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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What's in a name?

The power of words and the power of co-opting language to win the messaging war can be dangerous. The gun folks are really good at this and have managed to fool a whole lot of people. Take, for instance, the Appleseed Project as highlighted in this article in the New York Times. The article raised many questions for me. First of all, the use of the word Appleseed. What does that conjure up for you? Johnny Appleseed of course. What does his legendary, mythical name have to do with a camp that teaches marksmanship? It alludes me but there must be a reason the name was chosen. True, John Chapman, the actual Johhny Appleseed, was born in the times of the Revolutionary War. He was a peaceful man who planted apple nurseries and brought his apple seeds to others so they, too, could plant apple trees on their properties. He loved animals and was a conservationist; and a Missionary on the side.  Oh, and some of us sang the Johnny Appleseed Grace at camp: " Oh, the Lord's been good to me. And so I thank the Lord; For giving me the things I need: The sun, the rain and the appleseed; Oh, the Lord's been good to me."

So cleverly naming a camp Appleseed to teach people that they need to be prepared to defend themselves against the government or the "Red Coats" is a bit of a myth in itself. If the folk legend is correct, John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, didn't have anything to do with guns and shooting. The only thing he had in common with the Revolutionary War is that he was born in that time period and was a pioneer who spread good things with his apple seeds. What seeds are being sowed by the Appleseed Project? We can only guess.The language of the man who started the organization, Jack Dailey, is couched in terms that would have the readers of the article in the New York Times piece believe that the intentions of the group are not harmful- only useful. But according to Mattathias Schwartz, the writer of the New York Times article, the Appleseed Project sees "....marksmanship as fundamental to Americans’ ability to defend their liberty, whether against foreigners or the agents of a (hypothetical) tyrannical government." More myths.

Question: Do we want to go back to Revolutionary War times? Apparently some do and think those were the "good ole' days" when men were fighting for their rights againgst an oppressive government just as they have conjured up about the Obama administration today. Myths again... They even use paper "Red Coats" as targets. And one man who was attending a shooting session at one of the Project's "boot camps", when asked by the reporter, couldn't say why he needed an AR15 rifle ( restricted in almost every civilized country not at war except the U.S.). He needed a little help from Dailey to answer his question: "" He shook his head. “That isn’t it either. It’s just something that I think I should have. Fred, why should I have an AR-15?”
Dailey stood with his arms crossed. He said: “Because they want to tell us what to do. And we don’t want them to tell us what to do.”""

My next question is where will this movement lead? I and others, have written of the far right talk about "Second Amendment solutions" and the open carry movement. Are these groups dangerous or are they just people getting together for a good time and while they are at it, they learn to shoot assault weapons at targets from 500 feet away, just in case? It's obvious by the answer above to the question about why someone needs an AR15 that these folks don't want anyone telling them what to do- most especially the federal government. According to the New York Times article, Dailey ( known as Fred to his readers because he uses that name as a byline in his writings) became increasingly frustrated with the government after the 1993 FBI intervention in the Waco,Texas/Branch Davidians showdown. He indicated, in the article again, that now he is not the same person he was then. His interest now is in holding "boot camps" to train people to shoot their high powered rifles accurately( he sells rifle stocks, by the way). The more light shed on groups such as the Appleseed Project, the better. Hiding in the shadows are many who hate the government and are preparing themselves for...what exactly?


  1. Please visit our website to learn more about our Mission Statement and read our full official response to the NYT:


    Dear Sirs,

    It is with some sadness and disappointment that we at the Appleseed Project read the New York Times article this evening. When the NYT originally asked us to host their media team in order to better understand what we do, we welcomed them. ...

    We did so because we have nothing to hide and no secrets in our program. There is no reason whatsoever to restrict or fear an open and honest press. ...

    Sadly, today's article is not about us. It is not about the Appleseed Project. It is about militias and about anecdotal gun owners who are not members of our program. ...

    Frankly, there are among us those who feel that we have been poorly described and treated in this article, and I will return to that point in a moment. ...

    In its rush to cover the desired story, that is, scary militia groups, the NYT simply misses what is really important. Therein lies its disservice to both its readers and our program.

    Now, with respect to specific themes in the article that we feel incorrectly describe the Appleseed Project, let us simply address each in turn:

    Inaccuracy #1: Appleseed is Militia

    Appleseed is not a militia or interested in militia training. Appleseed teaches only in individual marksmanship skills and the history of April 19th, 1775. Appleseed does not provide training in military tactics or unit operations. Rather, Appleseed uses marksmanship as a way for modern Americans to reconnect with THE Founders through a shared, traditional American skill. No more. No less. Appleseed does not see our government as an enemy or force of arms as a solution. Rather, our enemies are laziness, ignorance and apathy. Appleseed sees education and lived history as the means to get people to the real solution: Personal involvement in civic processes to ensure a better future for our nation. Our ancestors fought so that we would not have to; all we have to do is get off our couches and get involved.

    Where militias offer a dark haven for people with concerns about an unwelcome future, Appleseed offers reason for hope and sees bright, happy days ahead. That is the real reason we are not a militia nor associated with any such like-thinking group. ...

    Inaccuracy #2: Appleseed is Anti-Government, Anti-Military, Anti-Law Enforcement

    Appleseed is not anti-government, anti-military, or anti-law enforcement. Among our volunteers are people who work in law enforcement, the military, the government and nearly every civilian trade. We teach students who work in law enforcement, the military, the government, and any civilian occupation precisely because we are all Americans and inheritors of the same heritage and history. And together we must make our joint future.

    Appleseed has zero tolerance for anti-government, anti-military, or anti-law enforcement attitudes, comments or advocates. To the contrary, we offer free spots on our shooting lines for active duty military personnel and have been called onto military bases to teach troops deploying for overseas duty in combat theaters. Elected officials at any level of government are invited to participate in Appleseed without charge. Finally, it is our goal to get each and every participant involved in the body politic, which means we are always clear that we hold our government, the government given us by the Founders, in the highest regard.

    Soldiers, police officers, and government officials are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, friends, and protectors. At Appleseeds they are our honored guests. ...

    In conclusion, it is my hope that the NYT and its readers continue their search for authentic information about the Appleseed Project so that they learn for themselves exactly what the Appleseed Project is, and what it seeks to create: a more active body politic. ...

  2. I wish I could believe this statement from Appleseed. I stand by the words in my blog. I think there is every indication that the people coming to the shooting camps are there because they are distrustful of the government and ready to take action if needed. That was pretty clear by the interviews with "Fred" and some who were at the camps. When you promote the kind of talk that is taught at these boot camps, some people take it to mean they should do something about it.

  3. Actually I think the AR-15 is a clumsy, foolish, underpowered weapon. The idea of the weapon platform is delightful, seeing that shaved headed child on Future Weapons showing how the original weapon can be improved by changing to higher caliber uppers. If it needs to be improved, so the LAPD or private security groups can find it acceptable, then it's too flawed for whatever version of the 'Zombie Apocalypse' that the pro gun people anticipate.

    I never understood why the NATO countries would want to go to war with a rabbit rifle.

    And as for the Appleseed meetings, There are cheaper, more effective ways to master distance riflery. They also have the bonus incentive that you avoid the mall ninja types.

  4. and if someone else gets to decide whether I need a particular weapon, that could snowball. I don't like the idea of someone else deciding that 640K is enough for anybody, or a small car with an underpowered engine is good enough.

    I would never own an M-16 -the military version of the AR-15- namely because I don't like the idea of throwing my entire paycheck down the barrel in a single day. But if some friends of mine wanted to own a full auto bullet hose, I would not ask them their perceived need.

    I'd simply buy stock in winchester and remington's ammunition manufacturing divisions.

    Don't worry about those weekend warriors Ms Japete. They didn't do much during the assault weapons ban.