Rebuttal to An Article originally posted on the Pennsylvania Capital Star Website:


Michael Cogbill is an organizer for the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO and the Political Action Chair for the Pennsylvania NAACP. These are his words from his byline for this article at the time of publication. 

I don’t have problems with either of those organizations. While I may not agree with them wholesale – and who could with the diverse political positions each organization has taken in the past – I don’t have issues with these organizations on the surface. Furthermore, these organizations, like many that I don’t necessarily align with completely, on the surface level, have done good things for many people. 

I don’t know Michael Cogbill and while I’m unsure, I doubt I’ve ever read anything he has published until now. He seems like a genuinely concerned person, who wants desperately to see violent gun crime numbers drop – and ultimately, I believe he wants safer communities thatc an thrive and grow without the threat of murder haging over children;s heads daily. 

Unfortunately, his opinion piece is full of holes. Maybe that came from all the illegal guns on the streets of his community. 

My rebuttal: 

The very title of the article reads like an impossibly out of touch concept, and yet, I believe that the author of this article truly believes that gun supply is the issue that is perennially keeping gun violence in the headlines. 

His take on black communities being ravaged by violence, including that of Pennsylvania communities is spot on. The South side of Chicago is a war zone every single weekend.  He states that Pennsylvania ranks 7th in Black homicides, and I am inclined to believe him and have no need to fact check him on that statistic. He will make my case for me that he is wrong later in the article. 

We can agree that Black communities are negatively affected by violence. Disproportionately so, and even when it comes to reported Black on Black crime, and especially with gang violence between several racial divides. 

He talks about an uptick in gun violence even after elected officials and organizations in the community have attempted to address the violence in the past. He touts the Media as being proactive in reporting on crime involving guns; he shares that medical professionals advocate tirelessly to stop the violence, and even talks about the noble gestures President Biden is trying to bring to bear with potentially $900M in direct funding to address urban gun violence. 

While he is a bit zealous and not entirely forthright about actual attempts to stop the gun violence, the problem is that Mr. Cogbill fails to mention that the ideologies and methodologies to curb gun related violence in urban areas comes from a stalwart, unchanging group of policy pushers that seek to push policies that he admits are failing communities. 

So we have the scene being set to dismiss out of hand, the fact that failed policies should not be blamed for continued or rising urban gun violence, but instead, we must seek to find a new cause for this epidemic. That’s a flawed premise, but let’s see how it plays out. 

He gets to the point next and makes no attempt to hide his feelings on the matter: there are too many guns. Ghost guns even. Machine guns. 

It’s important to note: there has never been a single reported confiscation of a machine gun in the past 15 years by a legal gun owner. That is – the only type of person allowed to own a machine gun – thanks to the 1986 legislation that added to the NFA and outlawed future production firearms which could be used as machine guns, as well as parts that could convert them to fire or be used like machine guns.

Not one has ever been confiscated and discussed publicly. I’ll accept your emails or comments  if you believe that you can prove me wrong. And I don’t mean an illegally produced, or stolen firearm. I mean a registered – ‘controlled by the NFA rulings’ firearm. 

Such a claim by Mr Cogbill is on its face a lie. It simply doesn’t happen. Some of these guns cost upwards of $50,000 and are guarded and insured, and placed into federal trusts. 

The so-called ghost Guns that the author refers to are called 80% firearms, and by legislation, require no serial number if they are to be made by the owner, used by the owner and not transferred from the owner. These guns aren’t particularly easy to make and I have advanced knowledge of firearms and machining skills that are far better than the average citizen. I also know how to program CNC machinery and have 3D printing capabilities. The guns can be made in a home hobby shop or garage, but they are nowhere near as easy to make as the author implies.

He simply wouldn’t know – he is parroting a talking point from someone else. If Mr. Cogbill has produced an 80% firearm himself, I will gladly, humbly issue an apology. I won’t hold my breath.  

He adds a quick line, neither fact-checked nor accurate, that states a low level hiphop personality (named Kur) has mainstreamed the concept of “switches that turn handguns into mini machine guns”. 

Mr. Kur certainly doesn’t have a business selling these switches. We’d have seen him busted by the BATF by now, no doubt. But the commentary remains. A mere mention of a switch which can turn a handgun into a mini machine gun is likely to be contributing to increased violence in urban neighborhoods, no doubt. 

Legal gun owners purchased 760k firearms in the first 6 months of the year according to the author’s sources. No doubt, these legal purchasers are now all flooding the streets with firearms and utilizing them to increase violence.  Where are the arrests? With so many new guns on the streets having been purchased legally, with paperwork to back the purchases, and data collected so that Mr. Cogbill can cite his statistics, why have’t we arrested these newly minted criminals?

Because they are not criminals by and large. The risks of buying and then reselling firearms from legal sources, and then to illegal possessors are high. Certainly there are not 760k new criminals shooting guns on the streets of Pennsylvanian urban centers, as the law enforcement agencies would be overrun and there would be an immediate state of emergency. 

He talks about the fact, and yes I will concede this is mostly factual – that many background checks are stuck in limbo and cannot possibly alert agencies, gun dealers, or even citizens that they are unable to purchase legal firearms due to one issue or another. 

It’s an issue. But it’s an issue of enforcement and accountability by state and federal agencies that have the obligation to enforce these checks, and for which legislation has been enacted. These are the agency’s failures. And they alone have the power to address these failures. 

So, let’s get this straight: the problem isn’t that the ATF, or the Pennsylvania DOJ isn’t doing their jobs. No. It’s that there are too many guns. Surely all 100k+ of those incomplete background checks have resulted in violent crimes occurring with those firearms released to those citizens. 

The problem isn’t the criminal that doesn’t obey the law. It isn’t the gangbanger who doesn’t value his life or others. It’s not the fact that criminals shoot people when they are breaking other laws, like robbing stores, mugging innocent victims or retaliating on rival gang members. 

The problem certainly isn’t that families in these same communities have higher incidences of broken homes and lack two parent families than the national averages. Many lack father figures in general. The fact isn’t that educational programs are underfunded, and jobs are not competitive enough to help employees make a living wage. It’s certainly not the fault of law enforcement being underfunded, leading to increased gang numbers and the inability to catch and prosecute violent gun offenders. 

I know it cannot be that people in power want to avoid crowding prisons and jails, so repeat offenders go out on bail or completely free, when they should be held accountable for past crimes. All in the name of systemic oppression. Maybe there is some truth to that statement, btu that’s another discussion. Repeat offenders are still roaming the streets doing illegal things.

Oh no. The problem is the volume of guns in stores. On shelves. In storage by manufacturers and gun dealers. The importation numbers are too high. The manufacturing levels are too voluminous. 

Mr Michael Cogbill suggests we stop playing nice with gun owners and manufacturers. Forget about murderers – we should play nice with them. 

Violent offenders – let’s feed them pie and Ice cream. Let’s remind them that it’s not their fault – their government failed them – no individual accountability or personal responsibility needed. 

But law abiding citizen gun owners – don’t play nice with those scumbags. 

Gun manufacturers? They certainly planned and executed violent crimes en masse with all their employees that take guns to the streets of urban neighborhoods pulling triggers wantonly in the direction of any small gathering they see on a Friday night after 11pm. 

Forget the cause of the problem – humans, unable to communicate and settle issues that choose to use (vastly) illegally possessed firearms to solve their day to day concerns. Forget that gang violence and suicides make up the vast majority of ALL gun deaths. Forget that prosecutors, under pressure from community organizers zealous to make numbers look better, release repeat offenders to steal, use and kill with firearms they cannot otherwise legally possess. Don’t blame the failure of the law enforcement governing bodies like the ATF and state DOJ for letting criminals slip through their background checks. 

Instead, here is a novel idea. Let’s get rid of guns. Like we got rid of alcohol in prohibition. Like the ONDCP and law enforcement tried to get rid of cocaine and crack, and heroin, and Oxycontin, and now fentanyl. That seems like a better idea. Get rid of it. Ban it. Look the other way – it’s likely to solve itself. Because that has certainly worked well in the past. Let’s make an embargo on new guns for 20 years. While we refuse to take illegal guns off the street. In fact, let’s make it harder for victims to protect themselves because now, the only people with guns are criminals. 

This, my friends, is why Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania and Atlanta and Baltimore and Los Angeles and Chicago have problems like these – because it cannot possibly be the fault of the criminals, it’s the fault of the object they choose to use to commit their crimes. Even more directly it’s the fault of the manufacturers and importers for having made so many available to them. 

Mr. Cogbill says it will take courage and creative thinking and relentless advocacy and swiftly so. But the real courage is in standing up to the criminals, not taking away the guns that can protect their victims. The real creative thinking is to stop thinking like this is the Crack epidemic in NYC in the 70’s and 80’s or the cocaine epidemic in South Beach Miami in the 80’s. 

Stop acting like simply removing the tool, will lead to better humans. They will just find another way, and the problem will persist. 

Courage and Creativity?

How about having the courage and creativity to increase education about firearms in your communities?

How about having the courage and creativity to prosecute repeat violent offenders who use illegal firearms?

How about having the courage and creativity to fund police agencies to better find murderers and better enforce existing laws already on the books. 

How about having the courage and creativity to admit that no matter how many laws you put in place that restrict legal firearms, the illegal firearm problem IS the problem. 

How about having the courage and creativity to empower potential victims to level the playing field and protect themselves instead of being murdered in the streets of black neighborhoods everywhere, including in the urban centers of Pennsylvania.