Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns

Aaron Sorkin, You Magnificent Bastard!

The title of this essay is a paraphrase from the 1970 movie Patton, dialogue in which World War II General George S. Patton, Jr., says, referring to Rommel’s book, “Infantry Attacks”: “Rommel… you magnificent bastard, I read your book!

Aaron Sorkin is quite possibly the best screenwriter working in Hollywood today.

I look at his IMDb filmography and I see movie after movie that I love, including Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, Moneyball, and — yes — The American President. I watched every episode of his signature TV series, The West Wing, watched most episodes of his sitcom Sports Night, and I’ve set my DVR to record all first-run episodes of the TV series he’s created, writes, and executive produces on HBO, The Newsroom.

Aaron Sorkin
Aaron Sorkin

When I’ve given talks to libertarian audiences about why they need to support libertarian authors and filmmakers like me in getting our projects financed and distributed, Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue in The American President is often one of the examples I use as to how “the other side” uses mass entertainment media to present their propaganda as unchallenged facts. Sorkin’s screenplay for The American President peppers Michael J. Fox’s character’s dialogue (a presidential advisor) with false-to-fact propaganda from the Brady campaign about how privately held guns increase violent crime, but has no problem with his fictitious President Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) sending weapons systems to Israel for their defense. Then in a climactic press conference President Shepherd advocates that the Second Amendment be trashed by having government soldiers going door-to-door to collect Americans’ privately-owned handguns, because — in this Imperial President’s personal opinion — private gun ownership is a clear and present danger to public safety.

Oh, yeah. The rest of the sparkling political dialogue Sorkin gives his characters in The American President is horseshit about how the internal combustion engine needs to be eliminated because man-made carbon dioxide emissions — a greenhouse gas that represents less than one percent of ordinary cloud-carried water vapor — is threatening life on this planet.

Don’t misunderstand me. The American President is a brilliantly written high-concept romantic comedy wonderfully directed by Rob Reiner with superb acting performances throughout by a sterling cast led by Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, Michael J. Fox, and Richard Dreyfuss. It has a great Korngoldesque film score by Marc Shaiman. It’s one of my favorite movies that I’ve watched probably two dozen times. It’s just that when I’m watching it I realize that in about half a day I could rewrite the script retaining all the exact same plot points and character interactions, except that it would be a Republican President falling in love with the chief lobbyist of the NRA. The propaganda in this movie is just a fill-in-the-blank operation, the politics grafted on without affecting plot or character arcs, and the exact same characters and storyline could be used to propagandize anything.

Alfred Hitchcock called that which motivates the plot as “the McGuffin.”

Aaron Sorkin uses politics in his scripts solely as a McGuffin.

Sorkin just pulled the same crap on the latest episode of his new series, The Newsroom, but I need a few more paragraphs before I get to that. Apologies if I’m burying my lead; but I’m writing commentary, not news.

On the day I’m writing this the Los Angeles Times is reporting in its national news section on an incident in an Internet cafe in Florida, where a 71-year-old man with a handgun-license-to-carry used his pocket policeman to chase two armed robbers out of the store, slightly wounding one of them. This was particularly notable to me because back in the 1990’s, when I was writing Op-Eds on handgun-related topics for the Los Angeles Times, the Times would not report defensive-gun-uses on its news pages, and I stopped selling Op-Eds to the Times‘ editors after I organized a lunch-hour demonstration in front of the Times‘ downtown L.A. editorial offices when they ran a five-day editorial series calling for a complete gun ban.

I’m also writing this as the Fox News Channel is covering a just-released (but classified) FBI report on the November 5, 2009 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, where a single military officer with a handgun he’d illegally brought onto the base was able to reduce dozens of disarmed army soldiers — some of them just returning from deployment in Iraqi and Afghani war zones — to running away, crawling away, and screaming like teenagers at Columbine High School. This happened because classified regulations put into place at the same time the Clinton administration was pushing the Brady Act and the Assaults Weapons Ban, not altered during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, and not declassified until the Obama administration — removed from base commanders the decision to authorize soldiers on base to carry sidearms or rifles with them, and transferred that authority to the politically-appointed Secretary of the Army with a civilian-pro-gun-control agenda guaranteeing it would never happen.

My articles referencing “The American Humiliation Buried at Fort Hood” are linked here.

Now to Aaron Sorkin’s current series, The Newsroom.

The Newsroom is about a network anchorman (Jeff Daniels) whose nightly news casts have been tabloidish to increase ratings, but whose boss (Sam Waterston) decides to return the program to the earlier standards of Murrow, Cronkite, and Huntley-Brinkley, and report the news focusing only on facts and information informed voters need. In fact, this is not what the plot shows them doing; the news reports in the show instead follow in the muckraker tradition of Pulitzer and Hearst, columnists like Drew Pearson, and CBS’s Mike Wallace.

We are repeatedly informed by Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue that Jeff Daniel’s anchorman character, Will McAvoy, is a conservative Republican, but every target of his ire is one that is anathema to the progressive left and labor movement — George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Wall Street bankers, the Tea Party, the NRA, Charles and David Koch, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Halliburton, Dick Cheney, Bill O’Reilly, and just about everyone else on Fox News and talk radio. In a country in which Neocons have brought to the American right all the lying scumbag tactics the Wilsonian/Stalinst/Castroist hard left refined for close to a century, there’s plenty of lies, corruption, and hypocrisy to be exposed.

I, myself, spend much of my time writing about the lies of the Neocon/Pentagon/Homeland Security axis-of-evil — a lot of my ire was directed at all the right-wing talking heads asking only whether Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan was a Muslim terrorist or just a wack-job, and never asking why our own army was disarmed and had to dial 911 to wait for a female civilian cop to show up and save them — and most recently have criticized the NRA for abandoning its forever-used bumper-sticker “Guns Don’t Kill, People Kill” by blaming the BATFE Project Gunrunner firearms possibly authorized by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder — and not blaming the criminals who shot U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

The problem is, when you expose only the lies and hypocrisy of your enemies, you’re an in-the-tank partisan propagandist.

When you never acknowledge the virtues of your enemies it’s also propaganda.

Sorkin pulled this in Charlie Wilson’s War by passing over Charlie Wilson’s alliance with President Ronald Reagan in arming the Afghan rebels during the Soviet occupation with shoulder-fired missiles they used to bring down Soviet attack helicopters.

It’s a sin of omission that General Patton never made with respect to his German counterpart.

Today I finally got around to watching the episode of The Newsroom my DVR recorded this past Sunday, July 15th, titled, “I’ll Try to Fix You.” The “lie” exposed on this program broadcast in 2012 is a truth for the 2010 time period the show takes place, when it was a Fox News, right-wing talk radio, and NRA mantra that “Obama is coming for your guns.” During that period, the Obama administration was — correctly portrayed on the show — not pushing a pro-gun-control legislative agenda before Congress.

But that’s a lie by omission.

On March 18, 2008, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement represented the Obama administration in oral arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), arguing that the Second Amendment was not intended to protect an individual right to keep and bear arms, but that the intent of the amendment was merely to ensure an armed militia with officers appointed by the President and no longer present in contemporary America — an attempt by the Obama administration to neuter constitutional recognition of private ownership of guns as an individual right … a necessary precondition to any such legislative agenda.

The Supreme Court ruled otherwise, and again treated the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to own guns in McDonald v. Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010).

Nor, on the date of first broadcast of this episode of The Newsroom, when the Obama administration’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is attempting to bypass the Constitutional protection by supporting the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs proposed Treaty on Small Arms that would ban private gun ownership worldwide, it’s another lie-by-omission to write a fictitious 2010 news report ridiculing the NRA, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh for sounding an alarm that the Obama administration favored banning American private gun ownership.

Sorkin could argue that as a writer, and an American citizen, he has the right to disagree with the Supreme Court. I agree. But his method of writing on these topics is entirely one-sided. He always puts the strongest face possible on the arguments he agrees with, and either doesn’t present any argument for the other side or presents its weakest rebuttal.

But then Aaron Sorkin puts dialogue into his characters’ mouths that are just outright lies.

In a scene in this episode Will McAvoy is invited by a woman to go into her purse looking for a joint, and he instead finds a loaded handgun in the purse. He asks her about it.

Here’s the exact scene, dialogue injected by Aaron Sorkin into the mouths of the actor’s he’s paying:

Her: I’m a Southern liberal, dude. It’s Northern liberals who are afraid of sex and guns.

Him: Well, both at the same time and I’m a Republican from Nebraska. But do you mind if I — ?

He unloads the gun and hands it to her; she accepts the gun without checking herself to make sure it’s unloaded, violating a basic safety rule taught in all NRA pistol safety courses.

Her: You’re disarming. Get it?

Him: Here’s the thing —

Her: (interrupting): Yeah, yeah. I saw the show tonight. I’m a liberal’s liberal; I worked for Hillary. You were dead wrong on guns.

Him: I didn’t take a position on guns. I took a position on lying. I came out against it.

Her: “Well, if I’m walking the streets of Manhattan at night and a guy your size wants to rape me (raising gun, pointing it at Him) then this is gonna happen.

Him: Actually, statistics show that this is gonna happen.

He slaps the gun into the air and catches it.

Aaron Sorkin can write anything he wants to in his script, and as the showrunner the director and actors have to say the words he’s written and play the action the way he wrote it.

And that artificially created reality is how propaganda in entertainment works. If it honestly reflects reality, no harm, no foul. If it represents the writer’s honest opinion, it’s the First Amendment, babe.

But when the statistic quoted is provably false, then the writer has a moral obligation to fact check, even in fiction, or it’s a God damned lie.

I’ve written non-fiction on guns and criminology. A lot.

My 1994 book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns made me a celebrity to the Second Amendment movement. Charlton Heston wrote of the book, “”Mr. Schulman’s book is the most cogent explanation of the gun issue I have yet read. He presents the assault on the Second Amendment in frighteningly clear terms. Even the extremists who would ban firearms will learn from his lucid prose.”

Dennis Prager who had opposed private ownership of guns, told his national radio audience, “He has truly helped change my mind on guns and self-defense.”

Liberal Los Angeles talk-show host Michael Jackson said of me on his KABC radio show, “His research is impeccable. Nobody expresses the other side better.”

My writings on firearms have been used by witnesses on both sides of the gun-control debate in congressional hearings before the House Subcommittee on Crime.

One chapter from Stopping Power was chosen to be reprinted in the book Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Health and Society, Second Edition, Edited by Eileen K. Daniel, (Dushkin Publishing Group/Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1996), as rebuttal to “Guns in the Household” by Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. Another chapter, “Talk At Temple Beth Shir Shalom,” was reprinted in the book, Guns in America : A Reader , Jan E. Dizard, editor (New York University Press, 1999), and my chapter was praised in the Village Voice’s review as “a tough Jew manifesto.”

And, I’m webmaster of The World Wide Web Gun Defense Clock that calculates and comparies the number of defensive-gun-uses to criminal uses, suicides, and accidents, based on peer-reviewed academic, and law-enforcement, criminological studies.

Here are the actual facts on Defensive Gun Use that Aaron Sorkin has spent his professional career as a screenwriter ignoring or lying about:

According to the National Self Defense Survey conducted by Florida State University criminologists in 1994, the rate of Defensive Gun Uses can be projected nationwide to approximately 2.5 million per year — one Defensive Gun Use every 13 seconds.

Among 15.7% of gun defenders interviewed nationwide during The National Self Defense Survey, the defender believed that someone “almost certainly” would have died had the gun not been used for protection — a life saved by a privately held gun about once every 1.3 minutes. (In another 14.2% cases, the defender believed someone “probably” would have died if the gun hadn’t been used in defense.)

In 83.5% of these successful gun defenses, the attacker either threatened or used force first — disproving the myth that having a gun available for defense wouldn’t make any difference.

In 91.7% of these incidents the defensive use of a gun did not wound or kill the criminal attacker (and the gun defense wouldn’t be called “newsworthy” by newspaper or TV news editors). In 64.2% of these gun-defense cases, the police learned of the defense, which means that the media could also find out and report on them if they chose to.

In 73.4% of these gun-defense incidents, the attacker was a stranger to the intended victim. (Defenses against a family member or intimate were rare — well under 10%.) This disproves the myth that a gun kept for defense will most likely be used against a family member or someone you love.

In over half of these gun defense incidents, the defender was facing two or more attackers — and three or more attackers in over a quarter of these cases. (No means of defense other than a firearm — martial arts, pepper spray, or stun guns — gives a potential victim a decent chance of getting away uninjured when facing multiple attackers.)

In 79.7% of these gun defenses, the defender used a concealable handgun. A quarter of the gun defenses occured in places away from the defender’s home.

Source: “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun,” by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, in The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, Volume 86, Number 1, Fall, 1995

So, the statistic put into Jeff Daniels mouth, along with directed action which “proves” it, turns out to be a lie.

And on a TV show the theme of which is that Aaron Sorkin’s political foes are liars, Mr. Sorkin is lying.

Note: I wrote this the day before the mass theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. You can count on gun-control advocates like Aaron Sorkin to argue as they have after previous shootings that gun-control could have stopped this. It’s another provable lie, since the strictest gun control in Dunblane, Scotland — or even mass killings using a knife in Akihabara and Osaka, Japan — have never stopped these kinds of unprovoked massacres.

A public with a critical mass of individuals carrying handguns, ready at all times to shoot back at sudden attackers, has worked to minimize casualties from terrorist attacks in Israel. See The Israeli Answer to Terrorism by Massad Ayoob

I cover the Aurora shootings in detail in my next article, Stopping the jokers– JNS

Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. 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 — Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

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

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

What It Takes to Get Me to Put on a Yarmulke

If you haven’t already seen Schindler’s List, see it. Then ask yourself whether it was better for a thousand Jews to be saved by a righteous gentile, or whether it would have been better for millions of Jews not to need saving because they had fought like the ancient Israelites against the Nazis.

I do not understand how any Jew can walk out of the theater, after seeing a graphic and historically accurate portrayal of Jews being exterminated like rodents, and not wish every Jew to own a fully-automatic assault rifle and plenty of ammunition.

To die as a warrior fighting for one’s people has, at least, nobility to recommend it.

The modern Israelis understand this. They manufacture and possess excellent assault rifles.

For the most part, American Jews don’t understand this. I hope they get wise before it’s too late and history repeats itself.

It is my belief that if the Jews of Europe had believed in and prepared for armed resistance against the Nazis, then the night known as Kristallnacht would have been the beginning of the end for the Nazi expansion over Europe. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto held out against the Nazis for weeks longer than all of Poland did. If even thousands more Jews had made the taking of their lives expensive, it might have cost Hitler’s war machine enough that Germany might have suffered an early defeat.

When I have expressed that opinion before, I have been charged with engaging in idle speculation.

I have gotten awards for engaging in idle speculation. I’m very good at it.

A science-fiction writer is just a prophet with a pocket calculator. Ignore us at your peril. -JNS

Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom
Friday, April 30, 1993

Just to introduce myself. I’m a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. I’m also a graduate of the PC-832 reserve police training program at Rio Hondo Police Academy. I was asked to speak here tonight because I’ve written about firearms for the Los Angeles Times opinion page. I should also mention that one of my articles convinced Dennis Prager1 to change his views about guns. And just for the record, I’m a member of the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc., and the American Civil Liberties Union. So I have all bases covered.

I’d like to start by asking you a question. How many of you can correctly quote me the Sixth Commandment?

It’s not “You shall not kill” but “You shall not murder.”

There’s a big difference between killing and murdering. Killing means purposely ending a life. Murdering means purposely ending an innocent life. If you kill someone who’s trying to murder you or some other innocent person, that’s not murder. As a matter of fact, it’s a moral requirement to defend the innocent by killing if that’s the only way you can do it.

I’m going to spend about two minutes correcting the lies you hear about guns on TV and in the newspapers.

You’re told the lie that gun control will stop criminals from getting guns. The truth is that according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms study titled “Protecting America, Yes,” criminals get 37% of their guns on the black market and another 34% from burglaries and robberies. That means that 71% — almost three out of every four guns a criminal uses — won’t be stopped by gun control. If you pass gun restrictions, criminals will still gets their guns for murder, robbery, burglary, and rape — but you won’t be able to get a gun to stop them.

You’re told that a gun kept in the home for protection is more likely to kill someone you know than a burglar. That’s a distortion of the truth, which is that a gun kept in the home is far more likely to capture or chase away a burglar without having to kill anyone at all.

You’re told the lie that gun accidents are killing children at unprecedented rates. The truth is that gun accidents account for less than 300 deaths of children under age 14 each year — less than 3% of children’s accidental deaths. Car accidents kill around 3700 children each year, 1200 drown, and 1000 die in fires. In general, firearms accidents are down about 40% from ten years ago and down 80% from fifty years ago. You can thank NRA’s gun safety training programs for that. If NRA’s gun safety courses were taught in all schools, we could probably get it down to a quarter of that.

Yes, there are teenagers — usually gang members — murdering other teenagers with guns. But those young murderers are already forbidden by law to have guns; laws don’t stop them for an instant. Matter of fact, the Bloods and the Crips are required to commit a murder to advance rank in their gangs. That’s why there are so many drive-by shootings.

You hear that assault rifles are major crime guns. The California Department of Justice has admitted that was a politically motivated lie — the truth is that fewer than 2% of the guns used in crime fall into the prohibited categories.

I could go on refuting these lies for hours. I’m not going to bother. It’s beside the real point.

Let me tell you some things you don’t hear about on TV or in the newspapers. According to figures compiled from around eight different studies, private citizens in this country use a firearm about a million times each year to stop or prevent a crime.2

My father is a concert violinist who was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. He carried a gun to protect himself in Boston and New York for fifteen years — and on around five separate occasions, carrying that gun saved him from gangs of robbers.

My father couldn’t count on the police to save him, and neither can you. Under California law, which is like the laws of the rest of the country, no one in the government is legally responsible for protecting you — no one.

California Government Code, Section 845, states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service.”

But the California Constitution says the following in Article I, Section 1: “All people are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”

California law merely reflects reality: when you’re attacked, the only person you can count on to protect you is you.

During the Los Angeles riots, police were completely unable to stop arson, shootings, and looting for three days, until another fifteen thousand army and National Guard troops showed up. A few months later, Hurricane Andrew left parts of Florida without electricity or phone for almost three months — and no one could call the police for help. A major earthquake here could do the same.

I know that some of you are thinking that the more guns you have, the more violence you have. That’s another one of those lies. Switzerland has one of the lowest murder rates of anywhere on Earth. Yet the Swiss keep machine guns and anti-tank weapons in their homes, and Swiss citizens regularly carry their machine guns on bicycles and trains to the ranges where they practice. Why is it that the Swiss have hardly any murderers? The answer is simple. The Swiss take their responsibility to defend themselves very seriously. Every able-bodied male in the country is in the Swiss army or reserve and the Swiss have been eliminating their violent criminals regularly until their criminals are an endangered species.

It comes down to competition. If you’re running a business today, you know that you’ll go under if you don’t have competitive technology. You wouldn’t run an office today with typewriters when other businesses are using computers. The same is true regarding your life and property, which the criminals are in competition for. The criminals are arming themselves with 9 millimeter semi-auto pistols which can easily be smuggled in across the Mexican border. If you are going to survive, you’d better not be armed with anything less effective.

As Dennis Prager says, there are only two races of people: the decent and the indecent.3 Laws should stop indecent people who use guns to commit violent crimes. That means the decent people need to be better armed than the criminals, or the criminals will win.

And that’s the real issue. As Jews, we know that from the destruction of the Second Temple of Solomon two millennia ago, until 1948 when the State of Israel was created, Jews have been persecuted. Jews stopped being victimized when they took up arms and started fighting back. The first major battle was fifty years ago this month, when the Jewish militia of the Warsaw Ghetto fought a battle with the Nazi SS. Almost all the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto died in that battle, but the lesson lived on, and Jews learned they needed to fight for survival.

Jews in America have been blessed. We have been less oppressed in this country than anywhere else in modern history. But that’s made a lot of us complacent and lazy.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. You can’t count on things always being good. Jews in Germany thought they were safe because Germany was a modern, enlightened, industrialized country where they had been safe for hundreds of years. In a short twenty years that turned around. Jews in Germany submitted to Nazi gun control laws and allowed themselves to be disarmed. And because they’d lost the will to fight, a third of the Jews on this planet were murdered.

I am here to tell you that peaceful submission to evil is not only not a higher morality, it is not morality at all. It is a moral atrocity. Those among us who tell us to be unarmed are setting us up to be victims of the next Adolf Hitler to come to power — and if you ask me, they want us disarmed because they intend for themselves to be the ones in absolute power over our lives and property.

Maybe one of you is going to quote Gandhi to me about non-violent resistance. Gandhi chose that strategy in his fight to chase the British out of India because the British had already disarmed the Indians, and non-violent resistance was the only strategy Gandhi had left. Here’s what Gandhi had to say about it: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.”4

Adolf Hitler agreed with Gandhi’s assessment — but from the other side. “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make,” Hitler said, “would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall.”5

If the Jews of Germany had listened to Hitler, they might have saved Earth a Second World War.

Jews in Israel understand this. They are armed to the teeth — and have as low a murder rate as Switzerland. A few weeks ago, the Israeli Chief of Police called for all Israeli citizens to carry their guns with them at all times. Can you imagine what would have happened here if Chief Gates had done that a year ago during the LA riots?

But Israel is dependent upon the continued freedom of the United States for its own survival. If Jews in America do not actively support the right of the American people to keep and bear arms for their individual and common defense, then the American civilization is open to political dictatorship, and the next Holocaust of the Jews is just a short step behind.

We are already well down the road to Nazi Germany. Did you know that we have had the Nazi gun-control laws in America since 1968? There is strong evidence that the 1938 Nazi Weapons law was the basis for the 1968 Gun Control Act. The two laws are structurally very similar. The 1938 Nazi Weapon’s Law disarmed Germany’s Jewish citizens and made it possible for the democratically-elected German government to murder millions of innocent people. Don’t tell me it can’t happen here.

Never again. Take up arms. Learn to use them properly and teach your children to use them properly. You can’t have a peaceful or civilized society if good people won’t fight to preserve it and practice with the weapons needed to do it.

Defend the constitutional provisions that legally protect those who keep and bear arms to preserve peace and civilization. Demand the impeachment of all government officials — police, judges, and legislators — who lie about the right to bear arms and try to disarm us. It’s not the government’s job to defend society from gangsters and potential dictators: it’s yours. It’s the moral responsibility of every one of us who is able to do so.

Thank you.


1 See my parenthetical comments which lead off the first section of this book containing my LA Times Op-Eds. Prager, whom I’ve mentioned several times, is a popular Los Angeles radio talk-show host on top-rated KABC AM. He is also a former teacher, newspaper columnist, and an author of several books on Judaism. He is an internationally known lecturer, and is considered one of the most prominent spokespersons for modern Judaism, and writes a newsletter titled Ultimate Issues devoted to the promotion of ethical monotheism.

2 Now 2.45 million defenses yearly. See Q & A On Gun Defenses.

3 On his radio program, Dennis attributes this paradigm to Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. I read that book years ago but didn’t remember the quote until I heard it again from Dennis on a program before I gave this talk, and didn’t remember the quote was from Frankl until Dennis attributed it on a subsequent program.

4 “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.” M. Gandhi, -An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments With Truth Volume 2, Published 1927, M. Desai, Translator, Page 666

5 “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” Hitler’s Secret Conversations — 1941-1944, Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953 Page 345


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Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

Note for this edition: The following chapter was excerpted in the May 2, 1994 issue of National Review, and that excerpt was reprinted opposite “Guns in the Household” by Jerome P. Kassirir, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, in Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Health and Society, Second Edition, edited by Eileen Daniel (Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1996).

Medical Malpractice

Taking Sides

Abraham Lincoln once told a visitor to the White House, “It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

We in the United States are about to test Lincoln’s wisdom, and our own. While lying for political purpose is nothing new, it’s hard to think of another time in our national history when the most trusted of all professionals, medical doctors, were willing to deliberately lie about the conclusions of supposedly unbiased scientific research for political purpose.

Anybody who’s studied the stock market knows it’s common knowledge that when women’s skirts have gone up, the prices of stocks have gone up also, but no one is foolish enough to claim that by shortening women’s skirts we can cause a stock market boom.

That sort of common sense, however, doesn’t seem to hold when the subject is the so-called epidemiology of “gun violence,” and medical researchers are sniffing for statistics to prove their predetermined conclusion that gun control is desirable public policy.

The point to this research is the contention that doctors can study firearms-related violence as an epidemiologic health issue apart from the motives of the people who pull the trigger … which is the proper study of that branch of sociology known as criminology. By this premise alone, epidemiologists discard the humanistic premise of personal volition in favor of a mechanistic view of human behavior which denies a fundamental difference between the contagion of microbic cultures and human cultures: microbes don’t act on their value-judgments and people do.

The latest outbreak of statisticitis emerges from the study led by Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., published in the October 7, 1993 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, and financed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A previous Kellermann-led study published in the June 12, 1986 NEJM, also financed by the CDC, gave us the factoid that you are 43 times likelier to die from a handgun kept in the home from homicide, suicide, or accident than you are to kill a burglar with it.1 By the time this factoid turned into the mega-soundbyte used by gun-control advocates in the media and Congress, you were supposedly 43 times as likely to die from a handgun kept in the home than to protect yourself from a burglar with it.2

Kellermann, himself, cautioned against that conclusion saying,

Mortality studies such as ours do not include cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm. Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed are also not identified. We did not report the total number of nonlethal firearm injuries involving guns kept in the home. A complete determination of firearm risks versus benefits would require that these figures be known.

Kellermann’s latest “population-based case-control study” of homicides throws such caution to the wind. He attempts to quantify “firearm risks versus benefits” by comparing households where a homicide occurred with households where no homicide occurred in three counties, chosen for their convenient location to the researchers. After correcting for several other risk factors such as alcohol or illicit-drug-use, previous domestic violence, and persons with criminal records in the 316 matched households ultimately compared, Kellermann determined that households where “homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance” occurred were almost three times likelier to have kept a loaded handgun in the home than control households where such a homicide did not occur. From this determination, Kellermann concludes,

Although firearms are often kept in the home for personal protection, this study shows that the practice is counterproductive. Our data indicate that keeping a gun in the home is independently associated with an increase in the risk of homicide in the home.

An immediate technical problem with Kellermann’s methods is raised by David N. Cowan, Ph.D., in an unpublished letter to the NEJM. Cowan charges that Kellermann’s research grouped together socially dysfunctional people — for example, the chronically unemployable — with normal people, and thus any other risk factors would be inseparable.

Another problem is that by relying on a case study of households with homicide victims, Kellermann is looking at almost twice as many black households as white, and only a handful of Asian households — far too few to be statistically useful. African-Americans are homicide victims way out of proportion to other racial or ethnic groupings, and any case study of homicides has to live with this demographic distortion. The problem is that studying homicide within the African-American culture may not produce conclusions which are generalizable to other racial or ethnic groups. According to Don Kates, a criminologist with the Pacific Research Institute, “African-Americans have greater death rates than other population groups for drowning, other accidents, and diseases.” Other sociological studies note crude differences between African-Americans and Asian-Americans in divorce rates, school drop-out rates, father-absent households, and so forth.

A more basic problem with Kellermann’s conclusion is that it attempts to draw a reverse implication from a set of facts. Certainly it will be true that people who own parachutes will die more frequently in falls from airplanes than people who don’t — but does that mean that parachute-ownership constitutes an increased risk factor for death by falling from an airplane? Wouldn’t logic tell us that the risk of dying as a result of falling from an airplane would be far greater by those people who fall from airplanes who don’t have a parachute handy?

Kellermann tells us:

“We found no evidence of a protective benefit from gun ownership in any subgroup, including one restricted to cases of homicide that followed forced entry into the home and another restricted to cases in which resistance was attempted.”

This is where Kellermann’s study is completely disingenuous, and indicates — as does his financing and publication by gun-control zealots James Mercy at the Centers for Disease Control and Jerome P. Kassirer, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine — that the intent of these studies is to produce pro-gun-control soundbytes for Sarah Brady rather than scientific knowledge.

Kellermann is studying only those persons living in a household with a loaded handgun where a handgun failed to save the victim’s life. We’re being shown only the murder victims, not gun-owners whose firearms saved their lives. Kellermann’s study didn’t document whether a firearm used in a particular homicide was the same one kept in the home, or whether it might have been carried in by the murderer. Kellermann doesn’t even tell us whether the murder weapon belonged to the victim or the murderer. And Kellermann still doesn’t ask the questions he, himself, said would be necessary for “a complete determination of firearms risks versus benefits”: “cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm … Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed [and] the total number of nonlethal firearm injuries involving guns kept in the home.”

Dr. Kellermann can’t study such questions because these are the proper focus not of medical doctors, but of criminologists. And when we shift from the medical paradigm of “gun violence” as a health issue, to the criminological paradigm of “offenders and victims,” we get a completely different vision.

Immediately we discover that the cases in which Kellermann perceives an increased risk factor — “homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance” — are, according to both the FBI’s Crime in the United States, 1992, and Murder Analysis, 1992 by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police — only around 10% of the yearly homicides in this country. In the Chicago study, 36.8% of the homicides occurred in or around the home — including public housing. In the three counties in which his study was conducted, Kellermann tells us that 23.9% took place in the home of the victim. Kellermann also tells us, “Guns were not significantly linked to an increased risk of homicide by acquaintances, unidentified intruders, or strangers.”

What this adds up to is that while home is where you are far less likely to be murdered by a stranger — not surprising since homes usually have locks to keep such people out — the great majority of murders that do take place at home are at the hands of those who have a key. The caution here might well be that if you live with someone whom you think might possibly murder you, you might want to move out if they also keep a loaded handgun. Or, if the loaded handgun is yours, you might want to keep it somewhere where you can get to it faster than he or she can.

The thrust of Kellermann’s contention, that the mere availability of a loaded handgun is an increased risk factor to the general population, is also countered by comparing the 69% increase in the number of handguns in private hands from 1974 to 1988 to the 27% decrease in handgun murders during that same period.3 Therefore even though the increase in handguns and handgun murders were found the previous 15-year time period, no conclusion regarding cause and effect can be drawn.

The answer which Kellermann says we need to discover — the overall usefulness of firearms in self-defense — is to be found in the definitive analysis of a dozen studies in the book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991), by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., professor of criminology at Florida State University. Unlike Kellermann, Professor Kleck has carefully avoided taking funding from advocates in the gun-control debate, and Kleck’s impeccable liberal Democratic credentials — membership in Common Cause and Amnesty International, for example — preclude a presumption of conservative or pro-NRA bias. Kleck’s analysis of these studies had produced an estimate of around 650,000 handgun defenses per year, and over a million gun defenses if one included all firearms.

Kleck’s latest research, his Spring, 1993 National Self-Defense Survey of 4978 households, reveals that previous studies had underestimated the number of times previous survey respondents had used their firearms in defense. The new survey projected 2.4 million gun defenses in 1992, 1.9 million of them with handguns, and about 72% of these gun defenses occurred in or near the home. This indicates a successful gun defense with no dead body for Dr. Kellermann to find about 1,728,000 times a year. Even if we were to accept Dr. Kellermann’s reverse implication that a home-dweller who lives with a loaded handgun suffers a three-fold increased risk of homicide from a family member or intimate acquaintance, the handgun’s usefulness in warding off potentially lethal confrontations against burglars is enormous.

Murder Analysis, 1992 by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police tells us that 72.39% of the murderers they studied in 1992 had a prior criminal history and, interestingly, 65.53% of the murder victims did as well.

Further, a recent National Institute of Justice analysis finds, “It is clear that only a very small fraction of privately owned firearms are ever involved in crime or [unlawful] violence, the vast bulk of them being owned and used more or less exclusively for sport and recreational purposes, or for self- protection.”4

Criminologist Don Kates concurs in his book Guns, Murder, and the Constitution: “Concurrently, it has been estimated that 98.32% of owners do not use a gun in an unlawful homicide (over a 50-year, adult life span).”

Here is the essential truth about the risk of homicide which all the talk about violence as a health problem, rather than a criminal problem, is attempting to ignore: overwhelmingly, violence isn’t a matter of ordinary people killing because a firearm is handy, but of criminals committing violence because violence is a way of life for them. The National Rifle Association has been saying this for years, but anti-gun crusaders just don’t want to listen.

When the federal Centers for Disease Control start defining bullets as “pathogens” and declare that honest gun owners are the Typhoid Marys of a “gun-violence epidemic,” the medical profession has lent its scientific credibility to a radical political agenda which threatens to increase the overall violence in our society by shifting the balance of power toward the well-armed psychopath, and destabilize our system of government by restricting the people’s arms, which are a fundamental check on ambitious tyrants.

That this propaganda is being engineered by a committed gun-control advocate at the Federal Centers for Disease Control, James Mercy, who is diverting taxpayers’ money away from the study of real diseases such as AIDS, makes this politicized science even more shocking.

Those who decide that a handgun is a useful tool for protection against the criminals among us can rest assured that the risks of being victimized with that firearm by their husbands, wives, and other loved ones are still massively outweighed by their firearm’s ability to keep evil strangers at bay.5

Advocates of the right to keep and bear arms need to be especially aware that gun owners are the intended targets of the Centers for Disease Control’s disinformation campaign against privately held firearms. James Mercy and his tax-financed minions are well aware that with half the households in the United States keeping firearms, the American people can’t be disarmed without their cooperation. The only way they can gain that cooperation is by tricking gun owners into thinking that their firearms, and their neighbors’ firearms, are more of a danger than they are an effective defensive tool.

In this particular gunfight, the best ammunition is the truth.


1 Thirty-seven of those 43 deaths were suicide; eliminating suicide immediately drops the claimed figure to “six times likelier.”

2 On the syndicated TV Mo Show, in January, 1994, a spokeswoman for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence even asserted that a gun kept in the home was “43 times as likely to kill a child than to offer protection against a burglar.”

3 Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991), by Gary Kleck, Ph.D.

4 J. Wright & P. Rossi, NIJ Felon Survey 4.

5 Oddly enough, even Dr. Kellermann agrees. In the March/April 1994 issue of Health magazine, Kellermann is quoted as saying, “If you’ve got to resist, your chances of being hurt are less the more lethal your weapon. If that were my wife, would I want her to have a thirty-eight special in her hand? Yeah.”


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Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter The Mark of Kane Is on Firearms Reporting

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores

December 23, 1993

Dear Mr. Glass:

I have heard that as of February 1, 1994, Wal*Mart will no longer be selling handguns in its stores. I can understand, in the light of the recent shooting at a Wal*Mart in Oklahoma, why Wal*Mart might wish to climb onto the political bandwagon favoring reducing the number of firearms for sale to the civilian population. However, I think you need to be made aware of why this decision by Wal*Mart will impact negatively both on public policy and Wal*Mart’s stature as a leading retailer.

Over the course of my research for the last few years, I have learned that most of what passes for news and information in the mass media is distorted to give the impression that the availability of privately held firearms makes the United States a more violent and dangerous society than it would be if firearms were more restricted. This is a popular belief among many persons in the media, and they promote it to politicians and other opinion leaders, even though the best available research proves quite the contrary.

Since the number of times that a firearm is used criminally in the United States in a year is, at most, 800,000 times, the use of firearms by American gun-owners to prevent or stop a crime is three times as high as the number of times criminals use firearms to commit a crime.

As I said, this isn’t widely reported on by the news media, whose personnel have their own prejudices on the subject for obvious reasons. A TV news slogan is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Crimes committed with firearms fit that election criterion. Civilian firearms defenses, the great majority of which are accomplished without anyone at all being shot, do not, and are therefore not reported on.

The Kleck survey, and other data collected by other prominent criminologists, clearly document the important role of privately-owned firearms in protecting lives and property from criminals and the criminally insane.

American firearms owners find themselves currently in a political and media battle to protect their right to own and carry firearms for defense against criminals. Anti-firearms politicians are daily introducing new legislation to restrict entire classes of firearms which are useful for defensive purposes; to tax ammunition; to transfer the choice of whether or not one can own or carry a firearm from the civilian population to political authorities. All of this is counter to the American tradition of relying on the people themselves as a force against crime, and adopting the European and Asian tradition of relegating the legal use of arms only to government officials. It is this sort of thinking that disarmed Europe’s Jews and made them vulnerable to the Nazis sending them to death camps. American gun owners do not wish to see the same vulnerability to tyranny happen here.

It is vitally important that retailers of the prominence of Wal*Mart not abandon America’s 70 million responsible firearms owners at a time when their rights are under attack by headline-seeking demagogues. If Wal*Mart discontinues the sale of handguns in its stores, it is implying that the American people cannot be trusted to buy guns and use them responsibly. This is a political message that is already being capitalized on by the opponents of civilian firearms ownership.

I strongly recommend that it is in Wal*Mart’s interest to reexamine its decision, and decide whether it wishes to offend 70 million firearms-owning Americans by implying that they are not responsible individuals who are a bulwark in the defense against crime and tyranny, but are instead irresponsible children who need to be disarmed for their own good by a wise and paternalistic government.

J. Neil Schulman


Interview with Gary Kleck
A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About
Gunfight at the 4n20 Pie Shop
The Mark of Kane is On Firearms Reporting

And, here is David Glass’s reply:

David Glass Letter


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

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.

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

Go to book’s beginning.
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 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.

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

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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.

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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 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 — Excerpts from a Letter to Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter KNX Editorial Replies

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

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Excerpts from a Letter to Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU

October 11, 1991

Dear Ms. Strossen:

I’m a member of ACLU writing to ask your assistance in a matter where ACLU Of Southern California is, itself, violating my civil rights.

In the light of recent court decisions which have been narrowing civil liberties one after another, I joined ACLU with the intention of bringing my activism to ACLU. I have been impressed by ACLU’s work in the areas of the first and fourth amendments, its fourteenth amendment work in the area of equal protection, and its pro-privacy work (including pro-choice and gay rights), but there were major gaps where the government has been running roughshod over civil rights where I felt my energies, and those of like-minded people, could be of maximum value. Specifically, these are the fundamental human right to autonomy over one’s own body, as violated by drug prohibition and FDA interference with the purchase of vitamins and drugs, and the right to keep and bear arms, as protected by the 2nd amendment, and violated by statutes prohibiting or restricting ownership, trade, possession, and carrying of defensive weapons. (Let me note here that the Second Amendment is included in the copy of the Bill of Rights which ACLU of Southern California mailed me as part of the membership information kit, and again as part of the membership kit when I joined. What on earth are they thinking?)

I read the literature mailed to me by ACLU of Southern California carefully, noting that chapters could be formed not only by region, but also by special interest — for example, there’s a Gay and Lesbian Rights Chapter. I then called Gary Mandanach, President of ACLU of Southern California, and spoke with him several times, telling him that I have been recruiting new ACLU memberships with the intention of forming an ACLU of Southern California chapter, to be focused on 9th and 2nd amendment issues, including drug privacy and right to keep and bear arms. I requested his assistance in the formation of such a chapter, and he said he would bring up the issue at the next board meeting.

Today he informed me that ACLU of Southern California would not recognize any chapter I formed on these issues, since the board has a pro-gun-control policy. I asked how I could appeal this decision, or bring about its change, and he told me in essence, “There is no way.”

I am shocked, dismayed, and outraged. It’s the precise equivalent to me as if I was a newspaper reporter who approached ACLU with the intention of protecting the right of free press, and was told that the board of ACLU had a policy calling for government control of newspapers.

We have here a situation where I was (and am) ready to bring hundreds of new members into ACLU of Southern California, to support Constitutionally-protected civil rights — and ACLU of Southern California has not only told me to buzz off, but it has informed me it is in league with those who would narrow civil liberties. I do not intend to allow this corruption of ACLU policy to hinder the important work of defending civil liberties.

This letter is a formal request for national ACLU to grant me the right to recruit new ACLU members nationally, and to invite current ACLU members, for a new national ACLU affiliate to be called the Unabridged Bill of Rights Chapter. This would be unaffiliated with any regional affiliate of ACLU.

I believe that with proper publicity, I can bring in several thousand new members to national ACLU for this chapter, and restore the luster which has been tarnished by an ACLU affiliate’s attempt to fight for government restriction of civil rights rather than the constitutional rights of the people.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, so that we can discuss the proper procedures I need to go through to form this chapter.

J. Neil Schulman

Nadine Strossen replied to this letter and told me she’d forwarded my reply to the ACLU of Southern California; she told me to write her again if I found their response unsatisfactory. Since Gary Mandanach of the ACLU of Southern California told me in polite language to buzz off, I wrote back to Nadine Strossen, and followed up with phone calls and faxes that were never acknowledged. — JNS


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Letter to Scientific American

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 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 — KNX Editorial Replies

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter A Note to Freedom Activists

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

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

Ripostes and Counters

The people who don’t like guns have a lot of media resources to call upon. That puts gun-rights activists in the position of playing defense most of the time.

Ah, but that’s just another opportunity for a clever attack, if you know how.

Remember: you’re never outnumbered. You just have a “target rich” environment. — JNS

KNX Editorial Replies

Broadcast January 9, 1992:

KNX’s call for fewer incidents of irresponsible gunplay is one no sane person can disagree with. But the reasonable-sounding laws KNX endorses undercut the individual right to own firearms in this country, so wider anti-gun laws can be passed later.

Take the legal requirement that you need to pass a government safety test before you’re allowed to buy a gun. What reasonable person can oppose gun safety? The problem is, it makes gun ownership a privilege instead of a right. It expands government power to decide who can’t own guns.

If unchecked government power doesn’t frighten you, consider that when Germany passed laws making Jews turn in their guns, it became possible for the Nazis to send them to death camps. Consider that it was armed soldiers who massacred unarmed students at China’s Tien an men Square a couple of years ago.

Then ask yourself whether the massive civil disobedience that thousands of Californians are committing, by refusing to register their so-called assault rifles with the state, is “irresponsible.” Just maybe it’s a higher responsibility to the U.S. Constitution, the Second Amendment of which tells the government, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Power-hungry officials understand the threat contained in the Second Amendment. That’s why they often lie about it. It’s the threat to all tyrants written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. It tells us that governments are instituted to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”

Broadcast July 15, 1993:

KNX General Manager George Nicholaw asks why it takes a tragedy in a San Francisco high rise for there to be a chorus of outrage demanding stricter gun control. I’ll answer that question. It’s because the choir is the news media themselves.

When a lunatic misuses firearms to commit multiple murders and suicide, it’s headline news, every hour on the hour. Then, for weeks afterwards, pundits capitalize on the tragedy with calls for more restrictive gun laws, based on the charge that firearms can only be used to murder the innocent.

But that’s just not true. According to a study by Professor Gary Kleck, Criminologist at Florida State University, Americans use their privately owned firearms — handguns, rifles, and shotguns — 1.4 million times every year to save innocent lives. Let me say that another way. Three thousand, eight hundred times a day, an American firearm owner uses her or his firearm to prevent a rape, a robbery, or a burglary. In 99% of those thirty-eight hundred daily firearm defenses, no one is shot at all — and because non-violence is non-news, you never hear about it.

Let me put this statistic in perspective. During the fifteen-minute period in which a psycho murdered nine people at a San Francisco law office, forty ordinary Americans used their privately owned firearms to stop a crime, without shooting anyone.

The bitter tragedy in San Francisco is that some of those nine murders could have been stopped if anyone at that law office had kept a firearm locked in her or his desk for protection.

We do have a problem with firearms in this society. It’s not that too many criminals and lunatics have a gun handy when they need one, it’s that too many victims don’t.

Broadcast October 6, 1993

KNX General Manager George Nicholaw wants the LA Police Department to restrict licenses to carry concealed firearms to a small elite who can demonstrate a “clear and present danger” … but he also thinks that simple fear of violence isn’t enough. Under that standard, he says — and this is a direct quote — “every city resident would qualify.”

Amen to that!

Mr. Nicholaw also says — another direct quote — “Let’s be careful not to turn the ‘City of Angels’ into an armed camp of gun-toting vigilantes.”

Mr. Nicholaw seems to be more afraid that you might legally carry a firearm for protection than he is of the carjackers, ATM-robbers, and rapists who are already carrying them illegally.

This paranoia about ordinary citizens turning into vigilantes just isn’t supported by states where civilians are already commonly carrying firearms.

Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, and New Hampshire are among the states where it’s easy to get licensed — and none of those states have problems with ordinary civilians carrying firearms. Vermont doesn’t even require a license for anyone to carry a concealed firearm. Have you seen any stories on 60 Minutes about vigilantes being a big problem in Vermont?

But Florida is the best example because they’re a big state and keep good records.

Florida issues a license to carry a concealed firearm to any adult who can meet minimal requirements. In the last six years, Florida has issued almost 120,000 new licenses to carry — and only 16 Floridians lost their licenses because they violated Florida’s laws regarding the use of that firearm. That’s a compliance with the law of 99.99987 percent.

And even though 120,000 concealed-weapons carriers aren’t all that many in a state with 13 million people, it just might be enough of a reason why criminals in Florida are attacking tourists whom they know are a lot less likely to shoot back.


Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is Excerpts from a Letter to Nadine Strossen, President, ACLU

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 Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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