Let’s Go To A Gun Show.

              Yesterday I went to the gun show that is held every three months at a location about 20 miles from where I live.  The show has been running for at least twenty-five years and I see the same vendors and visitors year after year. It’s a medium-sized show as gun shows go, maybe 150 vendors selling all kinds of guns and gun-related stuff, maybe 300 – 400 folks wandering around at any one time. The most popular location, of course, was the deli which features the usual hot dogs and fries, there was also a Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk where a cup of coffee ran three bucks.

              I’m not saying that I conducted any kind of scientific survey, but it’s not that difficult to get a pretty good read on who goes to a gun shows these days. The people walking up and down the aisles were almost all older White men, probably in their 60’s and above. The men outnumbered the women by at least ten to one – so much for all the talk about how women are ‘getting into’ guns. Did I see any Brothers wandering around even though the show’s location is less than ten minutes from a medium-sized city which is at least fifty percent non-White?  No.

              As for the people who were sitting behind the vendor tables, most of them were as old or older than the folks who came to the show to look at guns. Of the 150 vendors, probably about one-third were selling guns but only a handful were dealers with real gun shops, the rest were collectors who are licensed as dealers but don’t actually run a real business of any kind. It’s easy to spot the collectors as opposed to the real dealers, because the collectors display guns that are at least a hundred years old. A 1903 Springfield rifle, for example, may have been manufactured prior to 1919, and I saw at least 30 of these World War I vintage guns on vendor tables here and there.

              Of the 100 or so vendors who weren’t selling guns, about half of them sold optics, holsters or knives, the other half were selling all kinds of junk including jewelry, military-surplus clothing, books, targets and other kinds of crap. I bought a nice, handmade leather holster for my Glock 17; I also got into a lively discussion with a guy who knew ‘for a fact’ that every Democratic Presidential candidate, all 20 of them, had received large payments from some oligarch in the Ukraine.

              Ten years ago gun shows always had a couple of vendors selling military memorabilia, in particular World War II medals, uniforms and helmets, including stuff allegedly worn by Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima or the Nazi SS.  Those items have disappeared from the gun show circuit, not because of political correctness, but because nobody remembers or even knows anything about a war which ended more than 70 years ago.

              And yes, the NRA was at the show because America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ usually has a booth at every gun show. For all the talk about how the NRA is going down the tubes and Wayne-o is such a big crook, the NRA rep seemed to be having a good time handing out applications and a list of upcoming NRA events.

              One big change: I didn’t see a single vendor selling MAGA hats or t-shirts extolling the virtues of Donald Trump. In fact, for all the talk about how gun owners are the bedrock of the alt-right, the show was decidedly non-political in every respect. If anyone was walking around with a petition calling on Nancy Pelosi to ‘open up’ the impeachment process, he was keeping very much out of sight.

              This show takes place three miles away from an inner-city neighborhood where shootings are a daily part of life. Perhaps someone can explain to me how closing down this show would do anything to reduce gun violence in that nearby neighborhood or anywhere else.

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It’s Time To Stop Talking To Ourselves.

              Here’s the takeaway from last week.  The NRA dumped Ollie North, who turned out to be a very good fundraiser for himself, and replaced him with a woman best known for her involvement with a group which preserves a Confederate memorial that graces the side of a mountain considered sacred ground by the Ku Klux Klan. On the other side of the ledger, the House Appropriations Committee put $50 million for gun research into the  budget of the CDC. 

              In the greater scheme of things, neither of these two events will make a big difference in how we try to deal with the 300 intentional gun injuries that we suffer from each day. But they do symbolize, to quote a Nobel-prize winner, as something ‘blowing in the wind,’ and the wind seems to be getting a lot stronger every day. Maggie Astor got it right yesterday in the ‘failing’ (ha-ha) New York Times, when she said that the national gun-control movement has now built “an infrastructure that had previously existed only on the conservative side of gun policy.”

              I see evidence of this infrastructure in terms of the number of fundraising emails I receive (and I get them from both sides), in terms of media coverage where outlets like The New York Times now seem to carry a feature about guns and gun violence seemingly every other day, and most of all, I see it in the pronouncements by the 20-odd candidates who have announced their intention to chase schmuck-o Don out of Washington, D.C. Just four years ago, conventional wisdom still considered it to be a big risk if you ran for public office and were anti-gun. That bit of received sagacity has disappeared. Fartig (read: finished.)

              Before you read further, let me make one point. My perspective on gun control and gun violence doesn’t date back to Sandy Hook and 2012. It doesn’t date back to 1999 and Columbine or 1994 and the Assault Weapons Ban. It dates back to 1966 when Chuckie Whitman climbed to the top of the Texas Tower and began blasting away. That’s when I first started paying attention to gun violence, okay? So when I say that we are in a very new and different state of affairs as regarding what to do about America’s love of guns (including my love of them) I’m taking the long view, probably longer than any of you. And my long view tells me this.

              Sooner or later, if you want to make a real dent in gun violence, the gun-control community is going to have to start talking to gun owners not as enemies but as friends. And this doesn’t mean just coming up with some ‘reasonable’ gun laws which allegedly garner support from both sides in the debate. What it really mean is talking to gun owners about why the ‘good guy with the gun’ narrative is a myth.

             So here’s my challenge to my friends in Gun-control Nation. There are somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 gun shows held in the United States every year. This means that on any given weekend, there are probably 100 locations where 5,000 to 10,000 bone-fide gun nuts get together to play around with guns. I’m going to a nearby show next weekend, in fact. Here’s a calendar of upcoming shows.

              I am willing to pay the costs of renting a table at one gun show a month for the next 12 months. I’ll send a check to the show’s sponsor which will be in the name of the gun shop that I own. And then you come to the show, sit behind the table, maybe give out some literature or whatever, and engage the gun owners who attend the show in a discussion about their guns.

              I don’t care what you say. I don’t care which organization you represent. Or maybe you’ll just represent yourself. Fine with me. But let’s stop talking just to ourselves, okay? Let’s see what happens when we talk to the other side. And by the way, I have been to hundreds of gun shows and the food is always great.

It’s Time To Stop Worrying About The NRA.

Now that the NRA is about to celebrate the importance of gun ‘rights,’ in Indianapolis, it’s not by accident that an energized Gun-control Nation has started throwing as much dirt as possible at America’s ‘defender of freedom,’ or ‘America’s first civil rights organization,’ or whatever the boys from Fairfax are calling themselves these days.

It wasn’t that long ago that the annual NRA meeting attracted almost no attention at all. However, if you’re a gun-control advocacy group, it’s become almost de rigueur to jump on the bandwagon and energize your membership by revealing yet another scandal that can be laid at the feet of the NRA.

The piece written by Mike Spies concerning various financial flimflamming by Wayne-0 and his friends has been ballyhooed all over the place, but in terms of serious financial violations, it doesn’t really amount to a row of beans. The fact that Everytown has sent a letter to the IRS claiming that the tax-exempt status of the organization needs to be reviewed is also, to quote my beloved grandmother, hai cock and a bubba, which means it doesn’t mean anything at all.

In that regard, my friends at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have joined the parade by issuing a report, “Guns, Lies and Fear, Exposing the NRA’s Messaging Playbook,” which claims that the way the NRA promotes gun ‘rights’ is no different from the “authoritarian and undemocratic political regimes around the world that deploy disinformation campaigns to secure control over public discourse,” strategies employed by, among others, Erdogan in Turkey, Orban in Hungary and Putin in what we used to call the U.S.S.R.

The demagogue communication playbook now being used by the NRA consists, among other things, of constructing an ‘us versus them’ political identity, creating an atmosphere of crisis, controlling media and vilifying the opposition. So by dint of gun owners versus gun grabbers, the ‘slippery slope,’ the NRA-TV videos and the demonization of every office-holder who doesn’t parrot the NRA line, Wayne-o now takes his place alongside some of the worst, most anti-democratic political drek-meisters floating around these days.

Let me make one thing very, very clear. Despite the fact that I have been an NRA member since 1955 and currently hold the membership status of Life Patriot Benefactor which means I get multiple fund-raising emails from Fairfax every day, if I were to receive a letter from Wayne-o tomorrow telling me the NRA is kaput, I couldn’t care less. I’ll always be a gun nut, I’ll always enjoy going to a gun show or wandering into a gun shop, and if I could drive to the NRA show in less than 10 hours, I’d be there this coming weekend because the show’s a lot of fun. But I have made it clear again and again and again and again that the NRA‘s promotion of armed, self-defense is simply wrong and has no basis either in logic, safety or effective self-defense. For that matter, this whole notion that our Constitutional freedoms rest on the 2nd Amendment has about as much basis in reality as my decision this morning to go back on my diet.

That being said, I also have to say that the CAP report comparing Wayne-o to some tin-horn politicians in various banana, goulash or halvah republics is simply nothing but crap. The only reason the NRA is considered such a formidable political lobby is because until Sandy Hook, when it came to lobbying for or against guns, they were the only game in town. The so-called demagogue playbook which CAP believes has been used so effectively by the NRA, actually reads exactly like the messaging strategy of a certain New York landlord who, if we are lucky and work hard, can drag his fat ass back to New York City in 2021.

In the meantime, let’s stop pretending that the NRA is the enemy when, in fact, one-third of American adults are legal gun owners but two-thirds believe that a gun keeps you safe. Are my friends at the CAP and other advocacy organizations ever going to explain that one to me?

Khal Spencer: How To Pass A Gun Law That Nobody Likes.

Laws work best when we believe in their fairness. It is advisable to build consensus when crafting legislation. In the case of New Mexico’s new universal background check (UBC) law, the opposite of consensus building occurred.  In an act that has been repeated elsewhere in the U.S., urban and rural constituencies have rejected each other’s thinking with polarizing results.

This latest round of discord has been covered in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s editorial page, to wit, the Attorney General’s admonishment to Second Amendment Sanctuary Counties to enforce the law. But I doubt more political posturing will bring people together. What, may I ask, could have? Here are several suggestions our legislators ignored.

Not all guns or gun transactions represent a credible threat. A recent Bureau of Justice Statistics report shows most guns recovered from criminals are handguns.  But the new law treats the exchange of a 22 rimfire rifle between country neighbors with the same gravity as selling a concealable Glock pistol to a perfect stranger in Albuquerque’s “War Zone”.

Its not clear that we even know how prohibited persons in New Mexico get their guns. National and state studies give us hints. In that same BJS report, and similar studies carried out by Prof. Phillip Cook and colleagues in Illinois, we see that the lion’s share of criminals obtain their guns from a combination of acquaintances, the underground market, or less likely, theft. The BJS report breaks it down into about a quarter from family or friends and almost half from the underground criminal market. Less than 1% get them from “gun shows” and a few from dealers.  The new law would work on that part of the market where law abiding citizens are exchanging guns only if we obtain buy in from the gun owning public. Instead, our legislative gun control advocates treated gun owners with disdain.

The bill was oversold.  Gun deaths often rise and fall independently of gun laws, most dramatically shown with century-long data in New York City, or when comparing recent trends in gun violence in New York City and Chicago, where enforcement and social networking differences far more than laws contribute to different trends in violence rates. Gun violence student Dr. Michael Weisser says that in Colorado, gun homicides rose after its 2013 UBC law went into effect. Judicial and sociological issues strongly influence violence rates.

Finally, one would hope your legislators care about your opinion. In 2017, I worked closely with my representative, Stephanie Garcia-Richards, trying to craft a background check bill with gun owner buy-in. I offered to do the same with my Santa Fe representatives this time and was met with studied silence or for the most part, cursory replies. I heard from a leader of the NM Shooting Sports Assn. that other gun owners met studied silence. Its not hard to figure out why. Although the NRA is the left’s boogeyman, Everytown for Gun Safety lavished almost $400,000 in campaign cash on our Legislature, dwarfing the NRA’s efforts, to ensure their voice drowned out everyone else’s.

A carefully written background check bill that hits the target of our violence problems while obtaining maximum buy-in from New Mexico’s gun owning public would be a great idea and could only help. What the bill’s supporters did instead was broaden the abyss between gun rights and gun control. The present political standoff was predictable and perhaps preventable.

Will Gun Shows Go The Way Of The DoDo Bird? They Just Might.

I have lived most of my 73-plus years on the East Coast, but whenever I go out to the West Coast, as a confirmed gun nut I try to schedule my trips when a Crossroads of the West gun show is being held in the city where I’m going to be. I can’t purchase a gun at these shows unless I’m willing to wait 10 days for the dealer to ship the piece back to a dealer back home, and my rule of thumb is that if I see a gun I really like, I want to walk out with it right then and there.

shows             Notwithstanding this serious limitation, I like the Crossroads shows because there are lots of guns, lots of good food concessions and the atmosphere is enjoyable, homey and nice. If I have to choose between the stuffy, pretentious San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where if you speak above a whisper someone immediately tells you to shut-up, versus going up and down the aisles at the Cow Palace looking at endless piles of guns and sharing a joke with another gun nut or an ATF agent, it’s no contest at all.

But the world, even the gun world, does change, and right now it appears that the Crossroads of the West gun show at San Francisco’s Cow Palace may be going the way of the Passenger Pigeon, the Dodo Bird and the dial phone.  The next show is scheduled for June and it will go on as planned, but if several state legislators have their way, these events will come to an end in 2019. A bill has just been introduced that would end gun shows at the Gun Palace in 2020, and while the last such effort was vetoed by Jerry Brown in 2013, I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar on these shows continuing given the new, post-Parkland attitude about guns.

When the Governor Abbott of Texas – Texasannounces that he will convene a roundtable on gun violence that will include school officials, victims and relatives of victims, gun rights and gun control advocates; when he says, and I quote, “We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families,” there’s something new and different going on. And it turns out that California now has their own version of Parkland’s Emma Gonzalez in the form of Erica Mendoza, a 16-year old who led the Parkland walkout at Jefferson High School, a building which just happens to be located 2 miles from where the Cow Palace gun show takes place.

If the proposed gun show ban becomes law, the biggest, single loser will be a nice guy named Bob Templeton, who started Crossroads in 1975, and now operates more than 50 shows each year in all the Western states. Bob just published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, his basic argument being “the closure of the show will not prevent criminals from obtaining guns from the sources where they have always obtained them.” And just so you don’t think that Bob is some kind of red-neck entrepreneur with blood on his hands, his column approvingly quotes none other than the sainted, gun researcher Garen Wintemute, whose criteria for how a gun show should be operated is not only met but exceeded by procedures followed at all Crossroads shows.

It should be admitted that Templeton’s article does indulge in a bit of both historic and analytical whimsy because his statement that there have been “no known incidents of gun violence resulting from activities at the show” is kind of true but only in a very narrow sense. In fact, a show visitor accidentally shot his friend at a 2015 Crossroads show in Phoenix, and there is simply no way to determine how many guns purchased at any Crossroads event eventually wind up in the wrong hands.

If California passes a law banning gun shows, I guarantee you it will spread. After all, let’s not forget that what has ruined gazillions of cups of coffee – half & half – also started in the Golden State.

Why Own A Gun? Because It’s Fun.

Back in 2006 one of GVP’s stellar researchers, Kristin Goss of Duke University, wrote a book in which she tried to explain why there was no mass movement for gun control in the United States. As opposed to mass movements which sought to end the Vietnam War, or reduce drunk driving, what she found after mass shootings like Columbine was the following pattern: “collective outrage, followed by a momentary flurry of unorganized calls and letters and donations from thousands of individuals, and then a quick return to the status quo.” Otherwise, the issue of gun violence would lie dormant between the random, high-profile shooting events.

gun-sales             Goss argues that the pro-gun folks were much more successful than the gun-control crowd in building a mass movement for two reasons: they were funded both by industry and private sources whose resources the gun-control groups couldn’t match; they took advantage of a fragmented, federalist political system which rewards political initiatives at the local level but frequently restricts the implementation of national policies even when such policies gain broad, popular support.

Is it time to revise Kristin’s argument about the lack of a mass movement for gun control given how the landscape appears to have changed in the ten years since she wrote her book? To some degree yes. Despite the sycophantic utterings by Forbes and various other pro-gun media outlets, the decision by Mike Bloomberg to pour 50 million bucks into gun-control initiatives each year isn’t chopped liver, and money like that always has an effect. There has also been a shift in the tactics of gun violence prevention (GVP) organizations towards a greater focus on state-level gun issues rather than only thinking and organizing in national terms; an example of this being the spread of laws which force persons served with a domestic abuse order to turn in their guns.

Of late there also appears to be some parity developing between the two sides on social media venues which have become an important, indeed necessary venue for how organizations connect with the folks they represent.  Right now on Facebook, the NRA page has 630,000 Likes, the Moms Demand page has 570K.  As for website traffic according to SimilarWeb, the NRA site registers around 300,000 visitors a month, visits to Everytown are around 200K every thirty days. How many years has the NRA been around? At least 150 years longer than Everytown or Moms – I would say that the numbers for those GVP sites are pretty substantial and pretty good.

On the other hand, over the last five days I received six email communications from the NRA, including three messages offering to sell me clothing, backpacks and all kinds of other consumer crap. During that same five-day period I received only three emails from the GVP, and every message consisted of asking me to donate money to the cause.  Several of the NRA emails were also straight out of the organization’s fundraising kit, but overall the NRA messaging did one thing that the GVP messaging didn’t do – it conveyed the idea that being involved with the NRA is not only important but also fun.

The idea that you can have a good time by being a member of America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ is an important aspect of the pro-gun messaging strategy that I’m not sure the GVP community understands. It certainly isn’t mentioned or analyzed in Kristin’s book. But later today I’m going to drive over to Marlborough where the semi-annual gun show is going on, and the reason I’m going to the show is the same reason that millions of people attend gun shows all over the country every weekend – the shows are fun. I can wander around, play with lots of guns, eat a hot dog and wash it down with a full-calorie drink and buy a Make America Great Again baseball cap for under five bucks.

Spending money on some useless junk may not be the preferred method for raising political awareness within the GVP, but it sure works for the NRA.

Do Gun Shows Promote Neo-Nazi Beliefs?

  

Now that President Trump has decided to become a Democrat, you can’t tell me that the boys in Fairfax ever imagined they would fork over $30 million in television advertising to help elect a guy who then would turn right around and cut deals with ‘Chuck’ and ‘Nancy,’ two Democrats who have to rank at the very top of the list of politicians who are anti-gun..

On the other hand, you might want to stop shedding tears for the NRA and consider instead what Trump’s political pivot means to the other side. Because as long as the gun violence prevention (GVP) community has an unregenerate racist, fascist, white supremacist and all-around apostle of gun ownership sitting in the Oval Office they can always rally the troops around the idea that the worst is yet to come.

And the worst might be the pictures from Charlottesville of a rag-tag bunch walking down the main street, displaying Nazi banners, yelling anti-Semitic slurs and, of course, carrying guns. So now, thanks to the stupid Dana Loesch videos designed to appeal to the most infantile mentalities among us, we have a new narrative for GVP opinion-makers, namely, that guns promote not just gun violence, but the most extreme political views imaginable, in particular the agenda of the neo-Nazi gang.

The latest version of this cockamamie idea was a kerfuffle that broke out in a Westchester County suburb of New York City, where a gun show held in January featured some tables with Nazi ‘memorabilia,’ including copies of Mein Kampf, some flags, uniforms and probably some allegedly ‘original’ helmets and knives. Another stink was raised when residents of Saratoga Springs learned that the annual gun show in their town was going to feature an exhibit of what is claimed to be Adolph Hitler’s desk. The offensive exhibit was most upsetting to members of the Jewish synagogue, Temple Sinai, who helped organize a pro-immigration rally in Saratoga on August 24th.

To bolster the idea that gun shows are a particularly fruitful venue for recruiting membership in neo-Nazi and alt-right/white groups, the promoters of this narrative invariably turn to the research of Garen Wintemute, who claims to have visited 78 gun shows in 19 states mostly between 2005 and 2008.  Regarding the presence of far-right materials and products, Wintemute found a ‘high prevalence” of neo-Nazi materials at gun shows, but he also found that ”most vendors at general-purpose gun shows do not sell guns. Ammunition, parts and accessories, ammunition magazines, body armor, knives, and books on related topics are routinely on display.”

Tying gun shows to Trump campaign rhetoric which inflamed the most unregenerate DF’s among us to crawl out from underneath their rocks may be a good way to stir the passions of the gun violence prevention crowd, but it flies in the face of what guns shows are all about. I went to the Saratoga show back in the 1990s and Nazi, Japanese and American military memorabilia was all over the place. One vendor with a Nazi exhibit this year? Back then you would find twenty vendors selling all kinds of Nazi crap like helmets, bayonets, uniforms, books and flags because there were still a lot of WWII vets around and many of them liked guns.

Time marches on, the old army veterans are almost all gone, but how come the good folks from Temple Sinai never complained when vendors selling Nazi crap were all over the place in previous years? The truth is that the Mount Sinai congregants form their views about Gun-nut Nation based on narratives produced by the GVP, and in this case those narratives are simply wrong. Jewish and other Saratoga residents never cared about whether there was a gun show in their town. What they now care about, and for good reason, is an upsurge in anti-Semitism which Trump has fostered since he emerged on the national political scene. And that’s a much different issue than being worried about guns.

 

The Gun Show Loophole Is Much Wider Than What Happens At Shows.

Once again the argument has erupted within Gun World as to whether or not a gun show ‘loophole’ actually exists.  The NRA, in trying to discredit an ISIS video which tells their followers in America to buy a gun at a show without undergoing a background check, is saying that the so-called ‘loophole’ is a figment of the overactive gun-grabbing imagination.  The GVP is saying that anyone can transact a private gun exchange at a show, and such transfers aren’t covered by any legal requirements at all.  So who’s right and who’s wrong?

gun-sales             The real problem in understanding whether or not the ‘loophole’ exists is the way in which one particular word – dealer – is thrown around whenever we talk about guns. I see this word being misused again and again on both sides of the debate, and it’s the reason why the gun show ‘loophole’ continues to be explained in ways that often don’t make any sense.

Being a gun dealer doesn’t mean that you get up one morning, throw some old piece of junk into the car, and drive down to the local McDonald’s to meet some guy who says he’s going to give you fifty bucks for the gun.  How did you make contact with the guy?  You put an ad in your weekly shopper, or you stuck a notice on a bulletin board at the laundromat, or maybe you mentioned it to the guy sitting next to you at the local VFW club.

The fact that you sell a personally-owned gun to someone else doesn’t make you a ‘dealer’ in guns.  In order to be a gun dealer, according to the ATF, means you have to be “a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms.”  Last year Obama considered issuing an Executive Order which would have imposed a minimum number of guns sold as an additional  criteria for being in the ‘business’ of dealing in guns, but the consideration was as far as he got.

Now the fact is that very few states require a background check prior to transferring any and all guns whether you are a dealer or not. In fact, only eight states have what we call ‘universal’ background checks, although ten other states impose background checks on certain types of transactions, both in terms of the type of gun and where the transaction takes place. If a gun show promoter were to impose a requirement that only licensed dealers could display and sell guns at his shows, he’d better have another gig lined up because he won’t be running more gun shows any time soon.

Back in the 1980’s before guns became such a big, friggin’ deal, myself and a bunch of New York City gun-nut cops used to go to a gun show in Newburgh, N.Y.  The reason we went to that show was because there was always some interesting stuff lying around, and it was understood that you could buy anything ‘on shield;’ i.e., show a badge and that was that.  If you go to a gun show today in New York State, every single transaction requires you to fill out a 4473 background-check form, but who’s to say that you can’t walk outside to the parking lot or drive a block away?

The reason there’s a gun show loophole is that it’s a lot easier to walk past 50 tables and look at hundreds of guns rather than scanning the local shopper where you might see one gun ad or two. It’s not so much that gun shows encourage breaking the law, it’s that there are lots of guns that can be sold without NICS checks sitting in the same place. Which doesn’t mean there’s a gun show loophole because in this country just about anyone can buy a gun any time they want.

What Matters Is Not What He Says, It’s That Obama Says Something About Guns.

The big news this week is the looming possibility that the Bomber will make good on his promise (or threat, depending on how you look at it) to issue an Executive Order on gun control, and already the Gun Nation is gearing up for the fight.  Trump has announced he will “veto” these orders (someone might want to give Trump the Shlump a quick lesson on Constitutional law), Christie has jumped on the Obama the Dictator bandwagon, and never to be outdone by any candidate’s attempt at gross stupidity, Rand Paul is drawing up legislation to block the President from issuing any Executive Orders about guns.

 

Best gun salesman ever!

I don’t know exactly what the President is planning to do, but he appears to be getting ready to say something on this issue during his State of the Union speech next week.  The President talked about gun regulations during his 2013 State of the Union speech, but these remarks were delivered less than two months after Sandy Hook.  There was no mention of gun control in his 2014 remarks, nor last year.  Now the issue if gun violence is back on the front burner, and it appears that he will try to do something about extending background checks by coming up with a more precise definition of what it means to be a dealer in guns.

As regards the current definition, I’m quoting from the relevant Federal code: “any person engaged in the business of selling firearms at wholesale or retail,” which is about as precise as the Man in the Moon.  The problem here is not figuring out what constitutes a firearm, but what the phrase “in the business” really means.  Part of the problem is the fact that guns, unlike most consumer items, don’t for the most part wear out, so acquiring and then re-selling them is part and parcel of what most gun enthusiasts like to do.  And despite the fact that private, non-NICS gun transactions are considered anathema by the GVP crowd, selling a gun to or through a dealer instead of directly to another individual means that the seller gives up a chunk of dough either because the dealer wants to make a profit in the re-sale or the buyer will have to pay the dealer to conduct the NICS background check.

The real problem is that the average gun owner, and most gun owners are, in fact, very law abiding (otherwise they really can’t own guns) and doesn’t believe there’s any connection between the way he transfers a gun and the gun violence that kills and injures more than 100,000 Americans every year.  I happen to live outside of Springfield, MA, whose gun homicide rate last year was somewhere around 15 per 100,000, about five times the national rate.  Less than two miles from the neighborhood where half these murders occurred is a fairground where a big gun show is held four times a year. If you walked up to anyone at this show and told him that the private sale he had just completed might result in another gun murder across town, he’d stare at you in disbelief.

I don’t think that folks who support the extension of background checks need to justify this policy by trying to prove that reducing private gun transfers will, ipso facto, bring the rate of gun violence down.  I also don’t think they need to fall back on the judgement of legal scholars (not that the judgement hurts) to support the President if he decides that this is what he wants to do.

I have been saying for the last three years that when it comes to the argument about gun violence, I simply want a fair fight using evidence-based data as opposed to promoting gun ownership out of fear. It doesn’t matter whether extended background checks will reduce mass killings or gun killings overall.  What matters is that we have a serious and honest discussion about gun violence and a State of the Union address is the perfect place to begin.

Huckabee Opens His Mouth And Says The Dumbest Thing That Anyone Has Said About Guns.

Having lost ground on their patented niche issues like abortion and gay rights, the 2016 version of the Republican Presidential cavalcade has decided that defending the 2nd Amendment will play well with the ‘base’ if only because liberals are usually considered to be anti-gun.  The gun ‘issue’ was first injected into the campaign by Trump-o, who claimed that an armed citizen could have stopped the murder of two television journalists in Virginia, a terribly ugly incident that was caught on video and tv.  Since then, if you’re running for President as a Republican, you can’t make a public speech without making some reference to supporting the 2nd Amendment, even if what you say has little to do with the facts.

And the 2nd Amendment comment that is least aligned with the facts popped out of the mouth of Mike Huckabee during an interview on a right-wing video channel Newsmax, during which he called for gun dealers to refuse to follow any new Executive Order issued by 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because “the more we surrender the Constitution, the more Obama keeps his power growing.”  And since we all know that Obama’s real plan is to convert America into a radical, Islamic state, the more we need to vigilantly guard our Constitutional freedoms, in particular the freedom to own guns.

huckabeeActually, the stupidity started with the show host Steve Malzberg, who asked Huckabee to comment on a story which said that Obama was going to issue an Executive Order “to require gun shop owners to conduct background checks.”  To which Huckabee replied, “There should certainly be an absolute, unapologetic – just complete ignoring of such an order by those gun-shop owners, because the President can’t make law.” I happen to own a gun shop, and if the President issues an Executive Order which in any way changes the ATF regulations under which I operate, either I follow the new regs or I can close my shop down.  But let’s first get back to what Malzberg actually said.

Malzberg’s statement about what Obama was planning to do through Executive Order had absolutely nothing to do with what Obama has been saying at all.  Federally-licensed gun dealers operating in their places of business (duh, that’s what a gun shop happens to be) have been required to run NICS-background checks on all over-the-counter gun transfers since the Brady bill went into effect in 1998.  What Obama has been talking about is the fact that gun owners often sell numerous guns either at shows, or on the internet, or face-to-face, and these activities should be more closely regulated because here is the point at which guns get into the ‘wrong hands.’  Now I happen to think that the whole issue of the ‘underground’ gun market is somewhat over-stated, but since, by definition, criminals can’t pass background checks, we have to assume that whenever a gun passes from one person to another without a background check, that such a gun could wind up in criminal hands.  Hence, the possible attempt by Obama to make it at least somewhat more difficult for some folks to willy-nilly sell guns to whomever shows up at their gun show table or responds to their internet ad with cash in hand.

Malzberg’s description of the Obama Executive Order strategy has absolutely nothing to do with what Obama may or may not have in mind. Huckabee then took Malzberg’s totally incorrect statement, ran it up the flagpole, and gave a response that was both incorrect and dumb. It might not rank up there next to Rick Perry’s call for secession at a Tea Party rally in 2009,  but it’s cut from the same stupid, pandering piece of cloth.

I’m beginning to think that the Republican Presidential candidates might be misjudging the gun-owning population on whom they evidently need to depend.  Because no matter what Huckabee or Trump says, the average person just can’t be that dumb.