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Tags: Guns

Hey, Doesn’t Anyone Want to Be Graded by Mike Bloomberg?



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When you see this detail in coverage of anti-gun former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group, and how it will evaluate candidates this cycle . . . 

Bloomberg initially wanted to award lawmakers grades of A through F, much like the NRA’s scorecards, but he has shifted the strategy in favor of a public questionnaire on key issues to motivate voters.

. . . doesn’t it make you wonder how many endangered red-state Democrats — or Republicans — thought that the line, “Rated ‘A’ by anti-gun former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg” would be more likely to be used in an attack ad against them than by their own campaigns?

Above: Passionately anti-gun former New York City mayor
Michael Bloomberg, holding a gun. Photo by Getty.

Tags: Michael Bloomberg , Guns , Midterms

The Left’s War Against the Culture of Gun Owners



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From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

The Progressive War Against the Culture of Gun Owners

Permit me to begin with what might seem like a silly observation from the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting in Indianapolis late last week: There were a lot of men with beards.

Yes, the crowd is more diverse than you might think, and plenty of women. But the meat-and-potatoes of the NRA Convention crowd is meat-and-potatoes men. Big guys. Tattoos. Guys who work with their hands. Guys who hunt. Farmers, truck drivers, engineers, construction workers, soldiers, retired veterans, law enforcement, firemen . . . 

You could drop these guys back in time to 1950, or 1900, or 1850, or 1776 and most of these guys would be able to function pretty well. They can hunt. They can fix engines and build giant machines, put up houses, operate heavy machinery. Most of ‘em are strong. They’re all over the spectrum, but many of them have great skill (marksmanship and tracking, obviously) and keen minds (engineering, mechanics, material sciences). A lot of military experience. They know the world around them well beyond the most distant Starbucks. (They do have wine connoisseurs among them.)

(This is not exclusive to men, of course; Thursday night I met a woman who might as well be the incarnation of Artemis, as she explained how she killed an eight-point buck with a bow and arrow. In pigtails.)

Anyway, most of the NRA Convention crowd is the distilled essence of anti-metrosexualism. (I’m using the term “metrosexual,” but some argue that “hipster” has replaced it or Muppie (Millennial Yuppie) is a better descriptor.)

Updates from Yuppie Acres have probably revealed I’m, for better or worse, not really one of Those Guys. Ward Cleaver, not Willie Robertson. If you’re not one of Those Guys, you can have two reactions: appreciate them as they are . . . or conclude that because they’re different from you, there’s something wrong with them.

And that’s where the Progressives come in.

What’s wonderful about liberty is that if you don’t want to be one of Those Guys, you don’t have to be. We no longer live in a world where your ability to provide for your family depends upon your ability to hunt and kill an animal. If you can do something that gets other people to give you money, you can go to Safeway or Whole Foods and you trade it for food.

If the way Those Guys live their life isn’t your cup of tea, you can live a life in which you rarely if ever encounter them. There are swaths of the country full of Those Guys, and swaths where they’re pretty rare. (I’ll bet the only people who even remotely seem like Those Guys that Mike Bloomberg sees all day are on his security detail, and I doubt he has many conversations with them.)

But a lot of Progressives seem really, really bothered by Those Guys; I don’t know if Progressive women or men fume about them more.

Mocking NRA members has become pretty standard of the left; a year ago, on CNN’s website, a contributing editor at The American Prospect referred to “the annual festival of conspiracy theorizing, belligerent fist-shaking and anxious masculinity known as the National Rifle Association convention.” . . . 

Some gun-control advocates are a bit more explicit about it than others. After beginning with the usual call for “common-sense safety laws,” Lucia McBath, national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, writes:

No one said this fight would be easy and I fully understand that changing the current gun culture across the nation will not take place overnight.

It will be a slow and sometimes emotionally taxing campaign, a crusade that our opponents will often deride and say can’t be won. But I also understand that it’s a fight on which we must not back down.

They want to change the culture of gun owners, not just the laws they must obey. I’m sure you can imagine other communities that would not react with warmth if you appeared one day and announced, “Hi, I’m here to change your culture!” I’m sure most of these progressive gun-control advocates think that one of history’s greatest crimes was the way that European colonists changed and in some cases eradicated the cultures of native peoples . . . but in the here and now, they see absolutely nothing wrong with going forth, encountering people who live differently from them, and declaring, “these savages have to be civilized!”

In short, these progressives are intolerant of diversity.

Sometimes it’s quite explicit, as in this Frenchman’s letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant:

A normal culture’s response to children being murdered at an elementary school like Sandy Hook would have been total revulsion and an immediate effort to remove the guns from the hands of all citizens except those that must have them for their work.

Got that? If you prefer anything different from what this guy wants — immediate, mandatory nationwide gun confiscation and an abolition of all private gun ownership — you are not merely mistaken or viewing the issue differently — you’re culturally abnormal!

Progressives and lefties scoff that the gun is much more than a tool to these people, and make references and/or crude jokes to Freudian psychology. But I suspect that many gun owners would agree that a gun is indeed a symbol. It’s a symbol of who they are, how they see themselves and what they stand for. They aren’t willing to rely solely on someone else for their own protection. They’re independent; they can pursue animals of the wild and return with food. Looking back in history, you see serfs, servants, and slaves are rarely armed because of the possibility of rebellion and uprising; owning a gun is a statement that “I will never be subjugated.” (You’ve heard the variations of the statement, “God made man and woman, but Sam Colt made them equal” or “Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.”) Obviously, this doesn’t fit well in a progressive worldview that aims, whether they realize it or not, to restore an aristocracy.

And here we have another example confirming Jonah’s assertion that the Left is the aggressor in the culture war. “Those Guys” may laugh at Metrosexual America, but you rarely if ever see them argue that America must be purged of its metrosexuals. Nobody goes into New York City and Los Angeles and argues that the men there ought to change their ways and do more traditionally manly things. (“You there! Stop getting that manicure and worrying about your haircut! You and I are going to Sears and shopping for power tools!”)

But progressive America really, really wants to change “Those Guys.”

Tags: Guns , NRA Convention 2014 , NRA

Another Civil, Dignified Gun-Control Advocate Speaks Up



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I’ll be on NRANews.com at 2 p.m., and this tweet, by a University of Kansas journalism professor, is likely to come up:

When you’re calling for the murder of the children of those who disagree with you, you’re losing the debate. And your mind.

Tags: Guns

Why Post-Shooting Gun-Control Debates Are So Insufferable



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In the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt, Democrats begin to lose faith in Obama; a couple of can’t-miss events; the strangest cameo of all time, and why the post-shooting gun-control debates are so insufferable:

Why Post-Shooting Gun-Control Debates Are So Insufferable

Believe it or not, there are some nice people at NPR. One, after reading yesterday’s Jolt, asked for my thoughts on what kind of debates the country should have after a mass-shooting tragedy. I replied:

I begin rather skeptical of most gun-control proposals. The ones that are pitched in the aftermath of mass shootings are particularly cynical, as they often attempt to regulate circumstances unrelated to the shooting. I still grind my teeth at Mayors Against Illegal Guns running ads in my state citing the Virginia Tech shooting, and talking about the need to shut the “gun show loophole” — even though the shooter didn’t obtain his weapons at a gun show. These sorts of arguments strike me as one part craven opportunism, one part feel-good placebo. (I wanted to say “panacea,” but panacea actually means a genuine cure-all.)

If someone wants to propose a new restriction on gun ownership after a tragedy, and cites that tragedy as a reason to pass it, it’s necessary to show how that new restriction would have prevented, mitigated, or impacted that tragedy. For example, almost none of the gun laws proposed after Newtown would have changed much of anything in that awful shooting, as that disturbed young man stole his mother’s legally purchased guns.

I suppose there are two potential changes to the law that would have significantly altered events in Newtown. First, a total ban on private ownership of firearms, which our friends in the gun-control movement keep insisting isn’t their goal.

Second, a restriction on gun ownership by people who live under the same roof as a person who’s deemed mentally incompetent or a threat to himself or others. Of course, then you get into the questions of what constitutes, “mentally incompetent or a threat to himself or others,” what constitutes “under the same roof”, etc.

Then there are the proposals to limit how many rounds each gun can fire before reloading. Almost every spree shooter — we need a better term for this — has had more than one firearm when they’ve launched their attacks. Instituting 10-round limits would mean that future shooters would get off 20 shots before pausing to reloading, presuming they only brought two guns. It’s reasonable to conclude future mass killers will just bring three or four guns when they begin their rampage. This strikes me as a quite modest mitigation in the danger of these shooters, too modest to seriously consider.

The gun-control debate occurs in the context of some very familiar culture-war territory — “blue America” largely supports gun control, “red America” largely opposes it. The “Acela class,” largely living in low-crime areas and working in buildings with private security, concluded that because they don’t see a need for a gun in their own lives, can’t imagine why anyone else could need a gun. (If Mike Bloomberg or Piers Morgan worked the midnight shift at a 7-11, they might be more sympathetic to those who wish to defend themselves with a gun, uncertain that police could respond to a life-threatening situation in time. ) The arrogant, dismissive “bitterly clinging to guns and religion” tone is rarely far from the surface in these debates.

After each shooting, we hear pundits and columnists declare, “it’s time for a national conversation on guns.” But we actually have had national conversations on guns after each one of these awful events; the conversation usually ends with lawmakers rejecting new restrictions on gun ownership. The pundits and columnists pretend the national conversation hasn’t occurred because they keep losing the argument.

There isn’t much of a culture-war component of discussing mental illness, other than a few folks on the Right who blame the Left for deinstitutionalizing the mentally ill in the 1960s. I suspect that there is no real constituency in favor of the Second Amendment rights of the mentally ill — provided, of course, the definition of “mentally ill” is clear, explicit, and taken seriously. (If you think there’s a stigma to admitting you’re seeing a therapist, a psychologist, or getting mental health treatment now, just wait until some of your legal rights can be restricted because of it.)

Thankfully, I’ve never known anyone who has had violent episodes or threatening mental illness. My sense of reading coverage and the literature is that people rarely “snap” and become dangerous killers overnight. As you’ve probably found in your research, there are certain common threads: withdrawal from others and lack of a support network; hostile behavior and temper control, outbursts, etc. It is maddeningly infuriating to hear friends and acquaintances of past shooters describe behavior that seems, in retrospect, to be a warning sign or red flag.

After Columbine, many school administrators tried to institute a new “If you see something, say something” approach to individuals behaving in a threatening manner. Then we saw in Virginia Tech that many, many students reported the gunman for strange and threatening behavior, including stalking. School administrators ultimately couldn’t do enough to stop him — either from fear of lawsuits or from overall bureaucratic inertia.

Fairfax County has tried a “Mental Health First Aid” program; a friend of mine participated in this program.

It’s not clear how effective a program like this would be; one would hope that people would already know to report strange, troubling, or threatening behavior to authorities. In past writings, I’ve emphasized that the only authority that can put someone on the federal firearms restriction list is a judge, and so that these sorts of concerns are best sent directly to the cops, not to a school administrator or company HR department.

However, a country where more Americans are trained to spot signs of serious, untreated and potentially dangerous mental illness strikes me as a better path than yet another effort to restrict the rights of 40 million gun owners because of the actions of a handful.

That’s where I’m coming from.

Tags: Guns , Gun Control , Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Another Awful Shooting, and Another Awful Debate



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Tuesday’s Morning Jolt includes non-Navy Yard news — Bill Daley suddenly loses interest in being the next governor of Illinois, Syria is still a mess, the Obamacare showdown looms . . . but let’s face it, our minds and hearts are still in Washington today.

Another Awful Shooting, Soon to Be Followed by Another Awful Gun-Control Debate

Another horrible day; another day ruined when some loon decides that the best way to address his problems with the world is to murder as many strangers as he can until someone shoots him. Someday it would be nice to actually discuss mental health in this country. Someday it would be nice to know if there are warning signs for these horrors or ways to prevent it before the first shots get fired. Is the shooters’ cruelty ultimately driven by isolation? An inability to cope with adversity? Despair? Uncontrollable rage? Presumably, at some point, the shooter wasn’t too far gone, and he could have chosen a path different from this horrific blaze of terror.

But we can’t have the mental-health discussion, because our leaders insist we must first have the gun-control debate. Immediately. It can’t wait in line. It has to start before the shooting incident is over. Twitchy tracked all the pro-gun-control tweets from celebrities. Henry Winkler got his gun-control Tweet in by 9:50.

David Frum seems to believe that it is somehow good, or useful, or helpful to himself and his cause to begin fuming about the need for gun control the moment the public hears about a mass shooting. He got his arguments for gun control — actually, more mockery of the arguments of Second Amendment supporters — out from about 10:30 to 10:56.

This is a compulsion, right? He knows he’s not going to persuade anyone, right? He knows that a lot of people find it jerky, and small, and petty to cite a mass shooting as an argument for gun control while that mass shooting is still going on, right?

Then again, knowingly or not, he’s just following the advice contained in 80-page document titled “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging,” and produced by three Democratic political consulting firms led by the polling and research outfit Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. Their advice to gun-control supporters:

The most powerful time to communicate is when concern and emotions are running at their peak. The debate over gun violence in America is periodically punctuated by high-profile gun violence incidents including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Trayvon Martin killing, Aurora and Oak Creek. When an incident such as these attracts sustained media attention, it creates a unique climate for our communications efforts.

It’s not a tragedy, it’s an opportunity! The report goes on:

We should rely on emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence. Compelling facts should be used to back up that emotional narrative, not as a substitute for it.

Because we don’t want those facts getting in the way, right?

A gentle reminder:

Firearm-related homicides declined 39 percent and nonfatal firearm crimes declined 69 percent from 1993 to 2011, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Firearm-related homicides dropped from 18,253 homicides in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011, and nonfatal firearm crimes dropped from 1.5 million victimizations in 1993 to 467,300 in 2011.

Since you’ll inevitably begin hearing about the “gun-show loophole,” whether or not the shooter at the Navy Yard got his gun from a gun show . . . 

In 2004 (the most recent year of data available), among state prison inmates who possessed a gun at the time of the offense, fewer than two percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show. About 10 percent of state prison inmates said they purchased it from a retail store or pawnshop, 37 percent obtained it from family or friends, and another 40 percent obtained it from an illegal source.

And, of course, the shooter violated plenty of laws on the books before he fired his first shot:

By just being in the city with a loaded firearm, regardless of whether he was the legally registered owner, the suspect Aaron Alexis would be in violation of D.C. law. Carrying a concealed firearm or carrying a firearm openly in D.C. are both against the law. Bringing a firearm from out of state without registering it in D.C. is illegal. Assault-style rifles are banned. And even traveling through D.C. with a firearm is illegal.

In addition, the Navy Sea Systems Command headquarters is a federal facility that is subject to federal law, which prohibits carrying a firearm onto the premises (except by law enforcement or members of the armed forces).

Tags: Gun Control , Guns , Navy Yard

Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Recall Elections



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The Morning Jolt starts off the week with a look at how New York’s media elite treated Barack Obama a decade ago, fun at the mulitplex, what the president should have called the Sequester, and . . . 

Everything You Need to Know About the Colorado Recall Elections

If you’re a fan of the Second Amendment, and you feel that a whole bunch of lawmakers — mostly Democrats — reacted to the horror of Newtown by rushing to pass a bunch of ill-thought gun control laws that would have done nothing to prevent that tragedy, then you need to pay a lot of attention to the recall efforts against two Colorado state lawmakers.

Second Amendment advocates aim to replace Democratic senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo. (They also tried to recall Senator Evie Hudak of Westminster and Representative Morse won, 48.1 percent to 47.2 percent, with about 250 votes separating the two (and Libertarian Douglas Randall collected 1,258 votes). That year, Giron won more solidly, 54.8 percent to 45.1 percent, a margin of about 4,000 votes. In that November midterm election, about 28,000 votes were cast in Morse’s race, about 40,000 votes in Giron’s. Of course, in a special recall election, turnout may be much lower.

The local Republican parties selected former Colorado Springs City Councilman Bernie Herpin to take on John Morse and George Rivera, former deputy chief of the Pueblo police force, to take on Giron.

Here’s how it works:

The ballot will include the original statement from the petitioners as to why the official in question should be recalled, as well as a no more than 300 word rebuttal from the official, if the official submits a statement.

The ballot will have two boxes, marked “Yes” approving the recall and “No” disapproving the recall. There will also be a list of candidates for whom those that voted for the recall may vote for to replace the official. In this sense, the recall election is held simultaneously with the election of the new official.

If a majority of participants vote “No” in the recall, the official whom the recall was filed against will remain in their position. If there is a majority of “Yes” votes, then the new official will be the candidate on the list with the most votes.

The election will be conducted by mail, and even more so than in regular elections, the details count in this one:

All active, registered voters in Senate district 11 will receive a mail-in ballot. Ballots will be mailed to military and overseas voters by August 9. Ballots will be mailed to local voters starting August 19.

There will be two sections on the ballot. One will ask whether or not Senator John Morse should be recalled. The second section will allow voters to choose a successor candidate.

Voters MUST answer the recall question to have their vote counted. The County Clerk and Recorder’s Office says if a voter skips the recall question their ballot will be voided, even if they voted for a successor candidate.

Ballots have to be received by the Clerk and Recorder’s Office by 7:00 p.m. September 10 in order to be counted. Voters can verify that their ballot was received by visiting the Go Vote Colorado website.

Herpin’s pitch:

I’m running to defend our Constitutional rights and promote an environment where small businesses are free to create jobs and improve our local community.

For too long, John Morse has been more interested in doing the bidding of Big Government interests in Denver and Washington and less interested in the economic concerns and well-being of our community.

We have the opportunity to remove the president of the senate and send a strong message that we will not tolerate elected officials who disrespect our Constitutional rights and ignore their constituents.

Many in our community know about my long standing vocal and public support of our Constitutional rights. I also have a history of serving our city and have always prided myself on being responsive to the people of Colorado Springs.

Rivera is pointing out that separate from Giron’s gun vote, she’s also voted for a slew of bills he deems bad for the district:

A bill that makes it easier for water to be taken from the Arkansas River basin to be moved to Aurora and other northern Colorado cities, the bill calling for higher renewable energy standards that will make the cost of electricity rise by up to 20% for those living in the rural electric areas like Pueblo West, the bill that makes it easier for an employee that has been terminated to sue small business owners like my wife and I and to ask for punitive damages for things like “mental anguish”, “inconvenience” or ”loss of enjoyment of life”, and the bill that completely changes our voting process to an all mail in ballot which greatly increases the risk of voter fraud.

These two state-senate districts will, in the coming six weeks, get a taste of what Wisconsin “enjoyed” recently, having lots and lots of people from outside the state taking an intense interest in their local elections:

Richard Bamberg’s phone has been ringing off the hook — not literally — but three calls last week and then four Thursday have made him a little jaded by the Senate District 11 recall effort.

It’s just the beginning of what may be hectic days until the Sept. 10 recall election for Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs.

“I asked to talk to their supervisor. I asked them to leave me alone,” Bamberg said of the most recent caller who asked a few questions and then spoke for several minutes about positive things Morse has done as a lawmaker. “The thing I don’t get is I’m not in Morse’s district.”

Christy Le Lait, campaign manager for A Whole Lot of People for John Morse, said the calls aren’t coming from its campaign.

Tags: Colorado Recall , Gun Control , Guns

The NRA Will Be Scoring the Background-Check Vote



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As mentioned in today’s Morning Jolt, the NRA will indeed be scoring all of the upcoming votes on background checks and gun owners. But this doesn’t necessarily mean a full-scale divorce between the NRA and the background-check co-sponsors, West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey.

Wednesday evening, Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, issued a letter that indicated that yes, the proposal would be “scored” by the organization.

In addition, the NRA will oppose any amendments offered to S. 649 that restrict fundamental Second Amendment freedoms; including, but not limited to, proposals that would ban commonly and lawfully owned firearms and magazines or criminalize the private transfer of firearms through an expansion of background checks.  This includes the misguided “compromise” proposal drafted by Senators Joe Manchin, Pat Toomey and Chuck Schumer.  As we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.  Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA’s future candidate evaluations.

Rather than focus its efforts on restricting the rights of America’s 100 million law-abiding gun owners, there are things Congress can do to fix our broken mental health system; increase prosecutions of violent criminals; and make our schools safer.  During consideration of S. 649, should one or more amendments be offered that adequately address these important issues while protecting the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners, the NRA will offer our enthusiastic support and consider those votes in our future candidate evaluations as well.

We hope the Senate will replace the current provisions of S. 649 with language that is properly focused on addressing mental health inadequacies; prosecuting violent criminals; and keeping our kids safe in their schools.  Should it fail to do so, the NRA will make an exception to our standard policy of not “scoring” procedural votes and strongly oppose a cloture motion to move to final passage of S. 649.

I still suspect that the NRA knows that Pat Toomey is probably the best ally they’re going to get elected statewide in Pennsylvania – and that they’re pretty happy with Manchin overall, too. Perhaps the pair are destined to go into future elections with a “B” grade from the organization. (Joe Manchin spoke at the NRA convention back in 2011.)

The deal reflects some basic political realities: Toomey was elected in 2010, and so he’ll next appear before the voters in 2016, a presidential-election year with high turnout. You’ve heard Pennsylvania described as Philadelphia on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Alabama in the middle, but the real battleground that determines statewide elections is the Philadelphia-suburb counties. As I summarized it last cycle:

[Republicans] are increasingly optimistic about Bucks County, where about 435,000 are registered to vote. Toomey won this county over Joe Sestak in the 2010 Senate race, 53.2 percent to 46.8 percent. But the other major suburban counties, Montgomery County (with 553,104 registered voters) and Delaware County (about 395,000 registered voters) are looking like tougher nuts to crack for Republicans this cycle, compared with Bucks County.

These are classic “soccer mom” suburban counties, and the Philadelphia Inquirer is a big media influence here. It is a tough corner of the state in which to sell an uncompromising stance on gun issues.

Toomey needs to be able to say that after Sandy Hook, he did his best to do something — particularly if or when, God forbid, there is another horrific massacre in 2016. Whether or not the bill passes is almost immaterial; he just needs to be seen by those soccer moms as a guy who tried his best to work out a bipartisan compromise to slightly lessen the odds of another massacre. As a Second Amendment fan, you don’t have to like that, but you do have to recognize it.

So when you see folks like Jacob Sullum write . . .

. . . it is hard to see a logical connection between the Newtown murders and the proposal offered by Manchin and Toomey. But that does not matter, because it makes them feel as if they are doing something to prevent such crimes. And isn’t that what laws are for, to make legislators feel better? President Obama certainly seems to think so. Notice that Manchin implicitly endorses Obama’s view that anyone who fails to support new gun controls does not have “a good conscience.”

The cold, hard truth is that yes, this and almost all legislation relating to guns is meant to make lawmakers and the public feel like they’ve done something. Because as we’ve all noted, the only policy that could have prevented Sandy Hook was confiscation of all privately held firearms. But when lawmakers in suburban districts go back and do their town hall meetings, they need to say either A) see, I passed “X” or B) I tried to pass “X.” They will get these questions the next time some lunatic goes on a spree-killing.

Anyway, Toomey summarizes:

WHAT THE BILL WILL NOT DO

The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

At Red State, Erick Erickson disputes that, contending that the way the bill is written, doctors can add their patients to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and suggests that they can be added for no real reason. 

The provision could spur a debate on just who should be able to determine if someone is psychologically imbalanced in a way that makes them a threat to others. As I have mentioned in previous Jolts, the only person who can currently place a person on the can’t-buy-a-gun list is a judge. If you see or encounter someone who behaves in a manner that makes you think they’re likely to go on a shooting spree, your employer, school principal, or university administrator can’t do a darn thing about it (other than involve law enforcement and try to get that person before a judge). Sometimes a psychiatrist can explicitly tell the police that her patient had confessed homicidal thoughts and was a danger to the public, as in the case of the Aurora shooter, and the police will do nothing.

Tags: Background Checks , Guns , Joe Manchin , NRA , Pat Toomey

Obama Laments Our Awful National Breakdown in Trust



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The final Morning Jolt of the week offers a lengthy assessment of polls indicating that a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, a bit of lighter thought on “Castle,” and then this bit of pitch-perfect presidential-rhetoric assessment:

‘We Need to Rebuild Trust,’ the President Lied

Yeah, I just can’t improve upon Tom Maguire’s quick assessment of Obama’s recent comments on guns:

The NY Times regales us with an account of Obama’s gun control speech in Denver:

He waved toward the assembled officers and local politicians and added, “We’ve got to get past some of the rhetoric that gets perpetuated, that breaks down trust, that’s so over the top that it just shuts down all discussion.”

In contrast to some of his earlier, more emotional remarks about the impact of gun violence, the president portrayed the debate as one of a principled difference that needs to be bridged.

If he really wants to rebuild trust he could take a step in that direction by dropping his phony stat about 40 percent of guns being obtained without a background check.

Nor does it bolster his credibility when he tells a room of California’s One Percenters that the Newton shooting was done with a semi-automatic weapon and then “corrects” himself to make it an automatic.

Tags: Barack Obama , Guns

Obama to Discuss Guns in Chicago



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This is a good thing:

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will “talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country,” a White House official said in a statement.

The president’s visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

“This is an important issue,” said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. “We think of this as a victory for all of us.”

The cover story of National Review is currently Kevin Williamson’s “Gangsterville,” about the violence plaguing the city.

The question is, will President Obama address how Chicago and Illinois have adopted the president’s preferred policy solution to this problem — some of the strictest state and local gun-control laws in the United States — only to see the violence worsen?

The traditional argument from the gun-control groups is that their laws work just fine, as long as they’re adopted everywhere on earth, or at least the country. Our Robert VerBruggen examined the “guns come from surrounding areas” theory a week ago:

. . . the communities these guns come from typically have much lower crime rates than Chicago does.

If we were to spread Chicago’s gun control outward, the city’s gangs would need to get weapons that were originally sold farther away. But would fewer guns actually make it into the city? Given that America has something like 300 million guns, and that guns are easy to conceal and transport, I rather doubt it.

Frankly, I don’t think gun control has much to do with Chicago’s murder problem. It seems to be mostly gang-related, which means that (A) any guns that can’t be bought legally will be bought illegally and (B) arming the law-abiding won’t make much difference either, because the violence is taking place between criminals. We still should arm the law-abiding, so that they may defend themselves against burglaries and the like, but they are rarely the victims of gang murders.

The horrific violence in cities is oftentimes a gang problem, and a sentencing problem as repeat offenders get off with short prison sentences. One study of 35 years’ worth of crime data in Ohio “found that about 69 percent of weapons offenses appeared to be dismissed before reaching a court for a decision. Another 28.5 percent of weapons charges that reached the prosecution stage were dismissed, likely because of plea bargains to other crimes.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Chicago , Gun Control , Guns

The Naked Partisanship in Coverage of Maniacs



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This morning I’ll be on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown,” around 9:40 or so.

The last Morning Jolt of the week offers more thoughts on changing the culture, some dire numbers on employment among America’s young people, and then this horrific news out on the West Coast:

Contemplating the Awful Danger Out in California Right Now

Yesterday, on Cam & Company, I talked about the maniac out in California who’s killing cops, and how the coverage of the shooters’ obsessions A) probably encourages copycats and other disturbed minds yearning for attention and B) is based upon a rather ludicrous effort to persuade people that one side of the spectrum is full of murderous maniacs and the other isn’t.

Allahpundit sums up how these maniacs get covered:

The rest of this post you can write yourself, especially if you read yesterday’s item about the egregious double standard between the media’s treatment of Palin after Tucson and the SPLC after the FRC shooting. The left, needless to say, is blameless for Dorner’s actions. Also needless to say, if his manifesto had extolled gun rights and called Obama “a vile and inhumane piece of sh*t” instead of Wayne LaPierre, this would be a five-alarm media inferno floating on a sea of sweaty rhetoric about The Conservative Movement turning to madness over gun control. The goal, as it was with Palin and as it always, always, always is in a situation like this, would be to cow law-abiding people on the right into softening their opposition to liberal policies or else be accused of complicity in some random crank’s bloodletting. It’s just a nastier version of Obama bringing kids up onstage when he signed those executive memos on guns last month: Instead of O implicitly accusing conservatives of being accomplices to murder, the immediate aftermath of a prominent act of violence tends to bring accusations that are more explicit. But when, as today, the facts don’t lend themselves easily to a “right-wing apocalypse” narrative, then suddenly all of the grander meaning in the killer’s political sympathies melts away. The double standard has become so obvious and so grotesque that I doubt most media liberals would even deny it anymore when challenged on it. It’s unmistakable and indefensible and they know it. And rest assured, the next time some lunatic kills a bunch of people and it turns out his MySpace profile lists Ayn Rand as one of his “likes” or whatever, they’ll do it all over again. Lessons will not be learned because this isn’t about lessons. It’s about reptilian political advantage.

But I repeat, the left is not to blame here. Although, in the interest of taking every precaution, maybe we should ask CNN to cancel Piers Morgan already.

It’s for the children, Piers.

Tags: Guns

Say, What Does That Water Gun Look Like?



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I know this is a bit silly, but isn’t it a bit weird to see the president at Camp David in June 2011, holding a water gun that appears to be modeled after the TEC-9 (or perhaps the TEC-22), a semiautomatic handgun with an extended magazine, the kind of weapon his allies would like to ban?

Yes, yes, no one was ever killed by a water gun, and so on.

The photo was spotlighted by the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker, attempting to find any corroboration of the president’s claim that he goes skeet-shooting at Camp David all the time.

As for the TEC-9, this bit of history is illuminating in light of the recent debate:

On September 13, 1994, a United States federal ban on assault firearms went into effect. This ban made it illegal to manufacture the TEC DC-9, but not illegal to own. Consequently, the weapon went through another redesign to comply with the new federal regulations. Intratec removed many of the “assault” features of the DC-9, such as: threaded barrel, barrel shroud and forward pistol grip. They also reduced the magazine size to 10 rounds, though it was still compatible with the same after-market high capacity magazines that were used by the TEC DC-9.

Tags: Guns , Obama

Don’t Count on Universities to Stop Dangerous People



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From the final Morning Jolt of the week, delayed due to winter bugs on my end . . .

So What Should We Do After the Unthinkable Happens?

After yesterday’s Jolt item skeptical about the usefulness of the legislation pushed since the Newtown shootings, someone asked on Twitter what I would recommend in response to that abomination.

We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that any particular piece of legislation can prevent evil people from doing evil things, any more than we think a law banning the use of airliners as flying missiles by suicidal jihadist pilots could have prevented 9/11. Having said that . . .

We certainly feel we have a profile of the shooters in these awful massacres, don’t we? I described the inevitable description the day after Newtown: “Young men alienated from their peers and society at large. They don’t have many friends, they don’t have girlfriends, they feel denied some sort of recognition or appreciation they deserve. They respond to this with an emotion so far beyond the garden-variety frustration, depression, or anger that it’s hard to comprehend. Oftentimes they leave some sort of note or e-mail detailing their grievances against the world. They decide that they’re going to become famous and well-known in death in the way they never could achieve in life – and then a world that never seemed to care about their troubles or how they felt will spend a lot of time thinking about them.” I’d also throw in that we often later hear that they were diagnosed as having some sort of intense mental or emotional problems, and may have been on medication.

As I mentioned yesterday, aside from having some criminal record that bars them from owning a gun, the only way to get someone listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is for them to be ruled mentally ill or a danger to themselves or others by a judge.

The lesson of the Virginia Tech shooter and the Tucson shooter is that there is no point in reporting odd or threatening behavior to school or workplace authorities. (My suspicion is that fear of lawsuits prevents most non-governmental authorities from taking real action against individuals whose behavior suggests they could get violent. We see that even the U.S. military hesitated to take action against the Fort Hood shooter, despite the warning signs in that case.)

Don’t count on a university official, a company human-resources staffer, a therapist, or a family member to be the one who makes sure a ticking time-bomb gets defused. The only way to get the ball rolling on this is with law enforcement. If you tell your local police department that somebody’s behaving in a vaguely or explicitly threatening manner, most police will have the good sense to check it out, just to be safe. Perhaps you’re making too much out of a guy having a bad day, or an eccentric personality. But in all too many of these cases, we hear people describing increasingly odd and menacing behavior, and wonder why no one intervened, or why all of these red flags could be ignored or explained away.

One other thing — you notice I rarely if ever name the shooters in cases like these. As mentioned above, I think one of the motives of these shooters — at least to the point we can ever understand the motives of people like this — is infamy, a certain fame, a certain sense of empowerment from knowing that everyone who ignored them or mocked them will suddenly care a great deal about what they thought and how they felt, even if it occurs after they’re dead or behind bars. So if everyone in the media would learn to stop writing extensive profiles of these mass murderers, looking at every detail of their pre-massacre lives as if there were something the whole public deserved to know (as opposed to, say, criminologists), we would probably have fewer of them. I know the media doesn’t think they’re glamorizing and celebrating the killers in their coverage, but in the mindset of the deeply troubled, they are; they’re turning them into celebrities. And if there’s anything our modern society values, it’s being famous.

By the way, this is what legislating in haste gets you:

It appears someone forgot to exempt police officers from the ban of ammunition clips with more than 7 bullets in New York State’s new gun control law.

It’s a big oversight that apparently happened in the haste by the Cuomo Administration to get a tough package of gun-control measures signed into law.

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

Specifically, magazines with more than 7 rounds will be illegal under the new law.

The problem as the statute is currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers.

The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-milli-meter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure.

Way to go, lawmakers.

Tags: Guns , Tucson Shooting

Tragedy Spurs Action . . . Even if It’s Irrelevant to That Tragedy



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Also in today’s Jolt, a rather skeptical look at the national impetus to “do something” after the Newtown massacre:

A Tragedy Spurs Us to Take Actions That Wouldn’t Have Stopped That Tragedy

So I realize I should be outraged by Obama introducing 23 executive actions on gun violence, but . . . this is pretty much what we all expected, isn’t it?

A friend who’s more gun-control minded asked me what I thought of the various proposals being put forth. I pointed out that almost none of the proposals would have made one bit of difference had they been in effect when the Newtown shooting occurred, suggesting that the purpose of the proposals was to make lawmakers and the public feel good about themselves, not to actually make it impossible for such a horrific event to occur again. In the end, there’s not really a law that can prevent a woman from having such terrible judgment that she keeps dangerous weapons and a deeply disturbed son in the same house, short of absolute and total national confiscation of all firearms in private hands — a draconian step that the gun control crowd insists they don’t really want.

Among his “executive actions”: “Nominate an ATF director.” That’s not an executive action, that’s a reminder you write to yourself on a Post-It note.

Assault Weapons Ban? It was in effect during the Columbine massacre.

Extended magazine ban? You’ll recall my brief flirtation with the idea. I’m now pretty dissuaded that it would have much of an impact on future mass shootings, since A) a shooter can reload within a few seconds, with just a bit of practice; B) most shooters in these cases carry more than one gun, so they’ll be able to inflict quite a bit of mayhem before needing to reload; C) there are already plenty of these magazines out on the market, and no one’s seriously called for confiscating them all; and D) you can manufacture them yourselves with 3-D printers, so you’ll never be able to really shut down production of them.

Would smaller-capacity clips mean fewer fired shots before someone was able to intervene? Maybe, on the margins. But let’s not fool ourselves about the impact we’re talking about with this change. A gunman who brings two guns with the 10-round magazines the president wants to require can still fire 20 shots before that first several-second reloading pause; in a school, park, college campus, shopping mall, or other public place with a lot of unarmed potential victims, that’s a lot of potential death and injury.

On Obama’s list is “Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.” Note that the Newtown gunman had no criminal record and had not been ruled mentally ill by a judge, meaning he would not have shown up in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. (He did try to purchase a rifle before the massacre but left the store without purchasing because he did not want to wait the two weeks required under Connecticut law.) Remember, despite a considerable history of odd behavior, the Tucson gunman was never legally declared mentally ill or a threat to himself or others. (After he was suspended from Pima Community College, the school said he could not be readmitted without “clearance from a mental health official.”)

I will be surprised if the “tighten our mental-health records” talk doesn’t lead to a much lower threshold to be declared “mentally ill” and unfit to own a firearm. And whatever that new, lower, more vague and arbitrary threshold is, I’ll bet it makes troubled individuals — or even not-so-troubled individuals — even more reticent to see a therapist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.

But hey, at least the politicians get to say that they “did something.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Guns

Cohen Yearns for ‘Abolishing’ Right to Own Handguns



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Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen ably demonstrates why gun owners and Second Amendment supporters do not believe their opponents when they say they just want “sensible” gun control measures:

The liberal agenda once included confiscating handguns and abolishing the right to own one — never mind the right to carry one at all times. In his book “Living With Guns,” Craig Whitney excavates the fact that in 1969 a presidential commission called for the confiscation of almost all handguns — and the prosecution of those who would not comply. The commission was headed by Milton S. Eisenhower, the brother of the former president and no one’s idea of a left-wing radical. (He was the former president of Johns Hopkins University.)

Much has changed since then. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a respected anti-gun group, used to be called Handgun Control. The name itself shows how far things have come. The goal of handgun control, not to mention elimination, is now out of the question. The Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision certainly put it out of reach, but even before that, a Milton Eisenhower-type call to seize all the guns would have been met with derision. The once sturdy and sensible liberal goal had become an embarrassment.

Gun-control advocates insist they have no intention of banning guns, seizing them all, and prosecuting those who refuse to turn over tools they purchased with their own money, or family heirlooms, over to the government . . . even though they wanted to do precisely that a generation ago. Today Cohen calls that approach, of suddenly criminalizing millions of Americans who have never fired a shot in anger, “a sturdy and sensible liberal goal.”

Because we can never have a society free from violence, those who seek the abolition of private gun ownership will always have some tragedy they can point to as justification for one more law restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns — all the while ignoring that criminals don’t care whether their possession of a gun is legal or not.

As for the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, it was a 5–4 vote. Who knows if some future Court, with a slightly different membership, might rule otherwise, and declare that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to own a firearm?

Tags: Guns

Des Moines Register: On Second Thought, We Oppose Dragging Lawmakers from Trucks.



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The editor of the Des Moines Registerregrets the missteps” in handling a column that called for “[tying] Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.”

Strangely, the columnist did not mention Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, rated “B” by the NRA, which the columnist said should be designated a “terrorist organization.”

The columnist now laments the number of threatening phone calls he’s received since publishing the column; he also insists it was satire, and compares himself to Jonathan Swift.

Tags: Des Moines Register , Guns , NRA

Grappling With It All



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It’s a grim Morning Jolt today, as you would expect.

I’m pretty convinced that the media coverage fuels these impulses in these young men, disturbed and full of rage and desperately craving some recognition of them, their potential, their pain.

John Tabin spotlighted this assessment from a forensic psychiatrist:

If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.

Don’t make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market. 

And of course, each one seems to spur copycats.  

A northern Indiana man who allegedly threatened to “kill as many people as he could” at an elementary school near his home was arrested by officers who later found 47 guns and ammunition hidden throughout his home.

Von. I. Meyer, 60, of Cedar Lake, was arrested Saturday after prosecutors filed formal charges of felony intimidation, domestic battery and resisting law enforcement against him. He was being held Sunday without bond at the Lake County Jail, pending an initial hearing on the charges, police said in a statement.

Cedar Lake Police officers were called to Meyer’s home early Friday after he allegedly threatened to set his wife on fire once she fell asleep, the statement said.

Meyer also threatened to enter nearby Jane Ball Elementary School “and kill as many people as he could before police could stop him,” the statement said. Meyer’s home is less than 1,000 feet from the school and linked to it by trails and paths through a wooded area, police said.

Again and again:

 A Bartlesville High School student is in custody on charges he plotted to bomb and shoot students at the campus auditorium on the same day that 28 people were shot and killed at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Police arrested 18-year-old Sammie Eaglebear Chavez at about 4:30 a.m. Friday after learning of the alleged plot Thursday.

An arrest affidavit says Chavez tried to convince other students to help him lure students into the auditorium, chain the doors shut and start shooting. The Tulsa World reports that authorities say Chavez threatened to kill students who didn’t help.

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise reports Chavez planned to detonate bombs at the doors as police arrived.

It feels like we’re in a sickening game of “can you top this” by evil people. “You shoot up a politicians’ event, I’ll shoot up a movie theater.” “You shoot up a movie theater, I’ll shoot up a kindergarten.” Each twisted soul is upping the ante for the next to really shock and horrify us – a senior citizens’ center? A nursery school? A neonatal intensive care unit?

The usual argument on this point is “we need to ramp up our mental health efforts,” but that’s easier said than done. And what we’re really talking about is involuntary detainment and observation of people if they are deemed threatening by “odd behavior.” If you think seeking therapy and mental health treatment is stigmatized now, wait until the government can easily access your mental health records without your consent to determine if you’re a threat to society.

You’ll hear an argument about arming teachers, a solution that has its own problems, among them that the security at any given school will depend upon A) teachers willing to carry weapons in their classrooms and B) their ability to control a firearm at all times. The first time a teacher forgets and leaves their gun where a student can touch it, that whole policy will become the newest scapegoat.

 I’m not sure that school security is really the right focus, because most schools, with their press-the-buzzer-to-enter, check in at the front office, closed-circuit television cameras, and so on, are not built to stop a determined murderer with multiple guns. Few facilities in our country are. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure I want to rearrange every school in America to be a fortress, designed to stop a determined murderer with multiple guns; the result would be the mass “TSA-ization” of American life.

Tags: Guns

The Modern Collective-Blame Instinct



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While today’s Jolt examines the media’s knee-jerk impulse towards collective responsibility, Jeff Dobbs recalls a couple of examples from our president, preferring to discuss abstract concepts like “cynicism” and “communities that are ignored” rather than the evil acts of individuals:

When Obama appeared at an AIPAC policy conference, he delivered this line:

“The biggest enemy I think we have in this whole process (and why I’m so glad to see a lot of young people here, young in spirit if not young in age) — the reason I think it’s so important, is because one of the enemies we have to fight — it’s not just terrorists, it’s not just Hezbollah, it’s not just Hamas — it’s also cynicism,”

When Obama gave a speech immediately after the Virginia Tech shooting, he delivered this:

There’s also another kind of violence though that we’re gonna have to think about. It’s not necessarily physical violence but that the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways. Last week, the big news, obviously, had to do with Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women who were role models for all of us, role models for my daughter. . . .

There’s the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under ‘em because their job has moved to another country. . . .

There is the violence of children, whose voices are not heard, in communities that are ignored. Who don’t have access to a decent education, who are surrounded by drugs and crime and a lack of hope. . . .

When Obama gave a speech at the Detroit Economic Club, he delivered this line:

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the country that faced down the tyranny of fascism and communism is now called to challenge the tyranny of oil.

Obama deals comfortably in the abstract. He moves seamlessly in comparing any level of wrong to the greatest examples of evil. He speaks in words where losing your job is as bad as being shot and killed; where cynicism is as bad as terrorists aiming rocket attacks at innocent civilians; where confronting our energy needs is as bad as Soviet gulags.

And of course, we all remember how the horrible acts of “textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia” Jared Loughner were attributed to a map on the web site of Sarah Palin and the rhetoric of the tea-party movement.

Now we see what “never waste a crisis” means: never let any horrific act go unattributed to your political foes.

Tags: Guns

Enough ‘We’re All Responsible for Acts of Horror’ Nonsense



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Some days, it’s tough to find topics that get the blood flowing for the Morning Jolt. This was not one of those mornings.

Enough with the ‘We’re All Responsible for Individual Acts of Horror’ Nonsense

Oh, great, we’re headed to another giant “teachable moment” in which a politically unfashionable group of Americans is blamed for the actions of a disturbed or deeply troubled violent individual.

In case you missed it, on Saturday morning, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, the mother of his three-month-old daughter, and then committed suicide in the team’s stadium parking lot.

On the telecast of Sunday night’s Dallas Cowboys–Philadelphia Eagles game, NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas got up on his soapbox and quoted a column from Jason Whitlock, declaring, “Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. . . . Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”

Now that we know that Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock believe that guns emit some sort of magic mood-altering or mind-controlling wave that make people more confrontational and flawed, we can all hope that neither Costas or Whitlock get their hands on a gun. (One wonders if they’re secretly Carl Rowan–style gun control advocates.)

Stephen Kruiser: “Sanctimony has always been a Bob Costas hallmark, it’s just creepier now that it’s coming from his Madame Tussauds face.”

Over at Breitbart, Ben Shapiro calls our attention to a CNN.com column by Kevin Powell, former Democratic congressional candidate in New York, and a cast member on MTV’s original season of “The Real World.”

For the past several years, I have privately advised and counseled several professional and amateur athletes, and entertainers, all men, all grappling with very warped definitions of manhood. The recurring theme over and over is fear of expressing themselves fully, fear of letting others down, fear of not being the tough and rugged men they were told they had to be. And on the inside so many of them are damaged as a result. The very definition of manhood they’ve embraced is more an emotional prison than anything else.

This is probably why the one scene that is locked in for me is of Belcher thanking his coach and general manager for what they did for him. Then walking away and shooting himself in the head.

We must struggle, harder than ever, as men, as boys, as a nation, to reach the point where a heart-to-heart conversation is the first and only option, not a gun, not gun violence. The lives of Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins will have been in vain completely if we do not go deeper within ourselves to teach and show our sons, our husbands, our boyfriends, our fathers, our men and boys, that there is another way.

Okay, once and for all: Enough with this ‘we’re all to blame, we must all struggle to prevent tragedy’ bullcrap. Because none of us had anything to do with the actions of Jovan Belcher. You and I and every other reader of this newsletter and about 99.999 percent of the American people prevent these sorts of tragedies every day . . . by not committing them, and by never seriously contemplating considering them. We are not all ticking time bombs, one stressful day away from committing mass murder. If we were, civilization would collapse.

“Show our sons there is another way”? News flash, pal, the vast majority of the fathers you encounter do exactly that, every day, day in and day out. And the ones that do need to be reminded to tell their sons that you can solve problems without firearms aren’t reading CNN.com.

Why the heck is some former reality-television host running around telling us that all of us who never met or knew Belcher somehow have let these tragedies happen, or that we’re supposed to take responsibility, or to tell other men that . . . oh, that’s why.

Oh, and is anyone else unsurprised that the people who Powell finds “dealing with a very warped definition of manhood” are “several professional and amateur athletes, and entertainers”? Because if there’s anything we’ve seen in our modern culture, it is that once you become a celebrity, the rules and societal expectations change suddenly and dramatically, to the point of certain laws seeming to never be enforced. (How many times will Lindsey Lohan get convicted, with no real consequence? How does Chris Brown still have fans, and why do they give Red Eye’s Andy Levy grief?)

In The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America, Dr. Drew Pinsky — former host of a VH1 television series about celebrities going through rehab — lamented, “According to research by John Maltby and his colleagues, as the level of religious devotion decreases, the level of celebrity worship increases. The rich and famous are the most prominent, and exclusive, in-group we have. And the more we watch, and feel excluded from, such a desirable group, the more we’re unconsciously motivated to mimic their behavior.”

Ace offered one of my favorite takes on all this:

Another thing Costas does here is to ignore three cultural matters that are less easily burbled about than his anti-”gun culture” kick, which of course safely targets White Republicans. Adam Carolla talks about this a lot — it is a favorite posture of the liberal urban elite to discuss safe villains, White Republicans, who have nothing to do with the ills they’re discussing, in order to avoid talking about things that aren’t so easy to talk about. Things that actually do have something to do with the ill they’re talking about.

The easiest of the other three cultures to discuss is the bubble that athlete heroes live in, in which most of their personal problems are “fixed” by a large and wealthy organization that has a lot of investment in them. This leads to the idea of action without consequences and all the evils that flow from that.

More difficult to discuss is the very violence implicit in football itself — violence that leads to concussions and brain injuries (and brain injuries of course may well lead to defects in thought and judgement).

This is especially difficult to discuss because you can’t have football without this. You cannot have what we know as “football” without the very real risk and frequent incidence of serious brain trauma.

Thus, we’re all kind of complicit in this, or, putting it a different way, we’ve all accepted the violence as a necessary evil for a bit of entertainment. The athletes accept the cost-benefit tradeoff; the teams accept it; NBC accepts it; the public accepts it. We all accept that to have the game as we’ve had the game, and as we want the game, there are going to be some serious casualties along the way, the most serious of which involve the brain and spinal column.

And that’s kind of a heavy, ugly idea. But it’s true. Ninety percent of human thought is, I sometimes think, devoted to rationalizing why things which are obviously true are not true. And we reward people who give us the best, most plausible falsehoods denying the obvious truth.

Finally, I cannot recommend enough Kristina Ribali’s account of defending herself and her family from a vile, vile man. It’s not easy reading – even more unnerving if you know her – but her point is clear, and yet somehow forgotten in these debates:

This serial offender has not bothered our family again. He did go on to “peep” again and his crimes escalated to breaking and entering and attempted rape. More victims. More nights of sleep lost for countless women. This man’s actions were illegal: trespassing, attempted rape, peeping, drug use and breaking and entering.

There are laws against all of those actions and yet, imagine that, it didn’t stop him. The only thing that finally stopped this man was an armed citizen exercising her legal right to own a firearm.

So in the wake of the Aurora tragedy, let’s reflect on the true nature of the problem. It is not the gun that slain those innocent people in that theater. It was the actions of an evil man who was willing to risk death for the opportunity to shed blood. No law will ever stop someone with a penchant for death. Evil is present, and there will not be less evil because you choose to ignore it or not to defend yourself against it.

Tags: Guns

The Joy of Shooting



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Longtime readers know I’ve been appearing on NRA News on SiriusXM satellite radio since 2004, and periodically write about Second Amendment issues. But until very recently, I had never picked up, much less fired a gun.

I’m thinking of writing a longer piece about my first trip to the shooting range, but here is the video, courtesy the fine fellows Cam Edwards of NRA News and Ed Friedman of Shooting Illustrated magazine:

 

Yes, it is every bit as much fun as it looks.

Tags: Guns

Look at the Fine Print on Guns-In-Households Statistics



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As mentioned earlier, I’m in Pittsburgh for the annual National Rifle Association convention. Most of the political speakers appear tomorrow.

Over at the Huffington Post, Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence unveils this year’s new talking point, an argument that the perception of American gun ownership is vastly overstated:

At the NRA’s national convention in Pittsburgh this week, look for the speakers, presidential hopefuls and ardent supporters to rally around the fairy tale that America is a gun-loving country. But don’t believe it.

Gun ownership in the nation is at the lowest level ever recorded by the General Social Survey, according to an analysis issued Tuesday by theViolence Policy Center. The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago has been surveying the American public on gun ownership since the early 1970s. Far from representing the mainstream sentiment of Americans, the NRA’s gun-in-every-home-and-hollow mantra is resonating with fewer and fewer of us.

…In 2010, less than a third of households reported having a gun in the home. This is better than a 20-point drop from 1977, when 54 percent of households reported having guns.

For a moment, let’s presume that the data from the National Opinion Research Center is accurate.

The number of households in America in 1973, according to census data, was 68,251,000. According to NORC, 49.1 percent of them owned guns, and that brings us to 33,511,241 households with guns.

Now let’s compare that to today.  I’ve had a hard time finding a good count on the number of households in the U.S. in 2010. Back in the mid-1990s, the Census Bureau estimated it to be 114 million. However, the U.S. Census Bureau declared that it sent out forms to 120 million households in 2010; the census bureau director referred to making contact with “over 130 million households.”

Let’s begin with the mid-1990s low estimate of 114,825,428. Presuming that NORC’s figure that 32.3 percent of American households own guns, that brings us to 37,088,613 households.

If we’re closer to 120 million households, it’s 38,760,000 households with guns; if it’s 130 million households, it’s 41,900,000 households with guns.

So, sure, the gun-owning home percentage is shrinking, but the absolute number of gun-owning households is increasing. Over at the Huffington Post, Helmke writes, “Significantly fewer households and individuals now have guns,” which is just flat wrong, even using his own numbers.

Of course, I’m a little wary of the NORC methodology, particularly when you look at their results, year to year, listed on the Violence Policy Center’s press release.  In some years, the year-to-year percentages are pretty stable, but in others it changes dramatically in a way that should raise eyebrows. Are we really to believe that between 1976 and 1977, almost 5 percent of all American households went from non-gun-owning to gun-owning? That amounts to 3.1 million households. (Could Jimmy Carter’s election really be that ominous?)

And then the numbers get really weird in the late 1980s. In 1987, 48.6 percent of households own guns; the next year it suddenly drops by more than 5 percentage points to 43.4. (Put another way, in one year, 11 percent of gun-owning households threw away their firearms?) Then, the following year, it bounces back up to 48.9 percent.  What, in 1988, five percent of all American households – about 4.5 million of them – misplaced their guns, and then all of them found them the following year? Does this make sense to anyone?

The very last line of the Violence Policy Center release, listing potential causes for the decline their numbers show, is actually the most insightful, noting, “The increase in single-parent homes headed by women.”

Fewer women own guns than men, and obviously, minors do not own guns (the precise age depends on the state and whether the gun is a handgun or rifle). Single-parent homes headed by mothers are much more widespread now than in 1971 – and thus, our nation includes more non-gun-owning households.

Tags: Guns

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