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, January 20, 2011

Be careful out there bloggers and commenters on blogs

I have almost a daily "back and forth" with the gun rights crowd, or should I say, a small but committed and passionate group. Comments fly back and forth here. I like that we can have a back and forth and even sometimes a heated "discussion" about gun policy and guns. It's my word vs. "their" word. Sometimes I win, occasionally they win. I try to publish as many comments as I see fit and/or have the time to publish. But some are just downright ugly and even scary as to the beliefs publicly expressed. I keep telling them all that threats, violent talk, provocative or foul language and name calling will not be published on either side. Sometimes, as the blogger, I "edit" a few words out if I want to keep the rest of the comment.

So as I have been asking for civil discussion from the beginning, it is even more important after the Tucson shootings. There has been an awful lot of hyperbolic, threatening and violent talk in the media, and particularly among people who comment on blogs and articles. It is a mystery to me how people can let fly with some of the ideas submitted to comments sections. I keep asking those on my blog if this is how they talk to their friends and family. So I am saying to those who comment here, please be careful what you say and how you say it. This blogger got himself into very serious trouble for writing threatening words towards elected officials. Some things are just not O.K. to say in public. Your words are read by many and they mean different things to different people. We can disagree here but it is going to be with politeness and respect. It is also going to be with the facts and not hyperbole. It is going to be occasionally heated but with the idea in mind that we may each have our own opinions which does not necessarily make one of us right and one of us wrong. And it will not be devoid of emotion. Gun violence and guns evoke strong feelings on both sides. In the end, I am asking for common sense.


  1. I would like to respond in my own words...Alas, they are in adequate to the task, especially when placed aside those of other, more eloquent folks. Quoted from a blog I frequent:

    "In the wake of the recent shooting in Tuscon, Travis put up a post on his blog about how he didn't particularly feel like shedding any tears over the shooting of a politician, entitled "1 down, 534 to go!" Provocative? Inflammatory? Even tacky? Sure. But it was just speech. Political speech. The kind that's protected under the 1st Amendment, even when it's about politicians further up the food chain than congresscritters. (snip) ...Some people were so [perturbed], however, that they went to the authorities, and Travis received a knock on the door: It was the Arlington, MA po-po, there to relieve Mr. Corcoran of his guns, his ammunition, his firearms license, and his 2nd Amendment rights, all for having the temerity to use his 1st Amendment rights in the former Cradle of Liberty, now its grave." (emphasis and bracket mine)

    And a comment left in response to said post:

    "I have it on good authority from "a friend" that Massachusetts gun owners, even those that consider themselves otherwise stalwart and honorable men, are scared s[p]itless by the fact they their right to keep and bear arms is revocable for any reason, and sometimes choose silence over advocacy because of this."


    This is why we fight any proposal for licensing requirements so vehemently. The fact that the State is violating one right on the basis of the exercising of another should chill even you to the bone.

  2. Joan, the original post may or may not have been in good taste. This isn't about taste. Really this isn't about guns and has nothing to do with them beyond the silly licensing system in place for Massachusetts. This is straight up freedom of speech. He didn't call for violent attacks. He talked about them. You and others may not like that nor approve of it. Yet it is the speech we do not approve of and do not like that needs defending most of all.

    They say they are taking the "threat" seriously. However, if he is such a serious "threat" why wasn't he arrested? It doesn't sound so serious to me, does it to you?

    If we cannot say unpopular or non-mainstream things, what is left of freedom of speech? We either have Freedom of Speech, or we don't.

  3. Thanks, Japete. I see it at New Trajectory as well. Every day there are at least a half dozen, sometimes twice that number, of comments that I delete due to the same reasons you do. Respectful comments are far more likely to be posted (if I can get to them all in a timely manner).

  4. Anonymous, You've really got a slanted view of the whole thing, and one that's not a little paranoid. It is not the case at all about the good folks in MA that "their right to keep and bear arms is revocable for any reason." That's exaggerated nonsense. The guy in question received a knock on the door, not for any reason, but for a very specific one.

    Even the 1st Amendment is not a blanket protection to say anything you want. You know this. But to play the role of victims of a tyrannical government better serves your agenda, at least you think that. I don't. I think it just makes you sound foolish.

  5. Corcoran quotes the Declaration of Independence as a basis for his actions, yet the Declaration of Independence is only a historic document.

    As is the Articles of Confederation.

    The Constitution makes it clear that:

    This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. Article VI.

    Likewise, Article II, Section iii make it illegal to wage war upon the United States. Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951) puts paid to the insurrectionist theory:

    The obvious purpose of the statute is to protect existing Government, not from change by peaceable, lawful and constitutional means, but from change by violence, revolution and terrorism. That it is within the power of the Congress to protect the Government of the United States from armed rebellion is a proposition which requires little discussion. Whatever theoretical merit there may be to the argument that there is a “right” to rebellion against dictatorial governments is without force where the existing structure of the government provides for peaceful and orderly change. We reject any principle of governmental helplessness in the face of preparation for revolution, which principle, carried to its logical conclusion, must lead to anarchy. No one could conceive that it is not within the power of Congress to prohibit acts intended to overthrow the Government by force and violence. The question with which we are concerned here is not whether Congress has such power, but whether the means which it has employed conflict with the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.

    The First Amendment does not provide absolute protection for all speech.

    Likewise, the Second Amendment does not provide an absolute right to arms as the Heller-McDonald cases have shown.

    If he isn't responsible with his speech, he sure as hell isn't responsible enough to own a deadly weapon.

  6. "This is why we fight any proposal for licensing requirements so vehemently."

    Said blogger made a comment you find distasteful, but which directly threatened no one. Under established precedent, it's clearly protected speech.

    As a result of which comment, he's not been arrested, or charged, or even investigated. But he's had his right to keep and bear arms infringed and his property seized without compensation, simply because the law in MA grants the State arbitrary discretion in issuing and revoking licenses.

    This isn't a violation of the 2nd amendment, it's a violation of the 5th.

  7. Maybe we're obligated to allow the blogger to whom japete refers to express such nonsense, but we are not obligated to read it nor, having read it, are we obligated to let it to pass without opposing and condemning such violent and hateful ideas. It seems to me this is part of the work japete is doing and I applaud it.

  8. Alan,

    but we are not obligated to read it nor, having read it, are we obligated to let it to pass without opposing and condemning such violent and hateful ideas

    That works both ways Sir.

    The idea that I should have my rights restricted because of the actions of criminals is a hateful idea.

    We should oppose it.

  9. Alan,
    You are completely correct. It is your right to not read, disagree, and even condemn such speech, as you see fit, as much as it is someone's right to say it in the first place. So long as we stop there and do not go on to punish mere speech it is okay.

    The Declaration of Independence may or may not have legal force, however that never was the issue. Even without legal force it is perfectly logical to cite it for moral authority or principal. Additionally, it is unwise to conflate that which is illegal with that which is immoral. Possessing plants of certain types and origins is currently illegal. Is it also immoral? You are correct that attempting to overthrow the government is illegal. It would only make sense that even a just government would make laws prohibiting its own destruction. However, does it then follow that it would always and forever be immoral to do so? I'm not saying we're anywhere near that point in this country. I believe this is a special and wonderful place. Yet to say that it could never happen (or be necessary) here would be the height of naivety. As to limits on speech, if they are to be permitted at all they ought to be with the narrowest bounds possible. As I said before, either we have Freedom of Speech, or we do not.

    If their rights are not revocable for any reason or whim, then how do you explain how his rights just got suspended for mere speech? Contrary to Laci's choice of words below there were no actions involved in this. Merely speech. No direct threats were made, not even a call for revolution. You may not like it but in almost any other state he'd still have his guns and we wouldn't be talking about this right now.

    If we cannot say that which is unpopular, revolting, inflamatory, disgusting, and yes even immoral than the First Amendment has no meaning.

  10. The comment he made was in poor taste, but it was a bad joke condemning the shooter for shooting citizens if his target was a politician. He was making a joke with regards to the common "indiscriminately" shooting the politician, when if she was his target, he should have been more discriminate.

    Again, it was in bad taste, but no matter how you spin this was he threatening anyone. The fact that he does not have the right to say it and loses his 2nd Amendment right to OWN a firearm is bogus.

    I hope he sues and wins big in the courts making absolutely sure that MA is found to have an unconstitutional law that you have to be licensed to own a firearm and that license can be taken away for any reason.

    Almost makes me wonder if the blogger did this just so he could sue.

  11. And I find it offensive that the media and the public are ok with 500 SEIU union members showing up on the private lawn of someone's home with nary word, scaring the crap out of the man's child and anyone has cause to say something about what one blogger generically said. He didn't threaten anyone or show up on anyone's doorstep.

  12. It is not the case at all about the good folks in MA that "their right to keep and bear arms is revocable for any reason." That's exaggerated nonsense.

    Massachusetts General Law Chapter 140 Section 131 gives chiefs of police the authority to deny, and to revoke, a license to carry for any reason they see fit. It's not an exaggeration - it's state law.

  13. If he isn't responsible with his speech, he sure as hell isn't responsible enough to own a deadly weapon.

    But isn't it your position that no one is responsible enough to own a deadly weapon?

  14. atrius, one can cite anything they wish "for moral authority or principal".

    The communist manifesto is a good one.

  15. Atrius wrote the make-believe question, "how do you explain how his rights just got suspended for mere speech?"

    It may not have been "mere speech." It may have been threatening speech, or evidence of an unstable person who might be the next headline. Most people don't want a Libertarian Paradise in which anything goes. That would be anarchy. Most of us what the law enforcement folks to do their job, not just arriving in minutes when seconds count, but in prevention, wherever possible.

  16. Laci... Surely you're not equivocating the Communist Manifesto and the Declaration of Independence.. I presume you're not though you didn't bother to answer any point I made nor did you bother to detail exactly what crime was committed here.

    Mike, it is mere speech until action (or significant preparation for action). Whether most people want something or not shouldn't be the bar to whether or not we can speak of it, should it? I agree that most people would probably prefer a crime to be stopped prior to it occurring. However, if a true crime was committed why wasn't he arrested or charged with one? I again say, we may not like the message but that shouldn't translate to suppressing it. That is unless we're suddenly okay with gutting the First Amendment.