It’s guns from outside of Chicago that are killing and terrorizing law-abiding Chicagoans

In Chicago right now, taxpayers are more likely to be the victims of crime than criminals are to be punished for it. So, the question is, “Why would anyone in Chicago pay taxes?” You’d have to be a masochist to do that, and pretty soon only the masochists will be. 

Fox News infotainment host Tucker Carlson, who failed to mention on his Sept. 13 show that all of the guns that allow “the worst people” in Chicago to target everyday citizens don’t originate in Chicago, but rather come from just across the border in gun-permissive states such as Indiana and Wisconsin — along with Iowa and Michigan.

Is anyone surprised that armed crazies in SWAT gear are trying to attack FBI offices?

There are those who say that much of the cuckoo rhetoric you hear from the leading lights of the sycophantic MAGA right is performative — that is, they don’t really believe it. They say it because it a) furthers their career, or b) at least stops Trump from turning against them.

In some ways this is even worse than the crazies who actually believe the BS Trump spouts. At least those people have the excuse that they are mentally ill, or just plain stupid.

Tucker Carlson and Sen. Marco Rubio suggesting that the FBI is part of the Deep State has real world consenquences:

An armed man decked out in body armor tried to breach a security screening area at an FBI field office in Ohio on Thursday, then fled and exchanged gunfire in a standoff with law enforcement, authorities said.

The confrontation at the FBI’s Cincinnati field office comes as officials warn of an increase in threats against federal agents in the days following a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Federal officials said the man had “attempted to breach” the visitor’s screening area at the FBI office and fled when he was confronted by agents. He was chased onto Interstate 71 and has exchanged gunfire with police, according to the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency.

Authorities have closed the interstate in both directions as police remained in a standoff. No injuries were immediately reported.

Officials in Ohio have locked down a mile radius near the interstate and urged residents and business owners to lock doors and stay inside.

You can read the rest here.

States with strict gun laws continue to be victimized by states with lax gun laws

I always know a pro-gun person is not very bright when they say, “Yeah, if gun laws work, what about Chicago? That city has some of the strictest gun laws and they have the worst gun crime!”

Illinois is bordered by Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa. All states with easy gun access.

I never considered buying a gun when I lived in Chicago, but even I knew you could drive a short distance to Wisconsin (to the north) and Indiana (to the South) and buy a gun in no time at all. And those were just the legal ones at gun dealers. Black market guns are plentiful.

You didn’t have to actually drive to another state to get a black market gun. Chicago is flooded with illegal guns from easy access states.

Writers Dan Frosch and Zusha Elinson have an interesting Wall Street Journal article up about this problem, titled, “Gun Trafficking Surges Across State Lines: One Pistol’s 1,200-Mile Journey to a Boston Homicide.”

In Massachusetts, which has some of the nation’s strictest firearms laws, 79% of guns traced by police in criminal investigations came from out of state in 2020, compared with 63% in 2015, according to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. California, which also has stringent firearms rules, saw a jump to 45% from 30% over the same period.

As disparities between local gun laws widen, the surge in guns trafficked between states is being fueled by schemes involving straw buyers, according to law enforcement. The crime is simple, but difficult to thwart: People who can clear a background check and are willing to do a quick job for a little money buy the guns for traffickers. The traffickers pay them and drive the weapons across state lines. They then sell them to gang members, people barred from owning firearms and others who want to avoid background checks in places where it is harder to buy guns.

People purchasing guns must fill out a form affirming that they are buying the firearm for themselves. Straw purchasers caught lying typically get probation. Traffickers convicted of dealing guns without a license or selling to prohibited people usually receive prison time, but often not more than a couple of years.

Measures signed in June by President Biden after the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting include tougher penalties of 15 years in prison for straw purchasers and gun traffickers. Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a recent news conference that teams of federal agents formed last year to stymie gun trafficking were making progress.

Such efforts are unlikely to stop the deluge of guns moving from state to state, law-enforcement officials and prosecutors say, so long as demand exists and regulations vary significantly.

Of course, if a gun from Tuscaloosa, Alabama — in an easy access gun state — can make it all the way to Boston — in a highly gun-regulated state and city — to be used to gun down an innocent 17-year-old, proximity isn’t the only important factor.

You can read the rest of the article at this link.

How the gun industry started marketing guns to the very people who commit most gun violence

Ryan Busse used to be an executive at one of the nation’s top gun manufacturers. He’s now a fierce opponent of the way the gun industry does business. He has an interesting piece in The Atlantic detailing how the gun industry went from trying to primarily target its marketing to hunters and hobbyists, to selling guns to younger and younger angry men with macho complexes, hair-trigger tempers and ample resentments:

When I got my first job in the gun industry, in 1995, the marketing centered on hunting, target shooting, and responsible self-defense. Many advertisements evoked a love of craftsmanship and the outdoors, and some, like this 1995 Ruger ad (first ad, below), even directly addressed its customers as “responsible citizens”—a tagline the company dropped from its advertising in 2007.

Companies such as the European American Armory, an importer of cheap, mostly Eastern European guns, that used cheesy ads—like this one (second ad, below) from 2008—to sell imported guns were a rarity. Little did I realize that those tacky exceptions were the gun industry’s future.

Those ads, designed to appeal to young men who knew no better, were the starting point for marketing that would create a new customer base and change our country forever.

This transformation received its first boost in the mid-aughts when President George W. Bush allowed the assault-weapons ban to sunset and then signed a bill that gave broad protection from liability to gunmakers. Combined, those moves reduced the social stigma and potential legal penalties for edgy marketing of military-style rifles. Over time, larger, more mainstream gunmakers began to experiment with marketing messages previously relegated to the disfavored fringe of the business.

You can read the rest of the article here.

You can find out more about Busse’s book, “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America.” at this link.

Gun sales used to be targeted primarily to hunters and hobbyists.
Now gun sales target primarily young men, the chief drivers of American gun violence.

A huge mental health win for Biden and the Democrats

It’s de rigueur to blast the Democrats in Washington as a bunch of timid do-nothings, Some of that is well-deserved. But the recent passage of a gun control law was not celebrated as much as I thought it would be once people actually realized what it does do, rather than what it doesn’t.

Admittedly that law doesn’t do enough. But it did close some important loopholes partially responsible for the flood of illegal guns from gun-permissive states like Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan into gun-restrictive states like Illinois. (Poor Illinois — and Chicago — have the bad luck to be surrounded by states with few real controls on guns. Chicago’s gun problem is largely a surrounding state problem, even as Republicans sneer at Chicago for its astronomical rate of gun violence despite having gun control laws with teeth.)

But, the gun-related provisions in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 aren’t the only story. The bill included “the biggest single expansion of mental health care in American history.”

That’s a huge deal. You’ll never hear this on Fox News, however:

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has been framed as a gun reform, but perhaps a more fitting frame for the law is as the biggest single expansion of mental health care in American history—and the biggest expansion of Medicaid—with a few gun provisions.

To be sure, packaging the two together makes both gun reform and mental health advocates uncomfortable. The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, though statistics show that they’re more likely to be victims. Tying mental illness with gun violence only stigmatizes it, reducing the likelihood that people who need care will get it. But gun rights activists see mental illness as a convenient distraction from the fundamental issue driving gun violence—the guns themselves.

Getting Republican participation on any gun law reform, though, required that the two be linked. And any investment in our anemic mental health care system—whatever the pretext—should be welcomed. So the new law leverages Medicaid to vastly expand America’s mental health infrastructure through a system of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, or CCBHCs, and school mental health investments.

This piece in The New Republic goes on to say:

The law’s massive investment in mental health care didn’t just happen over the course of a few weeks. It was the product of nearly a decade of slow, methodical planning. Stabenow and GOP Missouri Senator Roy Blunt had been co-sponsors of the bill reauthorizing community health center funding—consistent federal dollars to support community clinics—when Stabenow proposed a similar approach to funding mental health care. Until that point, mental health clinics were forced to operate on grants that they simply couldn’t rely on. “On the behavioral health side of things, it [was] all stop and start. It [was] all grants that go away,” Stabenow told me.

She approached the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, to design quality standards for the proposed mental health centers that would eventually become CCBHCs. These included 24-hour psychiatric crisis services and integration with physical health services. Stabenow and Blunt eventually co-sponsored a 2013 bill that was signed into law the next year by President Obama. The Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act initially allocated $1 billion to fund a demonstration project across 10 states. The program offers enhanced Medicaid reimbursements to cover 80 to 90 percent of the start-up and operating costs for CCBHCs meeting SAMHSA standards.

The results were impressive. According to Stabenow, there was a 60 percent reduction in jail bookings stemming from mental health crises, a 63 percent reduction in mental health emergency room visits, and a 41 percent decline in homelessness.

In a country that has chronically underfunded mental health care, this is a landmark development.

Rates of mental health issues in incarcerated individuals.

Man with bat confronts windshield squeegee kids at intersection, ends up being shot and killed

Given that there are far more privately-owned guns (estimate: 393 million) than there are actual Americans, I think getting out of your car and charging toward a bunch of teenagers with the clear intent of doing them harm, is pretty effin’ stupid:

A man was shot and killed after swinging a baseball bat during a confrontation with people who were cleaning windshields for cash at a downtown Baltimore intersection, according to police.

The bat-wielding man — Timothy Reynolds, 48, of Baltimore — was driving through an intersection near the city’s Inner Harbor on Thursday afternoon when he encountered so-called squeegee workers and had a heated interaction, Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters. Police released Reynolds’ name and hometown on Friday.

Squeegee workers, also known as squeegee kids, consist mostly of teens from low-income neighborhoods who clean drivers’ windshields at intersections in exchange for money. Some drivers in Baltimore have complained about them.

Reynolds drove through the intersection, parked his car and came back with a baseball bat, Harrison said.

Jesus, man, why is it so hard for people to control their anger behind the wheel? Just ignore it and get to wherever you’re going in one piece.

So many people. So many anger management issues.

Noted giraffe and lion trophy hunter gunned down in South Africa

Let’s call it rough justice:

Riaan Naude, 55, owner of Pro Hunt Africa, was found dead next to his truck in Marken Road, Limpopo.

Two hunting rifles were among items found in his car in an area which includes part of the Kruger National Park wildlife reserve, local outlet Maroela Media reported.

Naude, from Phalaborwa, Limpopo, had previously uploaded pictures of himself posing next to dead animals, including lions, elephants and giraffes.

Police spokesperson Lt.col. Mamphaswa Seabi said officers found his body after being called to the scene.

He said: ‘The man was lying with his face up and there was blood on his head and face.’

It must have been awful for him to lie there, shot in the hot sun, terrified as the life drained out of him. Sort of like the innocent animals he made a living killing.

You can read the rest here.

This fact sheet on police deaths by guns is interesting and useful

The good folks over at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have an useful fact sheet about guns and policing:

Among the facts presented:

Firearms are by far the most common method used to kill police officers in the United States

  • From 2012 to 2021, 504 police officers were killed in the United States. Out of those, 456 officers were fatally shot with a gun—meaning that 90 percent of these homicides were perpetrated with a gun.
  • From 2020 to 2021, the number of police officers fatally shot rose 35 percent.

Police officers in the United States are far more likely to be fatally shot than those in other developed nations

  • From 2012 to 2021, 456 police officers were fatally shot in the United States.
  • During that same period:
    • Twelve police officers were fatally shot in Canada.
    • Four police officers were fatally shot in the United Kingdom.
    • Three police officers were fatally shot in Australia.

Police officers in the United States are more likely to be fatally shot in states with higher levels of gun ownership and weaker gun laws

  • A 2016 study concluded that police officers were three times more likely to be fatally shot in the states with the highest levels of gun ownership than in the states with the lowest levels of gun ownership.
  • The Giffords Law Center graded states based on the strength of their gun laws. States that received an “F” saw higher rates of police officers fatally shot from 2017 to 2021.
    • States with “F” grades had a rate of police officers fatally shot that was 75 percent higher than states with “C’s” or “D’s.”
    • States with “F” grades saw a rate of police officers fatally shot that was 152 percent higher than states with “A’s” or “B’s”—those with the strongest gun laws.

Elected officials have passed dangerous gun laws despite opposition from law enforcement groups and individuals

  • In 2021, Texas passed permitless carry, a law that allows anyone to carry a firearm in public without a license, background check, or training. However, police agency groups and individuals opposed this bill.
    • The Texas Police Chiefs Association said the bill posed a threat to all law enforcement agencies and the public in general.
  • Similarly, police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors in Tennessee opposed the bill that allows for permitless carry in their state. Nevertheless, consersative legislators still voted in favor of this law, and it has since taken effect.
  • Law enforcement agencies and groups in Alabama, Ohio, and Iowa have also opposed permitless carry measures. Unfortunately, conservative legislators have ignored these concerns.
  • In 2022, elected officials in the Ohio state Senate passed a bill to arm teachers despite strong opposition from law enforcement officers and teachers.

You can read the rest here.