“America’s real Wild West is not film sets of westerns, it is our schools, streets, shops, and places of worship”

This hotpocket take (hot on the outside and frozen within) is brought to you by the Independent in their ‘Voices’ piece,

The controversy over Alec Baldwin and Rust dangerously misses the point about gun safety

If the reading of that title leads you to believe that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed (the set armorer) being charged with their negligence is going to be subverted into a discussion about America’s ‘gun’ problem, you would be correct. After three paragraphs covering how the family wanting Alec to face the consequences anyone should face for involuntarily killing and injuring people by negligence, and not get a pass for being rich and famous, because.. yeah, that is normal expected behavior, we get this point.

At that point, surely, we need to stop and ask ourselves: are we not missing a much bigger point? Is all that talk about what happened on that set distracting us from something far more dangerous — namely some Americans’ utter obsession with firearms, and the nation’s collective failure to properly regulate those weapons?

No, it isn’t. The coverage out of California should be proof of that.

It should also be proof of something else, since there were three shootings that are being discussed to extremely different degrees.

  1. Dance club shooting, Monterey
    • Media: All High Capacity Assault Pistol! All The Time! This has been the common theme in the reporting
      • Illegal in California (probably, its a really old design so may actually have been legal to acquire)
    • Very poor reporting on the suspect. Described as 30’s, was 72.
    • Immediate Anti-Asian motive alleged. Suspect was Asian and known to the studio as a patron.
      • Suspect now known as deeply suspicious, distrusting, and often alleged people talked behind his back.
  2. Half Moon Bay
    • Media: Another Mass Shooting in America!
      • More quiet about it being California, again…
      • Another elderly Asian perpetrator, is this an angle we can take? No, no we probably shouldn’t.
    • Weapon? *Crickets*
      • Legally owned handgun
  3. Oakland
    • Media: “Oh, Oakland? No that makes sense. Never mind that place.”

But let’s circle back to the point, whatever one there may be and not harp on media biases in coverage where semi-auto 9mm scary is the headline they’re rolling with and pointing out that every semi-auto 9mm is.. well.. a semi-auto 9mm, with the same approximate lethality, would be unproductive.

Paragraph 2 after the pivot,

The plain truth is, people don’t get shot dead on films set. Or at least, they do very occasionally, such as in the case of  Hutchins, and Brandon Lee, who died after being struck by a stun gun while filming the movie The Crow in 1993.

Immediately contradict your own point, bold play.

And to revive a middle school era phrase for this weird point, ‘no duh’. Of course shootings rarely happen on movie studio film sets, there are layers, upon layers, upon layers of protections in place that, when followed correctly, will prevent the vast majority of probable preventable incidents. Paying special attention to the most probable in a given scene, like checking firearms props because we’re going to be pointing them at people, is the normal work environment, not the exception to it.

There are other fatalties, and non-lethal accidents, while makiing films. Yet these tragedies are not common, so much so that when, in the aftermath of Hutchins’ death, the Associated Press was forced to search back decades for a piece on other notable set accidents.

Yes, both the spelling errors are from the original. Whatever, I make them too. All this paragraph says is film safety folks are usually good at their jobs.

Far more common are shooting deaths in America’s streets and schools and grocery stores, where people are routinely shot and killed, almost always by young men who feel aggrieved or left out or depressed.

People are most often murdered in frequented locations and by people with motive and opportunity? Not accidently killed on a movie set? Shocking revelations here in the hot pocket take on American firearms.

Far more common too, are the suicides or attempted suicides that can lead to devastating injuries that can maim and harm for life.

People die on purpose, theirs or someone else’s, more than they die by accident in an environment that employees professional safety staff and whose goal is to shoot entertainment and not each other? Jesus, the profound profoundries of this work are limitless.

A few weeks ago, there was brief outcry when a six-year-old boy took a gun into his school in Newport News, Virginia, putting it in his backpack as casually as one might pack their lunch. He shot his 25-year-old teacher, Abby Zwerner. Thankfully, she lived.

I remember that. There was a great deal of noise made that ‘if the child had been Black, the headline would read different’… The child was Black, the headlines read what they read. The child had also been quoted as wanting to set the teacher on fire. His home life must be great.

That incident was not alone. In 2021, 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley shot and killed four student at his high school in suburban Detroit with a gun his parents had bought for him.

We seem to be shifting focus here to tragically stupid parenting decisions, which is tangentially related since it is being argued in court that Crumbley’s parents are guilty of negligent homicide for arming their teen and ignoring concerning behaviors up to that morning at the school.

Others get caught up in random shootings.

Can we stop with the random shooting nonsense, very very few shootings are random. None in fact, if we want to get into the weeds about it. But I’ll allow that things like people shooting into the air in celebration, or just because others are, or just because they felt like shooting their gun in a rather inappropriate place and time are all reasonably the random category.

Someone catching a bullet during an ambush or gunfight that wasn’t meant for them isn’t random, its collateral damage during the commission of a crime.

Every day, America is rocked by such horror, from large headline-grabbling incidents such as the massacre at Ulvade, Texas, or the El Paso Walmart, to numerically smaller, but no less individually tragic. These are the stories that fill the local news.

If it bleeds it leads.

It is estimated there are 400 million firearms in America, more than one for every single person, and they are used to devastating effect.

Yes, they are. That just doesn’t mean what you believe it does and the association you are trying to insinuate is undermined by the very volume of firearms the United States public has. If firearms volume were really the factor it is insinuated to be, repeatedly by unqualified sources, then no other nation could possibly be as blood soaked and body strewn as we are.

Top nations sorted by actual murder count, the rate, region, and guns per 100 residents also listed.

We own between 9 times (South Africa) to over 281 times (Ethiopia) as many firearms per capita as any of the 13 nations who have more murders than we do. We are also the 3rd largest nation on the planet by population, Only China, number 12 for murders, and India, number 2 for murders, have more.

Both of those nations only have about 4% of the firearms ownership the United States does, yet India’s murder rate is almost 4 times that of China, nearly matching the US in rate and tripling it in volume. How? When guns are so much less prevalent in these places.

In 2020, the most recent year for which figures are available, there were 19,384 gun murders, the most since at least 1968. A further 24,000 people killed themselves with guns, according to statistics from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yes. Those are the CDC numbers.

Here’s the FBI’s

Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking locations or making comparisons as a way of measuring law enforcement effectiveness. Some of this data may not be comparable to previous years because of differing levels of participation over time.

The cautionary statement by the FBI is well taken.

Just think about it: at least 44,000 Americans were killed in a single year, and with honorable exceptions to the activists and community groups who fight on incident after horrific incident, most of us do nothing about.

Oh? So the armies of social workers, hotlines, support groups, friends, family, rehab centers, medical professionals, police officers, and so forth, to say nothing of the people and money spent from my industry specifically on education and prevention, are all just sitting around with their thumbs up their asses?

It’s just David Hogg and the really demanding moms against the evil pile of inanimate objects?

Instead, we have politicians such as Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott bragging about protecting the second amendment even as the bodies pile up.

Trump banned bumpstocks. Didn’t that help? Oh wait, it didn’t, nobody cared, and it was thrown out by the 5th circuit. Trump doesn’t get to brag, honestly at least, about protecting the 2nd Amendment. Cruz and Abbot, more so. I notice we picked Texas here.

You have situations where people seeking elected office argue that any American aged 18 or over should have access to the safe weapons as the military to protect the people against the alleged “tyranny” of the state,

Thanks to your typo there, yes. We want personal weapons at least as safe and effective as the military’s personal arms, kinda why we like the AR and 9mm’s so much.

Last year, Joe Biden and his supporters patted themselves on the back for signing a piece of gun safety regulation. It was feted as the most significant for 30 years, and yet everyone knows it was all but without teeth.

Thank you, finally someone on the other end calling the BSCA out for the anemic nothing burger it is. Just bureaucratic noise that won’t do anything.

America’s real Wild West is not the film sets of westerns, it is our schools and streets and shops and places of worship. It is the playing fields close to the Capitol, where members of Congress got shot and perilously wounded.

I mean, DC is really bad on their homicide rates but its mostly stuck in highly impoverished and crime ridden locations where violence is a currency. The weirdo looney who thinks shooting at congress while they’re playing baseball is a capital idea (pun intended) is at the least arguably more right in their utter wrongness than the one who shoots up a classroom full of elementary children for attention and/or to die.

It is clear this ought not to be a one thing or the other situation. America can work to address the way it thinks about guns and making them safe, while also improving standards on film sets and holding those responsible to account.

Ah, the tie in. We’re back to Baldwin’s blunder. We can do both!

So, all credit to the family of Halyna Hutchins for pushing for justice in the case of their loved one. Let’s hope the case proves that nobody is above the law.

Hunter Biden, please double check your 4473. Hunter Biden, Form 4473 please.

But if America is going to address its real gun problem, it needs to engage with a cold sharp dose of reality.

Reality of what?

  • That the three top states for mass shootings the past 4 years are always Illinois, California, and Texas, with New York coming in 4th for 2020 and 2021 (only 10th in 2022, good job NY!).
  • That Texas was only 1st in shootings in 2022 with 36, down from 2021 like everyone was thankfully, while Illinois took top “honors” the two previous years with 69 in 2020 and 80 in 2021?
  • That only one of those four states has permissive and ascribed ‘problematic’ gun laws?
  • That the common allegation that ‘permissive gun laws make states more dangerous’ falls apart if you look at Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire along with New York, Illinois, and California?
    • If you claim ‘Those aren’t valid comparisons’, you’re right but neither is the original claim.
  • That most ‘mass shootings’ (4+ injured or killed in any combination, not including the shooter) went unsolved these last 4 years (55-75%)?
    • That among the known perpetrators of these mass shootings, never more than 45% known also, 68-75% of them in any given year are of a particular demographic?
    • That the two larger demographics, who make up 75.8% of the total population vs. the of note demographic’s 13.6%, account for only 12% to 15% each of the mass shooters in any given year
      • The largest combined percentage (2022) of these two larger demographics coming it at 29% of the year’s mass shootings vs. the smaller demographic’s 71% portion?
  • That mass shooting occurrences dropped 43% in 2022 over 2021?
    • Despite more states than ever legalizing carry without a permit
    • The Bruen decision
    • Millions more first time gun owners
    • Millions of more AR type weapons than ever before in history

Is that enough cold sharp dosing of reality for you?

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.