Try A New Book On Gun Violence.

             Igor Volsky is a nice young man who is trying to move the argument about gun violence in a new direction, and he has just published a book, Guns Down – How To Defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns, in which he both explains how he came to be a player in the gun debate, as well as explaining what he believes needs to be done.  The book, well written and easily read, is available on (where else?) Amazon.

              Igor also happens to run a website, Guns Down, which has made some interesting efforts to “weaken the gun industry, the gun lobby and the lawmakers who support them.” Most recently, they have published a list of banks who are actively financing the gun industry, with 6 national banks, including Chase and TD Bank, receiving the grade of ‘F.” They graded the 15 largest consumer banks in the United States, and only one bank, Citibank, received the grade of ‘B.’ In other words, most banks treat gun companies and gun advocacy organizations the same way they treat all their other customers. Gee, what a surprise.

              Behind this campaign and the other initiatives undertaken by Volsky and his group is a basic idea, namely, that in order to reduce gun violence we need, first and foremost, to reduce the number of guns. And in focusing most of his efforts on ‘defeating’ the NRA, Volsky is hopeful that without the money and communication strength of America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ that many politicians will retreat from their pro-gun stance and vote for “bold reforms” that comprise what Volsky calls a ‘New Second Amendment Compact” that will “build a future with significantly fewer guns.”

              Volsky’s book is chock-full of data and he uses his evidence to  make a convincing case for the reforms which he would like to see enacted, although many of the 10 planks which comprise his 2nd-Amdenement Compact (end PLCAA, regulate dealers, assault-weapon ban, fund gun research) are part and parcel of the agenda of every gun-control group. One idea, however, caught my eye, which is to ‘provide incentives for people to give up their existing firearms.” Which basically means that the government should fund ongoing buyback programs. Considering the fact that I happen to run an organization which conducts buybacks in multiple states, this idea gets no argument from me.

              Asking gun owners to get rid of their guns, however, brings up a problem that Gun-control Nation has yet to confront, and while I was hoping that perhaps we would get an answer from Volsky, I’m afraid the jury in this regard is still out. On the one hand, as he notes, the percentage of American homes containing guns continues to go down. But what he needs to acknowledge is that the percentage of Americans who believe a gun to be more of a self-defense benefit than a risk keeps going up. Indeed, more than 60% in the latest surveys feel that a gun in the home makes that home a safer place, which means that many Americans who don’t own guns also agree that owning a gun is a good thing.

              One other point of concern with this well-done book, which is that Volsky’s attempt to present the NRA as the ‘black knight’ in the gun debate is simply not the case. For example, he talks about how the NRA was weakened when the company that was underwriting their insurance scam pulled out of the deal. But in fact, there are other pro-gun insurance plans that have been extremely successful (example: USCCA) and took away much of the NRA’s insurance business before Volsky and Guns Down got involved. As for the vaunted financial power that the NRA wields over pro-gun officeholders, on average, members of Congress get 3% of the campaign funds they spend from the NRA – big deal.

              That being said, I think that Guns Down is an important addition to the organizational network working to reduce gun violence and I know that Igor Volsky will, in that respect, be an important voice. So read his book, okay?

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Kamala Harris Knows How To Reduce Gun Violence – Carry A Gun.

              Our friends at the Violence Policy Center (VPC) have just updated their Concealed Carry Killers report which now shows that at least 1,313 people have been killed by shooters with concealed-carry (CCW) licenses since May, 2007. Of these events, more than 500 were suicides, which is far below what must be the real gun-suicide number because rarely do suicides, regardless of how they occur, make the news. And since the VPC report is based on open (mostly media) sources, by definition the numbers must be read and treated with care.

              But that’s not the point of this column. The point of this column is to address a statement made last week in Iowa by Kamala Harris, who told reporters that she not only is a gun owner, but owns her gun for personal defense. Now she didn’t say what kind of gun she owns, and she also made it clear that she supports ‘smart’ gun-safety laws; I assume she means gun-safety laws that work.  And with all due respect to my friends in Gun-control Nation who keep touting the idea that ‘reasonable’ gun owners support ‘reasonable’ gun laws, my response is this: So what?  Know what happened to the gun homicide rate in Colorado after comprehensive background checks went into effect in 2013?  It went up by fifty percent.

              When Harris announced she was going to run against Schumck-o Don in 2020, she became an immediate darling for the gun-control crowd, in part because as California Attorney General she incurred the wrath of Gun-nut Nation by arguing against unrestricted CCW in the Peruta case. This case was a test of this stupidism known as ‘Constitutional carry,’ which Gun-nut Nation considers to be one of the hundred-million Constitutional ‘rights’ given by God and protected by the revered 2nd Amendment.

              I’m not sure that gun control issues will be as important in 2020 as they might have been in 2018, but what I do know is that once again, the arguments on both sides are being fashioned and pronounced with little, if any relationship to the truth. Last week, Kirsten Gillibrand went on CNN and made a bunch of statements about the NRA which simply fly in the face of reality, chief among them a statement that the NRA is ‘largely’ supported by the gun manufacturers, which happens not to be true.

It’s not even close to being true. It’s simply false. The ‘truth’ was then immediately offered up by home-school queen Dana Loesch, who delivered one of her brain-dead video spiels for the ‘losing’ NRA-TV where she starts off in typical Dana Loesch fashion, which means throwing a series of personal insults at the person speaking for the other side.

Now let’s get back to Kamala and her attempt to stick herself into the middle of the gun debate. I don’t know whether she actually walks around with a gun or not, but her statement that she ‘needs’ to carry a gun as a protective device also happens not to be true. There isn’t a single study which even remotely proves that carrying a gun keeps you safe, there happens to be substantive research which shows exactly the reverse. To which my friends in Gun-nut Nation will immediately ask: So how come more than 15 million Americans now have the legal right to walk around with a gun? To which my answer is very simple: More than 30 million American adults smoke every day. Does that mean that those 30 million are healthier than people who don’t smoke?

Once again, my friends in Gun-control Nation are backing themselves into a corner by pushing the idea that we can reduce gun violence by the development and application of ‘reasonable’ laws. Obviously Kamala Harris considers CCW to be a reasonable gun law, at least when the cops have discretion to decide who can and who can’t walk around armed.

If that’s Kamala’s idea of how to reduce gun violence, welcome to another political campaign where the truth about guns and gun violence will take a whack.

It’s About Time! Shannon Watts Tells It Like It Was And Is.

              Well it’s about time. The Indiana housewife who revolutionized how America talks and thinks about guns has finally sat down and explained how she did what she did after hearing about the tragedy at Sandy Hook.  I’m of course referring to Shannon Watts, whose accounting of her journey from her kitchen to Mike Bloomberg’s office and back to her kitchen, with many stops in between, will shortly be published by Harper Collins and I hope will force Shannon to get back on her horse and do the requisite book tour.

              The book is entitled, Fight Like A Mother, and the sub-title, which I really like, is How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World. The good news about this book is that while most folks write memoirs to sum up what they have done with their lives, Shannon is just getting ready to star in Act 2. Her first act, of course, was when she transformed a little Facebook group that she pulled together after Sandy into the first, truly grass-roots challenge to the NRA. And if anything, referring to her as the ‘NRA‘s worst nightmare’ is something of an understatement in this regard.

              I have been involved in the gun business in one way or another for over fifty years, actually for more than sixty years because my first connection was as a consumer when I bought a Smith & Wesson K-38 at a tag sale in Florida when I was twelve years old. Okay, okay, I know it was a straw sale. But in 1956 there weren’t any straw sales because there were hardly any laws covering gun ownership at all.

              When the feds got into gun regulation big-time, first in 1968 and again in 1994, the impetus for regulating the gun industry came not from the bottom but from the top. GCA68 was initially a response to the assassination of JFK in 1963; it was passed following the shootings of RFK and MLK in 1968. The gun law passed by the Clinton Administration in 1993 were also first introduced in 1991, although the idea behind the bill had been floating around since both Reagan and Jim Brady survived an assassination attempt in 1981.

              Not only did the 1968 and the 1993 laws pass muster without any great degree of grass-roots support, but in the aftermath of the 2000 election, when Al Gore couldn’t hold his home state because of pro-gun messaging from the other side, it became axiomatic in Democratic Party circles that the gun issue was best left alone.

              I am a Life Benefactor Endowment member of the NRA and I never thought that the organization’s alleged power and strength was such a big deal. Why not? Because I never met a single person who ever told me they would vote for the candidate supported by America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ who didn’t own a gun. And since a majority of Americana don’t own guns, how come everyone has always been afraid of the big, bad NRA?

              I’ll tell you why.  Because until Shannon went out there and began putting together a plan, the grass-roots movement to stop the madness known as gun violence didn’t exist. It was one thing to do what our friend Donna Dees Thomases did in 2000, namely, to fill the National Mall with nearly one million people for a demonstration against gun violence. It’s another thing to organize and sustain a national movement which puts out a coherent and continuous message every single day.

              Last month I attended a meeting of the Massachusetts chapter of MOMs.  Several hundred people filled a large room in a community library and listened to remarks from gun-violence survivors, community activists and other like-minded folks. What is most attractive about Shannon’s book is that it is not only a recounting of what she has accomplished over the last half-dozen years, it’s also a guide to building your own movement, to pushing your own community forward into making effective change.

              And by the way, with all due respect to the strengths of women in this regard, my male friends will profit from reading this book too.

Where Are All Those Concealed-Carry Killers?

              Last week our friend Ladd Everitt published an op-ed in The New York Post where he called on Bill DeBlasio to change a New York City gun-control law, the Sullivan law, that has been in effect since 1912. Basically, what this law does is to make it very difficult for a New York City resident to walk around with a gun. Additionally, it also prohibits transporting a handgun for which a city resident has a license outside of the city itself. For that matter, a resident of any other county in New York State outside of the five counties within the Big Apple, can’t bring a licensed handgun into the city.

              The law is being challenged by some pro-gun group which believes that if someone happens to own a home both within the city as well as another home somewhere else in the state, that it’s a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ to require said individual to have gun licenses issued by both jurisdictions in order to move from one location to another with said gun. After all, the same driver’s license can be used both in Da City and the rest of the state. How come we can’t enjoy the same ‘equal protection under laws’ when it comes to transporting our guns?

              For reasons that we will only learn if and when the SCOTUS publishes an opinion on this case next year, the great fear being bandied about in Gun-control Nation is that the High Court will use this case to strike down various state and local concealed-carry laws (CCW) and pave the way for one, national CCW that will let every armed American wander around anywhere he wants to go toting his gun.

              I happen to believe that the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement’s opposition to national CCW is correct. I also happen to believe, however, that the GVP opposition to CCW is based on arguments which have little or no validity at all. So before you get all hot and bothered that Mike the Gun Guy™ is once again showing his true colors as an NRA flack, read on.

              The opposition to CCW is based on the wholly-unsupported claim that CCW increases the possibility that gun violence rates will go up. Now you can always find an example of someone shooting someone else with a legal concealed weapon – the murder of  Trayvon Martin being perhaps the most notorious case in point. But one example is simply one example, okay?

              Our friends at the Violence Policy Center (VPC) issue an annual report on the number of times that folks with CCW kill someone by using a gun. In fact, of the 722 documented cases analyzed by the VPC between 2007 and 2017, it turns out that 45% were either non-criminal suicides or unintentional shootings.  In other words, over this eleven-year span, fatal injuries committed by CCW-holders averaged less than 40 per year. This country finds itself awash in intentional gun assaults which rack up more than 14,000 homicides a year, and the 40 or so people killed by CCW-holders constitutes a threat to public health?

              The reason I am opposed to national concealed-carry is the same reason I am opposed to all local or state-level CCW, namely, that I have yet to see a single jurisdiction granting CCW that actually imposes any kind of test to determine whether the CCW-recipient actually knows how to use a gun. Sorry, but sitting in a stuffy room, listening to some old guy drone on for a couple of hours about the ‘three rules of handgun safety’ and then firing a few shots at a fixed target doesn’t constitute any kind of ‘training’ at all. And for all the difficulty imposed by New York City to get a CCW license, there’s no training requirement whatsoever. Read: none.

              My problem with CCW is that it’s just another marketing scam to make guns as normal and useful as a droid. But guns aren’t just some household or business convenience. Guns are designed to kill. Get it?

Can The NRA Get Back In Front Of The Gun Debate?

              I was going to take a week off and let some of our pro-gun friends contribute the rest of the content for this week, but a rant on ‘the failing’ NRA-TV gave me no choice but to respond in kind. I’m talking about a spiel by Cam Edwards who’s joined the parade marching against that Socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is attracting lots of attention from the alt-right attack-dogs because she’s using some of the same language about Trump that Sleazy Don uses against everyone else. After all, she had the unmitigated nerve to call Trump a racist. What could be more contemptible than that?

              But the problem facing the NRA isn’t going to just go away just because the boys in Fairfax can serve their membership some red meat by saying something nasty or stupid or both about AOC. The problem is much more fundamental, namely, the fact that for the first time since America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ began promoting itself as a true-blue defender of everything that’s great about America (and guns), there’s serious competition from the other side.

              The last time a gun bill became law at the federal level was 1994 – the Brady bill along with the assault weapons ban. But these bills had two things going for them which don’t exist right now: (1). Control of both houses of Congress by the blue team; and (2). a liberal Southerner in the White House who could grease the legislative wheels with federal cash. Which happens to have been the same political alignment which produced the previous national gun law in 1968.

On the other hand, and it’s a big other, both in 1968 and again in 1994 you didn’t have the upsurge of grass-roots energy on the gun-control side of the ledger that we are seeing right now. And if Gun-nut Nation wants to continue promoting the idea that the noise being made by the other side since Parkland is nothing more than money being secretly funneled into a gun-control campaign by Socialists like Bloomberg and Soros, they can go right ahead. They happen to be wrong. Dead wrong.

              The problem facing Gun-nut Nation is that a majority of Americans have always supported gun ownership by law-abiding citizens, but the percentage of Americans who hold negative views of the NRA has not been as high as they are right now since 1995. That year, the annual Gallup gun poll found that 51% of respondents held ‘mostly’ or ‘very’ unfavorable views of the boys from Fairfax, last year the percentage was 42%, but the number was only 34% in 2005.

              What seems to be clear is that, for the very first time, lots of Americans are now thinking about the gun issue and not thinking about it in a very positive way. I don’t notice, for example, that the boys in Fairfax have yet figured out how to deal with yesterday’s Senate hearing on ‘red flag’ laws, at which time two of Gun-nut Nation’s most stalwart supporters, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said all the correct things about gun violence and even suggested that maybe, just maybe, a legislative response might be coming down the road although nobody’s holding their breath. On the other hand, if the Senate in 2020 goes the way the House went in 2018….

              So what does the NRA do? They have no choice but to try and stick more fingers into the 2nd-Amendment ‘freedom’ dike before it springs some real serious leaks. And the way you do that is to double-down on  the red-meat messaging which your base wants to hear. Which is why Cam Edwards filled his anti-ACO spiel with just one lie after another, in particular alleging that her support for the New Zealand buyback means she’ll vote in favor of the confiscation of every, single privately-owned gun in the U.S. of A.

              I’m not saying that the NRA is the Emperor without clothes. What I am saying is that this particular Emperor may be riding the wrong horse, because the NRA  horse is no longer the only one in the race.

Why Should The Gun Debate Have Anything To Do With Facts?

              So now that Democrats no longer have to fear that talking about gun control is a big no-no on the campaign trail, how will Gun-nut Nation respond?  For the last twenty-five years, the alliance between the GOP and the 2nd-Amendment gang held firm, and with the exception of a few Congressional seats in Communist states like California and New York, all a politician needed to do was wave the ‘don’t tread on me’ flag as regards gun ‘rights’ and the issue would disappear. 

              Thanks to some serious spending, the media spotlight grabbed by the Parkland kids and some overreach by various pro-gun Congressional candidates, the case can probably be made that the ability of the blue team to wrest control of the lower chamber of Congress certainly wasn’t hurt by a more aggressive gun-control pitch in many swing districts and might have even helped.

              So the question which now looms for 2020, particularly in key swing states whose votes will probably determine whether or not we have to put up with that schmuck for four more years, is this: How does Gun-nut Nation move the needle back to the center-right or at least the center of the gauge which measures the respective strength of the two sides in the gun debate?

              For the last twenty-five years, the gun-nut noise machine has promoted itself through a combination of patriotism (2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’) and protection from crime (concealed-carry and stand your ground.) But what made the NRA appear to be such a fearsome political opponent was the simple fact that there was basically no opposition from the other side. Occasionally there would be a break-through, like the Million Moms March put together by our friend Donna Dees Thomases in 2000, but by and large the pro-gun narrative went unchallenged in most parts of the country, even in places where a majority of voters didn’t own guns.

              Without doubt, Sandy Hook was a watershed event, because out of the tragedy of senseless violence emerged a true, national, grass-roots effort funded primarily by Mike Bloomberg and his friends, and organized by a little lady from Indianapolis named Shannon Watts. For the first time the pro-gun narrative was countered by a gun-control argument which continues to shape the entire gun debate, namely, that you just can’t justify 35,000 or more fatal shootings each year as representing some kind of support for ‘civil rights.’ Sorry, but the argument just doesn’t work, particularly when, every once in a while, some of those 35,000 victims happen to be kids sitting inside a school.

              So what do you do if the health and welfare of your particular industry depends on whether the average, law-abiding American consumer can still have more or less free access to the products on whose sale your industry depends? You come up with a way to argue the issue which may or may not have any connection to reality at all.

              What caught my eye in this respect was an op-ed in The Daily Mississippian, ‘The Truth About Guns,’ whose author approaches the subject without even the slightest concern for the relevant facts. Here’s the formative statement: “States like Illinois and California have implemented increasingly strict laws against gun ownership, but numbers of gun deaths per capita in those states is significantly higher than in places like Mississippi, where permits are not required in order to own firearms.”  

              Ready?  The gun-violence rate in California from 2010 to 2016 was 7.92, in Illinois it was 9.29.  In Mississippi, the rate was 18.15.  This op-ed was published in the student newspaper on the campus of Ole Miss, so we shouldn’t expecting the editorial staff to operate as if they are running The New York Times.

             But I have a funny feeling that this is the kind of narrative, devoid of even the slightest concern for facts, which is how Gun-nut Nation will define its side of the 2020 gun debate.  After all, the guy who’s still heading the GOP ticket wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him in the face.

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.

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.