Want To Get A New Assault Rifle For $5 Bucks? Join The NRA.

If any of you think that anyone in the gun industry might want to reconsider their commitment to assault rifles in the wake of ‘black’ guns being tossed out of Walmart, think again.  I just received my 3rd or 4th or maybe 10th email from Wayne-o reminding me to pony up five bucks for the 3rd Annual NRA Gun Raffle, and choose any one of 12 guns or, if I like, all 12 twelve guns which “any American gun enthusiast would like to own.”   And in case there was any doubt in my mind about why I should enter with a chance to win, Wayne-o’s email goes on to remind me that I don’t want to ”miss this opportunity to enter to WIN the guns that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg want to BAN, along with many other great firearms!”

I know something about gun raffles because my gun shop used to be the site for an annual raffle to benefit the state Ducks Unlimited chapter which, in case you don’t know them, is a conservation and hunting organization founded in 1927 as an offshoot of the original hunting-conservationist effort, Boone & Crockett Club, that was started by Teddy Roosevelt and some friends in 1887 before TR went scampering up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War.  Hunters and conservationists were one and the same back in those days, because hunters understood the necessity to preserve and extend natural areas for the survival and protection of game.  The Ducks Unlimited raffle that I supported raised money for wildlife programs and preservation of wetlands in and around my state; you didn’t have to even own a gun to feel this was something worthy of your support.

duckslogo                If memory serves me correctly, the Ducks Unlimited raffle gave away five or six guns, all of them rifles and shotguns used for sport or the hunt.  There was always a beautiful Beretta over-and-under, usually with a Ducks Unlimited logo engraved on the case and the gun; a Marlin 39A 22-caliber lever-action carbine with the gold-inlaid stock; a magnum-caliber Weatherby for elk and a Marlin 336 for white-tail deer.  One year the guy who won the Weatherby told me he really didn’t want the gun so I bought it from him and it’s still sitting around somewhere in the basement or out in the garage.

Want to know what are the guns you can win from the NRA?  The raffle’s main prize is a Ruger SR-762, which has nothing to do with the Ruger 77 bolt-action rifles that the old man designed and made Bill Ruger’s name famous both here and abroad.  The SR-762 is a 30-caliber assault rifle which retails for more than $2,500 and shoots a 30-caliber round through a piston-type of operating system that promises to deliver “superior operating endurance” for every tactical need.

You can choose a Ruger for your raffle ticket but you can also select five other assault-style guns, including the Larue Tactical PredetAR rifle, the M4 V1 carbine from Daniel Defense, the KRISS Vector CRB Carbine and theTavor-IDF IDF 16 rifle with a Mepro 21 sight.  The last-named gun comes out of Israel and is made by the same company which many years ago gave us the lovely little machine pistol known as the Uzi which, if you recall, was considered by the Bush Administration too dangerous to be imported after 1989. I love it when Wayne-o tries to make believe that only Democrats, Liberals and native-born Kenyans want to ban guns.

Fully half of the twelve guns in this year’s NRA raffle are assault rifles, and don’t give me any crap about they’re not assault rifles, they’re really some figment of the NSSF fantasy-world called ‘modern, sporting’ guns.  Make no mistake, they are designed to kill human beings and they have nothing to do with hunting or sport. That’s the way the gun industry has changed, and that’s the reason the industry needs to be kicked in the ass until it returns to honesty and common sense.

 

 

 

 

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Did You Know That Gun Owners Are America’s Most Persecuted Minority? Just Ask Dana Loesch.

If I were an African-American or a member of some other racial or ethnic minority, it would really be comforting to know that the cause of racial equality is being championed by a gun-toting woman named Dana Loesch.  Not only does Dana understand gender issues, but she claims to be a gun owner, which by definition means she knows all about prejudice and being a member of the most persecuted minority group of all.  But thanks to the NRA and its video series, Freedom’s Safest Place, Dana’s now able to defend my minority rights and the rights of all law-abiding Americans who know they’ll be safer if they use and carry a gun.

When you’re a member of a persecuted minority like Dana, it’s easy for you to identify the people who persecute you the most.  And Dana’s been on a rant lately concerning the Numero Uno persecutor, the arrogant, elitist, New Yorker Michael Bloomberg, who keeps getting an assist from another no good, anti-gunner named Shannon Watts. Dana began issuing warnings about Bloomberg’s racism earlier this year when she linked to an audio of remarks made by Mayor Mike at an Aspen conference at which he allegedly stated that “ninety-five percent” of all murders were committed by “minorities” which, according to Dana, means African-American males.  And since, according to Dana, only about half of all murders in America are committed by African-Americans, here’s proof-positive that Bloomberg’s just another racist White guy trying to disarm all the Blacks.

bloomberg                Now in fact, if you actually listen to the Bloomberg tape, what he’s referring to is New York City where violent crime happens to be an uncontested feature of minority life, but the word ‘minority’ in New York City doesn’t refer only to Blacks, it means all the residents of economically impacted inner-city ghettos like Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, Jamaica in Queens, Upper Harlem in Manhattan, Port Richmond in Staten Island and most of the South Bronx.  Nobody living in a million-dollar co-op on Manhattan’s trendy Upper West Side needs to be worried about getting mugged, ditto residents in Brooklyn Heights or Forest Hills. And this is what Bloomberg meant in correctly using the term ‘minority’ when he answered a question at Aspen, and this is what Dana Loesch has consciously misrepresented in attacking both Mayor Mike and Shannon Watts in her recent tweets.

Believe it or not, I don’t really blame Dana Loesch for making up an argument about guns based on whole cloth.  A girl has to earn a living, and while I’m sure we’ll soon see a line of Loesch leather garments for professional S&M dommes, Dana’s just stupidly parroting a line about guns and African-Americans that the NRA has been pushing for the last several years.

Back in the 1990s, the gun industry discovered that people like me who owned guns for hunting and sport were slowly dying off and not being replaced.  So they invented a new reason to buy guns -protection from crime – which meant that gun owners were really protecting themselves from the you-know-who’s.  And if you doubt that gun ownership for self-protection wasn’t part and parcel of a racist appeal, take a look at the television spots that Charlton Heston produced for the NRA.

The good news is that the strategy kept people buying guns.  The bad news is that while gun sales continue to go up, the number of gun owners keeps going down.  So the industry and its promoters have to find new markets wherever they can. Enter the likes of Dana Loesch with messages crafted for both minorities and moms, neither group, incidentally, showing much inclination to run into gun shops and pull bangers off the shelves.

Dana, let me break the news gently to you and your like-minded friends.  You’re talking to yourselves and nobody who knows or cares anything about history, facts, or the reality of inner-city life is going to take you seriously. And gun violence is a serious issue, which is why you have nothing to contribute at all.

When It Comes To Gun Violence, It’s Time To Stop Being Polite.

Back in 2014, when Mike Bloomberg ponied up $50 million to help empower Shannon Watts and her ladies (that’s not a rock band) to begin leveling the playing field against the NRA, the guardians of our beloved 2nd Amendment began running some television ads designed to remind us lucky gun owners how mean-spirited and dangerous a guy like Bloomberg could be.  One ad aired during the battle over extending background checks in Colorado, and it showed a Western-style chick tooling along in her 4X4, with a voice-over accusing Mayor Mike of being an “elitist” and “hypocrite” because he wanted to ban snack foods, soda and, of course, guns.

bloom                The snarky NRA campaign fizzled, of course, but what I found interesting was the attempt to link firearms regulation to Bloomberg’s long-standing public health concerns on healthier eating, as if full-calorie soft drinks, potato chips and guns all help promote the common good.  Now it’s one thing to argue about whether or not guns represent a benefit or a risk; John Lott gets away with promoting the ‘more guns equals less crime’ nonsense because scholars whose research supports the opposite point of view are honest enough to admit that their argument may not yet be airtight.  But the medical evidence on health risks from soda pop and junk foods is compelling, even though the NRA would have you believe that the benefits of guns, smokes and Twinkies are one and the same.  I’m surprised the NRA didn’t also score Bloomberg for his anti-smoking campaign, but give the folks in Fairfax credit for a bit of reality-testing, if only a bit.

What I won’t give them credit for, however, is their continued attempt to pretend that firearm regulation doesn’t work and that any effort to extend regulations is nothing more than a nefarious effort to get rid of all the guns.  And their latest broadside in this respect is the editorial by NRA head lobbyist  Chris Cox, who responded to the Virginia shooting of two journalists by stating, “the fact is that no piece of legislation would have stopped this brutal crime.” And in case you’re wondering, the NRA does have a solution for the occasions when a deranged individual gets his hands on a gun and starts shooting everything in sight – it’s called “fix the mental health system,” whatever that meaningless sentence can be believed to mean.

The position of the NRA boils down to this: there is no such thing as gun ‘violence;’ people are violent and guns are beside the point.  Ergo, we need to solve the root causes of violence and forget about the guns. This is not only a cynical and self-serving approach to the problem, it’s not true.  And I think it’s time for all the gun-control activists to stand up, take off the gloves, and begin responding in kind.  I’m not saying that the activist community should invent false arguments to promote the idea that guns are a risk to life and health; the evidence is clearly there.  They should stop being so worried about the 2nd Amendment, they should stop being so polite, they should tell it like it is.

When the NRA says guns aren’t the problem, people are the problem, they are promoting behavior that is a risk to well-being and health.  When the NRA says background checks don’t work so we don’t need to extend background checks to private sales they are making it easier for guns to get into the wrong hands. When the NRA says they were “touched” by the Virginia tragedy they are shedding crocodile tears, because it’s the proliferation of handguns designed to be carried by all those dutiful ‘armed citizens’ which brought that shooting about.

If I learned anything from the recent shenanigans of Donald Trump, it’s that he who yells loudest usually gets heard.  I don’t see why the gun-control community can’t ramp up the volume and drive their arguments home.  The good news is that their arguments are true, and sooner or later, truth will out.

Purchase on Amazon.

Purchase on Amazon.

Why Not Stand In Front Of Kroger’s And Have An Argument About Guns?

When Shannon Watts and her Moms first started campaigning to turn popular retail destinations into gun-free zones, the pro-gun noisemakers went ballistic, accusing her (and the eminence grise behind her) of all sorts of nefarious schemes to leave Ma and Pa Shopper unprotected from  thugs, criminals, ISIS-wannabes and God knows who else might be trying to kill or maim the American family as it fulfills its self-appointed destiny to shop until we drop. And it didn’t take long for some of the pro-gun bloggers to dig up the usual stories about how several shoppers were held up outside of Target stores which was no doubt caused by Target’s decision to ask customers to leave their guns at home.

Now the gun internet is agog at the most recent efforts by Shannon and her ladies to push yet another retailer – Kroger – into taking a no-gun stance. But this time around they are celebrating the fact that, until now, the supermarket chain has refused to give in. To show you how loony the gun debate can sometimes become, Breitbart pitched in with its usual anti-gun screed by announcing that Kroger’s reported third-quarter profit increase was no doubt due to its refusal to buy into the Mom’s demand that shoppers leave their guns at home.

gun free                I happen to believe that the campaign to create gun-free retail zones is the most creative and positive step ever made by the gun-sense crowd.  What it does, for the very first time, is challenge the most sacred and stupid rationale for gun ownership in this country, namely, the idea that guns protect us from crime.  This idea has been assiduously and constantly promoted by the gun industry for the past twenty years, and it is nothing more than whole cloth.  There is not one, single, credible study that proves any connection between crime rates and access to guns. Period.

Now before all my usual critics send out their comments about how I have finally revealed myself to be against the 2nd Amendment in every shape and form, let me make one thing very clear.  Note in the previous paragraph that I did not say that guns don’t protect us from crime.  What I said is that there’s no evidence to support the argument either way.  In case you didn’t know it, that’s what the word ‘any’ really means.

I can’t blame the gun industry for wanting to make Americans believe that guns are a good way to keep us from getting assaulted, robbed or worse.  After all, once Americans began living in suburbs and getting off the farm, the whole nature of gun ownership began to change.  What are you going to do?  Tell Mr. and Mrs. Suburbanite they still need the shotgun wedged behind the front door to go out and shoot the wolf or coyote that’s hungrily eyeing their cows or sheep?  There ain’t no cows or sheep.

The funny thing is that the gun industry has done a pretty good job of convincing gun owners that there’s still a need to own a gun.  Not only do the polls show that a clear majority of the gun-owning population not only believes they need guns for self-defense, but this is a complete reversal from the results of the same polls conducted twenty years ago which showed that a clear majority of gun owners owned guns for hunting and sport.  The fact that there’s nothing behind this attitudinal shift except incessant, pro-gun hot air is beside the point. People believe what they want to believe.

Which is why I am so impressed with the Mom’s strategy to put feet on the ground and make people think and talk about this issue as they enter retail stores.  Because what better place to meet the ‘average’ American than in front of a supermarket, a mall or a discount chain?  And what better way to challenge the assumptions and marketing riffs of the gun industry than with a direct, face-to-face talk?  You never know.  Maybe both sides will learn what the other side really wants.

 

Want To End Gun Violence? Vote Republican In November.

I just took a look at how much money the NRA is pouring into the 2014 election campaign and, as I suspected, they are going over the top to try and make the returns as red as possible on November 4th.  In total they have spent nearly $20 million, which puts them in the Top 10 of major PACs giving money independent of specific campaigns.

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.  You would think that an organization as savvy as the NRA would have figured out by now that the more the country tilts to the Right, the more gun sales go down.  It’s no secret that the election of Obama in 2008 gave the gun industry a much-needed boost, and his attempt to pass a new gun control law after Sandy Hook drove gun and ammunition sales through the roof.  If the Senate turns red in November, you can kiss any further increase in the American civilian arsenal goodbye.  In fact, the decline in gun sales has already begun and it threatens to get much worse.

Monthly background NICS totals, a fairly valid way to understand trends in gun sales, will probably top out in 2014 around where they were at the end of the previous year. But the monthly totals of more than 2 million checks which were common in 2013, have not occurred again since March of this year, and nobody in the industry is expecting this trend to reverse.  Sig-Sauer announced a major layoff in July, Savage Arms followed with the same news in September after putting a large group on furlough back in June and July, and Smith & Wesson’s stock tumbled after the company announced that quarterly sales had fallen off  by nearly 25 percent.

         Shannon Watts

Shannon Watts

Not only does it appear that the time for federal gun legislation has passed and gone, but notwithstanding the effort by Bloomberg and Watts to support pro-gun control candidates at the state level, the chances of additional gun controls in red states is also slim to none.  It appears, for example, that the ballot initiative in Washington State to expand background checks may pass, but that’s because in a statewide vote the Democratic voters along the coast easily outnumber the Republicans who dominate local politics in the rural, inland part of the state.

On the other hand, while there was a spate of gun legislation at the state level after Sandy Hook, nearly twice as many laws were passed that loosened rather than tightened gun restrictions, and the states which did increase legal controls over guns (NY, CT, NJ, MA) were, for the most part, blue states in the Northeast where gun ownership has never been all that strong. When gun makers think about their market they think the South, the rural Midwest and the western, mountain states. That’s where a majority of guns in this country are owned, and these areas, politically speaking, tend to be mostly colored red.

The NRA has been trying to widen the gun-buying demographic but have met with little success.  Their digital network features a series of rather stupid, sanctimonious message videos by, among others, an African-American, a couple of women with the Laura Ingraham look and an Asian –American who also happens to be gay.  But the average gun owner continues to age out of the population and despite the appearance of a new group called Students for Concealed Carry, college life and guns simply don’t mix.

The dirty little secret about the gun business is the only thing that promotes gun sales is the fear on the part of gun owners that their toys might disappear.  But because on occasion these toys inflict real damage on innocent people, from time to time an effort is made to control or restrict their use with a consequent upsurge in the volume of arguments on both sides.  Maybe Mike and Shannon should consider helping some red candidates rather than blue, because there’s nothing that will end America’s interest in guns faster than the knowledge that nobody’s going to take them away.

 

 

 

Can Technology And Entrepreneurship Solve Gun Violence? Worth A Try

This week more than 1,000 people have gathered in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco for the annual TedMed conference, which is one of those fast-paced, international meetings bringing together people who want to come together to make deals, make connections, make friendships, make whatever people like to make who get together and then be able to tell everyone who wasn’t there how much they missed by not being there.  Think the Aspen Institute conference, think Davos, think TedMed, get it?

TedMed claims that its meetings explore “the technology, creativity and innovation that contributes to a healthier future,” which is an understated way of saying that if you have a new idea that will make a gezillion dollars in today’s health technology market, you’ll meet plenty of deep pockets belonging to people who want to help you get it out there as long as most of the profits end up belonging to them.  But that’s the way entrepreneurship works and that’s the reason why the TedMed meeting was video-streamed to more than 140 countries worldwide.

tedmed               I normally avoid having anything to do with such meetings because I know that the real action takes place not on the speaker’s platform, but in the hallways and the lounges where the conference delegates meet and greet.  But I had to watch today’s session because one of the main speakers was Daniel Webster, who runs the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.  And if readers of my column find that this name strikes a familiar chord it should, since the School in which the Center is located is endowed by the NRA’s chief antagonist, the former Mayor of New York.

If you’ve read the Center’s publications, you won’t find anything in Webster’s remarks at TedMed that would surprise.  And the prescription for reducing gun violence, which he described artfully and fully to the TedMed audience, can be found in the many published articles of the Center and are summarized in the book, Reducing Gun Violence in America, which the Center released following  the massacre at Sandy Hook.  In sum, Webster and his colleagues believe that gun homicides can be reduced by roughly half of the 11,000 that occur each year, a goal which could be met if gun ownership standards were more higher and more consistent, gun dealers were better regulated, private gun transfers came under NICS, and safe-gun technologies, particularly ballistic prints of ammunition, were implemented by manufacturers prior to retail sales.

As I was listening to Dan Webster’s remarks, however, it occurred to me that perhaps something needed to be considered beyond the strategy for change that he outlined in cogent and hopeful tones.  Because while there’s no question that a majority of Americans, even a majority of gun-owning Americans, support (at least in theory) sensible measures to reduce the carnage from guns, perhaps the audience at the TedMed conference included entrepreneurs and investors who view this issue, like they view all such issues, as a question of market, products, profit and loss.  So why not enlist them in figuring out how to translate some of these policy ideas into profitable ventures – the real American approach to solving problems – which will create financial incentives to help reduce harm from guns?

The smart-gun technology stuff has been kicking around for years, but the Number 1 reason why guns go off when they shouldn’t is because the owner forgot to unload it before he put it away.  We have sensors that tell us if we forget to turn off the lights on our cars.  Would anyone believe that their 2nd Amendment rights were under attack because they were reminded electronically to unload their guns?  Don’t get me wrong – the Hopkins gun violence research team understands the policy imperatives that would bring gun violence way down.  But asking entrepreneurs to advance the goals of those policies through market-based ideas and products certainly wouldn’t be wrong.

Want To Reduce Crime? Try The Bloomberg Approach.

Now that Mike Bloomberg has departed from the scene, we might want to look more closely at his signature achievement, namely, the notion that he turned New York City into a crime-free zone.  There’s been a lot of give and take on this one, particularly because much of the alleged decrease in violent crime was believed to be the product of a too aggressive, stop-and-frisk strategy employed by the NYPD.  But while civil libertarians and criminologists bat that one back and forth, I prefer to spend a little time analyzing the numbers that have been produced by Bloomberg’s administration  to bolster the claims that New York is now a very safe town.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But before I get into the numbers, it’s important to understand that while New York contains more than 8 million people, this immense population lives in five very distinct boroughs which, if we throw them all together and only talk about the city as a whole, we end up with a picture that bears little relation to the circumstances in which most city residents actually live. Because crime is the most potent barometer for judging what’s called “quality of life,” if people feel physically secure they tend to consider themselves better off even if their material circumstances are not what they would like.  On the other hand, when people feel insecure and threatened by their environment, no degree of physical amenities can restore their sense of well-being or mitigate their fears that things just aren’t right.

Enter the Bloomberg numbers machine.  According to his numbers, violent crime continues to decline in New York, with homicides, the most visible of all violent crimes, being reduced to the lowest level in more than thirty years.  The drop has been seen in every category of violent crime, and it has been going on far longer than any expert would ever predict.  Even the noted criminologist Frank Zimring, who recently wrote a book about the decline in NYC crime, recently admitted that the decline was even greater than what he predicted might occur.

But there’s only one little problem.  If you look at crime stats on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, it’s clear that in many parts of the city people aren’t safe at all and worse, the drop in violent crime in some areas, particularly the wealthiest parts of the city, has been so steep that it tends to mask a much more severe problem in other parts of town.  For example, according to the FBI, the national rate for the four crime categories that comprise violent crime stands right now at 386.9 incidents per 100,000 people.  There are neighborhoods in New York City where the violent crime rate is more than three times as high.  The national murder rate in 2012 was 4.7, but in Brooklyn’s Brownsville right now it’s 15.1.  Forcible rape is 26.9 nationally but it’s higher in the Morrissania section of The Bronx and nearly double in Brownsville and “Do or Die’ Bed-Stuy.

Want to live in a crime-free zone?  Buy a two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s West End Avenue complete with cockroaches for only $2.5 million and you’ll live without fear.  The 20th Precinct, which covers the trendy area around Lincoln Center, has a violent crime rate of 123.5, less than one-third the national rate, and has yet to see a single homicide in 2013, unless you want to count the night that I ate dinner at Mort Zuckerman’s  Masa restaurant and got stuck with the check. But seriously, if you take the crime numbers for the West and East Sides of Manhattan, they go a long way to help flatten out ghetto crime numbers from Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx.

Much of the criticism about Bloomberg’s tenure centered on the degree to which he lavished attention and concern on Manhattan but never got involved in what happened to areas where his wealthy friends didn’t happen to reside.  There’s no question that crime rates in even the worst NYC neighborhoods nosedived in the 1990’s as they did nationwide.  But to continue hiding behind crime stats for Manhattan simply shortchanges the rest of New York City and everyone, no matter where they live, deserves a life free from crime.

Hunters in the Wilderness_02a

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Will The Bloomberg – Moms Merger Make A Difference?

Starbucks Touchscreen Storefronts

Starbucks Touchscreen Storefronts (Photo credit: DavidErickson)

The NRA better watch out.  There’s a new gun in town and it’s called, well, actually it doesn’t have a name but it’s a combination of two gun control groups – Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense which, according to their merger announcement, will “soon be stronger than any gun lobby.”  And who can argue with that claim when you put together Mike Bloomberg’s gazillions with the tireless energy of Shannon Watts and other moms, right?

The Moms claim they have more than 130,000 members and Bloomberg has enrolled more than 1,000 mayors in his club.  But who knows what those numbers really mean?  Moms also has 130,000 Likes on its Facebook page and when I went to their website it appeared that if I sent them an email with my name and address, that this made me a member.  As for Bloomberg’s membership, I took a quick look at the list for Massachusetts, my state, and guess what?  I couldn’t find a single Massachuetts Mayor who’s a Republican, but I did find Dominic Sarno, the Mayor of Springfield, where the gun homicide rate this year will probably top out at four times higher than the national average. Way to go, big Dom!

And since this new combination will soon be bigger than any gun lobby, let me tell you a little about that other lobby.  There’s been a lot of back and forth over the size of the NRA membership, with the gun organization claiming 4.5 million and various critics scaling this down to 3 million or a bit more.  I’m willing to cut both estimates in half and assume that they have somewhere above 3.5 million, even though even they admit that their recent increase was partially due to a one-year cut in dues paid by new members and it remains to be seen whether all these folks will re-enlist when they have to pay a higher price.

But the fact that Moms doesn’t have any dues not only makes me wary of their membership claims, but also raises the more important question of exactly how effective they can be.  Because it’s not very hard to use today’s social media to create the image of an organization whether something really exists or not.  The Moms group garnered lots of publicity when they showed up at Starbucks and sent a letter to Howard Schultz demanding that the company ban guns from all their stores.  But the company sidestepped the issue by issuing a statement ‘asking’ but not requiring gun owners to keep their guns outside, but even as strident (and usually stupid) a pro-gun outlet as the Washington Times covered the issue in very timid terms because it turns out that lots of gun owners didn’t want to risk the possibility that Starbucks might eventually get a little backbone and ban them permanently. After all, would anyone elevate the 2nd Amendment above that steamy latte?

Of course an advocacy organization can play an important role in any public debate regardless of its size.  But the trick is to figure out who you’re really talking to and whether or not they will listen to what you have to say.  If the Moms want to have a real impact in the argument over guns, why don’t they talk to gun owners and stop wasting their energy on convincing people who don’t need to be convinced?  And you don’t talk to gun people by throwing up a website or a Facebook page and just ‘invite’ them to post a comment or engage in a chat. Sometimes that strategy works when you’re selling a product, but it’s rank arrogance or simply stupid to confuse marketing a product with marketing an idea.

Every weekend there are dozens of gun shows all over the United States.  Each of these shows, on average, count 10,000 admissions. So do the math: if you went to one gun show every weekend, set up a booth, gave out a flyer and shot your mouth off, by the end of the year you would have talked to 500,000 gun guys (and gals.) And don’t think for one second that nobody would talk to you.  Gun folks love to talk – that’s why they go to those shows.

I’d love to walk into a gun show or some other gun-friendly place and see those Moms promoting their point of view.  Would they get an argument from gun folks? Sure.  Would the argument sometimes get nasty or offensive?  It might.  But if Moms or any other gun-control group believes they will make a difference by not going out and meeting the other side, they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Bloomberg Goes After Gun Traffickers: Does He Know Who He’s Looking For/

bloomMike Bloomberg, soon-to-be former Mayor of New York City, has blanketed the airwaves and the internet since Sandy Hook with his campaign to stop gun trafficking.  Although I can’t find a strict explanation for what constitutes gun trafficking, I guess we can use the one found in H.R. 2554, the bill to prohibit firearms trafficking that was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that never got out of committee.  The text of the bill says that trafficking is the transfer of a firearm to an individual:

whose possession or receipt of the firearm would be unlawful; or who intends to or will use, carry, possess, or dispose of the firearm unlawfully.

If you want to know what this means or doesn’t mean, which is a polite way of asking whether Bloomberg, Maloney, et. al.,  knows what they’re talking about, just read on.

Bloomberg’s gun trafficking “evidence” is presented in two ways: there’s a detailed report and an interactive website.  The website allows the viewer to choose any state and see where guns initially sold in that state were later picked up by the cops, or you can turn it around, choose a state and see where guns picked up in that state were first sold.

Not surprisingly, the states that exported the most guns to other states are also states where there are few, if any legal restrictions on gun sales.  The website lists 10 state gun regulations that help deter illegal gun activity (licensing, straw sales, etc.) and only two of the top-10 exporting states, Virginia and North Carolina, had 4 of these regulations on the books, and nearly all the other high-exporting states had one or none.

It has long been an article of faith held by Bloomberg and other gun control advocates that more gun laws equals less gun crime.  But the evidence isn’t so much causal as coincidental because states that have stricter gun laws also tend to be states with less gun ownership.  And the bigger problem is that it’s simply impossible to take a phenomenon as complicated as crime and try to find a single factor that explains why and when it occurs.

But the real problem with Bloomberg’s search for gun traffickers lies in the fact that if we use the transfer of a firearm to test the definition of gun trafficking, and restrict our data to interstate seizure of crime guns, the data used to rank the exporting states starts to get less than precise.  For example, Georgia ranked 10th in total exports and yet 35% of all their exported guns were found in contiguous states.  Virginia was the 7th-highest export state but 40% of its gun exports were found in DC, Maryland and North Carolina.

I’m not surprised that a majority of the crime guns recovered in New York come from non-contiguous states when you consider that both Massachusetts and Connecticut not only have strict laws but have a per capita gun ownership rate far below the national average.

I could write ten more diaries on the analytical problems involved with understanding gun trafficking but my point is simply this:  If anyone thinks there’s a silver bullet out there that will solve the issue of gun violence, think again. The problem is very complex, it’s simply not amenable to any sort of “quick fix,” and before we change the laws, we better make sure that we really know what’s broken and whether we can fix it.

 

Want To Own A Gun? Move To New York City.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

English: New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you follow the gun debate at all, you’re aware of the fact that Mike Bloomberg, the soon-to-be ex-Mayor of New York City, takes credit for a steep decline in the city’s crime rate due to his strict enforcement of the city’s tough gun laws.  But while this may mean that very few city residents own legal guns, research published by Gary Kleck (UCLA Law Review, #56, 2009) indicates that within another few years, the number of illegal guns may exceed the number of adults living within the city.  Imagine that!  The city with the toughest gun laws will also be home to the largest number of guns.  How is that possible?

According to Kleck, roughly 60,000 people move into New York City every year.  He doesn’t know how many people move out of the city each year, he’s just interested in how many move in.  Why?  Because he assumes that they bring guns with them when they show up. In 2000, just under 800,000 NYC residents had been born in another state:

These migrants presumably moved their possessions with them.  If handgun ownership among these migrants was equal to the U.S. average, migrants born in other states would have moved about 260,000 handguns from other states into NYC.

Kleck bases his calculations on the idea that per capita American handgun ownership is .0325 (one-third of a gun for every person.)  But those numbers have changed.  In fact, since the 1980s, handguns have entered the market over long guns by a ratio of two to one.  So the per capita ownership of handguns is probably now close to 0.50.  This being the case, if we follow Kleck’s logic to its ultimate conclusion, the continued migration of people into New York City from 2000 until 2013 means that at least 400,000 new handguns have come into town during the same period. Add this to the 2 million guns that NYPD believe were in the city in 1980, then tack on another 30,000 each year between 1981 and 2000, and we are up to 3 million guns.
If the demographic breakdown of New York City is anything like the national average, there are approximately 2,700,000 males between the ages of 18 and 65 living in the five boroughs right now.  Since very few women own guns, let’s add in the men over the age of 65 and the total is still below the total number of guns floating around the Big Apple.
You don’t have to take my word for it.  Just read Kleck’s article and do the math. New York City is the handgun haven of the United States.  There’s no doubt about it.