I just got off the blower with Ron Pinciaro, the head of Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV). In fact, Mr. Pinciaro hung up on me. He pulled the proverbial plug when I questioned his assertion that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a trade association that wants to protect gun dealers who knowingly sell 30 percent of their products to prohibited customers. Originally, I’d called Pinciaro to find out more about his group’s two-year-old “Red Flag” campaign. Pinciaro told me his supporters use the banners to agitate for more gun trafficking prosecutions. “The flags are carried during marches and demonstrations and placed on memorials,” he said. The conversation went downhill from there . . .
On the face of it, Pinciaro’s PR campaign—“Where did they get the gun?”—presents no problem for either side of the gun control debate. Tracing the source of a weapon used in a gun crime is sound policing, no matter where you stand on firearms regulations. As I probed for this common ground, asking Pinciaro if CAGV was pushing the Powers That Be to pick up the pace of their gun trafficking investigations and prosecutions, I hit an NRA-shaped wall.
“The political will to go after rogue dealers doesn’t exist,” Pinciaro insisted. “Criminal investigations are blocked by the NRA. Whenever the ATF gets too aggressive, the NRA goes into their office and threatens to defund them.” Literally? “Yes. I heard this from retired agents.”
Pinciaro identified this NRA-thwarted effort to close “rogue dealers” (i.e. guns dealers who knowingly sell firearms to people legally prohibited from ownership) as the key roadblock in the effort to combat gun crime in Connecticut. Be that as it may, Pinciaro believes that gun dealers are not a good thing in general. In other words, less legal guns means less gun crime. “Connecticut has the fourth lowest gun ownership rate: 16.2 percent,” he said. “We also have the fourth lowest gun death rate.”
When I suggested that correlation might not equal causation, Pinciaro bristled. When I asked if he’d read John Lott’s book More Guns, Less Crime, which provides copious scientific data establishing the exact opposite statistical relationship, he said “No, why would I do that?” From there, Pinciaro wanted to know “Why does the NRA oppose closing the gun show loophole?”
I pointed out that I’m not authorized to speak for the NRA. I also highlighted the fact that the NRA is not a trade group; it’s comprised of millions of private members. And I asked him if the gun show loophole was a moot point anyway—given that gun show guns account for just over two percent of firearms used for criminal purposes. Pinciaro had had his fill.
“I don’t want to argue with a close-minded person,” Pinciaro said. Nor did he want me to email him a link to this post so he could check if I’d represented his organization’s positions fairly. “I don’t care what you think of my views,” he said. “And I don’t care what your readers think of them either.” I apologized to Mr. Pinciaro for angering him and . . . dialtone.
Shame. Legal gun owners share Mr. Pinciaro’s desire to see gun crime reduced. Someday, perhaps, a bridge will be built between the two sides of the gun control debate, so that firearms-related tragedy can be curtailed by more effective law enforcement. Alas, today was not that day.