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.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The future of "gun control"

Some of us of a certain age have been working hard for many years now for the cause of preventing and reducing gun injuries and deaths. We've spent a lot of time in the halls of our state legislatures and Congress lobbying for our views and for common sense bills. We've marched, we've held rallies, we've held meetings, we've signed post cards, written letters, made phone calls; we've done fund raising, we've given speeches and had bell ringings, press conferences- you name it and we've done it. We have been frustrated but occasionally rewarded for our hard work.


A new generation is coming. They may think differently about the gun issue than those of us who have fought the good fight on both sides of the issue. I don't know that as many young people are interested in guns for sport and recreation as people older than themselves. Interest in hunting has decreased. And we now have a generation of young people who have experienced school shootings and more gun violence than previous generations. They are not yet as entrenched about this issue and hopefully are more open minded. Young people have been numerous victims and also survivors. Colin Goddard, survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings, is the subject of a film, Living for 32. Maria Cuomo Cole, Brady Board member, wrote this piece for the Huffington Post to feature Colin and the film she produced. Colin is the voice of the future for the gun issue. He is a humble, well spoken young man who lived through the worst school shooting in our country. His story is compelling, to say the least, and he has become a great spokesperson for common sense concerning guns.

The first time I met Colin, I was taken with his story and impressed with his demeanor. He speaks for those who can't speak any more. In a project while interning for the Brady Campaign, Colin visited gun shows all over the country with a hidden camera and found that he could easily buy any type of gun without being asked to go through a background check and sometimes not even an I.D. It was easy. That perspective has made him a strong proponent for requiring background checks on all gun sales at gun shows.

Now meet Demetrius Martin, a child who is coping with the shooting death of his father. This 10 year old Detroit boy's writings about how he has coped since his father's death have been published as a book, " I Really Miss My Dad." Watch this video to hear some of his own words read by Demetrius himself. This was one more senseless act of violence ending in the death of a little boy's father. A bullet has forever changed Demetrius' life. This article from myFoxdetroit.com provides more details about his father's shooting and Demetrius' thoughts as he was trying to cope with his father's murder.

Perhaps children are the hope that something will change regarding senseless shootings. If children like Demetrius speak out, there's a chance that a child listening to his story may make a better choice about being involved with using guns to harm themselves or others. If young adults like Colin speak out, there's a chance that high school and college students will join him in fighting for what's right.

Unfortunately, too many children and teens find themselves the victims of senseless shootings. Guadalupe was walking in her Minneapolis neighborhood on November 12 when a bullet hit her in the neck leaving her seriously wounded and likely permanently unable to walk. Why are bullets flying in our streets? They shouldn't be. Guadalupe's mother has given up her own life to live at the hospital with her daughter. So many lives disrupted by bullets.

What we need is for more children, teens and young adults to speak out to change the odds of being shot and in the name of public health and safety for their communities. It's encouraging that there are some brave young people willing to speak the truth. Demetrius and Colin have shown courage. They provide an example to adults and elected leaders who need to listen to and practice common sense.

21 comments:

  1. We also need to show examples of young people who have been brought up with a healthy respect of firearms as being typical of the next generation as well.

    The "bring a kid hunting" and "bring a kid shooting" campaigns advocating the safe and responsible use of firearms!

    I'll be hosting several of my friends and their children at the range this weekend - many of whom have never fired a handgun before. We'll start with a safety overview, proper protective equipment and rules -- then proceed to the fun (and YES it is FUN). Here's hoping they'll understand that an inanimate object is not capable of the terror that the mass-media portrays - some may even, gasp, take a liking to it.

    I'm also going to be teaching a firearms safety class to a whole group of the younger generation.

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  2. What a heart breaking loss for that child! Those of us who are parents must constantly think about how our actions can affect our families. I would never put myself in a situation that might deprive my children of their father.

    Its too bad the article doesn't provide more details surrounding the father's death. Was it a random shooting? Internet points to "no".

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  3. Here's one for you, but probably for a separate post,

    http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/12/02/2676281/texas-continues-to-lead-the-way.html#ixzz174FitmII

    What do you think about the current boom in silencer sales?

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  4. Hmm- I think it's pretty interesting, Sean. I agree with my friend, Marsha, quoted in the article. I don't understand why someone would go to all the trouble and time it takes to get a silencer. Also, they cost quite a bit as does the application. This sort of negates all the fuss about making guns and permits too expensive for people. Apparently they are quite willing to pay whatever it takes and go through whatever system of background checks and waiting periods to get a silencer. Hmmm- isn't that an inconvenience? That's what you guys tell me about background checks. Too much hassle and time, etc. I guess when someone thinks they absolutely must have a silencer for whatever stupid reason they need one, or suspect reason, for that matter, than they are willing to do anything. And, by the way, perhaps I will post about this one. If I shot a squirrel in my back yard using a silencer to the neighbors wouldn't hear it, just where would that bullet end up if I missed? In my case, a nearby school parking lot or a neighbor's yard where there are young children. Duh!!

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  5. "If I shot a squirrel in my back yard using a silencer"

    I would check your local laws very thoroughly before I discharged a firearm in your back yard if I were you. There are generally local laws about this and probably State laws prohibiting the discharge of a firearm within a certain distance of an occupied building. Now if you happen to live in a rural area where your "back yard" is a safe location to shoot squirrels, knock yourself out. Silencers are banned by state law in Minnesota though.

    "I don't understand why someone would go to all the trouble and time it takes to get a silencer."

    I want one to mount on an AR-15 style rifle as a home defense weapon. That'd preserve my hearing in the event I have to shoot some intruder. Nowhere in the law does it say that I have to deafen myself just to protect my family.

    "This sort of negates all the fuss about making guns and permits too expensive for people. Apparently they are quite willing to pay whatever it takes and go through whatever system of background checks and waiting periods to get a silencer. Hmmm- isn't that an inconvenience?"

    Strangely enough, the National Firearms Act originally included pistols as another category if items like machine guns and short barreled rifles/shotguns. Silencers were only added in because the newfangled silencer things might have made poaching easier. I do object to Federal registration of these items and the $200 tax, but we haven't been able to repeal that law yet. It's unfortunate since they are commonly available overseas. I saw an ad for one in New Zealand for $30. They are so expensive in the US because if you have to pay the government $200 just to have one, you want one that will last a lifetime. If they only cost $30, you wouldn't care if they only lasted one hunting season.

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  6. I did write a post about this. I am trying to get my head around this one. See what you think. Of course, in Minnesota, we can't discharge a weapon within city limits. But maybe the guy in Texas meant a rural area.

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  7. I saw the new post. All my future comments on this issue will be there. I think that recklessly endangering your neighbors is a bad thing, so I certainly don't blame any city for enacting a reasonable discharge ordinance. If people have a squirrel problem, Gamo has a non-firearm solution.

    http://www.gamousa.com/

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  8. I think my neigbhors would freak out even with an air gun. They look too much like the real thing. I would hate to be in my yard with one. I'm sure I'd be reported.

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  9. Joan,

    So are you admitting that many of the problems is other people 'freaking out' over a legal product?

    Do you think we should restrict items because of other people's fears?

    And on the subject of suppressors:
    You admit your husband has hearing loss due to firearm discharge.
    Yet you don't see any reason other than crime to want to own a suppressor.

    How about target shooting?
    How about teaching new shooters?

    Is it any wonder why we question your motivations when you admit to a problem -- husband's hearing loss-- then turn around and assign malicious intent to people who want to protect their hearing?

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  10. My husband's hearing loss is very slight and was noticed when he was in college. In the article, it was noted, or maybe it was the Wikipedia article, that even suppressors do not reduce the decibles by a lot. I don't believe I was assigning malicious intent- just making an observation which I am betting a whole lot of other people would do as well. Chill out.

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  11. Joan,

    Sorry but you were assigning malicious intent.

    In the end, I agree with Marsha McCartney, a volunteer with the Texas Brady Campaign Chapters, and a friend: ""It would only be a concern if they were buying them because they are doing something illegal,"

    Because they are doing something illegal !

    Not because we want to protect our hearing but you agree with "doing something illegal"

    And hearing loss is cumulative. All the damage adds up over the years -- why not prevent as much as we can as early as we can.

    Sure you don't want anyone injured by firearms; even if it is "just" hearing loss, right?

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  12. If that is actually what these are used for, no problem. Here is the quote, again, and what I happen to agree with: " concern if they were buying them because they are doing something illegal,"" Marsha clearly said IF they were buying they are doing something illegal. That is the qualifier in case you missed it. I have worked with deaf, harding of hearing children- I care very much about hearing loss in general. My husband has not hunted now for a while so I think he is O.K. But I can see how continuous shooting can be harmful just as listening to loud music and having ear phones with loud music constantly blasting your ears. Did I say "just" hearing loss? Those were your words. Have a good night.

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  13. Joan,

    The quote from Marsha was after the part about having to get a background check in order to purchase a suppressor.

    Instead of finding out why people want them, Marsha and You both went for the criminal element angle.

    And why didn't you and Marsha know about legitimate reasons for suppressors?
    You represent a National anti-rights advocacy group; perhaps the leading gun control organization and neither of you seemed to know why the average person might want to own a suppressor.

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  14. Suppressors and other gun accessories are not discussed in detail by our group. Most of us are not gun nuts who collect such things or care to. We are engaged in trying to prevent gun injuries and deaths and not in the intricate details of guns. I'm sure, though, that you know everything there is to know about all things discussed in public. And, of course we are not an anti-rights group so apparently you don't know as much as you thought you did.

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  15. In the 1970's scientists and public policy advocates had dire predictions about the "population bomb" and said that we needed to limit our population "for the children!"

    By 1975 scientists and ecologists were predicting dire consequences from "global cooling" and recommended a massive influx of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to stimulate warming and "save the children".

    In the late 70's left wing politicians banned the legal possession of a handgun in Washington D.C. in an effort to "make the streets safe for the children".

    So every time I hear anyone talking about saving the children in a subject not linked to the crushing debt we are laying on them with our irresponsible fiscal policies I get a little skeptical. We know that the population bomb didn't happen, we know that the global cooling trend reversed (as the warming trend already has), and the gun ban in DC led to a three decade crime wave. However, we also know that crushing debt can happen to the children, in Greece, Argentina, Chile, and even Iraq.

    So when you talk about the children, and argue for more restrictions, you had better stop with the inane emotional appeal and start making some sense. Because your emotions are clearly affecting your judgment and I am afraid that you are not thinking rationally.

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  16. I agree that the younger generation is more educated about the dangers of guns. Unfortunately, youth are just as reckless as always. I was introduced in my teens to the effects of gun violence when a friend committed suicide. A few years later, I witnessed one teen shoot another in the head after drinking too much and fighting over a girl. Must it always take personal tragedy to turn minds on this issue? We have to appeal to youth in a dramatic fashion to make an impact, I think.

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  17. It's an intriguing question whether the younger generation will be more adverse to firearms that their elders. It certainly doesn't seem to be happening in the hip-hop world nor would it in the gun-rights circles, I would imagine.

    I wonder about conversions. Several gun-rights activists brag about having been anti-gun until they saw the light. Some gun control folks claim the opposite. I wonder which side is winning over more converts. Those folks would pass on their values to their children.

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  18. mikeb302000 said: "I wonder which side is winning over more converts. Those folks would pass on their values to their children."

    One could look at the trend in legislation, court cases, and non-brady/Joyce funded polls (insert standard disclaimer about poll selection) in the most recent decade as compared to preceding decades and detect a very definite pattern.

    As others have said better than I, the Brady/Joyce side of things had the upper hand when they could control the message through the few media outlets there were at the time and now that they can't the result is clear.

    A side note, if the true goal is to reduce violence (skipping the self selection of only gun violence), why is it that the proper question of "what seems to be primary causes of non-domestic violence?" is not asked and little attempt is made to answer it?

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  19. So atrius- can you name me some non NRA/conservative/Heritage Foundation polls that show what you are talking about? I know there have been a few that show less support for "gun control" in general but when asked about specifics, they support background checks on all gun sales at gun shows and other measures of the like. And what is your answer to the question- what is the primary cause of non domestic violence? And what difference does it make since most gun homicide is among people who know each other- spouses, siblings, acquaintances. We've gone around about this before.

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  20. I admit I don't have a list of polls handy. Even if I did, the other side could pull some poll that says something else. That is why I included the standard disclaimer about polls. What I can say is that when I speak to people I really know, while trying hard to avoid the self selection problem, support for bans and heavy limits seems lacking. Further, such support usually fades when these people realize that it isn't crazy people who own such things but everyday regular people like you and me. Sometimes you can get more support by phrasing a question in a certain way or asking people if they support things which are already the law and have been for a while now, but that's hardly fair now is it? Often, they don't know what the law is and are probably just agreeing to "common sense". An excellent example of this is when you ask a person "Should violet criminals be allowed to have ?". Most people would say "no" and often don't realize that is already the law and has been since 1968. I've often found the inverse to be true as well. They don't realize that some things are legal and always have been, such as owning machine guns and suppressors.

    As to your points, why background checks at gun shows in particular? As has been said many times, a private sale at a gun show has all the same legal requirements as one at any other random location so what makes this special? Even if I don't necessarily agree with it, it would make more sense to argue for background checks on all sales. At least it would be consistent, no?

    What is the primary cause of non-domestic violence? In my opinion, take it for what it is worth, that the cause of most non-domestic violence is a combination of the side effects of the so-called War on Drugs and general poverty/lack of education. Aside from psychopaths, educated people don't normally go on shooting sprees nor lead lives of crime. Of course, this doesn't include random acts.

    The War on Drugs has spawned endless violence and filled our prisons with non-violent offenders. I would wager that the majority of the non-domestic violence is caused by this and ancillary activities around the WoD. Even a total civilian gun ban tomorrow wouldn't change this and would likely lead to a rapid rise in violence and problems. Solution, end the drug war. No one has ever fought a turf war over where to sell tobacco and there is a lesson in this.

    On the final point Joan, you seem to be asking the wrong question again. You are correct that statistics indicate that most gun violence is among people who know each other. But, why is it important whether it is “gun violence” as opposed to any other sort of violence. Is the goal the reduction of violence in general or of "gun violence". If the goal is merely the reduction of “gun violence” why that particular kind? Why would that sort of violence be particularly grievous and other kinds are presumably okay, or at least not as bad? Should not the goal be a less violent society over all? I believe that were that the goal, you would likely find some very stalwart allies among the gun people.

    So I ask this question: What is your real goal? Do you want to try to reduce violence and help make this a safer world or do you want to try and regulate and ban guns with a theoretical goal of reducing gun violence. One can be achieved and the other cannot. History is marching in a particular direction and history will not be denied. So what's your answer and what is your motivation? You can answer me or not, it is up to you. It is important that you put serious thought into it, nothing more.

    Sorry to ramble on there. Seems I got on a bit of a roll. :)

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  21. You have made a lot of good points here. I don't know that I can give it my full attention right now but will consider these in a post. Your questions are good ones and I will attempt to answer them so be patient. " Do you want to try to reduce violence and help make this a safer world or do you want to try and regulate and ban guns with a theoretical goal of reducing gun violence. One can be achieved and the other cannot" As to this one, it is the former. More later.

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