Let’s talk about silencers & how the “gun safety” movement is a lie.

Silencers are in the news, with all manner of breathless fear mongering coming from various outlets.  Why? The Sportsmen’s Heritage  Recreational and Enhancement Act of 2017 (SHARE) passed through committee (on a straight party-line vote, naturally) and has been forwarded to the House of Representatives.  Attached to it is the Hearing Protection Act, which (if successful) will remove silencers from the National Firearms Act and treat them like regular Title I firearms.   Not sure what this means? Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

What’s the big deal?

If you are unfamiliar with the backstory on what silencers are & why they are restricted, David Kopel wrote an excellent article covering the history & politics of silencers.   To sum up: Hiram Maxim invented the sound suppressor back in 1909 and marketed it as a “silencer.”   Here in the US, they are fairly uncommon & if you don’t have the proper paperwork  can send you to prison for a long time.

Wait, what?  Yep, that’s right –  For some reason that nobody can figure out, Congress decided to include them in the National Firearms Act of 1934, resulting in their being treated the same as machineguns, sawed off shotguns, and hand grenades.  Under the NFA, a hollow tube with baffles is considered a Title II firearm & heavily restricted: owning one requires fingerprints, a background check, and a $200 tax stamp.   Violations of Title II firearms laws are a federal felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

With all these hoops to jump through, and harsh penalties, why do people want silencers anyhow?

Despite their portray in popular media, guns are loud.  A single gunshot can be up to 190dB – in comparison, thunder from a nearby storm is around 120dB.  Both are enough to cause immediate, permanent hearing damage because the sound is loud enough to kill hearing tissue.

Silencers are the gun equivalent of a car’s muffler – they function by taking the exhaust gases of combustion & slowing their expansion, cooling them before they escape the muzzle. The typical silencer is not particularly complex – it can’t be, because unlike an automobile muffler, the bullet has to travel in a straight line. Crude examples can be found made from converted oil filters, or can be constructed of a simple pipe, washers & steel or copper wool, and a means to attach it to the firearms barrel.  In a recent episode of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes is shown with one made from a Maglite:

 

Silencers have many benefits besides the obvious noise reduction for the shooter:

  • Increased situational awareness.  By being able to hear what is going on around you, you are safer.  You are able to communicate with others &
  • Decreased firearms recoil, which means greater accuracy.
  • Less noise pollution in the surrounding area, which is especially important around firing ranges. In some European nations they are considered an essential way to reduce noise pollution & are available without a hassle.  Glock makes a disposable model that’s around $150 that is available in various countries.

In all likelihood, if OSHA had existed when silencers were invented, they’d be mandatory equipment today.

What caused this Silencer Showdown?

It is only in recent years that use of silencers in the American firearms community has changed, largely due to three factors: inflation, military acceptance & information sharing.

Inflation: When Maxim invented the silencer, Pistol models sold for $5, rifle versions were $7, or around $125 in 2017 dollars.  The National Firearms Act added $200 to that cost, effectively banning them from anyone other than the rich –   $200 in 1934 is the equivalent of $4959 in 2017.  Thanks to the magic of inflation, a $200 tax stamp no longer is the hurdle it once was, and in the last decade silencer, short barrel rifle, short barrel shotgun & other NFA purchases have exploded.   Let’s face it, in 1934 $200 on a $5 item was a big deal; but $200 today? That’s a monthly cell phone bill.

Military use: Silencers have been in military service since WWI, where they were issued to snipers & sharpshooters.  In WWII, they were found in various capacities from the Welrod Pistol to the Deslisle Destroyer Carbine to Silenced Sten. Vietnam saw a variant of the S&W M39 called the Mk 22 “Hush Puppy” that was used by SEALs for eliminating guard dogs & sentries, along with Silenced Swedish K “K Guns” used by both Special Forces & CIA personnel.

This continued into the modern era.  Well aware of the advantages that silencers provided, military units made them a requirement on weapons systems solicitations; in the mid 90s the Special Operations Peculiar MODification (SOPMOD) kit had a sound suppressor for each rifle.  When the Global War on Terror ramped up, Special Operations became even more important & capabilities needed to be filled.  The M110 was issued as a designated marksman’s rifle, putting silencers into the hands of riflemen.

Traditional media, Social media & word of mouth: In 2010, there had been a grand total of 285,087 silencers registered since 1934.  That would soon change.

The internet allowed firearms enthusiasts to communicate from around the world.  As such, those with actual experience using silencers, industry representatives & potential buyers were able join together. Information sharing via sites like AR15.com (est 1997), SilencerTalk, (created in 2006), tactical industry publications, & word of mouth allowed end users to become more educated on silencer effectiveness, how to obtain their own, or in some cases make them with ATF approval.  No longer was the NFA a mystery, and a niche market was even created to simplify the process by connecting firearms lawyers with clients.

Social media further spread information, from digital photos taken by service members to companies like Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC), Surefire & Gemtech taking part in  discussions.   These companies leveraged their knowledge gained from servicing military & law enforcement customers into providing better quality products to both law enforcement & civilian buyers.  Detailed specifications allowed comparison shopping. YouTube channels like Hickok45 featured silencer use & others explained the science behind them.   Industry leading manufacturers formed the American Suppressor Association in 2014 to help educate & reform silencer laws at both the state & federal level; through their efforts it is now legal to hunt with a silencer equipped firearm in 42 states.  Finally, large firearms manufacturers entered the market: Remington acquired AAC, SIG-Sauer created their own silencer division, and just this year S&W bought Gemtech.

By 2015, silencer ownership had exploded. CNN noted the drastic increase in silencer sales:

The number of registered silencers surged 38% from last year to 792,282 in February 2015, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There were 571,750 licenses in March 2014.

A year later there were 900,000 silencers in circulation. In February 2017 there were 1.3 million and the numbers continue to increase.

Even some people at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives have changed their minds on their being restricted, stating in a whitepaper that:

[T]he reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.

The Free Beacon has confirmed that silencers are rarely used in crimes, with roughly 44 instances a year.

“Consistent with this low number of prosecution referrals, silencers are very rarely used in criminal shootings,” Turk wrote. “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating [National Firearms Act] classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act].”

Even in 2014 the ATF was having a difficult time keeping up with the ever increasing demands for NFA items.   Eventually they changed to a 7 day workweek and increased NFA branch personnel nearly threefold in order to try to combat growing delays.   Wait times for NFA transfers continued to increase.  The existing system wasn’t working, and wasn’t helped by a new Obama-era rule change called 41f that further increased paperwork to be processed – wait times were expected to double.  In anticipation of the rules changes, people rushed to get their paperwork in so their purchases would be “grandfathered” – Silencerco reportedly submitted $2,000,000 worth of NFA stamp applications in a single day.  If those were all silencers or machineguns, that’s 10,000 applications.

The ATF whitepaper gives an insider’s view:

The wide acceptance of silencers and corresponding changes in state laws have created substantial demand across the country. This surge in demand has caused ATF to have a  significant backlog on silencer applications. ATF’s processing time is now approximately 8 months. ATF has devoted substantial resources in attempts to reduce processing times, spending over $1 million annually in overtime and temporary duty expenses, and dedicating over 33 additional full-time and contract positions since 2011 to support NFA processing.

Put it another way: by keeping silencers restricted, it’s having a negative effect on law enforcement, because administration is draining resources.  That is money spent on personnel & paperwork and is not spent on criminal investigations.

Things come to a head

Enter the Hearing Protection Act of 2015, which had the objective of changing silencers from Title II weapons, to Title I & treated the same as regular firearms  The HPA eventually picked up 82 cosponsors, but was not passed in the 2015-16 session.  With the 2016 election under way, it was tabled; Clinton had campaigned on increasing firearms restrictions across the board, and was favored to win.

With Trump’s surprise victory & Republican control of both the Senate & House, there was an opportunity.  Donald Trump Jr, an avid hunter, spearheaded efforts to reduce silencer regulations. The Hearing Protection Act was dusted off, reintroduced to the house as HPA 2017. It was then referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, followed by the House Judiciary, where it languished until June, when it was attached to the SHARE Act.  SHARE already had strong bipartisan approval and incorporated a number of changes that the firearms community had been seeking for decades.

So let’s talk about the “gun safety” movement & their objections to this bill.

Naturally the possibility of silencer restrictions being eased has caused a panic in the anti-gun movement & media allies.  Everytown produced a litany of fear mongering nonsense.  The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank panicked and vomited forth a massive amount of hyperbole including talk of howitzers & Stinger missiles (which the NRA quickly debunked). The Huffington Post claims deregulation is a ploy of the gun industry in order to combat the “Trump Slump” (which doesn’t exist, but I’ll address that in another article).

Rather than address each article, let’s talk about…

Common Myths Surrounding Silencers

Myth #1: Silencers completely eliminate the sound of a gunshot! 

Despite their portrayal in movies & television, silencers do not reduce a gunshot to a kitten sneezing.  In fact:

  •  a rifle with a silencer is still as loud as the operations deck of an aircraft carrier;
  • a pistol with a silencer is as loud as a jackhammer.

Even the CEO of ShotSpotter, a system used to detect gunfire in several cities, states that the Shotspotter system can still detect firearms equipped with silencers.

“In regard to gun silencers, it is more accurate to call them suppressors, as they suppress the impulsive sound of gunfire, not wholly eliminate it,” said Ralph Clark, the chief executive of ShotSpotter. “We have successfully if not inadvertently detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments. Although we have not formally tested the theoretical impact to our system, we intend to do some targeted testing in the near future. We believe we will have various options ranging from increasing our sensor array density to developing software/firmware to address the detection of suppressed gunfire if it were to become a widespread issue.”

Despite what some may claim, a silencer will not make a mass shooter more deadly, or hunter less safe.

Myth #2: Restricting them has kept them out of the hands of criminals!

This is a great example of correlation not equaling causation, or the Simpsons example of the tiger-repellent rock.  Strict silencer laws have not, in fact, kept them out of the hands of criminals; rather their use is just not given much media play because criminals breaking the law with heavily restricted items goes against the narrative.  Examples:

Over a half dozen examples in the last two years, with many more probably not even reported on.

So why aren’t criminals using silencers?  Probably because most criminals use small, concealable handguns and adding 9-12″ to the barrel makes them much more difficult to tuck into a belt.

Myth #3: People don’t need silencers, they can just wear earplugs!

First, let’s start with the research: The CDC did a study in 2011 titled, “Noise and Lead Exposures at an Outdoor Firing Range ─ California”.  In it, they stated:

The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel.

The common sense approach to a loud noise is to muffle the item causing it, not to expect everyone in the area to be equipped with ear protection.  It’s only when that is not possible that additional hearing protection is suggested, which is why cars have mufflers instead of expecting drivers & passengers to wear ear plugs.

Second, when carrying a firearm for self defense, it is not possible or practical to wear ear plugs or muffs at all times.  There are over 16 million people with concealed carry permits in the United States, and unknown numbers of people who concealed carry in the 13 states with Constitutional Carry.  Each one runs the risk of permanent hearing loss should they be forced to defend themselves.

In addition, wearing ear plugs or muffs reduces safety, not increases it.  With hearing protection on, all sound is reduced, not just the gunshot, resulting in a loss of situational awareness:

  • Hunters cannot hear other people in the woods.
  • A homeowner inside their house will not be able to effectively hear an intruder’s movements – or police commands if they make entry.
  • Students receiving instruction have to learn to overcome the blast & recoil, rather than concentrating on form & control.
  • The areas surrounding firing ranges have increased levels of noise pollution.

Myth #4: If silencers are easier to get, there will be more criminals using silencers!

While I already addressed this partially with Myth #1 & how guns are still loud even with a silencer attached, this argument really requires a leap in logic to believe.

First, seized firearms figures show that most criminals use small & inexpensive handguns for crime.  The Trace was kind enough to provide data from Chicago PD which had inexpensive models from Ruger, Hi-Point, & other manufacturers dominating.  A stickup artist is not going to add 9-12″ of suppressor to the barrel of their firearm making it harder to conceal… not to mention doubling or tripling the price.

Second, there were also huge numbers of revolvers present, which cannot be effectively silenced due to the gap between the cylinder & the barrel. This throws additional cold water on potential criminal silencer use.

Silencers are a Public Health issue

Obviously the medical community must have something to say about this, right?

Surprise! They’ve been refusing to comment at all.  The silence of medical groups is something that has not gone unnoticed by the firearms community.  You’d think that decriminalizing a device that will prevent medical injury would be a no-brainer for medical professionals, but:

[T]he American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatrics not only refuse to support doing away with the outdated restrictions. They won’t even promote the use of suppressors as a valuable public health solution.

Even the group representing ear doctors, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, has decided officially to refuse their support of both this hearing-saving tool and the legislation that would make it widely available to their patients.

Usually eager to try to force further gun control under the guise of “Public Health” the medical community has been strangely quiet. There are no shortage of articles in medical journals advocating for stricter firearms laws, from background checks to “safe storage” to banning assault weapons, none of which have a proven track record of success at effecting, never mind reducing harm.  Yet when it comes to easing access to something that has empirically measurable, demonstrated effectiveness at preventing injury, they have nothing to say.

This, right here, reveals just how bankrupt the “gun safety” movement is.

 

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John Yarmuth voted against shutting down Operation ChokePoint which targeted firearms businesses.

Operation Choke Point was launched by the Justice Department in 2013 as a way to fight fraud by pressuring banks to “choke off”  access to credit and other banking services by merchants and industries the administration considered at a high risk for fraud.

Without access to banking services, it is difficult—if not impossible—for a business to survive.

Republicans who have been fighting the program believe the Obama administration abused its power under Operation Choke Point by targeting entire lines of legal industries. Some members view the tactics as “reminiscent of the IRS targeting of conservatives,” as Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., said Thursday on the House floor.

http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/04/find-out-if-your-lawmaker-voted-to-end-operation-choke-point/

Well that doesn’t say much, clearly they had a reason, right?

In 2011, guidelines created by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) labeled firearms and ammunition sellers as “reputational risks,” pinning them alongside pornography and other enterprises like Ponzi schemes and racist materials.

This is why it’s important to vote like a gun owner.  Antigun politicians will use any tactic to try to destroy our rights.  It’s not just about “common sense safety regulations” and “reducing crime” – it’s about burdensome regulations and a “death of 1000 cuts” approaches to removing the private ownership of firearms.

Another head scratcher from the Washington Post: “How to protect gun rights while reducing the toll of gun violence”

WaPo churned out an editorial that had me shaking my head about the gall of the antigun movement.

The opening paragraph doesn’t hesitate, but rather leaps straight in to revisionist history:

Twenty years ago, one of us was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, supporting research to build an evidence base to advance the science of gun-violence prevention. The other of us was a Republican representative from Arkansas determined to dismantle that effort because conservatives had concluded that it was aimed at gun control and not gun violence.

Well.  That’s one way to put it.

The two authors, Jay Dickey & Mark Rosenberg, are listed with the byline:

Jay Dickey, a Republican, represented Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2000. Mark Rosenberg, president and chief executive of the Task Force for Global Health, was director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1994 to 1999.

Dickey was the the key figure behind the Dickey-Wicker Amendment that slapped the CDC on the wrist for their overt bias in antigun research; he apparently had a change of heart after Sandy Hook.  Rosenberg was the head of the CDC department that funded said research, and is by no means impartial, having been a supporter of outright confiscation.  This Reason article contains quotes from him, including:

Rosenberg “envisions a long term campaign, similar to [those concerning] tobacco use and auto safety, to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace.” In 1994 he told The Washington Post, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly, and banned.”

Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s completely changed his tune twenty years later. It’s not like he was quoted here in 2013 when talking about the CDC funding prohibition:

“It terrorized the bureaucracy and it terrorized the research community,” Rosenberg said of the episode. …

“I think they want to suppress information that doesn’t support their ideological position,” said Rosenberg, referring to the gun lobby.

Terrorized? That is strong wording it must be a fluke… oh wait, here’s one from a month prior.

Mark Rosenberg, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, had even stronger words. “The scientific community has been terrorized by the NRA,” Rosenberg said.

And here’s one from October 2012:

We’re being held hostage to firearm violence,” Rosenberg says, citing the NRA as the cause. “All of the science that could possibly give us answers is being stopped.”

Sure, he’s changed his tune, just listen to him:

When we met, at a congressional appropriations hearing in 1996, we fiercely opposed each other’s positions. But over years of communicating, we came to see that, while we had differences, we also shared values. We became colleagues, and we became friends. We have argued with each other and learned much from each other. We both belong to the National Rifle Association, and we both believe in the Second Amendment.

The problem with this statement is that the 2nd Amendment isn’t there to preserve duck hunting or single shot .22LR pistols.

The dishonesty continues just two paragraphs later:

Our nation does not have to choose between reducing gun-violence injuries and safeguarding gun ownership. Indeed, scientific research helped reduce the motor vehicle death rate in the United States and save hundreds of thousands of lives — all without getting rid of cars. For example, research led to the development of simple four-foot barricades dividing oncoming traffic that are preventing injuries and saving many lives. We can do the same with respect to firearm-related deaths, reducing their numbers while preserving the rights of gun owners.

Sure, we haven’t gotten rid of cars.  There’s also no organized movement to remove them, no “Moms Demand” for mass transit, no “Everytown” to get rid of sports cars. You can bet your ass though that when driverless cars are a viable option, they will be mandated.

You know what’s missing from this empty statement? An actual example supporting his claim.  You mention scientific research into cars and even a layman can list improvements that reduce accidents & fatalities: seatbelts, third brake lights, airbags, etc.  All of these, however, were privately developed by automobile companies and only later mandated in safety standards.

Strangely though, the authors can’t give a single example for research & development that would preserve firearms rights as he claims. Why is that?  Why have all of public health recommendations been “ban assault weapons” and “ban magazines” and “ban guns”?

If we are to be successful , those of us on opposite sides of this issue will have to do a better job of respecting, understanding and working with each other. In the area of firearms injuries, collaboration has a special meaning. It will require real partnership on the design of the research we do because while we often hear about “common-sense gun laws,” common sense is not enough to both keep us safe and to protect the Second Amendment.

And for some reason the “common sense” laws aren’t so much “common sense” as talking points that don’t bear up.  There’s no “respecting, understanding and working with each other” because one side has absolutely no interest in compromise or even rational thinking.  They just want a death by 1000 cuts approach until they can make sweeping bans.

There is urgency to our task. Both of us now believe strongly that federal funding for research into gun-violence prevention should be dramatically increased. But the language accompanying this appropriation should mirror the language already in the law: “No funds shall be used to advocate or promote gun control.” This prohibition can help to reassure supporters of the Second Amendment that the CDC will use the money for important research and not for gun-control advocacy. However, it is also important for all to understand that this wording does not constitute an outright ban on federal gun-violence prevention research. It is critical that the appropriation contain enough money to let science thrive and help us determine what works.

Overall, I’m not impressed with this plea for funding.  Sorry, Dr Rosenberg, but we’re way past the “once bitten, twice shy” stage. The funding prohibition against gun control advocacy already exists and yet antigun “researchers” simultaneously whine that there is a prohibition on research (through various articles & OpEds that fail to mention the CDC’s past activities) while churning out antigun studies funded by Bloomberg & Joyce.  Given these facts, why do you think we should not be suspicious that revisiting the issue and increasing funding will happen without

  1. The advocacy prohibition being stripped away
  2. A return to the previous shenanigans

It’s not like Wintermute, Hemenway, Kellerman or any of the others have changed their stripes.

If you have a plan on addressing “preventable” firearms deaths, you need to realize that suicide, homicide, and accidents are three distinctly different problems that require separate solutions. Come back when you have a proposal other than “Remove guns, problem solved.”

The so called “terrorist loophole” or how the Left admitted they hate due process

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Harry Reid and his buddies have decided that they just can’t let this opportunity slide by – they want to eliminate the so called “terrorist loophole” on firearms:

“Republicans care more about kowtowing to the NRA than preventing terrorists from legally buying assault rifles and explosives like the ones used in the Paris attacks here in America,” Reid said in a statement. “Shockingly, Republicans continue to preserve a loophole that allows FBI terror suspects to buy guns and explosives legally, without background checks.”

Wut.  Chuck Schumer got in the act as well:

“Right now there is a major loophole that would make your jaw drop. Under current law, suspected or known terrorists who are on a no fly list can legally purchase firearms and explosives,” Schumer said.

“We have to change this law. No-fly should mean no-buy for terrorists. Right now, amazingly, it does not.”

Motherfucker, that’s not a loophole.  That’s how the law was designed.  I’ve called out Schumer before when he tried to use this tactic – The problem with this “terrorist loophole” idea is twofold: one, it’s yet another attack on the private selling of firearms without universal background checks, but even worse it would appear that Reid, Schumer and their ilk are saying that they no longer are even pretending to care about due process.

The people on the terrorism watchlist haven’t been convicted of a crime. Techdirt had an article illustrating that 40% of them aren’t even associated with any known terrorist group, that’s 280,000 people.   There’s no oversight on how someone is added, and even the ACLU is showing concern over it.

Yet despite this, Schumer & Reid think that it’s ok to strip away civil liberties without even the barest hint of a trial let alone a conviction Naturally their allies have absolutely no problem with this which shows just how fucked up the press is.

Nancy Pelosi was unintentionally ironic when she made this statement that it was:

 “outrageous that we would slam the door on women and children but allow terrorists to buy guns.”

Because, you know, it’s wrong to be worried about refugees after fake Syrian passports were used in the Paris attacks and there is a booming black market for them.   I agree, it’s wrong to assume that all refugees are terrorists – but when it comes to gun control Reid, Schumer, Pelosi and the rest have absolutely no problem acting like all firearms purchasers are hardened criminals.

What’s almost as bad is that the New York Daily News is using this to bash the NRA.  You might remember them from trying to have the NRA declared a terrorist organization back in October.

The hypocrisy is blatant and the fact that nobody of prominence is calling them out for it is sad.

Update: Salon.com has leapt into the fray to seize upon how the NRA is a bunch of mean meanies for wanting people to be convicted before losing their rights:

The GOP will do just about anything to cloak itself in patriotic bellicosity. They’ll send your brothers and sisters into harrowing war zones, poorly equipped and without exit strategies, with enemies blended into the population. They’ll call for the invasion and occupation of nation’s with zero connection to 9/11. They’ll tell us we can’t have a First Amendment if we’re dead. But all of that ends at Wayne LaPierre’s line in the sand. It’s been nine months since the most recent proposal to close the gun gap has been proposed and there’s no real passage in sight, knowing the NRA’s history of strong-arming legislators against the overwhelming will of the people and of common sense. The next time you have to practically strip naked in an airport security line, bear in mind that any would-be terrorist in line with you was easily able to buy a gun. You know, because liberty.

Free speech, voting rights, equal protection and privacy rights for women, and the ability for Muslim-Americans to freely practice their religion is totally up for grabs, but the ability of suspected terrorists to buy a gun shall not be infringed under any circumstances, according to the GOP. It’s difficult to accept how egregiously disgraceful this is, and in a perfect world the GOP would be scolded into submission and the NRA would be exposed for its deadly absolutism. But don’t hold your breath.

It’s a horrible thing that free speech, voting rights, equal protection & privacy rights for women and all the rest are being attacked, so Salon thinks it’s only fair that the 2nd amendment be destroyed as well.

The sheer lack of self awareness.

In the wake of fully automatic weapons and bombs used in Paris, the EU response is more gun control. Democrats seize the opportunity as well. Seriously?

I can’t make this up.

Despite the fact that the attackers used fully automatic AK-47 rifles and had suicide vests loaded with TATP explosive, both of which are banned outright, the EU response to this has apparently been that more gun control is needed.

A normal person would go “Hey, these are guns that nobody can legally buy already.  The explosives are extra illegal.”  The EU resposne? Make deactivated weapons extra illegal, restrict flare guns, ban semiautomatic weapons and develop a “plan” to attack the black market.  Because the black market has been stopped so effectively in the past.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

There really is no better example of “let no tragedy go to waste”

There’s over 120 dead people who were all defenseless and giving them the option to fight back isn’t even considered.

Meanwhile in the US, Harry Reid & Chuck Schumer decided that it’s time to try to attack the “terrorist loophole” – their term for stopping people who’ve been added to the “terrorism watchlist” from buying guns.  There’s just one problem – they may be on a watchlist but haven’t actually been convicted of a crime.  

This has me so irked that I’m going to have to make a separate entry.

What can be done to stop mass shootings & gun crime? I’m ever so glad you asked.

With another mass shooting making headlines, the antigun extremists are out in force, from the President stating he would like Australian style gun control (and the firearms bans & confiscations that go with it), columnists not even bothering to hide that they want confiscation, to the slacktivists sharing facebook memes.

Here’s the thing, though.  When they are done venting, if you ask them what their plan is to specifically address these shootings, they can’t identify what would have prevented them.  Watch Charles W. Cooke do just that on Morning Joe:

I’ve got some ideas though.  Pardon the coarse language, but it’s time for real talk and if you can’t handle it, you aren’t ready for a serious discussion on this topic.

Identify the current policies that are failing
All jokes about nuclear holocaust and wiping out humanity as a solution aside, I think we all can agree that the current policy of “let’s make sure that the crazy guy with a gun has a safe working environment” has failed miserably at preventing mass shootings. When you are just nutty enough to commit several death penalty felonies such as mass murder and the like, a sign on a door saying “no guns” isn’t going to stop you. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to allow people to defend themselves since there’s at least 10 instances of people with CCW preventing mass shootings or stopping them from getting any further.

Nobody is saying HURR DURR GUNS EVERYWHERE. Nobody is calling for armed swat teams in schools. Please save the “blood will run in the streets, armed vigilantes getting in fights over tests!” arguments as they haven’t born out in the 30 or so years CCW reform has been spreading through the US. Texas collects CHL revocation rates and unsurprisingly people who bother to go through the legal rigmarole of having a clean criminal record, getting tested and getting a permit to carry commit far fewer crimes than the general population as a whole. Before anyone starts whining about drunk freshmen carrying guns at college, most states have a 21 year old age limit for CCW so chances are the only people carrying are going to be adults doing continuing education or veterans using the GI Bill. All things being equal, I’d rather dudes like Chris Mintz have something other than their gigantic brass balls to fight with if they happen to encounter a school shooter.

As it is right now, even if your state allows you to carry at work or school, you can be fired or expelled for doing so. Maybe, just maybe, that should change.

This is not a “guns everywhere” argument.  This is about being pro-choice when it comes to self defense.

Stricter enforcement of firearms violations
Most firearms crimes are felonies. It does no good to make all these felonies if you don’t prosecute. If someone is stopped on a background check because they are a felon, put them in jail. Obama has talked tough on this but hasn’t delivered

Then again, neither has any president. This is a decades long problem, across all administrations. Nobody has ever cracked down on these crimes – you know how you hear about background checks stopping [x] number of felons from getting guns? Each of those is a slam dunk fed felony with prison time up to ten years and fines up to $250k. They aren’t enforced ever so they aren’t effective deterrents – they are a toothless threat. When Colorado passed universal background checks, they touted something like 2900 criminals being stopped by background checks within the state and claimed this was a sign of success (and these were actual felons with ag assault, murder, burglaries, etc convictions). They made around 230 arrests off them. Who knows how many went to jail for it.

Meanwhile guys like this get probation for actually getting caught trafficking by nutball judges.

On top of that, a couple of these mass murderers had run ins with the cops prior to going hog wild

  • The Navy Yard Shooter, Alexis Aaron, had shot out some guys tires, claiming he went into a blackout rage and got his ass kicked out of the navy on another firearms charge.
  • The guy that shot up the Lafayette movie theater had been denied a CCW because he’d been brought in on arson and domestic violence charges. Guess what? No convictions.

Maybe, just maybe, getting some of these guys to plead guilty to felonies or putting them behind bars might have prevented them being able to buy a gun in a store.

Fixing the background check system
For those unfamiliar with the process, every time someone buys a gun from a FFL, they are put through the National Instant Background Check system that was proposed by the NRA when the 94 Brady Bill went through. The NICS system takes the info filled in on the ATF 4473 and checks it against a FBI database and returns either PROCEED / DENY / DELAY. It’s only as good as the info that gets put into it.

NICS needs to be fixed. States are inputting crap into the database, or not putting in complete records. The gun industry has a campaign to solve this: http://www.fixnics.org/factinfo.cfm

  • Remember the Lafayette movie theater guy? Yeah, GA removed his info from NICS, allowing him to buy a gun from a pawn shop.
  • Dylan Roof, the Charleston Church Shooter, had been arrested for drug charges and was pending trial, making him a prohibited person blocked from purchasing. Whoops, the reporting agency didn’t put the data in correctly and when Roof bought his gun, he was passed by NICS.
  • Jaylen Fryberg, the Marysville School Shooter, got his firearm from his father, who falsified his 4473.  Fryberg’s father was under a permanent protective order and a prohibited person – NICS should have caught that, had the information been properly

Worried about the so called “gun show loophole”? Open NICS to the public
We hear a lot of whining about how everyone needs Universal Background Checks and the Gun Show loophole and that sort of bullshit. The facts are that most of those mass murderers bought their guns at gun stores.

  • The asshole that shot up Umpqua? Bought 13 guns over 3 years, all at gun stores. Background checked for each. Apparently he got chaptered out of basic too, so there’s that…
  • Roof bought his gun at a store, and was background checked.
  • Alexis Aaron, the Navy Yard Shooter, bought his shotgun from a store and was background checked.
  • Holmes bought his guns at a store, and was background checked.
  • Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, bought his guns at a store. You guessed it, background checked.
  • Eliot Rodgers, the Isla Vista beta bought his pistols at a store, registered them in California’s database, and underwent a waiting period for each after getting background checked – ticking off just about every gun control wish list item.

Lanza wasn’t background checked, but his mom was, and registered her guns, and complied with CT’s waiting periods and all that jazz. Even had them locked in a safe. He just murdered his mom to get to them, possibly because she was going to have him committed.  So clearly background checks aren’t a factor in stopping mass shootings and aren’t going to do any good, even if you implement Universal Background Checks.

B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-but 40% of criminals get their guns from private sales! Nope. Not true. That’s based on a study that came out before the background check even was in place in 1995. On top of that, a study from U Chicago just came out that surveyed inmates in for violent crimes and they asked where they got their guns from. 2% said a store. 70% said family or fellow gang members. In IL you have to have a FOID to get ammo, nevermind a gun, so these enterprising lads would have a girlfriend with no rapsheet buy a bunch of guns, report them stolen, and turn them over to the gang. The rest came from street connections such as drug dealers who’d been traded guns for drugs.

Color me shocked that people who can figure out how to get cocaine from Columbia, superlab meth from South America, heroin from the far east and a host of other illegal shit including human beings for the sex slave trade are also able to figure out ways around obtaining firearms in order to protect their profits.

The “gun show loophole isn’t really a problem. Criminals state flat out that they don’t like buying them from strangers because they worry about stings.

So what can be done? Universal Background Checks aren’t a good idea – it doesn’t solve the problems listed above, and adds a whole host of new ones because the NICS system currently gets overloaded on busy sales days. Plus, it’s really a dick move to whine about people living in food deserts and then make them ride public transit across the county (or in San Francisco or Chicago’s case, out of the goddamn city since there’s no gun stores there anymore) and find a FFL during business hours, forcing them to take time off from their 3 minimum wage jobs…. etc etc etc to use every possible tumblr stereotype about why [proposal x] is racist.

What is a good idea? Open a public, smartphone accessible NICS portal to allow private sellers to prevent unlawful transfers – not perfect but better than nothing and a positive defense against trafficking charges. The Coburn proposal was just that. The same people shitting their pants about how we absolutely had to do something about the gun show loophole and needed UBCs voted in lockstep against it, showing that they really aren’t for making improvements, just telling gun owners to fuck off.

Blah blah blah MENTAL HEALTH
Yeah, it’s a trite thing to say and paid a lot of lip service, but something needs to be done. There need to be clear reporting policies for people who are a danger to themselves and others. This is tough because on one hand you don’t want to prevent people getting help. On the other hand, Holmes told his therapist about wanting to kill people before Aurora and she sent his journal by snail mail instead of getting the cops out there. Aurora was the result. Lanza was supposedly getting committed. Alexis Aaron had several episodes including hallucinations prior to shooting up the Navy Yard. As did Hauser in the Lafayette Theater shooting. Cho,the Virginia Tech Shooter had court ordered psych evals too. The guy from Umpqua was apparently a sperglord and on several meds as well. Notice a pattern?

And you know there’s no way Big fucking Pharma is going to allow a study to be done on what kind of psych meds all these crazy fuckers were on when they shot up the place. So the therapists need to be more proactive as they are the early warning system.

Rounding out this giant TL;DR there this
Stopping things before they start
An ounce of prevention, right? Violence interruption work such as what Dr Gary Slutkin does – http://www.ted.com/talks/gary_slutk…ipt?language=en – this has worked everywhere it’s been tried from Chicago to Iraq.

See also Richmond California’s efforts which led to a 2/3 reduction of murders – http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2…-rate-gun-death – stop likely offenders before they turn into murderers by making them productive members of society. This involves police work and community outreach.

Anyhow, if you don’t like this wall of text SMDFTB

If you want to whine about how we need more gun control, here’s another wall of text from an actual subject matter expert on firearms, competition shooting, firearms training, best selling author and more. This is most of the standard gun control arguments broken down so ignore the parts that you aren’t bitching about.

It’s been an “interesting” time lately. Are we seeing the beginning of a full court press?

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “May you live in interesting times” then you understand why it seems so apropos these days.

In the past 6 weeks we’ve seen a number of highly publicized mass shootings in addition to the usual gang related violence that is reported, then ignored by everyone.

June

On June 17, a deranged idiot decided that he’d try to start a race war by shooting up a the oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Southern United States, in Charleston South Carolina

Dylan Roof, pictured below, was a poster boy of how the system has failed to stop mass shootings yet again.

 

He killed 9 and wounded 1, seeking out South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, who was the pastor for the church.

In the days after the shooting took place, the narrative began to take shape – Roof had been arrested for drug possession. Roof was awaiting trial.  Somehow he’d gotten a gun – early reports stated that Roof had been given it by family.  It seemed like this was going to be seized upon as evidence that Universal Background Checks needed to be passed, lest another tragedy like this take place.

Then, just before the UBC bandwagon could reach full speed, law enforcement sources revealed that Roof had purchased the gun at a store and filled out the necessary background check paperwork.

Roof should have been prohibited from buying the gun – under federal law those facing charges where they may be imprisoned for over a year are not allowed to own or purchase firearms.  When Roof filled out his 4473 to purchase the murder weapon, he lied.  This lie should have been caught by the NICS system, but his arresting paperwork hadn’t been filed properly.

The Narrative had changed.  Robbed of their opportunity to blame the “gun show loophole” for this atrocity, the people upset by this pivoted and went after another the Confederate Flag which was prominently featured in Roof’s social media profile and symbolized the racist views expressed in his manifesto.

Ironically, Pinckney had voted against South Carolina’s laws that would have repealed prohibition of  concealed carry in churches without the express approval of church staff.  Obviously the law failed to stop the shooting.

In the aftermath of Charleston, President Obama made a number of statements, but in one televised address he suggested that the US should follow Australia’s example:

When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.

This was important, because Australia did several things: They banned multiple classes of firearms, and they confiscated privately owned weapons under the guise of a mandatory “buy back”.

Never before has this been suggested at such a high level in this country.  Previously politicians may have suggested confiscation obliquely, or in unguarded moment, but for a sitting President to state it outright was an eye opening moment.


July

A few weeks later, on July 16, there was another mass shooting.  In contrast to the Charlestown one, this shooting was carried out by a self-radicalized homegrown Islamic extremist decided to target a Chattanooga, TN recruiting office and then a Navy Reserves center. Local law enforcement chased him down, and killed him shortly thereafter.

FBI officials and the media quickly played down any attempt to classify the shooter as a “terrorist” despite him travelling to Jordan shortly before the attack took place.

FBI Evidence technicians process the scene at the Marine Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, TN. Juxtaposed with the bullet holes from the shooter’s attack  is the “Firearms Prohibited” sticker that graced the front door to the offices,

 

The perpetrator was revealed to be Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who carried out the attack with an AK-47 style rifle, a pistol, and possibly a shotgun.  Four Marines were killed at the scene while Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith died later at a hospital.

The Brady Center and other antigun groups didn’t waste any time in immediately calling for more gun control, despite not knowing how the firearms were obtained.   The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation stated that

“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,”

Attempts were made to try to highlight the need for a renewed assault weapons ban, others wanted to focus on Armslist.  Instead, the public reacted in a wholly unexpected way; they were outraged that military personnel were unable to defend themselves.

Paradoxically, though, people remembered that the military areas were gun free zones – press pool photos and footage showed the front doors of the Marine recruiting center riddled with bullet holes, next to a “Firearms Prohibited” sign.

Despite this, the intended victims fought back.  This was confirmed by statements from various military officials: the Marines did not run, and did not die laying down.  At least one Marine and one Navy officer had fought back with personally owned firearms – despite standing orders prohibiting having them.  No information has been provided on how many lives were saved as a result.

The reaction was swift.  Private citizens showed up in droves to guard the “defenseless” recruiters.   Senior military officials didn’t like that, viewing them as a security threat.  Naturally, it didn’t take long before someone showed off their lack of safe firearms handling skills by having a negligent discharge in the parking lot – and no one was surprised when this individual had previously had firearms confiscated for doing the exact same thing.

Politicians also seized upon the incident – Senator Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation end gun free zones on military installations:

The Safeguarding Service Members’ Second Amendment Rights Act, would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on Armed Forces military installations and Department of Defense (DoD) sites and prohibit the president, secretary of defense and secretaries of military departments from enacting similar restrictions or prohibitions in the future.

Governors in at least a half dozen states ordered that National Guardsmen be armed.    In lieu of active forms of protection, some areas decided that to ‘turtle up’ and stacked sandbags inside recruiters offices.

The antigun side of the debate was not faring well in the court of public opinion.

(Un)fortunately, they soon had another chance to make their opinions heard.


 

On July 23, John Russel Houser opened fire in the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette LA, during a showing of Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” – killing two, wounding multiple others, then killing himself after seeing the police arrive on scene.

Police outside the Grand 16 theater after the July 23 shooting in Lafayette LA. Source: CNN

Details about the shooter quickly made their way into the media: Houser had been involuntarily committed by his family.  Houser had been convicted of arson.  Houser admired Hitler & the Tea Party, and hated President Obama.

You could practically see the antigun talking heads rubbing their hands with glee over this.   They had their perfect example for why gun laws needed to change.  Clearly there was no way that this guy had gotten his gun legally, right?

Wrong.  Houser bought his gun at a pawn shop after passing a background check.

Turns out that despite a well documented history of domestic violence, arson, and involuntary commitment, Houser was never actually prosecuted.  All of this could have been avoided had he been convicted for arson back in 1989, and “[c]ourt documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.”

Usually involuntary commitment makes someone a prohibited person in the eyes of the ATF.  Unfortunately, the system failed in this case too:

That’s because Georgia, where Houser was the subject of a mental health evaluation in 2008, removes mental health records from the federal database used to conduct background checks after five years.

Politics waits for no man, though, so at this time various parties are still spinning and attempting to control the message.

Presidential candidate & Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal  suspended his Presidential campaign to handle situation and urged other states to tighten their reporting of prohibited persons like Louisiana has done.  Reactions to this ranged from New York Times claiming he wanted toughen gun laws (instead of the more accurate description of improving proper reporting compliance) to Wonkette’s ever so classy accusation that he was giving the NRA a rimjob.  A Buzzfeed editor showed her overt bias by stating don’t pray, push for more gun control – and got called out for it, resulting in an apology from her superiors.


There seems to be indications that gun control proponents have decided it’s finally time to start calling for the removal of the 2nd Amendment altogether, or at least curtail it severely.

Legendary attorney Alan Dershowitz stated in an interview:

We have tried an experiment for the last 250 years and it’s failed miserably and we have to start a new approach. The new approach has to be guns should not be available to people generally, except if they have a significant need.

Surprisingly, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was actually ahead of this wave, stating in early July:

“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.

A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”

President Obama, who stated outright that gun control was his biggest disappointment with his time in office, said that he was going to devote the last 18 months of his term to gun control and that gun ownership was a bigger problem than terrorism

Even Bernie Sanders has gotten in on the gun control bandwagon, saying  “certain types of guns, used to kill people exclusively, not for hunting, they should not be sold in the United States of America” – apparently not realizing that this effectively be every self defense firearm in the country.

Antigun media allies certainly haven’t changed their tune:

Celebrities like Richard Dreyfuss, Judd Apatow and Rebel Wilson have also been sure to add their two cents.

Interestingly enough, the American public doesn’t seem to agree with the media, politicians, or celebrities, as a recent opinion poll revealed that more Americans see guns as the solution, not the problem


 

Fake update: It would appear that I’m not alone in noticing this trend:

Business Insider: The dark reason why guns are virtually guaranteed to be a major issue of the 2016 campaign

After years of ducking presidential-campaign battles over gun laws out of fear of the powerful gun lobby, it appears that Democrats are finally ready to go on the offensive.

Democrats are becoming more and more outspoken about gun violence in the wake of seemingly ever increasing mass shootings, despite the fact that the American public remains as opposed as ever to many gun-control measures

It remains to be seen whether this represents a turning point in election politics, or a repeat of Clinton’s 1994 mistake.