a nonpartisan message but we are approaching the midterm elections and voters should be aware that the two parties have a very different record over the last 50 years.  When we look at major pieces of legislation passed at the federal level, the Democrats have supported laws designed to regulate guns to improve public safety and the Republicans have passed laws that have promoted the rights of gun owners, reduced oversight of the gun industry, impeded research on gun violence, and resisted gun regulation.  Let’s look at their records.

democratsGOP

The Democrats:

  • In 1968, after the assassinations of Senator Robert Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, signed into law The Gun Control Act of 1968. This comprehensive Act established categories of individuals prohibited from purchasing firearms (many felons, mentally ill individuals, those dishonorably discharged from the military, fugitives, etc.).  The Act also mandated the licensing of those engaged in the business of selling firearms.

 

  • In 1993, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act. This law, as an interim measure, imposed a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm from a licensed dealer.  The Brady Law also mandated the instant background checks introduced in 1998 to determine whether buyers from a licensed dealer fall in a prohibited category.

 

  • In 1994, President Clinton signed the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which prohibited the manufacture of certain semi-automatic weapons defined as assault weapons, as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines.

 

  • In 2013, following the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barak Obama, a Democrat, in what he called “a pretty shameful day for Washington”, saw his proposals to expand criminal background checks to all gun sales, to ban certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines voted down by a Republican-controlled Senate.

 

One exception was Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission was formed in 1972, inserted a provision exempting guns and ammunition from the agency’s oversight.  The CPSC regulates the safety of about 15,000 consumer items, from toys and hair dryers to mattresses and lawn mowers.  Rep. Dingell served on the board of the National Rifle Association.

 

The Republicans:

 

  • In 1986, President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. This Act strengthened the rights of gun owners and dealers by prohibiting the development of a gun registry, ending recordkeeping for ammunition, and limiting dealer inspections to one per year.

 

  • In 1996, Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, inserted an amendment into the Federal Government Omnibus Spending Bill which effectively prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from funding research on gun violence.  This amendment was a major priority for the NRA.

 

  • In 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 expired under the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican.

 

  • In 2005, President Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Several cities had filed lawsuits against gun makers and dealers, claiming that their actions had compromised public health and created huge financial obligations for the municipalities.  The Act shields the industry from lawsuits relating to the use of firearms and ammunition, when “the product functioned as designed and intended.”  The PLCAA provides broad protection to companies in the gun industry that make unsafe products and engage in distribution practices that result in easy access by criminals. No other industry benefits from such protection.

Above, we see the factual record over the last half century.  On the major initiatives at least, there is a clear pattern.  Democrats support reasonable gun regulation, such as expanding background checks to all sales and banning assault-style weapons.  Republicans are more concerned about the rights of gun owners, protecting the gun industry from liability, and obscuring the role of guns in deaths and injuries by suppressing research on gun violence.

 

Tom Gabor, Ph.D. is a criminologist and author of Confronting Gun Violence in America.    

Does Emma Need To Be Afraid Of Those Dopes With Their AR-15s? I Hope Not.

“Going up against the country’s largest gun lobby organization was obviously something that needed to be done, but it means that the people we’re arguing against are the ones with the guns. I am personally deathly afraid of them, and I know, from traveling the country during the summer for the Road to Change tour, that many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

emma             This is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Emma Gonzalez published today in The New York Times.  The piece is making the rounds in Gun-control Nation, and will be used by every gun-control organization to energize the troops for the big showdown on November 6th.

I notice, by the way, that over the last five days, according to Nate Silver, that the odds of the House going blue have slipped from 80.4% to 73.9%, and over that same period, the odds that the GOP will retain control of the Senate have gone from 68.1% to 78%. Weren’t both trends supposed to be going the opposite ways?  This mid-term election is beginning to smell slightly like the national election in 2016, a contest on which Gun-control Nation pinned all its hopes and dreams which then came to nothing at all.

That was then, this is now. Now we have remarkable kids like Emma Gonzalez whose determination to inject a note of reality into the gun debate has energized Gun-control Nation like nothing before.  It has also, of course, provoked a response from the other side, the Gun-nut Nation side, specifically responses like the one Emma says here: “many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

Last time I checked, the gun industry claims to have sold somewhere around 15 million AR-15s, or what they used to refer to as ‘modern sporting rifles,’ over the last ten years. The industry no longer promotes this ‘sporting’ nonsense because the word ‘sporting’ is out and the word ‘tactical’ is in.  When the President of the United States finds it convenient to excuse the fact that a bunch of schmucks were marching around Charlottesville wearing Nazi armbands and toting their assault rifles to protect a statue of Robert E. Lee, you have to figure that the United States has a tolerance for stupidity unmatched by any other national state.

Unfortunately, the same people who tell you they have a Constitutional ‘right’ to own an AR-15, will also tell you that the Constitution gives them the ‘right’ to wave it in your face. And I am sure that Emma is not exaggerating when she says that she has been threatened by acolytes of Gun-nut Nation in appearances here and there; God knows I get enough crazy emails from the same bunch and I’m not leading a national, gun-control movement like the movement that has emerged in the wake of activities by Emma, David, and their other high school friends.

But in measuring the degree of animosity created by Emma, I think we have to distinguish between serious threats and what, in many cases, is nothing more than an increase in the general volume of hot air. Of course, you can argue that had authorities in Florida responded when Nikolas Cruz first began making a nuisance of himself, perhaps the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School wouldn’t have occurred. Which is probably true.

On the other hand, why should we surprised when some dopes say they will only debate Emma if she’s in the crosshairs of their guns when the President tells a raptured audience that he would still get elected even after shooting someone down in the street? My friends in Gun-control Nation need to acknowledge that right now verbal excess is not only condoned but expected, particularly when the discussion happens to be about guns.

 

 

 

Want To Go Into The Gun Business? Now’s Not The Time.

There used to be a joke in the gun business which went like this: “Want to make a million in the gun business? Start with two million.”  Well, the FBI has just released the monthly NICS background-check numbers for September, and if things keep going the way they are going, the old joke will have to say that if you want to end up with a million bucks from guns, better start with three million, or even more.

business            Yea, yea, I know that FBI-NICS checks only count the initial sale of a gun, except that since most gun shops have an inventory which consists of at least 30% used guns, the background check number each month is a very good indicator of the overall trends within the gun industry. And lately, the trend has been going down.

September is a benchmark month for the gun business, because guns have never been able to compete with the beach.  The only reason I kept my gun shop open in July and August is because the air-conditioning system worked better in my store than it did at home. But come Labor Day, those boring beach vacations are over, the kids are back in school, the leaves in northern states are just beginning to turn, and the hunting season is in the air. And don’t for one moment believe that hunting is no longer a key activity for driving gun sales. Even if a majority of gun owners claim that their primary reason for having a gun is self-defense, there is still something about Fall weather that translates into an interest in guns.

My point is that September gun sales always show a significant increase compared to the prior month. But if we compare September background checks this year to background checks in the month of September in previous years, the decline of the industry becomes very clear.

The NICS checks cover four separate categories: handguns, long guns, ‘other’ guns and ‘multiple’ sales.  The first two categories are self-explanatory; ‘other’ guns refer usually refer to a receiver without a barrel, which is often how AR-15 rifle kits are sold – it’s still a gun because the receiver is serialized but it might be a handgun or a long gun, depending on what length barrel is then attached. Multiple guns means that the purchaser bought more than one gun; he could have bought two, he could have bought ten. In doing my numbers for this column, I’m assuming that ‘multiple’ equals two.

So here we go. Last month NICS background checks for gun transfers from dealers to customers totaled 869,636.  A year earlier the total was 957,597. Ready?  In 2016 the September number was 1,100,334. That’s a two-year drop of 20 percent.  Want to find the last year that September NICS numbers were under 900,000? You have to go back to 2011, which was before Sandy Hook put gun control on Obama’s brain.

Given the fact that I’m a yellow-dog Democrat what I am now going to say may sound like it shouldn’t be said, but from the point of view of reducing gun violence, I’m not sure that what we need in November is a blue wave. Because the truth is that unless the Hill goes blue and Sleazy Don decides to shove Wayne Lapierre under a bus in order to make a deal with the Democrats for something he really needs, I’m willing to bet that the slide in gun sales over the last two years may well continue at least until the next Presidential year, by which time NICS numbers could be almost half of what was registered during the Obama regime.

And when all is really said and done, you can talk about armed, self-defense and terrorism and all that other stuff, but an industry that is selling half as many products as it did ten years earlier, is an industry that will begin to look like…remember something called pay phones?

Self-Defense Rifles: Just What The Neighborhood Needs.

One of the ways I stay current with the gun industry is my subscription to The Outdoor Wire (http://www.theoutdoorwire.com) which is a daily newsletter that contains content about products and people in the gun industry. And if you happen to be interested in reducing gun violence, you might want to start looking at this resource because, after all, it might be helpful to know something about the industry which you believe needs to be better regulated and controlled.

speer              Of course I understand and appreciate the degree to which most of my gun-control friends would much rather base their concerns about gun violence on opinions rather than facts. After all, facts are boring and just get in the way of how we usually develop ideas – just ask Sleazy Don Trump about how and why facts are not relevant to any comment he ever makes. Be that as it may, I still recommend a daily dose of the Outdoor Wire digital newsletter because as Don Corleone says, ‘keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.’

One of last week’s newsletters starts off with an advertisement for personal-protection ammunition from Speer, an ammo company whose Gold Dot handgun ammunition is a product often found in the duty weapons carried by the men and women in blue. The reason that cops carry Gold Dot or other, similar brands is because the manufacturing process creates a hollow-point which expands to about twice the diameter of the actual round, meaning that this kind of bullet creates a much larger wound and is lethal even if it hits someone in a non-critical part of their body.

In the Stone Age, bullets like this were called ‘dum-dum’ rounds, and they were banned in warfare by an 1899 international treaty. But the United States didn’t sign the treaty, and even if we had signed, this lethal ammunition was only proscribed in warfare, not for just walking around the urban ‘warfare zones’ of Baltimore, Chicago or Washington, D.C.  In the gun industry, we refer to this ammunition as ‘premium ammo,’ because a box containing 20 rounds can set the armed citizen back $30 bucks. But why skimp when it’s a question of protecting yourself and/or your ‘loved ones,’ right?

In this case, the ammunition being offered by Speer is actually the bullets themselves which can be handloaded into brass cases filled with powder, a process which results in “superb accuracy and immediate, threat-stopping performance.” Shooters who reload their own ammunition are usually doing it to save some bucks. But in this case Speer is promoting these new products because they are the non plus ultra in self-defense loads.

Now you would think that this ammunition would be produced in the standard handgun calibers like 9mm, 40 S & W or the venerable 45acp. But what caught my eye is the fact that these new ammo loads are being made available in rifle calibers which have never been considered to be self-defense calibers at all. Speer calls this ammunition ‘personal protection rifle bullets,’ and they are at the local gun shop in .264, .277 and .308 loads.  I happen to own rifles in all three calibers; they are bolt-action rifles made by Remington and Ruger, and I would never imagine ever using these guns for anything other than sporting weapons to take out into the woods whenever I go on a hunt.

What’s happening is that gun makers are now beginning to deliver assault rifles, like the AR-15, not just chambered for the usual .223 military round, but also capable of handling what used to be considered hunting cartridges. Both Ruger and Bushmaster are now shipping assault rifles in other calibers besides .223, Smith & Wesson has a model in .243, all of these products now being sold for use in self-defense guns.

The good news is that if I run out of bad guys who force me to carry a gun in self-defense, I can always keep my trusty self-defense rifle on the ready when Bambi comes charging out of the woods.

 

 

A New Group Promoting Gun Control? Yea, Right.

A new group has just popped up in the gun world.  It’s a 501c3 organization and its mission statement reads as follows:

“Reduce incidents of suicide by firearms, gun negligence through education and proactive programs that identify risks, raise awareness, and provide solutions to those who choose to own firearms responsibly and the public at large.”

colionThis has got to be another bunch of tree-hugging, gun-grabbing liberals, right? Wrong.  In fact, the Board of Directors reads like a standard group of pro-gun activists right out of central casting, including a a lawyer, John Renzulli, who defends the gun industry in negligence cases; Colion Noir, the NRA spieler who prances around in various videos proclaiming the joys of arming yourself for self-defense; the head of the national gun wholesaler’s association, Kenyon Gleason; and a self-proclaimed gun training expert, Rob Pincus, who sells a whole swatch of videos that are a cross between the usual shooting games combined with messaging which extolls the virtues of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

These new-found promoters of what Gun-control Nation likes to refer to as ‘gun sense’ also claim to have “created alliances between the leading experts and organizations in the Firearms and Mental Health Industries,” although the website does not contain the name of a single mental health organization or expert whatsoever. There is a Board member named Suzanne Lewis, who claims to be ‘very passionate’ about mental health issues; maybe she represents the alliance between guns and mental health. Nobody else on the current Board of Directors appears to have any connection to the mental health ‘industry’ at all.

On the other hand, this group, which claims to represent a ‘catalyst for change,’ does include several guys whose work, it can safely be said, has been fundamental in helping to embed the idea of self-defense gun ownership as a positive and joyous thing. The lawyer John Renzulli, for example, was the lead attorney in the Hamilton v. Accu-Tek case, which ultimately resulted in the gun industry being exempted from class-action suits. Want to get an idea about how Colion Noir pushes guns for the NRA? Watch his disgusting NRA video where he openly taunts the Parkland kids for using their 1st-Amendment freedoms to criticize the 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ of Colion and his friends.  The only alliance that this loud-mouth could ever make with mental health professionals are with the mental health professionals who still believe that solitary confinement works wonders on the criminal brain.

I would like to believe that this foray into the gun-sense landscape will quickly come to an end with a quiet, little thud. But I’m not so sure. The fact that a spokesman for the NRA, along with the head of a major, gun industry trade group and a lawyer whose firm participates in just about every litigation attempt to defend gun products have publicly stated their intention to “develop programs for suicide prevention, firearms negligence, trauma mitigation, and child safety,” tells me that the strident and uncompromising stance of the NRA may be coming to an end.

I don’t have any evidence for what I am about to say, but there is simply no way that this new group of pro-gun activists would be out there promoting a strategy right out of the gun-control playbook if they first hadn’t reached some understanding with the gun industry’s Powers That Be. After all, Kenyon Gleason runs the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) which means his salary is paid by the national gun wholesalers responsible for every one of those shiny, new guns ending up on the local gun shop’s shelves.

For the past thirty years, the gun industry has been promoting itself through fearsome messaging about a world without guns. Maybe the industry now wants to test a different approach, namely, a world without the unsafe use of guns. Anyone believing such nonsense would feel right at home living with the Martians at Area 51,  but maybe Sleazy Don Trump is building a luxury hotel there right now.

 

 

 

 

A New Book On Gun Violence.

From My Cold Dead Hands 978-1-53614-574-8

This new book will be released shortly and will be available both in print and e-book editions.  The 60,000-word text is an attempt to provide both sides of the gun debate with what I believe is lacking in the argument over gun violence, namely, an understanding of the industry which produces the instruments of gun violence – the guns themselves.

Although I have no issue with regulating any industry whose products may cause threats to health, be it physical, financial or psychological health, in the case of the gun industry I find that most of what both sides claim to be the path to proper regulation is based on nothing more than what they hope to achieve, rather than what their regulatory strategies, if enacted, will bring about.

On the pro-gun side, there is simply no connection between letting everyone walk around with a gun and protecting society from crime. Of course one can always produce examples of how some likely crime was thwarted because a guy or a gal pulled out a gun in the nick of time. So what?  All this proves is that, at one moment, the existence of a gun might have made the difference in the outcome of a particular criminal event.

On the gun-control side, the evidence that keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands’ will make a difference is equally scant. You can run all the regression analyses you want to using this data and that. What you’ll get is a very tidy way to describe the behavior of two trends over time, and anyone who then claims that description should be accepted as causality at least should hedge their academic bets.

I hate to sound like Sarah Palin who still believes that her experience managing the family budget gave her everything she needed to figure out what to do about the federal debt, but I started writing about gun violence because many, if not most of what I experienced in more than  50 years in the gun business, simply did not square with what I kept hearing and reading from advocates on both sides of the debate.

The truth is, or at least the truth as I see it, is that the lack of knowledge about the industry that one side attacks while the other side defends, is borne out first and foremost by a basic failure on both sides to divulge what they really believe and think about guns. If I had a nickel for every time that a gun-control advocate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton said they ‘supported’ the 2nd Amendment, when in fact, the last thing they ever wanted to support was the ‘right’ to ‘keep and bear arms,’ I wouldn’t still be working for a living. For that matter, the idea that we should allow every ‘law-abiding’ citizen to walk around with a gun because an armed citizen is simply exercising his ‘civil rights,’ is equally absurd.

Know how many Americans bought hunting licenses in 1958?  Try around 14 million. Know how many bought licenses last year? About the same. Meanwhile, over these sixty years, the population of the United States has grown by slightly more than 50 percent. Is it any wonder that the gun industry keeps itself in business, and also keeps the gun-control movement alive and well, by promoting guns as a real-live version of a video game?

For all the terror, grief and trauma engendered by mass shootings (and I am in no way understating the tragedies of such events,) for most of us, the United States remains a remarkably safe and secure place to live, grow up and grow old. Which is all the more reason why gun violence needs to be understood and controlled. Hopefully, my new book will serve as a small contribution in that respect.

 

If Gun Control Is The Issue, The Democrats Have The Real Deal.

Now that the alt-left media has decided that Andy can’t run for President because he’s too much of a ‘centrist’ when we all know that Trump can only be beaten by someone who is truly a member of the Progressive Left, I’m going to challenge this nonsense and tell my friends in Gun-control Nation that if they really want a serious attempt at reducing gun violence, they should start a Presidential boom-let for Cuomo before it’s too late.

cuomo              Here’s what the Cuomo nay-sayers at Vox had to say about Andy’s Presidential chances today: “Had Cuomo simply done the normal thing and supported Democratic state Senate candidates and gotten the chance he feared to sign ambitious progressive bills, he’d be perfectly positioned for the circumstances of 2020. Instead, as it stands, he’s left relying on a powerful state party machine and the loyalty of less attentive voters [my italics] to secure what should have been a total cakewalk of a renomination.”

Know who these scions of left-wing political correctness are referring to when they say that Cuomo’s support comes from ‘less attentive’ voters?  They are referring to minorities, in particular Black voters who, according to Vox, always go for the Establishment candidate whether that individual really supports their goals or not. Why didn’t those closet racists at Vox just come out and use the line from Limbaugh-Hannity about ‘low-information’ voters?  Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves for pandering to such lies.

Regarding Andy’s stance on guns, there is not a single Democrat in or out of the Presidential possibilities who has a fraction of his creds.  Hillary may have been all in favor of gun control in 2016, but in 2008 she ran around blue-collar communities telling primary voters that she choked up in tears remembering the wonderful hunting trips she took with dear, old Dad. As for Bernie, he knew full well what would happen to him if he came out with a strong push against guns – in a general election he would have lost his home state.

On the other hand, memories may be short but it was Andy who wrote and brokered the deal between the Clinton Administration and Smith & Wesson which, in return for S&W agreeing to police its own dealer network, the government agreed to immunize the company against tort suits – a position ultimately put into force by the 2005 PLCCA law which immunized gun makers from torts, in exchange for which all they had to do was stick a lock in every gun that they shipped.

Know what would have happened if S&W had agreed to Andy’s plan?  It would have put the company out of business, period, kaput, which is why the gun industry backed a boycott against S&W that only ended when the company was sold and the new owners, along with the Bush Administration, decided to disregard the deal and let well enough alone. Basically, what Andy wanted was a complete monitoring of every S&W dealer by the factory, up to and including on-site visits insuring that safety rules and storage regulations were being followed, along with greater counter-top scrutiny to eliminate straw sales. Had this plan been forced on every gun maker, I don’t think that 10% of the retail dealers could have met its requirements and gun retailing as we know it would have disappeared.

Some of these requirements can be found in the New York SAFE law, which Andy pushed through the state legislature after Sandy Hook. And right now, some of the provisions of that law (registration of assault weapons, hi-cap magazine ban, comprehensive background checks) are a template for how gun-control activists want to strengthen gun laws in other states.

I don’t know Andy’s position on other issues, but on gun control he’s the real, unvarnished deal. If my friends in Gun-control Nation are looking for someone in 2020 to challenge Sleazy Don’s crazy idea that his supporters are so loyal they would vote for him even if he gunned someone down in the street, they won’t find a better choice than the guy who will be sitting in the New York State Governor’s Mansion on November 7th, 2018.

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? It’s These Guns That Count.

Perhaps without realizing it, our friends at The Trace have published data which could help the gun-control movement have its first, really informed discussion about how to regulate the product that causes gun violence, namely, the guns. The reason we experience gun violence and other countries don’t, is because we are the only advanced nation-state which regulates this particular consumer product by trying to control the behavior of product users, rather than by regulating the product in and of itself.

crime guns             This rather unique (and bizarre) regulatory approach was reaffirmed by SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who defended the ownership of assault rifles as a ‘matter of law,’ based on the fact that such weapons are commonly found in the home and therefore deserve 2nd-Amendment protection. Whether Gun-control Nation likes it or not, using ‘common ownership’ as the basic criteria for Constitutional gun rights happens to be the core argument advanced by gun-nut Scalia (and accepted without question by the dissenting justices) in the 2008 Heller case.

No other advanced (OECD) nation-state obliges its citizenry by allowing free access to guns that are used in violent crimes. And the reason that certain guns show up again and again at crime scenes is because those kinds of guns were designed to be used as assault weapons and have no other function or use at all.

I’m not just talking about AR-15’s and AK-47’s.  I’m talking about pistols from Sig, Glock, Kahr, Smith & Wesson, Beretta and just about every other handgun manufacturer because these guns are also designed to be used in assaults. Now you can argue from today to next year whether an assault is ‘offensive,’ or ‘defensive;’ I really don’t care.  The bottom line is that if you point a gun at someone else and pull the trigger, it’s an assault.

The article which sheds some important light on this issue is complete listing of every gun connected to a criminal investigation conducted by the Chicago Police Department from 2010 through 2016.  I decided to analyze all of these ‘crime’ guns picked up in 2014, which was a total of 4,511 guns. Although gun homicides dropped slightly from  the previous year, overall criminal gun injuries increased  by almost 15 percent, meaning that the gun-violence rate in 2014 was 95.6 per 100,000 city residents. The national rate that year for gun homicides and assaults was 22.4.  So a lot of guns were used to commit gun violence in the Second City during 2014.

Of the total crime gun listing, I was unable to identify 184 guns, which reduces the known crime guns to 4,327.  Of these guns, center-fire handgun calibers accounted for 3,160, the remaining crime calibers being either 22-caliber or rifle calibers.  In other words, nearly 75% of all guns connected to criminal activity in Chicago were centerfire weapons, whose only purpose is to inflict an injury on someone else (this listing did not include guns picked up in suicide investigations.) Of the remaining guns, 369 were 22-caliber weapons, the remaining 800 guns being shotguns and rifles, of which a grand total of 30 were assault-rifles (AR & AK.)

So the ‘crime’ gun problem in Chicago, which is probably true of all high-crime jurisdictions, isn’t so much a ‘gun’ problem, as it’s a problem of handguns. But even within this category there is an interesting subset of data, because of all the crime handguns, nearly one-third (n=978) can only be described as real junk; i.e., cheap guns, many if not most no longer manufactured, all of which floating around somewhere for at least the last thirty or forty years.

According to the gun stock survey published in 2017, roughly 40% of all guns in the United States are handguns. Doing a little extrapolation from what we found in Chicago, there’s a good chance that as many as 40 million crummy but nevertheless very lethal handguns are sitting in God knows whose pockets, drawers, and everywhere else, none of which could ever be traced to anyone at all.

Comprehensive background checks to reduce gun violence? Yea, right.

 

What Kavanaugh Said About Assault Rifles Happens To Be True.

I hate to say this, folks, but the big flap over Brett Kavanaugh’s supposed endorsement of assault rifles and other pro-gun issues is nothing other than a big nothingburger. Understand that I’m not trying to find a back-door way to support his nomination. I’m also not trying to imply in any way that his nomination shouldn’t be opposed based on concerns that he might help the Supreme Court undo fundamental decisions that guarantee justice and equality for all.

kavanaugh1              My problem is that I keep reading and hearing things that Kavanaugh allegedly believes about guns, and then when I listen to what he actually says, it doesn’t add up.  Is he a pro-gun guy?  No kidding – gee, what a surprise. Will he tilt the Court to the right if and when another gun-control law comes up for review?  Of course he will.  On the other hand, his response to Senator Feinstein’s question about his views on assault rifles was not only well within accepted legal parameters, but followed directly from the majority Heller opinion written by Scalia in 2008.

First of all, contrary to what appeared on the Giffords website, he did not say that ‘assault weapons can’t be distinguished from handguns.’  What he said was that as semi-automatic weapons they could not be distinguished from semi-automatic handguns as a “matter of law.”  And what he obviously meant by that statement is the fact that since 1934, federal gun law has made a clear distinction between semi-automatic weapons, as opposed to weapons which fire full-auto, the latter being very heavily regulated, the former much less so.

Incidentally, David Hogg is also jumping into the argument by saying that the ‘effective’ range of a handgun is 75 feet but the ‘effective’ range of an AR-15 is 1600 feet; hence, the AR is not a gun to be used for self-defense. David’s a lovely young man, he’s a big and important cog in the gun-control machine. He doesn’t know squat about guns.

I notice that every, single anti-Kavanaugh post somehow neglects to mention the words ‘matter of law.’  But that’s exactly the point. Kavanaugh is absolutely correct in following the precedent set by Scalia whose opinion gave Constitutional protection to privately-owned guns, with the exception of ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons, by which Scalia meant guns designed for military use.

Do me a favor, okay? Please don’t send me a nasty email or accuse me of being some kind of gun-sucking troll until you read what I am now going to say. The problem with the 2008 Heller decision is that Scalia, the Court’s alleged gun nut, really didn’t know much of anything about guns. If he did, he could never have made a distinction between so-called ‘weapons in common use’ and ‘weapons of war’ because most of the handguns owned today happen to be guns that were designed and initially manufactured for military use. The most popular handgun sold today – Glock – was designed for the Austrian Army and is carried by many troops in the field, including American troops. Every, single polymer gun in the Sig catalog is designed on the same platform which was used for the U.S. Army’s new handgun. The most popular handgun of all time, the Colt 1911 45acp pistol was designed for the Army by John Browning in 1907.

The United States is the only country that makes no distinction between small arms for the military and small arms for civilian use. In fact, even the whole idea of full-auto versus semi-auto is nonsense, because the current battle rifle, the M4, can be shot in semi-auto mode.

When the Supreme Court decided to extend Constitutional protection to weapons in ‘common use,’ it created a definition that had nothing to do with history, law or anything else. It was nothing more than an ill-founded opinion by a jurist whose colleagues knew even less about guns. Sorry, but when it comes to guns, the collective stupidity of our highest court can’t be blamed on what Brett Kavanaugh said or didn’t say.