Frank Miniter

My Interview on CBN

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 11.13.57 AMThe Christian Broadcast Network had me on to talk about my book The Future of the Gun. Click here to see the 5 minute interview. There is a true story about freedom and what really reduces gun violence that is often not told and almost always misunderstood. But it’s important Americans know this true story as it leads to the real solutions we need to solving the gun violence that still exists. Also, if someone doesn’t know this story about guns in America then they really can’t understand America.

The Gun Conspiracy That Didn’t

Conspiracy theories have a way of exploding through the gun blogs and forums. Part of the reason for this is that so many are true. Who would have ever thought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) would tell gun storeowners to sell guns to known straw purchasers (someone who can pass a background check who is buying a gun or guns for someone who can’t)? But they did. Or who would have ever thought that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) would put gun stores on a federal watch list? But they did that, too.

So when the The Washington Times noticed that people now have to answer a question about their race and ethnicity before they can buy a gun they ran an article that started conspiracy theories flying.

The facts are now settling on this issue. The answers don’t have much to do with race, but instead they have everything to do with a bungling and dense federal government.

Actually, since 2012 anyone who wants to buy a gun from a Federal Firearms Licensed dealer (FFL) must answer this two-part question on Form 4473:

10a. Ethnicity: (Hispanic or Latino) or (Not Hispanic or Latino)

10b. Race: (Check one or more boxes.) (American Indian or Alaska Native), (Asian),

(Black or African American), (White), (Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander)

Try answering the question.

Okay, did you answer both 10a and 10b?

If not you filled it out incorrectly. If a store doesn’t make sure a gun buyer answers both parts of the question before they phone the person’s name and social security number into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) then the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) could penalize the store. If ATF agents find that a store is consistently filing incomplete forms they could start actions to get the store’s license to sell guns revoked.

So far that hasn’t happened. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, says, “To our knowledge, no FFL has ever had his/her license revoked because the customer did not respond correctly in answering Question 10.”

So the government put out a poorly written form that, if filled out logically, might cost people their livelihood—what’s new? Actually, this is an interesting example of how slow government can be.

Click here to see the rest of my column at Forbes.com.

How Bloomberg’s Desire For Gun Control Is Backfiring

With the midterms just over a month away New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending at least $50 million to make his gun-control agenda part of this election. His gun-control group Everytown for Gun Safety has endorsed more than 100 federal and state candidates. They are also running television commercials, holding events and pushing their studies into the newsrooms of a mostly favorable press.

John Feinblatt, Everytown’s president, told USA Today, “We want gun safety to be an issue that people vote on.”

John R. Lott, Jr. says he’s fine with that statement. He just wants people to know the truth about what really reduces violence before they vote. He says, “I can’t find a single study from Bloomberg’s groups that aren’t loaded with errors. They have an anti-gun agenda and will lie to achieve it.”

Before getting to the inside story behind the politics, the piles of money being used to shape public opinion and to how the truth is stubbornly winning the debate despite—or because of—Bloomberg’s spin, I’d like to tell you how I first met John R. Lott, Jr. He is an important voice in this debate and this anecdote shows what kind of researcher he is.

In 2006 I was at a cocktail party in Arlington, VA, talking to a liberal journalist about his soon-to-be-released book on Iraq when John Lott joined us. John listened for a moment and then said to the author, “I’m curious. You say you just finished a book on the Iraq war. I always find it so hard to finish a book. I get so deep into the research I have a hard time stopping to write. I’m guessing you had a hard time leaving Iraq. There is so much to investigate and understand.”

The author said, “I didn’t go to Iraq.”

John paused with this quizzical look on his face before asking, “Oh, how did you do your research?”

The author said, “I didn’t have to do much. I mean, I already know what I think.”

They were both so baffled with each other that, after an awkward silence, the liberal author shrugged and moved away.

Lott, of course, entered the national stage in 1998 with his groundbreaking book More Guns, Less Crime. The book details his research that found that, despite what people are often told, violent crime rates actually tend to go down when states pass “shall-issue” concealed-carry laws. (Shall-issue laws force a licensing agent to give anyone a concealed-carry permit to carry a handgun as long as the individual passing certain criteria as stipulated by law.)

As soon as the book was published a lot of academics made it their mission to prove Lott to be the fraud they were sure he must be. The thing is, the researchers kept finding that Lott is right.

Click here to read the rest of my column at Forbes.com.

Why Comcast is Really for Net Neutrality

As they move to merge, Comcast and Time Warner Cable have decided to back the Obama administration’s desire for “net neutrality.” They know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has to approve their merger. They know the FCC’s five-member board once voted in favor of net neutrality. They know that net neutrality polls well, as most people don’t know what that phrase means. They also need approval from New York State authorities to merge and a lot of New York’s liberal politicians are in favor of net neutrality.

In these political winds, Comcast is now running radio spots saying, “Comcast’s transaction with Time Warner Cable will bring Net Neutrality protection to millions of new customers in cities from New York to Los Angeles. A free and open Internet stimulates competition, promotes innovation, fosters job creation, and drives business. Comcast is the only Internet service provider in America bound by full Net Neutrality rules, ensuring an open Internet and protecting customers.” Comcast’s official position can be seen here.

If net neutrality does all those lofty things, why did Rush Limbaugh say on March 16, 2010, “[N]et neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine of the Internet”?

The answer is in the details.

In 2010 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn’t have the power to regulate an Internet provider’s network. At the time Comcast had filed suit after the FCC tried to stop it from controlling traffic over its network to a popular file-sharing site. The court ruled that the FCC didn’t have “express statutory authority” from the U.S. Congress to regulate the Internet. At the time, most thought this would stop the FCC cold. However, this court ruling didn’t squelch the FCC’s attempt to regulate the Internet with “net neutrality” regulations.

On December 20, 2010 the FCC’s five-member board approved net neutrality rules. The vote was 3-2, with the two Republican members voting “no.” The Obama administration’s former chairman of the FCC’s five-member board, Julius Genachowski, staged this vote a few days before Christmas to keep it out of the headlines.

In January 2014 the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. D.C., struck down the FCC’s net neutrality rules. This case was brought by Verizon Communications Inc. Meanwhile, as a condition of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, Comcast agreed to abide by the political definition of net neutrality—meaning it has agreed to treat all online traffic equally and that it won’t give special treatment to its own video services.

The current FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, has said he isn’t for regulating broadband Internet in the same way the landline phone system is. Critics point out that such regulations could burden broadband providers with many new federal rules on pricing and services while putting Washington bureaucrats in charge of the Internet. The FCC, however, can still take action on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, the movement behind net neutrality—from President Barack Obama to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and reportedly to New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand—is coming from the left for political reasons. As liberal dominance of the media has waned under the shadow of FOX News, conservative talk radio and websites such as the Drudge Report, some in the Democratic Party have been looking for creative ways to maintain, or regain, the “mainstream media’s” liberal clout. Net neutrality is one way to attain their goal of dominating the media.

Click here for the rest of my column at Forbes.com.

Here Come the Armed Robots

UnknownThe U.S. Armed Forces is reportedly interested in applying technology from its “One-Shot” program to create sniper rifles that can hit their target every time at extreme long range. The U.S. military is also working on a program called the “Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System.” This program would have spotters find and track targets with a drone or even a manned helicopter. The drone would have a rifle mounted in a stabilized turret. The gun would be controlled by a trained operator. It could fly over a battlefield and take out targets inside buildings or behind cover.

All that is just over the horizon. Now a Samsung Group subsidiary is showing that the horizon is here. A robot sentry called the SGR-A1 is being tested to watch South Korea demilitarized zone along the border with North Korea. The SGR-A1 is being made to see enemies with cameras and heat and motion sensors. This .30 caliber machine gun has an optional grenade launcher. It is using IR and visible light cameras to “identify and shoot a target automatically from over two miles [3.2 km] away.” In 2007 the Israeli military first used the Sentry Tech system along it border with Gaza. It has computer-controlled machine guns in pillboxes. It is based on theSamson Remote Controlled Weapon Station. These are just the first attempts at bringing this technology to borders and to the battlefield.

How to Prevent Gun Violence

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.12.03 PMThe good folks at Townhall.com kindly had me into their studio just outside D.C. to talk about The Future of the Gun. Here’s a video link to the interview. Sarah Jean Seman had some penetrating questions about America’s relationship with the gun and how we keep our freedom while continuing to become a safer nation.

Bows are Pushing the Limits

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.30.49 AMKatniss Everdeen, you know, the fictional heroine in The Hunger Games books and now movies, is making bows popular with a new generation of girls and boys. Meanwhile, hunters and competitive archers are pushing manufacturers into making bows that are faster, lighter, more ergonomic and that are easier to shoot. Some of the feats of engineering in bow technology have been staggering, but now compound bows seem to be reaching a plateau. Maybe, but probably not say a lot of engineers. This investigation I did for Outdoor Life shows that the future of the bow is evolving.

My Cam & Company Interview for the Sportsmen’s Channel

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 5.35.56 PMJohn Popp and other incredible people at NRA News graciously had me on their TV show to talk about my book The Future of the Gun. You can see the 15-minute video by clicking here.

A Thoughtful Review

John R. Lott Jr, the author of More Guns, Less Crime gave a very thoughtful review of my book The Future of the Gun.

Did you know that during the American Revolution the colonists had rifles that were accurate up to 300 yards, but that the British troops’ rifles were only accurate up to 75 yards? That the Americans used long guns with rifling while the British guns were smoothbore? The British were used to fighting opponents on an open field, but this single advantage allowed American troops to pick off British troops from a long distance while keeping out of harms way.

Possibly the most interesting aspect of this point is that the fact that American colonists had these “more advanced” weapons made it possible for them to win the American Revolution.

If you ever wondered about the history of revolvers or semi-automatic handguns or the AR-15 and M16 rifles, this book provides a well done, quick-read resource.

However, the most interesting part of the book is future of guns — the explosion in technological innovation. For example, if you know how to play a computer game, the latest targeting systems can turn an amateur into a top long distance shooter. The ability of the government to control these technologies is extremely limited. My understanding is that if the right polymer is used and the barrel is kept very short, the plastic 3D printed guns can fire a number of rounds without a problem, though with a short barrel and no rifling accuracy is very poor. 3D metal printers can produce guns that look and function exactly the same as any gun that you can buy from a manufacturer. Still these are minor quibbles with what Miniter has written.

Beyond that there is a detailed discussion of the politics of gun control. The book quotes about how the term “assault weapons” was developed and how gun control groups consciously and cynically played on the American public’s misunderstanding of semi-automatic and automatic weapons alone justifies the price of the book. How gun control laws are being pushed through before anyone has a chance to read the bills should concern anyone who wants reasonable public policy.

There will be a lot of stories in this book that will inform even those who follow the gun debate closely.

The Rise of the Anti-Freedom Billionaires

Those on the left say they abhor big money’s corrupting influence in politics — until a leftist billionaire starts trying to sway public opinion. That’s okay with them, because, you know, old George Soros really isn’t creepy at all — he’s just a grandfatherly figure who gives like Santa Claus. And the same goes for Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg — their billions are okay, too. All Bloomberg wants is for the rest of us to give up tobacco, big gulps, and guns.

Now Bill Gates has joined on the great lefty-billionaire good-guy list. Gates is donating $1 million to push a voter initiative in Washington State that would require “universal background checks” for all would-be gun buyers. If it passes, all gun sales will have to be vetted by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“Universal background checks” has a nice poll-tested ring to it, but in reality it will really just make it more expensive and burdensome for private Americans to do what they’ve always done: trade, buy, and sell guns among themselves. According to the Gates initiative, a gun owner can’t sell a Winchester Model 70 rifle to a friend without running the transfer through a licensed gun dealer and paying fees and taxes. A gun owner on a skeet range also can’t say, “Hey Bob, can I try a round with your Beretta? I’m thinking about buying a Beretta.” He can’t buy the gun because, unless he runs off to a licensed dealer and does a lot of paperwork and pays fees, it would be illegal.

The 18-page law would make illegal so much of what law-abiding gun owners do as they shoot socially and go hunting that the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs now opposes Initiative 594. But one thing it won’t do is stop criminals from getting guns. The criminals aren’t going to say, “Gee whiz, now we can’t buy stolen guns any more or get some guy with a clean record to buy us a gun, because you know that’s illegal.”

If the billionaires really want to do something to help stop the mentally disturbed (who commit most of the mass murders) from getting guns, they could … click here to see the rest of my article at NationalReview.com.