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April 1, 2005

‘Gun Violence’?

“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic…” –Justice Joseph Story

In the wake of another school shooting by another sociopathic teenager, those who oppose the unalienable right to self defense enshrined in our Constitution’s Second Amendment, are again out in force attempting to convert the blood of innocents into political capital for gun confiscation.

Among the first to demagogue the issue was perennial gun-controller, Michael Barnes, who condemned the “gun problem” and criticized Congress and President George W. Bush for letting the so-called “assault weapons” ban expire. Million Mom Marcher Kate Havelin howled, “We need to do more to make sure…our young people are safe from gun violence.”

In an observation typical of the gun confiscation crowd’s Leftmedia trucklings, Washington Post Deputy Editor Colbert King posed this loaded question: “What about the guns that take away the life?”

“Gun problem,” “gun violence” and “guns that take away the life”? Like Barnes and Havelin, King insists that the problem is guns and that confiscating guns will solve the problem. But Barnes, Havelin and King, like most Leftists, display a chronic disconnect with reality. The “problem” in Red Lake, Minnesota (nine dead), is similar to that which visited Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado (thirteen dead), back in 1999 – and all such shootings.

What was the problem? Leftists brace yourself: It was not a gun problem, but a culture problem. Amazingly, Barnes inadvertently touched on this problem, saying, “Our leaders are preaching about the culture of life. They should spend the same amount of energy taking steps to stop our nation’s culture of death.” Of course, Barnes and his ilk think the culture of death begins and ends with guns. Their silence on the real cultural problems is deafening.

Like the Columbine murderers, the 16-year-old Red Lake sociopath was obsessed with “Goth” culture. Similarly, he played violent video games and was fascinated with the ultra-Leftist Hitlerian Nazi anarchist movement. And, likewise, he asked some of his victims “Do you believe in God?” before gunning them down.

Of course, focusing on inanimate objects like guns is far easier than focusing on cultural problems, particularly since many of the problems in question are the result of Leftist doctrines – like parents (particularly fathers) who have abdicated the responsibility for raising responsible and moral children to government schools. The cultural consequences of renouncing that responsibility are exacerbated by those who reject Rule of Law and opt, instead, for the so-called “living constitution,” which Leftjudicial activists have used to undermine principle and substance of the Rights of Man.

The best teachers in America are barely holding the high ground in classrooms where half the kids are at best, under-parented. The Left’s response is to treat disorderly children and youth for ADD or (as was the case in Red Lake) with more powerful drugs like Prozac – a range of anti depressants now being associated with most of the mass murders in America.

Not to be overlooked is yet another sacred cow of the Left – the “entertainment” industry’s perverse glorification of murder and mayhem.

Typical of Leftist hypocrisy, it is those Hollywonk “actors” making the biggest bucks on the bloodiest big screen splashes who are advocating for gun confiscation. Even allegedly “moderate” actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in his worst role yet as Governor of California recently signed a gun-ban, reached his position in life making films featuring wholesale slaughter and/or disembowelment of innocent folks.

Back to reality, Founder John Adams wisely noted, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Indeed, the fact is, the Left’s assertions about the “gun problem” simply don’t hold up under scrutiny.

If the problem of criminal misuse of firearms was dependent on the availability of guns, research would demonstrate that the prevalence of firearms is directly related to violent gun crimes – that is, the more guns in an area, the more criminal gun use. However, any such relationship has been refuted by multiple and differing analyses. Documented studies inevitably lead to this conclusion: The crime problem is not about implements but intentions, and intent is inexorably defined by culture.

Guns as implements are irrelevant to the criminal mindset that must perforce precede the decision to commit violence. To wit, despite Leftmedia folklore, the most violent attack on a school occurred on 18 May 1927 when Andrew Kehoe, a Bath, Michigan, school board member, murdered 45 people, including 38 elementary students – with a bomb.

Yale researcher John Lott addressed the relationship between gun possession and crime, and concluded his research with the title of his 1998 book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” Notably, Lott’s research also determined this corollary to be fact: The countries that ban guns have the highest homicide rates. And why is this true? Intended victims are much easier to murder when their government has already disarmed them through gun control laws.

So, what about internal U.S. murder rates tracked against gun access over time? In 1900, the U.S. homicide rate was estimated at 1 per 100,000. In 2003, FBI statistics put the rate at 5.7 per 100,000. But during the 20th Century, gun availability was inversely related to these numbers; nearly anyone could buy and carry a gun in 1900, whereas there were 23,000 federal, state and local restrictions on firearms purchases by the end of the century.

Consider the comparable murder rates in the adjacent states of Massachusetts (very restrictive gun laws), versus Maine and New Hampshire (unrestrictive gun laws). Rates for crimes committed with guns are lower in Maine and New Hampshire than in Massachusetts. Furthermore, cities with the most restrictive gun laws, like Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia, have the highest murder rates in the nation.

Similarly, U.S. murder rates have trended downward in the last decade as more states have implemented “right to carry” laws, which make the criminal task of choosing unarmed victims more difficult. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, “Most criminals aren’t that stupid; they tend to go where the guns aren’t.”

The same correlations are in evidence around the world. Some nations with the highest per-capita possession of firearms, such as Switzerland (where most households contain at least one “assault weapon” as part of their “well regulated militia”) are among those with the lowest murder rates. Conversely, nations like the UK, with the most restrictive gun laws, are now experiencing escalating crime rates.

The UK’s gun restrictions, for example, did not stop a sociopath from slaughtering 16 kindergarteners and their teacher in Dunblane, Scotland, three years before Columbine. As a result of that shooting, all handguns were confiscated (similar to Sen. Diane Feinstein’s proposal after Columbine). The result? By 2002, England and Wales had the highest incidence of “very serious” offences (18 crimes per 100 people) among the 17 developed Western nations. Second in line is Australia (16 per 100) where many classes of guns have also been confiscated. The incidence of “violent crime” is 3.6 per 100 in the UK, compared with 1.9 per 100 in the U.S.

Further, based on the data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, if you are not associated with the violent thug, drug or gang subcultures, who commit the vast majority of crimes in America, your chances of being shot or killed by an assailant with a gun are almost as low as murder rates in Western Europe where gun ownership is outlawed.

Gun confiscation has never protected anyone. Gun restrictions have not protected citizens in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, New York or Boston, much less anyone in Columbine or Red Lake. Nor did such laws protect Jews from Hitler or Stalin or Chinese peasants from Mao, etc., ad infinitum.

The relationship between victimization and the ability to defend oneself is timeless. In Commonplace Book, Thomas Jefferson quotes Cesare Beccaria from his seminal work, On Crimes and Punishment: “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. … Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

The next time some Chardonnay-sipping Leftists pontificates about the “gun problem,” reminded them that far more Americans, particularly children, die as a result of alcohol abuse, than at the hands of criminals using guns. Would a five-day waiting period on the purchase of good bottle of wine prevent those injuries and deaths?

And on that note, when a drunk driver kills someone, we don’t blame the car. When terrorist fly planes into buildings, we don’t blame the planes. So why the distinction with “gun crimes”? Guns don’t kill people, sociopaths kill people.

Using the “gun problem” logic, one may conclude that black leather gloves cause stabbings, matches cause arson, vehicles cause wrecks, cameras cause pornography, swimsuits cause drowning, cigarette lighters cause cancer, wine glasses cause alcoholism, spoons cause obesity, credit cards cause bankruptcy, elections cause corruption, ad nauseam… Really, it’s not a gun problem, it’s a “bullet problem.”

In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, circa 45 AD, “Quemadmoeum gladuis neminem occidit, occidentis telum est.” (A sword is never a killer, it is a tool in the killers hands.)

As for the Marching Moms, it’s worth noting that women are the fastest-growing demographic group of gun owners. And for good reason. It’s now estimated that guns are used defensively more that 2.5 million times annually – four times more often than the estimated use of a gun in commission of a crime.

In short, culture is the problem, and if our murder rates are going to be further reduced, Americans of all political feathers would be well advised to take a sobering look at the social policies which have created the culture of violence, not the instruments used to commit violence. Start with the Democratic Party and its catastrophically failed Great Society statist government programs, and the resulting urban poverty plantations which have enslaved poor people for generations. It is those policies and the resulting cesspools of drugs and gangs which account for 95 percent of violence in America.

Any efforts by the government to further regulate firearms should be met head-on by the clear language of our Constitution’s Second Amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In fact, broad reduction of current gun regulations is consistent both with the letter of our Constitution, and the historical reality of self-defense and criminal restraint. Political folly such as the Feinstein/Schumer gun control act – which was, fortunately, defeated by Congress last year – serves only to weaken this “palladium of the liberties of our republic,” as Justice Joseph Story called the Second Amendment. For your neighbors who don’t see it that way, tell them to put one of these on their front door.

Quote of the week

“The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers. … In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. … I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy – it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! … Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs – politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. … We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!” –Congressional testimony of Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel Scott was murdered at Columbine

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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The First Civil Right is To Keep and Bear Arms. It is, as James Madison’s Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story, rightly defined it, “the palladium of the liberties of the republic,” the ultimate assurance of all other rights.

What follows are a few key notes that all defenders of American Liberty and its foundational guarantor, the Second Amendment, should be prepared to articulate, in order to refute the rhetorical gun control agenda disinformation propagated by Democrats and their Leftmedia publicists.

While some of this data is based on annual findings, most of that data does not vary significantly year over year.

FOOTNOTE 1: Regarding so-called “gun violence,” there were approximately 19,600 homicides involving firearms in the U.S. in the latest year of record, which you can view state by state. Fortunately, there are indications that homicides may be declining after the significant surge of violence unleashed by Biden and his Democrat agitators in 2020. The 2022 homicide rate was 30% higher than in 2019.

The Demos ubiquitously and falsely label the generational murderous contagion they have seeded as “gun violence,” and they focus exclusively on the infrequent high-profile “mass shootings,” which account for only a tiny fraction of all homicides. More than 99% of murders in the U.S. are not the result of mass attacks. (Notably, guns don’t commit violence, thugs and sociopaths commit violence.) The oft-cited Gun Violence Archive defines a “mass shooting” as any incident that involves a “minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed.” The vast majority of those violent attacks are the result of drug and gang violence committed in Democrat-controlled urban centers.

In a country and culture that ignores the rising generation of sociopathic murderers — mostly thugs in violent urban centers who are saturated with cultural violence and indoctrinated with mass-media glorification of violence — it is fortunate that the incidence of mass murder is not 10 times higher. Arguably, the only thing keeping that number from being higher is that 125 million Americans are legal and responsible gun owners.

Democrats don’t focus on the vast majority of murders, particularly the epidemic of black-on-black murders on their decaying urban poverty plantations, because they want to avoid the “inconvenient truth” about race and violence, which is the direct result of failed Democrat social programs. In fact, black people (13% of the population), are 12 times more likely to be murdered, per capita, than white people (62% of the population).

That gross racial disparity in murder rates isn’t useful for the gun control narrative Democrats invoke to evoke emotional reaction from mostly wealthy white suburban women, who form the Demos’ largest voter constituency.

FOOTNOTE 2: Regarding so-called “mass shootings,” for the record, murders of multiple people by one assailant are very rare in our nation of 335 million people. Less than 1% of all murders nationwide are classified as “mass shootings” and high-profile attacks, such as the 2017 mass murder in Las Vegas, are extremely rare.

The FBI defines “active shooter incidents” as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” In 2022, the FBI reported 50 incidents resulting in 313 casualties (100 killed and 213 wounded). That number was up significantly from 2020 when the FBI reported 40 incidents resulting in 164 casualties (38 killed and 126 wounded).

A broader record of “mass shooting” data is maintained by the Associated Press and Northeastern University, which uses the Department of Justice definition of mass public shooting: “A multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms.” These numbers fluctuate significantly year over year, and they range between 20 and 40 incidents. But notably, over the last 30 years, the number of black mass assailants is almost as high as the number of white assailants.

Democrats focus on these rare instances of multiple murders because these high-profile tragedies are political fodder to foment fear — most notably when they can toss out their oft-repeated but erroneous claim that “gun violence is the leading cause of death for children.” If by “children” they mean gang and drug-associated murders of those primarily between the ages of 16 and 21, then yes. Democrats are experts at fomenting fear and division.

The fear and angst Demos intentionally propagate are taking a toll on Americans’ mental health. Psychological researcher Dr. Riana Elyse Anderson observes: “Watching it time and time again on your phone or on the headlines can really impact you in ways that I don’t think we knew before to be as impactful. It’s so ‘in our face’ all the time and we have access to so much footage, so many pictures, so many videos, so many accounts that we’re ingesting it in ways that’s really unhealthy for us.” The result for many mothers, in particular, is an irrational fear that their children will be shot. That is precisely the fabricated fear Democrats want to perpetuate, especially among their female constituents, in order to advance their gun control agenda.

FOOTNOTE 3: Regarding what Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists ubiquitously and falsely label “assault weapons,” an actual assault weapon, commonly known as a “machine gun,” is select-fire and can rapidly cycle rounds in fully automatic sequence. Very few select-fire weapons are in civilian hands, and only then subject to stringent licensing requirements.

In fact, civilian firearms in common use, like the AR-15 and other semiautomatic sporting and hunting rifles, are not “assault rifles.”

For much the same reason the Demo/Media talkingheads focus only on rare high-profile “mass shootings” to generate fear and angst, they also call semi-automatic rifles sometimes used in those attacks, “assault weapons.” Predictably, Demos then call for what Hillary Clinton framed decades ago as “common sense gun laws,” inevitably followed by calls for an “assault weapons ban.”

In 1994, Bill Clinton banned the sale of “military-style assault weapons,” but that ban was not renewed 10 years later because it was determined the ban had no effect on crime reduction. According to Rand Research, “We found no qualifying studies showing that bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines decreased any of the eight outcomes we investigated.”

The fact is, rifles and shotguns combined are used in less than 3% of all homicides, but Democrats never let facts get in the way of their “assault weapon ban” political agenda.

Both the Clintons were prolific prevaricators, masterful obfuscators of the truth. And Joe Biden has followed their template, establishing himself as the standard bearer of the “lying dog-faced pony soldier” cavalry.

FOOTNOTE 4: Regarding firearms and violent crime, researcher John Lott reports, “Over 92% of violent crimes in America do not involve firearms.” Again, the only thing keeping that number from being much higher is that 125 million Americans are legal and responsible gun owners.

FOOTNOTE 5: Regarding firearms and suicide, almost 60% of all deaths involving firearms are suicide, most also involving drug or alcohol abuse. But the big numbers promoted in “gun violence” reports do not distinguish between murder and suicide, thus implying that homicide rates are much higher. And does this mean that Demo support for assisted suicide is in conflict with their support for gun control?

FOOTNOTE 6: Regarding alcohol versus firearm deaths, if Democrats are serious about protecting Americans, they should outlaw alcohol. Alcohol abuse is far more deadly than firearm abuse. More than 178,000 people died from alcohol abuse last year — that’s NINE times the number of homicides associated with firearms. Drunk drivers are responsible for 37 deaths per day. And notably, it is estimated that alcohol is a key factor in at least 30% of homicides where the assailant uses a firearm. (Include drug dealing or use as a factor and that number jumps to about 60%.)

Of course, the vast majority of alcohol users possess and use it legally and responsibly. Likewise, the vast majority of firearm owners possess and use them legally and responsibly. Enacting a prohibition on firearms is tantamount to enacting a prohibition on alcohol. In both cases, only law-abiding users obey the laws.

BOTTOM LINE: Let me restate this point — only law-abiding citizens abide by the law. Only outlaws perpetrate acts of violence. Making good people helpless won’t make bad people harmless.

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