Archive for June, 2010

J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — The Mark of Kane Is on Firearms Reporting


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Read the previous chapter Can You Trust Handgun Control, Inc.?


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
The Mark of Kane Is on Firearms Reporting

The following article appeared in the Orange County Register of Sunday, July 18, 1993.

In the classic film Citizen Kane, newspaper publisher Charles Foster Kane is arguing with his wife. Kane’s wife begins a sentence, “People will think …” and Kane ends it, “what I tell them to think.”

When it comes to print and broadcast news treatment of firearms, Kane’s attitude is everywhere.

In the April 24, 1993 issue of Editor and Publisher, former Boston Globe editor Thomas Winship calls for “a sustained newspaper crusade” against firearms that Kane would have been proud to engineer. “Ask editorially whether small arms producers should be licensed more strictly or even shut down … Investigate the NRA with more vigor … Support all forms of gun licensing; in fact, all the causes NRA opposes.”

Mr. Winship is late; the news crusade against civilian firearms has been on the march for years. A 1989 form letter sent out by Time Magazine to readers charging Time with biased reporting in a July 17, 1989 cover story on gun-related deaths, stated, “[T]he time for opinions on the dangers of gun availability is long since gone … our responsibility now is to confront indifference about the escalating violence and the unwillingness to do something about it.”

As in all crusades, factual correctness is sacrificed to political correctness. When the Glock 19 pistol, which replaces some steel parts with polymer, entered the American market, newspapers crusaded against terrorists’ plastic guns which could evade airport metal detectors and X-rays. They failed to note that the Glock 19 contains over a pound of metal which sets off alarms, looks identical to any other gun in an airport X-ray … and that no undetectable plastic guns exist.

News media eagerly jumped on former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNarama’s crusade against teflon-coated “cop killer” bullets which could defeat police body armor. The reports failed to note that such ammunition was created as a police round and was not available to the general public … and no cop had ever been killed by one, anyway. The broadcast news about this issue, however, endangered police by graphically showing criminals that police were using body armor, and that they should shoot at unarmored body parts such as the head. Out of this crusade came legislation to ban armor-piercing bullets which would also have banned most ordinary rifle ammunition, since most body armor is no protection against it. When NRA opposed such legislation, the media then charged NRA with opposing legislation which would have protected the police. Again, Citizen Kane would have beamed approvingly.

The language of firearms reporting is itself intended to persuade rather than inform. Newspapers dub inexpensive handguns “Saturday Night Specials,” even though three-quarters of criminals don’t care about the price of the guns they use in crimes since they steal them or buy stolen guns anyway. Crusades against “assault weapons” deliberately confuse semi-automatic civilian firearms with similar-looking machine guns available only to the military, and only rarely note that law-enforcement studies show that these classes of firearms are hardly ever used in crimes.

Mark Twain said in his autobiography, “There are three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies and statistics.” The news media have taken Twain to heart by making sure that the only statistics they use prove that private firearms are destructive and that the public wants them banned. The media quotes medical statistics on the number of criminally-caused firearm-related injuries and deaths but hardly ever quote criminological studies which show that gun owners use firearms 1.4 million times each year to stop or deter a crime, without anyone being wounded 99% of the time. That’s two bloodless gun-owner defenses for each time a criminal uses a firearm in an attack.

Network TV programs such as 60 Minutes focus on the tragedy of children killed in firearms accidents, while failing to note that firearms are involved in only 3% of the accidental deaths of children 14 or younger each year. Other news stories also routinely use statistics which inflate such figures by including suicides and gang-related homicides that include statistical groupings up to age 25.

Neither do the press note that firearms accidents in general are down 40% in the last ten years, and down 80% in the last fifty years.

Editorials trumpet a new Louis Harris survey claiming that 52% of Americans want private handgun ownership banned — extremely unlikely, since half the homes in this country already keep firearms — but fail to note that this same Louis Harris survey finds that 67% of gun owners would refuse to comply with such a ban, even with a $200-per-gun buy-back program, making the law an instant dead-letter.

Showing further press bias, only three reporters show up at a June 10, 1993 Washington D.C. news conference announcing the results of a new study by Luntz-Weber Research which shows that 88.8% of Americans believe a citizen has the right to own a gun, and only 4% see lack of gun control as a root cause of violence. The reason the press conference was ignored? The Luntz-Weber study was commissioned by the press’s favorite scapegoat, the NRA.

Headlines routinely focus on criminal use of firearms, and editors bury stories where a civilian successfully uses a firearm defensively. When postal clerk Thomas Terry saved a restaurant from a takeover robbery in Alabama two months after the restaurant massacre in Killeen, Texas, the story was almost universally ignored. When ex-prizefighter Randy Shields did the same at a 4 n 20 Pie Shop in Studio City last September, newspaper readers had to look for the story in the Los Angeles Times‘s sports section.

Political scandals related to abuse of civilian firearms rights are similarly ignored. Since 1974, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners has refused to issue any private person a license to carry concealed firearms, even though state law requires them to do so, hewing to a policy which states, “[E]xperience has revealed that concealed firearms carried for protection not only provide a false sense of security but further that the licensee is often a victim of his own weapon or the subject of a civil or criminal case stemming from an improper use of the weapon.” When this writer revealed in testimony at the November 2, 1992 police commission meeting that Commissioner Michael Yamaki had secretly obtained such a license to carry a firearm from Culver City — demonstrating that when it came to his own family’s safety even a police commissioner didn’t believe that policy — what few news stories appeared were buried in routine reports on the commissioners meeting, and the press unanimously honored Yamaki’s refusal to discuss it.

Finally, there is outright, deliberate manufacture of news film footage to distort the truth about firearms’ capabilities. Shortly after Patrick Purdy used a semi-auto AK-47-lookalike to murder schoolchildren in Stockton, NBC News ran footage showing a range officer using such a firearm to explode a melon into smithereens. The footage was faked; a Beretta 9 millimeter pistol with hollow-point expanding ammunition had to be used to make the melon explode: the full-metal-jacketed AK-47 round had merely made a dime-sized and unexciting hole in it.

This past February, Los Angeles TV station KABC pulled a similar stunt. In a report intended to show the awesome rapid fire accuracy of semi-auto handguns being carried by LA gangs, film showing LA County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Hugh E. Mears rapidly firing a 9 millimeter pistol from seventy-five feet away was intercut with footage showing the rounds hitting a target’s bullseye. The film was faked: the rapid-fire shots at seventy-five feet had spread widely. The footage showing the repeated hits had been achieved by Sgt. Mears also being requested to provide an example of aimed fire at twelve feet — and this was the footage that KABC intercut.

With a deliberate media campaign of distortion, suppression of vital facts, and outright lying, it’s no wonder that the fifty percent of Americans who don’t know about guns from personal experience might begin to wonder whether the Second Amendment was a mistake. But more to the point: if reporters and news editors are willing to lie to the public to achieve the public opinion on firearms they desire, then how can representative democracy become anything but covert aristocracy?

“You provide the prose poems,” Citizen Kane said to his correspondent. “I’ll provide the war.”

Indeed he has.

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Can You Trust Handgun Control, Inc.?


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter A Reply to Joyce Brothers


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Can You Trust Handgun Control, Inc.?

I got a new mailing last week, under the signature of Jim Brady, asking me to renew my Handgun Control membership.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

In his attempt to assassinate the President, John Hinckley — a man with a history of mental problems — had purchased a $29 Saturday Night Special handgun in Texas where no waiting period or background check is required for gun buyers. He used that gun to shoot the President, a secret service agent, a policeman and me.


Brady Bill Would Not Have Saved Jim Brady

Interesting that Brady doesn’t mention that Hinckley bought his gun months earlier, so that even if the Brady Bill had been in place, Hinckley still would have had plenty of time to buy his gun and attempt the assassination. Moreover, Hinckley’s mental problems would not have been discovered by any legally possible background check — instantaneous or combined with a waiting period — because of the constitutional guarantee of privacy which shields psychiatric patients.

Here’s another excerpt:

ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN — Machine guns, assault pistols and other rapid-fire weapons were designed for one thing: killing. They have no place on our streets or anywhere in our country. Yet, the NRA fights any proposed limits on these killing machines as a violation of “gun owner’s rights.”

Wow. Hard to believe there can be so many misstatements in three sentences. Let’s take it one piece at a time.


HCI: “Designed For One Thing: Killing.”

Since a gun is potentially lethal, it can be used to threaten lethality without having to kill. If the person threatening the lethality has criminal intent, the gun can be used to obtain a victim’s compliance for robbery, rape, or other extorted behavior. If the person threatening the lethality has a non-criminal intent, the gun can be used to obtain a criminal’s surrender before, during, or after a crime is attempted or committed.

In addition to killing, a gun can be used to produce a cone of shock force sufficient to incapacitate a person who would otherwise be able to deliver a lethal attack. This is technically called “stopping power,” and is the reason that police and others who obtain guns for non-criminal purposes prefer larger caliber, higher-power firearms, which can drop an attacker quickly. The intent of shooting an attacker is not to kill; it is to instantly incapacitate. With certain wounds sufficient to stop, however, the wound is sometimes also fatal. Nonetheless, the death of the attacker is a by-product of the force needed to stop a lethal attacker; the attacker’s death is not the intent of a defensive shooting.


Stopping Versus Killing

Stopping power and killing power are two different things. The “phasers on stun” of Star Trek illustrate effectively the concept of “stopping power at a distance” with a sufficiently advanced technology that there is a low mortality rate to the entity so stopped. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that fantasy world, where stopping without high risk of mortality is possible. In the real world, if a person is threatening lethal force and needs to be stopped from attacking, the only effective way to stop them quickly from a safe distance is to shoot them, usually at the center of body mass, with around 150 or more grains of metal. Handguns are optimized to do this: they are engineered to be “machines that stop lethal attackers before they can murder.”

That murderers misuse them to murder tells us no more about the engineered purposes of handguns than the fact that kitchen knives, icepicks, rat poison, baseball bats, and water can also be misused as implements of death.


A Gun Defined By Function, Rather Than Purpose

What is the function of a gun? It is to shoot something. An electron gun, for example, shoots electrons onto a plate so to emit photons and produce a visible image. This is called television.

The function of a firearm is to fire a projectile. The purposes to which that object may be put depend (a) on the qualities of design engineered into it and (b) the actual purposes to which it is put by the end-user.

For example, a baseball bat is designed to hit baseballs. That is its intended purpose by its designers and manufacturers. That may or may not be the purposes of the persons using it, depending on whether they are baseball players or rioters in South Central Los Angeles.


The Manufacturers’ Intended Purpose For The Guns They Make

The primary purpose of firearms designed and manufactured by Colt, or Smith & Wesson, or Glock, is entirely limited to end-users who wish them for defensive combat or threat of such against criminal attackers, or for sporting purposes. Firearms manufacturers are unhappy when their products are used by gangsters for drive-by shootings, or to rob the clerks of a 7-11, and if they knew a way to prevent criminals from getting their hands on them without depriving honest people from getting them also, they would encourage it.


Arms As The Empowerment Of The Citizenry

In addition to uses of defensive firearms in combat, firearms can also be used as part of the force necessary to secure the political sovereignty of the private citizen in a democracy.

The concept of liberty is that of a society organized on the basis of universal individual rights — rights which are equally held by every individual in that society.

What do we mean by a “right”? It is the moral authority to do something without needing prior permission from another to do it.

No matter what the institutions are of a given society, or what names they are called, the fundamental question is whether rights in that society are universally held by all the people, or whether they are reserved to those with the political power to get their own way.


Other Uses Of Arms

Firearms can be used to hunt animals, for the ecologically sound purpose of controlling their population so that they don’t breed themselves into greater numbers than can be supported by the food supply available to them, causing them slow death by starvation, or causing them to attack humans or domesticated pets to obtain food.

Firearms can also be used for target shooting, a sport which many enjoy as much as other hand-eye competitions, such as baseball, cricket, archery, golf, bowling, or video games.

So it is clearly demonstrable that guns have other purposes than killing. And, in fact, 99.4% of firearms are used for purposes other than killing.

I am not arguing that guns can’t kill. I am arguing against Handgun Control, Inc.’s contention that this is the only purpose to which they can be put. Guns, as inanimate objects, have no purposes of their own. To impute a purpose to them implies that they were engineered to perform a certain function by purposeful beings.

This is not an academic or trivial point. The rhetorical phrases ” … were designed for one thing: killing” and “killing machines” are misstatements with political purpose: to deny that guns have moral or otherwise lawful functions, particularly by others than police or armies.

So, when I point out that guns can threaten instead of killing, I am both describing a function to which they can be put and a lawful and moral purpose for which a person might wish to obtain them.


A Big Lie Told To Discredit One’s Opponent

Handgun Control, Inc.:

Machine guns, assault pistols and other rapid-fire weapons were designed for one thing: killing. They have no place on our streets or anywhere in our country. Yet, the NRA fights any proposed limits on these killing machines as a violation of ‘gun owner’s rights.’

The truth:

The self-loading, semi-automatic firearms that Handgun Control is trying to ban are not machine guns or machine pistols; they are handguns and rifles with firing capabilities no better than revolvers and hunting rifles in use for a century. Fully automatic machine guns have been illegal to own without a rare and expensive federal license since 1933, and no new licenses have been issued since 1986.

And the National Rifle Association of America and its lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, does not “fight any proposed limits on these killing machines as a violation of ‘gun owner’s rights'” because that particular battle was lost half a century ago.

In other words, Handgun Control is attempting to persuade its constituency that there is a danger from machine guns on the streets in order to mislead them into thinking that proposed legislation against “assault weapons” is needed, and that NRA is opposing it.

There is no such danger and the “assault weapons” legislation is not aimed at it: it is aimed at the self-loading single-shot-per-trigger-pull rifles, shotguns, and pistols which Americans have been owning for self- defense, recreation, and animal-population control for over a century. And lying about the existence of machine guns on the streets and charging that NRA is attempting to keep them there is a Big Lie that Hitler or Stalin would have used.

— February 9, 1993

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is The Mark of Kane Is on Firearms Reporting

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — A Reply to Joyce Brothers


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Letter to Scientific American


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
A Reply to Joyce Brothers

From Dr. Joyce Brothers’ column of Nov 11, 1991 titled “Man May Equate Guns With Power”

Men who have a love affair with guns often feel threatened or insecure … Men who are insecure about their sexual identity often equate guns with sexual power. In fact, gun is sometimes used verbally as another word for the male sex organ. Typically, this kind of man is usually a defender of sexual stereotypes. He places high value on the use of force and on maintaining the status quo, both sexually and politically.

November 11, 1991

Dear Dr. Brothers:

You are mistaken in stereotyping gun-owners as “a defender of sexual stereotypes [who] places high value on the use of force and of maintaining the status quo, both sexually and politically.”

Thirty-five million Americans own handguns. Twelve million of them are women, including the president of the San Francisco NOW chapter, Helen Grieco. While currently gun ownership rises both with education and income, the population segment buying the most new handguns is black women living in crime-infested neighborhoods.

A recent survey of 1500 police officers show 92.2 percent feel that because of limited police manpower, citizens should retain the right to own firearms for self-defense at home or business, and with good reason. More private handguns are used in a year to prevent or end a crime than to commit one, and convicted armed robbers say they fear private gun owners more than they fear the police. As for accidental gun deaths, they represent one-and-a-half percent of the accidental deaths in this country, rating half as high as medical mishaps, and only three percent as high as auto accidents.

Finally, if you must invoke the Freudian image of a gun as a symbol of the male sexual organ, you might at least note that Freud described pencils, nail files, umbrellas, and trees as phallic symbols as well.

J. Neil Schulman, Chair
The Committee to Enforce the Second Amendment

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Can You Trust Handgun Control, Inc.?

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Letter to Scientific American


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Excerpts from a Letter to Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Letter to Scientific American

The following letter was sent to Scientific American. They elected not to publish it. – JNS

October 28, 1991

Franklin E. Zimring’s article in the November 1991 Scientific American, “Firearms, Violence and Public Policy,” has no proper place in any publication with the name “science” on its masthead, much less a publication with the prestige of Scientific American. It is pure political advocacy covered with a thin veneer of statistics to make it appear scientific to the naive.

Zimring’s claim that “[T]he percentage of gun-related crimes in an area is related to the proportion of owners of firearms in that area” is not even supported by comparing Zimring’s own charts on “Crimes with Guns by Region in 1990″ and “Homicides by Region in 1990″ with his “Households with Guns by Region in 1991.” These clearly show that while the Midwest has the second highest percent of households owning at least one gun, it has the lowest per capita number of crimes with guns and per capita gun homicides of any region.

That Zimring begins with an ideological point of view, and chooses to study only that which might tend to support his conclusions, is borne out by the absence from his study of any data comparing armed crimes against the unarmed with armed crimes against the armed. Zimring asks only how reducing the number of guns in criminal hands affects violence; he never asks the obvious corollary, as any scientist would, of how increasing the number of guns available to potential crime victims at the point of attack would affect the sociology of violence. His omission is not without intent: if Zimring has looked into anything on this question at all, he would be aware of the book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (1991) by Gary Kleck, and “The Value of Civilian Arms Possession as a Deterrent to Crime or Defense Against Crime,” by Don B. Kates Jr., in American Journal of Criminal Law, Volume 18, #3 (1991). Both clearly show, by interviews with criminals convicted of violent attacks, and with statistics comparing criminal attacks against unarmed persons with criminal attacks against armed persons, that the number of successful criminal attacks and homicides are far lower when criminals are met by armed defense.

Nor is Zimring’s premise, that reducing the number of gun deaths is a social goal that justifies curtailing the legal right of Americans to keep and bear arms, borne out by statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics that rate gun homicides as less than one-half percent of the yearly causes of death in this country and only three percent yearly of accidental deaths, or by FBI statistics showing that yearly criminal misuse of firearms involves only four-tenths of one percent of handguns, or by comparisons between U.S. cities with restrictive handgun laws and lenient handgun laws showing that the per capita rate of homicide and robbery average four times as high in cities with restrictive gun laws, or that each year, handguns are successfully used to repel more crimes than handguns used to commit crimes.

When political propaganda is labeled as science, it both discredits science in the minds of the public, and stands as evidence for the Luddites among us that scientists are mere technicians in the hire of the politically powerful.

J. Neil Schulman, Chair
The Committee to Enforce the Second Amendment

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is A Reply to Joyce Brothers

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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