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.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guns, purses and backpacks don't always mix

Oh dear, it happened again. This is the third or fourth incident of people accidentally shooting themselves or others in the past week. I know, I know, if you are law abiding, nothing should happen in a public place when you are carrying your loaded gun around with you. I keep hearing from my readers that those pesky accidental discharges happen when someone isn't doing the right thing. But then, why should we believe that it is safer for all of us if more people are carrying guns in public places when incidents like this one in Houston, Texas happen?

When I go out for dinner with my husband or friends, I sure as heck don't think that a loaded gun will drop out of a purse and shoot me in the rear end. I also don't think I should have a gun while dining even though I know that there have been shootings in restaurants. Now, though I might be more worried about someone's loaded gun accidenally discharging than the random chance that some crazed person or felon will come in to the restaurant and open fire. Also, in my state, people with loaded guns can carry in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served. Of course, those people are not supposed to drink beyond the legal limit. Hmm. Who will ask them if they have a gun on them when they serve them that 4th beer?

Yesterday, an unintentional shooting at a California high school surprised even the boy with the gun. A loaded gun in a student's backpack is first and foremost, something that should never happen. I wonder what the boy's intentions were with that gun? Further, where does a 15 year old get a gun? The boy reached into his backpack for something else and the gun fell out, fired several bullets and has now seriously injured a girl sitting behind him in the room and at least one other student. The boy whose gun was responsible is freaked out according to the article. What about the innocent victims?

Guns have been accidentally discharging on a regular basis lately. I have written about this as have other bloggers, most notably, Ohh Shoot. Until we get some common sense about guns and our gun culture that says it is O.K. for guns to be everywhere, these things will continue to happen. When loaded guns are in so many public places carried by more and more people, we can anticipate more of these stupid shootings.


  1. "Further, where does a 15 year old get a gun?"

    In a sane world, from his parents, who should have started him off with a single-shot .22 rifle before he was ten.

    It's critically important that kids learn responsibility before they are old enough that their irresponsibility can cause serious damage. Supervised firearms training is the best method for teaching this.

  2. Houston, Texas... Derringer.. probably not a safe weapon to carry. If it had been a modern weapon, it would not have discharged. We try to educate people about carrying weapons that are drop safe.

    School shooting. Underage kid that should have never been carrying a weapon. So this has nothing to do with "anyone carrying, everywhere, anytime" which is not something the NRA said nor have I seen any pro-gun person say (yet gun control advocates continue to present as the truth). I doubt you would get any argument that this is an accident that shouldn't have happened. However, there are laws that say he should not be carrying the weapon, possessing the weapon, and that he couldn't on school grounds even if he was legal.

    I'm interested in how he got the weapon though. Also, he is 17, not 15 (not nitpicking, just correcting you). The article that you linked said a 15-year old girl was shot and that he was 17. The article also says that a classmate was reaching into it at the beginning then the end of the story says that the school confirmed that he placed his backpack down and it fired. Even the news story can't seem to get the details correct.

    Another article says this student was already on probation for battery. And of course, the NY Daily says it was an automatic pistol (probably a semi-automatic). They also state that it is believed that he brought the weapon to school because he was being bullied and wanted protection. How sad is it that a student fears being beat up in school?

    And of course, this is yet another call for restrictions, which is insane, because this student is already restricted by laws, which did nothing.

  3. I am really becoming more concerned about your views, jedge. Do you actually think that boy should have had a loaded handgun in his backpack or what are you saying here anyway?

  4. So- missing some points here. Details can be picked at and you all are really good at that. You do keep me honest, sometimes. Sometimes you pick just to pick. At any rate, my point is that these sorts of "accidental shootings" continue to happen in public places and the more people who carry in more places, we will have more of these. How could we not?

  5. "Do you actually think that boy should have had a loaded handgun in his backpack or what are you saying here anyway?"

    Kids who grow up using guns don't generally develop the dangerous fascination with them that results in them sneaking them into school to show off to their friends.

    In a sane world, he'd simply ask his dad if they could come along, the next time the family went to the shooting range.

  6. No -- we will not have more incidents. The reasons were pointed out above.

    No one is advocating for 15 or 17 year olds to be able to carry at a High School -- despite the comments from Brady supporters to the contrary.

    We nit-pick details because you provide a very slanted view and leave out specific facts in order to plead your case for more gun-control.

    ...and "YES" I know that its more than just us "gun guys" who read your blog -- but its also read by more than just your "anti" friends as well! :)

  7. I don't think you answered my question, jedge.

  8. Anti-friends? Anti what, Pat. Again, you guys have chosen to believe your own slanted rhetoric and writings. You call us anti and we call you pro. While you are pro gun, we are not anti gun. We are anti gun violence. There is quite an important distinction there.

  9. "I don't think you answered my question, jedge."

    Up through the middle sixties, kids would routinely bring their guns to school. Either because they were doing some hunting on their way to or from school, were competing with the shooting team, or just wanted to do some tinkering in shop class.

    It's not the guns that are the problem.

  10. But it's 2011. Kids can't and don't bring guns to school unless they have bad intentions. You still have not answered my question. Do you think it was O.K. for this kid to bring his gun to school? We are not living in the 60s when kids brought their guns to school so they could go hunting after school. Why are you avoiding my question?

  11. Joan, this isn't an accidental shooting, this is a negligent shooting for the following reasons:

    1) Never point your firearm (loaded or unloaded) at anything you're not willing to destroy. How can that be controlled when its free floating in a backpack? Negligent.

    2) Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. That includes pencils, pens, jacket drawstrings, etc. A firearm should be carried in a holster that completely covers the trigger. Negligent.

    3) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. How can that be controlled in a backpack? Probably not negligent since he wasn't pointing the weapon, but still close to negligent.

    4) Was it necessary to keep a weapon in a backpack in condition one, especially if the trigger was unprotected? This is a debatable point, but it borders on negligence.

    5) Backpacks are not the most secure way to possess an unlocked firearm because they can be forgotten, snatched, etc. A firearm should be kept under the owner's control, or locked, at all times. Negligent.

    6) Guns are probably not allowed in this school. Maybe not negligent, but illegal.

    7) California doesn't allow handguns to be possessed by citizens under 18 years old. Maybe not negligent, but illegal possession of a firearm.

    8) California doesn't allow a concealed weapons permit (CCW) for citizens under 21 years old. Maybe not negligent, but illegal possession of a concealed firearm.

    9) Shooting someone in the head. That has to be illegal.

    10) Grazing someone with a bullet. That has to be illegal also.

    This is not the poster child for the NRA or responsible gun owners. This is not an example of the open carry or concealed carry movement to allow students to possess guns in schools. This is a frightened, troubled, and irresponsible youth who will be paying for this negligent and criminal act for a very long time.

  12. They've arrested two other criminals in connection with this event. I've got to hand it to the CA police in this case for enforcing the existing laws regarding firearms and school so rapidly!

    Looks like the next question should be if this enterprising youngster purchased his gun at a gun show...right? Or did he steal it?

  13. I had not heard about that, Pat. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Here is an article about the other kids arrest: http://www.examiner.com/crime-in-national/california-school-shooting-2-more-teens-arrested-gardena-shooting-video

  15. I have no doubt this statistic will be used against lawful firearms owners as well, right?

    I mean, 2 people were allegedly shot by a criminal (and his two accomplices)...who broke how many laws? Using an illegally possessed and acquired weapon...in a forbidden area...

    There should be another law to prohibit anyone else from doing the same thing!

  16. Kids can't and don't bring guns to school unless they have bad intentions.

    Yeah, like Demari DeReu. Clearly she had bad intentions.


    I actually have a fairly serious question/suggestion. If I am really concerned about a threat to my personal safety, I take action to improve my safety. For example, I am afraid of getting into a car wreck on the Seward Highway (one of the most dangerous in the US) so I always wear my seat belt and slow down to a safe speed.

    If you are honestly concerned about being shot by a negligent discharge in a public place then why don't you get and wear soft body armor? Obviously the gun control laws you seek may never be passed, and even if they are, will take time to implement. In the interrim, soft body armor can be had for a few hundred bucks. If MN winter weather is anything like Alaska's then the extra bulk will actually help keep you warm and wouldn't really be uncomfortable at all.

    Frankly I think such a step is unnecessary because the odds of being shot by a concealed carrier are somewhat less than the chance that I'll win the lottery (and I only get a few scratchoff tickets in my Xmas stocking every year!). But if you perceive that there is a higher and significant risk, isn't the peace of mind worth it?

  17. Also, even if no criminal charges are filed (which is up to the grand jury) in the restaurant ND, remember that the concealed carry permit holder's life is going to be forever changed. He can -- and likely will -- be sued for every nickel he owns in civil court. If he isn't it is only out of the kindness of the woman who was shot.

    Just because there's no immediate criminal charges doesn't mean that there aren't life altering consequences.

  18. I refuse to be compared to a 17 yr old criminal and his criminal cronies.

    Tell you what, I propose you take the MN Chapter of the Million Mom March to South Central LA and stand at the entrance to each High School reminding the children that they're not allowed to bring guns to school! (They may have missed the signs).

    Heck - I propose you do it at North High in Minneapolis! (Although they're closing that one - better try Roosevelt in S. Mpls)

    Come down from Duluth some time and try it -- see how far you get...then after they ignore you, try talking to these kids about the reasons they violate the law...then try and implement some real change in their lives by addressing those reasons one at a time with them, and at the community level.

    You'll find out that the root cause of all the violence you blog about is very rarely the firearm. Things like parent involvement, illegal drug use, single parent households...these lead to youngsters who feel disconnected from others, their community and their families. Disconnected youth will latch onto inappropriate sources for the authority they need, like gangs.

    Simply posting stories of illegal firearms use along with all the other talking points is disingenuous, especially when your blog heading talks about "prevention". Prevent it at the source - the criminal - before they become one.

    Project Ceasefire in Chicago is a good example.

  19. In Minnesota, we partner with the Northside groups working on non-violence and peace and have lobbied together with the young people who are so affected by gun violence. I asked them at a gathering at the State Capitol 2 years ago to raise their hands if they knew someone who had been shot. Every student raised their hand. We are working with that group of folks to get the kids there to serve as role models for their peers. Our groups also work with law enforcement in our communities and other groups as we are asked or when we approach them. I do a lot more than just post stories on my blog.

  20. What an excellent start! I'm changing my mind about you.

    It must be that interaction with them while they're young that helps prevent crime from happening in the future. Gives them a sense of purpose in life other than being a criminal.

    Not quite as simple as banning the "tools"...is it?

  21. from Mike B- I took one editor's license in changing a word here: " jdege says, "Up through the middle sixties, kids would routinely bring their guns to school."

    I say that's total $%^&. This is another of the pro-gun lines that you guys keep bouncing off each other. There may have been some cases of that, maybe in rural Pennsylvania during hunting season, but to say it was the norm, "would routinely bring" is crap.

    Also crap is that idea of teaching kids responsibility and demistifying the gun. Young children have a curiosity that is too strong for that and older kids often have a rebellion that is. Parental supervision is the only answer. "

    I asked my husband about this since he and I were in high school in the 60s. He thinks this is pure nonsense. He doesn't remember anyone bringing a gun to school and neither do I. My brother seems to remember a few kids who lived further out of town having hunting guns in their cars ready to go hunting for the week-end. It was certainly not routine to have guns in schools. Nor were school shootings by the way.

  22. Jepete,
    Why were shootings so rare when firearms could be ordered through the mail? Purchased at hardware stores with no background checks? When handguns could be owned by persons under 21?

    To me these are strong indicators that decisive improvements to societal behavior can be had regardless of firearms policy one way or the other.

    Why not concentrate on things that both sides can agree on?

  23. I grew up in the 70's and 80's and it was not uncommon even then to see hunting rifles in high school student pickups, in Ohio. This is not BS. Again, just because you haven't heard of it, doesn't mean it didn't happen. You didn't believe MLK owned weapons either, until HuffPo set you straight.

  24. Japete. I lived in Massachusetts until 1971. In the eighth grade we were allowed to bring a rifle or shotgun to school as long as our parents had called or sent a note saying it was ok. We would leave them in the coat room in the office and pick them up after school.

    I went to high school in lake county Illinois, we often had shotguns in the car for hunting during season or for trap shooting out of season.

    If you lived inDuluth in the sixties and do not remember guns being available then it's pure selective memory. I have two friends who went to Cloquet and Greenway high schools during the late sixties and early seventies and both remember after school hunting as so common to be an everyday event.

  25. Thanks anon- you guys enlighten me every day.

  26. I don't think I would call it selective memory,P. I just didn't hang out with those who had guns and hunted after school.

  27. Japete, I grew up in rural North Dakota and graduated high school in 1995. I, and most of my friends drove to school with a shotgun and a rifle in our pickups nearly every day. We would hunt coyotes on the way to school, and birds after school if we had time. No one ever gave it a second thought, and there was never an incident.

  28. We could have a long list of personal experiences of guys who used to bring guns to school in the good old days. That doesn't change the fact that what jdege said is "total $%^&."

    He was speaking generally, saying that guys or people "would routinely bring" guns to school."

    Some did, fine, but that's not the same as painting it as a normal and typical behaviour.

  29. I feel sorry for the Gardena backpack shooter. There is no evidence that he was a "really bad kid" before this shooting. http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7911559

    He stole the gun from his stepfather. I have to question how the stepfather was storing it if the kid was able to steal it.

    Anyway, I'm sure this incident has totally changed his life. If he's tried as an adult and gets sent to state prison, he could end up a career criminal -- so I hope the prosecuters choose to go another way.