Commentary: Gun manufacturers are killing their best customers

By Michael Leppert

I ran into a friend on Tuesday night who disagrees with me on gun policy. Plenty of my friends do.


To keep it fresh, I have new reasons this time.

Michael Leppert is a public and governmental affairs consultant in Indianapolis and writes his thoughts about politics, government and anything else that strikes him at

Our gun laws need to be modernized. Most Americans agree. Pew Research published another telling report on the issue in October of 2018. More than two-thirds of Americans support banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines (67%); requiring background checks for all private sales and at gun shows (85%); barring gun sales to anyone on a no-fly or watch list (84%); creating a database to track all gun sales (74%); and, blocking those with mental illness from purchasing guns (89%).

At least half of those who consider themselves Republican or lean Republican support each one of these items, some by lopsided majorities.

With that kind of public support, our government should be able to do some of these things.

Death-by-gun is a public health crisis in America. I have been saying it for years, but only because of the overwhelming evidence.

The mass shooting problem in our country is obvious and internationally unique. There is no escaping it for any meaningful amount of time. We no longer have time to do much healing between them anymore. Virginia Beach is this week’s reminder. Twelve innocent people, mostly city employees, were gunned down by another last week for no immediately apparent reason.

The incident shares plenty of similarities to other mass shootings. Assigning a non-partisan research organization the task of learning about these numbing events would seem to be a simple and obvious thing for us to do. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is available to do it for us. All we have to do is undo a congressional prohibition on it and fund the study.

We should want to know all about why these things keep happening here. I believe we do want to know. When I write “we,” I mean all Americans. That includes gun rights folks, confiscation advocates and everyone in between. There is no legitimate reason not to want to understand why these uniquely American massacres keep happening.

We should want to know all we can about every other type of gun death suffered by our country men and women too.

Now, before all of the usual objectors start crafting their rage-responses to my transparent ploy to impede their right to buy an AR-15 with no waiting, background check, or to have it delivered promptly to the shooter’s home like a pizza, read on please.

Legitimate gun owners, the distinguished “good guys with guns,” are the ones dying more than any other demographic in our country through the use of the very product they so adamantly defend. That’s right, gun manufacturers’ most loyal customers are buying guns and then using them to kill themselves at an alarming rate.

The people in this group who are dying would likely oppose my positions on gun policy. They would likely be in the minority of the polling groups reported by Pew in the report cited above.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America. More than 47,000 people committed suicide here in 2017. Roughly 70% of them are white men. And to further narrow it down, the leading age group among those white men are those 46-64.

Have you ever been to a gun show or an NRA convention like the one Indianapolis just hosted? This is who is there.

While still nauseated by the murders at Virginia Beach this week, I found myself reading an in-depth piece in Rolling Stone titled “All-American Despair,” written by my friend, Stephen Rodrick. This one focuses on suicide in the American West. Again, for those inclined to be enraged by my suggestion that our culture do something, anything, to try and turn the tide on our gun violence problem, please read this story. If you are a white man, between the age of 46 and 64, read it twice.

The largest number of those killed by a bullet each year in America do so via suicide. The guns being used are not stolen. They are being bought legally, often obsessively, by people who shouldn’t have them.

Gun control is not about inconveniencing Americans for me. It is about saving lives. Even the lives of those who tirelessly advocate for the right to buy a product that they eventually use on themselves to die.

Rodrick writes: “…the men who survived suicide attempts had one thing in common: They didn’t use guns. Pills can be vomited, ropes can break, but bullets rarely miss.” 

A great America would do something about this. Even when the most vulnerable object.

Michael Leppert is a public and governmental affairs consultant in Indianapolis and writes his thoughts about politics, government and anything else that strikes him at

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3 Responses to Commentary: Gun manufacturers are killing their best customers

  1. WOW, you’ve jumped the shark, Michael! I just read this and actually am feeling sorry for you right now. This is the most desperate piece of garbage I think I’ve ever read regarding our gun rights, surpassing even some of the many literary gun control works penned by John Krull.

  2. Michael Leppert has jumped the shark! Just when I thought I had seen every dangerous reason to infringe our gun rights, Leppert writes an article that surpasses even the legendary anti-gunner, John Krull.
    The truly sad part with people like Leppert, Krull, and other anti-gunners are that facts, reason and logic have absolutely no effect on them. None of the proposals they are demanding will stop gun deaths and would only serve to further infringe the Constitutional rights of innocent people. People willing to murder are not stopped by any of the countless laws on our books right now. The penalty for murder in Indiana and many states is death and illegally owning firearms is a serious felony. Adding more ineffective laws on top of existing ineffective laws is as senseless as it would be fruitless.
    Leppert says his goal is to save lives, and yes, every death is tragic. However, we must use reason and facts, not emotion and deception in addressing this issue.
    Banning “assault rifles” – What is an “assault rifle”? (Mine are all “defensive rifles”) America has over 320 million people and averages about 2.7 million deaths annually. The FBI shows there were about 400 people killed by rifles in 2017 and this is about half of the people killed by bicycles that same year. Over 27,000 people died in accidental falls (ladders) and I could go on forever with countless other more deadly items that don’t have the defensive capability of a rifle.
    High capacity magazines – okay, let’s make cannabis and drugs illegal and then nobody will use them either. See how that works!
    Gun show loop hole – this is one of the most twisted reasons ever. The DOJ reports that only .8% of criminals get their firearms at a gun show and criminalizing families giving their loved ones a firearm will not reduce this number.
    Banning people on a no-fly or watch list – Whose “watch list”? Is it one utilized by Facebook? Twitter? The IRS? How do you get on a watch or no-fly list? How do you get off of these lists?
    Blocking those with mental illness from purchasing guns – we have those laws on the books right now and they don’t work! It is a felony to sell a gun to a suspected prohibited person and a felony for a prohibited person to have a firearm. To “legally” purchase a firearm from a dealer, one must fill out a form 4473 for a federal NICS background check and to lie on this form is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In 2017, there were about 25.6 MILLION federal and state background checks performed, with over 180,000 denials. However, there were only 12 prosecutions out of over 180,000 denials on over 25.6 MILLION background checks. To say that our background check system is a joke would be a cruel understatement!
    Public health crisis – few refuse to acknowledge the cause of these irrational acts of violence. Put simply, we are experiencing the consequences of decades of constant assault on the family unit and the principles and values associated with it. We have generations of people that don’t respect life or law and make decisions based on unchecked emotion instead of reason and logic. Participation trophies have conditioned people to believe that effort is not needed to accomplish success and discipline has been replaced with excuses. With the added pressures of 24/7 social media and video games that desensitize violence, many pubescent teenagers and young adults are constantly bombarded with stress and issues exceeding their ability to comprehend. This constant assault on principles and values, combined with improper preparation to deal with life’s issues, has created ticking time bombs. Be intellectually honest and ask yourself why we had kids bringing guns to school in the 90’s but have seen a rise in mass shootings that did not start until the late 90’s, when these policies started to take effect.
    Reduction of suicide – what Leppert fails to acknowledge is that America is behind several dozen industrialized countries in suicide rates, with most of them having incredibly strict gun laws. Sadly, suicidal people will find a way to end their lives, regardless of access to a gun or not. Mass shootings – the facts show that 98% of all mass shootings have occurred in “gun free zones” and gun free zones are merely where people that obey gun laws are made easy victims for people that don’t obey gun laws. Innocent people are made helpless because they follow these deadly laws and ironically, it’s people WITH guns that are called and begged to get on scene as quickly as possible when a shooting occurs in a gun free zone. Adding insult, the Supreme Court has ruled that police DO NOT have a duty to protect us!
    We must use facts, reason and logic in addressing violence and not base policy on emotion. Making good people helpless does not make bad people harmless, and pushing policies that only make innocent people helpless just makes this issue worse.

  3. This is AOC level liberal stupidity! I can’t begin to unpack just how stupid this article is without giving myself a headache.

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