Bruce Pankratz: Using Zoning to Limit Assault-style Rifle Violence.

This article is written out of personal curiosity about the merits of an idea. It is personal curiosity not advocacy.

A perhaps new,  interesting idea came long recently along. I cannot remember it being discussed in the many gun posts or articles I have read over the years or in places mentioning solutions to gun violence like the Bloomberg School of Public Health course on gun violence or in Tom Gabor’s recent book ENOUGH! Solving America’s Gun Violence Crisis.   The idea died as far as I know when Beto O’Rourke stopped running for president. But the idea was not confiscation. It was zoning. 

Recently the Des Moine Register said  “Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said Friday he was open to allowing people to use assault-style weapons like AR-15s and AK-47s at gun ranges and hunting clubs, despite his plan to ban the weapons purchase and to require owners of existing weapons to sell them to the government. “ (see Note 1)

America already has some forms of place control or zoning for guns so the idea is not really new.  You usually cannot hunt in a crowded city park or take guns onto private property without the owner’s permission being examples of place control. But applying place control to the so-called assault weapons seems new or at least seldom discussed. The concept described in this article then is to use zoning to help prevent made-for-television mass shootings with assault-style rifles while still letting people own them.

What this all means is there would need to be gun clubs with ranges for people to shoot their assault-style rifles where the rifles would be stored securely at the clubs and owners could clean or maintain their rifles but not take them off premises. Currently unless people live in the middle of nowhere they probably would have to go to a range to shoot anyway. The difference then would be the rifles stay at the club with the range so people cannot tinker with the guns at home in their basements. The clubs would need to have an  FFL who could only accept assault-style rifles from another FFL or send them to other clubs with an FFL and to state the obvious safe storage. Finally, with place control anyone who could legally buy an assault-style rifle could buy  one from an FFL and have it shipped to an FFL in a gun club who would accept it. They do not need to jump through all the hoops needed to own a machine gun.

Much of what we hear about gun control regulations has winners and losers. What follows are some tentative thoughts about who wins and who loses with this concept. 

Winners with place control:

1)School kids living in a world where the assault rifles only are used in gun clubs would not have to worry about them in schools. They would still have to worry about handguns so it may not be a big change 

2)Gun controllers would call it a victory

3)Fighting this idea would bring money into the coffers of the NRA and similar organizations

4)Assault-style rifle owners in the states where the ‘antis’ are trying to make the rifles illegal might be able to work towards legislation allowing people to keep their rifles in clubs instead of not at all

Losers:

1)TV news people (they would not longer be able to report on assault-style weapons used in school shootings and maybe fewer mass shootings)

2)People who live in the country who shoot assault-style rifles on their property

3)People who like to build or maintain assault-style rifles in their basements

4)Companies and dealers selling assault-style rifles could see sales slip

5)People who hunt wild pigs from helicopters using assault-style rifles

6)People who want an assault-style rifle for home defense

Some Open Issues (out of many possible others):

1)Grandfather clause for existing owners?

2)How get guns to a shooting match?

3)Would people actually obey the law?

4)How many aspiring school shooters would just switch to handguns?

5)How do families handle estates when the owner of a rifle dies?

This is only a first try at exploring the concept. Any constructive thoughts out there?

Note 1: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/candidates/2019/10/25/election-2019-democrat-beto-orourke-open-idea-letting-some-keep-ar-15-s-ak-47-s-hunting-clubs-gun-ra/2456493001/

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Is The NRA Finished? Don’t Be So Sure.

              Last week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about NRA finances based on the publication of the organization’s 2018 tax return. If this story had appeared before the impeachment thing heated up, it would have been big news. But right now media click-bait is based overwhelmingly on the contest between Schiff and Trump, with an occasional aside about how yet another member of the MAGA team can’t keep his you-know-what in his pants. Anyway, back to the fiscal and financial doings at the home office in Fairfax, VA.

              The headline of the story was what has become the standard gotcha’ narrative employed by Gun-control Nation to throw a little dirt on America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ namely, that while everything the NRA touches these days seems to  be going to Hell in a handbasket, Wayne LaPierre’s salary and benefits keep going up. Putting together his salary and some other financial perks, Wayne-o’s compensation package increased by 55%. Not bad for a guy who looked like he was going to be jettisoned from the top position earlier this year.

              The WSJ article went on at length about how Wayne-o continues to draw support from the group’s major donors, but the reporter who did the story happened to miss the most important news of all; namely, that revenue from membership dues also went up by more than 30% last year. In 2017 the revenue from dues was $128 million, last year the annual members kicked  in $170 million. Remember when everyone was predicting that the NRA was going down the tubes? Yea, right.

              I have been involved with various advocacy organizations for years, including the usual conservation, wilderness and outdoor groups. All of these organizations play an important role in promoting what I believe to be a public narrative which needs to be heard. Lately I have become invested in supporting the Boone & Crockett Club because they are becoming a strong voice in conservation and the protection of wildlife.

              That being said, most not-for-profit advocacy organizations tend to spend much of the money they receive from donations on themselves. Between salaries, perks and other staff benefits, the average dollar received by these organizations is usually split about 50-50 between the costs of getting their message out to the general public and the costs of standing around the water cooler comparing who got the best Black Friday deal.

              In that regard, the NRA’s balance sheet doesn’t look all that bad. Given the fact that next year’s financials will not contain the hefty $30 million they were spending every year on NRA-TV, if anything, they will probably be back to operating in the black. Where they are still legally vulnerable is the continuing New York State investigation concerning how Wayne, Ollie and a couple of others were double-dipping by drawing paychecks from both the NRA and Ackerman-McQueen. Know what will happen if it turns out that this behavior violated New York State not-for-profit rules?  The NRA will be assessed a financial penalty, the lawyers will negotiate over the amount for a couple of years, and then  they will pay a fine. As my grandfather would say, “det’s det.”

              I was never impressed by the NRA‘s attempt to become yet another alt-right media presence via NRA-TV. Never mind the attempt to promote a political line right out of Breitbart and Alex Jones, the one-minute spiels by Dana Loesch and Grant Stinchfield, along with Colion Noir’s prancing around were just boring to the extreme.

              People join the AAA because it’s something which just goes with owning a car, and it’s not like the annual dues make such a dent out of the household budget each year. I have renewed my AAA membership at least 20 times, I have used their emergency towing service exactly twice.

              It’s not protecting the 2nd Amendment or the fear of losing their guns which keeps NRA members in the fold. If you’re a gun owner, it’s simply something you do. Think this habit can be broken by digging up some dirt on Wayne LaPierre? Think again.

High Five to Margaret Ayers for sending me the WSJ article.

Does Public Health Research Really Explain Gun Violence?

 Before I get into the body of this column, let me make one thing very, very clear. Mike the Gun Guy™ has not decided to switch sides and begin promoting the false narratives about gun violence used by my friends in the NRA. I do not believe that having a gun around is more of a benefit than a risk; I do not believe that civilians, trained or not, should be walking around with guns; I do not believe that when Mike Bloomberg, et. al., takes away all the guns, that only the ‘bad guys’ will have guns. 

On the other hand, the fact that I do not subscribe to the most hallowed beliefs of Gun-nut Nation doesn’t mean I am willing to accept the basic assumptions or arguments about gun violence promoted by the gun-control side. And the reason I cannot accept the current gun-control narrative is that it is based on public health research by scholars at first-rate institutions like Johns Hopkins and Harvard, and I find most of this research to be fundamentally flawed.

Public health gun research does not lead to substantive advances in firearm regulation for three reasons: (1). The researchers know absolutely nothing about the industry which they believe needs more effective regulation; (2). the research never focuses on the behavior of individuals who commit 85% of all intentional gun violence by picking up a gun and shooting someone else; (3). the research uses data which is chosen to promote an answer to the problem of gun violence rather than to figure out how to understand the problem itself.

Along with raising these concerns about the value and validity of public health gun research, I want to raise one more issue which is the most troublesome of all. To put it bluntly: I have never (read never) encountered a field of academic research in which the researchers are as unwilling and/or unable to engage in critical, public discussions about their own work. If these scholars consider that the absence of such a critical dialog helps them better understand both the possibilities and the limits of their research, then all I can say is that this field of academic research fundamentally differs from every other academic field, including other research done by public health.

Yesterday I attended a presentation about a new strategy for diagnosing autism that is being tested at the Harvard School of Public Health. The lecture was presented before a room of clinicians and medical students who were encouraged to ask serious questions about the methods and findings of the strategy itself. Do any of the scholars who conduct gun violence research ever appear before audiences other than various gun-control groups who already agree with what they are going to say? They don’t.

Here’s an example of how seriously flawed gun research can be and how such flaws take us further, rather than closer to solving the public health crisis caused by guns. David Hemenway has made an international reputation for himself by arguing that the United States suffers an inordinately high level of fatal violence because we have so many guns. He has made this argument in numerous articles as well as in his formative book. 

In the book (2nd edn., page 2) he compares gun homicides in the U.S. with homicide rates in other ‘frontier’ countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and finds that the overall U.S. rate is  6.1 (for 1999 – 2000) while in the other countries it is 1.7 or 1.8. That difference is because we have twice as many households with guns, even though rates of non-fatal violent crimes in those other countries (burglary, robbery, rape) are either higher or the same.

I don’t recall the last time I listened to a public discussion about gun violence or looked at a gun-control website that I didn’t see reference to this argument again, again and again. But what I find most interesting about Hemenway’s approach is not what he says, but what he doesn’t say. Because the fact is that the non-gun homicide rate in the U.S. is more than twice as great as the non-gun homicide rate anywhere else. And while Hemenway gives us those comparative numbers, he ignores what they really mean.

Because if you think the imbalance in violence between the United States and other advanced countries started when the NRA or John Lott began promoting a gun culture, think again. In fact, we were killing people at a much faster rate than other advanced countries all the way back to the decades prior to World War I.

It’s one thing to argue that we are a violent society because we own so many guns. But are there other, equally compelling explanations that might inform us as to why the United States may be a more violent society pari passu? I’m not saying that Hemenway’s argument is totally wrong; I am saying that it is, at best, incomplete. And I am still waiting for anyone in the public health research community to consider that using incomplete arguments as a guide to public policy just doesn’t work.

If any of my public health research friends want to submit a response, I’ll be happy to post it here.

Bloomberg-Watts Vs. LaPierre Isn’t A Fair Fight.

              I went to my first NRA show in 1980. It was held in Philadelphia (of all places) and featured an appearance by a Presidential candidate named Ronald Reagan. I don’t recall his speech attracting much attention, I also don’t recall that there were any vendors promoting ‘tactical’ products or any of the other crap which currently provides the gun industry with its marketing mantra about how and why guns are needed for personal defense.

              That was then, this is now. The last time I went to the NRA, which was the 2014 Indianapolis gathering, you would have thought we were one step away from having to defend ourselves from an ISIS invasion or from a complete and total disarming of the American population, or both. No matter where you looked, there was endless signage exhorting everyone to prove their patriotism by making sure that liberals, gun-grabbers and all sorts of other left-wing radicals (including the African-born occupant of the White House) would never get a chance to take away ‘our’ guns.

              At some point during the Indianapolis hoopla I wandered into the business meeting where the now-deposed head of the NRA-ILA, Chris Cox, was giving a speech. And here was the sentence that I remember most of all: “The 5 million members of the NRA will not allow Michael Bloomberg to lie his way, buy his way, or bully his way into taking away our Second Amendment rights!” The reason I remember this line was because the week prior to the show, the New York Times carried an article which claimed that Mayor Mike had decided to ante up $50 million to promote gun-control programs, chiefly through investing in the growth of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, founded by Shannon Watts.

              Yesterday the Washington Post took some time out from celebrating the doomed Presidency of Schmuck-o Trump to interview Shannon Watts, the headline reading: “The NRA is weaker than they’ve ever been.” Which, if anything, is something of an understatement given what has happened to the boys in Fairfax over the last couple of years. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has gone from getting the red-carpet treatment at the White House to shutting down its media channel, losing Board members and spending what little dough it has in the  bank account to defend itself from legal threats all over the place. You think the investigation into the NRA‘s non-profit status being conducted by the state whose Governor wrote the infamous Clinton plan to regulate the gun industry isn’t a serious threat?  Think again.

              In the olden days, the only reason the NRA was considered such a powerful force was that the other side, the gun-control side, didn’t have any kind of financial or organizational clout. But once Mayor Mike decided to move into the business of growing a gun-control movement, I knew that the NRA‘s dominance in the public discussion about guns would quickly come to an end. And I didn’t have to be any kind of self-appointed genius to figure that one out. I simply made a quick comparison between the achievements and experiences of Mike Bloomberg versus Wayne LaPierre.

              Mike Bloomberg took a $10 million partnership payment from Salomon Brothers in 1981 and created an international media company which today has locations worldwide, employs more than 20,000 and may have annual revenues in excess of $10 billion bucks. He’s probably worth more than $50 billion, which makes Wayne-o’s alleged financial excesses look like chump change.

On the other hand, Wayne LaPierre has never worked in the private sector and his experience in building any kind of organization adds up to zilch.  When he took over the NRA in 1991, he pushed the membership from 2.5 to 3.5 million; in the process he entirely used up the organization’s financial reserves. So much for Wayne-o’s business acumen.

If the NRA stops trying to lead the alt-right and goes back to representing the legitimate needs of hunters and sport shooters, this would be a very good thing. Going up against Shannon and Mike is something they better avoid.

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?

The NRA Might Be Down, But They’re Not Out.

              There was a surprise for me in my mailbox yesterday, namely, the November issue of American Rifleman, which happens to be the premier publication of the NRA.  The reason I was surprised was that back in April, a detailed story by Mike Spies that was carried in The New Yorker and The Trace provoked an avalanche of criticism about America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ which made it appear that the pro-gun group was headed for a quick demise.

              Not only did the NRA find itself being attacked for shabby bookkeeping, sweetheart business dealings and all kinds of other nefarious deeds, but for the first time in more than 40 years, an attempt was made to jettison the leadership and bring in an entirely new management group. The effort collapsed when it turned out that the chief promoter of this coup d’etat, Oliver North, was himself profiting from an inside deal with the NRA‘s advertising agency which led to the NRA giving the boot both to North and to the advertising agency as well.

              Despite this reprieve, the news for the NRA kept getting worse and worse, with simultaneous investigations being carried out by the New York State Attorney General (the NRA is incorporated in New York as a not-for-profit corporation) along with an investigation by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) about the alleged connections between the NRA and Maria Butina, the so-called Russian ‘spy.’ The latter effort resulted Wyden’s report which didn’t show any unlawful NRA activity at all; the former investigation will shlep on until even the cows in all those upstate New York counties come home.

              What really got things going, however, was that more than 80 people were killed and injured in two mass shootings which occurred in just two days. The shooting in El Paso on August 3 took 22 lives and injured 24 more; the next day a shooting in Dayton resulted in another 10 killed and 27 injured. That’s quite a score.

              Whenever there is a mass shooting two things occur: 1). There is an immediate spike in media coverage and public concern about the event; 2). The gun-control narrative to define these shootings invariably finds some way or another to blame the NRA. Either the NRA is guilty of preventing laws that would curb the violence, or the NRA promotes armed, self-defense which is just another way to spread the idea that guns are good, gun-grabbers are bad.

              After all the sturm und drang about guns after those mass shootings, the whole issue of gun control has once again gone back to where it always sits; namely, nobody really cares about it at all. The keywords ‘gun violence’ spiked to four times the usual level of Google searches during the week of August 4 -10; it’s now back to just about the lowest level recorded this year. As for the Presidential candidates, they went through their usual talking-points about guns during their last debate, but the fact that gun control is no longer a toxic issue for Democrats is old news.

              On the other hand, getting back to my beloved American Rifleman, the issue contains the usual mélange of reviews of new guns and shooting products and a great article on the M1903-A1 Springfield that was our sniper rifle in World War II. But the issue also contains a lengthy op-ed by Wayne-o, which can be seen on the NRA website, a commentary about the ‘future of the NRA.”

              Compared to the NRA’s messaging over the last few years, Wayne-o’s commentary is actually pretty tame stuff. Gone is the bombast of video performers like Colion Noir, gone is the racially-tinged stupidities of Dana Loesch, gone is the attempt to make the NRA a leading voice for the alt-right. If anything, the tone and content of Wayne-o’s spiel reminds me of what I heard when I went to NRA shows in 1980 and 1981.

              This change in NRA communication strategy actually seems to be working quite well. From April through June the NRA website registered around 500,000 visits each month. The total for September was 1,750,000 – that’s right, more than three times as many visits as when things were going to Hell.

              To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of the NRA‘s death may be greatly exaggerated.

Why Do We Enact Gun-Control Laws?

              Tuesday night C-Span carried the debate and vote of the House Judiciary Committee about the ‘red flag’ law. The statute was sent to the full House where it will pass and then no doubt languish until sometime next year when the GOP begins to read the tea leaves seriously and decides what legislation will and will not help or hurt them in the 2020 race.

              There’s a chance that three gun bills will be waiting Senate action during the current Congressional session: comprehensive background checks, red-flag laws and another assault-weapons ban. If there’s a blue sweep come next November, we might even seen these bills consolidated into one, major piece of legislation, which would mark the fifth time the Federal Government enacted a gun-control law, the previous laws having been passed in 1934, 1938, 1968 and 1994. The initial assault weapons ban was also enacted in 1994, but it was stuck onto the Omnibus Crime Bill which was also passed that year.

              The four statutes which got the Federal Government into gun-control big time, defined certain guns as being too dangerous for ordinary purchase and sale (1934), defined the role and responsibilities of federally-licensed gun dealers (1938), created the definition of ‘law-abiding’ individuals who could purchase or possess guns (1968), and brought the FBI into the mix to make sure that people who claimed to be law-abiding gun owners were, in fact, what they claimed to be.

              These laws approached the issue of gun control from four different perspectives, but they all shared one common thread; namely, they were enacted to help law enforcement agencies deal with the issue of crime. Here’s the preamble to the 1968 law: “The Congress hereby declares that the purpose of this title is to provide support to Federal, State and local law enforcement officials in their fight against crime and violence….” The other Federal gun laws basically say the same thing. In other words, these laws may have been enacted to regulate the ownership and commerce of guns, but their real purpose was to help fight crime.

              Every other advanced nation-state also enacted gun-control laws, for the most part either before or after World War II. Most of these laws were patterned after our initial law, the National Firearms Act of 1934, but these laws were all different from our gun-control laws in one, crucial respect, namely, they prohibited the purchase of handguns except under the most stringent and restrictive terms.

              Why do we suffer from a level of gun violence that is seven to twenty times’ higher than any other advanced nation-state? Not because we have so many more guns floating around, but because we make it very easy for folks to get access to handguns, which happen to be the guns that kill and injure just about all those 125,000+ Americans every year. Oh, I forgot. Some of them aren’t real Americans. They snuck in here, got on welfare and deserve to get shot.

              The reason that countries like France, Italy and Germany banned handguns had nothing to do with crime. The gun-control laws passed in these and other countries were based on government fear of armed, rebellion from the Left – Socialist and Communist labor unions to be precise. The United States Federal Government also once had to deal with a serious, armed rebellion, but this was a rebellion not about class oppression or workers versus owners. It was a disagreement about race.

              For all the nonsense about how guns keep us ‘free,’ the truth is that owning and carrying a Glock has nothing to do with freedom at all. It has to do with a totally irrational belief that we are surrounded by predators who just can’t wait to invade our homes, beat us up and run off with that wide-screen TV. Since we know this to be a fact, how come the violent-crime rates in countries where nobody can protect themselves with a handgun are lower than the rate of violent crime in the United States?

How Do We Protect Ourselves From Guns?

This happens to be the question which at the moment appears to be driving the 2020 campaign. Even the noisemakers who are promoting Trump seem to think that he can only help himself renew the lease at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if he comes out with a legislative package that will at least appear to contain some kind of gun-control ideas.

Now it comes as no surprise that The [failing] New York Times is urging passage of a gun-control bill. Big frickin’ deal (to quote Trump’s use of a time-honored expletive right out of any barroom in Queens.) But when The New York Post runs a lead editorial which tells Trump to make gun control Priority Number One, that’s not just a horse of a different color, it’s a different animal altogether and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

The last time I looked, the two ideas which appear to have the best chance of winding up on the President’s desk are a ‘red flag’ law, which just about everyone seems to feel will make some bit of difference to controlling the carnage even though no doubt there will be the usual whining about giving the courts the ability to ‘steamroll’ the Bill of Rights.

The other band-aid to be put on the gun problem will probably be what is referred to as ‘universal background checks,’ which means more work for the FBI-NICS examiners in West Virginia, more complaining by the ATF about how they don’t have the resources to go after everyone who fails a background check now, never mind the many millions of people who will fail the check when every gun transfer has to first be approved.

Both of these bills, however, will help satisfy what has always been the guiding narrative of the gun-control movement, namely, keeping guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’ Now many of these ‘wrong hands’ belong to individuals who couldn’t pass a background check if their lives depended on it. Other ‘wrong hands’ are connected to the arms of people who wake up one morning and go wandering around town with an AR-15, telling everyone they bump into that last night the Martians really did land at Area 51. The latter bunch will be hauled into some courtroom and learn that in the interests of both public and personal safety, a red flag is waving and they can go home without their gun.

With all due respect to my friends in both the Gun-nut and Gun-control Nations who are considering whether to support these ideas, I just want to point out a little problem with this approach. According to the FBI, somewhere around 40% of all gun homicides are committed by individuals who can’t have legal access to a handgun of any kind for the simple reason that they have not yet attained the age of 21. Buy an AR? Yep. Buy a Glock? Federal law says no siree.

When Marvin Wolfgang studied homicides in Philadelphia committed in Philadelphia between 1948 and 1952, it turned out that roughly 20% of nearly 600 murders were committed by individuals under age 25. And only one-third of them ended someone else’s life by using a gun. Now we have a younger population doing more of the murders each year and two-thirds commit these fatal assaults by using a gun.

I’m not against either comprehensive background checks or red flags, not one bit. I just hope everyone realizes that the problems that may be solved by these laws are jjust the beginning of ending gun violence, not the end.

Move Over Obama. There’s A New Gun-Grabber In The White House.

              Back in April, 2016 when Trump the Shlump showed up at the NRA show to be anointed as the spear-carrier for America’s gun-nut contingent, I thought (and said) that the boys at the Fairfax home office were making a big mistake.  America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ always endorsed the GOP Presidential candidate, but they waited until October to get the word out. By tying the organization to a guy who had never previously run for any political office of any kind, particularly this guy, Wayne-o and his buddies made a deal which bound them to someone over whom they would have no control.

              Whatever else you want to say about him, Trump’s a through-and-through New York guy. Which means that he’s about as connected to guns and gun culture as the man in the moon. For all his bluster and bull  about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights, he’ll say anything to consolidate his alt-right base. And if it ever suited his political fancy to throw the NRA leadership under a bus, get out the broom and start sweeping the street because that’s exactly what happened last week.

              Of course the minute bullets started flying around the Wal Mart in El Paso and then inside a Dayton bar, Trump yanked out the old ‘thoughts and prayers’ even though he thought the Dayton bar was actually located in Toledo. Not that his putative challenger, Joe Biden, did any better, because he got up and told everyone at a San Diego fundraiser how sorry he was about two mass shootings that occurred in Houston and Michigan. 

              Meanwhile, by the middle of last week it began to appear that we may have hit some kind of critical turning-point in the argument about guns. One of the Fox News anchors, Shepard Smith, delivered an impassioned commentary which could have been written for him by Everytown, and by week’s end Trump was openly promoting the idea of ‘intelligent’ background checks. He also made a point of saying that he had talked to both Pelosi and Schumer about going forward with a background-check bill, those two names being at the top of the most-hated list for Gun-nut Nation, no questions asked.

              Trump may be President but he’s also a 2020 Presidential candidate, and in that respect his support of a background-check bill makes him probably the 20th candidate to come up with some kind of gun-control scheme.  There’s Booker with his national ID card, Biden wants a national gun buy-back, Buttigieg wants an AR ban, Kamala wants dealers to be regulated more strictly, blah, blah, blah and blah. But the biggest and best plan was just unveiled by Pocahontas, except it’s not really a plan. It’s a pledge to reduce gun violence by 80 percent, although she admits she doesn’t have the faintest idea of how to make this actually work.

              All of this Democratic yapping clearly reflects the degree to which an energized and organized Gun-control Nation may have been an important factor in turning a number of red Congressional districts blue in 2018. And if anything, the public response to California, Texas and Ohio may well presage an even stronger Democratic result built around gun violence next year.

              Except there’s one little problem, a problem named Donald Trump. Because when all is said and done, his quick pivot on gun control and the reaction of Gun-nut Nation to his new-found gun concerns reminds me of what happened when Nixon went to China in 1972. If you were a Congressional Democrat after 1949 and so much as quietly hinted that we couldn’t ignore one-quarter of the world’s population, it was Nixon who stood up and called you a ‘pinko stooge’ or worse. If gun control becomes a political lightning-rod for next year, Trump’s fervent support of gun-nuttery gives him all the protection he needs.

What’s the NRA going to do if Trump signs a background-check bill? Tell their membership to vote for some Socialist who will take away all their guns?

Gun Violence And 2020: The Candidates Speak.

              Now that some of us (not me) have sat through two debates by the folks who want to take over the Oval office in 2021, we can see two basic groupings emerging on guns. I’m going to label these groupings as the T-group for ‘tough’ and the NST-group for ‘not so tough.’ But before we get into the details of which candidate wants what, I have to say that I agree with the NRA‘s statement this morning that “not a single one of the many gun control schemes proposed by the anti-gun Democratic candidates for president would make Americans any safer.”  Well, maybe we would be one percent safer. Anyway, here’s how it breaks down.

              Everyone in the T and NST groups backs an assault weapons ban and comprehensive background checks, the idea here being that even though the kid who turned the Gilroy garlic festival into a shooting range underwent a background check, he was still able to buy an AK-47. So if we have both comprehensive background checks and an assault weapons ban, that takes care of that. No more Gilroys, right? 

              It goes without saying that both groups also support ‘red flag’ laws and other measures to protect victims or possible victims of domestic gun abuse, although I still don’t really understand how asking a judge to issue an order taking away someone’s guns is really any different than walking into the local police station and telling the chief that so-and-so is acting crazy and happens to own guns. Oh well, I must be missing something in that regard.

              Where the two groups diverge is on the issue of licensing. The NST group appears to have no issue with gun licensing conducted at the state level as long as the process includes using the feds to conduct the background check. In this respect, the T‘s include the two old men, Biden and Bern, along with Pocahantas who hasn’t yet released an official policy paper on guns, but she’ll get around to it as soon as she finishes all her other policy papers. [Does Liz actually think that anyone gives a rat’s damn about policy papers?]

              The T group, on the other hand, led by Cory and seconded by Kammie, wants the entire licensing process taken over by the feds, who will issue gun licenses after the applicant takes a gun-safety course, undergoes the background check and blah, blah blah. Cory has yet to be asked to identify which federal agency would administer the safety course or, for that matter, would actually oversee the licensing process. Let’s not forget that the ATF regulates dealers, not gun owners, and oh, by the way, Kamala want anyone who sells more than 5 guns a year to become a licensed dealer. So the ATF can now figure out how to inspect millions of new dealers.  Right now they inspect less than 5 percent of all dealers.

              I hate to keep bringing this up again and again, but there’s a very simple way to get rid of gun violence. All you have to do is get rid of the guns which cause the violence, namely, the small, hi-powered, hi-capacity handguns. And despite everyone’s reverence for the 2nd Amendment, the government can decide that certain kinds of guns are too lethal for sale to the general public. Is there any difference between an AR-15 with a 30-round magazine and a Glock 19 with a 20-round magazine?  Yea, ten rounds. The AR takes a military round known as the .223. The round in a Glock 19, the 9×19, also happens to be a military load.

              If my friends in Gun-control Nation would get behind a realistic plan to end gun violence by getting rid of the cause of the violence, the NRA would bitch and moan but so what? Gun-nut Nation will bitch and moan no matter what the other side says. For all the wrong reasons, what the NRA said about last night’s debate happens to be correct.