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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's up with teen-agers and guns?

I had a lot of push back from folks who think I am discriminating against a group of people by not supporting the idea of 18-20 year olds owning or carrying guns. I was checking out some articles and these came to my attention. First is this very tragic case of a Chicago police officer and another man shot to death by a 19 year old parolee with a gun. Police officers with guns are shot often even though they have guns. From the article: "Neither Flisk nor Peters -- who was armed with his own handgun because he feared the thief would return -- had a chance to defend themselves, police said." People can't always defend themselves with a gun in spite of training and knowing a lot about guns.

Here is another article about teen-agers with guns that happened in my own state. How did these 14, 15, and 16 year old boys get their hands on a gun? They terrorized and sexually attacked a mother in front of her children and then sexually attacked two girls in a nearby garage- all at gunpoint. When someone is pointing a gun at you, he or she usually has the control of the situation. These kids are younger than the age at which some want kids to carry guns, of course. But the idea that young people should be able to legally buy and carry loaded guns is just not common sense. Many eighteen year olds are still in high school and hang out with younger kids. They have younger brothers and sisters who should not be around loaded guns. If younger kids know where they can get guns from their slightly older friends or siblings, surely they will get them. 

And, by the way, I suggest you all read this wonderful blog written by the woman who was attacked. Her ability to write about her fear and her healing after the event is a different way of dealing with a violent incident than some would do. In fact, one of my commenters was upset about this and cynically claimed that this mother was asking people to sing "Kumbaya" and get all warm and fuzzy. Nonsense. Of course, the origin of the song is to invoke compassion and closeness. That sure sounds like a terrible idea to me! She is not angry- just thankful to still be alive and urging others to get on with their daily lives in spite of what happened to her and her children.

And finally, there is the 15 year old boy in Wisconsin who held a classroom of students hostage with a handgun for hours. This situation ended when the boy shot himself. He died hours later from his gunshot wounds. His family must be reeling and the whole community has been affected by one kid with a gun. It's a sad state of affairs when schools have to have lock-down drills and special plans in case of a shooter. We have had so many school shootings in our country that there's good reason to do so. While I was working for the school district in my city , I went through quite a few lock-down drills. They are actually pretty scary for the kids, but necessary. Now all of the schools in my city are under construction or renovation. They have new security systems with doors opening to the office where one has to check in upon entering. Parents and the public just can't walk in any more. That's a good thing. 

We are living in a world where we have to fear shooters everywhere we go. Common sense tells us that we need to protect our youngest citizens from those who would do them harm. We also need to keep them from doing harm by becoming legally able to buy and carry guns around. We have enough trouble with the ones who get their guns from an illegal source or steal them from home or somewhere else. Why make it easier for young people to have guns? 


  1. You keep bring up variations of this quote "People can't always defend themselves with a gun in spite of training and knowing a lot about guns"

    Do you think that people can defend themselves better without a gun? What do you think evens the odds better for elderly or people smaller in stature than the criminal a gun or phone to call the cops.

  2. "We are living in a world where we have to fear shooters everywhere we go."
    Fear? Perhaps not. Consider the possibility that an attack can happen anywhere? Finally, we might agree on something.

  3. After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military. – William S. Burroughs

  4. "We are living in a world where we have to fear shooters everywhere we go."

    Do we? These are pretty rare events, statistically. Might surprise you hearing that from someone with a License to Carry. But I think most of us are fairly aware violent crime in the demographic groups most of us fall into isn't all that common. It's just that none of us consider carrying a firearm to be a heavy a burden, given the particularly dire consequences if the odds to play against you at some point.

  5. I got my first gun at 12 (a .410 shotgun) and first pistol at 14. I never misused either. My folks made sure to impart responsible gun ownership on me. Just an anecdote, but the individuals above are definitely a very small minority.

  6. Hang on, how are any of those examples (except the first, a convicted felon probable gang banger in Chicago, a city which has extremely strict gun control) relevant to the discussion about 18-21 year olds and firearms?

    The only argument related to the topic at hand I saw in your post is that if we let 18-21 year olds have firearms, they will be disproportionately likely to illegally give them to children under the age of 18. Do we find that 18-21 year olds are especially likely to give their younger siblings access to rifles and shotguns?

    I'm confused as to how any of the links you presented are germane to the issue you oppose (18-21 year olds and handgun possession) or the argument you raised (the transfer issue). Did any of them actually get their firearms from 18-21 year olds (If so, one must wonder how the <21 year olds obtained them...). Is this just a hypothetical "worst case" scenario that is playing out in your mind for our consideration coupled with some tragic anecdotes that aren't really related? Or is there something I am missing?

  7. Joan - having a gun equals crime -- did I get that right? Geez - my house must be a den of criminals then! My children will likely end up shooting up their school! If the WI shooter's family is "reeling" from his death -- how did he end up getting the firearms in the first place? Why did his parents not teach him right from wrong?

    In my house, my children are being raised with a sense of moral purpose, a sense of right and wrong, a sense of self-worth; and not to anthropomorphize inanimate objects, nor look to them to solve problems. They are being taught to respect a firearm as a tool, and that ALL tools can be dangerous if used improperly. Knowing the basic rules now is just a start. With time, they will be taught to shoot and handle firearms safely -- and will be taught the legalities surrounding their use and storage.
    If at some point in the future, they tell me they're not interested in firearms -- they will have made an educated choice I respect; and I hope, in kind, that they would respect my choice as well.
    Funny how I have to do this myself since there is no provision for safe firearms handling in the schools - and no State provided options until age 11 (MN DNR Firearm's Safety - a REQUIREMENT to hunt in Minnesota).

  8. I just find it odd that I've had guns, of my own, since age 9...and never once used them to commit a crime. I've been furious about school, bullies, etc...but never once thought about bring them to school...

    You'll find the vast majority of firearm owners are like me...

  9. Yes, indeed, Pat, the vast majority. About 90% I figure. The other 10% are unstable or unfit for one reason or another. Start adding teenagers to that and the percentages just go up.

  10. The other 10% are unstable or unfit for one reason or another. Start adding teenagers to that and the percentages just go up.
    mikeb302000--By that statement, are you claiming that all teenagers fall into the category of "unstable or unfit for one reason or another"?

  11. No one here is advocating giving CCWs to 14 year olds, so I don't think most of your examples are applicable to the topic at hand. All we're pointing out is that since you're an adult at 18, you should probably be fully treated as such. After all, 18 year olds can vote and serve their country in uniform, which are two extremely serious responsibilities easily on par with carrying a concealed firearm (potentially dying for one's country is a more awesome responsibility than anything I can think of). That means the question at stake is at what age is one mature enough to become a full-fledged citizen--18 or 21? If 21, then that should be the age for voting and enlisting (and carrying a gun). If 18, then that should be the age for carrying a gun (in addition to voting and enlisting). There's really no in between on this one.

  12. Additionally, most states already allow kids under 18 to own/operate long arms such as rifles and shotguns, which are much more deadly than handguns, so what's the big deal in allowing young adults 18-20, who are arguably much more mature than their younger teenage brethren, to own/carry a handgun?

    I would also like to point out that we allow these same kids to drive at 16, which I think is a much more dangerous task than carrying a gun. Cars are exponentially more complex to operate than firearms, and the decisions involving accurately judging speeds and distances when merging, turning or passing are infinitely more difficult than the decision to use a firearm, namely is there a threat of physical violence or not. My gun, like most if not all CCers, stays in the holster unless I'm taking it off to go to bed, or I am in grave danger of bodily injury (which hasn't happened to me yet thankfully). Pretty simple when you think about it like that, and it really just requires a basic moral/civic compass to perform accurately.

    FWIW, I'm a believer in increasing the driving age for kids to 18, which for me is the magic point where they are granted the maturity and responsibility of adulthood, but I'd be equally okay with that age being 21 if that was to be the new age of adulthood, or even as low as 16 if became the new consensus age of adulthood.

  13. Ace posed a question: "are you claiming that all teenagers fall into the category of "unstable or unfit for one reason or another"?"

    What I said was if you add teenagers to the equation the percentages would go up. Does that sound like I said ALL?

    What's your problem, Ace? Why can't you just argue straight up? Why do you turn it into a tedious exercise of misrepresenting what I said only to have me correct you, whcn you know what I said all along.

    Isn't what I do say enough for you to argue with?

  14. Thanks for responding, mikeb302000.

    My question was a request for clarification. Your statement about adding teenagers: To which set of percentages are we adding? The 90%? The 10% Both?

    If we add teenagers to both sets of percentages, then yes, they go up.

    But based on the location of that statement (immediately following the 10% bit), I saw possible confusion and asked my question to further clarify. Recall that your statement was: "Start adding teenagers to that and the percentages just go up."

    Emphasis mine.

    What is "that" referring to?

    And my problem? No problem. Again, simply a request for you to clarify your statement.

    Thanks again for your time.

  15. Ace, are you being a bit disingenuous as well as tedious?

    I'll try to clarify, I have nothing better to do.

    Hypothetically speaking let's look at legitimate gun owners 21 years old and up. Let's say 90% are responsible and 10% are not.

    Now let's lower the age to 18 and up. I say the percentages would shift to 88% responsible and 12% not.

    You get what I'm sayin'?