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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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Thoughts about guns

Random thoughts about guns, gun deaths, gun policy and shootings:


President Obama chose not to mention why the seating arrangement was different at the State of the Union, why Christina Green's parents were guests of Michelle Obama's at the speech, why one chair was left empty in the chamber- because of a crazed man with several 30 round ammunition magazines bent on assasination and killing---disappointing


The President will do the right thing and engage us in a national and much needed conversation about the senseless shootings and carnage due to guns and large capacity magazines because of our lax gun laws---hopeful


Every day, more shootings and more pain and grief for family and friends---sad


A Minnesota House of Represenatives committee repeals sensible gun laws already on the books that have been working well to screen out those who should not have guns against vehement opposition of law enforcement--- outrage


One of the comments on the above cited article from the Star Tribune: "There should be no controls on gun sales and use whatever. The Constitution gives us that guarantee!"---totally false


Another comment from the article above: "People's rights to own a gun are not under attack. The NRA has allowed the GOP to be dominated by irrational, fact-denying lunatics. I own guns."---totally true


One more reasonable gun owner commenting on the Star Tribune article: "I am a gun-owner. The background check is no problem. It is a protection for me. The issue is the economy and jobs. They guys need to get to work and do the people's agenda--not their private agendas."---reassuring


I couldn't have said it better myself- another comment:"So, right on the heals of the tragedy in Tucson that has other states considering strengthening their gun laws, the Minnesota GOP is proposing a repeal of the state's existing system of gun background checks? It's sad to see that the criminals are so well represented in the Minnesota House."---amen


Another gun owner for common sense on the Minnesota House committee's decision: " I own two semi-auto pistols and have a conceal-and-carry permit. And I carry a .45. I support the second amendment, which allows for a 'WELL-REGULATED' militia. What a terribly sad state of affairs, to be watering down or tossing out existing regulations (especially those that no one in law enforcement have complained about.) What a dishonor we do to the memory of Christina Green and others. And yeah, as someone mentioned above - why the immediate attention to guns & abortion, instead of jobs-jobs-jobs?!?!"---I rest my case


This comes from a Republican gun owner!: " I am a Republican, a gun owner, have a Concealed Carry Permit and have NO problem with the existing state's system of gun background checks and permits. It is not a redundant law."---common sense


There is a scary trend towards the "insurrectionist" view of the Second Amendment to justify the need for guns.---shameless and frightening


Some comments on my blog to show this view of the Second Amendment: " So when people say, "oh gosh, you are talking "armed insurrection" here"!! We say "Exactly". I pray to God above that it never gets there, but at the same time I Pray that I might have the courage of Adams, Jefferson and the rest to stand up and do what is needed if the time does come." And this one: "The question is, given the realities of history and current events, are we better off with a more restrictive government and no rights to arms or the empowerment of arms? That is the real question"---questionable


As to whether people and even police officers sometimes make mistakes with their guns, here is this one about a flashlight device mounted on a gun causing a senseless accident. The manufacturer of said flashlight stands by his device and it's safety.---oops


Guns bought at gun shows end up in the hands of private sellers who don't care what happens with those guns once the sale is made---of course

I am happy that there are more reasonable people who talk common sense. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the President's Tuesday evening speech: "" Its absence was disappointing, but it will not slow the momentum we are building around the country, and in both parties, for common sense measures to strengthen law enforcement and improve public safety.”"---courageous

And last, but not least, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell had this to say on last night's show, the Last Word--- thank you.

We just can't ignore gun violence prevention policy after the Tucson shooting. We can't let it be thrown into the dustbin of failed public policy. Lives depend on our coming together as a country to do the big things that President Obama spoke about in his State of the Union speech. It's time for a new norm about the issue of gun violence. I will write more about this in future posts. Will our children and grandchildren wonder why we did not do what we could to protect them from future mass shootings? Can we win the future for them?

52 comments:

  1. Hey, I've got an idea.

    How about we have the local PD and the sheriff and the MN BCA and the FBI all run the same background check on every buyer.

    After all, if having two different agencies run the same background check makes society safer than just running one, then paying four different agencies to run the same background check four times will make us four times as safe.

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  2. We can't ignore violence of ANY kind after the Tucson massacre, or any other violence. And we won't. And we haven't.

    But we need to act intelligently, and find real solutions instead of "feel good" solutions. Limit magazines to 10 rounds and the next shooter will just bring two guns or buy one illegally (the Columbine shooting, which had a mix of different mag sizes, happened in the MIDDLE of the last AWB -- so the AWB did not affect them at all, and another one won't affect a future shooter).

    If you read the white house statement, Gibb's refused to pin himself down to any schedule or topic. Basically, the President is seeing which way the winds blow on this, and you may not get anything. At all.

    But when we make gun laws better ("weaken" then in your view), we are not doing anything that will help the next mass shooter, we are only making things better for the rest of us that are NOT mass shooters and further empowering the rest of us to resist those mass shooters.

    So yes, we are moving forward to better gun laws. Wyoming may go the route of AZ, AK and VT and go to unlicensed concealed carry (something I personally am on the fence about). And we're moving forward in MN, and in other states, and we'll continue to move forward in all but the most anti-gun of states (and even in Cali we got the ammunition laws thrown out).

    I'm not counting out a new law about magazine capacities by any means, but other than that you need to accept the fact that we still have the momentum, and the conversation will be about how to EXTEND gun rights, not limit them. I wouldn't be surprised to see movement on a national CCW movement with the changes in legislature (we were only 2 votes short in the Senate last time and passed such a bill in the house).

    I do feel bad for you, as I realize you have a personal and clinical fear about guns, but we can't let the fears of a few affect national policy and the rights of others. And the bottom line is ...

    The gun control passed in 1934 did not stop the Kennedy assassination.
    The gun control passed in 1968 did not stop the Reagan assassination attempt.
    The AWB (gun control) passed in 1994 did not stop the Columbine killers.
    The NICs (gun control) law passed after the VT incident did not stop Loughner.
    And through all of it the various gun control measures passed did nothing to affect murder rates overall.

    And whatever laws we may pass as a result of Tucson ... the next individual who goes so far off the deep end he wants to murder innocents will not be stopped by them.

    Evil always finds a way. Humans are like that, and always have been.

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  3. Stephen

    I don't need nor do I want your insincere words of sympathy or sorrow for me. Codescending comes to mind.

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  4. Sorry to blow up the other comment I left but couldn't get logged in right.

    Reactionary legislation is not the answer. A couple of lines about gun restriction.

    •In or about 2006, there were about 60 million (actually closer to 58M, but we'll use the rounded-up number to be kind to hopolophobes) people in the UK as a whole, including Scotland.

    •In England and Wales alone — discounting Scotland — there were over 163 thousand knife crimes.

    •By the end of 2006, there were more than 300 million people in the US as a whole.

    •In the US as a whole, there were fewer than 400 thousand gun crimes.

    •In the UK, based on these numbers, there was one knife crime commited for every 374 people (rounded down).

    •In the US, based on these numbers, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people — less than half a gun crime per 374 people (about 0.4987 gun crimes per 374 people, actually).

    •That means that, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US.

    In 2007 preliminary numbers from the NHTSA show 400,530 auto accidents in the US. There are 230 mil vehicles on the road in the US, owned by roughly the same number of people. There are 80 mil gun owners in the US holding 258 mil guns. Based on this a higher percentage of cars hurt people than guns.

    I own guns, I don't mind the background check. What I mind is people pushing endlessly for more and more restrictions when very few guns used in crime are legally owned. Punish the law abiding citizens and only the bad guys have guns, not good. Also banning the hi capacity mags happened before, guess what everybody still has them. It just means you cant buy them from now on, but with millions of them out there you can get as many as you want ten years from now. The father of the little girl shot in Tucson even said she nor he would want to see anti gun legislation come out of this.

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  5. Thanks for posting this It reminded me that I need to renew my permit to purchase and re register my dog. I do wish they would at least do a 5 year permit on both.

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  6. CTF- we have gone round and round and round about this one before. Since I live in the U.S. I am working on reducing gun deaths and injuries in this country and leaving the knife crimes to the folks in Great Britain to work out. Their gun deaths don't come anywhere near ours nor do they in any other country not at war. We have a huge number of guns per person in our country and a very large number of gun deaths and injuries. That number needs to come down, If a law will make it come down and stop the number of mass shootings or at the very least, the collateral damage to totally innocent people by passing a few laws, then it is worth doing. And it won't affect you one little bit in any significant way and certainly not take any of your rights away.

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  7. GMC70 says:

    Understand this, Japete.

    I'm as peaceable a guy as you will ever meet. I have never been in a real fistfight. I've never fired a weapon in anger, and pray I will never have to. But there some lines which cannot be crossed, and for me this is it:

    Ownership of a firearm is a right. It is not a privilege to be distributed by the State among its chosen select for the privileged few, and it is not a privilege for which a citizen must get prior permission to exercise. It is a right.

    It is a fundamental right, as fundamental to American democracy as the 1st amendment's principles. It is rooted in the inalienable right to one's own life; the right to hold governments accountable to their citizens and if necessary to remove that government and replace with one of their choosing; and protected by the clear language of the Constitution of the United States. It is no accident that the 2nd Am. is nestled securely between guarantees of the right of expression in the 1st Am. and the constitutional guarantees that one's home is one's castle found in the 3rd Am (historically not at issue) and the 4th amendment. It is, like the 1st and 4th amendments, central to the relationship between citizens and the governments to whom those citizens grant authority.

    And it is a right that may be limited or lost only with valid cause, and only after appropriate due process.

    Until the Brady Campaign, which sees every new gun law as an incrimental step toward registration and confiscation (and I don't care how many times you deny it, I don't believe you and have no reason to believe you) abandons that goal and recognizes that fundamental premise, there will be no compromise. None. Ever.

    We will not compromise over arbitrary numbers of rounds in magazines. We will not compromise over mythical "gun show loopholes." We will not compromise over "assault" weapons. We have compromised enough; the gunbanner's idea of compromise has always been the equivalent of a robber promising to only take half of my money - this time.

    No more. No compromise at all. You don't have the votes, and we will not give up what you cannot take.

    Oh - and we will not disarm. Ever.

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  8. Always nice to know that such reasonable people are reading my blog! I suggest that since you think everything I am doing is wrong and will take away your rights and that you won't compromise no matter what, that you stick to the blogs that share your views. Mine won't change as a result of anything you wrote, above. There is no reason for you to harass me and try to out write me or out think me or tell me what I am saying when I am not saying it. So if you intend to just keep saying the things you said above, I won't be publishing your comments. Thanks.

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  9. Thomas- I suggest you find some other blog on which to make your inappropriate and ridiculous comments. It won't be on mine.

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  10. So I don't get my anecdotal quote from the lady that processes the Permit to Purchase paperwork published --- Sad :-(

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  11. P- stop asking me your ridiculous question. You know the answer. You probably didn't know that I actually worked with children as a special educator. I know about teaching. You don't need to tell me to drop what I'm doing to just go and work with kids about gun safety. Why don't you stop what you are doing and try something else? I will not answer this question in any other way. You are attempting to get me to say something you won't like so you can come back at me and offer me more advise. I don't need your advise about what I should be doing with my time.

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  12. To make a real change in the criminal activities of people, the change has to be in the people committing the crimes. Do you agree with that?

    I have yet to see a car drive while drunk. I have yet to see a car drive recklessly.

    I have to see a cocaine baggie fly itself from Columbia to Minnesota nor a poppy plant deliver heroin.

    I have yet to see a iron pipe jump up and bash someone in the head by itself.

    The most successful anti crime programs are not police or legal programs. They are reading programs for kids at risk. Big brother programs. Community sports programs. Intensive truancy programs and stay in school programs.
    Personally I believe a key factor is the abandonment of shop and trades classes in high schools were the kids who had trouble with "book learning" had a genre in which they could flourish.

    Hardware is not the solution. It's software. Prevent the root causes of social failure and many if not most of the criminal element has other options in life.

    Studies have shown that something like 80% of career criminals have reading problems severe enough to displace them from the general workforce. Look at the study talked about in the star tribune. A vast majority of the people being booked into jail had evidence of drugs in their system.

    The tool is not the issue. It's the user.

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  13. Btw I never mentioned teaching kids about gun safety. I was talking about teaching kids to read. Period. I do it. I coach youth sports teams. I work hard at keeping in touch with kids I mentor. It's my ministry.

    And you know what?

    I get more out of it than I could ever put into it. And I go to sleep at night knowing that there are kids moving on with their lives in much better shape than what was predicted for them.

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  14. Regarding the Minnesota proposal to repeal state background checks: It's interesting to note that many pro-gun advocates suggest tougher enforcement of existing laws and better enforcement of existing background check systems, even on comments at New Trajectory. And yet, here is an example where they actually try to repeal those laws and make it harder to perform those background checks!

    From the article: "anyone convicted of gross-misdemeanor crimes in Minnesota, including false imprisonment, fourth-degree burglary and crimes committed for the benefit of a gang, would be barred under state law from getting a gun permit, but would not have their data show up in the federal system."

    Pro-gun folks, how, exactly, do you think this is a benefit for reducing violent crime?? Backers of the repeal must think that those who are convicted of those crimes spelled out above somehow deserve the right to continue buying guns. I would also argue that two background checks are better than one.

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  15. A couple of commenters here have basically said, in a roundabout way, the old argument that "More gun laws won't stop gun crimes, so why have them at all or create more?"

    One could also say that of any other law. For instance, "Laws against murder don't stop murders from happening, so why have them?" or "Laws requiring small children to be strapped into child safety seats in moving vehicles don't stop some parents from not using them, so why have those laws?"

    Regulations and laws of these sorts, including gun laws, are there "to promote the general welfare" (to quote our Constitution) of our people and protect them from unreasonable harm. They won't stop all crimes of that sort from happening, but they allow a mechanism to put the bad guys away or punishment, make it harder for criminals to get deadly weapons, and form a basis from which people can decide between what our society deems as right and wrong.

    According to recent polls, assault weapons and extended clips are considered by most people to be excessively dangerous to our general welfare for civilians to possess. I agree with them. Passing bans on these things will not stop gun murders and criminals may still be able to get them, but now there will be a mechanism to arrest them and sentence them, and it will force them to go underground to purchase them, illegally and more costly, and require they find an accomplice to do so -- both of which will impede the ease of access for them to get those items.

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  16. I've been around the block and back again several times with these arguments, P- just not with you. I am not going to get into this again and again with you all. What you are saying makes no sense of course, to the average person- only to you gun guys. I'm afraid the tool is the issue. Guns are not tools by the way, they are weapons for the express purpose of killing animals or people. Guns happen to be the weapon of choice for most killers. Guns kill more people than any other type of weapon. And please don't repeat the ridiculous notion that cars are weapons.

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  17. Well since I spent most of my life teaching children how to speak and learn better, P, I do know what that is like. It was very rewarding. It was my profession. You don't need to tell me that I should do this. I do and I have. You might be better off not giving out so much advise to people and telling them what they should do with their lives. I don't even know why you said it in the first place other than to put down my work to reduce gun violence and thinking I would do better doing something more rewarding. BTW- I was a soccer coach for both of my kids teams. I was an activity advisor with high school kids, I have taught Sunday school, I have volunteered with children and I love playing with my grandchildren and the neighbor children. The little girls in my neighborhood come to visit me frequently in the summer to deliver flowers to me. I think they like me and I like them a lot. Really, do you think about what you are saying?

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  18. Baldr- you make far too much sense for someone who comments on this blog. Thanks for your reasoned response.

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  19. Baldr said "One could also say that of any other law. For instance, "Laws against murder don't stop murders from happening, so why have them?""

    Murder is inherently wrong. Mala in se. Owning a gun is not inherently wrong.

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  20. So what's your point Heather, other than to throw around a technical law term? Of course murder is inherently wrong. Everyone knows that. And who said that owning a gun is inherently wrong? Nobody. Baldr certainly didn't. I just don't know how you guys get your interpretations so mixed up. That, of course, was not Baldr's point. I'm pretty sure you knew that but you just have to have the last word.

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  21. "Regarding the Minnesota proposal to repeal state background checks: It's interesting to note that many pro-gun advocates suggest tougher enforcement of existing laws and better enforcement of existing background check systems,"

    Many suggest tougher enforcement of existing laws, particularly laws against violent crime. Not so many, with respect to background checks.

    That background checks accomplish pretty much nothing has already been well established. The Brady Bill proved that. When the bill passed, it imposed background checks on all states, but 18 states already had background checks.

    That made it a very good experiment. If the background checks worked to lower crime, you'd have expected to see a decrease in crime in the states in which the Brady Bill imposed a background check, as compared to those states in which it did not.

    And, according to pro-gun-control researchers Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there was no such decrease observed.

    Background checks accomplish nothing except cost money and inconvenience the law-abiding. They do not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms.

    The simple truth is that nothing will prevent criminals from obtaining firearms.

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  22. I strongly agree with japete's opinion about the insurrectionist position. I also learned from japete, however, that it is a defensible position that was discussed by the founding fathers. I just don't think that it is right. We should not have the right to depose a legitimately elected government of the US. (It seems to me it is also an impossible, quixotic proposition in this age when the military has such massive firepower at its disposal. Even a 30 round magazine wouldn't help us against the army.)

    Even if the insurrectionist position was right, the last people I would trust to decide when an insurrection was needed are the gun zealots who comment with such invincible self-assurance on this blog.

    Everyone seems to have a favorite Jefferson quote. Especially popular among the extremists is the bloody one about the tree of liberty, etc. My favorite is:

    "Happy for us, that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers and set it to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms to amend or to restore their constitutions."

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  23. My point, Joan, is that murder is inherently wrong. You agree.

    My point is that owning a gun is not inherently wrong. You just said that you agree.

    Baldr compared gunlaws to laws prohibiting murder.

    Clearly, there is a difference.

    Again, murder is mala in se, which is morally wrong in and of itself. Even if the government had no law against murder it would still be wrong because murder is inherently wrong.

    Gun laws - one can assume this to be arbitrary limits on magazine capacity, cosmetic characteristics ("assault weapons"), etc - are not mala in se, they are mala prohibita - bad because they are prohibited by the state, not because they are morally wrong. Owning an 11 round mag in a state where they are banned may be illegal but it isn't morally wrong.

    These are clearly different situations.

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  24. Comparing gun laws to murder and child safety restraint laws is ludicrous. Anyone can easily demonstrate that murder is harmful and that an unrestrained child in the front seat of a vehicle decelerating from 65 mph to zero will be ejected through the windshield. Can any of you provide equally definitive proof, not feelings, statistics, opinions, polls, or beliefs, but solid proof that limiting the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds will reduce the number of people harmed by bullets?

    Also, the most important word in the quote "anyone convicted of gross-misdemeanor crimes in Minnesota, including false imprisonment, fourth-degree burglary and crimes committed for the benefit of a gang, would be barred under state law from getting a gun permit, but would not have their data show up in the federal system." is the word misdemeanor. If a criminal used a weapon in the act of false imprisonment, then it would be felony false imprisonment which would bar that criminal from ever purchasing a firearm.

    A felony is a serious crime, while a misdemeanor is not. Should someone found guilty of a misdemeanor be barred for life from ever being able to defend themselves from a felony?

    Consider a young unemployed mother who desperately needs food to feed her children. Under the pressure of her hungry children, she gets a crowbar and heads over to the corner grocery store. However, realizing what she is doing is wrong and that she has never done anything else wrong in her life, she has a sudden change of heart and decides not to go through with the crime. Unfortunately, a motion sensing alarm system was tripped and the police catch her outside the store with the crowbar. That's fourth-degree burglary.

    Fast forward 10 years and this woman is now the victim of a hateful stalker who has already attempted to rape her once. The police can't do anything and now she can't get a firearm to protect herself either. Is that fair when she never even broke into the store in the first place?

    I suspect there are good reasons why misdemeanors shouldn't disqualify people from owning a firearm and I suspect the lawmakers are aware of these reasons.

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  25. GMC70:

    "Until the Brady Campaign, which sees every new gun law as an incrimental step toward registration and confiscation (and I don't care how many times you deny it, I don't believe you and have no reason to believe you) abandons that goal and recognizes that fundamental premise, there will be no compromise. None. Ever."

    This is grandiose victimism. Paranoid gun owners like this guy believe they are the target of a vast conspiracy to confiscate their guns. Subconsciously, this fantasy allows them to picture themselves fighting to the death for their rights, going out in a blaze of glory. The more delusional among them actually think they'll prevail in the all-out war which is coming with the givernment.

    We need proper gun control properly enforced in order to weed out as many of the nut cases as possible and to slow down the flow of guns from people like GMC70 into the criminal world.

    As disappointing as it may be to guys like him, most gun control advocates don't want to disarm everybody.

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  26. " Passing bans on these things will not stop gun murders and criminals may still be able to get them, but now there will be a mechanism to arrest them and sentence them, and it will force them to go underground to purchase them, illegally and more costly, and require they find an accomplice to do so.."

    Baldr, criminals do this now. They do it frequently and everyday. They are already prohibited from possessing firearms so they go underground and to black market sources. They pay a far greater price then they would as a legal buyer. But when you are using stolen money, that just means they have to steal more.

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  27. So you are saying then,jdege, just to be clear, that we should drop all background checks. Do you realize you are making the argument for my side? If it's true that criminals will get their guns anyway, where will they get them? Oh yes, they could just walk into a FFL and purchase anything without a background check. Mentally ill- sure why not? Just walk into a FFL and get your gun? All comers get guns. No problem. Oh yes, I forgot, you can always go to a gunshow where criminals and others who are prohibited from buying at FFLs go to get some of their guns. Never mind that 2 million people have been prohibited from buying guns after the Brady Law was enacted. But you guys don't believe that and you make excuses for why that doesn't actually mean all those people were criminals. Your line of reasoning then, says that you admit that felons, domestic abusers, adjudicated mentally ill folks, drug abusers, etc. get their guns at places like gun shows or from private sellers who got the guns legally in the first place. And they passed a background check to get them and still traffic the guns. Let's just have a lawless society. I would like that much better.

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  28. Heather- the fact that you can throw legal terms around does not make your reasoning correct. You are trying to say that we can't do anything about guns then because:" Owning an 11 round mag in a state where they are banned may be illegal but it isn't morally wrong." This is such a wrong headed way of saying that no one can restrict anything in this country because owning something is not morally wrong. So by that line of reasoning, no one can make me get a driver's license in order to make us safer publicly because owning a car is not morally wrong. No one can tell us that we must put our children in car seats because owning a car seat is not morally wrong. This is pure and simply imaginary rhetoric. It makes absolulety no sense. You can't claim the moral high ground here though I know you would love to.

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  29. "So you are saying then,jdege, just to be clear, that we should drop all background checks."

    I'm saying that if we did so, we'd be no less safe. I will go farther and say that if we dropped all permitting requirements, and allowed anyone to carry anywhere, we'd still be no less safe.

    Remember - it's been legal for anyone to carry anything in Vermont, since 1792, and we all know what a violent hell-hole that place is...

    The current NICS check is minimally invasive. It doesn't make it significantly more difficult for me when I buy a gun. So I'm not advocating its repeal. But that does not mean I agree that it accomplishes anything. It doesn't.

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  30. No problem. Oh yes, I forgot, you can always go to a gunshow where criminals and others who are prohibited from buying at FFLs go to get some of their guns.

    This is a problem with private sales, not gun shows. Criminals can buy their guns just as easily outside the gun show environment. FFL dealers within the gun show must still follow federal laws. In fact, I only see a few guns for sale in local gun shows that are immune from the NICS check, compared to the hundreds for sale on local forums that are virtually unnoticed by the general public.

    Now here is the real point of my reply. Has anyone ever seriously considered why you, me, and others without an FFL are denied access to E-Check? E-Check is easy to use. I could use it from my iPhone anywhere a gun could be sold, except that it's not me choosing against the background check, but the FBI that is blocking me from doing so. Why?

    Why is Carolyn McCarthy wasting time with a bill that won't pass the House instead of working to reform the NICS/E-Check system so that I can use it if I were to ever sell a firearm to a stranger? It doesn't have to be mandatory, but it would be comforting if I had the choice to run a background check on a stranger instead of the government flatly telling me that I can't.

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  31. Heather is exhibiting the meaning of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing:

    Malum prohibitum (plural mala prohibita, literal translation: "wrong [as or because] prohibited") is a Latin phrase used in law to refer to conduct that constitutes an unlawful act only by virtue of statute, as opposed to conduct evil in and of itself, or malum in se. Conduct that was so clearly violative of society's standards for allowable conduct that it was illegal under English common law is usually regarded as "malum in se". An offense that is malum prohibitum, for example, may not appear on the face to directly violate moral standards.

    The distinction between these two cases is discussed in State of Washington v. Thaddius X. Anderson :

    Criminal offenses can be broken down into two general categories malum in se and malum prohibitum. The distinction between malum in se and malum prohibitum offenses is best characterized as follows: a malum in se offense is "naturally evil as adjudged by the sense of a civilized community," whereas a malum prohibitum offense is wrong only because a statute makes it so. State v. Horton, 139 N.C. 588, 51 S.E. 945, 946 (1905).
    "Public welfare offenses" are a subset of malum prohibitum offenses as they are typically regulatory in nature and often "'result in no direct or immediate injury to person or property but merely create the danger or probability of it which the law seeks to minimize.'" Bash, 130 Wn.2d at 607 (quoting Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246, 255-56, 72 S. Ct. 240, 96 L. Ed. 288 (1952)); see also State v. Carty, 27 Wn. App. 715, 717, 620 P.2d 137 (1980).


    For example, most human beings feel that murder of other human beings is wrong, regardless of whether a law governs such conduct or where the conduct occurs, and is thus recognizably malum in se.

    In contrast, consider driving laws. In the U.S., people drive on the right-hand side of the road. In the UK and other states of the Commonwealth, people drive on the left-hand side. Violation of these rules is an example of a malum prohibitum law because the act is not inherently bad, but is forbidden by law, as set forth by the lawmakers of the jurisdiction. Malum prohibitum crimes are criminal not because they are inherently bad, but because the act is prohibited by the law of the state.

    The problem is that one can have a differing opinion as to what these terms mean: For example is abortion mala in se or malum prohibitum? The Jewish culture does not believe that life begins as conception and is more willing to look at the mother's welfare than the speculative life of the foetus. On the other hand, some people believe that life begins at conception.

    Other examples are marital rape, statutory rape, child mrriage, and infanticide. In the US, the age of consent is 18 and in the UK it is 16. It was 13 in the UK up until the late Victorian period.

    Calling something Malum prohibitum makes it no less valid for a topic of legislation than having it be called mala in se. If society deems something to be a danger, then that should be respected.

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  32. "You are trying to say that we can't do anything about guns then because:" Owning an 11 round mag in a state where they are banned may be illegal but it isn't morally wrong." This is such a wrong headed way of saying that no one can restrict anything in this country because owning something is not morally wrong."

    Goodness, you are completely misunderstanding.

    These are basic legal concepts. It doesn't mean that you cannot make owning 11 round mags illegal at all. You can. That's why there's a legal term for it! The point is that you cannot compare laws banning magazine ownership to laws prohibiting murder, because they are completely different.

    I'm sorry that you don't understand the basic law concepts involved, but just because you don't understand them doesn't mean they don't exist in our legal system.

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  33. And Heather, just because I don't understand the intricacies of legal terms, not being a lawyer( are you or did you get this out of a legal text somewhere or are parroting the gun lobby's objections?) does not mean that your interpretation of the legal concepts are correct. Your tortured logic begs the main point- it is perfectly reasonable to ban the large capacity magazines no matter whether it is more or less legal than prohibiting murder. What are you really trying to say here? I think you are attempting to impose some sort of logic to the argument to try to stop the debate or change the nature of the debate. I prefer Laci's analysis, above, to yours.

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  34. Migo- I am still trying to get my head around the suggestions you have made to allow all private sellers to use E-check on their own. I think it is rife with problems but I am asking questions. But to distract the conversation away from the issue at hand is what you really have in mind. Rep. McCarthy is absolutely not wasting her time. You could say that about the recent repeal of the Health Care law by the Republican controlled House as well. They know the Senate won't take it up nor will the President sign off on it. So why did they do it anyway? To make a point? To get their base riled up? To move their agenda along? At least what McCarthy is doing is something positive and moving us in the direction of doing the right thing. She is gaining support daily for her bill.

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  35. I am trying to say that laws against killing people and laws against owning magazines should be held to different standards. Baldr's assertion (which started this particular discussion) was that they should be held to the same standards.

    It doesn't matter how effective a law against killing people is, because killing people is still wrong and people who do it clearly need to be punished.

    It does matter how effective a law banning certain magazines is. If a law banning magazines won't reduce violence, then what is the point of it?

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  36. Your assumption then Heather is that we should just let mentally unstalbe people and felons continue to get their hands on these ammunition magazines and let them continue killing innocent people? That is the only conclusion to draw from this. In order for you to have your right, as you see it, to own any kind of ammunition mag you want, we must put up with the occasional mass shooting and call it collateral damage. How else to look at your line of reasoning?

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  37. Almost anything can be a weapon. Iron pipe, automobile, gallon of gasoline, fist, breadknife, beer bottle, Boeing jet.

    It is the intent of the user which transforms any object in to a weapon. People are murdered by other people using matches, shoelaces, rat poison, fuel oil and fertilizer. It is not in the least bit ridiculous to suggest an automobile can be used as a weapon.

    http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/massachusetts/new-bedford-eyewitness-driver-ran-down-vicitm

    http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/4010-suspect-run-down-victim-at-gas-station-brawl.html

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-06-04/news/21656706_1_bicyclists-victim-rampage

    http://www.gjsentinel.com/news/articles/witness_man_meant_to_drive_tru

    P

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  38. P- gone around about this before. Not relevant and don't send this type of argument again. It will not be published as it is just not what we are talking about on this blog.

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  39. Dear readers- unless somebody can further this ridiculous discussion about legal terms with something that makes sense, don't continue. I am done publishing it. It is not relevant to the debate here or the issue as much as you would to make it so.

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  40. "Your assumption then Heather is that we should just let mentally unstalbe people and felons continue to get their hands on these ammunition magazines and let them continue killing innocent people?"

    Criminals will always be able to get firearms, regardless of whatever background checks, waiting periods, or absolute bans you impose.

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  41. Alan said: "I strongly agree with japete's opinion about the insurrectionist position. I also learned from japete, however, that it is a defensible position that was discussed by the founding fathers. I just don't think that it is right. We should not have the right to depose a legitimately elected government of the US. (It seems to me it is also an impossible, quixotic proposition in this age when the military has such massive firepower at its disposal. Even a 30 round magazine wouldn't help us against the army.)

    Even if the insurrectionist position was right, the last people I would trust to decide when an insurrection was needed are the gun zealots who comment with such invincible self-assurance on this blog.

    Everyone seems to have a favorite Jefferson quote. Especially popular among the extremists is the bloody one about the tree of liberty, etc. My favorite is:

    "Happy for us, that when we find our constitutions defective and insufficient to secure the happiness of our people, we can assemble with all the coolness of philosophers and set it to rights, while every other nation on earth must have recourse to arms to amend or to restore their constitutions." "

    Leaving aside the chances of success for a moment, are you actually saying that the people never have a right to rebel as long as there were "elections" and the government was "elected"? I'm not saying that this is something that should be taken lightly or jumped into. The Founders themselves said that it shouldn't be undertaken for "light and transient causes". I don't really think, outside of the extreme fringes on both sides, anyone really would be happy for such a day to come. However, to give a blanket statement that the people have no such right is invitation for tyranny.

    I realize you said "a legitimately elected government". I agree that, in general, if the government stands for free and open elections there is presumably no reason to reach for that most terrible of options. That being said, it is the right of any people to throw off the chains of an abusive and tyrannical government once all other options have been tried and exhausted. It isn't pretty. It isn't nice. Yet, there it is.

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  42. I think it is rife with problems...

    You're right. Allowing a private citizen to do a background check on another private citizen has problems the way the system exists today. For example, it could be used to illegally deny someone employment or housing. However, if I were going to sell a firearm to an individual that didn't have a concealed carry license (i.e. the FBI cleared him at the time the license was issued), then how would I do that without involving an FFL dealer and still be able to sleep at night knowing that firearm wouldn't be used in a future crime? I would rather destroy my guns than have any of them involved in a future crime.

    Many private gun owners avoid FFL dealers because they don't want the transaction recorded by the government. Some fear mass confiscation. Some fear forced registration. Some fear a government error implicating them in a crime. I believe many would support a truly anonymous way of exchanging firearms while still being able to confirm that the transfer was only between law abiding citizens.

    All Republicans knew that the health care repeal wouldn't go past the Senate or President. They did it as a symbolic gesture to their constituents as a way of saying, "I kept my promise to all of you". Is McCarthy making a symbolic gesture? She has 57 co-sponsors. I don't think any of the 242 Republicans have signed on and not all of the 193 Democrats are anti-gun.

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  43. "I just don't think that it is right. We should not have the right to depose a legitimately elected government of the US."

    OTOH, there comes a point in which the usual Democrat machine-politics practices of ballot-box-stuffing, busing indigents to multiple precincts, etc., makes the election illegitimate.

    Ref. "The Battle of Athens".

    At this point, we still have the ability to vote the bastards out of office. That's subject to change.

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  44. As to whether people and even police officers sometimes make mistakes with their guns, here is this one about a flashlight device mounted on a gun causing a senseless accident. The manufacturer of said flashlight stands by his device and it's safety.---oops

    Have you ever handled a Surefire product? They are excellent devices, and made in America to boot. Surefire has numerous contracts with the US military and law enforcement agencies because their quality is second to none.

    My wife has a SurefireX300 on the "night stand" handgun (which is safely secured in a locked container, by the way). The Surefire X300 is an excellent product. As a note, the activation switch is not hit with your trigger finger; it is a totally different muscle memory action to turn on the light than to pull the trigger. One of the fundamental rules of both firearms safety and sound tactics is "know your target and what is beyond it." Unless you are literally in a combat zone you cannot pull the trigger unless you know exactly what you are shooting at. Even in a warzone you can't shoot targets without positive enemy identification in many cases! Surefire's product allows you to clearly see what is in the field of fire. You want to know that there's a burglar with a knife in the bedroom, and not the cat knocking over a vase before even thinking about pulling the trigger.

    Tactical lights are so bright and startling that some law enforcement officers use them as a non-lethal aid to help in apprehending suspects without having to shoot them! There is some debate within the LEO, military, and private gunowner communities as to whether it is better to have a weapon mounted light, or whether it is better to have a separate light which you carry in another hand. Both have pros and cons. There is no obvious best choice. But still, almost all would agree that it is better to have a light (whether it be weapon mounted or independent) than to not have a light at all.

    Just because one police officer either violated a second rule of gun safety ("keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot") or misjudged a situation doesn't mean that the product is bad. Would you prefer that people -- including the police -- engage suspects in total darkness because they can't be trusted with flashlights? I wouldn't. This is likely a training issue, or a fluke accident, and probably not a hardware problem. The Surefire X300 didn't make that officer shoot the suspect. The police officer pulled the trigger.

    I guess you could argue that police should have lights but not sidearms. But I don't think that is a good or realistic answer, either. I think it is common sense for police officers should have both powerful tactical lights (so they know what they're looking at) and adequate sidearms (so they can protect themselves and others).

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  45. Laci & Joan re: Mala in Se vs. Male Prohibutum:

    Laci, I felt your SCOTUS quote actually explained the differences quite accurately.

    Magazine capacity bans are clearly mala prohibutum. While I don't necessarily agree, some argue that standard capacity magazines "result in no direct or immediate injury to person or property but merely create the danger or probability of it which the law seeks to minimize." In this case, my possession of a 15 round magazine isn't morally offensive in and of itself, it is just that you -- and if Rep McCarthy's law passes, then the consensus of the state -- feel that my possession of the magazine creates a probability that a dangerous crime will occur (i.e. a mass murder). The state is not always morally correct; in the past, after all, the state argued that if a black man married a white woman then chaos and violent civil disorder would result, after all.

    Under no case that I can think of is a magazine ban mala in se. If you can think of a case in which possessing a firearms magazine is equivalent to raping or murdering an innocent please let me know.

    I'd like to think that most adults can recognize a difference between an act which is inherently immoral and evil, and acts which are prohibited merely by statute because they might possibly lead to some harm. While I generally oppose many mala prohibita laws, I am willing to see the point of some of them (especially when they don't conflict with or limit rights); for example, while it is fairly absurd that we levy crazy penalties on someone who occasionally recreationally or medicinally uses marijuana, the effects of using crack cocaine are significantly different and much more likely to lead to harm to the community and thus justify more serious consequences. Likewise, while driving 60 in a 55 zone is a technical violation, driving 90 MPH while drunk in a 55 zone is highly likely to lead to tragedy which negatively impacts other people. Likewise, establishing essentially arbitrary standards (like driving on one side of the road vs. another), while something that could probably be done by the private sector, is arguably quite beneficial with no impact on any natural, civil, or legal right.

    So, I -- and most reasonable adults -- are ok with some mala prohibita type laws. The trouble I have is when society imposes major criminal charges on what are basically "mala prohibita" cases which harm nobody, and in which there is no intent to hurt anyone else. We wouldn't consider putting someone in jail for 10 years on a felony count for driving on the wrong side of the road -- would we?

    Try as you like, I think it is hard for any sane adult to consider possession of an inanimate object -- whether that object be an automobile, a standard capacity magazine, or a can of gasoline -- to be the moral equivalent of abusing a child, raping someone, or murdering an innocent. Our legal tradition realizes that while there are some contentious gray areas (for example, abortion), it is generally fairly easy to break crimes into two broad categories and then proceed accordingly.

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  46. Chris- this, at least, is a thoughtful, reasonable response giving something to consider.

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  47. Chris, Thanks for the summation. How about this? For amalum prohibitum crime such as possessing something forbidden like a larger-capacity magazine the punishment is very little or no jail time but a forfeiture of guns and gun rights. This would apply to possessing a machine gun or one of those .50 caliber sniper rifles, too.

    Now, if we started disarming just those people who are willing to break the law, because let's face it many of them would also be willing to break other laws, we could leave you responsible and law-abiding guys alone.

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  48. I don't see how "[for] a larger-capacity magazine the punishment is very little or no jail time but a forfeiture of guns and gun rights" can co-exist with "we could leave you responsible and law-abiding guys alone". Most law-abiding gun guys have magazines that hold 11 or more rounds; the most popular guns these days all come with them. I'm happy that you want to leave us alone and focus on the crazies but these magazines are safely used by a gigantic number of people who are *not* crazy. I'm all for efforts to focus on the problem people, but high-capacity magazines are not the problem; people who would murder innocents are. These people would be as dangerous with 3 10 round magazines as one 30 round magazine, as Cho proved in the Virginia Tech massacre.

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  49. Nate. There were some differences between the shooting at Virginia Tech and Tucson. You have s point which I actually get. But as long as our laws allow people like Loughner to get magazines like this, they are dangerous. If you guys would work with us to strengthen other laws we wouldn't be needing to look at this one. His name should have been in the NICS and he shouldn't be able to buy from private sellers without a background check.

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  50. Japete, the Surefire Light article is another bunch of ill informed BS from a journalist that knows nothing about the topic. I would not recommend hitching onto its sails.

    Weapons mounted lights are an adjunct to handheld lights, not a replacement. Light is life for people who deal with danger in the dark. LEOs often carry their large flashlights, a small backup light in their pockets (among the best being made by Surefire) and then additionally a light on their weapon.

    The light is activated with the thumb of the support hand as you hold the weapon in a two handed grip. You only activate it to illuminate a target to fulfill the 4th rule of firearms safety.
    #4 Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

    The weapons light should not be brought onto target as a casual method of illumination. It is used to briefly and clearly illuminate a target to identify it and then if needed engage the threat. If I ID the target as non-hostile I immediately deactivate the light and go back to scanning for threats, taking my weapon off the target.

    In that case either the department failed to train him properly or the officer failed to follow proper procedure. The light was not at fault.

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