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Is Political Violence a Threat?


So, now we have the entire editorial board of The New York Times pronouncing what we need to do about gun violence. And when you get done reading through this entire epistle, you’ll understand why we haven’t done anything to reduce gun violence over the past twenty years.

To understand the context in which the esteemed editors of America’s most esteemed public media venue produced their remarks, the per-thousand rate of deaths from intentional gun assaults (i.e., homicide) in 2001 was 3.98. In 2020, the rate was 5.88. Or to put it in raw numbers, 11,348 people were shot to death by someone else in 2001, in 2020 that number was 19,384.

According to this bunch of Ivy-educated lowbrows, America has a ‘toxic’ gun culture because “a growing number of American civilians have an unhealthy obsession with ‘tactical culture’ and rifles like the AR-15.”

I know something about that unhealthy obsession because I happen to be the person who advised the law firm representing the litigants who sued Remington for making the AR-15 used to slaughter 26 adults and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. And what I told the Koskoff law firm about the AR-15 is what they used in an argument which basically said the rile was too dangerous to be in civilian hands.

That was then, this is now. And now we are being told that “the American gun industry has reaped an estimated $1 billion in sales over the past decade from AR-15-style guns, and it has done so by using and cultivating their status as near mythical emblems of power, hyper-patriotism and manhood.”

Let’s start right there. One billion dollars over ten years? That’s the big deal? It just so happens that until recently when sales began to flag and retailers began cutting prices, that the average cost of a fully assembled AR-15 was about a thousand bucks.

So, let’s divide a billion by a thousand and what do we get? We get one million AR-15’s sold to a potential market of some eighty to ninety million Americans who own guns. No wonder the price of a share of Smith & Wesson stock has dropped by nearly 50 percent over the past year.

What is worse than all those military-style guns floating around, is how they keep showing up at political events carried by super patriots on the alt-right. The editorial references an earlier ‘analysis’ by the newspaper which found that 77 percent of some 700 political demonstrations attracted people openly carrying guns.

In fact, the analysis was no analysis at all. The NYT simply cribbed some data put together by a research outfit, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), which first started operating in Great Britain, but now is housed in multiple academic locations in the United States.

The ACLED group has done a detailed analysis of all armed political demonstrations in the United States from January 2020 through June 2021, a period which saw perhaps as many as 30,000 public demonstrations, of which somewhere around 560 events involved at least one person openly carrying a gun. That’s less than two percent.

Of the demonstrations which attracted armed demonstrators or onlookers, there were 9 fatalities reported to have occurred, of which two men were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha during the BLM violence in August 2021. How many of the other 7 people killed in these 560 demonstrations were shot with guns? I can’t find any data on the ACLED website which breaks down fatal violence committed with or without guns, but an article on political violence in The Guardian (based on ACLED data) says that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of BLM demonstrations were peaceful and that many of the deaths at these events were actually deadly crimes carried out near where the demonstrations took place.

In other words, for all the efforts of the gun industry to market its products through appeals to manhood, patriotism, and the endless bleating about 2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’ this country continues to exhibit a remarkable level of peace and calm, notwithstanding all those gazillions of guns floating around.

Several weeks ago, the NYT ran another story about how the gun ‘culture’ has become an intimidating element in the public debate, with a tag-line which read “Armed Americans, often pushing a right-wing agenda, are increasingly using open-carry laws to intimidate opponents and shut down debate.”

If I had a nickel for every story the NYT and other liberal media ran about how the mid-term elections would be rife with violent threats and violent acts, I wouldn’t have to finish this commentary up right now in order to report for work.

Meanwhile, the Christian Science Monitor summed it up by saying, “There was no violence. At least for now, the serious threats that loomed over democracy heading into Election Day – domestic extremist violence, voter intimidation, and Republican refusal to respect election outcomes – did not materialize in any pervasive way.”

If the Editorial Board of America’s ‘paper of record’ (a term they have been using to describe themselves since 1924) wants to really do something about gun violence, instead of promoting this cockamamie nonsense about how the Boogaloo Boys are one step away from committing the next Civil War, why don’t these editors sit down and figure out what to do about the 50 kids and young men who get gunned down every day on inner-city streets?

Is that too much to ask these so-called editorialists to do? I guess it is.

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