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, August 5, 2010

In memory of my sister and victims of domestic shootings

It's not uncommon to read a story in the news or hear it on local T.V. news that a man in a difficult relationship with a spouse or partner has shot the woman to death. Often these men then also shoot themselves in an act of cowardice to avoid the consequences of what they did. The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive or difficult relationship is when she is leaving or has just left the relationship. Domestic Abuse organizations know this to be true and try to get this word out to those who are vulnerable. But usually, people don't want to believe that a spouse/partner or ex-spouse/partner is capable of such an act of violence. Even in those relationships that involve abuse or actual violence women just can't believe that that person would kill them. The lucky ones who do fear for their lives show up at shelters or other  organizations to help them. I volunteer at one such organization and am on the Board of another. The Family Justice Center ( associated with the Safe Haven Shelter) sees dozens of women in a week who come for Orders for Protection and for the services provided at the center. These women are so grateful that someone is there for them. It may save lives and every time I am there, I know that I am doing something to help the lives of women in need.

The other organization, DAIP or Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, is an amazing local organization that has grown in 30 years to be a national and international training facility, teaching law enforcement, legal and social services communities how best to deal with domestic abuse events as they are happening and the aftermath of a domestic abuse incident. I am proud to be a Board member of an organization that has changed the lives of men who abuse, the women they abuse and their families. It, too has saved the lives of many brave women who dare to seek help. The creation of the "Power and Control Wheel" has transformed the way domestic abuse is seen by abusers, the women who are abused and the people who work with all of them. Their Coordinated Community Response is a model used all over the world, known as the Duluth Model.

I am involved with these two organizations along with the gun violence prevention organizations at the local, state and national levels for one main reason. On this day, 18 years ago, my sister, Barbara Lund was shot to death by her estranged husband. I did not find out about the shooting until August 6th due to the fact that my now deceased ex brother-in-law stayed in his house with two dead bodies overnight and then got himself a lawyer before law enforcement and the family were informed. So Aug. 5th, 1992 changed the course of a my life and changed the lives of two families forever. ( Kevin Kelly, also shot that day, was with my sister when she stopped at my ex brother-in-law's home to deliver some papers to him.) Who knew that a difficult and protracted divorce frought with disagreement about a financial settlement would end in 2 senseless shooting deaths? I could talk more about the undiagnosed mental illness of my brother-in-law but won't here. I could talk more about the fact that he loved his guns and had many of them hiding in various places in his home, but I won't here.

This only happens to other families. Of course, what I have learned is that shooting deaths happen to any type of family and everywhere. Just because it hasn't doesn't mean it won't. So here I am, doing things I never anticipated 18 years ago today. I now belong to a club whose membership I did not seek. It is a large club- no membership fees other than a life lost and the grief in dealing with the lost life. Whole communities are affected by one shooting in one family. My sister had friends all over the country who were stunned to hear that this beautiful, vivacious, fun loving woman was shot to death. My friends were affected. My ex brother-in-law's family was affected. His children by his first marriage loved my sister almost as much as her own did. It is a testament to her loving nature that they are all still very close and consider themselves all one big family, including former spouses and their children. My mother, at age 95, is the grandma and great grandma to them all. My mother, who endured the shooting death of her first husband ( my sister's father) when she was a young woman and left with a one year old, also endured the shooting death of her first born child. My father, who adopted my sister and loved her like his own, did not live long enough to feel the grief of a lost child.

Barbara's spirit lives on with her family. Her children are all adults and some have married and have their own children-children who will never know their grandmother. So that is a brief explanation about how I got to what to where I am now. It is not a place I want to be and I wonder now how different my own life would be had she not been murdered. But we can't go backwards.

So on this day, I will keep her in my thoughts. Way too many of us mark days like this yearly as we remember loved ones lost to a bullet. The local chapter Board in Duluth has 4 women who have lost loved ones because of a gun. Two lost beautiful young daughters and one a brother and, of course, me. We ring the bell to remember them.  Every day in America there are 32 gun homicides and 80 total deaths due to guns. That is too many. It's time for our elected leaders and the public to listen to the victims.


  1. Thank you Joan for writing about Barb and what happened. As her cousin, it hit me the next day because Aggie, you and Barb's mother, called me because she couldn't get a hold of my mom her sister. It was surreal as it had only been a couple of years since I had visited Barb and Russ there at the lake. Being considerably younger than my beautiful sophisticated, warm and caring older cousin, but now a grown woman myself, I had a wonderful time that weekend to renew our relationship or perhaps I should say to really first get to know her. It was awful to have this happen and she is not forgotten.

    I am so glad you also included the organizations that are there to help people in violent domestic relationships. It is, in the end, about tolerance and understanding and setting ourselves aside to connect with someone else and help them along....for one never knows when I will need that kind word and encouragement and support, emotionally, mentally, and materially myself.

    Because of your post...I pause now in memory of Barb.
    Cousin Kristin (Albuquerque, NM)

  2. I cannot imagine a finer tribute to Barb's life and memory than the amazing work that you have done, Joan, to help so many families like yours, my own included. You are a gem and thank you for keeping Barb's memory alive with this deeply good work you do.

  3. Three months ago, I would not have related with this blog...

    but things have changed.

    My sweet sister, Kay, was murdered by her (soon to be ex-husband) about three months ago...he then killed himself.

    My World STOPPED.

    Everything has transformed into a darkness on earth.

    I thank you for this lovly article about Barb...

    Like Kay, What a tragic, horrilbe loss.

    Here are one of my blogs about my dear sister.


    Thank you so much for making a difference.

    Kim Sisto Robinson

  4. To Kim,

    Thank you for your comments. It sounds like you are suffering deeply over the loss of your sister. It takes such a long time to get over the immediate anger and pain that comes from such an unexpected and violent death. Time will not heal it but eventually, you learn to live around the hole created by your loss. She will never be far from the surface of your consciousness. Keep blogging and writing- it does help. I wish I had had the blog opportunity right after my sister was murdered. I would have started writing my thoughts.

  5. I am so sorry for your lose. It is a horrible thing.

    A comment that concerns me is: "I could talk more about the undiagnosed mental illness of my brother-in-law but won't here."

    Mental illness has nothing to do with the use of a gun. Many perfectly "sane" people kill people with guns. Please don't associated mental illness with gun use. Mentally ill people are blamed for many things and are unnecessarily feared by others.

    It is the BEHAVIOR that someone displays that is the most important aspect in determining if he or she should have a gun. Hiding guns around the house is a sketchy behavior. Although, not public.

    Many of the sane people who have killed others with guns had publicly displayed risky behavior.

  6. Sorry for the loss of your sister, but as long as you use it to restrict the rights of your fellow Americans you are my enemy and I will do everything in my power to discredit you, ridicule you, and highlight your bigotry.

    Those like yourself who advocate infringement of enumerated consitituional rights do not deserve respect, even if you have suffered tragic loss.

  7. Thanks for the, again, false sympathy. I don't need that from any of you. You really don't appear to be sorry. Where have you seen anywhere that I am trying to restrict any of your constitutional rights? You have not seen it and you won't. Quit saying that. Now you are lying. You are all lying when you continue to say that. That's what keeps you going. You fear that we are going to take something from you.Well, my sister was taken from me. I would venture to say that is a whole lot more painful than any right you may perceive is being taken. Do you still have all your guns? Am I coming for them? Is Obama coming for them? Are you a law abiding citizen? Chill out. You guys are hysterical when it comes to your rights. Take it easy. No one is taking any rights from you. We can say it over and over and over and you insist we are lying. Well back at you. You are lying. And you lie to your elected leaders and your friends to keep the hype and fear going so any reasonable law doesn't get passed.