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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Monday, January 3, 2011

Fun and games with guns

It's not just the U.S. that is interested in gun safety and gun violence. This interesting article about toy guns in Iraq illustrates that they are concerned, for very obvious reasons, that children have replica toy guns that look just like the real thing. I hope it works. Haven't those children been exposed to too much gun violence already? It would be great if they didn't walk around the streets with their replica guns for their own safety. (The toy airsoft gun pictured here is from this website which sells these guns in on the internet.)


Just as I was writing this post, someone sent me a really interesting video from several years ago in an effort to go after Brady President Paul Helmke. First of all, in watching the video of conservative radio and T.V. host Laura Ingraham interviewing Helmke and Jong Cha of the Tactical Airsoft Arena, it became obvious that Ingraham, a self professed "second amendment supporter" didn't know about airsoft guns. She later mentioned the upcoming Miller Supreme Court case decision and was corrected by Helmke who, of course, noted that it was the Heller Case. Oh well. 


And though Ingraham tried to be a bulldog and talk loudly about her professed gun rights knowledge, Paul Helmke ended up agreeing with her. Ingraham started out the piece seemingly curious and a little concerned over the use of "airsoft" guns which might be confused with real guns by police if carried in public. By the end of the piece perhaps someone was talking into her earpiece telling her to get tougher, because she seemed to have changed her tune and was then supporting those guns. Oh well, again. By the way, check out those airsoft guns to see how real they look.


I blogged about restrictions on toy guns in this December post. Obviously there are some legitimate concerns about facsimile guns. They can be confused for real guns and we should be concerned about this. If children are carrying them, who will know they aren't real? And if all of the concealed carry permit holders out there think someone has a real gun, it could end up getting ugly. So Paul Helmke is right to have concerns. Ingraham should have stuck with her early concern in the video linked above. That would make more common sense. But the person who sent me the link to the video had this to say: " 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..."


Helmke is right and he is not alone in his concerns. From the linked article above: " The risks and consequences of Airsoft gun use have not gone unnoticed by the law. Airsoft is considered illegal in various countries such as Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, and some countries like Canada prohibit the importation of "replica" Airsoft guns. However, federal importation laws in the United States simply require that all Airsoft guns transported within or imported into the country have barrels with a minimum 6mm wide blaze orange tip, so as to avoid confusion with real firearms. Most retailers of Airsoft guns have disclaimers stating that their Airsoft guns are sold with an orange tip, and that it is illegal to remove the orange tip." The consumer product safety commission does regulate toy guns and issues safety warnings about them, but does not have regulations involving real guns. 


And as to Paul Helmke saying the Brady Campaign does not want to regulate guns, he was expressing the Brady Campaign's philosophy in trying to keep guns away from  people ( and children) who should not have them without taking away gun rights. Besides, what's all the fuss about? The Miller case, er, sorry, the Heller Case has determined that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms. 

36 comments:

  1. I'm also concerned about toy-gun confusion; statistically, I think it's a non-problem, but one can certainly see how tragedy might happen. However, like real guns, I don't think the solution is bans, but good parenting and education.

    Did Helmke say that "manufacturers are now making real guns with orange-tipped barrels" or that fake guns "have more regulations on them than real guns"? Both would be pretty big whoppers. As people have explained before, the CPSC is not the agency responsible for gun regulation.
    Try importing a real gun sometime; it's incredibly difficult, and there are companies who basically only exist to navigate the red tape.

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  2. look at the video to see what he said..

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  3. The Heller/Miller confusion came about because one of the issues in Heller regarded an earlier case known as Miller that concerned whether military arms were protected.
    BTW, cops have been known to mistake lots of things for "real guns," from hose nozzles
    (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101214/ap_on_re_us/us_water_nozzle_shooting)
    to wallets
    (http://www.newsday.com/news/10-years-after-diallo-shooting-controversy-lingers-1.888031).

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  4. Yes, I'm aware of the Miller case being used during the Heller decision. It was a very important case. Indeed, cops are confused for a good reason. Their lives are on the line every day and when you are quite sure someone is going for a gun, it must be difficult not to have your adrenaline going and your heart racing. What about all of you guys with your concealed guns? Sometimes people have shot at unarmed people or those who they thought were going to harm them or those who they feel they are threatened by.

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  5. I hadn't had time to watch the video, but watching it now, indeed he does indeed say "real guns are regulated less than toy guns", and that "real gun manufacturers are selling real guns with orange tips". Neither claim is true by any reasonable measure; I can understand why the person who forwarded this to you was derisive.

    It really doesn't sound like Helmke is that worried about toy guns; he immediately makes it about real guns, and that's his thing, so fine.

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  6. I don't have a problem with restricting Airsoft gun sales to minors, and restricting unsupervised possession by minors, but not to adults. They are a valuable training tool for people who carry real guns, because it affords you the opportunity to practice draw-from-holster, acquire your target, and shoot, without having the risk of learning that skill with a true firearm.

    In fact, a credible argument could be made that air guns are protected by the Second Amendment too, since the right to bear arms pretty much necessarily includes the right to practice with them, and for some urban and suburban dwellers, air guns are going to be the only realistic option.

    Also, it's not illegal to remove the orange tip by the consumer, only to sell it that way. As for the confusion issue with law enforcement, kids had realistic looking toy guns for years without ending up shot by police. I had a plastic squirt gun when I was a kid that was essentially this, that we run around our neighborhood with. No way you could even think about that today if you're a parent, at least that's how the conventional wisdom goes. And no manufacturer would ever think about making one.

    Either way, I digress. It's not hard to make a replica. You could do it with black paint and a block of wood in about an hour that would be indistinguishable to someone more than a few feet away. The idea of making contraband out of replicas seems one of the sillier ideas out there.

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  7. Easy solution. Disarm the police.

    Cops shoot and kill an innocent civilian on average once a day.

    If you want to reduce gun deaths, start with the police.

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  8. My favorite part of the video is the very end when Paul says, "I wanna come along too."

    Throughout the interview there were a few overly aggressive and antagonist overtures by Laura Ingraham to which Helmke responded softly, refusing to take the bait. He answered the questions without turning it nasty. This is a reasonable man with much patience. Gun extremists should take notice and learn a thing or two.

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  9. Yes, but on another posted comment, Aztec Red took Helmke's comments to be proof that he was a liar about banning guns. I guess it's all in the perspective and frame of mind.

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  10. "Gun extremists should take notice and learn a thing or two."

    Not comparing apples to apples....

    I'm sure Joan would admit that there are polite, reasonable, and patient pro-gun folks...

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  11. Mikeb writes: "This is a reasonable man with much patience. Gun extremists should take notice and learn a thing or two."

    Both sides could do better than they are currently. Your side certainly doesn't have the market cornered on acting civilized. Go no further than your blog Mike for proof of that.

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  12. Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me)January 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM

    Have you seen mikeb's own blog, RuffRidr? Talk about snark, vitriol and venom... Yet HE says WE should "learn a thing or two" from Colin?

    No doubt we on the pro-gun side can be more civil, especially here on japete's blog. She usually is civil with us, even if she flat out disagrees with our positions. But knowing where she's coming from, being nasty doesn't help our side, never mind that it's a cruel thing to do.

    Japete, I would remind you of Suzanna Hupp's response to the loss of her parents. You have no doubt heard this before, but remember that Texas didn't have shall issue concealed carry at the time of the Luby's Massacre, and she left her gun in the car. The psycho who murdered her parents along with 20 or so others was the only one who had a gun. But she advocated for concealed carry, and as a result, violent crime went down. It didn't vanish; it never will, but it took a noticeable drop. The point is, she dealt with her grief and rage by going the opposite direction that you did, and actually helped lower crime.

    No one should have to lose someone by murder, and I'm sorry for your loss. But harassing the law abiding gun owner isn't the answer. And yes, almost all of us are law abiding, upstanding citizens, not criminals, madmen, mouth-breathing Rednecks whose family trees didn't branch at critical junctures, or ticking time bombs because we have guns, or any other thing that the gun-grabbers like to call us.

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  13. O.K; everybody. There is enough vitriol to go around coming from all of you. I generally do not like to publish these but I am excepting this one so I can respond. Please all, this is not your blog to be commenting back and forth to each other. You can do that on your own blog. I don't mind your making remarks if you agree politely with one another. But no more name calling of each other on my blog please.

    Now, to the comments here. I am in no way harassing law abiding gun owners. I write my blog with my comments and then you guys jump right in with your comments, some of which I choose to challenge. When things get provacative or ugly, I will respond in kind generally. I realize that those of you responding here are law abiding citizens. I am blogging about folks who are not or who were until they pulled the trigger. Remember, I have said this before- you guys are not my only audience here. Many people read my blog and I am all about calling attention to things I think are important for people to know. And as to Suzanne, she chose one path to her grief, I chose another. That does not make her right and me wrong. Has she helped to lower crime? Please explain.

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  14. Of course gundoofs are gonna pull out all the stops to defend toy guns....it's all about supporting the NRA to protect gun manufacturer's profits. Period.

    See, you give children toy guns, that look like the real thing, next thing you know, you have secured the next generation of gun buyers. Which then turns into profits.

    When we stop the toy guns, real guns will ever so slowly go away.

    Change is a slow progressive process, and we have to be prepared to take these progress, common sense babysteps.

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  15. "See, you give children toy guns, that look like the real thing, next thing you know, you have secured the next generation of gun buyers. Which then turns into profits."

    Except of course that Airsoft originated in Japan, primarily because people there couldn't get real guns to shoot.

    In other words, you have the causality exactly backwards. Because law-abiding folks couldn't get real guns, there was a market for realistic working replicas.

    There's an easy way to cripple the Airsoft industry - put an accessible USPAA/IDPA range in every major metropolitan area.

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  16. In 1995 Texas passed "Shall Issue" Concealed Handgun License legislation. The total number of murders in Texas was in excess of 2000, and had been since 1979 (with one dip below 2k in 1987 to 1,995 murders).

    In 1996 murders had dropped to just over 1,600

    Since then the total number of Murders in Texas has hovered between 1,200 and 1,500 regularly. Even as Texas increased in population.

    Texas crime numbers from here: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/txcrime.htm

    I hope this sheds some light on the benefits of "Shall Issue" concealed carry. As more and more States have adopted "Shall Issue" legislation crime has generally declined.

    If you study Florida the effect of "Shall Issue" legislation turned the state from leading the Nation to 4% below the national average almost overnight.

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  17. Most things I have read say that you can't make a causal relationship between these two. Are we talking gun homicides here or overall? from this site- http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2; average gun deaths overall per 100,000 in the U.S.in 2007 was 10.2 while Florida's was 12.2 and Texas was10.9. If you look at the charts it is hard to make clear judgement about the numbers but many of the states with large number of gun deaths per 100,000 are in the South though D.C. with stricter gun laws and no CCW at all was 21.7. Illinois and California with stricter laws and Illinois with no CCW were 7.9 and 8.8. Minnesota with a CCW law was 6.5 while Wisconsin with no CCW was 8.6. Vermont with no requirements for carrying guns had 8.1. It sure is hard to figure out what's what isn't it? I am talking gun deaths here now just to get this straight. That is usually what I am blogging about and the focus of this blog. Overall murders could be different and may or may not have anything to do with ccw laws.

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  18. Crotalus (Dont Tread on Me)January 4, 2011 at 9:47 PM

    Maybe not, japete, but by the same token, the figures do not show that more guns equal more crime.

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  19. Joan,

    I have only read one peer-reviewed article that advocated the "Shall Issue CCW = More Crime" point of view, and it had some serious methodological flaws. There is a wide body of literature that suggests that there is no effect on crime or that crime actually goes down.

    You are right in that causality is difficult to establish. You can probably never do it with 100% certainty. The best that can be done is to use statistical tools to control for as many other variables as possible then determine results that are statistically significant (usually to the 90%, 95%, or 99% confidence level).

    I can't say that you're absolutely wrong; I can just say that there's only around a 1% chance that you're hypothesis is plausible. That's because most of the studies that find no effect or a beneficial effect on crime are ultimately at the 99% confidence level.

    \\

    In any event, I agree with Sebastian on this issue (airsoft). If your focus is allegedly on gun violence, why do you care about airsoft? How many murderers have used airsoft weapons? How many accidental fatalities have airsoft weapons caused? I know of a few legitimate homicides where people get themselves killed (for example, in Anchorage this past year police killed a man who brandished an air pellet pistol at them -- totally justified both morally and legally), but even that is rare. So why do you care? They aren't even firearms. You've made it clear that you don't care about anything that isn't a firearm on this blog.

    Cheers,
    Chris from AK

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  20. RuffRidr is absolutely right about my blog. But that's why I have Jadegold over there so I can blame him for all that nastiness. I'm the nice one.

    I commend japete for keeping such a comparatively civil place.

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  21. Good questions, Chris. I do care about weapons that are not firearms, of course, but don't usually blog about them. In this case, the concern is that children and others who carry airsoft type weapons in public are at risk for people who have real guns shooting them thinking they are real. So it could lead to actual shootings by actual real guns. Also, the use of these for play for children does, in my opinion, peak interest in real guns, which may be the point. I realize that there have always been toy guns around and that little boys, including my own son, make guns out of anything, like sticks. Squirt guns, as one commenter here, pointed out, can look pretty real as well but are usually recognized as squirt guns ( I think). So that is my purpose here. I'm concerned, as are law enforcement and the consumer product safety commission and others, that these toy real looking guns could be mistaken for the real thing.

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  22. "Also, the use of these for play for children does, in my opinion, peak interest in real guns, which may be the point."

    You say that like it's a bad thing...

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  23. Joan,

    As a gun owner yourself, did your children grow up learning how to shoot?

    When did you learn to shoot, if you have?

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  24. I learned to shoot a hunting gun from my Dad when I was about 12 or 13. I didn't really care for it so I only hunted a few times. I had other interests so chose not to hunt. My Mom, Dad and brother were (and are) avid hunters. My husband and his family are and were hunters and I have walked along in the woods while they hunted. My children have not learned to shoot a gun or hunt. They just were not interested.

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  25. "Yes, but on another posted comment, Aztec Red took Helmke's comments to be proof that he was a liar about banning guns. I guess it's all in the perspective and frame of mind."

    It not a matter of perspective or frame of mind. It's a matter of listening to the words coming out of Paul Helmke's mouth in the video, comparing them to the words on the Brady Campaign's website, and discovering that they don't match.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6u8VO_ngJk&NR=1

    @2:28 Paul Helmke says, "We're not a gun ban organization, Laura."

    From the Brady Campaign website: " Our prioirites are requiring Brady criminal background checks on all gun sales; banning military-style assault weapons; "

    Then they go on to detail all the other guns they want to ban: "Second, there are certain classes of weapons that should be out of bounds for private ownership. They include Saturday-night specials, which are used almost exclusively for crime, military-style assault weapons like Uzis and AK-47s, and .50-caliber sniper rifles, which serve no ordinary sporting purpose."

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  26. Paul is absolutely right. There are certain types of guns that are not needed for self defense or sport. You guys don't NEED these. You just want them.

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  27. "Paul is absolutely right. There are certain types of guns that are not needed for self defense or sport. You guys don't NEED these. You just want them."

    Now if we could only get Paul to tell the truth and admit that the Brady Campaign is a gun ban organization.

    There are a lot of things no one needs. No one needs a car with over 60hp. No one needs a drink with alcohol in it. No one needs fried food or cigarettes. No one needs to make over $10k per year. No one needs a face lift. No one needs a house with over 100 sqft per occupant. No one needs a computer.

    But that's beauty of living in a free country. Being free means you aren't restricted to only having the things someone else arbitrarily decides you need.

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  28. It's interesting that you give those examples. We have driving while drinking laws and penalties for such. We have speeding laws. We have no smoking ordinances to keep people from getting cancer and dying. That's what I'm talking about. These are restrictions unless I'm missing something. I have no idea why you think guns shouldn't be restricted in a similar fashion since it won't affect you one bit. If it does, then maybe you should not be able to buy a gun. Keeping people from dying. You can say that the Brady Campaign is a gun ban organization until the cows come home but you are wrong. Just get past it and move along to something else.

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  29. Japete: “We have driving while drinking laws and penalties for such.”

    We have laws against carrying guns while intoxicated too.

    Japete: “We have speeding laws.”

    We have laws against armed robbery and shooting innocent people too.

    Japete: “We have no smoking ordinances to keep people from getting cancer and dying.”

    We have ordinances for where one can legally discharge a firearm to keep people for getting hit by stray bullets too.

    So guns are restricted in similar fashion. When Paul or you talk about bans on certain types of guns that no one “needs” that would be the equivalent of banning certain types of cars that no one “needs”, not laws against speeding. The confusion comes in when Paul says “we are not a gun ban organization”, when he really means “we are not a TOTAL gun ban organization”. I think both sides should be clearer when we say “gun ban” and include words like “total”, or “partial”, because we all seem to interpret it in different ways without those words. That said, Mr. Helmke should be clear that “we want to ban SOME guns, but not ALL guns”. Would that be fair?

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  30. Joan, you wrote Most things I have read say that you can't make a causal relationship between these two. Are we talking gun homicides here or overall? from this site- http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=113&cat=2; average gun deaths overall per 100,000 in the U.S.in 2007 was 10.2 while Florida's was 12.2 and Texas was10.9. If you look at the charts it is hard to make clear judgement about the numbers but many of the states with large number of gun deaths per 100,000 are in the South though D.C. with stricter gun laws and no CCW at all was 21.7. Illinois and California with stricter laws and Illinois with no CCW were 7.9 and 8.8. Minnesota with a CCW law was 6.5 while Wisconsin with no CCW was 8.6. Vermont with no requirements for carrying guns had 8.1. It sure is hard to figure out what's what isn't it? I am talking gun deaths here now just to get this straight. That is usually what I am blogging about and the focus of this blog. Overall murders could be different and may or may not have anything to do with ccw laws.

    But what you aren't looking at is trends per year in individual states. Comparing Texas and Vermont is not going to give you any useful data. Comparing Texas in 1989 with Texas in 1999 is going to give you a useful comparison. Vermont has always had a lower homicide rate than Texas, so we aren't interested in comparing that, we are interested in the rates of change for a given area.

    It is kinda like a marine biologist doesn't compare fish harvests for Pacific and Atlantic Salmon unless they want to be laughed at by their peers. Yes both are salmon, but they have a different life cycle and different fishery habitat. You get much more meaningful data comparing year for year Pacific Salmon catch data in relation to fishery management than comparing it to a different species in a different location.

    When you DO compare different geographic locations, you need to look at the rates of change over the time when similar laws/management practices were introduced. If the trends hold true in each location you can identify with good statistical significance that the law has an impact in lowering or raising rates.

    That "shall issue" laws have the effect of lowering the murder rate in multiple geographic locations is much more meaningful data than implying that if Texas and Vermont had the same laws they would have the same crime rates.

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  31. "Paul is absolutely right. There are certain types of guns that are not needed for self defense or sport. You guys don't NEED these. You just want them."

    I collect WWII rifles. Both of the primary US rifles, the M1 and M1 Carbine, would be prohibited as military style assault rifles. Why? Lots of crimes get committed with them? Nope...it because they were used to fight a war 70 years ago...and...

    Because the Brady Campaign is a GUN BAN ORGANIZATION. Plain and simple.

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  32. The Brady Campaign is an organization to prevent and reduce gun violence, plain and simple.

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  33. Then whats the logic in preventing my collecting? The bayonet lug? Detachable magazine? Full-metal jacket ammo?

    There's no common sense. You're trying to legislate to the lowest common denominator - the fact that its a GUN.

    Thats why BC is broke. Thats why the NRA has so many supporters.

    Plain and simple!

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  34. Japete: “The Brady Campaign is an organization to prevent and reduce gun violence, plain and simple.”

    Is it fair to say that the plan to reduce gun violence involves banning SOME guns? Is that a fair statement?

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  35. The Brady Campaign is on record in favor of the Assault Weapons Ban, now expired. That speaks for itself.

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