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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reflections on the gun issue from far and near

It is always good to come back home and sleep in your own bed after a trip. I am home again after spending a wonderful week in Barcelona. I wrote about Spain's gun laws before I left by way of comparing our own country's gun culture with that of another country where the gun laws are very different. While in Barcelona, we took a guided walking tour of the Gothic area of the city which also took us to 2 Tapas bars as part of the tour. Our local guide was a young Spanish man, probably about 25-30 years old- very engaging and informative. On the tour with us was a couple from Australia. It was interesting to share insights about the Barcelona culture in general, including history about the oldest area in the city where the cobblestone streets are very narrow and lined with cafes, shops, and residential apartments. The Barcelona Cathedral is located in this area and also ancient Roman ruins, some underground, and the remnants of a Roman aqueduct and city walls.

As the tour wound to an end in a very small but authentic Tapas bar, we sat over a glass of Sangria and various tasty Tapas, we began to talk a little about the differences in the cultures of the 3 countries represented at the table. Health care came up, for one. Of course, both Australia and Spain have versions of a national health care plan, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. We found that there is not a perfect system of providing health care to citizens but neither the Australians or the young Spanish guide wanted the system offered in the U.S. They pay higher taxes but don't feel them to be a burden. The Australian woman, Beatrice, is diabetic and so gets most of her treatment as a benefit of the government's health care system. They each can purchase supplementary plans which are affordable to them for better care than the basic care offered by the government- similar to our Medicare plan.

I then took the opportunity to ask them about guns in their countries. The Australian man said he knows no one who owns a gun and doesn't own one himself. They live in a small town outside of Sydney and just don't feel a need for a gun. He likened the small minority who is always fussing over gun rights to a group who make some noise but usually don't get anywhere. He knew about the influence of the American NRA on the gun owners group in Australia and didn't find that to be a good thing. The young Spaniard, Marcus, was curious over why anyone could or should carry a gun around in public. His first response was that guns would get used in situations where another means of defense might solve the problem without loss of life. He said that guns are just not carried around in Spain and that some people felt a need for guns for self protection in their homes but gun laws were very strict. He didn't understand America's gun culture at all. It is not even on the radar really, of the Spanish people.

While away from home, of course, shootings continued as well as proposed laws in state legislatures and media coverage of both. Just a sampling of such from all over the country while I was away:

  • In the Los Angeles area ( actually before I left for Barcelona) a friend shot his buddy, an NBC executive, while showing him his large gun collection. The AR15 in his collection discharged and killed the young man after a round from the rifle lodged in the man's chest. An update to this story now changed the shooting from accidental to homicide; the father of the victim had this to say: " “Because of one of those guns I had to bury my son yesterday,” Joe Kaplon said in an interview with The Times on Thursday.""
  • In Tucson, the scene of the January 8th shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Fix Gun Checks tour stopped by to call attention to the fact that we have too many gun deaths in America and simple measures can fix the system. We became familiar with the face of Dr. Peter Rhee, the Trauma Surgeon who performed surgery on Representative Giffords. He gave daily press updates about her condition. Now he has written in favor of passing sensible legislation to prevent some of the insane gun violence experienced in this country. His articulate and eloquent piece is compelling. Here, in his words, are some things for all of us to consider: "For a doctor, an ounce of prevention is always worth more than any cure. Enforcing our laws and screening for unstable people like Jared Loughner, the accused killer, would surely help. I can't see how anyone would argue against that. Innocent people die from gunshot wounds all the time, right here in our country. We have to work to decrease that, don't we? The plan I am supporting is, in my view, common sense. And it respects the constitutional rights we all share. It is possible to have a better system that could have stopped people like Loughner, and I would like to be a part of helping to make that a reality.Fixing these simple gaps in the law could mean the difference between a war zone and just another beautiful, peaceful day -- both here in Tucson and in cities across America."
  • While in Oklahoma, the state NRA has objections to an "open carry" bill that will allow 18 year olds to walk around with loaded guns in public. Really? Read about it: "First, The purchase of handguns by persons under the age of 21 is in violation of existing Federal Law. Second, Allowing citizens, trained or untrained, to carry Rifles and Shotguns either in a scabbard or with a sling on city streets and into business establishments will create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust, not to mention create fear in those in our society who have an aversion to any type of firearm. Third, The apprehension, created for the Law Enforcement Officers by the open carrying of long guns could create situations resulting in unnecessary use of deadly force. For these reasons we ask you to vote against SB 129 when it comes to the floor of the House of Representatives." Wow- I couldn't have put it better myself!
  • In Texas, things are not going so well for the gun lobby sponsored "guns on campus" bill. Watch just a little of the testimony against the bill here. This is widely opposed by reasonable people. The NRA would not be included in that group. The bill is now stalled. Let's hope it stays that way. A similar bill was defeated in Idaho.
  • Next up, Alaska's Congressman Don Young has his own gun problems. Palling around with terrorists is not a good idea while you serving in the U.S. Congress. But, whatever. He's still there representing the good folks of Alaska. The militia leader/terrorist, Francis Cox, who has ties to several high profile Alaska political leaders, has said so many outrageous things at gatherings of militia groups and tea party rallies, that it's hard to pick out just one. But here is just one of many statements made by him: " "Authority comes from being congruent from natural law, God's law. Power comes from the barrel of a gun," he said. "The federal government is all power and no authority. The Constitutional Congress is all authority and no power. So we're faced with this question, 'Do we condone a rebellious government and become an accessory to that with our compliance, or do we come together and try to find a way to put force, put power with that authority?"" I'm pretty sure that some of my commenters here agree with his statement.
  • Now let's check out what an Oregon gun smith has to say about reasonable gun laws. " The NRA has put its position forward that it is the last bastion of protection for America, as if an army that defeated the U.S. military would wither under fire from the unlicensed Uzis flooding our neighborhoods and taking the lives of thousands of young Americans. This might have made sense back in Colonial or Old West days, but now it's just an anachronistic leftover, like chamber pots and the horseshoe smith on the corner."
  • Time to move eastward with the gun stories. In Florida, a 92 year old woman just wanted a kiss from her neighbor. When he denied her that request, she took matters into her own hands and shot at his house, firing bullets through the walls of the home. Hmmm. Self defense? Too senile to handle a gun? Anger issues? Whatever. 
  • Again, be careful when cleaning your gun. A gun is a dangerous thing to have around the house sometimes. Particularly when it discharges and kills your own son. Oh dear, this 10 year old Milwaukee, Wisconsin area boy is injured after his father's gun discharged and hit him in the abdomen.
  • In Georgia there was yet another shooting of police officers. One is dead and another wounded in a shooting after the officers began searching for a carjacker. There are too many officers shot on the job. Attorney General Eric Holder has addressed this national problem as well in a recent statement. A statement by Dennis Kenney, professor at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, put it this way:" "What this is all going to mean is that police are going to have to protect themselves," he said. "Shootings of police are up and shootings by police are up. It's a fairly negative downward spiral we're on." Kenney said there is one solution — albeit an unpopular one: gun control. "There's a ready availability, an increasingly more potent level of weapons," he said. "Police are on the front edge of having to confront that and we're seeing that right now.""
  • In Illinois, the fight goes on for passing a conceal and carry law. Illinois is one of 2 states that does not have a law allowing anyone who can pass a background check and minimal training, to carry a loaded gun in public. This article explains all the good reasons to keep it that way in Illinois. Wisconsin is the other state. If both states pass NRA supported laws, one of the NRA's missions will have been accomplished. But the slippery slope won't stop there. They continue pushing for more places to carry those guns and by more people. They won't stop until everyone is armed and they have unrestricted rights to own and carry guns. Public safety is not their issue. Also this from the mother of a student shot at the Northern Illinois University about why Illinois doesn't need a carry conceal law.
  • One last look at what's going on in various states but I remind my readers that this is just a sampling. Much more is happening. Many more people are losing their lives to bullets. It's an every day occurrence in our country. Folks in other civilized countries not at war do not understand our gun culture. Common sense prevails in other countries. So, last, but not least, is this one. It's a free gun or a pizza- whichever- if you sign up for Dish network satellite T.V. at a Radio Shack store in Montana. Whatever. This is one clever way to make sure people have their guns and to make gun owners out of those who might not otherwise be. The gun lobby is a clever group. Any way to get new gun owners benefits the gun dealers and manufacturers who are all of a piece with the gun lobby. 
  • I just finished watching Sarah and Jim Brady on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell. More on this tomorrow. But while watching, the breaking news story came across about a shoot-out in Chicago involving gunmen with AK 47s. 11 have been injured, including some in a bus which crashed in the mayhem. Oh hum- just another day in America.
Tomorrow (March 30th)  will be the 30th anniversary of the shooting of Jim Brady, President Reagan's press secretary, who was wounded in the assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan. I will be writing about it tomorrow.


  1. Just a couple of points:

    -None of the stories you have linked today involve a flash hider, a bayonet lug, an adjustable stock, a suppressor, a pistol grip on a longarm, a high-capacity magazine, a barrel shroud, steel-core ammunition, an automatic weapon, or weapon purchased at a gunshow by a dealer who did not run a background check.

    - Two of the stories involve a negligent discharge that would have been prevented by following the rules of safe gun handling: Treat all guns as if they are loaded, always have the gun pointed in a safe direction, and keep your finger off the trigger until you mean to fire.

    - Several of the stories touch upon the mental health issue.

    Given the actual causes of the tragedies you thought fit to link, does it make more sense to impose bizarre restrictions upon law abiding gun owners, or to work for a better mental health care system and more firearms education?

    - We have already beaten you to the punch on the "oregon gunsmith" letter. Sebastian (www.snowflakesinhell.com) has already looked at the list of FFLs in the entire state of Oregon and found nobody by the name of Charles Ford. Gunsmiths must be FFLs. This letter is a purposeful and malicious lie.

    -James Brady was shot with a .22 revolver. It did not have a barrel shroud, a silencer, a flash hider, an adjustable stock, a foldable stock, an extended magazine, a bayonet lug, was not an automatic weapon, did not use steel core or exploding ammunition. Why does the organization named after him seek to ban these features? He did not die in the attack, so this can't be the 30th anniversary of his shooting death. As far as I know he's still alive.

    Just the facts, ma'am.

  2. "In Illinois, the fight goes on for passing a conceal and carry law."

    Yes, which requires a background check and mandatory training. Add to that the background check required for a FOID card. What more do you want? Oh yes, may issue. I'm sure that won't be abused, will it? I'm sure friends and relatives of politicians won't be given preferential treatment. And I'm sure that income, race, or family name will never be used to discriminate.

    "Illinois is one of 2 states that does not have a law allowing anyone who can pass a background check and minimal training, to carry a loaded gun in public. This article explains all the good reasons to keep it that way in Illinois."

    This is why places in Illinois, like Chicago, are violence free utopias. If we get a concealed carry law, then every drug dealer and gang banger will finally be able to pack heat. As it stands, only the law is keeping these violent felons from carrying guns onto our streets.

    "Public safety is not their issue."

    Is it the issue of the Illinois Sheriff's Association? They've endorsed concealed carry in Illinois; in fact, their resolution was approved by unanimous consent: link

    I guess maybe they haven't heard that our neighboring states of Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Kentucky have become the wild west since the passage of their laws. Why, you cross the border and you're gunned down over a parking space. Someone should clue them in.

    "Also this from the mother of a student shot at the Northern Illinois University about why Illinois doesn't need a carry conceal law."

    Yes, we should continue to rely on our highly effective "No Gun Zone" system. Kinda like the successful one they've got going on in Chicago. No killings there. Perhaps a "No Murder Zone" would be more effective. It'd also stop knife deaths.

  3. "Tomorrow (March 30th) will be the 30th anniversary of the shooting death of Jim Brady, President Reagan's press secretary, who was wounded in the assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan."

    James Brady is not dead. Please at least try to get your facts straight.

  4. You do understand your "Oregon gunsmith" is a classic bit of astroturf, don't you?

    Busted. http://onlygunsandmoney.blogspot.com/2011/03/astroturfing.html

    And I see the Illinois concealed carry writer trots out all the usual fearmongering. "There'll be blood in the streets!!" Yeesh. 48 states have some form of legal concealed carry, and the fears of the professional handwringers have NEVER - NEVER - come to pass.

    As usual, however, facts don't seem to matter to those who see the 2nd Amendment as "an anachronism," as the faux "gunsmith" might put it. Right - the Constitution and the rights it protects are an anachronism. How nice.

  5. Did I say I was talking about flash suppressors and barrel shrouds in my post? Why did you try to relate my stories to those. That was not my purpose in writing this post. The stories involve people with guns shooting other people- some of whom died as a result, others who live on with life long injuries causing them to be disabled and leading a very difficult life.

  6. Sorry- I did not mean to put the word death in the sentence about James Brady. Of course, I know he is alive. I have met him and he was just on MSNBC. Sorry for that error.

  7. I don't believe it is true, anon, that gun smiths need to be licensed dealers. I have a friend in my town who is a gun smith and he is not a licensed dealer. So I believe your information there is wrong. Perhaps different states have different laws regarding that. I know of people who are in law enforcement and have served in the military who use the term clip interchnageably with magazine. That would not disqualify someone from being a gun smith.

  8. I have corrected my sentence about James Brady. Tomorrow's post will have more about him and the circumstances of his shooting.

  9. Joan, you are incorrect. Anyone who is in the gun smithing business must hold a Federal Firearms License or they are breaking Federal Law.

    Your friend, I'm sad to say, is a criminal.

  10. " A: Private Gunsmiths offering services only to private gun owners fall under varying STATE laws. Although you need to keep a bound book in many states just like an FFL, to log repairs in and out, you don't HAVE to have an FFL to be a Gunsmith for strictly PRIVATE work. BUT... if you intend to sell even a few of your own guns, or work on lowers, create new models, buy wholesale, buy and sell etc, you MUST have one. If you call ATF national, they will answer "YES" to this question every time. But case law is not that clear.

    First, there are over 100,000 professional gunsmiths and probably nearly 500,000 amateurs or part timers. Less than 10% of these have FFLs, and ATF doesn't run around looking for them unless you are an egregious gun act violator-- basically selling guns without a license. Selling collections at gun shows to in-state residents only is another gray area. There are many other exceptions, such as working for another FFL, being a police armorer, working part time or as a hobby, etc. In fact, ATF won't approve your gunsmith FFL application unless you have a "profit motive" -- not just a desire to collect or help friends."

  11. Joan-

    The difference right there about doing gunsmithing work privately vs professionally? That's the exact same distinction between firearms dealer and private seller that fuels your "gun show loophole" claim. Thought I'd point that out.

    I mentioned the list of evil features that did not cause harm in today's crop of stories specifically to illustrate that "military style" "assault" weapons don't kill people any more than "regular" guns do. Banning those features, as your stated intention is to do, will not reduce gun violence or deaths.

  12. Red- I wasn't referring to those types of guns in this post. You don't need to bring it into the discussion. No wonder we can't have reasoned discourse. When you bring in something that wasn't even mentioned, it takes us down another road that is going in a different direction. Let's stick to the topic of my post.

  13. Joan it's all one issue. It's all involved, breaking it apart and disregarding the totality is disingenuous if not blatantly fallacious.

    Re gunsmiths. http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/gunsmiths.html

    Please read this. If you take in guns you MUST be licensed. It federal law. Saying some states don't require it is erroneous. Federal law trumps state law here.

  14. As it turns out, my friend is really a gun maker dealing in Muzzleloaders rather than a gun smith. So he does not need a FFL to operate. As to the man from Oregon who wrote the letter to the editor, whoever he is, he made some very good points that, of course, you all did not like. I know how you love to discredit anyone who writes an opinion contrary to your own.

  15. Joan,

    Since your friend who makes Muzzle Loaders does not need to have a Federal Firearm License; would you be okay with me walking around town with just a muzzle loader or two?

    Obviously since federal law doesn't apply to people working on muzzle loaders -- and you appear to be okay with that, then you shouldn't mind if I carry Muzzle Loaders, right?

  16. "Now let's check out what an Oregon gun smith has to say about reasonable gun laws. "

    Most likely that is a member of the Brady campaign using fraud to deceive the public. There are no Charles Fords to be found for gunsmithing or competitive shooting in that state. The author also uses two phrases "extended clips" and "undocumented purchases" which are used nearly exclusively by the anti-gunners. The arguments listed are those of the anti-gunners. The person claims to be a firearms enthusiast par excellence yet writes as if he was working for your organization, and allegedly has managed to be a gunsmith and competitive shooter without leaving any record or evidence for this on the Internet.

    This is more than a little fishy. The author also claims to be an NRA member, then bashes the NRA, yet doesn't explain why they haven't quit the NRA.

    The author also says he sees no reason why citizens should have free access to military or automatic weapons. How is it that this man is a former Army officer, gunsmith, NRA member, and competitive shooter and he doesn't know or understand the fundamentals of existing firearm laws? That doesn't add up.

    Since you have no critical thinking skills, you can't see anything wrong here...but the rest of us are most curious as to how "Charles Ford, Gunsmith" knows nothing but Brady campaign fodder.

  17. " I know how you love to discredit anyone who writes an opinion contrary to your own."

    I don't think it is the opinions so much as it is the facts regarding the nature of the second amendment from those on your side. You can argue all you want about the effectiveness of private firearms ownership, or the whole "legitimate sporting use" theory, but when it comes to the founders' intentions when they wrote the second amendment the facts are rather incontrovertable based on the multitude of writings left behind for us to study.

    This is like saying "In my opinion, the moon is made of green cheese."

    Facts are facts, and when modern day anti gunners claim otherwise it deserves to be corrected.

  18. Typical Tea Party people can't see the forest for the trees.

    It doesn't matter that the author lied about his background because he speaks the truth when it comes to gun violence.

    One little white lie is nothing compared to all of the deaths caused by your "freedom."


  19. Well he lied about who he is and what he did. That makes everything else he said moot.

  20. This man meets people who buy his guns at one of the local gun shops for a background check.

  21. I have a confession to make. I actually wrote that letter under the guise of being a gun smith. You know those folks from the Brady Campaign- always doing stuff like this and engaging in nefarious activity. We have no critical thinking skills either.

    Are you thinking about what you write here? Such nonsense is not acceptable and utterly ridiculous. This is the pot calling the kettle black. So you are accusing anyone who writes against what you are all about to be espousing Brady campaign fodder. Nonsense again and totatlly stupid.

  22. How do you know that he lied? You guys are making this up because you don't like what he wrote.

  23. It's a lie because there's no record of a FFL by that name in all of Oregon. Gunsmiths must be FFLs. This leads to two possibilities:

    1) The author of that letter lied about his credentials

    2) The author of that letter is a felon who breaks federal laws

    Neither option lends weight or credence to the following argument, which happens to be written in the same tone and use the same catchphrases as standard anti-gun boilerplate.

  24. How do you know he is telling the truth? Is it because you like what he wrote.

    See I can do that too. The reality is that no one but that guy knows if he is truthful or not. I assume that we will never know 100% if it is a fake or not.

  25. I'm quite sure it's #2. He just must be a felon. I hope you guys search him out and have him arrested as such.

  26. Anthony- I'm guessing you know the answer to that question.

  27. " BUT... if you intend to sell even a few of your own guns, or work on lowers, create new models, buy wholesale, buy and sell etc, you MUST have one. If you call ATF national, they will answer "YES" to this question every time. "

    "As it turns out, my friend is really a gun maker dealing in Muzzleloaders rather than a gun smith. So he does not need a FFL to operate."

    "This man meets people who buy his guns at one of the local gun shops for a background check."

    These 3 statements of yours can not all be true.

    Please elaborate.

  28. You claim your friend makes guns and sells them without an FFL. You also say an FFL is required to sell guns using the ATF as your source.

    How do you reconcile those statements?

  29. I've already explained it. If you don't get it, it's not my problem.