This is one of the most beautiful pieces I have read ( Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) about the fight over the Second Amendment and gun rights. How far we have come from the concern we once had about the senseless shootings in our country. Today we yawn about the daily carnage. The NRA has bought and paid for our political leaders to believe their claims that "guns don't kill people, people do." Their primary spokesperson, Wayne La Pierre, had the nerve to say: "The guys with the guns make the rules." He's right, actually. All the worse for our national sanity concerning important public health and safety issues that we are choosing to ignore. We ignore because the NRA has managed to get a whole lot of people to believe that what they say must be true, or else. And if you dare to defy them or argue back, they turn logic on it's head and make you seem as if you are just an idiot for stating your facts and opinions.
I have experienced this first hand. I allow comments on my blog, only after I read them and moderate them first. Some hate this and demand that I just let them have their way and poison my blog with their ugliness, accusations and innuendos. They want to know what I will give up to get what I want. This is sounding all too familiar. My side has already given up millions of lives to gun deaths while the gun lobby has been working their word magic and deception to convince our elected leaders and the public that they dare not challenge the positions and the facts coming from their mouths and pens. That does not mean there can't be compromise but both sides are involved in a compromise (more on this in the next episode).
At times, I have been made to doubt myself and my own long held convictions as if they were not thought out or without fact or reason. Then I suddenly get jolted by one too many comments. One such was from one who comments regularly. The man was somehow convinced that my former, now deceased brother-in-law must have been a criminal before he shot my sister to death. He must have had a record of some kind. After all, (I imagine him thinking) law abiding gun owners don't shoot people. Here is one of the comments that came of our back and forth: "My biggest concern is not that he was or was not a "low life," but whether or not the police had an opportunity to intervene before it escalated to the point of murder. Frequently you will find that people who have committed murder will have committed crimes serious enough to warrant being jailed. I feel that in cases like that, it is incumbent on us to prod our prosecutors and police to be a bit more strict in their application of the law. There has to be a balance, of course. We can't get stupid with this."
Of course, police can intervene sometimes and should. If there is an order for protection, they can take guns away. In real life it doesn't always work out that way. Frequently you find that people who have committed murder have not been arrested for a previous crime. I don't want to be stupid about this stuff either. I just don't want someone questioning the facts about my sister's murder as if I am wrong about them. I am not always right about what I write. Occasionally I stand corrected or am reminded that I made a mistake- sometimes politely, others rudely. Sometimes new information is brought to bear that I need to think more about. I'm open to that. But I know I am right about the facts surrounding my own sister's death.
This ad hominem argument was made by the same person: "The original purpose of the lie that "most murderers aren't criminals, in fact they usually knew their victims" is to pretend that the average murderer is indistinguishable from the average gun owner. The point to frighten the regular citizen into believing that they could just as easily get murdered by their neighbor the nice gun owner as by Ice Dog and Ray-Ray, the local drug dealers. The hope, on the part of the liars was to convince the non gun owning public that it made sense to strictly regulate gun ownership by the law abiding as well as the criminal class. By repeating this line of argument, you are perpetuating the lie that I am as likely to be a killer as the local drug gang member. And you don't even see how insulting that is. You are trying to regulate me because you cannot figure out how to regulate the criminals." And finally, he said, "Because you are attempting to portray the average gun owner as a proto-murderer, just looking for an excuse to "snap" and murder people. Acquaintances include rival gang members and drug suppliers. No one believes that violence is random. There is a reason for almost everything. Why do you insist that because someone knows his murderer that they aren't criminals? Criminals know people too."
I concede that it's possible that many murdererers have prior felony records. It's not actually easy to find good information about this so it's hard to make a point on either side. Sometimes otherwise law abiding gun owners do just snap, though, and shoot people. I happen to know this one from personal experience.
The more I write, the more the comments come: " When someone is illegaly shot and killed, do the police attempt to arrest the person responsible, or the gun? Does the District Attorney prosecute a person or a gun? Are prisons full of people or guns? Do people get parole or do guns?" Seriously folks! Really?
So what's the point of these "arguments"? If it is only criminals shooting people, all we have to do is to make sure they are locked up for good and not allowed back onto our streets. I can't disagree with that one. I am in favor of making sure criminals serve their time. In real life, it doesn't always work that way. So felons are let out of jail or prison and, voila, there are all those guns available on the black market or at flea markets or gun shows with nary a background check to stop them from getting a gun. The rate of recidivism is high for felons. They get out and commit another crime. I don't like this trend. As to those guns up there that got arrested, prosecuted, went to prison and then got parole, I don't know what to say.
Not all prohibited purchasers (or all guns) are felons, however. What about those domestic abusers, those who are adjudicated mentally ill, terrorists and others on the prohibited purchasers list of the National Instant Check System (NICS)? The first paragraph on the website of the explanation about NICS goes like this: "
The NRA has taken Americans for a twisted ride for many years now. We need to stop the bus and stop being afraid of the gun lobby. I have had the chance to see how it works now that I am blogging. I get what the gun lobby is doing. By making my "fellow travelers" as one person called us, look like stupid, uninformed, gun grabbing nabobs, they have controlled the messaging. Again, in the You Tube video of Wayne La Pierre, above, La Pierre says that "freedom" rides with a firearm by its side. Wow! Really? I guess some of my "fellow travelers" and I are screwed as far as freedom is concerned. Equating the necessity of having a firearm to freedom is a false, but clever argument. I am perfectly free without having a firearm with me everywhere I go. If someone else wants to carry a firearm, they are free to do so if they pass the requirements.
So do guns kill people? I say they do. There are those who have gotten away with saying the opposite. Should we believe them? What if someone whispers an aside to me telling me I should not trust one who agrees with me because he might be a mole and doesn't know what he is talking about or that he is a troll- waiting to pounce? I'm not going to let the trolls and the moles stop me from crossing the bridge to common sense and common ground.
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.