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, January 18, 2011

Chasing windmills

It has been said that the "gun control" advocates are just chasing windmills or whistling in the wind while we ask for common sense restrictions about guns, ammunition, people who can buy guns, people who can carry guns, where they can carry loaded guns and how people get their guns. Meanwhile, there's a lot of hot air out there. Here is just one example of that in the first statement the NRA has had since the Tucson shootings. From the statement on the NRA-ILA website: "  Obviously, this proposal would be ignored by anyone who intends to harm a government official. But it would impose extraordinary burdens on honest gun owners, creating potentially hundreds of square miles of roving "gun free" areas throughout the United States." If one actually examines that statement, the air goes out of the balloon. 

Can the NRA explain the "extraordinary burdens" that would be imposed on anyone by not allowing their guns to have 30 round ammunition magazines? On the face of it, it just does not make any sense. Secondly, what does "roving "gun free" areas" in the U.S. mean? How could restricting the number of rounds in ammunition clips leave us with gun free zones? And what does that mean anyway? Since there is not a nation-wide gun ban suggested here, unless you consider restricting some types of assault weapons and/or ammunition not needed for hunting and self defense to be a total ban, what could this mean? Does anyone bother to question what these words actually mean? 

So the gun lobby thinks it's a good idea to allow people to use 30 round ammunition magazines. Meanwhile people like me must be whistling in the wind, chasing windmills, naive, polyanna-ish, etc. to find this type of gun magazine dangerous and unnecessary. Nonetheless, we are continuing to hear about possible measures to restrict, even if in small ways, people who should have guns or what type of ammunition magazines should be allowed in the market place. And polling data is interesting. This latest Washington Post/ABC poll shows: " Like similar violent events in the past, the Arizona tragedy did not generate greater support for tougher gun-control measures in general. But a majority in the new poll - 57 percent - said they support a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazine clips of the type used by the shooter in Tucson." The fact that 57% support this measure right now is significant given the political climate. Though I find this number to be low, still:" Overall, 52 percent favor stricter gun-control laws, little changed over the past few years and down from where it was after the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007." These numbers do indicate a small majority in favor of stricter gun control laws.

Also more good news is that Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, agrees with his colleague, New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, that the names of more seriously mentally ill people should be sent to the FBI to be entered into the NICS. And Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana just said he would support an Assault Weapons Ban.

Are we all whistling in the wind or chasing windmills here? Or " How many deaths will it take 'til he knows that too many people have died"? This verse as sung by Peter,Paul and Mary in "Blowin' In the Wind"  still has meaning today. Call me too hopeful but just maybe common sense will break out in our country after the shootings in Tucson. There are indications that the winds of change may in the atmosphere.


  1. "How many times must the cannon balls fly
    Before they’re forever banned?"

    Truly appropriate!

  2. "Secondly, what does "roving "gun free" areas" in the U.S. mean?"

    Arbitrarily established 'zones', which are not in a fixed knowable location, where it would be illegal to be in posession of a firearm.

    "How could restricting the number of rounds in ammunition clips leave us with gun free zones?"

    It doesn't, but then that's not the proposal that was being referred to either.

    "Does anyone bother to question what these words actually mean? "

    Some of us don't need to question the words. It seems quite plain to me that the statement was made in reference to the proposal to restrict firearms possession within 1000' of government officials. Since a person (gov't official) never remains in a fixed location, they would be, by definition, mobile...AKA 'roving'. I have yet to see any provision exempting liability on a firearms possessor should the 'roving' GFZ come to them. As an example...a motorcade passes by while Joe "Lawfull Sidearm Carrier" Innocent is standing at a bus stop. Bingo!....Violation.

    If you think that's a silly example, then I would point out that there have been cases of people being prosecuted federally for violating minimum distance restrictions to migrating whales, when the whales surfaced without warning too near to their boat.

    Stupid? yes. Unprecedented? no.

    "Can the NRA explain the "extraordinary burdens" that would be imposed on anyone by not allowing their guns to have 30 round ammunition magazines?"

    Is this a trick question? I can't help but wonder since it plainly obvious to anyone who actually reads the article at the link you provided that such was not the 'argument' made by the NRA statement which specifically addresses the proposal by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.)

    The 'extraordinary burden' referred to would be requiring that lawful gun owners know at every moment of their day exactly where all affected government officials are in relation to themselves, and alter their travels accordingly to avoid the 1000' firearms exclusion zone surrounding said government officials as they moved about their daily activities.

  3. Joan, the roving gun free areas refers to a bill proposed by Rep. Peter King (R) of New York making it illegal to carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain government officials, such as lawmakers.

    If I happen to be walking over the Broadway Bridge legally carrying a firearm in strict accordance to state and county laws and Rep. Blumenauer happens to be jogging over the bridge at that same time unannounced, then I would instantly be violating this new law. If I happen to be transporting my firearms from my home to my truck in my driveway before heading to the range for practice, and Rep. Dembrow happens to be riding his bicycle past my home unannounced, then I would instantly be violating this new law. I can immediately imagine hundreds of scenarios where otherwise law-abiding citizens would suddenly become criminals under this new law. The NRA-ILA is correct in its assessment.

  4. Japete, the “roving gun free zones” comment was not in reference to high-cap magazine bans, but the proposal to not allow guns within 1000ft of a federal official.

    Japete: “Can the NRA explain the "extraordinary burdens" that would be imposed on anyone by not allowing their guns to have 30 round ammunition magazines?”

    The proposal doesn’t allow 11 round magazines, not just 30. If you substitute “not allowing their guns to have 11 round ammunition magazines”, it doesn’t sound quite the same. It would absolutely be an extraordinary burden to run out of ammo after expelling 10 rounds while your life in still in danger.

  5. Joan,

    I believe the NRA is commenting on Rep Peter King's (D-NY) proposed legislation which would create a 1000' gun free zone around many federal officials (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/11/peter-king-strict-gun-control_n_807323.html). The NRA statement said:

    Also, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) proposed to ban possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of the President, Vice President, Members of Congress or federal judges. Obviously, this proposal would be ignored by anyone who intends to harm a government official. But it would impose extraordinary burdens on honest gun owners, creating potentially hundreds of square miles of roving "gun free" areas throughout the United States.

    The "extraordinary burden" verbage is in a totally different paragraph than the comments about magazine size. The topic sentence of the paragraph explains Rep King's proposal. It is unrelated to Rep McCarthy's magazine and gun ban proposal.

    Chris from AK

  6. Pat- I should have known that one of you would distort the message.

  7. It appears that the quote from the NRA- or at least that one anyway, is in regards to the 1000 foot zone for anyone with a gun near an elected leader. The NRA believes that is an extraordinary burden on those poor law abiding citizens who might be confused about whether they can carry those guns absolutely everywhere they go. This quote from the NRA deals with the magazines- " But the NRA argues that such high-capacity clips are "standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of Americans."

    "Law-abiding private citizens choose them for many reasons, including the same reason police officers do: to improve their odds in defensive situations," the NRA said. The NRA's statement did not include an example of an situation where an individual acting in self defense would need to get off 30 rounds without reloading."

    So my comments apply to this quote more appropriately. The NRA is against it, as I said. Sorry for any confusion. But, as I said in a previous post- no one is perfect. I don't mind people correcting me. What I do mind is the way in which it is done. As it turns out, my point is still the same. ANY provision suggested by absolutely anyone is turned away by the NRA.

  8. Yes everyone. I got the point. But the fact that this was in a comment above does prove my overall point: " It would absolutely be an extraordinary burden to run out of ammo after expelling 10 rounds while your life in still in danger." Given that, it looks like you all think it would be an extraordinary burden to be limited to fewer than 30 round magazines.

  9. Joan,

    How many shootings involve 30 round or greater magazines each year?

    1? 10?

    Are you willing to tell everyone else they can not own or use magazines greater than 10 rounds because the actions of a few criminals?

  10. Let's look at the language of Rep. McCarthy's bill:


    (a) DEFINITION. Section 921(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (29) the following:

    (30) The term 'large capacity ammunition feeding device'
    (A) means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition; but
    (B) does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.

    So, what magazines are actually being banned? Yes, of course, the external 33-round mags that we've been reading about in the newspapers. But what else?

    Read section "B": it excludes internal tubular magazines in .22 caliber. By the normal standards of judicial construction that means that internal tubular magazines in other than .22 caliber are included in the ban, and so are all other internal magazines of other than tubular construction.

    Now here's the thing - if you ban an internal magazine, you ban the weapon. Because an internal magazine cannot be separated from the weapon.

    So McCarthy's bill would ban a large number of firearms, many of historical significance and wide popularity.

    One, for example, is the Henry Rifle, in all of its variants. This includes the classic Winchester 94 lever action. Tens of thousands of recreational shooters would suddenly find themselves in possession of guns that they could not sell, because no one would be allowed to buy them. The sport of Cowboy Action Shooting would be maimed beyond all recognition.

    As I've said before, these bills are _always_ written to be far broader in scope than they admit to in their press releases.

  11. "Distort" the message??

    You quoted the song - I was adding yet another quote.

    By-the-by -- you should check out Bob Dylan's original lyrics to that song.

  12. Well, Rep King hasn't actually introduced the proposed law yet so it is hard to argue on details (at least, the text isn't in THOMAS yet). The law's effect will be to criminalize daily behavior. Even Rep King seems unable to defend it coherently.

    In an interview, Rep King said, “I would say a good faith response to a crime by a person who was not knowingly bringing a gun to an event in the first place, yeah, that would be a reasonable exception.” When asked why it didn't make sense to allow people like Joe Zamudio to attend he said, “I would say that, if we are going to have more security at an event like this, that the police and law enforcement be in charge of who’s firing weapons," King replied. "I would prefer not to see a shootout if we’re talking about federal officials being at an event. I would rather leave that to the police.“

    My objections:

    First, the Federal government does not have general police powers off of federal land, like military bases or national parks. While the understanding of federal power has expanded over time, this would be a substantial expansion.

    Second, unless the law includes a component of mens rea such as, "The gun carrier knowingly approached within 1000' of a protected official with the criminal intent to commit the a violent felony..." the effect will be to criminalize people who intend no harm.

    Third, the gun free zones would rove around as officials are mobile. It is already nearly impossible to comply in good faith with the Federal Gun Free School Zones act and those are stationary! Even Jon Stewart lampooned this aspect of the law (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-january-12-2011/battle-of-the-bans). I am not afraid about losing the "popular opinion" in this country when Jon Stewart is mocking the law. The only way this part of the law is even remotely reasonable is if the legislator wears a large neon sign, blares a loudspeaker announcement of their location every 30 seconds or so, and posts their exact schedule and current location to the internet so that I can avoid them.

    Fourth, isn't it kind of insulting to you that Rep King considers his life to be more valuable than others? Do you think his ban will have exceptions for him to carry guns, or for their bodyguards, or for the US Marshals? Almost certainly it will. So while he is entitled to have armed guards to protect him, you aren't? Why isn't your life just as important as his?

    Finally, to go back to the actual quote from Rep King, I'd be willing to think more seriously about this law if there was actually perimeter security provided. If a Representative wanted to pony up funds out of his own campaign warchest to pay for local police overtime, TSA-style security, and so on, then that's fine. That creates actual security that may actually keep guns out, rather than just a "feel good" magic bubble gun free zone forcefield. In fact, representatives can already do this. They just need to hold their meetings on private property and then have private security guards tell gun carrying people to leave. If the gun toting folks don't, then they are trespassing and can be arrested. This approach isn't popular though because it would cost money and because people don't want to have their crotches groped and children scanned on a body imager by TSA-style security when going to Safeway.

    I feel pretty safe saying that this bill will go NOWHERE, and rightfully so. It is a terrible law for many reasons as conceived now.

  13. As it turns out, I agree with some of what you have written Chris. I have objections to members of Congress wanting this protection while it certainly is not in place for the rest of us. You may be right that the bill is going nowhere. One can understand the fear that our Congress members feel, however, when they do receive threats from nut cases and not so nuts people on a daily basis. Sometimes these are acted upon and they are pretty vulnerable in public places with so many people approaching them. I think about the day at the Minnesota State Fair when I was there with my family and happened upon Senator Franken outside of a booth where he came to talk to the public. Naturally, I went to talk to him but he was certainly vulnerable there with only one staffer and no security. There are legitimate concerns and legitimate fears. Having served on the School Board in my city during a time of much argument over school building referenda and lots of angry community folks, I had many angry phone calls and hang up calls during the night. It was disconcerting. Now the School Board meetings include a police officer because one gentleman comes to every meeting with his backpack on and looking disheveled leveling very angry remarks at the Chair of the Board. The Chair is very worried, as is his wife and this man was handcuffed during a recent meeting for remarks and behavior. These are scary times with anger so evident at public meetings.

  14. King's Gun-free Bubble has been soundly mocked from each end of the spectrum, as is right.

    For all the gun lovers who feel 10 rounds is not enough, why would 30 suffice? Doesn't the arbitrary nature of this discussion work in the up direction too. By your same reasoning, only a belt-fed machine gun would do the purpose of properly securing your safety, and even then who's gonna carry all the ammo boxes for you?

  15. Let's quit arguing side issues.

    We had the AWB for ten years. Low cap mags, restrictions on guns that looked evil, etc. Tens years this was tried and studied and records kept. Crime went up. The DOJ found that the law made no difference and found it only harmed lawful users who had to pay much higher prices.

    Well the law sunsetted as it was supposed to, it could have been renewed if people had found any indication that it was a good law, but it wasn't and they didn't renew it. So now 7 years later we have ONE instance of a madman using a 33 round magazine and you want to bring back a bad law that never worked in the first place invoking limits on 200,000,000 plus Americans who own guns and use them in a law abiding manner?

    One law could cost America $100,000,000 to pass, enforce and conform with for just one person????

    Remember this issue is not about hardware, it never is, it is fear mongering, lies, misinformation, feelings and falsely seated ideals. It is in fact exactly like Don Quixote and his campaign against the windmills

  16. Notice how the pro-gun argument is that crime went up during the AWB, but whan we talk about the gun sales over the last couple of years they say crime has been going down for 20 years and it continues to do so.