Dave Buchannon: Legislation Can’t Fix This.

Congress returned to work this week and the first order of business is gun control legislation, at least according to all the news we’ve been reading since El Paso and Dayton.  The mission seems to be, “do something, anything, to make this stop.”  Everyone’s talking about banning this gun or that high capacity magazine.  There’s also the movement to pass a national red-flag law that will take guns away from those who shouldn’t be allowed to have guns because of their mental state.  Or the best one yet – comprehensive background checks for every gun transfer.

It’s all hogwash that might make some people feel they’ve done something meaningful, but it will not change anything.  Sadly, not one thing. 

Because, no matter how horrible gun violence has become in America today, it is not something we can legislate away.  The problem goes much, much deeper than anything a new law or background check can solve.  Some would say its root is in bad parenting, genetics, is the result of our overcrowded prison system, a failed mental health system, gangs, the list could go on and on.

Dear Congress, write all the new laws you want (whether the President will sign them or not), wanna know why they won’t put a dent in gun violence?  Because the bad guys don’t care about laws – isn’t that part of the definition of “bad guy?”  No matter how many laws are enacted, the bad guys have already figured out a way to get around it.  I could give two hoots what the NRA says about this, I’ve seen it first hand as a cop – if a bad guy wants a gun, he’s going to get a gun and there’s no law that’s going to stop him.  Nice try.

Universal background checks are a great idea, if all of the agencies across the country are reporting as they are supposed to.  They aren’t.  Remember the Sutherland Park, Texas  church shooting in November, 2017?  It most likely wouldn’t have happened had the US Air Force reported Devin Patrick Kelley’s less than honorable discharge after his court-marshal for a domestic violence arrest.  You see, he passed the NICS check when he bought the rifle he used in the shooting… because the US Air Force failed to report.  Many states and municipalities do not report criminal or mental health issues that would prevent someone from buying a gun. So long as there are states, agencies, and armed forces that are not fully reporting to NICS, universal background checks will not work.  Another nice try. 

So what about those red flag laws everyone is crowing about?  Congress can pass a national red flag law with the best of intentions.  At some point an angry ex-spouse, ex-business partner, angry neighbor, or other person who is upset with a legal gun owner will fraudulently report that person as being a hazard to self or others.  The lawyers will be circulating, waiting to sue the reporting party and challenge the law.  The legal beagles will probably be successful because many of the state red flag laws currently on the books completely disregard any due process for the legal gun owner.  In my home state of Massachusetts, no hearing is required before the police show up at the gun owner’s door with a warrant to seize his guns.  After the gun owner has sold his house to pay the legal bills and proves he’s in charge of his faculties or never made any threats, how does he get his guns back?  He doesn’t, because in Massachusetts there is no mechanism in the law to return the guns to the original owner.  He winds up having to keep paying the bonded storage charges (yep, the owner has to pay for storage when’s guns are taken away).  I give the red flag laws about a year before the courts over turn them. 

What can be done?  My point is that there is no single answer to the gun violence problem.  Anyone who tells you passing a law will solve the problem is flat-out lying to you.  If you believe and embrace this hokum-filled philosophy, I’m sorry, but you are sadly misguided.  This is a much, much larger problem that has less to do with the gun than with larger societal issues. 

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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.

When It Comes To A New Gun Law, Here’s How To Get It Done.

Now that the momentum appears to be building for a new federal gun law, my Gun-control Nation friends will no doubt get busy trying to figure out: a) what would be the best law to try and get passed; and b) how to go about getting it passed. The GOP has suddenly begun warming up to the idea of a ‘red flag’ law because such a measure would basically hand the gun-control problem over to the cops, which means that the NRA-toadies on the right side of the aisle can say support ‘common-sense’ gun laws and Blue Lives Matter at the same time.

Last year the Parkland kids spearheaded an event, March For Our Lives, which brought as many as 2 million people to DC and may have been one of the largest, mass protests of all time.  Which was exactly the problem with the event, namely, that it was a protest against gun violence rather than a guide to what needed to get done.

Want to know how to figure out what could or might get done? My advice is to heed the experiences and words of a woman who, when a definitive history of gun control finally appears, deserves to be considered as the Susan B. Anthony of the gun-control movement (we’ll make Shannon Watts the Elizabeth Cady Stanton), a.k.a., Donna Dees Thomases, who put together the first, national gun-control event in 2000 known as the Million Mom March.

Donna got going after she saw a news report about a shooting in a Jewish Community Center in California which wounded two adults and three children, although luckily nobody was killed. I want to pause my narrative for a moment and give a big shout-out to two women, Donna Finkelstein and Loren Lieb, whose children were wounded in the attack and who remain active in the local Brady chapter to this day. I just sent a contribution to Brady in their names and I urge you to do the same. Now back to Donna.

Last year following March for our Lives, Donna published a piece in which she uses her own activist experiences of the past two decades to state both some concerns and hopes for what Gun-control Nation might possibly achieve. Her biggest concern, and I share this with her in spades, is that the gun-control movement continues to be splintered into a multiplicity of groups which makes the whole issue of branding difficult to achieve. And in the age of instant media known as the internet, branding is not only essential, but it’s particularly important when you go up against Gun-nut Nation that gathers just about everyone under one brand – the NRA – which has been around for more than 140 years.

Now the fact that the NRA is at the moment having problems keeping its brand from coming apart at the seams shouldn’t lull any gun-control activist into some kind of dream-like fantasy that America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ is about to dry up and go away. The boys in Fairfax will wait until things quiet down, they’ll give Wayne-o and his team a graceful good-bye, and back they’ll come to continue the rhetorical shoot-out over gun ‘rights.’

Donna’s concern about the plethora of organizational efforts on the gun-control side is balanced by the fact that between herself, Shannon, Sarah Brady and others, women have played a leading role in the gun-control fight. And she makes a point of the fact that one of the strengths of Moms Demand Action is the red t-shirt which is easily identifiable at public events. Just imagine what it would look like if a million people showed up for another gun-control rally on the Mall and everyone was wearing the same shirt (hint, hint.)

Last but not least, and here I couldn’t agree more with what Donna says, which is that nothing happens overnight. Advocacy is always a long, difficult and often frustrating struggle so be forewarned and prepared. On the other hand, who ever said that important issues like human life don’t deserve a serious fight?

And you can also read an interview I gave yesterday about the attempt to put an assault-weapon ban on the 2020 Florida ballot – another tough, long fight.

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.

Why Do People Believe In Armed, Self-Defense?

              There’s a guy out in Gun-nut Nation named Chris Bird, who is regarded as one of the patron saints of the concealed-carry movement, and I have just finished reading his book, The Concealed Handgun Manual, which is considered a must-read book by all the noisemakers who believe that we are a safer country because we have access to guns. And since Chris may think that some of the things I’m going to say about his book aren’t all that positive or nice, I’ll give the book a plug because you can buy it right here.

              As a matter of fact, I strongly urge my friends in Gun-control Nation to read this book, because if there’s one thing that strikes me about activists who want to see us reduce the violence and injuries caused by guns, it’s the degree to which they seem to have little, if any awareness of what is said or believed by the other side. Ask the average gun-control true-believer to explain the difference between an ‘internet’ sale and a ‘personal, sale of a gun and you’ll get the deer-in-the-headlights look. Then ask the same person to explain the difference between an assault rifle and a semi-auto long gun and you’ll probably get much the same look.

              I wouldn’t recommend Bird’s book were it not for the fact that the issue of concealed-carry basically defines the entire gun debate. Why? Because everyone (except me) seems to believe that the 2nd Amendment gives Americans the ‘right’ to own a gun. But where the break occurs between the two sides is explaining why someone should or shouldn’t own a gun. And the gun industry has been selling its products for the last thirty or so years by telling customers that a gun is an essential ‘tool’ for self-defense, even though there is absolutely no valid research which shows this argument to be true.

              So what we get down to here is a mind-set in the heads of many Americans who as a group form the market for continued gun sales. And Chris Bird happens to write books which appeal directly to that mind-set, whether there’s any reality behind it or not. If my friends in Gun-control are really serious about coming up with ‘reasonable’ gun restrictions which will appeal to ‘reasonable’ people on the other side, reading Bird’s book might give them some insights into why those gun owners believe they should own guns. 

              Bird begins the book with a lecture on ‘situational awareness,’ a self-defense concept first developed by Jeff Cooper (whose widow passed away yesterday at the age of 99) back in the 1970’s, which is when, thanks to Glock, the idea of owning and carrying a small, concealable, hi-powered and hi-capacity handgun first took hold. The argument made by Bird is both simple-stupid, namely, that all of us are at all times possible targets of predators who can only be repulsed with personal armed force because the cops never arrive on time.

              The book then goes through a whole series of episodes where armed citizens saved themselves from a criminal attack; it then covers how to choose a handgun, how to practice with your gun, and how to ‘win a gunfight’ with references all the way back to the OK Corral. If you’re a bone-fide member of Gun-control Nation and read this book, you’ll quickly decide that it represents nothing more than a marketing scam designed to mislead delusional people into believing they really need to own a gun.

I disagree. I know many of the folks who take seriously what Bird has to say, and their views might run counter to the prevailing liberal orthodoxy on gun violence, but there’s no reason to believe that what they think about armed, self-defense should simply be considered the product of deranged minds. These folks choose to be gun owners with the same degree of diligence that many of my friends believe that gluten-free foods will prevent chronic fatigue syndrome or worse.

Want to reduce gun violence? At least try to understand what the other side thinks.

Why Do People Like Guns? Because They Like Guns.

              Earlier this week one of my readers sent me a link to the video of a debate I had at Northern Michigan University with John Lott.  The event was held in a large auditorium on campus and the place was filled with students, faculty and nearby residents, many of whom were gun nuts.  How do I know they were gun nuts?  Because at the beginning of my remarks I asked all the gun nuts in the audience to identify themselves by holding up their hands, and then I asked some of them to prove their gun-nuttiness by telling me and the audience how many guns they actually owned.

              As I recall, the guys who were willing to ‘fess up about the size of their gun collections said they owned somewhere between 10 and 30 guns.  I laughed in response to every single answer and then told the audience that I currently owned around 60 guns, give or take a few, and that at the moment my private collection was kind of ‘light.’

              I speak to pro-gun groups all the time. I’m something of a contrarian and I enjoy telling people what they don’t expect to hear. And when someone tells a group of gun guys that he owns 60 guns but would like to see a more serious effort made to reduce the 125,000 gun injuries we suffer every year, I can say without fear of exaggeration that this is an argument that Gun-nut Nation doesn’t often hear. I make it clear that I don’t buy into the nonsense about how all those ‘good guys’ with guns can protect us from all those ‘bad guys’ with guns. I also say that just because someone sits in a room for a couple of hours and falls asleep while someone else reads through some boring text about gun ‘safety,’ that this experience doesn’t meet even a minimal qualification for using a gun.

              What I don’t do in my public appearances is talk about the research on gun violence which has been published on both sides, for the simple reason that I don’t believe that the average person makes up his mind or even thinks about making up his mind based on data or facts. At least not the average person who owns a gun.  Why do I say this? Because I happen to have sold guns to more than 10,000 residents of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont over the past 17 years; I have also taught the required gun-safety course to more than 7,000 residents in Connecticut and Mass., and I earn my living now by doing lethal-force certifications for local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies. So I know a heckuva lot more about how gun owners think about guns than anyone else in either Gun-control Nation or Gun-nut Nation, that’s for sure. And here’s what I know.

              People who buy and own guns do it for one, simple reason. They want to buy and own a gun. They may tell you that they need a gun to defend themselves, or they need a gun because it’s their 2nd-Amendment ‘right,’ or maybe they need a gun because pretty soon they won’t be able to buy a gun. I had a female customer, an educated business executive, come into my gun shop two weeks before the 2016 Presidential election who told me she ‘knew’ that if Hillary was elected, that she wouldn’t be able to own a gun.  How did such a crazy idea get into her head?  By the same token, I love how some gun-control advocates tell me about the ‘debunked’ research published by John Lott. As if they’ve ever read his research. Yea, right.

              I’m going to continue talking to pro-gun audiences and gun owners as often as I can. I wish that some of my dear friends in Gun-control Nation would spend a little less time talking to each other and try talking to the other side. Who knows? They might actually learn why people like their guns.  

Want To Argue About Nothing? Try Concealed-Carry Or Gun-Free Zones.

One of the issues which can always get everyone hot and bothered on both sides of the gun debate is the issue of gun-free zones. On the one hand, proponents of armed, self-defense (John Lott, et. al.) argue that denying folks the right to carry their self-defense gun into a public space makes that space a likely target for any nut who wants to commit mass mayhem using a gun. On the other hand, maintaining and/or expanding gun-free zones is seen by Gun-control Nation as a fundamental strategy for reducing the 125,000+ injuries that we suffer each year from the use/abuse of guns.

I happen to believe that both arguments are bunk and do not, in any way, shape or form, align with the relevant facts. This is because we don’t know the relevant facts, nor has anyone even attempted to figure them out. But making arguments without any factual underpinnings is hardly a new approach when it comes to advocating for or against anything, particularly when it comes to advocating an issue as emotionally-laden as the issue of guns.

It just happens to be the case that most public spaces are gun-free zones, and that’s not about to change. The reason that John Lott says that most large-scale shootings occur in gun-free spaces is because prohibitions on carrying personal firearms are typical of shopping centers, auditoriums and stadiums, which happen to be the places where many people congregate at the same time. Federal law also designates all public K-12 schools as gun-free zones. 

The other problem in the gun-free zone universe is that the issue is confused because it’s often attached to a second gun argument which is equally mis-stated on both sides, namely, the issue of mass shootings which, by definition, occur in places where lots of people congregate at the same time. The commonly-accepted definition of a ‘mass shooting’ is an event in which four or more persons are killed, but this usually excludes shootings in private residences or shootings in the street between rival gangs. So, for example, the gunfire which erupted on May 17, 2015, between two motorcycle gangs in a Waco, TX restaurant parking lot wouldn’t necessarily make the mass-shooting hit list, even though 18 bikers and bystanders were injured and another 9 ended up dead.  And by the way, how come we don’t hear about this event as being the ‘proof’ that armed citizens can prevent crimes when just about everyone standing outside the Twin Peaks Restaurant that day was carrying a gun?

On the other hand, what makes my friends in Gun-control Nation crazy about expanding gun-free zones is that invariably this proposal is tied to the increase in concealed-carry licensing, which is on its way to covering more than 20 million gun owners at last count. But if you want to argue that an increase in armed citizens leads to an increase in gun injuries you’ll find yourself facing two facts which don’t bear this out.

First, although the latest numbers of CCW puts the national figure at 17.5 million, this figure may represent more than five times the number of people actually walking around on a regular basis with a loaded gun. Do these 3 million gun-toters represent a serious threat to community safety and health? To answer that question we turn to our friends at the Violence Policy Center whose report, Concealed Carry Killers, found that between 2007 and 2017, roughly 1,000 people shot themselves or others with legally-carried guns, the division between homicide and suicide about 50 percent. Over that same eleven-year period, more than 350,000 Americans overall died from gun homicides and suicides. Ok? Get it?

Nobody has yet to come up with a definitive explanation for whether or not shooters, particularly mass shooters, are attracted to gun-free zones. But as far as I’m concerned, the whole issue of concealed-carry and gun-free zones is a side-show when compared to figuring out what to do about the daily, run-of-the-mill shooting events that each year now claim more than 40,000 lives.

The Supreme Court Just Shattered A Favorite Pro-Gun Belief.

              Talking about adding insult to injury. Last week the Supreme Court jumped on the ‘let’s get rid of the NRA’ bandwagon with a decision which undermined one of the basic tenets of the pro-gun movement; namely, the idea that the best way to reduce gun violence is to lock ’em up and throw away the key. America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ never talks about gun owners without referring to this population as ‘law abiding,’ the idea being that as long as ‘good guys’ own guns, they will protect us from the ‘bad guys’ who own guns.

              Congress went along with this marketing scheme for selling more guns by passing a law in 1986 which gave federal judges undefined authority to increase penalties if someone was convicted of a crime in which they used a gun. So if a guy robbed a mini-mart by brandishing a knife he might be sentenced to prison for so-many years, but if he pulled out a gun, his time in jail could be many more years. 

              Giving judges arbitrary authority to impose stiffer sentences for gun crimes is not the same thing as mandatory sentences for using a gun during a criminal event.  The latter legal strategy exists in many states, but these statutes usually spell out exactly how much additional jail time will be tacked onto the sentence pronounced by the court.  In the case of the 1986 federal law, the statute is silent regarding the specific additional penalty that a criminal earns by using a gun, and these arbitrary punishments can be tacked onto the harsher penalties stuck into the federal criminal statutes by Clinton in 1995.

              There has been a lot of back and forth over the years about whether criminal charges for violating gun laws make any real difference when it comes to how we try to deal with violent crime. For the most part, tacking an additional criminal charge onto a case of armed robbery doesn’t change the fact that the offender invaded someone’s convenience store and tried to take away money or goods with force. In fact, the studies on whether longer sentences for gun crimes reduces violence shows little, if any connection between sentencing and crime rates at all.

              Studies aside, there’s always been some kind of nostalgia for the idea that at some point in the distant past, we were tougher on crime and criminals than we are today. And much of this nonsense is peddled by the same hot-air balloons who are quick to remind us that everything has gone down the drain since we let the ‘element’ move into our neighborhoods, get more welfare and food stamps and vote multiple times so that a guy born in Kenya could end up living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for eight long, miserable years.

              That’s right. The bottom line on all this talk about getting ‘tough’ on crime and particularly gun crime, is the issue of race. Because when Dana Loesch goes on NRA-TV and loudly proclaims that she uses her gun to protect herself and her family from ‘street thugs,’ she’s not talking about guys who happen to be White. The good news is that even though Dana blocked me yesterday from her Facebook page, a small legal issue between the boys in Fairfax and the PR mavens at Ackerman-McQueen, has now blocked her from appearing on NRA-TV.

              Know why my friends in Gun-control Nation didn’t mention or even notice the SCOTUS decision to redress what has been a hallowed argument by Gun-nut Nation for reducing violence caused by guns? Because the 5-4 decision found the 4 liberal justices joined by none other than one of Trump’s main guys, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch. Remember when he was confirmed that all the gun-control noisemakers were saying that he would tip the balance of the Court towards a more aggressive protection of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Yea, right.

              This decision is exactly in line with what Gun-control Nation has been arguing for years. The silence is remarkable in this respect.

Mike The Gun Guy Goes On Trial.

              On Friday, July 19, I am going to be a defendant on trial in Las Vegas; I can only hope I will be found innocent of all charges and allowed to go free. The main charge against me is that I am against the 2nd Amendment, and the prosecutor is none other than the ‘hated’ John Lott. There will be a judge, there will be a jury and I suspect that when the trial comes to an end, I’ll be found guilty as charged.

              The event is actually taking place at the Paris Hotel and Casino, and it is a featured presentation of this year’s FreedomFest, billed as a conference where “free minds meet to celebrate ‘great books, great ideas and great thinkers’ in an open-minded environment.” If you haven’t figured it out yet, FreedomFest is the libertarian equivalent of TED or Aspen, a place where folks can learn about one important issue or another while really getting together to cut a deal.

              This isn’t the first time I’ve shot my mouth off before a pro-gun group, nor is it the first time I’ve had a public debate with the ‘hated’ John Lott. Increasingly, I go out of my way and will even endure a crummy, five-hour plane ride if I get a chance to say what I have to say before a group which fervently believes in 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ After all, why would I want to fly out to Seattle to appear before a meeting of Grandmothers Against Guns?  I love how some of my friends who do public health research on gun violence will only speak in front of gun-control groups. What’s the point of that?

              There are also some folks in Gun-control Nation who are so childishly screwed up that they attack me for being a renegade, a turncoat, a troublemaker and a not-so-secret NRA partisan by appearing on the same stage as the ‘hated’ John Lott. After all, as a good friend who happens to be a leading public health scholar once lectured me, “You’re just giving him credibility which he doesn’t deserve.”

              I am not only pleased to be invited to talk at FreedomFest, I’m hoping that my appearance will lead to more speaking invitations from like-minded groups. And if those appearances involve sharing the stage with John Lott, just as well. When John appears before a meeting of the Federalist Society or some other politically-conservative group, he’s not converting a single person in the audience to his point of view. On the other hand, when I talk at a get-together sponsored by the NRA (and since I’m an Endowment Patriot Life member they can’t kick me out no matter what) someone always comes up, thanks me for coming and says, “Gee, that’s the first time I’ve heard what you had to say.”

              To my friends in Gun-control Nation, we’re not going to challenge America’s gun culture by talking to the folks on our own side. We’re not going to convince the majority of Americans who currently believe that a gun protects them from crime, by telling them about some public health study which shows the idea to be untrue. The last time that Gallup asked whether a gun made a home more or less safe, the ‘more’ outnumbered the ‘less’ by two to one, and 79% of gun owners told Pew that having a gun makes them feel safer than not.

              I happen to disagree with these views. I have watched more than 7,000 people run through a live-fire drill on my range and even with some practice now and again, hardly any of these folks would ever be able to protect themselves with a gun. When I talk to a gun-rights group and tell them to find other ways to deal with the fears which drive them to buy and own guns, I’m telling them something they won’t hear from John Lott.

              Gun-control Nation should spend a little more time thinking about why the ‘other side’ clings to their guns and a little less time promoting their self-righteous beliefs.

If anyone is terribly offended by what I just said, they can have all the space they want on my blog to reply in kind.