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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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ferguson and other violence before Thanksgiving

Courtesy of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Well, the week before Thanksgiving is turning out to be a typical week for America and gun violence.  A 3 year old Washington child was shot by a 4 year old neighbor in the home of a gun extremist who left a loaded gun around for a child to access. A 9 month old New York baby was shot while his father was cleaning his illegal gun. A 9 year old was shot and killed by her father in Rochester, Minnesota. A Tallahassee, Florida anti-government guy set fire to his home and ambushed police officers in a residential neighborhood and killed one of them. And a Ferguson, Missouri woman is now dead because she was brandishing her new loaded gun in her car causing her husband to have an accident while driving and discharging a bullet from the gun- killing the woman. And then, the 4 deaths in a small South Dakota city due to a murder/suicide.

Oh and then there is the Oklahoma mother who was shot and killed by her 3 year old child who had access to a gun he shouldn't have had:
"According to Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker, the woman was home with her one-year-old and three-year-old children at the time.
They believe she was changing the baby’s diaper when the toddler fired the shot.
“My heart just goes out to this family. We have to pray. We have to pray for peace,” neighbor Vera Bennett said."
Yes, indeed. We need to pray for peace and for non-violence. We also need to pray for people to lock up their guns so avoidable "accidents" like this will stop. This is nuts.

And then we need to talk about the 12 year old Ohio boy who was shot dead by police because he was wielding what looked like a handgun but was an airsoft gun with the orange tip removed. The gun lobby has opposed measures for more regulations about even these "toy" or "pretend" guns that look like the real thing. This isn't the first incident like this involving an airsoft type gun. When your intent is, as that of the corporate gun lobby, to get more kids interested in real guns, then of course regulating the pretend guns for safety doesn't make sense. But is sure as heck makes no sense that our children are allowed to play with these guns without understanding the possible consequences. From this article:
In California, the NRA opposes a law similar to the one Ohio Rep. Reece has proposed. The legislation — SB 199, which is still pending passage — came after a Northern California sheriff shot and killed a 13-year-old child, Andy Lopez, who was holding a rifle that looked like an AK-47.
The NRA argues that children won’t pay brightly colored air guns the same respect as ones that look like real guns, potentially causing children to harm themselves accidentally.
Toby Hoover, founder of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, blames the NRA for undermining efforts to reduce the risk of these accidental shootings.
“We need a real education of people to realize if they’re carrying something that even looks like a weapon, they’re going to be assumed to have a weapon,” she said.
“The NRA has to stop opposing all safety regulations that could protect our kids from this violence,” Hoover said. “They need to join the rest of the country that want to save kids lives. It is all of our responsibilities.”
The NRA did not respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera.
Hoover said that it’s not Rice’s fault he got shot. It’s the responsibility of the adults who allowed him access to the realistic-looking replica and of the police who reacted with deadly force.
“We have to remember this was a child,” she said.
These are our children. What is the matter with us? Our often cavalier attitudes towards guns, even pretend guns, is leading to way too many tragic incidents that can be avoided with simple regulations. This is about preventing tragedy. Children do like to play with guns- toy guns and real guns, as it turns out. Police officers do get understandably nervous when young kids and teens have what appear to them to be real guns in public places. Why? Because young teens have been responsible for some of our nation's mass shootings. Sad, but true. More guns, even pretend guns, have not made us safer.

And finally, I can't not write about what happened in Ferguson, Missouri after the failure of the grand jury to indict a white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black unarmed teen-ager. We may disagree about the evidence so far released about how things went down that fateful August day. But there are some facts that are hard to dispute. Young black males are arrested in greater numbers than other young males. There have been more shootings of young black males by police officers than other young males. More black teens died of gunshot injuries than the same population of white teens in 2012, the year of the Sandy Hook shooting. The writer of this article points out the difference in how the media treats the gun deaths of people of color from that of white people. She has a point and the media should examine their own views about racial disparity when writing about violent incidents. From the article:
Yet, despite the disproportionate number of low-income children of color who are killed by gun violence, calls to action for the creation of effective policies to stymie gun violence remain muffled, if not unheard.  The manner in which local and national news media have historically framed gun violence in inner city neighborhoods versus suburban locales may, in fact, be the most substantial contributing factor to the indifferent response.
For years, the media has depicted racial and ethnic minorities in a negative manner, perpetuating stereotypes of racial and ethnic minorities as morally compromised, and hence, innately criminal.  For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, national news outlets described Blacks in search of food as “looting” while Whites were characterized as “finding” the same necessary sustenance.  Subsequent opinion polls discovered that members of the general public expressed greater support for White victims versus Black victims of Hurricane Katrina who were in receipt of government assistance.
Similarly, local news media have dedicated significant portions of their programming to highlighting crimes involving racial and ethnic minorities.  However, research has demonstrated that the proportion of news stories involving racial and ethnic minorities is often incongruent with the proportion of minorities actually living within the respective locales, resulting in an overrepresentation of minority groups in crime related stories.
In framing racial and ethnic minorities as the primary perpetrators of crime, local news stations have essentially compromised the public’s ability to associate minorities with the role of victim.  In fact, studies have demonstrated that crimes involving a White person as the victim and a person of color, Black especially, as the assailant are more likely to garner the attention of local news stations.  Conversely, research has revealed that crimes involving a Black victim are deemed ordinary, and therefore, not worthy of media attention.  Indeed, crimes involving both a Black assailant and a Black victim are widely perceived as a simple cultural peculiarity and not deserving of media attention, and ultimately, the attention of the general public and their respective political representatives.
We have a serious problem in our country with racial disparity when it comes to arrests, convictions, and imprisonments. We have a serious problem with relationships between law enforcement and people of color going back decades in America. We have institutional racism in America that is spilling out in politics, in incidents involving violence, in our social, economic and education systems and in our justice system. The communities of color are hurting in many ways that most of us who are not living in their communities can not possibly understand. Poverty- lack of jobs- poor education- violence- lack of opportunity- fear of being arrested- fear of a lot of things the majority of us don't think about on a daily basis.

The other problem we have in America is the militarization of our law enforcement not seen in most countries not at war. Since 9-11 that has increased out of fear of being attacked again by extremists. This only serves to increase the tension between citizens and the police. In Ferguson, we saw police outfitted in riot gear and "storm trooper" like uniforms. The rioters last night in Ferguson were wrong in their actions. They were understandably angry and frustrated. Michael Brown's family called for peaceful protests but that did not happen. Mistakes were made on both sides that led to further looting, rioting, violence, burning and civil unrest. What happened last night is a symbol of the underlying tensions in America about race and also about guns and violence.

There is reason to fear this over arming of our law enforcement. After watching the Ferguson law enforcement in their gear last night, one can understand that fear. But we also have more guns per capita than any other country not at war making it difficult for officers who are sometimes attacked by people who hate them. There have been enough examples of this (here, here and here) in recent years to lead us to understand the fear that law enforcement officers face every day.

But more guns is not the answer. Violence causes more violence. And mistrust of those who are different from us spawns suspicion and trouble. Police officers are heavily armed and often face heavily armed citizens in some communities in our country. It's a vicious circle. When so many people are armed, there is more suspicion that everyone actually IS armed or needs to be for self protection. And too often young black males get involved in this kind of circular thinking leading to more violence in their own communities. Some think a gun will lead to more safety for them but that is not how it is turning out. Also too often, law enforcement officers make wrong assumptions about young men of color leading to more distrust. It's time for us to examine who we are as a country and to come together to have a national discussion involving the many things that led to what happened in Ferguson last summer and before and since.

We may never know the full truth of what happened the day Michael Brown was shot by Officer Wilson. Brown is dead and couldn't speak on his own behalf. Wilson did get to speak on his own behalf. And that is what the grand jury believed. Our justice system is not perfect. Human beings are not perfect. At the least we ought to strive to make things better than they have been for that is what we leave for our children and grandchildren. From the linked article:
As the body count rises, as the names of the young black kids whose lives have been stolen from them are uttered during marches and across kitchen tables, momentum is building. Change is coming.
But it’s too slow. Too slow for Mike Brown. Too slow for Tamir Rice. Too slow for Akai Gurley. Too slow for Marissa Alexander. Too slow.
On this Thanksgiving, please take the time to reflect on the events of the past few days.  If you own guns, lock them up. You shouldn't need them sitting around your table enjoying great food and family. And remember that too many families will not be sitting around their tables enjoying their turkey and mashed potatoes this year because of senseless shootings. For many in the Ferguson community this Thanksgiving will be filled with anguish and deep concern about the grand jury announcement. Their community needs healing. The country needs healing. We all need to use common sense when it comes to guns, violence and how to work together for safer communities. We can have safer communities everywhere if we start truly and objectively examining who we are and what we want for our children and families.

Have a safe and good Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gun safety= being safe from domestic shootings

Since my family has suffered from the loss of a loved one ( my sister) in a domestic shooting, this issue is always at the top of my list of concerns. No one would have thought this awful kind of shooting could happen in my family. That is what is often said. But underneath that statement lies a reality. No family expects that anything this awful could happen to them but happen it does. Many of these deaths are preventable with common sense gun safety reform and common sense when it comes to guns in general.

Friends of the shooter in this latest reported incident about a mass shooting at a South Dakota home were shocked and surprised. The article ends with this quote:
"We're all kind of devastated right now," he said. "Families are all shook up. Usually something like this happens in the big city, not here."
The problem with the statement is that it's wrong. Domestic shootings happen virtually everywhere. There is no discrimination as to age, race, geography, or economic standing. 4 people are dead and one left injured after the incident above. And people almost always express shock and surprise. Why is that? People we know and love are not supposed to do something like this. The affect of gun violence is a like a whirlpool. It keeps turning and moving outward and affects many in it's circle of grief. This entire community has been shaken by the deaths of so many people they knew and loved.

The shooter was described as someone that couldn't possibly have done this. But when a gun is available, people who might not be thought to be violent can become so in an instant. In that instant, lives are taken and all has changed. That is why it is so important to educate people about the risks of guns in homes.

A felon and domestic abuser was responsible for the tragic and preventable death of a young boy who was killed when a gun fired in the next door hotel room and a bullet went through the wall. Domestic abusers should not guns. Where do they get them? Easy. Private sellers on the Internet or gun shows provide ample opportunity. But in this case, a woman who was with the man let him use her gun. Or did she buy it for him as a straw purchase? More will undoubtedly come with this story as well. What was she thinking? Did she know anything about this guy? From the link above, we learn that the man was a pretty unsavory character who clearly should not be around guns at all. Where is common sense? This shooting was not the result of a domestic dispute. But a domestic abuser who should not have had a gun in the first place killed an innocent child while being totally irresponsible with that gun he should not have had in the first place.

I write often enough on this blog about domestic shootings. They happen frequently. In some states, like my own state of Minnesota, guns can now be removed from domestic abusers with restraining orders or orders for protection against them. This makes sense. But we can do better than this. As long as we have not passed a law to expand gun checks to private sales through the Internet or at gun shows, we are leaving a hole in the law ( state and national) that allows for prohibited purchasers and owners to gain access to guns. After the mid term elections, Washington state became the 7th state in the nation to pass a background check law like this. There is no valid reason for the U.S. not to have a law that can save the lives of Americans. But the corporate gun lobby has decided to oppose laws in states or at the federal level that will stop felons, domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill people and other prohibited people from getting guns.

Speaking of Minnesota, in 2013 the number of deaths doubled from 2012. Of the 37 domestic deaths, 17 were from firearm injuries. We should all hope that the numbers don't continue on this trajectory but it appears that gun deaths overall are rising and will soon surpass auto accidents as a cause of death. That said, it is incumbent upon all of us to do whatever it takes to stop this from happening.

Domestic shootings are usually the result of relationship arguments gone wrong. As it happens, most of the victims are women. Women are more likely to die if there is a gun in the home. This article contains important facts that should be known about domestic violence in America. Just a few things from the article:
U.S. deaths 1980-2008 (from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics)
Overall - Almost one out of five or 16.3% of murder victims were killed by an intimate partner.
Women - Women account for two out of three murder victims killed by an intimate partner. The number of women killed by an intimate partner fell from 43% in 1980 to 38% in 1995, but rose to 45% in 2008.
Men - The number of men killed by an intimate partner fell from 10.4% in 1980 to 4.98% in 2008.
These are stunning statistics. So why are we not trying to do more to prevent at least some of the deaths due to domestic disputes? We could. There is a bill languishing in the U.S. Senate sponsored by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar to make sure that stalkers and domestic partners don't have guns. I know it's difficult to believe but the NRA is opposed to this bill. Why? Let's see:
Aides from two different senators' offices confirm that the NRA sent a letter to lawmakers describing Klobuchar's legislation as "a bill to turn disputes between family members and social acquaintances into lifetime firearm prohibitions." The nation's largest gun lobby wrote that it "strongly opposes" the bill because the measure "manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as 'domestic violence' and 'stalking' simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions."
The NRA's letter imagines a "single shoving match" between two gay men as an example of how the domestic violence legislation could be misused. "Under S. 1290, for example, two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate 'social relationship,' could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple 'assault' arising from a single shoving match," the letter says.
The NRA also argues in the letter that "stalking" is too broad of a term to indicate any danger to women. "'Stalking' offenses do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior," the letter claims. "Under federal law, for example, stalking includes 'a course of conduct' that never involves any personal contact whatsoever, occurs wholly through the mail, online media, or telephone service, is undertaken with the intent to 'harass' and would be reasonably expected to cause (even if it doesn't succeed in causing) 'substantial emotional distress' to another person."
Apparently what the NRA does not recognize is that too many women die every day from domestic shootings. This is about prevention and saving lives. And more from the linked article:
Domestic abusers who have access to guns are over seven times more likely to kill their partners than those who don't have such access. A report released by the Center for American Progress last week shows that stalkers and physically abusive dating partners can be just as deadly as a violent spouse. One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that three-quarters of the women killed, and 85 percent of women who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner, had been stalked in the previous year. And almost half of all intimate-partner homicides are committed by a non-married, non-cohabitating dating partner who was not covered by federal gun restrictions.
And, back to Minnesota, a 9 year old girl was shot and killed by her father in what appears to be a domestic related shooting. From the article:
Police in Rochester say a father killed his 9-year-old daughter and then himself during his visitation with the girl at his brother's house.
Lt. Casey Moilanen said Monday the two were found dead in the basement of the home when the girl's mother came to pick up her daughter Sunday afternoon. Moilanen says the brother of the 49-year-old man and the brother's wife and three children were upstairs at the time of the shooting, heard loud noises, but not gunshots.
There was apparently a divorce involved since the girl was visiting her father at his brother's home. Here's a question. How do people not realize that there are gunshots in their home and check to see what happened or call 911? I'm just asking. This, to me, is a disturbing side story of this incident. And if they heard loud noises, they didn't check on what they were? People need to be more pro-active about safety. There will be more about this in the coming days and weeks.

As it turns out, over half of our nation's mass shootings are the result of a domestic dispute gone wrong. Radcliff Haughton, the shooter at the Milwaukee area spa mass shooting, had a history of domestic abuse. He got his gun from Armlist.com, an on-line gun retail site, with no background check which would have revealed that he was a prohibited gun purchaser. And then he went after his estranged wife and shot a bunch of other people at the same time. When he was finished with his rampage, he had killed himself, his wife and 2 others.

Senseless and avoidable.

So what to do about this national public health and safety problem? One obvious answer is make sure that our system for purchasing guns prohibits abusers who have had violent behavior towards their partners/spouses don't have access to guns. This can be done through the FBI's gun check system. It is also a matter of public education and awareness. Many people don't think that someone they know or love could possibly shoot another person. The truth is otherwise.  Guns are dangerous and a risk to those who own them and those who live in the home or are in the same place as someone with a gun. Accidental discharges and suicides are happening way too often with guns accessed in homes. But homicides are more likely to happen in homes with guns. And when there are vulnerable, unstable, angry or depressed people living with loaded guns, the chances increase of gun death or injury.

Because the corporate gun lobby has been so good at diffusing the danger of guns in homes and public places and have deceived elected leaders into thinking that their second amendment rights trump the rights of the rest of us to be safe from gun violence, we are a country with continuing carnage. This is not the America we want or deserve. It's time for that to change. Let's get to work to make us all safer from the often avoidable tragedy of gun deaths and injuries.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Two mass shootings in the last 12 hours- just another day in America

Only in America. There have been 2 mass shootings in less than 12 hours. The first one happened in the library of the Florida State University. 3 students were injured. The shooter was shot by armed campus police. It sounded frightening at the least. One student was apparently saved by a book he had taken out from the library. News shows have shown a photo of the book with a bullet hole in it. Below is the message that is making the rounds on Social Media from one of the students in the library to her parent.



This is something no parent wants to see. Parents should know that their children are safe from gun violence while at college. But of course in America, colleges seem to be the location of many of our country's mass shootings. For that matter, so do high schools and then again, middle schools and elementary schools.

From another article we are learning more about the shooter who allegedly was a former FSU student and a law school graduate. From the article:
She said she had known him since he was about 13 or 14 and that he ran cross country with her kids and stayed at her house a lot. She said he lived with his grandmother after coming out of a "bad situation" with his parents.
"He was having some financial issues and moved back home and decided he'd come back to Florida to work," she said. "My heart's broken. In a million years I wouldn't have thought he'd do something like this. He was struggling, having decided that what he was doing out there was not good. He had some issues and just decided he'd come home.
In America, a lot of "troubled" people have easy access to guns and live in a country where guns are seen as some kind of solution to a problem or a way to seek some kind of revenge or take one's own life but decide to take others along. One person interviewed for the story above thought the shooter wasn't in his right mind. Who is when they decide to go somewhere and shoot up a bunch of people? Many people have financial, family, emotional and other problems. People all over the world have similar problems. But in America some of these folks shoot other people over their problems. Our history is littered with the names of shooters like this man allegedly was. The shooters at Columbine, Virginia Tech, the Tucson shopping mall, an Aurora, Colorado theater, Sandy Hook elementary school, Marysville high school, etc. You get the picture. It's a picture we shouldn't have to see. Where is common sense?

The second shooting was what appears to be a domestic shooting. Two small children are dead in a New Jersey home and another adult and child are injured. This, too, is an all too familiar scene in America. It happens in every state. And it will continue to happen as long as we turn the other way and refuse to take on the gun culture promoted by the corporate gun lobby. Surely we are better than this.

UPDATE:

I want to add two things to this post. The first is an article that echos what I wrote about the two reactions to mass shootings expressed by the gun extremists as opposed to most Americans. From the article:
The gun lobby acknowledges the problem of mass-shooting incidents in the United States. Its solution calls for arming more people who could potentially stop a shooter and for rapid-response training focused on minimizing casualties. This is part of an increasingly pervasive, insidious gun culture that accepts mass shootings as inevitable. But by this logic, the first victims—friends, loved ones, children—are expendable. The first victims of a mass shooting are a mangled human sacrifice on the altar of Second Amendment rights.
Until a shooter pulls the trigger to begin his slaughter, he is merely a guy with a gun. The gun lobby insists that the government should allow people to carry firearms into all public places. (Gun advocates continued to push for expanded open-carry legislation the morning after the Tallahassee shooting.) After all, who are we to judge a man simply because he is proudly displaying a gun by his side? In this world, the first victim is merely an alarm for others to respond. (...) With reasonable preventative measures off the table, gun advocates are making it easy for violent or unstable individuals to access and use firearms in acts of mass violence. In arming bystanders as a solution, the NRA and other pro-gun groups are simply telling first victims and their loved ones that their lives are worth less than gun owners having to consent to a basic background check. For the rest of the victims, well, you had a chance to arm yourselves.
Right. The second article is the statement from Dan Gross of the Brady Campaign about the Florida State University shooting:
“Our thoughts are with the victims of this morning’s shooting at Florida State University, as well as their families and the entire FSU community. While the circumstances of this horrible incident remain under investigation, this morning is yet another reminder of the gun violence in our country that claims nearly 90 American lives every day and injures more than 100,000 every year.
“We know that there are real solutions to reduce and prevent gun violence – from passing laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to inspiring safer attitudes and behaviors around guns in the home. Today’s tragedy should serve as an urgent call to action to every American tired of living with the gun violence in our schools and homes and on our streets to raise our voices in support of the solutions we know exist.”
Florida received an “F” grade in our 2013 state scorecard analysis because of its weak gun laws – in particular for its lack of expanded Brady background checks that would prevent criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing guns without a background check.

UPDATE #2:

I think we can safely say that we are living in a crazy and dangerous country when a second shooting occurred on a college campus in one day. This time, the potential shooter was a man acting strangely on a Louisiana campus who was stopped by armed officers before he did harm to others:
Shreveport Police Department spokesman Cpl. Marcus Hines said the man pulled out a handgun during a struggle with two Centenary College Department of Public Safety officers. In response, one of the officers fired at least one gunshot at the man in front of Magale Library, where he collapsed.
The officers were escorting the man off campus because he had been exhibiting "peculiar behavior," Hines said.
Why so many people acting peculiar with guns? Where do the guns come from?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gun safety=ASK(ing) about guns in homes




In my next in the series about gun safety reform, I want to write about kids shooting other kids with unsecured guns- particularly kids playing with friends. Why not ASK if there is a gun in the homes where your children and grandchildren play? It's an awkward question but a necessary one. The above video is from the site of the ASK campaign, a Brady Center campaign. Given the number of accidental deaths of children in America due to gun discharges why wouldn't we make this part of our every day practice? Asking could save the life of your child or grandchild. Asking equals safer homes and communities for children. I just wrote about safe storage of guns and deaths and injuries to children where that did not happen. In some cases, the gun discharges and kills the child holding the gun or a sibling. But some families experience the death of a child who was playing with a friend.

Check out the ASK campaign for a lot more information about how you can do this simple thing to save a life. As it says, "asking saves kids". There are a lot of other things we do to prevent serious harm or death to our children. We certainly find out if a parent will be home when our young children go to play. Will there be peanuts or other foods a child might have an allergic reaction to and become ill? Who is living in the home? If the parent will be driving your child, is there a child car seat or will they put the child in a seat belt? Will parents supervise an activity taking place at the home or while your child is with a friend? Is there a dog in the home that could be a danger or frightening to a child? Is there a swimming pool? If so, is it fenced in and if the kids swim in the pool, will an adult be there with the children? Are their poisonous or other dangerous materials around in the home?

Our children are our most important resource not to mention beloved by their families. We can't do enough to protect them from harm. So asking a simple question is not too much to ask.

From the ASK website linked above:

From the Childrens Defense Fund which releases an annual report about children and guns:

U.S. children and teens are 17 times more likely to die from a gun than their peers in 25 other high-income countries combined.
• U.S. children and teens made up 43 percent of all children and teens in these 26 countries but were 93 percent of all children and teens killed by guns.
• In 2010, children and teen gun death rates in the U.S. were over four times higher than in Canada, the country with the next highest rate, nearly seven times higher than in Israel, and nearly 65 times higher than in the United Kingdom.
• U.S. children and teens were 32 times more likely to die from a gun homicide and 10 times more likely to die from a gun suicide or a gun accident than all their peers in the other high-income countries combined
Why then, given the facts, are we not more alarmed about the rate of gun deaths among our own children and teens? These statistics are more than frightening. When children die from other causes, we rush to prevent the next child from dying. We take products off the market. We admonish parents to heed safety advice and change the way they do things in the home. We have public safety campaigns. Where are our leaders when it comes to protecting our children from a national public safety problem? Where are responsible adults and parents/grandparents? Guns in the home are a risk to our children and teens. The very least we can do is lock up the guns securely and ask about guns in the homes where children and teens hang out. There is no second chance.

This is just one more common sense measure to take when considering safe homes and safe communities. This is something on which we can all agree. If you don't believe me, check out this list of tragedies of kids shooting friends with an unsecured gun in the home:

Do I have to go on or will you promise to ask if there are guns in the homes where your children/grandchildren and teens hang out? There is a pledge on the ASK website. Please take the pledge. It could save a life and if you ask, others will follow, saving more lives. I have friends who have lost children from gun accidents suffered while playing with guns at the home of a friend. Even years later, the grief never goes away. So, for them and the thousands of others who have suffered from the loss of a child from an avoidable accident, please ASK. This is simple. Let's get to work.