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.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reflections on civility and violence

Can't shootings take a holiday? I was planning to write about all of the gun incidents that I have read about just this week. But it was depressing and no one wants to hear about them this week anyway. I guess I am not the only one thinking about gun issues this pre-Christmas week. This article from Huffington Post contributing writer, Cliff Schecter the title of which speaks volumes. " Guns of Christmas Future" puts into words what many are thinking. What is going on in this country? Guns are everywhere. Incidents of shootings and people being held hostage in public places are in the news almost daily. Some have been broadcast in the media and social networking sites such as the one of the Panama City School Board meeting disrupted by a crazed gunman who had a bone to pick with the board and then shot himself. Why?

Schecter is getting at something more serious in his article. He is concerned about what is going to happen as the gun lobby persists in wanting guns to be a natural part of our every day lives. He is concerned about the gun culture in our country and the anger spawned by the media and political discourse. With 24 hour media and lightning fast internet, words get around before we have a chance to digest what they mean. Blogging is causing a lot of people to become instant "experts" and instant "critics". Sometimes when I post something on my blog, it is a matter of minutes before someone responds and starts right in with remarks to discredit what I have just written. And so sometimes I respond back so fast that I can hardly think about the comments made. And we are off to the races, countering each other and trying to prove or disprove something.

It is also upsetting to me to read comments on internet articles and blogs for their anger, rudeness and vendettas against the writer. Anonymity allows people to foment angrily about just about anything. This has spawned a culture that promotes and accepts violent talk as a normal part of life. Sometimes violent talk turns to violent action. What we need is a national civility project. An organization in our city has started a "Speak Your Peace" civility project. Schools and governmental entities have adopted the program. From the website of the project: " By elevating our level of communication and avoiding personal attacks and general stubbornness, we can avoid unhealthy debate. This will lead to a more effective democracy, and help maintain our sense of community by increasing civic participation. We hope to reach not only elected officials and political groups but also regular people, like neighborhood organizations, church groups and even the parents on the sidelines of youth athletic contests. We are not just targeting those who are uncivil, but those who allow uncivilized behavior to happen."

Like Schecter, I am concerned about where we are going with all of the violent talk; with all of the public gun incidents; with the radicalization of some who have formed militia groups and have stockpiled their guns in case of an insurrection against their own government. Crazy and scary stuff.. So in the face of all of this, can we have a peaceful holiday season? I hope so. I will reflect on past Christmases with family members who are no longer alive to celebrate in the present Christmas celebration. I have hopes that future Christmases will lead to more common sense about violent confrontations ending in shootings.

Have a nice holiday everyone. Enjoy your families and friends and take a rest from thinking about guns. I plan to take a break from blogging until after Christmas.

38 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas to you Joan.

    As a gun owner, and self defense activist, I cannot stop thinking about guns, as they are an everyday part of life. But I do hope the same as you do that we can have a safe, and happy holidays without any needless deaths.

    See you after Christmas! :)

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  2. Have a nice holiday. Not taking a break from blogging myself, but I'll probably be posting lighter. Not much happens politically during the holidays anyway.

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  3. Merry Christmas as well!

    I will say, though ... it is ironic that in the same post that you complain about a lack of civil discourse you link to an article with the statement "the NRA's mission to fight for the rights of criminals, the mentally ill and even terrorists to have access to guns. I join in your general belief about civil discourse, but don't see it happening as even mainstream news source talking heads have devolved into attacking public figures not on their views, but by calling them names (i.e. Sarah Palin on MSNBC).

    I also hope for more common sense gun laws in the future, and have high hopes for the politicians we elected in the last election to pass such laws and get rid of some of the silly gun laws we already have.

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  4. Is it ironic that you mention the Panama shooting but fail to point out that it was another's firearm that stopped him? Yes, he shot himself in the end but who knows what would have happened without that security guard forcing him to change his tune. He gave up!

    Willing to put a program into schools about how to speak your peace, but when talking about firearm education "teachers already have to much to teach"?

    Have a merry Christmas, Joan. As always, I am at peace. What do I have to fear?

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  5. Merry Christmas, Joan. Enjoy your holidays, and we'll see you in the New Year!

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  6. Merry Christmas Joan. Matthew 5:9

    A poignant posting on constructive debate!

    Egg nog and Christmas cookies for all -- and to all a good night!

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  7. The civility program is not necessarily taught but rather a part of the school culture with signs and posters around and encouraging civility in relationships among children. It is not part of the curriculum as such.

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  8. There is fear on both sides. Some extreme pro-gun types stockpile guns, ammunition, and food waiting for the apocalypse or at the very least, radical changes from a liberal government. Some extreme anti-gun types fear that guns will be everywhere and increase the number of suicides, murders, and overall chaos in society.

    Me? I just want to thank you for inspiring me to think and I want to sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas!

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  9. Usually, citizenship programs like that are taught or emphasized in the classroom, otherwise they are useless. They take up just as much time as an Eddie Eagle program would, in my experience.

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  10. You ask for civility, but then:

    "What is going on in this country? Guns are everywhere. Incidents of shootings and people being held hostage in public places are in the news almost daily. Some have been broadcast in the media and social networking sites such as the one of the Panama City School Board meeting disrupted by a crazed gunman who had a bone to pick with the board and then shot himself. Why?"

    Why are you associating ordinary, law-abiding gun owners with these acts of criminal violence?

    "He is concerned about what is going to happen as the gun lobby persists in wanting guns to be a natural part of our every day lives"

    Guns are a natural part of our every day lives, and have been for more than 350 years. Why do you persist in attempting to change that? To portray gun ownership as something unusual and perverse?

    "So in the face of all of this, can we have a peaceful holiday season? I hope so."

    What are you willing to do, to make it so? To stop blaming gun owners for the actions of criminals? To stop demonizing the NRA?

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  11. "The civility program is not necessarily taught but rather a part of the school culture with signs and posters around and encouraging civility in relationships among children. It is not part of the curriculum as such. "

    In just briefly browsing that site it seems there's a lot of information for one to absorb if they are going to try and incorporate those measures into their discourses. I can't imagine something like that being implemented in a school setting without at least ONE introductory class or (more likely) school wide assembly for a presentation followed up with an hour or so of classroom reinforcement. I see also that the site has a page of what appears to be 'reminder' posters to help maintain awareness too.

    Kind of like DARE, McGruff, Smokey Bear, or a Look Both Ways campaign. Laudable. However I can't help but point out what seems to be a bit of hypocrisy, when groups like the Brady Campaign, and others vociferously oppose similar educational efforts with regard to firearms safety. Why is that? Though I can offer no proof, I believe it's because they fear that a program like Eddie Eagle will promote and/or glorify gun use which, given their agenda, is understandable I suppose. Misguided, but understandable.

    Does DARE glorify drugs?
    Does Smokey glorify fire?
    Does McGruff glorify crime?
    Does Look Both Ways glorify jaywalking?

    Why then the opposition to teaching younglings:

    STOP!
    DON'T TOUCH!
    LEAVE THE AREA!
    TELL AN ADULT!

    Or is the message OK, but the objection simply that the [i]source[/i] of the message is the NRA and not some Government or nebulous non-profit group?

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  12. I have said many times on this blog that I am not blaming gun owners for the actions of criminals. My intent is to highlight incidents when they happen whether they are perpetrated by criminals or law abiding citizens. I blame the NRA for stopping some good things from happening and for weilding such outsized influence on our elected leaders. They are one of the top and most powerful lobby groups in this country and manage to scare the public and elected leaders alike. Gun ownership is not perverse or unusual but we now have more guns per person on average than we have seen before. There are almost 311 million people living in the U.S. There are approximately 250 million firearms owned by 70-80 million people. The gun death rate is the highest in the civlized world of countries not at war. Since more guns are out there, more problems will ensue. It is inevitable that shootings will happen on purpose or accidentally. I want to reduce that number of shootings. You know that is what I am about. If highlighting shooting incidents makes you uncomfortable, I can't help that. They are what they are.

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  13. Perhaps you guys should be asking the NRA to stop villifying the Brady Campaign and other gun violence prevention organizations, by the way. It goes both ways.

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  14. Good grief, jedge. I mentioned the program as something to emulate. I am not going to engage in a stupid back and forth argument about the merits of the program and how it is done. That is not the point. Take a vacation and enjoy your holiday.

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  15. Joan, you say that we have the highest rate of gun death in the civilized world not at war... Either those words don't mean what you think they mean or you don't consider Mexico or Brazil "civilized". Not sure.

    Either way, as Michael Moore noted in "Bowling for Columbine", "even though murder is down, reports of murder are up."

    But when you consider the 10,000 actual unjustified homicides (as opposed to suicides and justified homicides) that averages around 27 people a day. That is a lot of news stories. But think about it this way, if our murder rate was 365, that still gives us a story a day.

    I blame the media. If they didn't glorify violence by reporting on it so much people obviously wouldn't be violent. It is only common sense.

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  16. You can blame the media if you want. I have other places to lay some blame. What is a justified homicide, by the way? It's actually 32 a day for homicides. As to rest of what you say, I am not going to comment. We have been around about this before so no sense in getting ourselves all in a tizzy over the same old stuff as you would just love to do. Merry Christmas.

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  17. Apparently some of you didn't get the message of this post. Happy holidays everyone. Chill out.

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  18. jdege in all sincerity asks, "Why are you associating ordinary, law-abiding gun owners with these acts of criminal violence?"

    Let me play along. It's because too many of these acts of criminal violence are being done by law-abiding gun owners, or at least folks who were law-abiding until the moment of the incident in question. And let's not forget all the "hidden criminals" among you whom you do nothing about. When they get caught doing something stupid, you cry, he's not one of us, he's a criminal.

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  19. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, dearest and most courageous japete.

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  20. I don't think we're a single cohesive entity like you think we are.

    I've come to the conclusion (after reading your blog) that the BC isn't represented by one single cohesive entity either.

    There are extremes on both sides. There are nutjobs on both sides.

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  21. A civil society cannot have gun wackos spray-firing their pistol grip assault weapons from the hip.

    These grips are a great threat to our nation, our children, and our way of life. The Brady Campaign must do more to purge our society of these deadly assault weapons.

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  22. " Exactly. Why is it you're so eager to tar an entire group for the criminal acts of individuals? Some black kid shoots a convenience store clerk, some Arab blows up a pizza parlor, and you're full of "we can't judge a group by the actions of a few, that'd be racism". But blaming law-abiding gun owners for the violent acts of criminals - most of whom are disabled from legally owning a firearm in the first place - you have no problem with.

    You talk about the need for civility, while continuously exhibiting the most profound prejudice imaginable.

    You start with the assumption that guns are bad. That gun owners are somehow perverse. And then you wonder why gun owners won't listen to anything you say. "

    First of all, you are putting words in my keyboard. I have never said that all guns are bad. That's you taking something from what I wrote and interpreting in your own filtering system. I have also never said that gun owners are perverse. I have said that guns are dangerous. I have said that sometimes gun owners shoot people. If you interpret that to be the way you word it, above, that is your prejudice against me and what I stand for. As to the other things you said, we will need to do some serious fact checking. I plan to do that in the new year. You guys keep saying that it is mostly or only criminals who shoot others. I say that from the incidents I post, that is not true. I didn't make them up. They are what is happening. Many of the cases are people who, like my own brother-in-law, were not criminals until they pulled the trigger. But, jedge, we have gone around about this before. It's just not getting us anywhere. I plan to do some research to find out what is true and what is not true and not just keep getting "facts" from you guys that are different from my "facts." In the end, what difference does it make? Too many people are getting shot every day. I am working to prevent that if I can and you guys just don't see it the same way.

    Merry Christmas- take a break and give me a break and don't respond to this one again.

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  23. Good night jedge. I am having some nice family time and intend to do so for the next few days. You should, too.

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  24. Don't write a post that tries to make an argument if you don't want people to dispute the comments...

    Have a happy holiday! We are preparing for an outdoor adventure. A day of snowshoeing out to a cabin and then maybe northern lights and if we're lucky some fresh bunny stew.

    Merry Christmas.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  25. Chris- enjoy your day. We have fresh snow here as well. I don't mind refuting but sometimes comments are unproductive and done just to provoke with no other purpose in mind. Also, there are times when one can read something, disagree and then move on without being moved to pick every detail apart. But that's just me.

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  26. I recently read "Bloodlands" by Timothy D. Snyder. The book is a history of Northern Europe, between Berlin and Moscow during the years 1935 to 1945. At this time and in this place, the dream of many was real ("no guns in private hands, only the government."). About 20 million people lost their lives (not including those deaths solely attributable to combat).

    As I read it, I could not help but think, what if there had been a significant number of firearms in private hands there? People were shot in their homes, herded to pits and shot, loaded into transports and gassed, worked to death or starved, etc. In some places nearly all food stores were stolen by police and politically favored groups, leaving residents to starve. It is really difficult for me to imagine that these atrocities could have been carried out if a large segment of the population had been armed.

    I highly recommend this book.

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  27. Hank- a supposition on your part with no way of proving that it would have been true.

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  28. Chance of the Jews successfully resisting the Gestapo and SS without firearms = 0. Chance of doing so with firearms = some number greater than 0. Check out the history of the Bielski partisans to see what I mean (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielski_partisans)--this is the story that the movie "Defiance" is based on.

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  29. True, but these type of government-run mass killings have now happened in quite a few places. It seems to me that all of these occurrences have been in places where private firearm ownership is severely limited. Is there a case of this happening somewhere where private firearm ownership is widespread?

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  30. Yes, anon. I've seen "Defiance"- great movie by the way. It is a pretty rare thing and those folks were an exception. Notice that they got many of their weapons by stealing them.

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  31. Yes it is a fairly rare thing to successfully resist tyranny through armed means, because any crackpot dictator worth his salt knows that he can't let his people keep guns. And what step always precedes such mass victim disarmament? That's right--licensing and registration.

    My point here isn't where their guns came from, it's that with those guns they had success in resisting the mass murdering regime that claimed the lives of some six million of their kindred.

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  32. That wasn't my point either actually. My main point is that you can't say for sure whether if all of those people had had guns, they could have stopped the Nazi army with its soldiers and its military equipment from subjecting the masses of people that they did. I am not going to re-litigate the Second World War here. We've gone around about this once before. I am not even sure how this discussion got going. You guys have a way of distracting from the real and present issues before us. I am not going to keep going with this one. You have one set of facts and you think you have proofs and I don't believe them because they can't be proven.

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  33. "Check out the history of the Bielski partisans to see what I mean (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielski_partisans)--this is the story that the movie "Defiance" is based on."

    For a similar story closer to home: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/01/16/jacksutin/

    "you can't say for sure whether if all of those people had had guns, they could have stopped the Nazi army"

    No, you can't. You can make a good argument that they couldn't have. But the Polish Jews who grabbed guns and hid in the woods survived - their relatives who stayed in the ghettos mostly died.

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  34. Yes, jedge. I said I had seen the movie.

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  35. Hello everyone!! I am not going to publish any more comments about the Nazis and the Jews and whether or not they could have saved themselves with guns. The War is over.

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  36. Those who don't learn from the mistakes of the past are domed to repeat them.

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  37. "doomed" -- stupid smart phone.

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  38. Yes- Pat- that happens to me as well. Smart phones don't always work like our fingers intend them to.

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