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, December 17, 2010

Happy shopping everyone

The holidays are almost here. I have finished my shopping, for the most part. There are always last minute things, though so I will probably find myself at the local mall again. Just as these innocent folks in Omaha, Nebraska did on December 5, 2007.  Shopping can be dangerous. It sure was for the 9 innocent people shopping in Omaha whose lives ended abruptly and senselessly because someone with a gun decided to go on a rampage in a public place. In Eugene, Oregon tragedy was averted, somehow, when a man decided to shoot at cars in a mall parking lot. What gets into people when they randomly shoot at totally innocent people? In the Oregon case, more information will likely come out as more is learned about the shooter, now hanging on to life in a hospital after being shot by law enforcement officers who caught up to his car. The man is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. From the story: " Lufkin called Mason “a big teddy bear” with a tough exterior who once confided to her that his final tour in Afghanistan kept him awake some nights because the experience was “very extreme.”" 

Would a gun law have made a difference for either of these incidents? Perhaps not. I am constantly asked that question by those who want to talk down any suggestion that any law to tighten up on loopholes in our gun laws would inevitably lead to total gun confiscations. Hiding behind the Second Amendment is usually the hue and cry. Given that, what is the answer? I maintain that our country has a gun culture that values guns to an extreme not seen in other countries not at war. This is widely recognized. No other country has a second amendment to bandy about when it comes to gun laws. No other country has the number of gun deaths that the U.S. has per 100,000 either. A combination of lax laws and a gun culture where guns are seen as the ultimate in power and control and the gun lobby is "they who must be obeyed" has led our country to a point where doing anything about the continued shootings meets with such strong resistance that nothing happens. And that, of course, is the way those who have the power and the money want it. Crying about taking away guns has worked. It shouldn't, but it has. Thus is the power structure in our country. Common sense does not prevail.

Happy shopping everyone. Be careful out there.


  1. I'll be heading out for Holiday shopping this evening. I'll also be exercising my permitted right to self-defense.

    Happy Shopping to everyone else (you won't have to worry about me!)

  2. I hope you don't have to use that gun, Pat. Watch for me. I look pretty suspicious. I'm just sure you could stop a mass shooting with your gun. Oh, and by the way, don't go shopping with your guns at certain malls whose signs tell you that guns are not allowed in the public spaces.

  3. I agree the United States has something unique, with a constitution that was designed to protect the right to arms of the citizenry and empower them to destroy the very government that protects that right, should it turn tyrannical. I just believe it's something to be cherished, not disdained.

    But is it the gun culture or the violence culture that is the problem in the US? As I've pointed out ... countries like England and Australia, which allowed open gun ownership for most of the 20th century before enacting bans, had a lower murder rate than the US before the ban ... and the ban did not affect that murder rate. In England's case the murder rate and even the "gun death" rate has inched up since the ban. And here in the U.S. we've passed a lot of gun laws in a lot of different cities/states with no effect. So what makes you think such laws would have an effect on the overall murder rate here, if they haven't elsewhere?

    But perhaps most telling ... if you compare the non-gun murders (about a third of all US murders) with the TOTAL murder rate in those other countries ... it is still quite a bit HIGHER. So even if we banned guns completely and by some magic the "gun" death rate dropped to zero and wasn't replaced by murders of other kinds ... we'd still have a very high murder rate.

    Because of the above I believe we have a violence culture problem, not a gun culture problem. I'm a member of the gun culture, as are many of my friends, and we're not the problem. To get a window into the problem, watch any of those reality TV shows that follow cops (like 48 hours) or study gangs.

    How more effective would it be if you and your allies quit expending your energies on pushing for gun restrictions, and instead fought for initiatives to clean up the violence problem we have, fueled in a great part by the illegal drug culture?

    Think how that could work, and how your effort would be multiplied. Because now people like me are no longer expending our energies fighting your (never proven effective in real life) anti-gun strategies, politicians are no longer spending so much time posturing on one side or the other of the gun issue ... and maybe we can save some lives. Instead of just arguing over the meaning of the 2nd amendment (which I think is pretty clear) or what kinds of guns it's OK for me to own and how many bullets I can put in each?

    And the bottom line is ... we on the pro gun side currently have the political power to beat any law you put up at the Fed level or almost any state. So with so many deaths out there, is it good common sense to keep fighting battles you can't win against laws that even you have to admit are of limited value when your efforts could save more lives in other areas?

  4. Malls are essentially landlords, and under Minnesota law landlords do not have the authority to restrict carry by their tenants and guests.

    So there is real question about how legal those signs are. But it doesn't much matter. Only a very few malls in Minnesota post, and it's easy enough to go to one of the many that don't.

  5. BTW, Japete -- I hope you get a chance to read this yourself and maybe use it for fodder for your blog, or at least to understand why your cry for "common sense" doesn't get any traction with those of us in the gun culture.

    gun culture common sense

  6. See Joan - getting a permit in Minnesota means you have to know the laws and regulations surrounding their carry and usage; including exactly what those signs mean!

    Why would I care what you look like? Unless you're directly threatening me or my family with bodily harm I could care less what you do!

    Happy shopping!

  7. Joan,
    We who carry every day (or most every day) always hope to never have to use our guns. If we do, something has gone terribly wrong and no one wants that to happen.
    Maybe Pat could stop a mass shooting. Maybe not. One thing is certain; that is if Pat didn't have a gun there is no chance at all and the only option would be to cower and hope the police get there in time. That's always worked out so well in the past, hasn't it?
    Despite our different views on this subject, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a good year ahead. :)

  8. "don't go shopping with your guns at certain malls whose signs tell you that guns are not allowed in the public spaces."

    That's part of the problem right there. You turn away the good guys at the door and allow the mass shooters to walk right in.

    Those signs turn out to be more of a cruel joke than a deterrence of any sort. Just ask those who were dodging Clay Duke's bullets or anyone else who has survived a shooting in a "Gun Free Zone".

  9. "No other country has a second amendment to bandy about when it comes to gun laws. No other country has the number of gun deaths that the U.S. has per 100,000 either"
    1. Correlation does not equal causation. We have lots of things, good and bad, that "no other country has".
    2. Even if there is a causal relationship, freedom comes at a price.

  10. Yes, to answer your last question. Even though you have the clout, we have the majority of people agreeing with us. It is very worth the fight.I know that you guys would love it if we just folded up our tents and went home so you all could do exactly as you want. That is not going to happen. As to working towards non-violence, I do that every day in my life and with the organizations to which I belong. But as long as this country has the most gun deaths per 100,000 by far than any other country not at war, I will keep up the fight. Other countries don't even close to the number of gun deaths the U.S. has. You are just trying to make excuses for the gun deaths and not wanting to take any responsibility as a group for changing the situation. There have been articles written ( can't get my hands on it right now) that show that kids in other countries watch similar T.V. shows and play similar video games to those in the U.S, They are exposed to similar violence. But because we have so many guns in this country, we have the largest number of gun deaths. I don't agree with your ideas. You guys keep asking me this and I keep answering it. Let it be known that I am not in favor of any kind of violence. I am working specifically on gun violence. That is my cause and the reason for this blog. If you want to blog about violence in general, I suggest you start writing a blog about the subject.

  11. Thanks Stephen. I do not have time to refute here all the things you said that are not true. And to say that only my side engages in emotional rhetoric is nonsense. Here is one that is simply not true about your own guns being used against you in your home: You said: " This never happens" Check out this article: http://online.wsj.com/article/APa0d3106bbed049bb9ab198ac74fc85a8.html- to whit- " Authorities say a central New York man suffered a bullet wound to his leg after being shot with his own gun during a struggle with an intruder inside his Finger Lakes home." This appeared in a Dec. 16th news article.

    So keep them coming and when I have time, I will refute them. Many of the other things you called common sense in your blog are directly refuted in the recent Washington Post series.

  12. I don't know that the majority of the people do agree with you on the most major issue of gun gun ownership overall ... but that's really moot, as in any case the people who do agree with me vote, and vote on this issue, and we will punish politicians for voting against us. For whatever reason, all those people who supposedly agree with you don't vote on this issue; sure, they answer phone polls but don't follow the issue and take that viewpoint into the voting booth.

    How you get them to care enough to vote? I don't know. I think they do care about violence, I just think that those on my side have enough logic and common sense about the nature of man (it's what's in the heart, more than what's in the hand, that makes a murderer) to keep them from committing to your cause.

    And yeah ... kids are pretty much kids everywhere. Kids in my neighborhood play the same video games as kids in other neighborhoods, but don't form violent gangs that do drive by shootings. I've never tried to claim the problem is video games, I'm talking about cultural issues: in some sub-cultures in this country, ones which suffer from high levels of poverty and low levels of education and still carry a stigma from decades of institutionalized racism, an amazing amount of violence is not only accepted, but expected.

    That, my friend, is an issue we MUST fix whatever else we do or don't do about gun laws. I don't know how to fix it personally, but I wish we all had more time and resources to try.

    But as long as you keep reacting to kind of violence that happens here by trying to limit the kinds of guns I can own, or how many I can buy a month, or how many bullets they can hold ... I guess I'll just keep debating with you instead. And what have we accomplished here today?

    And if you do get the "gun show loophole" closed, will that violent subculture change it's mind and suddenly turn to non-violent means of problem resolution?

    So gun battle goes on.

  13. Not in my home town, jedge. We have one main mall and many other stores have also posted signs. It's legal. Malls own the public areas of their buildings.

  14. WAit- "freedom comes at a price?" Did I see that right, anon? What price freedom? A few lives here and there? Like 32 homicides a day. That's a pretty stiff price for freedom I would say.

  15. Thanks for taking the time to read my POV. I've seen about two stories like the one you reference, and I will make a challenge to you:

    You find stories on people in their home (homeowner/apartment dweller) shot with their own gun that has been wrested away from them when the confronted a burglar (actually shot, whether they die or not) and I'll find stories of people who have fired guns in defense of their home, striking the assailant if not killing them.

    If I cannot find 10 stories of a gun used in self defense by the homeowner for every SINGLE story you find of a homeowner shot with his own gun, I will donate $50 to the Brady Campaign. There is no risk at all to you.

    To keep things sane ... we both can only look back 2 years, and must be able to present an online news story (not an unverified blog entry) to prove our point.

    Do we have a wager? As a note ... I track such stories, and I have no problem believing I could match you 50 to 1, but that would be a lot of effort.

  16. No wagers, Stephen. I don't have time to do this right now but will consider looking this up on my side. I know of others as well. I am off to bake Christmas cookies.

  17. "Not in my home town, jedge. We have one main mall and many other stores have also posted signs. It's legal...."

    You must not be aware MN state law then Joan.

    Have a good one!

  18. I'm aware. There are signs posted at all of the doors to the Mall. If a private business does not choose to have guns inside, they can post signs. This is for the public spaces, as I said before- which are owned by the Mall owners.

  19. Oh it's absolutely legal from them to post their premises...

    If you took a Minnesota Carry Class, you'd be aware of the legalities of said signage, and Minnesota's Trespass laws.

  20. In the Eleventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (Eleventh UN-CTS, 2007-2008), the United States ranks 94 in the intentional homicide rate per 100,000 with a rate of 5.2. Many countries with higher rates, like 20.4 in my mother's home of Puerto Rico have extremely strict gun control laws. In fact Puerto Rico's laws are so strict, it's almost impossible to legally possess a gun unless you're a criminal, like the armed criminals that assaulted my unarmed family.

    While guns are most certainly used for some of the homicides in the other more violent 92 countries, the sad truth is that social issues will cause people to kill each other regardless of what weapon they have access to.

  21. I could find nothing in the report you linked to about the U.S. and intentional homicide rate per 100,000. Can you give me more information? I could only find information about trafficking in property, etc.

  22. Yes, I found it. One must look pretty hard at this data as it is quite confusing. It was stated in the report that not all information could be compared because of different systems. So based on whether information was provided by public health or law enforcement, the figures changed. And though the United States is listed as #97, if you look at countries listed above the U.S. you can see that the rates per 100,000 are higher in some cases than the U.S. numbers. In addition, some of the countries are African nations many of which are known for their political violence so cannot be compared to the U.S. Also, I found it interesting that Afghanistan, in one of the reports- I think the one alluded to by the commenter, had fewer intenional homicides per 100,000 than the U.S. The other problem, as stated by the writers of the report, is that different years are reported for different countries. So in some cases the figures are from 2004 and others reported for 2005.

  23. Oh, and of course, I forgot to mention that this report deals with homicides in general and not gun homicides so I am talking about gun homicides and this report is not. There is a difference.

  24. I'll be shopping for a new gun this Christmas.

    I just bought a new gun safe and now I need to start filling it.

  25. Like the locations of most spree shootings, the Westwood Mall in Omaha was a gun-free zone when the shooting happened.

    A spree shooting almost invariably ends as soon as someone shoots back. It appears that spree shooters at least take this into account when selecting the locations for their sprees. It isn't unreasonable to assume that some sprees would not happen at all without a location with disarmed victims.

  26. Sevesteen, has there ever been a shooting spree in a place that wasn't a "gun-free zone"?

  27. The Mall of America is posted only on the Non anchor store entrances and the sign does not meet the legal criteria for a posting. It is my belief that they do this because they know they are not able to actually ban them on their property. If you walked through the Macys entrance you would never even see one of the signs. I the mall can put up what ever sign they want it does not mean that it has the law backing it.

    As always stay safe and Have a happy holiday season!

  28. I don't know the rules in Minnesota, but in Alaska you can ignore "gun free zone" signs without breaking the law. You must however leave if asked to do so by a responsible adult or designee (like an employee) If you don't immediately leave the premises, it is criminal trespass; if you're actually armed then it potentially moves up to a felony charge. Private persons even have some arrest powers in Alaska, so if an armed individual refuse to leave then the property owner could probably arrest the person until police arrive.

    This makes sense to me; if the mall really cares about security then they can put up metal detectors, hire security, or do searches and ask people with weapons to leave. All the costs (as well as potential benefits) of enforcing compliance with the policy fall on the property owner, not on the taxpayer. We all know that putting up a sign -- even if you have to follow it -- doesn't erect a magical forcefield that hedges out all deadly weapons. If just prevents people who do follow the laws from bringing them into the area.

    Private residences are different. You must inform the homeowner and get permission before entering.

  29. Here is the law for MN From here

    Please pay attention to the sub 17.4.e and here is an example of the sign

    Subd. 17.Posting; trespass.

    (a) A person carrying a firearm on or about his or her person or clothes under a permit or otherwise who remains at a private establishment knowing that the operator of the establishment or its agent has made a reasonable request that firearms not be brought into the establishment may be ordered to leave the premises. A person who fails to leave when so requested is guilty of a petty misdemeanor. The fine for a first offense must not exceed $25. Notwithstanding section 609.531, a firearm carried in violation of this subdivision is not subject to forfeiture.

    (b) As used in this subdivision, the terms in this paragraph have the meanings given.

    (1) "Reasonable request" means a request made under the following circumstances:

    (i) the requester has prominently posted a conspicuous sign at every entrance to the establishment containing the following language: "(INDICATE IDENTITY OF OPERATOR) BANS GUNS IN THESE PREMISES."; or

    (ii) the requester or the requester's agent personally informs the person that guns are prohibited in the premises and demands compliance.

    (2) "Prominently" means readily visible and within four feet laterally of the entrance with the bottom of the sign at a height of four to six feet above the floor.

    (3) "Conspicuous" means lettering in black arial typeface at least 1-1/2 inches in height against a bright contrasting background that is at least 187 square inches in area.

    (4) "Private establishment" means a building, structure, or portion thereof that is owned, leased, controlled, or operated by a nongovernmental entity for a nongovernmental purpose.

    (c) The owner or operator of a private establishment may not prohibit the lawful carry or possession of firearms in a parking facility or parking area.

    (d) This subdivision does not apply to private residences. The lawful possessor of a private residence may prohibit firearms, and provide notice thereof, in any lawful manner.

    (e) A landlord may not restrict the lawful carry or possession of firearms by tenants or their guests.

    (f) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provisions in section 609.605, this subdivision sets forth the exclusive criteria to notify a permit holder when otherwise lawful firearm possession is not allowed in a private establishment and sets forth the exclusive penalty for such activity.

    (g) This subdivision does not apply to:

    (1) an active licensed peace officer; or

    (2) a security guard acting in the course and scope of employment.
    Subd. 18.Employers; public colleges and universities.

    (a) An employer, whether public or private, may establish policies that restrict the carry or possession of firearms by its employees while acting in the course and scope of employment. Employment related civil sanctions may be invoked for a violation.

    (b) A public postsecondary institution regulated under chapter 136F or 137 may establish policies that restrict the carry or possession of firearms by its students while on the institution's property. Academic sanctions may be invoked for a violation.

    (c) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) and (b), an employer or a postsecondary institution may not prohibit the lawful carry or possession of firearms in a parking facility or parking area.

  30. " Where am I prohibited from carrying my pistol?

    School property
    A childcare center while children are present
    Public colleges and universities – may have policy restricting the carrying of weapons on their premises by employees and students while on campus
    Private establishments that have posted a sign banning guns on their premises
    Private establishments who have personally informed the permit holder that guns are prohibited and demands compliance
    Places of employment, public or private, if employer restricts the carry or possession of firearms by is employees
    State correctional facilities or state hospitals and grounds (MN Statute 243.55)
    Any jail, lockup or correctional facility (MN Statute 641.165)
    Courthouse complexes, unless the sheriff is notified (MN Statute 609.66)
    Offices and courtrooms of the Minnesota Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
    Any state building unless the commissioner of public safety is notified (MN Statute 609.66)
    In a field while hunting big game by archery, except when hunting bear (MN Statute 97B.211)
    In federal court facilities or other federal facilities (Title 18 U.S.C.§ 930)"

    Minnesota permit to carry law

  31. Were you reading my other responses. I said the public areas of malls. To get to the tenants you would have to walk through the public areas depending on the entrance you use.

  32. Sevesteen, has there ever been a shooting spree in a place that wasn't a "gun-free zone"?

    I think the 4 Seattle area police that were shot while in a diner would qualify under some reasonable definitions of spree shooter, there may be others. But as I said in a comment elsewhere that hasn't been approved yet, most spree shootings are in gun free zones, even though most public areas are not gun free zones.

  33. You're using a version of the MN Permit Law snippets from the BCA's website thats about 4 years out of date. You don't have a carry permit, haven't taken a class, and want to try and lecture on carry law?

    I'll start by enlightening you on Trespass law in MN, you must be verbally asked to leave the premises whether or not its "legally signed" (MN has a regulation covering verbage, size, color and location). The signs actually mean nothing in the case of permitted carry - its the verbal warning that carries the weight.

    MN statute 624.714
    Subd. 17. Posting; trespass. (a) A person carrying a firearm on or about his or her person
    or clothes under a permit or otherwise who remains at a private establishment knowing that the operator of the establishment or its agent has made a reasonable request that firearms not be brought into the establishment may be ordered to leave the premises. A person who fails to
    leave when so requested is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

    The Mall of America has changed its signage to be non-compliant with State Law because, legally, they cannot restrict access to their tenants space (individual tenants can still control access to their stores) -- and they also realized that permitted carry holders weren't the type of people they were worried about.

    The MN DNR also amended the hunting regulations to allowed permitted carry while hunting ALL big game now too -- not that it matters too much.

  34. are you suggesting that the mall has to let me carry in the store I rent but can ban the carry to and from that store by me and my guests?

  35. "(e) A landlord may not restrict the lawful carry or possession of firearms by tenants or their guests."

    Which means that a mall may ban carry in its public areas only for those people who aren't tenants or their guests.

  36. atrius said, "We who carry every day (or most every day) always hope to never have to use our guns. If we do, something has gone terribly wrong and no one wants that to happen."

    Does that mean you speak for all CCW permit holders, every single one of them?

    The fact is with the minimal requirements for training and screening, many of you are unfit to even own guns let alone carry them every day. Some of you are just itching for a chance to be the hero.

    Why do you try to paint such a distorted picture by saying that you (all of you) "always hope" to never use the gun? That's as bad as someone saying every single one of you is unfit, but no one's saying that.

  37. Private establishments cannot restrict access to tenants. You said it best yourself... they are PUBLIC AREAS.

    They have no legal right to limit public access to the stores. They can however limit carry in their mall offices.

  38. I think we've about exhausted this go around about whether guns in malls are legal but we still haven't talked about whether they are a good idea.

  39. "but we still haven't talked about whether they are a good idea."

    That's because they are so obviously a good idea that it's self-evident.

    People aren't made more safe by rendering them defenseless.

  40. Just making sure that everyone knew the letter of the law was different than what you were stating. I'm extremely good at following the letter of the law to a "T" (much like the majority of permit holders).

    Luckily, what's a "good idea" for some is never legislated because the majority of people don't agree with it! Others throughout history have had "good ideas" that turned out to be not-so-much!

    Good Saturday!