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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Can gun rights go too far?

Some on the side of gun rights insist that it is just a small group of folks who belong to those pesky militia groups and even the Sovereign Citizens, who I wrote about last week. I am wondering if they are right. The problem with the gun guys who might just be your average guy ( or girl) who wants to hunt and target shoot is that groups like this one keep making the headlines of the news. The other problem for my friends is that there are an increasing number of stories about shootings by "law abiding citizens" on the front pages. This makes their message harder to sell. If the NRA and its' members really want to sell their message, they are going to have to ignore some inconvenient facts. And try they do. But as I've said before, I don't make this stuff up. So, here's an Arizona Sheriff, from the linked story above, at a gathering of the Freedom Action National Conference last summer: "The most overt call for violence came from former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack. “My dear friends, I pray for the day that the first sheriff in this country [is] the one to fire the shot heard ’round the world and take out some IRS agents!” Mack said."

Really? He's kidding. No, I guess not. " Mack is famous in Patriot circles for joining a lawsuit against the federal government over the Brady Bill requirement that law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on prospective gun buyers. Mack, who draws inspiration from the late Cleon Skousen (an ex-FBI agent and constitutional fundamentalist whose disciples in law enforcement swear never to enforce an “unconstitutional” law), refused, saying that the feds had no right to order him to enforce their laws. He and several other sheriffs basically won their lawsuit — weakening the Brady provisions and scoring a win for advocates of state and local sovereignty." I should mention here that if you click on the link to Cleon Skousen, you will find that Glenn Beck is one of his faithful disciples. Extreme right wing rhetoric is replete with talk of violence coming from Beck and other conservative media types who use Skousen and others promoting violence to get their own messages across.

Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily: " “At some point, being conservative is not enough,” Farah said in comments kicking off the conference that recalled some of the hot talk at Valley Forge. “That’s when you need warriors.”" ( By the way, if you want to know where the right wing extremists and some of the gun nuts hang out on the internet, read some of the stuff on WND) Be worried folks. These may not just be a small group of people. Even if they are, they have guns and they are angry. What kind of nonsense is this? Common sense tells us that we should ignore these folks. I say ignore at your peril. The gun guys should be more afraid that these folks will ruin their run at controlling the message about guns. It could just backfire.


  1. It's worth pointing out that not all gun guys are right-wingers. I'm from a blue, east-coast state, and a good 50% of the people I shoot with, including myself, would not identify as right-wing. I'd even go so far as to suspect that I probably agree with you, or am more liberal, on many non-gun issues.

    What some wackos in Arizona think about the IRS has less than nothing to do with my views on firearms.

  2. If you're worried about the behavior of ill intentioned armed people in public, sound's like a good reason to be armed to me.

    Sadly, any sub-section of society is rarely represented by it's best tenants, rather tends to be represented by the loudest, most vocal, and most radical of the bunch.

  3. I'm happy to hear that. That is my experience with many here in Minnesota as well.

  4. Yes, Rob, I agree with that. My point is that sometimes the bad apples make the good apples look bad.

  5. Joan,

    I think you confuse publicity with statistics.

    Just because something is making the news more often doesn't mean it is actually happening more often.

    Consider the liberal bias of the media, the fact that more 'law abiding citizen stories' are being published could mean the papers are just pushing their agenda instead of accurately reporting the fact.

    Isn't that possible?

  6. Agreed Joan... But it works both ways..

    There are plenty on the anti-gun side that mis-represent statistics, add labels like "Cop-Killer" to target ammunition, and fail to accurately represent the characteristics of various firearms capabilities, etc. etc. etc....

    Those bad apples hurt the antis when "common sense" stuff is trying to get passed.

  7. So if a newspaper reports on actual shootings, that's pushing an agenda?

  8. Rob- I may agree with some of what you said. I don't think anyone is doing this on purpose. I think that there is true confusion about uses of guns and ammunition that many misunderstand. But surely there are those on my side who may have misrepresented some information.This is such a controversial and contentious issue that both sides ramp up the rhetoric to counter the other.

  9. " But surely there are those on my side who may have misrepresented some information."

    A good example is Dennis Henigan misquoting the 2A, by omitting the words "of the people."

  10. Joan,

    Nice strawman, but that isn't what I said and you know it.

    The question is -- are there more shootings or less?

    The question is -- are there more 'law abiding citizens' doing the shooting, less 'law abiding citizens' doing the shooting, about the same number of shootings ?

    The question is -- are the papers covering the stories more often because they are happening more often or are the papers covering the stories more often to push an agenda?

  11. That's interesting kaveman. I have a copy of Dennis's book, "Lethal Logic" I don't find that he left out "of the people" in his writings. What are you talking about?

  12. To anon, above- I'm pretty sure that is what I meant. Your question implies that newspapers are pushing an agenda by publishing stories about shootings. Isn't that what you meant? I can't see another meaning for " The question is -- are the papers covering the stories more often because they are happening more often or are the papers covering the stories more often to push an agenda?" And why would they not publish stories about shootings in their cities? They are local news about what is happening. To suggest that the media is pushing an agenda because they talk about the shootings is ludicrous.

  13. Really Joan,

    I find it incredible that you can't see the difference. Either it is naivety on your part or deliberate avoidance of the issue.

    Newspapers, and all media, decide what they are going to publish; wouldn't you agree?

    Not all the events that happen are covered so.

    There is some selection criteria each paper uses. That is where the bias comes in.

    Some papers will publish stories about 'law abiding citizens' killing people but won't publish stories about 'law abiding people' using firearms to defend themselves.

    It isn't just talking about the events either but how those events are covered.

    Several years back there was a reporter Rebecca Aguilar who covered a business man who shot and killed two thugs in 3 weeks.

    When her report aired, there was a terrific fire storm because of how she approached the issue.

    Instead of asking the man how it felt to have his home invaded twice in three weeks, instead of asking if he felt his life was in jeopardy by thugs half his age -- she asked if he was 'trigger happy'.

    That is bias.

    That is pushing an agenda.

    The story was reviewed and approved by several people before it made it onto the air -- the bias wasn't limited to just the reporter.

    That is pushing an agenda.

    Newspapers do the same thing but selecting the stories to cover and to cover in detail.

    Have you noticed that most newspapers have stopped covering vehicle burglaries, home robberies, muggings, and other violent crimes unless there is some sensational angle?

    That is bias.

    That is pushing an agenda.

    In 2009, an estimated 1,318,398 violent crimes occurred nationwide, a decrease of
    5.3 percent from the 2008 estimate.

    Violent crime is going down, but you say there are more reports of violence -- agenda or not?

    An estimated 15,241 persons were murdered nationwide in 2009, which is a 7.3 percent decrease from the 2008 estimate, a 9.0 percent decrease from the 2005 figure, and a
    2.2 percent decrease from the 2000 estimate.

    Homicides are decreasing but you say there are more reports -- agenda or not?


    Preliminary figures indicate that, as a whole, law enforcement agencies throughout the Nation reported a decrease of 6.2 percent in the number of violent crimes brought to their attention for the first 6 months of 2010 when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2009.


    The facts say that crime is decreasing -- if that is the case, why are newspapers covering crime more?

    Perhaps they have an agenda?

  14. "That's interesting kaveman. I have a copy of Dennis's book, "Lethal Logic" I don't find that he left out "of the people" in his writings. What are you talking about? "




  15. Mack has been a bit of a loose cannon, to put it mildly, for a while. It was actually Jay Printz that ended up being the case that went to the Supreme Court, though both were in the 9th Circuit. That was a federalism case. The problem with the Brady Act is that it commandeered state police powers for the purpose of administering a federal program. That is, and it should be, unconstitutional, no matter what purpose that power is being exercised for.

    To be honest, a lot of these types are attention whores. They act the way they do being because crazy gets their names in the newspapers and gains them infamy.

    Glenn Beck and Joseph Farrah both make a good living echoing what a lot of people feel. Beck I'm largely indifferent about, though I don't like his style. Farrah I outright dislike, because he makes his money feeding the tin foil hat crowd. I've heard Farrah speak before, and he's obviously an intelligent, articulate individual, and not at all a fire breather in real life, so I think he's actually a form of charlatan.

    The problem with a lot of political nuttery is that every once in a while you'll get people who take it seriously, and that's when you get bombings, political violence, and rioting. And that's not, by far, the exclusive providence of the right. But usually the people you're looking at, thinking are dangerous, are blowhards. The dangerous ones you're going to find about their them acting.

  16. So I am just not buying that newspapers report on shootings to push an agenda. What agenda would that be? Please explain what you think they are doing when they publish a story that is newsworthy. I understand that they pick their stories to cover but it's hard to avoid some of these shooting stories- like when the sheriff's deputy was shot to death. Shouldn't they have covered that? Or when someone shoots his wife and then himself in a domestic abuse case- should they not cover that? Or when someone walks into a fitness club, turns out the lights and opens fire- should the paper not cover that one? Or Virginia Tech? What should they not cover? If there is an agenda, it comes from not covering the shooting stories out there that I am aware of because of my involvement.

  17. In answer to your last question, perhaps the fact that the media is convering crime stories more is related to a reduction in crime? Calling attention to an issue sometimes gets people to act on something that needs attention. Also, in spite of crime in general going down, in some places, gun deaths have gone up.

  18. Come on everybody, This is nonsense. Dennis was interviewed and was stating that the FIRST part of the second amendment was being ignored. That is the emphasis in his book and was the emphasis in this video. It is totally disingenuous and false of you guys to say he left out some wording on purpose. He was not asked to quote the entire second amendment in this interview. Did you see the rest of the interview or know where it is so you can see the context of his words? He was not misrepresenting the second amendment. This is nonsense on so many levels to say that he left out part of it. You guys are so paranoid. Thanks for sending it. Now I know why you guys are so misinformed.

  19. "I don't find that he left out "of the people" in his writings."

    That is most likely because he hired an editor for his book.

    I am referring to his misquoting the 2A on air during the Heller case, seen here...


    Now if you would like to see Paul Helmke make the blatantly false claims that toy guns have more regulations on them than real guns or that the Brady Campaign is not trying to regulate guns or that gun manufacturers are now making real guns with orange-tipped barrels in order to make them look like toys, have at it...


    This is why we don't trust them and can't understand why you provide monies for them.

    This is also why their influence in the Halls of Congress is near non-existent.

  20. Joan,

    The agenda being pushed by many newspaper - heck let's just say the media in general -- is one of pro gun control.

    There aren't many editorials out there pushing for less restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.

    The media is covering those stories because 'if it bleeds it leads' and because it fits with the agenda they want to push.

    The same media could be covering more stories about defensive gun uses (DGU) but they don't.
    Partly because most DGUs aren't 'sexy', there is no blood, the is no sensation in "another rape was averted by an armed female" or "another store robbery was stopped by the armed clerk".

    What you are unwilling to admit (or accept) is that the media is pushing an agenda -- the same agenda you are pushing.

    In Arlington Texas, my city; there was a recent domestic violence shooting where a girlfriend, a police officer were killed by a thug who later committed suicide.

    Some of the media are reporting on his extensive criminal background -- most aren't.


    Why aren't they covering the fact the thug was a prohibited person and wasn't able to legally own a firearm?

    Why aren't they reporting on the fact that he could have been sent to jail (in 2004) on federal firearm charges which would have mandated a 10 year sentence -- but he wasn't?

    That double murder wouldn't have happened if this thug was still in jail where he belonged - so why isn't the media jumping all up and down over that?

    Because it doesn't fit their agenda of pushing gun control.

  21. Please everybody. Don't send me edited videos of parts of speeches made by people who are involved with the Brady Campaign. I actually recommend the second video however. I found it interesting that Laura Ingraham, even though the person who put this biased video together with the title "Laura Ingraham vs Brady Campaign on Airsoft guns" didn't know too much about guns. She is a second amendment person and had never heard of airsoft guns. She also called the Heller Case the Miller Case in error. Furthermore, she and Paul Helmke actually agreed on quite a few things and Paul was being about as reasonable as someone can be. He's right. Toy guns are more of a concern than real guns. I posted about that a few weeks ago. Even Iraq is wanting to ban toy guns- more on that later. I don't think this video shows what you guys think it shows but I'm sure you are sending it around the blogosphere as evidence of...? evidence of what, exactly? I just don't see it.

  22. "
    What you are unwilling to admit (or accept) is that the media is pushing an agenda -- the same agenda you are pushing." What" We are living in parallell universes here. The media is in no way pushing my agenda by reporting on stories in the news about shootings. I would actually love to have them go after the fact that it is too easy for criminals to get guns in our country and we should do something about it. Then they would be pushing my agenda. I'm done with this ridiculous conversation.

  23. The lady doth protest too much,mMethinks.
    Hamlet, act 3, scene 2

    It is not 'nonsense'.

    You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
    Inigo Montoya, The princess Bride

    It is clear as day that he did, indeed, 'leave out' three words. Now, as to whether or not such oversight(?) was intentional or not may be up for debate, but as I'm fond of saying Words Mean Things and when you say things like:

    "This is nonsense on so many levels to say that he left out part of it."

    you give us valid reason to question the veracity of other statements you may make.

    Also, in my own personal opinion it is quite clear that he's placing emphasis on the first part (militia, and State) and almost mumbling the 'Right (of the people) to keep and bear arms' part in a rush.

  24. f you ever needed proof that the media ignore or suppress stories that don’t fit their anti-gun agenda, here it is.

    Forget the old New York Times slogan “All the News that’s Fit to Print.” When it comes to the conflict between your firearms, your freedom and the media’s bias against both, their slogan ought to be “Only the News that Fits, We Print.”

    How else could the national establishment media outlets--right down to the last one--have completely ignored a recently released FBI report that demolishes many of the anti-gun articles of faith that they’ve printed and parroted without question or conscience for years?
    The 176-page report is titled “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on America’s Law Enforcement Officers.”

    Although it was written by three of the FBI’s most respected researchers--recipients of the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Award for Research--and although it represents the culmination of more than 15 years of inquiry into violence against law enforcement officers, the report was received by the media with abject silence.

    Why? Maybe because, among other things, the FBI report shows that many of the media’s banal bromides regarding guns and crime are false:

    * Criminals do not get their guns through gun shows.
    * Criminals do not find “loopholes” in the law through which they get their guns.
    * Anti-gun laws do not stop criminals from getting guns; in fact, they don’t even appear to slow criminals down.


    The fast responses of Mikael Gross and Tracy Bridges undoubtedly saved many lives. Mikael was outside the law school returning from lunch when Peter Odighizuwa started shooting. Tracy was in a classroom waiting for class to start. When the shots rang out, chaos erupted. Mikael and Tracy were prepared to do something more constructive: Both immediately ran to their cars and got their guns, then approached the shooter from different sides. Thus confronted, the attacker threw his gun down.

    Isn’t it remarkable that out of 218 unique news stories (from a LexisNexis search) in the week after the event, just four mentioned that the students who stopped the shooter had guns? Here is a typical description of the event from the Washington Post: “Three students pounced on the gunman and held him until help arrived.” New York’s Newsday noted only that the attacker was “restrained by students.” Many stories mentioned the law-enforcement or military backgrounds of these student heroes, but virtually all of the media, in discussing how the killer was stopped, failed to mention the students’ guns.


  25. Its a ridiculous point of attack and full of only the standard talking points on behalf of the BC. Except at 3:26. Helmke states that he's not out to regulate guns...huh? HUH? He said THAT?!?!? I'll be referencing that statement in the future as well.

    FWIW. I shoot just about every type of legal firearm under the sun on a regular basis -- and I don't know a ton about airsoft guns.

    Thanks for giving me something else to look into!

  26. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/12/27/mexico.american.killed/index.html

    Just an FYI as to the character of the Mexican Army (#1 source of Cartel Firearms).

  27. "The media is in no way pushing my agenda by reporting on stories in the news about shootings. I would actually love to have them go after the fact that it is too easy for criminals to get guns in our country and we should do something about it."

    So, you would love for them to distort the truth more than they do?

    The simple truth is that the mainstream media, as a matter of policy, ignores reports of defensive gun use. There are plenty of local stories involving guns - those that are chosen for national coverage are selected so as to encourage and promote an irrational hysteria about guns.

    There are tens of thousands of incidents of defensive gun use, every year in the US. More than a thousand make the local papers, every year. None of these make the national news.

  28. Thanks for that Pat. That is inexcusable and a tragedy for sure. I don't know a lot about airsoft guns but I'm learning as well.

  29. Well let's see now. I wonder if, anon, Fox news only reports on certain stories. Check it out. I'm sure you will find that they don't report on the shootings that some of the other news sources do.

  30. There's always some nuts out there who self righteously think they have the moral authority to try and overthrow a legitimately elected government. i.e. the Weathermen and their bombings in the 60's/70's. In a nation of 300 million souls you'll have some number of idiots on both sides of any issue.

    But just as there are stories about people being killed with guns, there are stories of people defending themselves and their families with firearms. And specifically in terms of CCW holders, there are on average more CCW stories of defense than of criminal assault. Those don't usually end up on the front page, but they are common and becoming more common as we continue to free up where law abiding citizens are allowed to carry their arms -- hopefully Wisconsin will join the free states this year.

    I'm afraid there are many inconvenient facts that anti-gun groups have to deal with as well. Such as the Constitution, human nature ... and first and foremost they must concentrate only on gun deaths and not care about deaths by any other means (basically they have to hate guns more than they love humans in general and not care how many victims they create to get guns out of the hands of people like me).

    To sum up ... I don't allow a very small number of murderers to turn me against the empowerment of civilian arms ownership. For one thing, I honestly believe the majority of those people would find the arms they need to carry out their violence anyway (a full third of all murders currently in the country are non-gun), and gun control will only have the effect of disarming people like myself. And why would I be fighting to do that?

    When you're talking about any liberty given The People ... there's always danger involved. Whether it's racists spreading violent hatred via the 1st amendment or murderers and rapists hiding behind the 4th and 5th amendments; but while I often read about both of those situations, I'm not against those liberties either.

    In fact, I'll take liberty every time, particularly when I think the benefit of the alternative is minimal or negligible. As Ben Franklin said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"

  31. See http://thearmedcitizen.com/wp/category/armed

  32. " They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"
    It sounds like there are different interpretations of this one and you have chosen yours. I don't agree with this Franklin statement and it sounds like there are others, when googling, who feel the same way. But I know that is what you guys believe which is O.K. It's just a different way of looking at the world and it doesn't necessarily mean that Franklin was right.

    Thanks, by the way, for providing me with the "armed citizen" site. I'm sure there are many legitimate self defense cases out there.

  33. "I don't agree with this Franklin statement"

    Neither do I. It's not that those who give up liberty to obtain security don't deserve liberty or security, it's that they're not going to get either liberty or security, regardless of what they might deserve.

    There are certain responsibilities that you simply cannot delegate to government, regardless of how much you might wish that you could.

    Personal security is one of them.

  34. Sorry jedge, it was Stephen who used the quote.

  35. Make sure you check out their youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/TheArmedCitizen), it has a number of local news stories of armed self defense.

  36. Joan, even Michael Moore, in "Bowling For Columbine" noted that while murders have gone down the news coverage of murders have gone up.

    Why is that? It could be simply that "if it bleeds it leads" news reporting, or it could be that since the majority of news agencies have a liberal bias they might be pushing an agenda, no matter how hard they try to maintain balance and objectivity. Even Harvard did a study an concluded that there was a "liberal media bias" in most mainstream American news agencies. Harvard's study only confirmed UCLA's study on media bias.

    Michael Moore and Harvard aren't exactly "Fox News" when it comes to "conservative thinking".

  37. The other problem for my friends is that there are an increasing number of stories about shootings by "law abiding citizens" on the front pages.

    1) Is the number of stories actually increasing? For example, how many front-page stories about killings by "law abiding citizens" were published in 2010 vs. 2009? 2005? 2000?

    You haven't presented any numbers, so it may be possible that you just happen to be noticing more of such stories lately. This is the "red car effect;" you go looking for red cars, and you'll suddenly find lots of them on the highway.

    2) How strong is the relationship between the number of front page stories and the actual crime rate? I think you're assuming that more stories = more crimes (i.e. that the correlation is positive and high). That isn't necessarily true.

    For example, it could very well be possible that the level of reporting stays the same even if the crime rate decreases, merely because there are still the same number of pages in a newspaper and the same number of hours to fill on TV. Whether there are 100 murders or 1000 murders, we may find that there's a front page murder story every week just because that sells papers.

    I don't know the answers to these questions; they are outside my area of expertise and I haven't done the research. Maybe you have, since you're making assertions on the subject? If so, I'd be curious to know what you've found out.

    Chris from AK

  38. "The problem with the gun guys who might just be your average guy ( or girl) who wants to hunt and target shoot is that groups like this one keep making the headlines of the news."

    japete, you must think the average American is a complete idiot if you truly believe they're going to look at violent extremists and conflate them with the average gun owner.

    "I actually recommend the second video however."

    I recommend the second video as well because it shows how effortlessly Paul Helmke can lie when @ 2:28 he falsely declares that the Brady Campaign isn't a gun ban organization.

  39. You must believe it. There's nothing more I can say on the matter. If believing that I and other organizations are out to get your guns continues the myth that you guys have in order to continue your own lies about how we are going to ban your guns, then it is what it is and nothing I say will apparently change your mind.

  40. Joan,

    You said, not very long ago that you would continue to push for ever more restrictive gun laws until there were no firearm related murders.

    Didn't you say that?

    Now -- in simple terms please (because I'm a simple guy) explain how you can push for ever restrictive laws that don't lead to a gun ban?

    As long as there are firearms in society, there will be firearm related murders.

    That is human nature.

    What should of a complete ban and confiscation of firearms will accomplish your stated goal of Zero firearm related murders?

  41. Sorry, that last line should start "What short of a complete ban..."


  42. What short of a complete ban and confiscation of firearms ...

    You would have to include police, military, and law enforcement in those bans...

    Even our elite FBI loses between 100-200 guns a year. Many of which turn up being used in crimes.

  43. You're entitled to write whatever you want. I'm entitled to my firearms. You want a society where my right to own firearms is removed because of the failure of others to obey the law. How about I take your right to say what you want away because others misuse their right to say/write what they want?

    Don't like that, eh? I didn't think so. Here's a fact for you to remember, one which the police already know. The right to bear arms in this country is the tripwire for the second American Civil War. Trigger it and all Hell breaks loose.

    The day ANY government, Federal, state or local, decides it can come to people's homes and start confiscating firearms on a wholesale basis is the day police start getting sniped everywhere they go. That doesn't mention the ones who will die on a lot of front doorsteps. Lots of police officers will resign on the spot when asked to enforce such a law. Many others will after the first reports of armed resistance. Then, japete, you'll have the worst of all possible worlds: you'll be unarmed, the police will be in total disarray, and you'll be at the mercy of every thug and predator in your vicinity.

    Think you might want a gun to protect yourself then?

  44. Whao there anon. Are you sure you want to say these things publicly? Are we talking about anarchy here? " Don't like that, eh? I didn't think so. Here's a fact for you to remember, one which the police already know. The right to bear arms in this country is the tripwire for the second American Civil War. Trigger it and all Hell breaks loose."