An Important New Book on Gun Violence.

              Our friend Tom Gabor has just published a book, Enough – Solving America’s Gun Violence Crisis, which is both a review of what we know and don’t know about gun violence, as well as a personal manifesto about what needs to be done. In that respect, this book reflects a new, much more confident mood in Gun-control Nation, given how the political landscape has recently changed. After all, it’s less than two decades since the Democratic Party turned its back on gun violence after Al Gore’s loss at the polls, and now you can’t announce for President without making it clear you’ll do something about gun violence if you win the big kahuna next year.

              Gabor’s book is a quick and easy read – he writes clearly and doesn’t overburden the reader with mounds of extraneous text. He also keeps his focus directly on policies and programs which, taken together, represent the agenda of Gun-control Nation, and is honest and objective in terms of evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t worked to reduce gun violence over the past years.

              Finally, although Gabor has a long and distinguished career as an academic, this book is not a dry, academic text. He refers to gun-control activists as ‘peace warriors,’ a particularly arresting phrase, insofar as it links the notion of non-violence together with a militaristic campaign to protect America from its nearly 400-million arsenal of civilian-owned guns.

              In what directions should this campaign now move? The author covers all of the major gun-control initiatives and policies, including licensing gun owners, concealed-carry and stand your ground, safe storage, abolishing PLCCA and other industry protections, banning assault weapons and ‘smart’ guns and red flag laws. For each category he covers experiences and results to date, the intention being to create a ‘roadmap’ of policies and initiatives which can then be followed by gun-control advocates seeking guidance in developing strategies and plans.

              The book concludes with an interesting and unique twist, namely, what Gabor calls a ‘Declaration of Rights’ which could serve as a clarion-call for groups and individuals who want to reduce violence from guns. Basically, the document lists a series of ‘rights’ that everyone should be able to enjoy, flowing from the implementation of effective policies to restrict the use and ownership of guns. These ‘rights’ would include feeling safe, movement in gun-free zones, reliance only on law enforcement for public safety; in other words, a nice counterpoint to the policies which promote gun ‘rights.’ I’m not sure where Gabor is going, organizationally, with this Bill of Rights, but if he puts up a website asking everyone to subscribe to this document, I’ll sign up.

              Of course I never review any book without finding something critical to say, so here goes.  The challenge which this book does not confront is that you can talk all you want about how and why we need more effective gun-control policies, but the problem is how to get from here to there. The devil’s always in the details, so to speak.

The fact that a certain gun law or regulation has been effective within a specific jurisdiction or state, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be effective if extended to all fifty states. The strength of our Federalist system is that it reflects the enormous physical and cultural diversity of this country, and it is simply impossible to assume that out of the experience of one state or locality, we could craft gun-control laws where one size fits all. This is precisely why Gabor’s comparison of America’s gun laws to gun regulations in other countries (e.g., his native Canada) doesn’t work.

That being said, this book delivers enough information (with footnoted references) that it deserves to be purchased and read.  If the 2020 election pushes new gun-control legislation to the fore, Tom Gabor’s book will hopefully help shape the debate. 

Well done.

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Here’s Your Opportunity To Study Gun Violence. Don’t Miss It.

              Our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg school have produced and published what I believe is the first attempt to create a comprehensive curriculum on gun violence. This is a very impressive online effort and should be viewed, used and studied by everyone who would like to see gun violence come to an end. In fact, if I were running a group which advocates gun control, I would insist that every member of the group register and go through the course. For that matter, I would post the course on my Facebook page and suggest that other FB admins do it too.  In fact, I’m posting and pinning the course on my FB page right now.

              The good news is that the entire curriculum is video-delivered by members of the Hopkins faculty, all of whom know how to stand up in front of a classroom and deliver lectures in a clear and organized way. The better news is that the website is user-friendly and the lessons can be easily accessed even by users with only a slight degree of digital skills. Finally, the lessons are all on video, but you can also refer to text, and there are reading lists attached for further study, as well as a review quiz at the end of each lesson.

              If you take the program seriously, watch every lecture, read the relevant assignments, do all quiz exercises and give feedback, you are looking at more than 11 hours of study time.  In other words, this is serious stuff and the entire effort is obviously meant to be taken seriously. Incidentally, along with four members of the Hopkins faculty, there are lessons provided by outside experts, including our friends Jeff Swanson and Adam Winkler, and of course the website includes forums so that every student also gets a chance to shoot his or her mouth off. God forbid there would actually be a website out there which doesn’t afford everyone the opportunity to make some noise, right?

              If my last sentence reads in a somewhat sarcastic vein, it’s not by accident. One of the reasons I like this effort is because it is advertised up front as being based on ‘evidence;’ i.e., the content is tied to relevant research in the field. Now that doesn’t mean that all the research is totally correct or that more research needs to be done. But the whole point here, it seems to me, is to inject fact-based knowledge into the gun debate, rather than just creating another digital forum for opinions, a.k.a. hot air. The gun-control movement has come into its own since Sandy Hook; if anything, when it comes to the argument about the role of guns in American society, for the first time gun control appears to have trumped gun ‘rights.’ All the more reason why the discussion needs to proceed on evidence drawn from serious research, not opinions out of thin air. 

              Talking about evidence, I have only one suggestion to make to the faculty that created this course, and it’s a suggestion which obviously flows from my own background when it comes to the issue of guns. If it were possible to revise the curriculum at some point, I would ask the faculty to consider adding a section which explains the meaning of the word ‘gun.’ After all, if we want to learn about a certain kind of violence which is defined by the use of a certain object which we call a ‘gun,’ shouldn’t we make sure that all our learners know how to define that object in terms of how it’s designed, how it’s manufactured, how it works and doesn’t work?. I see too many instances on various gun-control forums, FB pages, and questions directly asked of me which indicate a knowledge deficit on both sides of the gun debate about the product which causes the violence itself.

              That’s a minor quibble.  I hope the Hopkins faculty will take seriously the work they have done and promote its access every chance they get. And when you finish reading this text, go to the website and sign up for the course.

Think The NRA Will Change Direction? Think Again.

              Poor Wayne-o.  Here’s a guy who has spent his entire lifetime working tirelessly and endlessly for America’s gun owners and what does he get for all his efforts? He gets a drop-dead piece in Rolling Stone which has to signal the beginning of the end. My advice, incidentally, to my friends in Gun-control Nation who want to kiss LaPierre bye-bye, is that they quiet down. The last thing the boys in Fairfax would consider doing is making a management change which appears to be in response to demands from what I’ll politely call the ‘other side.’ 

              But let’s assume that Wayne-o’s tenure comes to an end. Let’s assume that the NRA Board cleans house, gets its financial affairs in order (not that any government agency has yet to charge the NRA with any illegal activity at all) comes up with a new leadership team, issues the usual ‘we can and will do better’ encomiums and goes about its way. Would any or all of those measures really change the nature or the outcome of the gun debate?  In other words, would Wayne-o’s disappearance result in a kindler and gentler NRA?

              By the way, as far as I’m concerned, the dirt being shoveled in Wayne-o’s face is nothing more than payback, given how the NRA has insulted, demonized and threatened folks who have been leading the campaign for reducing violence caused by guns. When Colorado voted to repeal comprehensive background checks in 2015, you would have thought the issue was whether Mike Bloomberg was coming to live in the Centennial State, with PSA‘s making it clear that this Jewboy needed to stay away. Shannon Watts continues to attract her share of insulting and threatening comments from NRA noisemakers like those jerk-offs Grant Stinchfield and Dana Loesch.

              On the other hand, the fact that the NRA has been trying to posture itself as a self-appointed public voice for the alt-right doesn’t mean that anything would change for the better if Wayne-o took his $5-million retirement package and disappeared. If anything, the defense of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ could become even more belligerent and more extreme.

              The NRA likes to describe itself as America’s first line of 2nd-Amendment defense, but in reality the organization is primarily focused on the South because that’s where the guns happen to be. The current Board leadership (Meadows, Childress) are both Southerners, of the 76 total Board members, 32 are from Confederate states. Visit the next annual NRA meeting and you’ll quickly realize that you may walking theough a large convention center, but you’re actually inside a big revival tent.

              The NRA counts on support from three groups. One group are gun owners who aren’t actually members, but consider gun ownership to be some kind of necessary ‘right.’ Then there are NRA members whose membership is force of habit but nothing much more. Finally and most important are the hard-core members, the folks who go to local gun events, talk up the 2nd Amendment until someone tells them to shut up, send an email to a public official or a nasty comment to me. That’s the organization’s base – that’s the core..

              Whatever happens in Fairfax, the NRA can’t afford to alienate its hard core. If anything, they need to bind their most rabid supporters as close as they can. Because what the NRA may start to lose in numbers can perhaps be made up with more noise. Which is why I don’t see the NRA becoming more ‘reasonable’ if they jettison Wayne-o, tear up their agreement with the PR firm that produces those lunatic messages for NRA-TV, and goes back to being primarily concerned with hunting and outdoor sports.

              If anything, I see the NRA becoming even more extreme, more intolerant, more unwilling to admit that maybe, just maybe, the notion that we should become a nation of gun-carrying patriots is a relic of the past. It’s a lot easier to change direction when you have enough support that it doesn’t matter if a few folks drop off here or there. But if, all of a sudden, every dime counts, you’re not about to do anything that would jeopardize the mother lode.

Safe Storage Isn’t Safe At All.

              It is now more than a quarter-century since Art Kellerman, Fred Rivara and other scholars published a seminal work on suicide risk and access to guns. This article not only brought public attention to gun risk, but was probably the single, most important event leading to the 1996 elimination of gun research funding by the CDC.

              Just this week, another research effort linking guns to suicide has appeared, giving us an opportunity to compare research findings on the same issue over the last 25 years. And I’m going to give you my conclusion up front, which is that public health research on gun risk has created a medical consensus on how to deal with gun violence that moves us further away from where we should be.

              The whole purpose of public health research is to identify a risk to community health, figure out the proper response to that risk, then give physicians the proper tools to (note the next word in caps) eliminate the risk. Sorry, but the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t mention reducing disease; it says: “I will prevent disease whenever I can.”

              The authors of this new paper, obviously cognizant of the role of medicine in the prevention of disease, inject that issue into their work with the following conclusion: “In the overall model, 6% to 32% of deaths were estimated to be preventable depending on the probability of motivating safer storage.”

Reducing a threat to health by 6 percent isn’t prevention. And worse, even this minimal outcome, which is at best an ‘estimate,’ is dependent on whether the at-risk population responds positively to the ‘probability’ of ‘motivating’ a certain public-health strategy known as ‘safe storage.’

The ‘safe storage’ strategy has become the deus ex machina for gun control embraced by virtually every gun-control initiative both within and without the medical field. The strategy has never (read: never) been tested in anything other than a variety of statistical manipulations of relevant (but not definitive) data. Not one researcher has ever created a control group versus a comparison group and then analyzed outcomes between the two groups. The definition of ‘safe storage’ doesn’t even cover how the term is utilized in relevant legal statutes and texts.

I happen to live in the state – Massachusetts – which has the strictest safe-storage law of all 50 states. In my state, a gun owner can be charged with a felony even if a gun is simply left unlocked or not locked away in the home. But MA also recognizes that a gun is safely stored if the qualified owner can reach out and touch the gun. So if I am sitting in my living room watching TV and cleaning one of my guns at the same time, the gun is safely stored.

I have yet to see a single public health study advocating safe storage which asks respondents to define safe storage as locked, locked away or sitting next to the gun’s owner when he’s awake or asleep. Which means that these studies, like the one just published, are based on a primary variable (type of storage behavior) which has no connection to reality at all.

This is why I said above that public health gun research has moved us further, rather than closer to figuring out what to do about a threat to public health that results in at least 125,000 deaths and injuries every year. Because if you go back to the Kellerman-Rivara research which found gun owners to be at higher risk for suicide, their finding wasn’t based on whether or not guns were safely stored.

Why has the public health field decided that only guns that aren’t safely stored represent a risk to health? Because they actually believe that medical counseling on gun violence must respect our Constitutional ‘right’ to own a gun.

Since when did the Hippocratic Oath require physicians to determine health risk based on  whether some law gives individuals free license to harm themselves or others? Which is what the 2nd Amendment is really all about, whether the medical community and their public health research friends want to acknowledge it or not.

What We Know And Don’t Know About Guns.

              Our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg School have mounted a very impressive online curriculum on gun violence which I will review when I complete the course of study itself. In the meantime, the initial lecture by Daniel Webster opens with a reference to the Pew survey on gun owners, which is one of several recent efforts (note the survey from Harvard-Northeastern) which attempts to describe the kinds of folks who own and use guns.

              What these surveys have found is that, generally speaking, gun owners tend to be White males who live in smaller cities or rural areas, they start buying guns in their 20’s, but most of them are now in their 40’s or 50’s, a majority live in Southern and Midwestern states, they are married and they vote the GOP line. These surveys also show that the percentage of homes with guns has declined from roughly 50 percent to somewhere between 30 and 40 percent, and that the primary reason for gun ownership has shifted from hunting to self-defense.

              I understand that public health research is based on the collection and analysis of enough data to allow for meaningful discussions about the problem that the research is attempting to understand. Hence, the research is usually based on detailed surveys using what is referred to as a ‘nationally-representative’ sample of respondents whose answers are collected either by computer, telephone or both.

              I hate to break the news to my public health research friends, but they could save themselves a lot of time and money in this regard by simply choosing a weekend, just about any weekend, and going to four gun shows in different parts of the country to observe what goes on. What they will observe is that the folks who go to these shows, no matter where the shows take place, will exactly, I mean exactly fit the profile which emerges from all those national polls.

              In addition to these surveys really telling us what anyone can learn from a few hours at the national guard armory in Wheeling, WV or the VFW Hall in Melbourne, AR, these surveys suffer from two gaps, which until the gun violence research community makes some effort to fill in, reduces the value of these studies to a great degree. And these gaps reflect the fact that the whole purpose of gun surveys is to help us understand how to craft policies that will reduce the violence caused by guns. After all, if we didn’t suffer from 125,000 fatal and non-fatal gun injuries every year, would anyone other than the gun makers be interested in who owns guns?

              Gap #1 – These surveys do not (read: not) tell us anything about illegally-owned guns. We have no idea how many illegal guns are out there, where they are located, how often they are sold or traded and, most of all, how such guns start off as legal purchases and then wind up in the ‘wrong’ hands. We also don’t know how many illegal guns are responsible for the yearly, gun-injury toll, but it’s certainly more than half.

              Gap #2 – These surveys only ask gun owners about protecting themselves with guns. How about asking non-gun owners why they don’t feel the need to protect themselves with a gun?

              If these surveys show that only one-third of law-abiding Americans have decided that a gun in their home protects them from violence and/or crime, does this mean that the other two-thirds of the country aren’t worried about being victims of violence or crime? In fact, the last Gallup poll taken in March, 2019 found that nearly 50% of all respondents ‘personally worried’ a ‘great deal’ about violence and crime. How come they aren’t all running out to buy guns?

              If my friends in Gun-control Nation want to have a serious and productive discussion with the folks who live and die for their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ they might consider talking to people who have evidently found other ways besides gun ownership to protect themselves from violence and crime.

Guess Who Wins When It’s MOMS Versus The NRA.

              Who does Gun-nut nation fear more than anyone else? Who is the one person who represents Armageddon when it comes to all those beloved gun ‘rights?’ It’s not Hillary, it’s not Bloomie, it’s not those twenty-odd Presidential wannabes vying for the attention of blue-team donors like me.

              It’s a little lady from Indiana named Shannon Watts, whose organization, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, represents a real threat to the nonsensical narratives about the role of guns in American society peddled by various pro-gun noisemakers and their friends on the alt-right.

              This gang of fools launched an organized assault on Shannon last week, which started after Shannon posted a tweet criticizing the NRA‘s announcement that they would continue to fight against regulations that ban ‘armor-piercing’ ammunition since, according to America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ all centerfire ammunition will pierce ‘soft’ body armor. As soon as Shannon’s post went up (and btw, the NRA‘s statement about the lethality of ‘all’ centerfire rifle ammunition is totally and completely full of sh*t) the boys in Fairfax responded with posts on Instagram, telling their supporters to send negative comments to Shannon. This resulted in a flurry of threats, insults and profanity which has become the staple of how the alt-right deals with anything that even remotely smacks of gun control.

              Once the semi-literates who flock to Instagram started going after Shannon, the big boys and girls on the alt-right weighed in with more. Breitbart got in on the act, so did Townhall. And just to makes sure that the alt-right audience wouldn’t miss a trick, the NRA named Shannon as ‘Bloomberg’s chief lobbyist.’ Why not try to kill two birds for the price of one, right?

              Not that Shannon has ever been anything other than a pain in the you-know-what to Wayne-o and the rest of the NRA gang, but I suspect that maybe, just maybe, her tweet about armor-piercing ammunition may have given the boys from Fairfax exactly the issue they needed to avoid discussing another threat to the organization’s leadership which has just cropped up. I am referring to a pile of documents anonymously leaked to the internet, which are letters sent to the NRA Counsel, raising questions about payments made to a law firm, as well as expenses run up by Wayne-o himself while allegedly engaged in travel activities for the NRA

Most of the latter charges were for clothing bought at a clothing boutique, Ermenegildo Zegna, where a polo shirt can run as much as $495 bucks.  Right. A short-sleeve polo shirt.  Since 2004, Wayne-o has run up $275,000 in charges at the Zegna store in Beverly Hills, including a $21,000 charge in February, 2017.  All of these charges were billed to (and paid by) the PR firm, Ackerman-McQueen. No wonder the NRA and Ackerman-McQueen are now battling each other in court.

Maybe there’s an innocent explanation for why Wayne-o has run up wardrobe costs which outstrip anything Sarah Palin did in 2008. On the other hand, if he used his Ackerman-McQueen account to hide purchases for personal items which were then covered by invoices paid by NRA to the PR firm, someone’s going to jail. Using tax-exempt dollars to pay for goods or services not directly related to the tax-exempt entity’s approved affairs happens to be fraud. And $275,000 ain’t chopped liver, even in my book.

Getting back to our friend Shannon, there may be a more innocent reason why she’s getting blasted again by the NRA. Go to the MOMS website and type:  https://momsdemandaction.org/take-action/.  Then go to the ‘Attend’ link, put in your zip  code and see what comes up. Now go to the NRA website and type: https://explore.nra.org/interests/events-and-entertainment/.  Then click around and look for ‘friends of NRA‘ events in the same code. I guarantee you’ll find more grass-roots events sponsored by MOMS. I did it for Maryland – NRA has three upcoming events, MOMS has nine.

Know why the NRA hates Shannon and her gals? Because MOMS is now a true,  grass-roots organization in every sense of the word.

Right on Shannon, right on.

Let’s Stop Being Afraid of the Second Amendment.

              I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was twelve years old. At a flea market on Route 441 somewhere in the Florida Glades. Now Route 441 is an endless collection of strip malls, condo developments and more strip malls. Then 441 marked the western edge of the Glades.

              Between 1956 and 2008, when the Supreme Court gave Constitutional protection for the private ownership of guns, I probably bought and sold 500 handguns and long guns. That’s ten guns a year which isn’t all that many for a certified gun nut like me. Every one of those transactions was legal (well, most of them were legal) and none of those transactions had any Constitutional protection at all.

              Whenever some well-meaning person who supports gun control starts off by saying that they don’t want to infringe on 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ I want to cringe. What’s so bad about infringing on all these 2nd-Amendment rights, particularly when most of these so-called rights don’t really exist? The 2008 Heller decision does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to walk around with a gun. It does not (read: not) give AR-15 owners the ‘right’ to show up at Charlottesville with an assault rifle strapped to their backs. It does not (read: not) give gun owners the ‘right’ to wander all over the United States with their guns. It gives gun owners one ‘right,’ which is to keep a handgun in their home. Period. That’s the ‘right.’

              I want this issue to be clearly understood not because it will make any difference to how Gun-nut Nation talks about gun ‘rights.’ Want to know the latest Gun-nut take on gun ‘rights?’ Check out this spiel on NRA-TV by a noted foreign policy expert about how people in Venezuela are unable to fight back against the Maduro regime because they don’t have any guns. The country happens to have the second-highest murder rate in the world, but no doubt all those murders are committed with clubs and knives, not guns.

              So let’s not worry about how Gun-nut Nation promotes gun ‘rights.’ But we have an election next year. And every Presidential candidate lining up against Sleazy Don has announced their support of stronger gun laws. At the same time, all these candidates are steadfast in their desire to ‘respect’ the ‘right’ of Americans to own guns.

              As far as I’m concerned, my gun-control friends can pat themselves on the back as much as they want for supporting Constitutional guarantees, but by getting up on the barricades and proclaiming their fealty to the 2nd Amendment, they are giving away the argument before it begins. And they should stop doing it – right now!

              I just donated one hundred bucks to Moms Demand every month. I can guarantee you that I am the only donor to Moms who also happens to be a Lifetime Benefactor member of the NRA. Why do I swing both ways? Because I believe in an equal fight. But what I don’t believe is that Gun-control Nation levels the playing field by pretending that there’s no  disagreement with Gun-nut Nation when it comes to Constitutional ‘rights.’

              The reason we have a problem known as gun violence is not because all our guns aren’t safely stored. It’s not because we don’t require a background check every time we transfer every gun. It’s because we pretend that the 2nd Amendment only allows us to pass ‘reasonable’ gun laws. And if anyone out there really believes that a ‘reasonable’ gun law would prevent anyone from getting their hands on a concealable handgun holding 15 or more rounds of military-grade ammunition, you might as well follow Alice down the rabbit hole. Ending gun violence means ending the demand for guns which are used to commit gun violence, not ending the supply.

              There are still at least fifteen Presidential candidates who have yet to tell us what they would do about gun violence. Maybe one of them will figure it out.

Will Cory’s Plan To License All Guns Work?

              Yesterday, one of the umpteen 2020 challengers of Sleazy Don, Cory Booker, announced a plan to reduce gun violence which should be taken seriously, because Cory lives in Newark, so he should know something about guns. Seriously, his plan goes further than any of the other gun-control plans so far announced, because he’s calling for some kind of national gun licensing. To quote the Senator, “If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to own a gun.”      

              I have to hand it to my Gun-control Nation friends. Who would have ever imagined that coming up with an approach to gun violence would become a de rigueur requirement for a 2020 national campaign? Can it actually be the case that the NRA Emperor doesn’t wear any clothes? Maybe he never had any clothes in the first place.

              Booker’s plan to create a national licensing system is something of a muddle because he wants the system to be run by the FBI but the actual vetting will be done by the local police. So even if the devil is in the details, the bottom line is that Booker has just injected the unmentionable into the gun debate, namely, that ownership of all guns needs to be regulated the same way no matter where the gun owner happens to live. If nothing else, his plan is an implicit recognition that the patchwork of state and local gun laws that currently exists simply doesn’t work.

              But why doesn’t it work? According to current research, places with more lax gun laws have more gun deaths.  Conversely, jurisdictions with stricter laws have fewer gun deaths. Incidentally, before I go further, note that gun violence is defined only in terms of mortality rates when, in fact, gun deaths probably constitute less than one-third of all injuries caused by guns. But the data on non-fatal gun injuries simply can’t be trusted, so we are making the assumption that the relationship between gun laws and gun deaths would also hold true if we could count all the injuries caused by guns.

              Much of the argument that more laws = less gun violence rests on data from Massachusetts, where I happen to live. I have also been a gun dealer in Massachusetts since 2001, so I know how the system in this state works and doesn’t work. And what I know is that if anyone wants to use Massachusetts as a template for how stricter gun laws results in less gun violence, they are creating an argument that has as many holes in it as a slice of swiss cheese.

              Here is what the experts say about the Massachusetts law.

  • David Hemenway:  “All other things equal, [places] where there’s strong laws and with few guns do much better than places where there’s weak laws and lots of guns.”
  • Cassandra Crifasi: “The end impact is you decrease gun ownership overall, and then you have fewer firearms around, and less exposure.”

Note the caveat; i.e., the number of guns. In other words, is it the severity and comprehensiveness of the laws per se? Is it that there were less guns in a particular locality before a new gun law was passed? Is it a combination of both or maybe something  else?

The current regulatory system in Massachusetts, which makes it one of the most regulated of all the states, dates from 1999. Since that date, the aggregate gun-violence rate in Massachusetts is the lowest of all 50 states. Prior to 1999, the Massachusetts gun-violence rate was the second-lowest state rate. Now in fact, the gun-violence rate in Massachusetts under the more restrictive law is lower than it was before that law was passed. However, the gun-violence rate also happens to be lower in the other 50 states.

The truth is that the relationship between gun laws and gun violence is a classic case of the chicken and the egg. What we don’t need is to hatch the egg and wind up with a turkey, okay?

Daily Comment: Socialism Vs. Freedom NRA-Style.

I normally don’t post a Friday column, but today the golf course is just too wet. Plus, I wanted to get this up here before it becomes stale.

All the week the media had a grand time covering the so-called collapse of the NRA, given the leadership contretemps that emerged during the 2019 meeting at Indy. Front and center to those stories was the relationship between the boys in Fairfax and their long-time advertising agency, Ackerman-McQueen, which appears to have been double or maybe triple-billing for producing NRA-TV.

I suspect that most of the readers of my website have never watched NRA-TV. For that reason, and as a public service, here’s the latest NRA-TV production featuring the ‘relentless’ Dana Loesch. Dana got started as a spieler for Glenn Beck’s network before it went bust. She then moved to NRA-TV. She competes with some other, alt-right female spielers like Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, both of whom, along with Dana, try to outdo each other in terms of throwing insulting commentary at the liberal ‘elie,’ and never appear in front of a camera without a little chain around their necks displaying their Christian-identity cross.

Lately, the NRA-TV website makes a point of making sure that the title of every segment contains the word ‘socialism,’ as in how the Left, or the Democrats, or whatever you want to call the enemy of God-fearing Americans represents an international, Socialist threat. And how do these spielers define socialism? Simple. It’s any politician who wants to take away your guns.

The decision to frame 2020 as a contest between America’s new greatness and the dangers of socialism hasn’t been finalized yet, although Schumck-o Don has been running it up the flagpole here and there. But this theme has clearly become the centerpost for gun-rights groups like the NRA, who have been warning of the dangers of a Socialist state whenever any kind of gun-control narrative rears its ugly head.

Remember how Ben Carson knew for ‘a fact’ that disarming the Jews in Germany resulted in the Holocaust? You can read the same argument in a book published by an NRA attorney, Stephen Holbrook, who happens to be a very nice guy, even though he’s totally misinformed.

Having grown up during the 1950’s, when there was a Red under every bed, I find this new appeal to the dangers of socialism to be rather quaint. After all, it’s not as if anyone has yet to suggest that we should protect ourselves from the socialist menace by re-instituting loyalty oaths or the Blacklist. Speaking of the Blacklist, I just finished reading Stefan Kanfer’s remarkable book, Journal of the Plague Year. You might want to try it out.

I simply can’t believe that even the NRA would stoop so low as to put its name alongside a commentary by Dana Loesch which is so completely stupid, filled with obvious mistakes and goes beyond anything even remotely connected to the truth. If this is what Gun-nut Nation is going to promote as an attempt to capture the 2020 vote, the last thing my friends in Gun-control Nation should do is to try and shut the NRA down.

Can We Reduce Gun Violence With A Public Health Approach?

              Our friends at the Coalition  to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) recently posted an editorial that described gun violence as a ‘public health crisis’ because it has an “adverse impact on community health.” The notion that we can reduce and ultimately eliminate the 40,000 gun deaths suffered each year by taking a public health solution to the problem has become the standard mantra in gun-control circles, not the least of which because of the possibility that CDC research money on gun violence may be coming back into play.

              We love the notion of public health. Maybe we didn’t invent it, but we sure have used the public health approach to deal with serious threats to the human community, most notably and recently AIDS. And since gun violence is certainly widespread enough to be considered a threat to the human community, and since it also tends to impact most severely on certain identifiable groups within the community, obviously we can and should utilize the public health approach to this health threat as well. So say all the public health experts on gun violence.

I’m not a physician. I’m not a public health researcher. I can, if I choose, ask to be introduced as ‘Doctor Weisser,’ but that’s only because I earned a lowly Ph.D.

 On the other hand, I know something about guns. And based on what I know and what all these public health experts don’t know,  I disagree.

I disagree with the ‘public health approach’ to gun violence because the information that we need to evaluate in order to figure out a valid public health response to this particular threat to the human community doesn’t exist. And it won’t exist even if the CDC dumps not just 50 million into gun research, but 500 million or more.

I don’t hear any of the public health experts talking about this problem at all. In fact, these experts go out of their way to deny the importance of even collecting such data, despite saying again and again that any public health strategy must be ‘evidence-based.’

A public health approach requires that first you figure out why certain people get sick. Then you figure out how the sickness spreads from victim to victim, then you figure out how to prevent the spread of the illness either through immunization strategies, public policies or both. In the case of gun violence, we know who gets sick. But we have absolutely no idea how the illness spreads from one person to another because we don’t know anything about the agent who spreads the disease – the shooter – and we don’t know anything about the instrument whose presence creates the disease – the gun.

We don’t know anything about the agent because in the case of self-inflicted fatal injuries the agent is dead. In the case of the agent spreading the disease, he either isn’t identified or if he is, he’s locked up in jail. At which point we aren’t dealing with a public health issue. We’re dealing with a crime. Finally, both groups of agents use the same instrument, a gun, and we don’t know how they got their hands on the gun.

Back in March, three major public health scholars appeared before a House committee and testified about the need to restore CDC gun research funds. When asked, all three esteemed experts denied the necessity to create a national gun registry – not needed at all. A national registry happens to be the only way to figure out the movement and use of the instrument which has to be present in every instance of gun violence. Somehow, this never gets said.

I’m saying it now. Either my friends in the public health community stop promoting the nonsense that whatever they are doing won’t threaten the beloved 2nd Amendment, or they can stop pretending that they can come up with any kind of serious public health solution to the threat posed by guns. It’s simple.  Either – Or.