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, August 13, 2010

Listen up gun owners

To all of you who are following me on my blog and my Twitter account, I have a few words to say. Yesterday I met with some of my colleagues in the Twin Cities as we move forward with our plans for the year. We had a lot of discussion about whether there were gun owners in Minnesota who realized that we are not against them. We know there are. They have signed on to help us out with our education and legislative campaign. They have agreed in polling that reasonable gun laws are a good idea. Most of the people we have talked to agreed that background checks to keep felons, domestic abusers, the dangerously mentally ill and terrorists from being able to buy guns legally were a good idea. Why would anybody be against such background checks? Does anyone think it's a good idea for the above named groups to be able to get guns? If not, why do they resist so strongly when we propose such measures? Why do they send their e-mails and make their phone calls to our legislators telling them that this is a slippery slope that will, of course, lead to gun confiscation? Recent Supreme Court rulings not withstanding, that is not our agenda. We have been forthright about that but they don't believe us.

Turn around is fair play. Should we believe them when they say that law abiding gun owners don't commit crimes? We have proof enough with articles and research collected that, indeed, some law abiding citizens do shoot people. When under the influence of stress, rage, jealousy, loss of control, too much alcohol, depression, etc. time after time after time people shoot other people. The latest example in Minnesota is this one in the suburb of Eagan, as reported in the Star Tribune. The motive is not known but surely, the young man who shot his ex-wife and her current husband, had a reason which may have been only known to him. Now he, too, is dead, in a suicide completed right after he shot two people through their window on a stormy Minnesota night. This scenario repeats itself many times over daily in our country.

So those of us who are on the side of "gun control" see these examples and just want to stop the shootings. Some on the side of the gun lobby or the "gun guys" as we have come to call them, either don't see these incidents or see them and don't think it applies to the overall debate about guns. All we want is for people to admit that these crimes take place. Admitting that suicide accounts for the greatest percentage of gun deaths in our country is admitting that we have a problem. Admitting that kids get their parents guns or their neighbors guns and shoot themselves or a sibling or a friend is admitting that some law abiding gun owners may be careless with their loaded guns in the home. Admitting that permit holders do shoot people or that their guns go off accidentally sometimes and injure or kill others would be admitting that accidents can happen in public places with guns which doesn't fit with the agenda of more guns make us safer. If that were the case, we would not have the daily gun injuries and deaths that we have.

We have a long ways to go towards common ground about the issue of guns and gun violence. Some on my side of the issue have done harm to the discussion by suggesting that guns should be outlawed, period. There is over-the-top rhetoric that only made the debate more hyperbolic. We have sometimes screamed that passing conceal and carry laws would lead to lawlessness on our streets. I admit- that has not happened. But the converse has not happened either. People with loaded guns in public places have not necessarily made us safer. I have been writing and tweeting about example after example of permit holders and/or otherwise law abiding citizens shooting others either purposely or accidentally in public places and in homes or on our streets.

Then there are those on the side of gun and second amendment rights who scream with fear that their guns will be taken from them or that the government is full of Nazis and Communists who are out to get them. This is hyperbole, plain and simple. If it keeps the NRA in business and the gun dealers selling guns, then it is worth it, I guess. The organizations with which I work do not have a financial stake in this skirmish since we don't have anything to sell and we don't have money to give to candidates to wield influence for our side. There is an advantage to that, and we would say it is an unfair advantage. All we have are victims and facts on our side as well as the majority opinion.

Can we work together to stop shootings with reasonable measures that won't affect law abiding citizens except to require them to go through a background check for all gun sales instead of just some? Can we work together to make sure people practice safe storage of their guns in the home so their children don't use them accidentally or to kill themselves? Can we work together to get law abiding folks to think twice about having guns around when someone in the home is unstable or in a difficult, angry divorce, or drinking too much? There may be times when it's just not a good idea to have easy access to a gun.

What my side of the "gun control" debate wants is common sense. I believe the "other" side wants that too. Perhaps we think that getting there takes two different paths. I am not so sure about that. If we let go of some pre-conceived notions about each other, we can do something very positive to stem the carnage caused by guns in our country that just isn't present in other industrialized countries not at war. We can't stop it all. We never will. There are almost as many guns as total citizens in our country. Fewer homes have guns in them which must mean that some homes or some people have many. We recognize that their are legitimate gun collectors and people who love to use their guns for hunting and recreation. We work with some of these folks. They keep us honest. But we also know that there are too many shootings and too many people getting guns who shouldn't. So I end with my plea to stop the ugly and angry rhetoric on all sides. As I wrote yesterday, using the Second Amendment as a way to stop all reasonable discussion about guns and gun injuries and deaths does not cut it any more. We can do better and we must. Let's give it a try.

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