Confessions of a Gun Nut.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to serialize and publish a new book – Confessions of a Gun Nut.  I’ll post each chapter on my Medium blog, and when it’s finished, I’ll publish it as an e-book. 

The purpose of this book is to use the more than 50 years that I have been in the gun business (and more than 60 years since I bought my first, real gun) to try and figure out what I know and don’t know about guns. 

Believe it or not, there’s a lot that I don’t know about guns. But I’m not about to kid myself into believing that because I can get my hands on some data, run the data through some statistical model or another and come up with some kind of ‘evidence-based’ conclusion, that I know anything about guns at all. And if I don’t know all that much about guns, the so-called experts on both sides of the argument know a lot less. 

In fact, what I find most interesting about the gun debate is the lack of modesty which seems to infect the pronouncements and publications of the individuals who turn up again and again as the self-identified authorities whose views form the accepted narrative in the gun debate.

If anything, the pompous and self-fulfilling judgements about guns and gun violence emanating from the academic research community tend, if anything, to be further removed from reality than the screeching which erupts from the other side. This is because most of the pro-gun noisemaking comes from the groups and organizations which exist for the purpose of marketing guns. Which means, at the very least, that they have to know something about the people who might actually buy their products.

On the other hand, the anti-gun movement (which is what gun-control people really want – they are against guns) has to operate under greater restraints than the pro-gun folks, most of all because they are committed to making arguments which can or should be supported by facts.  Now the fact that many of these so-called facts are nothing more than what this or that academic researcher claims to be facts – so what? In the greater scope of things what counts is whether your audience believes you or not.

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a kvetch by a pissed-off, former academic who didn’t get tenure and wants to get even with some of his tenured friends. First of all, I had academic tenure, so it’s not as if I’m sitting here all hot, bothered and jealous because gun-control researchers like Hemenway and Webster are inside the academy and I’m out. Second, I’m going to spend just as much time throwing slings and arrows at the pro-gun mob, if only because some of what they say is so dumb that it’s an insult even to their most ardent fans, and if anything, they often get away with it because their critics, being academics, often tend to be too polite.  On the other hand, if the academic gun researchers are too courteous to their opponents, they tie themselves into knots with the degree to which they are deferential to the work conducted by their academic peers on the same side.

Again and again I hear my friends in the anti-gun movement talking about how they want to craft gun-control policies that will be ‘reasonable,’ thus appealing to all those ‘responsible’ gun owners out there who just can’t wait to join them in the ‘middle’ of the gun debate. And along with this mantra comes the continued lament about how the ‘gap’ between the two sides is unbridgeable, and hence, simply resists any fair attempt to narrow the divide.

To the credit of gun owners, most of them will tell you that there’s a simple way to end the gun debate, namely, just stop complaining about guns and accept the fact that anyone and everyone should be able to own a gun, notwithstanding the 125,000 or so deaths and injuries that occur every year. And they should be able to own these guns without going through all this nonsense about background checks, and concealed-carry permits, and safe storage, and all that other Big Government crap.

On the other hand, how come the rest of the industrial world makes do without guns and we can’t?  Because if we agree that 125,000 deaths and injuries from the use of any specific product constitutes a crisis of public health, why should we put up with the continued availability of this product just because the Constitution says you can keep one in your home? The Commerce Clause also gives me the right to buy cigarettes. So what?

So stay tuned.  The chapters to Confessions of a Gun Nut book will shortly start rolling out. And I promise to respond to any and all feedback, at least up to a point.

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Can Nancy And The Democrats Pass a Gun Law That Will Make A Difference?

Since I long ago gave up the idea that what I have to say about gun violence supports what my friends in Gun-control Nation want to hear, I’m going to spend today’s column taking some pot-shots at the single, most cherished goal of the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, a.k.a., universal background checks.  Let me make it clear again that I have never (read: never) raised the slightest objection to reducing this awful social stain known as gun violence through, among other strategies, adopting public policies which work. But let me also make it clear that just because some piece of research finds a theoretical link between a certain public policy and an alleged outcome, doesn’t mean that the research isn’t flawed.

              That being said, it now turns out that Pelosi is telling the GVP that she intends to pass a ‘bold’ package of gun reforms right after the 116th Congress convenes.  She said this at a moving memorial service held in St. Mark’s Church, marking the anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, this event part of the month-long, national vigils against gun violence which you can support here.

The Numero Uno issue that Pelosi will doubtless try to pass is a law that would expand background checks beyond the initial point of sale.  Before I get into the research used to justify this policy, we need to spend a bit of time understanding what such a law would require in terms of how the infrastructure which supports the background check process would have to change. You can promote any public policy you want, but unless you figure out and implement the logistics required to make the policy actually achieve its goals, I mean, what’s the point?

The theory behind universal background checks (UBC) is that if every gun transfer required the recipient to fill out a 4473 form, then register the transfer registered with FBI-NICS, this process would keep guns from falling into the hands of individuals who, under law, cannot own or have access to a gun. Fine.

In addition to qualifying the behavior of everyone who would be receiving a gun, the process would also make it easier for law enforcement to figure out how a gun that was used illegally or inappropriately ended up in the ‘wrong’ hands. Also fine.

Now here’s where the details meet the devil, okay? First, we have absolutely no idea, and my friends in the gun-research community have never attempted to figure this out with any degree of accuracy, how many guns are floating around in the ‘wrong hands’ right now. Nor do we have any verifiable data on how many guns are stolen each year, thus adding to the arsenal of guns in the ‘wrong hands.’  If my friends in public health would spend a little more time trying to figure that one out and a little less time pretending that regression analyses using synthetic controls really tells us how a new gun-control law impacts gun violence rates, maybe, just maybe we could craft some kind of policy that would diminish the illegal flow of guns.

Since Sandy Hook, three states – Oregon, Washington, Colorado – have instituted UBC.  In 2014, these three states experienced a gun-violence rate of 11.37 (ICD-10 Codes: W32-W34, X72-X74, X93-X95, Y22-Y24.)  In 2016, the rate was 11.88.  Would anyone like to tell me the connection between UBC and a 4% gun-violence increase in these three states? We don’t have official 2017 data yet, but in Oregon they are referring to 2017 gun-violence rates representing a ‘modest spike.’  Great, just great.

If Speaker Pelosi and her GVP allies want to take a bold step forward in the fight against gun violence, I have a simple idea.  Why don’t they just craft a bill that would strictly regulate the manufacture, purchase and ownership of highly-lethal handguns?

Oh! We can’t do that!  It’s a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights!’ In fact, it’s not a violation of any Constitutional ‘right’ at all. And yes, I will shortly be explaining this on my new Facebook page. Please stop by.

 

Does Concealed-Carry Increase Gun Violence?

What would happen if every red-blooded American above the age of 21 went walking around with a gun?  Right now there are somewhere above 14 million men and women who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and since there are roughly 70 million between the ages of 21 and 65 living in a home with at least one gun, let’s say that the number of gun -carrying adults jumped from the current 14 million to 40 million; in other words, one out of every two.

              If this were happen, first and foremost the gun industry would recover from the doldrums it has been experiencing since the election of Sleazy Don Trump. Funny, isn’t it? We finally elect a President who endorses concealed-carry and the gun industry collapses like a wet suit on the golf course; it’s in the dumps.  If the Democrats make the mistake of running fat-ass Hillary in 2020 again, Sleazy Don will stay in the Oval Office until 2024 and the gun business will wither and die.

Let’s pretend for the moment that the Clintons finally shut up and go away, the blue team nominates a serious candidate (sorry, but my friend Deval Patrick ain’t no Obama on The Bomber’s worst day) and both the Senate and the House seat a majority who aren’t red. The new President is inaugurated in 2025, the gun-control gang demands its much-deserved payoff, and another semi-useless gun law actually gets into the Federal code

Could it happen?  I’m not quite ready to take the short odds, but this scenario doesn’t immediately fail the plausibility or possibility test. And if it does happen, we might easily end up with 40 million or more Americans who can wander around with a handgun stuck in their pocketbook or their pants.

Bear in mind, of course, that we do not have any real idea of how many people legally able to carry a concealed Glock or Sig are actually walking around with a gun. I asked a number of people who had gotten their concealed-carry permit(CCW)  after they had taken the safety course I teach whether or not they were carrying a gun on a regular basis, and the ratio of CCW license-holders to gun-carriers was on the order of ten to one. After the immediate thrill of playing Bruce Willis or John Wick wears off, walking around with a gun, unless you’re paid to walk around with a gun, is a real pain in the ass. Sooner or later you’ll forget it, or you’ll drop it, or in some other way you’ll do something stupid or careless and God forbid what you do causes the gun to go off.

Despite what my Gun-control Nation friends believe, the idea that people with legal concealed-carry privileges are a threat to others or themselves is simply not true.  In the last 12 years, CCW-holders shot and killed 1,200 people, of which 550 happened to be the  CCW -holders themselves. Which means that, on average, people who walk around with a legal handgun fatally injure 55 other people every year.  That’s 4/10ths of 1 percent of yearly gun homicides.  This makes CCW-holders a threat to community safety and peace?

The biggest joke of all is the opposition to  national concealed-carry law by various office-holders from blue states (ex: Schumer – NY) who say they don’t want gun-toters coming into their state from another state where CCW licenses are simply given away, as opposed to more restrictive states (like New York) which require more detailed vetting and a safety course before CCW is approved.

Is Schumer serious?  Does he think that the Sheriff in New York State’s Chenango County gives one rat’s damn about a more detailed background check or what’s being taught in the so-called ‘safety’ course? Chenango County has about as many people living in it as live in the same square city block in Manhattan where Schumer lives.

Want to get serious about reducing gun violence?  Stop going after straw men like CCW and do something about the guns.

And while you’re at it: https://www.facebook.com/nostinkingun/.

 

 

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Want To End Gun Violence? Join The NRA.

From time immemorial I have been listening to my friends in Gun-control Nation complain about the power and influence of the NRA.  They have so much money, so many political connections and now they even have an unabashed booster in the Oval Office, even though his boosterism seems, of late, to have begun to fade.

              There’s no question that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ has hit a rough patch. Revenues are have gone South, corporate partnerships are in disarray, their vaunted, new training program CarryGuard is a flop, and viewership of the NRA-TV media channel is down and staff has been laid off.

The biggest problem the NRA faces is that the gun industry has not shown any recovery from the doldrums into which it sank immediately after out first Kenyan-born President moved from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue into a private home.  Try as they might, gun makers have simply never found a marketing message which makes people want to buy guns unless these same people are afraid that they won’t be able to buy or own guns.

Putting all these factors together means that an organization that was able to count on the unquestioned support and loyalty of four or five million gun owners, all of a sudden finds itself on the wrong side of the curve. But there is an answer to their problem which Gun-control Nation should address. The NRA doesn’t  have any membership requirement that forces a member to own a gun. For that matter, the boys in Fairfax also cannot demand that any member necessarily agree with what the organization says or does. The last thing the NRA is about to do is impose some kind of membership qualification based on speech. After all, how can America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ be seen as being against free speech?

What does it cost to become a member of the NRA? A whole, big $45 bucks a year.  You can join right here, and very quickly you will start receiving a monthly magazine of your choice, along with at least one daily email from Wayne-o or Chris Cox. And don’t tell me you can’t afford the 45 bucks, okay?  I paid that much for a party pizza and a couple of six-packs last weekend which lasted until half-time of the Patriots and Jets (boy do my beloved Jets suck this year.)

I know a number of Gun-control Nation fanatics who tell me they would never join the NRA because such an act would be tantamount to giving care and comfort to the enemy. But that’s a very short-sighted and self-defeating view. What if MOMS, Brady, Everytown and Gabby told all their supporters and Facebook followers to sign up?  Could the NRA find itself with a million new email addresses?  Sure. Could these new members form their own social media groups and respond to every email from Wayne-o and Chris by publicly announcing their objections to what the NRA leaders have to say?  Of course.  What would happen if Ollie North received 500,000 emails from NRA members which told him to dry up and get lost? Think that wouldn’t make media headlines?  Think again.

I would understand Gun-control Nation’s anger over NRA messaging were those messages coming from a closed, private group.  But joining the NRA takes about 5 minutes, and all of a sudden, you are now part of an organization which never forgets to tell its members that they are special and unique.

What makes NRA members so special?  Allegedly it’s because they own at least one gun. If anything, I think that NRA members who didn’t own guns would constitute an even more unique and special group. So why not take advantage of the opportunity to pay the paltry sum of $45 a year and use your membership to promote Gun-control Nation’s views on guns from inside the tent, rather than always standing outside and trying to piss in? Remember, it’s only going to cost you what you’ll pay for another party pizza delivered before the 3rd quarter begins.

 

Are Americans Finally Getting Fed Up With Guns?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should Social Media Play A Role In Letting People Own Guns?

A friend who labors for New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (send them a few bucks) sent us the text of a new bill just introduced in the New York State Senate that would amend the process of issuing handgun licenses in a rather interesting and unique way. The bill, NYS09191, would require that anyone applying for or renewing a handgun license give the cops approval to review the following social media accounts – Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram – and search engines – Google, Yahoo and Bing. The purpose of this review, according to the text of the bill, would be to “ascertain whether any social media account or search engine history of a licensee presents any good cause for the revocation of a license….”

              The bill was introduced by Kevin Parker, who represents the 21st Senate District, which happens to cover Flatbush but borders on two other neighborhoods, Brownsville and East New York, which remain serious contenders for suffering from high rates of gun violence every year. Since Parker is the Democratic Whip, and since both chambers of the Legislature are now controlled by the blue team and the author of the state SAFE law is still the executive in charge, what do you think are the odds that this new bill will become law?  I’d say the odds are good to better than good. Which means that using social media as a criteria to determining the issuance of gun licenses in ‘may issue’ states will probably spread beyond the borders of the Empire State.

When and if this law gets to a public hearing, you can bet that Gun-nut Nation base their opposition to this law on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ because they oppose every gun law based on their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ But I’m willing to bet that America’s ‘oldest civil-rights organization,’ the NRA, will also oppose this law based on their fervent belief in the 1st-Amendment’s protection of free speech. After all, isn’t that what social media’s all about?

Putting aside the rantings and ravings of the gun-nut lunatic fringe, the fact is that this amendment to New York State’s gun-licensing process really does move the issue of gun control into uncharted waters that will certainly need to be explicated by an appellate court.  The courts have held again and again and again that government has a ‘compelling interest’ in public safety, which means that the cops can always be asked to decide whether any particular individual might be a threat to public safety, and then take steps to reduce or eliminate the threat.  But until now, the authorities have based such decisions on overt acts of potentially threatening behavior, as in ‘I’d like to shoot that m-f,’ or other such declarations of intent.  That being said, does the fact that some guy goes on Google to search for ‘mass shootings’ mean that the guy has any intention to precipitate such an event?

The kid who walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 and shot the place apart had access to an AR-15 that his mother kept in their home.  The kid also spent much of the previous year compiling a large, digital library on mass shooting events.  But there is no evidence that he ever said anything about committing such an act himself. The Norwegian extremist who killed 77 people in 2011 used the internet to share and spread hatred-filled remarks about the Muslim threat, but again, never made any specific mention of wanting to gun people down.

I have no problem with cops using social media to determine my fitness to own a gun; more than 150 jurisdictions have spent nearly $6 million to equip themselves with social media tools which are used to deal with crime. But giving law enforcement carte blanche to create a profile of me based on how I meander around the World Wide Web raises all kinds of issues which need o be sorted out.

That being said, I think Senator Parker is onto a good thing.

Want To End Gun Violence? Get Rid Of The Stinkin’ Guns.

Now that the 116th Congress is going to convene in January with a solid blue House majority, and to the extent that this majority owes something to the hard work of my Gun-control Nation friends, perhaps it’s time to have a serious and deliberate discussion about the gun-control legislation that might begun to be put into place.

             After all, for the last eight years the gun-control gang could talk themselves blue in the face about assault rifle bans, comprehensive background checks and all that other good stuff. But the odds that any gun-control law might rear its head and emerge from Congress ranged from zero to zilch. Guess what? For the same reason that the blue Senate team slipped backward in 2018,  the GOP in 2020 will have a difficult time holding its majority in the Upper House. And anyone who wants to make book that Sleazy Don will be sitting in the Oval Office in 2021  better be willing to take very, very long odds.

Since it normally requires multiple Congressional sessions for a serious gun-control measure to get up to speed (the 1968 GCA68 law was initially introduced in 1953; the Brady bill that was passed in 1993 was first filed in 1991,) the folks who will be creating, pushing and sustaining the narrative for a new gun law better start working on it now.

The two legislative remedies for gun violence which appear to have the best chance of ending up in serious and positive floor votes are comprehensive background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.  The former initiative appears to have support across the board, the latter could easily happen if a couple more nuts wander into a school, a shopping center, a house of worship or some other public venue and start blasting away.

The problem with both of these gun-control strategies, however, is that they don’t really get to the core of why we have a problem with gun violence and therefore, even if enacted, wouldn’t make that much of a difference in the rates of gun violence that we currently absorb.

The core problem is that the system that regulates the ownership and use of guns is fundamentally flawed because it is based on regulating the behavior of gun owners, rather than on the design and function of the guns themselves. If I walk into a gun shop today and but a rusted, old shotgun that probably doesn’t even work, I have to jump through the exact, same legal hoops that I would jump through if I bought a 16-shot Glock 19, along with 4 extra hi-capacity mags.  That old shotgun will only injure someone if I load it with modern ammunition, pull the trigger and the gun blows up. How many of the 125,000 gun injuries suffered last year resulted from someone using a Glock or another concealable, hi-powered handgun?  Most of those injuries, that’s for sure.

Again and again the discussion among gun-control advocates turns on the ‘fact’ that we own so many guns – somewhere between 300 and 400 million. But a majority of those guns are sporting rifles and shotguns which rarely show up in gun crimes at all. We are the only country which gives its residents relatively free access to handguns; we are the only country which suffers from an unacceptable level of gun violence. Want to end gun violence? Get rid of the guns that cause the violence.

Notice I didn’t state my approval for a handgun ban. But personally speaking, I have never supported an advocacy narrative simply because it might succeed.  I support advocacy that is rooted in truth. And the truth is that handguns cause gun violence. Period. End of story. End of debate.

Why Do Gun Nuts Like Me Buy Guns?

I like to do my Black Friday shopping the day before Thanksgiving, so when I finish this column, I’m going to drive to the ol’ gun shop and buy myself a gun.  I haven’t bought a gun in a few months, so it’s time to maintain my membership in what the researchers at Harvard refer to as the ‘super’ gun owners, or what The Guardian calls the ‘hardcore super gun owners,’ i.e., gun nuts like me who have at least 17 guns lying around.

              When this study was released back inn 2016, it provoked the usual hue and cry from the usual organizations laboring mightily to reduce violence caused by guns.  How could it be otherwise?  After all, everyone knows that the more guns lying around, the more injuries caused by guns.

This narrative has no reality behind it at all.  The ‘average’ size of the arsenal owned by the hard-core gun nuts is 17 guns?  Are they serious?  I currently own maybe 60 guns (actually I’m not really sure of the exact number) and in the world of hard-core gun nuts, this makes me kind of light.  The two brothers who ran my gun shop probably had 200 guns stashed in the family home, and one of my customers had at least twice that number of guns lying around here and there.

Know why I opened a retail gun shop?  Because back in 2000 my wife informed me that our house didn’t have enough room for her shoes and my guns.  And the shoes weren’t about to go. You think there’s any intrinsic difference between my dear wife buying shoes and me buying guns?  If you do, then you have absolutely no understanding about why people like me (hard-core gun nuts) buy guns.  If pressed, we’ll come out with the usual nonsense about protecting ourselves from an ISIS invasion or strengthening our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  But when gun nuts get together, you’ll never hear them say anything about any legal issue except to bitch about the fact that every time they want to buy a gun from a dealer, they have to fill out one of those friggin’ forms.

Today I’m going to buy the new Sig P320 pistol, the civilian version of the new military gun, the Sig M17.  What makes the P320 a ‘civilian’ gun as opposed to the weapon that will be carried by our troops in the field? The model name, that’s it.  Otherwise, it’s the exact, same gun.

I’m buying the Sig because I want to buy a gun.  Six-hundred and change – no big deal.  If I take the family out to dinner tomorrow night I’ll pay just as much for a slice of dry turkey, some mashed-up vegetables and a piece of ‘homemade’ pie.  Maybe I should cancel the dinner and buy another gun.  Get my point?ow

Here’s the real point. Recall that back in 2008 my dear, departed friend, Tony Scalia, decided that handguns deserved Constitutional protection as long as they were the types of weapons that were ‘commonly’ found in the home.  His opinion exempted weapons manufactured for military use, such guns being designed for battlefield exigencies, not for self-defense.

The fact is that just about every handgun Americans use for self-defense, as well as for shooting someone who gets in their way, happens to have been designed and manufactured for military use, viz., Glock, Beretta, Colt and a few more. The decision to allow civilians to own such guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and it’s the reason we suffer from gun violence and other OECD countries don’t.

So here’s my Thanksgiving thought for all my gun-control friends: Stop the nonsense about how much you respect the ‘right’ of other people to own guns as long as they follow some ‘sensible’ rules. Take the bull by the horns and say what we all know to be true.

If you want to end gun violence, cut the bullshit and get rid of the guns.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

A New Approach To Gun Violence By Gun-Owning Physicians

Today’s Newsletter from our friends at The Trace contains a story about a new report issued by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) based on the work of an ACS Task Force comprised of 18 gun-owning surgeons who have been caring for trauma patients, on average, for roughly 28 years.  You can examine the gun-owning creds of this group in a downloadable spreadsheet, but I’ll quickly tell you that ten of the Task Force members own both handguns and long guns, they all own a total of 60 shotguns, 52 rifles, 13 assault weapons and 91 pistols or revolvers. Nine are either current or former members of the NRA.

Just about every medical society has gone on record about gun violence and supporting the standard litany of regulatory enhancements – comprehensive background checks, better NICS data sourcing, red-flag laws, blah, blah, blah and blah. This is the first time, however, that any of the medical societies have queried gun-owning members whose views, it is assumed, would be somewhat different from the usual rank-and-file doctors, most of whom don’t tend to own guns.

In fact, the views of these gun-owning surgeons is different in one very important respect, a difference which our friends at The Trace, unfortunately didn’t pick up.  If you take the trouble to read the entire report carefully, an astonishing recommendation at the bottom of Page 7 jumps out and I’ll quote it verbatim right here:

Principle: A firearm should be transferred with registration in accordance to federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9] just as are other properties, such as vehicles or a home. This would include the private sale and the transfer of property that is bequeathed from an estate or among family members.

Recommendation: We support firearm registration and the development and implementation of an electronic database for all registered firearms.”

Did I actually see that? Is there a professional group representing any profession which is actually calling for comprehensive registration of guns? This issue happens to be the absolute bête noir of the gun-rights movement, it is always presented by the NRA as the one thing above all that will lead to the government taking away everyone’s guns. There is simply nothing which is as toxic both for Gun-nut Nation as well as to the groups who advocate ‘sensible’ restrictions on the ownership of guns. Gun registration, by the way, has nothing to do with 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Anyone who says otherwise knows as much about Constitutional law as Leonard the Cat.

I trust going forward that the endorsement of gun registration by gun-owning members of the ACS will be discussed and considered by other medical societies and result ultimately in a united front that will promote the idea beyond the healthcare industry itself. But while they are at it, the ACS gun-nut group might consider dealing with another issue within their professional organization that needs to be addressed.

Last year Congressman Don Young (R-AK) told an audience that it wouldn’t have been Standing-Room-Only at Auschwitz and  Bergen-Belsen of Jews hadn’t lost access to their guns. He obviously got the idea from an even bigger idiot named Ben Carson, who no doubt thought this message would garner him the Jewish vote. Young received $5,000 to finance his 2016 campaign; the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) gave him $2,500 in each of the last two campaigns. Young happens to be one of 15 House members who go out of their way to promote NRA gun ‘rights’ priorities; as a whole, this sorry bunch received over $80,000 in campaign donations from the ACS. For the same two election cycles, ACEP donated almost $150,000 to the same crew of pro-NRA stooges.

If the ACS, the ACEP and other medical groups want to reduce gun violence, they don’t need to tell other stakeholders what to do. They can put their money back into their own pockets instead of giving it to the NRA.

The Election’s Over And Now The Real Work Begins.

From the perspective of Gun-control Nation, yesterday’s election results were good but could have been better. Which is another way of saying that the House is now blue, but the Senate is still red. And one of those red seats still belongs to Ted Cruz, who has been a staunch defender of every stupid and pandering gun ‘rights’ law that gets introduced. On the other hand, a Democratic majority in the House means that no matter how many nutty, pro-gun bills come out of the upper chamber, none of them will get to Sleazy Don’s desk.

voted             A really bright spot appeared for the blue team in Colorado, where a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Jason Crow, got rid of GOP-incumbent and long-time NRA favorite Mike Coffman by making a clear pitch for gun control during the campaign. On the other hand, even with the help of Fred Guttenberg (he is the father of a Parkland victim who confronted Brian Kavanaugh as the latter’s Senate confirmation hearing began) a strong, gun-control Democrat in Pennsylvania – Scott Wallace – was unable to unseat the Republican incumbent – Brian Fitpatrick – in a hotly contested race.

Since I live in Massachusetts, which not only sends an entirely blue Congressional delegation to D.C. but of nine House members, three run unopposed, it’s not like I have to sit up all night to learn the results of every local race.  But if I were living in Virginia, on the other hand, I would have been very pleased with the results in CD 10, where a real NRA favorite, Barbara Comstock, was dumped by Jennifer Wexton, as well as what happened in CD 7, where a former cop named Abigail Spanberger said the right things about gun control and got rid of David Brat. You may recall that Brat was the Tea Party guy who knocked off Eric Cantor in a primary campaign; he got an ‘A’ rating from Gun Owners of America, a bunch of gun-nut loonies that make the NRA sound almost like a Democratic Party front.

For me, the single most important House race, however, was in the Michigan 11th, where a GOP seat flipped blue by seven points.  The determining factor in this race wasn’t guns at all; it was IQ which the Republican candidate, Lena Epstein, doesn’t register a discernible number at all. This idiot let Mike Pence come in for a rally alongside a self-styled phony rabbi named Loren Jacobs, the latter invoked Christ’s blessings for the victims of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation several days previous to the Pence event.

It just so happens that Ms. Epstein is also Jewish but couldn’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, an appearance by a Christian minister who pretends to speak for Jews was something her campaign really didn’t need. She’s not just a dope, she’s what my grandmother would have called, a shonda fin dem goyim, which basically means that you’re too dumb to call yourself a Jew. My grandmother was from a shtetl in the Old Country, okay?

Getting back to the big picture, early exit polls appear to support the idea that House Democrats grabbed the brass ring basically over health care and immigrant rights, but the real issue which moved the needle was antipathy towards Trump. Obviously, advocates for ‘sensible’ gun laws are not about to find common cause with Sleazy Don, but these polls (subject to change as more exit polls emerge) point up the fact that even with horrific events like Pittsburgh, Parkland and Sandy Hook, the gun issue just doesn’t resonate as a top-tier problem that will necessarily sway election outcomes this way or that.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think a liberal political agenda should ever rest on a single issue campaign. What did Mao say? Let a hundred flowers bloom? That’s okay with me as long as what to do about gun violence is part of the bouquet.