Can We Be Non-Partisan About Guns?

              Last week I had a brief exchange with a reporter from The Trace, and I happened to notice a statement on the group’s website that raised my eyebrows an inch or two. The statement said that The Trace is an ‘independent, non-partisan, nonprofit newsroom dedicated to shining a light on America’s gun violence crisis.’ To be sure, the online journal must follow certain rules in order to hold, which it does, a tax-exempt status and operate on the basis of donations received from here and there. Their editorial independence is explained in an editorial which to my untutored eyes, appears to cover this issue as well.

              My problem is the reference to the word ‘non-partisan,’ which seems to crop up in many of the descriptions that organizations connected to Gun-control Nation use to explain their work. Now I always thought that the term had something to do with politics and basically means that the work of a particular individual or organization wasn’t being conducted for the purpose of promoting a particular political party, or a particular political position, or anything having to do with a specific political activity at all. Which is all fine and well except for one thing.

              How can anyone or any organization doing anything related to guns and gun violence claim to be working in a ‘non-partisan’ way?  Such a statement, with all due respect to the very good writing and research that often appears in The Trace, simply has no relationship to reality at all. In fact, I can’t think of a single issue which has become in every respect more partisan than gun violence over the last several years. And if the editors of The Trace actually believe that they are presenting ‘non-partisan’ content to their readers, I simply must assume that these editors don’t read what is published in this online journal every day. Here’s an example of what can only be described as a ‘partisan’ report.

The headline reads: The Unchecked Influence of NRA Lobbyist Marion Hammer, and it’s a long story which appeared in The Trace in February of last year. The writing (by Mike Spies) is detailed, sources are identified and there are comments from both sides, including a quote from the Florida Congressman, Matt Gaetz, who gets the all-time award as the dumbest office-holder in the history of the Gunshine State.  But the subject of the story, Granny Hammer, refused to be interviewed, despite being described as bringing laws into existence “that have dramatically altered long-held American norms and legal principles,” including concealed-carry and stand your ground.

              Now let’s be honest, okay? Would The Trace have devoted several thousand words to a story about this old lady if what she was doing aligned with the journal’s mission to ‘shine a light on America’s gun violence crisis?’ The truth is that by even using the words ‘gun violence,’ The Trace is clearly demonstrating that it takes a very partisan position on the issue of guns. Don’t believe me? Listen to all those stupid videos on the NRA-ILA website and see if any of the talking heads promoting gun ‘rights’ use the expression ‘gun violence’ even once.

              Let me make it very clear that I am not in any way criticizing The Trace for what they say or what they don’t say.  They have a job to do and they do it well. And even though on occasion I publish correctives to what I consider to be their reportage which needs a more thorough look, I have never and will never raise the slightest concern about the basic value and legitimacy of their work. In fact, I think that after I post this column I’ll send them a hundred bucks.

              I just have a basic problem with my Gun-control Nation friends who bend over backwards to  appear even-handed to the other side. Gun violence is a partisan issue. Gun violence needs to be addressed in partisan terms. Shooting human beings is not the stuff of compromise, okay? It must come to an end.

P.S. I’m going to send this column to The Trace and if they choose to respond I’ll gladly print what they say.

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Ban Assault Weapons in Florida Rocks!!

              I usually don’t get energetically involved in advocacy efforts of any kind, but there’s an effort just announced in Florida that deserves my support and your support as well.  I am referring to a group calling themselves Ban Assault Weapons NOW, which announced a petition drive to get an initiative on the 2020 Florida ballot that would amend the state Constitution and ultimately make Florida assault weapon rein.

              The effort has sparked the usual media coverage, some of which is inaccurate, some of which is simply dead wrong. So before I talk about whether getting rid of assault weapons will make a difference, let me just clarify what the proposed amendment would and wouldn’t do.  It doesn’t ban the ownership of assault weapons already in the Gunshine State. It does prohibit the sale or transfer of assault rifles into the state. And while Gun-nut Nation will no doubt do whatever it can do to prevent the initiative from getting on the ballot and/or becoming law, early polls indicate that, in fact, such a measure when put directly to the voters, might actually pass.

              The problem with this effort is, first of all, that collecting the required 766,000 signatures (the group has collected just short of 90,000) requires lots of cash, perhaps $5 million or more. That’s serious money, even considering that the group has access to some deep pockets, including Al Hoffman and several other real-estate biggies who announced their own gun-control effort last year.

              The other problem facing our friends pushing this Florida effort is the degree to which the whole issue of assault rifles has become something surrounded by more falsehoods than facts. Here’s a couple of the so-called facts about assault rifles which are nothing more than whole cloth:

  • The AR-15 isn’t an assault rifle because an assault rifle is a full-automatic weapon and the AR-15 only fired in semi-automatic mode. In fact, the current battle weapon carried by U.S. troops, the M4, can be set to fire in semi-automatic mode.
  • An assault rifle is no different from any other semi-automatic rifle, a design which hunters have been using for nearly a century in guns manufactured by Remington, Winchester, Browning, et. al. In fact, an assault rifle loads from a magazine inserted underneath the gun, which allows for magazine that hold upwards of 30-40 rounds. Traditional, semi-auto hunting rifles load from above the gun, which means their effective capacity is limited to 5 or 6 rounds.
  • The number of people killed and wounded by assault rifles each year adds a statistically-insignificant number to the 125,000+ Americans who shoot themselves or others with guns. Why prohibit law-abiding folks from owning a gun which has little or any responsibility for gun injuries that occur every year?

This last bubbe-mynsa deserves a paragraph all its own.The issue of assault weapons should never be considered in numeric terms – it goes far beyond that. After the massacre at Sandy Hook, the school building had to be torn down because its presence generated such terrible feelings of loss and anger for all town residents who drove or walked by. I understand that similar feelings exist amongst residents of Parkland and surrounding towns.

The point is that all gun violence creates both physical and psychic damage, but the latter injuries often go far beyond the families of gun-violence victims themselves. Newtown will never recover its sense of well-being and security following the terrible events at Sandy Hook. And the courts have long affirmed the notion that government has a ‘compelling interest’ in community safety precisely because we all want the place we live to be safe.

What the Florida initiative fundamentally represents is a community-wide effort to confront the gun industry over the lethality of its products, as well as to take issue with the nonsense promoted by Gun-nut Nation that we can all be secure and safe by just walking around with a gun.

I sent Ban Assault Weapons NOW a donation yesterday, they get another one today. And everyone who reads this column should chip in as well.  Here’s the link.

Plenty of Gun Owners Still Love Their Guns.

              Yesterday I attended a jam-packed meeting of the MOMs group and listened to speakers who delivered moving testimonies about how their lives were affected by the violence caused by guns.  Along with those presentations, the Chapter leader also spoke about achievements of the past year as well as what lies ahead. And this part of the meeting was quite upbeat, particularly when the audience was reminded about the new #gunsense majority which now controls the House.

              But before my friends in Gun-control Nation decide that the tide has finally turned, I think they need to step back a bit and consider the possibility that their new-found success might turn out to be less than what it appears. I’m not saying that because I want my gun-control friends to fail. To the contrary, we must find a way to stop suffering from behaviors which result in more than 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year.  We must. But it’s not going to happen until and unless Gun-control Nation truly understands what they are up against, and I’m not sure they do.

              Ask the average gun-sense advocate why it’s so difficult to pass laws whose purpose is to control gun violence while still allowing Americans to own guns, and the answer you’ll get every time is one variation or another on those ‘bad people’ who run the NRA. I heard this again and again at the MOMS meeting and I see it on every #gunsense website – among Gun-control Nation it is simply assumed without question that the NRA is the ‘enemy’ and that the NRA’s power and financial influence needs to be stopped or at least curtailed.

              There’s only one little problem. The NRA operates very much like the AAA; the latter provides services for people who own cars, the former provides services for people who own guns. You might think the NRA spends its time and money lambasting tree-huggers and gun-control liberals in the public square, but a quick glance at how the boys in Fairfax spend their money shows this not to be true.  For every buck the NRA dishes out to its legislative allies in Congress, it spends two bucks on the care and feeding of its own members, somewhere close to $200 million a year.

              The NRA claims around 5 million dues-paying members, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But the organization’s real strength is that they speak not just for their membership, but for everyone who owns a gun. Yea, yea, I know the gun-control groups claim to be enrolling all those ‘reasonable’ gun owners to support their ‘sensible’ demands.  I also claim to have stayed on my diet during the Super Bowl.

              Want to know what’s really going on in Gun-nut Nation?  Take a look at NICS-FBI background check numbers which have just been compiled for 2018.  I not only looked at those numbers but I compared 2018 to every year back to 2001, and this is what I found.  In 2001, the number of new and used guns that were transferred across the counter of guns shops was 7.1 million, in 2018 it was 11.5 million, an increase of more than 50 percent. How much has the U.S. population increased over that same period of time? 16 percent. Here’s a little graph which shows the per-capita trend of background checks over the last twenty years:

              The great jump occurred in 2013, the year after Sandy Hook, when Obama tried, without success, to push through a gun-control bill. And while the background check numbers have fallen off over the last several years, they are still running nearly 60% higher than during the mid-years of Bush #43. And remember who’s sitting in the Oval Office – the gun owner’s best friend.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation are certainly entitled to celebrate their growing effectiveness and strength; I saw it first-hand at the meeting of MOMS.  But don’t forget – there are still plenty of Americans who believe in the importance and value of their guns.

Maybe It Is The ‘Failing’ NRA.

              Until yesterday, I took all the prognostications about the demise of the NRA with several grains of salt. Believe me, as a Patriot Life Benefactor member, I know better than anyone who reads this column about the organization’s current woes – revenue shortfalls, staff layoffs, investigations into the Russian connection, loss of commercial partnerships – that made 2018 a pretty tough year. But I also thought that many of those problems were being overblown by the liberal media which would like nothing better than to see America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ go right down the tubes.

              An email I received from the boys in Fairfax, however, may actually prove that the prophets of NRA doom will turn out to be correct. Because the email linked to a new video on the NRA-TV channel which, if nothing else, indicates that the organization’s attempts to renew its strength are, to all intents and purposes, either dying or dead.

              The video is a 30-second fundraising effort by the chief NRA-TV clown, Grant Stinchfield, warning the faithful that Hillary Clinton may run for President again. And the proof that ‘crooked Hillary’ is considering yet another attempt at the brass ring was a comment from a CNN noisemaker, Jeff Zeleny, that Hillary ‘told’ a couple of her friends that the indictment of Roger Stone would prove that Trump’s victory was a sham, and since she won the popular vote, why not try again?

              Now the fact that Hillary and Bill couldn’t get their national tour off a dime; the fact that there are now at least three formidable women (Harris, Warren, Gillibrand) out there raising money for their 2020 campaigns; the fact that Hillary has about a good chance of being elected dog-catcher after the way she screwed up the 2016 campaign; oh well, oh well, oh well. But here’s the bottom line: the dopes who run the NRA marketing effort can’t come up with anything better to bolster their image than yet another riff on the ‘crooked Hillary’ line. Which is exactly what the NRA-TV email subject line read: “Crooked Hillary Hints at a Third Run for the White House.”

              Have the boys in Fairfax heard of H. R. 8?  It happens to be a piece of legislation introduced two days after the 116th Congress was convened which has already gained enough co-sponsors – 229 – to move towards committee hearings and then to a certain majority vote. If you want to see the NRA’s official position on H.R. 8, just go to the NRA-ILA website where you’ll find this description of the bill: “Would make it a crime, subject to certain exceptions, to simply hand a firearm to another person. Anytime gun owners carry out this simple act, they would potentially be exposing themselves to criminal penalties.”

              Now of course this statement is a typical piece of pro-gun hyperbole, taking some language from the legislation and twisting it beyond repair, but at least the editorial staff which creates content for the NRA-ILA website is keeping their collective eyes on the ball. This is certainly not what’s going on when we look at NRA-TV.  How can you compare the potential threat to gun-owning ‘rights’ of the resurrection of ‘crooked Hillary’ to a major piece of gun-control legislation that will float through the House and may even have a chance of Senate approval if Trump’s 2020 political fortunes continue to fade?

              The fact that the NRA continues to invoke the Clinton bugaboo when everyone else has forgotten that she exists, tells me that things at the home office in Fairfax are becoming unglued. Does Wayne-o really believe that I’m going to increase my annual endowment gift because I’m worried that Hillary might run?

              A long time ago there was a company called GE.  They employed a guy named Ronald Reagan to hawk household appliances on television, and now that company doesn’t exist. That’s exactly what’s going to happen to the NRA if they don’t come up with some better messaging about why gun-nuts like me love our guns.

Greg Gibson: Survivor Apocalypse – Part I

I – Lord of the Flies

I’m holed up in my shack in a distant corner of the north woods. It’s cold, and quiet, and very still. I have dried and canned foods, jugs of drinking water, solar powered LED lights, and plenty of sweet, dry, apple wood to burn. I’ve set myself the task of composing a “Survivor Apocalypse Manifesto.”  But I am not a survivalist. I’m a survivor of gun violence.

For years I’ve sought new ways of talking and thinking about the problem of gun violence in America, some way to break through the indifference of the American people. I see myself as an anti-Ted Kaczynski, an un-Unabomber engaged in the creation of a subtly explosive document which, by its eloquence, charm, and irrefutable logic, will put an end to gun violence as we know it, much as Jerry Rubin and Ed Sanders levitated and exorcised the Pentagon in 1967. But it’s not going to be that easy this time around, for the simple reason that most non-survivors don’t give a hoot about the problem of gun violence in America. As they’ve demonstrated ad nauseam, the pink-faced white men in power don’t care, and that vast majority of citizens who tell pollsters they favor stronger gun laws don’t care either. If they did, they’d already have voted the pink-faced politicians who don’t care out of office.

Who, then, is left to deal with the eradication of gun violence? The survivors of gun violence, that’s who. And the many more people who are in imminent danger of being personally affected by gun violence. Which includes everyone. Too bad for you if you don’t see the truth in this. The purpose of the “Survivor Apocalypse Manifesto” should therefore be clear.

First, however, I must deal with a fact of woodland life. In the fall, a particular species of fly crawls into every cranny of a place like this to sleep through the winter. When I opened the door this afternoon, for the first time since October, the floor was covered with them, right where they’d dropped when the temperature fell low enough to knock them out. I swept them up and threw them away. Then I lit a fire in the wood stove. To my horror the warmth brought more flies back to life. Many more, crawling out of whatever fly holes they’d been sleeping in. Thousands of them, big and fat. They’re called “cluster flies” because they cluster, and right now they’re clustering on the windowpanes, marring my view of the highlands. It’s disgusting. I’m sorry to say that composition of the “Survivor Apocalypse Manifesto” will be postponed owing to the necessity of initiating a cluster fly holocaust.

No wonder Kacsynski went nuts.

But there’s always something, isn’t there? Some impediment, some fly in the ointment. What does it mean, “well-regulated militia?” What is the definition of an assault rifle? Why don’t we just enforce the laws already on the books? This is not the time for such talk. This is the time for thoughts and prayers.

II – History

In 1978 my sister Wendy died, as we say, by her own hand, which had a revolver in it, which was pointed at her heart when she squeezed the trigger. (Women tend to go for the heart; men the head.) She purchased her gun at a pawn shop the day before her death – an unfortunate impulse shopping decision that would be just as easy today, in many states, as it was in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1978. Most people who survive a suicide attempt never try again. If she’d decided instead to hang herself she would have had only a 60% chance of success. Poison, 40%. Cutting, 2%. With a gun the chances of success rise to 90%. Though it’s not success, is it?

Fourteen years later, in December 1992, my eighteen-year-old son Galen was killed in a school shooting at Simon’s Rock College in western Massachusetts. He was the random victim of a disturbed fellow student who’d bought a used semi-automatic rifle at a local gun shop the afternoon of the shootings. The killer modified his gun to accept thirty-round magazines, which he’d ordered, using his mother’s credit card, along with 180 rounds of ammunition, from a mail order company in South Carolina. Purchases of the gun, the ammunition, and the aftermarket accessories were perfectly legal, and they’d be be just as legal now, in many states, as they were in 1992.

These events have given me the unusual perspective of having spent forty years closely watching nothing happen. Or, watching a lot happen, most of which involves people getting killed by guns and politicians doing nothing about it. Let us observe a moment of silence. Let us attend to the buzzing of flies.

Enough With Being “Reasonable’ About Guns.

              Back in 2016, you may recall that our friends in Fairfax (a.k.a. the NRA) not only endorsed Sleazy Don for President at an unprecedented (for them) early date, but combined this decision with an attack narrative that went far beyond anything they had previously said or done. Remember Dana ‘home-school-queen’ Loesch warning ‘every lying member of the media’ that their ‘time has come?’ Recall how Wayne-o showed up at C-PAC and told the adoring audience that the media ‘wants to make us less free?’

              The problem with lumping their PR strategy together with what Trump was whining about on the campaign trail, is that it never occurred to the leadership of America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ that maybe, just maybe, the whole thing would hit a dead end. And the dead end occurred back in November, when the Democrats handed Trump and the GOP a startling and staggering loss. Despite claims by Sleazebag Don and fathead Limbaugh that the election was a ‘victory’ for the red team, in fact, neither Party has ever gained as many House seats in any election since 1938.

              More important than the size of the victory is the fact that the blue team now has a national leader who cleaned Sleazy Don’s clock this week by responding to his taunts about the ‘radicals’ running the Democratic Party by telling him that as for the State of the Union, he could stay away.  The best example of the collapse of America’s great deal-maker was his comment that he might look for an alternate site for delivering the speech. Why not the Trump International Hotel?  He could walk over from the White House in ten minutes or less.

              So the bottom line is that the world has changed both for our friends in the gun-control movement as well as for our friends who run the NRA.  Between trying to pick up the pieces of their dopey Carry Guard insurance program, defending themselves against allegations of all kinds of nefarious election activities and looking to put together a new list of corporate partners offering discounts to the NRA faithful, there’s not a lot of time left over to promote the agenda of Sleazebag Don. So they have fallen back on what they do best, namely, posturing themselves as being stalwart defenders of our beloved 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And the most effective way to get that message across is to claim that all those groups advocating ‘reasonable’ gun laws are nothing more than fronts for the continued efforts of Mike Bloomberg to get rid of guns.

              If you were the mayor of a city where shootings were a routine part of life, how could you not want to get rid of guns? Frankly, I never understood why anyone would be either surprised or upset by the fact that a guy like Bloomberg would be against guns. Now maybe if he had been responsible for public safety in a quiet little town somewhere in the Midwest, it would be difficult to imagine him leading an anti-gun crusade. But his views on gun violence happen to align a lot more consistently with his background and experiences than the positions on gun violence taken by that stupid, vulgar, POS-landlord who happens to be sitting in the White House right now.

              Just as Gun-nut Nation was probably unprepared for the strength and depth of November’s blue wave, I also suspect that the outcome of the 2018 election came as something of a shock to my friends in the gun violence prevention movement, a.k.a. the GVP. Which brings me to the real reason for what I want to say today.

              Given the new political realities in DC, I think it’s time for my GVP friends to drop all this nonsense about supporting ‘reasonable’ gun laws and tell it like it is. Either you end gun violence by ending open access to the guns which cause the violence (read: handguns) or you don’t. If Nancy’s willing to tell Sleazebag Don to stick it you know where, why can’t my friends in the gun-control movement say the same thing to the NRA?

How Much Does Gun Violence Cost?

              Our friends at the Giffords Law Center have just published a disquieting study which claims that gun violence in Missouri costs $1.9 billion a year, and that’s a conservative estimate, to say the least. The estimate is based on taking the average number of homicides, suicides, accidental shootings and gun assaults, and then multiplying these numbers using a gun-violence costs analysis developed by researchers who helped Mother Jones produce a study in 2015 which set the national cost of gun violence at $229 billion every year.

              If we were to take the Missouri numbers, which average out to roughly $1 million for every fatal and non-fatal gun injury, the national cost would now be somewhere around $140 billion. Which means that the Mother Jones figure was too high or the Missouri costs o gun-violence calculated by the Giffords Center is too low.

              On the other hand, by taking the Missouri figures and assuming they are representative for the country as a whole might also be an exercise in fake news or at least fake statistics, because we can’t assume that the breakdown between various gun-violence categories (homicide, suicide, etc.) in Missouri is similar to how gun injuries occur in other states. Either way, it’s a lot of dough. The only problem with these numbers, however, is they may not really tell us anything about the financial costs of gun violence owing to the methodology utilized to estimate those costs.

              Most of the costs calculated in the Giffords study to represent the financial toll of gun violence are actually estimates of what the victim would not have lost had he or she not been shot by a gun. In other words, we are asked to believe that from the moment someone is injured they would have made choices about work, family, lifestyles and other social factors which they can no longer make. The estimates for lost income, for example, make assumptions about how much someone’s income will change over the course of their lives from what their income was at the moment the injury occurred. But in the case of gunshot victims, probably at least half of the 85,000 young men assaulted each year with a gun have never actually held a job. How do you reasonably estimate what the lifetime earnings of these victims might be?

              Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig have been looking at the issue of gun-violence costs much longer than anyone else, and they published a good book on this subject in 2000 which, sad to say, is now out of print. The good news is you can still get the book on Amazon in a used edition for a couple of bucks. Where Cook and Ludwig construct a refreshingly and unique definition of costs, is by calculating what people would be willing to pay to avoid gun violence, either 9through higher taxes for better protective services or by simply moving to a neighborhood which is safer than here they currently live.

              The Giffords report actually implies something of the same awareness between safe and unsafe because it notes that more than 60% of all gun violence in Missouri occurs in just two cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, which together count for less than 15% of the population of the ‘Show-Me” state as a whole. And within those two cities, of course, most of the gun violence is confined to specific neighborhoods, the polite term now used is neighborhoods which are ‘underserved.’

              It seems to me that if the state of Missouri is losing $1.9 billion a year because of gun violence, what could the state do with that money if it wasn’t flushed down the gun-violence drain? Could they build some health stations to provide inner-city neighborhoods with better medical care? Could they strengthen technical and vocational education so that young people could qualify for solid, high-paying jobs?

              Let’s not just sit around and bemoan the cost of gun violence. Instead, let’s calculate the value of getting rid of the guns.

Want An Internet Loophole For Guns? Try The Dark Web.

              Right after the new House of Representatives convened, we took a small step towards aligning our gun-control laws with countries that don’t have to worry about the so-called 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ with the introduction of H.R. 1. And what this bill does, is expand background checks to secondary gun transfers, a procedure that has been a signature GVP demand since the FBI-NICS process went live back in 1998.

              I haven’t see the text of the bill yet, but I understand that it basically says that in order to sell or give a gun to someone else, the gun owner must make sure that an FBI-NICS background check occurs before the transfer takes place. The idea behind this law is that expanding background checks will make it more difficult for people who couldn’t pass a background check to get their hands on a gun.

              The reason I call this measure a ‘small step’ forward in the regulation of guns is because in countries like England, France, Germany, in other words, in the rest of the advanced world, what really keeps gun violence at minimal rates is the vetting process which is required before someone can buy or own a gun. Most important to this process is: a) all guns are registered, so the cops know who has them and who don’t; b) getting permission to own a handgun is not only onerous and time-consuming, but often results in the request being turned down.

              Here’s the bottom line. We suffer a level of gun violence which is seven to twenty times higher than any other advanced society because we give our citizens free access to handguns; with the exception of a few jurisdictions, we impose no greater legal requirements for handgun ownership than we impose for someone who wants to own a rusted, used, single-shot shotgun that I sell in my shop for fifty bucks.  Last year I published a study in SSRN where I did a word search on more than 350,000 crime guns confiscated by the cops, and words like Remington, Winchester, Marlin and Savage, guns which are only hunting guns, came up 3% of the time or even less.

              But at the same time that we may be pushing ourselves more towards the European model in terms of gun control, it now appears that Europeans may be starting to push themselves in the direction of our current regulatory environment, namely, by showing a greater interest in owning handguns. An article has just appeared in the Wall Street Journal which indicates that residents in various European countries are not only getting more interested in owning handguns, but in carrying them around.

              At the same time that legal gun ownership as well as concealed-carry appears to have increased by as much as 10% over the last several years, there has also been what experts refer to as a ‘surge’ in illegal, unregistered guns. According to the Small Arms Survey, of the estimated 77 million small arms floating around Europe, more than 60% are illegal guns, many of them smuggled in from war zones further east, or purchased from U.S. dealers on the dark web. Dark web gun sales were discussed in a RAND report published in 2017, and while the authors focused only on gun sales within Europe, the implication of this report should be considered in terms of the U.S. gun market as well.

              The problem is that regulating any product doesn’t necessarily reduce demand. And if 90,000 Americans really want to use a gun to hurt someone else every year, which is the reason we suffer from gun violence, they will find a way to circumvent the regulations, no matter how well-intentioned those regulations might be.

              I’m not saying that we shouldn’t implement a background check on all transfers of guns. I’m saying that in solving one problem we may be creating another for the simple reason that we continue to avoid the fundamental issue which creates gun violence, namely, the existence of the gun.

There’s More To Gun Violence Than Meets The Eye

How many different schemes are out there to end gun violence? Let’s see, we have the expanded background check scheme, the safe-storage scheme, the red flag scheme, the AWB scheme – you name it for ending gun violence, there’s a scheme being promoted by someone. But all of these schemes are aimed (pardon the pun) at reducing gun violence by focusing on the primary victims of gun violence, namely, people who either shoot or get shot with guns. Now a story out of Portland reminds us that, in fact, the impact of gun violence goes far beyond the individuals directly involved.

The story involves a young woman, Emmie Sperandeo, who’s asking her landlord to let her out of her lease without penalty because she spends more time hiding in a stairwell ducking bullets than she spends sitting in her living room watching tv. The reason she doesn’t sit in her living room is because the other night, a bullet flew through the living room, and it wasn’t the last time she heard gun fire coming from the alley next to where she lives.

So far, the management company has refused her demand probably because there’s nothing in the lease that says anything about whether they are responsible for keeping tenants from getting shot. But it occurs to me that if we are really serious about being a country founded on the concept of ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ right now, Emmie is being deprived of all three. In addition to feeling that her life is threatened by the bullets flying around (strike one) she claims it is impossible to leave the building given guns going off in the street. If she can’t leave her apartment, obviously she’s lost her liberty and can’t pursue any happy activities at all (strikes two and thee.)

When we think about gun violence, we think about people who are killed or injured with guns. So the use of the gun is only depriving the shooter and his victim of life, liberty and happiness pursuits, and we have ways of responding to that. The shooter is arrested, the victim goes to the hospital, society compensates for what happens when a bullet hits a human form.

But what happens when, as in the case of Emmie Sperandeo, the violence represented by the gun isn’t directed specifically at her? The extent to which gun violence in a particular community impacts quality of life has received its share of concern. Here’s a summary from our friends at Everytown: “Children exposed to violence, crime, and abuse are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder; fail or have difficulties in school; and engage in criminal activity.”

So the evidence is clear that what I call ‘second-hand gun violence,’ has health effects similar to second-hand’ smoke. People who live in a home with a smoker don’t necessarily suffer the same degree of illness as the person who lights up. But they have a greater propensity to suffer the same degree of tobacco-related health issues than people who live in smoke-free homes. Even Rush Limbaugh, who can spot a liberal conspiracy before it even exists, has shut up about secondhand smoke.

So who should be responsible for dealing with second-hand gun violence, the kind of violence which doesn’t injure or kill anyone, but makes someone like Emmie Sperandeo afraid to go outside? In a recent survey, more than half the residents of Miami and Chicago said that gun violence was a serious issue. Would you like to live in a neighborhood where half your neighbors believed that there was a serious, quality-of-life problem which hadn’t been solved?

I think we need to define who is responsible for reducing secondhand gun violence. Would I sign on to a lawsuit against the Mayor of Springfield because the city in which I live has a gun-violence rate that is out of sight?  I sure would.