By Dan Gifford
Firing Line magazine
Some of the first things I do before reading an academic study are
look up the writers, see who has funded them and skim for recognizable falsities and dodgy sources. In addition, I also keep an oft asked question in my mind about academic superciliousness expressed in the title of a recent Intellectual Takeout article that I borrowed: "Why are professors writing crap that nobody reads?"
Nobody? Well, virtually nobody.
The American Political Science Review (APSR) found "82 per cent of
articles published in humanities are not even cited once and that no one ever refers to 32 per cent of the peer-reviewed articles in the social and 27 per cent in the natural sciences."
Dismal? Gets more so.
"If a paper is cited, this does not imply it has actually been read.
Only 20 per cent of papers cited have actually been read. We estimate that an average paper in a peer-reviewed journal is read completely by no more than 10 people. Hence, impacts of most peer-reviewed publications even within the scientific community are minuscule."
The obvious question then is the one kept in mind, why be an academic masochist and write something when ya know hardly anyone will read it?
The usual identified reasons are the gaining of tenure or job security
(the publish or perish rule), celebrity, maybe even sex, drugs and rock and roll from an advocacy group whose position is legitimized or buttressed by a favorable academic imprimatur. APSR: "Some may actually aspire to contribute to their discipline's knowledge and to influence practitioners' decision-making. However, practitioners very rarely read articles published in peer-reviewed journals. We know of no senior policy maker or senior business leader who ever read regularly any peer-reviewed papers in well-recognised journals like Nature, Science or Lancet."
So what motivated the authors of "What is gun culture? Cultural
variations and trends across the United States?" The title suggests the authors are exhibiting the same amazement as an anthropologist who has discovered some heretofore unknown tribe of primitives squatting around a campfire in darkest Borneo. C'mon, man! as Joe would say. It's obvious every interest group has factions. Just as some car aficionados like Corvettes while others like low riders, firearm owners are also split into different well known factions that can be at odds with each other. Hunters that eat their kills are different than trophy hunters who kill to feel manly. Some gun culturites think rifles with vertical grips are fine, others often referred to as FUDDs, which I recently wrote about, don't.
The specific three component variations of the "gun culture" these
inquiring profs say they found sound much like Julius Caesar's “partes tres" description of Gaul's tribes. In their study, Part 1 "reflected recreational elements of gun culture. Component 2 represented a self-defense element of gun culture. Component 3 was indicative of a symbolic cultural element centered around the protection of the Second Amendment and insurrectionism. Those three parts are obvious to hoi polloi gun owners, even if they aren't to the erudite who find over intellectualization of the obvious necessary. However, these "gun culture' profs appear to have missed a 4th element the New York Times wrote about which fits into a probable 5th group that has come on the scene due to the riots of Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA.
According to the Times, that 4th part is one of nuance and contradiction in that its members own and use pistols and rifles -- including "assault rifles" -- even though they claim to detest the presence of guns in their lives as well as the broader American culture. The 5th is summed up in this Politico headline: "They’re Afraid. They’re Buying Guns. But They’re Not Voting for Trump." However, members of both groups would vote to rid the Bill of Rights of the Second Amendment as well as government confiscation of all privately owned firearms.
The 4th culture example the Times chose focused on Michael Kundu, a federal government employee (with FEMA) and "master marksman from rural Washington who owns pistols and assault rifles for self-defense." Kundu: "I’d love to see all guns destroyed, but I’m not giving up mine first.” Kundu is one of an unknown number of conflicted gun owners whom researchers and social scientists say they are just beginning to be aware exist and study as a potentially moderating influence in what the Times describes as an escalating gun debate. That's a position way different from the national debate over firearms regulation that's usually presented as a battle of extremes between those who view any effort to tighten gun laws as an infringement of rights versus those who see guns as a menace to society.
How many other conflicted gun owners like Kundu are there? That is, an owner who enjoys shooting yet sees danger even as his “common sense” dictates he be as armed as his neighbors, some of whom he describes as troublemakers?" Based on his comments, we know Kundu is not a Second Amendment rights supporter and it's a good bet neither are those in the 5th group who may never fire the gun they bought out of fear. Both would gladly hand 'em over to federal gun confiscator wannabe Beto O'Roarke if he showed up at their door.
So again, why would three professors spend time and money banging out a paper that basically rehashes info in the 1968 Eisenhower report done at Johns Hopkins that noted the reverence various factions of rifle owners have for their arms?
Well, all are members of the medical school professoriate at Harvard, Boston University and Columbia and all have a history of Second Amendment limitation or outright elimination advocacy disguised as progressive public health policy. Could that have something to do with the reason this academic schmegegge was written? The paper doesn't say, but given those affiliations and history and the billions of dollars being handed around by the likes of George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and others to destroy the Second Amendment and much of traditional America, I'd bet at least some of that money tsunami went to these authors.
That screams probable skewing of fact, as has been found in other such papers, and tells me to keep a few grains of salt handy for bias. Maybe not bias to the extent of outright Lysenkoism where a paper is constructed to reach a desired political or social conclusion, but bias all the same. As for falsities, the authors use of a hackneyed trope and a book containing flawed history written to justify "gun control" lept off the page during my skim.
The intent I draw from the included trope is that the authors used it to vilify America's best known Second Amendment defender and others by association. Same for some material from the book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America" by my friend, UCLA law professor Adam Winkler. He's the son of famous film producer Irwin Winkler, maker of Rocky, Cool Hand Luke, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and other hit movies.
Adam's repetition in his book of some false pop history often used to
justify restrictive firearm regulations was pointed out by me during
Adam's book roll out at his father's Beverly Hills home. Adam was not pleased with me and has never corrected the error. Would a closer reading of the professor's paper reveal more erroneous information or charged phrases?
That referenced trope is "jack booted thugs" which the authors ascribe coinage of to National Rifle Association president and favorite "gun control" whipping boy Wayne LaPierre. There's plenty that LaPierre deserves to be whipped about, but this ain't it. He correctly used that phrase in a 1995 fund raising letter to describe "federal agents" who, at the time, had grossly abused their authority to commit multiple heinous abuses, the largest and most spectacular of which was the mass murder of the Branch Davidian religious sect at Waco. The writers then claim, before invoking a dog whistle allusion to "cop killer bullets"-- another favorite false gun controller trope -- that because of LaPierre's use of the jackboot phrase "the NRA alienated members of the law enforcement community by opposing legislation designed to prevent civilians from buying armor-piercing handgun ammunition (colloquially called "cop killer bullets). These events led to the departure of many NRA members, including President George W. Bush."
"Law enforcement" alienation from the NRA is a rather complex and
hypocritical subject not touched in this paper. I'll not go into it either except to note "law enforcement" is a phrase I detest for its
emphasis on forced compliance of laws regardless of their
constitutional, moral or legal legitimacy. However, the clear
implication of the alienation mention is that La Pierre originated the
"jack booted thugs" phrase. A further implication is that the NRA is a beyond the pale inciter of defacto anarchist criminal culture that's a danger to civilized society as shown by its opposition to laws banning bullets falsely claimed to be made for killing police. While highly doubtful self described Marxist anarchists like Black Lives Matter or ANTIFA would see the accused bastion of Republican dogma of the NRA that way, they would also certainly approve of anything called "cop killer bullets."
That's a very compelling media narrative to the cloistered, agendaed
Democrats who almost totally control public opinion and perception
through academic, entertainment and mass media ownership that blathers their carefully constructed rhetoric. But what's missing is notable. "Jack booted thugs" is actually a phrase coined by a Democrat. That Democrat was the late Detroit Congressman John Dingell who used it to accurately describe the brutal and deadly attack by federal "law enforcement" police of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and FBI on the Branch Davidian religious sect in 1993. My Oscar nominated, Emmy winning film, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" outed, against considerable federal opposition, the fact the BATF and FBI agents mass murdered the Davidians and lied about it all both in and out of court. Dingell was correct and was praised at the time for his candor by fellow members of his Democrat Party before the phrase's use by Second Amendment backers caused a reversal of perception by the Democrat rhetoric machine. But that was before leftist rioters started
"Jack booted thugs" has now been adopted by the previously mentioned Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA thugs to describe what they claim is criminal behavior by both local and federal police. I have also heard it used by some non BLM/ANTIFA types who demand police be defunded or abolished. The difference is there's no negative blow back on that usage.
As for the historical inaccuracy within Adam Winkler's book that has
been repeated as gospel by those seeking to destroy Second Amendment rights, it's the claim that both Dodge City and Tombstone banned the carry of arms as a matter of public safety that's untrue. Fact is, the bans were passed by the powers that be gangs that ran both places to disarm rival gangs who were trying to unseat them. The Dodge City Gang made money from the gambling, liquor, prostitution, extortion and robbery it allowed and it was not about to make it easy for armed rivals to cut into their action. It was as if Al Capone's gang had gotten a Chicago law passed banning all except its gangsters and friends from carrying guns there.
The same was true in Tombstone where the Earp gang established itself as top dog after a fight with San Francisco based gangsters who tried to take over. Had the Earps lost that battle, we likely would never have heard of them or events like the OK Corral gunfight or the myth that the Earps were enforcing Tombstone's gun control law on the Clanton gang. The real reason for that gunfight, according to then Sheriff Johnny Behan in a Washington Post interview, was that the Earps were angry the Clantons had withheld the Earp's portion of the money the Clantons made from cattle rustling and other criminal activity.
The real story is that almost everything we now believe about the Earps was made up by Wyatt and his wife. The further reality is that the Earps were conmen, extortionists and pimps, whose wives were prostitutes hooked on laudanum, a widely used medicine containing opium. It's the real story I and others of my generation from frontier families have heard since childhood. My grandfather was a teen mine worker in Tombstone and his cousin a US Deputy Marshall and business partner of Wyatt's.
At this point, I'm thinking a better title for this paper may be "Why
academics are losing relevance in society – and how to stop it" given
these two major inaccuracies that will certainly be seized on to demand more anti Second Amendment rights laws.
And that's the real purpose I see of this paper. It will be used by
those who want to eliminate a necessary constitutional right by
leveraging "gun culture" divisions against each other. But it won't stop there. That tactic has been successfully used against First Amendment rights to suppress unpopular or minority opinion speech or beliefs.
For instance, Delaware Democrat Senator and presidential candidate Joe Biden recently said he'd gut First Amendment religious freedom rights because "they give hate a safe harbor." Meanwhile, Illinois Democrat Senator Dick Durban said "We cannot allow an 18th century understanding of the Constitution to dictate what happens in the 21st century."
What many on Biden's and Durban's side would like to dictate happens in the 21st century was summed up by former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo: "Me first capitalists will be the first people lined up against the wall and shot."
Dan Gifford is a national Emmy-winning,
Oscar-nominated film producer and former
reporter for CNN, The MacNeil Lehrer
News Hour and ABC News. website: dangifford.com