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Gun Control

A serious proposal for reducing gun violence in America

After the “town hall” hosted by CNN on Friday, January 8th, I had many thoughts.  Most of them were not kind.  But one thought has been stuck in my head since before gun control has taken hold of the headlines thanks to the tragic events in San Bernadino.  How do we take practical and effective steps to reduce gun violence?

Most of my allies in this subject have only one answer, more guns!  That is a piss poor solution.  First of all, it misses the point of addressing the sorrow and grief felt by the families and friends of victims which in turn prevents the kind of discussion that can actually reach some kind of solution.  Second, after spending a lot of time working with new gun owners and teaching them how to safely use a handgun it becomes obvious that while these peoples’ hearts are in the right place, the number one thing they lack is proper and sufficient training.  I am an absolutist when it comes to my support of the 2nd Amendment and my fundamental belief that more liberties are far less dangerous to our Republic than more government.  But I also understand that just putting a gun in the hand of a citizen doesn’t automatically make us all safer.  Case in point.

But I do think there is one political issue that both Republicans and Democrats could come to an agreement on that would drastically reduce gun violence not only in this country, but in other countries as well, including Mexico where tens of thousands have been gunned down in horrific violence over the last several years.

End the War on Drugs.

What much of the Left likes to call “gun violence” is not gun violence, it’s drug violence.  It’s the result of an unregulated and highly profitable market left to criminals which enjoys extreme profit margins that CEO’s around the world would kill for.  The ultimate paradox of the Drug War is that the more difficult you make it for drugs to make it to their ultimate consumers, the more profitable the trade becomes which in turn makes the stakes that much higher, compounding the capacity for violence.

I present to you, the chicken and the egg.

I present to you, the chicken and the egg.

As a microcosm we should look to Chicago, a brutal exhibition of what gang violence can do to a city.  Let’s examine the common rhetoric on both sides of the gun debate and where they fall short in explaining the true nature of the problem.

Pro gun people point to Chicago as a perfect example of the end result of extremely strict gun control.  Remove the good guys with guns and the bad guys take over.   That argument falls apart with just a few simple questions.  First, who are the good guys and are they being shot?  For the sake of this basic simplification, let’s just say that the good guys are the ones who are not dealing, buying or using drugs.  Let’s say we arm a “good guy”.  Is that good guy going to march into the ghetto and use his gun to stop a drive by shooting?  No.  Is he going to use his gun to prevent a drug deal from going bad?  No.  Is he going to strap on his iron and end the massive gang wars that are going on in the neighborhoods of the city?  Absolutely not.

Second, if for all intents and purposes you pretty much can’t buy a handgun in Chicago, where are all these guns coming from?  They are coming from less restrictive areas of the state, or nearby states.  That is a cold hard fact.  Increasing the availability of guns in the city isn’t going to magically make these gangs stop shooting at each other.

Third, and most importantly, why are these people shooting at each other in the first place?  Is it because their “victims” are unarmed?  With the amount of gunfire going on in that city, I’d bet that’s not the reason.  It’s because they are fighting over drug money and drug territory.  It’s business, and business is booming.  Heroin in Chicago, as in many other parts of this country, is seeing a huge resurgence from where it was even just a decade ago.  As an aside, we have untreated prescription opiate abuse to thank for that little gem.

So the typical pro gun arguments for why Chicago is suffering fall far short of explaining the issue, and the pro gun “solutions” stand little chance of slowing the violence.

The Democrats point to guns as the problem, completely ignoring the motivations behind hundreds of young men killing each other in the streets every year.  Is there an epidemic of people snorting or mainlining Glocks?  Can you go down to the street corner and watch hundreds of people spend $4 on a balloon of Ruger?  As gun owners like to say, guns are just tools.  The reasons the tools are used is the real issue here.  Obviously banning the tools isn’t affecting the drug trade.  If anything the War on Drugs is making those tools essential hardware for protecting one’s business.  After all, are guns not the tools of war according to our dear leader?

What would happen if instead of focusing on guns as the problem or the solution, we turned our attention to the failure of the War on Drugs?  What began as a crusade to protect our children from the horrors of Reefer Madness, Go Ask Alice and celebrity overdoses has turned into one of the longest, most expensive and bloodiest wars in history.  And it hasn’t worked.  At all.  Drug use per capita has risen since Nixon first declared this shameful war in 1971.  Drugs are generally of a higher quality and cheaper than they were in 1971.  And the violence that we were trying to avoid has come anyway with a ferocity that no one could have imagined.   What good has this war accomplished?

Reducing gun violence is something that furthers the goals of 2nd Amendment lovers, because it sucks the air out of many of the anti gun arguments.  Reducing gun violence is supposedly a goal of the anti gun crowd so addressing the faulty public policy of the War on Drugs serves their interest as well.  Colorado has experimented with a small segment of this issue and has had enormous success.  The tax revenue in Colorado from marijuana sales alone should be enough to get both Democrats and Republicans to take a hard look at the potential for a change in drug policy.

The problem is that it truly seems that neither side is really interested in solving any problems, including the problem of gun violence.  Solving problems doesn’t raise nearly as much campaign money as pointing out the faults of your opponent and promising to fix those faults.

God bless America.

Why you should drop what you’re doing and go buy a gun

There is a lot of useless rhetoric that flies back and forth in the gun debate in this country.  Both sides lob simple minded one liners at each other that are about as effective as a .22 against level III body armor.  The Mainstream Media riles up the gun lovers by featuring the opinions of mental giants like Piers Morgan and Dianne Feinstein.  And gun “nuts” retort with tired phrases about cold dead hands and gun free zones.  Nobody changes their minds, and very little is accomplished by either side.

why-you-should-buy-a-gunFor those who feel spurred into real effort through legislative action, protest or some other form of activism, it’s an uphill climb to say the least.  Getting people organized and tuned in long enough to accomplish anything of value is incredibly difficult. It does happen, but it’s far less common than the usual result which is a lot of fervor that quickly dissipates in the face of the relentless responsibilities of everyday life.  It’s very difficult to keep people engaged, even when our liberties are under constant attack.

I was having a conversation with a colleague of mine several months ago who is extremely anti-gun.  She doesn’t even talk about “common sense” gun laws.  She wants every gun banned and confiscated.  Talking to people like this is difficult because it’s extremely challenging to find some common ground as a starting point for the conversation.  Naturally the conversation eventually veered into, “The NRA is everything that is wrong with this country,” territory.  Ah yes, the evil NRA.  I asked her a simple question, “Where does the NRA get it’s money?”  She paused, then with a snarky tone she replied, “Well the gun manufacturers give them money.”  This is a little bit more than half true.

The NRA takes small fortunes from companies in the gun industry through a variety of contributions.  According to BusinessInsider.com, the NRA has drastically ramped up it’s solicitation of money from the industry over the last decade.  It has used this money to become one of the largest lobbyists in the country.  It’s well known that politicians fear the NRA and their wrath if they “step out of line” and the NRA relentlessly exploits that kind of clout to do what it does, which is to effectively lobby for gun rights.  Say what you will about the NRA, but no other group carries that kind of weight.

But when we talk about the NRA, it’s easy to forget the other side of that equation, the gun industry itself.  This industry doesn’t just print new money and give it to the NRA.  There is a reason they have that kind of money to give.  Gun sales have steadily risen as the gun control rhetoric in Washington has heated up.  2015 set a new record for background checks, topping out at over 23 million.  Let that sink in for a minute.  23,000,000 background checks.  In one year.  To say that this is a booming business is an understatement to say the least.

And that is just firearms.  There is no real tracking of the money that is spent in the industry on parts and accessories.  If I were a betting man, and I am, I’d wager that the amount of money spent on tactical widgets, zombie killing ammo and operator beard oil at least equals the dollars spent on serialized receivers.  We are talking about a staggering amount of money.  My credit card balances concur.

It’s fair to say that every dollar spent at Cabela’s on overpriced .223, every credit card receipt emailed to you from Brownells, every Fedex package that arrives at your door marked ORM-D that you deftly sneak past your wife as she is making dinner, every forgotten bolt carrier group that hides in your gun drawer, every 4473 that your FFL enthusiastically slaps on the counter as you fondle that new Tavor that you have been trying to ignore, every holster you ever bought and used once, all of it goes to support the cause….it all matters.  The sheer size of this industry is what gives it its massive political inertia.  23 million background checks speaks for itself.

The anti-gun crowd doesn’t seem to grasp this.  You can have your Million Mom March, your Moms Demand Action, your Mayors Against Illegal Guns, etc.  But nobody, not even Mayor Bloomberg, is dropping the kind of money to promote gun control that we are spending every single year on guns.

The media hints at this issue, but almost by accident.  They never seem to connect that the amount of money spent in this business reflects the political will of the people in this country.  Obama wants you to believe that 90% of Americans support stronger background checks.  I’m sorry, I don’t believe you Mr. President.  I believe the growth of Smith and Wesson’s stock. I believe the fact that 4 or 5 new gun shops have opened in my town in the last 3 years.  I believe the growth of the firearms training market.  I believe 23 million background checks.

I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but when you are sitting in front of your computer at 2AM trying to justify spending $500 on yet another Glock (this time it’s ghost grey!) remember that your money isn’t going into a black hole.  Participating in this market is a kind of activism in and of itself.

Tracking Pro Gun Laws

Since the Newton shooting, there has been a massive spotlight on new legislation for gun control. The diagram below depicts states that have already either passed a law in the house or if it’s been signed and enacted. Gun-control advocates have scored victories in states like colorado and New York since the Newtown, Conn., shooting, but more states have expanded gun rights than restricted them since the December tragedy

 

Gun Laws In states

 

 

State
Legislation
Description
Effect on gun-control laws
Status
Arkansas
AR S 71
Allows guns in houses of worship.
weaken
enacted
Arkansas
AR S 131
Prohibits the release to the public of records related to concealed weapon permit holders and applicants.
weaken
enacted
Arkansas
AR H 1243
Allows trained and licensed staff and faculty to carry concealed handguns on university, college, or community-college campuses under certain circumstances.
weaken
enacted
Kentucky
KY S 150
Removes the six-month residency requirement for concealed-carry permits and shortens the maximum time state police have to approve a concealed-carry application to 30 days from 90.
weaken
enacted
Maine
ME S 214
Places a moratorium on public access to records of concealed-weapon permits for a specified time period.
weaken
enacted
Mississippi
MS H 485
Makes confidential records of concealed-weapon permits.
weaken
enacted
Mississippi
MS H 2
Relaxes laws relating to where concealed weapon permit holders may carry in public.
weaken
enacted
South Dakota
SD H 1087
Authorizes school boards to allow the arming of school employees or security personnel after obtaining the consent of local law enforcement.
weaken
enacted
Tennessee
TN S 142
Would allow residents with a valid handgun-carry permit to transport and store a firearm or ammunition in the permit holder’s privately owned motor vehicle in public or private parking areas under certain conditions.
weaken
enacted
Michigan
MI S 60
Would exempt all federally licensed firearm dealers (instead of only class 01 federally licensed firearm dealers) from handgun-licensing requirement.
weaken
enacted
South Dakota
SD S 166
Would provide that a concealed carry permit is valid for five years, instead of for four years.
weaken
enacted
Arkansas
AR S 170
Would allow a pregnant woman to use deadly force to protect herself and her unborn child, with no duty to retreat unless the pregnant woman knows she can avoid the necessity of using deadly physical force and simultaneously ensure the complete safety of her unborn child.
weaken
enacted
South Dakota
SD S 227
Any person who possesses a permit to carry a concealed pistol can carry a pistol while operating or riding a snowmobile.
weaken
enacted
Montana
MT S 145
Would provide that the information contained in a concealed-weapon permit application is confidential.
weaken
enacted
Utah
UT H 317
Would prohibit the state or a political subdivisions of the state from compelling a concealed-weapon permit holder to divulge whether he has a concealed weapon permit or is carrying a concealed firearm. However, the law would allow disclosure of the personal information of concealed weapon holders to law enforcement and for purposes of conducting criminal background checks.
weaken
enacted
Virginia
VA S 1335
Would make confidential records of concealed-weapon permits.
weaken
enacted
Utah
UT S 80
Would provide a system to allow individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms for mental health reasons to petition to have their gun rights reinstated.
weaken
enacted
Montana
MT H 304
Would allow carrying a concealed weapon in public without a permit.
weaken
sent to governor
Idaho
ID H 183
Would clarify that local governments may not regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.
weaken
sent to governor
Kansas
KS S 21
Would provide automatic concealed-weapon permit reciprocity with all other states.
weaken
sent to governor
North Dakota
ND H 1283
Would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry a gun in a house of worship with permission.
weaken
sent to governor
Oklahoma
OK S 977
Would provide automatic reciprocity for all out-of-state concealed weapon permits.
weaken
sent to governor
Alabama
AL H 116
Would have authorized the formation of volunteer emergency security forces at public schools in the county consisting of current and retired school employees and local citizens.
weaken
vetoed
Utah
UT H 76
Would have allowed carrying a concealed weapon in public without a permit.
weaken
vetoed
Montana
MT H 302
Would have sought to nullify the application of federal firearms law in the state.
weaken
vetoed
Colorado
CO H 1224
Bans large-capacity ammunition magazines.
strengthen
enacted
Colorado
CO H 1229
Requires criminal background checks for all firearm sales.
strengthen
enacted
New York
NY S 2230
Imposes numerous provisions to: strengthen the assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazine bans; provide a mechanism to remove firearms from unstable individuals, close private sale loophole, require lost and stolen reporting, require safe storage and regulate ammunition sales.
strengthen
enacted
Mississippi
MS S 2647
Facilitates the reporting of mental-health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Also allows individuals prohibited from buying guns because of a mental-health disability to petition to have their gun rights reinstated.
strengthen
enacted
Utah
UT H 121
Authorizes gun owners to voluntarily commit their firearms to law enforcement for 60 days if they believe a cohabitant is an immediate threat.
strengthen
enacted
Utah
UT H 50
Would allow a court to prohibit the subject of a dating-relationship protective order from possessing firearms.
strengthen
enacted
Wyoming
WY H 216
Would allow a judge to carry a weapon in his courtroom and prohibit someone else from carrying a weapon in his or her courtroom.
strengthen
enacted
Connecticut
CT SB 1
Among other restrictions, would ban certain semiautomatic firearms; limit large-capacity ammunition magazines; and require background checks for all firearm sales.
strengthen
enacted
Arkansas
AR H 1503
Would create the offense of unlawful procurement of a firearm or ammunition.
strengthen
sent to governor

 


Source: The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Notes: Maps don’t include vetoed bills. Bills that weaken gun restrictions include those that make gun-owner data confidential. Maps don’t include bills that address some areas, like penalties for gun crimes.