But This NEVER Happens in Other Countries!

Gunman kills at least 37 in Tunisia:

A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel on Friday with a weapon he had hidden in an umbrella, killing 37 people, including Britons, Germans and Belgians as they lounged at the beach and pool in a popular resort town.

Terrified tourists ran for cover after the gunfire and an explosion erupted at the Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, 140 km (90 miles) south of the capital Tunis, before police shot the gunman dead, witnesses and security officials said.

“This was always a safe place but today was horror,” said an Irish tourist who gave only his first name, Anthony. “He started on the beach and went to the lobby, killing in cold blood.”

Rafik Chelli, a senior interior ministry official, said the gunman killed was unknown to authorities and not on any watchlist of potential jihadists. A security source named him as Saifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old electrical engineering student.

After pulling out a weapon hidden inside an umbrella, the assailant strolled through the hotel grounds, opening fire at the pool and beach, reloading his weapon several times and tossing an explosive, witnesses said.

A security source said another bomb was found on his body, which lay with a Kalashnikov assault rifle where he was shot.

Local radio said police captured a second gunman, but officials did not immediately confirm the arrest or his role in the attack.

“It was just one attacker,” said a hotel worker at the site. “He was a young guy dressed in shorts like he was a tourist himself.”

Yet according to GunPolicy.org, Tunisia has “common sense” gun regulations that gun ban er, control, ah safety advocates want implemented here to stop such incidents:

1. In Tunisia, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law

2. In Tunisia, civilian possession of automatic weapons is regulated by law

3. In Tunisia, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under license

4. In Tunisia, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law

5. In Tunisia, only licensed gun owners may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

6. Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Tunisia are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example hunting, target shooting, collection, personal protection, security

7. The minimum age for gun ownership in Tunisia is 20 years

8. An applicant for a firearm license in Tunisia must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental records

9. In Tunisia, the law requires that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

10. In Tunisia, State agencies are required to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

And yet with all of these restrictions, one young man was able to murder at least 37 people.

But we’re told this only happens here in the U.S., and it’s because of our lax gun laws the Confederate Battle Flag.

Judicial Activism

So the Supreme Court has handed down its decision in King v. Burwell, the second “Obamacare” decision.  This one was not 5-4, but 6-3, and upheld the “subsidy” for non-state exchanges that was the key question at stake.

Ten years ago I wrote a piece on judicial activism where another Arizona blog had tried to define the meaning of the phrase as how often judges invalidate “law duly passed by Congress.”  I wrote:

I thought part of the “checks and balances” function of the Judicial branch was to, you know, check the power of the Legislative branch? Not merely rubber-stamp its legislation. If Congress overreaches the powers delegated to it under the Constitution, the Courts are supposed to rein it in. This is to protect the rights of the minority against the power of majorities. As Justice Scalia (56.25%) has put it, “The only reason you need a constitution is because some things you don’t want the majority to be able to change. That’s my most important function as a judge in this system. I have to tell the majority to take a hike.”

“Activism” on the court, on the other hand, is inventing law – finding things in laws already written that were never intended. As 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski put it, “build(ing) magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases – or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text.” Creating law is a power reserved to the legislative branch by the Constitution.

Justice Scalia wrote the dissent in Burwell. As most Scalia opinions are, this one is powerful and eloquent.

And factually accurate:

This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secretary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B.

Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. “[T]he plain, obvious, and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an acute and powerful intellect would discover.” Lynch v. Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U. S. 364, 370 (1925) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.

When I wrote that piece ten years ago, I found a column by the irreplaceable Thomas Sowell also on judicial activism. In it he wrote:

“Judicial activism” and “judicial restraint” raise logically obvious but often ignored questions: Activism toward what?

Well, obviously in this case: “The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”

Scalia further on:

It is probably piling on to add that the Congress that wrote the Affordable Care Act knew how to equate two different types of Exchanges when it wanted to do so. The Act includes a clause providing that “[a] territory that . . . establishes . . . an Exchange . . . shall be treated as a State” for certain purposes. §18043(a) (emphasis added). Tellingly, it does not include a comparable clause providing that the Secretary shall be treated as a State for purposes of §36B when she establishes an Exchange.

He isn’t shy about using a sledgehammer when he feels it necessary.


For its next defense of the indefensible, the Court turns to the Affordable Care Act’s design and purposes. As relevant here, the Act makes three major reforms. The guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements prohibit insurers from considering a customer’s health when deciding whether to sell insurance and how much to charge, 42 U. S. C. §§300gg, 300gg–1; its famous individual mandate requires everyone to maintain insurance coverage or to pay what the Act calls a “penalty,” 26 U. S. C. §5000A(b)(1), and what we have nonetheless called a tax, see National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (slip op., at 39); and its tax credits help make insurance more affordable.

The Court reasons that Congress intended these three reforms to “work together to expand insurance coverage”; and because the first two apply in every State, so must the third.

This reasoning suffers from no shortage of flaws. To begin with, “even the most formidable argument concerning the statute’s purposes could not overcome the clarity [of] the statute’s text.” Kloeckner v. Solis, (2012). Statutory design and purpose matter only to the extent they help clarify an otherwise ambiguous provision. Could anyone maintain with a straight face that §36B is unclear? To mention just the highlights, the Court’s interpretation clashes with a statutory definition, renders words inoperative in at least seven separate provisions of the Act, overlooks the contrast between provisions that say “Exchange” and those that say “Exchange established by the State,” gives the same phrase one meaning for purposes of tax credits but an entirely different meaning for other purposes, and (let us not forget) contradicts the ordinary meaning of the words Congress used. On the other side of the ledger, the Court has come up with no thing more than a general provision that turns out to be controlled by a specific one, a handful of clauses that are consistent with either understanding of establishment by the State, and a resemblance between the tax-credit provision and the rest of the Tax Code. If that is all it takes to make something ambiguous, everything is ambiguous.

Having gone wrong in consulting statutory purpose at all, the Court goes wrong again in analyzing it. The purposes of a law must be “collected chiefly from its words,” not “from extrinsic circumstances.” Sturges v. Crowninshield, (1819). Only by concentrating on the law’s terms can a judge hope to uncover the scheme of the statute, rather than some other scheme that the judge thinks desirable. Like it or not, the express terms of the Affordable Care Act make only two of the three reforms mentioned by the Court applicable in States that do not establish Exchanges. It is perfectly possible for them to operate independently of tax credits. The guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements continue to ensure that insurance companies treat all customers the same no matter their health, and the individual mandate continues to encourage people to maintain coverage, lest they be “taxed.”

The Court protests that without the tax credits, the number of people covered by the individual mandate shrinks, and without a broadly applicable individual mandate the guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements “would destabilize the individual insurance market.” If true, these projections would show only that the statutory scheme contains a flaw; they would not show that the statute means the opposite of what it says.

Here I’d like to interject a quote from the dissent to Home Building and Loan Association v. Blaisdell (1934):

I quite agree with the opinion of the court that whether the legislation under review is wise or unwise is a matter with which we have nothing to do. Whether it is likely to work well or work ill presents a question entirely irrelevant to the issue.

Blaisdell considered a Constitutional question, but the argument is the same: It isn’t the Court’s job to determine if a law is good or not.  The Constitution does not give the Judicial Branch the power to make law.  That power is reserved to the Legislative branch only.  If the Legislative branch does a bad job, then The People have the power to elect new legislators.  If the JUDICIAL branch does a bad job, The People have less recourse.

Scalia writes:

The Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people’s decision to give Congress “[a]ll legislative Powers” enumerated in the Constitution. Art. I, §1. They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for both making laws and mending them. This Court holds only the judicial power—the power to pronounce the law as Congress has enacted it. We lack the prerogative to repair laws that do not work out in practice, just as the people lack the ability to throw us out of office if they dislike the solutions we concoct. We must always remember, therefore, that “[o]ur task is to apply the text, not to improve upon it.” Pavelic & LeFlore v. Marvel Entertainment Group, Div. of Cadence Industries Corp. (1989).

More importantly, the Court forgets that ours is a government of laws and not of men. That means we are governed by the terms of our laws, not by the unenacted will of our lawmakers. “If Congress enacted into law something different from what it intended, then it should amend the statute to conform to its intent.” Lamie, supra, at 542. In the meantime, this Court “has no roving license. . . to disregard clear language simply on the view that . . . Congress ‘must have intended’ something broader.” Bay Mills, 572 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 11).

Even less defensible, if possible, is the Court’s claim that its interpretive approach is justified because this Act “does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.” It is not our place to judge the quality of the care and deliberation that went into this or any other law. A law enacted by voice vote with no deliberation whatever is fully as binding upon us as one enacted after years of study, months of committee hearings, and weeks of debate. Much less is it our place to make everything come out right when Congress does not do its job properly. It is up to Congress to design its laws with care, and it is up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility.

Rather than rewriting the law under the pretense of interpreting it, the Court should have left it to Congress to decide what to do about the Act’s limitation of tax credits to state Exchanges. If Congress values above everything else the Act’s applicability across the country, it could make tax credits available in every Exchange. If it prizes state involvement in the Act’s implementation, it could continue to limit tax credits to state Exchanges while taking other steps to mitigate the economic consequences predicted by the Court. If Congress wants to accommodate both goals, it could make tax credits available every where while offering new incentives for States to set up their own Exchanges. And if Congress thinks that the present design of the Act works well enough, it could do nothing. Congress could also do something else altogether, entirely abandoning the structure of the Affordable Care Act. The Court’s insistence on making a choice that should be made by Congress both aggrandizes judicial power and encourages congressional lassitude.

Just ponder the significance of the Court’s decision to take matters into its own hands. The Court’s revision of the law authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to spend tens of billions of dollars every year in tax credits on federal Exchanges. It affects the price of insurance for millions of Americans. It diminishes the participation of the States in the implementation of the Act. It vastly expands the reach of the Act’s individual mandate, whose scope depends in part on the availability of credits. What a parody today’s decision makes of Hamilton’s assurances to the people of New York: “The legislature not only commands the purse but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over . . . the purse; no direction . . . of the wealth of society, and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL but merely judgment.”

That is what this Court did today. As Scalia correctly points out, the overriding principle here is, “The Affordable Care Act must be saved.” Because the intent of the legislation must be good.

And THAT is “judicial activism” – rule of men, not of law.  And that was what the Constitution was written to prevent.

Also:  Read this post from 2010.  It’s short, and relevant.  And Chief Justice Roberts is no “conservative.”

I’m Shocked, Shocked!

To discover that there is “massive noncompliance” with New York’s SAFE Act requiring registration of “assault-style” weapons.

In the years since Gov. Cuomo signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, otherwise known as the NY SAFE Act, a total of 23,847 people have applied to register their assault-style weapons with the state, according to statistics provided by the New York State Police.

Those individuals themselves registered 44,485 assault-style weapons — a term whose definition under the law was expanded to include military-style features like a pistol grip and popular civilian models of the M16 and AK47 assault rifles — with State Police, the data, which was first obtained by the Albany Times Union, show.

Law enforcement experts have estimated there could be nearly 1 million assault-style weapons in circulation across the state, suggesting that many New Yorkers are ignoring a central provision of what had been touted by gun control advocates as a milestone law.

“What these numbers expose is that, if there are people who are wilfully ignoring the law, that means tens of thousands of gun owners are not complying with a law that is supported by New Yorkers,” said (the ironically named) Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, citing a May poll commissioned by her group that showed state residents support key provisions of the SAFE Act.

Under New York law, failure to register an assault weapon by the April 2014 deadline can be treated as misdemeanor offense, punishable by “forfeiture of the weapon” and up to one year in jail, according to the New York State Police.

Under a different statute, the situation can also be treated as a low-level felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

I know, let’s make not registering REALLY ILLEGAL!! THAT’ll work!


So, until the last couple of days it had been awhile since I’d posted anything.  Sorry about that, but in May of ’14, I did say that I was going to be cutting back on blogging and doing more reading.

Boy howdy.

Just blew through the entire (so far) 10-book Destroyermen series by Taylor Anderson.  Took 12 days.  Wow.  That’s good stuff.  It’s alternate-universe/military Sci-Fi fantasy, (and perhaps a bit light on logistics,) but really very well done.  Since one of my favorite other series is Steve Stirling / David Drake’s Raj Whitehall series, (the first five books anyway), hopefully that’s high praise.

And I just now finished re-reading Andy Weir’s The Martian, which was every bit as good the second time around.  Can’t wait to see the movie.  Looks like they stuck pretty close to the actual story.  Well, they at least used a few of the words from the book, anyway.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue4PCI0NamI?rel=0]

I hope Andy Weir’s check was BIG.


Instapundit linked to this, but I do work at a couple of mines that use the Cat 797 haul truck – payload capacity:  400 tons.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAVYizVoLww?rel=0]
Note that the center axle height on that haul truck is about equal to the roof of the cab of a pickup truck. If a haul truck runs over a pickup, the haul truck driver might very well not NOTICE.

And the highest point on the remains of the pickup will be about 18″.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK_11AT4m2M?rel=0]
That’s a Cat 785. Its payload is less than half that of the 797.

That’s why they make you take a special “In Pit” driving class.  Pretty much everything in the pit is bigger than you, and can ruin your whole day.

The Siren Song of “Gun Control”

They never, ever stop, the Other Side™.  They sometimes retreat, sometimes quiet down, but they don’t stopRecent polls indicate that support for “gun control” has reached a modern nadir, but that is no excuse to relax.  Our ideological opponents still hold the media high ground and get paid to produce their pixels by the terabyte.  They are not going to quit.  They just switch tack and try a different angle, lather, rinse, repeat.  They’ve run out of “new,” so they keep recycling old ones.  Since the Newtown massacre didn’t result in public support for outright banning, the tack they are on now is the old, familiar “public health” angle.  Of course!  They have Surgeon General Vivek Murthy now, who will push this agenda once again.

Warning:  This is a mini-überpost.  It’s been a while.  Get a snack and a beverage and settle in, or skip on to the next blog on your list.

Mother Jones magazine recently ran an article entitled What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?  I was tempted to fisk the entire piece, but decided against.  I’m just going to point out some interesting facts.

The piece starts off with the story of Jennifer Longdon and David Rueckert of Phoenix, Arizona.  On November 15, 2004 this couple was involved in what appears to have been a minor traffic accident followed by a road-rage shooting.  Or a premeditated homicide attempt.  Or a case of gang violence and mistaken identity.  Nobody was ever arrested, so we will never know, but Rueckert was shot in the head, surviving with significant brain trauma.  Longdon was shot in the back and left paraplegic.

Due to the physical injuries, she was also left financially destitute.

So how much does “gun violence” cost America?  Well, we don’t really know for sure, Mother Jones tells us, but it’s something they calculate in excess of $229 billion – $700 per year for every man, woman and child in the country.

Surely, the story implies but does not outright state, something must be done!  We’re told:

Nobody, save perhaps for the hardcore gun lobby, doubts that gun violence is a serious problem.

Just so you know who the opposition is – the “hardcore gun lobby” – and why they shouldn’t matter.  Not convincing enough?

(S)olving a crisis, as any expert will tell you, begins with data. That’s why the US government over the years has assessed the broad economic toll of a variety of major problems. Take motor vehicle crashes: Using statistical models to estimate a range of costs both tangible and more abstract—from property damage and traffic congestion to physical pain and lost quality of life—the Department of Transportation (DOT) published a 300-page study estimating the “total value of societal harm” from this problem in 2010 at $871 billion. Similar research has been produced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the impact of air pollution, by the Department of Health and Human Services on the costs of domestic violence, and so on. But the government has mostly been mute on the economic toll of gun violence. HHS has assessed firearm-related hospitalizations, but its data is incomplete because some states don’t require hospitals to track gunshot injuries among the larger pool of patients treated for open wounds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also periodically made estimates using hospital data, but based on narrow sample sizes and covering only the medical and lost-work costs of gun victims.

Why the lack of solid data? A prime reason is that the National Rifle Association and other influential gun rights advocates have long pressured political leaders to shut down research related to firearms.

At this point I’m going to drag out a couple of excerpts from some research done at the behest of the Carter Administration.  It’s one of my favorites, and I’ve quoted from it in this blog before.  They’re from the gun control meta-study published in 1983 as Under the Gun:  Weapons, Crime and Violence in America.  The “senior authors” of the study were James D. Wright, Professor of Human Relations, Dept. of Sociology for Tulane University and Peter H. Rossi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and past president of the American Sociological Association.  These researchers weren’t exactly gun-rights supporters going in.  Here’s the first:

In 1978 the Social and Demographic Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, received a grant from the National Institute of Justice to undertake a comprehensive review of the literature on weapons, crime, and violence in the United States. The purpose of the project is best described as a “sifting and winnowing” of the claims and counterclaims from both sides of the Great American Gun War – the perennial struggle in American political life over what to do, if anything, about guns, about violence, and about crime. The review and analysis of the available studies consumed the better part of three years; the results of this work are contained in this volume.

The intention of any review is to take stock of the available fund of knowledge in some topical area. Under the Gun is no different: our goal has been to glean from the volumes of previous studies those facts that, in our view, seem firmly and certainly established; those hypotheses that seem adequately supported by, or at least approximately consistent with, the best available research evidence; and those areas or topics about which, it seems, we need to know a lot more than we do. One of our major conclusions can be stated in advance: despite the large number of studies that have been done, many critically important questions have not been adequately researched, and some of them have not been examined at all.

Much of the available research in the area of weapons and crime has been done by advocates for one or another policy position. As a consequence, the manifest intent of many “studies” is to persuade rather than to inform.

(My emphasis.)

If the “research” has an agenda, then how valid (and therefore valuable) can it be?  But here’s the second excerpt:

The progressive’s indictment of American firearms policy is well known and is one that both the senior authors of this study once shared. This indictment includes the following particulars:

(1) Guns are involved in an astonishing number of crimes in this country.
(2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare.
(3) Most of the firearms involved in crime are cheap Saturday Night Specials, for which no legitimate use or need exists.
(4) Many families acquire such a gun because they feel the need to protect themselves; eventually they end up shooting one another.
(5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime.
(6) Most of the public also believes this and has favored stricter gun control laws for as long as anyone has asked the question.
(7) Only the gun lobby prevents us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society.

Again, my emphasis.  Research is being defunded?  The gun lobby is preventing us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society!  They deny gun violence is a serious problem!  They’re deniers!  Which seems to be the ultimate insult these days, consensus über alles, after all.

The story also includes a link to another piece detailing not only Jennifer Longdon’s story, but those of seven other people.  In the interests of accurate demographics: four more women and three men.  Three of the victims are black – one male, two female.

Here are the pertinent details:

Victim 1 – Antonius Wiriadjaja, Brooklyn, New York.  Bystander to a domestic violence shooting, caught a stray round.  “$169,000 for medical care, physical therapy and counseling.”

Victim 2 – Kamari Ridgle, Richmond, California (a suburb of San Francisco).  A 15 year-old shot in a drive-by after he “had just left a liquor store….”  What’s a 15 year-old doing in a liquor store?  Kid was hit 22 times – and survived.  “$1.5 million for medical care.”

Victim 3 – Philip Russo,  Alturas, California (rural NE corner of CA).  His wife was killed by a rampage shooter.  He lost his job because he worked security at the county jail where her killer was placed awaiting trial – for her safety.  “$83,000 in lost household income.”

Victim 4 – Pamela Bosley of Chicago, IL.  Lost a son to what appears to be gang-related violence.  No evidence her son was a gang member.  “$23,500 in medical care and counseling for family.”

Victim 5 – BJ Ayers, Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Lost two sons to suicide.  “$35,000 in state-funded emergency care” for one of them before he expired.

Victim 6 – Paris Brown, East Oakland, California.  Son killed in gang-related shooting.  “$10,000 in grief counseling.”

Victim 7 – The aforementioned Jennifer Longdon, Phoenix, AZ.  “$40,000 in wheelchair modifications to her home.”  That’s in addition to her medical costs and lost wages.

Victim 8 – Caheri Gutierrez, also of Oakland, CA.  Apparently caught a stray round in the face from a nearby gang shooting.  “$120,000 for hospitalization and reconstructive surgeries.”

New York, 1.  California, 4.  Illinois, 1.  Arizona, 1.  Wyoming, 1. Two suicides, one domestic violence, one rampage shooter, four gang-related, one unknown.

Does Mother Jones offer any suggestions?  Of course not.  Their story is that, because of the “gun lobby” we don’t have sufficient data to “solve (the) crisis.”  They do state, however:

Our investigation also begins to illuminate the economic toll for individual states. Louisiana has the highest gun homicide rate in the nation, with costs per capita of more than $1,300. Wyoming has a small population but the highest overall rate of gun deaths—including the nation’s highest suicide rate—with costs working out to about $1,400 per resident. Among the four most populous states, the costs per capita in the gun rights strongholds of Florida and Texas outpace those in more strictly regulated California and New York. Hawaii and Massachusetts, with their relatively low gun ownership rates and tight gun laws, have the lowest gun death rates, and costs per capita roughly a fifth as much as those of the states that pay the most.

For those of you slow on the uptake:  Strict gun control/low gun ownership = Good. Lax gun control/high gun ownership = Bad.

In other words, “There are too many guns.”

It’s their mantra, their single article of faith.

Yet here’s what the article doesn’t bother to mention:

Non-fatal “gun violence” peaked here in the U.S. in 1994, with a “per 100,000 population” rate of 7.4.  It has declined, almost non-stop, ever since.  In 2011 the rate was 1.8/100,000 – less than one-quarter the rate in 1994.  Homicide (all causes) peaked in 1992 at 9.3/100,000.  In 2011 it was 4.7 – the “lowest level since 1963.”

And this occurred without any significant gun control legislation during that period, and in the face of an additional 93,000,000 privately-owned firearms entering circulation during that period.  The “assault weapon ban” (that wasn’t)?  Even FactCheck.org admits:

That the law did not have much of an impact on overall gun crime came as little surprise, (Christopher S.) Koper said.  For one, assault weapons were used in only 2 percent of gun crimes before the ban. And second, existing weapons were grandfathered, meaning there were an estimated 1.5 million pre-ban assault weapons and 25 million to 50 million large-capacity magazines still in the U.S.

Since the “ban” ended in 2004 (and “modern sporting rifles” have become the largest single segment in long-gun sales), violent crime has continued to trend down.

More guns, less crime.

And I’ve already covered the lie that there are “more guns, fewer gun owners.”

But Mother Jones believes you don’t need to know that.  You just need to know that “gun violence” costs “$229 billion a year,” and the “gun lobby” not only doesn’t care, but denies funding for research so that we can solve the problem!

A problem that has been cut in half or more over the last twenty years as no significant “gun control” laws have been passed, and laws relaxing the standards for legal carriage have been spreading.

THAT’S not news.

Because that doesn’t affect the real problem:  Too.  Many.  Guns.

Not  Too.  Many.  Criminals.

If Mother Jones was actually interested in reducing “gun violence,” then they wouldn’t be concentrating on what it costs Joe and Jane Average, or even Joe and Jane Victim, they’d address the ten-ton elephant in the room:  young black male violence.

Look at their list of victims again.  Out of eight (we assume “typical”) survivors of “gun violence,” one is a young black male, one is the mother of a deceased young black male.

They’re overwhelmingly the victims of violent crime.  In 2013, according to the CDC, black males 34 and younger made up 30% of all homicide victims, 10% of all non-lethal assault victims.

Yet young black men are only 3.5 percent of the national population.

Let’s put that in perspective:  If the homicide rate for black men 34 and younger, currently (2013) estimated at 43.9 per 100,000 population, were reduced to the current national rate of 5.1/100,000, 4,245 lives would be saved.

And the national homicide rate would be reduced to 3.76/100,000.

But apparently pointing that fact out is RACIST!™ so no one in the media does.

When you have a disease that kills a specific, easily identifiable population at rates over eight times the rest of the population, epidemiologists (otherwise known as “public health experts”) call that a clue.

Instead, it seems, the Powers That Be™ are making the situation worse:

The nation’s two-decades-long crime decline may be over. Gun violence in particular is spiraling upward in cities across America. In Baltimore, the most pressing question every morning is how many people were shot the previous night. Gun violence is up more than 60% compared with this time last year, according to Baltimore police, with 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend. May has been the most violent month the city has seen in 15 years.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over the same period the previous year. Through April, shootings in St. Louis were up 39%, robberies 43%, and homicides 25%. “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said St. Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro at a May 7 City Hall hearing.

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid-May. Shootings in Chicago had increased 24% and homicides 17%. Shootings and other violent felonies in Los Angeles had spiked by 25%; in New York, murder was up nearly 13%, and gun violence 7%.

Those citywide statistics from law-enforcement officials mask even more startling neighborhood-level increases. Shooting incidents are up 500% in an East Harlem precinct compared with last year; in a South Central Los Angeles police division, shooting victims are up 100%.

Why is violence climbing in these cities?

The most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months.

Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today. A handful of highly publicized deaths of unarmed black men, often following a resisted arrest—including Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., in July 2014, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014 and Freddie Gray in Baltimore last month—have led to riots, violent protests and attacks on the police.

And who is it that’s dying?

Young. Black. Men.

And what’s the reaction?

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“Gun control” is not a “public health issue.” Even if it were, public health advocates are not handling it as though it is. The “public health” angle on “gun control” is being handled the same way AIDS was in the 1980’s – by attacking the wrong things and willfully, actively denying that the problem is behavioral and highly concentrated in a small, easily identifiable demographic – because to do so would be Politically Incorrect.

Instead we get smoke screens about “costs” designed to make us wring our hands and look to the guys in white lab coats for solutions.

UPDATE:  I’m no fan of John Lott, but the numbers are the numbers.  It appears that Heather Mac Donald’s piece, linked above, is in error. That does not, however, affect the rest of the post.