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.

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Just What I Always Wanted – Some Survival Junk

              Last week I received an email from an outfit called Outdoor Survivor offering a free book, The Firearms Survival Guide.  The book is all about how to ‘protect’ my 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’. It’s free. Why not grab one, right?

              The moment I clicked the ‘buy’ button, I was then taken to another screen where I was given an amazing opportunity to grab the best tactical knife ever made, complete with a spring-assisted opening latch and German stainless steel.  This beauty normally retails for $99.99 but just today, just for a few hours more, I could scoff it up for $19.95. I did.

              Which took me immediately to another screen and here I was given a fantastic, remarkable chance to buy a tactical, self-defense pen and LED flashlight which can be used to break open a window if I need a quick escape from my home. This amazing product also comes with a multi-tool for everyday use and for close-quarters combat work. And all of these features for the incredibly low price of $29.95 which I grabbed with the click of my mouse because I’ll be visiting stepson next week and should bring a gift.

              And now I found myself looking at another screen with a picture of the four-in-one tactical backpack which holds – ready? – a hydration kit for those desert treks, a compass which is guaranteed to be water-resistant up to 100 yards deep, a digging tool for making sure I can fit into my foxhole when that enemy ordnance whizzes overhead and an emergency rescue blanket for covering me up after I’m wounded by the enemy assault. I’m not sure about the need for the blanket but hey, there’s always room for it in the car when we need something to sit on at the beach. 

              The tactical backpack retails for a hundred bucks or so, but if I buy it today there’s a one-shot offer of $59.95 and putting it together with the gun survival guide, the tactical knife, and the flashlight with the LED gets me free shipping, unless I want everything rushed overnight. In that case, I just need to add $24.95 to the order which means that once they charge my credit card $134.80, I’ll have this entire pile of crap sitting on my front porch tomorrow – oh…my… God, I can’t wait.

              Now what do you think the odds are that I will ever even remotely need any of this stuff I just bought because I’ll find myself in a tactical situation where having this gear will make any difference at all?  The odds are about as great as the odds that I will lose the 20 pounds that my internist has been telling me to lose for the last – uhhhh – twenty years.  Yea, that’s about right.

              Note that this entire sales promotion kicked off with a book whose title contained the two magic words – ‘firearms’ and ‘survival.’ Note that I will ever need any of these items like I’ll need a hole in my head. But the reason I’m on the email list rented by this marketing company is because at some point or another the internet found out that I both like and therefore own guns. Maybe they got my name from the NRA or maybe from some other marketing group which sold me some other piece of gun-related junk that I never used.

              The truth is that there’s no necessary reason to buy or own any gun-related products at all, just as there’s no necessary reason to buy or own a gun.  I just happen, God knows why, to like guns. And what I don’t think my many friends in Gun-control Nation understand is, that all the heated rhetoric about ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’ and ‘self-defense’ to the contrary, most people who own guns just happen to like owning guns.

              If I didn’t like to eat, I could easily shed those twenty pounds. If I didn’t like guns, I wouldn’t give one rat’s damn about my 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Get it?

The 2020 Gun Battle Has Already Begun.

              Now that a gun-control bill appears to be rolling through the House, probably to be sidelined by the Senate, the two sides in the gun debate are beginning to sharpen their spears for what they assume will be the real-deal confrontation leading up to the 2020 Presidential campaign. It was kicked off by a broadside in The American Rifleman magazine, the NRA’s flagship publication, which has Nancy and Gabby flanked by a headline that reads: “TARGET PRACTICE – Congressional Democrats Target Gun Owners for Persecution with Extreme Firearms Ban,” obviously referring to the background-check bill (H.R. 8) that was introduced almost immediately after the 116th Congress took its seats.

              If the blue team can’t get enough votes to push this bill forward, they really should go home and declare their new House majority to be as good as dead. But if anyone thinks that the passage of this law is just so much strum und drang without any real significance behind it, just remember that the federal gun law passed in 1968 was first introduced in 1963.  I guarantee you that the guy or gal who ends up running against Trump next year will pledge to make H.R. 8 the next gun law.

              Actually, the American Rifleman blast that has Gun-control Nation so upset is a reminder that America’s first civil rights organization’ isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel. To be sure, the Russian stuff, the insurance mess and a loss of a number of commercial partners (car rentals, hotel discounts, etc.) made 2018 a pretty tough year. But nothing gets Gun-nut Nation angrier and more motivated than the idea that a bunch of tree-hugging, big-government types led by Nancy Pelosi want to take away their guns.  And for all the talk coming out of the liberal noise machine about how H.R. 8 is a ‘bi-partisan’ bill, so far there are 227 Democrats listed as co-sponsors, and a whole, big 5 (read: five) co-sponsors from the GOP. That’s some bi-partisan bill.

              Take a look at the 5 members of the GOP caucus who signed on to H.R. 8.  Four of them – King, Fitzpatrick, Smith and Mast come from districts where being against guns is an asset, not a liability. Peter King, the initial co-sponsor of the bill, is rated ‘F’ by the NRA.  Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Bucks County, PA earned a ‘B’ rating and you have to work really hard to get less than an ‘A’ rating from the boys in Fairfax. Chris Smith from Joisey, got an ‘F.’  Get it?  By the way, all five of those turncoats signed on to H.R. 8 the very first day that it was introduced, which was January 8th. Nearly half of the Democratic co-sponsors committed to the measure after it had been floating around for at least two weeks. As for the remaining 191 GOP members? Zilch.

              The real reason why the NRA had trouble staying in the driver’s seat in 2017 and 2018 was not because they broke their piggy-bank by giving Trump so much dough in 2016. It was because when the Republicans control both Houses of Congress plus the Oval Office, it’s pretty hard to make the case that gun ‘rights’ are under assault. In a funny kind of way, the resurgence of the blue team last November is exactly what the gun-rights gang needed to get its mojo working again.

               By the same token, my friends in Gun-control Nation need to stop kidding themselves about the degree to which gun laws could ever be sold to gun owners as just a ‘reasonable’ response to the fact that, on average, eight different people somewhere in the United States pick up a gun every hour and shoot someone else.

              By any stretch of the imagination, this kind of behavior isn’t ‘reasonable,’ and sugar-coating it by calling for a ‘reasonable’ response will get you a bunch of blue votes, but won’t move the needle in places where lots of people own lots of guns. And in 2020, those votes will count too.

Coming This Week:

Don’t Think For One Second That Trump And The Gun Nuts Can’t Win Again.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation certainly should be patting themselves on the back for their efforts that helped flip the House from red to blue in 2018. But before everyone decides that the 2020 election will see the end of Trump-world and a good chance to get a gun bill turned into law, we need to step back and ask ourselves whether gun violence is quite the wedge issue that some of the media thinks it might be.

              Trump’s election in 2016 was basically the result of flipping five states – MI, WI, OH, PA, FL – which together counted for 93 electoral votes; recall that his EV total was 304 to Hillary’s 227, which was 34 more than he needed to win. Now hold that thought.

              In 2018, the Democrats flipped 40 seats but only 8 of those red to blue seats were located in the 5 swing states. Overall, the GOP caucus will seat 48 members from those 5 states, the Democratic caucus will only seat 36.  And in not one of those states do the Democrats have a majority of House members now sitting in D.C. 

              Want some more unsettling news? The week after Trump was inaugurated, he was up or tied in terms of likability in 38 states. As of the beginning of February, 2019 he was even or ahead in only 17 states. But 3 of the states where he is still either 50-50 with or without the margin of error are OH, PA and FL, which together count for 67 electoral votes, which gets him over the top again.

              Now here’s the question: What do the states of OH, PA and FL have in common?  Answer: They are what we call ‘gun-rich’ states.  Now they aren’t as rich as states like Montana and North Dakota, but Montana and North Dakota don’t have any people, so their electoral votes don’t count for squat. But if Obama learned anything from the 2008 primary campaign, it was that if you said anything snarky about guns in a state like PA, you could doom your candidacy before you got out of the starting blocks.

              How many gun owners live in FL, Oh and PA? Nobody knows for sure, but I can tell you that when I managed a national gun wholesale business, we shipped plenty of guns to those three states. All three states issue concealed-carry on demand, and both FL and OH have enacted stand your ground laws which are to Gun-nut Nation what Friskies are to my cats.

              Until and unless someone comes up with better numbers, or Trump does something so stupid that even his die-hard supporters begin to fade away, the fact that he still commands a big chunk of followers in those three, crucial states, should give my Gun-control Nation friends some pause. Because if you want to run a political campaign wrapped around the gun issue, it’s a no-brainer in blue states like California, New Jersey or New York. But those states wouldn’t go for Trump even if he donated a million dollars of his own money to the ACLU. Will a slogan like ‘reasonable’ gun laws necessarily work in PA?  It sure hasn’t worked so far.

              I am still not convinced that the gun-control movement has developed effective messaging to convince gun owners that there’s any necessary connection between 125,000+ fatal and non-fatal gun injuries each year and the ‘right’ of any law-abiding American to own a gun. Because when all is said and done, our friends in Fairfax (a.k.a the NRA) have done a remarkable job promoting the idea that no law-abiding gun owner is in any way responsible for what the tree-huggers refer to as gun ‘violence,’ so why do we need any more gun laws?

              This happens to be a powerful message, it resonates very well with folks in Fl, OH and PA whose votes could keep Trump in the White House for five more years. My friends in Gun-control Nation still need to figure this one out.

The N.Y. Times Thinks It’s Been A Tough Year For The NRA. I’m Not So Sure.

              “Politically, financially and legally, the gun-rights cause and, more specifically, the lobbying juggernaut that is the National Rifle Association have not fared well in the Trump era.”

              Thus speaketh this morning’s New York Times, and if The Times says it, then it must be true. Except, it happens not to be true. Or it’s certainly not as true as The New York Times Editorial Board would like you to believe.

              And the reason it happens not to be true is because the gun-control community, of which The New York Times considers itself to be a leading media voice, knows as much about the gun industry as I know about the structure of the atom. And I didn’t take physics or nuclear physics in college, so I don’t know anything about the structure of the atom, okay?

              The reason I can’t get on board with the judgement of the gun industry’s impending doom is because the gun-control community invariably defines the ‘power’ and ‘influence’ of the ‘gun lobby’ as based on the activities of America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ a.k.a., the NRA.  And anyone who believes that the health and welfare of the gun ‘lobby’ should be measured simply by the bottom line of the NRA’s balance sheet, doesn’t know anything about the gun lobby or anything else connected to guns.

              The NYT editorial board cites as its proof that the NRA is on the ropes the fact that, for the first time, election spending by gun-control groups (read: Bloomberg) was higher than the dough spent by the pro-gun gang. But before our friends in Gun-control Nation jump for joy over this unique turn of events, the reportage by our friends at The Gray Lady needs to be nuanced a bit.

              To begin, even when the NRA was priming the electoral pump by giving pro-gun candidates as much campaign money as they could, the average federal office-holder, at best, could only count on the boys from Fairfax to provide 6% of what the candidate had to spend. So for all the talk about the financial ‘power’ of the NRA, after a candidate picked up the check from Wayne-o or Chris Cox, he still had to raise almost all the dough necessary to fund his campaign. What does an average House campaign cost today? Try around $1.5 million or more. How much money did the average pro-gun House member receive in each of the last two Congressional campaigns?  Try less than $5,000 bucks.

              Where the financial imbalance between the NRA and its competitors really shows up, however, is in the amount spent on lobbying activities once a candidate takes his or her Congressional seat. Except the imbalance is so much in favor of the NRA that the notion that Gun-control Nation is beginning to pull abreast of Gun-nut Nation in the halls of Congress is a joke.

              During the 115th Congress, 2017 – 2018, Bloomberg’s Everytown PAC spent just short of $2.5 million on lobbying activities.  In those same two years, the NRA spent more than $9.5 million bucks. In the 8 previous years when Obama was in office, the highest yearly lobbying amount spent by the NRA was $3.5 million. And The New York Times is telling us that the fortunes of Gun-nut Nation have suffered under Trump?

              Finally, when we look at FBI-NICS background checks on gun transfers to gauge how gun sales stack up, the news isn’t all that bad. Handgun-long gun transfers for December, 2007 were 925,000, for December, 2016 they were 1,700,00, for December, 2017 they were just under a million and a half. That’s a month-to-month drop of slightly more than 10% from the last year of Obama to the first year of Trump, but it’s still nearly a 40% increase over the final month’s figure for another pro-gun President named George Bush.

              I’m not saying that it’s been smooth sailing for my friends in Fairfax this past year. But if anyone is thinking that the Gun-nut patient is on its way to life-support, think again.

Plenty of Gun Owners Still Love Their Guns.

              Yesterday I attended a jam-packed meeting of the MOMs group and listened to speakers who delivered moving testimonies about how their lives were affected by the violence caused by guns.  Along with those presentations, the Chapter leader also spoke about achievements of the past year as well as what lies ahead. And this part of the meeting was quite upbeat, particularly when the audience was reminded about the new #gunsense majority which now controls the House.

              But before my friends in Gun-control Nation decide that the tide has finally turned, I think they need to step back a bit and consider the possibility that their new-found success might turn out to be less than what it appears. I’m not saying that because I want my gun-control friends to fail. To the contrary, we must find a way to stop suffering from behaviors which result in more than 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year.  We must. But it’s not going to happen until and unless Gun-control Nation truly understands what they are up against, and I’m not sure they do.

              Ask the average gun-sense advocate why it’s so difficult to pass laws whose purpose is to control gun violence while still allowing Americans to own guns, and the answer you’ll get every time is one variation or another on those ‘bad people’ who run the NRA. I heard this again and again at the MOMS meeting and I see it on every #gunsense website – among Gun-control Nation it is simply assumed without question that the NRA is the ‘enemy’ and that the NRA’s power and financial influence needs to be stopped or at least curtailed.

              There’s only one little problem. The NRA operates very much like the AAA; the latter provides services for people who own cars, the former provides services for people who own guns. You might think the NRA spends its time and money lambasting tree-huggers and gun-control liberals in the public square, but a quick glance at how the boys in Fairfax spend their money shows this not to be true.  For every buck the NRA dishes out to its legislative allies in Congress, it spends two bucks on the care and feeding of its own members, somewhere close to $200 million a year.

              The NRA claims around 5 million dues-paying members, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But the organization’s real strength is that they speak not just for their membership, but for everyone who owns a gun. Yea, yea, I know the gun-control groups claim to be enrolling all those ‘reasonable’ gun owners to support their ‘sensible’ demands.  I also claim to have stayed on my diet during the Super Bowl.

              Want to know what’s really going on in Gun-nut Nation?  Take a look at NICS-FBI background check numbers which have just been compiled for 2018.  I not only looked at those numbers but I compared 2018 to every year back to 2001, and this is what I found.  In 2001, the number of new and used guns that were transferred across the counter of guns shops was 7.1 million, in 2018 it was 11.5 million, an increase of more than 50 percent. How much has the U.S. population increased over that same period of time? 16 percent. Here’s a little graph which shows the per-capita trend of background checks over the last twenty years:

              The great jump occurred in 2013, the year after Sandy Hook, when Obama tried, without success, to push through a gun-control bill. And while the background check numbers have fallen off over the last several years, they are still running nearly 60% higher than during the mid-years of Bush #43. And remember who’s sitting in the Oval Office – the gun owner’s best friend.

              My friends in Gun-control Nation are certainly entitled to celebrate their growing effectiveness and strength; I saw it first-hand at the meeting of MOMS.  But don’t forget – there are still plenty of Americans who believe in the importance and value of their guns.

Maybe It Is The ‘Failing’ NRA.

              Until yesterday, I took all the prognostications about the demise of the NRA with several grains of salt. Believe me, as a Patriot Life Benefactor member, I know better than anyone who reads this column about the organization’s current woes – revenue shortfalls, staff layoffs, investigations into the Russian connection, loss of commercial partnerships – that made 2018 a pretty tough year. But I also thought that many of those problems were being overblown by the liberal media which would like nothing better than to see America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ go right down the tubes.

              An email I received from the boys in Fairfax, however, may actually prove that the prophets of NRA doom will turn out to be correct. Because the email linked to a new video on the NRA-TV channel which, if nothing else, indicates that the organization’s attempts to renew its strength are, to all intents and purposes, either dying or dead.

              The video is a 30-second fundraising effort by the chief NRA-TV clown, Grant Stinchfield, warning the faithful that Hillary Clinton may run for President again. And the proof that ‘crooked Hillary’ is considering yet another attempt at the brass ring was a comment from a CNN noisemaker, Jeff Zeleny, that Hillary ‘told’ a couple of her friends that the indictment of Roger Stone would prove that Trump’s victory was a sham, and since she won the popular vote, why not try again?

              Now the fact that Hillary and Bill couldn’t get their national tour off a dime; the fact that there are now at least three formidable women (Harris, Warren, Gillibrand) out there raising money for their 2020 campaigns; the fact that Hillary has about a good chance of being elected dog-catcher after the way she screwed up the 2016 campaign; oh well, oh well, oh well. But here’s the bottom line: the dopes who run the NRA marketing effort can’t come up with anything better to bolster their image than yet another riff on the ‘crooked Hillary’ line. Which is exactly what the NRA-TV email subject line read: “Crooked Hillary Hints at a Third Run for the White House.”

              Have the boys in Fairfax heard of H. R. 8?  It happens to be a piece of legislation introduced two days after the 116th Congress was convened which has already gained enough co-sponsors – 229 – to move towards committee hearings and then to a certain majority vote. If you want to see the NRA’s official position on H.R. 8, just go to the NRA-ILA website where you’ll find this description of the bill: “Would make it a crime, subject to certain exceptions, to simply hand a firearm to another person. Anytime gun owners carry out this simple act, they would potentially be exposing themselves to criminal penalties.”

              Now of course this statement is a typical piece of pro-gun hyperbole, taking some language from the legislation and twisting it beyond repair, but at least the editorial staff which creates content for the NRA-ILA website is keeping their collective eyes on the ball. This is certainly not what’s going on when we look at NRA-TV.  How can you compare the potential threat to gun-owning ‘rights’ of the resurrection of ‘crooked Hillary’ to a major piece of gun-control legislation that will float through the House and may even have a chance of Senate approval if Trump’s 2020 political fortunes continue to fade?

              The fact that the NRA continues to invoke the Clinton bugaboo when everyone else has forgotten that she exists, tells me that things at the home office in Fairfax are becoming unglued. Does Wayne-o really believe that I’m going to increase my annual endowment gift because I’m worried that Hillary might run?

              A long time ago there was a company called GE.  They employed a guy named Ronald Reagan to hawk household appliances on television, and now that company doesn’t exist. That’s exactly what’s going to happen to the NRA if they don’t come up with some better messaging about why gun-nuts like me love our guns.

Gun Craftsmanship Still Goes On.

In 2000 I went down to the NRA annual meeting in Charlotte and was actually in the room when Charlton Heston raised a flintlock over his head and yelled out ‘from my cold, dead hands.’ Now maybe he wasn’t coming down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, although his screen version of Moses was even more impressive than his appearance at Charlotte, but he got a response from the gun-nuts (including me) in the audience nonetheless.

The gun company I managed back in the 1980’s made a b-b gun that looked like a flintlock, we ran ads in Boys Life magazine and sold the gun through the mail for ten bucks. Too bad that Heston didn’t use when of our guns when he got up on the NRA stage. So imagine how I felt when I learned at some later date that the rifle that Heston hiked over his head was actually a fake. Or what we politely call a ‘replica’ gun.

On the other hand, the working version of what Heston held was, in fact, a very accurate and lethal gun.  The first version was made in France, but the Continental Army that whipped the British were carrying these weapons and continued to use them until several decades before the Civil War.  The problem with flintlocks wasn’t that they were difficult to load or  shoot, it was that the powder tended to foul the grooves in the barrel, which meant that most flintlocks were smooth bore and therefore didn’t aim all that well.

There’s a retired engineer in Minnesota, Brent Gurtek, who manufactures flintlocks, which makes him part of a craft tradition in the United States which now goes back at least three hundred and fifty years. Invented in France, it was sometime around the 1650’s when these guns first appeared over here.  Like all mechanical tools which predated the Industrial Revolution, the guns were hand-made and hand-fitted with, unfortunately, great variations in quality and performance, which was the reason that George Washington made the Continental Congress appropriate money for a government arms factory in Springfield, MA, several years before the end of the Revolutionary War.

The guns made by our friend Brent Gurtek, on the other hand, are clearly best of breed. You can see a pic and description of one of his guns on the Guns America website but its been sold. And if you want to buy from directly from Brent, figure that delivery will take up to a year. That’s what happens when you are a craftsman first and a businessman second. It’s the quality, not the quantity which counts.

My point in talking about Brent, however, is not to give him a boost.  Rather, thinking about his work leads me to a brief discussion about how the manufacturing of guns has changed. When I first got into the gun business, guns were made out of carbon steel, then fitted, polished and finished by hand. The grips and stocks were wood, cut  by hand. If you went into a gun factory, what you saw were a series of craft shops operating under one roof. Guns weren’t rolling down an assembly line, they were hand-carried in small baskets from point to point.

Go into a gun shop today and the guns all look exactly alike. You can’t tell a Glock from a Sig or a Ruger, because that’s what happens when the frame is made out of polymer and a trigger and hammer assembly is dropped in. Guns have become mass commodities rather than hand-crafted products, and I have to believe that the shift to a manufacturing process which completely eliminates any brand distinctiveness, cheapens the whole culture of ownership and reduces how much time and effort people put into caring for their guns.

When people stop thinking about an object in terms of its intrinsic value, somehow, don’t ask me how, they just don’t care what happens to the product, and when you don’t care what happens to a gun it has a funny way of ending up where it shouldn‘t end up.

Which won’t happen with any of Brent Gurtek’s guns.

What Causes Gun Violence? It’s The Guns.

              More than a quarter-century ago, two brilliant researchers, Fred Rivard and Art Kellerman, published research which definitively linked gun access to increased risk of suicide and homicide. Frankly, the entire corpus of gun-control research hasn’t really gone beyond what they said, because nothing more needs to be said. Either there’s a gun around or there isn’t, and if there is, to quote Walter Mosley,“it will go off, sooner or later.”

              This research resulted in the elimination of gun-research funds from the CDC budget, with Gun-nut Nation convincing a majority of Congress from the dumb states that this kind of research was being conducted not for science, but for partisan (read: liberal) political ends.

              Now that the House has flipped blue, Gun-control Nation and their medical, public-health allies are beating the drums for a resumption of CDC-funded research. Of course when and if such legislation comes up for a vote, you can bet the other side will argue that studies showing that guns are a risk to health are nothing more than politically-motivated research. The funny thing is, however, that public health research done since CDC funding ended is not only political in terms of topics and goals, but happens to be research that protects the ownership of guns.

              Huh? Am I saying that noted scholars like the folks at Harvard and Hopkins want to keep America awash in guns?  That’s exactly what I’m saying, and if my friends at the NRA home office in Fairfax would come back to their senses, they’ll realize that the best friend they have is a former New York City mayor whom Gun-nut Nation believes to be the devil incarnate when it comes to guns. Before you think that I’ve lost my sense, please read on.

              Here’s the policy statement from the Everytown website: “Support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people.” As if the 2nd Amendment says anything about whether Americans have the ‘right’ to own a small, concealable handgun which holds 18 rounds of military-grade ammunition and happened to be the gun used by Seung-Hui Cho to kill 33 people on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007.

              The reason we are the only advanced country which suffers from gun violence is not because we only do background checks at the initial point of sale; it’s not because we have 350 million guns floating around; it’s not because we don’t have PTP licensing; it’s not for any of the reasons that my friends in public health research have decided requires yet another study to figure out how to reduce violence caused by guns.

              The reason is because we let the gun industry determine which guns are safe enough to be sold, while the regulators try to figure out ways to keep the most lethal consumer products imaginable out of the ‘wrong hands.’ And this naïve and foolish view, which pervades virtually every aspect of gun research, flows over into the medical community as well. Doctors are advised to show more ‘respect’ for gun culture, counseling their patients not to get rid of their guns, but to store them in a safe way. Note that the studies by Kellerman and Rivara don’t distinguish between stored and unstored guns.

              I would like to end this column on a hopeful note. I am not trying in any way to denigrate the work of my many public health friends who conduct research on gun injuries and, it goes without saying, would like to see such injuries eliminated or at least reduced. But as long as this research community continues to avoid figuring out why some people deal with their fears by buying guns, telling these folks that guns represent a ‘risk’ is to tell them nothing at all. Either we get rid of the guns that are responsible for gun violence or we don’t. And until/unless  we get rid of those kinds of guns, there will be plenty of gun violence to serve as topics for gun research.   

Why Don’t Women Like Guns? Because They Don’t.

Yesterday one of the three or four emails I receive every day from the boys in Fairfax was an event invitation for any of the ladies who share my home. There happen to be two at the moment: Carolyn my wife and Phyllis the cat. The email was an invitation to join the NRA’s Women’s Wilderness Escape session being held in the New Hampshire wilderness on September 14 – 16, a new program aimed at (pardon the pun) a very important demographic for Gun-nut Nation otherwise known as women.

Over the years, the gun industry has failed every time it tries to get the female gender excited about guns. They have tried manufacturing guns which feel more comfortable in smaller, female hands; they have designed guns with finishes whose colors are something other than ugly, steel grey; they have trotted out Dana ‘home-school queen’ Loesch to warn women about arming up to protect themselves from all those street thugs. None of these stupid, huckstering appeals have worked worth a damn.

Why not? Because women, generally speaking, are much more adverse than men to any safety appeal which requires them to respond by using violence in any form. And like it or not, the purpose of a gun is to commit violence, which the World Health Organization defines as any attempt to injure yourself or someone else. So even if violence is used for self-protection, you are still behaving in a violent way, and most women are simply not going to buy the idea that some kinds of violence is bad, but other kinds are good.

What I love about this latest attempt of the boys in Fairfax to rescue the tattered remains of their once-great organization (which could easily become great again if they would just stop promoting this self-defense nonsense) is the degree to which the entire Women’s Wilderness Escape program is based on fantasy, nothing more than that.  The wilderness into which the women will be escaping is actually the shooting range where Sig tests its guns, located about 5 miles from U.S. Route 1, which has at least a Mobil mini-mart, McDonald’s, Dunks, Starbucks or Wal Mart every fifty feet. There isn’t a single stretch of real estate anywhere in the United States which is less wilderness than where these women will be ‘escaping’ for a couple of days. And by the way, in order to join this wilderness cavalcade you only need to fork over $895 bucks, which doesn’t include breakfast, dinner or sleeping out in your tent – yea right.

This program gives the gun maker Sig an opportunity to do some test-marketing of one of their new entrants into the assault-rifle category, a 9mm short-barreled rifle known as the MPX. I’ll spare you all the technical details except to say that the gun has less recoil than the usual .223 round, it’s smaller and lighter than the standard AR-15, all of which makes it ‘perfect for the beginner woman shooter’ to get into guns.

Maybe I’m too old or too dumb to figure it out, but I simply don’t understand why the gun industry continues to search for  messaging that will make women realize a gun isn’t just a man’s best friend. After all, most male gun owners happen to be married, which means that 20 to 30-million females are already living in homes that contain guns. How come it’s still always the male half of the domestic arrangement who goes out to buy another gun?

One of these days the NRA will wake up to the fact that even though a majority of Americans believe that a gun is a very useful way to defend yourself from harm, a majority of Americans also don’t happen to own guns. And the reason why gun makers just can’t find a way to expand their market is because the female gender is not only present in most households, but also determines how household money will be spent.

Want to sell products to women?  See how much LVMH wants for Sephora or Estee Lauder wants for Clinique.