Gold again had a strong week, remaining above $1,280 all week due to several geopolitical events occurring simultaneously, including the troubled French elections, the recent MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) dropped by the U.S. in the mountains of Afghanistan, saber-rattling by North Korea and Iran, another terrorist attack in France, the coming U.S. federal debt limit crisis, the crackdown on dissent in Turkey and the U.S. air strikes in Syria. Gold did dip below $1,280 on April 24, but it was still up 2 percent ($25) for the month of April.

“Why Gold Could Keep Rising” – Barron’s, Monday April 24

The Commodities Corner column in the April 24 edition of Barron’s featured a piece titled “Why Gold Could Keep Rising.” The column opened by saying:

“After a sharp drop at the end of 2016, gold has regained its luster, and some investors are betting that uncertainty in the U.S. and abroad is likely to keep prices elevated this year. Gold is up nearly 12% in 2017, to $1,289.10 a troy ounce for June contracts on Friday. The precious metal’s appeal reflects concerns that the U.S. economy may have slowed in the first quarter, as well as worries about the outcome of the coming elections in Europe, where populist candidates loom larger than before.”

For April, gold performed as more of a “crisis hedge” than an inflation hedge. While overall there has been a drop in inflation rates, global unrest has worked to buoy the metal’s price. In mid-April, all three major inflation indicators turned negative, yet prices took off that week – mostly due to the outbreak of military action in Afghanistan, Syria and the Korean peninsula. In the past two weeks, oil prices have dropped 6 percent while gold is up 3 percent for the same time period. Currently gold and inflation are moving in opposite directions. Gold’s role as a crisis hedge has begun to outshine its historical role as an inflation hedge.

I’m at the National Rifle Association’s Convention This Week

I attended the NRA convention, which was held in Atlanta from April 24-30. President Trump spoke on April 28, the first U.S. president to speak to the convention since Ronald Reagan 34 years ago.

Many journalists have made a career of decrying the NRA and its defense of the Second Amendment. One of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country is the University of Missouri. Last month, former University of Missouri journalism professor George Kennedy implied that the NRA is more dangerous than ISIS. In an editorial published in The Missourian, Kennedy said:

“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a terrorist organization founded in 1999, headquartered in Syria and feared around the world. The NRA was founded in 1871, headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, and is feared by politicians across America. What makes the Islamic State so feared is its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate. What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.”

This is a patently unfair attack on the NRA, which is very vocal in favor of safety training for not only its members, but all citizens who own firearms. The NRA is in favor of prosecuting existing firearms laws, including laws against the use of firearms in the commission of a crime. Our company is a leading advertiser in NRA publications. Personally, I have been a longtime advocate for the Second Amendment, including strong support for firearm safety training for young people through the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program. Making the comparison between the NRA and ISIS killers, who have regularly beheaded innocent journalists, is irresponsible and shows exactly how irrational and biased some journalists can be.

With respect to the gun control debate, or any other controversial subject, I believe all sides can reach a consensus. The key is to bring together everyone who has “skin in the game” and that goes beyond NRA members and left-wing journalists. Last June, I wrote a letter to the editor that was printed in the Beaumont Enterprise in which I suggested bringing together leading researchers from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Academy of Pediatrics to discuss their research into television, movie and video game violence. We should also include law enforcement professionals, the media (including Hollywood producers) and mental health experts since many mass murderers around the world are people with severe psychiatric disorders.

The Obama administration had no interest in presenting a fair and balanced debate. Maybe the Trump administration will convene such a summit. Now that they are no longer in power, perhaps the left may want to participate.

We Need a Balanced Gun Violence Summit

After last June’s tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were shot and killed, it’s more important than ever for the left and right to be willing to meet in the middle to enact meaningful reforms. Gun bans don’t prevent terrorists or criminals from acquiring guns, as the recent attacks in Europe have shown us. Leaders who support gun rights should be willing to sit across the table from one another at a real debate.

Hollywood needs to be brought onboard as well. A 2013 column in the Wall Street Journal (Campbell Brown: “The President Gives Hollywood a Pass on Violence.”) outlines how the president called on gun owners and makers to change, but gave Hollywood a pass. Brown stated:

“The president has been more than willing to challenge the National Rifle Association, but that is like a Republican president standing up to labor unions – not a move that risks anything with his core supporters. Mr. Obama could show some real bravery by taking on Hollywood.”

President Obama criticized the NRA for not participating in the debate on CNN’s Town Hall, but CNN only allowed a single pre-screened question to the nation’s premiere voice for gun owners. That’s not a debate. It’s an ambush.

Both left- and right-leaning interests need to give a little and compromise on this issue. Both sides have to have a vested interest in making changes. The media need to be involved as well. Researchers from both the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the America Academy of Pediatrics have concluded that it is unhealthy to expose children and teens to violence on television, in movies and in video games. It can desensitize them and “they may gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems by initiating the violence they observe.” The leading researcher for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Victor Strasburger, has said that he is stunned that the White House shows little interest in the available evidence.

In order to convene a meaningful summit on gun violence, the president and the media need to invite a wide array of law enforcement professionals, citizens who have been impacted by gun violence, the media, Hollywood, pediatric professionals, Congress, the White House and the NRA. Only then might we get compromise from all sides for the greater good. If they have “skin in the game,” we’re more likely to achieve worthwhile solutions and compromises while providing cover for going against hardliners on both sides. I believe all of these factions could convene a balanced summit, at last.