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Ancient Mysteries

While the current news cycle churns out reports about multiple bills to ban bump-fire stocks and other accessories, or to ban nearly all semiautomatic rifles, let us cast our minds back to the ancient — in lamestream media time — history to the event that prompted this round of Second Amendment infringements.

Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, where the uninformed world discovered “bump-fire.” You know the narrative: A multimillionnaire dragged a couple dozen semiautomatic weapons to his 32nd floor suite. A dozen of them were equipped with evil bump-fire stocks. He broke out two windows and used those bump-fire “fully automatic” weapons of mass destruction to hose down a crowd of 20,000+ country music fans who probably deserved it because they’re nasty NRA gun owners themselves.

So our heroes in Washington, DC were forced to protect us by offering legislation to deny stuff to the 55 to 120 million gun owners who didn’t do it. “Bump stocks” must go! Bump stock manufacturers must pay for their crimes!

Whoa. Like I said, cast your minds back in time. To… say, October 2, 2017.

Did you see that? At least one fully automatic weapon and weapons equipped with bumpstocks.

The LA Times reported that other weapons were being examined to determine if they had been converted to full auto.

The Weekly Standard reported at least fully automatic weapon as well.

Dennis Michael Lynch noted it, too.

But the automatic weapon(s?) vanished from the narrative. Perhaps I overlooked it, but my searches turn up no “correction” that, “Oh, we didn’t mean full auto,” or, “That person was mistaken; we were talking about two different bump-fire devices and he thought we meant bump-fire and full.”

They just stopped talking about it.

Then they just stopped talking.

Well, why not, when you have powerful senators and congresscritters who need a lawful accessory to demonize in the interest of creating a gun control slippery slope?

Was one (or more) of the shooter’s weapon fully automatic? Personally, I thought at least one recorded burst sounded so regular (as opposed to other stuttering bursts) that I took it for full-auto fire.

The shooter had a clean record, so he’d have been eligible to purchase an NFA item. Certainly a multimillionnaire could afford one even at the inflated prices driven by the FOPA of 1986. But if he’d bought one legally, that would be just another example of the law not working as advertised. If he purchased one unlawfully, or converted a semiautomatic to full, well, then he’s just another criminal. Our protectors need something unregulated to… regulate. Gotta get that slippery slope.

So our ancient media mysteries are:

  • Was there one or more fully automatic weapons as reported in multiple outlets?
  • Did inspection of the weapons found in the hotel suite show which had been fired?
  • Has ballistics testing determined which were used to kill and wound the victims?

This is fairly important, really. The Mandalay Bay massacre is being used to justify a whole new set of infringements of human/civil rights, starting with bump-fire. Are they justifying legislation by something that didn’t happen per the script? (Note to nutcases: I’m not saying the incident was staged/faked; I’m questioning which weapon(s) was used.)

But shooters — aside from a few Mom’s Basement Army keyboard commandos and mall ninjas — consider bump-fire stocks to be nothing more than fun ammo-wasters. Granted, I can’t really wrap my head around mass murder, but it seems to me that if I were a wealthy guy intent on the murder of as many people as possible in ten minutes, and I had one or more automatic weapons handy, I don’t think I’d look over the selection and say, “Nah, the toy is the better tool for the job.”

I might transition to a bump-fired weapon if everything else jammed or broke, but who would start with that?

The cable news attention span has expired, so we may never learn the answers to my questions.

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Looking at the “gun violence” problem

Last year (2016) the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report states that number of firearms-related homicides was 11,004. Each was a personal tragedy, but how significant were they in terms of devising a strategy to prevent future murders?

Number of justifiable homicides (law enforcement): 435
Number of justifiable homicides (civilian):331
Difference/Criminal homicides: 10,228

The UCR does not specify the number of murderers (I use this word to collectively refer to those who commit criminal homicides, even though the charge may have been criminal negligence rather than capitol murder, for instance; it’s literary shorthand for “perpetrator of criminal homicide”) who used firearms, only the number of victims killed with firearms. Given the above data, we know that we have a theoretical maximum of 10,228 firearms-wielding murderers. In fact, since we also know of serial and and mass shootings, the number of gun murderers must be lower, but is not quantifiable with available data. For purposes of discussion I will use the high 10,228 figure for murderers.

US Population (2016): 322,762,018
Percent that are gun murderers: 0.0032%
That’s 32 ten-thousandths of 1 percent.

Estimates of American gun owners vary by significantly large amounts. The lowest I have seen is 55 million, or roughly 17% of the general population. The highest is 120 million, or approximately 37%.

Therefore, murderers are 0.0085 to 0.0186% of all gun owners. 85 ten-thousandths of 1 percent to 186 ten-thousandths of 1 percent. The greater estimate is represented graphically:

In reality, the number of gun owning murderers is far lower than even that. Some 64% of violent criminals have prior convictions, which would make them “prohibited persons” who cannot lawfully possess a firearm. Even if we disregard that — perhaps the criminal bought a lawfully owned firearm from some trusting soul — data indicates that 88% of firearms-related homicides are committed with stolen guns. Being in possession of stolen property clearly does not make one the owner.

The potential number of gun-owning murderers suddenly drops by 9,000 to 1,228. That makes them, at most, 0.0022% of all gun owners; 22 ten-thousandths of 1 percent. But, in reality, even fewer than that because as I noted, each murder victim doesn’t represent a separate individual killer (serial/mass murders); I opted for the high number out of convenience.

Perhaps gun owners aren’t the problem. Could it be the guns?

Figuring the number of “murder guns” is difficult. The Uniform Crime Report gives the percentage of total murders committed with firearms, but doesn’t give the total number of weapons, nor does ATF gun trace data break out guns by crime (not even guns by whether or not criminally used). But since we know there were 10,228 firearms-using murders, we can figure a minimum of 10,228 firearms as well. As for a maximum, the highest number of firearms in a single one-shooter incident I am aware of is the approximately two dozen in the Mandalay Bay shooters hotel room. Even a month later, the exact number of firearms present varies in news reports, and how many were, in fact, fired has not yet been made public. For convenience, I’ll use 24 (the highest number I’ve seen) were all used.

We have no idea, given the lack of data, of the average number of guns used by murderers. We know it ranges from 1 to 24, but those 10,228 individual shooters could have used any number in that range. For this discussion, I’ll make the probably outrageous assumption that the average is as high as 12, midway in the range (my gut feel is that average is closer to 1.1 per shooter).

So… 10,228 shooters time 12 guns, gives a hypothetical number of “murder guns” of 122,736 (gut feel would be 11,250).

I guesstimated gun owner numbers. Firearms estimates are just as vague. Recent lowball estimates are around 265 million. Others put it well over 300 million. Or over 400 million. The highest estimate I’ve encountered is 750 million.

122,736 murder weapons would be 0.0463% (less than 5 hundredths of a percent) of the low estimate. Or 0.0307% (a hair over 3 hundredths of a single percent) of the 400 million estimate. I’m not going to bother graphing that either.

Murderers and their weapons are such a tiny fraction of a percentage of all gun owners and their arms that both are statistical outliers.

Murderers cannot be taken as representative of gun owners, and any attempt to address “gun violence” by ignoring that fact, by proposing sweeping laws and regulations addressing all gun owners and all guns, will fail. Any “stumbling block” put before all gun owners in hopes of catching the murderers, any delay or restriction, will miss the intended target demographic — murderers — and is an infringement of human/civil rights of the 99.9814% of — tens to hundreds of millions — gun owners who didn’t do it.

No, new restrictions — just like the current restrictions — will not work.

Criminals break laws. They don’t — and cannot be required to — undergo background checks. The vast majority of criminals obtain their firearms through already unlawful channels, bypassing background checks and other supposed limits on their access. That is why universal background checks do not result in a reduction in gun homicide rates. Background checks merely make the process of lawfully purchasing a firearm — remember, something that criminals bypass — more expensive and inconvenient for the large majority of honest people, particularly when considering that approximately 94% of NICS denials are false positives resulting in more expensive, delays, and sometimes legal intervention for law-abiding people.

If those allegedly intent upon eliminating “gun violence” truly have that as their goal, they must change their focus. Stop regulating “guns” and “gun owners,” and begin looking at the specific offenders. For one thing, being such a smaller group, they’re easier to examine.

They should examine 1) murderer demographics (the UCR is a good place to start), and 2) murderer motivations and drivers (turf wars over drug-marketing territory for instance).

I predict that they will discover — if they go about honest research — that most murders are related to unlawful drugs because the profitable black market is worth fighting over. Note that AbbVie rarely send gangbangers out to commit drive-bys on Pfizer. But the “War on (some) Drugs” has boosted the street price of a weed that grow over virtually the entire continent to hundreds of dollars.

They will also likely discover that those once convicted of crimes have limited chances to find honest work at pay scales similar to drug-dealing.

They will discover repeat offenders — even repeat murderers — on the street thanks to plea deals, rather than being incarcerated. Incarceration may not be rehabilitative, but at least the killer isn’t on the street killing more competitors and innocents.

They’ll find criminals who were motivated by a need for enough money to buy their drugs at regulatively-inflated prices.

They should look at where gun crimes occur, and examine the political/economic/psychological reasons behind the clustering.

And yes, they will find some murderers who are simply crazy. Perhaps if they study those people closely enough, they’ll learn the warning signs so that other such can be stopped before they kill.

But they have to address the problem, not the 99.9814% who didn’t do it (except perhaps to establish a baseline for decency and sanity by which the murderers can be judged). If those allegedly intent upon eliminating “gun violence” won’t do this, we have to ask, what are their true motives? And how will they respond to growing noncompliance with irrational, inconvenient, and expensively useless infringements on gun owners’ rights?


Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar.

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Ed. note: This commentary appeared first in TZP’s weekly email alert. If you would like to be among the first to see new commentary (as well as to get notice of new polls and recaps of recent posts), please sign up for our alert list. (See sidebar or, if you’re on a mobile device, scroll down). Be sure to respond when you receive your activation email!

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Poll: National Concealed Carry Reciprocity

Last week James Yeager made an argument against national concealed carry reciprocity based on “states’ rights.” That is, that federal legislation requiring states to give full faith and credit to licenses of other states violates states’ rights to self-determination.

Do you agree with Yeager that national concealed carry reciprocity (H.R. 38) should be stopped?


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Poll: Rate Trump’s first 100 days of RKBA

When Donald Trump first started campaigning for President, many people were dubious of his new-found commitment to the right to keep and bear arms given his history on the subject: gun bans, preemptively prove your innocence, waiting periods, and more.

But once he hit the campaign trail he started talking a good game. The question was, could he walk as well as talk?

One hundred days in, he’s still talking, but he has also done some good things like ending the Social Security abuse. On the other hand, Obamacare 2.0 attempts still have RKBA problems, federal gun-free zone requirements are still there, and his Second Amendment advisory group is vaporware.

Since everyone else is rating Trump’s first 100 days in office, how would you rate him on RKBA?


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große Lüge

The Big Lie. Gen Xers and later may not know the term, but some of us grew up knowing a little history.

A big lie (German: große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, about the use of a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Hitler falsely claimed the technique was used by Jews to blame Germany’s loss in World War I on German general Erich Ludendorff, who was a prominent nationalist and antisemitic political leader in the Weimar Republic.”

So. Make a lie so big that the gullible will assume no one could make that up, and repeat it so often that it works its way into thought processes and becomes the “truth.” While Hitler accused Jews of using the technique, his accusation was itself the epitome of the big lie.

I’ve found, though, that the große Lüge has another effect that… works even on those who question everything: Sheer frickin’ exhaustion and frustration.

I am the editor of the weekly TZP alert newsletter. The bulk of the news letter is a collation of RKBA-related news (and other items that I think will interest our readers). I scour media sources of various slants for news good and bad. I try to find stuff that never makes it onto your television screen.

I make a special effort to include material about what victim disarmers are up to. “Know your enemy” stuff.

große Lüge stuff, it turns out.

  • 90% of Americans want this gun control
  • Assault rifles are the favored weapon of criminals
  • Assault rifles are the same thing as assault weapons
  • 5.56 NATO is an incredibly high-powered “bullet”
  • Background checks would have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre
  • Guns are designed to be loud so you know to run
  • Guns aren’t loud enough to damage hearing
  • The TEC-9 is a submachine gun
  • Guns kill more people than car accidents
  • And the recent favorite lie that Congress eliminated background checks (the Social Security rule)

…and on and on and on, over and over and over…

The problem is, those long since debunked lies keep going like the zombie apocalypse. They annoy me. At one time, I hoped that by writing to “authorized journalists” I could potentially educate the merely ignorant, and put the ones deliberately distorting facts on notice that we know what they’re up to. But I can’t keep up. The lies spread like whack-a-mole with hydras instead of obnoxious little mammals.

So I rarely bother with that angle any longer. More usually, I’ll respond by penning a sarcastic post that blares the offender’s stupidity to the world. Or as much as might be paying attention to little ol’ me.

That’s mildly satisfying. For about thirty seconds. Until I see the next repeat of the same bloody große Lüge. So it has gotten to the point that I’ll be halfway through another piece…

…and give it up. Because the große Lüge will just pop up in another media hole anyway.

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Google Strikes Back

I do the majority of the news aggregation for the TZP weekly email alert. Despite my dislike of Google, I have been making use of its news search function to find articles for a preset collection of phrases (“gun control,” “victim disarmament,” “common sense gun laws,” “gun free zone,” “firearms legislation.” Google sucks in many ways, but its news search function used to work better than most search engines.

Until this morning. Today, I discovered that my Google news bookmarks no longer work. For one, they no longer lead to just the news feed; it’s all web results. Not terribly useful for what I’m doing.

For another, Google now resets all my other search terms to “gun control.” “Victim disarmament?” Never heard of it. Ditto the rest. So cleared cache and cookies, and…

Search results are bizarre, as well. When I finally get to news for “victim disarmament” (I must now first hit the “news” tab for another term, then manually type “victim disarmament” and enter; repeat for every search phrase), I get…

Land mines. Military atrocities in the Ivory Coast. Columbia and FARC.

“OSU attack” gives me “Muslim Community Fears Backlash After Ohio State Attack” as the top result. You have to scroll down a bit to discover that a good guy with a gun stopped a car/blade attack.

I’m reminded of how Google disappeared Climategate search results a few years ago.

Here’s an interesting comparison. First up, we have the initial results page generated by Startpage (a privacy-enhancing frontend to Google, which strips out personal identifying data from queries to Google). The search phrase is “does google favor gun control?a”.

google-gun-control

Nothing to see here. Now to Bing (being Microsoft, not normally a preferred search tool).

bing-gun-control

How ’bout that first result? “Google Exercises Gun Control – Freedom Outpost”.

If anyone else cares to test Google’s bias, feel free to post results in comments. Myself, Google is gone from my search tools (mostly; I’ll keep on bookmark for future comparison testing).

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About the Israeli Mauser rifle contest

We are very sorry to announce that we’ve had to call off the Israeli Mauser rifle contest. Refunds are going out to the entrants now.

Unfortunately, interest in the competition was not enough even to cover the cost of the rifle. In addition, contest rules were widely misunderstood; we received quite a few essays without entry fees and entry fees without essays.

Things might have gone better had we been able to structure this as a pure raffle, with no mini-essay required. Unfortunately, that would have been illegal for us.

If you entered, you should be receiving a refund soon. PayPal refunds are already going out and refunds of snail-mailed entry fees will follow. Thank you very much for your participation and for the wonderful, heartfelt reasons you expressed for wanting to win this firearm.

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Denial: So much more than an Egyptian river

A reader sent this link to Instagram, where someone has posted his own version of Aaron Zelman’s famous Star of David “gun owner” image.

Aaron may not have known what a meme was, but he created an indelible one. We just added our own sticker version to the store, and as far as we’re concerned, the more this meme gets around, the better.

But it’s the comments on the Instagram page that are notable — and chilling.

The poster repeatedly has to defend himself against accusations of everything from plain bad taste to absurd overstatement.

One comment in particular, from sierraechotangohotel (Seth), a self-identified proud American Jew, reminds us of the famous dictum that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history. He writes, in part:

Just remember there is in no way shape or format any iota of comparison of the current state of firearms laws to the holocaust! I am a proud Jewish American and I just don’t understand what makes you think these two subjects are in any way comparable. If we lived in Venezuela where they are currently crushing firearms and making its citizens register it’s ammunition, I might understand then but we live in the greatest country this world has to offer!

You’ve got to wonder, don’t you, how many people in early 20th-century Germany, including Jews, thought their own country was the “greatest the world has to offer.” After all, it was a grand center of civilization and had been for centuries. It was the land of Goethe and Beethoven and Schiller. Of Schopenhauer and Kant and E.T.A. Hoffman and entire hordes of Bachs. Men of the mind. Men of the arts. Thriving in Germany’s orderly civil society.

What could possibly go wrong?

Except we all know what did go wrong — and how quickly.

(“Gun control” was an integral part of what enabled things to go bad. That and … that big Egyptian river.)

Still, Seth has a point. Nobody’s crushing firearms in America. Yet. Or at least it’s not being done widely. No one — well, hardly anyone — plans to register ammunition. Not here in the greatest country this world has to offer.

But what about Venezuela? They’re busily crushing guns there, terrified of violence in the streets. Never mind that most criminals in that desperate country are buying their firearms from equally desperate or simply corrupt police. Never mind that the problem isn’t so much guns as an economy in ruins beyond anything we prosperous first-worlders can imagine.

Venezuela was once the most prosperous — one could say the greatest — country in South America. It’s got some of the world’s biggest oil reserves. It had a long, noble tradition. So how long did it take for Venezuela to go from greatness to such hell that people can’t even buy toilet paper? Seventeen years. From the ascension of Hugo Chavez, who vigorously began implementing utopian Socialist plans in 1999 (to the applause of the world’s celebrities) to the muddle of his hand-picked successor Nicolas Maduro. Seventeen little years.

Slightly less time than it took Hitler to go from demonization to destruction of Germany’s Jews. Slightly longer than it took for Germany to go from pre-WWI prosperity to hyperinflation to the Holocaust to bombed-out ruins.

Still, we’ve got nothing to worry about, right? As Seth says, there’s not a thing to be concerned about until the firearms are being crushed en masse and ammo being actively registered.

And by that impeccable logic, the Jews in Germany were perfectly sensible to stay put and stay happy until the boxcars started rumbling down the tracks.

TZP_gun_owner-sticker

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Get those stickers here. Share them with friends.

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Poll: How will gun owners’ legal status change in the next five years?

This week’s poll requires no explanation. It simply asks how (or whether) the legal status of guns and gun owners will change in the next five years.

Of course, there’s really nothing simple about that question. But polish up your crystal ball and tell us what you see. You can give details in comments.

Oh, and if you don’t personally care about the legal status of guns and gun owners because your rights are above the law, fine. I know that’s a common view hereabouts (and I’m glad it is). But this question looks at the legal, not philosophical, issues.


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