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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Guns, politicians and the State Fair

On Saturday, I went to the State Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here are some things I learned while at the fair:

  • Always wear sunglasses and bring a hat because it's very hot at the end of August in Minnesota. Also put on plenty of sun screen.
  • Don't wear sandals. The "fair dirt" does not look good on the feet and feels grimy.
  • Little boys love dump trucks and other pieces of construction and road equipment while visiting the fair. Even 5 month-old baby boys like steering wheels on vehicles.
  • Walking around with over 100,000 members of humanity requires patience and tolerance. There are quite a few rude people who disregard others on their way to their destinations.
  • The food is great with way too many "things on a stick",the newest being chocolate covered bacon on a stick! I didn't try that one but ate quite a few other food items, like Greek Gyros and frozen Chocolate Key Lime Pie on a stick.
  • Three-year-olds have their own agenda while at the Fair which may differ from yours. My grandson insisted on going on the Sky ride which consists of cars suspended on thick cables that go back and forth for a view of the Fair from the air; never mind that he was afraid to ride the little kiddie cars that go around in a circle harmlessly.  
  • While enjoying a Gelato on the curb outside of the Republican party booth, we noticed a woman meticulously picking up every last shred of paper and debris. It probably mattered to those heading inside. I hope the Democrats did the same outside of their booth.
  • Along with half of the state's population, politicians love State Fairs. They shake hands and are really happy to see everyone. They even love to have photos taken with constituents.
  • If you want to speak to one of the politicians at the State Fair, say what you want to say in in 2-3 minutes before the next person also wants their photo taken.
  • Speaking to your Congressperson or Senator at the fair is an entirely different experience than the same at the their offices in D.C. They are much more relaxed and without the filter of staffers and the cynical and busy atmosphere of the nation's Capitol.If you bring up an issue of importance to you, sometimes your Senator has to stop and think about it and wonder why he/she hadn't thought about it while back in D.C. surrounded by insanity and nonsense.
  • If you talk about the gun issue, as I did, make sure to get in the important points and stress that you want said Senator to do something about the issue. While lobbying on the same issue in D.C., I have had more time with a staffer but wonder whether the message really gets to the Senator or Representative in the same way as when talking directly to my Senator at the State Fair. Senator Franken, pictured here, even asked me a few questions about the bill to require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows. It made a lot of sense to him.
  • While in D.C. many pressing issues come to the forefront as well as distracting issues so that some of the seemingly smaller things, like gun violence, don't seem important. But while home in Minnesota, talking to someone up close and personal, the issue becomes more important and personal.
  • Always be friendly and smile and you will get the same from your Representative or Senator. Be reasonable and maybe he/she will be, too.
  • While reflecting on my encounter with Senator Franken, I started to wonder if anyone felt unsafe enough at the State Fair to need a gun. Politicians could be vulnerable, I suppose, when out in the public without security and the usual trappings of the job. Maybe they don't worry about bad people with guns. Surely they don't carry their own guns and I didn't notice one on the body of the one staffer who accompanied Senator Franken.
  • Do we need guns at State Fairs and other public places? This linked article spells out the ban on guns at the State Fair in 2003 when the Minnesota Personal Protection Act passed. I certainly saw no signs or any effort to check backpacks or people for guns. There is certainly no way to make more than 100,000 people a day go through security. According to this set of regulations, it is hard to know whether or not guns are actually allowed at the State Fair. I'm sure someone could come into the Fairgrounds with a loaded gun, bent on doing harm but I don't recall hearing about a shooting at a State Fair.
  • I do, however, know that one of the largest gun shows in Minnesota is held at the State Fair grounds every year. A hunter/gun owner who works with our cause purposely bought an assault rifle once at the St. Paul gun show at the fairgrounds. When he told the unlicensed private seller that he couldn't pass a background check, the seller sold it to him anyway, no questions asked. My friend brought this gun to the hearing last winter at the Minnesota House Crime Victims subcommittee and held it up to show committee members. It didn't matter. They voted against the gunshow background check anyway.
  • Anyway, back to safety at the fair. I was more concerned about a stroller or wheelchair running over my vulnerable "sandaled" feet than someone with a gun, not to mention the hordes of people trying to find their food on a stick or meet up with someone. I'm surprised that there aren't more incidents at fairs with so many people going in all directions at once.
  • In later trying to find out whether or not guns are allowed at the Minnesota State Fair, I ran into this post. Apparently some gun owners are pretty upset that one of the questions asked at the booth of the Minnesota House of Representatives wants to know if the person taking the survey thinks there should be background checks on all buyers at gun shows. Wow- I didn't know this question was on a survey at the fair or I would have gone right there to answer "Yes" to the very first question on the survey about gun shows. In reading the comments to this post, I was amused at some of the remarks. One was that anyone reading the post should "beware of snakes". I guess this refers to the survey question or maybe to folks like me who genuinely think it's a good idea to stop felons, domestic abusers, terrorists and dangerously mentally ill people from buying guns. The other thing I learned from reading one of the comments indicated that carrying loaded guns must be allowed at the State Fair. Here is a quote: " Make sure that if you go to the fair to vote on this, that you are open carrying in a weak side thigh rig....and that it's backwards." Whatever.
  • I had a great time at the Minnesota State Fair. My family enjoyed it as well and we were fine as long as we decided we weren't going to get upset with any of the above and just enjoy that great food item on a stick. And having a friendly visit with my Senator was an unexpected bonus.  


  1. I can comprehend arguments for reducing gun availability, even if I disagree. I have never understood the argument that licensed concealed carry must be stopped, or must be made more difficult. License holders are not perfect--but we are quite a bit closer to perfect than people without licenses.

    You talk about the lack of security, (and sensibly, the impossibility of meaningful security in a situation like that) then go on to worry about the damage that an armed madman could do. So far, the biggest factor in the death toll of spree shooters is the swiftness of return fire. In almost every case, spree shooters act in places where guns are not allowed. In every case as soon as someone shoots back the spree is over and no more uninvolved people are shot. Sometimes the madman takes his own life, sometimes he is captured, and some have managed to shoot the good guy trying to stop them--but the spree is done.

    Thankfully spree shootings are rare enough that we should not make major policy changes based on their occurrences. If we were, history shows that reducing the number of places off limits to legal guns, and increasing the chance that an armed good guy is near would be the best way to reduce the impact.

  2. Still deleting relevant comments I see.

    Ah, typical anti-gun intellectual cowardice.

  3. Hmmm. Are you the "anonymous" whose comments I said I would not publish- and for good reason? Just keep it to the issues and the facts and not call me names or a liar and present a reasoned argument, and your comments will be published. Why do you care? I thought you guys all think I'm lying and don't a thing about anything. Why keep reading if that's the case? Just stop reading my blog and you won't get yourself all worked up. That usually works for me. I will delete those that are rude and offensive and continue to call me names. If you guys can't have a "discussion" without name calling and bullying, then I will rest my case about the pro-gun side of this argument. They bully, intimiidate, call names and sometimes threaten. They try to deal with the issue by finding obscure details or picking on one or two words written while avoiding the larger issue. Even after people like myself explain and allow comments to be published on our blogs, they keep coming and keep saying that comments are not allowed. What is that all about anyway?