Can The New York Times Survive Dana’s Attack? Of Course It Can.

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Now that Dana ‘clenched fist’ Loesch has decided to take on the ‘failing’ New York Times, many of my liberal friends, particularly in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community believe that the NRA has really gone over the edge.  Endorsing Trump was hardly unexpected, pumping millions into his campaign was certainly the least the boys from Fairfax could do given how pro-gun Trump appeared to be. But lately, the tone and rhetoric of NRA messages, particularly the ones read off the teleprompter by Home School Queen Loesch seem to be almost open invitations to the use of violence in order to protect the ownership of guns.

nyt             Her first message in this respect was an angry rant directed at nobody in particular but clearly aimed (pardon the pun) at the liberal ‘elite’ who just can’t bring themselves to accept the Age of Trump.  The second video stupidity was a direct attack on The New York Times, complete with endless misstatements about the paper’s coverage of Benghazi and other events, and closing with an ominous ‘coming to get you’ line right out of a Rambo flick

It’s one thing to accuse GVP-minded folks of being against the 2nd Amendment, that’s par for the course. And if the NRA wants to burnish its rather flimsy claims to relevance by describing itself as ‘America’s oldest civil rights organization,’ that’s okay too.  For all their talk about ‘defending gun rights,’ Americans owned more than 250 million firearms before the Supreme Court ever said that the 2nd Amendment protected private ownership of guns. Protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights?’ Big, friggin’ deal.

Since the issue of gun ‘rights’ appears to be settled, at least as long as the Oval Office is occupied by You Know Who, the NRA needs a new message to maintain the allegiance of the faithful, and instead of just protecting our guns, the organization wants to be known as an outfit which will protect us from the menace and threats of the ‘radical Left.’  And since they can’t openly call for armed violence, even under President Trump this might land Wayne-o in jail, they want everyone to be openly armed as a warning against whomever – Muslims, leftists, terrorists – might be planning an attack.

Dana Loesch and other paid NRA-panderers can always lash out verbally at anyone who is guilty of aiding and abetting those murderous hordes on the Left, and what better target in that respect than the ‘failing’ New York Times? This is where, it seems to me, the NRA is transforming itself into an organization which wants to promote not just gun ownership and gun ‘rights,’ but also to lead the debate over what should constitute the American way of life. No doubt this strategy will help promote aggressive marketing of the consumer crap on display this weekend at the NRA’s Milwaukee show, but since when did political and consumer huckstering not go hand in hand?

I don’t think that anyone in the GVP community or anywhere else in the level-headed world should be all that concerned about Dana or the possibility that her contrived sputterings will set off a tidal wave or even a small ripple of anger towards the ‘mainstream media’ or The New York Times. I have been in the gun business for more than 50 years, I have met thousands of gun owners, and the only gun owner I know who reads The New York Times is – me. In fact, while Dana has 600,000 followers on Twitter, which is a pretty good number, the Old Lady’s Twitter is just a tad under 40 million – Trump should be doing so well.

Dana and the other NRA hirelings are preaching and selling to the converted. She only breaks into the mainstream when the mainstream reacts to something she says. After all, when was the last time The New York Times carried an ad for the new NRA insurance or their ‘gold standard’ Carry Guard training program? Don’t worry – it’s just more marketing schlock.

 

Want An Effective Message About Guns? Learn From Trump.

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My friends in the gun violence prevention (GVP) community should take special notice of the dust-up that occurred between a New York Times reporter and the guy who is responsible for the current anti-immigration stance at the White House, Stephen Miller, regarding whether new immigrants who get hired for low-paying jobs are taking work away from red-blooded Americans who otherwise would be able to grab those same jobs for higher pay.
bibleThis immigration bill, which will go nowhere, is a classic bait-and-switch attempt to make it appear as though the Republicans are siding with the ‘working man’ while getting rid of government regulations which actually protect lower-income Americans from the social disparities caused by the widening gap between rich and poor. And when Glenn Thrush, the NYT reporter, asked Miller to produce hard data to back up his claims, Miller cited several studies which have either been refuted or don’t really speak to the issue at all.

The reason this verbal exchange should be studied closely by GVP advocates is that this is exactly what happens whenever Gun-nut Nation tries to promote some scheme or another to relax regulations on guns. First they remind everyone that gun ownership is a Constitutional ‘right,’ as if the 2008 Heller decision didn’t explicitly give government a ‘right’ to regulate guns. Then they cite surveys which show that a majority of Americans believe that guns make them safe, even though these same surveys show that the percentage of Americans who own guns keeps going down. And they never forget to throw in a couple of anecdotal examples of how this old grandma or that small shopkeeper saved their own lives or the lives of others by whipping out a gun.
Data? They don’t have any data. Studies? The ‘study’ by John Lott is twenty years old and has been debunked more times than I have tried to cut down on carbs. And I’m so successful at cutting down on carbs that the last time I saw my internist he told me that he believes I will never lose any weight.

On the other hand, should Gun-nut Nation spend one second worrying about what the data on gun violence shows? If the President of the United States can lie like hell about phone calls he claims to have received from the Boy Scouts of America and retain the support of his base, why should Gun-nut Nation feel the slightest degree of concern just because some pointy-headed academic in some elitist, Ivy League tower finds for the umpteenth time that having guns around the house increases risk?

I used to buy the argument that by relying on facts and evidence-based information I could more or less hold my own in any public debate. So whenever I post anything on my website or on Huffington, I try to provide a credible source for statements which are based not on my opinions but on facts. And know what happens when I state something as simple and obvious as the idea that access to guns increases risk? I’ll always get a few responses that accuse me of just being a ‘shill for Bloomberg,’ which means that nothing I say could be remotely true. The other day someone referred to my website as “Just another propaganda and manipulation tool.” I liked that one.

I’m certainly not concerned that the GVP community relies on evidence and hard data in order to craft arguments and strategies to reduce violence from guns. But I am concerned when GVP advocates imagine that by producing verifiable and evidence-based data that this will somehow tilt the argument in their favor. If the mountain of public health evidence hasn’t yet persuaded someone that guns are more of a risk than a benefit to community safety, they won’t be persuaded with another study. What needs to be addressed by GVP is how to craft an effective argument which captures emotions, not just facts.

What Policies Will Reduce Gun Violence? Maybe The New York Times Should Ask People Who Own Guns?

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The New York Times has just released a very detailed survey of academic experts regarding the effectiveness of various policies to help reduce gun violence.  In addition to the academic experts, the surveys also captured views both of the general public and law enforcement personnel.  The survey queried respondents on 29 specific policies, and compared their responses to views of the general public as well as the gun-control views of the incoming President-elect.

nyt logo             If the purpose of this survey was to contrast the gun-control views of the academic community versus the policies advocated by Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, The Times didn’t need to waste anybody’s time.  The NRA ponied up $30 million in television advertising for Trump after the organization endorsed him at their annual meet, and the one time he briefly deviated from the approved script by calling for guns in nightclubs and bars, he quickly fell back into line. Academics, on the other hand, usually tend to be anti-gun, although in this case The Times made sure that the pro-gun academic community (Kleck, Lott, Kopel, Volokh) was represented as well.

Many of these policies mentioned in the surveys are found in some states, such as expanded background checks, child access prevention (CAP) laws , banning or regulating hi-cap mags. But most state gun laws exist in places with smaller numbers of gun owners and/or states whose electorate is still largely colored blue.  Go into a gun-owning, red-vote state like Missouri or Alabama and see how much support you find for a bill to expand background checks. Meanwhile, states with fewer gun laws tend, by and large, to suffer more violence from guns.

So why is it that none of the ten policies rated to most effective for curbing gun violence, all of which had public support ranging from 63% to 88%, have actually become federal law?  The usual explanation is what you would expect, namely, the power and the money of the NRA.  But when I look at The New York Times survey it actually reflects something much more concerning about why sensible ideas for gun regulations at the federal level never get beyond first base.  And my concern is based not on who participated in the poll, but who did not.

Virtually every single policy which the experts were asked to rate in terms of effectiveness for increasing safety from gun violence would require some behavioral or attitudinal response on the part of gun owners themselves. And while the survey may have caught a few gun owners in the ‘representative sample’ of voters who were queried for this poll, the Times made no effort to reach out to the gun-owning community at all. They did what liberals concerned about gun violence always do – they came up with a ‘balanced’ roster of participants representing both sides and they ended up with results that tell us nothing about how people will react who ultimately be affected by any change in gun laws.

The inability of the gun violence prevention community to communicate with gun owners about the risks of firearm ownership is a much more potent weapon in the NRA’s arsenal than any amount of money dumped into a legislator’s lap.  Public health researchers publish their work in peer-reviewed, academic journals with minimal notice beyond academe;  leading gun-control advocates aren’t invited on the shock-jock media circuit, none of the major gun-control organizations (in comparison to the NRA) has a digital video presence which has become the real information superhighway over the last several years.

For gun owners to understand that sensible gun regulations don’t represent Armageddon, they need to be engaged with language and arguments they understand.  You don’t do this by publishing scholarly articles in JAMA or Saturday Review. Instead, you find a hunter or sportsman to send an article to Field and Stream.  And then you figure out a message that tells gun owners they can be pleased and safe with their guns at the same time.

If Minorities Are Buying Guns, It’s Not To Exercise Their 2nd-Amendment ‘Rights.’

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During the Presidential campaign there were all sorts of stories floating around about how some of Trump’s supporters were planning armed insurrection if it turned out that their candidate was somehow cheated out of his rightful prize.  And even The New York Times ran a story based on some interviews with Trump loyalists, none of whom actually said that they would lead an armed revolt (which even to verbally promote such nonsense happens to be a federal crime) but they knew other people who were ready to take their guns into the streets.

hate           Luckily we were saved from a revolutionary situation because Shlump actually won.  But in the aftermath of his victory, while the guy who really understands the ‘common man’ lines up an Executive management team which represents the billionaire class, we are now being treated to the opposite of the ‘Trump loss equals armed revolt’ crap with stories about how people who consider themselves targets of Shlump-o’s fascist-populist message are arming themselves in response to the impending warfare that will sooner or later break out.

This latest effort to sensationalize every aspect of political news and commentary was the handiwork of NBC, which ran a story about how ‘fearful minorities’ (read: African-Americans) were ‘buying up guns,’ the reportage based entirely on interviews with a black lady who lives in Alpharetta, GA, a black gun-shop owner in Virginia and the guy who heads something called the National African American Gun Association, which just happens to be occasionally featured on the Breitbart website (where else?) because of the group’s strong support for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

This idea that African-Americans should become gun owners predates the 2016 campaign, reflecting an attempt by the gun industry to reach out to new markets, in particular women, Hispanics and blacks.  The problem is that none of these demographics have ever shown any serious inclination to join Gun-nut Nation, and while noisemakers like Dana Loesch (for the women segment) and Colion Noir (for the African-American segment) push their stupidly-contrived videos on the NRA website and YouTube, they are basically speaking for themselves. The FBI, under statute, does not maintain or release data on the racial breakdown of NICS-background checks (my request for such information was politely refused last year) and anecdotal evidence is anecdotal but it’s not evidence.  What we do know from the latest Pew survey is that roughly one out of five African-American and Hispanic households contain guns, so there’s plenty of room for growth.

But let’s assume for the moment that even with the shallowness of the reportage, the NBC story about how minorities are streaming into gun shops is true.  You would think this would be a salutary news event for Gun-nut Nation, given how the gun industry has tried to promote the ownership of its products to non-white groups. But judging from a Breitbart story based on the NBC report, the enthusiasm is less than real.  Because the problem that Gun-nut Nation now faces is to find a way to promote the idea of minority gun ownership while, at the same time minimizing (or simply lying about) the reason why African-Americans are buying guns.  And the reason is very simple:  the incoming President of the United States has made it clear that minority communities can expect little, if any protection from a federal government whose Chief Executive pollutes the digital airwaves daily with a mixture of racism, appeals to violence and outright scorn.

If, as the NBC story suggests, minorities are considering gun ownership out of fear of what an unbridled racism promoted by Donald Shlump might bring, this also creates an important turning-point for the gun violence prevention (GVP) community as well. Because the one thing we know is that defending yourself or your community by going around armed basically does nothing except create circumstances and situations in which more gun violence occurs. I’m not denying the reality of a palpable sense of fear created by the shenanigans of Jerk Trump. But sticking a gun in your pocket will only make it worse.

The Government Issues A New Report On Safe-Gun Technology Which Moves The Discussion Backwards.

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It’s official.  The newspaper of record, a.k.a. The New York Times, has just announced its support of a new government statement on safe-gun technology which probably represents the last thing the Obama Administration has to say about guns.  And if The New York Times believes that this report is the non-plus-ultra statement about safe guns, then this must be a very solid and very impressive report.  In fact, it’s not.

safegunThe report is an amateurish cut-and-paste job which was obviously put together so that someone deep inside the bowels of the Department of Justice could complete some end-of-year checklist and get on with looking for a new job. But of course once The New York Times gives this report its official imprimatur you can bet this shabby effort to make something out of nothing will become the new argument for adoption of safe-gun technologies, an argument that has been floating around for more than 20 years under the guise of how digital innovation can help us be safe with guns.

Entitled “Baseline Specifications for Law Enforcement Service Pistols with Security Technology,” the report is an effort to nudge the safe-gun discussion a little further by setting out design and performance standards that would have to be met by any manufacturer hoping to sell such a product to any federal agency whose personnel carries guns.  Actually, since the document is not any kind of official RFP, it represents no legal or practical advance at all.  For the most part the text consists of nothing more than a combination of the government’s handgun performance criteria which will be used to possibly adopt a new military handgun sometime in the future, along with design specifications which were taken from an RFP issued by the FBI for a new pistol awarded to Glock.

Buried near the end of the report is a brief section which describes the safe-gun technology itself except that all it basically says is that some kind of ‘security device’ will be a permanent part of the gun, will be programmable and may include something worn by the operator, like a wristband or a ring.  By the way, if the security device ‘malfunctions’ the gun will still work.

Now I thought the whole point of safe-gun technology is to prevent a gun from being used at any time except by someone digitally authorized to use the gun. But the problem with these digital gizmos is they need some kind of power source which comes from a battery and batteries wear out.  Is the average cop going to check to make sure while he’s on the job that the gizmo is always ready to go? He won’t, which is exactly why the gun defaults to being used by anyone which is exactly why nobody’s going to adopt this gun.

The NYT Editorial Board says this report is a positive step forward in the development of safe-gun technology because it creates “industry standards for reliable battery power in a smart gun, for ensuring unhindered speed in drawing the weapon and for the distance allowed between the gun and its owner’s ID device.”  In fact, what the report does is give the gun lobby an excellent opportunity to once again claim that gun-grabbing bureaucrats will find any reason to take away our guns.  The NRA called the report another example of “empty gestures meant to placate a gun control constituency that was disappointed Congress had spurned efforts to restrict Second Amendment rights.,” and went on to list several parts of the report (beyond what I mentioned above) which demonstrated the lack of substance and understanding about the actual use of safe guns.

The gun industry opposes safe-gun technology because it fights any effort to reduce gun violence through government mandates, government regulations or anything else that interferes with the industry’s ability to control the kinds of products it decides to put out for sale.  But the gun violence prevention community shouldn’t make it any easier for the gun lobby to pursue its aims, and the decision of the NYT Editorial Board to promote this report moves the safe-gun argument in a direction it shouldn’t take.

 

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? The Real Battle Is In The States, Not The Feds.

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Now that The New York Times has once again become the newspaper ‘of record’ even for Donald Trump, we can sit back and wait for the Gray Lady to begin pronouncing on everything and anything having to do with the election results on November 8th.  And the newsroom started right off with an ‘analysis’ of whether Trump’s victory was fueled by the ‘gun vote,’ and to nobody’s surprise, at least not mine, they discovered that it was.  Or at least Gun-nut Nation thinks it was.  And since the NYT will now begin to feature story after story about all those ‘forgotten’ folks who came out for Trump – in the interests of fair and balanced journalism –  you can bet that the gun-nut gang will be a central feature of more articles to come.

Of course the Times made sure to give a bit of space to the other side, quoting Everytown’s Erika Soto Lamb and also Jenn Crowe who worked on the Nevada background-check vote, but basically the piece was fluff and nonsense for various pro-gun advocates, including none other than C. J. Grisham from Open Carry Texas who proudly stated that he went out last week and bought two more AR-15 rifles just in case Hillary actually won.

Let me break the news gently to the gun violence prevention (GVP) community:  the real problem going forward will not be to figure out what to do; nor will it be to craft some kind of ‘new’ message about the politics of guns.  The real problem will be to find some way to push back against what will surely become an attempt by liberal influencers, pundits and newsmakers at the national level to cloak the wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and shift the spectrum towards a more ‘balanced’ view on guns.  And like it or not, this attempt by liberal media to find some way of making ‘gun rights’ a more reasonable proposition will last for as long as the liberal media feels that its relevance is dependent on how much access it can maintain with President Shlump.

But since pictures usually are worth lots of words, especially my words, I’d like to draw your attention to a couple of pics that highlight what I believe is the challenge faced by GVP.  Here is a map which shows how many states granted CCW (blue or green) in 1986:

rtc1986

            And here’s how the map has changed from then until now:

rtc2016

Want to know what’s also changed over those same thirty years?  Republican control of state governments has gone from one-third to two-thirds. Now many of those Democratic-controlled state governments were in the hands of southern Democrats whose views, at the time, not really all that different from the Republicans who would replace them and many of these states were gun-rich states anyway, so it wasn’t like either party was going to run around proclaiming the virtues of regulating guns.  But if you think for one second that state legislatures are awash in NRA lobbying money, you’re wrong.  In the Nevada fight over extending background checks, the NRA was outspent by more than two to one.

After the 1994 election when the GOP grabbed control of the House for the first time since 1952, much of the post-election narrative was based on the idea that the vote was payback time by the NRA for how representatives voted on the assault weapons ban bill.  And even though subsequent research indicated that this narrative wasn’t necessarily true, the notion that guns represent a toxic element for politicians at the national level continues to take hold.  And the proof of what I just said can be found in the NYT article quoted above.

I got a good idea for my friends in the GVP.  Do what you gotta do on K Street in DC but let’s not take our eyes off the ball because where the ball really bounces is in those increasingly-red state legislatures from sea to shining sea.

Will Gun Owners Start A Rebellion To Defend Their 2nd-Amendment Rights? Don’t Hold Your Breath.

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Notwithstanding  Donald Trump’s jeremiad against the ‘corrupt media,’ I still believe The New York Times adheres to its masthead slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” But perhaps the paper slipped in a story last week about Trump supporters calling for a revolution if Hillary wins. The most aggressive statements about a looming Trumpian apocalypse came from several people who identified themselves as gun owners and predicted armed insurrection if Hillary won the election and then attempted to take away their guns.

times-logo           You would think that two experienced reporters, when confronted with serious threats of armed revolt, (which happens to be a Federal felony) would at least attempt to figure out whether there was even remotely connected to reality before telling their readers that such views represented a ‘dark fear’ about the country heading for a violent political end. But these predictions about armed rebellion were presented without even the slightest effort to determine whether there was anything lurking behind such comments that could possibly translate into an insurrectionary event.

I have sold guns to more than 9,000 gun owners and can count on the fingers of one hand the few who will pull a Clinton-Kaine lever on November 8th.  Know why gun owners are going to vote for Trump?  Not because he’s telling them to ‘take care of Hillary’ if she messes with their 2nd-Amendment rights, not because their guns will protect them from the corruption of the elite, and certainly not because he says we will be a safer country if everyone walks around with a gun. Gun owners are going to vote for Trump for one simple reason: they have always voted for the Republican candidate, no matter what he says. And if they are then asked why they are voting for that candidate, they’ll repeat whatever the candidate said about why they should vote for him.

Want to take a guess as to how many gun owners came into my gun shop during the 2012 election and told me they were voting for Romney because he was on the side of the ‘givers’ and Obama was on the side of the ‘takers?’  Just about every single one.  And the few who didn’t tell me that the country had too many ‘takers’ didn’t say they wanted to make America ‘great’ again, they said they ‘believed’ in America, which just happened to be the Romney campaign slogan since everyone knew that someone born in Kenya couldn’t possibly believe in the U.S.A.

Last week Wayne-o sent an ‘urgent message’ to the NRA membership, warning them of Hillary’s plan to ‘forcibly’ take away their guns which could only be prevented if everyone joined with him, ‘arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder,’ to fight and ‘make America great again.’

Wayne’s exhortation to man the barricades was immediately dismissed by mainstream journalists as an example of an ‘alternate universe,’ but what gun owners hear and then repeat to inquiring reporters is one thing; whether they are willing to put up anything beyond their mouths is something else again. In 2013 a radio shock-jock radio named Adam Kokesh announced that he and a hardy band of supporters were determined to march from Virginia into Washington, D.C. They would carry loaded guns into the Nation’s Capital to initiate what he called the ‘Final American Revolution’ that would dissolve the Federal government and, I guess, install him as King. The revolution, of course, was cancelled when Kokesh realized that all he’d get for his trouble was a quick trip from the bridge in Virginia to a jail in D.C.

Being a law-abiding citizen happens to be a requirement for the legal ownership of a gun.  And NRA members and gun owners in general tend to be a very law-abiding bunch. The good news is that predicting that someone else will engage in armed rebellion happens to be protected by the same Bill of Rights which protects their ownership of guns.  And they’re not about to do anything that might really cause them to lose those guns.

 

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