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.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Guns are serious business

Yes, actually, U.S. guns are being traced in Mexican gun violence. A new article from the Washington Post has found that gun dealers in Texas have sold a large number of guns found in traces of guns used in shootings in the Mexican drug war. It's an inconvenient fact but it's a fact nonetheless. It's pretty hard to keep avoiding this but the gun lobby continues to avoid it, and more than that, they continue to resist laws that could stop this carnage. Go figure.

This article plus a series of others about individual crime guns traced in Michigan crimes is a very thorough article about crime guns and where they come from. What does this one have to say about "lost" and stolen guns? From the article: " Most guns linked to local crimes originated here, often taken in burglaries or stolen by family or friends desperate for cash." What did this article have to say about the problem of teens and young adults with guns? : "He has seen 14-year-olds packing. That’s his other concern, one widely shared in law enforcement — young guns. A deadly scenario played out in late October, when friends gathered for a 16-year-old’s birthday party on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side. After an argument in the driveway, Sanqua Cummings, 16, allegedly shot and killed Bobby Hughes, 17." And yet, the NRA wants to push for legal carrying of guns for 18-20 year olds and making sure they can legally buy guns! Amazing. It's another inconvenient fact that a lot of gun crime happens in this age group. Never mind. Let's ignore it and make sure those young people can now be legal. Great idea, I say.

And, again, from the Washington Post, information obtained about crime guns and gun dealers is shared by staff writers for the Post. Just to highlight some of what I have also been sharing with my readers: " In 2003, under pressure from the gun lobby, Congress passed a law that hid from public view the government database that contained the gun tracing information." And this from a gun dealer about what happens to guns once they leave his store: " Once firearms leave his store, he said, they can be stolen or sold to another person on the street or at a gun show, and often they are resold several times" Hmm- a gun show? What do you know? I thought that gun shows are not a problem. This dealer concurs with the dealer quoted before when he said: " "There's no way we can tell if you're buying a gun for someone else," he said. "There is nothing to keep a gun out of the hands of a felon. He can't buy one here, but he can go to a gun show and buy it or buy it from someone else. It's stupid."" I'm just saying......

To continue with it's expose about corrupt gun dealers and the difficulty for the ATF of monitoring same, here is another Washington Post article about gun dealers that does not make some of them look good. Guns are serious business folks. I mean that literally and figuratively. When the ends justify the means and someone is not doing their proper job as a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer, there can be lethal consequences. This should not be acceptable to anyone. When FFLs don't do their jobs and allow people to purchase guns without background checks or they fail to report stolen guns, who suffers? The gun dealer? I would challenge anyone to defend these practices. Lives are at stake here. Public safety is at stake. 

And then there are those pesky gun shows again. Do they provide crime guns? Do private sellers do the right thing by not doing background checks or not even asking for I.D.? Watch this video. A Roanoke, VA T.V. station went with Colin Goddard to a Roanoke gun show to check it out. Once again we see what we have seen from all of the other videos taken at gun shows. Some private sellers do not even ask for a name, let alone I.D. or a background check. If you have cash in your hand, it's a deal. No problem. Even the Governor of Virginia was unaware that this was the practice. Or that's what he said anyway. One can act surprised or even dumb when it comes to this issue because if you pretend you don't know about it, maybe you won't have to deal with it. It's called putting your head in the sand. The problem is out there for all to see. What should we do? Ignore it? It's getting harder and harder to ignore now that some media have figured out what's going on. It will be incumbent on the gun lobby to prove that what they advocate for continues to be right and good for public safety. It could be a hard sell. I'm just saying.... 

And these are just the media articles and reports for one week. Once the private seller loophole is exposed, and the fact that so many crime guns come from people's own private collections that are stolen or from gun dealers who don't report them stolen, we could see more proposals to make it mandatory to report those stolen guns. Once the media, and hence the public, starts pressuring elected leaders to pass sensible laws to keep crime guns from passing so easily from one state to another perhaps it won't look so good to have loose laws in some states and stricter laws in others. Because you see, it could end in a life lost. It could be your loved one or your best friend. Once we figure out that illegal gun trafficking can happen because of the private seller loophole, failure to report lost and stolen guns and lax federally licensed firearms dealers, will the public sit by and just watch this happen? Will we sit back and watch as guns continue to take an enormous toll of lost lives in this country? Will we? Am I dreaming or delusional? I'm just trying to make things happen and change the way we look at the problem of gun deaths in our country. Time will tell, I guess. Perhaps others will take up the cause and help common sense finally prevail.


  1. I thought you might be interested in what some gun nuts have to say about this article:


  2. Joan,
    I'm sure I won't be the only person to point this out. However, do you really think that the cartels are getting military grade hardware from US gun stores and gun shows? I presume you have actually been to a good sized gun store and a gun show, right? I don't mean to sound sarcastic so please don't misunderstand. It's just that the kind of hardware they have down there simply isn't available here legally for any reasonable amount of money. Sure, you can spend $15,000 for a legal fully automatic M16 (or necessary conversion parts) but who really thinks the cartels are doing that when they can just raid the nearest Mexican army depot presuming the soldiers don't just hand them the stuff when asked? Or just buy them on the international black market for something that is probably far closer to the real cost of an M16 or M4 which is around $800 - $1000. When you have those options available to you even breaking into someone's house to steal them isn't worth it.

    Are most guns traced in Mexico traced to "US Sources"? Possibly so. However, what does that really mean? Does it mean that the cartels really are getting most of their stuff from legal sources up here? Or does it mean that when the rifle says "Ejército Nacional de Colombia" they probably don't bother sending it to the ATF for a trace?

    You want the Mexican violence to end (I think we all do really)? End the War on Drugs. That is the source of the cartels' power and money. You can't fund a private army on selling legal goods.

    As to the background checks you often mention. Without actually saying whether I think they are a terrible idea or not, is there any evidence at hand that they are really effective? Honest question, is there any?

  3. Gun owners better start demanding better cooperation from gun dealers. Otherwise I'm afraid registration and licensing are the only solution. When that happens, you'll have been proven right that the law abiding have to pay for the criminals' misbehavior. Wouldn't it be easier and better if gun owners themselves started actively policing their own?

  4. I'm just reporting on the report. I didn't make up the facts contained in the ATF's findings.

  5. @MikeB -- we are policing our own. Over the last year I've purchased several long guns through private transactions - each time I was asked to show a DL AND my permit to purchase or carry.

    Thats not a requirement under state law - but it makes complete sense from a liability and legal standpoint for the seller to protect themselves and to ensure the buyer isn't a "prohibited person".

  6. Now if only ALL those private sellers would do the same. Alas, they do not.

  7. It's already law in Illinois. Why then does the BC push for more?

  8. Joan,

    What number of firearm murders or crimes would be low enough for you to say "We don't need another law"?

    You want to reduce the number of crimes, laudable goal in deed. No sarcasm.

    I'm just wondering when you would say enough is enough.


    Firearm related murders
    2005 - 10,158
    2006 - 10,225
    2007 - 10,129
    2008 - 9,528
    2009 - 9,146

    How few murders have to be committed with firearms before the push for new, more restrictive laws ends?

  9. Is that really realistic, though? Many goods, services, and items have some danger inherent in them, such as kitchen knives, bleach, chainsaws, cars, and high-voltage electric wiring.

    For cars in particular, more than 44,128 people were killed in a car-related manner in 2007. Now obviously that's too high, but we have to consider the social costs of not only motor-vehicle deaths, but also a society in which cars are less prevalent. We could undoubtedly reduce that number by imposing more difficult tests for drivers licenses, halving speed limits, requiring that cars be made more massive, and so on and so forth. But these measures would make cars less available and convenient to people, thus reducing transportation ability and increasing the price of all goods that need to be transported on motor vehicles. Car deaths are a social cost, but reducing it by restricting cars would simply impose other social costs.

    So it is with guns. We could probably reduce the number of gun deaths by banning all guns and making making gun ownership subject to imprisonment (as the UK has done), but that would come at the cost of the elimination of the sports of hunting and target shooting, not to mention greatly diminished ability to defend oneself against larger and more powerful aggressors. And then there's that whole pesky Second Amendment problem too.

    Also, the USA has a bit of a history of starting wars over people trying to confiscate the citizenry's arms, so that might not go over too well.

  10. @Joan - I think you'd be surprised to see whats actually happening the majority of the time. It would help if you got your information from sources other than the BC and Washington Post.

    ...and before you can say it, we both agree that violence is unacceptable, and something must be done. We disagree on what that something must be.

  11. So, aren't you admitting that you will continually push for ever restrictive laws?

    That you will not accept compromise on gun laws?

  12. Joan,
    It is true that you didn't make up the "facts" that are being presented. I wouldn't honestly suspect you of such. However, you are presenting them unquestioningly and basing part of your position on them. Thus, at the least you're giving them a stamp of approval, no?
    As to zero gun related murders, is that really possible at this point? Even countries with near full bans and severe licensing still have some. As such I can only presume an answer of 0 was hyperbole.
    Either way, I thought the goal was to reduce violence in general or am I mistaken?
    I did notice that you didn't answer my question. Is there any evidence that background checks, whether a good idea or not, are actually effective at either reducing crime or truly keeping guns out of the hands of those who supposedly shouldn't have them?

  13. Atrius nailed it. The types of guns the Mexican cartels are using are simply not available at gun shows or gun stores.

    Fully automatic AK47s or M16s can only be had by paying a very hefty price after paying a bunch of taxes and getting correct paper work from the ATF. They are extremely hard to get, as a regular citizen. Why would it be easier for cartel members to buy them from a Federally authorized dealer?

    If these Gun Dealers were doing anything illegally, the ATF would shut them down in a heart beat as, that is what the ATF loves to do.

  14. @atrius that whackjob in Florida at the school board meeting... obviously gun-laws didn't work there.

    He was a felon: not supposed to have a gun.
    He was in a gun free zone: not supposed to have a gun.

    Gun Control laws do nothing to stop those who are intent on hurting other people, and do a lot to make it harder for good folks to protect themselves.

    If there were no gun related murders anymore. Lets say guns were completely eradicated and just did not exist -- Clay Duke likely still would have gone into that school board meeting, only armed with a knife/sword/baseball bat/tire iron, etc.

  15. "japete said...


    So you do want to ban guns?

  16. It would be helpful to your readers if when you respond if you would include enough of what you are responding to so we know context.

    Is there any evidence that background checks, whether a good idea or not, are actually effective at either reducing crime or truly keeping guns out of the hands of those who supposedly shouldn't have them?

    ...was followed by a "no" from you. Somehow I think your no was in response to an earlier comment--although I would agree with it in this context.

  17. No, was to the question about whether I want to ban guns. Sevesteen- if you count the almost 2 million prohitibed people who have not been able to buy guns from FFLs, I would think that is a measure.

  18. Since attempting to purchase a firearm while prohibited is itself is a crime, can you tell us how many prosecutions there have been?

  19. Thirdpower and Joan,
    I don't recall the exact number, but it is a low one. People are rarely prosecuted for conducting straw purchases.

    Though I'm sure you're busy and all, I notice you still haven't answered my question. :) Is there any evidence that background checks lowered violent crime? Or even gun crime? It's well known that there are many ways to bypass such checks to the point that they are absurdly ineffective. So if they do in fact have no impact on gun crime, violence, or anything else why are we doing them?
    And just to jump back for a moment, have you personally gone to a gun show? I went to one just a couple of weeks ago. Thought it was lame. Prices too high and selection too slim, unless you were looking for C&R collector pieces. They did have those. If you've never been to one I suggest you go. Up to you of course. :)

  20. Atrius,

    I did answer the question about background checks on another comment.

  21. Pat said about buying guns privately, "each time I was asked to show a DL AND my permit to purchase or carry. "

    The way you bought those guns is great, but like japete said, everyone does not do it like that even though it makes sense. That's why there needs to be a national requirement concerning all private transfers.

    This is an example of laws aimed at the law-abiding which will keep guns out of the criminal world.

  22. @Mike: Weird that we agree, right? Anecdotally, I checked with several of my league shooting friends who purchased firearms this year through private party sales -- same story (ID, Permit). I think its more common than you know.

    I had proposed a similar compromise is one of Joan's previous postings. The problem with getting the buyoff of the "gun-totin' masses" is that it can't be ALL restrictions ALL the time without something coming back the other direction.

  23. "That's why there needs to be a national requirement concerning all private transfers."

    The federal government has no authority to regulate private intrastate transfers of guns - or of anything else.

  24. That's exactly the point that Mike B is making and that I have been making. If a background check is required for intrastate transfers of guns for FFLs, why not for private sales? Cho, the shooter at Virginia Tech, bought one gun through an internet sale from a Wisconsin gun dealer but had to go through a background check at a local FFL where he picked up the gun. I'm sure something similar could be required for private gun sales. Perhaps people can sell things privately to someone in another state via the internet or however they do it. But we are talking about deadly weapons here. That makes it more important to make sure that private seller is not selling a gun to someone who should not have one in another state.

  25. It's already illegal to transport a handgun over state lines w/o going through an FFL.

    How many more laws need to be added that will just be broken by those intent on criminal activity?

  26. Joan,

    I'm confused. When I asked what you would compromise to get what you wanted, you didn't answer.

    You said that you were an individual and answering as such.

    Yet here you are talking about wanting to make a national background check requirement.

    If we support that requirement, what are you willing to compromise on?

    What are you willing to support that we don't have now?

    Open Carry without permit?

    Being able to buy suppressors without NFA requirements?

    What do we get for implementing your idea of background checks?

  27. @Pat - The problem with your comment, in that showing ID is more common than he knows, is that legal people do the right thing. It is no surprise that you do it or your pals. The problem is that those who don't do the right thing, and have no problem in breaking the law, will break any law requiring a background check. This will not stop criminals from getting firearms. Background checks are useless and will only be followed by people who are already legal and don't want to break the law. Japete just said it herself. Cho had one done, legally, and still ended up shooting up VT.

  28. Here's the thing. I don't think you all compromised anything when the Brady Law went into effect. Name me one thing law abiding citizens compromised. I am not offering anything. To ask me for that is a ruse and a tactic that I will not fall for. Compromise is something that often happens among several parties but often done when something is on the table. So far there is nothing on the table. I am not going to offer up anything. To ask me to is total nonsense so let's stop with this line of reasoning. I am done with it. I am not a government official nor a lawyer nor someone in a position to compromise over the blogosphere. You know that. You all are just itching for a fight over anything I say. It's not gonna happen here. I am asking for people in a position to compromise- aka the NRA and its' leaders, Republicans and Democrats in the Congress, lawyers, etc. to work out a compromise. You know that, too, but you insist on harassing me by incorrectly stating that I won't compromise with you all.

  29. To Anon- above- yes and now that Cho did that, we have tightened up the provision to send the names of those like Cho to NICS so another Cho can't buy a gun from an FFL legally. That bill was signed by President Bush.

  30. So you ask us on what WE think is sensible legislation and we are no different than you, individuals... We don't speak for the legislature anymore than you do. Brady or the NRA doesn't either, for all that matters. Yet when we ask what YOU would be willing to give as an individual, you can't talk about it. That's a double standard. And you can't talk about compromise, unless you are really ready to *talk* about compromise. And you are correct. We didn't compromise on anything with Brady. You got your background checks and we were mandated one more thing that we must do to purchase a legal product. It would have been a compromise had you said "Brady law means background checks, but we are willing to get the NFA repealed so that full-auto's don't have a $200 tax". THAT is compromise and your side is unwilling to do anything like that. So compromise is the wrong word. You want the NRA and pro-gun to "give in" and let you have any law that YOU think is sensible. That isn't going to happen. I'll go broke first with my donations to any organization that is willing to fight you on that.

  31. japete --

    Before Brady was signed, there was no background check. After Brady was signed, there was. For a significant period of time, before NICS became available, there was a national waiting period as well (which, it should be mentioned, still exists in many jurisdictions as an artifact of independent state law, and which elements of the gun-control lobby occasionally advocate reviving even though it would serve no legitimate purpose with NICS in place).

    That's what we "gave up" via Brady. What did your side give up?

  32. Hmmm- what have "you" "given" me again? Background checks are not a compromise. They don't affect you if you are law abiding. Next. The rest is nonsense.

  33. Brett- what again? "You" gave up what? I didn't catch what you gave up. It seems to me that our organizations gave up a waiting period and now there is only a 24 hour time period to hang on to the records. Hmmm. We gave up not having guns in National Parks and not having guns on Amtrak. We gave up not having guns in all sorts of public places. We gave up not being able to adequately fund the ATF. We gave up many other "little" things to get a few common sense restrictions upheld by the Supreme Court in their recent rulings. And what did you guys give up again in those recent rulings?

  34. "Background checks are not a compromise. They don't affect you if you are law abiding."

    Actually, background checks were the compromise. The Brady Bunch wanted a mandatory waiting period, so that background checks could be done.

    The NRA offered a compromise - that the waiting period would be imposed, but would be replaced by an instant background check system, after five years.

    It was the NRA's compromise that was passed into law - over the opposition of many gun control advocates.

  35. Not only must I complete a NICS check for each new gun purchased, but for my concealed pistol license I had to submit DNA, and full finger prints.

    All that evidence would likely ensure I'd get caught if I used my guns in a crime.

    While most of this is an inconvenience, I realize it *might* keep one bozo criminal away, so I tolerate it. I feel I'm surrendering liberty, but rather than getting a polite "thank you and sorry for the inconvenience", I'm called a "gun nut" from anti-gunners.

  36. Great. I'm glad you "tolerate" this inconvenience in the name of public safety. Perhaps when you stop calling us anti gunners or whatever other names we, and I, have been called, then you might lose the "gun nut" label. It does go both ways.

  37. japete --

    How would you prefer to be characterized, if not as an "anti-gunner"? I've used the phrase "member of the gun-control lobby"; is that accurate and not perjorative?

  38. Yes, although I really don't like gun control because it then seems to imply to you all that we want your guns when what we want is to reduce the injuries and deaths that come from shootings. It's not easy to define us, I guess.

  39. No one wants unnecessary death and injury. That's a little something we all agree on. Merry Christmas.