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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reaping what we sow

It's always hard to make a causal relationship statement with anecdotal evidence but surely this story about recent shootings in Newark, N.J. lends credence to it. Some politicians don't see a relationship to public safety between staffing enough police officers and ATF officers and preventing crime- in this case shootings. Here is another article about the rise in shootings of police officers by 20% in the last year. Several statements from the article indicate that police officers are trying to do more with less. That is unacceptable. When we get to the point as a country that we cut the very people who local, state and federal governments have on staff to keep us safe, we are doing our communities a terrible disservice. But some would cut services rather than raise taxes or understand that we get what we pay for. Craig Floyd, Director of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund says this: ""We're asking our officers to do more with less. We're asking them to fight conventional crime, and we're asking them to serve on the front lines in the war against terror," he said." And, what's worse, " Ten of the shooting deaths came from five tragedies in which several officers were shot and killed in groups." What is happening out there (again)?

As citizens and community members, we owe our law enforcement officers thanks and respect for what they do every day. Instead, we cut positions and then complain when the police aren't there for us. I am wondering if the "gun guys" who say they need their guns for self defense because the police just aren't there when you need them, support these cuts because it fits right in with their narrative and gives them more "evidence" for their argument about needing all those guns wherever they go? That's just a thought. It does not make common sense to allow our officers to be shot to death on an increasing basis. Let's fund them and let's get some of those crime guns off of our streets.


  1. Hey Joan,

    As a New Jersey resident and a 'gun guy' I thought I would comment.

    We (NJ residents) are not happy about the cuts in Police staff, however we understand their necessity. Unfortunately we have had too many years of bloated government and even more bloated labor union bosses running our state. We don't have the money to fund over-generous pensions and several hundred redundant education Administrator positions.

    We (NJ gun guys and gals) have been warning about what would happen to a populous that is unable (by law) to defend itself. Furthermore, the reduced police presence in Newark and other NJ cities has left a large percentage of law abiding and disarmed citizens defenseless to the onslaught of thugs and criminals.

    It's ironic that in states with Constitutional (i.e. SHALL ISSUE) concealed carry laws in place, the prophesied 'blood in the streets' events never happened, and in states with un-Constitutional (i.e. MAY ISSUE) concealed carry laws, the blood is literally flowing in the streets.

    The police cannot stop these types of crimes. There were NEVER enough cops in Newark to do that. Allow law abiding citizens to carry concealed and after the first thug is stopped from killing an innocent, all the rest of the thugs will have to stop and re-evaluate their chosen 'profession'. When the thugs KNOW there will be no armed resistance they act with impunity. When they are not sure if their intended victim has the ability to stop them ....

  2. No, blood is not flowing in the streets in shall issue states. But recent studies- I don't have it close at hand, do show that gun deaths are higher in states with "looser" gun laws.

  3. How do you explain this spate of violence in Newark? After, NJ received your organization's highest marks in terms of gun control. And before you blame it on the "loose restrictions" in neighboring states like PA, allow me to point out that Camden is also one of the worst cities in the Union in terms of violent crime. It is also part of "greater Philadelphia," where the crime rate, although high, is significantly lower than the Jersey side.

  4. You can check this chart, Mark. New Jersey is #48 in the nation of gun deaths per 100,000. http://www.statemaster.com/graph/cri_mur_wit_fir-death-rate-per-100-000 or this more recent chart showing something similar: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2

    Many of the states with less strict gun laws have larger numbers of gun deaths per 100,000. New Jersey is doing a good job, all things considered, don't you agree?

  5. Joan,

    hmmmm - those stats are for firearm DEATHS only - so to your point I concede that 48th is good. However if you look at the other statistics; Violent crime (16th), Robbery (12th), Property Crime (16th) and Motor Vehicle Theft (16th), we are not so good. Given the history of carjackings at gunpoint in the Garden State, I feel comfortable stating that the restrictive gun control laws in New Jersey are not, in fact, reducing crime. Unfortunately, the above categories do not have the details that show what weapon, if any, was used to perpetrate the crime.

    Besides, looking at one year worth of statistical data does not a trend (or an accurate conclusion) make.

  6. Well, Mark, I am talking about gun deaths on my blog. I realize that there are other sorts of crimes. I have gone around about this before. But when you come back with general stats about crime, you can't then say I'm wrong about the gun part of the crime rate. That is what I am almost always blogging about. Please remember that when you respond so we know we are comparing apples to apples and not to oranges. I think there is a trend actually in the links I sent. One was from 2002 and one was from 2007 showing almost the same figures. I would say that over 5 years, that is a trend.

  7. Looking only at the gun crime rate is like looking only at the SUV accident rate, and deciding that eliminating SUV's is the answer to SUV crashes--ignoring that SUV drivers will merely switch to regular cars and trucks.

    Worse, guns have at least some defensive value, at least some deterrent value. You may believe that value is minimal, but you can't honestly claim it is zero. Restrictions on guns reduce the defensive and deterrent value far faster than they reduce criminal utility.

  8. Joan,

    Point taken - I was going by your tagline of 'Thoughtful discussion about how to prevent gun injuries and death' - I suppose I was extrapolating injuries to include loss of property, liberty, etc. and not just physical bodily harm. I will limit my comments in the future to gun deaths as the context.


  9. "Here is another article about the rise in shootings of police officers by 20% in the last year."

    Despite that, shootings of police officers have been on a downward trend for the past 20 years and aren't nearly as high as they were during the golden years of the gun control movement (1994-2004).

  10. I've always felt the New Jersey is a great state to be FROM. Get it.

    It's interesting what was said about the teacher cuts being mainly useless administrator positions. I wonder if the same can be said of the police cuts. Maybe the actual law-enforcement capacity hasn't diminished.

    I grew up in Elizabeth. I was there when Newark was practically burning down in 1967. I understand very well that there are many problems conspiring together to make it a dangerous place. Gun availability is one of them, but unlike poverty and unemployment and poor education, it's one that is concrete and can be addressed. As much as the pro-gun guys like to disparage the "lax gun neighboring state" explanation, there is something to it. NJ is not isolated from the rest of the country and the guns are coming from somewhere.

  11. Gun deaths in general are lower than they were in the late 80s/early 90s but have been steady since the late 90s or so until now.

  12. My point is that Camden and Philly are one greater metropolitan area. However, the violent crime rate in Camden, NJ with its strict gun laws is much higher than in Philly, PA with its "lax" gun laws. You can't use PA's "lax" gun laws as an excuse here because the crime rates aren't similar (you might even expect them to be worse in Philly, but that isn't the case), so there obviously must be another explanation.

  13. Pennsylvania, as a state, has a higher rate of gun deaths per 100,000 than New Jersey. As to Camden and Philly- which you consider one large metro area and yet my daughter and her family live there and somehow I have not experienced that to be true- but anyway, Pennsylvania's laws are looser than New Jersey's as a matter of fact. And so, their gun death rate per 100,000 is higher. One may not lead to the other but it just isn't a coincidence I don't think. Urban areas tend to have higher gun homicide rates in general because, well, because they are large urban areas. As to crime rates, I am less familiar with them since I am concentrating on gun deaths specifically here on this blog. I do know that odd things happen such as in Mpls., which has a lower overall crime rate but a higher gun homicide rate than last year. What is your explanation, by the way?

    Here is the link to the gun deaths per 100,000 for the U.S. states- http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2

    Here is an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer about the 2007 crime rates in Philly and gun deaths. I have not read the whole thing but it looks like it has increased in number and percentage. I couldn't find a good source for the gun death rate in Camden. Maybe you have some information about this that you could share.

  14. Camden is essentially just a suburb of Philly; it is separated by a river, but is joined via bridge by two major traffic arteries. Here's a link that shows the violent crime rates per 100K between the two: http://camdennj.areaconnect.com/crime/compare.htm?c1=Camden&s1=NJ&c2=philadelphia&s2=PA

    My point is that Philly, as part of PA with its "lax" gun laws, has a lower violent crime rate (including murders) across the board than Camden, which is part of NJ with its high Brady Campaign score. If the ready availability of guns in PA was an issue, you would expect similar crime rates, if not worse, in Philly than Camden, which just isn't the case.

    Although anecdotal, this illustrates our argument that crime isn't reduced by gun control, not even the murder rate. I'm not sure what percentage of those cities' murder rates are by gun, but does that really matter? I don't think that distinction would matter much to the victims' families. I know this is your pet issue, but I think statistics such as these show that people will still be killed, in extremely high numbers, regardless of whatever gun control laws you might pass.

    As to my personal explanation, I believe that criminals in PA know that their intended victims might very well be armed, whereas New Jersians (is that a word?) are largely unable to legally defend themselves, especially outside of their homes, and the criminals know that, too.

  15. Additionally, I'm glad you showed that per capita gun death chart. Both CA and IL only have approximately 20% fewer gun deaths than PA, despite vastly stricter gun control laws, and MD, with it's extreme gun control laws actually has a 20% worse gun death rate than PA! Also, DC, with its draconian gun laws leads the nation in per capita gun deaths, and is double that of PA in particular.

    I'm a pretty reasonable guy, so if you could show me some kind of correlation between gun control laws and gun deaths (let alone violent crime rates), I could support some reasonable restrictions on my Constitutional rights. However, numbers like these show that you can't, and preaching for more gun control just sounds like "all pain, no gain" for us law-abiding gun owners.

    Here's a chart that shows more of what I'm talking about: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/US_States_Rate_Ranking.html
    I'm just as dead if someone beats me to death with a baseball bat as I am if they shoot me. Until you can acknowledge this fact, and start proposing common sense laws to reduce violent crimes and murder in general, you're going to continue meeting bitter resistance from the 80 million or so gun owners in this country. We're a significantly large enough block (both in terms of money and votes) that you need to offer us real compromise, not just continue to attempt running us over with one-sided proposals. That's what your side has been attempting for the last 70+ years, and we've had enough.

  16. That last statement is total supposition on your part. There is no proof. What are you trying to prove here by the way? That more guns=less crime? PA does not have gun laws as strict as NJ. And crime may or may not be reduced by gun control. Other factors enter in. I am aware of all kinds of sources that contribute to crime. It happens that I am working on the gun issue. We haven't really tried very hard to reduce gun crimes because we can't get laws passed that might help. Folks in NJ and other strict gun law states often get guns from other states. There is what is called the "iron pipeline" that goes from the southern atlantic states up the coast to the northeast. Guns are trafficked heavily along this pipeline. That is why we need some national laws that are consistent. That's what I'm working on and why I'm working on it. I see it from a whole different perspective than you.

  17. Interesting chart, anon. Of course, I am not dealing with the overall crime rate here. It is of interest but not the topic generally of my blog. D.C. has a high crime rate and has all along. As I just wrote to someone else, guns are trafficked into areas with stricter gun control. That is pretty well known. They come along the iron pipeline from the southern atlantic states where gun laws are looser up the coastline and provide all kinds of guns to whoever wants them. Yes, people die from all kinds of things. It just happens that guns kill more people than just about anything else. That is why I am doing what I am doing. Bitter resistance?? Too bad. I suppose you are right. You guys are bitter all right. I am finding that out. I am going to keep working for what is right and what will reduce gun deaths and injuries whether or not you are bitter. If it's the right thing to do and those on my side can have more influence, it will happen. I am writing for a much larger audience than just you gun guys. I am hoping to influenced public opinion. I am not "offering " anything here. I have made that clear. I cannot and will not "offer" anything to you guys. You are a minority who just happen to be noisy and influential. That doesn't mean you are right. I've had enough of you guys. I don't know what you have had enough of. We've had enough of the senseless gun deaths and injuries which you apparently don't care about or you would join me. Nothing we have done has caused you to lose any of your constitutional rights. You have your guns and you are carrying them most everywhere. Name me a right that has been taken from you if you are law abiding.

  18. Let's see:

    1. Two states' citizens still have no legal ability to carry (bear) a concealed firearm for self defense, and that right is only "permitted" by the whim of some government official in several more states.
    2. Your side supports the expansion of the victim disarmament zone concept, which offer no protection to the defenseless citizens unfortunate enough to be caught inside them when someone decides to go nuts (which, unfortunately, is part of human nature--I'd like to see you try to legislate THAT). I am legally disarmed and helpless, but am not guaranteed that the area will truly be "gun free," and there certainly isn't 100% police coverage protecting me while I'm vulnerable.
    3. I'm legally licensed to carry a concealed firearm in my home state, but your side has ensured that I can't necessarily carry my pistol when I travel to other states. My drivers and marriage licenses don't become any less valid at the state line, so why should my LTC. Whatever happened to "full faith and credit" anyway?
    4. Your organization limited my ability to purchase modern sporting rifles for a decade under the AWB, and would support a return to a much more restrictive version with NO sunset clause this time.
    5. There are gun control proponents (not necessarily the Brady Campaign, although I'm sure they wouldn't disagree) that would ban lead core ammo to "save the birds," rifles that can penetrate body armor at 100 yards (ie, almost any modern center fire rifle) and high capacity magazines to "save the children." All of these would eliminate the sport of hunting, as well as any effective form of personal defense other than a revolver or shotgun.
    6. Your side proposes the ineffective idea of microstamping, ostensibly to fight crime. However, since it is easily defeated technology (file the firing pin or buy a new one) all it would do is artificially jack up the prices of firearms even further out of reach of many Americans.
    7. Your side supports the use of lawsuits against firearm manufacturers for the criminal misuse of their products (akin to suing Budweiser and GM for a drunk driving fatality). This is an attempt to bankrupt the gun makers out of existence, or again drive their prices out of reasonable reach of many Americans.
    8. NFA firearms are prohibitively expensive for all but the richest individuals thanks to the nonsensical Hughes Amendment; this serves as a de-facto ban, if not an outright one. I'd like to complete my collection of US WWII infantry weapons, but I can't afford to shell out $50K+ for a Thompson and BAR.

    Would you like me to continue?

  19. Nope- ypu can stop all of your nonsense right there.

  20. Last year police killed less than 600 felons in the act of committing a felony. They also killed 480 innocent civilians.

    With a 5:4 bad guy to good guy kill ratio it just makes sense that people start shooting back. After all, cops kill more people every year than lighting and shark attacks combined.

  21. So by that logic, it's O.K. to shoot a police officer? It's not O.K. for officers to shoot innocent civilians by the way, if that number is right. Just as with permit holders, mistakes are made with guns and guns are lethal weapons. If someone hasn't done something wrong, the police wouldn't be taking out a weapon. With so many L.E.shootings and some people ambushing the police, they must be scared for their lives every day at work.

  22. There are over 960,000 Law Enforcement Officers in the US according to the FOP.

    48 of them died last year to gunshot wounds. That is dead heat with the 47 who died from car accidents.

    Those same LEO's shot and killed 360 innocent civilians, and killed another 120 innocent civilians during a "high speed pursuit". So 480 deaths of innocent civilians.

    If you are serious about preventing gun deaths, disarming the police and making high speed pursuit illegal would be a good place to start. I mean think how much safer we would be if the cops didn't shoot an innocent person per day and kill another innocent person every three days by car accident?

  23. Joan,

    How do you decide what comments to allow and what comments to censor? I notice that you allow some of my comments and not others. It creates a weird gap in the flow of the conversation and often leaves your comments seemingly unchallenged. My comments are never rude, vulgar or contain foul language. I am hoping you simply did not see the comment and that is why it failed to appear.

  24. What nonsense. You can't make a case for any of what you just wrote. 32 people a day, on average, are murdered by a gun. Gun injuries and deaths, no matter to whom, are among the top causes of injury death in this country. Cops are killed regularly, as are children and innocent citizens. Mistakes are made by cops. Mistakes are made by law abiding gun owners. So maybe I should make a case for disarming all law abiding citizens for the murders they commit on a daily basis or for the accidental shootings. Does that make sense to you? Probably not.

  25. Mark- I am not at my computer full time. For all the comments you guys send, you are lucky I have time to publish the ones I do. Some are not cogent to the discussion or are rude or are accusatory or just repeating the same old stuff. I am one of the only people blogging on my side who even respond to comments. This is not a blog for you gun guys to have your own discussion, by the way. I know you would all love to take over the blog and make it your own discussion. I am aware that some of you blog about my comments. If someone asks a provacative question which is clearly fishing for an answer by me that can be used to attack me on their own blog, I don't publish it. Why bother? It doesn't lead anywhere. So since it is my own blog, and I can't be reading your comments all day long since I do have a life outside of gun issues, I publish what I can get to. It may seem irregular but some of the comments have actually come in while I was sleeping. Imagine that. How can I publish comments in order when you guys are sitting around in your pjs or underwear or whatever commenting on blogs and expect an immediate response? I hope that explains my publishing of comments and my frustrations about your ( not you personally) comments.

  26. I wanted to provide an update to this particular blog posting - New Jersey may lose it's 48th ranking as there was a large (15%) uptick in homicides last year. The article I am referencing is HERE

    This comes during the same year when stricter gun laws were implemented such as the 'One gun a month' law.

    I'm just saying ...

  27. Thanks, Mark. I did note this quote from the article you provided: " "The exact cause of changes in crime rates, including homicides, are complex and multifaceted," he said. "You’re seeing it differ from one location to another."" I don't know that there is a causal relationship. As I have pointed out before, though, we would need to know if these are all gun homicides? Also, N.J. still stands as one of the better states when it comes to overall gun deaths and gun homicides per 100,000.