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.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guns and burgers

My blog often examines the hypocrisy of decisions that affect your daily lives concerning guns. Here's a great group: Gun Free Dining. Who knew you would have to think about whether the restaurant to which you take your family for a meal is gun free or not?  Or what about having a romantic dinner with your spouse or partner? Candlelight, cloth napkins, mood music, and someone sitting next to you with a gun in a holster. One wonders what that person is afraid of in a restaurant? Maybe a server who drops a hot cup of coffee in your lap? Or a patron who raises his or her voice in a disagreement? How about a child who is misbehaving?

But then, one can see why there is something to be worried about in restaurants where guns are allowed. Here's a great story about a concealed carry permit holder who got a little careless with his gun while ordering a beer. I need to be reminded again about why carrying a gun in an eating establishment to protect yourself and others from danger is so safe for all of us. This poor man is more than embarrassed. He also has a gunshot wound in his leg. Luckily, he didn't manage to injure anyone else in the restaurant. I'm betting that he scared a few of the customers, though. By the way, what's with the guns that are found in pants pockets or drop out of pants pockets and shoot a bullet into the leg, foot, or private parts ( yes, that happened too) of the gun owner? We are seeing more of these incidents since more people are now carrying guns in public places. I'm just saying......

25 comments:

  1. One wonders what that person is afraid of in a restaurant?

    This is a common question from gun control advocates, and it's honestly just a misunderstanding between two groups with different perspectives.

    First off, I haven't read your archives, so I don't know your whole opinion on concealed carry in general. But given that concealed carry is a reality in almost all of the country and recent debates have centered on whether licensed carriers in pro-carry states should be barred from carrying in restaurants in particular, the larger debate isn't relevant to this question.

    You think "why do you need to carry in a restaurant?" The permit holder thinks "given that I've been carrying all day on the street, at work, in stores, in the movie theater, and at the street fair, why do you think I should be forced to unholster, unload, and stow my gun before entering that restaurant?"

    Given the context of legal concealed carry, it doesn't make much sense.

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  2. Why do you carry in a movie theater, in stores and at street fairs in the first place? What's going to happen in those places? My point is that guns are not needed in all of these places. I don't care to be in a restaurant where alcohol is served with people carrying guns.

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  3. This being a larger issue about concealed carry in general, the answer is a larger one: because bad things happen in this world, and I'd prefer to be better prepared for this particular bad thing. Violent crime is a risk with a small likelihood but high consequences, so I consider it worth preparing for.

    I can choose to carry with essentially no risk to myself or to others (accidental guns deaths are rarer than deaths from falling down stairs, and they almost always involve negligence. If I choose to carry responsibly, I can just about guarantee nobody will get hurt), and practicing with guns is much more fun than practicing with, say, a fire extinguisher, so there's essentially no downside from my perspective. The few times I've been in places that respected my right to carry, I carried a tiny pocket pistol that caused me no inconvenience.

    The specific risk in any given place at any given time isn't really the point. Being prepared for the low risk of violent assault requires carrying regularly to be prepared for that moment if it ever comes, just as being prepared for a car accident involves wearing your seatbelt in tens of thousands of low-risk moments where you end up not needing it.

    I deal with _high_ risk environments by staying away from them. :)

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  4. Good idea to your last sentence there, elmo.

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  5. Your response to Elmo Iscariot shows a common tactic of gun control advocates. Carrying where alcohol is served is seen as an easier target--but the objection isn't to carrying in a restaurant, it is to carrying, period. When Tennessee was in the process of allowing the law abiding to remain armed in a restaurant, it was frequently mis-characterized as "drunks with guns in bars" or similar--despite language in the bill that prohibited carrying while drinking or while in an age-restricted venue. Ohio is seeing similar arguments--"Guns and alcohol don't mix", when the law does not allow drinking while armed.

    Why is such deception and subterfuge necessary if your goals are common sense?

    In recent years, there has been a vast increase in the number of auto accidents, injuries and fatalities where airbags are involved. I'm just saying...

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  6. Hmm- drinking when carrying is not allowed in my state either. This example- the man was already drinking before his gun misfired when falling out of his pants. How do bartenders know someone has a concealed firearm when serving? By the time the person is drunk and weilds a gun, it is too late to stop him or her from shooting someone. Why take a chance is all I'm saying? Airbags have saved a lot of lives. That's what I'm trying to do. Prevention.

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  7. By the time the person is drunk and weilds a gun, it is too late to stop him or her from shooting someone. Why take a chance is all I'm saying?

    Because we can't and don't want to ban everything that could turn dangerous. Life is fundamentally a long string of taking chances, large and small.

    I get where you're coming from, but this logic leads to the natural conclusion that people shouldn't be allowed to drive to bars, because eventually some people are tempted to drive home drunk. If we just punish the drunk drivers, it's just as "too late" as with the drunk who pulls out his carry piece.

    An even closer analogy would be banning car keys from bars because alcohol and cars don't mix. The keys--and the irresponsible act--are exactly as far away in that case as the drunk is from his gun in a state that makes him leave it in his car.

    Banning guns in bars and restaurants, though it sounds like eminently good sense, ends up doing almost nothing to address a problem that was microscopically small to begin with, while creating additional risks. A gun that stays untouched in its holster is fundamentally incapable of harming anybody. But force a carrier to fiddle with his gun, unholstering it, unloading it, stowing it in the trunk, then retrieving it, reloading, and reholstering all while partially in public view invites public accidental discharges and theft, which feeds more guns to criminals.

    It's one of those ideas that's good, solid common sense, and also turns out to be wrong, like the obvious fact that a big stone should fall faster than a small one. :)

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  8. japete, you write: "What's going to happen in those places?"

    I don't know what's going to happen in those places. That's why I carry a gun. I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    You write: "My point is that guns are not needed in all of these places."

    You can't possibly know that. You can't possibly predict when and where someone might need to defend himself or herself.

    You write: "I don't care to be in a restaurant where alcohol is served with people carrying guns."

    That's fine, and it's certainly your choice. I make a similar choice not to patronize establishments that forbid the lawful carriage of firearms on their premises. It seems to me that the free market ought to be able to accommodate your preferences and mine, so why drag government into it?

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  9. We seem to live in 2 different worlds. Yours is a world where you see danger everywhere you go and think you need a gun just in case. In my world, I have not been to very many places where I felt danger or thought that I might be safer if I had a gun. Actually most homicides occur in homes or places where people know each other- much of it domestic in nature. As someone I know said, "the person you should be afraid of is the one with the keys to your house" or something along that order.

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  10. We seem to live in 2 different worlds. Yours is a world where you see danger everywhere you go and think you need a gun just in case.

    The idea that people carry guns out of insatiable paranoia is a caricature.

    In my world, I've have not been in very many situations where I felt like I was about to be in a car accident. I drive carefully and attentively, and have never once been in an accident where anyone was injured. But I still wear my seat belt every single time I get behind the wheel. I don't ever think "do I need to wear my seatbelt just to drive across the parking lot?" I just wear it whenever I'm behind the wheel, because accidents come unexpectedly and the consequences of being unprepared can be enormous.

    Carrying a gun, for the overwhelming majority of folks who do so, is exactly the same thing. It's a simple, habitual part of getting dressed in the morning, which carries no more burden or emotional freight than putting on a watch. When I've been able to carry, it was a novelty (New Jersey doesn't issue carry permits to normal people), and I _still_ forgot there was a gun holstered in my pocket after about five minutes.

    Again, it's a fundamental issue of perspective. You think of this as STRAPPING ON A GUN BECAUSE YOU'RE AFRAID OF BEING ATTACKED AT DENNY'S. And yes, a constant, active fear of attack would be pathologically unhealthy. But passively carrying in your pocket a safety device that doesn't cause you any other burden? No more a sign of pathology or delusion than my habitual seatbelt wearing.

    I mean, it's not like I'm driving around with a constant, active fear that somebody will plow into my car. :)

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  11. elmo- I'm not the one packing because I think something bad might happen so I need to have my gun along. That's what you all are saying you are doing. To me that means that you might be paranoid and have some fears that I just don't have. It is different to have a deadly weapon, designed to kill on your body than to be driving a car. Cars are not designed to kill. Accidents happen in cars which is why we now have mandatory seat belt laws, air bags, speed limits and lots of other safety features- to protect people from serious injury or death, knowing there is a chance of an accident. There is also a chance of accidents with guns which is what I have been pointing out. Someone, don't remember if it was you, provided a link to something to prove that accidental gun deaths were smaller than falling down the stairs. I didn't see the source for that link. We need to be able to see the sources of information. I am not saying there is any pathology to carrying a gun. I am saying that it is a totally different world view in which you all seem to be scared of something wherever you go. Otherwise why would you need a gun? It is designed to injure or kill someone you perceive to be or actually threatening to you. What else is your explanation for needing a gun wherever you go?

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  12. One might say that the fearful, paranoid person is the one who is so scared & distrusting of others that she's afraid of being in public places whhere people can legally carry guns.

    In fact, she's so fearful that she wants to tell others that they can't carry. She wants to force her personal lifestyle choice upon her fellow citizens.

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  13. Hogwash. Move on- this is trite.

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  14. I'm not "scared of something wherever I go", japete. I readily acknowledge that, given my profession and lifestyle, I'm not at a particularly high risk of suffering a violent attack.

    But low risk is not the same as no risk, and I believe it's better to be prepared than not. I'm not arming myself out of fear; I'm arming myself out of the same impulse that makes people keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. I'm not walking around expecting to be attacked any more than I'm anticipating a conflagration every time I've got something on the stove -- but on the off chance that one of those things does happen, at least I'll have the means to deal with them readily at hand.

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  15. But I agree with you in one sense, japete: we are coming at this from entirely different perspectives. You seem to regard firearms as these awe-inspiring talismans of violence whereas, for the majority of us, they're just tools.

    I'd encourage you to visit your local gun range and enroll in a beginner's gun safety course. First-hand familiarity with guns might help you appreciate our perspective a little better. And who knows? You might find that you enjoy shooting.

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  16. Unlikely but not totally impossible. I know someone who did this and actually liked it. It's just not my thing. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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  17. I guess cops carry guns because they're scared then too huh?

    Or does everything magically change in your world the moment the man with the gun has a uniform and shiny badge (or just the badge if he's plainclothes)

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  18. Couldn't resist throwing my two cents worth into this discussion.

    Let's say I'm a bad guy who has a part time "occupation" of attacking others to take what they have. You're not going to put me "out of work" by packing heat. It would be fairly simple to get in an unexpected lethal blow first, then see if my suspicions were right. Now you're robbed and dead, instead of just robbed. (Just an example)

    Packing heat in public places is for people in uniform. Heck, even cops shoot each other when in "plain clothes". Think about it.

    When everyone is armed, the level of violence will only rise. Ask our troops in Afghanistan.

    Shooter says.

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  19. I'm with japete 100%, but I must admit that elmo's posts are a pleasure to read. Thanks for very little hyperbolic rhetoric. I think you have something in common with japete.

    I agree with elmo's contention that encountering violent crime is a low risk high consequence event. However, I don't agree that leaving the guns at home is equivalent to wearing or not wearing your seatbelt, for example. The latter is an entirely benign and peaceful act. Carrying around the means of sending bullets ripping through flesh just isn't comparable.

    Since you do it, elmo, I assume you'd be comfortable with everyone doing it. I'm not. To me, a country filled with people locked and loaded is not a desirable or admirable or even civilized one. It seems like it would be a very tense, threatening place to live in.

    I don't think people who carry really are letting themselves understand what the result of using their weapon would be (namely, sending bullets ripping through the flesh of perpetrators, bystanders, and the like). Like japete, I don't care to be a bystander among people who are prepared (as they must be) to start firing when they (and perhaps only they) perceive a threatening situation is developing. I'd rather trust law enforcement to take on this burden. (And a burden in is; in our town, a police officer recently had to shoot a 17 year old who was battering everything in sight with a baseball bat, including the windows of the squad car. The policeman is said to be devastated and I believe it). Do you carriers really want to assume this kind of burden? I know many of you do and actually seem quite anxious to have the chance. I don't think you are letting yourself understand how that situation would feel, even if you are the "eye for an eye" type.

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  20. It is different to have a deadly weapon, designed to kill...It is designed to injure or kill someone you perceive to be or actually threatening to you. What else is your explanation for needing a gun wherever you go?

    There's that different emotional freighting I was talking about. You have a lot of negative emotions tied up in "designed to kill". I have a lot of positive emotions tied up in "designed to protect". I can't, off the top of my head, think of a gun designed to murder (though many were designed for and by corrupt, violent governments); all guns I'm aware of were designed to be used in hunting, target shooting, or personal or national defense.

    It's an unfortunate fact that the only reliable way to stop a dedicated violent human being is by seriously injuring him. The day somebody invents a phaser with a stun setting that's as carryable and effective as a handgun, I'll gladly rely on one of those instead. In the mean time, firearms are the best defensive weapons available, and they simply don't carry all the emotional baggage for everybody that they do for you. It isn't "different with guns"; just like cars and chainsaws, they're powerful tools that can be used responsibly, negligently, or maliciously.

    There is also a chance of accidents with guns which is what I have been pointing out. Someone, don't remember if it was you, provided a link to something to prove that accidental gun deaths were smaller than falling down the stairs. I didn't see the source for that link. We need to be able to see the sources of information.

    It was me, and the source was the survey of the odds of dying in the United States by the National Safety Council, a century-old safety advocacy group uninvolved in the gun debate that's been publishing injury statistics since the 1920s. It's a fascinating document that really helps to put vivid-feeling dangers into perspective. For example, in 2006 in the United States, of 121,599 total accidental deaths, there were:

    8 deaths from fireworks
    25 deaths due to earthquakes
    32 deaths by dog
    47 deaths by lightning
    413 deaths by drowning in bathtubs
    514 deaths in water transport accidents
    519 deaths by exposure to natural cold
    622 deaths by exposure to natural heat
    642 accidental firearms deaths
    661 deaths by accidental suffocation in bed
    687 deaths from tripping or slipping on a level surface
    698 deaths by drowning in swimming pools
    872 deaths by choking on food
    906 deaths from falls involving beds, chairs, and other furniture
    1818 deaths from falling on stairs
    2521 deaths due to complications of medical care
    27,531 accidental poisonings
    45,316 deaths due to motor vehicle accidents

    I am saying that it is a totally different world view in which you all seem to be scared of something wherever you go. Otherwise why would you need a gun?

    Again, I wear a seatbelt wherever I go, and absent New Jersey's laws I'd carry a firearm wherever I go. Neither is a burden. I'm exactly as perpetually frightened of assault as I am perpetually frightened of car accidents.

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  21. [Wearing a seatbelt] is an entirely benign and peaceful act. Carrying around the means of sending bullets ripping through flesh just isn't comparable.

    I disagree. Carrying a device safely holstered and out of view is absolutely peaceful, whatever that device may be.

    The extremely rare necessity of _using_ the gun isn't peaceful, but when it's used defensively to resist violence, it's significantly more desirable than the alternative. And that's what it comes down to. I don't want to shoot anybody, but it's far, far less horrible a proposition than being helpless to protect myself or my family in an extreme emergency.

    I trust my neighbors with cars, highly flammable substances, power tools, noxious household chemicals and countless other things that could kill or main me or destroy my apartment home. Individuals having the power to cause serious harm through negligence or malice is simply a fact of living in close quarters, and especially of living in a technologically advanced society. Angsting about which ones are "designed to kill" doesn't change the end result: we're dependent on our neighbors' responsibility, guns or no.

    I've been much "tenser" having to walk through the back streets of gun-control-rich Trenton to get to a government records building than visiting an Indian restaurant in Virginia and seeing a smiling, polite man and his wife openly carrying Glocks.

    I may very well be a fool--fools rarely know they are--but on a spectrum between choosing to trust my fellow adult citizens to make their own decisions about owning and carrying guns, and feeling tense and threatened by private gun ownership, I feel pretty confident in saying I'm not at the paranoid end. If I'm a fool, it's because I trust the average person too much.

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  22. Thanks, elmo for providing the source of your link. I don't believe I have said that accidental deaths due to firearms are higher than other types of accidental deaths. But your stats are helpful all the way around. Since that's the issue in which I am involved, that's the emphasis of my blogging and my concern. We do have a vast difference in our feelings of safety and vulnerability. So be it. That may not prevent us from seeking some common ground on the issue of preventing gun injuries and deaths.

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  23. You make frequent mention of finding common ground in the prevention of gun injuries and deaths, yet you don't ever really seem to suggest anything concrete. I think that part of the problem here is that there's different types of gun injuries and deaths, and different "solutions" to each. Perhaps by taking a more micro approach to the problem (as opposed to the macro approach of just banning or restricting guns in general), would allow us to reach common ground. Very few gun owners are going to compromise with you about how they own or carry their firearms, and I doubt you're willing to let them buy and carry their firearms however they want either. However, I have a "common sense" law that would easily fix all problems with mixing guns and alcohol without putting some places off limits, or having various signage requirements, or requiring a customer try to figure out if the restaurant has a bar; make it a crime to carry a firearm while having a BAC of X (X should probably be the legal limit for driving). I am fortunate enough to live in a state where I can carry to any restaurant or bar, and even drink while carrying. However, as a responsible adult, I choose to treat consumption of alcohol while carrying exactly the same as while driving; I will enjoy a beer with dinner while armed, and then legally drive home. I will not get intoxicated while carrying, and then drunk drive home. This seems like a pretty common sense law to me, and the bonus of this approach is that something similar is already in place with law enforcement, who must submit to drug/alcohol blood testing after a shooting.

    --Colin

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  24. Here's something interesting about the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy ( linked above by one of you guys)- " The Journal is one of the most widely circulated student-edited law reviews and the nation’s leading forum for conservative and libertarian legal scholarship. " So what they write in this journal is, of course, not biased in any way. " In collaboration with our sister organization, the Harvard Federalist Society," Members have included John Yoo, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas. Find me something peer reviewed with no obvious bias.

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