When It Comes To Gun Safety, Everyone Seems To Agree – Kind Of.

Since I truly believe in the Mafia adage, “keep your friends close but your enemies closer,” I tend to watch Fox chat shows from time to time.  And I have to admit that in all my wildest dreams I never believed I would see Sean Hannity being as polite and well-spoken to someone like Dan Gross who, as head of the Brady Center, must rank pretty high on the Fox Top Ten Enemies List.  After all, in addition to being an outspoken gun-rights advocate, Hannity promotes gun products on his radio show and by putting his face and name on various gun websites.  But there he was last night introducing his “personal friend” Dan Gross for a five-minute chat on where they agree and where they disagree about guns.

Well it turns out that Sean and Dan don’t seem to disagree, or at least I didn’t hear much last night that struck me as any real difference of opinion about the ownership and use of guns.  Both stated that they supported the legal ownership of guns, both stated that they wanted everyone to lock their guns up or lock them away, and both stated that they wanted to keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’  Of course the devil’s always in the details, and if you got Wayne-o to calm down for a minute and stop worrying about Obama’s secret plan to disarm America before January 20, 2017, he’d be happy to come on the Hannity show and basically say the same thing.

brady2                But nice-sounding platitudes aside, I find it interesting that someone as pro-gun as Hannity would give Dan Gross an opportunity to appear before a large Fox audience to prove, if nothing else, that he’s not Lucifer in disguise.  Because although Hannity threw in a couple of red-meat comments that are de rigueur on Fox when anyone mentions guns, such as his fear of the ‘slippery slope’ of gun control, he basically let Dan tell the audience how much gun owners had in common with supporters of the Brady Campaign, which is entirely contrary to what usually erupts from the NRA.

Ever since the Brady law was voted in 1994, the NRA and other pro-gun groups have kept up a steady drumbeat of anti-Brady commentary designed to convince gun owners that any expansion of background checks is nothing short of a conspiracy to take away all guns.  Here’s a typical comment from the NRA in 2013 after Brady mounted a video to mark the 20th anniversary of the original background-check law:  “The Brady Campaign’s proposed expansion of federal background checks would force even many family and friends to get government permission for firearm transfers amongst each other and subject all lawful gun transfers to federal paperwork and recordkeeping requirements, the prerequisites for a national registry.”  Of course this statement is simply untrue, but it plays directly into the old slippery-slope gun control nonsense that Hannity found necessary to mention on the show.

I have been saying recently that the smartest thing Brady and Everytown have done is to move into the safety space which until now was owned lock, stock and barrel (pardon the pun) by the NRA. But while everyone’s in favor of safety, there’s one safety issue which puts the two sides as far apart as the Brand Canyon’s rims, and Hannity gave it away when he said that no matter how many laws were passed to prevent guns from getting into the ‘wrong hands,’ criminals wouldn’t obey laws anyway, so what was the point of passing more laws?

The pro-gun community falls back on this argument every time that any new measure is proposed that would increase regulation of guns.  The problem is that if we only passed laws that criminals would obey, there wouldn’t be any laws at all. Which is actually what the pro-gun community would prefer as regards gun ownership, particularly when a Democrat happens to be renting living space at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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Whether You’re Pro-Gun Or Anti-Gun, There’s Something You Can Buy To Help Your Cause.

No matter who really first said, “there’s a sucker born every minute,” I can tell you that nowhere is this more true than when it comes to guns.  The latest huckster-rich promotion can be heard on Sean Hannity’s radio show, which runs spots for something called defendfamily.com, a marketing effort for an organization U.S. Concealed Carry Association, which is owned by a Wisconsin-based company called Delta Defense that was founded by a guy named Tim Schmidt who believes in the “society-transforming power of the responsibly armed American.”

According to Hannity, who claims to be a member of the group, the odds are one out of five that your home will be invaded and your property stolen by someone who would otherwise be forced to retreat if you had access to a gun.  Now according to the FBI, there were 1.5 million home burglaries in 2013, and this includes roughly 1 million thefts in which the criminal didn’t have to enter the premises by unlawful means.  So let’s say that there were somewhere around 750,000 times in 2013 where someone broke in somewhere and therefore might have been thwarted in this effort had the guy or gal with the gun actually been home.  The last time I looked, there were somewhere around 125 million homes, and we’re not talking about apartments, just homes.  If Hannity is right, this means that at least 25 million of these homes will be locations where the criminals will try to break in; so I guess that the FBI’s crime numbers are off to the tune of some 24 million crimes.

ccw                I hope you now understand why I refer to this whole issue of guns and crime as nothing more than a modern-day riff on the ‘huckster born every minute’ theme.  I’m not saying that a gun in the hands of someone who is adequately trained can’t make a difference in terms of personal defense.  I’m not saying that there are no examples of people who grabbed a gun and prevented something really dangerous from taking place.  What I am saying is that the gun industry has spent the last twenty years telling us over and over that walking around with a gun will make us all safe from crime, but when you examine the data even casually the argument falls apart.

The only problem, of course, is that hucksterism about guns protecting us from crime seems about equally matched by hucksterism promoting how to protect ourselves from guns.  Back in January a terrible shooting took place at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in which a cardiovascular surgeon was gunned down by a man who allegedly came to the hospital to complain about his mother’s care.  The incident sent shockwaves through the medical community and sent hospital CFO’s to their calculators to see if the budget had some spare cash to hire a company like Crisis Consultant Group to come in and bring everyone up to speed.

I know a 150-bed community hospital in the Northeast which recently laid out $80,000 for active shooting training, although Homeland Security will pay for a portion of the cost.  But there are 5,600 hospitals around the country, and if each hospital coughed up an average of $100K for this training, the medical system would have to absorb over $600 million bucks.  This entire cost, incidentally, would go to prevent roughly 25-30 shooting casualties each year.  Despite the NRA nonsense about the danger of gun-free zones, hospitals tend to be even safer than schools.

I’m not saying that everyone concerned about crime goes out and buys a gun.  I’m also not saying that every hospital will ante up the money to develop an anti-shooter plan.  What I am saying is that the response to gun violence is often as irrational as the violence itself, which doesn’t bode well for dealing with guns, or violence, or the connection between both.

 

Want To Protect America? Join The Militia Or The Boy Scouts.

Back in 2002 Michael Moore made a documentary, Bowling for Columbine, which vaulted him to the forefront of American filmmakers and reignited the argument about guns that followed the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, which was what the film was all about.  At one point Moore is talking to members of the Michigan Militia, several of whom respond to his tongue-in-cheek questions by explaining that the Militia had been formed to provide the first line of defense against terrorism, crime, tyranny and other threats.  As one of the members put it, “there’s no greater responsibility for every citizen than to protect his family and his home.”

I was thinking about Moore’s movie as I read a recent report issued in July by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) about the April stand-off between Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management and how this event has sparked a ”boiling” of far-Right, anti-government sentiment that has been growing over the course of the Obama Administration and came to a head in the dispute at the Bundy Ranch.  As far as I can tell, there’s still a bunch of flag-waving, AR-toting dudes “protecting” Bundy from the Feds, even though his ill-timed racist remarks resulted in a quick evaporation of support on the part of various conservative politicians and, in particular, Sean Hannity and Fox news.

yellow-militia-logo-sm                But according to the SPLC, even without mainstream media and political support, the Bundy incident has given militia groups a new cause around which they can build a greater anti-government movement and enlist new members in their long-term battle against the New World Order, gun-grabbing liberals, Socialists and Presidents who weren’t born in the United States.  The movement had its roots in the late 60’s and early 70’s with something called the Posse Comitatus, whose racist and anti-Semitic message bore a likeness to the rhetoric and program of the Ku Klux Klan.

Many of these militia groups operate in covert fashion, if only because when the Feds do get serious and bring in the heavy artillery, the militants, like Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, end up on the short end of the stick. But after Michael Moore put his camera on the Michigan Militia, these hardy men and women decided they might as well use their new-found Hollywood status to promote their cause.  So I checked out their website which was set up in 2004 after “much discussion and field experimentation” because to join you have to prove that you meet the “readiness requirements.” And what are these requirements?  You have to show up with a rifle, at least 100 rounds of ammunition, a water bottle, suitable clothing (preferably camo depending on the “tactical situation”), then walk two miles in no longer than 48 minutes with all this gear in tow.

If strolling two miles in slightly more than three-quarters of an hour constitutes a test of physical fitness to defend America against its enemies, we better not count on this bunch to do much more than talk about protecting us from dangers real or anything else.  But in reading the Militia’s Readiness Manual it struck me that as a kid I belonged to something akin to this Militia group; namely the Boy Scouts, whose original Federal Charter, drawn up and signed by President Wilson in 1916, defined the Scouts as an organization that practiced, “patriotism, courage and self-reliance,” words literally echoed by the militiamen interviewed by Michael Moore.

Don’t get me wrong.  Of course there are people who are seriously deranged, prone to believe in all kinds of crazy conspiracies, and in this country they don’t have much trouble getting their hands on a gun.  But with all due respect to the SPLC and other groups who see an insurrectionist under every bed, boys will be boys, toys will be toys and yes, my Boy Scout troop practiced shooting our government-surplus 22s and shooting those guns was just a lot of fun.