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.

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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.

Michael Siegel: Why Did Wisconsin Physician and Emergency Physician Groups Combine with the NRA to Fight Universal Background Checks in Wisconsin?

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, and here we have a perfect example of that. Two of the major physician groups in Wisconsin—the Wisconsin Medical PAC and the Wisconsin Emergency Medicine PAC—joined the NRA in financially supporting the gubernatorial campaign of Scott Walker over his challenger, Tony Evers, who was opposed by the NRA primarily because he supports state legislation that would require universal background checks for gun purchases in Wisconsin. Despite the best efforts of the NRA and these Wisconsin physician organizations, Evers defeated Walker and so the prospect of meaningful firearm violence prevention legislation in Wisconsin remains alive.

In addition to the NRA, which gave Governor Walker an A+ rating in 2014, other major contributors to his gubernatorial reelection campaign for the 2018 cycle, according to an open secrets project run by the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, included the Wisconsin Medical PAC, which represents the Wisconsin Medical Society, and the Wisconsin Emergency Medicine PAC, which represents the Wisconsin chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  

Given that physician organizations such as the American College of Emergency Physicians, have been boasting about their commitment to preventing firearm violence and that individual physicians are orchestrating a campaign (#ThisIsOurLane) to convince the public that gun violence prevention is appropriately in our domain, it is shocking to see that behind the scenes, these physician organizations have been fighting against the very causes they purport to champion. While ACEP, for example, has endorsed universal background checks, Wisconsin ACEP has been working against the implementation of this policy by contributing to the NRA A+ rated Scott Walker, who Wisconsin ACEP knows would never sign such legislation. And while most major national physician groups purport to champion gun violence prevention policies, the Wisconsin Medical Society has also worked behind the scenes to help ensure that these policies never see the light of day in the state of Wisconsin.

What could possibly explain this level of hypocrisy?

As I teach my public health students, when you see organizations sacrificing their stated principles like this, it usually amounts to one thing: money. In fact, the major reason why physician organizations in Wisconsin and throughout the country are supporting NRA-backed candidates is that at the end of the day, these candidates will protect physician salaries by opposing wholesale adoption of universal health coverage or mandated insurance coverage systems that might otherwise pose a threat. And clearly, these groups are placing a higher priority on protecting physician salaries than on fighting gun violence.

By the way, I have no problem with that decision. I do not begrudge anyone or any organization the right to place a high priority on self-protection of their financial well-being. HOWEVER, what I do not accept is for those organizations to make such a decision and then tell the public that they are working to fight gun violence. You can’t have it both ways. Either you make fighting gun violence a priority, or you don’t. And if you don’t, then you can’t come out here and tell the public that you are a public health champion when it comes to preventing gun violence.

If gun violence prevention is truly “our lane,” then in 2019, there is a course of action that every national and state physician organization should take. And every physician who is promoting the #ThisIsOurLane movement should put pressure on their national organizations and state chapters to take this action.

The action is simple: pledge to never again make financial contributions to any political candidate who takes NRA money. Divest from NRA-backed candidates. This would send a powerful message to the public. It would show that medical organizations are willing to put their money where their mouth is. It would demonstrate that physician organizations will no longer act like hypocrites and say one thing while doing the exact opposite behind the scenes. Most importantly, it would have a profound effect on the NRA’s ability to influence public policy.

Federal policymakers receive more money from medical and physician organizations combined then they do from the NRA. If it became clear to federal candidates that by taking NRA money, they would be sacrificing their ability to receive any donations from physician groups, they would seriously think twice about accepting that money. The physician groups have a tremendous amount of leverage with their campaign contributions.

This is why I am working with several other physicians to initiate a campaign in 2019 to encourage all physician organizations to pledge to discontinue financial contributions to candidates who take NRA money.

This idea is not a new one. Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, a former Baltimore City health commissioner, state of Maryland health department secretary, and deputy FDA commissioner, who is now a Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published a paper with his father – Dr. Steven Sharfstein – in 1994, criticizing the American Medical Association for contributing to federal candidates who opposed handgun regulation, supported federal subsidies to promote tobacco sales, and promoted a ban on abortion counseling at federally funded clinics. Dr. Sharfstein went on to write an article promoting divestment of physician PAC contributions from political candidates who took money from Big Tobacco.

If we as physicians want to be able to sincerely claim that gun violence prevention is our lane, then the first step is to ensure that the organizations that represent us – all national and state-level physician associations – stop giving money to politicians who are financially backed by the NRA and who we know will oppose any and all gun violence prevention policies. Enough is enough. We can’t have it both ways any longer.

Michael Siegel, MD, MPH

Professor

Department of Community Health Sciences

Boston University School of Public Health

801 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor

Boston, MA 02118

Do Guns Protect Us or Hurt Us? The Answer May Be in Brazil.

              What’s the issue Numero Uno which divides Gun-nut Nation from Gun-control Nation?  If you guess that it’s whether guns are a positive social benefit or a negative social risk, you guessed right. Virtually every piece of pro-gun legislation (concealed-carry, removing purchase restrictions) is justified by the claim that owning a gun protects you from crime; every time a new restriction is proposed, the rationale is that we need to reduce access to guns because guns cause violence and crime.

              This debate has been front and center since the early 1990’s, when our friends Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published research showing that access to a gun increased homicide and suicide risk; versus research by our friends Gary Kleck and John Lott which found that having a gun represented a significant preventive measure against crime. When the National Academies reviewed all the relevant research in 2005, the review panel refused to come down definitively on either side, thus, the research battle continues to this day.

              One of the major problems in trying to evaluate whether guns make us more or less safe is that our system for regulating guns is unique insofar as it allows most American free and easy access to the types of guns – handguns – which are responsible for nearly all intentional gun injuries, regardless of the circumstances in which the injury event occurs. Whether someone walks into a mini-mart and sticks the place up, or someone hears a suspicious noise at their back door, if either or both of those events end up resulting in some kind of gun injury, dollars to doughnuts the injury involved using a handgun.  In both scenarios, Grandpa’s old shotgun hanging over the fireplace just doesn’t work.

              Because private ownership of guns, thanks to Heller, can’t be legally challenged, it is impossible for anyone to assess the real relationship between guns and violence because there’s no jurisdiction in the United States where we could perform a before-and-after analysis of what would happen if handguns were no longer considered products that could be legally owned. The fact that my friend David Hemenway finds a statistical correlation between the size of the civilian arsenal and the high rate of homicide doesn’t necessarily mean that the reverse (less guns = less homicide) would necessarily be true.  Regression analysis is a wonderful tool for describing how two trends move and change over time; whether one can link trends in terms of cause and effect is simply not a scientific approach, I don’t care how often public health gun researchers talk about ’science’ they use to study guns violence.

              But yesterday a new law went into effect in Brazil which might, for the first time, give us some serious indications of how to understand the connection between violence and guns. Under a new law which just took effect, Brazilians will now be able to purchase and own handguns without prior approval from the police, a process that has usually restricted private handgun ownership to only lucky few. Law enforcement agencies in Brazil have the same discretionary authority vis-à-vis handgun ownership that U.S. cops have in ‘may issue’ states, except in Brazil the criteria for issuance is much more stringent than over here.  The result? Brazil happens to be a country with a major small-arms manufacturing industry; it’s also a country where all these guns are shipped overseas.

              The new law is the handiwork of Brazil’s new President, Jair Bolsonaro, who ran on a right-wing, nationalist program that could have been written for him by the same guys who write the scripts and tweets for Sleazy Don Trump. Brazil currently owns up to the highest homicide numbers for any country on the globe, and Bolsonaro made a point of claiming during the election campaign that armed citizens would help bring the murder rate down.Cross-national crime comparisons can be tricky things, but here we have a clear before-and-after situation that can test whether the pro-gun argument promoted by the NRA has any truth to it at all.

The RAND Corporation recently announced a new pot of dough for gun-violence research.  Why doesn’t RAND fund someone to study Brazil?

Gun Buybacks Don’t Work? Fake News.

              I haven’t seen figures for the entire year, but if what happened in Baltimore this past  October had any predictive value, this year’s homicide number might come close  to the all-time homicide number set in 2017.  Which is why I found the media response to a year-end gun  buyback program conducted by the Baltimore Police Department to be not only puzzling, but frankly, stupidly-wrong as well.

              Here was the headline in the Baltimore Sun: “Gun buybacks don’t work.”  To bolster this viewpoint, the reporter, Max Meizlish, went on and on about how the decision to pay Baltimore residents $25 for a high-capacity gun magazine, with a limit of 2 magazines per donor, made the program “ripe for abuse.” 

              Why?  Because according to Meizlish, you can buy a hi-cap magazine on the internet for $9 to $15, which means that a quick online purchase followed by a trip to the buyback site would net someone at least a profit of $10 bucks.  To sum up, “Anyone looking for a quick payday need not look any further; the City of Baltimore was apparently ready and eager to double their money at the taxpayer’s expense.”

              I always thought that the Baltimore Sun, which has been around since before the Civil War, maintained some degree of journalistic standards. But everyone in the editorial department must have been out celebrating the holidays when Meizlish submitted this article which is simply wrong and simply dumb.

              Let’s start with his claim, without any source at all, that hi-cap magazines are available on the internet for $9 bucks. The website that specializes in discounted gun accessories is known as Cheaper Than Dirt.  Get it, cheaper than dirt? Here’s a link to the page which allows you to drill down and purchase hi-cap magazines for just about any caliber and any gun. I surfed through the magazines for Glock, Beretta, Kahr and CZ, brand names of handguns commonly found in the street. Know how many magazines they are selling for less than $25 bucks?  None. 

And by the way, if you live in Maryland and decide to buy a hi-cap mag from Cheaper Than Dirt, when you put in the shipping address and/or the zip code of your credit card, the purchase won’t go through. Hi-cap magazines are illegal in Maryland, as they are in a number of other states, and the online sellers are wary about getting hit with a visit from the ATF because they shipped one of these magazines to a resident of what is known, thanks to George Washington, as The Old Line State.

Incidentally, if you read through Meizlish’s entire story, he repeats again and again that the Baltimore buyback was a dud, but you might notice that nowhere does he state the number of guns or hi-cap magazines that were actually turned in. Now you would think that if he was so intent on proving that the buyback was nothing more than a scam at taxpayer’s expense, at the very least he would tell us how much this useless effort actually cost the public purse. 

Here’s Meizlish’s ultimate judgement on Baltimore’s gun buyback program: “Perhaps instead of doling out dollars to support these buybacks, Baltimore City’s elected officials could find a way to better support law enforcement and increase the number of officers patrolling the city’s streets. Tried and true policing produces results. Misguided and poorly executed buybacks do not.”

Let me break the news to this reporter who knows absolutely nothing about buybacks or guns.  Gun violence isn’t going to be reduced with an either-or approach.  A buyback is one of many tools which need to be used in our efforts to protect our communities from the threat represented by guns. But to say that until and unless Baltimore puts enough cops on the street, that buybacks are a waste of money and time is to say something that is simply not true.

Sorry Max, but your story is nothing more than fake news.

Stopping Mass Shootings: Andrew Ross Sorkin Gets It Wrong.

              For all the talk about how the liberal media tries to present a balanced view on issues that provoke public debate, a column by Andrew Ross Sorkin goes so far beyond what should be the proper boundaries for defining discussions about gun violence that The New York Times should be ashamed of themselves for running it earlier this week.

              I am referring to Sorkin’s claim that he found a pattern running through the preparations made by people who committed mass shootings, the pattern being that they used credit cards to make large and expensive purchases of guns and ammunition which would not have been possible had these guys been forced to use cash.

              Sorkin reviews documentation from various mass shootings, including The Pulse and Aurora, where it appears that both shooters, Mateen and Holmes, may have secured credit cards for the express purpose of stocking up on large amounts of ammunition and multiple guns, which were then used in both attacks.

              That’s fine as far as it goes. But Sorkin then steps across the line, actually leaps across the line, by talking in very positive terms about how easy it would be for banks and credit card underwriters to track such purchases and alert law-enforcement authorities if and when someone’s credit card account suddenly shows all kinds of buying activity involving ammunition and guns. Sorkin claims it would be a simple process for financial institutions to create and administer the same kind of data-crunching systems which they currently use to track fraud, money-laundering or terrorism.

Basically, such a scheme would require merchants who take credit card payments to identify the type of object being purchased, which is almost always found in the item’s SKU, which is that bar-code on the package which tells a merchant how to adjust inventory levels after every sale. All we would need to do is create a specific SKU for guns or ammunition that would be reported to the credit card underwriter and then flow directly to the cops.

The idea that we would give the police any information about our buying habits except when we make an illegal purchase, simply blows my mind. If this isn’t the most egregious violation of just about every, Constitutional protection we have, I don’t know what is.  And while Sorkin spends two paragraphs on the civil liberties issue with the requisite comment from the ACLU, he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the loss of privacy where guns are concerned. If he knew anything about the gun industry (and when was the last time that any of the self-appointed ‘experts’ who write about guns for media outlets like The New York Times knew anything about the gun industry?) he would realize that the system for spotting people who purchase large numbers of weapons in short periods of time is already in place.

The system is called FBI-NICS, and while the FBI is supposed to destroy data generated by all background checks within 24 hours, duhhh, they don’t. And there is no statute which prevents the FBI from alerting ATF if a background check with the same personal identifiers shows up multiple times on the same day.

I can guarantee you that if Sorkin had written an article about why we need to track purchases of any consumer item except guns, there would have been an enormous geschrei from every civil libertarian around.  But giving the cops an unfettered look into the most personal habits and behavior of every American who owns guns because, after all, that’s how we will prevent what happened at Aurora and Sandy Hook?  Is he serious?

Until Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse and shot the place up, the record for the highest number of shooting casualties was held by Seung-Hui Cho, set at Virginia Tech. Between the pistol, the extra mags and the ammunition, the rampage that cost the lives of 32 faculty and students cost him less than $500 bucks.

That wouldn’t have happened if VISA had sent a ding to the cops after Cho bought his Glock?  Give me a break. 

Why Do We Let Cops Carry Guns?

              The town of Northampton, MA has always been a center of racial, gender and cultural diversity; hence, it’s no surprise that the town is, apolitically speaking, about as liberal as you can get.  Their liberalism was on display this week when the City Council criticized an offer from the local Wal Mart which wanted to donate $13,000 in ammunition that could be used for training the town police. This led to a nasty exchange at a City Council meeting, which made Wal Mart’s withdraw from the deal.

              What caught my eye in the reportage was a statement from a local attorney, Dana Goldblatt, who got up at the Council meeting during the public comments period and made this remark: ”We should be able to say fewer police, fewer guns, less ammo, and somehow we can’t.”

              The entire episode got me thinking about gun violence and the degree to which the discussion never seems to focus on whether the cops should actually be walking around with guns. In fact, the United States is the only advanced nation-state which grants its local police the same free access to small arms that we grant to every adult who hasn’t committed some kind of serious crime. In effect, we extend to our police the same Constitutional protection for carrying guns that we give to everyone else, even though there’s nothing in the 2nd Amendment about using a gun to enforce the law.

              Several years ago, our friend Frank Zimring published a really good book, When Police Kill, which pointed out that not only is the annual body count from police shootings at least double what we get from the official reports, but there doesn’t appear to be any connection between the number of police shootings and controlling crime or crime rates at all. What Zimring suggests, and the evidence certainly sustains his argument in this respect, is that other countries which have a similar rate of violent crime exercise tight control over when and how local police can carry guns.

              It’s all fine and well that Wal Mart wanted to give the Northampton Police Department free ammunition that could be used for training the cops how to use their guns, but many, if not most cops rarely, if ever practice using their guns.  Research on this issue is spotty at best, but even a pro-cop, pro-gun blog like Bearing Arms had to admit that, “the overwhelming majority of police officers are not competent shooters.”  And take it from me, that’s an understatement if there ever was one.

              I don’t think it would be such a bad idea if Gun-control Nation would begin asking themselves why are the cops exempted from concerns we all share about the risks of walking around with guns? To be sure, the gun-control contingent has no problem aligning itself with the various public-interest and community groups who decry police violence practiced against members of the ‘less-than-fortunate’ class. But the usual strategy here is to demand more sensitivity training and more time spent on the proper use of lethal force.

How about considering the idea that cops simply shouldn’t be walking around with guns?  This is exactly the point made by Attorney Goldblatt at the Northampton City Council meeting, but I don’t hear it being said anywhere else.

I have been arguing, largely against a brick wall, that until and unless we get rid of handguns, particularly the handguns which account for more than 80% of all gun violence, so-called ‘reasonable’ restrictions won’t do much at all. And while gun researchers continue to pretend they can preserve the 2nd Amendment by using synthetic controls regression analysis to come up with a ‘scientific’ proof of how some new gun law will reduce shootings, there’s about as much science in that nonsense as the science that Pope Urban VIII used to lock up Galileo in 1633.

Want to end gun violence?  It’s simple. Take away what causes the problem, and the problem is caused by guns.  Gee, that was tough one.

How Should We Respond To Gun Violence?

              I was going to take a week off from writing my daily column but my reverie was interrupted because I started thinking about gun violence, then about violence, then about how to resist violence, then how resisting violence might be used to set a general direction and overall strategy for the GVP.  And at this point, if you don’t know what the acronym GVP stands for, God bless and go read something else.

              You may recall that during the 2016 Presidential campaign, the guy who now runs HUD, DR. Ben Carson, began actively competing with Schmucky Don to say the dumbest thing on the campaign trail which could be said. And what Carson said, and he double-downed after he was rightly referred to as a dumb-ass and a jerk, was that European Jews might have prevented the Holocaust had they been armed.

              The idiot who represents Alaska in the House, Don Young, made a shockingly similar statement in January of this year, which only proves that you don’t have to run for President to say something which is completely stupid and outside the knowledge band of the most brain-challenged person you could ever find.

              What Carson and Young were doing, whether they knew it or not, was embellishing what has become a fundamental narrative of Gun-nut Nation, namely, that violence is bad, but it can also be good if the latter occurs in response to the former. So why not keep a pistol under your pillow just in case a tank comes rumbling down the street? Nobody’s saying that someone could work wonders by shooting off a couple of rounds against a military force. But the whole point is that armed, self-defense gives you an option when the threat of violence leaves you no other choice.

              There is, however, another response to violence that Gun-nut Nation ignores, and that’s the requirement to ‘resist not evil,’ by turning the ‘other cheek.’ I think it’s entirely appropriate to consider the importance of Jesus’ command on the day that we commemorate his birth. But his commitment to non-violence is not the only response to violence which doesn’t involve committing what we call a ‘virtuous violent’ act. What I am referring to is the concept of non-violent, passive resistance, or what Gandhi called satyagraha, a strategy for confronting violence which he preached for most of his adult life.

              But what do you do if the violence you are confronting is so enormous, so overwhelming and so destructive that whether you challenge it or not, you’re going to wind up dead?  On November 20, 1938, Gandhi published an open letter to the Jewish community of Germany, which had just suffered through the depredations known as Kristallnacht, which presaged the beginnings of the Final Solution, the Holocaust and the destruction of 6 million European Jews.

              What was Gandhi’s advice for how the Jews should respond? In Gandhi’s own words: “Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth.” He then justified what would be the slaughter of the Jewish community because “to the god fearing, death has no terror. It is a joyful sleep to be followed by a waking that would be all the more refreshing for the long sleep.”

              For those for whom violence should never be the response to violence, this missive from Gandhi to a population about to endure the worst and most destructive violent behavior ever imagined on the face of the Earth should give pause. If we reject the idea that walking around with a gun is too extreme a response to violence, then Gandhi’s belief represents the other extreme. Which means that on this Christmas day, we should spend a little time trying to figure out if there is a third way. And we need to think of this third way as not being something between the two extremes, but something that will really work.

Why Do We Suffer From Gun Violence?

              Now that Nancy Pelosi has given Sleazy Don a quick lesson in how to negotiate a deal, everyone in Gun-control Nation believes that some kind of gun bill will emerge from the Democratic-controlled House. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.  But if any kind of bill is going to get voted through, the very least we should try to do is craft some kind of measure which will respond to the issue itself. And if the issue is what we call ‘gun violence,’ then we need to make sure we understand what that term really means.

              According to the World Health Organization, violence means an intentional injury committed against yourself or someone else. So gun violence would include suicide, homicide and assault, which reduces the CDC-based number of total gun violence from 124,761 to 106,624 because accidents don’t count. And accidents shouldn’t count in the overall scheme of things unless, of course,Gun-control Nation isn’t telling the truth about its support for 2nd-Amendment‘rights.’

              But of course they are telling the truth. After all,isn’t that why gun-control groups like Everytown only want to pass ‘sensible’ gun laws? Here’s what Everytown says: “Support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people.”  The Giffords group is even more explicit: “we can enact gun safety measures that save thousands of lives and do not threaten Second Amendment rights.”

              Wonderful, just wonderful. Not only does Gun-control Nation want to protect us from gun violence, they also take it upon themselves to protect Constitutional ‘rights.’  Now I’m confused. I thought the NRA was America’s ‘first civil rights organization.’ I thought it was the boys in Fairfax leading the charge to keep gun owners from facing a world without a 2nd-Amendment security blanket.  I mean, why did I give Wayne-o and Chrissie enough money to become a Life Patriot Endowment NRA Member if tree-huggers and Communists like George Soros and Mike Bloomberg are now making sure that we enforce a law which was ratified in 1791? Something’s not right here, something’s really not right.

              I’ll tell you what’s not right.  What’s not right is the attempt by my friends in Gun-control Nation to pretend they are committed to the idea that every ‘responsible’ and ‘reasonable’ American should be able to own a gun.  If there really is a chance to get a new gun law through Congress next year, why don’t we cut the bullsh*t, okay? 

              Would someone from Everytown please explain to me what is ‘responsible’ about walking around with a Glock pistol which holds 16 military-ordnance rounds? And if you don’t know the history of the 9mm cartridge, do me a favor and learn something about guns before lecturing me on your commitment to ‘reasonable’ gun laws.  Because in my state – Massachusetts – if you haven’t been arrested and convicted for some serious offense and you snooze your way through a gun-safety course which doesn’t require you to shoot a gun at all, you have just met all the sensible and reasonable requirements,Constitutional and otherwise, to walk around town with a gun. What are my friends at Everytown and Brady going to say about that?

              I’m really sick and tired of listening to my friends in Gun-control Nation tell me that we can end gun violence by just making sure that the ‘bad guys’ don’t have guns. Gun violence isn’t caused by guys, bad or otherwise. Gun violence is…caused…by…guns. I mean,you just can’t do to someone’s head with a baseball bat what you can do to their head with a gun.  I once accidentally whacked my brother on the side of his head with a Louisville Slugger and he suffered from double vision for a couple of days. He wouldn’t have suffered at all if I had blown his head off with my 1911 Colt pistol – he would have been dead.

              I don’t think it would be so terrible if Gabby Giffords stood up and said that she just doesn’t like guns.Who’s going to blame her for saying that?