Here’s An Easy Way For The NRA To Prevent Gun Accidents.

According to the CDC, in 2014 slightly less than 16,000 Americans accidentally shot themselves or someone else and survived their wound.  Back in 2009, the number was 18,610.  Which means, according to the gun industry, that guns are getting safer all the time.  And of course when it comes to accidental shootings which result in death, the number has not only been declining year after year, it’s so paltry now that the whole gun safety issue is not even worthy of concern.

nra4              After all, how can anyone get worked up over a few hundred deaths when we all know that folks walking around with guns prevent millions of serious crimes from being committed every year?  And if you doubt that figure, just take a look at the NRA’s Armed Citizen website, which shows that 38 armed Americans used their guns to protect themselves and others from criminals in the month of March alone! Now if you read the fine print you’ll discover that 8 of those armed citizens turned out to be off-duty cops who are supposed to have their guns handy even when they aren’t on the job, which gets us down to around 30 times when someone exercised their 2nd-Amendment ‘right’ to defend themselves with a gun. And a little bit of math that even I can do gets us up to a whopping 360 armed-citizen protective incidents a year. Wow! How could you even begin to doubt the value of civilian gun ownership when all we lose to gun accidents is less than five hundred folks each year?

Of course leave it to those troublemakers at Harvard’s School of Public Health to point out that official counts on fatal gun accidents may, in fact, be undercounted by at least half.  And this is because coroners are often reluctant to rule a gun death as an accident since many such events end up being reviewed in court. As one coroner told the researchers, “If one person kills another person, we usually call it homicide and let the courts decide whether there was any wrongdoing” So that’s the end of that.

In any case, there may be a chance, although I doubt it, that Gun-nut Nation will take a somewhat less benign view of gun accidents given what happened at the gun range in NRA headquarters this past week. Evidently an employee of the NRA was in the process of holstering his gun after banging a few; the gun went off, the bullet hit the guy in the ‘lower part of his body,’ he was taken to a nearby hospital at Fairfax, treated and released – no harm done.

What I found interesting in this report was that the accident evidently occurred during a training session at NRA headquarters; it wasn’t just a case of someone going down to the range on their own time to fiddle around with their gun. And the NRA training manuals repeat ad nauseum the idea that you must keep your finger off the trigger at all times unless the gun is pointed at the target that you intend to shoot.

Which brings up the whole issue of gun safety that Gun-nut Nation tries mightily to avoid, namely, that when it comes to making a mistake with a gun, there’s no oops. And the problem is that we are human, and as humans we are all careless and we will sooner or later forget. That’s the reason we mandate seat belts but we can’t put a harness around a gun.

But I have an idea for how my friends at the NRA can prevent such accidents from happening again. Why don’t they just declare NRA headquarters to be a gun-free zone? I’m not talking about the old guns in the museum – those guns are all sitting behind glass. I’m talking about the guns that folks wear in the building because, of course, there’s always a chance that a criminal might try to assault or rob you at 11250 Waples Mill Road.



Why Do People Like Guns? Ask GroupOn.

Back in July, 2012, I received a call from GroupOn who wanted to sign me up to offer their subscribers a “shooting experience” in the gun range that is located beneath the retail level of my store.  I use the range primarily in conjunction with the safety course that I offer which is required by my state if you want to apply for a license to own or carry a gun.  The state doesn’t require live fire, you can buy and walk around with a concealed weapon without ever having actually fired a gun, but I require it for reasons that are too obvious to even discuss.

Ultimately what GroupOn and I worked out was a 30-minute session that would involve a brief safety lesson, then shooting at stationery targets with a 22-caliber pistol and a 9mm Beretta or Glock.  The sessions were limited at my request to two shooters at a time, with each shooter supervised closely by myself and only one person shooting at a time.  GroupOn did not set a minimal age for participation and neither did I.  With all due respect to the memory of Charlie Vacca, the instructor is always supposed to stand behind the pupil, never alongside.

GroupOn told me that since my range was connected to a retail gun shop, I could expect to see a substantial increase in retail sales as a spill-over from the shooting sessions on my range.  They couldn’t have been more wrong.  Of the more than 300 GroupOn customers who redeemed their coupons between July and December of 2012, only one had a license that was required to buy a gun, and maybe one or two others bought some little crap.  The typical profile of the average gun owner is a blue-collar, married White male, age 30-50, driving a truck.  Want to know who came in for a shooting session courtesy of Groupon?

gallery                To begin, the GroupOn crowd was more female than male.  They were mostly between the ages of 20 and 30, more often than not unmarried, often living with a partner of the same sex.  Almost all had college degrees, a majority had gone beyond college to graduate or professional schools, and the most popular occupational categories were medical technology, finance and IT.  A young surgical resident and his wife stand out because they had such a good time; ditto two women married to each other who serviced and repaired those machines that you get hooked up to for your annual EKG.

I started every session by asking the Groupon coupon-holders why they had plunked down fifty bucks apiece to come out to my range.  And the responses were almost uniformly the same: they had no prior experience with guns, had seen countless guns being shot in movies and on TV and always wanted to “see what it’s really like” to hold a Glock in their hands and fire away.  I don’t recall a single GroupOn customer who, following the session, expressed any interest in buying a gun.  What they all wanted was to get a picture of themselves holding the guns that they could post on their Facebook page or some other social media site.

When I was a kid living in New York City my parents took me to Coney Island where I always went to the shooting gallery and shot a 22-rifle at some metal targets that moved by.  The guy who ran the gallery wasn’t promoting the gun industry and the folks who came to my range thanks to GroupOn couldn’t have cared less about the corporate fortunes of Smith & Wesson or Glock.  What GroupOn was selling was a chance to do in real life what they had all grown up watching TV.  That’s not going to change just because GroupOn stops sending their customers to people like me.