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.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"A Soldier's Tragedy"

A Soldier's Tragedy- this story was featured on the front page of the Duluth News Tribune today highlighting a recent local tragic shooting.  I have linked to the article in Time Magazine which must be read in the magazine because the entire story is not available on-line. I recommend reading the article in it's entirety. How could any story about a shooting be worse? This young Iraq war veteran with PTSD shot his ex-wife, 9 months pregnant, and their young daughter as well as himself. It was known that he had more than a few guns and April (the victim) was actually afraid of what he would do. This is all too familiar on the front pages of newspapers all around the country. The military is concerned. Domestic Abuse intervention programs are concerned. Relatives of returning veterans are concerned. What to do? PTSD is, at least, now more recognized and given more attention than after previous wars.

Here are just a few of the cogent statements from the Time magazine story: ""Matt insists on having loaded guns unlocked in our bedroom in case someone breaks in," April continued in her August 2009 message. " I have discussed with Matt that I don't like having loaded guns around our daughter, but he is convinced that they need to be near him at all times." Further, from the article, the VA had recommended in Matt's file, that that his guns be removed and stated that that had been accomplished. What actually happened was that local police thought the VA commander had accomplished this since the Minnesota police had removed Matt's guns a year earlier after a failed suicide attempt ( the gun jammed). No one realized that Matt was armed again. The story goes on to point out that the VA counselors did not try to limit access to guns for Matt leaving him with 2 dozen weapons in the home. Someone needs to recognize that communication between bureaucracies is crucial and follow-up required.

I know this first hand since my own brother was recently diagnosed with PTSD 30 years after he served in Viet Nam. We all knew that he was struggling but he was more or less getting along in his life. Except, as it turns out, he wasn't. Silently he was struggling with panic attacks and his drinking was getting worse. Somehow he was able to hide these conditions from most by being such a nice guy who hung out at the bars, at the local fishing spot on Lake Superior, at his cabin and on the golf course, with his buddies. His brief marriage didn't work for various reasons, sending him further into the abyss. When he began having problems at his job site, and stopped going out in public, his friends and co-workers became concerned. At this point, he was living in my mother's house and the two of them were enabling each other. My mother, in her old age and getting more infirm, thought she was taking care of him and my brother thought he was taking care of her. The trouble is, they weren't taking care of themselves or each other.

It's so hard to know when to intervene in the lives of loved ones to assure their safety and well being. I was busy with my own life and trying to help keep my mother in her home in spite of the fact that she needed assistance. The day finally came when I sat them both down at the kitchen table and had what I now call a "come to Jesus" moment. As a result, my brother, who was told by a Physician that he would die from liver disease if he didn't stop drinking, went to a VA hospital for 3 months for treatment for his alcoholism and in that process, became eligible for veteran's benefits because he was labeled with PTSD. Looking back on his patterns of nightmares, panic attacks, inability to deal with his life and a host of other symptoms now made more clear, it was obvious he had been suffering for years with the effects of his war experience. I was asked during this process to write a statement in support of the diagnosis and my brother told me that my statement turned out to be crucial to his becoming eligible for the services he now has and needed desperately. My mother moved to an Assisted Living facility where she could get professional care and we sold the family home, built by my grandfather and father to afford the expenses for my mother's care. These were difficult times for all of us. The end result is that I have my brother back with the exception that he has now been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and has issues with his eyesight due to Grave's Disease. And, sadly, my mother died last November, still worrying about my brother. She took her concerns to the grave and one of the last things she wanted to know in the days before her death was if we would be both be O.K. We assured her that we would.

So, then, how do I link PTSD and domestic abuse and violence? I am over aware of both because of my own siblings. My sister was shot to death in a case of divorce gone wrong and a man with anger and depression because of the divorce. My now deceased and former brother in-law was the man with the gun. There were two cases similar to my own sister's last year in my area. One is the case linked above that shows how PTSD can lead a veteran to helplessness over loss of control and rage and violence ending in murder, suicide or both. The other was a local man who shot his wife in the back of the head as they were arguing over her trying to leave the relationship. I referenced that in a previous post. This man then shot himself to avoid dealing with the aftermath of his actions and in a last act of revenge, desperation and cowardice. This story plays out every day in our country.

And the PTSD of my brother, you ask? I removed the many hunting guns and one pistol (not locked up, by the way) from my mother's home while my brother was away getting treatment. They stayed in my house for months, locked away in my basement. I reluctantly returned them to my brother with the admonition that they needed to be locked up. I do worry about this, knowing how vulnerable and sometimes fragile he is. His now lady friend and I have discussed this and at one time actually thought we needed to get the guns out of his home. He seems to be in a good spot at the moment after several years of counseling, treatment and surgeries to get his eyesight to return to normal. It is often on my mind however and I do discuss his fragile but somewhat successful recovery with him. Luckily for all of us, he is intelligent and willing to reflect on himself. He wants to be in a better place and is afraid of losing his health. He has not touched alcohol since his treatment. He has a lot of common sense. And common sense tells us that guns and PTSD don't mix nor do guns and alcohol nor do guns and domestic problems. I am hoping for more awareness of all of these situations. The Time magazine article linked above is doing just that. We all need to work on these issues together. Guns are, indeed, part of the problems and dealing with the guns is part of the solution.

These are some of the "good guys" with guns since they are, for the most part, not prohibited purchasers. There is a sensitivity about keeping guns away from veterans, and even veterans with problems that should flag them as people who shouldn't have guns. The pro gun lobby is all about making sure they all have their guns anyway. There was a bill  in Congress to keep and restore the rights of veterans to own and purchase guns. It did not pass in the House. Yes, there are concerns on both sides. No one wants to target veterans but, considering the growing concern about PTSD and the murder/suicide rate of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, does it make sense for some to continue to have their guns available? It is a conundrum for sure. I am sensitive to both sides of this issue but would like to err on the side of safety and prevention. The proposed bill went too far, as they sometimes do, in wanting to restore gun rights to veterans even if they had, at some time, been comatose or unable to take care of themselves. But I am happy to read that the military and VA are recognizing the seriousness of the PTSD problem among the returning veterans. At some point, families and others, need to think through what it means for emotionally fragile and vulnerable people to have access to guns. Lives depend on it.


  1. I think the issue with restoring veteran's rights is that not all mental conditions are permanent. Things like schizophrenia can be treated but not cured, but you can get better from PTSD and depression. What gun rights people worry about is getting labeled ineligible for a passing condition for the rest of their life.

    It's good that your brother finally got help, but it's a shame it took so long. He should have gotten treatment much sooner, then if or when he was better, he shouldn't still be prohibited from owning firearms.

  2. Actually, I think if there was a way to reinstate gun rights after the PTSD or depression are treated, more service members (or heck, people in general) would be willing to seek treatment for these serious issues. Right now, if someone on active duty is suffering from this, they will not get help for fear of forever losing their job and a fun hobby. If the restriction on guns was only temporary, this wouldn't be a concern.

  3. "Guns are, indeed, part of the problems and dealing with the guns is part of the solution."

    Actually it sounds to me like mental illness is all of the problem.

    You mentioned that this was often the "good guys" who weren't prohibited from owning guns. The gentleman who had a failed suicide attempt shouldn't have been able to own a gun. Why not? Was he not remanded to the care of a mental health facility? Was it not reported to NICS? The system is broken, yet you don't want to fix the system, you want to restrict the guns.

    You'd find a lot more support if you wished to fix the system rather than focus on the guns. The guns will be there no matter what you try to do to restrict them, but until you fix the system you're going to keep having these tragedies.

  4. Alcade- " Why not? Was he not remanded to the care of a mental health facility? Was it not reported to NICS? The system is broken, yet you don't want to fix the system, you want to restrict the guns."- not true. I don't know how you got that from my post,

  5. "Time’s story contends that Magdzas never received the help he needed for post-traumatic stress disorder even though the National Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs were tracking his decline and the latter flagged him as a high suicide risk."

    This sounds like mental illness was the problem and government bureaucracy compounded it.

    Someone who's so sick that he'll shoot his own toddler is sick enough to use any number of other weapons in the house.

    I've personally talked to two different combat vets who said that when they went to an Army psychiatrist, as they were describing their symptoms, at some point the doctor stopped them and told them to go get help from a civilian if they wanted to keep their job and stay promotable. One said she slid him a piece of paper with a name and number on it for him to call like she was arranging a drug deal.

    In Army's defense, they know it's a problem and are allegedly working on it.

  6. This is a real tragedy on so many diferent levels. The failure of the VA to get him the help he needed, the fact that after offering his life once defend our Nation, that the system failed him, his wife and his child and both their families as well as all America. It's a disgrace but it also shows we do not have a handle on how to fix the heart and the mind.

    I too, no someone who has gone thru this battle and the devastation emotionally and financially that has been wrecked upon the family. Treatment costs, loss of work, court costs, all have combined to nearly bankrupt a family who is trying to save a soldier who simply saw too much.

    It's disgusting that we spend billions on free health and medical and legal services for welfare recipients but veterans are often left out in the cold on this matter.

    Because we can not see the damage on cat scans or MRI's we somehow disparage those who served by making it difficult to find proper and everyone treatment formwounds that are just as real As gunshots and missing limbs.

  7. "I don't know how you got that from my post"

    I base that on the overall tone of your website, as well as the statement I quoted where you said guns were the problem. Did I misunderstand you?

    There'd be a lot less disagreement on the issue of helping veterans if we stuck to the issue of getting them help rather than bringing up the Brady wishlist of gun restrictions.

    This is also the reason why you get so much resistance to your proposals to restrict guns to those on the terrorist watch list. There is no due process involved for getting off the list. Not only are you not informed of your presence on the list, you have no way of addressing the evidence in front of a jury of your peers to clear your name.

    Likewise, if troubled veterans were given a peer reviewed process that would monitor their access to weapons we might be on to something. But to simply restrict access based on a family member managing their financial affairs (as has been done before) is both arbitrary and unfair. These veterans have sworn to defend and uphold the constitution, and taking away both their second amendment rights and their rights of due process is not something in which we should tread lightly.

  8. Here's the deal, Alcade. No one on my side thinks we shouldn't do some things to improve the system for monitoring veterans for emotional and physical problems and making a decision to change their status regarding access to guns. But you guys rail at virtually any mention of the word guns as part of the solution. They are part of the problem and restricting them needs to be part of the solution. If things had worked the way they should have this poor woman and her child and unborn child would be alive today. Why not err on the side of saving lives? If someone is managing the financial affairs of a veteran- why? Is that person incapable of managing their own affairs? If that is the case, why? And then, why should that person have their guns if they can't manage their own affairs. Not a good idea. You must admit that people who have so much emotional and physical turmoil going on in their lives should reasonably be restricted from guns. If you can't admit to that then you are not on the side of saving the lives of either the veteran themselves since suicide is such an increasing concern, or the lives of innocent loved ones or friends.

  9. I have a friend who is sharing her home with a young man who was in the Army. He recently purchased a gun with the intent to kill himself. Fortunately, he couldn't go through with it, instead firing a couple of shots into the dirt at the remote location he chose for his suicide. When he returned, he asked my friend to get rid of the gun for him and she returned it to the pawn shop where it was originally purchased.

    They went to the local VA hospital for treatment, but nothing came out of those visits. While I believe depression is treatable, successful treatment is private, very expensive, and outside of the reach of those who need it most. I mentioned recently that finding a good psychiatrist or counselor in the Portland area is virtually impossible because most are not accepting new patients. That's assuming you can even afford the $120 to $200 cost per weekly visit or twice that if the depression is serious enough for biweekly visits. If you're a little lucky, you might have insurance to cover a few of those visits, but it seems those who need it most -- don't. In my opinion, this is the tip of the iceberg of the real problem: Children raised without adequate parenting, mentors, or counselors → teens discover high education costs and little options for employment and success in an economically challenging environment (some choose military service in despair) → 25% of all young adults face depression as they realize society has no place for them. Guns are just a distraction, a layer of dirt on top of the iceberg.

    In this specific case, I supported my friend in getting rid of the gun because while I support the freedom to own any gun for any lawful purpose, I'm hesitant to support someone keeping a gun that was specifically purchased for a homicide. So phfft! the gun is gone, but this man is still depressed, still unemployed, and possibly still suicidal.

    I know your story is completely different, but I'm curious since you had possession of your brother's guns, why did you choose to give them back to him?

  10. Japete, the question is what happens when the person is RECOVERED, and managing their own affairs?

    Right now, they are still without their second amendment rights, which in the case of military and police means they cannot keep their job.

    If there was a way to remove the prohibition once people were recovered, don't you think more people would be willing to seek help in the first place?

  11. "You must admit that people who have so much emotional and physical turmoil going on in their lives should reasonably be restricted from guns."

    It depends. You can't have a system that looks for any reason to try to take away rights from people, especially doing so permanently. This, like the wider subject of violence, is more complex than just one, two, or even three factors.

    You can't say "you can't manage your finances, so we're going to take away your guns". The two don't have anything to do with one another, hell sometimes I can barely remember to pay bills on time and it has nothing to do with my military service and has even less predictive value as to whether I'll go on shooting spree.

    Shooting may be the ONE thing a guy really enjoys, the one thing that can keep him interested in recovery, and it'll be the FIRST thing that well meaning individuals want to take away.

    There needs to be a sort of inpatient treatment for these guys, and not in hospital gowns and taking meds. They need to live on a base where where they have a strict regimen, they're with the people who can best spot unusual behavior, and APPROPRIATE interventions can be applied if need be. That way they're keeping busy, slowly settling into stateside life, and can gradually readjust. This is basically what living in base housing used to do for us, but civilian leadership found it more important to close bases and cut costs.

    Now veterans can go from living in close quarters with 40 guys who would lay down in traffic for them and having a clear sense of purpose, to one day later being home with kids that don't recognize them, a wife who's used to doing things her way, and a mounting pile of "problems" that will never EVER be as bad as being shot at and watching friends die. It's no wonder guys almost always want to go back.

  12. Thanks, Migo. I'm glad you helped your friend out. As to my brother, it was not an easy decision. He is a hunter and wanted to hunt with his friends. As it turned out, his vision problems kept him from being able to participate. They were his guns. I didn't want them all and I had reason to believe that he would be O.K. I have discussed this with him- we are open about this because of our sister's death. Right now, he is in a good place. If I suspect he isn't, I think he would let me take his guns to my house again. I also think it's a terrible shame that our health care system does not do a better job with mental illness. For many years, it was not considered to be a health problem. As a Democrat, I am happy to know that the new provisions will not keep someone from health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. This may help. Also, beefing up the Veteran's Administration helps and making sure that people can get benefits for their mental health problems as my brother was lucky enough to get. He has had wonderful treatment from the VA at very little or no cost to him. We should all have the same.

  13. Heather- yes. But I don't know a lot about how and when provision would be restored.

  14. ~~we took all of the guns out of my sister's house about 8 years ago because we did not trust her husband (a Colonel in the army.) But he asked his brother for his gun and shot my sister in the head three times. I don't know how we could have stopped this monster.

    Our lives will never be the same.

    Thanks for a great article, Joan.

  15. The issues Are exactly as posted. If we create a temporary restricted class, what are the standards. Who administers it. Who can place a concern and bow is that concern evaluated. Who pays the cost. Pissed off co worker or ex yells. "he's got guns!!"'and ten or twenty thousand in legal fees and psych evals later it's proven to be a witch hunt.

    Are those concerns public or private data. "Mr Smith, we noticed on our background check you were placed in a three day psych lockup. We just don't feel we can offer you our job at this time".

    "But that was a pissed off girl friend who said I was a
    threat ".

    "We're sorry, Next!"

    We err on the side of privacy and trust in this country because it has shown over the history to be the right choice. Our Govt trusts it's Citizenry. I wish our Govt and economy could afford to look closer at many things but the costs are just too high in both blood and money.

    I do believe that vets as part of cycling out do need to have some help they are not getting. Almost a half way house program that monitors their assimilation back intothe world.

  16. Quite a conundrum hey P. What to do. There are a lot of people who shouldn't have access to guns but have it anyway. How do you suggest solving this problem? Should everybody have equal access to guns? There are privacy laws for sure. It seems to me that you guys are all about locking up people like Jared Loughner or other such people even though their names are not on the prohibited purchasers list. And you seem to think it's O.K. for felons, those with severe mental illness and others should be able to get guns from private sellers without background checks. The mental health system is not well enough staffed and funded to take care of those who are already in the system. Families can try to keep guns away from people who shouldn't have them but there are so many ways to obtain them illegally. There are a heck of a lot of guns out there. What to do? Do you have any answers?

  17. Joan that's a very real issue. No one is debating that. The debate is how to implement it without over reaching and squashing peoples rights in the process.
    We as a nation have tried to always put the peoples rights first. We have tried to trust and only seek the courts intervention when there is clear and compelling evidence that a crime has been committed. This falls under innoncent until proven guilty.

    We are afraid of the scenario I offered. You get falsely accused (a very common thing that happens in domestics) and the process of clearing your name results in thousands of dollars in legal costs as well as quite possibly a trip to a psych eval. Who gets that data? If a prospective employer or current employer discovers that, it would very likely lead you to be terminated or not hired.

    Let's pretend for a moment we go back to when you were teaching and a student accused you of improper behavior of the worst kind. As part of the investigation you are given a mental health screening. If the nature of that accusation and screening got out, even if you were completely absolved, a future employer or hour current employer might the potential for liability to great to take a chance on you. It's completely wrong, but you know full well it happens in cases like that.

    Even now under laughtenberg. Legal gun owners can be stripped of their civil rights without ever going to trial because a law has been passed that for the first time ever created a secondary penalty after the fact. All it takes is a current accusation or a past conviction. I personally know someone who is fighting to get a thirty year old misdemeanor conviction (which he pled to because he was legally guaranteed would never affect him later in life) expunged because he had an argument with a step brother which resulted in a misdemeanor charge of family violence.

    These are issues which scare us. What happens if in ten years after someone seeks mental health treatment for depression, that is decreed an act worthy of stripping some one of their civil rights? Don't say that can't happen becAuse Laughtenberg says it can.

    Frankly that really scares me and while I have no support at all for those who are wife beaters, I find laughtenberg to be counter to my reading of the Constitution and case law.

    You have misstated our furor over the Arizona shooter as us demanding mental health issues be used to create a category of unfit to own a gun. We are angry that he had had so many arrests for drug and violence issues and the local law enforcement and prosecution had not followed up with a conviction or adjudication of unfit to own. He had given the state plenty of chances to place him in the registry of insolvable persons but they failed to do their job but immediately tried to mis direct public opinion by making it a hardware issue not a dereliction of duty issue.

  18. P- Loughner is a prime example of the system gone wrong. But then again, as we have discussed before, some people are falsely accused or can't be placed in a mental facility against their will. This is a problem. As to Domestic Abusers, they do get a hearing before they are charged. But if they have been arrested by L.E. things don't go well for them. I'm sure there may be some false accusations and that is a concern. There is a big article in my own paper today about a young guy who says he was falsely accused of raping someone. Many things went terribly wrong for him. I read a book about a teacher who was falsely accused of sexual advances towards a student. It, too, was awful to read about. I, in fact, have a colleague who was falsely accused of the same by a student at an alternative school setting in my town. All of these are, of course, potential problems. In the system being adopted by most DV intervention programs, there is a coordinated community response involving L.E., and the agencies involved. Because of this, there are not too many false arrests or charges. Court hearings shake out a lot. Under this system, women's lives have been saved. There are women who falsely accuse. I am always impressed by the legal advocates at the local family justice center who know the women who are doing so. They are very good at this. Women who come for help are usually very scared and it is a big deal for them to come to us for help.Once an order for protection has been filed, their lives are at more risk so they don't do it lightly and some choose not to do that or ask to have it rescinded because of their fear that things will get worse. The system is not perfect but it's a lot better than it used to be. But we can't have it both ways. Either we are insisting that people with D.V. and mental health issues who are a danger to themselves or others be placed on the NICS list or they don't. I err on the side of putting them on the list.

  19. Dear Readers, Please read this post at New Trajectory- http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/03/ptsd-and-mason-case.html#comment-form

    There is lots of good information about PTSD and it highlights the need that we do something as a country to deal with the issue, including what to do about guns in the hands of veterans who are having serious mental health problems.

  20. "But you guys rail at virtually any mention of the word guns as part of the solution."

    Because you guys don't have a very good track record as being trustworthy when it comes to gun restrictions. When it comes to managing a constitutionally recognized civil right, the restrictions must be tailored to the narrowest possible burden. This is why we cannot yell fire in a crowded theater but we can protest at a veteran's funeral and scream obscenities at the mourners. This seems like less a call for helping veterans and more of an excuse to impose more Brady restrictions on the rest of us. I'm willing to bet that "helping veterans" also includes the tried-and-true Brady wishlist of banning high capacity magazines, banning semi automatics, prohibiting private gun sales, registration of guns, licensing requirements, etc. etc.

    "They are part of the problem and restricting them needs to be part of the solution."

    See what I mean? We go from identifying problems with mental illness and providing help to those who need it to focusing on the object: the guns. Can you see yet why we keep holding the line? The old saying "Give them an inch and they take a mile" comes to mind. Unfortunately, the track record of the anti gun lobby has shown us time and again that they take something that does need to be addressed, like violence prevention or help for veterans, and turn it into another avenue for their wishlist.

    "Why not err on the side of saving lives?"

    Because there are things more important than life. Liberty chief among them. This is America, where freedom is sacrosanct. We both want to help veterans, but the solutions of the Brady's in particular and the left in general are typically overburdensome, unconstitutional, and heavy handed.

    "If you can't admit to that then you are not on the side of saving the lives of either the veteran themselves since suicide is such an increasing concern, or the lives of innocent loved ones or friends."

    So because I don't subscribe to your reasoning on suicide prevention I must not want to help veterans or their loved ones? Nice try. My thoughts for helping suicides does not obsess with the guns but focuses on strong families and support groups. As someone who has seen suicides occur as a result of everything from guns to asphyxiation from helium I have come to realize that focusing on the method is almost a complete waste of time. Yes, I believe that if a person is suicidal then all their access to weapons should be addressed. Whether it is guns or knives or lengths of rope. But until you can get to the root of the problem, you are wasting resources that could better be utilized elsewhere.

  21. After we get the background checks on every sale passed, we can work on mental health screening and psychological testing. Of course, for those to be effective we'll have to have the licensing and registration in place.

    By these means we could screen out many loose canons. And once we can do all that, we need to do the MikeB is King Rule formerly known as the one-strike-you're-out rule on 'em.

  22. Mike your arrogance is unreal.

    You so want a one strike rule. Well DUI drivers kill more people and injure more people than gun owners. Are you willing to pursue a one strike rule for Dui's?

    Joan. Twisting our regard for freedom into our somehow not being in favor of mental health support for veterans is a lie.

    You say you know a teacher who was accused of molestation. Does that person still teach? Were they smeared by the press by being named in what was a spurious and untrue charge? That's why we fear mandatory listing of anyone who sought clinical help. As soon as it goes from voluntary to mandatory, it is stigmatized.

  23. It was not "molestation" P. It was a special ed. student claiming an inappropriate touch. It was handled within the School District and the woman kept working. She is now retired and has moved. This affected her greatly, as you can imagine. There was no press about this since it was an internal thing and proved not to be true. As I said, you can't have it both ways. Some of you have even mentioned that we should go after these folks on the streets and insist on treatment. Which is it? That just shows how complicated the issue is. And it shows that you all still cannot agree that doing something to keep these folks from easily accessing guns is a good idea. At the least, background checks on all gun sales would help. Better ATF monitoring of straw purchasing. Storing guns securely to keep them from being stolen. Making sure as family members that a very vulnerable person can't access guns ( also touchy and difficult) When gun rights supercede all reasonable measures, people call foul at any measure that is perceived as gun confiscation. If we had a reasonable culture in which gun rights didn't come before all else, we could probably accomplish some real change for the public good.

  24. "After we get the background checks on every sale passed, we can work on mental health screening and psychological testing. Of course, for those to be effective we'll have to have the licensing and registration in place."

    "By these means we could screen out many loose canons. And once we can do all that, we need to do the MikeB is King Rule formerly known as the one-strike-you're-out rule on 'em."

    Thanks for the example of the reason why the NRA exists, is very well funded, and won't compromise. I'm already a lifetime member of another, more effective organization, but you've inspired me to put aside my differences and become a lifetime member of NRA as well.

    My profound thanks.

  25. It's nice to know that one side refuses to compromise. That's a true democracy for you!!!

  26. japete said...

    It's nice to know that one side refuses to compromise. That's a true democracy for you!!!
    March 7, 2011 12:49 PM

    When they're 51%, it is indeed. Like two wolves and a lamb voting on what's for dinner.

  27. Another nice image coming from the guys with the guns.

  28. Joan, inappropriate touch is a euphemism for molestation.

    I did not at all mean to imply anything untoward about your friend.

    However, she was falsely accused and I am sure it affected the way she worked and handled herself for the rest of her life. And THAT'S exactly the reason we fear mandatory psych evals, false accusations and Lautenberg. In this day we have shaped laws to give all benefit to the victim, which seems to be a good idea, but this seems to causing a lot of issues in the guiltyuntil proven innocent area.

    Free men fear that. Sir William Blackstone wrote "Tis better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent to suffer.".

    Pretty much been a key idea in American Consciousness ever since.

  29. Hmmmm- what about free women, P. Your ideas seem to come from days of yore. I am thinking of today when we no longer let men abuse women so freely and provide places for women to live and services for them to get help. It doesn't always work but it is a far sight better than when we did nothing but turn our heads the other way. I would like to know how Lautenberg has actually hurt anyone. It has helped a whole lot of women, that's for sure.

  30. Lautenberg has hurt a lot of police and others by taking what had been misdemeanor settlements and turned them into effectively a felony as far as gun rights go.

    My friend as stated had a fight with his step brother. He is not an abuser of women. It was in the mid eighties. He pled to a charge of misdemeanor DV because they shared a home. He served no time and paid a very small fine. He legally is barred from owning a firearm.

    I know of someone else who was served with a restraining order as a matter of course during a divorce before Lautenberg. Had he contested it, it would have been tossed because he never had laid a hand on her. She even willingly admits it. However it just shrugged and let it go because he didn't have the cash to fight it. Ten years later Lautenberg passes and he loses his gun rights.

    No one is contesting felony restrictions. No one is saying let off wife beaters. It's the past conviction part that opens pandoras box. Precisely has been set that prior non restrictive actions are being punished twice. Frankly I am amazed no one has taken it to SCOTUS. I do not have data but there was a MN LEO of standing who lost his job over this.

    A misdemeanor anything should not have the penalty of a life time ban on gun possession.

  31. Japete, I finally got around to reading this post. I consider it so very important that the public understands the danger that PTSD and other mental illnesses pose to sufferers and those around them when mixed with firearms. As I illustrated over at New Trajectory, PTSD has led to too many homicides and suicides to be ignored. I am glad that you and your family are mindful of the danger, and have taken steps to avoid a shooting. More should do so. Yes, our veterans are heroes who continue to pay the price for the horror of war, who fought for us, and who have been thoroughly trained in firearms usage and safety, and yet, in cases like this, their inability to think clearly can lead to tragedy.

    My blog post on this topic: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2011/03/ptsd-and-mason-case.html

  32. But, P, in the case of DV, a misdemeanor can lead to the death of a woman most often the victim in DV. So if Lautenberg has prevented the deaths of women in the U.S., I say- great!! Your friend has lost his gun rights. Is he suffering terribly over this? What if his behavior led him to later killing someone? Which is more inconvenient- his loss of gun rights or the potential loss of life? Of course, I know nothing of the case and can't really comment on any specifics. But it must have been quite a fight. I don't know anything about the case in Minnesota. Because of the system in place- the "Duluth model", followed by LE all over the world, abusers are arrested before they have a chance to seriously injure or kill someone. Following that, sometimes the men are released, sometimes they are charged, sometimes an order for protection follows, sometimes the women move out and get help by going to a shelter, sometimes the women are hurt again,sometimes the men are ordered to attend programs for abusers by the courts, sometimes things come out o.k., sometimes women are killed. As I have said before, I will err on the side of prevention.

  33. "...and yet, in cases like this, their inability to think clearly can lead to tragedy."

    It is not an inability to think clearly that leads to killing your entire family and then yourself.

    "As I have said before, I will err on the side of prevention."

    And this is the crux of it, the insurmountable difference. You would rather punish a few innocents in the name of safety. We would rather not punish someone who is innocent, even if it means the problem in question doesn't get solved. I'd argue that an unjust solution is no solution at all, but I get why you would think something is better than nothing.

    Lautenberg goes too far, and punishes a few innocents in the name of safety. That's okay to you, and not to us.

    Here's what this brings to mind. The last time I was in Yosemite National Park, a child was swept over one of the waterfalls and killed. This is not uncommon- Yosemite kills people every year. Should we make all of Yosemite National park "safe"? Is the majesty of El Cap and Half Dome the same if there are black and yellow striped wheelchair ramps and chain link fence all over them? Maybe we should close all the trails and only allow people to ride through on buses, their faces stuck to the windows. For their safety.

    I'd argue a better solution is to teach people. Give them a pamphlet- this is John, and he's dead because he leaned out over a cliff to get a good picture. That's Mary, and she's dead because she didn't keep an eye on the weather. Little Timmy's dead because his parents didn't teach him about waterfalls.

    The world is dangerous, and there is a line to walk between putting foam on all the sharp corners and not letting anyone go outside unsupervised versus no regulation and no rules.

  34. Japete:
    "Hmmmm- what about free women, P. Your ideas seem to come from days of yore."

    These ideas were written with human nature in mind. Would you rather see ten innocent people be imprisoned so that one potential murderer was off the streets? Anything if it saves lives, right?

    Also, I don't believe that your implication that this quote somehow denotes a sexist attitude on the part of the person is highly inaccurate, as "men" commonly refers to humankind in general.

    The definition of "men" from dictionary.com:
    2. a member of the species Homo sapiens or all the members of this species collectively, without regard to sex: prehistoric man.
    3. the human individual as representing the species, without reference to sex; the human race; humankind: Man hopes for peace, but prepares for war.

    Emphasis mine.

    "If we had a reasonable culture in which gun rights didn't come before all else, we could probably accomplish some real change for the public good."

    Yes, we could get a lot more "reasonable" laws on the books if it weren't for that pesky constitution! The freedom of speech is an anachronism of our "modern culture." Without it we could easily do something for the public good and ban those Westboro Baptist idiots from protesting at funerals. And personally I'd love to take away the rights of due process for people like Jared Loughner. Everyone knows he's guilty, why waste time and money with a trial?

    "we need to do the MikeB is King Rule formerly known as the one-strike-you're-out rule on 'em."

    Begging your pardon, Your Majesty, but please let us know if you have any more luck disarming the peasantry than King George.

  35. Anon- as far as accidents in national parks, we should do everything we can to prevent them, including education campaigns. We can't prevent everything. But park safety signs are posted and people are given information about hazards in the park areas. The same should happen with guns. To try to equate making Yoseemite Park and closing trails to Lautenberg is a stretch at the least. In Duluth, a trail in a city park was closed after someone rode their bike over a cliff and died. It was repaired but there are still warnings. Prevention is the key. There was another hazard in an area near our canal which has water fountains. Someone fell and got hurt and sued the City. The City now has fenced off the area so people can't walk on the slippery rocks in the fountain. Sometimes people don't think well. Sometimes governments or businesses don't realize hazards until they happen. Then measures are taken to avoid injury, death and financial obligations in law suits. In the case of DV, we are trying to prevent injury and death. Because there are potential problems leading to injury and deaths, laws are changed to benefit the majority. The minority may not like it that they can't walk on the slippery rocks or bike on a certain part of the trail, but it will save lives. Sometimes it is the law that teaches people to behave in a better way for their own safety and the safety of others. Isn't that why we have speed limits and other safety measures on the roads? So it seems that we can both point to situations not relating to guns to highlight situations that do. What pamphlet would you suggest for domestic abusers? Here, Mary is dead because James shot her in a domestic case two years ago. If you do the same, you will go to jail. Or maybe arresting someone for an infraction that rose to the occasion of a police call and telling the person that one more time and they would suffer some pretty bad consequences. But what if that one more time means that Cynthia was shot to death? Now Cynthia has suffered the consequences and her family has to live with those consequences and Peter is going to jail for life for killing Cynthia because he didn't read the pamphlet or didn't realized that his behavior would have consequences under Lautenberg?

  36. Alcade- I am suggesting that you take a look at things from a more current perspective. You continue to provide quotes that, though can be considered relevant and still applicable in some ways to today, are in need of some updating. Take a look at this: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2007/02/the-us-founding-fathers-who-were-these-guys/.

    And you continue to misrepresent the 2nd Amendment when you think it means that rights are totally unfettered without regard to any restrictions. You know, as do I, that Alito and Scalia did not subsribe to that interpretation in their rulings on Heller and McDonald. I don't know why you keep bringing this up because it disregards the facts of the rulings.

  37. Joan. Did you read my post?

    Thirty years ago he got in a fight with a stepbrother. He's never exhibited any violence toward women. Before the divorce he and his dad used to hunt all the time. He hunted with his father up until a couple of years after Lautenberg when he found out it applied to him. He would love to be back hunting with his dad but cant. How can you suggest a fight with a stepbrother will lead to abusing women? There is no logic.

    The whole problem with Lautenberg is the fact it changed sentences from effectively a ticket to a felony, with no available recourse. It's B S. I sincerely doubt if one life has been saved by retroactively extending the law.

    I go back to a previous argument that if a person is mad/sick/provoked/ill enough to kill a spouse or partner, Availability of a firearm is going to make little difference. The only DV case I have had a connection to was a neighbor who moved and later drowned his kids and used a fishing knife on her and himself.

    He had plenty of guns and other stuff around. He just chose that method for some reason.

    I am not willing to trade the idea that only a felony should keep some one from losing their rights for a hypothetical belief a misdemeanor anything is going to result in a DV death.

  38. Thanks. Good resource.

    ...the United States was not founded on a common ethnicity, language, or religion... Instead, it was founded on a set of beliefs and convictions, what Thomas Jefferson described as self-evident truths, that were proclaimed in 1776 and then embedded in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. To become an American citizen is not a matter of bloodlines or genealogy, but rather a matter of endorsing and embracing the values established AT THE FOUNDING, which accords the men who invented these values a special significance.

    Second, the American system of jurisprudence links all landmark constitutional decisions to the language of the Constitution itself and often to the “ORIGINAL INTENT” of the framers.

    Once again, this legal tradition gives the American Founders an abiding relevance in current discussions of foreign and domestic policy that would be inconceivable in most European countries.

    So what is it that needs "updating?" Is it the term Founding Fathers? We'll say "founders" if that makes you more comfortable.

    The above expresses perfectly why the "American Founders" come up again and again in this discussion. They have an "abiding relevance".

  39. "And you continue to misrepresent the 2nd Amendment when you think it means that rights are totally unfettered without regard to any restrictions. You know, as do I, that Alito and Scalia did not subsribe to that interpretation in their rulings on Heller and McDonald. I don't know why you keep bringing this up because it disregards the facts of the rulings."

    The Framers included the Second Amendment to guard against the tyrannical overreaches of a strong central government.

    It should come as no surprise that a strong central government would seek to limit it.

  40. P- sometimes I have no idea where you are coming from- maybe it is just your sentence structure that does not make sense to me: "I am not willing to trade the idea that only a felony should keep some one from losing their rights for a hypothetical belief a misdemeanor anything is going to result in a DV death." I am not following this one.

  41. I think it is pretty simple what he is trying to say! He only wants felonies to have the ability to remove ones rights not a misdemeanor.

  42. Thanks, Anthony. I think that P does need an interpreter at times.

  43. The Lautenberg Amendment and mental health GCA issues are a significant impediment to military families seeking help. If a soldier is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, they'll likely be dishonorably discharged. This means loss of income, loss of health insurance, and no GI Bill. Needless to say, sometimes abused spouses are hesitant to speak up and file charges for fear of plunging their family into an even darker abyss--if they get their spouse fired, then their children lose their home, medical care, future education (now that people are transferring GI bill benefits to dependents) and everything else. So the abuse goes on until something traumatic happens.

    Likewise, while there have been some efforts to lessen the stigma of mental illness during the GWOT, many military members fear losing their security clearances or ability to carry arms if they seek out mental health services. The effect is that people who need help are hesitant to get it.

    These are difficult questions. People who are suicidal should probably be kept away from dangerous objects of all types. And nobody wants abusers to have better access to victims or weapons. But unfortunately, sometimes the "solutions" we implement have unintended, negative consequences.

    Chris from AK