Don’t More Gun Injuries Mean More Business For Emergency Rooms?

Last week our friends at The Trace published an article on a brief but noisy exchange which broke out between a group of ER doctors and the NRA. The physicians have put up a website which claims to be collecting and distributing funds that will be awarded to gun researchers to make up for gun-research dollars no longer provided by the CDC.  The NRA is the NRA.

            This same bunch of physicians, whose gun-violence research credentials are impeccable, also put up a chain letter that could be sent to the NRA.  The letter was in response to an op-ed on the NRA website which basically told the medical community to stick its concerns about guns you know where.  The NRA editorial was the organization’s response to yet another medical article which found that, believe it or not, a connection between guns and gun injuries. Gee, what a surprise. And of course it’s even a bigger surprise that the NRA would deny that such a connection even exists.

Physicians and public health researchers have been publishing credible research on gun violence for more than twenty-five years. Know what these well-meaning and dedicated researchers have gotten for all their efforts? The elimination of CDC funding for gun research. That’s it. Period. Zilch. In fact, over the last several years, gun-violence rates appear to be going back up.  Oh well, oh well. Maybe another research article on gun violence will push the rates back down, right?  Wrong.

The good news, of course, is that the physicians who want you to sign their chain letter to the NRA also happen to be members of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the folks who usually have to figure out how to keep someone alive who has a bullet in their head. And they are remarkably skilled in this respect; of the 75,000 or so who suffer injuries from gun assaults each year, only 12,000 or so end up dead. The rest come back to the hospital on a much too-frequent basis and after a few more visits, also end up dead.

And how does the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) respond to this problem? They give substantial financial support to the politicians who make a career goal out of preventing even the most minimal gun reforms from moving ahead.

How does this happen? It happens because the ACEP has a PAC which over the last two election cycles donated almost $150,000 to the election campaigns of 15 House members who are rated A+ by the NRA. The NRA gives an A rating to just about every member of the House GOP caucus, but these 15 are in a group all their own. They are the spear-carriers, the most pro-gun guys in Congress, and they do whatever is necessary to make sure that no gun legislation rears its ugly head.

So here we have a remarkable situation in which some physicians use social media to advance their gun-control agendas (and their public personalities) while their professional organization uses their dues monies to advance the cause of the NRA. Now you would think that when a doctor named Michael Siegel began writing about this issue, his concerns would be shared and amplified by the members of APEC who would like you to believe they are tirelessly working to end gun violence, right? Wrong again.

The Trace article quotes one of the self-appointed, gun-violence leaders of the medical community, Garen Wintemute, who says that physicians should ‘privately’ approach politicians about gun violence because to raise these issues publicly would be ‘divisive’ and would hurt “relationships with elected officials with whom they work on a range of policies”.

Let me break the news to you gently Garen – you don’t know what you’re talking about, but God forbid you would admit to nec sciunt quicquam and keep your mouth shut. More than any other profession, doctors should be the loudest and most vociferous contributors to the public debate on gun violence, which means first and foremost telling public officials to stop being handmaidens for the NRA.

 

 

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Is The NRA Over The Hill?

Our friend Bob Spitzer has just published an interesting op-ed in The [‘failing’] New York Times, which not only goes into detail about how the gun issue impacted the outcome of various political races, but also raises the idea that maybe the vaunted invincibility of the NRA is coming to an end. In a careful and well-documented piece, Spitzer shows that the NRA was not only outspent in this election cycle by the gun-safety side, but also saw a number of House seats flip from red to blue in districts where gun-control messaging had previously been a dead end.

              I was pleased to review the latest edition of Spitzer’s book, The Politics of Gun Control, and I’m happy to give it a plug here as well. And while he makes it clear that he’s no advocate for Gun-nut Nation, both this book as well as the op-ed piece are balanced efforts to explain both the recent failures as well as previous successes of the NRA.  His basic point is that the election returns ‘suggest’ that the NRA may not possess the clout of former years, but this doesn’t mean that the boys in Fairfax are just going to shut up and fade away.

Not only is America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ not about to disappear (pardon the double negatives)  but anyone who thinks that the NRA can’t recapture its dominance in the gun debate doesn’t appreciate how or why the organization has been in the forefront for so long.

Looking first at the money:  Spitzer says that gun-control groups outspent the NRA by $12 million to $11 million in the mid-terms, largely due to the combined efforts of Gabby and Mike.  As of October 26, Open Secrets put the amounts at slightly less than $10 million and $8 million respectively, but either way, gun-safety groups come out ahead.

On the other hand, what counts going forward is the amount spent not just on political campaigns, but on day-to-day lobbying of elected officials. After all, when it comes to gun-control laws, this is where the rubber meets the road.  Over the last five years, gun-safety groups have spent a total of $8.6 million on Capitol Hill; lobbying for gun ‘rights’ during the same five-year period adds up to $60 million bucks! Even in 2018, the impoverished NRA has outspent Gun-control Nation’s lobbying efforts by almost ten to one – $10 million to $1.5 mil.

Can our friends at Everytown and the Giffords Law Center begin to match those numbers year after year?  I doubt it and my doubt is based on the NRA’s one basic strength which the gun-control groups simply do not share. This has to do with the fact that when all is said and done, at heart the NRA is a membership organization, and they have the care and feeding of their members down pat.

In addition to the NRA, I also belong to the Wilderness and Audubon Societies, along with AARP.  Like the NRA, I pay annual dues to these groups, monies which they use for lobbying and donating to political candidates who protect their interests and promote their views. Every year I receive a lovely calendar from Audubon and Wilderness, every month I get a magazine from AARP. That’s it.

I not only receive at least one email from Wayne-o and Chris Cox every day, I also get the monthly magazine and most important, I can meet other gun nuts at frequent NRA dinners and other social events, or attend hundreds of gun shows every weekend where the NRA has a hospitality booth right at the front door.

I’m happy that Gun-control Nation has begun to level the playing-field when it comes to the public debate about guns. But if my gun-control friends want to get the football across the gun-nut goal line, they have to understand it’s not just money that counts. People support the NRA because they like guns. Can the other side advance an argument as compelling as that?

 

 

Now That Gun Control Can Win Elections, What Should We Do?

It’s still to early to make a definitive judgement about how much the election results reflected concerns about gun violence, but it certainly can be said that how America voted on November 6th put to bed the idea that gun control is a toxic issue for the blue team. If anything, regulating gun ownership may have been in the forefront of several contests which flipped from red to blue, nor can it be said that the GOP’s long-time romance with the NRA helped them to any great extent.

             Let’s assume that various gun-control bills are re-introduced in the  116th Congress after January 3rd, 2019, and if the Senate goes blue in 2020, all of a sudden, some serious gun-control legislation has a chance of getting passed. I don’t think this is such a way out assumption, by the way, because we can also assume that mass shooting rampages and day-to-day gun violence will continue to increase. It’s not as if ‘thoughts and prayers’ stops anyone from picking up a gun, right?

The question then becomes: what should Gun-control Nation set as their Numero Uno legislative priority?  The usual suspects: universal background checks, assault weapons ban, raising minimum purchase age, safe storage, required safety course, etc. This is all fine and well except these solutions only bite around the edges of the gun-violence problem.  They don’t get to the core of the issue for one, simple reason; namely, that gun violence is overwhelmingly a function of free access to handguns. And because we are the only advanced country which permits its citizens to own handguns with only minimal, legal restrictions, we are the only advanced country that suffers alarmingly-high levels of gun violence.

I recently published a detailed analysis of the 850,000 crime guns collected by more than 1,000 police organizations between 2010 and 2018. At some point I set up the entire database in Excel and then conducted a word search using the names of manufacturers who have introduced tens of millions of hunting and sporting guns into civilian hands – Remington, Winchester, Browning, Marlin, Savage, et. al. he products from these gun makers accounted for less than 3% of all guns picked up by the police. On the other hand, when I searched under names like Glock, Sig, Springfield and Smith & Wesson, the percentage jumped to half. And most of the remaining guns were various ‘Saturday night’ specials, many of which are no longer being made. But when you load those guns with ammunition and pull the trigger, they still go bang!

Incidentally, at least one-third of the handguns collected by the cops were manufactured prior to 1968.  Which means that you can trace these guns from here to high heaven and never figure out how they ended up in the ‘wrong’ hands. This isn’t meant to be a criticism of universal background checks, it’s simply a necessary corrective for the narrative about the value of universal checks.

Two years ago, nobody imagined the gun issue might play a potent role in the electoral outcomes in 2018. Two years ago nobody imagined that support for stricter gun laws would consistently run above 60%, a level not seen for the last twenty-five years. Which means that when Gun-control Nation tries to figure out their priorities, this isn’t just an exercise in talk.

I have been told again and again by gun-control activists that pushing a strategy to severely limit handgun ownership is a dead end.  I am told that it not only can’t succeed but it will turn off many people, including gun owners, who would otherwise support ‘sensible’ gun laws. I think it’s a stale argument and like the alleged electoral ‘power’ of the NRA, needs to be put to rest.

If the goal is to end gun violence, why start off by pushing laws that simply won’t get you to where you want to go?  If the gun issue played any role in last week’s results, it seems that people are simply fed up. That’s what should guide the gun-control strategy, nothing more, nothing less.

The Election’s Over And Now The Real Work Begins.

From the perspective of Gun-control Nation, yesterday’s election results were good but could have been better. Which is another way of saying that the House is now blue, but the Senate is still red. And one of those red seats still belongs to Ted Cruz, who has been a staunch defender of every stupid and pandering gun ‘rights’ law that gets introduced. On the other hand, a Democratic majority in the House means that no matter how many nutty, pro-gun bills come out of the upper chamber, none of them will get to Sleazy Don’s desk.

voted             A really bright spot appeared for the blue team in Colorado, where a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, Jason Crow, got rid of GOP-incumbent and long-time NRA favorite Mike Coffman by making a clear pitch for gun control during the campaign. On the other hand, even with the help of Fred Guttenberg (he is the father of a Parkland victim who confronted Brian Kavanaugh as the latter’s Senate confirmation hearing began) a strong, gun-control Democrat in Pennsylvania – Scott Wallace – was unable to unseat the Republican incumbent – Brian Fitpatrick – in a hotly contested race.

Since I live in Massachusetts, which not only sends an entirely blue Congressional delegation to D.C. but of nine House members, three run unopposed, it’s not like I have to sit up all night to learn the results of every local race.  But if I were living in Virginia, on the other hand, I would have been very pleased with the results in CD 10, where a real NRA favorite, Barbara Comstock, was dumped by Jennifer Wexton, as well as what happened in CD 7, where a former cop named Abigail Spanberger said the right things about gun control and got rid of David Brat. You may recall that Brat was the Tea Party guy who knocked off Eric Cantor in a primary campaign; he got an ‘A’ rating from Gun Owners of America, a bunch of gun-nut loonies that make the NRA sound almost like a Democratic Party front.

For me, the single most important House race, however, was in the Michigan 11th, where a GOP seat flipped blue by seven points.  The determining factor in this race wasn’t guns at all; it was IQ which the Republican candidate, Lena Epstein, doesn’t register a discernible number at all. This idiot let Mike Pence come in for a rally alongside a self-styled phony rabbi named Loren Jacobs, the latter invoked Christ’s blessings for the victims of the mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation several days previous to the Pence event.

It just so happens that Ms. Epstein is also Jewish but couldn’t figure out that maybe, just maybe, an appearance by a Christian minister who pretends to speak for Jews was something her campaign really didn’t need. She’s not just a dope, she’s what my grandmother would have called, a shonda fin dem goyim, which basically means that you’re too dumb to call yourself a Jew. My grandmother was from a shtetl in the Old Country, okay?

Getting back to the big picture, early exit polls appear to support the idea that House Democrats grabbed the brass ring basically over health care and immigrant rights, but the real issue which moved the needle was antipathy towards Trump. Obviously, advocates for ‘sensible’ gun laws are not about to find common cause with Sleazy Don, but these polls (subject to change as more exit polls emerge) point up the fact that even with horrific events like Pittsburgh, Parkland and Sandy Hook, the gun issue just doesn’t resonate as a top-tier problem that will necessarily sway election outcomes this way or that.

That’s fine as far as I’m concerned, because I don’t think a liberal political agenda should ever rest on a single issue campaign. What did Mao say? Let a hundred flowers bloom? That’s okay with me as long as what to do about gun violence is part of the bouquet.

 

 

When It Comes To Guns, Things May Be Different This Time Around.

Back in February after the Parkland shooting, I figured there would be some upsurge in gun-control advocacy and activity, if only because there’s always some increase in concern about gun violence after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day. I also assumed that the public outcry for more gun control would last a few months and then go away. Because that’s what always happened after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day.

time             I was wrong.  The Parkland ‘kids,’ as they came to be known, started showing up here and there; the media began following them around, some of the real idiots in Gun-nut Nation ratcheted up the noise by accusing Hamm and Gonzalez of being dupes for the International Socialist Conspiracy to take away our guns and the beat went on.

By the summer, the debate about guns and gun violence began to morph into the political campaigns of both the red and blue teams, and I started receiving the daily emails from both sides asking for money because either I would vote blue and keep us from going around killing ourselves, or I would vote red and keep the 2nd Amendment alive.

I have been following politics since the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and I have also been involved in the gun business since roughly the same time. This was the first election in which the narrative about guns not only was used to define the political stance of both parties, but was being used as an effective wedge issue in political contests that might decide whether the Congress stays red or goes blue.

Obviously, nobody knows how things will end up when the dust settles and the smoke clears, but I never imagined that I would ever see the headline that I saw today in The [‘failing’] New York Times: “Bearing F’s From the N.R.A., Some Democrats Are Openly Campaigning on Guns.” Now the Times isn’t talking about political contests in liberal states like California or New York. The story concerns three campaigns in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Iowa, where gun control may be the issue that swings the vote in all three CD’s. I am sure that none of the red candidates in those districts ever believed that getting a good rating from the NRA might be the last thing they would need.  But somehow, this year may turn out to be different.

And what makes me suspect that there’s a new culture emerging about guns is represented by the contents of two magazines I received this week.  I have been subscribing to Time Magazine out of force of habit for at least 30 years. When I first started getting it, this flagship Luce publication was considered the sine qua non of politics for the respectable Right. The content has gradually moved more to the middle, but nobody would accuse Time of slavishly following the Bloomberg-Soros line. From the remarkable cover through the interviews and brief memoirs, this week’s issue is all about guns. The content is balanced and fair, but it’s no ringing endorsement for Gun-nut Nation’s cherished beliefs.

More remarkably was the latest issue of People Magazine that floated in the other day.  The issue contains a section entitled: “25 Women Changing the World,’ and the headliner is none other than our friend Shannon Watts, who graces a two-page photo of herself and some members of her organization, along with a commentary about the importance of getting politically involved.

When the editors of People Magazine decide that Shannon Watts is their exemplar for change, then something very definite and different is going on. I’m not saying that the content of Time or People will necessarily tilt the election in favor of the blue team; I’m saying that gun violence is no longer a marginal issue that public figures would rather avoid. And I believe that once the discussion gets into the mainstream, the American people will do the right thing.

Guns or Immigrants: To Sleazy Don It’s One and the Same.

Yesterday Sleazy Don did what we knew he would do in the last weekend of the campaign – unleash an advertisement that is the single most racist, vulgar and stupid political statement ever to be the handiwork of any President of the United States. The good news is that if we can trust the polls (which is, in and of itself, something of a stretch) the blue team needs to just capture one toss-up race plus all the ‘likely’ and ‘leaning’ contests in order to reclaim the House.

trump wallace          For those who have been energized in this campaign season because of a continued concern about how to reduce violence from guns, the fact that Trump should appeal to one of his base constituencies – gun owners – by telling lie after lie should come as no surprise. As of this morning, our friends at the WaPo calculate that  in the 649 days of his Presidency (have we had to put up with this schmuck that long?) Sleazy Don has uttered 6,420 ‘false or misleading claims,’ which works out to ten lies each and every day.

Now the fact-checkers at the WaPo can continue to be polite by referring to this daily torrent of fake news as ‘false’ or ‘misleading’ claims, but in fact, most if not all of this stinking verbiage happens to be outright lies. The definition of a lie is when you say something which you consciously know not to be true. When Sleazy Don tells the rabid audiences at his rallies that George Soros paid for the immigrant caravan, he’s saying something he knows isn’t true.  What’s the difference between locking up Hillary in a jail cell at Danbury or locking up Soros in a boxcar that will take him to Auschwitz?  No difference. No difference at all.

But as I said above, none of this should come as any kind of surprise to my friends in Gun-control Nation, because Gun-nut Nation has been promoting their agenda in similar, false fashion for many years.  Do you think there’s the slightest bit of truth behind the idea that owning a gun keeps you ‘free?’  Oh, I forgot.  Better keep that AR-15 handy to protect yourself from those jack-booted thugs that gun-grabbers like Mike Bloomberg will order to break in your door and take away all your guns.

And that’s the biggest lie of all; the lie that the NRA is America’s ‘first civil rights organization.’  Now the fact (the word ‘fact’ means that it’s true) that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a group came together at Seneca Falls in 1848 and published a manifesto calling for women’s ‘rights,’ means that what the NRA claims is simply not true.  Not true as in it’s a lie.  Why should we be upset when Trump says he’s going to rewrite the Constitution and ban citizenship by birthright?  After all, he made his appearance on the political stage by inventing another lie about birthright citizenship. Remember that Obama wasn’t born in the United States?

You would think that I would be all hot bothered by the fact that some of Sleazy Don’s biggest lies come straight from the playbook of the NRA. In fact, I’m not. What seems to be missing in all the complaints about how Trump just lies and lies is the recognition that he holds an entirely different view of politics and political rhetoric from the guys who sat behind the Resolute desk before he arrived.

Trump’s a business guy, that’s all he is. And business guys live by one and only one belief, namely, say whatever you have to say until the product sells. And what’s the name of the product that Trump sells? It’s called Trump.

Which happens to be exactly what the NRA has been doing for the last 25 or 30 years; selling guns and saying whatever has to be said to make a sale.  Is there something wrong with that? To the contrary – selling a product and making a buck happens to be the American way.

Where Are All Those ‘Responsible’ Gun Owners?

New group has emerged pledging “to propel cultural change and prevent unnecessary gun deaths in the United States.” And how does this group intend to propel cultural change?  They can speak for themselves: “There is a middle ground where most Americans can agree. We’ve found that middle ground and are working to unite like-minded citizens. Behind the scenes, we are effecting real change to stem the tide of gun violence.”

Gun Safety Alliance              This effort is the handiwork, so it seems, of some of the companies which in one way or another decided to cut links to the gun industry (read: the NRA) after the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High.  This includes Delta Airlines and Hertz, who no longer offer discounts to NRA members, as well as Gucci which ponied up some big dough to support the March for our Lives demo in March, a bank that won’t underwrite Visa-Mastercard gun shop accounts, plus Dick’s and Walmart, the latter upping its age for all gun sales to twenty-one, the former pulling black guns out of some of their stores.

I happen to know one of the managers of the Hertz Rental at the Hartford Airport, and when I mentioned the company’s decision to drop its NRA discount, he stared at me in disbelief. Not that he was necessarily opposed to the decision, it’s that he had never been told this was going to happen and frankly, he couldn’t care less. So I went back to the Gun Safety Alliance website (that’s the name of this new group) and to my utter surprise discovered that not one single individual is identified with any of these companies that are now trying to ‘propel’ cultural change.

I happen to find anonymous advocacy websites offensive and I won’t donate a penny to any organization which refuses to identify the individuals whose so-called commitment to their cause doesn’t require them to give out their names. Want to reach Mike the Gun Guy? It’s mike@mikethegunguy.com.  Want to send me a letter? The gun shop is located in Ware, MA and both the address and telephone number can be accessed at any time. And believe me, I have received many nasty and threatening communications from gun-troll land (as well as from some very dedicated gun-control activists) over the years. But I simply will not subscribe to the idea that I can or should advocate anything without telling my audience who I am.

My other objection to this new organization is their belief that they can ‘unite’ like-minded citizens’ who share their desire to reduce violence caused by guns.  These happen to be code-words, no different from referring to ‘most’ gun owners as ‘responsible,’ or calling for ‘common sense’ gun safety laws.  What about the non-gun owners?  How many of them have demonstrated their responsible behavior by passing a background check? Even Pew Research admits that nearly half of all Americans want an end to gun-free zones.   I guarantee you that this number includes just about every one of those ‘like-minded’ Americans who happen to own guns.

And then there’s the safe-storage issue that always rears its ugly head when the ‘responsible’ citizenry gets together to figure out how to reduce violence from guns. In 2016 it is estimated that at least 110,000 people were killed or injured because someone else shot them with a gun. In 2014 the number was 76,000 – gee, that’s only an increase in two years of some 45 percent. Know how many of these injuries and deaths would have been prevented if every gun owner practiced safe storage?  Not one. There is not a single study which shows a differential in gun homicide or aggravated assault because people ‘safely stored’ their guns.

Want to propel a cultural change that will reduce gun violence?  It’s very simple. Just find a way to reverse the culture of a majority of Americans who believe that owning a gun is more of a benefit than a risk.  And when you figure that one out, please remember to sign your name.

cold and dead

Available now.

 

A New Group Promoting Gun Control? Yea, Right.

A new group has just popped up in the gun world.  It’s a 501c3 organization and its mission statement reads as follows:

“Reduce incidents of suicide by firearms, gun negligence through education and proactive programs that identify risks, raise awareness, and provide solutions to those who choose to own firearms responsibly and the public at large.”

colionThis has got to be another bunch of tree-hugging, gun-grabbing liberals, right? Wrong.  In fact, the Board of Directors reads like a standard group of pro-gun activists right out of central casting, including a a lawyer, John Renzulli, who defends the gun industry in negligence cases; Colion Noir, the NRA spieler who prances around in various videos proclaiming the joys of arming yourself for self-defense; the head of the national gun wholesaler’s association, Kenyon Gleason; and a self-proclaimed gun training expert, Rob Pincus, who sells a whole swatch of videos that are a cross between the usual shooting games combined with messaging which extolls the virtues of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’

These new-found promoters of what Gun-control Nation likes to refer to as ‘gun sense’ also claim to have “created alliances between the leading experts and organizations in the Firearms and Mental Health Industries,” although the website does not contain the name of a single mental health organization or expert whatsoever. There is a Board member named Suzanne Lewis, who claims to be ‘very passionate’ about mental health issues; maybe she represents the alliance between guns and mental health. Nobody else on the current Board of Directors appears to have any connection to the mental health ‘industry’ at all.

On the other hand, this group, which claims to represent a ‘catalyst for change,’ does include several guys whose work, it can safely be said, has been fundamental in helping to embed the idea of self-defense gun ownership as a positive and joyous thing. The lawyer John Renzulli, for example, was the lead attorney in the Hamilton v. Accu-Tek case, which ultimately resulted in the gun industry being exempted from class-action suits. Want to get an idea about how Colion Noir pushes guns for the NRA? Watch his disgusting NRA video where he openly taunts the Parkland kids for using their 1st-Amendment freedoms to criticize the 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ of Colion and his friends.  The only alliance that this loud-mouth could ever make with mental health professionals are with the mental health professionals who still believe that solitary confinement works wonders on the criminal brain.

I would like to believe that this foray into the gun-sense landscape will quickly come to an end with a quiet, little thud. But I’m not so sure. The fact that a spokesman for the NRA, along with the head of a major, gun industry trade group and a lawyer whose firm participates in just about every litigation attempt to defend gun products have publicly stated their intention to “develop programs for suicide prevention, firearms negligence, trauma mitigation, and child safety,” tells me that the strident and uncompromising stance of the NRA may be coming to an end.

I don’t have any evidence for what I am about to say, but there is simply no way that this new group of pro-gun activists would be out there promoting a strategy right out of the gun-control playbook if they first hadn’t reached some understanding with the gun industry’s Powers That Be. After all, Kenyon Gleason runs the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW) which means his salary is paid by the national gun wholesalers responsible for every one of those shiny, new guns ending up on the local gun shop’s shelves.

For the past thirty years, the gun industry has been promoting itself through fearsome messaging about a world without guns. Maybe the industry now wants to test a different approach, namely, a world without the unsafe use of guns. Anyone believing such nonsense would feel right at home living with the Martians at Area 51,  but maybe Sleazy Don Trump is building a luxury hotel there right now.

 

 

 

 

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? Buy A Knife.

Yesterday I received an email from a company in California offering to send me a brand new knife which, according to the message, is the best and most reliable weapon I will ever need to protect me from all kinds of harm.  And the knife is free!  I just have to pay a small shipping charge and I get this awesome, personal-defense product as my very own.

knife              Where did the company get my email address?  From Armslist, the internet gun Craigslist, where thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people try to sell their guns. I have been a Craigslist member since the website first started up and have actually both bought and sold several guns on the site.  Don’t worry, they were all legal sales.  But knives are different from guns – as lethal as a knife may be, most jurisdictions don’t require any kind of licensing at all.

What struck me about the knife giveaway, however, was the ad which then appeared on my computer monitor after I placed my order for the ‘fight fast’ knife.  Because for the paltry price of just $129, which is a lot less than what I would pay for the latest Michael Jordan Retro 13 sneaker, I can get an Extreme Survival Package, an essential set of tools to keep me and my family alive when “the real horror and chaos of an actual meltdown sinks in, you’ll suddenly realize you’ve been thrown back into the stone age.”

What this survival package allows you to do is “cross even rugged terrain with total confidence,” then “construct a temporary hide site,” also “keep your team protected from infiltrators,” and most important, get “alerted in advance” if someone has “infiltrated your territory.”  And all of this for the ridiculously low price of $129!!

Let me just interject a point of reality here, which is that I have always wanted to get the franchise for renting those electric chairs which people ride around in at the NRA show. Because most of the folks who rent those automated walking-machines don’t have some kind of physical infirmity with their legs – they are simply too fat to walk anywhere under their own steam. No matter how many pounds you need to lose, if you want to feel really thin, just go to a gun show and wander around, looking at the people, not just the guns. And these are the folks that the ‘fight fast’ knife company believes need to negotiate ‘rugged’ terrain?

Back in the 1980’s, when the gun industry first realized that most sporting hunters were either dead or now living in suburbs or simply too old to hunt, they cocked up the idea that a gun was still an essential piece of equipment because, sooner or later, everyone would meet up with a bad guy who would attack hem unless they were armed.  The latest version of that nonsense comes from idiot Dana Loesch (no surprise) who claims that an assault-rifle ban is just another attempt to prevent women from protecting themselves in instances of domestic abuse.  God only knows how Dana actually spouts such crap with a straight face.

I am beginning to believe that the ‘armed citizen’ marketing of guns is morphing into a new message which combines the threat of criminality with the coming breakdown of civilization, an apocalypse  that can only be prevented if we take necessary measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones protected from harm.

It turns out that a healthy majority of Americans now believe, according to Pew Research, that more than 80% of American senior citizens believe that video gaming contributes to gun violence. Meanwhile, more than 40% of American adults play shooting games, and many of these games revolve around various survivalist themes.

What’s the difference between cranking up the video console to play Frostpunk and buying an essential, Fightfast survival kit?  The video game only costs ten bucks but every marketer will tell you there’s nothing more American than selling up.

 

Thanks to Shaun Dakin for mentioning the video survey on Pew.

 

Does Gun Violence Include Defending Yourself With A Gun?

Want to know the basic issue dividing Gun-nut Nation and Gun-control Nation?  It’s whether or not guns are good things or and things to have around the house. The whole argument gets down to that.  Period.

VPC logo            In 1992 and 1993, Art Kellerman and Fred Ricard published two articles which claimed that higher rates of gun homicide and gun suicide were found in homes with guns. Then Gary Kleck published an article in which he claimed that armed citizens prevented upwards of 2.5 million crimes each year. And these three pieces of research, alternately applauded and damned by pro-gun and anti-gun activists, still continue to set the parameters for what the argument about guns is all about.

The latest contribution to the debate is a brief report just issued by our friends at the Violence Policy Center, which says that “for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 334 criminal homicides.”  In other words, the positive social utility of gun ownership is clearly outweighed a ton by the negative social utility of guns. The data behind this proposition comes from the usual suspects – the CDC and the FBI.

I would be a little careful about using FBI data on justifiable homicides, if only because their numbers on the other category of justifiable shootings which is called ‘legal intervention,’ and that means civilians being shot by cops, may be off by as much as half.  At least this is what is claimed by the Washington Post which has been tracking police gun-violence for several years. But anyway, back to the VPC report.

I would be the last person to promote the idea that armed citizens should be considered as a protective shield against violence or crime. That someone could maybe hit an unmoving, paper target and then walk around ready to take on society’s enemies with a real gun is nothing more than a stupid, childish fantasy except it’s being played out in real-life terms. Want to pretend you’re ready to blow away all the bad guys?  Go to a video arcade and play one of the shooting machines.

Unfortunately, the VPC report comparing what one might call offensive gun use (OGU) to what has often been called defensive gun use (DGU) is based on a comparison which doesn’t conform to what the two sides say about how personal-defense guns are used. The DGU supporters basically argue that just about all the successful events where a gun prevents a crime don’t actually involve anyone getting shot at all. Gary Kleck’s famous (or infamous) DGU study found that a gun was discharged in a DGU event less than 15% of the time.

When the VPC defines a DGU as an event when a gun is discharged and then compares such events to all the gun homicides committed each year, of course the difference in numbers is enormous to the point that there’s really no comparison at all. But if there ever was an orange to apples comparison in the gun world, this is it. The whole point of using non-shooting DGU numbers to promote the positive social utility of guns, is that you don’t have to rely on any real data at all. And this is where things get difficult for our friends in Gun-control Nation, because the folks at the VPC and other advocacy organizations would like to believe that people can be persuaded to support reasonable gun-control policies because, after all, arguments are won and lost based on facts.

In the case of guns, the facts really have no bearing on the debate. How else do you explain that a majority of Americans really believe that access to a gun keeps you and your family safe? Until and unless the VPC and like-minded groups explain this remarkable instance of cognitive dissonance, all the reports and all the data won’t make much difference at all.