Friday, June 5, 2020

NYT Article Pushes Idea That Guns Cause Suicide - Why They Are Wrong

Anti-gun rights groups only care about
firearms suicides, not actually
reducing suicide deaths
The New York Times recently published yet another article pushing the narrative that owning a firearm increases the risk of suicide.  To most people, this seems logical - but I know that the reasoning leading to this conclusion is false.  I have a great deal of experience with suicide, thanks to 10 years experience in EMS.  As a result, I absolutely know that every study I have ever seen on the issue of guns and suicide is pure bunk, as is this article.  Here's why.

1) As anyone who has ever been a first responder knows, the vast majority of so called "suicide attempts" are not in fact attempts to commit suicide.

Never the less, that will be the admission diagnosis.  So when is a suicide attempt not a suicide attempt?  Answer: When it is done to manipulate someone or as a "cry for help" - and this intent affects the method chosen.

This is something that I, as an EMT and Paramedic saw all the time.  For instance, we would get a call for an "overdose".  Arriving at the scene, we would find the person who had overdosed, usually on some over the counter medication.  They had then called the person they wished to manipulate and informed them that they had taken pills in an effort to kill themselves.  Of course, this person then either rushes over to the overdose "victim" or calls 911.  We would arrive and typically find a fully awake patient who now would be placed on a mental health hold due to "attempt suicide".  Frequently they would be interacting with the person they called.  In many cases they claimed to have taken such a small quantity of pills that it was clear there was no attempt to harm themselves.  Of course, everyone goes forward as if the person really wanted to die.  We would then transport the person to the county hospital on a mental health hold.  They would be admitted as "attempt suicide", method "medication overdose".  For every actual suicide attempt I responded to in my 10 years in EMS, I responded to 50 to 100 of these "non-suicide suicide attempts". 

The problem arises when someone does a statistical study for suicide attempts and methods.  All of these "non-suicide suicide attempts" are counted as actual suicide attempts that did not succeed.  The false conclusion is reflected in the following quote from the NYT article:

“Many suicide attempts are impulsive, and the crisis that leads to them is fleeting,” Dr. Miller said. “The method you use largely determines whether you live or die. And if you use a gun, you are far more likely to die than with other methods, like taking pills. With guns, you usually do not get a second chance.”

That conclusion is written based on faulty information.  The vast majority of people who take pills do not want to die.  Those who use firearms or other deadly methods do.

2) People chose a suicide method based upon their desire to live or their desire to die.

The second lesson I learned as an EMT/Paramedic is that people who really want to die choose a method that is quick and sure.  They do not want to be found and saved.  While the act seems impulsive to those left behind, it has been considered and likely planned for a long time. 

In the US, where firearms are available, they are frequently chosen. however, they are not the only method of ending one's life quickly.  People use rope to hang themselves, they jump from high places and use many other methods.

Even the flawed research supports this conclusion.  Again referring to the NYT article we learn this on paragraph TWELVE:

"Another possibility was so-called reverse causation: that many buyers were bent on suicide before they bought the gun. The findings did provide some evidence of that. In the month immediately after first-time owners obtained their weapons (California has a 10-day waiting period), the risk of shooting themselves on purpose was nearly 500 per 100,000, about 100 times higher than similar non-owners; after several years it tapered off to about twice the rate."

3) The data from the rest of the world completely refutes the article's conclusion.

First, the nations that have the highest suicide rates frequently have very low to no legal firearms availability.  These nations include Russia 26.5 (93% higher than US), Belarus 21.4 (56% higher) and South Korea 20.2 (47% higher).  Somehow, people in these nations are able to commit suicide at very high rates without access to firearms.

Second, when we compare similar English speaking nations, that widely differ in their access to firearms, we do not see a huge difference in the suicide rates:

UK (2018) suicide rate of 11.2 per 100k population - firearms in 4% of homes.
US (2017) suicide rate of 14.0 per 100K  population - firearms in 45% of homes.
Canada (2017) suicide rate of 11.3 per 100k population - firearms in 28% of homes.
(Stats from Wikipedia or other official sources)

It is especially notable that Canada has seven times the firearms availability as the UK and virtually the same suicide rate.  If firearms are the factor this article claims, Canada's suicide rate should be much, much higher.

4) Finally, it is a practical impossibly to eliminate all suicide methods that those who truly wish to die might use.

Even this chart from an anti-gun rights source
shows that as firearms are made less available
suicides do not go down.  People simply use
other methods.
In the UK the most common method is hanging - yet no one is trying to eliminate access to rope and other cordage.  We cannot eliminate access to every high place, or to traffic, or quick acting poisons, and the list goes on.  If we are going to reduce the suicide rate in the US, gun control is not the answer.  That's why some mental health professionals are speaking out against the idea.

Why do gun control advocates push gun control as the answer to suicide?  Well, as gun ownership and concealed carry have skyrocketed, the murder rate has dropped by 50% and violent crime has plummeted.  Their answer has been to push their own "gun death" figure that combines all firearms related deaths.  However, about 66% of these deaths are suicides.  If people realize that gun control has no hope of reducing suicides, those who are anti-gun rights lose their most powerful argument.   That is why they will continue to push this lie.

Friday, September 13, 2019

How We Can Turn Background Checks Into A Huge Win

We can have HR 8, or we can have
a law that is more reasonable AND
contains many pro-gun provisions
Please read this entire post before commenting!

1) We must take the background check issue off of the table – and the only way to do that is for us to our own expansion of background checks.

Why must we do this?  The answer is simple: HR 8.  Bloomberg and his allies will use this issue to push horrible laws that go way beyond background checks.  This issue is the most popular gun control law with people who normally oppose new gun laws.  Therefore, it is the choice vehicle to “piggy back” everything we hate.

It is critically important that we understand the level of support for background checks.  No, I do not believe that they will do much good.  However, this is completely irrelevant.  The majority of Americans who support background checks do not support them because they think they will work – they support them ON PRINCIPLE.  However, they primarily are concerned about stranger to stranger transactions – not transactions between relatives or others well known to each other. 

The greatest danger we face is the passage of an HR 8 like bill – and if Dems ever get control of both houses and the presidency, such a bill will pass.  That could happen as soon as 2020.  However, getting an HR 8 bill passed would be almost impossible if they have to argue for it on it's merits.  They would have to argue that they want to send people to prison for allowing someone to shoot their gun, or transferring a gun to someone they have known for decades.  That is not a wining argument.  There would be no arguing that they need to close the “gun show loophole”.  Will they still try to pass such bills?  Sure they will, but they will lose the support of House and Senate members in most swing districts, which will make passage impossible.

Arguing that we should be able to sell a gun to a stranger without a background check is a loser for us.

Arguing that it should be a crime for me to let you handle my gun or shoot it in the woods is a loser for them.

If you think we can win a battle over Bloomberg background checks by educating the public, I suggest you ask the gun owners in Colorado, Washington, Nevada and New Mexico how that plan worked out for them.  Clue: It didn't.

Another argument against expanding background checks is that no enforcement would be possible without a gun registry.  However, this is not the case.  I have no doubt that such an argument would be made by the gun grabbers, but it is unlikely to work.

First of all, by definition, the purpose of expanding checks to private stranger to stranger transaction is to prevent honest people from selling firearms to prohibited persons.  Therefore, it depends upon voluntary compliance.  Given the fact the such sales are already a tiny source of criminals firearms, it is clear that most private parties are very careful about who the sell to.  Compliance likely would be high.

Second, there are many laws that are equally hard to enforce.  All drug laws concerning personal use fall into this category.  These laws are enforced when the come to the attention of police in the course of their investigations.  One way a violator could be caught:  A criminal is caught with gun.  The cops ask him where he got it.  He says he bought it from Mr. Brown without a background check.  Cops contact Mr. Brown and ask him if this is true.  He says there was a check done at Joe's Gun Shop.  From there the cops could refer the case to ATF who would check for a 4473 and bound book entry at Joe's Gun Shop.  In short, it's not rocket science.

2) Just as Bloomberg has used background checks to advance his agenda, we can use the same issue to advance our agenda.

First, we should start with Manchin/Toomey.  We should take a long look at that bill to make sure that it only covers stranger to stranger transactions.  Currently, Manchin and Toomey have made it clear that this is the case.  The requirement for a check is tripped if the firearm is sold at a gun show or advertized to strangers.  Manchin has used the example of posting a card on your church bulletin board as a case where a check would not be required.  This exemption is a must.

Second, we should demand that the final Manchin/Toomey bill of 2013 be the starting point.  Why?  Simple: There are a TON of pro-gun rights provisions in it.  For one thing, it allowed purchases in ANY STATE.  It also added necessary teeth to the innocent passage provisions of the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act – specifically damages if local authorities arrest you in violation of it.  Additionally, it made the creation of a federal gun registry a felony that carries a 15 year sentence.  This version should be the starting point.

Third, we need to push for more, such as:

Preemption of state background check laws.  With this expansion of the federal program, there is no need for any state background check system.  This entire area of law should be completely preempted by the federal government.  Furthermore, additional checks serve no further purpose and therefore are clearly unconstitutional.

CCW license reciprocity.  Any state license meeting minimum requirements would have to be honored in any state.

Gun free zone liability.  Any location open to the public, including locations where people are admitted by membership with have to either allow some form of lawful carry or provide armed security AND screen those entering the location.  If they elect to provide security, then they must also secure the perimeter.  Failure to do one of the two options would result in their being fully liable for injuries and deaths resulting from a mass shooting. 

If we could get all of the above, I personally would consider that to be a win.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

7 Reasons Why The Supreme Court Will Overturn Any Assault Weapons Ban

1) Lower court rulings on assault weapons bans are meaningless.  Lower courts are ignoring historical rulings, original intent, two recent rulings of the Supreme Court (Heller and McDonald), and the text of the 2nd Amendment itself.  This is why some justices have said that the 2nd Amendment is becoming a 2nd class right.  However, this has changed with the appointment of Justice Gorsuch – who has previously voted to overturn such laws.  After his appointment, SCOTUS literally took the first gun rights case appealed to the court.  Things have definitely changed – and Pres. Trump could very well get another appointment before they would hear an assault weapons case.  We should also remember that lower courts were reversed in both Heller (2008) and McDonald (2010).

2) The Supreme Court ruled in 1939 (in Miller) that in order to be protected by the 2nd Amendment, a firearm had to be a weapon of war.  Specifically, the court found that in order to be protected, a firearm had to have “value in the context of a militia”.  This is the exact opposite of the argument that “weapons of war” should be banned.  Lest you think that this is a gun rights view of Miller, Washington DC argued in Heller (2008) that their handgun ban was constitutional because handguns did not have “militia value”.  The court rejected this argument by finding that they did indeed have such value.

3) Any assault weapons ban directly conflicts original intent.  There is every indication that a majority of the current court  believes that original intent is very important.  It is an indisputable fact that the original intent of the 2nd Amendment included the ability of state to quickly raise a militia, and the ability of the people to both deter and respond to any tyrannical and unconstitutional government.  The ability to own and possess a viable infantry rifle is essential to this purpose. 

4) The explicit textual reference to militia.  It's not just the original intent that supports the idea that individual weapons suitable for militia service are protected, the militia purpose is right there in the text!

5) Basic argument for the constitutionality of an assault weapons ban was rejected in rejected by SCOTUS in Heller (2008).   The argument for an assault weapons ban is exactly the same as the argument Washington, DC made in support of their handgun ban: The banned firearm is too dangerous.  There is one very important difference: When applied to an assault weapons ban it is much weaker.  DC argued in Heller that because handguns are used in 63% of homicides, they are uniquely dangerous and a ban should be permitted.  The high court rejected that argument.  According to FBI stats, all kinds of rifles are used in less that 2% of homicides.  Given that rifles are often weapons of opportunity, the so called assault weapons are likely used in less than 1% of homicides.  If the Supreme Court refused to ban the most common homicide weapon, used in 63 times more murders than so called assault weapons the chance that they will ban these rifles because they are uniquely dangerous in nil. 

6) Any “assault weapons ban” fails the common use test established in Heller.  If government were to decide what firearms are and are not protected, there would effectively be no 2nd Amendment right.  Therefore, in Heller (2008) the Supreme Court established a test to determine what firearms are and are not protected.  They reasoned that, when called into militia service, citizens would bring firearms they chose to own for other lawful purposes.  Therefore, the court ruled that any firearm commonly possessed for any lawful purpose is protected.  So called assault weapons are the most popular firearms in the country, at least 40 million are legally owned in the US.  They are used for target shooting, hunting and self defense. Every year they outsell all other rifles.  If they are not in common use, no firearm is.

7) The level of protection SCOTUS will likely assign to the 2nd Amendment right makes an assault weapons ban impossible.  The statement in the McDonald (2008) that the 2nd Amendment right is “essential to our system of ordered liberty” strongly hints that the high court will assign the highest level of constitutional protection to the 2nd Amendment right: Strict scrutiny.  Indeed they could make this determination in the gun case they will hear next Spring.  If they do, an assault weapons ban would be impossible.  They would have to prove that there is a compelling need to regulate such firearms and that a ban is the least intrusive (upon the 2nd Amendment right) method of addressing that need.  That would be an impossible task.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Details Matter: Finding Ways To Reduce Mass Shootings

As this is written, in the wake of two horrible mass murders involving firearms, we are seeing the same knee jerk proposals and the same response in opposition.  I'm writing this in an effort to break this deadlock and help us to actually do something about the senseless mass murders that have become all too common.  I will look at the common proposals and offer some alternatives that may be much more effective.

No one wants mass shootings to continue.  Not gun control advocates, not gun rights advocates.  No one - least of all the gun rights advocates, because they are a clear danger to the right they want to protect.

Before we look at the various proposals, we must recognize that there are constitutional limits that rule out many potential gun laws.  For instance, the Supreme Court has taken a handgun ban off of the table, even though handguns are the most common weapon in both mass shootings and murders in general.  Additionally, SCOTUS has established a test that all gun control laws must pass.  More on this later.

So, let's look at some of the most common proposals:

Red Flag Laws are deeply flawed - but alternatives could do a lot of good

The potential for abuse of Red Flag Laws
is great - during the first year of California's
law 90% of orders were determined to be
unfounded and were lifted after the subject's
case was heard.
Red Flag Laws are a step in the right direction in that they focus on dangerous people, rather than just one method of mass murder.  However, they are flawed because after finding that the person is dangerous, all that is done is to take away their guns.  The flaw in this system can be seen in the very crime that motivated the passage of the first such law.  In that case, the murderer used knives, his car and guns to kill people.  Had a Red Flag Law been in place, and if it were used, his guns would have been taken away - but he would have been free to murder with his knives and his car.  He also would have been free buy a firearm on the black market.  It doesn't matter if you are killed with a gun, a truck or a bomb - you are still dead.

There are, however, better alternatives.  

First, every state should have an emergency mental health commitment law - and police need to be trained to make the most of them.  We need to recognize and treat the mentally ill.  If need be, they should be confined long term.  People committed under such laws can and should lose their firearms rights.  Police should have the ability to seize firearms from people thus committed.  It makes no sense to say, "This person is mentally unstable and dangerous, but all we are going to do is take the guns they have now."  Of course, due process must be protected, but this is also doable.

Second, we need to make sure that current laws forbidding subjects of restraining orders, also called orders of protection, from possessing firearms are enforced.  Judges should order firearms seizures at the time such orders are issued.  While restraining orders are far from perfect, it makes no sense to issue such an order and allow the subject to keep their firearms - or to take their firearms without issuing an order.

Third, we need to make preparing to conduct a mass murder a crime.  If two people conspire to plan a mass shooting, they can be prosecuted for conspiracy.  The problem with mass shootings is that they are usually a solo crime.  We need to make sure that law enforcement has the tools to put those who are actively planning and preparing to commit mass murder away for a very long time.

Once we have taken the preceding steps, it is possible that there may be a limited place for Red Flag Laws - but only when the mental health and criminal laws fail - and only if the constitutional right to due process of law is respected.  They are not going to work as the primary tool to prevent mass murder.

We need to adopt the methods used by the Secret Service and those used by domestic intelligence agencies to stop terrorist attacks.

The focus here is on detecting the attacks before they happen.  This will not stop 100% of them, but it would stop many of them.  We need to stop focusing upon the tool that mass murderers use, and make our primary focus detecting and stopping dangerous people.  We have not lost a president in over 55 years.  Many assassination attempts have been detected and stopped before they ever got close to happening.  Applying these methods should enable us to stop mass murders no matter what method they plan to use - and there are many..

The greatest risk factor for mass shootings may very well be phony gun free zones, secured by nothing more than a sign

Two places where there have never been a mass shooting: The secure area of an airport and a shooting range - the first because no one has guns except security personnel, and the second because everyone has a gun.

If a gun free zone is really secured - screening at all entrances, metal detectors, etc. and the perimeter is properly secured, the risk of a mass shooting is greatly reduced if not completely eliminated.  If the location is open, but potential attackers know that there is a good chance that potential victims are armed, there is also little chance of an attack.  

Both of these facts are especially true of random public mass shootings where the sick individual simply wants to kill as many people as possible, with little or no regard for who they are.

The problem is not gun free zones per se, it is gun free zones enforced by the "honor system".  Posting a sign is very effective at keeping people who are legally armed, such as off duty cops and people licensed to carry, out of the area.  Cops and CCW license holders are both extremely law abiding - they are simply not a threat.  Keeping these people out of an area does not make that area safer - it makes it more dangerous.

It's not just the absence of cops and legally armed citizens that make these areas less safe, it is the fact that mass murderers can see the signs and know that they are unlikely to face any armed opposition for several minutes.  The longer it takes for a "good guy with a gun" to arrive the higher the body count - and these sick individuals want to kill as many people as possible.

Gun control groups play fast and loose with the facts on gun free zones.  I have looked at literally hundreds of public mass shootings, and the overwhelming majority took place in gun free zones.  So, how come gun control groups constantly say this is not true?

The FBI considers any shooting with 4 or more victims to be a "mass shooting".  Obviously,  with this definition, there are many different kinds of mass shootings.  They fall naturally into the following categories: Domestic violence, gang shootings, workplace violence, and public mass shootings.  Obviously, there is a huge difference between a gang "drive by" and workplace violence.  If you mix all of these very different categories together, gun free zones do not appear to be as much of a factor - but if you look at public mass shootings and workplace violence, you discover that well over 90% of these shootings happen in gun free zones. 

The most effective way to deter potential public mass shooters is to let them know that they will probably face armed opposition very quickly.

This can be done with covert armed security, and/or allowing lawful carrying of firearms - and then making sure that potential mass shooters know about it.  As mentioned above, the goal of workplace mass shooters and public mass shooters is not to kill "only" one or two people.  As if playing a video game, they want to rack up the highest "score" possible.  They hope to do this by selecting a location where their victims will not be able to shoot back because they are not armed.

History shows that these sick individuals plan their crimes carefully.  Before they fire their first shot at a potential victim, they have already decided how they want things to end.  In the vast majority of cases, the plan is to die.  In a much smaller number of cases, the murderer wants to tell their story - which means they want to survive.  In only a very small number of cases have they wanted to "shoot it out" with police.

Either way, if they want to die or the want to live, as soon as they face another armed person, their ability to control the outcome disappears.  If they want to die, they could just be wounded and survive.  If they want to live they could be killed.  This loss of control causes the murderer to activate their end game plan - meaning that they either kill themselves or surrender.  Very rarely will they "shoot it out".

The point is that these individuals know going in that as soon as someone else with a gun shows up - it's over.  For this reason they try very hard to avoid places that may have armed citizens or off duty cops.  For instance, the Colorado theater shooter picked the only theater in the area that was showing the Batman film and had clearly posted "No Guns" signs.  There were theaters closer to his home, farther away, smaller and larger.  The only reason for picking that theater is that he knew that off duty cops and licensed citizens were not supposed to carry there.

Just as "no guns" signs attract mass murderers, making it clear that potential victims may be armed will likely cause them to look elsewhere. 

Expanding background checks will not help - but plugging the holes in the system likely will.

For details see Expanding Background
Checks Will Accomplish Almost
Nothing - There Is A Better Way
Contrary to what gun control groups want you to believe, neither criminals nor mass shooters are getting their firearms via the non-existent "gun show loophole" or via private party sales in which the seller does not know or suspects they could not pass a background check at a dealer.  Why do criminals get their guns?  For criminals, the most common source is black market dealers.  For mass shooters, the most common source is licensed dealers where they pass a background check, either because they have no prior events that prohibit firearms possession - or, and in Sutherland Springs, a conviction or mental health commitment was not reported to the FBI for inclusion in the database.  About 1/3 of of people prohibited from owning firearms are not in the system.  This means that they will pass a background check at any dealer.

We will get to the issue of mass murderers that have no prior record later, but we can prevent prohibited people from buying guns through legal channels by fixing our broken background check system.  All courts must be required to report all criminal convictions and mental health commitments to the FBI system.  Additionally, juvenile convictions and mental health records must be included.  This would have stopped the Ohio shooter from obtaining a gun through legal channels.

After Sutherland Springs, a bill aimed at fixing this problem passed, but we will be paying for the broken system for decades to come as criminals and other prohibited persons use the guns they were able to obtained when the system failed.  It also remains to be seen if the FixNICS law will produce results.

Our background check system will be useless until we punish people for "lying and trying"

Pres. Obama's ATF Director called prosecuting
criminals who illegally try to buy guns "a waste
of resources".
This change is directly related to what we just talked about.  Lying and trying is when a person who is prohibited by law from owning firearms - for instance because they are and convicted felon or have a history of severe mental illness - walks into a gun store and lies on the form, hoping to slip through.  This is exactly what the Sutherland Springs mass murderer did - and as we all know, he slipped through.

The problem here is that these people are almost never prosecuted.  Thousands are rejected each year and prosecutions number in the double digits each year.  Excuse me for suspecting that when someone who is mentally ill or a felon and they attempt to buy a gun illegally, we should be very, very concerned.

Instead, according to Pres. Obama's ATF director, prosecuting prohibited person for "lying and trying" is "a waste of resources".  It was not much better under the Bush administration.  I have not seen stats from the Trump administration, but I have heard nothing to indicate that things have changed.

The problem here is two fold:

First, we are missing an opportunity to prevent gun crime or even mass shootings.  In some cases these people simply want a gun for self defense, but in many cases they want it so they can commit gun crimes.  We are leaving them on the street, where they can access the thriving black market to obtain a firearm.

Second, with the prosecution rate so slow, prohibited persons know they are not taking much of a chance by lying in an attempt to slip through.  This encourages criminals and the mentally ill to do just that.

Our background check system will continue to be useless until we severely punish straw purchasers

The problem with this billboard is that
offenders seldom get any jail time,
much less ten years.
A straw purchase is when a person who cannot legally buy a firearm has someone with a clean record buy a firearm for them.  This is a crime (felony) for both the straw purchaser and the prohibited person.  There is a warning on the federal Form 4473 that everyone buying a firearm at a dealer must fill out - so these people know that what they are doing is highly illegal.

So, one would think that these people would be severely punished, right?  WRONG.  When they are prosecuted - and prosecution levels are low - it is nearly unheard of for for them to serve any time in prison.  Until it is well known that supplying a firearm to someone who cannot legally own one will cost you 5-10 years in prison, this will continue.

History shows that banning so called "assault weapons" will not help (and is likely unconstitutional) - any solution must focus on preventing ANY gun from being used in mass murder.

When one category of firearm is used in several mass shootings, the knee jerk reaction is to simply ban them.  However, people familiar with firearms who have followed mass shootings (like myself) can see the problems with this.  The bottom line is that you do not need a semi-auto rifle to kill a lot of people in a public mass shooting.  The mass murderer at Virginia Tech (who also slipped through the background check system) used two handguns to kill 33 people.  The Santa Fe High murderer used a 12 ga pump shotgun and a .38 revolver in the second most deadly school shooting of 2018.

Given this reality, it is easy to see why gun rights advocates don't want to agree to a ban on semi-auto rifles, or AR15s.  This is what they see happening:  First, so called assault rifles are banned.  If by some miracle that ban could actually be enforced, mass murderers would turn to other, less scary looking semi-auto rifles.  At that point the cry would go out to ban these rifles.  When the killing continues with semi-auto pistols, the call would be, " Ban handguns and the problem will be solved".  This would continue until all, or nearly all guns are banned.

Even worse is the argument that "weapons of war" should be banned.  What most people unfamiliar with guns do not know, but gun owners do know is that ALL GUNS are, or have been "weapons of war".  So effectively this is a call to ban all firearms, while still sounding reasonable.

The reality is that the AR15 is - by far - the most popular firearm in America.  Yet it is seldom used in murders.  In fact, 20 times more people are murdered with handguns than with all rifles combined.  In fact, more people are murdered with knives, clubs, and bare hands and feet INDIVIDUALLY than with all rifles combined.

While lower courts have continued to ignore the clear direction of SCOTUS in the landmark Heller decision, if it is applied, a ban of semi-auto rifles would clearly be unconstitutional.  The ruling contains a simple test to determine if a firearm is protected.  If a firearm is in common use by the public for ANY lawful purpose, it is protected PERIOD.  The AR15 pattern rifle is the most popular firearm in the U.S. - if it is not protected, no firearm is protected.

What guns can be banned under Heller?  Those that are both unusual (not in common use) and dangerous.  Some lower courts have actually interpreted the decision as if it reads unusual OR dangerous.  Of course, since all firearms are dangerous, this change allows any firearm to be banned.  Furthermore, the very argument in the Heller case was that handguns, as the primary murder weapon in the U.S. and the most common weapon in mass shootings, should be banned.  SCOTUS rejected this argument.

If Congress passed and Pres. Trump signed a semi-auto rifle ban tomorrow, it would be tied up in the courts for years - and given the makeup of the Supreme Court, would likely be struck down as unconstitutional.

It is far wiser to focus upon doing what we can - consistent with the Constitution - to keep dangerous people from getting ANY gun than to pin our hopes upon banning a single type of gun.

No gun control laws will do any good until we suppress the massive firearms black market - and that will be very, very hard

As indicated by the DOJ study referenced above, there is already a huge black market in firearms.  If we were to ban the most popular firearm in America, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a black market will develop.  The more restrictive the laws become, the greater the money to be made.  We already have been fighting a losing battle with drugs - any firearms ban would be huge plus for the same drug cartels.  They have the contacts for guns, they have the smugglers and they will certainly see this as a huge money making opportunity.

Remember, we cannot currently control the black market in guns.  A ban of the most popular gun in America would be like throwing gas on the fire.  Demand will still be there, and criminal organizations will move to meet that demand.  Mexico is awash in illegal AK47s from China, North Korea and countless other nations - so meeting the demand would be no problem for them.  A mass shooter would be able to buy one as easily as a bag of illegal pot.

If we have been unable to control the drug market, why do people think we could control the market in illegal guns?

History shows that magazine capacity limits are useless and potentially unconstitutional

The Parkland mass murderer
used 5 round magazines like
this - not "high capacity" mags.
Gun control advocates and their friends in the media love magazine bans.  Their reasoning is that people will be able to rush the attacker while they are reloading.  Of course, anyone with firearms experience knows that how quickly magazines can be changed.  After the Parkland mass murders, the media told us that 30 round magazines were used and contributed to the large death toll.  Months later we got the official report from the Parkland Commission - and we learned that the murderer had not used 30 round magazines, or 20 round magazines or even 10 round magazines - he used 5 round magazines designed for hunting.  Did these smaller magazines reduce the death toll?  Absolutely not.  Magazine limits are useless in the context of mass shootings.

They are also - in most cases - unconstitutional, because they run afoul of the common use test.  pistol magazines of up to 20 rounds and rifle magazines of up to 30 rounds are, like it or not, in common use and therefore protected by the 2nd Amendment.  As with gun bans, lower courts have simply ignored this clear standard - but now SCOTUS is taking 2nd Amendment cases.  A ban of such magazines would be held up in court and likely banned.  One federal district court has already found California's 10 round limit to be unconstitutional.

Could magazines above these capacities be banned? Possibly.  The question would turn on that same "common use" standard.

Any gun confiscation would be extremely dangerous, especially in the current political climate

To understand why this reality exists, one has to understand the original purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and why people still believe it is relevant.

The first purpose of the 2nd Amendment, that was explicitly affirmed in Heller, is personal self defense.  This is why some federal appellate courts have held that there is a personal right to carry a firearm for this purpose.

The second purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to enable the federal government to rapidly raise a large army to meet external threats.  Clearly, this is not as important as it once was.

The third purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to enable the states to rapidly raise an army to restore constitutional government, should the federal government every be taken over by tyrants who acted to establish an extra constitutional government.  As much as we would like to believe this is impossible, this is as much of a threat as it was in the 1790s.

The fourth purpose is to enable the people to act to restore constitutional government should both state and federal government be subverted by tyrants.  Although it would be much harder to take over both state and federal governments, this to is as much of a threat as it was in the 1790s.

The 2nd Amendment is not intended to allow people to revolt because they simply do not like the outcome of an election, or because they disagree with government policies.  Such issues should, in a democratic republic such as ours, be settled peacefully.

Finally, the deterrent value of an armed citizenry should not be underestimated.  The United States has existed as a democratic republic for over 225 years - longer than any other such nation.  Consider the history in Europe, or in the Americas.  Democratic governments come and go - because they are frequently overthrown.  One of the biggest differences is our right to keep and bear arms.  This did not happen by accident:

Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

Dozens of such quotes - from the men who wrote and/or ratified the 2nd Amendment, survive.  Many can be found here.

That said, one more fact makes it clear that the founders wanted privately held firearms to serve as a check on the abuse of government power.  The militias existed in the UK at this time too.  However, their arms were held by the government (usually in the homes or castles of the elite) and issued only in times of emergency.  Why was this done?  To keep arms out of the arms of the people - so they would not be able to resist the rule of that same elite class.  At that time in the UK only men who owned property could vote.  Calling that nation a democratic monarchy would be a real stretch.  When considering the issue of personal arms, the founders did not want them held by an elite group of people, or by the government, but by the people.  Hence the 2nd Amendment.

With all of this as preface, consider how divided we are as a nation.  Consider that the left is moving toward socialism at a time when we see a socialist government in Venezuela subverting democracy and oppressing the people.  Consider that the people of that nation were forcibly disarmed, resulting in their current helplessness.  Consider that tens of millions of people, many of them US Military combat veterans, firmly believe that confiscating firearms unconstitutional and the first step towards tyranny.  Consider that over 1/3 of the US population sees a civil war on the horizon.  Consider that many counties and even states have declared themselves 2nd Amendment sanctuaries - indicating that they will refuse to enforce gun laws they consider unconstitutional.

Considering all of these scary facts (and I could list more), how long do you think it will be before efforts to confiscate privately held firearms will result in violence?

A little over 244 years ago, the colonies that would become this great nation were deeply divided.  People were upset about taxes and the lack of representation.  They were upset that they were ruled by a king thousands of miles away.  These and other issues resulted in the division - but none of these things started the revolutionary war.  What sparked the war was an effort to confiscate the arms of the colonists.  This resulted in the citizens militias mustering - including one that mustered on Lexington green.  There was a confrontation, shots were fired (no one knows who fired the first) and both sides stumbled onto a war.

If you live in a solid blue state, you may find it hard to believe that this could happen again.  If you live in a solid red state - and you are at all observant - you know just
This is a mainstream (and majority) view
in most red states.
how possible it is.
  My fear is that efforts to confiscate the very firearms best suited for militia use, could result in this country splitting apart. Think that local authorities in red states will help those confiscating guns for the federal government?  Think again.  They would be more likely to arrest the feds.  Just who is going to do the confiscating?  If you are going to get rid of those tens of million of firearms, you are going to have to send the military door to door.  How long will it be until many service members desert, rather than take actions they consider completely unconstitutional?  An attempt to confiscate this many firearms wouldn't just split the nation, it would split the military.  In short, it would be a disaster.

The colonists took a stand that April morning so long ago, because they either had to use their arms, or lose them.  Presenting millions of patriotic Americans with that same choice would be incredibly stupid.  We must find another way to deal with the profound evil of mass shootings.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Press And Gun Control Groups Are Lying to You

Virtually everything you are hearing about firearms background checks from gun control groups and the media is false.  Yes, they are lying to you, attempting to pass an oppressive gun bill that would criminalize common legal activities.  Let's look at each of these falsehoods:

The House bill simply expands background checks to private sales

This is completely false.  This deceitful bill redefines "transfer" from change of ownership to the act of handing a gun to someone - even if the gun never leaves your sight and they hand it right back.  If you and I are shooting in the woods, and I let you shoot my gun, we have now both committed felonies.  If my adult daughter is being stalked and wants to borrow a gun - even just until the gun dealers open and she can buy one - I cannot lend her one.  If you have kids and you want to store some of your guns in my gun safe, a wise precaution, a background check would be required every time you drop them off and every time you pick them up.  The list of absurdities goes on and on.

Advocates - if their lie about the bill only affecting sales is exposed - argue that they have these problems covered, because there are exemptions in the law.  There are three huge problems with their "exemptions".  First, they are extremely narrow and complicated - making it very hard to know if your actions are covered by them.    Second, the definitions are sometimes left to the courts to decide.  For instance, there is a "target range" exception - but what is a target range?  A gun club or commercial range?  Certainly.  My range on my private property?  Maybe.  A commonly used site in the national forest?  Who knows?  Third, and worst of all, these exceptions are "affirmative defenses".  This means that you can be arrested and jailed and you then have to prove that your actions fell within one of the exemptions.  You are literally guilty until you prove that you are innocent.

Now, assume that you are a non-gun owner.  I invite you to go shooting - but this law is in force.  Would you accept my invitation?  Probably not - and that is exactly what the intent of this bill is: Make learning  and participating in the shooting sports, or learning to shoot a gun for self defense, legally dangerous and frightening.

Ironically, there is actually a bill that would simply expand background checks to private SALES.  It's the Manchin/Toomey bill, and the Democratic leadership is trying to kill it.

Their is a "gun show loophole" that allows people to by firearms without a background check

This is completely false.  The exact same laws apply at gun shows as anywhere else.  Specifically, anyone "in the business of selling firearms" must have a Federal Firearms License (FFL), period.  There simply is no such thing as a legal an "unlicensed dealer".  The vast majority of sellers at gun shows are dealers and must conduct federal background checks.  Furthermore, US DOJ studies confirm that criminals almost never buy guns at gun shows.  This makes sense given that the number of law enforcement officers, state, local and federal - both on and off duty - at gun shows is huge.

So - what in the world is this thing that gun control advocates call the "gun show loophole"?  Quite simply, it is an exemption in federal law for "occasional" sales of your own firearms.  It simply means that if I want to sell a gun to my neighbor, whom I know well, no federal background check is required.  It has nothing to do with gun shows - but calling it that makes it sound worse.

40% of firearms are sold without a background check

This is the lie that will not die.  It comes from a study done over 25 years ago.  It covered a timeframe of two years, one of which was before the federal background check law took effect!  Furthermore, this phone survey simply asked buyers if a background check had been done.  Many of these people probably remembered filling out the Federal 4473 form, but didn't know that the dealer ran a background check.  Politifact and Snopes have both highlighted these facts.  In short, it is garbage research.

However, among other things, this lie was used to ram through the Colorado background check law in 2013.  Colorado prepared for a massive number of checks - only to find out that the actual number of private sales was not the 40% they prepared for - it was only 4%!

You can buy a gun over the internet without a background check

Yes, you can - but by doing so you and the seller have both committed a federal felony!  Unless you hold a Federal Firearms License (FFL), it is illegal to buy a gun and have it shipped to your home.  Let me say it again: Internet gun sales like this are already illegal.

However, there is a way to legally buy or sell firearms over the internet.  Connect to the seller, pay for the gun, and have it shipped to a nearby dealer (FFL).  That dealer then conducts exactly the same background check as he or she would conduct if they sold the same gun from their inventory.  He or she also is responsible for ensuring that the transaction is conducted in accordance with all state and local laws.  Obviously, these transactions would be completely unaffected by any new background check law.

Gun control advocates counter that people living in the same area often connect through sites like Armslist and then meet face to face to complete the transaction.  However, this is not an internet sale, anymore than a gun advertised in a newspaper is a "newspaper sale".  In both cases, they are private, face to face sales.

Expanded background checks would have prevented some mass shootings

Actually, no they would not have done so.  In fact, the vast majority of mass shooters actually passed a background check, in some cases because their record was clean at the time, in others because the database did not flag them as prohibited.  Many mass shooters used stolen weapons, and still others obtained weapons via straw purchases.  However, no public mass shooter I am aware of obtained their firearm(s) via an exempt private party purchase.  Obviously gun control advocates do not know of any either, or they would be citing the specific case.  They aren't because no such case exists.  Their solution to mass shootings would not have stopped even one of them....

Many criminals obtain their firearms through private sales

We know this simply isn't true because of a US DOJ study released in January 2019.  This study involved interviews with 240,000+  prison inmates who had firearms at the time of their arrest.    The facts revealed in this study are devastating to most gun control measures and expanded background checks in particular.

As the chart at left shows, the most common source of criminal's guns is the thriving black market, followed by other illegal sources (theft, borrowed from or even rented from another criminal), and straw purchases.  Together, these account for 84% of the criminals firearms.

Looking at the less common sources, we see that a criminal is four times more likely to obtain a firearm by slipping through the background check system than to obtain a gun via a private party purchase.

It is facts like these that cause gun rights advocates to wonder why gun control groups are so focused upon a source that is responsible for such a small percentage of crime guns.  Why not crack down on illegal black market dealers, or start really punishing straw purchasers?

The most obvious answer is that they want to control LEGALLY OWNED GUNS, not illegally  owned guns..  This is what scares gun owners the most.....

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


It looks like we are not going to be able to stop any new gun laws from being passed.  IMHO, we need to get smart and see what we can stop and what we can get in return.  It will be a smart move for one gun rights group to be working to minimize the damage and even to see what we can get, while the others oppose passage of the bills.

1) Expanded Background Checks

Of course, we know that this is nearly useless, but it appears that some expansion is going to pass.  Here's how we can both minimize the damage and get some things we want:

a) We need to make sure that this is a simple expansion of NICS checks to private sales - not a Bloomberg version.

b) Since we are going to have a federal background check law - we should push to have this law preempt all state and local background check laws - again, this would be a huge blow to Bloomberg.  Our argument is simple and easy to understand: One check is enough.  If we get this amendment in the bill, our opponents might even chose to kill the whole bill.  Either way, we win. 

c) Since we are going to have a national law, people now should be able to purchase guns in any state.  The law requiring state approval for purchases in another state should be repealed.   After all, we are going to have the same check everywhere.

d) We should push for as many common sense exemptions as possible.  At a minimum transfers between family members should be exempt, along with transfers to persons holding a CCW license or any form of FFL.

e) We need to prevent the so called Charleston loophole from being "fixed".  This would allow the feds to shutdown all gun sales simply by refusing to approve or disapprove them.

f) We need to make sure that the NICS system is not turned into a registration system.  To accomplish this, we need to make violation of the current ban a felony with severe mandatory prison time.  Furthermore, any state AG must be authorized to prosecute violations.  This would prevent an anti-gun rights administration from looking the other way.

To accomplish the above, while still attempting to stop anything from passing, we should have one gun rights group pushing these amendments (say SAF/CCRKBA) while other groups (say NRA and GOA) oppose any bill.

2) Red Flag Laws


They are called restraining orders and they turn the subject of such orders into a prohibited person.  After you are served with such an order, cops can, and often do, show up to seize your firearms.

I am opposed to red flag laws, both because I believe there are better solutions, and because I see a great deal of potential for abuse.  Mental health commitments and restraining orders are better solutions.  Nevertheless, it appears that the feds are likely to pass a bill that "encourages" states to pass these laws.  There are many things we can do to minimize the damage and even to roll back bad red flag laws in the states that have already passed the most agreges versions of them.

a) All state red flag laws should have to conform to federal guidelines.  Failure to abide by such guidelines should result in the loss of federal law enforcement grants.

b) The model red flag law should narrowly define who can apply for an order.  It should be limited to law enforcement and close family.  This would do away with state laws that allow basically anyone to apply for an order, greatly increasing the potential for abuse.

c) Due process must be protected. A hearing should be scheduled within 14 days of the order being issued.

d) There must be significant penalties for abuse.  At the 2nd hearing, the judge must determine if abuse has occurred.  In cases where this has happened, the judge shall impose a civil fine AND refer the party who lied to the local authorities for criminal prosecution.   Additionally, the party responsible for the abuse must pay all of the subjects legal fees.

e) Local authorities shall be responsible for the safety and care of any and all firearms in their custody.  In the case of damage, loss, theft, or any other form of loss or damage, the agency who cared for the firearms shall repair, restore, or replace the firearm.  If this is not possible, they shall compensate the owner for the full retail value.

Again, as with background checks, it would be wise to have one gun rights organization "on the inside" working to get the above included in the bill, while other work to defeat it.

3) Assault Weapons Ban

Here is where we should, IMHO not give an inch.  If the left passes such a law, it will be a disaster for this country.  It could even spark a civil war.

a) We should oppose such a law in congress, online and in every other way possible.

b) We must oppose this law in the courts.  While background check expansion and red flag laws are probably, in the opinion of the current SCOTUS Justices, constitutional - banning the most popular firearms in the US is likely not.  It clearly fails the common use test established in Heller.

Our opponents are hoping that we do not have anyone representing us when these bills are drafted and as they make their way through Congress.  They want us to just say no to all of them - because then it will be their version of these bills that pass.  We need to be smarter than that.  We need to both oppose these bills and work to make them into our versions.  These versions can be both more palatable and even advance our own agenda.