Two Valuable Articles on Mass Shootings.

              Two articles on mass shootings have just appeared which deserve some Mike the Gun Guy space. The first is an article by our friend Eric Fleegler, M.D., who hangs his hat and stethoscope in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital where he’s seen his fair share of kids killed and injured by guns. You can download his article right here.

              In his article, Fleegler notes that more than three-quarters of all deaths in the age cohorts 16 to 34 are due to guns and that annual gun deaths are now almost 40,000, the highest rate in twenty years, the rate has increased nearly 20 percent in the last ten years alone.

              This continued surge in gun deaths is particularly interesting because it undercuts Gun-nut Nation’s basic claim that the more that are floating around, particularly the more guns being carried concealed, the more that crime and violence is supposed to go down. Now it’s true that the rate for all violent has dropped from the mid-700’s in the early 1990’s to less than 400 the last couple of years, the murder rate has also declined by roughly half over the same period of time. But the number of states which issued ‘shall-carry’ CCW in 1999 was thirty, the number today is forty-two. How come the murder rate since 2000 is basically unchanged?

              The other paper, downloadable here, is an addendum about mass shootings from Adam Lankford, whose original paper went to print in 2016.  In his initial piece, Lankford claimed that a review of sources showed that the U.S. experienced a level of mass shootings that was not only an anomaly for advanced countries but for just about every country worldwide. The problem with that paper, whose conclusions vaulted Lankford into the front ranks of researchers engaged in gun violence work, was that the journal which published this piece did not allow access to the data sources which he used.

At the time, I mentioned that the lack of source material not only created some doubt in my mind about whether his work was based on sufficient data to be considered true, but that such data needed to be made available to the entire research community precisely because accurate information about gun violence outside the U.S. is often quite difficult to obtain, never mind understand.

Lankford has mitigated both my concerns in this new piece which contains links to all the data sources he used to compare mass shootings in the rest of the world versus mass shootings in the U.S. Moreover, in talking about mass shootings he introduces a novel concept that creates a different, and I believe, an extremely substantive argument to differentiate between mass shootings which are simply the result of a nut-job who walks into a public space and shoots the place up, as opposed to the mass shootings which we consider to be the work of terrorists both here and abroad.

Basically, Lankford argues that mass shootings in the U.S. are entirely committed by one individual who usually plans and carries out the attack alone – perhaps the only exception being the massacre at Columbine, which occurred twenty years ago this month. On the other hand, mass shootings carried out by self-proclaimed terrorists (or announced to be the handiwork of terrorist organizations) are almost always events in which there are multiple shooters who operate in tandem for the purpose of using the violence to promote a political point.

I happen to believe that differentiating mass shootings based on the number of shooters, rather than the number of victims, is a very significant issue in defining the relative levels of violence between the U.S. and other both advanced and underdeveloped states. I’ll have more to say about this next week when I discuss Lankford’s argument with John Lott. In the meantime, studying mass shootings as a variation of the behavior which is responsible for just about all our gun violence, namely, someone pulls out a gun and – bang! – is a good place to begin.

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When Is An Assault Rifle Not An Assault Rifle?

              The gun industry better come up with a basic narrative to staunch what could be some serious financial problems, assuming that the AWB virus (read: assault weapons ban) begins to spread throughout the globe. Because it just doesn’t work to refer to a gun as a ‘modern sporting rifle’ when the so-called ‘sport’ results in 50 people getting killed. It also doesn’t work to refer to an AR-15 as a ‘tactical’ gun when you can hardly consider a high school, a synagogue  or a mosque to be a war zone.

              This search for a new excuse to continue making profits from the sale of .America’s most popular’ rifle’ was on full display yesterday with a really stupid op-ed in The Washington Examiner. The writerlikened allowing families of Sandy Hook victims who want to sue the gun maker to be just as ‘ridiculous’ as allowing someone to sue a company which manufactures kitchen knives after some ‘crazy person’ takes a knife out of the cupboard and sticks it in someone else’s head.

              Last week I bought a knife from an online seller whose advertisement claimed that for $69.95 I was getting my hands on the best, most versatile and most effective ‘tactical’ knife ever made.  The advertisement made a point of promising that with this knife in my pocket, I could defend myself from any and all threats. There was no mention of whether I could also use this knife to slice a loaf of bread.

Of course I could stick this knife in the same kitchen drawer where I keep the utensils which I use to prepare and eat food. But I can also go down to Wal Mart and buy an entire set of forks, knives and spoons, or a complete set of steak knives (in a nice, wooden knife-holder) for less than $69.95. And I would be the last person to argue that if my loony cousin Arthur escaped from the loony bin, showed up at my house, grabbed one of those steak knives and pushed it into my head, that my wife should be able to sue Wal Mart because they sold me a product that was designed to trim the side of my Porterhouse filet.

This is exactly why the argument against banning assault rifles falls apart. Because an assault rifle is designed to do one thing: deliver massive, military-grade firepower into a public space containing multiple human beings who are targeted by the guy who has the gun. And the fact that nearly everyone who owns such a weapon wouldn’t think of using it to hurt or injure someone else, doesn’t make this type of gun any less dangerous or any safer for civilian sale.

One of the most popular semi-automatic rifles ever manufactured is a gun made by Ruger known as the Mini-14. It fires the same type of ammunition as the AR-15 (.223 or 5.56) and bears a slight resemblance to the old M-1 carbine, which was the 30-caliber version of the storied M-1 Garand. It was designed by Bill Ruger specifically to be a lightweight, sporting gun that could be used to hunt varmints or just have some shooting fun.

When Ruger started shipping this rifle it came and still comes with a 5-shot mag. So here was a gun that looks like a military gun, feels like a military gun and shoots like a military gun except that Bill Ruger didn’t want anyone thinking they were buying a military gun. In fact, Bill Ruger first characterized his company as ‘Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens,’ but the factory now ships what they call a ‘tactical’ Mini-14, complete with hi-cap mags.

Could Ruger refit its Mini-14 with a non-detachable mag that only holds 5 rounds? Of course they could, but the gun wouldn’t sell. And this is the reason why the gun industry has become, to paraphrase Hamlet, hoisted with its own petard. Because they can’t have it both ways. Either we shoot for sport or we shoot to kill. It’s as simple as that.

According To The NRA, Sandy Hook Was Just A Frivolous Event.

              It took our NRA friends at Fairfax less than 24 hours to respond to the opinion published by the Connecticut Supreme Court after the Court deliberated Soto v. Bushmaster for more than 15 months. And what the boys from Fairfax said is what is always said by the alt-right when a legal decision goes the other way, namely, that it was the product of an ‘activist’ court; ‘activist’ being a code-word for any judicial opinion they don’t like.

              The reason Gun-nut Nation doesn’t like the decision is because it may start a trend around the country where busybody tree-huggers and other liberal types who hate guns will dig up some consumer-protection statute in their state which can be used to take away from the gun industry its beloved federal protection from torts, a.k.a. the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a.k.a. PLCAA.  This law exempts the gun industry from the kind of lawsuits that have been plaguing the tobacco industry for years, namely, taking responsibility for damages from their product even when the product is sold in a lawful way.

              When PLCAA was passed in 2005, the law contained certain exemptions for state laws that gave consumers a basis for legal redress if the product’s use created an injury or a financial loss. Connecticut has such a law, known as the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practice Act (CUTPA), and it was this law which was used by the Sandy Hook plaintiffs to ague their case. It was also this law that the CT Supreme Court majority held to be applicable while a minority of the justices said it was not. I’ll deal with each in turn but first I have to mention a detail of the case that may prove difficult for some to read.

              On the morning of December 12, 2012 a 20-year old named Adam Lanza woke up, took a bolt-action, single shot rifle and shot his sleeping mother in the head. He then took an AR-15 rifle with multiple, hi-capacity magazines, drove to the Sandy Hook Elementary School and within five minutes killed 26 adults and children, then pulled out a pistol and took his own life.

              Adam Lanza didn’t own the AR-15. His mother had purchased the gun a year earlier, and at no time did she state that she had purchased the gun for him. This is the reason that the case could not go forward under the doctrine of negligent entrustment, because the plaintiffs would have been required to prove that the actual purchaser of the product had used it in an unsafe manner, which was obviously not the case.

At the same time, the CT Supreme Court majority held that the case could proceed under CUTPA, because that law “authorizes any person who has suffered an ascertainable financial loss caused by an unfair trade practice to bring an action,” no matter who committed the unfair act. The majority further found that the PLCAA law exempted CUTPA because even though PLCAA exempted only laws which specifically referred to firearm commerce, the CUTPA statute prohibited unfair or deceptive advertising in any kind of commerce, which would supersede the specific limitation found in PLCAA.

              What was the minority opinion which the NRA grasped like a veritable last straw? It was the idea that since PLCCA only covered state laws which contained specific reference to guns, that the CUTPA law couldn’t be used  by the plaintiffs in this case. And if there is any doubt about where the NRA stands on this issue, they applauded the minority dissent because it would protect the gun industry from – ready? – frivolous litigation, obviously a category which includes the Sandy Hook case.

              How many people have to get killed by someone wielding an AR-15 before such an act would’nt be considered frivolous?  Only 17 people were killed at Parkland, so I guess that one was even more frivolous an event than what happened at Sandy Hook. Maybe we should set the bar at 50 dead bodies, maybe 100, maybe more.

What Happened At Sandy Hook.

It took the Connecticut Supreme Court more than fifteen months to issue a ruling in the Sandy Hook case, but when the opinion was announced, it was a doozy. Not only did the Court reverse the Superior Court’s ruling and hold for the plaintiffs against the gun maker whose product was used to kill 26 adult and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the decision got right to the fundamental issue which the gun industry has been trying to wish out of existence for at least the last twenty years.

When gun makers realized that hunting was going the way of the dial telephone, they came up with a brilliant marketing plan to keep the factories humming, namely, the idea of guns as being essential for self-defense. Now the fact that most Americans never find themselves in a situation where they need protection from a criminal threat isn’t at issue here. What is at issue is that enough consumers believed this malarky to keep the gun industry from sliding into the red.

With the advent of terrorism, non-ending battle engagements in the Near East and a generalize fear that something like 9-11 might happen again, however, the whole notion of armed, self-defense was transmogrified into messaging which blurred the traditional boundary between civilian and military weapons, with the gun industry finding its strongest new market in something called ‘tactical’ guns.

Of course the gun industry also knew, particularly after the Heller decision in 2008, that they couldn’t push this move into military-style armaments too far, because Scalia specifically refused to grant 2nd-Amendment protection to what he referred to as ‘weapons of war.’ So the industry invented the idea that guns like the AR-15 weren’t military weapons; they were ‘modern sporting weapons,’ meaning that the word ‘sporting’ could be applied to any gun which fired in semi-automatic mode.

The CT Supreme Court decision is quite lengthy, primarily because it deals not only with the state laws covering consumer protection (CUTPA and negligent entrustment) but it also explains in detail why the gun industry in this instance cannot use the federal tort immunity law – PLCAA – to shield itself from legitimate damage claims. And on Page 12 of the opinion, the rubber meets the road with the following accurate and very strong text: “The AR-15 and M16 are highly lethal weapons that are engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency. Several features make these rifles especially well suited for combat and enable a shooter to inflict unparalleled carnage. Rapid semiautomatic fire ‘unleashes a torrent of bullets in a matter of seconds.’ The ability to accommodate large capacity magazines allows for prolonged assaults.”

Folks – the CT Supreme Court got it right. The AR-15 wasn’t designed to be a ‘sporting’ gun, unless you want to define ‘sport’ as the ability to kill 26 human beings in 4 minutes or less. And if a shooter can deliver that amount of lethal firepower in such a short period of time, it makes the idea of differentiating between full-auto and semi-automatic modes a stupid and sick joke.

What happened at Sandy Hook is that someone used a product that is too dangerous and too lethal for civilian sale. Because the product was used precisely in the way it was designed to be used – to kill as many human beings as possible in the briefest period of time. In all of this my great regret is that in order to force the gun industry to acknowledge the lethality of this product, beautiful and precious lives had to be lost.

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. 

Does Emma Need To Be Afraid Of Those Dopes With Their AR-15s? I Hope Not.

“Going up against the country’s largest gun lobby organization was obviously something that needed to be done, but it means that the people we’re arguing against are the ones with the guns. I am personally deathly afraid of them, and I know, from traveling the country during the summer for the Road to Change tour, that many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

emma             This is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Emma Gonzalez published today in The New York Times.  The piece is making the rounds in Gun-control Nation, and will be used by every gun-control organization to energize the troops for the big showdown on November 6th.

I notice, by the way, that over the last five days, according to Nate Silver, that the odds of the House going blue have slipped from 80.4% to 73.9%, and over that same period, the odds that the GOP will retain control of the Senate have gone from 68.1% to 78%. Weren’t both trends supposed to be going the opposite ways?  This mid-term election is beginning to smell slightly like the national election in 2016, a contest on which Gun-control Nation pinned all its hopes and dreams which then came to nothing at all.

That was then, this is now. Now we have remarkable kids like Emma Gonzalez whose determination to inject a note of reality into the gun debate has energized Gun-control Nation like nothing before.  It has also, of course, provoked a response from the other side, the Gun-nut Nation side, specifically responses like the one Emma says here: “many of the people who disagree with us mean it when they say that they only want to talk if we’re standing on the other end of their AR-15s.”

Last time I checked, the gun industry claims to have sold somewhere around 15 million AR-15s, or what they used to refer to as ‘modern sporting rifles,’ over the last ten years. The industry no longer promotes this ‘sporting’ nonsense because the word ‘sporting’ is out and the word ‘tactical’ is in.  When the President of the United States finds it convenient to excuse the fact that a bunch of schmucks were marching around Charlottesville wearing Nazi armbands and toting their assault rifles to protect a statue of Robert E. Lee, you have to figure that the United States has a tolerance for stupidity unmatched by any other national state.

Unfortunately, the same people who tell you they have a Constitutional ‘right’ to own an AR-15, will also tell you that the Constitution gives them the ‘right’ to wave it in your face. And I am sure that Emma is not exaggerating when she says that she has been threatened by acolytes of Gun-nut Nation in appearances here and there; God knows I get enough crazy emails from the same bunch and I’m not leading a national, gun-control movement like the movement that has emerged in the wake of activities by Emma, David, and their other high school friends.

But in measuring the degree of animosity created by Emma, I think we have to distinguish between serious threats and what, in many cases, is nothing more than an increase in the general volume of hot air. Of course, you can argue that had authorities in Florida responded when Nikolas Cruz first began making a nuisance of himself, perhaps the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School wouldn’t have occurred. Which is probably true.

On the other hand, why should we surprised when some dopes say they will only debate Emma if she’s in the crosshairs of their guns when the President tells a raptured audience that he would still get elected even after shooting someone down in the street? My friends in Gun-control Nation need to acknowledge that right now verbal excess is not only condoned but expected, particularly when the discussion happens to be about guns.

 

 

 

Doctors Selling Products To Respond To Mass Shootings? That’s Nonsense.

Twice in my life I had the good luck and fortune to be able to ask a doctor about a serious medical issue affecting myself or a close family member, and in both instances, I received what turned out to be timely and accurate advice. So, I have always believed that physicians should be judged by a different standard, which is one of the reasons that I go out of my way to write about the necessary role doctors play in dealing with gun violence, which occasionally is not appreciated or understood.

trauma-stop-the-bleed             On the other hand, every once in a while I come across an example of physicians behaving in ways which fill me with dread. And what I mean by that is when they use their intelligence, training and public trust to promote some crazy idea or worse, huckster some product that has no earthly wellness value at all.

There is a group out there who call themselves BleedingControl.org., and their goal is to ‘train every American in bleeding control techniques.’ It started in Connecticut following Sandy Hook and is now connected in some way to the American College of Surgeons and claims to have trained 15,000 instructors and 125,000 individuals in bleeding-control techniques throughout the United States.

Would an organization like this even exist were it not for the anxiety and fear created by mass shootings at Parkland, Las Vegas and Sandy Hook?  After all, we have been fighting the ‘War on Terror’ since 2001, a day hasn’t gone by since the Twin Towers came down that we didn’t hear about some kind of terrorist attack or threat. No, this is clearly a response to mass shootings, and an attempt to market products based on fear.

What products does this group market?  Just go to their website and you can fund a handy-dandy Personal Bleeding Control Kit for $69 bucks, a Portable Bleeding Control Bag for $650 and a wall-mounted Bleeding Control station for $800 bucks.  I guess the wall-mounted kit can go next to the fire extinguisher, right? Of course every kit contains an instruction manual and frankly, I’m surprised that they don’t yet have a CD-ROM. But instead of a disc, you can always buy a t-shirt which contains basic blood-control instructions embedded into the cloth. How thoughtful.

I recall that at some point during a gym class in high school, the school nurse came in and gave us a demonstration of CPR. Now we didn’t do a live drill because that would have required each of us to put our mouths over someone else’s mouth which is something the boys wanted to do to the girls but not for the purpose of saving anyone’s life. I can tell you that if, God forbid, I came upon someone lying in the street today who needed immediate resuscitation, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of what to do. Because you don’t learn a medical technique by just reading an instructional manual or going to one class. You learn by doing it again and again. Right now, you can attend a free class in ‘bleeding control basics’ which lasts for two hours and meets once. Once.

When the bombs exploded at the 2013 Boston Marathon, more than 260 people were injured but only 3 victims died. This remarkable life-saving effort occurred because the explosions took place at the finish line which happened to have a medical tent, fully staffed by physicians who attended to runners coming to the end of the race and needing some degree of medical support. There are two reports, covering the medical response to the bombing, one online, the other can be downloaded here,  Neither of these reports claim that any degree of life-saving work was done by civilian volunteers.

I’m not saying that a well-trained individual couldn’t save the life of a mass-shooting victim. What I am saying is that physicians shouldn’t be appealing to our fears to sell some products that can only be used by people who are very well trained. After all, doesn’t the NRA promote gun ownership based on fear?

 

 

The Lawsuit Against Alex Jones Injects Reality Into The Gun Debate.

Every time a gun-control law is upheld, our friends in the gun-control movement (I think the idea of trying to convince Gun-nut Nation that we don’t want to ‘control’ guns is absurd) exult and rightly so. But the lawsuits filed against Alex Jones by a group of Sandy Hook parents has more significance than any particular legal statute could ever have. What the Sandies are saying is that they have suffered threats, harassment, public humiliation and invasions of their privacy because Jones keeps blaming them for what happened at the elementary school. Which is what conspiracy theory is all about: identify a vulnerable victim and then pile on.

jones   Ultimately, the argument over gun violence is going to get down to how the average person thinks about guns, and the influence of someone like Jones over the public gun debate has been an important factor in the way the argument has gone along until now. The problem in this case isn’t the issue of determining what happened at Newtown, it’s the way that folks who are shocked and dismayed by these kinds of events react by getting involved in activities which might prevent such horrendous massacres from happening again.

I guarantee you that if the Sandy Hook parents had just suffered their silent grief and decided, individually and collectively to stay out of public view, that the conspiracy theories which ramped up immediately after December 14, 2012 would have quickly gone away. But the Sandies formed an organization devoted to promoting alternatives to violence in schools; they journeyed as a group to D.C. to help Obama with his attempt to get a new gun law;  they continue to advocate for restrictions on guns; and worst of all, the sued the gunmaker who manufactured the AR-15 which was used to kill 20 little kids and 6 adults in a five-minute rampage inside the school. Oh, that AR-15 isn’t too lethal for civilian sale.  It’s just a sporting rifle, right?  Yea, right.

The reason that Jones continues driving down the conspiracy path with Newtown, he’s claimed the same thing about the Aurora massacre, by the way, is because much of his audience happens to come out of the gun-owning fringe who feel that even the NRA is too tame to represent their beliefs. Think I’m kidding?  Take a look at his interview of Ted Nugent, whose high-intensity slurs and insults against the liberal ‘menace’ often put Jones to shame.

Jones says that he first got turned onto his political world view because his father was a member of the John Birch Society – remember them?  The Birchers were the first group that created an entire political belief-system around conspiracy theories, in particular the notion that there was a worldwide conspiracy of Communists, liberals, and other enemies of freedom which unless we were all endlessly vigilant, would rear its ugly head. They group has become somewhat more respectable over the last few years, their website is simply another imitation of Breitbart which, thanks to DD Trump has determined that ‘illegal aliens’ are now the big threat.

What makes the legal actions against Jones so compelling is that it forces people to confront the fact that gun violence, which kills and injures an average of 340 people every day, is something that actually takes place.  Let’s say, for example, that a particular locality suffers from a high degree of gun violence and decides to enact a new gun-control law.  What’s to stop someone like Alex Jones from saying that the 24 gun murders which occurred in a certain city so far this year weren’t just staged?

When the NRA says that it’s not the gun that kills people, it’s people who kill people, they are promoting a false narrative which is no different than Alex Jones claiming that Sandy Hook never took place. It’s high time that such cynically-proffered delusions get challenged not just in the law courts, but in the court of public opinion as well.

 

How Do We Define A Mass Shooting? Not The Way We Should.

It’s official! The influencers and decision-makers who want to do something to reduce gun violence have decided that the definition of a ‘mass shooting’ is four or more people ending up dead, in many instances the toll including the shooter as well. This definition is central to a major analysis of mass shootings published last week by The Washington Post, which claims there have been 152 such events since Gary Gilmore began blasting away from the top of the Texas Tower in August, 1966.

mass             These numbers works out to less than 3 mass shootings per year, which WaPo says is a ‘small slice’ of gun violence, and doesn’t include shootings that took place within a private residence or were street shootings involving gangs. To invent a definition which arbitrarily defines ‘mass’ shootings as only involving events where a certain number of people are killed, while ignoring non-fatal gun injuries, is to feed into a public discussion about gun violence which not only makes no sense, but completely distorts what gun violence is really all about. But right now, let’s stick with what WaPo has to say.

Since DD Trump was inaugurated, there have been 12 mass shootings, resulting in 142 deaths and another 482 individuals wounded or injured but still alive. In the two final years of the Obama regime, there were also 12 mass shootings, with the final toll coming to 115 dead and 100 surviving injuries or wounds. Were it not for the ability of one mass shooter to barricade himself in a hotel room far above an enormous group of potential targets and another who charged into a densely-packed nightclub, right now we would be bumping along with every mass shooting claiming, on average, roughly 7 fatalities and 5 non-fatal assaults.

What I don’t understand in all the ongoing discussion about mass shootings is the obsession we seem to have with defining these events in a way which allows us to keep track of the number of deaths and injuries with a degree of certainty that we never, ever impose on any other attempt to analyze or understand gun violence. By drawing a red line between shootings which occur in public spaces but don’t involve public streets where so-called ‘gang’ shootings occur, we are not only accepting an arbitrary definition of this totally fanciful phenomena known as ‘gang violence,’ but along with drawing another red line between shootings which occur in private spaces (i.e., residences) we are probably reducing the real number of shootings that claim multiple victims by as much as half.

When the cops arrive at a murder scene and nobody saw nuttin’ except the body lying in the street, they describe the event as ‘gang violence.’ That’s the end of that. When the pissed-off ex-husband walks into a family party to which he was disinvited and begins blasting away, he’s not putting a bullet into as many bodies as possible because it’s a private space; he kills everyone he can because that’s where they all happened to be at the same time.

The real reason the FBI narrows its definition of ‘mass shootings’ is because if the agency were to use a definition that took all shootings with multiple deaths into account, or defined a ‘shooting’ as involving multiple victims whether they died or not, all of a sudden their accurate numbers on mass shootings quoted by WaPo and every other mainstream media outlet would disappear.

According to our friends at the Gun Violence Archive, who define a mass shooting as any incident in which 4 people are killed or wounded, there have been 102 such events this year alone, with 130 fatal victims and another 413 who were wounded but survived. The WaPo says there have been 152 mass shootings since 1966. Using the GVA’s much more realistic definition, we’ll get there this year by mid-July. And that’s what mass shootings in the United States are really all about.

 

You Don’t Need An Assault Weapon To Kill Lots Of People – Any Old Gun Will Do.

Not that facts make any difference in the argument between the two sides about gun violence, but the Santa Fe shooting was somewhat different from other mass shootings in two respects. First, the shooter killed and wounded 20 people not with an assault weapon like an AR-15, but with a pump shotgun and a 38-caliber revolver, types of guns that have been around forever and don’t usually figure in any discussion about banning this type or that type of gun to prevent mass shooting events. Second, not only was there an armed citizen on the premises, but he happened to be a full-time cop who was seriously wounded during the assault.

santa fe             After nearly 30 minutes, during which time the 17-year old shooter exchanged gun fire with two other cops, the terrible slaughter came to an end. It didn’t end because the shooter committed suicide, which often is the way these things go down. It didn’t end because an ‘armed citizen’ or law-enforcement officer wounded or killed the man who killed 10 people and wounded 10 more. It ended because the kid gave himself up.

As I said above, facts often don’t matter in the gun-violence debate.  Gun-nut Nation will continue to rant about how and why guns are essential to protect our God-given ‘rights.’ One pro-gun idiot even showed up at the high school wearing a MAGA hat and a pistol on his hip, claiming that he was just there to “offer support.” He got himself interviewed and then drove away. No doubt this jerk will probably be invited to attend next year’s NRA meeting to receive some kind of ‘armed citizen’ award.

We can safely ignore or dismiss such stupidities because when the gun-control community talks about gun violence, after all, we rely on evidence-based facts. An example of this concern for shaping the gun-violence narrative on hard data, as opposed to fanciful nonsense promoted by Donald Trump and Fox News, is a new initiative on the part of researchers and activists called ‘A Call For Action To Prevent Gun Violence In The United States Of America,’ which has now been signed onto by more than 200 mental health groups and 2,300 individual experts in the weeks since the Parkland massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High. Members of this group have attended conferences, testified at public hearings and published an 8-Point Plan. I can just imagine the thousands of emails which zinged back and forth in the process of devising this plan.

The plan’s eight points address school violence in various ways, first and foremost creating and maintaining positive school environments “that protect all students and adults from bullying, discrimination, harassment and assault.” The plan sets as a second priority “a ban on assault-style weapons, high-capacity ammunition clips, and products that modify semi-automatic firearms to enable them to function like automatic firearms.”

I didn’t notice that the kid who walked into Santa Fe High School yesterday had an assault weapon. I also don’t think he had any high-capacity ammunition mags because the two guns he used to kill and wound 20 people don’t take gun magazines of any kind. The shotgun he carried probably contained eight rounds or less, the revolver could only be shot 6 times before it would have to be reloaded again.

Now that more school students have been shot this year than the number of U.S. soldiers killed in both combat and non-combat roles, I really believe it’s high time for the gun-control movement to stop competing with Gun-nut Nation over concerns for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ If folks who signed onto that 8-point pledge actually believe that you can call for gun regulations but still support private ownership of guns, I suggest that such experts hold their next conference at Area 51. You never know – maybe the Martians have figured out a way to reduce gun violence on their planet because we sure don’t seem to have a clue.