Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Taking a vacation from gun issues?

It's tough to get away from the news these days what with social media and easy access to sources that weren't available not so many years ago. As I am traveling and now in a place where I can write more on my blog, I have been reflecting on the news and about where we are as a country when it comes to our values. Since I am now in Wyoming ( more on that in the next post) I do understand the different culture of the good folks who live in this state. It is beautiful with wide expanses of land rich with grasslands, prairies, buttes, interesting rock formations, high desert, magnificent mountain peaks, deer, Elk, Antelope, and other wild animals, natural hot springs and geysers, rivers, lakes, and rolling hills. It feels desolate to me with homes spread far apart from each other and the risk of wild animals or possibly intruders causing trouble. The land of cowboys and guns exists for a reason. Life here is quite different from life in Chicago, New Orleans or Miami. The gun culture is different here but I am guessing that even the gun owners in Wyoming support common sense. Indeed they do. From the article: " “Wyoming has the highest level of gun ownership in the country,” Debnam said. “And voters there across party lines still strongly support expanded background checks for gun purchases.”" Recently a Wyoming gun rights group with an extremist leader sent out a survey that didn't get good reviews from reasonable gun owners.

But back to my original purpose. Because I don't have a lot of time, I am going to make a list of what I have perused in the past few days while periodically checking social media, other media sources and e-mails. First I want to write about some of the recent senseless shootings in the country.

  1. A St. Paul, Minnesota area police officer was shot and killed by a felon during a routine traffic stop. Where do these guys get their guns anyway? Why do we make it so easy for them to get guns? Just asking an obvious question.....
  2. A Chicago man shot his boss and himself over a demotion. Why not? Don't like what your boss does? Just get out your gun and take care of things. And now two more families are devastated.
  3. A Maine man shot up his family because of financial distress. Three small children, a wife and a husband dead. Another domestic dispute gone wrong.
  4. An angry North Carolina man shot his father-in-law and sprayed bullets at others with AR-15. Why? Another domestic dispute gone wrong because a gun was at the ready.
  5. Speaking of domestic shootings, there was a hearing in the U.S. Senate yesterday regarding a bill to take guns from stalkers and dating partners as well as partners. Unfortunately Arizona Senator Jeff Flake skipped the hearing. Not a good idea considering the statistics regarding domestic shootings in his home state. 
  6. A Texas attorney, presumably a "law abiding gun owner" shot and killed someone and has now been arrested.
  7. An 86 year old Chicago legal gun permit holder interfered with police apprehending a burglar. He should have left his gun in the holster. The bullets almost hit the officer and the burglar got away.
  8. A "shoot-out" in North Carolina resulted in 3 dead and 3 wounded officers.
  9. A man showing off his gun killed a pregnant friend when the gun discharged. Where is common sense?
Now for the gun lobby's extremism.
  1. NRA Board member Ted Nugent has found himself in some much deserved trouble over his outrageous and incendiary remarks. His concerts are being cancelled of late because of his racist remarks about Native Americans. But apparently he can't take a hint. His narcissistic view of the world suggests to him that when people are offended by his remarks, it's all their fault.
  2. There has been lots of reaction to the Florida ruling allowing the gun lobby sponsored and written law to silence doctors about patient health and safety. Here is one from MSNBC. Here is another. There are more but I will not take the time to highlight all of them.
  3. The Texas armed self proclaimed border guards are marching to the Mexican border to take matters into their own hands. What could possibly go wrong?
And now for what reasonable people have to say about the American gun culture gone wrong. This great editorial from New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof says it directly and to the point. From his article:

That question is a reflection of our national blind spot about guns. The truth is that we regulate cars quite intelligently, instituting evidence-based measures to reduce fatalities. Yet the gun lobby is too strong, or our politicians too craven, to do the same for guns. So guns and cars now each kill more than 30,000 in America every year. 
One constraint, the argument goes, is the Second Amendment. Yet the paradox is that a bit more than a century ago, there was no universally recognized individual right to bear arms in the United States, but there was widely believed to be a “right to travel” that allowed people to drive cars without regulation. (...) A century ago, we reacted to deaths and injuries from unregulated vehicles by imposing sensible safety measures that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives a year. Why can’t we ask politicians to be just as rational about guns?
Of course. Kristof is spot on. Common sense just may be happening. The country is behind reasonable measures to stop the senseless taking of lives that are valued by their families and friends. It's definitely time for our Congress and our state legislators to stop the bidding they do to the corporate gun lobby. The agenda of that group is not about saving lives but about preserving what they see as their rights without thinking about the rights of people to be free of gun violence. The two are not mutually exclusive. It's time to come together for what we are doing now is just not working.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gun laws in South Dakota

I am traveling with my family through South Dakota, mostly in the Black Hills, and on to Wyoming to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I took this trip as a teen-ager with my own family and when our kids were younger we did get to see Mount Rushmore on our way out west. This time, grandchildren are also along so we will view it with somewhat different eyes. As I have done before, I am interested in the gun laws in the states through which I travel. So let's take a look at the summary from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence of South Dakota's gun laws.

From the linked article above:
Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federalNational Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)
South Dakota is not a point of contact state for the NICS. South Dakota has no law requiring firearms dealers to initiate background checks prior to transferring a firearm (although South Dakota does prohibit a dealer from selling a handgun unless the purchaser is personally known to the dealer or presents clear evidence of his or her identity1). As a result, in South Dakota, firearms dealers must initiate the background check required by federal law by contacting the FBI directly.2
South Dakota does not require private sellers (sellers who are not licensed dealers) to initiate a background check when transferring a firearm. (...) On March 19, 2012, the Governor of South Dakota vetoed a bill that would have allowed the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.
South Dakota is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed weapons permit if the applicant meets certain qualifications. The sheriff of the county in which the applicant resides must issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon if the applicant:
  • Is 18 years of age or older;
  • Has never pled guilty to, no contest to, or been convicted of a felony or crime of violence;
  • Is not habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition;
  • Has no history of violence;
  • Has not been found in the previous ten years to be a “danger to others” or a “danger to self,” or is not currently adjudged mentally incompetent;
  • Has resided for the past 30 days in the county or municipality where applying for a permit;
  • Has not violated any of South Dakota’s laws regarding firearms, other weapons, controlled substances or marijuana in the five years preceding the date of application, or is not currently charged with a felony or misdemeanor under those laws;
  • Is a United States citizen; and
  • Is not a fugitive from justice.2
Firearm Safety Training
South Dakota does not require applicants for a concealed weapons permit to undergo firearms safety training or demonstrate competence with a firearm.
Duration & Renewal
A permit to carry a concealed weapon is valid for four years.3 No provisions of South Dakota law specifically address the renewal of a permit.
Disclosure or Use of Information
South Dakota law prohibits any state agency, political subdivision, official, agent, or employee of any state agency or political subdivision, from knowingly keeping or causing to be kept any list, record, or registry of holders of permits to carry a concealed handgun.4 These entities also may not release or permit access to any application, list, record or registry of applicants or holders of concealed weapon permits except to law enforcement or the secretary of state.5
The prohibition against lists, records, and registries of permit holders does not apply to, inter alia: 1) permits to carry concealed handguns relating to any person who has been convicted of a felony; 2) any on-duty law enforcement officer while conducting routine verification of the validity of a permit to carry a concealed handgun; 3) the secretary of state for the issuance of concealed handgun permits and any access reasonably necessary to verify information with regard to specific permits individually; or 4) the preservation of the triplicate copy of the application for a permit by the authority issuing the permit.6
The prohibition also does not restrict any law enforcement officer in the performance of any official duty if the officer is in the immediate physical presence of a permit holder who has either presented a permit to the officer or declared to the officer that he or she is a permit holder.7
South Dakota law also prohibits any law enforcement officer from retaining any notes, data, or pieces of information related to the holders of permits to carry concealed handguns, unless that information is pertinent to a specific ongoing investigation or prosecution.8
South Dakota received a score of "F" on the 2013 scorecard from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. From this article- new laws were passed to weaken gun regulations leading in part to this score:
SD H 1087Provides that any school board may allow the arming of school employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers, after obtaining the consent of the law enforcement officer who has jurisdiction over the school.
SD S 166Provides that a concealed carry permit is valid for 5 years, instead of four years as under current law.
SD S 227Allows firearms to be carried on a snowmobile by any concealed weapon permit holder on his or her own land. 
This 2006 article claimed that South Dakota had the highest rate of conceal carry permit holders in the country. I suspect that is not the same now. There were some other interesting statements in this article:
Nationally, gun ownership can be linked to homicide and suicide rates. The link is tenuous at best in South Dakota, where actual ownership of guns far exceeds the number of permits granted.
Most guns don't even require permits - shotguns and rifles, for example - and a permit is required only for carrying a weapon on one's person or concealed in a vehicle. Unconcealed or unloaded handguns can be kept in a case or vehicle compartment without a permit, said South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long.
All firearm purchases are covered by national background checks.
There are many other measures of gun ownership, and a few other states lead South Dakota in those yardsticks.
In 2005, there were 50,768 FBI background checks for gun purchases in the state, making South Dakota fifth in per capita sales, behind Wyoming, Montana, West Virginia and Alaska. A 2002 survey found 60 percent of South Dakota's households have access to firearms, ranking it fourth in the nation.
Nor do the permit numbers mean that 40,000 state residents are always packing heat. Most of the permit holders contacted for this story said they rarely carry their gun on their person.
Instead, they have the permit primarily so they can legally carry it in their vehicle, take it target shooting with less hassle or skip the 48-hour waiting period on gun purchases.
"It's easier to have the permit than it is not to have the permit," said Roger Paulsen, 54, a Sioux Falls optician who says he uses his pistol mainly for target practice.
For many Sioux Falls pistol owners, target shooting is all they do with their guns. They don't need a permit for that, but most say they have it just to be sure they're following the law.
South Dakota's hunting tradition is a major reason people here are comfortable with guns, and that extends to handguns, too.
A few hunters even use their pistols to hunt deer. Paulsen said he has tried it.
Scott Briggle, 43, a Sioux Falls truck driver, said he has taken one deer with his .357.
"It's a challenge, let's put it that way," he said.
In the countryside, owners cite slightly different uses for their handguns.
"Well, like targets and also in the spring, the gophers, I like to shoot at them. They're pretty safe, but once in a while, I hit one," said Elden Garrett, 77, of Montrose. "I never thought of carrying it for protection."
John Blosmo, 60, of Bison says he also does a little hunting: "just varmints, whatever.
"I just carry it in the pickup, and I'm afraid that if it's in a case in a pickup, it's considered concealed," he said.
"I very seldom carry one, but I can if I want to," said Collin Leslie, a semi-retired farmer from Lemmon. He said he has lived near violence before, so he likes having it for protection.
"I was raised in California, and it was bad there."
I must admit to wondering if all permit holders carry their guns. This article seems to affirm my suspicion that they don't. And more from this article indicates the gun culture in South Dakota which may be typical of a state that is largely rural. From the article:
But in Sioux Falls or Bison or even Deadwood, guns are simply not as big a problem as in New York. Nor are they even the problem they are in the rural South.
In a 2002 CDC study, South Dakota ranked fourth in a survey of "gun prevalence" - the likelihood that a given household had a gun. Sixty percent of the state's households had access to a firearm; Wyoming was first at 63 percent, and Hawaii was last at 10 percent.
By contrast, when the telephone survey asked households with children whether they had a loaded and unlocked firearm, only 2 percent in South Dakota said yes.
That put the state 26th in unsafe gun prevalence, well behind Alabama and Arkansas, where about 7 percent of children apparently could gain access to a loaded, unlocked firearm.
South Dakota has in that sense left behind the lawless gun culture of the Old West and embraced the practicality of the Midwest.
Gun owners and officials say the rural hunting culture has fostered an ethic of safety and a desire to abide by the law, including the law governing concealed pistols.
The writer Calvin Trillin said the motto of the Midwest ought to be "No big deal." South Dakota makes a strong case for the idea that even a powerful tool like a handgun, with a dose of common sense and social responsibility, can be no big deal.
There just may be some common sense amongst South Dakota gun owners. Now let's look at gun deaths in South Dakota. From this article:
South Dakota was an anomaly. It had only two gun laws, yet its rate of 8.2 gun fatalities per 100,000 ranked below the national median of 9.9, according to the study.
Researchers tallied and scored the states on how many of 24 key gun regulations they had on their books, then split the states into four groups based on the number of laws they had enacted.
Though South Dakota has weak gun laws compared to other states, it has fewer gun deaths per 100,000 than other states. There was one attempt to politicize the issue of guns and link gun ownership to the health care law by conservative law makers:
A group of South Dakota lawmakers has introduced a bill that would require almost everyone in their state to buy a gun once they turn 21. 
Turns out it's not a serious attempt. Rather, the lawmakers are trying to make a point about the new health care law -- that an individual mandate is unconstitutional, whether it requires everyone to buy health insurance or, in South Dakota's case, a firearm.
It didn't pass. South Dakota is not immune from accidental shootings of children by other children. This recent one was a 7 year old who shot and killed by his 9 year old brother:
Roth said the 9-year-old told investigators that he and his 7-year-old brother were playing with a handgun when he pulled the trigger, thinking the gun was not loaded, and unintentionally shot the 7-year-old.
It appears that the suicide rate in South Dakota is on the rise and the most frequently used method of suicide is a firearm.

The long and short of it is that South Dakota has fewer gun deaths than many other western/southern states. It appears to be a pretty safe state in which to travel. I'm sure we will enjoy our visit and be safe while traveling.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Guns make people bolder

If this Tennessee lawyer had not had a gun in her car the other day, she would be leading her life as usual. But she did have a gun in her car and she was a concealed carry permit holder as she made perfectly clear to a young man who asked her to slow her car down in a Walmart parking lot:
"He would do anything to protect them, and such was the case Tuesday afternoon when police said a driver came speeding through the parking lot of the South Rutherford Walmart, almost hitting his 6-year-old son.
"I had my 1-year-old daughter on my neck and when I saw my son run by, I reached out and grabbed him and told her she needed to slow down," Hill said.
Those words must have struck a chord with the suspect.
"She leaned out and showed a handgun to me and said, ‘I will shoot you,'" Hill said. "I said, 'Go ahead and shoot me and if I live, I'll call the cops,' and she said, ‘I don't care, I have a gun carry permit.'"
The woman was later identified as 37-year-old Angela Scruggs, of Christiana.
Scruggs listed her occupation on an arrest report as a policy manager with the State of Tennessee. She is an attorney with General Services, according to Assistant Commissioner Kelly Smith.
"Scuggs did notify her supervisor about her arrest," Smith said. "We are monitoring the situation, and no action has been taken at this time. It happened after hours and is just an allegation that is not related to her duties at work."
"It was a pretty terrifying experience, you know, especially for telling someone to slow down," Hill said.
There are signs clearly posted for drivers to yield for pedestrians, something witnesses said the woman ignored.
"It's scary, what if she did shoot him in front of our three kids?" said Hill's fiancee, Rachel Murray.
A Walmart worker witnessed the woman pulling the gun on the victim.
Police later caught up with her on South Church Street where they arrested her for aggravated assault.
Scruggs told police, according to an incident report, that Hill came toward her aggressively with his hands in his pockets and that's why she grabbed her .22-caliber pistol.
Video from the store's surveillance camera proved that wasn't the case, according to Hill.
Police said a gun carry permit is good to have to show ownership or in the case of self-defense, but it shouldn't be abused. 
"It's never a license to unlawfully point that at someone and threaten people, especially when their life is not in danger," said Murfreesboro police spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans."
What if the woman with a concealed carry permit holder had acted on her anger and actually shot this young father over nothing? It happens. When she felt the need to mention that she was a conceal carry permit holder, did that mean she thought she was justified or was it meant to be a threat? She said she didn't care. Really? Do people with permits believe that simply because they have legal permits to carry, anything goes? Remember in my last post, I reported about a Minnesota man who laid in wait in the yard of a teen-aged girl to shoot her when she stepped outside? He was mad that she asked him not to continue driving through her yard on his lawn mower with his openly displayed gun. That's enough, apparently, for some people to justify killing or attempting to kill another human being.

Speaking of that Minnesota case, more information is now out about the man who did the shooting. He was clearly a gun rights extremist. A photo on the internet that has gone viral shows him dressed in a pair of jeans, bare chested, with his holstered gun proudly displayed. Some screen grabs from the man's Facebook page found him calling "gun control" "retards". You can read more about that in this updated Star Tribune article.  He was clearly ready with his words anyway, to take action against people with whom he disagreed.

Clearly there are some people who shouldn't have guns. But in this country we are making it all too easy for just about anyone to get them and keep them no matter what. One could argue that this Wyoming man should not have had access to a gun. From the article:
Zimmerman told Sgt. Mark Hollenbach of the sheriff's department that Teresa was yelling at the kids.
That was when he reportedly picked up a 12-gauge shotgun and "shot her" because she was yelling.
He went on to tell Hollenbach that his wife was "menopausal."
An odor of alcohol was detected on Zimmerman's breath, and a breath test revealed him to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.186 percent, more than double the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Zimmerman was taken to the Laramie County Sheriff's Department for further questioning.
At that time, he asked for a lawyer, but told detectives, "I didn't know the gun was loaded."
A trooper with the Highway Patrol told Hollenbach that when he was transporting the three children to the sheriff's department, Zimmerman's 6-year-old grandson said he saw "Grandpa shoot Grandma."
A search of the residence uncovered a single 12-gauge shotgun, one spent shotgun shell and two unspent rounds.
A short temper and alcohol along with a gun at the ready led to a family tragedy from which these 3 children will never fully recover. The trauma of watching your grandfather shoot and kill your grandmother will stay with these children all of their lives. Here's a simple question. Why was a loaded shotgun just sitting around, easily accessible, in the house when the grandchildren were there? The gun made this man bolder in his actions. An argument about one person not liking another yelling at the grandchildren would likely not have led to a senseless death without that gun.

Common sense seems to be in short supply for some gun owners. It's crucial to have common sense when around guns. As it turns out most gun owners are responsible with their guns and use them properly for hunting and recreational shooting. But the problem for these folks is that enough incidents like the ones I provide on this blog occur that even the responsible folks get lumped in with those who aren't. And it doesn't help that the corporate gun lobby is feeding some of these folks misinformation and crazy notions that may lead to their boldness with their guns. Fortunately, most gun owners favor common sense gun laws knowing that passing laws to stop people who shouldn't have guns from getting them won't affect their own ability to own guns. Most gun owners understand that the corporate gun lobby does not speak for them. Unfortunately, our Congress and most legislators are not listening to the majority of gun owning and non gun owning Americans.

It really can't be argued that in the cases I have provided, without a gun, a grandmother would be alive today. Without a gun, a Minnesota teen would not have been sent to the hospital with gunshot injuries. Without a gun, the conceal carry permit holder would not have been so threatening to a young father who wanted her to slow her car down. Guns can turn simple disagreements and situations deadly very quickly. Without the guns, would these gun owners have been so bold? Would they have thought of killing, injuring or threatening someone over simple disagreements? And when everyone is encouraged to have a gun, things can go wrong. This is why changing the conversation about guns and gun violence is so important. Guns in homes and now more frequently in public places, are a risk to their owners and others. At the least, more training should be required for those who purchase guns and carry them around in public places. A cavalier attitude towards guns leads to irresponsible gun ownership and sometimes to deaths. When guns are seen as a way to solve arguments, get even with someone, be at the ready to shoot those who don't agree or government agents, we have a problem.

And speaking of everyone being encouraged to have a gun, I updated my last post to include the NRA's spokesperson trying to walk back what he said about the lunatic notion that all children should be mandated to have gun training in school. This is what I mean when I say that when you encourage the idea that everyone should have a gun without recognizing that everyone shouldn't have a gun, people will continue to be shot. Small children should not be considered to be mature enough to understand the risks and the responsibilities that come with loaded guns. There are enough accidental shootings of and by children for us to know that to be true. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being. And kill they do at a rate higher than any other democratized country not at war. As long as we have more guns than any other country not at war we need to decide what we will do to make sure Americans are not being shot by them. It's time for a change. Let's get to work.


Does anyone think that Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of American, means what he says when he talks about a threat to a sitting U.S. Congresswoman? Does being the director of the nation's most conservative gun rights organization make him bolder? Because he must own a few guns. But I digress. From the article:
Prominent gun lobbyist Larry Pratt is doubling down on his insistence that members of Congress should have a “healthy fear” of being shot, lecturing a congresswoman who felt threatened by one of his group’s members that she just doesn’t understand the Constitution.
Right Wing Watch first reported Pratt’s comments in a March interview with radio host Bill Cunningham. Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, told Cunningham that a member of his group had spoken to a congresswoman who told him, “you want to shoot me, don’t you.”
“Well, that’s probably a healthy fear for them to have,” Pratt said. “You know, I’m kind of glad that’s in the back of their minds. Hopefully they’ll behave.”
What else could this mean? We understand what the comment from the Minnesota shooter meant. And he acted on his words. ( see above) I wrote in an earlier post about the incendiary rhetoric issued by Pratt. Is this the kind of country we want? More, though, from the linked article above:
Then, this week, Pratt doubled down, issuing an open letter to Maloney, a New York Democrat, claiming that she does not understand the Constitution and telling her once again that she “should do her job in constant trepidation” that she will be shot: “Should you attempt to disarm Americans the way the British crown tried 240 years ago, the same sovereign people who constituted this government using the cartridge box someday may need to reconstitute it, as clearly anticipated by the Declaration of Independence.” 
Right. Good stuff. Pratt should keep his mouth shut, don't you think?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What kind of country do we want?

Isn't there a time when the citizens of a country need to decide what kind of country they want? Of course. It happens every day in legislation passed by Congress, legislatures and local government bodies. People put their heads together and discuss issues of concern that affect the environment, safety, and well being of their communities. Thus, laws are passed for the purpose of regulating behavior or consumer products for the overall public health and safety. That being the case, why do we not do more to protect our citizens from the gun violence that is so pervasive in our country?

The open carrying of guns is receiving a lot of attention of late. The laws that allow for people to carry their guns openly passed without the scrutiny they deserved and now the consequences are scaring people all over the country. Below is a video of what Kansas citizens thought about a man openly carrying his gun into a Walmart.

How do people know if this man intended harm given the mass shootings in our country? If these folks start carrying their guns around in public trying to normalize this behavior why wouldn't someone who has bad intentions with his/her gun not do the same thing with different results? I don't believe this is the kind of country we want.

Oh, and then there's this latest lunatic talk from the NRA about requiring kids to learn to shoot guns, even if they don''t want to, before advancing to the next grade! You really can't make this stuff up. If this isn't one of the most pathetic attempts to commandeer the conversation from the sublime to the ridiculous, I don't know what to call it. From the article:
In a July 21 NRA News video titled "Everyone Gets A Gun," NRA News commentator Billy Johnson said, "We don't have a U.S. gun policy. We have a U.S. anti-gun policy" that is based on "the assumption that we need to protect people from guns" and "that guns are bad or dangerous."
Instead Johnson wondered what gun policies the United States would have "if we designed gun policy from the assumption that people need guns -- that guns make people's lives better." Johnson then made the following recommendations that would "encourage" and might "reward" people "to keep and bear arms at all times."
Johnson wondered, "What if instead of gun free-zones we had gun-required zones?"
He imagined a compulsory education system that would require children to become proficient with firearms, just like "reading and writing," even "if they didn't want to learn" in order to advance in school: "Gun policy driven by our need for guns would insist that we introduce young people to guns early and that we'd give them the skills to use firearms safely. Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency. It wouldn't matter if a child's parents weren't good at it. We'd find them a mentor. It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
Like "education, healthcare, food, [and] retirement," Johnson suggested that gun ownership be subject to a government subsidies, either through "government ranges where you could shoot for free or a yearly allotment of free ammunition."
Right. Great plan, this. There's more for you to enjoy in the linked article. Has the NRA come unglued? What kind of nonsensical world is this anyway? This is really not the country we want. The fact that someone came up with such a ridiculous idea says mountains about the agenda of the corporate gun lobby. "Everybody Gets A Gun." Yup. Why not? We already have more guns per capita than any other democratized country not at war and also more gun deaths and injuries. Let's just add to the numbers of the dead by providing our children with guns in schools and make them get gun training, like it or not and even get government subsidies for ammunition? Really? I thought these were the anti-government folks. I guess when they want the government to be involved in their cockamamie schemes, it's OK by them.

And then there are these fine members of the Come and Take it Dallas group rallying at Dealy Plaza in Dallas where, in case you forgot, President Kennedy was assassinated. Take a look at this lunacy:

Is this what we want for our country? I don't think so. Remember now, this is a small group of gun extremists but they are loud and obnoxious and they are carrying guns around making incendiary comments while trying to justify their reasons for carrying assault weapons in public places where they don't belong. What does this say to the children who may be fascinated with guns? Remember, 8 children a day die from gun injuries every day in America. Many of them are curious children who find a loaded gun lying around at home ending in tragedy. An alarming number of children die from accidental shootings. And many child and teen gun deaths are suicides. So the NRA's new plan makes a lot of common sense, right?

And finally, there is a push by the corporate gun lobby to arm women. If women are convinced that only a gun will make them safer in domestic abuse situations, they will go to gun stores to buy one, right? This wrong headed approach will turn deadly for women. The proof is in the numbers. But never mind the facts. The Kentucky legislature wants more women to be armed against abusers instead of trying to get guns away from the abusers. I know that a gun would not have saved my sister's life. When women are attacked or abused, it is often a surprise attack with no time to react. Guns can be easily taken from a woman by a stronger man. This backwards thinking is dangerous for women. From the article:
This week, a Kentucky law kicks in that aims to protect domestic violence victims—not by taking away guns from their abusers, but by making it easier for victims to carry guns.
Kentucky has some of the most lax gun restrictions for domestic violence perps in the nation, and between 2003 and 2012, a greater percentage of intimate-partner homicides in Kentucky were committed with guns than anywhere else in the country. A number of states prohibit certain domestic abusers from possessing guns with laws that bar convicted stalkers, people subject to temporary restraining orders, or dating partners convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. Kentucky does none of that. For the chart above, Mother Jones looked at eight gun restrictions related to domestic violence that states have enacted; Kentucky had zero. (In the chart, Kentucky is in the upper right-hand corner.)
To prevent domestic shootings, guns should be taken from the abusers/stalkers/subjects of protective and restraining orders rather than providing guns to those who are abused. This is just not the kind of country we want. Arming more people will not solve the problem of gun violence.

Closer to home, a senseless and irresponsible shooting by an allegedly "law abiding gun owner" took place the other day.  When a gun is available and carried around, this happens more often than gun extremists want us to know. From the article:
The teen told authorities she had gone outside to tie up her barking dog when she saw the shadow of someone crouching in the yard. She said she heard three gunshots and felt bullets striking her. The teen said she fell on the deck and had to pull herself into the house, because she could not walk, to call 911.
Investigators said they found three spent .45-caliber shells in the grass near the deck. Authorities also found an area about 75 to 100 feet south of the home where someone apparently had been lying in the grass beneath a pine tree.
According to the complaint, the girl told investigators that a man who lived nearby had been riding his mower through her yard and that he routinely carried a pistol in his holster. She said she had spoken to him about trespassing and that he denied trespassing on her property.
Officers searched Pickering's home and found a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol with a holster in an air vent, the complaint said. Pickering was arrested and told investigators he had not seen the gun in a week or so. When officers noticed a fresh grass strain on the front of Pickering's jeans, he said he may have gotten the stain kneeling down to hook the trailer to his mower, the complaint said.
When authorities pointed out inconsistencies in his statement, Pickering said he had taken his children for a ride with the mower and that after he returned home a girl came to the front door and confronted him about trespassing, the complaint said. Pickering told investigators he went to her house, knelt by a pine tree and shot her twice after she came out the front door, according to the complaint.
Pickering said he returned home after the shooting and put the gun and holster in the vent, the complaint said.
People should be able to complain to a neighbor about driving through their yard with a lawn mower without fear of being shot for daring to complain. Raise your hand if your first impulse when a neighbor asks you not to drive on her lawn is to shoot her. There are clearly people who should not have guns. Anger, vengeance and guns do not go together.

The gun lobby is in denial over the shooting incidents and demonstrations of gun carrying that are happening every day in our country. The proof is in the numbers of gun deaths and injuries. The notion that carrying guns in public will make us safer is an attempt by the gun extremists to foist their own values on the rest of us, who consist of the majority when it comes to gun violence prevention. If we care about public health and safety, common sense will lead us to a different solution to the problem of the devastation of gun violence on our families and communities. The corporate gun lobby is working very hard to get more Americans to own and carry guns. Their motives to appeal to children need to be questioned.

Sales of guns are now going down again since it is clear that President Obama is actually not coming for their guns. Note, from the linked article, that sales of small concealable hand guns are up. Creating new markets for guns is the ultimate goal here. But the cynical attempts to do so by openly displaying guns in sensitive places and places where families hang out is just plain a bad idea. And suggesting that children should all be trained to shoot guns as part of a school curriculum and show mastery before passing to the next grade is so out of touch with reality that it makes one wonder how desperate the gun lobby is for gun sales.

Most Americans want the right to be safe in their homes and their communities from being shot. Even Texans, where the Open Carry demonstrations are happening regularly, want, at the least, background checks on all gun sales. The bottom line is that the risks are great when loaded guns are around where we live, play, work, eat and do business. The kind of country we want is one where people are not being shot to death every day in senseless and avoidable shootings. We want our elected leaders to do the right thing and pass laws to prevent at least some of the shootings. Not doing anything about this national public health and safety epidemic is not an option. Do we want a country that values the lives of our families enough to protect them from senseless gun violence? I know what kind of country I want. I hope you will join me to make it happen. Let's get to work.


You've just got to love the NRA trying to walk back their stupid idea that kids should have mandatory gun training before advancing to the next grade in school. They are blaming the fuss on gun violence prevention folks who they insist on calling "anti-gunners" which is actually a polite name for us these days. But I digress. From the article:
Johnson appeared on the July 24 edition of NRA News' Cam & Company on The Sportsman Channel to defend his video. Host Cam Edwards started the conversation by saying, "One of the things that specifically the anti-gunners are flipping out about is [Johnson's] suggestion that if we had a national gun policy, that again, embraced our right to keep and bear arms, one of the things we might be talking about is educating kids about how to be safe and responsible with a firearm, regardless of whether or not their parents were gun owners. That thought ... has really got people on the anti-gun side of the equation freaked out. They're saying that you're demanding compulsory education of firearms training for kids, they are wondering why on earth any child would need to know how to be safe and responsible with a firearm and I find it fascinating because they're ignoring the fact that there are already hundreds of thousands of kids across this country who are safely and responsibly learning about firearms."
But critics of the NRA video were saying that it promoted the idea of mandatory firearms training because in the video Johnson says, "We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
Johnson also offered misleading commentary on his video, suggesting that he was being called "radical" for talking about teaching kids "what they should do if they do find a gun":
Make no mistake about it. This was a radical and totally insane idea offered up by an NRA leader. Getting push back should have been expected. Or do these folks actually believe what they are saying or saying what they believe? It's hard to know. Any way you look at this one, it was a really really bad idea to even suggest it. But it does have the affect of revealing the true agenda of the NRA lobbyists and leaders. They don't care that children are being shot to death in alarming numbers every day. Some of the kids know how to handle guns. Their parents taught them. And they still manage to shoot themselves or others because guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They don't belong in the hands of young children, period. I know this is a way of life for some but if folks don't recognize the risk of guns in homes, then they aren't being responsible gun owners.

Also lying and deception is not a good idea. More from the article:
Edwards ended the segment by showing "a portion of this commentary clip so you know what it is that the anti-gun folks are actually freaking out about."
Unfortunately NRA News cut the video just before the most controversial part of his commentary, where Johnson said: "Just like we teach them reading and writing, necessary skills. We would teach shooting and firearm competency. It wouldn't matter if a child's parents weren't good at it. We'd find them a mentor. It wouldn't matter if they didn't want to learn. We would make it necessary to advance to the next grade."
You just can't make this stuff up.