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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Sunday, January 9, 2011

More than zero is too many

A friend of mine on Facebook, when reading one of my posts about the tragic shooting in Arizona, said this: "More than zero is too many". Yes indeed. More than zero gun deaths is too many. It's only January 9, 2011 and we've already had one school shooting resulting in 2 deaths and 1 injured and a horrific mass shooting of a U.S. Congresswoman killing 6 and wounding another 14. Those are only the high profile shootings. On average 32 people a day are murdered by bullets. This one got more attention, of course, because it was an attempted assassination of a Congresswoman.


In reflecting on the events of yesterday, a few things stand out in my mind. I can't get over that Representative Giffords made mention during the 2010 campaign of Sarah Palin's web page that listed 20  Democrats to "go after" with a big gun site over the names. Giffords said that when people do that, there are consequences. Tellingly, Palin took down this web page after the shootings. Why? She had to have understood that her posting of candidates in the cross hairs of a gun scope would be an issue. Some of the comments made by gun rights activists seem to be trying to distract from what the conversation should be about.  A couple people made comments on this Huffington Post article by Brady President Paul Helmke. They were ridiculing people for not knowing the exact type of gun used by the shooter. That is not the point here. Picking on details like this to detract from the real issue is disconcerting and disingenuous.


We've spent too many aftermaths of mass shootings in this country in denial, refusing to call attention to the obvious elephant in the room. Guns. And then we go on to the next event or news item that captures our fancy and we forget how we felt when we learned that another mass shooting happened in the U.S. This time, because it affected a sitting Congresswoman, I have hopes that it will be different. All in Congress now feel vulnerable and shaken by the senseless and surprise shooting of their colleague.


Will we keep our heads in the sand and ignore what just happened letting the NRA continue its' fairy tale that more guns make us safer? Let's hope not. This article highlights how rare it is in our history as a nation for sitting members of Congress to be the targets of shooters. Only 5 have died so far. That is why this incident is so unsettling for Americans. There is much more to be said and much more information to come as we digest what happened yesterday in Tucson. The House of Representatives has cancelled most of its' business for next week in order to deal with the implications of this event and to take heed of the obvious safety issues surrounding all of them now. Today I attended an event to interview local legislators about issues before them. To a person, they all mentioned how vulnerable and nervous yesterday's shooting made them. How sad. 


The young man who perpetrated this awful carnage appears to have a lot of problems with mental health, drugs and anger. We will continue to learn more about this. How does someone like this get his guns? He could have walked into a gun show in Arizona and easily bought it without a background check. But unless he was adjudicated mentally ill, his name would not appear on a prohibited purchasers list on the NICS system checked by federally licensed firearms dealers. Now we know, however, that the guns were purchased legally from a federally licensed firearms dealer.


What we also know about the gun and the ammunition is that Jared Loughner had 2 ammunition clips each holding more than 30 rounds. He was attempting to load the second clip when he was tackled by some people at the scene. A witness thought it only took about 10 seconds to shoot off the first round. It needs to be said here that if the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 had not been allowed to lapse in 2004, this type of high capacity ammunition clip would not have been legal to import or sell in gun stores. That would have made it more difficult for Loughner to get his hands on these clips. In addition, had he had the traditional clip with fewer rounds it would have been more difficult to shoot as many people as he did. So one logical conclusion to make here is that there actually was a good reason for that pesky assault weapons ban that the gun lobby hated and did everything in their power see that it lapsed. Score one point for the NRA, zero for the victims.


As to Arizona gun laws, people who carry guns don't need a permit to do so. How would anyone know the difference between someone who has evil intentions with that gun and someone who doesn't? Without having to go through a background check to carry a loaded gun in public means that anyone can carry a loaded gun in public. Score 2 for the NRA and 0 for the victims.


Could a law have stopped this man from getting his gun? Maybe. Maybe not. I have said before, however, that we have a culture in the U.S peculiar to our country. We have the second amendment which people hold sacred leading to a culture where we have almost as many guns as we have citizens in our country. This is just not the case in other countries. If more guns make us safer, we need to ask why it isn't working out that way. We have the greatest rate of gun deaths per 100,000  over other civilized countries not at war(current figures hard to find). It requires leaving of our senses and our common sense to believe that more guns have made us safer. How did the gun lobby get so many people to believe this? They are very clever. They are powerful. They use fear. They are well funded and they fund well. They are the NRA.


We don't know yet what motivated Jared Loughner to shoot yesterday. But much has been said about the atmosphere of violent talk and actions that were amplified during the Health Care debate of last year. In Arizona, Immigration has caused a lot of tension and over the top rhetoric. Gabrielle Gifford's opponent, Jesse Kelly, in the heated campaign last fall posted an ad in the campaign inviting supporters to join him to: ""shoot a fully automatic M16" to "get on target for victory" and "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office." There have been violent times in our country around difficult political issues such as Civil Rights, the war in Vietnam and others. It has come from both sides of the spectrum. There is no excuse for it whenever or whoever engages in it.


Eventually the truth will be told. Eventually we will have the conversation about guns and violence that the country deserves to have. Eventually our politicians will have to face what just happened head on. Eventually common sense will make the rules instead of the "guys with the guns", as Wayne LaPierre, Executive VP of the NRA made famous. More than zero gun deaths are too many. This is a national tragedy that has shaken us all. Certain of us who know what it's like to have a loved one shot to death or injured watched with sadness in our hearts knowing what the families and loved ones of those killed and injured have in their futures. Yesterday was a bad day for us- too many memories.


Most especially, the family of Jim Brady, who was shot in the head in the assassination attempt on the life of President Reagan knows the pain and suffering ahead for the victims. Jim and his wife Sarah have been active in the cause of preventing gun injuries and death. Here are their words in a press about yesterday's shooting. The statement ends with this:"We want all the families to know that we were there then, and we are with them now. Our thoughts, our hopes - we pray that they can feel them and know just a small measure of peace. We pray that they understand how committed we long have been to making our beloved country a place where gun violence doesn’t happen so easily and destroy so many.

We offer our condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. We offer our assistance, in any way that it might be helpful, to those who have survived and will struggle, as we have, to heal from the unspeakable horror of gun violence." "






41 comments:

  1. "It needs to be said here that if the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 had not been allowed to lapse in 2004, this type of high capacity ammunition clip would not have been legal to import or sell in gun stores."

    This is not true. The AWB made it illegal to import or manufacture magazines with a capacity greater than ten rounds (except for law enforcement and military use), but it said nothing about selling such magazines. You could generally find pre-ban magazines with more than ten rounds capacity in stores throughout the ban, albeit at rather high prices.

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  2. As to Arizona gun laws, people who carry guns don't need a permit to do so. How would anyone know the difference between someone who has evil intentions with that gun and someone who doesn't? Without having to go through a background check to carry a loaded gun in public means that anyone can carry a loaded gun in public. Score 2 for the NRA and 0 for the victims.

    One way is like this person with a concealed weapon ran towards the gunfire to see if he could help and ended up helping restrain the gunman.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/01/08/exp.az.zamudio.witness.cnn?hpt=T1

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  3. "How would anyone know the difference between someone who has evil intentions with that gun and someone who doesn't?"

    I'd imagine the person with evil intentions is the one shooting people while the one who doesn't isn't.

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  4. Chris, Thanks for that clarification. Excuse me if I don't believe you, or at least I'll take what you say with a big grain of salt.

    The point was "banning" this kind of magazine would prevent deaths.

    The bigger point which I got out of japete's post is that background checks on all sales are needed and improved mental health screening procedures as well.

    Those would save lives too and they wouldn't inconvenience you too much, unless ...

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  5. Yes, and he said he decided he didn't need to use his gun. That was even more interesting.

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  6. Aztec- it's too late to know that once the shooting begins.

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  7. "...and he said he decided he didn't need to use his gun"

    Wow! A guy with a gun who didn't shoot anyone...amazing! We're not all trying to be heroes out here. The threat to others had ceased by the time he came upon the situation. MN is a little different, we have a duty to "retreat" rather than advance towards a threat.

    I see you're censoring comments again to provide a slanted view of any side other than your own.

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  8. I don't have time to print the ugly comments sent in by you guys on this post, nor would I if I had the time. You seem to have forgotten that this is my blog and that I have a wide audience other than you gun guys reading this blog who happen to agree with me. Check the main stream media. They are all saying the same things I said on my blog. You guys are not in the majority on this issue.

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  9. "Yes, and he said he decided he didn't need to use his gun. That was even more interesting. "

    Fully agree. Even the most novice self-defense gun instruction should emphasize that weapons are only a last resort when life is in immediate danger.

    It's more the mindset, not the tools.

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  10. The assault weapons ban didn't make anything illegal, it just banned manufacture. I got my 15 round Glock magazine (the standard capacity for Glock 19s) during the ban, and most of my other 30 round magazines for my rifles under the ban. The AWB did cause the price of "pre-ban" rifles to rise precipitously, to about 30% more than they go for now, but with rare exception, it budge magazine prices. Glock users had to suffer with older generation 15 and 17 round magazines, but that was it, and they worked fine.

    Glock factory magazines actually were one of the few that did get rather expensive. Aftermarket magazines were plentiful and cheap during the ban. Not clear yet whether this guy used Glock factory mags, or one of the many after market magazines, but not that it really matters now.

    The day the ban expired, however, I did go out and buy two newer generation Glock magazines, the 15 round standard capacity for the 19, that had stamped "RESTRICTED: For Military and Law Enforcement Use Only." just as a souvenir.

    We're not going to agree to go back to those times. Magazine bans are off the table.

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  11. So finally tally NRA 2 Brady Bunch 0.

    Go TEAM!

    None of the nostrums you advocate had any impact on school shootings or high profile violence during the ten year reign of the AWB. It is simple insanity to think that it would have any effect now.

    I am willing to live in a free society, with all the risks and rewards that it has to offer. Because living in a non-free society does not make you any safer.

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  12. I wouldn't be so sure about that now.

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  13. Are you cheering against the victims, then, anon? Sick.

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  14. It's more likely he's cheering against the evil people who would use innocent victims to demand irresponsible bans that will affect equally innocent gun owners.

    It's those people who are really sick.

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  15. Please sir, do not tell me that you condone anything like this. If so, you may not comment on this blog. Your comment is as sick as Rev. Phelps and his bigoted group of people who, in the name of a false religion, do the most ugly things in this country that promote the very thing that leads to these sorts of deaths. I don't think you want to be admitting in writing what you just wrote here. Remember- these are read by a lot of people around the world. I do keep all comments. For those who don't know what Mr. Ohki is referring to here, he must have read my Tweet about the Rev. Phelps cheering the gun deaths in Tucson and planning to picket the funerals. I am incensed and I feel personally violated by such hatred. Shame on you for agreeing with it.

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  16. @ Guy Ohki and Anon,

    "Cheering against the evil people who would use innocent victims to demand irresponsible bans.." That's like cheering terrorists for bombing the World Trade Center because you are against better airport screening, for instance. Weapons are banned or regulated to reduce violence, and regulations in general are put in place to protect us. If lives are saved, I don't have a moment of pity for gun owners who have a harder time buying another AK.

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  17. "This shouldn't happen in this country, or anywhere else, but in a free society, we're going to be subject to people like this. I prefer this to the alternative."

    -John Green, father of slain 9-year-old Christina Green

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  18. For the record -- almost everyone feels that Fred Phelps is a lunatic.

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  19. "Aztec- it's too late to know that once the shooting begins."

    Then we better start developing our psychic powers so we can determine who has evil intentions before they actually do anything evil.

    In a situation like this, permits are a non-sequitur. One of your darling organizations (the VPC) tracks murders committed by permit holders. On the other had, there are people who carry without permits who never harm anyone. A permit is not and never will be an indicator of evil intent.

    The only thing a permit indicates is the ability of the holder to pass a background check, a test, and pay a certain amount of money. The only purpose a permit serves is to fill the state coffers (with permit fees and fines for those who carry without a permit).

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  20. Dear readers,

    One commenter keeps harrassing me about what law would have fixed this one. I said in the post that a law may or may not have stopped this shooter. The AWB for one, may very well have prevented Loughner from being able to get the magazines. I said that in the post. Why keep asking me? What's the purpose. My post speaks for itself so you might as well keep commenting. It's a useless attempt at a gotcha question. You should know me better than that by now.

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  21. Joan,

    The purpose is to simply point out that no law, no regulation, no requirement will stop firearm related murders as long as there are firearms.

    You've stated that you will continue pushing for restrictive laws until their are Zero Firearms -- your words in response to my question.

    Ask yourself how much freedom, how much liberty are we going to have to give up on the road to an impossible goal.

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  22. If you are not a criminal or a prohibited person, you will not be giving up your freedoms.

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  23. RE: "Glock users had to suffer with older generation 15 and 17 round magazines..."

    Pity the poor glock-users and their decade-long suffering in only being able to shoot 15-to-17 people at a time, instead of a full 30.

    It seems only logical that Safeway should start offering free glocks alongside the weekly ad flier as you walk in the door. Then, the Sunday shoppers wouldn't have to worry about being killed by a deranged lunatic. Really, who doesn't want to get into a shootout while searching for bargains on Frosted Flakes and granola bars?

    End scarcasm.

    In no world does it make more sense to arm as many people as possible than to simply prevent the mentally unstable from getting the guns in the first place.

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  24. Joan,

    I'll be giving up my freedom if you have your way.

    My right to privacy -- Gone with your registration and licensing schemes.

    My right to freely bestow a gift to family or friends without governmental approval -- gone with your background check and approval requirements.

    My right to keep and bear arms in public -- gone with your desire to limit Open or Concealed Carry.

    Over and over again, you've denied you are after a ban. Over and over again you've denied you are after registration. Over and over again you've denied you are after concealed carry.

    But the logic dictates those freedoms will be lost if you have your way. If you continue to push for ever more restrictive laws as you have said you will.

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  25. japete --

    As others have pointed out, the AWB did not magically make normal-capacity magazines (what the gun control movement calls "high-capacity") disappear. It prohibited new manufacture and import, not possession and transfer.

    In other words, even while the ban was in effect, there were bajillions of these magazines in circulation. The ban didn't prevent anybody who wanted one from obtaining one (though they might have had to pay a slightly higher price for it, due to the artificial limit on the supply).

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  26. "On reflecting on the events of yesterday, a few things stand out in my mind. I can't get over that Representative Giffords made mention during the 2010 campaign of Sarah Palin's web page that listed 20 Democrats to "go after" with a big gun site over the names."

    What I find disgusting about this is how quick people are to point fingers at political opponents, before anyone has any idea what actually happened.

    Was this guy a right-wing nutjob? A left-wing nutjob? A just plain, ordinary, apolitical nutjob?

    When you wrote the above, you had no idea. And you had absolutely zilch to connect him to Palin, save for the stream of foundationless bile that was issuing from the usual left-wing political pundits.

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  27. If you all have been reading my blog at all, you will know that I did not connect the shooter to Sarah Palin. She is all the buzz on the news by the way, in case you hadn't noticed. She is responsible for some of the violent talk in this country. There is no denying that. As to the guy who has been drinking the NRA kool aid- keep living in your world of fear about taking away your rights and your guns. Good luck with that fairly tale world of yours. Me thinks thou does't protest too much.

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  28. "he must have read my Tweet about the Rev. Phelps cheering the gun deaths in Tucson and planning to picket the funerals."

    Admittedly, I did not. I don't usually read any Twitter pages. Personally, I find Phelps to be a disgusting little berk, and a perfect example of fundamentalism in America.

    As to my last comment: You mentioned the AWB, an irresponsible law that affected the law-abiding, and anon cheered it's demise.

    You accused him of cheering the victims, I pointed out he was cheering against the end of the AWB, and the lies that some very bad people said to try and pass it.

    I won't defend the Arizona law, the people there who post here would know more about that than me.

    Okay, I admit I could have been more tactful, and I'm truly sorry for that. But to compare me to Phelps? You go way too far.

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  29. Joan,
    It seems Palin isn't the only one...

    http://illinoiscarry.com/forum/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_id=5657

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  30. Thanks for sharing that. I will make sure that that doesn't happen again.

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  31. "She is responsible for some of the violent talk in this country."

    “If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,” said Obama's Deputy Chief of Staff, Jim Messina, back in August, 2009. It was only a couple of days later that black conservative Kenneth Gladney was attacked by a group of SEIU union thugs at a town hall meeting.

    Somehow, these connections between political rhetoric and violence only seen to be drawn one way.

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  32. Yes, others from your side have pointed this out. MSNBC also showed a map from the Democratic Campaign Committee from 2004 showing gun sights on maps. I did not say that both sides haven't engaged in this kind of talk. But of late, there is something different- that being that Democrats in Congress were very overtly threatened at town hall meetings and violence took place during that debate that we have not seen for many years. And it wasn't coming from the left. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck make daily references to violence and use incendiary images and talk. At the moment, there are few, if any such examples on the left. I said in my blog that I was talking about what was going on right now and currently. There is a lot of talk about all of this and most agree that the violent talk did not directly contribute to this crazy young man shooting. But the fact remains that Representative Giffords has been the target of threats and violence to her office after she supported the Health Care bill. That connection is pretty hard to avoid here.

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  33. really glen beck This is odd then
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dyiMuhvw_A

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWY1tQAQWzk

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  34. What else could he say? He has done more than his share of incendiary talk on his T.V. and radio shows. He gets people hyped up about the government and scares people about organizations and in several cases, people who have committed violent acts have referred to Glenn Beck's shows. The shooter, Poplawski, who shot 3 police officers in Pittsburgh had been influenced by Beck's rants. A man who was caught before shooting up a Tides Foundation office in CA was said, by his mother, to listen to Beck's rants on T.V. and was influenced by Beck. Sarah Palin talked about reloading. Rush Limbaugh is bombastic and rants constantly. I am only one of many who have made reference to what these folks have fomented in the past few years against President Obama, against Health Care, against almost anything the Democrats have done. As Representative Giffords said, there are consequences to this kind of stuff. Remember, this is not about blaming them for the shooting. This is putting blame on the ones who have ramped up talk about second amendment remedies, violence, calling people racists, etc. As you know, I responded before to someone else- it has come from the left at times as well. I am talking about this time. The videos of Glenn Beck are not his usual tone.

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  35. And yet somehow the media can not find one example of a democrat doing the same? Let see how many you can come up with I will start with this MSNBC one for some reason Chris Mathews missed this you would think he would have access to the footage.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/msnbc-host-calls-for-revolution-real-change-perhaps-through-violence/

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  36. It must be Bob S. again, or someone just like him.

    "The purpose is to simply point out that no law, no regulation, no requirement will stop firearm related murders as long as there are firearms."

    I don't think anyone says that "firearm related murders" will stop if certain laws are enacted.

    What we do say is SOME of them will.

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  37. I have a different take on this one Anthony. I don't think Dylan Ratigan was endorsing the ideas in this book. He was asking the author what he meant by his words and the author clearly said he thought it was possible that Americans could use violence if some of our problems were not taken care of. Ratigan was interviewing this man to find out what he meant by is ideas rather than endorsing the proposals in the book. I don't like the title of his book nor the idea that violence should or would be used if people don't like what their government is doing. But isn't that what you guys are always telling me? You are stock piling your guns in case you need them to fight against your own government. In this case, I believe the word revolution was used figuratively, as in the Industrial Revolution which Ratigan referred to later in the clip. I agree there is a fine line here and this language has been used on both sides and by people everywhere. The first post I made on my blog was about the terminology typically used in our language such as- "just shoot me" or "the magic bullet" , etc. We throw these words around cavalierly not thinking about implications of them for some who take them literally.

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  38. You can't attack a figure of speech or a metaphor. Civilized society uses figures of speech all the time. If you take them literally, you're mentally unfit to be a member of society.

    No one told Loughner to shoot people - he worked that out himself in his deranged mind.

    We can't limit free speech to the lowest common denominator - otherwise we lose that right as well. Are you really attacking freedom of speech too?

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  39. Are you addressing that to me, Pat? Certainly not. And what do you mean by attacking freedom of speech, too- in addition to what else? the freedom for anyone to buy, own and carry any kind of gun they want to wherever they want to?

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  40. "he first post I made on my blog was about the terminology typically used in our language such as- "just shoot me" or "the magic bullet" , etc. We throw these words around cavalierly not thinking about implications of them for some who take them literally."

    I was addressing my comment to you. The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech. That means I can use any metaphor I want to describe any situation I want. I can't yell "Fire" in a crowded theater -- but if I refer to a bad day at work as "getting shelled" or indicate that I'm "targeting" my competitors at work -- I'm not literally under fire, or putting a scope on my rival.
    They are figures of speech -- you try to ban those, and you're legislating the First Amendment to the lowest common denominator....just like you're trying to do to the Second.
    At you can stop claiming the moral high ground on that one -- I don't believe I've ever claimed that ANYONE should be able to buy/own/carry.

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  41. Now Pat- why did you assume I meant to ban the terminology.? Don't cast aspersions on my words or my intentions. If you can find someplace where I am asking to ban speech, please let me know.

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