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.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Part 3- guns and babies

This article from the Star Tribune highlights the danger for school children innocently playing at recess time. It sends chills down my spine to think of my grandchildren on the playground of their local school as targets for a deranged shooter. What is happening in our country when incidents like this take place on a fairly regular basis? We have a national culture of, for want of a better term, love of guns. Because we aren't challenging the common misperception that guns should be available to anyone and carried by everyone, the gun rights folks are winning the war of words. Though they try valiantly by continually badgering me with their comments on my blog posts and then getting angry when I don't post absolutely every comment immediately, they just can't be taken seriously unless they admit that we have a problem. Their solution to everything is to just have everyone carry their guns everywhere.  

So, in the scenario of the incident linked above, surely the gunman who jumped the fence of the elemenatary school playground in Carlsbad, CA could have been stopped. If only the man repairing his Jet Ski in his driveway had just in a split second noticed that a man with a gun had jumped the fence ( or maybe he could have had foresight and a vision that it was about to happen), he could have pulled out his own gun, if he had one. Surely he would have aimed perfectly and hit the man and not any of the children in the area. Or perhaps those construction workers nearby should have been paying more attention to a strange man in the neighborhood than to their jobs.

What the gun lobby wants is to normalize guns everywhere and the carrying of guns in all public places. How will be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys if this is the case? If all of those folks were openly carrying and saw this deranged man also openly carrying, would we know for sure that he had bad intentions? The answer, of course, is, NO. If someone doesn't outwardly appear to look mentally ill or suspicious, we will have no way to tell. And the assumption is that the "good guys" with guns will always win the gun battle and always shoot their target.

Several things to note from the linked article, above. The shooter was charged with gun violations. We don't know what those are yet. The construction workers stopped the man by hitting him with a truck and tackling him. No guns required. According to the construction worker who hit the shooter with his car, the gunman said something about President Obama as he was shooting. What's that all about? I have already blogged about home grown terrorists and militia members who hate the President. It's scary stuff to say the least, if it's true. The community was lucky that only 2 children received minor gunshot wounds. It will take a long time for them all to get over this one. What if the unthinkable had happened? This man had intentions to do serious damage.

I don't have the answer as to how this man could have been stopped with any gun laws because, surely, that will be asked. If he was, indeed, dangerously mentally ill, his name should be on a prohibited purchasers list. But so far, only 14 states, my own included, have made it possible for those names to be entered into the prohibited purchasers list of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ( NICS). That's the first problem. The second problem is that even if this man's name was on the list, he can avoid buying guns from licensed dealers by going to a gun show where plenty of private sellers would be happy to sell him a gun with no background check. If money can be made, it will be. Or he could have bought his guns by a straw purchase, stolen them or made a deal on the street. Or maybe when he bought his guns he wasn't mentally ill. Maybe things changed. That is why the system that is in place in my state is a good one. Every year, if you want to purchase a handgun or assault type weapon from a licensed dealer, you have to apply for a permit to acquire from local law enforcement. At that time, a local background check is run. Something might come up that changed from last year. That is why my local Sheriff likes this system and would like to see it extended on all sales of these guns. And the third problem is one I stated at the beginning of this post. We live in a country where people love their guns. That sometimes contributes to the wrong people with guns shooting innocent citizens. That does not make common sense.


  1. You are forgetting that this happened in California, land of the extreme gun laws. 79 out of 100, 1st in the nation according to Brady.

    "How will be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys if this is the case?"

    ummm... the bad guy is the one shooting at the kids.

  2. You missed a few points, Sean.

  3. Anyone not in uniform brandishing a gun is a bad guy. Just ask the police who have shot at their plain clothes compadres: http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=2049&issue_id=42010
    or ask these concealed permit holders: http://www.ktvb.com/news/local/64295762.html

  4. Who's getting angry, Japete? Certainly not me. I'm just frustrated because I come to your blog to attempt to have a "thoughtful discussion about how to prevent gun injuries and death." Although I'm a gun owner and vocal self-defense supporter, I'm not a child-killing monster, radical militia terrorist or deranged machine gun spraying mass murder. I don't want to see bad things happen to good people any more than you do, but at the same time I'd like to have my natural rights continue to receive the Constitutional protections that they do.


  5. Maybe you aren't but some are upset and get angry when I don't respond to their ridiculous and accusatory statements. I'm happy to hear that you are not a child killing monster or radical militia terrorist or a deranged machine gun spraying mass murderer. Some people are, however- enough to make a lot of bad things happen to good people.

  6. How will be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys if this is the case?

    Well it doesn't seem to be an issue despite Open Carry being legal in a large majority of the country.

    Arizona, Vermont and Alaska allow citizens to carry openly OR concealed without a permit and there are no problems "tellling the good guys from the bad guys"

    At the NRA convention in Phoenix I was amongst thousands of armed patrons. (myself included) There was not a single incident and not one gun left a holster.

  7. So let's go after that small subset of humanity and make sure they don't harm anyone. Don't lump me and the rest of the law-abiding gun owners into the same camp with the murderous crazies out there and then expect us to listen to what you have to say. None of my guns have ever killed anyone (with the possible exception of my WWII collectible pieces, but I don't think we're concerned with some long-dead Wehrmacht or IJA soldiers on this blog), nor has my owning them incited anyone around me to kill or injure anyone either.

    As for your specifics in this article, I would agree with your first point with some caveats. As long as people were adjudicated mentally unfit to possess a firearm AFTER receiving due process (probably involving some doctors, a judge and perhaps a jury), and there's a process for them to prove that they have recovered and are capable of owning a firearm again, then by all means make that part of NICS. On your second point, let's work together to implement Sean's drivers license idea, which is actually a compromise between our groups. We gun-owners get a streamlined process for purchasing firearms, and you get a system that will keep the law-abiding from unknowingly selling a firearm to someone who shouldn't possess one (whether at a gun store, at a gun show, or just between acquaintances). As for your third point, I think the only thing we could do about the pervasive culture of violence in the US is to somehow counteract the overwhelming influence of movies, TV shows and music that glorify violence, often using guns, to our children and impressionable adults (note that I didn't advocate censorship of those items, because that wouldn't be any better than banning guns, would it?).

  8. I have never lumped you in with the small subset of humanity to which you refer. I am constantly referring to those who should not be able to purchase guns. I know I have said that probably hundreds of times in this blog. So we're done with that one now if you can let it go. As for the Drivers' License thing, I am not in a position to speak one way or the other about it. I've never heard it mentioned before by anyone who has anything to do with legislation.

  9. Historically when someone shoots back at a spree shooter, the spree is over, the spree shooter killed, captured or suiciding. No more victims except in very rare cases the good guy who shot back. It doesn't matter who shoots back, or how out-gunned they are. As far as I know, this is without exception.

    The number of victims is usually directly related to how quickly a good guy who can effectively defend shows up. Effective usually means with a gun. This case is unusual in that unarmed heroes were able to stop the gunman.

    As far as telling the good guys from the bad guys--I think the risk of fatal misidentification is fairly low. I don't carry much ammo--I'll generally have either 5 or 10 rounds total. The police would have to show up after I do, but before I run out of ammo, AND catch me unaware (sirens?), AND not be able to tell my actions from a spree shooter, AND shoot me without giving me a chance to surrender.

    If I can stop someone from shooting children, I will absolutely take the tiny risk of being fatally misidentified by police.

    And what if the construction worker had hit a child with his truck? Similar or greater risk to accidentally shooting a child, and especially in hindsight well justified in this case.

    Spree shootings happen disproportionately where guns are not allowed. Chances are that if a spree shooter sees other people with guns, he's not going to attack there.

    Thankfully spree shootings are not common enough to base gun policy on--but if they were, the evidence points overwhelmingly towards expanding licensed concealed carry.

    Legally armed civilians historically are many times less likely to shoot the wrong person than police. This is in part because "run away" is more often one of our options, but also because the majority of the time when a gun is the right response, the situation is more difficult to deal with the longer it goes on--if we aren't involved from the beginning when things are obvious, we aren't likely to get involved at all.

  10. "This case is unusual in that unarmed heroes were able to stop the gunman."

    But were they really unarmed? I recall one of the construction workers hit the gunman with his truck. In most if not all places, a vehicle is considered a deadly weapon when used in that manner.

  11. Nonsense. The truck hit the man and subdued him so the rest could hold him down. Why don't you guys just admit that guns are deadly weapons designed for such and cars are not.

  12. At least you are consistent and said the truck hit and subdued him and not the man driving the truck. If you ask me that was one talented truck

    It seems as if vehicles can be used to kill. Also note that he killed 7 and wounded 10 with a truck and a knife.

  13. This has been discussed many times over on my blog. See CDC WISQARS report for the causes of deaths and injuries and causes of homicides and suicides. Guns account for the most, by far.

  14. I looked at the CDC WISQARS and it seems "Unintentional Injury" is the leading cause of death for the majority of age groups with various health problems coming in second. And under "Unintentional injury", "MV Traffic" tends to be the leading cause of death, usually many places above firearms.

    Only in the age range of 15-24 and 25-35, do homicide and suicide (respectively) become the second leading cause of death behind "Unintentional Injury". And even then, they are both roughly 1/3 of the deaths caused by "Unintentional Injury".

    It should also be noted that ages 14-25 are the peak ages for criminal activity. With police, armed citizens, and other criminals shooting at them, it should be no surprise that the leading cause of death among that age range is Homicide via Firearm.

    So here are the conclusions that are reached after looking at the CDC data:

    1. While cars are not "deadly weapons" in the technical sense, they seem to be causing an inordinate amount of death when compared to guns.

    2. While it's important to protect children from unnecessary firearm death injury, it's not the epidemic it's made out to be. Our children are more likely to die in common, everyday accidents than they are by firearm accidents, homicides, and suicides combined.

  15. Homicide or Suicide are Rother the first or second cause of injury related deaths from age 5-64. Of the homicides and suicides,firearms far outnumber any other cause. You only looked at unintentional causes