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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Random shooting

I thought I was done posting for the day but then this incident came to my attention. This is beyond sick and scary. What gets into a guy who decides to get his gun from his car and randomly shoot people in a bar? This is another example of why guns and alcohol together are just not a good idea. It could have been worse: " Police said MacFarlane told them that he might have continued shooting had he not run out of ammunition." Only two unlucky innocent bar patrons lost their lives instead of another mass shooting! Happy New Year everyone. Don't drink and shoot. Common sense dictates that we should keep guns out of places that serve alcohol. But of course, the gun lobby thinks otherwise and works hard to get laws passed to allow the very thing that leads to gun deaths and injuries. Go figure.


  1. This guy plans to go to a bar and murder people. How does a law making it illegal to carry in bars do the slightest bit to stop him? He already decided to commit premeditated murder! That's the trouble with no-carry laws, the only people who obey them are the potential victims.

  2. Common sense would be not to drink and use firearms. I believe all 50 states have restrictions covering that one. Reckless use/discharge of a firearm comes to mind.

    MN, for example, forbids the carrying of a firearm with a BAC of >0.04%, half the limit to operate a motor vehicle. Much better than simply limiting the carry within certain establishments.

  3. "Police said MacFarlane admitted he had been inside the bar as a patron, then decided to grab a handgun from his car in the parking lot, returned and started shooting just inside the club's entryway."

    He went BACK to his car? And got the gun... Assuming he is legally allowed to own a gun (which is TBD)
    In Alaska any one who can legally own a firearm can carry it concealed without a Permit/License. Yet he left it in the car, and returned to do his evil business...

    The gun lobby had nothing to do with this disturbed individual...

    At what point can one stop blaming the gun lobby, and start blaming individual responsibility?

  4. To Chris and Pat,

    It's too late once the person is over the legal limit and decides to shoot. That's why the laws should not be expanded to include places where alcohol is served. Here's the deal. As long as people get the idea that is perfectly O.K. and normal to carry guns in bars, then they will. If it was not perfectly normal and O.K. and legal, like it wasn't before we had shall issue laws, we sure as heck did not have so many people carrying in so many places. I'm just telling you guys that I am reading and hearing about more incidents like this. Not everyone with a gun is careful. That's my point. It will not be good for your side if these things keep happening. Eventually the public is going to wonder what the heck is going on and ask for different laws.

  5. "It's too late once the person is over the legal limit and decides to shoot."

    So you'd rather punish people in advance?

  6. I'd rather prevent the shootings by not allowing people to have so many guns in so many public places. But the laws are passed and we are, as I said in another post, "reaping what we sowed"

  7. "I'd rather prevent the shootings by not allowing people to have so many guns in so many public places."

    How would your "not allowing" prevent the shootings?

  8. In most states there is no law against carrying in a place that serves Alcohol (like here in Colorado) and you'll find no increase in shootings in bars in those states. It's just not an issue.

    The man in your anecdote did NOT carry his gun into the bar ... he went out and got it after he decided to do his shooting.

    Drinking and guns don't mix, nobody will argue that with you. But a law that prohibits me from being armed (which is legal for me in this state) when I take my family out to dinner to a TGIF that happens to serve beer does nothing to make anybody safer. Certainly not me or my family.

    Frankly, I read your post and comments but your base logic escapes me. You seem to believe that people who are stupid enough to drink while armed would be stopped at the door if a law keeps them from entering into a bar (a law to keep me out of a bar while armed? I'll honor that one!).

    But if you allow them through the door then they will lose control (now that I'm in the door and armed ... WHOA NELLIE it's time to get hammered!).

  9. Am I hearing this right, you have no solution to prevent people from breaking the law?

    And how are you going to "not allow people to have so many guns in so many public places"?

    Remember Stalin said "One man with a gun can control 100 without" and Mao said "Power comes from the barrel of a gun".

    The disturbed and criminal will always seek power with which to victimize others, the common sense answer is to have power yourself to stop them.

  10. I'm glad he only had a gun. If he he had glass bottles, oily rags, and gasoline he could have done a bunch more killing. Because if he would have been smart and set fire to every emergency exit killed a whole bunch more through smoke inhalation and fire.

    In terms of effective killers, this guy is just pathetic.

  11. Oh, so it's o.k. then because he went out to his car to get his gun? I hope you are not meaning that. I know I have found most TGIF restaurants to be dangerous places. When I go there I check behind every booth to make sure someone with a gun is not lurking- oh, unless it's you with your gun. No I said what I believed. As long as the NRA has managed to get shall issue laws passed in so many states, they have moved to get more places for people to carry their guns. The more people who carry guns in more places, the NRA is trying to normalize guns everywhere. Thus we will have inevitable shootings and accidents. It's human nature, as one of you tried to tell me about self defense.

  12. A provactive question from jedge. Do you honestly remember so many shootings in public places when you were growing up? I'm sure I'm older than you but they just did not happen. What was different? It wasn't legal for people to carry guns in public places. Sure there were the criminals who shot people and the gangs and the gangsters. But it was less common to hear about shootings in schools, bars, shopping malls, etc. So my "theory" is that having fewer guns around in public places would stop stupid accidents of law abiding citizens that result in someone being shot or would prevent the guy in this story from running out to his car for his gun since he might not have had his gun in his car in the first place.

  13. Anon- above- I'm going to knock on your door and take all of your guns away. Simple, right?

  14. To the other anon, above- rags soaked in gasoline? Are you serious? Come on. Maybe you should try it sometime if you are so convinced. What nonsense.

  15. Rob,

    It looks like this crime occurred in Arizona, not Alaska. The Establishment was named the "Alaska Bush Company," and we do indeed have a branch of that establishment in Anchorage, but apparently they have an AZ franchise as well.

    In Arizona it looks like you can carry firearms into bars. You just can't drink while carrying. That's different from Alaska law, which prohibits carry in bars period whether you drink or not. In any event, this crime doesn't look like it was one of passion. It wasn't like he carried into the strip club, had a few brewskis (in violation of the law), and then got into a bar brawl that escalated out of control into murder.

    The article said that he had been in the bar originally then left to get his gun from the car. If he was intoxicated because he had been drinking in the bar and then possessed the gun then he was almost certainly breaking the law at that point. I don't see how making it Double Illegal would have helped prevent this.

    Remember, this guy "told police he planned the attack." He carried out premeditated murder. He selected targets and then used the most effective weapon he had at his disposal. Would the victims be any less dead if he had selected a knife or used a pipe bomb or burned the place down? The gun didn't whisper in his ear and make him do it.

  16. "I'm sure I'm older than you but they just did not happen. What was different?"

    They did happen, in certain neighborhoods. But nobody much cared, as long as it stayed in those neighborhoods. So folks in the other neighborhoods never heard about it.

    Do you remember:

    On Feb. 20, 2004, Galvin D. Coleman was drinking at Arnellia's bar in St. Paul. About 1:00 AM he and a friend were kicked out, for getting into a fight with other patrons.

    Coleman got a gun, went back to the bar, and started shooting randomly through the door, killing Stephen Kuma Ful.

    The St. Paul police posted a number of stills from the security video, at the time. I can only find one, now:


    So, what could we have done to prevent this?

    1. The bar had security cameras, both inside and outside.
    2. That's a metal detector at the door he's shooting through.
    3. It's hard to tell from the inside photos, but the outside photos made it clear - there's a large, bright yellow sign on the door saying "Arnellia's bans handguns in these premises".
    4. About ten feet to his left, was an off-duty St. Paul cop.
    5. He was underage, and it was illegal for him to be in the bar in the first place.

    I don't suppose it'd surprise you to learn that he had a long police record. He'd been picked up by Minneapolis police, about six months prior, after a "shots fired" incident, but no charges were filed.

    How would you have prevented this?

  17. But once again, we have the same pattern.

    Someone who was likely prohibited from having a gun
    Took that gun into a "gun free zone".
    And fired shots, killing others,
    But was stopped when people resisted.

    Resistance stops criminals much more often than cops do.

  18. Thanks for the correction Chris... I did mean to type Arizona... Not Alaska... even though they are both "Constitutional Carry" states...

    My point is simple... There is nothing that could have been done to prevent this attack... The man wilfully decided to commit premeditated murder.

    I sincerely doubt a "no guns in bars" law would have hindered him...

  19. I also find this criminal's behavior disturbing. Statistically, though, it wasn't his first crime. Most murderers don't just wake up one morning and randomly decide to kill people. They tend to have had multiple run-ins with the law prior to their capstone crime. I just hope that Macfarlane is locked up for a long, long time where he can't hurt anyone else. Unfortunately, it seems like the actual numbers of years of a prison sentence served for violent offenders is rather short. Odds are this guy will be out on the street again in the future, even if he is convicted of Murder 1 or Murder 2, to commit more violent crimes.

    I did some quick "Google Research" and found a paper discussing the sentencing situation in AZ:
    For the past 36 years, Arizona’s sentencing statutes for first degree murder have provided for automatic parole eligibility at 25 years for life sentences. (http://www.oldcodelifer.com/more.htm)

    So in 2035, MacFarlane will be 53 years old and back on the streets. At least this is stricter than some states; I remember reading about a cop killer in Massachusetts that had three previous violent felony convictions, including attempted murder, and was back on the streets in less than a decade.

    Since the idea of the blog is "how to prevent gun injuries and death," I'd propose a simple idea:
    Lock up violent offenders for a long time.

    Unfortunately, with budget cuts looming for many states, it looks like parole is going to be coming faster and faster for many offenders. Mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes also tend to fill up prisons, creating pressure to parole the violent offenders sooner to clear out bunks.


    I am not particularly disturbed by the law allowing carry in bars. The problem is people that get intoxicated and carry a firearm. Carrying a firearm is a responsibility and one of the things you give up when you choose to arm yourself is the option to get drunk in public.

    If the designated driver (i.e. someone who is not boozing) for an evening wants to carry a sidearm, I have no problem with that, just like I have no problem with the DD getting behind the wheel of a car after spending all evening in a bar.

    If the bar is going to impose some security to back up a no weapons policy, that's their business. They can certainly forbid entry to anyone with any kind of weapon under penalty of criminal trespass. That's their decision, and it is even a responsible policy. Knives, explosives, and other weapons can be just as deadly as a firearm (or even moreso) in a crowded disco, bar, or nightclub and you need some degree of actual security screening to keep those things out. Just putting up a "no weapons allowed!" sign or law wouldn't have stopped this guy who was planning on committing premeditated murder, just like our state law didn't stop the execution-style murder in an Alaskan bar earlier this year.

  20. No I don't remember this incident jedge. I am not saying I can prevent all the shootings. That would never happen. I'd be happy to make a small dent in the shooting numbers.

  21. Bad guys with guns in bars are bad.

    Good guys with guns in bars are bad, too.

    The problem is sometimes the good guys are really bad guys, and other times the good guys become bad guys.

    Guns and alcohol don't mix. And the problem is not limited to bars. Tonight can you imagine how many gun owners will overdo it at home. In so doing they will make themselves less responsible and less capable of doing the right thing.

    Happy New Year everybody.

  22. "I'd be happy to make a small dent in the shooting numbers."

    Then can you answer Jdege's question?

    "How would you have prevented this?"

  23. Perhaps you missed the part where I said I don't think ALL shootings can be prevented and that is not my intent here or the intent of the people with whom I work. If you are not concerned that shootings like this happen every day in our country and you want to make sure some of them are prevented, then what is your answer to these shootings? What do you think will prevent such things? Are you willing to sit back and watch as 30,000 people a year die from gunshot injuries? I haven't heard yet from your side what you would like to do to stop the shootings other than to say they surely wouldn't happen this way if only you were there with your gun.

  24. What can anyone do to stop accidents?

    What can anyone do to stop criminals?

    There are far more car accidents than accidental shootings...

    There is far more criminal use of vehicles than criminal use of guns....

    There are far more medical malpractice deaths than gun deaths...

    Why is it that so many people are afraid of guns when it is much more likely that a vehicle or Doctor will kill you.

    The simple fact Japete is as long as there are legally owned guns, criminals will do illegal things with them.

  25. "The simple fact Japete is as long as there are legally owned guns, criminals will do illegal things with them."

    Regardless of whether or not there are legally owned guns, those who are willing to break the law will be able to obtain them.

  26. I will say this once more and then I'm done- as long as there are senseless shootings in this country, I will be working to reduce and prevent them. That is what I am all about. That is what this blog is all about. I am not perfect. What I propose is not perfect. The world is not perfect. You are not perfect. When you come up with a better plan than the ones I have worked towards, let me know. I haven't heard it yet.

  27. "When you come up with a better plan than the ones I have worked towards, let me know."

    My plan is to be well armed, well trained, and ready, willing, and able to defend me and mine. As a firearms instructor I help others who have made the same decision to do likewise.

  28. Jpete, you claim you have a plan. Your plan seems to be more laws. Could you please explain how more laws will prevent anything? We already have laws making shooting at people illegal & murder illegal. What laws are not on the books that will reduce the killings in this country? I am at a loss to identify any such missing laws.


  29. Chris- I have explained what I am going to explain. I have said what I support. Happy New Year.

  30. Sorry- this one is for Anon, above, rather than Chris.

  31. It is kind of confusing with two of us named Chris posting here! :)

    Happy New Year all.

    Chris from AK

  32. I don't understand that pro-gun claim that as long as there are guns there will be gun crime. They often say the criminals will ALWAYS get guns.

    None of that's true. With proper gun control, which we've never had yet, we could prevent, not all, but a good part of the misuse of firearms.

    It's a self-serving philosophy for gun owners to shrug their shoulders and say there's nothing we can do about it. Responsible gun owners should be willing to make sacrifices and be inconvenienced. There's no escape for them. If they're not willing to be responsible by doing the right thing then they're responsible for the results.

  33. Indeed it is. I assumed it was one and the same. How to know? I guess one of you signs Chris from AK and the other is just Chris. The problem is that sometimes you guys use "alias" names. Perhaps it is to purposely confuse me? I never know since I do know that people who comment on this blog have already told me they want to set up traps for me. Pardon me if I am suspicious.

  34. Mike B.- agreed. That is the main problem as I see it. I am not seeing anyone coming forth with a plan other than to keep their guns and make sure everyone is armed. Surely THAT will prevent shootings as it has already. If that has worked so well, the results are not showing.

  35. " Responsible gun owners should be willing to make sacrifices and be inconvenienced. There's no escape for them. If they're not willing to be responsible by doing the right thing then they're responsible for the results."

    This is a truly breathtaking statement. So are those of us who are unwilling to sacrifice our right to free speech responsible when some demagogue uses it to incite terrorism? Are those of us who refuse to give out our right to a fair trial responsible when some criminal gets off on a technicality?

  36. I don't find it breathtaking. Your example just does not work. I don't get your point, Chris. What you gave as examples don't apply to what MikeB and I were agreeing about.

  37. Joan -- As I posted in the recent New Year's thread I'm adding a picture to all my posts to make them easier to break out. Chris is #11 out of ~1000 boy's names in the US (ThinkBabyNames.com) so I'm not too surprised that two of us are posting with the same name. I'm only double posting this in two threads so as to put the issue to bed here, where it was discussed.

    Besides, if I wanted to use a sock puppet alias, wouldn't I pick something different from my real name? :-P I prefer to put my time into actually thinking about the serious questions that you pose and researching evidence, not on playing internet reindeer games.

    I'm not super Blogger savvy but it may be possible to see our IP addresses and pretty easily verify that we're posting from different states if you are that suspicious.

    Chris from AK

  38. I think you can check URLs if you use Word Press, which I am not using. I can see some of them if they have their own websites or blogs.

  39. Again, I have a plan: end the War on Drugs. This will end a large part of the violence in this country, as well as in Mexico. We'll also save tax dollars and time (which could be used to combat actual crimes or even terrorism instead) wasted on vain LE efforts to stop people from doing something they're going to do anyway, and the government could derive additional tax revenue from legalized drugs like marijuana, just like they do with tobacco and alcohol. And I won't get my name on a double secret probation list somewhere because I bought a couple of rifles in five days. This would be an all around win for everyone!

  40. Do you buy a lot of rifles in a week's time?

  41. I have bought two or more rifles in a week in the past (my "previous life"--before I was married and still had lots of disposable income), sometimes even on the same day. I've also done the same thing with handguns, which is why I don't like that law, or the ATF's new illegal power grab proposal either. I'm something of a collector, so I like to grab a good deal or two when the opportunity presents itself; it shouldn't be any of the government's business what my particular buying habits are.

    You still haven't responded to my proposal, either. I think it's a great idea, as there's lots of common ground for our two sides to agree on. Neither of us have to give anything up, and we're even expanding freedom for those who choose. Not only that, but we'll save the government money and even make some tax revenue on the side, while freeing up law enforcement to pursue actual violent criminals and terrorists (which should further serve to reduce the crime rate, including your gun deaths).

  42. "Do you buy a lot of rifles in a week's time?"

    Again, you aren't hearing what they are saying to you. That isn't the point. The point is a) it is a registry and just because you don't think it affects law-abiding citizens doesn't mean it doesn't and b)they don't have the authority to grab the power that you hope to see them grab.

    The fact that it doesn't bother you disturbs me greatly. I guess laws don't matter as long as the ends justify the means.

  43. I'm bothered by the fact that you don't seem to care if people are buying guns for the Mexican drug cartel which is causing innocent people to be shot to death in great numbers. This could save lives and would be unlikely to affect you. That really bothers me.

  44. "What you gave as examples don't apply to what MikeB and I were agreeing about."

    MikeB made a statement regarding 2nd amendment rights. I simply applied that same logic to the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments. One cannot pick and choose among fundamental rights.

  45. I'm bothered by the fact that it probably won't save any lives and that you seem to know how this power grab will law-abiding citizens when I know you haven't thought it completely through or you have and it doesn't bother you.

    You talk about "reap and sow" a lot but yet I hear gun-control advocates complain about what this law and that law does. That's the problem. You don't know what this "registry" will be the start of. Once we give precedence to do this, it's a slippery slope. That is what we are afraid of. And for what? A feel-good law that really won't put a dent in the cartels? They are using fully automatic weapons, grenade launchers, and RPGs. They are NOT getting those from FFL's. What few strawmen purchases that might be happening is NOT the majority of their weapons down there. It is a trickle. How about we try criminal control instead of more laws which won't be enforced?

  46. The facts are that many of the weapons traced by the authorities in Mexico have a direct line to gun shops in the U.S. Check out this website ( http://www.autoweapons.com/) to see that machine guns and grenade launchers can be purchased on-line from law abiding citizens who can pass the background check. I have alread written about the Minnesota "law abiding" citizen who was buying guns at ffls for the Mexican drug cartel.There is a grenade launcher posted prominently on this internet dealer's site (http://www.combatsportsupply.com/salemadbullagxgrenadelauncher.aspx)

    I found this site to be quite interesting. ((http://soldiersystems.net/2010/01/31/how-to-really-get-a-grenade-launcher/)The author did not provide the correct link, rather the one to the recent shooting of a sheriff's deputy in Ohio. I think the commentator is Chris Cuomo and not David and this info. may or not square with the websites I have linked to. More on this one later.

    So if these weapons are not available in the U.S., what are these websites about? The person who would buy these things on-line would have to show up at an FFL to get the background check. That is usually, hopefully, how the internet sales work. Can you explain this to me or did I miss something? So if stopping the sale of these weapons in our country would lead to any inconvenience on your part, too bad. These are not meant to be used for hunting or self defense. Do you need these? And if you can explain how restricting the sale of these weapons will lead to a total gun confiscation, please also explain that to me. I don't see it. I am not about gun confiscation nor are the organizations with whom I work. You can accuse all you want but you are wrong.

  47. The Autoweapons website that you pointed to also shows that "DOMESTIC SALES ONLY -
    ALL NFA RULES APPLY!", which means that they have to get their $200 stamp from the ATF, after waiting 3-5 months, and then they will have to have the item shipped to an FFL of their choice (who can also handle the item) and go and pick it up. They will not just ship to anyone who can pass a background check as you claim.

    As for the "grenade launcher" that you posted, it is the Mad Dog ATX Grenade Launcher... "This is a B.B. shower toy. Not an explosive grenade" It is a toy. $189 for a grenade launcher? If it was real, it wouldn't go that cheap no matter what hoops you jumped through to get it. And for the record, I said RPG (rocket propelled grenade) which is not the same. RPG's are tank killers. Grenade launchers (and the grenades that go in them) not so much.

    As for the last link... he was discussing the ABC piece which incorrectly showed a flare launcher and not a grenade launcher... if you read the whole piece that he wrote... (I skipped a lot of other important information he discussed)

    "And purchasing an actual M-203 40mm grenade launcher is hardly the end of it. To make it a “killer weapon” one would require ammunition. Each round requires exactly the same process to purchase as the launcher itself. That’s right, $200 tax stamp for each individual round, more fingerprints, more background checks, more waiting. This may be why you don’t see neighbors blowing each other up with 40mm grenades. The ATF does a great job of regulating the transfer of these devices. The reality is that they are far from easy to purchase, and you certainly can’t order one over the phone or internet."

    I didn't say they weren't available. I said they were not easily obtained. We have gone over this in your comments but I won't ask that you re-read them like you do us. I'll explain again. Machine guns cost a lot to begin with.. And then you have to add the $200 stamp the ATF requires through the NFA. Grenades.. same thing.. $200 for each one, plus the charge to get one.. And I'm really not sure which states would allow you, even if the NFA does...(not something I check into.. not looking to buy grenades, you know)

    They wouldn't just have to stop at an FFL. They have to get their NFA stamp from the ATF, which they would for machine guns, suppressors, grenades, etc... This takes awhile and they cannot take possession until they get it.. and the stamp must be with the item everywhere it goes.

    As for the "too bad" part, while I don't require any of these things, I didn't know that "requirement" was a standard by which the law works. There are many things you don't "need" but you are able to obtain. You should never look at any legislation and ask "does anyone need this?" Hunting and self defense should also not be the standard... We don't "need" explosives but people can get them.. Google "boomershoot". We don't "need" alcohol, but we saw how that prohibition worked.

    And nobody said anything about restricting the sales of these weapons leads to a total gun confiscation. I said... these are items that are NOT easy to get in the U.S. yet I see pictures of them in every Mexico confiscation. Nobody has yet explained how the cartels are getting these weapons.

    For the record, suppressors should be easier to get as they are a wonderful safety device. Required to be used on cars but illegal to use on firearms without the severe restrictions I outlined above. $30 to buy one in New Zealand where they are not outlawed... Starting $900 here plus the $200 NFA tax.

  48. Thanks for the clarification. I hope it's hard to get those weapons here. It should be. And perhaps these, in particular, are obtained elsewhere. See the comment above for a site that does some fact checking about the number of guns actually traced to the U.S. Both sides are exaggerating. But there is no doubt in my mind or the minds of most that a lot of weapons used in Mexico are coming from the U.S.

  49. Thing is, full auto assault rifles are expensive and hard to get in the U.S. Straw purchases of these guns would be idiotic, because of the expensive nature of the gun(s) and the time you'll be doing in places like Leavenworth. The cartels are better served by getting guns from other sources like crooked Mexican cops and their counterparts in the Mexican military. Hell, they can smuggle the arms themselves from neighboring countries, like Nicaragua, Colombia, other countries in South America with narcoterrorist presence. Why bother with America when you can get military grade ordnance for the same price you might pay for two full auto M-16?

    Seriously, you think that the cartels, with the most robust smuggling network on earth, just can't be bothered to add illegal arms to their shopping list? You don't think that they won't ask the Russians for some Kalashnikovs, or to ask the Colombians for some RPGs, maybe the Mexicans threw in some grenades and silencers as freebies?

    With the huge amount of cash they have at their disposal, I'm surprised that they ain't building their own guns. Small shops turning out small arms in places like Mexico can make a huge load of money selling arms to neighboring countries.

    It's easier for them to get military hardware from other places than from the U.S. I'm not saying that some "straw man" purchases didn't happen in the U.S., I'm saying that those purchases accounts for a very small percentage of the total number of weapons used in Mexico because it's easier and cheaper to get what they want from somewhere else.

    Unless you think that other countries just can't be as "bad" about weapons as the U.S.

  50. "full auto assault rifles" is redundant. There are no "semi-automatic assault rifles" no matter how many times someone wants to say there is.