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.
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Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy Sytennde Mai and the gun laws in Norway

Please check out my latest post about Norwegian Constitution day ( yesterday) on my new blogging site. You can read about what the gun laws in Norway can do to inform us about changing our own. We can be safer if we have the mind and the courage to do so.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The gun nuts and nutty gun rhetoric and logic

This is cross posted on my other blogging site where I am writing posts that don't appear here. Please check it out. Commongunsense.me. 
Oregon just passed a new law requiring background checks on all gun sales. This makes 7 states plus the District of Columbia having now required that all gun sales have background checks. It's more than interesting to watch the gun nuts go all nutty about the idea that everyone now needs to go through a background check when purchasing a gun. These folks take it all personally as if the law was meant to punish them. Think about it. How could a law that requires Brady background checks,which most of these folks already undergo when purchasing their guns at federally licensed firearms dealers, punish them? What about the tired old mantra that we need to enforce the laws already on the books?- an excuse to stop progress towards safer communities. It's backwards thinking promoted by the corporate gun lobby. Don't believe them. This law will only stop people who shouldn't be able to purchase guns from purchasing them anyway.
Gun nuts have been getting away with these talking points for many years. Apparently they don't like laws that get in the way of unfettered access to guns. They want their guns with no hassle, no laws in the way.
The thing is, this nutty way of thinking allows felons, adjudicated mentally ill people, domestic abusers, and others who shouldn't have guns to get them easily. The Million Mom March and Brady Chapters have been advocating for expanding Brady background checks for the last 15 years. Even after the horrific shooting of 20 first graders at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut, the gun lobby stood in the way of common sense. Our Senators couldn't even muster support for something that made so much sense and was a compromise piece of legislation, after spending time with the parents of the nation's most horrific shooting. Shame on them all.
Other groups have joined the fray since May 14, 2000 increasing the number of people advocating openly and loudly for Brady background checks and other measures to keep our children and our communities safe from devastating gun violence. Most of these got involved after the shooting in Newtown because they, like the rest of us, were horrified that something like this could happen in our country. They are getting a dose of the gun lobby's nuttiness that the rest of us have experienced for many years. They are also experiencing the fierce opposition to even the smallest measures to make us safer.
Together we are having an impact however. We welcome the new folks who have joined us in the fray. We already know that the general public and even gun owners and NRA members are with us. For at least 15 years, polling has been consistent about that. We also already know that some of our politicians have been cowed by the corporate gun lobby whose minions speak of gun confiscation and taking away rights if we just but pass small but reasonable measures to keep the majority safe.
What we need now is for the gun nuttery to be openly recognized. We can look to this recent article in the Washington Post about a "constitutional" Wisconsin Sheriff and his extreme nutty views about guns and gun violence for what the minority is thinking. His views are crazy and unsubstantiated but somehow he continues to be re-elected. Let's take a look:
Less than 24 hours after Officers Benjamin J. Deen, 34, and Liquori Tate, 24, of the Hattiesburg Police Department were gunned down during a traffic stop, Milwakuee County Sheriff David A. Clarke linked the deaths to events in Ferguson, Mo., and said in a series of tweets that the president is to blame.
“Obama started this war on police intentionally,” Clarke wrote. “Right in line with his community agitating.”
Clarke, a conservative folk hero who has predicted that a second American revolution will be fought over gun rights, is a regular Fox News guest with55,000 followers on Twitter. In 2013, he ran radio ads telling people to fight back against violent criminals instead of relying on 911, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
America’s 1st Freedom, an NRA publication, has called the outspoken Clarke “NRA’s Favorite Sheriff.” Earlier this year, he was presented with the Charlton Heston Courage Under Fire Award at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Right then. The NRA leaders love this guy. He is a perfect foil for their extreme views about the world. And he is encouraging people to protect themselves from all of those violent criminals out there waiting to get them rather than to rely on his very own services as a Sheriff. You really can't make this stuff up.  From this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. set off alarm bells Friday with a radio spot some view as a call for citizens to arm themselves.
In the radio ad, Clarke tells residents personal safety isn't a spectator sport anymore, and that "I need you in the game."
"With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option," Clarke intones.
"You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back."
Clarke urges listeners to take a firearm safety course and handle a firearm "so you can defend yourself until we get there."
"You have a duty to protect yourself and your family. We're partners now. Can I count on you?"
The thing is, what Clarke says is simply not true. Continue reading the article. This is the fear and paranoia that the corporate  gun lobby needs in order to stay in business. It's what we in the world of gun violence prevention movement have been fighting against. The fact that our politicians have been duped into believing this nutty rhetoric should be alarming and a lesson for why we need to keep working to advocate for what we know is right.
The gun lobby has actually become more nutty in the 15 years since I have been involved. They have gained ground by weakening gun laws all over the country claiming that any law to strengthen our safety is a violation of their rights. Their other specious claim is that any stronger gun law punishes their own. That, of course, is not true and ridiculous but they manage to get away with it because of our own lawmakers' lack of backbone when it comees to challenging this "logic". Here are just a few of the inane efforts to deceive gun owners, the public and lawmakers:
George Zimmerman made the news again. This time, he was on the other end of a gun nut who shot at him in a claimed road rage incident in Florida. The shooter has been in other disputes with Zimmerman and claimed "self defense." Ha! You just can't make this stuff up. It's just plain nuts that Zimmerman was not held legally accountable for the death of an innocent Black teen-ager and even nuttier that he is out and about causing more trouble.
How many more incidents should be tolerated for the man who has already killed another human being?  This is the 4th one since he killed Trayvon Martin. Some people should not have guns and yes, they should lose their gun rights. This is a guy who is the poster child for what can go wrong in our twisted and dangerous gun culture. We don't need Stand Your Ground laws so people like Zimmerman can walk away from a murder. We don't need guns everywhere carried by anyone.
The Tennessee Governor signed a law also similar to one signed in Indiana to interfere with federal gun regulations because, you know, states shouldn't follow federal law. How this benefits gun owners and law abiding citizens is not spelled out. It will actually benefit the felons and others who should not have guns. My theory is that this is on purpose so when felons have more guns, the gun lobby can hysterically cry that more citizens need their guns for self protection against the felons with guns. It's nuts. What could possibly go wrong?
And in a cynical attempt to roll back "knife rights" the NRA is involved in legislative measures to allow possession of more dangerous knives for "law abiding" citizens. Nuts. From the article:
“I don’t see knives posing that big of a danger to the public,” Representative Harold Dutton Jr., who sponsored the bill, said in an interview. “Now that we’re going to let everybody have a gun, I think we ought to set knives free.”
This twisted "logic" is actually more nutty than we think. The gun nuts like to argue that knives take more lives than guns. They are wrong of course and it can be easily proven. The claim is that knives kill more people than long guns. That would be true. But total gun homicides in this FBI report from 2011 were 8523 compared to total knife homicides of 1694.
Here's my theory. If we allow more dangerous knives we will certainly have a rise in deaths from knives. Then the gun lobby can say that knives are just as lethal as guns so what's the problem?
The thing is, these measures increase the likelihood of deaths and injuries to innocent people all over our country. It's just plain nuts.
We are better than this. But arguing with nuts is just nuts. It isn't worth the argument. The problem is that our legislators refuse to use logic and get cowed by the nuts. They are bullied into taking positions counter to public health and safety. And what we will surely see is an increase in deaths and injuries. In states with strong gun laws and fewer guns, there are fewer gun deaths. The same is true in most other civilized, developed democratized countries not at war. We have the proof. We just need our elected leaders to speak the truth and not be afraid of the nuts.
Isn't it past time to speak the truth and get on with ways to save lives? Why are the gun nuts winning the argument with our elected leaders? They shouldn't be. If you believe, like most Americans do, that too many of our leaders are lapdogs for the gun lobby, please let them know how you feel. Also please join a group working on preventing gun violence. As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Million Mom March, I see a strong and committed group of Americans who are not going away. We are stronger than ever and we will call out the nutty gun logic so we can base policy on facts.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Million Mom March, moms and guns

I have written several new posts on my other blogging site. Today's post was about the risk of guns to women, the push by the corporate gun lobby to get women to purchase guns, and about the 15th anniversary of the Million Mom March.

Please check out this recent post on Mother's Day for what mothers and others can do to prevent and reduce gun violence. It doesn't have to be the way it is today. We can do better than we are doing.

Reminder- I moderate comments on the other blogging site.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Guns as available as candy

Please check out this post as it is cross posted on my other blogging site.

In America guns are almost as readily available as candy. That is not just me talking. That is a quote from this article about yet another "accidental" shooting of a child by a child- this time in my state of Minnesota. Let's take a look at the quote from this article:

Wilson said it is far too easy for children to get their hands on a gun.
“These kids can get a gun just like they can go and get a Snickers bar,” said Wilson, who has found himself responding to shootings in Minneapolis to help loved ones cope. “It’s not a surprise to the people who know.”
People know. It's not a surprise. Kids can get guns like they can get candy. Kids can find loaded guns in parks. And then kids "play" with guns and sometimes when adults are in the same house. Adults are responsible for this. All guns start out as legal purchases. They don't fall from the sky and end up in parks or in the hands of felons or others who should not have them.
If people know, why aren't we doing something about this? Where do we think a gun laying around in a park comes from? Shouldn't kids be playing in parks without fear of them coming across a gun? Obviously the gun was not a legally owned gun. Well, maybe I shouldn't say obviously because "law abiding" gun owners have been known to leave guns laying around in bathrooms, or leaving them behind in store dressing rooms or in purses or backpacks, etc. I have written about these real life incidents many times before. But in this case, I suspect the gun was "lost" by someone else who shouldn't have had it.
We have, by most estimates, about 300 million guns in one place or another in America. Many are legally owned. Many are not. This is about one gun per person. Stunning. With that many guns around it is inevitable that the incident I linked to above happened. It will happen again and again and it has happened before. On average, 9 kids a day are shot in America. About 7 die. Why isn't this a national emergency?
Where is common sense?
We have such a cavalier attitude about guns in our country that finding a gun in a park is no big deal apparently. And when adults just assume that their kids know better than to play with a gun, I would say we have a serious unaddressed problem. And thanks to the corporate gun lobby,this problem is leading to devastating and avoidable gun injuries and deaths all over our country.
Just because it hasn't happened in your community doesn't mean it won't. Until we get serious about having the national conversation that we deserve to have our children will be at risk. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill people. They are not toys. They should not be as available as candy bars. They should be difficult to access by those who shouldn't have access- period.
The irony of this attitude towards guns appears in this great video by Comedian Amy Schumer in which a woman is asking why she can't access birth control. Watch to the end for the best punch line. You can watch it here and decide for yourself:
Point made. Guns are easily available to children- birth control for women? Not so much.
And before I go, I must refer my readers to this awful incident, yet another of a "law abiding" Florida parent mishandling a gun resulting in the death of his own child.From the article:
Hernandez was only confirmed as the shooter through Bay County Court documents. According to court records, Hernandez was in another room of the apartment “practicing form in front of the mirror and the gun … accidentally went off and went through the mirror and the wall and fatally injured the daughter,” his attorney reported.
Practicing his form? For what? Does this guy need to look good while carrying that gun or shooting it? In what world is he living? Oh, right- the world of those who think carrying a gun makes them look macho and where nothing bad will ever happen with their own gun. Or something. At any rate, that need to practice how you would look while wearing your gun can lead to tragic consequences. A child is dead.
Sigh.
Where is common sense?

UPDATE:

I am having problems posting comments through this site. Please go to my other blogging site (above) if you wish to have a comment moderated. Paladin sent this comment:

"why don't we teach kids in school the dangers of guns? that they should report seeing a gun and not taking it home and playing with it."

Here is my reply: Some schools teach kids in the larger context of safety not to touch guns. There is no time in the curriculum for a gun safety course. Parents can send their kids to that if they are interested. They seem to be offered through community education through school districts or from private organizations. Parents are mostly responsible for this one but there is numerous evidence through hidden camera videos that even kids who have been told not to touch, do so anyway. The bigger problem, as I have stated before, is that too many guns are around for kids to access. We need to change that. Why is a gun in a park in the first place? Why are unsecured guns in homes in the first place? Kids will touch them and play with them. Keep them locked up.