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 29, 2010

"Shoot First" mentality

Lately, I have been receiving various e-mails and information about permit to carry holders gone awry. As I have said before many times, we are told that "law abiding" citizens do nothing wrong. That reasoning is flawed from the beginning since most homicides happen to be domestic in nature and most often by a law abiding citizen who chooses to exercise their right to bear arms by shooting a partner, spouse, family member, etc. in the heat of anger, depression, under the influence of alcohol, etc. The gun lobby also tells us that there is no danger to the public from permit to carry holders. Those people will actually protect us in dangerous situations. So far, we have little evidence that that has been the case. There may be some isolated cases but not enough for us to think this reasoning is correct.

Then, of course, there are those who claim that having a gun in the home for self defense is a great idea because you can protect yourself from all sorts of evils near your home. And then, to go further, we need a law to protect those shooting in self defense from being held legally responsible for the shooting. This requires us to believe that in every case of such type of shootings, there was a reasonable self defense situation. Of course, the person shot to death has no recourse or no way of letting the legal and law enforcement entities know if they were, indeed, a threat to the shooter. But the "Shoot First" mentality has allowed for laws to be passed in quite a few states to make it possible to shoot first and ask questions later. Take Ohio, for example. This opinion piece nicely summarizes the problems with laws that allow for people to shoot first rather than retreat as the usual "Castle Doctrine" laws require in most states. There are currently 31 states with Castle Doctrine and/or "Stand Your Ground" provisions. The states with the "Stand Your Ground" or commonly known by some as "Shoot First" provisions protect the shooter from liability in the supposed self defense shooting.

Consider carefully the Wisconsin story described here that pits teen-aged girls against an elderly man with a gun who says he felt threatened when the girls ran through his yard in the dark. It's someone's word against someone else's. The problem with this kind of reasoning is that those who claim to be threatened think they have a right to take care of a situation before actually discovering what the problem is. I don't know about you, but I sure remember running through a neighbor's yard on a dark summer night to get home or someplace else in a hurry. It's scary out there in the dark, especially as a teen-ager. But what made this story even scarier is that the teens claimed to have been threatened by a neighbor with a gun who claimed to be afraid of the girls running through the yard. What if he had actually shot the girls? A senseless tragedy would have occurred for absolutely no reason. The man in the story is a permit to carry holder in several states.

As an aside, the story from the "Lake Country Reporter" linked above started with the fact that the same man accused by the girls of pointing a gun at them, had lodged a complaint against a gun club because a bullet shot by one of the members hit a woman sitting at a restaurant near-by. How ironic, to say the least. This man saw the dangers of gun club members shooting bullets too close to the public but not the danger of he, himself, pointing a gun at innocent girls. This is, of course, a "he said, she said" story which may reveal other facts soon enough.

Be that as it may, the "Stand Your Ground"  laws are dangerous to public safety, just as is the gun club being allowed to exist too close to public places. If your state doesn't have a "Shoot First" law, that doesn't mean it won't. The NRA is trying desperately to get it passed in all states. In my state of Minnesota, we get ready for the fight over a "Shoot First" bill every legislative session. We prepare materials and go on the offense before we have to be on defense. The energy and time wasted is mind boggling. We have other important things to be worried about in our state and country right now. The least of our worries should be about whether someone should have the right to shoot someone else in "self defense" and not suffer consequences.

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