Gun Sales Surge, Murder Rate Up 25%, Biden Takes Action

The news from this gun-soaked nation continues to be alarming.

Though overall crime was down last year, according to FBI data, the murder rate rose about 25 percent and violent crime about 3 percent. Based on the data that has been collected President Biden will impose one slice of a solution this week.

Sturm, Ruger a leading gun manufacturer, reported a 50% spike in quarterly sales and more than doubled its profit, continuing its frenetic sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic. These types of staggering sales are being reported by all the gun manufacturers.

Sadly, there is no government or national database of gun sales, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps track of pre-sale background checks, an indicator that’s been soaring to record highs.

We are aware that more than 2 million of the March background checks were for new gun purchases, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, the firearms industry trade group that compares FBI background check numbers with actual sales data to determine its sales figures. About 40% of buyers in early 2020 were first-time buyers, according to this foundation.

If there is any ray of sunshine to this madness it is the degree to which a provision of the background check is working.

The number of people stopped from buying guns through the U.S. background check system hit an all-time high of more than 300,000 last year amid a surge of firearm sales, according to new records obtained by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.

The FBI numbers provided to The Associated Press show the background checks blocked nearly twice as many gun sales in 2020 as in the year before. About 42% of those denials were because the would-be buyers had felony convictions on their records.

The Biden Administration has been stymied by the NRA-bought Congress, but will seek to effect change in another manner.

Biden will direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to seek to revoke licenses from gun sellers the first time they are caught willfully selling a weapon to a person who is not permitted to have one, neglecting to run a required background check or ignoring a federal request to provide trace information about a weapon used in a crime. The policy attacks a source of crime guns, which in some instances can be traced to sloppy or irresponsible dealers, experts say.

The type of gun business Biden is talking about could have applied to the one in West Milwaukee that created a plethora of news stories years ago. The business had operated under the names of Badger Guns & Ammo, Badger Outdoors, and Badger Guns. Federal investigators repeatedly found violations at the gun store.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2009 on the highly troubling impact of this one gun store on the larger community.

Badger Guns, and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, have accounted for roughly one-third of all crime guns traced by Milwaukee police in the past four years, the data shows. No other store in the state comes close to that figure. The next closest, The Shooters Shop in West Allis, accounted for less than 3% of guns traced by Milwaukee police during the same period.

A total of 1,880 crime guns recovered in Milwaukee were linked to Badger between January 2006 and Sept. 1 – or more than one a day, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis.

During the 11-week operation, Milwaukee police:

• Discovered felons use Badger’s shooting range for target practice. In one case, store employees rented a gun to a felon to shoot. Another felon had a shooting “range pass card” in his pocket showing he had shot at Badger previously. Store employees check driver’s licenses but not criminal histories of shooters.

• Seized 12 guns from felons and others leaving the store. They arrested nine felons for possessing guns, seven for carrying a concealed weapon and four on drug charges. Eight people have been charged so far as a result of the sweep.

• Spotted felons frequently going in the store or waiting outside. Felons are banned from possessing guns, but probation agents do not routinely require felons to stay out of gun stores such as Badger. Police and prosecutors say that should change.

Police Chief Edward Flynn said he learned how many guns from Badger were ending up in violent crimes when he became chief nearly two years ago. After the officers were shot, Flynn ordered up a plan to target illegal gun buys at Badger.

I am very glad that Biden will use the power granted to him and work within that framework to impact the gun epidemic in this nation. The danger to the larger society from the guns and their violent owners need to be corralled.

Gun Violence Out Of Control, Gun Purchasing At Record Levels

I am not sure how many more ways there are to present the logical need for gun control legislation in our nation. I have done my part to persuade and inform on the topic. In fact, there is no other single issue that has been posted about more often on this blog than gun control. Emotion and common-sense have been used for decades throughout the nation to sway the citizenry, and yet the carnage from gun violence continues.

This is the 153rd day of the year and thus far there have been 18,282 US residents who have been killed by a gun. Breaking that down it includes 10,098 suicides. Also, let us not forget to add in the 15,568 other people who were wounded by guns.

We know that during this past three-day Memorial Day weekend, there were eight mass shootings in our nation. In that short span of time, we lost seven people and had another 48 wounded. In the past 153 days, we have had 243 mass shootings resulting in 275 deaths and 1,001 injuries.



There are many ways to view the alarming data, but what stood out to me this past week was the news that 20% of firearm purchases in 2020 were by first-time buyers. How should we view the reason for such an upswing in otherwise somewhat normal people now needing to be armed with a deadly weapon?

For many, it comes down to having an outlandish ignorance surrounding our national politics. No one is going to be limiting the right to own guns. My God, only look at the lock-grip the NRA has on Congress! To truly think that any meaningful gun control legislation will pass is simply not applying simple logic to politics.

But there is also racism that is at the root of irrational fear among a certain demographic which reacts when social movements demand change. That was certainly the case when Black Americans stood up and demanded that police procedures change so as not to end in so many shootings. Insecure whites felt they then needed a gun.

But they were not alone.

While the data shows that half of those new gun owners were women, it also was reported that a fifth were Hispanics, and a fifth was bought by Blacks.

The data gets grimmer, however when we look at the start of this year.

The National Sports Shooting Foundation says that nearly 5.5 million guns were sold in U.S. in the first three months of 2021. That was up 13% from the year-ago quarter. It’s also the most guns sold in any three-month period since 1999,

What this shows is that we have a gun fetishism in this country. It is real. It is nasty.

And it is out of control.

“What The Hell Is Wrong With Us?”

Another typical day in America. Another mass shooting.

This time the gun violence that grabs the headlines concerns a worker at the Silicon Valley Transportation Authority rail yard in San Jose, California. He was upset about something, that seems obvious, and it goes without saying that he had easy access to a gun. He took his outrage out on those he somehow felt were the root cause for his anger. He killed eight people, injured others, and then killed himself.

If you are keeping track of the mass shootings (one in which four or more people are killed or injured (not including the shooter) in our country you will know that this is the 232nd mass shooting this year, and let me add this is just the 146th day of the year. All the data can be located at Gun Violence Archive.

Today the most honest and pertinent statement about this violence came from California Governor Gavin Newsom who rightly responded with frustration and anger.

“What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us?”

It is the type of question that many have asked repeatedly over the years as the mass shootings, and the daily death toll from gun violence mounts.

“When are we going to come to grips with this? When are going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively, our politics, the stale rhetoric, finger-pointing, all the hand-wringing, consternation that produces nothing except more fury and frustration, more scenes like this repeated over and over and over again.”

I have an answer.

When the ones bought and owned by the NRA are sent packing and the sensible people in this nation stand up and absolutely demand gun control legation be passed.

Mass Shootings Did Not Take Mother’s Day Break, Seven Dead In Colorado

Yes, it was Mother’s Day. But it was also another day in America where we allowed the gun lobby to have its way. As such, there was a mass shooting, a violent gun crime where 4 or more people are shot, not including the shooter.

The mass shooting took place with seven people dead from a gun. This time it was in Colorado Springs. It needs to be noted that this was the 12th mass shooting in the past week.

The others occurred in Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, Oakland, St. Louis, Compton, Milwaukee, Saginaw, MI, Paterson, NJ, Gwynn Oak, MD, Colorado Springs, Citrus Heights, CA

For those keeping a record the Sunday slaughter was the 192nd mass shooting of 2021. And just to add more context to the numbers this is only the 129th day of the year.

One of my Facebook commenters noted that the death of six people and also the gunman gets hardly a mention on the news whereas years ago this would have been a HUGE story. But today—-just another day in the USA.

I can’t wrap my head around the fact more Republicans do not find these shootings most maddening. The lack of concern among conservatives, in and of itself, is alarming. Rather the ‘thoughts and prayers’ from that crowd are simply grotesque. The callousness that’s been on display from Republicans regarding guns remains one of the most staggering episodes of recent times.

And so it goes.

Mass Shooting In Indianapolis Makes This Another Normal, Typical American Day, Thanks To The NRA

It is early Friday morning…..not yet 3 A.M. when I write this post.  There has been another horrific and senseless mass shooting. A gunman killed eight people and injured at least four others Thursday before killing himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. The New York Times reported a person who saw “a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open.”

The headlines about mass shootings in America take place so often that they start to blend together. They start to lose their shocking and breathtaking impact as we know this is just another normal and typical day. That is due to our nation placing the selfish needs of those who hold onto their weapons with a fetish quality as being more important than the lives and safety of the vast majority of the nation.

We have every reason to be angry this morning upon hearing the news of the latest mass shooting. But the NRA has bought Congress and our anger will not stand in the way of the dollars to be made for the gun industry. Republicans are never going to allow for the passage of bills to curtail gun violence.

But we know what is happening to our nation. Bullet by bullet, victim by victim, we know. Our gun culture is producing grave–quite literally–consequences for the nation. I have two points to make about our culture.

First, consider a trend I have noticed for many years where on Christmas Day men will post their new semiautomatic weapons on social media–as if Santa is no more than an NRA delivery service.  It is far beyond gross.  Guns have become a fetish for men who need some external means to enhance their image of being masculine.  So the Republicans are correct, in some regards, when they claim that mental health is a part of the problem with gun violence in our nation.

Second, consider my love for fast cars with the ‘need’ for an AR-15.  When creating my MINI convertible for manufacture in Britain I could have opted for the top-end engine model which would have almost lifted the tar off the roads. But there is no place for driving in such a fashion so I allowed reality to make the decision.  Just as there is no sensible reason for owning a car with power not really needed or able to be used, one can then relate it to a gun, such as an AR-15, where its usefulness in the real world is nill.

Meanwhile this morning eight victims were pronounced dead at the scene of the latest mass shooting. Four people were transferred to area hospitals, including one person in critical condition. 

And the NRA will twist whatever they can get their hands on to prevent any GOP Senator from urging for anything more than thoughts and prayers for the gun victims.

Mass Shootings In America Need COVID-Warp-Speed Response

We often lament the slow pace of government action when it comes to a plethora of matters that need to have a remedy applied.  There is no doubt that the coronavirus which has impacted the health and well-being of people along with the national economy deserved the full attention of the government. I was pleased with each of the COVID relief measures passed by Congress. It was not lost on anyone that when that body wants to act they can move in a speedy fashion to address a most valid concern.

While the recent actions of Congress this year are most welcome, it needs to be asked in light of the horrific news from Colorado how the tens of thousands of gun-related deaths each year in the nation have not been regarded with the same urgency? How has Congress not acted with equal resolve about mass shootings?

Congressional negotiators were able to artfully deal with who received federal aid payments, how to dodge the minimum wage issue, and put in place a smart program to deal with child poverty. I applaud the legislation and I applaud the fast movement taken by elected officials who cared enough to assist citizens and help percolate the national economy. But ask yourself, given the violent displays of bloodshed from handguns and military-style assault weapons, all of which are too readily available among the populace, how it is not possible to have the same determination to speedily move gun control legislation.

More than 41,500 people died by gun violence in 2020, which was an awful record, according to the independent data collection and research group Gun Violence Archive. That included more than 23,000 people who died by suicide. Annual firearm deaths have never exceeded 40,000 since at least 1981, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

With the grim news Monday afternoon from Colorado comes data to show that state had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas. Volumes of data exists to show nationwide the mass shootings cases abound, even though it needs to be noted most gun deaths are not from such acts where four or more people are shot.

In other words, there are many avenues of gun violence that need to be addressed. The speed that lawmakers can act has been noted, with the COVID legislation. But we should not forget that there are other pressing matters in this nation that also need bold and decisive action from Congress. The absence of such determination, when it comes to gun legislation, underscores the reality of who buys and controls Congress.

The reason is the NRA.

The sad fact is on any given day the average citizen knows they can be killed with a gun from an unstable and angry person who obtained the weapon and ammo with complete ease. That ability is in law, but runs counter to logic and common sense.

Every nation has angry people and mental health issues galore, but it is only here in America that we say to those people, here is an assault weapon!  And please do not forget to stock up on your ammo supply, too.  It is patently absurd.

When polls are taken, regardless of the firm doing the questioning the results continuously show overwhelming support for the passage of legislation demanding universal background checks. There is strong majority support for both a ban on high-capacity magazines and also a ban on assault-style weapons.

In 2016, after the gut-wrenching mass shooting in Orlando. I had the opportunity to speak at the Madison Capitol rally. From the heart I spoke about the loss of life that forced our nation to lower flags half-mast and how the NRA needs to be curtailed. I stressed that our sense of loss, anger, and fear as a nation needed to be translated into a passion for urging Congress to write and pass meaningful gun control measures.

I also urged people to have conversations not just with folks we agree with but everyone as we must send a message that this gun violence must end. It starts with you and me.   

We have seen the will of Congress can move a powerful and costly measure to combat COVID and stir the economy. Surely, the mounting death toll from mass shootings and gun violence should also merit the same urgency.

NRA Will Need To Spend Mega-Dollars For Survival, NY AG Makes Legal Case For Dissolving Gun-Nuts Organization

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It was reported earlier this week that New York Attorney General Letitia James would have a major announcement.  Many had thought it might be about the investigation and legal proceedings into Donald Trump and his shady business dealings. But the news today was far bigger and truly earthshaking.   She announced a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association.  If that does not leave Americans breathless I am not sure what it would take.  The years of corruption and misspending that made headlines have now brought the organization to a place where it will need to fight for its survival.

That seems most ironic given how gun violence, which the NRA supports, forces many people to fight for their own survival from wounds inflicted by deadly weapons.

What I find most wonderful about this lawsuit, other than it is tackling one of the most insidious operations that undermine our society, creates disfunction in government, and inflicts huge medical bills on the citizenry is that the NRA has huge financial problems.  This is the worst possible time for this lawsuit to be landing on the desks of those responsible for so much carnage and dismay in the nation.   The sweetener to this whole story is that the attorney general has regulatory authority over the N.R.A. because it is chartered as a nonprofit in New York.

The suit accuses the N.R.A. and the executives of “violating numerous state and federal laws” by enriching themselves, as well as their friends, families and allies, and taking improper actions that cost the organization $64 million over three years.  And we know there will be a Russian connection to this enrichment mess.

I can see the gun-toters around the nation fuming.  Too bad.  The fact is that financial improprieties, fraud, and violation of laws that govern charities and non-profits are in need of legal solutions.  While the NRA will scream about political rights sober thinkers know this is about laws on the books and the legal ramifications when those laws are broke.

Is it not the NRA  who long touted the argument we needed to enforce the laws already on the books?   

New York Attorney General Letitia James is going to work at doing that very thing!

And so it goes.

Want To Get Serious About Policing Issues? Get Serious About Gun Control

We can all agree that the vast majority of police officers are doing a hard job and doing it with honor.  But there is no doubt, whatsoever, that there are elements within police departments who need to be brought to the attention of the public, and removed from their jobs. What the world witnessed for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis brought a deep and justifiable revulsion that will be a part of our national history. Changes are absolutely essential.  One can even say with accuracy some police unions across the nation have to change, as they have demonstrated a severe lack of sound judgement when it comes to ‘regulating their own’.

But let us get to the heart of this matter.

It needs to be clearly stated and understood that too many guns are allowed in the general population and that puts a great burden on the police departments nationwide.  It is when conservatives fail to call for strict gun control while at the same time frothing in support of police that we can correctly state their passions do not meet the needs of the time. Real concern about our police means dealing with the grotesque number of guns in our society.  If one is not working to make the streets safer in general, and dealing concretely with the statistic that an overwhelming number of people shot and killed by police are armed, then one is only spitting into the wind.

We need to be mindful when the populace can own every type of gun imaginable, in any number they wish, that a member of law enforcement must be prepared for the worst when they start their workday.  And when from any logical point of view there is a volatile situation occurring it is essential that law enforcement is prepared for the possibility that the most deadly array of guns might be at hand.   Forcing police officers to think in those terms is sadly the reality of the times we live in.

And we all are, in some part, responsible for that being the case.

We have to be better at demanding the NRA be put in their place, gun control measures adopted, and sanity brought to bear on the number of guns that are on the street.  It is time we truly consider what police have to always be aware of every time there is a call for their service.  The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of people killed (by police) are armed.  The graph below is from 2019 and compiled by the Washington Post.

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We have witnessed the seriously misguided laws in states that allow residents to carry concealed weapons with no more background check than you need to carry a concealed nutcracker.  We have witnessed moves to relax gun laws that border on pure insanity.  This is all done under the guise from the gun rights lobby that the more armed law-abiding people we have on our streets, the safer everybody will be.

But then we have those damn pesky facts that refute the claim made by the NRA.

By the end of 2015, officers had fatally shot nearly 1,000 people, twice as many as ever documented in one year by the federal government. With the issue flaring in city after city, some officials vowed to reform how police use force.

“The next year, however, police nationwide again shot and killed nearly 1,000 people. Then they fatally shot about the same number in 2017 — and have done so for every year after that, according to The Post’s ongoing count. Since 2015, police have shot and killed 5,400 people.”

The NRA argument can be rightly flushed, as it is worthy of nothing less.

Even amid the coronavirus pandemic and orders that kept millions at home for weeks, police shot and killed 463 people through the first week of June — 49 more than the same period in 2019. In May, police shot and killed 110 people, the most in any one month since The Post began tracking it.

The overwhelming majority of people killed are armed. Nearly half of all people fatally shot by police are white. 

I know gun control would make police jobs safer.  And our communities better.  How conservatives can not–or more to the point–will not put this two-car parade into motion in their thoughts and writings remain something for the rest of us to talk about.

Being pro-police means being pro-gun-control.