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, July 8, 2010

Our love affair with guns keeps ending in tragedy

The mantra coming from the gun violence prevention groups has been that we need to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. Who are these "dangerous" people? The usual suspects are felons, domestic abusers, dangerously ( adjudicated) mentally ill people and terrorists. So passing gunshow background check bills to make sure these folks can't buy guns from private sellers at gun shows without a background check will stop some of the senseless shootings. But then there are the "lost" and stolen guns that get into the hands of criminals, gangs and traffickers. Straw purchasing is a problem. A gun dealer sometimes knowingly sells to someone who walks into the store with a "friend" who buys for them because they, themselves, can't pass a background check. Oh, and then there are the people who buy many guns at a time from a federally licensed dealer, like the Mexican American from Minnesota who then ran the guns into Mexico for cash from the drug cartel. Luckily, the gun dealer finally reported this man. How many guns does one person need anyway? So maybe a "One Gun a Month" bill would help.

But who can stop the man in this video and article from the Duluth News Tribune from harming himself and other innocent people? It would be interesting to know if he was a prohibited purchaser. He was attempting to commit a crime by shooting into the home of his ex-wife and her children. He failed in that attempt and a few people "dodged a bullet". He was drunk and driving when the State Trooper caught up with him and chased him until he stopped his car. When the officer demanded he get out of the car and drop his gun, the victim slowly turned and aimed his gun. The rest is history. He was shot by the Trooper who had no choice.

Laws may not stop this kind of person from shooting someone he knows. These tragedies happen every day in America. These are the types of shootings not experienced in large numbers in other civilized countries. Crime is everywhere and criminals do shoot people here and abroad. Women ( mostly) are killed by spouses, partners, ex-partners, etc. in all countries. It is a serious problem that we have not addressed adequately. Our culture is implicit in this problem by shrugging it away. What can we do? Boys will be boys. Men will drink and with imparied judgement, shoot innocent people. But because we are so in love with guns in this country and because the gun lobby has convinced us that we all need guns to protect ourselves from danger lurking around every corner, we have enough guns to almost outnumber the population. So now we have the problem of some "law abiding" citizens shooting people while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while very angry, while depressed, while losing control of a marriage and a difficult break-up, etc. What to do?

Ever since my own sister was shot to death by her estranged husband, I have contemplated this conundrum. We can't take guns away from people can we? But as relatives and friends, should we be more aware of how dangerous guns are when a friend or family member is experiencing problems such as those I mentioned above? My answer is yes, absolutely. We should realize that our culture of gun loving can also lead to a culture of gun violence. With rights come responsibilities. We are all responsible. Some years ago, the sister of a friend of mine was concerned about her husband's mental health. He seemed to be having some sort of breakdown and was eventually hospitalized. His behavior was erratic and unpredictable. Since I also know this woman, I suggested to my friend that she remove his guns from the garage for a while. Her sister reacted by saying that he would never use a gun on her or himself. When my friend reminded her of what happened in my family, she realized that she was wrong. She had a friend come and temporarily remove the guns until her husband got his life back together.

I would tell this to anyone in this situation. We should all be more aware but instead we assume that nothing will ever happen in our lives. As I now know, that is the wrong thinking. The gun lobby does not ever address this problem. They want everyone to falsely believe that the only people who shoot others are criminals. And then their mantra of "guns don't kill people, people kill people" takes the responsibility away from the fact that the bullets in the guns actually do kill people. If guns are responsible, maybe more regulations to make us all safer would actually become reality. They don't want this. They want their guns and the dealers want to keep selling guns in large numbers. Guns last a long time. People only need so many. So if new excuses for having guns are created by the gun lobby, maybe people will buy more guns. The more guns, the safer we all are!! Nonsense.

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