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, November 26, 2010

Guns for 18 year olds?

I found this editorial from the Duluth News Tribune interesting in light of my recent blog about why 18-21 year olds should not be able to legally buy guns or have permits to carry them. Does anyone remember that a good number of high school seniors are 18? My own son, who has an October birthday, turned 18 at the beginning of his senior year. He was in the company of quite a few others whose birthdays were either in the fall or in late summer and waited to start school until age 6. It is pretty widely recognized that teen-agers engage in risky behaviors. That has been the case forever. To deny such is ludicrous. Yes, 18 year olds can vote and serve in the military.  What would the military do without these young people who willingly serve the country and end up in Iraq or Afghanistan? The sad fact is that many of them also have been killed or injured in these war zones. That's for a different blog.

In most states, 18 year olds are denied legal access to alcohol for good reasons. Alcohol causes enough problems for older adults. Why make it easy for younger adults to use and abuse alcohol and drugs? Some would like to change this age. I am not sure what I think about this one. Most realize that these young people go off to college where there are legal drinkers and it's hard to keep the underage drinkers from gaining access.

So the very idea of 18 year olds in high school legally carrying guns around in public and/or being able to legally purchase is absolutely insane. A measure proposed by the NRA is now under consideration in Texas. Read this editorial from the New York Times about this stupid and dangerous proposal. Let's combine the known risky tendencies of teen-agers with the idea of them also legally carrying guns in our restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and other places where young adults gather, and we have a recipe for trouble. As the editorial notes, young people already  are responsible for a good number of illegal gun crimes and murders. Why make it even easier for potential shootings?

This is nonsense that should be exposed for what it is. The NRA is totally shameless in it's attempts to make sure that virtually everyone can possess and carry loaded lethal weapons around everywhere where the public gathers. As usual, common sense means nothing to these folks. All they care about is their guns and making sure they have theirs. Public safety is not on their radar. Their attempts to bamboozle people into thinking we will all be safer if there are more loaded guns carried by more people in more places is disingenuous at best and sinister and cynical at most.

I would submit that if we follow the money, we would see that this has a lot to do with making sure sales of guns continue to increase for the profit of the manufacturers and dealers. Every time a new category of people is added to legal ownership and carrying of guns, the manufacturers profit. We might also want to consider the recent exchange of comments on my blog about the cost of guns and permits being prohibitively costly for the "poor". Now some think that teen-agers and young adults, presumably without adequate funds to support themselves, will somehow be able to afford expensive guns. I'm not sure this fits with their outcry about "poor" people not being able to afford guns or the permits to carry. The editorial also rightly notes the fact that common sense measures to keep guns away from criminals and terrorists and others who should not have them have been fiercely fought by the NRA.

The editorial from the Duluth News Tribune, above, makes a common sense observation: " At the same time, 18 percent said they drove a motor vehicle after drinking. While that percentage compares favorably to the much higher 33 percent in 1995, the goal should be zero when it comes to drinking and driving." In the end, that should be the common goal concerning gun crime and senseless shootings of the same age group. We should not tolerate more than zero percent of shootings of and by teen-agers and young adults. These young people are at risk enough without adding the element of lethal weapons. 


  1. "I would submit that if we follow the money, we would see that this has a lot to do with making sure sales of guns continue to increase for the profit of the manufacturers and dealers."

    I would submit that you don't know much about gun manufacturers and how they influence the politics of gun owners.

    You might start by doing some research into what are the largest civilian firearms manufacturers, what their gross sales are, and what their net profits are.

    They simply don't have enough money to significantly influence the gun debate.

    Back before Smith&Wesson screwed gun owners by signing on to Clinton's back-door gun deal, they were our largest manufacturer of handguns - and they grossed less than Ben & Jerries Ice Cream. Of course, after signing on to Clinton's deal, gun owners shunned them, and they were out of business in six months.

    About three months into the process, the NRA noticed what was going on, and started jumping up and waving their arms, and talking about "organizing" the boycott that had already appeared spontaneously.

    That's the way things usually go. Gun owners regularly meet and talk to other gun owners. Opinions gel, and action is taken. The organizations that the anti-gunners seem to think are running things notice, and try to position themselves to look like they're running things, in an attempt to increase their own fund-raising.

    The anti-gun groups' biggest problem is that they mistake the NRA's posturing for some sort of actual leadership, and nothing like this is true. The gun rights movement isn't about the NRA, and it's not about protecting the manufacturers. It's about maintaining the US as a bastion of liberty and freedom.

  2. Eighteen year-olds have been able to buy long guns (rifles & shotguns) for years. I don't see any reason why handguns are any "more" lethal.

  3. Hey, Anon, long guns are more regulated, requireing licences for hunting, for instance. And it's a lot harder to hide a long gun in your pants. Statistically, a huge percentage of gun crimes are by handguns.

  4. Clearly, none of these sorts of people have any sort of need for a firearm:
    - Pizza delivery guys that work alone, at night, carrying cash (http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/2003/05/08/2003-05-08_2_get_max_in_pizza_robbery__.html). In this case, an 18 year old and a 25 year old conspired to kill a teenage pizza delivery boy. Neither of the thugs could legally possess a gun (underage, no permits, and convicted felons...), but they used one anyways. Shocker: Criminals ignore laws. Meanwhile, we can find plenty of stories about lawfully armed pizza guys that defended themselves against violent crime.
    - 18-21 year old women who may be victims of rape (http://www.dreamindemon.com/2009/09/16/gang-rape-at-hofstra-university/). According to NIBRS, 80% of female rape victims are under the age of 30; over half of those are over 18. I couldn't find good statistics on the exact risk to women 18-21 but I'm pretty confident in saying that the risk of being raped doesn't magically decrease for this demographic compared to, say, 22 year olds.
    - Children of prosecutors, judges, or other public figures who have received death threats from gangs (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/24/AR2009052402931.html)
    - Females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group at a rate almost triple the national average. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99 (Oct. 2001, rev. 11/28/01)

    I guess I'm a radical for thinking that 18 year olds should be considered adults and treated as such.
    - They can enter into legally binding contracts, borrowing tens of thousands of dollars for student loans, for example.
    - They can vote. I consider voting to be very important and serious. Life and death decisions like "should we go to war?" are decided by our elected officials in a democracy.
    - They can serve in the military, where we trust them in ambiguous counterinsurgency situations with surprisingly minimal supervision. I know first hand of convoys in Afghanistan where 24-year old lieutenants and 25 year old NCOs led even younger troops in combat zones, for example. The American military relies tremendously on individual initiative and responsibility at the lowest ranks, which is something that differentiates us from many other forces.
    - They can drive automobiles. 5000+ teens die every year in auto wrecks, and hundreds of thousands are seriously injured. 3/4 of those fatal crashes do NOT involve alcohol.
    - They are held legally responsible for their actions as adults if they commit crimes, including penalties such as the death penalty or life without parole (depending on your state).

    Yes, some 18-21 year olds are irresponsible. Many, however, are responsible adults. If a 20 year old has a clean record, doesn't use controlled substances, and is otherwise not a prohibited person I don't have a huge problem with them owning and carrying a handgun. The vast majority of problem folks are prohibited anyways because they use drugs or have rap sheets, and they'll ignore whatever law you set up -- just like the thugs that murdered the pizza guy in the link I posted above.

    I think Alaska's law is a decent compromise: you have to be 21 years old to get a CCW permit or carry concealed without a permit. Individuals 18-21 may only open carry. This allows those with an urgent need to have some sort of effective defensive tool.

    Note that I'm not advocating letting students carry in high school. There just may be some contexts where it makes sense for an 18-21 year old to carry a defensive firearm.

  5. Baldr, I'm not sure where you're getting that long guns are more regulated... They aren't. A license for hunting isn't a license to own a long gun.

  6. "Eighteen year-olds have been able to buy long guns (rifles & shotguns) for years. I don't see any reason why handguns are any "more" lethal."

    The "argument" is that handguns are extra dangerous because they are concealable. Of course those who make that argument won't hesitate to also point out the number of criminal shootings, suicides, and negligent shootings that occur with long guns. So I don't see the reasoning either.

    A gun in the hand of someone with ill intent is dangerous whether it's a long gun or handgun, whether is legally carried or illegally carried.

    As i've said in her previous entry about 18 years olds with guns, the alarmism over campus carry and open carry is for the most part a bunch of empty clutching of pearls. Bad guys will carry guns whenever, wherever, and however they want, therefore no amount legislation (or lack of legislation) will stop them.

  7. The phrases used by the "gun guys" on my blog are not necessarily clear to me. But this one, "clutching of pearls" caught my attention when this person used it a few posts ago. I looked it up- interesting: " a moment in time that forces one to clasp their hand to their chest, out of fear or shock, as if trying to protect an imaginary pearl necklace. A new phrase among the gay Maryland circle" ( from the Urban Dictionary) also: " To place your hand on your collar or around your neck in a prudish way as to display shock or disgust towards someone or something. The imagery is that of a rich woman clutching her peal necklace in fear/shock." Something about this one makes me think that this person is mocking those of us on the side of common sense. For the record, we are not prudes and we are not "clutching at our pearls" in disgust, fear, or shock. We are making reasonable arguments that you don't like; thus you must demean them by using a phrase such as this to flick us off as just a bunch of fools who know nothing. Am I right? This is "alarmism" for sure and it should be for everyone. We, on the side of common sense and wanting to prevent shootings, are alarmed that you guys don't.

  8. No, he's not kidding Joan. This is a grassroots movement where power goes from bottom to top. You really think all this is whipped up by the NRA and industry? NRA merely represents the interests of its members. It doesn't drive those interests. As Jdege mentioned, the industry has little influence in the overall movement, and have often worked against it.

  9. Nonsense, Sebastian. I don't believe that for a minute.

  10. Sebastian, it has to do with the preferred communication strategies of the different groups. Gun rights lacked access to traditional mass media, so we went around it and learned to communicate peer to peer. The Joyce funded groups, lacking the need to communicate peer to peer never developed it, and there is a lot of evidence that a top down strategy was needed to conceal their lack of actual warm body support. They see their own organization, where info is shared top down, and funds come from rich people or foundations. They cannot conceive of any other operational method. If they tried to run on donations, like the NRA, they'd be out of business in days. To them, there HAS to be a large donor driving the agenda. That's how they run.

  11. It's pretty interesting and presumptuous that you guys appear to know how the "gun contol" groups run and who is contributing, etc. You probably don't get the networking that goes on with like minded groups and the fact that the public is largely on our side of the issue. We are certainly outfunded and "outgunned" by the NRA. That does not mean we can't be effective at what we do.

  12. I don't claim to be an expert on how the gun control movement organizes, but I do have significant experience with how the gun rights movement works, how it communicates, and how it's organized. I also have a view of the NRA's internal workings that's far deeper than your average member or volunteer. I know how they function and how they dysfunction.

    Where did you think we all came from? Got some NRA marching orders to go argue with Brady board members? Gun blogs were going for years before anyone at NRA said a word to any of us. I know this because I was the one who approached NRA and suggested they could benefit from starting a dialog with leaders in new media. I'd be a liar if I said I thought NRA was good at talking to members and organizing their grassroots. They could do much better. But NRA members are _very_ good at airing their grievances with NRA.

  13. We know that you guys have back channel communications. How else would you all simultaneously start pushing the next new talking point? You guys don't exactly go for the subtle approach. This is not the same thing as peer to peer communication.

    You keep saying that "the public is on our side." Yet you guys have a consistent loss record. When the people who are "on your side" don't vote for you, then it is fair to question if they are actually on your side.

    I am currently reading a book called "Rise of the Anti-media." If you want to know why you guys are failing read that. You guys organize vertically while we organize horizontally. We go to the gun range together, you guys can't exactly go to the anti-gun range. You guys maintain a spokesman and a secretary with an email list, we have a mass membership organization with an enormous convention every year.

    You would be better off if you stop trying to convince yourself that we are a bunch of rubes led by monied interests.

  14. " You would be better off if you stop trying to convince yourself that we are a bunch of rubes led by monied interests. " Well gee, Sean, thanks a lot for that advice. It's always nice to get advice from the other side. How do you know that we don't do person to person communication? And yes, we don't hang out together but I "hang out" with mostly people who agree with me. If I send them an e-mail to lobby, they respond. That's how we work. And we do organize the grass roots, by the way. Just because you don't know about that doesn't mean it is not happening. We all could do better, though. That's what this is all about- improving ways to advocate for our causes. That's why I am writing this blog. Many people are reading it- they are just not all responding like you guys do all the time. I have readers all over the world. It's surprising to me what my audience is and how many people are reading this blog. It is not just you gun guys. I will keep it going. I'm attracting more and more people as I go along.

  15. "It's pretty interesting and presumptuous that you guys appear to know how the "gun contol" groups run and who is contributing, etc. You probably don't get the networking that goes on with like minded groups and the fact that the public is largely on our side of the issue."

    I'll ask again. How big do you think the gun industry is? How many billions of dollars do you think they have to spend?

    Why, if the NRA exists to do the bidding of the manufacturers, did the NRA try to take credit for destroying Smith & Wesson?

    Why, if the gun rights movement is a construct of the NRA, did Congress receive more than 300,000 letters in opposition to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which the gun manufacturers and dealers were in support of (because they correctly saw that it would eliminate competition from mail-order dealers)?

    And if the public is on your side, why do more than 70% of the public poll as supporting the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right? Why have thirty states passed laws in the last 20 years providing for increased access to concealed carry licenses, and not a single state has gone the other way?

    Why do referendums adding individual RKBA provisions to state constitutions always pass with >70% of the vote?

    And why, when pollsters ask for specific provisions, from people who have said they support increased laws restricting guns, do the great majority support those provisions advocated by the NRA, and not those of the Brady Bunch?

    You've got to stop believing your own propaganda.

  16. To the comment one up, jedge:
    " The anti-gun groups' biggest problem is that they mistake the NRA's posturing for some sort of actual leadership, and nothing like this is true. The gun rights movement isn't about the NRA, and it's not about protecting the manufacturers. It's about maintaining the US as a bastion of liberty and freedom."


  17. Joan,

    First you say that 18 year olds are mature enough to sign on the dotted line to go to war and die defending themselves and others, but not mature enough to own a firearm for defense of themselves or others.

    You can't have it both ways.

    I bought my first rifle in Copperas Cove, Texas, outside of Fort Hood. I was 19. I was twenty (not old enough to buy my own beer) when Sergeant stripes were pinned onto my collar. That was 11 years ago, and the rank I wear has only gone up. But the soldiers under my care for some reason keep staying the same age.

    And while it may be easier to get into College than the US Army (seriously, take a look at the numbers and application requirements) most 18 year olds can make the cut for either.

    I know from a decade leading soldiers that if you treat 18 year old men and women like immature boys and girls, that is what you will get. At some point you have to expect adult behavior, and in my experience the vast majority of 18 and 19 year olds rise to the challenge.

    Don't neuter people, empower them. They will surprise you constantly with their maturity and problem solving skills.


  18. What a wonderful comment thread!

    My favorite remark was in the very first comment. "It's about maintaining the US as a bastion of liberty and freedom." jdege is always good for a laugh. But that led to a fascinating discussion of the grass-roots-powered gun-rights movement vs. the top-down model led my the gun manufacturers and the NRA.

    There may be something to the upward-driven idea, but what comes to my mind is the many remarks made by LaPierre and Heston before him that have become sacred slogans. Isn't this an example of "taking your marching orders?" Isn't this an example of true leadership, when the top guys actually tell you how to think and talk?

  19. "My favorite remark was in the very first comment. "It's about maintaining the US as a bastion of liberty and freedom." jdege is always good for a laugh."

    Laugh or not, this is the primary motivation of most gun rights advocates. It's not like it's a secret, we've held this position for a couple of hundred years.

    As for the idea that the movement is driven by the NRA, it can only be your ignorance of the history of the NRA that makes such a belief supportable. The NRA was very reluctant to become an activist organization in the area of gun rights. It took a great deal of pressure by the members to bring it around to its current mix of weak support and unprincipled compromise.

    It's been a constant fight to keep the NRA in the game. Far too many of their leadership have been inside the beltway too long.

    I know it's hard for you to understand, but the gun rights movement is driven from the bottom, by gun owners meeting and talking, at the range, and at shooting events, and at gun shows.

    It wasn't the NRA that told people to stop buying S&W. And it wasn't the NRA that told the dealers to stop carrying S&W. It was pissed-off gun owners who told the dealers that they'd never buy another S&W handgun, and that they'd never buy anything at a gun store that complied with Clinton's consent decree. S&W's sales had dropped by half before the NRA even noticed what was happening.

    There wasn't an NRA-organized boycott. There wasn't an organized anything. There were simply a bunch of free individuals making their own choices based on their own values. And for some 20-30 million people, in this country, their most important value is preserving the as an armed society.

  20. Nonsense. If anyone believes this, I've got a bridge to sell in Brooklyn.

  21. Joan,

    You say nonsense (regarding organizational conflict within the NRA), but that is only because you don't know what you are talking about.

    Here are two recent examples:

    And before that you should look at the massive turnover in NRA leadership following the 86 GOPA. We the members were not happy with compromise, and so replaced our "leaders" with those more extreme in the cause of freedom.

    If you did know something about how much flack the NRA gets for not being MORE extreme from members, you would be amazed at their restraint.

    The Brady Campaign tells their members to "get fired up" and the NRA tells members "Calm down".

    But hey, I'm laying two to one odds that your reply to this will be; "nonsense" or "what!?!?".

  22. Very interesting, jedge. I always thought the NRA leadership was extreme but it's even more concerning that the members are more extreme than the leadership. It's all the more reason for me and the Brady Campaign to do what we are doing- to save our country from extremism.

  23. "The Brady Campaign tells their members to "get fired up" and the NRA tells members "Calm down"."

    This is often true. But it would be a mistake to say NRA members are monolithically absolutist when it comes to gun rights. It's safe to say that NRA members are united in support for people to be able keep and carry firearms, and generally oppose gun control conceptually. But when you start talking details, there's more variation.

    But NRA leadership generally live in a world of what is possible, rather than what is ideal, whereas members are usually oriented the other way around. A common complaint you'll hear from gun owners is that NRA hasn't done enough to repeal laws that heavily restrict machine gun ownership. But the reason for at is there's no support in Congress for doing so. Idealists think NRA compromises too much. Reality is that in politics you often have compromise shoved down your throat.

    NRA has to balance the spectrum of it's membership and try to do their best to work on things that are achievable and that everyone broadly agrees with. If they don't, membership can revolt, as has happened several times in NRA's recent history.

  24. Of course just a few years ago the BC thought anyone owning a handgun was 'extremism' hence their financial and legal support in defense of the DC and Chicago handgun bans.

    The BC called CCW 'extremism' and predicted 'blood in the streets' and 'wild west shootouts'. Since then, all they, the VPC and you have are a few anecdotes, most of which are incorrect or out of context. Today, 48 states have some form of it.

  25. "NRA has to balance the spectrum of it's membership and try to do their best to work on things that are achievable and that everyone broadly agrees with. If they don't, membership can revolt, as has happened several times in NRA's recent history."

    Oddly enough, the best account of the NRA's history on the web is on the VPC's website. The chapter on the Cincinnati revolt is informative.


  26. Thanks for this jedge. This is a really informative article about how the NRA has evolved to what it is today. Fascinating stuff.

  27. "It's pretty interesting and presumptuous that you guys appear to know how the "gun contol" groups run and who is contributing, etc."

    Well, the Brady Campaign is a 501(c)(3). It isn't like your funding status is exactly a secret.
    - http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/law-and-public-interest/brady-center-to-prevent-gun-violence-in-washington-dc-1136#taxStatus
    - http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=5426

    Heck, the Joyce foundation announces who it is funneling money to.

    You can pull gouge for many other organizations on both sides of the issue.

  28. Thanks, Chris,

    I was referring to things other than the public information on these sites, such as strategies, etc. that wouldn't be available to people not directly involved.

  29. Joan,

    The goals of the BC, VPC, MAIG, etc are not exactly top secret, and by simple analysis of the goals it is easy to identify the steps required to achieve those goals.

    It is like a game of chess, you may not know what your opponents next move will be, but as the game progresses the number of advantageous moves decreases to a high predictability level.

    We may not know WHAT you are thinking, but we can usually predict with high certainty WHAT your next move will be.

    And we are smarter, better funded, and better organized. The only way for BC, MAIG, VPC, etc to get what they want is to find fellow travelers in the left wing of American politics and lobby hard for more restrictions. When gun restriction legislation is put before the people it is normally voted down (reference California's proposed ban on open carry).

    Unlike chess, in which the game will end eventually, this conflict between us will exist as long as the other side exists. You had us on the ropes for decades. Expect the same in return. No quarter asked, no quarter given.

    After all, you are extremists, and you can't compromise with extremists.

  30. Chris:

    Brady Campaign is a 501(c)(4). Brady Center is a 501(c)(3).

  31. When did "we" have you on the ropes?

  32. On the ropes? 1994. Clinton gun ban. It was also the over reach that caused us to organize better. The assault weapons ban pissed enough people off ans the internet had just gotten off the ground.

    In deference to the law of unintended consequences, the 10 round magazine limit also caused gun manufacturers to start making smaller, more easily concealed pistols, fueling the already started push for concealed carry reform.

  33. Ah-for sure, those were victories for my side!!!

  34. And, Sean, if you mean the Brady Law, I would like to know how it is a bad idea to prohibit certain people from getting guns. You guys just plain cannot answer that question.

  35. Joan,

    You are right, I mean if we could simply outlaw blacks from having guns, as did the early gun control crusaders in the South after the Civil War we could reduce gun deaths by a large amount.

    Is that what you meant by "certain people"?

    Prohibited people have been prohibited people since the 1968 GCA. No "new" laws are going to change the "prohibited person" language.

    The vast majority of crime is committed with guns that were straw purchased or stolen, or bought from a black market dealer. Less than 1% of crime guns come from a gun show. And what do you want to do? End private sales at gunshows, which according to the DOJ would do nothing for the 97.3% of criminals who get their firearms from other means. How in the world is that "common sense"?

    No one is a second class citizen. No one is a "future criminal" that we can point to and say "he will murder someone someday". And for that reason we cannot infringe upon the rights of citizens.

  36. Pure nonsense. I'm done with this. Quit writing.

  37. AM, demonstrating his extreme paranoia, says, "The goals of the BC, VPC, MAIG, etc are not exactly top secret," meaning of course total confiscation of all civilian guns.

    Grandiose Victimism is the medical term for this condition. It involves a deep fantasy life which usually leads to a fight to the death on the side of righteousness.

  38. japete, sadly it's not nonsense. Those were the genuine reasons that gun control was initiated. Blacks had new rights and it was a proven FACT (just ask any white man) that blacks were not responsible or intelligent enough to own guns. The reasoning behind it? The gun is the sole means available that puts a less able bodied man on even terms with another.