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.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I couldn't have said it better myself

I came across this blog post in the University of Wisconsin's Daily Cardinal by a Sophomore Math and Computer Science student at the University. Matt Beaty has written a well-reasoned article about why open carrying of guns is not a good idea. Several weeks ago, some open carriers decided to enter a Culver's restaurant in Madison with guns in holsters displayed openly. Needless to say, it was of such concern to some of the patrons that one called the police. Naturally, the police challenged the men to show their paperwork to prove that they were not felons. Several of the men stupidly refused. What did they expect? If everyone starts carrying guns around in public places, how will we know the bad guys from the good guys. This is a dangerous new movement in our country and is happening now in quite a few states. Normalizing the carrying of guns as if it is the same thing as carrying a carrot or a cell phone ( as one of the advocates of this movement said about this incident; see linked article above) is just plain wrong. I have written about this before in previous blogs.

What I love about this blog is that it is written by a young person who can see through the arguments and make such a thoughtful, reasoned and cogent plea for common sense. In his own words, Matt Beaty writes: " Like many constitutional rights, the right to bear arms is not absolute. There should also be common-sense limitations. Exercise the right at appropriate times, like when your house is being robbed, you are being attacked or you are in danger. But when you are trying to get a burger at a restaurant, don't bring your Glock, unless you plan on shooting the cow yourself." Family restaurants are not places for openly carried guns. I hope these wise words will resonate not only with other University of Wisconsin students, but with the general public. Thanks to this young man who wrote so well about a current topic of great importance and public safety.


  1. "Exercise the right at appropriate times, like when your house is being robbed, you are being attacked or you are in danger."

    The problem is we can't know in advance when or where we are going to be in danger. Armed robbers do not make appointments in advance. If I knew for sure that I would need a gun at a particular place and time, I wouldn't bring a gun, I would try to be somewhere else entirely.

    A pistol is like a seatbelt in a car. I don't wear my seatbelt because I expect to get into an accident on that particular drive and I don't carry a pistol because I expect to be confronted with a life threatening assault. Every time I get in my car I put on that seat belt because this might be the trip where I am involved in an accident. Every time I get up in the morning I put on that pistol because this might be the day when I face a threat to my life, or that of my loved ones.

    That said, I do prefer to carry my pistol concealed. Unfortunately, the good people of Wisconsin do not have this option, as it is one of two states that do not have any form of legal concealed carry. Their only option, if they want to be prepared to protect themselves from an unexpected threat, is to carry openly. If Mr. Beaty truly believe that family restaurants are no place for openly carried guns, I would hope that he would support efforts to pass a concealed carry law in Wisconsin.

  2. bad guys don't openly carry guns in holsters, that's how you tell the difference between the bad guy and the good guy with a gun

  3. I'm opposed to the open carry movement as are many pro-gun folks themselves. For me, the attempt to normalize the carrying of guns is bad news. For the gun owners who oppose it I suppose it's all about PR.

    Those guys in the story you referenced were looking for trouble in order to spread the word and take advantage of the publicity, which they viewed as helpful. When the Starbucks nonsense erupted six months ago or so, I compared their actions to those of a group of tree surgeons who come into the coffee shop with chain saws hanging from their utility belts, totally inappropriate in other words.

  4. Interestingly enough the Wisconsin Supreme court has said that Open Carry is legal and not able to be used for a disorderly conduct charge alone. In the 911 call the lady said that she was mistaken when told that it was legal.

    as to your line "Naturally, the police challenged the men to show their paperwork to prove that they were not felons"

    Do you think it would be reasonable to ask women for their ID to prove that they are not prostitutes after all they have a vagina?

  5. Some more infoon Open Carry, this time in San Diego

    San Diego pays $35,000 for improper arrest

    let's see, 5 people times $35,000 = ouch.

  6. If everyone who chooses starts to openly carry guns, then the criminals can do the same. How will we know the difference? You are the ones who always tell me that criminals will get their guns anyway in spite of the laws. Don't you suppose they will figure out that they, too, can openly carry their guns? As to the comment about vaginas, I am mystified. That has nothing to do with this discussion and I am betting you know that.

  7. Sean- from your linked article- "
    Until that day, these officers had never heard of the burgeoning Unloaded Open Carry movement, in which persons entitled to possess firearms exercise their right to lawfully carry unloaded, holstered handguns (though some onerous geographic limitations do apply). One other key legal restriction on open carry in California law also exists: people must give up their Fourth Amendment rights and submit to law enforcement examination of the firearm to determine if it’s loaded. In Wolanyk’s case, however, the officers weren’t performing a loaded firearm examination; in the officers’ minds, they were responding to a “man with a gun” call and acting accordingly." LE has found out that people can legally openly carry. Yes, this cost money and it will as long as police officers rightly have to defend themselves every day from people with guns. Often the officer ends up on the wrong end of the confrontation. I don't blame them at all for being "concerned" about people carrying guns around in public. It is commonly known that police departments have had to purchase more deadly weapons because they are now outgunned on the streets because of all the street guns. That, too, is costing the taxpayers a lot of money. Guns are not cheap. Nor are the consequences of dealing with the legal, public safety and health care aspects after crimes are committed, or life long injuries occur or lives are lost. The costs to society are great. The costs to the families of lives lost are even greater.

  8. Here might be a reason to carry at a restaurant.

    As to the vagina comment I think it means that as long as you are not doing something illegal the cops should not assume you are a felon/prostitute.

  9. Thanks for that clarification. It's still nonsense. The last time I checked, a vagina was not designed as a murder weapon. I have seen the video you shared. There is, of course, no guarantee that you could actually shoot the shooter in a situation such as the one in the restaurant where this woman's parents died. I wonder if you remember the recent case of 4 police officers sitting in a coffee shop in Tacoma, Washington, armed, who could not kill the man who first killed all four of them. I have discussed these situations in other posts.

  10. Sure it is not guaranteed 100%. What is your plan to stop a threat like that?

    I also found the link to the 911 call

    Ps how do I set up an account so I do not have to post anomalously? Just setup a g-mail account?

  11. My plan to stop a threat like what? I listened to the 911 call and I'm with the people who commented that this woman's phone numbers should not have been made public. I fear that the gun rights folks will start calling her with comments. Not a good idea. She was within her rights to make that call. I would have done the same. The dispatcher was right in asking her the questions and then stating the law to the woman who then felt badly that she had made the call. The police were within their rights to ask the men for I.D. to ensure that they were not felons about to do something wrong. When people see armed people in public places, it is not necessarily reassuring to most folks. These men were provoking this by exercising their rights to carry openly to make a point. One wonders if they were challenging on purpose so they could make their case legally and hope it goes further up the legal chain. Just a thought. As to posting here, I am not sure how you do that. Others have asked but I don't know. If you have a google account, I guess you can post that way.

  12. You commented that a gun would not guarantee that you could stop a shooter and referenced a story about 4 officers that were shot. I was wondering what your plan to stop a threat like that was?

    Here is the Wisconsin ID law
    Wis. Stat. §968.24 Temporary questioning without arrest. After having identified himself or herself as a law enforcement officer, a law enforcement officer may stop a person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably suspects that such person is committing, is about to commit or has committed a crime, and may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of the person’s conduct. Such detention and temporary questioning shall be conducted in the vicinity where the person was stopped.

    Can you tell how the cops were "within their rights" The original charges used to obtain ID were dropped and the law does not back them up.

    I agree that here name and number should have been edited. It looks like the Cops messed up on that one :(

  13. When someone is openly carrying and a citizen calls with a concern, the cops will probably come to check it out.I don't blame them. What if, by chance, these guys meant to harm people and the cops didn't come? People would be screaming about the negligence of the cops. This whole things puts law enforcement and citizens in a pretty bad situation. These guys were provoking the law and challenging. That's why they did it.

  14. How does one provoke something that is allready legal? I will agree that it is a bad situation but the only option if one wants to carry a gun in WI. Under WI law there is no option to conceal a firearm.

    Just like you can not profile people and ask for ID for suspicion of illegal immigration for looking Mexican you can not profile people for being felons for legally carrying firearms.

    Can you point out the crime committed by the group?

  15. "When someone is openly carrying and a citizen calls with a concern, the cops will probably come to check it out"

    Depends where you are. In places like Arizona where there's a long tradition of open cary the police often won't send an officer for "man with a gun" calls. They 911 operator asks the caller what the individual with the gun is doing and if they're minding their own business the operator will explain to the caller that carrying a gun in public is perfectly legal. Part of the reason for this is that in some parts of Arizona, open carry is common enough that responding to every call about someone with a gun would be a huge waste of time. Problems, like the one in the linked article, tend to happen in places without a long tradition of open carry. In many of these places police are ignorant of the law or haven't really gotten used to the idea of citizens carrying openly.

  16. Japote said "...The last time I checked, a vagina was not designed as a murder weapon."

    You're implying that all firearms were built with the express intent to murder.
    A firearm is a tool. Just like a hammer, nail gun, glue gun, pencil, fork, wrench, etc, etc, it has a very specific design, in this case, expelling a projectile at a high rate of speed in a controlled manner.
    That a person uses that projectile to harm another person, is not the fault of the firearm. That is akin to blaming the hammer when a carpenter smashes his/her thumb.
    Any tool can be used to kill. Yes, the firearm is very good at this. And thats the reason that many people choose it as a mechanism for self-defense.

    In this situation, the police did need to come, because they got a call, but, since what these individuals was doing, getting food, was legal, the police only needed to inform the concerned people that it was indeed legal for those men to carry their weapons of defense openly and move along.

  17. Did I say a crime was committed? = other than the men resisting showing their IDs which got them into some trouble initially,

  18. Where do you guys get this tool thing? A firearm is plain and simply NOT a tool similar to a hammer used by a carpenter. A hammer is a tool. My definition of a tool is something that is used to help with building or construction or completing a job. If a gun is a tool for killing people, then O.K. Otherwise, you guys are the only ones who consider a firearm a tool. It is a weapon designed to kill or injure- animals or people. I suppose you could pound a nail with a gun if you so choose. Good luck with that.

  19. "Did I say a crime was committed? = other than the men resisting showing their IDs which got them into some trouble initially,"

    And I posted the law that states that they do NOT need to show id for this unless there is reasonable suspicion of a crime. So the cops made up a reason and then later dismissed it then charged all of them. I see this as being a costly mistake for the department.

    The whole guns kill (or whatever variation) is worn out and makes as much sense as spoons make people fat.


  20. Actually, the tool analogy is a good one.

    First off, some tools are inherently dangerous: e.g. rotary saws. These tools require to operator to be especially careful in their use.

    As for the firearms being a tool, it is. It is designed as a lethal weapon. It's lethality is what makes it attractive to these users. They claim it is the "best tool for self-defence".

    Because of the firearm's ability to kill it is a better choice than a non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray. This is despite the fact that police agencies and the military use pepper spray: in particular for crowd control.

    Would the police and military choose an ineffective item for this purpose?


  21. No crime was committed. Well, except by the police. I linked to the MPD's own website where they have a PDF showing how refusing to show id is not a crime.

    What we have here is a form of bigotry. You would never stand for a group of blacks or gays being rousted by the cops while eating, and you'd never make excuses for the cops if they did. But you'll take the cop's side instantly because the Madison 5 were exercising their 2nd Amendment rights at the same time as their rights to free assembly.(1st Amendment). Then you don't understand why we get angry that the cops proceed to violate the 5's 4th Amendment rights. Are there any rights you believe in? In your mind, they were carrying guns, so that justifies the cops running roughshod over these guys. I think it displays your bigotry towards gun owners. (Except hunters, whom you require to stay in the closet)

  22. The cops were responding to a 911 caller. They were doing their job. These guys were just testing the system to see if they could make trouble. Guys with guns make cops nervous and they make the public nervous. What do you expect? I supppose you think we are going to think it's just fine for people to be carrying their guns around openly in public places. We are not fine with it. It isn't necessary.

  23. Your accusations are just not true, Sean.

  24. "These guys were just testing the system to see if they could make trouble."

    There is a long and proud history of "testing the system to see if they could make trouble" as a way to promote awareness of civil rights in this country.

  25. So it's O.K. for "your side" to do this but I can't even be an advocate for what I believe in according to the people commenting here. I smell hypocrisy.

  26. I am sure you are going to figure out very shortly that I support the right to carry firearms, and being able to open carry. You say that they should not be able to carry into Culver's. I would like to know if you have some magic crystal ball that can see if Culver's will not get robbed when I am their dining with my family , or if an employee who just got fired decides to come to the restaurant and mow everyone down with bullets. Cause if you can I would love for you to share your secret with me. I do not carry a gun because I am a cowboy or I hope to have to shoot someone. I carry one because I like to know that I have it in case that one in million chance something goes wrong I can protect my self and my loved ones. The gentleman that were dining there did nothing wrong. They had no reason to be give identification to the police there was no crime committed. A cop can not just walk up to random people on the street and say give me your ID unless they believe a crime has been committed. The Disorderly Conduct charges have already been dropped against them. As far as open carry goes a lot of states if you do not have a firearms carry license the only way to carry is openly such as where I live in the state of New Hampshire. Another thing criminals do not open carry firearms in holsters they hide their guns, and pull them out when they are about to commit a crime because they want the element of surprise. So Mr. Beaty if you choose not to protect yourself that is your right, but I choose to protect myself because when seconds count the police are minutes away.

  27. "So it's O.K. for "your side" to do this but I can't even be an advocate for what I believe in according to the people commenting here. I smell hypocrisy."

    I cannot speak for others here, but for myself, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

  28. I agree with Chris. While I disagree with your view on this topic. I would defend your right to say it.

  29. Well it looks like we will be getting a ruling on the legality of this eventually.


  30. As I said before, these guys were looking for the challenge. I wonder when they hired the lawyer? They likely intend this to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Time will tell.

  31. " I will agree that it is a bad situation but the only option if one wants to carry a gun in WI. Under WI law there is no option to conceal a firearm."- Anthony

    Totally incorrect.

    That's just NRA proaganda. For the truth, try contacting the Brady Campaign.

    This is a direct quote from their website:

    "Two states, Wisconsin and Illinois, do not require a permit to carry concealed handguns in public while two states forbid the carrying of concealed handguns."

  32. No, that quote is entirely wrong. The two states that don't require a permit for concealed carry are Vermont and Alaska (and the Brady website must be dated in addition to being incorrect, because Arizona has recently become the third state to allow concealed carry without a permit). Wisconsin and Illinois do not make any provisions whatsoever for legal concealed carry.

    From Wikipedia (the easiest concise source for me to quickly access, but in the future at least try using a Google search before quoting "facts" from the Brady Campaign website): "A No-Issue jurisdiction is one that does not allow any private citizen to carry a concealed handgun. The term refers to the fact that no concealed carry permits will be issued (or recognized). Illinois and Wisconsin are No-Issue jurisdictions." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concealed_carry_in_the_United_States#No-Issue)

    While I would agree that there are some Open Carry proponents who do so just to bring awareness to the fact that they are normal people just like everyone else, the Culver Five were merely exercising their 2nd Amendment rights in the only way allowed by the state of Wisconsin. If the sight of openly carried firearms makes you uncomfortable, you should find common ground with the pro-rights folks in Wisconsin and Illinois and work to secure the right to lawful concealed carry in those states.


  33. I hope the person who referred to the Brady Campaign website about permit to carry laws will say where that information was found. I do not see it in an obvious place. As far as I know, Wisconsin and Illinois are the only two states that do not have "Shall Issue" laws to permit people to carry concealed guns.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. Now I see why you would not post the link to the laws that were in direct conflict with the Bradys. I would think that someone in you position would want people to know what the laws were concerning firearms were exactly. You might want to contact someone at the website to fix the factually wrong information about the law in Wisconsin.

  36. Anthony, the Brady website is incorrect. It's probably just a typo, because if you would just do a quick Google search like I suggested, you'd find dozens of links saying that WI and IL prohibit legal concealed carry.

    Japete, WI and IL don't have concealed carry laws, period. "Shall Issue" and "May Issue" are two different styles of CC permit issuing, with the latter being more restrictive. There are actually 10 "May Issue" states; with the remainder being "Shall Issue" except for WI and IL.


  37. It is not worded correctly. I will contact someone to get the wording right.

  38. Looks like there is another one.


    BROOKFIELD, Wis. -- A woman who was arrested after bringing a loaded gun to a Brookfield church is now suing the city.

    Police arrested the woman at the Unitarian Universalist Church in July. Parishioners called police when they saw the woman was openly carrying a gun in the church.

    It is legal to openly carry a weapon in Wisconsin.

    The lawsuit accuses police of unnecessary force when arresting the woman and unreasonable search and seizure. The lawsuit asks for the woman's record to be purged from Brookfield's computer files and damages to be determined at trial.

  39. In an interesting twist


    “The government has to have a compelling state interest to do so (restrict the right to carry) and they have to have the least restrictive means of doing that,” said Poss. “Public safety obviously is a state interest, but there’s all kinds of ways to do that in this regard.” In his decision, Counsell states the law forces citizens to “go unarmed (thus not able to act in self defense), violate the law or carry openly,” but notes displaying weapon’s openly isn’t a “realistic alternative.”

  40. Yes, Anthony, this is an interesting twist. Time will tell how it will all turn out. Also from the article: "As of now, the decision only sets a precedent in Counsell’s court, but Poss expects the case will be appealed. “It’s ultimately going to get to either the Wisconsin Supreme Court and or the United States Supreme Court one way or another,” he predicted."

  41. BTW the woman at the church just settled and the city (meaning taxpayers not the cops) Payed out 7,500 to her. I am sure you missed it being no one was shot. I wonder what the settlement with the Madison police will pay out?