Category Archives: Politics of Guns

Assault Weapons Ban Pulled from Main Congressional Gun Violence Package

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The Assault Weapons Ban, the most prominent and contentious element of the comprehensive collection of bills to address gun violence will not be a part of the larger, consolidated bill that works its way through Congress over the next few weeks.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid informed Senator Feinstein that the AWB would not be a part of the body of the bill taking shape in Congress this week but instead would be included as an amendment…a sure sign that it has little chances to pass. It will either become a negotiating point in the overall bill or will just be voted down as it has no support from the Republican side of the Senate as well as no support in the house. If included in the overall bill it would likely kill the entire thing.

As of today the comprehensive bill has not been posted to Thomas.LOC.GOV. A followup will come from Addicting Info as soon as the bill is assembled and put forward.

The comprehensive bill is expected to address more stringent, broad background checks for gun buyers, a school safety measure and to make gun trafficking and straw purchasing a felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The bill will likely incorporate many of the 40 initial bills that were submitted to Congress in January and February of this year.

The bill is also likely to address magazine capacity of both rifles and pistols and to beef up the flawed NICS Firearms Background Check System. It is unknown if provisions will include coordination with states to include some level of mental health reporting. Psychologists with whom I have spoken on the subject suggest that including mental health records will be an uphill battle on many levels including the very important element of psychologists expected to predict degrees of lethality.

The Assault Weapons Ban is the most prominent of the many bills introduced, addressing the future of high capacity semi automatic rifles, with the most common being the variants of the AR-15. While assault weapons [real or semi automatic versions] are a real danger for mass murder, the more important issues are to address getting guns out of the hands of those who should not have them through closing loopholes eliminating as many of the backdoor sales, gun show sales and person to person sales that are so common and to enhancing background checks by both beefing up the current system to include domestic violence orders and mental health records and including that background check in ALL purchases, not just at licensed gun shops. The comprehensive bill, sans Assault Weapons Ban will have a chance to impact the 98% of deaths by firearms each year that are not mass murder, that are not perpetrated by assault weapons.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

 


90 Days Since Sandy Hook – 2680+ Gun Deaths – Congress: ZIP

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It has been exactly ninety days since the Massacre of Sandy Hook. Ninety days for the country to look at solutions to stop, or at least slow down gun violence. Instead, we have been distracted by partisan polarization to the point that when a decorated Navy Captain, astronaut and husband of gunned down Congressperson Gabby Giffords supports an opinion that differs from the fringe gun community they explode with vitriol, hate and immature rhetoric, directed at an American hero. They exhibit that which is worst in this country, irrational outrage that is the 21st Century equivalent of tar and pitchforks, hate filled mob rule. Except that they do not rule.

But to the good, both state and federal legislatures have introduced scores of bills intended to improve public health that is impacted by gun violence. On the federal level, over 40 bills have been introduced, though none have made it out of committee. While many of them will fail, they have opened up the national conversation and as a by-product have finely defined politicians’ priorities and their stance on issues important to Americans’ safety.

Sandy Hook

I have been saying since December that Sandy Hook was a tipping point, an event so tragic that it woke up the very large “middle” of America. It got the attention of the folks who, until December 14th had not given much consideration one way or the other about the effects of gun violence in this country, about whether the 18th Century Second Amendment really does give people the right to own any weapon whatsoever. That large group in the middle found, in 2012 that they are no longer safe going to the cafes, bars, shopping malls, churches, theaters and even workplaces and schools where they expected a modicum of safety.

They are paying attention now, and it will be that group, not the pro-gun side or the pro-gun regulation side that defines the debate, that defines the tolerance of America to violence and that will decide the solutions and outcomes.

The ninety day marker gives us time to pause to see what has happened, what is happening now and what we can expect to happen as the subject of gun violence is on the table. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, over 2680 Americans have been killed by gun violence. At least 181 of them were under 20 years old…46 of them under 12 years old. There have been over 2050 deaths in 2013 alone insuring that, yet again we will have over 10,000 Americans killed by gun violence. And that does not include the near 20,000 that will die by suicide with firearms.

Also, in the past ninety days the country has seen states like New York, Colorado and Maryland define what a state is willing to do. In all three states there have been boycotts and threats by their gun manufacturing industry to “pull out”. Legislators have proven in these states that the public health and public safety outweigh economic threats.

But there is another comparison that is not as favorable. The US Congress, post 9/11 acted within six weeks to implement the Patriot Act. No matter your opinion of the Act, it was implemented to address the massacre of 2996 Americans – just ONE THIRD as many that are killed each and every year by gun violence in this country. And as a snarky aside, not a single one of the millions of AR-15 owners in this country was able to defend again the horrible violence of just 19 men.

Yesterday Michael Moore reminded Americans that that these watershed events; tipping points define change in America.

In 1955 photographs of Emmett Till’s shot, mutilated, barbed wire tied body were shown to the world by a mother that wanted everyone to see what bigotry and hatred did to her 14 year old boy. From that event the Civil Rights movement began.

In 1965 we saw photographs of African American men in Selma, Alabama being brutally beaten, hosed and sprayed with tear gas for marching across a bridge. Five months later the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and signed by a very pissed off Lyndon Johnson.

In 1968 and 1969 the world saw photographs of three severe acts of terror, 500 civilians at My Lai in Vietnam who were killed by US soldiers, a prisoner shot in the head by a South Vietnamese general and in June 1968, Robert Kennedy lay dead from an assassin’s bullet. The first two events turned the tide of support for the Viet Nam war. The third, Senator Kennedy’s death brought, just four months later the passage and signing of the Gun Control Act of 1968, a bill that had been languishing in Congress prior to the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Congress and statehouses across the country have the opportunity to address the problems of gun violence NOW. They have the obligation to do what is within their power to make this country a safer place; a safer place to go shopping, to go to church, to go out to dinner, to go to the movies, to go to work, to take our nation’s children to school.

We have the ability to change, to evolve as we look at the necessary solutions to end gun violence in this country. The roadblocks are many, from paranoia that a tyrannical government will need stopped, that hordes of undefined marauders will come over the hill to pillage the homestead, that regulations are the first step of confiscation and a [yet again] undefined New World Order…and we know who liked confiscation and a New World Order…so it must be true.

Nobody is talking about confiscation of guns, of gutting the Second Amendment, of eliminating the 300 million guns that are privately owned in this country. What is being proposed is simply regulating processes that occur with gun ownership, to get stolen guns off the streets, to keep folks who can’t legally buy guns from running down to the nearest gun show and diving into the copious gun buffets to get all they want.

It will happen when folks look at that which is proposed, not abstract hypotheticals and paranoid mental exercises of the many gun blogs which conveniently make money off of the angst and turmoil that they help propagate. It will happen when all sides of the conversation focus on reality rather than hyperbola.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Pillars of Conservative Movement Historically Support Gun Control

A common theme in the current debate on gun violence is that it is only liberals that are for controlling firearms and that it is President Obama leading the way as the only President to have ever considered gun control. History clearly suggests otherwise.

Gun Control…the catchall phrase which can mean everything from confiscation to requiring an ID to buy a firearm, depending upon who is trying to define the term is historically the result of an act of gun violence that makes the country stop and reevaluate its priorities regarding guns, gun violence and the role of government in affecting the safety of society.

St Valentines Day

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Chicago, 1929

The National Firearms Act of 1934 was the result of gangster violence in the 1920s and early 1930s…punctuated by bootlegging wars in places like Chicago and Kansas City to the hundreds of bank robberies of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly and Bonnie and Clyde. The common denominators…extreme gun violence and machine guns.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 was the direct result of five events…the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr and the Supreme Court ruling on Haynes v United States which negated part of the 1934 Act. After the two very high profile assassinations in 1968, passage of the bill was pushed by an outraged public and much of the 1968 bill was supported by the NRA.

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Robert Kennedy Assassinated, 1968 – Ron Bennett Photography

In 1972 George Wallace, southern governor who was campaigning to be President was shot during a campaign rally and left wheelchair bound. President Richard Nixon, himself on the campaign trail was outraged that, yet again the political process was impacted by gun violence. The Washington Post reports that, post assassination attempt Nixon “proposed ridding the market of Saturday night specials, contemplated banning handguns altogether and refused to pander to gun owners by feigning interest in their weapons.”

Nixon is quoted from his copious Oval Office tapes, this from May 16, 1972…

“I don’t know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house.” “The kids usually kill themselves with it and so forth.” He asked why “can’t we go after handguns, period?”

Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell spoke to the question of getting rid of the cheap, $20 Saturday Night Specials by saying “No, the gun lobby’s against any incursion into the elimination of firearms.”

Exactly one month later, June 17, 1972 burglars working for the Nixon “Committee to Re-elect the President” broke into the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee. Within a month President Nixon’s priorities had changed completely… fighting for his legacy, his presidency, and his freedom.

This was not, however Nixon’s first commentary on guns. In a 1969 conversation with his then staff speech writer William Safire Nixon said “Guns are an abomination.”

Long time outspoken Republican William Safire, in 1999 working as the libertarian-conservative voice of the New York Times wrote regarding the Second Amendment

“[A] right that sometimes isn’t is no right at all. After a great job on the First Amendment, the amending Founders botched the Second.

The intellectually lazy will say, ”Let the Supremes sort it out.” I say, let the people decide a political issue. Either we’re serious about our right to gun ownership or we’re serious about our need for gun control.

Here’s how to fix a flawed amendment that is the source of so much confusion: Repeal its ambiguous preamble. Let some member of Congress introduce an amendment to strike the words before the comma in the Second Amendment.”

Jim Brady Shot

James Brady shot during Reagan assassination attempt, March 1981

In March 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, Ronald Reagan met an assassin’s bullet. It was not successful in killing Ronald Reagan, or his Press Secretary James Brady. It was, however the action that directly led to the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban…led by Republicans James and Sarah Brady. The bill is commonly known as the Brady Bill in James Brady’s honor. Further, it was advocated by Ronald Reagan who said in a March 28th speech to George Washington University and a March 29th editorial in the New York Times…

“Every year, an average of 9,200 Americans are murdered by handguns, according to Department of Justice statistics. This does not include suicides or the tens of thousands of robberies, rapes and assaults committed with handguns.

This level of violence must be stopped. Sarah and Jim Brady are working hard to do that, and I say more power to them. If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land.”

Reagan further addressed his philosophy on gun violence by saying.

“California, which has a 15-day waiting period that I supported and signed into law [Mulford Act] while Governor, stopped nearly 1,800 prohibited handgun sales in 1989.”

In 2002, post 9/11 William F. Buckley, Jr. framed his thoughts on gun control with this…

“The assertion of a right at ridiculous lengths — the absolutization of it, in the manner of the American Civil Liberties Union — is a way of undermining it. If the Constitution says you can say anything you want under any circumstances, then you can shout “fire” in a crowded movie theater. If you have the right to remain silent in all circumstances, then you can decline to give testimony vital to another citizen’s freedom and rights. If you insist that a citizen has the right to own a machine gun, you discredit his right to own a pistol or a rifle.”

Buckley’s position is summarized that he is opposed to gun control, but cannot fathom the NRA’s opposition to banning so-called assault rifles.

Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, James Brady, William Safire, William F. Buckley, Jr. These are not left wing, liberal haters of guns. They are pillars of the Republican Party, of the conservative movement in the United States. They support the Second Amendment and they are realistic enough to understand that gun control – in one of its many fluid definitions is necessary to stop gun violence, necessary to strengthen the fabric of American society.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


More Gun Laws = Less Gun Deaths… JAMA

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There is one absolute when it comes to the defense of gun rights by the vocal gun enthusiast community…more guns mean a safer America. I have heard it put another way, “An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein, Joseph McCarthy apologist and author of Beyond This Horizon.

In principle it sounds right…and it works out well in science fiction, in movies were the script is crafted to support the perception. But how does it work in reality? How does the philosophy of guns fare when placed under the harsh spotlight of statistics, historical trends and analysis?

Would a study, over time with the objective to evaluate whether more firearm laws in a state are associated with fewer firearm fatalities draw the conclusion that “An armed society is a polite society” or that a regulated population was statistically safer. It should be pretty easy since statistics are available for murder and aggravated assault from all 50 states and the laws and regulations governing firearms are also available from each state.

The Journal of the American Medical Association this week released a four year study [2007-2010] of both gun regulations in all fifty states and a statistical analysis of gun violence data from those same states during that same time period. The study BOTH takes into account the total gun violence [murder, injury, suicide] AND gun violence confined to murder and gun injuries.

The JAMA study, through research from Boston Children’s Hospital drew the following conclusion…

“A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually.”

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If the JAMA study was alone in its conclusions you could possibly draw a conclusion that either their analysis was flawed or the data was not representative of factual reality. So, let’s look at another study, from The Atlantic which drew the following similar conclusion…

“While the causes of individual acts of mass violence always differ, our analysis shows fatal gun violence is less likely to occur in richer states with more post-industrial knowledge economies, higher levels of college graduates, and tighter gun laws. Factors like drug use, stress levels, and mental illness are much less significant than might be assumed.”

JAMA Map

Once we have reviewed both the JAMA study and The Atlantic study we begin to see a well established pattern…that tighter gun regulations instituted in states have fewer gun related violence. We see this internationally, when comparing gun violence in the United States against countries such as Germany, Japan, Canada, Great Britain or Australia, where gun deaths per 100,000 are as low as 1/100th of the US homicide rate by firearms.

Homicide Rates

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Mexican Standoff: NRA – Manufacturers – Police Departments – Gun Owners – American Public

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“Law-abiding gun owners.” That is the collective that many in the gun enthusiast’s community would like everyone to believe defines their unity. They want to project a singular voice to fight those who they believe are “taking their rights”. But they are not unified. They don’t have an across the board message that defines their fight. And now, they are beginning to draw lines to fight each other as owners, fora, lobbyists, manufacturers, pundits and celebrity spokesgoons [I’m looking at you Nugent] posture to sell their particular case.

The subject…expanded background checks. It seems simple enough. Having each and every gun sale, whether from a gun shop, a gun show, the parking lot behind the gun show, an internet driven face to face sale in a Walmart parking lot or a transfer between friends verified. The process would drastically cut down on “off the books” sales that criminals use to buy and sell weapons, usually stolen from “law-abiding gun owners” or from straw purchasers. It seems simple…

The NRA drafted their opinion on the subject with a simple statement…

“We think it ‘s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone. That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mental ill are in the system.

This isn ‘t new, or a change of position, or a concession. I’ve been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances.” Wayne LaPierre, May 27, 1999

Well, that was their statement in 1999. Now leap forward 13 years and the NRA spokesman…wait, could it be the SAME Wayne LaPierre has a slightly different view…

“And when it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest – background checks will never be “universal” – because criminals will never submit to them.” Wayne LaPierre, January 30, 2013

And the NRA released a more defined statement from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox in January 2013…

“NRA does NOT support universal background checks and is not working with [Senator Joe] Manchin [D-WV] to implement this type of legislation.  NRA opposes, and will continue to oppose, universal background checks and registration schemes.” Chris W. Cox, NRA Chief Lobbyist, January 25, 2013

And by slightly different view, I mean opposite. Then again, in 1999 LaPierre presented the NRA position, “We think it’s reasonable to support the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act.” In 2012 he said “Politicians pass laws for Gun-Free School Zones. They issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And in so doing, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Besides the conflicts between the NRA and the NRA, the gun manufacturers’ lobby further shows that fracture to the unified front. National Shooting Sports Foundation president Steve Sanetti said in an interview…

“From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check.” Steve Sanetti, NSSF, March, 2013

In the day since the Washington Post ran the story with the direct quote from the NSSF president, the NSSF have been trying to backtrack neither explicitly refuting their statement nor its intent.

Looking further into the fracture of opinion within the gun community…the January 9, 2013 CBS/NYT survey shows that 85% of NRA households support background checks, in direct opposition to the NRA’s stated position.

To further contribute to the fracture within the gun enthusiast community, one group of gun manufacturers and dealers has pushed an attempt at a boycott of police in states that enact gun regulations. That has been met by a group of large city mayors and police chiefs who are telling gun manufacturers that they will focus their lucrative police department gun contracts only to manufacturers, as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak put it “that share our values and support our strategies.”

Removing the conflicts from the big lobbying organizations and manufacturers sales to city and federal governments, we still have THE “gun owner”. Unified except that some gun owners represent an intractable position on gun regulations, some represent an understanding that some regulation is required to maintain a reasonable society, and some just want to hunt and target shoot…unfazed by the whirling dervish that is this gun violence conversation.

So the Mexican Standoff is complete. NRA v NRA v NSSF v gun manufacturers v government checkbooks v NRA members v liberal gun owners v hunters v police chiefs v the American public.

Mexican Standoff

“I’ve got a big suspicion ’bout ammunition. I never forget to duck.” Jimmy Buffett, 1996

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


A Liberal Gun Owner’s View, From 50 Years of Shooting

Something today triggered some reflections of my, and society’s gun use through the last seven decades. This will be an opinion piece, not my normal writing laced with statistics and a collection of links to “prove” my points. It is just my opinion from observation and participation.

I was in my gun safe today, not for anything firearms related but to stow the mighty Pentax 6X7 camera. To get its case to fit I had to move one gun, a Mossberg Model 46a 22 rifle that my dad bought back in the mid 1930s for $14.00. It was the gun that I used to learn to shoot – when I was five, shooting rats at the garbage dump on Pine Mountain in Harlan County, Kentucky.

I bring that up because I started shooting during the Eisenhower administration, 1960, about twenty years longer ago than the median age of Americans [35.3]. And I bring it up to point out just how much gun ownership has changed since. Also, I don’t mean to imply that, because of my history of shooting since I was five that I am an awesome shot and the end all of gun knowledge. I most certainly am not.

When my father took me to Pine Mountain to shoot, it was a Sunday, after lunch tradition…with several of my new found kindergarten friends and me, along with our dads, well, we were along with them. At the time there was not pro football, NASCAR or baseball on television and it was one of the few “things” that dads and their sons could do together [scrubbing the coal dust deposited by passing coal trains from the side of the house with Spic ‘n Span was the less fun choice].

Eight or so years later my shooting had moved to the Boy Scout camps…Camp Blanton in Harlan and Camp Pellissippi outside Knoxville where my uncle – Coach Charlie “Big Man” Davis was camp director. And it had taken on a more adult “training”, both for safety and because our scout leaders and fathers saw a looming Viet Nam in many of our futures. So we learned military M1 rifles, M14 and later M16 assault rifles, compliments of the Kentucky and Tennessee National Guards and their fine instructors.

The men who taught us were men forged by war, having fought at Normandy, at Anzio, Okinawa, the Battle of the Bulge and the younger guys…Chosan in Korea. They knew firearms and had used them in anger. And in talking with many of them…they were different than today’s gun owner. They didn’t have 10, 20, 50 guns. They didn’t talk about their guns; they didn’t define their lives with the possession of their guns. A gun was a tool, albeit a very violent tool and they taught respect for the gun and to always be responsible in actions and decisions. I was taught that you never pull a gun unless you intend to shoot and never shoot unless you intend to kill. That philosophy was driven into me by my father, not to insure that I shot quick but to the contrary, that any decision to kill should be extremely deliberate and well thought out and not an act of bravado or impulse.

After Scout Camp shooting there was the Harlan County Sportsmen’s League…the only real range in Harlan County. And it required membership…thank you Arvetta Middleton. With membership came a membership card to the Sportsmen’s League and another to the NRA.

The point…there were not “gun rights defenders”, even from the pages of American Rifleman, the NRA magazine for members. And the NRA, through its magazine supported the Gun Control Act of 1968, much as they had supported the National Firearms Act of 1934. “The National Rifle Association has been in support of workable, enforceable gun control legislation since its very inception in 1871.” – NRA VP Franklin Orth, March, 1968.

We were taught that we had a Constitutional right to have guns…it was always taught that the right was for our personal protection and as a skill and discipline, because we had, in our history protected ourselves from foreign government. It was never… NEVER… N.E.V.E.R. taught that it was to fight our own perceived tyrannical government. Maybe they had too much faith in the American voter, that we would always use the ballot box to change that which we did not approve. And they certainly never suggested it was for overthrowing a duly elected government, just because the losing side didn’t like what the winning side was doing.

But that is where we are now…the fringe gun owner wagging the dog for all gun owners. While I promised no statistics…here are just a couple. There are 313 million Americans, 60-80 million gun owners and just 4.5 million members of the NRA and the many gun fora. The wagging is coming from just SIX percent of gun owners, from ONE POINT FOUR percent of Americans.

So when folks argue that “you aren’t a gun owner if you support regulations” or “you aren’t a real gun owner if you vote to let tyrants take our guns”…you are arguing from a distinct minority, both a minority of Americans and a minority of gun owners. And that doesn’t even address that you are arguing that a contemporary interpretation of the Second Amendment is more important than life and general welfare.

I was taught by those who supported reason, those who supported rational solutions for problems of society. I was taught by those who represented the majority view of gun owners…and I still believe that majority holds.  So when you ask…”how can I support regulations”…I have to answer that is what every generation of gun owner has done in the past, supported regulations to make society safer, and in an indirect fashion show gun owners as responsible, well thought of citizens…not the intransigent gun crazies that now “speak” for other gun owners, without our permission.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

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Gun Manufacturers Boycott Copshops in States That Fight Gun Violence With Laws

The gun industry, which is made up of large manufacturers like Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, and Beretta; small bespoke manufacturers like Wilson Combat and Magpul; as well as internet commerce businesses like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA are each staking out their positions in the highly polarized battle that encompasses the gun violence debate and associated legislation. The primary tactics of the manufacturers are three-pronged. First, they are flooding their lobbyists at the NRA with money. Then, they announce variations of boycott, either threatening to move their manufacturing out of states that pass laws or threatening police, states and government agencies that, should gun regulations be applied, they will not sell firearms or accessories to cops and police agencies “that citizens can’t buy”. In other words, if a state votes to limit magazine capacity to 7 [such as New York State], none of the boycotting manufacturers would sell magazines to cops, federal agents or any other law enforcement magazines that have higher capacity.

I would point out that many of them, while “standing on principle” with their boycott are also raising their prices and price gouging current customers under the cover of current panic buying by gun enthusiasts but that would just be a cheap shot. Principles are, apparently a moving target.

Magpul, the AR-15 magazine and accessory company in Colorado was the first, most vocal protester in support of their vested economic interests. Magpul declared, in no uncertain terms that, should Colorado pass HB 1224, which limited magazine capacity they would move out of Colorado and take their 300 jobs with them.

To date the measure, HB 1224 has passed the Colorado House and it is scheduled for March 4th in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The threat of boycott remains.

Beretta upped the ante by threatening to leave Maryland should that state’s legislature pass an assault weapons ban and other gun regulations. Beretta, current supplier of the sidearm for the US Military is the US arm of Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta, the oldest firearms manufacturer in the world, in business since 1526. BerettaUSA threatened to move manufacturing away from Maryland should the bill pass. It passed the Senate earlier this week and is in House committee today. Maryland’s governor supports the measure.

The second element of the boycott is to refuse to sell to cops, to police agencies or any law enforcement firearms which can’t be bought by “civilians”. This was begun with folks like Cheaper Than Dirt and MidwayUSA, large internet gun shops that are intrinsically tied to the NRA with their extensive advertising in print, broadcast and internet media.

These retailers are joined by dozens of small, bespoke manufacturers and accessory dealers like Wilson Combat and Barrett who have said they will either 1) move out of states which pass laws and/or 2) will not sell to anyone, law enforcement included items that are not available to everyone. Their strength, however is diminished because the large manufacturers, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Sig Sauer are NOT part of the boycotts. And as the heavyweights in the discussion, if they decide to continue to sell to their primary customers…the boycott will have little or no effect.

What does this all mean? Right now the two most vocal, largest manufacturers who have decided to boycott are awaiting their respective state legislatures to finalize votes on gun bans or magazine bans. If they pass, as expected the manufacturers have to decide to either commit to their rhetoric or figure out a way to rationalize their business decisions should they stay. The rest of the small businesses…well, they will have little impact. For each of them there are multiple alternatives in the marketplace who have not restricted purchases for law enforcement.

It also means that the decisions regarding regulations that are intended to impact gun violence will be played out in both legislative houses across the country as well as in the free market with businesses and consumers alike able to “put their money where their mouth is”.  Some companies, like Barrett would likely fold if they maintain and extend their boycott to the federal government should the federal Assault Weapons Ban pass…the main customers of their $10,000, 50 caliber sniper rifle are government…and that is how the free market works.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Gun Forum Purges Differing Point of View – Enforces Echo Chamber

The phone rang this afternoon and the only way I knew who had called was from the CallerID. The roisterous laughter at the other end of the phone prepared me that something good was coming. But what would just have to wait until the caller could gain control of his humor [humour for our British Commonwealth friends].

I have known Ray Vaughn for years…we work together in the same profession and share some hobbies, seeing each other as time and work permit as he lives mostly in New York City and I am mostly in Kentucky. Today, I found out how much we are alike which is a bit of a surprise as I am mostly liberal and he is mostly conservative. One of the hobbies we share is target shooting, killing paper at the gun range whenever it is possible to get together. Neither of us is a gun “enthusiast”, while we have both been shooters since we were kids and like the skill of “competitive plinking”, we do not define our lives by an enthusiasm toward guns.

And today I found out we have one other thing in common…we have both been banned from smith-wessonforum.com. Not for being rude, not for posting obscenities, not for name calling, and not for being confrontational. Both of us, a bit over six months apart were banned for the sole reason of disagreeing with the established forum position on the NRA and on our opinions of gun rights/responsibilities/regulation.

Let’s look at Ray’s experience. The simple, and very good question asked on the forum was “I am curious, how many people here own firearms but are not NRA members?” The debate on that began in 2011 and continued through today. Ray’s answer was equally clear…

“I don’t support Big Pharma lobbyists; I don’t support Wall Street lobbyists. Lobbyists are killing this country; buying votes, limiting debate to those with a big checkbook.

From that position I won’t be a member of NRA just because they support something to which I agree.” – Ray Vaughn

One might think it was simple, an honest answer to an honest question. But it was not. The forum, from the owner to regular participants doesn’t want to listen to a different point of view, they don’t have the capacity to take honest debate and learn from it. In their narrow little world, if someone doesn’t support the NRA or support their personal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment…they are the enemy, and treated as such. They name call, they insult, and they make up “facts” to reply to that differing view.

Now, if Ray was anti gun, interested in “gungrabbing” as they call it, it might be different. But that is not the case. Ray is a gun owner…has been for nearly as long as I have and his pretty conservative views on the subjects of guns and addressing gun violence are reasonable. And that is the problem. Taking a reasoned approach to the very real subject of gun violence in this country is looked down on, it is scorned, and it is rejected because it is not what their echo chamber wants to hear.

NRA-cry-baby

So they act like petty little girls and run and ban someone just because the point of view they hear is different. I could understand it if the general membership took that position – it is their right as they play in a public sandbox. But when the forum owner is just as childish, just as biased, and just as myopic…that becomes a problem. One person decides what opinion is important. And from his hand built echo chamber…if it is not his opinion it has no right to exist.

So we have a paradox, a gun forum that adamantly supports the 2nd Amendment at the expense of intentionally turning its back on the 1st Amendment and free speech.

What can we learn from this? Well, first we have learned that gun owners, at least those who participate in gun fora have no interest in solving the problems associated with gun violence. They do have an interest in protecting their point of view, and only their point of view, as if they speak for all gun owners. And they have an obsessive, hero worship view of the NRA and its spokesmen – they can do no wrong.

We also know this. When you tally up the total number of members of gun fora, members of NRA and other lobbying organizations like GOA we see that the myopic, intransigent, yet vocal collective of “gun enthusiasts” make up less than 5,000,000 people. That is just SIX PERCENT of the estimated 75-80 million gun owners. The rest fall under several categories…liberal gun owners [we make up at least 33% of that 5Million total] like me, conservative gun owners who don’t believe in or support the NRA, like Ray, and a third, apparently very large group…that group of gun owners who keep guns as a tool, not a hobby, not an obsession, and not a statement of their manhood or their patriotism.

When everything settles in the conversation regarding gun violence, and what laws to be implemented are settled, look at those fringe gun owners, those who refuse to listen to differing views, instead holding onto intransigent views as one of the reasons the laws passed.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Just Another Spree Killing – The Price of Freedom

Spree shooting. It is the disorganized cousin of mass murders. They are separated only by definition. A spree shooting is when multiple people are killed by someone in various locations over a short period of time…mass murder occurs when a shooter kills multiple people in one location, at one time. And don’t confuse them with serial killers.

Today’s spree shooting comes to us from Orange County, California…four dead including the shooter who killed himself after a series of murders, carjackings and a chase with police.

Last week it was former LAPD officer Chris Dorner who went on a week long rampage, killing four, wounding others and then killing himself in a cabin at Big Bear.

Last May, shooting erupted on the streets of Louisville. In the end three were killed, three more wounded as at least some of the shootout was in front of the crowd of onlookers, police and press. In 2009, in Geneva County, Alabama a shooter went on a spree that crossed three towns in two counties and left 10 dead besides the shooter who committed suicide when confronted by police.

Beyond definition, how do these sprees differ from mass murder? What is the motivating trigger? In mass murder we like to blame mental illness, in spree killings the trigger is more than likely anger; domestic violence to the extreme [like the Appomattox shootings in 2010] or a workplace shooting that spills out into the community like the Accent Signage shooting in 2012 where five were killed besides the shooter.

A second differentiation…this event will get minimal media coverage…it will be a regional or national news story only until either then next multiple death shooting or until the American Idol broadcasts during sweep week [ratings count]. But the murder count will continue unabated…12,000 Americans will die by gun violence again this year – 250,000 will be injured. It is, as someone on a gun forum said “the price of freedom.” A very high price indeed.


Seven States Move to Codify Responsibility for Gun Owners

Gun owners, above most everything besides the 2nd Amendment argument posit that the problems with gun violence are not due to “responsible” gun owners…it is always “them”, the other guy…criminals, the mentally unstable, well…you know, THEM. The foundation of their argument is that they, the beleaguered, hounded, falsely blamed, honest, hardworking gun owner are completely responsible…they are just not the problem. EVER.

Seven states, California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Colorado have, in the past month introduced bills to have gun owners put their money where their mouth is…liability insurance for their firearms. Codifying that responsibility if their firearms are used incorrectly, used by children who find them, by criminals who easily steal them, by people to whom they sell them without requiring a background check.

In California Assembly Bill AB231 was introduced by Assemblymen from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Assemblyman Phillip Ting equated the idea to requiring vehicle owners to buy auto insurance. LA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez said it would encourage gun owners to take firearms safety classes and keep their guns locked up to get lower insurance rates.

Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, questioned whether it is constitutional to require someone to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right.

Robert Frank, professor of economics at Cornell University counters “Nothing in the constitution grants people the right to expose others to serious risk without compensation.”

In New York the focus is again on codifying responsibility rather than continue to have the “Scout’s Honor” approach that gun owners now enjoy. In other words, make the gun owner responsible for any damage that their guns do. While it may discourage some people from buying guns, more broadly it would incent people to practice that responsibility that the gun community says they already practice…though the 233,000 guns stolen per year and the number of kids killed by mommy and daddy’s gun that is lying around contradict that assertion. Scout’s Honor.

In Massachusetts, HD 2678,  a bill was introduced by Democrat Rep. David Linsky on January 18th. An analysis by Best’s Insurance News says it would provide those injured, or the survivors of those killed through negligence, legal recourse and “perhaps, allow insurers selling policies to charge rates using a risk-based system as a means of improving firearm safety.”

Linsky said the bill “might result in insurers pricing gun liability insurance according to risk, including factors such as how many guns are owned in the home, how those weapons are stored, and whether they are kept in a locked area.” Again the goal is making the gun owner fully responsible for his firearms, making sure they are always properly locked away.

In Colorado, home state of the Columbine High School shooting and the Aurora Theater massacre, the new legislation requires that owners of semi-automatic rifles be subject to strict liability for civil damages caused by their weapons, and state statutes that shield manufacturers, importers and dealers from such liability would be lifted. It further says that handguns, bolt-action rifles and shotguns would be exempt from the measure. The issue of liability is only one of many measures introduced into the Colorado legislature Tuesday.

The actions of the states set in motion several conflicts…while most gun enthusiasts are loath to see Washington DC dictate any measures that affect their guns, a large majority of them are also strong proponents of enforcing the 10th Amendment, supporting a state’s right to control its own laws that are not defined Federal powers.

All of the states that have to date filed legislation regarding liability insurance on firearms are blue states. They represent 30% of the population of the nation.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.