Does Every ‘Responsible’ Gun Owner Hate The NRA? Don’t Count On It.

Now that a new momentum seems to have infected the gun-control movement, the media has responded by publishing all kinds of surveys and personal testimonies which claim to show that many gun owners aren’t just the red-blooded defenders of God-given gun rights, but are responsible, reasonable people who not only accept the idea that gun ownership needs to be regulated, but even go along with such radical ideas as extending background checks to secondary transfers and sales.

eva             One of the recent surveys that caught my eye was published by Huffington Post, which asked gun owners who weren’t members of the NRA the reason(s) why they opted not to join America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization.’  The survey was taken by 1,000 adults of whom HP says includes 184 gun owners who are “not members of the NRA.” And when asked why they were not NRA members, almost half the gun owners said that the organization didn’t represent them politically or otherwise. If this survey is correct, it tends to verify a cherished and long-held belief on the part of gun-control activists that the people who are most adamant about protecting their beloved 2nd Amendment, may not represent the ‘average’ gun owner at all.

Which brings us to the most salient question floating around since Parkland, namely, how do you sustain the energy and activity of the ‘silent majority’ (or near-majority) of gun owners who might be willing to support more regulation of gun ‘rights?’ Yesterday, the Governor of Oklahoma vetoed a bill which would have basically ended gun regulations in the Sooner State, and if gun ‘rights’ can be curbed in Oklahoma, they can be curbed anywhere.

The day before Governor Mary Fallin told Oklahoma gun-lovers to stick their guns up their you-know-where, the 9th Federal Circuit Court basically said the same thing to California gun nuts, when it upheld a county ordnance preventing a gun shop from operating within 500 feet of a residential zone, the majority opinion citing the 2008 Heller decision which said that the 2nd Amendment did not prohibit the government from regulating the sale of guns. This opinion will be appealed by Gun-nut Nation to the Supreme Court in the hopes that with a conservative majority still intact, the ruling will be overturned. Don’t bet on it.

Meanwhile, to help the gun-control contingent promote their new-found strength and public élan, Huffington published ‘An Open Letter From Hunters About Gun Reform’ (note the substitution of ‘reform’ for ‘control’) that was signed by ten members of what is called the Circle of Chiefs, which is what the Outdoor Writers Association of America refers to as their ‘conservation conscience,’ whatever that means. Their letter promotes the standard laundry-list of gun-control items which have taken on a new life since the appearance of the Parkland kids – an assault weapon and high-cap magazine ban, comprehensive background checks, no bump stocks – the usual things. These new ‘reforms’ are referred to as “responsible limitations that do not infringe the ability of Americans to hunt, shoot or protect themselves and their families.”

The last gun shop that any of these letter-signers entered was probably the Dallas Gun Room, where the cheapest gun is a Holland & Holland shotgun that cost at least five thousand bucks. I didn’t have time to stop off there when I came to Dallas last week for NRA, and I’ll bet I wasn’t the only person at NRA who didn’t have time to stop by that store. What I like about NRA are the number of people I meet whom I have seen at previous shows. It might be difficult for Gun-control Nation to accept this idea, but NRA is just like a Boy Scout jamboree – you go because it’s fun.

Either the good folks who seriously want to reduce gun violence will figure out how to attract gun owners to their cause or they won’t. They certainly won’t do it by getting behind a small group of ‘gentlemen hunters’ who wouldn’t know a $200-dollar shotgun if they tripped over one at a local or national gun show.

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Making Ollie North The NRA President Is A Very Smart Move.

If you really want to understand why the boys from Fairfax made Oliver North the new President of America’s ‘oldest civil rights organization,’ a.k.a. the NRA, go to your video viewer and watch a remarkable documentary, A Perfect Candidate, which covered North’s 1994 campaign in Virginia for the Senate seat held by Chuck Robb. What made North competitive was an enormous amount of money raised through direct-mail from small donors; what made him a loser was the ‘independent’ candidacy of another Republican, Marshall Coleman, who was basically put on the ballot to pull mainstream Republican votes away from North.

north             What the documentary brilliantly highlights was the degree to which North’s campaign was based almost entirely on an appeal to white Evangelicals who gave North overwhelming numbers in rural counties, but couldn’t help him in urban areas, particularly the ever-increasing and ever more diverse areas around Washington, D.C.  North actually set a record in that campaign for the amount of money ever raised for a statewide race, most of which came through the Evangelical, direct mail pipeline first created by Jerry Falwell and then increasingly exploited by the GOP and organizations like the NRA.

If you think I’m overdoing the connection between the connection between religion, guns and politics, here’s how North began his NRA address on the meeting’s first day: “Lord, we ask you to deliver us from our enemies, for your forgiveness for those things that we have done and failed to do when we stray from your word. Ewe beseech you for Godly, enlightened leaders.” According to the failing New York Times, the audience broke into sustained applause.

Over the last several months, I have occasionally heard vague murmurings from some of my more optimistic, gun-control friends that in the wake of Parkland that maybe, just maybe, the NRA might move slightly away from the crazy, extreme rhetoric of the Trump campaign. If anything, the decision to make Ollie North the group’s new figurehead (and chief fundraiser) should dash any such hopes. What Rev. Rachel Smith called ‘gundamentalism’ – the God-given ‘right’ to own a gun – has now become the NRA’s new watchword and will probably soon replace the ‘good guy with a gun’ as the organization’s favorite slogan embossed on the bumper-sticker pasted on the family car.

Give the NRA credit, okay?  For an organization primarily dependent on membership dues, these guys really know their customers.  Yea, yea, I know all about the so-called ‘blood money’ that comes from the gun industry. So let me break it to you gently, of the $300 million the NRA hauled in during 2016, somewhere around $260 million came from membership dues and nickel-and-dime donations to their NRA-ILA fund. In fact, the NRA’s political arm raised a record-breaking $2.4 million during March, of which $1.9 million was in donations of $200 or less.

I’ll never forget going to the NRA show in 1980, it was held in an arena not far away from Phialdelphia’s Constitution Hall. And the main speaker was none other than Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, who was in the midst of his campaign. The day he spoke happened to be the day I mostly spent hanging out with Jeff Cooper of Gunsite fame; neither he nor I even knew or cared that Reagan was in the hall.

The gun world and the rest of the world has obviously changed since 1980. We now use the internet for fundraising, the guy in the White House makes Reagan sound like a liberal, but we also have gay marriage – some battles you win, some you lose. Why should anyone be surprised that an organization which promotes the ownership of products still owned primarily by older, white men who profess the Evangelical faith and live in the South would make common cause with an older, white, Evangelical guy from the South named Ollie North?

And by the way, you might consider joining Ollie on a freedom cruise to Normandy in August to celebrate the sacrifices made for the ‘century’s greatest cause.’ The cruise is co-sponsored by the NRA.

 

 

 

 

 

How Many People Get Shot By Guns? Nobody Knows.

As soon as the NRA show rumbles to an end, our friends in the gun-control world can get back to business and celebrate the latest news about gun violence from the CDC.  Because the CDC has just published the numbers for how many Americans were wounded but not killed by guns in 2016, and the number is the highest it has ever been – 116,114 – an increase from the 2015 of nearly 40 percent!

cdc            The only problem with the numbers reported by the CDC is that they probably aren’t correct.  How can I say something like that?  I mean, we’re not talking about numbers from this survey outfit or that; we’re not talking about Pew, or Gallup, or even the vaunted gun researchers at Rand.  We’re talking about the U.S. Government and even more to the point, about the agencies responsible for medical research, which we all know is science- based.  This data is also instintingly used by gun-violence researchers at major academic institutions like Harvard and Johns Hopkins, so it has to be correct, right?

If by using the word ‘correct’ we are saying that the numbers on gun injuries collected and published by the CDC are accurate to the point that they withstand serious scrutiny either in terms of how the numbers are gathered or how they are used, then when I characterize these numbers as correct, I am wrong. And I’m not saying that I’m a little bit wrong. I’m saying that I am wrong to the degree that anyone who uses these numbers to support any argument about gun violence is making an argument out of whole cloth.  Which happens to be a polite way of saying that the numbers are nichtsnutzig, pas bien, non buono, zilch – whatever works, okay?

The CDC numbers on non-fatal gun injuries come from an agency known as the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), an outfit run by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC.) The data collected by NEISS “is based on a nationally representative probability sample of hospitals in the U.S.” Those happen to be my italics, and if you can show me a single place where these numbers are used by any gun-control organization with the caveat that they are a ‘sample’ rather than what the real numbers might be, I’ll send a hundred bucks to the charity of your choice. Don’t waste your time looking, I already did.

Hey! Wait a minute! I thought the gun industry was exempt from any consumer regulation by the CPSC or anyone else.  That happens to be true, thanks to an exemption written into the first Consumer Product Safety Act of 1972. But this law doesn’t prevent the CPSC from collecting information about consumer injuries from guns, an activity for which they use the same NEISS reporting system and then send the numbers to the CDC.  The NEISS numbers for gun injuries also come from the same ‘nationally representative’ hospitals which furnish the injury data for every other product group: toys, kitchen appliances, ATVs, amusement-park rides and just about everything else.

I don’t know about injuries from hair dryers or chain saws, but when it comes to gun injuries, the ‘nationally representative’ list of hospitals isn’t representative at all.  How do you compute a national estimate of gun violence when the hospital you use in Virginia is located in the little town of Danville, whereas Richmond is left out? How do you have any idea about gun violence in Florida without including at least one hospital from Dade County?

The CDC says that the margin for error they employ for gun injuries means that the actual number might be 30% higher or lower than the specific number they publish each year. Which means that the real 2016 gun-injury number might have been as low as 85,000 or as high as 150,000 – take a pick.

Whether they know it or not, when gun-control advocates talk about the number of gun injuries, it’s nothing but a guess. You would think that the gun-violence researchers, on whose work the gun-control movement depends, would at least try to point this out.

 

 

 

Ted Nugent And Alex Jones: A Perfect Pair.

Let me say this about Ted Nugent.  He is a remarkably-talented musician.  And the few moments when he played some licks for Alex Jones demonstrated why this guy has sold more than 30 million albums in a musical career that is in its sixth decade. Unfortunately, in order to enjoy Ted’s music, you also have to listen to him and Jones repeating the same clichés over and over again although the media reports that he wanted liberals shot down like ‘rabid coyotes’ wasn’t exactly true.

nugent1              Ted’s beginning to remind me of what I experienced every time I went to Florida to visit my grandparents who lived in South Miami Beach before it became known as South Beach. My grandfather and several of his cronies would sit on a bench in Flamingo Park debating this subject and that, and whatever came out of their mouths was true because it came out of their mouths.  God knows what the filtering mechanism was that put the ideas into their brains in the first place. But what always struck me about their conversations was the degree to which they knew that what they said was completely and totally true.

I’m not sure how many times in the hour-long conversation Ted said that he was always guided in everything he did by “truth, logic and common sense.” I stopped counting when he repeated this brief homily for the ninth or tenth time. But every time he repeated this profound phrase his interviewer, whose entire career has been built on never saying anything which remotely connect to the truth, nodded his head up and down.

I never realized until I watched this video that Nugent considers himself to be a true, civil rights pioneer.  He pridefully mentioned how much he loved various Black musicians like Little Richard and James Brown, noting that it was America’s ‘freedom’ that allowed these artists and other Black performers to achieve fame and renown. That civil rights laws were the handiwork of all those liberals and Democrats who are trying to destroy what patriots like Nugent try to protect went unmentioned. But why let a few facts get in the way of opinions, right?

The best part of the show was when Nugent and Jones were out on the shooting range and Ted was trying to explain to Alex why the AR-15 was just like any other sporting gun. What makes the AR just another sporter, according to Ted, is the fact that it only shoots in semi-auto mode, and “no society would be so irresponsible to send the military into war with a semi-automatic weapon.” The fact that the current battle rifle carried by U.S. forces can be set to semi-automatic firing status probably means that the guns will only be shot that way when a trooper is wandering around Ted’s ranch.

Ted also made a point, multiple times, about how he’s ‘studied’ all the mass shootings, and every such event, including the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, could have been prevented if patrons inside the club had been allowed to carry guns. You may recall that D.D. Trump said the same thing during the 2016 campaign, and it was left to Chris Cox to remind him that the NRA didn’t support the idea of people mixing booze with guns.

The one thing I never did while listening to my grandfather and his friends concoct one harebrained explanation after another was to speak up and interject my own ideas. Because if I had said anything that didn’t support their nonsensical views, I would have been immediately told to shut up and learn something from what the older generation knew to be true.

When Ted Nugent stops playing his guitar and starts shooting off his mouth, what you have is a quintessential case of arrested mental development; here’s a guy who has not been told to his face that he’s full of sh*t for at least fifty years. But he sure knows how to play that guitar.

Should I Join The Golden Eagles? You Decide.

Yesterday in the mail I received my 2018 Defender of Freedom Award from the National Rifle Association.  I am proud to place this plaque on my wall just below my 2017 NRA Freedom award.  The plaque comes with a very inspiring letter from Wayne-o LaPierre, which even appear to be personally signed by the NRA’ distinguished Executive Vice President. You know, Wayne-o is the guy who has actually sat right next to Draft Dodging Trump in the White House, so getting a letter from Wayne-o is like getting a letter from Draft Dodger himself.

freedom             I am so proud and humbled to receive this award that I want to quote directly from Wayne-o’s letter to me.

“Whenever powerful anti-gun politicians and their allies launch an all-out attack on the Second Amendment, you always stand firm and fight to defeat gun bans, ammo bans and gun owner registration.”

This Award is only bestowed on exceptional NRA members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership well above their peers – and whose inspiration to gun owners has contributed significantly to the defense of the Second Amendment.”

Now I’ve heard all about the push for a new assault weapons ban, but I didn’t know that the gun grabbers were also going after ammunition as well. On the other hand, we all know that extending background checks to personal gun transfers will certainly push us down the slippery slope to gun registration, then gun owner registration, then gun confiscation, then Fascism, then another Holocaust – no wonder I have just been recognized as a Defender of Freedom. It’s one and the same package after all.

But the letter from Wayne-o contains something else beyond congratulating me for my fervent defense of America’s most important civil right.  It also states that because I am a Defender of Freedom I can join the NRA Golden Eagles Club, which is certainly a rare honor and one I should not pass up.  The Golden Eagles, according to Wayne-o, “have stood on the front lines of the greatest gun rights battles of our generation. Golden Eagles recognize that there I no greater gift we can bestow on future generations than to win the battle for freedom today.”

I can’t believe it. Little ol’ Mike the Gun Guy gets to serve the cause of freedom alongside such patriots as Oliver North and Dana Loesch! That’s right. They’re also Golden Eagles and I can’t believe that I could be counted as being in the same company as two fine, upstanding Americans like them. In fact, my Defender of Freedom plaque is embossed not only with Wayne-o’s signature but with the signature of LtCol North – I can’t wait to show this to my kids and my grandkids.

Of course, in order to be a member of the Golden Eagles, I have to demonstrate that my commitment to America’s first freedom doesn’t run just skin deep. Wayne-o’s asking me to give him two hundred bucks to help keep freedom alive. This dough will also help the NRA fight the good fight in the upcoming elections because if the ‘tens of millions’ that Bloomberg and Soros are pouring into ‘gun-ban schemes’ bears fruit, the gun-grabbers could “wipe out everything you and I have worked so hard to achieve.”

I have until May 21st to make a decision, but this is too important a decision to make on my own. So, here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m asking you – my readers – to tell me whether I should support America’s freedoms by taking this poll. I’ll run it until May 15th or so and then announce the results. If you tell me to join the Golden Eagles I’ll whip out the ol’ checkbook and join away. I’ll be guided by what you say and thanks for helping me decide what I should do.

 

 

 

When The 3rd Way Gets It Wrong, They Really Get It Wrong.

Far be it for the little ol’ gun guy to question the creds or experience of political activists like Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler, but every once in a while, even the self-appointed gurus of the Left get it wrong. And not just a little bit wrong. Completely and totally wrong.

3rd way             Actually, the Third Way group isn’t really Left, they are…gee, I’m not sure what they are. But they certainly aren’t on the alt-right/white. And they certainly believe that their ‘high-impact advocacy campaigns’ will help liberals figure out what to say and what to do about the important issues of the day. And with all those Parkland kids marching around, what could be more important than gun control today?

What Kessler and Cowan have come up with is the idea that the NRA has never been as panicked as it is right now, that the future for America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ is even more dim, and that the boys from Fairfax  are “the most vulnerable they’ve been” in the combined 50 years that the authors of this piece have been “battling” the NRA.

There’s only one little problem.  All the facts used to bolster their narrative are true (remember, Third Way is a ‘think tank’ so they only base their arguments on real facts) but these facts are mostly besides the point. Yes, the NRA has lost some contests at the ballot box; yes, their rural base is shrinking; yes, their advocacy magazine has ‘only’ 650,000 subscribers; yes, they joined the rest of the alt-right/white in demonizing the Parkland kids.

But here are some facts that Cowan and Kessler didn’t mention, and the reason they didn’t mention these facts is that for all their combined 50 years of battling Gun-nut Nation, these two guys don’t really know anything about gun-rights organization and they certainly don’t know anything about guns. Which happen to be typical among members of the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, but since these groups only talk to each other, this lack of knowledge and experience makes no difference at all.

I subscribe to the American Rifleman which, along with American Hunter, are the two NRA magazines which Cowan and Kessler believe aren’t read by the gun-activist crowd. This only proves that neither of them has ever bothered to look at Rifleman or Hunter because they would discover that both contain countless advocacy and activist content, it’s basically the advertising which appeals to a different readership, not what the editorials say. True, the rural base is shrinking and this could affect the electoral landscape after 2022.  But what do Cowan and Kessler have to say about the upsurge in concealed-carry (CCW) licenses, most of which are issued to people living in the burbs? Finally, Stinchfield did some Gonzalez-bashing on his NRA television show, but did the NRA say anything after Parkland which remotely resembled Wayne-o’s crazy rant a week after Sandy Hook?

Let me break it gently to Cowan and Kessler: In 1960 Gallup asked Americans how they felt about a ban on handgun ownership. Not restrictive licensing or more regulations – an absolute ban.  And 60% of the respondents said it would be a good idea.  Know what that number fell to last year? Less than 25 percent!

The fact is (note the use of the word ‘fact’) that a majority of Americans believe that keeping a gun in the home is more a benefit than a risk. And since less than 40% of American homes contain a legal gun, obviously the majority who believe in the positive social utility of personally-owned weapons includes many people who don’t own guns.

This dramatic shift in how we think about guns isn’t the handiwork of the NRA. It’s a function of how American society has evolved and what America thinks and believes about violence, crime and serlf-defense. Until and unless organizations like Third Way acknowledge and understand what this means, casting the NRA as the bogey-man preventing gun control won’t accomplish a thing.

 

 

Gun-nut Nation Better Come Up With A Better Rant Than What Nugent Said.

If nothing else, the emergence of a national gun-control movement led by a bunch of high school students has not only forced the pro-gun cabal into a defensive mode, but raises the possibility that the NRA’s cherished ‘good guy with a gun’ mantra may finally be running out of steam. And who among the ‘good guys’ has been more vocal in promoting the pro-gun anthem than Ted Nugent, who took a shot at the Parkland kids by calling them ‘mushy-brained children’ who have been ‘fed lies’ by the usual liberal, moneyed types, you know, Soros, Bloomberg, et. al.

nugent1              After the 2016 election I wondered how alt-right attack dogs like Palin, Nugent, Loesch, Hannity, Rush and Coulter would adjust to defending, rather than verbally assaulting the status quo. Because no matter how many times Schmuck-o Trump pretends he’s ‘cleaning the swamp,’ he now represents the Beltway crowd and he can only survive by making deals which means giving up something for everything he gets. And don’t think the NRA and their noisemakers aren’t sitting in Fairfax wondering what they’ll do if the Congress turns blue later this year and Trump has to strike some kind of deal over guns.

I happen to think that Ted Nugent is a genius when it comes to writing lyrics for his songs. I also think he’s pretty smart for having figured out how to sustain a musical career by occasionally saying extreme and crazy things that other artists and public figures would never dare say. Am I accusing Ted of using his celebrity status to promote himself both on and off-stage? He’s certainly not the only entertainer to mix politics and show-biz by appealing to a following that will respond to both. After all, Joan Baez just announced a new concert tour by spending several days with ‘more than two hundred Indian tribes who have gathered to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.’

I hate to break it to Ted, but if the best he can come up with for criticizing the Parkland kids is the idea that they are being ‘fed lies’ by the gun-grabbing crowd, he won’t get much traction from this rant. Because what makes this moment so different from every previous effort to use a rampage shooting to spread the gun-control gospel is that Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg don’t have a friend in the Oval Office on whom they can lean. And there’s an old rule in military strategy which says you can’t come up with an effective way to deal with the enemy unless the enemy is right in the middle of your sights.

When Wayne-o went on national television a week after Sandy Hook and blabbed on and on about ‘good guys with guns,’ he wasn’t trying to besmirch the parents from Newtown, he was reminding the faithful that these parents had been invited to the White House by Gun-Grabber Number One. But what can the boys from Fairfax say when the guy whose political campaign cost them thirty million sits there respectfully listening to the Parkland kids and then issues a statement commending these same kids for their ‘courage’ in marching against guns?

When Schmuck-o Trump showed up at the 2016 NRA show I knew right then that the NRA might have made a tremendous mistake. Because you don’t spend eight years selling the idea that ‘gun rights’ can only be threatened by a liberal President when the guy you decide to back has a long history of being less than enamored about guns.

I’m not saying that Trump wasn’t a clear alternative to Hillary who would have made a new gun law a priority if she had won the gold ring. What I am saying is that the Gun-nut Gang and its acolytes like Ted Nugent better come up with a narrative that goes beyond accusing some high school students of being ‘dupes’ or ‘pawns’ in the national debate about guns. Because if nothing else, these kids witnessed first-hand a rampage shooting, and for all his tough talk, Motor City Ted’s career can’t compete with that.

Wishing Everyone a Peaceful and Joyous Easter!

 

 

Who’s Worried About The 2nd Amendment? Not The Gun Guys I Know.

For most gun owners, there is scant interest in the debates about the 2nd Amendment which break out whenever a particularly senseless act of mass gun violence occurs. The latest discourse started off last week when retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens published an op-ed calling for a repeal of the entire amendment, as if such an idea has even the slightest chance of ever taking place. Thank you Justice Stevens for filling up some space in The New York Times criticizing the 2008 Heller decision by repeating much of what you said in your Heller dissent.

constitution             But now another voice has emerged in the form of Laurence Tribe, not just a Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, but the oracle whenever the Establishment feels that a constitutional legal issue needs to be to be explained to the unwashed, semi-literate masses like you and me. Professor Tribe takes issue with Stevens, noting that eliminating the 2nd Amendment would probably make it more difficult to pass specific gun regulations, noting further that the Heller decision already gives the government authority to ‘regulate’ gun sales.

Further, according to Professor Tribe, repealing the 2nd Amendment is a sideshow when the real problem is protecting our children from the carnage and the fears of carnage represented by events like Parkland and Sandy Hook. And what is the real problem says Professor Tribe? It’s the “addiction of lawmakers to the money of firearms manufacturers and other unimaginably wealthy funders.” So what he’s suggesting is not getting rid of the 2nd Amendment, but getting rid of the ability of gun companies and other ‘unimaginably wealthy funders’ to pay the costs of pro-gun, political campaigns.

And exactly what does Professor Tribe hope would happen if his solution to the problem of gun violence was actually invoked? Let me break the news to you gently, Professor Tribe, nothing would happen, nothing at all.

I bought my first, real gun in 1956 when I was 12 years old – bought it at a tag sale in Florida, thus engaging in my first ‘straw’ sale. Over the next 52 years, until 2008, I personally bought and sold 500 guns, at the rate of 10 guns a year isn’t such a big deal for a gun nut like me. During that same half-century, the arsenal of guns privately owned in this country probably grew by roughly 100 million guns, if not more.  Know how many of those millions of transactions were protected by some kind of constitutional shield? Not a single one.

I went to my first NRA show in 1980 held in a large auditorium in Philadelphia not far from Constitution Hall. I think Reagan came through and gave a quick speech because this was during his Presidential campaign, but I don’t recall that people walked away from the exhibits to listen to the Gipper, nor did anyone seem to care. It’s seductively easy to promote the idea that the reason we have so many guns around is because there’s this great, big conspiracy between the gun manufacturers, right-wing politicians, Conservatives with money and the NRA. But that’s not the reason why Americans own 300 million guns.

Last night I debated John Lott at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. We drew a pretty big crowd, perhaps half were local folks, many of whom came over from the nearby Upper Peninsula, which is about as strong a gun area as anywhere within the USA. I began by asking the gun-nuts in the audience to identify themselves, and a lot of older, white men raised their hands. They also smiled and laughed – they liked the idea that the guy who was about to lecture them on why we need more gun control also knew how to use the language they use among themselves.

If Professor Tribe believes for one second that these guys own guns because they want to be ‘free,’ – oops, I forgot. Professor Tribe’s a Constitutional scholar, but he doesn’t know anything about guns.

 

Now That The March Is Over, What’s Next?

Now that the smoke is beginning to clear and the dust beginning to settle from Saturday’s remarkable events, we get down to the nitty-gritty and try to figure out what comes next. Because if the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement doesn’t figure out how to build on this past weekend’s display of genuine interest and concern by millions of people who never previously thought about the issue of gun violence, an opportunity which I have never previously seen in my lifetime will have come and gone.

march              I spent Saturday at a march in the toney, seaside town of Old Saybrook, where the organizers were expecting 500-600 people more or less, the cops ended up estimating the crowd at around 2,500, and there might have been even more. I spoke perhaps to 30-40 people, not one of them had ever previously been involved in any kind of activity dealing with guns. Not that these were hardcore gun owners, of course not; this is a wealthy town and the only hard-core you get around here are people whose trust funds together could probably pay off the national debt.

The point is that GVP activists and advocates have often felt themselves marginalized by the mainstream which gets concerned for a day or two when something really bad happens like Parkland or Sandy Hook, but then turn to other issues, allowing the NRA and the gun industry to define and set the terms of the debate. What was interesting this time was the degree to which the usual pro-gun noisemakers had little or nothing to say; the NRA rolled out a spiel from spokesman Colion Noir who pranced around but was basically ignored; the video of Emma Gonzalez allegedly tearing up the Constitution turned out to be a fake. Even Trump came back from hiding out in Florida and kept his mouth shut about what happened on the 24th.

It turns out however, that the NRA hasn’t been particularly silent, they’ve just decided for the moment to follow the lead of the Parkland kids and promote themselves on social media, particularly Facebook, where they spent an average of $47,300 a day on advertising, up from a daily average of $11,300 before Parkland took place. The problem for the NRA however, is it doesn’t matter how much they spend, they don’t have a message that can reach anyone beyond the folks they always reach. And the way they reach their audience is to mix together the usual bromides about freedom, 2nd-Amendment rights and protecting family and home with a nasty and shrill condemnation of the tree-huggers on the other side.

They were at it again last week with a series of video clips in which the usual NRA noisemakers (Loech, Stinchfield) discounted the impact of the demonstrations by running the usual ‘Bloomberg-Soros conspiracy’ up the flagpole and warning parents to avoid having anything to do with the ‘socialist’ efforts to brainwash their kids. Believe me, none of the people with whom I talked at the Old Saybrook march would be swayed by that kind of crap.

To Bloomberg’s credit, not only is he going out of his way to let everyone know that he’s putting his money on the line, but Everytown has just announced a million-dollar grant program to fund more “student driven advocacy” and spur more than 200 additional organizing events planned for the next couple of weeks. What the NRA doesn’t seem to realize is that demonizing Bloomberg doesn’t make a bit of difference to these kids and warning their parents about the evils intentions of gun-grabbers doesn’t fly at all.

The reason the NRA’s Eddie Eagle isn’t flying so high is very simple; a bunch of high school kids took advantage of funding from people like Bloomberg and showed everyone that you can’t sell violence by pretending that violence can be used to achieve good end. ‘Guns don’t kill people’ doesn’t work when a shooter walks into a high school with a loaded gun. The Parkland kids had no trouble figuring that one out.