August 21: Flag Day And Ruby Ridge Day.

From our friends at Ammo.com.

The Siege at Ruby Ridge is often considered a pivotal date in American history. The shootout between Randy Weaver and his family and federal agents on August 21, 1992, is one that kicked off the Constitutional Militia Movement and left America with a deep distrust of its leadership – in particular then-President George H.W. Bush and eventual President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno.

The short version is this: Randy Weaver and his wife Vicki moved with their four kids to the Idaho Panhandle, near the Canadian border, to escape what they thought was an increasingly corrupt world. The Weavers held racial separatist beliefs, but were not involved in any violent activity or rhetoric. They were peaceful Christians who simply wanted to be left alone.

Specifically for his beliefs, Randy Weaver was targeted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in an entrapping “sting” operation designed to gain his cooperation as a snitch. When he refused to become a federal informant, he was charged with illegally selling firearms. Due to a miscommunication about his court date, the Marshal Service was brought in, who laid siege to his house and shot and killed his wife and 14-year-old son.

Randy Weaver was, in many ways, a typical American story. He grew up in an Iowa farming community. He got decent grades in high school and played football. His family attended church regularly. He dropped out of community college and joined the United States Army in 1970. After three years of service, he was honorably discharged.

One month later he married Victoria Jordison. He then enrolled in the University of Northern Iowa, studying criminal justice with an eye toward becoming an FBI Agent. However, he dropped out because the tuition was too expensive. He ended up working in a John Deere plant while his wife worked as a secretary before becoming a homemaker.

Both of the Weavers increasingly became apocalyptic in their view of the world. This, combined with an increasing emphasis on Old Testament-based Christianity, led them to seek a life away from mainstream America, a life of self-reliance. Vicki, in particular, had strong visions of her family surviving the apocalypse through life far away from what they viewed as a corrupt world. To that end, Randy purchased a 20-acre farm in Ruby Ridge, ID, and built a cabin there.

The land was purchased for $5,000 in cash and the trade of the truck they used to move there. Vicki homeschooled the children.

The Weavers Move to Ruby Ridge

After moving to Ruby Ridge, Weaver became acquainted with members of the Aryan Nations in nearby Hayden Lake. He even attended some rallies. The FBI believed his involvement in the church was much deeper than it actually was – they thought he was a regular congregant of the Aryan Nations and had attended the Aryan Nations World Congress.

Both Randy and Vicki were interviewed by the FBI in 1985, with Randy denying membership in the group, citing profound theological differences. Indeed, the Weavers (who had some points of agreement with the Aryan Nations, primarily about the importance of the Old Testament) mostly saw their affiliation with the Aryan Nations as a social outlet. Living off-grid, the nearby members of the Aryan Nations were neighbors in remote northern Idaho.

Later, in 1986, Randy was approached at a rally by undercover ATF informant Kenneth Faderley, who used a biker alter ego of Gus Magisono and was currently monitoring and investigating Weaver’s friend Frank Kumnick. Faderley introduced himself as an illegal firearms dealer from New Jersey. Randy later encountered Faderley at the World Congress of 1987. He skipped the next year’s Congress to run for county sheriff, an election that he lost.

The ATF claims that in 1989, Faderley purchased two illegally shortened shotguns from Randy Weaver. However, Weaver disputes this, saying that the shotguns he sold Faderley were entirely legal and were shortened after the fact. The notes from the case show that Faderley purchased the guns and showed Weaver where to shorten them, which would constitute illegal entrapment. What’s more, the government preyed on the destitute nature of the Weavers, who lived in a small cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water.

The real purpose of the investigation was not to grab Weaver, but to use him to infiltrate a group in Montana being organized by Charles Howarth. In November 1989, Weaver refused to introduce Faderley to Howarth, and Faderley was ordered by his handlers to have no further contact with Weaver.

Randy Weaver Refuses to Turn Snitch

In June 1990, Faderley’s cover was blown. It was then that the ATF reached out to Weaver, stating that they had evidence he was dealing illegal firearms. They told him they would drop all charges if he would agree to become their new informant regarding the investigation of the Aryan Nations groups in the area. Weaver refused.

To coerce him into changing his mind, the Feds staged a stunt where a broken down couple were at the side of the road. Weaver stopped to help them and was handcuffed, thrown face down in the snow and arrested. He had to post his home as bond. Still he refused to become a federal informant.

The irony of the federal government’s desire to obtain informants within the Aryan Nations is that different branches of federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering occupied five of the six key positions in the organization. This means that the Aryan Nations were effectively a government-run shop, with agents spying on each other to ensure the integrity of an investigation – into an organization almost entirely run by the federal government.

The government had an obsession with the Aryan Nations due to Robert Jay Matthews, who was a member of The Order, a terrorist organization including members of the Aryan Nations. The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team burned Matthews alive inside his own home.

Due to his ongoing refusal to snitch, Weaver was then arrested in January 1991, on illegal firearms sales charges. These charges stemmed from Weaver’s earlier “sale” of two shortened shotguns to Faderley, the undercover ATF agent – a sale which the feds later admitted constituted illegal entrapment.

Weaver’s court date was set for February 19, 1991, then changed to the next day. Weaver, however, received notice that his court date was not until March 20. He missed his February court appearance and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. The United States Marshals Service wanted to allow Weaver the chance to appear for what he thought was his court date, however, the United States Attorney’s Office sought a grand jury indictment on March 14th – six days before his notice said he was due in court.

Already skeptical of the Feds after their repeated strongarm tactics, both Randy and Vicki saw this as further evidence that Weaver would not receive a fair trial. They increasingly isolated themselves on their Ruby Ridge farm, vowing to fight rather than surrender peacefully.

During the standoff, a voluntary surrender date was negotiated with the Marshals Service for October 1991, but the United States Attorney’s Office refused the settlement. The Deputy Director of the Special Operations Group of the Marshals Service, using evidence obtained through surveillance, believed that the best course of action was to drop the indictment, issue a new one under seal, and use undercover agents to arrest Weaver, who presumably would have dropped his guard. This recommendation was again rejected.

Shooting the Weavers’ Dog: The Siege of Ruby Ridge Begins

On August 21, 1992, six heavily armed, camouflaged U.S. Marshals went to the Weaver property with the purpose of reconnaissance. The Weavers’ dogs gave away the position of the Marshals, alerting their 14-year-old son Sammy and a 24-year-old friend of the family named Kevin Harris, who investigated what the dogs were barking at while armed.

Unsurprisingly, there are several accounts of how the shooting began.

The Weavers claim that the camouflaged Marshals fired first and refused to identify themselves. The Marshals claim that when they rose to identify themselves, they were fired on by Sammy Weaver and Kevin Harris. In yet another version of events, Marshals shot the Weavers’ dog Striker as he exposed their position and were fired upon by Sammy in retaliation.

Once the shooting began, Randy Weaver’s son, Sammy, was shot in the back by federal agents immediately after yelling, “I’m coming, dad!” as he ran back to the house. That is to say, he was fleeing the scene, not regrouping for another attack.

After this initial exchange, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team – sometimes disparagingly called the “Hostage Roasting Team,” due to their proclivity to burn down buildings – was called in to assess the situation.

Sniper and observer teams were deployed by the Hostage Rescue Team. A sniper aimed for an instant kill shot on Randy, but Randy moved at the last minute and the shot entered his shoulder, exiting through his armpit. He then fled back to the house from the shed where he had been viewing the body of his dead son.

A second shot missed Kevin Harris and hit Vicki in the head, who was holding their 10-month-old daughter at the time in her arms, a powerful image often invoked in the telling of the story. This same second shot hit Harris after exiting Vicki. An internal investigation found that the second shot was out of policy and that the failure to request surrender was “inexcusable.”

FBI Sniper Lon Horiuchi fired through a door without seeing who was on the other side of it – at people who were fleeing and posed no threat. He was later charged with manslaughter in these deaths, but the charges were dropped. Horiuchi was also involved in the Waco siege, and Timothy McVeigh printed up cards for gun shows encouraging people to target him. Indeed, McVeigh considered targeting Horiuchi and his family rather than the federal building. In 1995, he pleaded the Fifth when questioned about the matter by the United States Senate. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

The rules of engagement were changed on the fly to effectively encourage shooting anyone on sight. This included the remaining Weaver children, who were known to carry weapons 81 percent of the time. Once the siege began, none of the Weavers fired a shot.

The standoff lasted ten days, and involved between 350 and 400 agents who cruelly named their camp, “Camp Vicki.” They would routinely call out “Vicki, we have blueberry pancakes,” but claimed to not know that she was dead. Supporters of the Weavers and opponents of the ATF and FBI formed a vigil.

Weaver’s commanding officer from Vietnam, James “Bo” Gritz (who was currently running for President on the Populist Party ticket) acted as a mediator between the family and government agents. Radio broadcaster Paul Harvey intervened, offering to pay for a robust defense for Weaver if he surrendered. This was what led Weaver to abandon the standoff and surrender himself to federal authorities.

The Aftermath of the Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge

Weaver was charged with ten counts, including the original charges, of illegal firearms sales. His attorney, Gerry Spence, successfully defended Weaver against a host of charges, including murder, by using a self-defense argument. Weaver was ultimately only convicted of the charge of failure to appear, for which he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a fine of $10,000. He was credited with time served plus three months. Kevin Harris was acquitted of all charges. These were the longest deliberations in Idaho criminal history.

Weaver sued the federal government, which avoided a civil trial by awarding damages of $1,000,000 each to the three surviving Weaver children and $100,000 to Randy. Harris eventually received a settlement of $380,000 after several years of appeals against a government who claimed they would never issue any payment to someone who had killed a federal marshal.

It is worth noting that the federal government took active steps to cover their tracks after the Siege of Ruby Ridge. The chief of the bureau’s Violent Crimes and Major Offenders Section pled guilty to attempting to destroy all copies of the FBI’s internal report on the siege. Federal Judge Edward Lodge penned a lengthy list of misdeeds, including fabrication of evidence and refusing to comply with court orders.

Deval Patrick, then-Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and later Governor of Massachusetts, later found that federal agents had not used excessive force.

One of the biggest changes after the Siege of Ruby Ridge was a change in the rules of engagement. In October 1995, the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information ordered all federal agencies to standardize their rules of engagement, particularly as pertained to deadly force. Randy and his daughter Sara wrote a book about the events in 1998 entitled The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge. The family now live in Kalispell, Montana. Sara became a Born Again Christian in 2012, and forgave the federal agents.

There was, predictably, very little meaningful blowback on the United States Marshals Service or any other parts of the federal government. The Ruby Ridge Task Force delivered a highly redacted 542-page report. And the six marshals involved in the initial shootout were given the highest commendations awarded by the United States Marshal Service.

In 1997, the Justice Department declined to prosecute senior FBI officials for covering up the details of the case. Two FBI agents were prosecuted, one served 18 months in prison for destruction of evidence and the other had the charges dismissed. The second-in-command of the FBI was demoted and three other agents were suspended.

In 1996, Weaver offered his services to defuse tensions between the FBI and the Montana Freeman, however, this offer was declined. In 2000, Weaver visited the former site of the Branch Davidian Church that had been destroyed in another high-profile siege. He later offered support to Edward and Elaine Brown, who were resisting federal taxes at the time.

How It Could Have Gone: John Joe Gray

While it might be easy to take the cynical route and say that Ruby Ridge changed nothing (particularly in the wake of the Waco Siege, which took place a mere year after the Siege of Ruby Ridge), we have at least one example of the federal government admitting that it tread lightly to avoid another Ruby Ridge-like situation.

John Joe Gray is a sovereign citizen living on a 50-acre wooded ranch in Trinidad, Texas. During a traffic stop, he became involved in an altercation with Texas Trooper Jim Cleland. Cleland reached for a .357 in Gray’s car. His car was filled with anti-government literature, including pamphlets referencing bombing a bridge. After the altercation with the Trooper, he was charged with two felonies: taking a police officer’s weapon and assault on a public servant.

Gray promised to have no weapons while he was awaiting trial and posted bond. After the fact, a judge declared that his bond was insufficient. He then ordered Gray arrested. Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt stated that “This kook is not worth it. Ten of him is not worth going up there and getting one of my young deputies killed.”

So how long did local, state and federal authorities allow Gray to hole up on his ranch without any kind of armed confrontation? Just a few days shy of 15 years, in what was the longest law enforcement standoff in American history.

The charges were eventually dropped, under the premise that Gray had essentially served a 15-year house arrest term and that a militant confrontation in the style of Ruby Ridge didn’t benefit anyone.

While Randy Weaver’s stand might have made the Feds think twice about coming in guns blazing the next time they can’t strongarm someone – with an eccentric lifestyle and unusual beliefs – into turning informant, this is likely cold comfort for Weaver who lost his 14-year-old son and wife.

This is why those in the freedom, patriot, Constitutional, survival and Second Amendment movements remember this day. It is a chilling reminder of the predatory and aggressive nature of federal law enforcement.

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How To Properly Clean A Gun.

From DiamondK Brass,

How to Properly Clean a Gun

Being a responsible gun owner means taking care of your guns. This isn’t just a matter of keeping your guns safe – it’s also a matter of keeping your guns clean. Dirty guns have reduced accuracy and are more prone to failure, and failure to keep a gun clean can reduce its useful lifespan significantly. If you want to make sure that you’re getting the best performance from your guns as long as possible, make sure to follow these basic cleaning steps.

Step One: Gather Your Materials

The first step in cleaning your weapon is gathering all of the right materials. You’ll need a cleaning rod, lubricant, patches, and a brush at the bare minimum to get the job done right. Don’t go cheap with any of these materials – you’ll want to ensure that you use high-quality lubricants and tools to avoid damaging your gun during the cleaning process.

Step Two: Ensure Your Safety

The next step is to make sure that your gun is safe to clean. Make sure that it is completely unloaded, that there are no rounds chambered, and that you still have the safety on when you’re cleaning. There’s no such thing as being too safe, after all. Even after you’ve unloaded your gun, follow the best safety practices by still treating the weapon as if it is loaded.

Step Three: Clean Individual Parts

You’ll want to break your gun down as much as possible before you start cleaning. Once you’ve got it disassembled, you can clean each part. It’s generally recommended that you grab some kind of gun brush (or even a toothbrush) to clean those parts that are too hard to reach. Never skip cleaning a part – guns are precision machines and every part plays a role in ensuring that your gun works up to its specifications.

Step Four: Wipe it Down

Take some time to wipe every metal part of your gun down with a well-oiled rag. This is a necessity if you want to protect the metal and prevent damage from occurring due to heat or moisture. You don’t have to spend much time on this step, of course, but you should make sure that you do it every time you clean your gun.

Step Five: Clean the Bore

Your final step should be to clean out the bore. There are a number of tools made specifically for this process, including brushes and patches. You’ll want to use each to make sure that the bore is clean and maintained. Make sure to rub down the bore with your cotton patches to finish the job. Be careful during this process, though, as even a small bit of damage to the bore can have a huge impact on your weapon’s accuracy.

Once you’re done cleaning, make sure that your weapon is put away safely. The amount of time you need to spend on cleaning your weapon is going to vary greatly depending on the weapon itself and how it is stored, so choosing a temperature-controlled, dry area will always be the best way to reduce your maintenance. Make sure you clean your guns after using them, and always take your maintenance seriously. If you follow the basic instructions, you’ll have a weapon that shoots more accurately and that lasts much longer.

Why Do People Like Guns? Because They Like Guns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is America’s Love Affair With Guns Coming To An End?

              I have been connected to the gun business one way or another for more than sixty years, and for the very first time I am seeing something about the business that I have never seen before. What I am talking about is the fact that the latest release of background-check data from the FBI, the numbers for February, confirm that so far the sales slump which followed the inauguration of Sleazebag Trump has continued well past the 2018 election which brought about an abrupt change in gun politics on Capitol Hill.

              The very first thing that the new Democratic majority did (or maybe it was the second thing) after the 116th Congress convened on January 3rd was to pass H.R. 8, calling for universal background checks on the transfer of all guns. This was followed at the end of February with another bill extending the time for the FBI to complete a background check from 3 up to 20 days, Now the fact that neither of those bills will probably get through the Senate, and even if they do, will probably languish unsigned on Sleazy Don’s desk doesn’t alter a new political dynamic that has clearly emerged, namely, that gun control as a viable point of political discussion has once again reared its ugly  head.

              Now you would think that these developments would do for the gun industry what such developments have always done in  the past, which is to say, provoke a mad rush into gun stores to clean off the shelves before the dreaded government comes along and gets rid of all the guns. And despite what the ‘experts’ told a Congressional hearing last week (they weren’t under oath so they couldn’t be accused of lying to Congress), if you implement universal background checks for all gun transfers, sooner or later you wind up with total gun registration. And we all know what happens when the government can identify everyone who owns a gun, right?

              So how come gun sales continue to slide into the toilet, no matter how busy the gun-grabbers seem to be?  At the end of August last year, Smith & Wesson stock was selling for less than $10 a share. It closed at $13.60 the day of the election, it’s now drifting back down to under ten bucks. Before all the votes came in, the market was anticipating the possibility that the political return of the tree-huggers would produce a new surge in buying guns. The market has turned out to be wrong.

              We need to wait another couple of months before proclaiming the great de-coupling of fear and demand as the driver for the purchase and ownership of guns. But if things keep going the way they are currently going, from the perspective of America’s love affair with firearms, a new age may have definitely dawned.  There’s a website out there which sells ammunition delivered direct to your door. Right now they are advertising 500 rounds of the best, 22LR ammo on the market for $16.99.  I remember when you couldn’t find any 22LR ammunition because of the hoarding and over-consumption which occurred during the heady Obama days. The ammo is now so cheap that they can’t even give it away. And nothing is a more accurate barometer of the state of the gun market than the cost of 22LR.

              The one thing we continue to get from various public-opinion surveys is that the percentage of Americans who own guns hasn’t really increased; it’s more likely that the average gun owner now owns more guns. But at some point, even most of the die-hard gun nuts just can’t find the space, or the money, or simply the interest to go out and buy another gun. Remember when every kitchen had something called a Mixmaster? Maybe some day my grandchildren will visit the Smithsonian and walk past an exhibition of ‘vintage’ guns. I can just hear one of them saying, “Didn’t Grandpa used to own those things?”

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.

Why Do Gun Nuts Like Me Buy Guns?

I like to do my Black Friday shopping the day before Thanksgiving, so when I finish this column, I’m going to drive to the ol’ gun shop and buy myself a gun.  I haven’t bought a gun in a few months, so it’s time to maintain my membership in what the researchers at Harvard refer to as the ‘super’ gun owners, or what The Guardian calls the ‘hardcore super gun owners,’ i.e., gun nuts like me who have at least 17 guns lying around.

              When this study was released back inn 2016, it provoked the usual hue and cry from the usual organizations laboring mightily to reduce violence caused by guns.  How could it be otherwise?  After all, everyone knows that the more guns lying around, the more injuries caused by guns.

This narrative has no reality behind it at all.  The ‘average’ size of the arsenal owned by the hard-core gun nuts is 17 guns?  Are they serious?  I currently own maybe 60 guns (actually I’m not really sure of the exact number) and in the world of hard-core gun nuts, this makes me kind of light.  The two brothers who ran my gun shop probably had 200 guns stashed in the family home, and one of my customers had at least twice that number of guns lying around here and there.

Know why I opened a retail gun shop?  Because back in 2000 my wife informed me that our house didn’t have enough room for her shoes and my guns.  And the shoes weren’t about to go. You think there’s any intrinsic difference between my dear wife buying shoes and me buying guns?  If you do, then you have absolutely no understanding about why people like me (hard-core gun nuts) buy guns.  If pressed, we’ll come out with the usual nonsense about protecting ourselves from an ISIS invasion or strengthening our 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  But when gun nuts get together, you’ll never hear them say anything about any legal issue except to bitch about the fact that every time they want to buy a gun from a dealer, they have to fill out one of those friggin’ forms.

Today I’m going to buy the new Sig P320 pistol, the civilian version of the new military gun, the Sig M17.  What makes the P320 a ‘civilian’ gun as opposed to the weapon that will be carried by our troops in the field? The model name, that’s it.  Otherwise, it’s the exact, same gun.

I’m buying the Sig because I want to buy a gun.  Six-hundred and change – no big deal.  If I take the family out to dinner tomorrow night I’ll pay just as much for a slice of dry turkey, some mashed-up vegetables and a piece of ‘homemade’ pie.  Maybe I should cancel the dinner and buy another gun.  Get my point?ow

Here’s the real point. Recall that back in 2008 my dear, departed friend, Tony Scalia, decided that handguns deserved Constitutional protection as long as they were the types of weapons that were ‘commonly’ found in the home.  His opinion exempted weapons manufactured for military use, such guns being designed for battlefield exigencies, not for self-defense.

The fact is that just about every handgun Americans use for self-defense, as well as for shooting someone who gets in their way, happens to have been designed and manufactured for military use, viz., Glock, Beretta, Colt and a few more. The decision to allow civilians to own such guns has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment, and it’s the reason we suffer from gun violence and other OECD countries don’t.

So here’s my Thanksgiving thought for all my gun-control friends: Stop the nonsense about how much you respect the ‘right’ of other people to own guns as long as they follow some ‘sensible’ rules. Take the bull by the horns and say what we all know to be true.

If you want to end gun violence, cut the bullshit and get rid of the guns.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

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.

 

Does The NRA Want To Compete With Amazon?

So the NRA concealed-carry fashion show in Milwaukee has ended and the boys in Fairfax can get back to doing what they know how they do, which is to convince everyone living in the United States that protection against crime and terrorism is best accomplished by walking around with a gun. The only problem is that if gun sales continue to tank the way they have tanked over the last couple of months, the gun industry might find itself going the way that the print version of the Village Voice went this week.  And if nobody’s buying guns, then nobody’s going to join the NRA – so now what to do?

fashion              It would be misleading, however, to paint a dire picture of the NRA’s financial strength; in fact, America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization’ seems to be doing quite well in terms of revenues and cash in the bank. In 2014 they had $310 million in revenues, the number for 2015 was $336 million and they ended their 2015 fiscal with $75 million in the bank. They have 850 people on the organization’s payroll and Wayne-o pulled down over $5 million big ones in salary which isn’t chopped liver even in my way of doing things.

So if anything, the decision to get into fashion and other consumer programs is a logical step for the outfit to take, particularly since for the first time in their entire history, the NRA is being challenged for dominance of Gun-nut Nation not by the forces of evil (a.k.a. tree-hugging liberals, progressives, government do-gooders – all amounts to the same thing) but by another pro-gun organization which makes no secret about the fact that it wants to become a household word for anything and everything having to do with guns.

I’m talking about the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) whose founder, Tim Schmidt, is a true innovator in the field of ‘tribal marketing,’ which is shorthand for getting consumers to buy your products because they feel a special bond to everyone else who’s buying the same crap, and what could be a more special bond than the bond which exists between people who believe they need to walk around with a gun? Schmidt’s organization has had a spectacular growth; his concealed-carry insurance has been so successful that he was booted out of this year’s NRA show, he has now started a national training effort which has USCCA certified trainers in more than 20 states, and daily traffic to his website, according to SimilarWeb, is more than twice as high as the number of people who visit NRA.org.

It can’t just be coincidence that the NRA fashion show was held in Milwaukee, which happens to be in Schmidt’s back yard. From every honest source that I contacted, the show was a rather quiet and hum-drum affair, the Communications Director of the Wisconsin State Anti-Violence group, Anneliese Dickman, told me that social media venues which would usually be blasting pro-gun screeds if the NRA came to town were remarkable silent during the weekend affair. Incidentally, her group, known as WAVE, held a demonstration in front of the Convention Center while the fashion show was going on inside – the WAVE group does a great job of raising community consciousness about gun violence, and if you want to send them a donation, you can do it right here.

I get the impression that the NRA’s Milwaukee show was an effort to test two things: First, they may start producing a series of second-tier, regional shows in various venues throughout the lower 48, if only because many potential gun owners just can’t make the trek across the country to attend the big shindig each year. Second, I also suspect that this show was designed to test whether the new Carry Guard brand will attract merchandisers who want to align their products with the NRA.

The NRA is a tax-exempt 501C(3) organization because it started out as an educational effort. But who’s to say that training women how to carry a gun in their panty-hose isn’t the kind of training we all need today?

Why Do Americans Like Guns?

When I was a kid growing up in Washington, D.C. during the 1950s, my two favorite places to visit was the NRA Museum and the FBI.  I loved looking at all the old and historic guns at NRA headquarters because I was a gun-nut by the age of five, and I loved the FBI tour because the last stop was at the shooting range where one of the agents would fire a 45-caliber tommy gun and I could take home the empty brass.

sales             The funny thing about those childhood experiences, however, was they took place at a time when Americans had much more positive views on the importance of regulating guns than we have today. Don’t believe me?  Take a look at the gun surveys conducted by Gallup, several of which started when I was a kid. For example, Gallup has been asking this question since 1959: “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?” In 1959 this question was answered affirmatively by 60% of the respondents; the last time this question was asked, in October, 2016, affirmative responses dropped to 23 percent.

Here’s how the views on another hot-button gun issue have changed, the question being asked: “Would you vote for or against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles?” In other words, how do Gallup respondents feel about an assault rifle ban?  In 1996, the first time this question was asked, 57% said they favored such a ban, last year the pro-ban percentage was 36 percent.

Finally, in 1993 Gallup asked respondents for the first time about whether guns made them safe: “Do you think having a gun in the house makes it a [safer place to be] or [a more dangerous place to be]?” The first time this question was asked in 1993, guns making a home safer got 42% of the responses, the last time it was asked in 2014, the ‘safe’ vote was up to 63%. Taking these three questions together, the pro-gun views on handgun ownership, assault weapons and guns for safety have all become more positive by at least half.

It would be easy to put this shift down to one of two arguments: 1) the country is becoming more conservative; 2) the NRA is doing a great PR job about guns. Unfortunately, both arguments can easily be shot through (pardon the pun) with holes. The country is becoming so much more conservative over the time-period covered by these surveys that abortion is law of the land, ditto gay marriage even in the most pro-gun states. As for the vaunted NRA noise machine, the percentage of Gallup respondents who always agree with the NRA on gun issues has stayed exactly the same from 1996 to 2012 – a whole, big 6%.

Our friend Mark Glaze was recently dragged over the coals by the NRA which discovered a survey that his ‘radical’ group, Guns Down, published after the shooting of Steve Scalise. The survey showed firm majorities for more gun control and less guns in circulation, so obviously any public opinion polling, including Gallup’ surveys, has to be treated with care. But the value of the Gallup polls is they ask the same questions year after year and no matter how you slice it or dice it, the message seems to be that Americans aren’t afraid of guns.

Most people are a lot more afraid of things they believe guns can be used to protect them against – crime, terrorism, danger in a generic sense – I don’t know anyone who can’t tell me exactly where they were and what they were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. And as long as we continue to believe that the world has become a more dangerous place, simply giving folks the results of a gun survey won’t persuade them to agree with what the survey says.

 

The First Glock To Enter New York.

Sometime in 1983 or 1984 I went to the Kingston, NY gun show with two NYPD gun-nut buddies, Don and Jack. We drove up from ‘da city,’ parked outside the Kingston Armory and spent the next 3-4 hours playing with hundreds of guns, talking to other gun nuts like ourselves, and having a good time.  In those days the Kingston gun show was known as a show where buying a gun and doing any kind of paperwork was considered a contradiction in terms. As for the cops, they could also ‘buy on shield,’ which meant you flashed a badge, gave the guy the cash and you got the gun.

logo glock              At some point I came across a gun I had to have. It was a 4-inch, nickel-plated Smith & Wesson Model 58 revolver, the heavy N-frame gun which shot the 41-magnum load. The 41 mag was and is a great round – not as much kick as the 44 but a real slammer nonetheless. And this gun was really mint.  I counted out $400 bucks as quickly as I could.

Now I’m walking down the aisle, Jack comes up to me, grabs the S&W blue box out from underneath my arm, puts his hands on the Model 58 and says, “I gotta have this gun!”  So we made a deal right there. He gave me what I paid for it and promised that when we got back to New York he would sell me his NYPD black leather duty jacket for $50 bucks. The cops were in the process of shifting from leather patrol jackets to the ugly, crummy velour jackets which they wear today. I think my daughter still has the leather jacket which I got from Jack.

Anyway, so now I’m walking around the show looking for another gun. All of a sudden I’m standing in front of another dealer’s table and there’s my Model 58. What the f—? The dealer said the gun would cost me $400 bucks so I ended up buying the Model 58 twice. (About a year later I traded the 58 for a Colt AR with a full-auto sear courtesy of a guy I knew who worked in the Colt Custom shop on Huyshope Avenue in Hartford, but that’s another story for another time.)

A few minutes after I repurchased the 41 magnum, here comes Jack down the aisle with a couple of other NYPD gun-nuts in tow. They are all handing a gun from one to the other, telling Jack that they don’t believe he got the friggin’ gun, Jack’s standing there basking in the adoration of his friends.

The gun was a semi-automatic pistol, it didn’t have a hammer, the finish looked painted on and was black rather than blue. The grip was some kind of plastic and the slide had these big letters: G-L-O-C-K. I had never seen a Glock before, never held one, never knew there was a pistol that held 16 rounds. And that’s why Jack dumped the Model 58 because he bumped into ‘some guy’ who had walked into the show with this Glock.

Of course Jack’s great joy at being the first member of the NYPD to own a Glock only lasted a week, because when he took the gun down to the License Division to register it (the NYPD required that the guys register all their-personally owned guns, but didn’t have to say exactly how they acquired their guns) he was told that he couldn’t keep a Glock within the city limits because it was a ‘plastic gun’ and would be a security risk if Jack wore the gun when he went through a metal detector in order to testify in Court.

So Jack told Mrs. Skeba (who ran the License Division and nobody messed with Mrs. Skeba) that he would give the gun to ‘brother-in-law’ who lived somewhere out in Jersey near the Woodbridge Mall. And that’s how the first Glock to be registered in New York City quickly came and quickly went.

The world has changed, hasn’t it?