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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Friday, April 1, 2011

Don't be fooled by the NRA

Happy April Fools' Day everyone. In my part of the country, just as on the East Coast, we woke up to a coating of snow after experiencing melting and spring like temperatures. Disappointing as it is, we know it will soon melt. Still, seeing the snow again fools us into thinking we can predict what is going to happen in our world. It seems that the world has been so unpredictable of late that it is unsettling. We would prefer the world around us to be more black and white and predictable. I learned when my sister was shot that "life is what happens while you're doing other things." That seems to fit with what is going on in the world as we are going about our business. So let's talk about what is happening in the world of guns and the gun culture in the U.S. since that is what this blog is all about.

I suggest here that we have been fooled by the NRA on many fronts. I say this because of my experiences over the past years in trying to get common sense gun legislation passed. I have been continually taken aback by the fierce opposition to bills that are meant to prevent people who shouldn't have guns from getting them. There is a disconnect between what is seen by me and others as reasonable measures that will not  affect using guns for hunting, recreation and self defense and the NRA and its' dedicated members; these folks say that any measure at all to restrict who can have guns, where they can have them and what type of guns and/or ammunition they can have will lead inevitably to gun banning, their going immediately to jail and their "God given" gun rights to be taken from them. So let's look at a few current discussions highlighting the disconnect and the foolishness of the discussion.

The NRA and it's followers maintain that high capacity magazines have not accounted for enough mass shooting deaths to be of concern. Some have told me that on this blog.They would be wrong. Here is a great article to prove my point. Don't be fooled when the NRA says that high capacity magazines don't cause a lot of gun deaths. A more detailed account of the number of shootings in which high capacity magazines were used is found here. By my count, since the Violence Policy Center started keeping the records from a shooting in 1984, there have been 31 incidents of mass shootings up to the Tucson shooting this past January. Number of deaths= 256; Number wounded= 284! These numbers add up to a lot of pain and suffering among victims and survivors of gun deaths and injuries. And these are just a fraction of the total number of people who have been shot since that date. Since 1984, when James Huberty killed 22 people and wounded 19 others at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, California with a 25 round ammunition magazine attached to his gun, about 2.7 million people have been shot in the U.S. 30,000 a year die from gun injuries and another 70,000 a year are wounded. Granted, most of the gun deaths and injuries have not been as the result of high capacity magazines. But the numbers above should be startling to anyone but the most insensitive among us.

Don't be fooled when the NRA's members claim they need these devices for self protection. That is their mantra and they have come to believe this over time so that it is now a part of their culture of guns. High capacity magazines have become a necessity in their minds even if they are, in fact, not. Other guns with fewer rounds will serve the purpose of shooting or wounding someone in a self defense case. We know this because every day, many people are killed, one at a time, with guns that fire off many fewer rounds. The only reason for high capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds is to kill many people at one time as highlighted by the linked article above. The NRA has fooled its' own members into thinking they simply must have these high capacity magazines for self protection. On this April Fool's Day, it's time to pull back the curtain on the foolishness.

The NRA makes claims that Pediatricians should not ask patients about guns in the home. They are wrong headed about that one, too. I don't think the NRA has any business in deciding what a Doctor can or cannot tell patients. Read this wonderful article written by a Florida Pediatrician for the real life reasons that doctors ask patients questions and why the answers, of course, are all private information known only to the doctor and the patient. Don't be fooled into believing doctors should not talk to patients and their parents about guns and where and how they are stored in the home or cars or other property. About 8 children a day die from gun injuries in the U.S. It is total foolishness for the NRA to interfere with the way doctors perform medicine in their practices. It should not be acceptable and rather should be an outrage to the public.

The NRA is proposing measures all over the country to increase the places where guns can be carried, such as on college campuses. I have given examples of this in previous blogs. Common sense tells people when they have been fooled. That is why the Texas panel that passed a measure to allow guns on public Texas campuses is so foolish. It is supported by the NRA and most everyone else is opposed to the idea for good reasons. Here is a statement by Texas Senator Rodney Ellis that summarizes the foolishness. In Senator Ellis's words:" "Senate Bill 354 is a bad solution to a serious problem. It makes us feel like we've gotten tough -- deputizing students -- but the fact is that the universities don't want it, the students don't want it and law enforcement doesn't want it because they know it will not make our campuses safer." A foolish solution looking for a problem and the public is against it. Who's in charge here? Not the people, apparently.


Just for fun, let's do the "fool" thing:    

"Mime" on Las Ramblas in Barcelona
Fool's rush in where angels fear to tread. You can decide who's who? I would love to hear from those of you who are not "gun guys" about this one because I know I will hear from them in large numbers. I am expecting it. Watch for the responses in a future post.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. This one applies to our elected leaders who have been fooled too many times by the gun lobby. Shame on them for being fooled. Shame on us for allowing this foolishness to prevail.

Or, as George W. Bush famously put the above cited quote: "There's an old saying in Tennessee-- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee- that says, fool me once, shame on- shame on you. Fool me- you can't get fooled again."  Here is the video of President Bush's famous malapropism. Oh dear.


Now this one: " You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." This one is attributed to Abraham Lincoln but some think it is from Mark Twain and others think it came from P.T. Barnum. It is difficult sometimes to find accurate quotes from some of our historical figures. The Founding Fathers are often quoted by commenters here on this blog and sometimes I have found a lack of attribution for the quote. Common sense tells us how often people in public office are misquoted. The above quote, whoever it is who said it, is pretty wise, though. There are times when the public in general gets fooled- maybe all or maybe some only sometimes. But it really is difficult to fool everyone all the time. That is why it is important for us to examine facts and then have reasoned discourse and opportunities to have reasonable engagement. We should not be fooled into thinking that any measure to pass reasonable restrictions concerning guns leads inevitably to all second amendment rights taken away. That is simply not true and has been addressed many times by me in previous posts. 


The more extreme folks among the gun guys are those who say things such as this: " What you and the Brady campaign are suggesting strips us of Rights protected by the Constitution. If the Constitution says ok and you say no, that's UnConstitutional." This, of course, is wrong and an unchallenged fear experienced by some who can't get beyond their visceral feelings to the realityThe gun control organizations and their members are not proposing anything Unconstitutional as is claimed by the gun rights folks. That is foolish talk. Many of the gun rights folks have an unfounded fear that rights will be taken from them by the gun control side. That is also foolish talk. As, Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address: The" only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Fear of fear causes people to do and say things that don't make sense.

Happy April Fool's Day everyone. Don't be foolish out there.

25 comments:

  1. ". Other guns with fewer rounds will serve the purpose of shooting or wounding someone in a self defense case. We know this because every day, many people are killed, one at a time, with guns that fire off many fewer rounds."

    If that's the case, then what purpose is served by banning magazines that hold more rounds? Considering more people are killed one at a time than at 10+ at a time, it would seem the number of lives saved by a magazine ban would be negligible at best. It would be like banning ice cubes to prevent drunk drive deaths.

    Jim Kessler said it best, "There were roughly 12,000 gun homicides last year, and I’ll wager that less than 10 were caused by bullets 11 through 30 in someone’s magazine. The problem is bullets 1, 2, and 3 –- not 11, 12, and 13."

    Wise words.

    "About 8 children a day die from gun injuries in the U.S."

    How many of those children were involved in criminal activities when they die from their gun injuries? How many of them were gang bangers, drug dealers, thieves or otherwise engaged in miscreancy?

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  2. japete wrote: The gun control organizations and their members are not proposing anything Unconstitutional as is claimed by the gun rights folks. That is foolish talk. Many of the gun rights folks have an unfounded fear that rights will be taken from them by the gun control side. That is also foolish talk


    Whether what you propose is unconstitutional is entirely a matter of opinion. However, there must be a starting point. If you believe what you say, then you will have no difficulty affirming this:

    The US Constitution protects a fundamental civil right to keep and bear arms, held by the people as individuals.

    Yes?

    If the Brady folks and the other groups can accept this, and internalize it - believe it, embrace it - then we can talk.

    No one argues that the right is absolute; it's not. No right is. Not the 1st Am, not the 4th, etc. None.

    But until the Brady folks recognize and adopt that indeed there IS a right, and it is a fundamental civil right, held by individuals, your motives will ALWAYS be suspect. ALWAYS.

    Because we KNOW that Brady et al (and especially the VPC) cannot be taken at their word. There's been too much dishonesty over the years.

    -Roxy

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  3. I knew you guys would say this and miss my point. I said that most of the gun deaths are caused by smaller round ammunition magazines. But when the high capacity magazines are used, they are responsible for large numbers of gun deaths that occur in multipes each time. Perhaps fewer folks would have been killed at each of those mass murder scenes. That is little solace to the victims' friends and relatives. But there just is not a reason for these high capacity magazines. Given that, no one should have them. That way, we can avoid having scenes of mass murder that occur mostly in the U.S. on a fairly regular basis,

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  4. Roxy- the Brady Campaign is not saying that the second amendment grants an individual right to bear arms. That is clear in the Heller case and we are not denying that. we are only agreeing with Justice Scalia in Heller and Alito in MacDonald that that right is not absolute- that there are restrictions to who can carry and own a gun, where they can have it and what type of gun. The Brady Campaign is not, as you say ( foolishly) dishonest. You folks love to believe that and have been convinced by the NRA that it is true. They are fine individuals with honest intentions. As long as you continue to say that we are dishonest, then we can't proceed with any discussion. Those are my terms.And, Roxy, many who comment on this sight do argue that the 2nd amendment is absolute and they don't want any restrictions at all. According to them, it is unfettered and God given- those are non starters for me. You need to do a little fact checking about what the Brady Campaign is saying. You are wrong in your assessment.

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  5. japete wrote: the Brady Campaign is not saying that the second amendment grants an individual right to bear arms. That is clear in the Heller case and we are not denying that. we are only agreeing with Justice Scalia in Heller and Alito in MacDonald that that right is not absolute- that there are restrictions to who can carry and own a gun, where they can have it and what type of gun.


    Fundamentals. First, the Constitution does not GRANT rights; it protects rights that are pre-existing, by virtue of one's inalienable rights as a human being. Given by God, by Nature, by historical common law; however you imagine it. The fundamental idea that rights are not granted, but protected by gov't is hugely important, it's the centerpiece of the philosophical basis of our system of gov't. Never forget: rights that gov'ts grant can also be taken away by that same gov't. That's unacceptable.

    Second, I note you were very careful NOT to actually endorse the idea that the 2nd Am. protects an individual fundamental right; indeed, you specifically do NOT endorse that position. Rather, you latch on the limitations you can impose. That's telling; it tells me that you will accept (grudgingly) Heller and McDonald only until you think you can get them overturned. That's hardly the "internalizing" I spoke of.

    Third, I'll stand by my assessment of much of the gun control community as dishonest. I know you like to beat up on the big, bad NRA as spoonfeeding all us poor 'ol hicks, but we can actually think for ourselves. When Sugarman of VPC endorses using the scary looks of an AR to convince people it's a machine gun, knowing that's false, that's dishonest. His current "Concealed Carry Killers" assertion is equally dishonest. When Bloomberg continues to tell people that the Tiahrt Amendment prevents gun traces by law enforcement, that's dishonest - and he knows it. When Brady tells the public that AR's have pistol grips so that shooters can "spray from the hip," that's dishonest. Anyone willing to actually understand the weapon and how it works would understand immediately just how ridiculous that claim is. But it feeds fear, and that's the point of the claim.

    Frankly, unless and until the fundamentals are agreed upon, unless there is a basic understanding of what is up for "negotiation" and what is not, your side's still suspect. And for good reason.

    They are fine individuals with honest intentions. (said of the Brady folks).

    I don't doubt that they believe in their good intentions. And I don't doubt that they are good people. Those on the gun liberties side are also good people.

    I do doubt that their true intentions are what they're saying, however. They see their current goals as stepping stones; if each and every one passed, they'd be back the next year with just one more "common sense" law. And if that passed, there'd be another proposal the next year. And so on, and so on, until there's effectively no right remaining. That's just a fact; these folks have never seen a gun restriction they didn't like.

    Denying that will not make it go away. Thus the inherent mistrust.

    - Roxy

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  6. Your arrogance, Roxy, is stunning.

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  7. This is a great point, offered by an Anonymous commenter.

    "Fundamentals. First, the Constitution does not GRANT rights; it protects rights that are pre-existing, by virtue of one's inalienable rights as a human being."

    You have a right to life and self defense, no one disputes that. But to say that owning a gun, or anything else for that matter, is required to do the self-defending and therefore the right extends to the owning a the gun, is too much, it's going too far.

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  8. Mike. Put down the pasta tray and read the Constitution.

    It is pretty clear about it. You are wrong, plainly and factually wrong, as usual

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  9. Mike what would you consider arms as referenced in the 2nd?

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  10. Anonymous, can you let me know the parts of the Constitution that support your assertions in your April 1 post, specifically that the Constitution distinguishes between granting rights and protecting rights? I searched the Constitution for the words grant and provide, but neither search gave me anything like what you are referring to. Educate me.

    Also, what is a pasta tray and how do you know Mikeb has one?

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  11. Alan. Read the Constitution and then read the federalist papers.

    The Bill of Rights does not create any rights. What it does is explain the Rights all men have and gives express and positive enumeration of those rights. You, as a human being, have the right to self defense, to privacy, to speak your mind, to be free of a government searching you and your belongings simply because it can. Those rights pre exist the Constituion, and the Constitution merely recognizes those rights and protects them.

    Mike lives in Italy, seems to hate America by his posts, and his comments are almost always factually incorrect. He claims to be an American ex pat, but his civics knowledge would suggest a miserable education.

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  12. Gentlemen, please cease the ad hominem bickering.

    Joan,

    In that Mother Jones article you linked, do you realize that many of those shootings happened right in the middle of the Assault Weapons Ban? Clearly, banning high-capacity magazines did not prevent people from obtaining or using them, nor did it prevent mass killings, which occurred pre-ban, continued during the ban, and still occur post-ban. I have previously commented on your blog about famous shootings with non-scary, simple guns.

    Why is the Brady Campaign intent on placing restrictions on law abiding gun owners, when it has clearly failed in the past to prevent criminal activity?

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  13. Alan? not sure you addressed his concerns, anon, but maybe he'll answer for himself. As to Mike- just because he doesn't agree with you doesn't mean he has had a miserable education. I love it when you guys dis anyone who disagrees by attacking the person themself rather than what they have said- I believe that is ad hominem.

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  14. Hmmm- Red- one person asks another on this blog a question and you now have called it ad hominem bickering? Not. I will be the referee of comments here. As you know, many guns and ammunition were still available during the AWB - the import and manufacture of same were banned but not the sale. And we all know how easy it is to get this stuff at gun shows and from other private sales. The Brady Campaign, is, of course, as we have gone over ad nauseum on this blog, NOT in favor of restrictions on law abiding gun owners that would take away any second amendment rights as much as you would love to believe it and actually do believe it. But go ahead. It fits with your world view to believe this.

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  15. Red, if you feel that what I asked Anonymous represents ad hominem bickering, I don't see it. It was a pretty simple, direct request that he provide me with the words of the Constitution that support his assertions about where rights come from. If there's one thing I know from reading this blog, it's that gunnies have learned to copy and paste. It would be simple to copy those parts of the Const. that support his contention and paste them into an answer to my question.

    Anonymous, I don't feel you answered my question. You asked that I read the Const. and then added that I should read the Federalist Papers. I did reread the Constitution before I asked my question. I didn't find anything to back up what you say. Nothing. Then I googled the Const. for all the references to "grant" and "provide". The results the search gave me contained nothing like what you said was there.

    I actually don't disagree that people are possessed of natural rights. (For one reason because President Obama, whose education, intelligence, and experience in these constitutional matters dwarfs mine, makes the same assertion.) It's just that your assertion that this is all spelled out in the Constitution appears to be false.

    Remember, you weren't talking about the Federalist Papers so, for the purposes of simplicity and clarity, don't bring those in, even though I would be a better person for reading them. You said all this was in the constitution. I feel that gunnies commonly make assertions that can't be backed up and I want to see if this is one of those times.

    So, Anonymous, do you feel like trying to answer my question? If you do copy and paste those parts of the constitution you were referring to and they support your contention, I'll gain from being corrected.

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  16. As far as ad hominem bickering, I think japete runs a pretty civil blog. I'm sure it takes work, though.

    Anonymous, who pretends to know all about me, said, "Mike lives in Italy, seems to hate America by his posts, and his comments are almost always factually incorrect. He claims to be an American ex pat, but his civics knowledge would suggest a miserable education."

    The only part he got correct is where I live.

    Anthony asked what arms I think the 2nd Amendment refers to. I believe it refers to the musket and other individual arms that were available at the time, but for a specific purpose. You remember that part of the Amendment you guys like to leave off, "A well-regulated militia."

    What happened is, over the last half-century or so it became bastardized by the gun manufacturers and the NRA, which incredibly led to two bizarre rulings by the Supreme Court. Suddenly, you guys are all Constitutional jail-house lawyers. It's the law of the land.

    The fact is the wording of the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with self-defense, it only condones individual gun ownership for the purpose of participating in the militia, which means absolutely nothing in today's world.

    Now, before you get all upset, please keep in mind what I just said has nothing to do with outlawing guns or banning all of them. In fact I don't preach for that. What I do preach for is that you should stop trying to justify your gun ownership with the antiquated writings of a bunch of slave-owning misogynists.

    The only justification necessary is that you like guns, and since it's a free country you can own them but they and you are subject to regulation.

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  17. I was referring to the pasta tray comments. Perhaps I read more than intended.

    Joan,

    I really don't understand how to respond to the claim that the Brady Campaign aims to restrict my second amendment rights when you call to prohibit weapons that I currently own. I own a glock with a 17-round magazine. I own a rifle designed in 1894 (mine was made recently) that holds 11 rounds. I own another rifle that in fact has a barrel shroud, a pistol grip, and an adjustable stock. All three of these weapons would be illegal if you had your way. To claim that this does not infringe my 2A rights is ludicrous. If my "world view" means "what I have read coming from your organization and posted on this very blog by you", then I guess it does fit.

    If the AWB, by your own admission, did nothing to stop criminals from obtaining weapons and the insane from mass shootings, why on earth would we want to reinstate it?

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  18. Mikeb,

    I'm so glad you brought up the "well regulated militia" angle. That's the language that indicates that the 2A is not about duck hunting, is not about self defense, it's about owning military weapons suitable for militia service. If you claim that this amendment only applies to single-shot rifled muskets from the 1700's, then I'm afraid your free speech rights only apply to public speaking and hand-lettered printing presses that distribute by horse courier.

    Do you also deride our freedom of speech, and of religion, as the "antiquated writings of a bunch of slave-owning misogynists"? How about the protection against unreasonable search and seizure? The concept of due process? Protection against self incrimination? Requirement of trial by jury? Prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment? Or do you single out the one amendment you don't like and try to pretend it doesn't matter?

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  19. Red- I'm sure you could use magazines in those very same guns with less capacity. Yes, perhaps some of your weapons currently owned would be illegal. I am betting for grandfather clauses should, by some miracle, any law such as that would pass. Don't get your undies tied too much in a bundle here. The chances are slim because you guys are ready to oppose any such thing with all of your power, influence, might and money. I wouldn't be too worried if I were you, I would reinstate it because there is now evidence that more of the type of guns banned in the AWB are being used in criminal action. http://www.vpc.org/press/1002aw.htm and http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/pdf/assault/awb_violence.pdf
    http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-48929.html

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  20. "The Brady Campaign, is, of course, as we have gone over ad nauseum on this blog, NOT in favor of restrictions on law abiding gun owners that would take away any second amendment rights as much as you would love to believe it and actually do believe it. "

    The Brady Campaign wishes to restrict magazines with capacity to hold more than ten rounds. That would be a restriction on this law-abiding gun owner.

    b

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  21. Bryan- if you can find me something in the constitution that states that you have a right to own high capacity magazines, let me know.

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  22. "Bryan- if you can find me something in the constitution that states that you have a right to own high capacity magazines, let me know."

    ...shall not be infringed...

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  23. Nope that's not it. That doesn't mention anything about any type of ammunition or type of weapon.

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  24. Joan, I think that you give these NRA Tea Party types too much credit. They can't be trusted with assault clips, but frankly, i don't understand why we draw the line at ten rounds?

    Not only these dangerous clips should be banned, but also any of them. The gun guys are right, even with ten round clips it's still too easy to kill a bunch of people, and when they do finally get around to having their revolution, they'll simply change the tactics they use to compensate for being forced to use ten round clips.

    They claim that it's for self defense, but that's ridiculous. No sane person should desire to kill like these people do. If they were really interested in self defense, they'd use a taser or pepper spray. Tasers work just fine and only have one or two shots, I don't see why guns aren't the same.

    I don't understand why you don't call them out on this.

    ~C

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  25. Red, I think the slave owners got some things right. But that gun business has to go, man.

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