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 13, 2011

Guns and alternate universes

I have come to discover over the months that I have been blogging that the gun guys and I live in two completely different worlds. That should come as no surprise actually. It is just amazing to me that we have each walked this earth with two such differing views about our own safety, about the need for guns in our every day lives and about how we view each other, of course, and the political landscape. In my post yesterday, I wondered why anyone would actually need an ammunition clip with more than 30 rounds. Most in the public discussion about the Tucson shootings have asked the same question. 

So far, I have not heard anyone on the shows I have seen or the media articles I have read explain adequately or believably why these type of magazines are necessary. Yes, as I said, I know that some of the gun guys like them. They like to use them for target practice.  Here is just one of the comments on my last post that show what I mean: " In real life, unlike on TV and in the movies, a single shot from a pistol does not instantly incapacitate an attacker. The human body is remarkably resilient and some attackers are very determined. Most firearms instructors, myself included, are now teaching students to shoot an assailant 4-5 times in the chest and if that doesn't stop him, shoot him in the face until he does stop his assault. Given that most home invasions involve multiple attackers, using an extended magazine is not unreasonable in the least. " In real life, people like Jared Loughner shoot innocent people with semi automatic pistols attached to 30 round ammunition clips meant for mass destruction.

This came after someone else suggested that these type of ammunition magazines were needed for home self defense. I asked whether that meant he expected 20 people to invade his home at one time to necessitate that many bullets. Come on. This is a ridiculous argument. There is just no way that these magazines are necessary. There is a lot of backing and filling going on here when reflection is called for. Isn't there any chance that these guys could admit that just maybe they really don't need these after all? They are so convinced by their paranoia and talking points that they can't crawl out of it long enough to consider that they could be wrong and they could actually do themselves a lot of good by getting on board with measures to ban these magazines.

But I would be wrong. Instead, the sales of the gun, a Glock 19, have increased dramatically since the shooting! Only in America would this sort of thing happen. One of my gun guy friends on my blog postured that the Brady Campaign was contributing to the sales because of the fear of banning the guns and the ammunition. He even suggested, facetiously, that perhaps the Brady Campaign has stock in the gun companies. Give me a break. Another of my "friends" sent me a video of himself, made after the shootings, showing how difficult it is for a normal every day pistol to get off a lot of shots in a short time. When I looked at it, I thought the bullets came out pretty rapidly, but I guess not fast enough for this guy. I'm sure this is important to people who love guns and love shooting and need them for self defense. It's just hard for those of us who don't , who comprise the majority by the way, to understand this. And as I have reminded my "friends" here, that does not make me wrong and them right or vice versa. What it does mean is that we live in alternate universes. 

But then, someone comes along who makes common sense. Robert Levy, lead counsel for gun rights in the Heller case has now said that making the large capacity ammunition clips carried by Loughner illegal would be constitutional! Is he kidding? No, actually. In Levy's words: " “I don’t see any constitutional bar to regulating high-capacity magazines,” Levy said in an interview with NBC. “Justice (Antonin) Scalia made it quite clear some regulations are permitted. The Second Amendment is not absolute.”" Thank goodness, an adult stood up and said what most believe.

I live in a world of people who have chosen not to carry guns around in public places or, for the most part, have them in their homes for self protection. I have many friends who own guns. They hunt and some shoot for recreation. Some make guns and collect them. But they agree with me about reasonable restrictions about guns and are not struck dumb by the suggestion that some guns are just not necessary for them to live their lives. My universe also has a good number of people who have lost loved ones or friends to bullets or those who have not but want to prevent people from being shot. They believe that people can own guns if they choose. But they understand that too many can get their hands on guns who shouldn't and that there are ways to stop that from happening. In my universe, too many people use guns to shoot others, or themselves or accidentally shoot themselves or others. I read or hear the stories every day. In my universe actual people with names and faces who loved us and who we loved are not here anymore to laugh, cry, hug their children and grandchildren, their mothers, fathers and siblings. They are not skiing or playing tennis. They are not shopping with us or enjoying holiday dinners with us. 

Instead we have to try to remember what their voices sounded like and what they really looked like and what they would have looked like now after aging along with us. We speak their names and can now laugh about things they used to say or do. We say their names at memorials and bell ringings. That is the universe in which the families and friends of the victims of the shootings in Tucson will now live. Those who will survive will survive with their physical and emotional injuries carried around in their new universe. They will probably be thinking quite differently about how many rounds ammunition clips should hold since many of them would likely be alive or uninjured had Jared Loughner not been sure to have 3 ammunition clips with over 30 rounds apiece on his person. He knew what he was doing. He knew that these 30 round ammunition magazines would do a lot of damage. That is what they are made for. That, and that alone, is what they are made for- to shoot as many people as possible all at one time. Imagine the carnage had he managed to shoot them all off! 

Soul searching individually and collectively is a good idea in this instance of violence and mass loss of life in so public an arena. Ariana Huffington, of the Huffington Post, says it well in this article. We are at a crossroads in our country. We can choose to waste the moments or we can choose to spend them working together for something better. My universe wants to make our communities better and safer. We know that more guns have not made our country safer. My universe is that we don't need to name victims of gun violence on a regular basis. My universe is that I won't have to worry about my children and grandchildren going to a public event without being mowed down by bullets. I know that I share that vision with many many others in this country. President Obama spent more than a few moments in Tucson honoring the victims by name and personalizing their memories. In his words:" I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it. . . . All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations."" That is the country in which I want to live. That is the universe I want to occupy. That is the universe that Christina Green will no longer be a part of.

So our worlds collide on this blog. Once in a great while there is a glimmer of common ground and agreement. But then there are the personal attacks or ugly, provocative remarks and everything changes. Common sense could prevail if those moments of common ground extended to hours or days. In my universe, just maybe civility will accidentally break out.


  1. Joan,

    Can you show a legitimate reason why you "need" to blog or do you simply "want" to blog?

  2. I publish this inane comment only to show my readers the type of nonsense perpetrated by the gun rights people. How ridiculous it is to think that blogging would take the lives of 6 people in a matter of seconds. You should have thought about that before committing it to writing. It doesn't do your side any good when stupid comments like this are written. I suggest that you think that through more carefully. You won't find a soul other than those gun guy friends of yours who would think that comment beared repeating.

  3. It's possible the first poster simply doesn't think that Rights are of different value depending on their perceived dangerousness. I don't think that's a ridiculous position to take.

  4. There are probably more high-capacity gun magazines in this country than there are people. Unless there is a magic wand that would make them all disappear, there's not much point trying to ban them. It would just mean that only the very criminals you claim to be concerned about would have them.

    Why not just push for bans on shooting people, if all it takes is another law to solve the problems? Keeping criminals locked up is expensive, so that's also off the table. Apparently.

  5. We live in the same universe, with the same dangers and the same people. Those of us on the pro-gun side just favor the empowerment of firearms over the concept of disarming everyone and trusting human nature for our safety.

    But in any case ... I don't think the argument to limit magazine capacities to 10 rounds is at all compelling or common sense, and wouldn't affect future mass murderers. I actually blogged on it at length, but the bottom line is ... the VTI killer and the Columbine killers both had guns with less than a 10 round capacity (the latter in the middle of the AWB you say would have stopped Loughner) and they killed many more people than Loughner did.

    Don't you think it's just common sense that Loughner based his attack methodology on the kinds of weapon he had available? And that given his murderous intent, if he'd only had 10 rounds mags, he would have just brought 2 guns (as Cho did) or fired from a greater distance with a slower fire gun (as Charles Whitman did with a bolt action rifle and killed 16)?

    You're the one trying to pass a new law, and the burden of proof is on you that there's a need for such a law (in a free society we don't outlaw ANYTHING unless it can be proven it's necessary) and I don't think you meet that burden.

  6. I have no idea, Stephen. But you must think so. The others had more than one gun making it possible to kill more people. Columbine had 2 shooters and in each case they wandered from room to room and were not just standing in one place. They killed some people in one room, some in another, some in another. This was different in that the shooter killed all of them in one place made possible because of the 30 round cliip.

  7. japete, I'm not sure what your level of firearm expertise is, but a magazine is nothing more than a box with a spring in it.

    The box holds the cartridges and the spring keeps pressure on them so that they feed into the gun.

    It's not exactly high-tech.

    Do you really think some piece of legislation will wipe from human memory the knowledge of how to put a spring into a box?

    Even if McCarthy's bill does pass(which it won't), this is what will happen:

    Manufactures of these magazines will keep the external configuration of the magazine exactly the same and simply insert a plastic block at the bottom of the mag to act as a spacer.

    Then people will buy these mags, remove the plastic spacer and lengthen/replace the spring.

    Now ask yourself if this "victory" is worth losing the Senate and the White House in 2012?

  8. I agree that the two sides often walk in different mental universes. But there MUST be some commonalities. Even if it is simply to agree that there are too many gun crimes, or that it is too easy for criminals to get hold of guns. The real question is what to DO about it, other than becoming a walking fortress. We who advocate for stricter gun control have lots of ideas to help those goals, but I rarely hear ideas from the pro-gun folks (other than arming more people).

    I invite pro-gun advocates to go to my latest blog post at New Trajectory and post a (pleasantly-worded) comment. In your comment, please state one gun issue you think both sides can agree on, and one solution that you think can help that issue that you hope we can agree on. This is your chance to reach out to us, and our chance to listen.


  9. It's possible to massacre unarmed people with anything from rocks to nuclear weapons.

    I recommend we seek some expert consultation regarding killing spree firearm tactics. Perhaps a retired law enforcement investigator or similar?

  10. Part of the purpose of the 2nd, is that citizens have the same tools of war as a typical soldier.

    This is so that, 200 years from now, if citizens had to engage foreign invaders, we would have the proper weapons.

    The 2nd is not just about hunting, or just defending the home, it is about having the weapons to take part in a militia ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...")

    Remember "regulated" here means "a state of preparedness obtained after rigorous and persistent training" not "controlled by the federal government."

    So yes, we need 30 round magazines for our semi-automatic handguns and rifles.

  11. I'm just saying ... I don't think the people would have reacted any faster if he'd had to do a mag change to get to 30 rounds. I think they reacted as quickly as they could, and if he'd had a 100 round mag (which are available for some pistols) they would have jumped him at the same point.

    Because it's not like they were all just waiting for him to quit firing before they made their move, they made their move as soon as they recovered from the shock and could. There's not a force field that comes up when a mag is loaded to keep people away and then goes down when it's empty.

    Read my post on the subject, and feel free to post a comment there. I've already linked to you anyway.

    Any other anti-gunners reading this are welcome to do the same. I only delete or block posts that are profane or personally insulting. And I'll even leave in insulting posts if they amuse me.

  12. Joan,

    What universe do the criminals live in?

    Obviously it is a different universe then the rest of us.

    There is a law against robbery.

    You want to make a law requiring the criminals to submit to a background check.

    There is a law against illegally carrying a firearm.

    You want to make it a law that people carrying weapons concealed get a mental health evaluation.

    There is a law against murdering people.

    You want to make it illegal for a non-retail individual to sell a firearm without a background check.

    It is illegal to import firearms without authorization, taxes, etc.

    You want to make it illegal for people to carry their firearm on college campuses.

    Over and over again, we see that criminals don't obey the laws in the large or small details.

    Over and over again, we see that passing another law doesn't stop the criminal but puts the law abiding at a disadvantage.

    It is common sense to say that criminals who murder over which corner they sell drugs on are going to be deterred by a requirement to run an NICS check? take a mental health exam?

  13. So Joan, Would you be talking about these murders if he had used a pipe bomb to kill 6 people?

  14. What? This makes no sense. We know that there are killing sprees from firearms. Not too many with rocks. Nuclear weapons- has anyone used those to massacre people since WWII or did I miss something?

  15. Excuse me, Jeremy. I thought the the well regulated militia part of the second amendment was rejected by the Supreme Court in favor of the individual right. Did I miss something?

  16. Anon- probably Bob S. by the nature of the question- Yes. Would you?

  17. japete - my example of "rocks" and "nukes" may have distracted you from my point.

    Crazy people find new and creative ways to kill people with whatever resources are available to them.

    Exhibit A:

    A man in China murders 3 kindergarten students with a knife. Guns are extremely rare there. In that country it's rare for police to carry guns.


    "More than 27 people have died and at least 80 have been injured in knife attacks, several in schools, since the beginning of the year."


    Neither you nor I are "experts" on this. We each can use google, but my recommendation to stop suggesting "how" mass murders happen remains.


  18. Sean- I'm aware of those knifings- very tragic ( knivings?). It doesn't stop me from wanting to reduce gun injuries and deaths. I wonder why you guys keep saying the same thing to me. Do you think that one of these times, I will change my mind about wanting to do my blog or that I will go do something else and quit bothering you guys? You certainly don't know me very well. Let's have an adult conversation with you not saying I should give up working on the issue and my not saying I want your guns. Then we can chat about how we can both work together to prevent people from being shot which involves something on which we can both agree.

  19. "I wonder why you guys keep saying the same thing to me."

    Because sooner or later you are going to get that causing US more headaches to stop THEM will do nothing to stop THEM but will leave US more vulnerable.

    Sooner or later the bumper stickers are going to say "outlaw knives and only the outlaws will have knives"... and then rocks.. and so on..

  20. Jeremystaden is living in one of those alternative universes. He says:

    "The 2nd is not just about hunting, or just defending the home, it is about having the weapons to take part in a militia ("A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...")"

    Jeremy, my friend, let me hip you to something. The gun rights guys usually omit that first phrase about the "militia" for a good reason. When you combine it with the second phrase about the "security of a free state" it becomes clear that the entire Amendment has no relavence whatever in today's world. The security of our "free state" no longer depends upon a "militia" of any kind. It's an anachronism.

    If you're gonna cite the 2nd Amendment as the Sacred Justification for your individual gun ownership, you've got to take the focus off the first part and get with the "shall not be infringed" part.

    Just tryin' to help.

  21. You ask 'why would anyone need a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds?'. Let me ask you....why would anyone need a car that goes faster than 65mph? More people are killed and injured in automobile accidents related to speed than there are people who are injured and killed by accidental gunfire.
    Don't you think that we should pass a law that forbids driving over the posted speed limit? Oh...wait....nevermind.

  22. You are delusional if you think anyone with sense believes that ridiculous analogy. Come on, can we have a serious discussion here?

  23. Mike, so you're saying that the 2nd Amendment only protects a collective militia right, despite the rest of the Bill of Rights focusing on individual rights whenever it refers to the People? And despite the recent SCOTUS decisions that affirmed it as an individual right as well? The only "anachronism" here is your way of thinking.

  24. Commenting on this blog forces me to improve my writing. I figure if I can some day make a clear and concise enough post, that Japete understands it, I've arrived. I'm not being sarcastic.


  25. Hmmm- wondering if that is saying something about you, Sean, or me.

  26. Unfortuanetly, I think we do live in alternate universes. Part of that disconnect may be through language: the pro-gun folks often use more technical terms, the details of which may not be familiar to many (for example -- many of us are sensitive to the distinction between a magazine and a clip). We get concerned because when we hear you talking about a "high powered rifle" we realize that the characteristics you're describing also apply to our deer gun, when in reality you may just be trying to describe a specific item that you find unpleasant or scary rather than a general class based on technical characteristics, and you have no intent to include our deer gun even though it may be functionally identical.

    On the flip side, the pro-gun control folks often use the language of emotions, which frankly it seems like we have a difficult time understanding. Even if we do empathize with your expressed feelings, I think we often don't find them persuasive or logical. That seems to bewilder your side, for you often accuse us of not respecting the feelings and experiences of victims.

    Our words even seem to express very different mindsets. It isn't uncommon to read stories in the press or on gun control sites that say things like, "A gun killed so and so." Comparatively, I think most gun rights people would phrase it more like, "A murderer killed so and so by means of a gun." For you, the gun is the subject of the sentence; for us, it is an adverb, a tool used by the criminal who pulled the trigger. That seems like an encapsulated summary of some of the main differences (i.e. we focus on the perps, you focus on the tools they use).

    I try to use "active listening" to understand someone else's point of view and am working through differences in terminology. I think maybe it would also help for us to affirm the feelings of other speakers and realize that those emotions have value to them even if they aren't logically consistent or persuasive to me.

  27. Anonymous, I'm not saying the "2nd Amendment only protects a collective militia right."

    I'm saying it's meaningless in today's society, just like the 3rd Amendment and that business of counting the slaves as three-fifths.

    I say you guys just like guns. It's that simple. For various reasons, you like guns and because owning them is nearly impossible to justify given all the gun violence, you resort to that bogus 2nd Amenement argument.

  28. Is that the civility you were looking for?

    the universe we'd like to inhabit is one where we have no interest in taking anything of yours away from you. We'd like the same mannerly courtesy on your part.

    I didn't shoot anyone, and I don't intend to lose any rights because your organization can't see that it's people, not inanimate objects, that cause these tragedies. Also recognize that successful gun-control has always led to an increase in crime, and eventual genocide of the disarmed.

    Wanting to kill someone for disagreeing with you is very uncivil.

  29. This is one of the only cogent comments made on this post so far. Chris, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head here. So now that the problem is, in part, identified, what's next? How can we work through these semantic and more real differences to get to some common ground? Do you think that is possible? Every time I think we are making some move to a common area of agreement, it blows up either by something I've said that gets everyone off and running in their own direction or some diversionary tactic employed by those on your side because they don't like what I am saying- or how I am saying it.

  30. John B.- it either takes a lot of nerve or ignorance for you to have written this: " the universe we'd like to inhabit is one where we have no interest in taking anything of yours away from you. We'd like the same mannerly courtesy on your part." Courtesy? What world are you living in? There is little courtesy on your side based on the comments written on my blog. To try to then accuse my side of being discourteous is a lie. Where can you find that someone is going to take something away from you? That is a tired old argument that you guys have used ad nauseum for so long now that even reasonable people have come to believe it. My job as a blogger is to make sure that bubble is burst so that the public and our leaders get what you guys are up to by saying that any reasonable restriction means something will be taken from those of you who are so paranoid that you assume that means your guns or your rights.