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.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Guns in schools and other bad news

I wonder how many incidents will take place in Utah before the legislature realizes that they made a big mistake when they decided that loaded guns were a good idea in schools? I wrote about another such "accidental discharge" by an Idaho teacher in a classroom in a previous post. Now I must write again because it's happened again. A teacher shot herself in the foot in an elementary school bathroom in Utah. You just can't make this stuff up. If it's such a good idea for teachers to carry guns to "protect" students from school shooters, why have we now seen 2 "accidental" gun discharges in education facilities? There have been others actually that I and others have written about previously. And the Idaho law was just passed. What's next? In both cases, students were not injured. But these incidents lend the lie to the idea that more guns make us safer and "the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" made famous by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre after the Sandy Hook school shooting.



What say you now Mr. LaPierre? How is the false theory that "good guys" with guns will save students working out? I would say not well at all. But this is what the corporate gun lobby says and gets away with when our legislators and Congress do their bidding. We are not safer. Where is common sense? At least this latest incident in Utah has people talking about the law:
State law allows anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon, loaded or not, pretty much anywhere they go, and that includes of course to work without having to tell their employer. One legislator we spoke with said that’s putting gun rights over a parent’s right to know.
“I just wanted to have a discussion, I didn’t have any illusions about it passing but want to have a discussion because people were talking about it,” Utah State Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-District 37, said.
Yes. Gun rights often trump every other right for people to be safe from people carrying guns wherever they go. Why? More from the article:
The bill didn’t pass, and according to Bill Pedersen, who is the Director of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, it’s for the safety of everyone that concealed weapons remain a secret and on the person at all times.
“We did that specifically so they wouldn’t have to disarm, put their firearm in their vehicle if they had to, or not carry when they feel like they want to carry,” Pedersen said.
Right. It's so inconvenient to have take off your gun before going to work and store it in your car. What about the inconvenience of shooting yourself in the leg or foot or worse yet, shooting another innocent person? This false logic is going to kill us. And what's worse, too many people carry guns who are not properly trained-obviously. But the corporate gun lobby doesn't care about that either. In fact, they promote laws that allow people to carry with no training at all or even a permit. Great idea, right? But I digress. More from the above article:
Spackman Moss was a high school English teacher for 30 years. She said she can relate to a teacher’s desire to protect their students, but said that loaded guns should only be in the hands of the professionals.
“Given that our state only requires a 4-hour course to get a concealed carry permit, and that doesn’t include handling a gun, you don’t know the level of expertise,” she said.
Yup. Good idea to let people who have never handled a gun to carry one around in public and in schools where our precious children and grandchildren spend a lot of time. Good grief. This is ludicrous, stupid and dangerous.

And while I'm talking about common sense, why is it that so many teens have access to guns? Way too often stories like this one when teens are "playing" with guns and one is shot and killed make the news. What are teens doing with guns in the first place? They can't buy handguns legally in many states for obvious reasons. Where are the responsible law abiding adults here? I'm sure there will be an update to this case with information about where the gun came from in the first place. It should be noted that in Tennessee 19 year olds can purchase handguns legally. Good idea, right? You have to be 21 to drink alcohol legally. As a society we have decided that young adults under 21 shouldn't drink alcohol for many reasons. But guns? Nope. Lethal weapons are allowed.

And speaking of those who should not have guns, how many more times does George Zimmerman need to "shoot himself in the foot" with his continued bad behavior before he actually is held accountable for something? Yet one more alleged incident involving Zimmerman threatening to kill someone should be more than enough for us to understand that he is just not a "good guy" with a gun. One has to wonder when someone else will be shot and killed by George Zimmerman. From the article:
Apperson told the dispatcher that he pulled into a nearby gas station to use the phone since he didn't have his cellphone, and the truck followed him. Zimmerman drove the truck up to Apperson's car, blocking him in, Apperson said.
"He almost hit my car and he said he would shoot me then," said Apperson, who told the dispatcher that he never saw a gun in Zimmerman's truck. "Both of them were threatening to shoot me and kill me."
Apperson called police from the gas station, but the truck was gone by the time officers arrived. Apperson, who has a concealed-weapons license, was carrying a firearm at the time, according to the police report.
I would say all were lucky this did not end differently. Allegedly Zimmerman threatened to shoot the driver but the driver had a gun in his car. It doesn't take much imagination to think about the possibilities here. Zimmerman has a problem with guns and anger. They don't go together.

Again, a toddler has been shot and killed in Georgia with a gun accessed in the home of an aunt and uncle.  The aunt was arrested for possession of drugs and reckless behavior. These irresponsible and perhaps illegal gun owners allowed a 2 year old to access a loaded gun. This happens far too often in America. Senseless and avoidable loss of life.

I guess you shouldn't have boat trouble in Oregon as these 2 guys did. Watch out for that "law abiding gun owner" ready to shoot first and ask questions later. Luckily for all that didn't happen here. From the article:
Police arrested a man accused of firing a shotgun at boaters attempting to load up and leave after experiencing boat problems on the Siuslaw River. (...) 
Investigators said Elden Nordahl, 81, told the men not to leave. He then went into his home and came out with a shotgun, police said.
He’s accused of firing one shot that penetrated the boat’s hull. The men got in their vehicle and began driving away when Nordahl fired a second round that hit the boat’s engine, according to Oregon State Police.
Police arrested Nordahl on charges including menacing, recklessly endangering another person, unlawful use of a weapon and pointing a firearm at another person.
Officers seized a shotgun, a rifle and ammunition as evidence.
Be careful out there.

More concealed carry permit holders are causing more trouble on our streets. They weren't supposed to but they do. This Ohio man thought he was going to shoot someone in a road rage incident but he missed and hit someone else. That's bad all the way around. From the article:
A Ford Focus was traveling on West 116th Street when the car ahead made an abrupt turn without using a turn signal and backed into his home's driveway.
The Focus stopped and the three people inside -- a 19-year-old man, a 22-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman behind the wheel -- argued with the offending driver, a CCW permit holder.
The trio in the Focus left after the argument, but soon returned.
The 22-year-old passenger got out of the Focus and hurled a bottle at the permit holder's car, cracking the windshield. The permit holder shot at the man as he sprinted away. The shooter missed his target and struck the 19-year-old man sitting in the Focus' passenger seat.
Oops. Don't mess with those "law abiding" concealed carry permit holders. They carry their guns to "protect themselves and their families". And supposedly they know what they are doing and can shoot someone in self defense. Until they can't. They aren't supposed to "miss their target" as this guy did. And if the shooter had hit his "target", what then? Self defense?

Another "oops" with a gun occurred in a Colorado neighborhood when a woman threatened a young boy who was practicing his Clarinet outside:
A western Colorado woman is accused of pointing a rifle at several children in a neighboring back yard because she was upset that an 11-year-old boy was playing his clarinet outside.
Mesa County sheriff's deputies believe 60-year-old Cheryl Ann Pifer of Clifton had been drinking before allegedly threatening the children Wednesday afternoon.
The Daily Sentinel reports that the boy told Pifer that he was practicing the clarinet as part of his homework and couldn't go back inside his grandmother's house because a baby was sleeping.
The gun was not loaded. That doesn't excuse this woman's irresponsible behavior. Guns and alcohol do not go together. Some people shouldn't have guns.

So, to summarize- guns carried by teachers in schools meant to protect students from school shooters are now "accidentally" discharging. Concealed carry permit holders are missing their targets and threatening others with their guns. Toddlers continue to access guns they shouldn't have access to killing themselves or others. "Law abiding" gun owners shoot at innocent people who are doing nothing wrong. They also sometimes threaten children with guns when they are annoyed. I would say that the corporate gun lobby has deceived us all. Guns have not made us safer and more of them are being used in senseless shootings and accidents. Lives are lost. Lives are changed forever. Guns are deadly weapons designed to kill another human being and owning and/or carrying one is a heavy responsibility. They are a risk to those who choose to own them but that risk is too often swept under the rug in the hyperbolic discussion of gun rights. It's too late to say "oops" after someone is killed or injured or someone is needlessly and stupidly threatened. We just can't afford these "oops" moments with guns. Our legislators need to look carefully at how many "oops" moments there are and change what they are doing. Lives depend on it.

With rights come responsibilities. It's time for that serious national discussion to happen about the role of guns and gun violence in our everyday lives. Let's get to work. What we are doing now is clearly not working.

UPDATE:

It's hard to know what to say about this Ohio incident involving a gun permit holder and a pregnant woman. When stray bullets flying in our streets hit and severely injure two women inside of a store, we have a problem. Among those in the shooting was a concealed carry permit holder. From the article:
Two women were shot inside the store while they were checking out.
Christine McCoy, 24, suffered a gunshot wound to the side of her face. McCoy is currently nine months pregnant. A 28-year-old woman was also found with a gunshot wound to her arm. 
Both women were taken to MetroHealth Medical Center. McCoy is in critical condition, and the condition of her unborn child is unknown. 
A store employee, who witnessed the incident says that both women are regular customers at the store.
"She turned around and I hear a gunshot," he said. "There was so much chaos. There's no thinking. The only thing I was thinking of was helping her, that was it."
"I laid her on her back and I put a towel on her bullet wound," he continued. 
That store employee handed his surveillance video over to Cleveland Police. 
Preliminary investigation reveals that a 28-year-old man and another unidentified man were talking in the parking lot when a gray Ford Focus drove by and the occupants opened fire. 
The two men returned fire at the car, which was driving south on E. 79. They then fled the scene, but the 28-year-old man returned when he saw police arrive. 
He told police what happened, and provided officers with his weapon and CCW permit. He is being held pending the investigation but he is not charged. 
Was this self defense? Was it an accident? What was this? I say it was a tragedy and a ludicrous display of the American gun culture gone wrong.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Violence Against Women

September 15th will be the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Take a look at the photo on this post. This woman was shot and killed by her husband 4 years ago during the time she was trying to get out of her marriage. As happens far too often, it was too late for her. She didn't get away. Trying to get away is a dangerous time for women. Just as it was too late for my sister.

There has been much talk in the news about the problem of violence mostly perpetrated against women by men in partner/marriage relationships. Yes, there is some violence against men by women but the overwhelming number of domestic violence incidents are against women. And domestic violence also occurs in same sex relationships such as this shooting of a partner by a Minneapolis area man. The reason that VAWA was passed 20 years ago though was because most of the victims of the violence were and still are women. Vice President Joe Biden wrote this piece about why he sponsored the Violence Against Women Act:
"Twenty years ago, this was a right that few people understood and our culture failed to recognize. Kicking a wife in the stomach or pushing her down the stairs was repugnant, but it wasn’t taken seriously as a crime. It was considered a “family affair.” State authorities assumed if a woman was beaten or raped by her husband or someone she knew, she must have deserved it. It was a “lesser crime” to rape a woman if she was a “voluntary companion.” Many state murder laws still held on to the notion that if your wife left you and you killed her, she had provoked it and you had committed manslaughter.
That was the tragic history when, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990. We started out believing that the only way to change the culture was to expose the toll of domestic violence on American families. And I was convinced, as I am today, that the basic decency of the American people would demand change once they saw the scale of violence and the depth of the ignorance and stereotypes used to justify it."
News of domestic violence has been in front of us this past week as the story ( and video) of NFL Football player Ray Rice and the violent incident against his soon to be wife was released. This article in US News wrote about why we need to have laws against this kind of violence. From the article:
Twenty years after Congress passed the monumental Violence Against Women Act legislation, empowering advocates for abused women, the nation once again found itself with a painful reminder of the problem Congress tried to address. Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told the press, "Hitting a woman is not something a real man does" in response to a high-profile case of domestic violence involving NFL player Ray Rice.
The next morning, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation celebrating the passage of VAWA, and the strides the country has made in combating domestic violence since.
“VAWA has provided hope, safety, and a new chance at life for women and children across our nation,” the proclamation said. “With advocates, law enforcement officers, and courageous women who have shared their stories joined in common purpose, our country has changed its culture; we have made clear to victims that they are not alone and reduced the incidence of domestic violence.”
However the proclamation also acknowledged the problem of domestic violence is far from solved, a reality that the necessity of Earnest’s comments – coming in response to a video leaked Monday showing Rice knocking his then-fiancee unconscious in an elevator – clearly demonstrates.(...) 
Since VAWA became law, the rate of violence between intimate partners has fallen by 64 percent, according to the Justice Department statistics through 2010 (though that decline was part of a broader drop in crime). It is widely praised not only for enhancing the tools law enforcement had to prosecute abusers, but changing the overall culture in how Americans perceived domestic violence, which was at times thought to be a private matter that didn’t warrant the intervention of outside authorities.
“It set a national standard, and it gave it the importance and the money and the funding needed to change policing and enforcement, and really to put national muscles behind the efforts to reduce violence against women,” says Eleanor Smeal, the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, a women’s rights organization.
Its passage was the result of decades of work by feminists and domestic victims advocates, who had to overcome accusations that the bill would break up families. While those concerns have largely since been dismissed, the legislation has not been without its challenges. Most recently, its existence was placed in limbo when House Republicans appeared unwilling to reauthorize it over its expanded protections for Native Americans, undocumented immigrants and LGBT people.
Now the talk has turned to whether the National Football League has been remiss in its' failure to deal with not only Ray Rice but other players who have committed domestic abuse. Will the organization use some common sense or will it turn a blind eye to this problem? Sports figures are often given a pass and their behavior off the field gets excused as "boys will be boys". It is not acceptable any more and the pressure is on the NFL, and other professional sports organizations, to deal with their policies and hold players accountable for their "off the field" behavior. The sports industry has a lot of money and power and needs to protect profits, of course. Follow the money. And the players are paid a lot of money to entertain the rest of us. Many Americans love football or other sports. We admire the players for their talents and abilities and often make them heroes and role models. Domestic violence occurs everywhere but there seems to be a particular problem with professional athletes. That being the case, the NFL and other sports organizations have an opportunity to lead the way by providing a model for how to hold their players accountable for violent behavior. Ignoring it just makes everything worse and adds to this serious and potentially deadly problem.

There should be zero tolerance for the for domestic violence anywhere and the NFL has an opportunity to highlight the propensity for its' own players to perpetrate domestic violence. You can sign a petition here if you want to send a message that we want the NFL to take the lead and deal with their own problems.

Several years ago, in a high profile shooting, Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs shot and killed his girlfriend and the mother of his child and then himself.  Have we so quickly forgotten about that tragic incident? From the linked article:
It is still chilling to even write these words. This should have been a story for our times and a reference point from where we measure every overblown “scandal” in sports. Instead, with a chilling uniformity, the NFL moved on like it was just a commercial break in the action. Every network, with the exception of NBC, barely touched on the horror in their pre-game and half-time shows that weekend. The name Kasandra Perkins went unsaid. As for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he made the Super Bowl media rounds the following month and Jovan Belcher’s name somehow didn’t come up once.
Kasandra Perkins' family hasn't forgotten nor has Belcher's. They are all living around the hole created by the sudden, violent and tragic loss of their loved ones. That should have been a wake-up call but apparently it was not. In America, shootings happen with such regularity that we just shrug our shoulders and then move on with our lives without realizing that a shooting like this one could actually happen to anyone. Domestic abuse becomes deadly way too often. The majority of domestic murders are committed with guns. A new report from the Violence Policy Center examines the 2011 numbers for domestic abuse and domestic violence. From the press release about this report:
“The sad reality is that women are nearly always murdered by someone they know,” said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Already, many elected officials and community leaders are working tirelessly to reduce the toll of domestic violence. Yet despite these efforts, the numbers remain unacceptably high. We need new policies in place from local communities to the federal government to protect women from harm.”
“Nine women each week are shot to death by their husband or intimate partner,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “That's nearly 500 domestic gun violence deaths each year — more than twice the number of servicewomen killed in military conflicts since the Korean War. We urgently need better policies that protect women and their families from this senseless violence. No American, adult or child, should live in a perpetual state of fear. It’s inhumane.” (...)  
In 87 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, the homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery. For homicides nationwide in which the weapon could be determined, more female homicides were committed with firearms (51 percent) than any other weapon. Of the homicides committed with firearms, 73 percent were committed with handguns.
So what are we doing about this? Six states, including my own state of Minnesota, have passed laws to get guns away from domestic abusers. Hopefully this will lead to fewer domestic gun homicides. Yes, there are other methods of homicide. But we know that in report after report, abusers with guns kill the most women.

There's just no excuse for violence against women and further, murdering women by any method. I was listening to an expert in the domestic abuse area speak about the latest domestic assault by an NFL football player. The way she put it was that domestic violence is a crime of pattern. A pattern starts with physical, emotional, financial or psychological abuse. The woman leaves but comes back because of fear or the economic reality or because of the children or even the pets. The man abuses again. The woman leaves or tries to leave but comes back. Or she makes excuses and denies reality until one of several things happen. Either the woman gets away and gets help and leaves her partner/spouse or she stays and puts up with the abuse. She may end up dead in this case. Or perhaps the man gets the help he needs because of a court order and actually stops abusing. The latter is why Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs works with groups of men and trains law enforcement and others who deal with abuse to do a better job of preventing it. It is possible to change the behavior and interrupt the pattern of abuse.

The incidents continue daily. Unfortunately a 10 year old Florida girl has been left without both of her parents in a domestic shooting. She will never be the same, as someone in the article commented. Children are greatly affected by domestic violence and are sometimes the victims as well. I write often about ( mostly) men who shoot their partner/spouse and their own children. From the article:
Deputies responding to 6250 Cornerstone Drive found a 10-year-old girl “obviously crying and extremely upset.” The girl explained that she had tried to get into the bedroom after hearing the gunfire, but the door was locked.
The Ledger reported that officers kicked in the door, and found Denny and his 41-year-old wife, Jenny, dead on the floor.
The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide.
Denny had been serving as Hardee County’s director of planning and zoning since Aug. 2, 2010. There had been no reports of domestic violence at the home, and Denny had no criminal record.
Denny was also serving his fourth year as vice president of the Parent Teacher Association at his daughter’s school.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Grady Judd called Denny “a hard worker,” and a “very stable guy.”
Sometimes this is how domestic violence looks. There are no previous reports or knowledge of actual abuse. The signs are more subtle but obviously there is something not right. And when a gun is readily available incidents can turn deadly quickly and there is no second chance. That is what my family experienced in my sister's shooting death. There are risks to guns in homes that too often are denied or unrecognized in the American gun culture where any talk about guns and gun violence turn to rights rather than responsibilities. We can change that if we have the will.

I need to mention something that hasn't been talked about much in the discussions about domestic violence. Frequently the abuser is suicidal and so domestic shootings become homicide/suicides. That was the case with Jovan Belcher and in many other cases. This week is National Suicide Awareness week. We must pay attention to the signs and realize that suicide by gun is the majority of gun deaths in America. Firearms make suicide easier and more final than other methods. We can do something about this as well. Easy access to firearms can make suicides much easier. People with depression, involved in domestic disputes, anger issues and mental illness should not be around guns.

The photo on this post is of Kay Marie Sisto who was shot in the back of the head 4 years ago by her husband as they were experiencing marriage problems. The marriage was not going well but Kay's family, like mine, was shocked at the suddenness and unexpected nature of the shooting. There are many other families who have been devastated by domestic abuse and domestic violence. Kay's sister, Kim, has provided this image of her sister to call attention to the domestic abuse that ended the life of her sister and her best friend. I thank her for her advocacy and her passion in calling attention publicly to a problem that is happening every day in our country. We have work to do to make us all safer in our communities. Part of that work involves education and passing reasonable measures to make sure that women and others who are experiencing domestic abuse are kept safer from their abusers. This important work will continue to make us safer in our homes and our communities.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Problems with gun lobby logic

This post has been updated since first posted.


Well another concealed carry permit holder has shot and killed someone. A Michigan man shot another in a road rage incident. What's the excuse from the gun rights folks about this one? I don't hear anything.......... Waiting........... From the article:
"A 69-year-old Marion Township man is charged with murder in connection to the road rage shooting which killed a 43-year-old man on Tuesday in Genoa Township.
Martin Zale was arraigned Thursday on an open murder charge and firearms charges. He is being held at the Livingston County Jail without bond. Prosecutor William Vailliencourt said Zale presented his concealed weapons permit to police.
Derek Flemming, 43, was shot and killed by the driver of a pickup truck at the intersection of Grand River Avenue and Chilson Road, about 1 mile east of downtown Howell. Vailliencourt said Flemming was killed by a single gunshot to his face while he was standing outside the shooter's vehicle on Grand River Avenue. The weapon used was a handgun, the prosecutor said."
I know I have asked this question before when writing about road rage incidents. Because someone isn't driving right or two people get into it while driving, does one of them deserve to be shot to death? Where is the logic in that kind of behavior? But when a gun is available that is what can happen. Two children will grow up without their father. Senseless loss of life.

There's more. Some "law abiding" gun owning militia members are going to make a serious mistake soon enough. They were lucky their trigger fingers weren't itching. "Wannabe" border agents in the form of militia groups are "patrolling" the Mexican border states with their guns. But there are problems with these gun wielding folks leading to some potential serious consequences. This one scared a few Arizona researchers who were in caves researching bats.:
An armed border militia group confronted three researchers in Arizona last month, mistaking them for undocumented immigrants or drug traffickers in an incident that drew criticism from local law enforcement officials.
Border militias, or "untrained, utterly anonymous gunmen with no accountability to anyone" who prowl the border on their own time and look for illegal activity, have become an increasing concern for law enforcement officials, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The recent incident with the researchers is the second time in the last few weeks the militias have caused an issue for U.S. border authorities.
On Aug. 23, three geologists were walking back toward their campsite in Sonoita, Arizona, after counting bats in a local cave, according to a police report filed on Aug. 24 with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office and shared with The Huffington Post. A group of men confronted them, shining a spotlight on them and yelling in Spanish, the report said.
This bears repeating: "Border militias, or "untrained, utterly anonymous gunmen with no accountability to anyone" who prowl the border on their own time and look for illegal activity, have become an increasing concern for law enforcement officials...."

And yes, pellet guns in the hands of children can cause a death as it did for this 4 year old Virginia girl. This one was ruled an "accident". Was it? Is it an accident that adults allow kids to play with even pellet guns inside of a home? From the article:
Richmond police said the death of a 4-year-old girl — fatally wounded Friday evening in her home by a pellet gun fired by another youngster — was an accident and no charges will be filed.
“After extensive interviews and in consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, detectives have determined this incident to be a tragic accident,” police spokesman Gene Lepley said Saturday of the death of Geonna Bradley. (...) 
Police did not release many details addressing the circumstances of the shooting except to say Geonna was shot in the chest by a juvenile.
Lepley said “extended family” were there when it happened, but he declined to say whether the girl was related to the shooter, and he did not provide the age of the shooter.
He called it “a family tragedy.”
Indeed. This was a "family tragedy". They happen every day in America. Families are devastated by the senseless shooting of a child. Way too often it involves another child who shouldn't have had a gun in the first place but did anyway. Even pellet guns deserve respect because they can cause injury and death. These are avoidable deaths. Most families understand that kids need to be in approved car seats until a certain age. Baby and children's toys have been vetted for their safety. Childproof cupboard locks and plastic inserts for electrical outlets are commonly used. Kids hopefully wear life jackets on boats and adults are present when small children are playing near the water. Pajamas are now "fireproofed" just in case. Parents are arrested for leaving kids unattended in closed up, locked cars during very hot weather. There are laws and regulations about most of these safety measures and they make common sense and are widely accepted as good ideas. As a society we have decided that we have to do everything we can to keep our children safe from accidents. But for guns? Not so much. The second amendment absolutists won't allow or tolerate common sense safety measures to keep people from being shot senselessly. Crazy and illogical.

What about the Missouri high school student whose backpack had a loaded gun it? The backpack was dropped and the gun did what guns do when they are jarred and a bullet is in the chamber. It fired. Luckily no one was injured. From the article:
"A handgun that was located in a students handbag, excuse me backpack, inadvertently discharged," said Justin Herrell, Springfield Public Schools Associate Superintendent For Secondary Education.
School officials say the gunshot went off in the commons area- a section of the cafeteria.
According to an incident report by Springfield Police, a student brought a small caliber handgun to school-- in an attempt to hand-off the gun to a second party, the gun was dropped and discharged. No injuries have been reported. 
"I heard at lunch that this kid brought a gun to school and it dropped from the second floor and it went off in his bag. Supposedly people are saying it was an accident. But I'm not sure it was," said Suntken.
All guns, with very few exceptions, start out as legal purchases. So then, given that a 17 year old cannot legally purchase a handgun, where did this 17 year old get this gun? "Every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult." As is often the case, it could have been another "law abiding" gun owner who left a gun around for this teen to access or maybe he took it from someone else- in other words, stolen. Several adults have been questioned in this case. At the end of the article someone was quoted as wondering what were this boy's intentions? If he was passing it to another student, what were that student's intentions? Nothing good for sure. And then people wonder how guns make it to the illegal market or how people who shouldn't have guns get them anyway. We make it far too easy in America. Our cavalier attitude towards guns are leading to people like this boy and many other underage kids accessing guns. Once they have the guns, bad things almost always happen.

And do be careful when asking for more soy sauce with your Chinese food. Someone may try to shoot you as actually happened in an Ohio restaurant. The thing is, the gun rights folks keep insisting that the guns they carry are for the self defense of themselves and their families. They mean no harm. And for most of them that happens to be true. Given that, is it necessary to use a gun for "self defense" when confronted by an unarmed customer who may be annoying and insistent? Did the man who shot another in a road rage incident start out the day believing he would actually shoot and kill someone with that gun he had in his car? And did the man working at the Chinese restaurant plan to threaten a customer with the gun he happened to have with him at work that day? And did those militia members actually believe they could do the job of trained border agents? Things happen in an instant and a gun can make the consequence deadly.

The answer is that there are way too many people who carry guns who shouldn't. They are encouraged to do so by the corporate gun lobby "logic" that your gun will keep you safe. Training requirements are slim to none in some states. All it takes is one angry moment and everything changes. When a gun is available, common sense too often goes out the window. This is the gun culture promoted by the corporate gun lobby. Profits come before anything else so safety doesn't seem to matter. And state legislators and our Congress members have been sold a bill of goods. Shame on them all. Senseless shootings are happening way too frequently. Incidents involving guns and close calls are also happening too frequently. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being. Owning and carrying one should come with great respect, responsibility, training and accountability. That is not what's happening in real life in spite of what the corporate gun lobby would have us believe. Yes most gun owners are safe with their guns, until suddenly they may not be. Admitting that there are risks to owning guns would go a long way to changing the culture. Changing the conversation to include language about responsibilities that come with that right to own a gun could actually save lives. It's time for a change to the gun culture and serious discussion about the role of guns and gun violence in our every day lives. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

Of course we don't yet know whether this Missouri freeway shooter was a legal or illegal gun owner but it's pretty darned scary to think you can be driving your car on a freeway and be shot to death by an idiot with a gun:
Police say a man in his 50s suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A second victim suffered a gunshot wound to the torso. He is conscious and was taken to the hospital.
The overpass at Adelaide and Hall is being closed to vehicle traffic as of now.
Witnesses told police the gunman was waiting for a car to come over the hill. The victims that were shot were not the intended target.
So if there was an "intended" target why was there one and why shoot said target from a freeway if you have no idea what kind of car you are looking for? Further, why shoot someone at all from a freeway overpass? And further, why shoot another human being at all?

UPDATE #2:

Clearly these 2 Texas boys deserved to have some adult supervision and responsibility before they went out "hunting" in an area near their home. An 11 year old boy drove a car with his 5 year old boy in it after the 5 year old shot himself in the face with a hunting gun. From the article:
“It was just an accident, an accident that should have never happened,” she told KHOU.
The 5-year-old was taken by life flight helicopter to Memorial Herman Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition.
Harris County Sheriff’s deputies were investigating why the boys had access to guns and a car while their father was at work.
Was this an accident? It was avoidable for sure but adults with guns can be cavalier and careless with guns around kids. If kids are not shown respect and responsibility for guns, things like this will ( and do) happen. Kids and guns don't go together and particularly without adult supervision. But sometimes the adults encourage small kids to have guns and shoot them without thinking through the possible consequences. Guns are a part of our culture but guns can also do serious harm or kill others. Having them around can be a risk to those in the home. It's up to the adults to figure that out.

UPDATE #3:

This blog post could practically write itself. The incidents just keep coming. When people are encouraged to have guns with them everywhere they go, that is what happens. And then they get careless and forget where they put their guns. For example, an Oregon woman was luckily only grazed by a bullet that discharged from her boyfriend's pants pocket at a laundromat. Why did her boyfriend not keep track of his gun? It is totally irresponsible and careless to leave a loaded gun in your pants pocket. But in America people are so cavalier with their guns and their gun rights that anything goes. Where is common sense?


Friday, September 5, 2014

"Shooting oneself in the foot"

They just can't help themselves. They promote carrying guns everywhere thinking all will be safer. Well, they are wrong. If they were right, why do people keeping "shooting themselves in the foot" as this Idaho professor just did in class? They, the corporate gun lobby of course, are wrong. We are not safer when everyone has a gun. That is a deception that has been foisted on state legislators all over America. The worst part about this is that the legislators have bought it. What's wrong with them? Are they scaredy cats? There is no common sense to allowing students and/or professors to carry guns while in class. But Idaho has allowed it anyway. I would say that all were lucky here. If that bullet had flown in a different direction and a student or someone else was injured or killed, God forbid, there would be hell to pay. And pay the University would. It was just a matter of time before the inevitable happened. It's worth reading the comments in this article about the Idaho Professor. People with guns are not always responsible with them. When we push for everyone to carry guns and sometimes with no training whatsoever or no permit, this is what we can expect. Did those scaredy cat legislators think about things like this? Of course not. They drank the "NRA Kool-Aid".

Student safety be damned I guess. I wonder when the insurance industry is going to wise up and tell places that allow employees or students to carry guns that they won't insure them any more. For law suits will surely follow if someone is seriously injured or killed. They always do.

In looking at the Talking Points Memo site, I noticed this article about the self proclaimed Texas border agents (AKA the militia). Check it out:
The armed militia member who was shot at by a border patrol agent last week is a convicted felon.
Rio Grande Valley TV station KRGV reported Wednesday that records show the man, John Frederick Forester, has misdemeanor convictions for theft and trespassing and a felony conviction for burglary.
Forester was violating federal statutes, then, when a border patrol agent who was chasing a group of immigrants last Friday in Brownsville, Texas spotted him holding a gun.
Texas law, however, allows a felon to possess a gun after five years have elapsed since his or her release from prison. Forester was not in violation of state law, according to KRGV.
I have written before about these militia groups who have chosen to take matters into their own hands. They are a ragtag group of folks with guns who have decided on their own to become "border agents." I maintain that some of them are not necessarily "good guys" with guns. This is a potential dangerous situation waiting to happen.

I wrote in my last post about the Open Carry folks now promoting taking their guns to Kroger stores. The Moms Demand Action ( Everytown) group has a new ad out wondering why the store does not allow people with shirts and shoes in their store but does allow people with guns. Good question. Why not people without shirts and shoes? Are they a danger to anyone? Why then allow guns in your stores? There is no explaining this other than pandering to the corporate gun lobby and their minions who believe they must "educate" the public about how safe they are with their guns ( until they are not) and that the rest of us should just get used to seeing folks with holstered and strapped guns around everywhere we go in public places. The thing is, people who live in countries at war are used to that sight. We are not at war. This is not natural or normal. It is not necessary. It is actually ludicrous. Grown men showing off their lethal and potentially dangerous hardware to the public is simply a bad idea.

Another photo on Moms Demand Action Facebook page shows a little girl with an ice cream cone and a young man with a gun in a grocery store. Which one is not welcome at Kroger's stores? TAke a guess. We have rules and regulations on almost everything in our country. But on guns- not so much. Some on the side of gun rights would argue that they don't want or need more regulations. I would argue that we don't have the ones we need to keep us safe in our communities and practice common sense with guns.

This story is yet another very sad and tragic end to a young life full of promise. A simple stop at a recycling center with a loaded gun in the car truck ended with the accidental discharge of the gun, killing an 18 year old boy who loved hunting. He was what one could call a "good guy" with a gun.From the article:
Eisner’s family and friends created a Facebook page, Prayers for Austin Eisner, to celebrate the young man’s life. The page also offers an account of the fatal accident, stating Eisner’s hunting rifle accidently discharged and shot him in the head when he reached into his truck at the recycling center to retrieve an item. The LCSO report confirms witnesses told deputies the shooting was accidental.
The bird and deer hunting seasons are almost upon us in my neck of the woods. Every year during hunting season we read about unfortunate shooting accidents. They are mostly avoidable since carrying loaded guns around without a safety or in a safe manner can result in accidental discharges. Handling guns is an awesome responsibility and should be taken very seriously. Most gun owners are safe with their guns but accidents and shootings can happen in an instant. Guns are dangerous weapons designed to kill another human being or animal. And good folks with guns can have accidents, commit suicide with a gun or intentionally shoot someone in moments of rage, jealousy, depression, etc. When there are so many guns around, things like this will happen.

The thing is, as I said in my last post, there is too often a price to pay for irresponsibility with guns. Guns are the only product on the market specifically designed to kill someone. That being the case, much more care has to be taken than we have been exhibiting with all of the examples I continue to provide. And the latest shooting at a gun range by a 9 year old girl of a gun instructor has brought us to a point of reflection that could just change a few things. An Arizona legislator is supporting legislation to change the age of children who can use guns at gun practice ranges. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Other reflections are also being made about the whole culture thing surrounding guns in America. This one from Al Jazeera gets right to the problem. When guns are seen as the ultimate entertainment and combined with other seemingly unrelated pleasures, it confuses people into forgetting about the fact that guns are very dangerous weapons. From the article:
His death, which the Mohave County Sherriff’s Office views as an “industrial accident,” ought to deepen our private reflections about guns in the United States and inform our wider public discussion of gun policy. To date, two themes dominate that discussion: the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment and the alleged existence of two distinct gun cultures, one utterly opposed to firearms and the other in favor of unfettered access to all firearms.
The U.S. Supreme Court has recently settled some of the constitutional questions. However, any strict dichotomy between being pro-gun and anti-gun overstates disagreement among Americans at the cost of ignoring points of agreement. And it does no good to gloss the dichotomy in terms of a rural-urban divide. For it is not the case that all rural residents would identify as pro-gun, nor would all residents of urban areas identify as anti-gun. The dichotomy itself is problematic, for Americans’ superficially different attitudes about firearms are, ironically, grounded in our mutual commitment to a more fundamental, unifying myth about individualism and personal liberty. That Americans have significant individual rights and liberties that protect them against interference from the government and from each other is no myth. But when this truth is conjoined with the lie that we are individually capable of fully determining our fate, a reasonable desire to defend our rights is transformed into a desire for absolute control over others. (...)  
It is true that gun ownership is more prevalent in rural than in urban and suburban areas. In remote areas firearms are needed to protect against wild animals and packs of abandoned dogs that have become feral, to euthanize dying or injured animals and sometimes to hunt for food. (...) 
The primary function of businesses like Bullets and Burgers is not the mere assuaging of curiosity. It is, rather, the provision of a very particular experience. And despite what Bullets and Burgers advertises as its “unique Desert Storm atmosphere,” a customer’s experience there is utterly different from that of a soldier deployed in real battle. Customers at such ranges do not pay to experience being shot at by others. Nor are they there to learn about firearm safety or to develop their marksmanship. They are there to satisfy, albeit briefly (an Uzi is capable of firing 600 rounds a minute), the fantasy of wielding the power of life and death.
Apologists for the existence of companies that offer packaged firearm “adventures” are correct to note that people seek out and pay to have all manner of similarly risky and intense experiences — for example, bungee jumping and parachuting. But when one jumps out of a plane or off a bridge, one is exploring the emotional edges of one’s own mortality, not concretely experiencing what it is like to determine another’s fate. (...) 
U.S. law prohibits minors from engaging in all manner of activities in public, even when accompanied by their permissive parents. Children are not permitted to drink alcohol, drive a car or have sex, and serious penalties attach to adults who help minors break the law in these ways. But there is no legal barrier to parents’ taking their young daughter to fire an Uzi in automatic mode and eating a hamburger with her afterward.
Such is the genius and tragedy of the Bullets and Burgers adventure: A New Jersey family only wanted to be ultimately all-American — just for one day.
We have some fundamental problems with easy access go guns and too much gun violence in America as well as the experience of shooting guns for pleasure and entertainment. It's time to separate those from each other and do something about the violence that is so devastating to so many people. I believe it can be done. Let's get to work.

UPDATE:

I must add this piece about the NRA's media arm reaction to the 9 year old girl shooting the gun instructor. This is so predictable. From the article:
The NRA does not like it when high-profile incidents of gun violence make national headlines. The group recently warned supporters of the media "trick" of using the word "shooting" to describe mass shooting incidents, following a mass killing in Isla Vista, California. After a 2013 incident where a 2-year-old girl was accidentally killed by her 5-year-old brother with a child-sized rifle made national headlines, Edwards criticized the "mass media," claiming they were covering the story as part of a "campaign of shame" and "wanted to make a point that this is what happens in Bumpkinville."
During his commentary on the Uzi accident, Edwards also sought to highlight "the rarity of these types of incidents," pointing out that it has been six years since media coverage has focused on an accident involving a child and an Uzi. Indeed, in 2008 an eight-year-old boy fatally shot himself after losing control of the automatic Uzi he was firing.
But accidents involving guns and children are far from uncommon, and are much more likely to occur in the United States compared to other high-income nations. According to a Mother Jones investigation, in the year following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, at least 84 children aged 12 and younger died in gun accidents. In 72 of those cases a child or teenager fired the fatal round. According to a 2014 study in Pediatrics, 662 children aged 14 and under visited emergency rooms in 2009 after being accidentally shot.
Edwards also used a straw man argument to attack those who say we should "draw a larger lesson" from the accident, claiming that gun safety advocates and members of the media are using the incident to say "this is why no child should ever be allowed any access to a firearm" and "this demonstrates why no child should ever learn anything at all about firearms." By contrast Edwards praised "some very thoughtful columns" that "cautioned against drawing the sort of overbroad conclusions that we have seen here."
Overboard conclusions? What other conclusions can reasonable people come to? Good grief. These guys are in denial and afraid to admit the truth. That's really sad and despicable actually. The NRA is "shooting itself in the foot" with this type of rhetoric.This is why no progress is ever made towards common sense measures to keep us all safer.