Category Archives: Junk Science

Savage Ignorance Part 1

Beretta92FS
1911A1
Glock 19 Gen 4

Recently I had occasion to patronize several commercial establishments including an apartment complex. Displayed on the glass entry door of each was the international symbol for “No,” a red circle bisected by a diagonal line. Centered in each was a handgun; Beretta 92FS in the first, 1911A1, possibly a Colt, in the second, and a Glock 19, Gen 4 in the third. I thought; thank G-d for Smith & Wesson. Why do those responsible for malls, schools, stores, apartments, and venues open to the public believe posting these stickers deters those bent on violent behavior? Criminals, by behavior and definition, exist outside the law and if legal prohibitions against them possessing firearms provide no dissuasion, a decal surely won’t. Instead they disarm the law-abiding, the only ones already on the scene capable of halting violent crime and mass shootings.

Webster’s Dictionary (a virginal source of information for today’s public school students) define Straw Man as: “a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up to be easily confuted (overwhelm in argument, refute conclusively).”1 Talk show host and baron of bombast Michael Savage knows something about Strawmen. Recently he launched a series of attacks on the 2nd Amendment, specifically semiautomatic rifles as well as their owners. His wild assertions were an army of scarecrows so stuffed with combustible straw, one dared draw nigh with matches at his own risk. When anyone says; “I own guns” or “I’m a big supporter of the 2nd Amendment” followed by a “but,” they don’t. They’re lying. It’s a trick to seize the intellectual and moral high ground thereby casting those in disagreement as extremists. Savage case in point. He began each show declaring support for the 2nd Amendment followed by an angry frothing at the mouth denunciation of firearms owners and notions of self-defense. In so doing, he promoted arguments undercutting the very amendment he purports to defend. Hay crammed in his Strawmen must have been plucked from the field of contradiction.

Savage’s first broadside came the day after the Las Vegas, Nevada Mandalay Bay Hotel mass shooting. He said he was a gun owner, big supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and to have given a “fortune” to the NRA apparently believing by brandishing such credentials he was immunized against critique. Savage asked if Americans should be able (allowed) to own “military grade weapons” and “assault rifles,” terms left undefined. He asked; should a man in therapy and on medication for mental problems be allowed to own a gun? If concealed carry was legal, how could armed citizens have stopped the killer’s rampage Savage demanded to know. In mocking tones he added; “Gun-slingers will say that. No matter what you hold in your pocket, you couldn’t have defended yourself. Fallacious argument. All you John Wayne’s with concealed carry on your mind, put it aside. You’d have gone down like ten pins.” He asked why anyone “needed” an “automatic weapon” declaring there needs to be “limits.” Should people be “allowed” to own a Howitzer, Russian tank, or bazooka? No one “needs” a semiautomatic rifle to defend their house, Savage continued, saying a shotgun was much better in that role. “The whole idea you’re going to get a semiautomatic rifle to hold off an army, come on. Stop the BS. If someone breaks into your house all you’ll have time to grab in the dark is a shotgun and an automatic pistol, not a semiautomatic rifle. Unless you keep a semiautomatic weapon fully loaded, and in your bedroom, it’s not going to do you any good. And if you do keep one, you’re crazy. If you keep a semiautomatic rifle next to your bed cocked and locked and ready to fire, you’re a sicko.” He then mocked Mandalay survivors who said they were no longer atheists. Next he attacked unnamed conservative talk-show radio hosts who, after Mandalay Bay, still opposed new gun control laws and regulations, yelling into the microphone; “You bunch of John Wayne’s!” He accused them of calling people like him, now supporting stricter new gun control laws; “lousy communist Progressives” adding in sneering tones; “No one wants to seize your guns otherwise it would have happened during the Obama years.” He asked how the killer had obtained “machine guns” because “they’re illegal” reminding listeners he wasn’t new to the gun control debate and had been on his high school rifle team. He asked if every psycho in the nation should own machine guns. “Did you know machine guns are legal in Nevada?” Savage continued. “But of course, fully automatic rifles are illegal.” What? Come again. Continuing in mocking tones, he asked who “needed” a fifty round drum magazine. “They should be illegal!” He shouted. “I argued this before. When I asked callers why they ‘needed’ one, they said to hold off the U.S. government which is against the private ownership of firearms.”2

Savage continued his assault on the 2nd Amendment the following day floating hysterical conspiracy theories attacking the Las Vegas Police for taking too long to assault the killer’s hotel room. Once again he reminded listeners he was a gun owner, “passed all the tests,” and gave money to the NRA therefore his calls for new gun bans had to be reasonable. Again he asked if the right to keep and bear arms included hand grenades, bazookas, used Russian tanks, and half-tracks asking; “Should there be limits on the right to keep and bear arms? What do you mean saying the 2nd Amendment ‘permits’ you to have any number of machine guns? Does this mean you can own two hundred machine guns, that every man should be able to have an arsenal in his basement? I can see having weapons to defend yourself but does that mean an entire arsenal? Why not RPGs and flame throwers? I don’t think the 2nd Amendment goes far enough” he continued in sarcastic tones. “I think we should be allowed to have flame throwers for that evil government that may arise any moment now. We should be able to have flame throwers.” During Savage’s shows, he insisted on calling magazines “clips” and using the terms semi and fully automatic rifles interchangeably.3 He entertained, as experts, numerous callers claiming because they had been in Vietnam, they knew precisely what weapons the suspect used (opinions subsequently contradicted by the FBI). Many voices sounded too tender to have been alive let alone old enough to have served in Vietnam. Once again he labeled anyone holding contrary views as “John Wayne’s” and “right- wingers” promising to hang up on them if they called his show. Savage concluded by attacking the Las Vegas Police, again, and blaming mass shootings on prescription drugs and the “proliferation of guns.”4

Savage’s claims and Straw Man arguments are wrong on so many levels, space and sufficient matches probably don’t exist to address them all. His oft repeated claim to be a firearms authority, supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and NRA backer is artifice, a trick as noted, to prevent debate to the contrary.

As to the efficacy of concealed firearms with respect to the Mandalay massacre, handguns are designed for self-defense at personal distances not against someone shooting rifles from the 32nd floor of a hotel window hundreds of yards away. Savage’s attempt to undermine concealed carry by judging its validity against situations for which it was never intended is a fallacious straw man argument a practice he accuses critics of employing. Does he really know what he’s talking about?

Doctors don’t use the terms bacterial and viral infection interchangeably. Weight lifters know the difference between dumb and barbells. Authorities on any subject use proper terminology. Improper use exposes pretenders, poseurs, and frauds. For example, in Stephen King’s novel Salem’s Lot, his policeman character checks his .38 special revolver to ensure the “safety is on.”5 A kid in his novel IT, warns another kid to be careful with his dad’s pistol, a Walther PPK, because it has “no safety.”6 In the movie The Fast And The Furious, Vin Diesel’s character Dominic Torretto tells Paul Walker that his dad’s 1970 Dodge Charger’s engine had so much torque, it twisted the “chassis” coming off the line.7 As a Deputy Sheriff and later policeman in the 1970s and 80’s, I carried and or shot Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and Colt revolvers in .38 special and .357 magnum. None, nor those on revolvers of colleagues, had a “safety.” I’ve also shot a variety of PPKs from Walther and Manurhin and their clones from FEG to Bersa and each had de-cocker safeties. Except for the Imperial (1965), Chrysler abandoned the chassis in favor of a uni-body frame, (1960-1961), which my 68’ Charger has, exposing The Fast And The Furious’s writers to be automotive ignoramuses. In like fashion, Savage insisted on referring to drums and other magazines feeding semiautomatic pistols and rifles as “clips” and conflated “assault weapons, assault rifle, semiautomatic rifle,” and “machine gun” as interchangeable terms, one and the same over and over.

A “clip” holds individual cartridges, “has no spring and does not feed shells directly into the chamber. Clips hold cartridges in the correct sequence for ‘charging’ a specific firearm’s [fixed] magazine.”8 A magazine holds rounds in a box, separate from the firearm for the weapons under discussion. Examples of clip “fed” firearms would include the Russian Mosin-Nagant 91/30 and American M1 Garand of W.W. II fame as well as the postwar Soviet SKS. Cold War weapons like the Soviet AK-47, U.S. M14, and later M16, are magazine fed. No such category of “assault weapon” exists for firearms. Any object that can be used to hurt another; flyswatter, umbrella, coat-hanger, or kitchen counter hardened wedge of cornbread is an assault weapon. The term “assault-weapon” was invented by liberals to frighten non-gun owners into believing your AR15 is identical to an M16 and that AKs and Mini-14s are full-automatic machine guns. Repeat after me; “The other side lies.” Editor of Jane’s Military Publications and firearms expert Charlie Cutshaw writes there are firearms categorized as “assault-rifles” but to be so classified they must be “shoulder-fired,” capable of fully automatic fire,” and chambered in a caliber intermediate “between pistol (or revolver) and rifle ammunition.”9 Some have a device allowing operators to switch from semiautomatic to full-automatic fire and back again. Commercial AK47s, AR15s, Mini-14s, and similar families of rifles don’t have this capability. Their triggers must be pulled, one at a time, for each round fired hence they are not “assault rifles” but “semiautomatic rifles” and “carbines.” “Machine guns” are typically heavy and tripod mounted, with hand held versions called “submachine guns,” and are capable of full automatic fire, emptying a magazine with a single pull of the trigger.10 Consistent misuse of terminology indicates Savage is grossly ignorant and misinformed, flagrantly dishonest, or both. He has no credibility.

No one wants to take your guns is the mantra of people, who, in the same breath, call for “assault weapons” (sic) and “high-capacity” (sic) bans. Time and again Liberals from anti-2nd Amendment organizations to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have said no one wants to take your guns and then promote Australian gun control which did just that. They are either stupid or brilliantly cunning. Perhaps dangerously naïve, I have never called liberals stupid because they’re not. Recall that U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake essentially resurrected the “sporting purpose” standard in upholding Maryland’s ban on AK and AR rifles mislabeling them “assault rifles” asserting they are not commonly used for lawful purposes including home defense.11 Liberals claiming; no one wants to confiscate guns, followed by proposals to ban AR, AK, and similar rifles, sounds contradictory until one understands their two pronged “trick”; the first is how they define “gun.”12 Confiscationists define “gun” in general as a firearm possessing a long established sporting purpose commonly used for hunting, trap and skeet shooting, and target competition at ranges and with no military analogue.13 This would exclude ARs, AKs, FN-FALs, and so forth. The second part of their trick is to convince the non-gun owning pubic there is no difference between full and semiautomatic firearms. Obama and others said time and again, AR15s, AKs, their derivatives, and similar rifles are military weapons that belong on battlefields, not our streets. It would not be confiscation, they argue, to return military weapons in civilian hands back to the U.S. Military where they belong.14 The only way to do this is through a ban on “civilian” possession of semiautomatic rifles and confiscate them as did Australia and England, and incrementally in California. How can Savage, living in Marin County, California, one of the most liberally infected in the galaxy, deny confiscation is not the liberal’s end game? He lies.

Like Judge Blake, Savage’s claim no one uses and no “cop” would recommend using an AR15 for home defense because they are such a poor choice, is pure buffoonery from one who has lived for too many years behind the Bay Area’s Tofu Curtain.15 Breathlessly, about to reveal a secret, Savage said his listeners, had never heard or been “told this” but one of the reasons AR15s are such poor choices is because the .223 round goes through walls. Shotguns and pistols are better because their rounds don’t. On the contrary, “More Americans than ever are relying on AR15s for home defense. Not only is an AR easier to shoot more accurately than a handgun—thanks to its additional points of contact with the body (cheek weld, shoulder mount, and two hands)—[and longer sight radius]—on AR rifles chambered in .223/Rem/5.56 NATO, produces superior terminal performance, and penetrates less when compared to the typical handgun.”16 An AR is harder to grab in the dark than a pistol or shotgun, Michael? Why is that? People have been attaching optics and lights to ARs for decades. A cocked and locked rifle makes one a “psycho” Michael?17 Employing his unloaded pistols and shotguns without lights against intruders beggars the question as to whose sanity should be in question. His rhetorical cant; “who needs” this or that firearm or “high capacity clips” and that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t allow possession of bazookas, hand grenades, and Russian tanks is a fallacious Straw Man argument to set the stage for infringements against the 2nd Amendment.

Savage is ignorant of or intentionally misrepresents the 2nd Amendment’s meaning. It grants no rights including to own anything. Rather, it recognizes an individual right to self-defense, to keep and bear arms, and establishes prohibitions against any government infringement on this right. The Declaration of Independence establishes it as a G-d-given right belonging to every individual inherent in their humanity whether government exists or not. It is inalienable and off-limits to a majority vote by one’s neighbors, act of government, or fashionable whim of the times. Rights cannot be modified, regulated, licensed, or infringed upon by government otherwise they would be called privileges.18 Inherent in the right of self-defense is the means by which one exercises it. To answer Savage’s “need” question, rights are not dependent upon a utilitarian need standard which, at best, is arbitrary, subject to popular opinion, or manipulated and controlled by those in power. Were this not so, government could raise the bar to demonstrate “need” so high, it becomes insurmountable thus rendering the right de facto abolished. Employing Savage’s Straw Manneed” standard to firearms ownership would subordinate it to ephemeral notions of “the common good, the good of the whole,” or “the greater good.”19 How long before it became extinguished? Ask Britons. By suggesting the 2nd Amendment regulates bazookas, half-tracks, Russian tanks, and grenades, therefore rifles can be regulated as well, is hay falling from massive gaps in Savage’s last Straw Man. Matches please.

Half-tracks and used Russian tanks are not firearms hence are regulated by other laws not the 2nd Amendment which applies to weapons citizen soldiers would keep and bear. Bazookas were the technological equivalent of shoulder fired canons, used against tanks, and grenades are sort of like exploding cannon balls. None of these are proper analogues to firearms. These are fallacious and false arguments employed by the deceitful to trick the unwary into surrendering bits and pieces of their 2nd Amendment rights until all of them are gone. This explains why Savage banned calls from those who knew what they were talking about in favor of kooks, conspiratorialists, the deluded, and poseurs.

11 Frederick C. Mish, Editor-in-Chief, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, Massachusetts, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Publishers, 1985), 1165, 276.

22 Michael Savage, The Savage Nation, broadcast 2 October, 2017.

33 IBID. 2 October, 2017.

44 Michael Savage, The Savage Nation, broadcast 4, 5, and 6 October, 2017.

55 Stephen King, Salem’s Lot (New York, N.Y., A Signet Book, New American Library, 1975), 317.

66 Stephen King, It (New York, N.Y., A Signet Book, New American Library, 1986), 353. With eleven years between publication, King still couldn’t get it right.

77 Universal Studios, The Fast And The Furious, 2001.

88 Kyle Wintersteen, “9 Most Misused Gun Terms,” Guns & Ammo, online, 21 November 2016 at http://www.gunsandammo.com.

99 Todd Woodward, “Down Range: Assault Weapons ‘Hoo-Hah,” Gun Tests 11 (November 2004) 2.

1010 U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, at http://www.aft.gov/firearms.

1111 Jeff Knox, “Judge Says Maryland Ugly Gun Ban is Ok,” 13 August 2014, at http://www.FirearmsCoalition.org. See also; Michael Dorstewitz, “Judge Rules AR-15s are not covered under Constitution and are dangerous and unusual,” Liberty Unyielding at http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/08/13/judge-rules-ar-15s-not-covered-constitution-dangerous-unusual/#XErDCz10jgxiDG81.99.

1313 Richard Stevens, “Nazi Strategy Summed Up In 2 Words, Sporting Purpose,” 7 April, 1988, Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, at http://jpfo.org/filegen/-n-z-/nazirot.htm.

1515 I should know, I lived there for ten years.

1616 Richard Nance, “Your AR15 ASAP: Hornady’s Rapid Safe Wall Lock and Gunlock Provide a Safe Storage Solution for Quick Access in the Home,” Guns & Ammo 10 (October 2017), 76.

1717 Expanding what constitutes “mental illness” and “mental instability” is very popular on the Left who will use such determinations to expand individuals prohibited from owning firearms. Can thought-crimes be far behind?

1818 Ronald J. Pestritto, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (Lanham, Maryland, Rowman & Littlefield, Publishers, Inc., 2005), 3-6. See also; Gary T. Amos, Defending the Declaration (Brentwood, Tennessee, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1989), 127-129.

1919 Jeff Snyder, A Nation of Cowards (St. Louis, Missouri, Accurate Press, 2001), 119-121.

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Lax Gun Laws, or Lax Research Standards?

If you keep up with firearms-related news, you may have seen this report:

Lax state gun laws linked to more child, teen gun deaths, Stanford study finds
Compared with U.S. states with the strictest gun control legislation, gun deaths among children and teenagers are twice as common in states with the most lax gun laws, a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found.

This is just a press release; how accurately it presents the research is anyone’s guess. I requested a copy of the paper, but at this time all that is available is a one-page abstract without details which will presumably be presented on November 5, 2018. For now, assume the release is good.

Which means the research is not. I see a few major problems with it.

Chao’s team used 2014 and 2015 data on firearm deaths of individuals 0 to 19 years old from the National Vital Statistics System, which is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics. About 2,715 children died of firearm injuries each year. Of those deaths, 62.1 percent were homicides, 31.4 percent were suicides and the remaining deaths were accidental, of undetermined intent or the result of legal interventions.

If you are studying the effects of laws on children, it behooves you to use the legal definition of child. 18 U.S. Code § 2256 defines “child” as a person under the age of 18.

That matters, because 18-19 year-olds can lawfully possess firearms. If an adult wants to take his lawfully owned, securely stored firearm out and do something stupid, he can.

Why include adults in a study of children? I suspect they did it for two reasons: Partly because these are pediatrics specialists who generally (if foolishly) lump together everyone from zero to twenty-one. I say “foolishly,” because any nurse will tell you that using the same drug regime — just for example — on a 21yo adult and a prepubescent boy is asking for trouble.

But mostly I think they did it to get scary numbers for “child” gun deaths.

About 2,715 children died of firearm injuries each year.

According to WISQARS, for the years 2014 and 2015 (the years examined by the study), the numbers for 0-19 were 2,548 and 2,824, respectively. An average of 2,686 which is fairly close to the PR claim.

Ah, but actual children; that’s another story altogether; 1,330 and 1,458, respectively, for 0-17yo. That’s lower by 1,218 and 1,366. By adding in adults, they the scary numbers by thousands of “child” deaths, which is far more impressive to the gullible.

Adults who could possess their own guns and bypass “safe storage” at will.

If that’s who caused the deaths. This is a statistical correlation between the age of decedents and laws. It doesn’t address the age of the perpetrators, except in the case of suicide. Were the murders — a majority of the deaths — committed by adults who could lawfully bypass “child access protection laws” with their own guns?

Moving on…

The researchers examined the firearm laws of all 50 states.
[…]
Analyses of the relationship between gun deaths and gun laws were controlled for many socioeconomic and demographic factors, including unemployment rates, poverty, urbanization, alcohol dependence, tobacco and marijuana use, and high school graduation rates. The analyses also accounted for the strictness of gun laws in each state’s neighboring states and the number of registered firearms per 100,000 children in each state.

That’s a neat trick remarkable accomplishment, since only nine states have any form of firearms registration at all. Only a handful attempt to register all firearms, some only register handgun sales by licensed dealers and do not track them over the firearm’s life cycle.

How did they derive a registered firearm rate for 41 states that have no registration whatsoever? And more that only track — sometimes partially — handguns?

That firearm life cycle is important, too. Which brings us to another problem.

The researchers used the years 2014 and 2015 for their study, presumably because that is the last year for which they could find a Brady Scorecard. That presents a snapshot of deaths at the time specific gun control laws were in effect. And that means nothing, because it does not examine the laws in effect when (and where) a firearm used in a death was obtained.

We already know that roughly 90% of firearms used in crimes are stolen (which is part of the researchers’ point, since they believe “safe storage” laws will prevent thefts leading to deaths), but when were they stolen? Were those “safe storage” laws in effect at that time?

We don’t know, because the researchers only looked at 2014-2015. But according to the ATF the average time-to-crime (from when the firearm is lawfully sold until it is used in a crime) is more than a decade.

The researchers need to examine death rates versus laws over a long period to look for pre- and post-law trends, to see if there is a measurable effect. They would also have to look at the source of the firearms used, to see if the laws were in effect at that location.

In short, a death in gun-controlled California tells you nothing about laws a decade before in another state.

This is a bit nit-picky, but I also have a problem with adjusting the number of deaths for demographic factors. A poor dead person is as dead as a rich dead person. If they wish to examine the effectiveness of laws on poor vs. rich, black vs. white, et cetera, that’s fine and I’d like the see the results. But that’s a separate study, or at least should be presented as a separate set of results.

And a note for whoever drafted the press release…

(The score is named for James Brady, who has advocated for gun control since being permanently disabled in the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.)

“Has advocated since” implies he’s still at it (to the extent that his pre-mortem “activism” largely consisted of being rolled out on display by his wife, Sarah Brady). Brady died more than 4 years ago.

More correctly, the scores were obtained from the “scorecard” issued by the group, National Council to Control Handguns, which was renamed after Brady.


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