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.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

10th Anniversary for "gun control advocates"

It's so hard to know what to write about on this 10th anniversary of the Million Mom March. On May 14, 2000, I was in Washington D.C. for an event that changed my life's focus. For the past 10 years, I have worked to get sensible gun laws passed, mostly to no avail. I have testified, lobbied, tabled at events, stood outside in all kinds of weather for press conferences and bell ringings, organized people, done T.V., radio and newspaper interviews, spoken to groups, and generally devoted my extra energy to an issue of great importance to me.

To start with, yesterday the Brady Campaign released information about a recent poll concerning public opinion about openly carried guns in public places. An article about the polling data appeared in the Huffington Post. You can read about the predictable results in this article- that the majority of Americans do not want loaded guns in public places and don't feel safer when they know there are loaded guns near-by. Not surprisingly, women disapprove of loaded guns in public at a higher rate than men and most especially older women. I wonder if those of us who have been around this issue for quite some time now feel more strongly? Perhaps. I have long felt that women my age grew up with the causes of the 1960s and got more politically active than our daughters. More information, including some power point slides, about the poll results, can be viewed on the website of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Recently, I have written, as have many others, about terrorists and guns and the terror gap in our Brady background check system that does not require that folks on the known terrorist list be prohibited from purchasing guns. And then, nonsensically, Senators McCain and Tester have introduced an amendment that would gut the gun laws of Washington D.C. Why? It should be disturbing to the public that there is almost a constant battle with the gun lobby over sensible gun laws and bad gun laws. What's worse is the fear and hatred fomented by those on the other side of the issue from myself. Read this article about the above mentioned polling data and guns in Starbucks, written by a Seattle blogger. The blogger wonders if the Brady Campaign is wrong to discourage loaded guns in Starbucks and other stores. But the most disturbing thing is the comment section. Today, I received my daily e-mail with articles about gun issues and read several of them critical of the polling results. I guess if you don't like what the polls say, "kill the messenger". After reading the hateful and ugly comments on several of these articles, I decided to write about why what I am doing is so important.

What if the Million Mom March/Brady Campaign/Citizens for a Safer Minnesota and other such state and national groups, did not exist? What if all of us advocates did not make this issue public and hold events to increase our support? What if we hadn't organized to stop the Thune Amendment from making it onto a bill last year in the U.S. Senate? We would likely have looser laws about permits to carry loaded guns all over the country. As it is, laws have been passed that shouldn't have, such as allowing guns in our National Parks and on Amtrak trains. But our leaders know we are there to be watchdogs. Unfortunately, we are Miniature Poodles compared to the Pit Bulls of the NRA. And speaking of the NRA, their annual national convention will be held tomorrow, May 14th, in Charlotte, N.C. on the same day as the 10th anniversary of the Million Mom March. Coincidence? Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign will be in Charlotte to hold a press conference about the open carry polling results. Of course NRA supporter, Jim Geraghty, writing for the National Review on-line, had to weigh in before the NRA's meeting about their agenda and to be critical of what us advocates are doing.

Being an advocate or an activist for a cause such as mine is not an easy job. A Carleton College ( Northfield, Minnesota) student recently released her paper, " What does a gun control advocate look like?" Ruth, the author of this senior paper, interviewed me, along with dozens of other advocates like myself. She really got it right in her description of who we are, why we do this and how we got started. Many, of course, like myself, started down this bumpy road because we lost a loved one to a bullet. Others feel as strongly about the issue because it is morally and politically right to try to prevent people from being shot. I suggest that you read Ruth's paper, for which she has received well-deserved honors.

And I know we are doing something right if a local gunsmith and hunter/gun owner, can write this eloquent piece for the Duluth News Tribune about why he has chosen to work with our organization. We need many more like Brent to be brave enough to support us publicly and to challenge the myths of the gun lobby. Thanks to Brent for working with us and supporting common sense.

So tomorrow, Friday, the 14th of May, we will have a Coffee and Common Sense event at a local coffee shop to thank people for their support, to ask for more support and more ideas about how we should proceed in this poisonous atmosphere. We will ring our bell once again for murdered loved ones and keep going. We will not go away because we know we are right and we know the majority is with us. It's too important for us to be intimidated by the gun lobby. Onward we march.......

Happy Anniversary, Million Mom March.

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