Welcome to Common Gunsense

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

Friday, July 2, 2010

Gun play and holidays

A press release from the Brady Campaign just before the July 4th holiday reminds us again, as if we needed it, of the need for stronger gun laws. The poster, titled "God Bless America" linked in the press release and found on the Brady Campaign website says it all. Complete with red, white and blue stars and stripes is a gun with statistics about gun deaths in America compared to other industrialized countries not at war. It is startling but shouldn't be, given the daily news stories. I have written before about the complacency of the public and elected leaders regarding gun deaths and injuries. I actually think it is more that people are overwhelmed and don't think they can do anything to affect change.

Admittedly, the task is daunting. There are almost as many guns in our country as people. We have a love affair with guns and some claim that the right to bear arms is God given. The last time I checked, I don't believe the Bible or the Koran or the Talmud, or other religious writings mention guns. Now we all know how often religious conflicts become terrible wars and guns are used in the efforts to protect property, land, rights, etc. In fact, historically, many wars are caused by religious conflict and end in thousands of senseless deaths. In recent times, that means that guns were used to exact the toll of lives.

But we are not at war on our homeland. True, we have sent our military to other lands to "solve conflicts" sometimes not caused by us. We do this in the name of national security which is sometimes the actual case and sometimes not. The fact that our gun deaths amount to 10-40 times ( see above link to the Brady press release) as many as other countries not at war should be startling information. Gun deaths do not take a holiday. People are killed every day of the year, holiday, religious celebration, or not. Sometimes people are killed or injured because of the holiday. My friend, Joe, who now sits in a wheel chair in his home in Delaware, is a tragic reminder of that. When he was 11 years old, he was struck in the head by a bullet shot into the air by a New Year's Eve reveler in South Philly where he was visiting his grandmother. His life, and that of his parents, has never been the same. Now he is a young adult and an active advocate for sensible gun laws.

The same Brady press release ( see above) reminds of us of a terrible July 4th shooting in 1999, just one year after my friend Joe was injured. Here is that tragic story: " On the Fourth of July weekend in 1999, white
supremacist and anti-Semite Benjamin Smith murdered Northwestern
University head basketball coach Ricky Birdsong and Indiana University
graduate student Wan Joon Yoon, and wounded nine others before
committing suicide. Smith was prohibited from purchasing firearms, and
would have been stopped by a Brady background check if the nation
required the checks on every gun sale. He bought his “Saturday Night
Special” handgun from Donald Fiessinger, a “private seller” who
had purchased 65 handguns over two years from the same Pekin, Illinois
gun store, the Old Prairie Trading Post."

The owner and the shooter were convicted and served time in jail and the store, though still open, does not sell guns any more. Notice that the shooter obtained his gun through a private seller- no background check. We are told continually by the gun lobby that this just doesn't happen. They are wrong. They should be called on their lies. That is what is preventing common sense gun laws. False claims by the gun rights folks who use the Second Amendment to hide their fear of something they don't have to fear have worked way too well. They believe in their own lies and their own hype and have been masterful at getting our elected leaders to do likewise.

So on this July 4th week-end, please think about the many victims out there in this great country of ours. Being in favor of sensible gun laws does not make me or the majority who believe in what I am doing, less patriotic. If anything, I consider myself to be more patriotic because I care so deeply about my country and the lives of the citizens who live in it. "God Bless America."

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