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, October 1, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month

report from the Violence Policy Center, recently released, reveals the 2008 data for domestic murders of women by men. Because I didn't want to extrapolate the data, here is a paragraph from the report's abstract: " Nationwide, 1,817 females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents in 2008. Where weapon use could be determined, firearms were the most common weapon used by males to murder females (858 of 1,662 homicides or 52 percent). Of these, 71 percent (608 of 858) were committed with handguns. In cases where the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 92 percent of female victims (1,564 out of 1,694) were murdered by someone they knew. Of these, 64 percent (997 out of 1,564) were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers. Twelve times as many females were murdered by a male they knew than were killed by male strangers. In 86 percent of all incidents where the circumstances could be determined, the homicides were not related to the commission of any other felony, such as rape or robbery. " 

This annual report by the Violence Policy Center titled "When Men Murder Women " confirms what those of us involved in the movement to prevent domestic violence know to be true. The weapon most commonly used in domestic murders of women by men is a firearm and mostly handguns. The numbers for other weapons are quite a bit lower than for firearms. The numbers don't lie. The report also looks at domestic violence by state. Nevada and Vermont had the highest and second highest rate of women killed by men.

These charts from the Department of Justice show trends in domestic homicides. The good news is that the trend is fewer domestic homicides from 1975 through 2005, especially of men killed by women. Domestic abuse is a problem that is not necessarily openly discussed because of the sensitivity and embarrassment of the victims. Now that I volunteer at the Family Justice Center of my local Safe Haven Shelter, I am very aware of the pervasive nature of abuse which crosses all cultural, age and socioeconomic groups. Most women are reluctant to come for help but extremely grateful. Some have waited too long. Others who did not seek help end up as statistics and subjects of articles in the local press, as did two women in my area both of whom were killed by men with guns as they were trying to leave relationships.

The Clothesline Project started in 1990, is one way for family and friends of victims or victims themselves to call attention to domestic abuse and violence. Through this project, people can decorate a t-shirt with a name of a victim with pictures and words of remembrance on it. Two years ago, I attended an event when the Clothesline Project came to Duluth. As I reached into the box of shirts with the year 1992 on it, I was surprised to find a shirt with my sister's name on it. It had been decorated by someone who knew her well enough to paint a small plane ( she was a pilot), an actual costume jewelry pearl necklace ( she loved jewelry) and other pictures of significance. The moment I took the shirt in my hand was incredibly emotional as I joined the line of people holding shirts stretch out for blocks along the Lake walk bordering Lake Superior. The event was sobering for all who joined in holding the clothesline with the shirts depicting the names of hundreds of women and children killed by domestic violence.

Getting involved with the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, internationally known for the Duluth Model of coordinated community response to domestic abuse, has been a meaningful way to help in the efforts to prevent domestic abuse. Later in October, DAIP will celebrate its' 30th anniversary with a gala event. You can find information about it here. I am in awe of the amazing staff there who work with the abused and the abusers and train people all over the world. So this month, join me in increasing awareness of domestic abuse; donate, volunteer, educate your friends and family.


  1. there is no proof the murders would be less with out the hand guns they could just replace it with a knife or bat what ever was handy.
    but how many of the women would have lived if they had a handgun of their own and could defend themselfs.
    the mexacan goverment does not alow any personal firearms without a very hard to get permit and they have off the charts domestic violence and drug gangs that out arm the army there.

  2. Canada has very strong gun laws and by your logic should have lower crime rates but

    Gottlieb cites an article by Canada's National Post columnist David Frum where he revealed that "Canada's overall crime rate is now 50 percent higher than the crime rate in the United States.” Moreover, "Since the early 1990s, crime rates have dropped in 48 of the 50 states and 80 percent of American cities. Over that same period, crime rates have risen in six of the 10 Canadian provinces and in seven of Canada’s 10 biggest cities.”

    He also cites the most recent complete data available from both countries that shows that in 2003, the violent crime rate in the United States was 475 per 100,000 people; while up north, there were 963 violent crimes per 100,000 people. The figure for sexual assault in Canada per 100,000 people was more than double that of the United States: 74 as opposed to 32.1; and the assault rate in Canada was also more than twice that of the states: 746 to America's 295 for the people.

  3. That has been discussed before. Guns cause the most homicides and suicides
    in the US. They are quicker and easier- more lethal. Every country has domestic abuse and violence. I will check on your assertion about Mexico. It is speculation to say that a different weapon would be used if guns were not available.

  4. It is a fact that the U S has the highest rate of gun deaths per 100,000 than other industrialized countries. As long as that is the case, I will continue to work on our country's problems. See other discussions about this on my blog.

  5. but the fact remains the murders are still hapening with out the guns in Canada and Mexico.
    also see London they are haveing the same issues and trying to remove knives from the hands of offenders. so once again no guns but the deaths remain.

  6. mnlakediver's point is the unconvincing pro-gun nonsense that the gun is just a tool which, if it weren't available, would be replaced by something else in every single case.

    My point is guns are bad news for women.

  7. I frequently hear if it saves just one life then it will be worth it. The thing that is generally overlooked is what if it takes the ability for a woman to defend herself? Does the rule work both ways?

    Here are a few stories I found on the web.

    Countless cases are similar to that of Amy Sash in Des Moines, IA. In February 1999, the day after her former boyfriend was released from jail for assaulting her, she bought a revolver for protection. Only a few days later, the man kicked in her door. After warning him, she fired. Although the ex-lover was under a court restraining order, Ms. Sash told the press, "You have to protect yourself at some point."

    The "weaker sex" uses guns as an equalizer. Rachel Jackson, of Red Springs, NC, is confined to a wheelchair with spina bifida, but when a man broke into her home in July 1998, she first sprayed him with tear gas, then pulled out her pistol and fired. "I don't like to feel like a victim," she later said.

    “Remember, when seconds count the Police are just minutes away!”

  8. These cases that you cited are rare. What is more frequent is that men overpower or surprise the women and the women are abused or killed. What happened to the woman who killed her former boyfriend? Was she charged with his murder or was it ruled self defense?

  9. the story really did not say if she was charged but as you can see the restraining order sure was not going to protect her she had to take the initiative to protect herself. I would say that it was the perfect case for self defense he previously assaulted her and was arrested for it, violated a restraining order, and kicked in her door.

    What should both these women have done if they did not have a gun to protect them self?

  10. There is no guarantee that these women could have protected themselves with guns. That's the problem with that logic. You assume that if you have a gun, you can protect yourself in all circumstances. It just doesn't work like that. If it did, we'd be hearing about it and we are not. Instead, we hear of people, even with guns, unable to protect themselves. We hear of police officers, even with guns, unable to stop someone from shooting them.

  11. In those 2 situations it is guaranteed because it worked. Using your same logic being unarmed does not seem to work very well either. We hear about people, with out guns, unable to protect themselves. What is a more effective defense tool that should be used?

    If you are implying that I am saying a gun is 100% effective self defense tool you are trying to put words in my mouth.

  12. So Joan,

    What is your answer to the problem of people being able to protect themselves?

    Making it harder for people to protect themselves?

    How does that make sense?

    The most common weapon involved in family violence cases was physical force through the use of hands, feet, and fists (strong-arm), which accounts for 79 percent of the incidents. The Texas Family Violence law considers the use of threats and intimidation to be serious enough to report and, thus, 8 percent of the reports were listed as involving
    no weapons. Knives or cutting instruments (4
    percent), blunt objects (3 percent), firearms (1 percent), and other (5 percent) account for the remaining cases
    . Considered as other weapons were motor vehicles, poison, explosives, fire, drugs, unknown, and miscellaneous weapons.


    1% of the family violence incidents involved a firearm -- yet you want to restrict the rights of everyone -- and at what cost?

    The report doesn't give how many defensive gun uses there were, it doesn't give how many lives were saved, how many rapes prevented.

    A skewed focus on the negative means you can not see the positive.

    What cost are you willing to have everyone pay for the illusion of safety?

  13. Again- nationally, firearms are the most commonly used weapon in domestic abuse cases against women. That's the fact. Who wants to restrict the rights of everyone? Who's putting words in my mouth?

  14. Anthony- not implying what you said I am implying.

  15. @ japete I am having a problem finding any statistics that list the assaults by weapon used do you have a link to the national stats you quoted?

  16. Joan,

    Do you have evidence of your assertion?

    Because even the Violence Policy Center isn't making that claim!

    Although firearms are used in a relatively small percentage of domestic violence incidents

    Are you sure you aren't 'shading' your truth just a little?

  17. Bob- were you just picking the facts you wanted to make a point? Here is the rest of the quote from the Violence Policy Center: " In 2000, in homicides where the weapon was known, 50 percent (1,342 of 2,701) of female homicide victims were killed with a firearm. Of those female firearm homicides, 1,009 women (75 percent) were killed with a handgun.

    More than five times as many women were murdered by an intimate acquaintance (605) than by a stranger (113) in the year 2000. Additionally, while firearm homicides involving male victims were mostly intra-gender, 95 percent of female firearm homicide victims were murdered by a male.

    Domestic violence against women is a disturbingly common occurrence in the United States. Estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) indicate that from 1993 to 1998, women were victims of violent crimes by their intimate partners an average of more than 935,000 times a year. During this period, intimate-partner violence comprised 22 percent of all violent crimes against women. Although firearms are used in a relatively small percentage of domestic violence incidents, when a firearm is present, domestic violence can and all too often does turn into domestic homicide. Congress, recognizing the unique and deadly role firearms play in domestic violence passed the Protective Order Gun Ban in 1994. The law prohibits gun possession by a person against whom there is a restraining or protective order for domestic violence. In 1996, Congress passed the Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Gun Ban, which prohibits anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or child abuse from purchasing or possessing a gun. "

  18. Anthony- CDC WISQARS data. I have referenced many times in my blog posts. Check it out- unmistakable evidence that firearms are the cause of most homicides in the U.S. and also most suicides.

  19. Joan,

    Do you want to reduce Domestic Violence or just Domestic Violence involving a firearm?

    You seem to have a very limited agenda here and one that is difficult to understand.

    So, do you want to reduce total violence or just firearm related violence?

    You also fail to acknowledge the positive side of firearms....the lives saved, rapes prevented, murders stopped.

    Leads one to believe that you don't care about those lives --as long as a firearm wasn't involved.

    That's the fact. Who wants to restrict the rights of everyone? Who's putting words in my mouth?

    You want to restrict the right of people to buy and sell a legal product without governmental approval.

    You want to restrict the right of people to exercise their right to store a legal product how they want.

    You want to restrict the right of people to carry firearms without governmental approval.

    And on and on.

    And you have the unmitigated gall to say I'm putting words in your mouth.

  20. Joan,

    Definition of CAUSE
    a : a reason for an action or condition : motive b : something that brings about an effect or a result c : a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state; especially : an agent that brings something about d : sufficient reason
    a : a ground of legal action b : case
    : a matter or question to be decided
    a : a principle or movement militantly defended or supported b : a charitable undertaking

    From Mirrian Webster Online Dictionary

    Now, by which of those definitions can a firearm cause a homicide?

  21. You've tried to "catch " me on this one before,Bob. A stupid question does not deserve an answer.

  22. Guns cause the most homicides and suicides.

    I suggest you start using words correctly. Guns don't cause homicides. Why is it you intentionally use this word incorrectly?

  23. Again, you must have forgotten that this is my blog. I am advocating for common sense among those who agree with my suppositions and urging them to action. If you don't like it, you won't support me anyway. I assume you don't.