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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Victims are cowards?

Well, here's a good idea.  Let's teach kids how to be school shooters. This video game shows how easy it would be for anyone. Why not? I love the whimsical music that goes along with the victims spraying blood on the walls. That's a nice touch. Also the voice in the background saying "boring"? I think that is what it says anyway. Is it boring to shoot students in a school? Huh? We had better find more exciting things for our kids to do then. Interestingly enough, it also does show how an unexpected intruder with a gun has the upper hand and how impossible it is to try to defend yourself from these types of spree shootings. And are those who run from the shooter to save themselves cowards?

Speaking of people trying to save themselves in a school shooting, look at this report of the recent school shooting in Brazil. In the video you can see the students running from the school to safety. This is a natural response. The shooter opened fire unexpectedly and caused chaos and panic. It is frightening and almost like being in a video game- sort of like the one linked to above only this one has real bodies with real blood. And then one person interviewed notes this: "...it was like in the U.S.A. where people go in and start shooting."

Speaking of school shootings, some of the "gun guys" on my blog are convinced that Colin Goddard and those who survived or maybe even those who died at Virginia Tech were just cowards because they didn't try to defend themselves during the horrible carnage that took place on April 16, 2006. I was almost stunned at this line of reasoning (can we call it reasoning?) and arrogance. First of all, Colin is a young man with much promise and great integrity. He is articulate, well educated, humble and an all around nice person who happens to have been a victim of the worst school shooting in our country. He has chosen to go public with his story and work for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And for this, Colin is attacked by many who couldn't come close to being the kind of person he is. Secondly, some "gun guys" are so convinced that they could have defended themselves and others at Virginia Tech that surely fewer people would have died. Their accuracy is better than most, of course, and in their fantasy world, they can shoot down anyone who may come at them with a gun. That, in their minds, would have resulted in fewer victims.

Speaking of victims, they are people just like you and me. One can become a victim in just an instant. It can be difficult to find the best way to move on after losing someone close to you in an act of gun violence. I have been attacked for being a victim and for "using victims". Some have told me to move on and get over my grief or get counseling. They would like me to forget about my cause and my blogging and just leave them alone, I guess. The stories of victims make the gun rights side uncomfortable. These ad hominem attacks are meant to distract from the inconvenient number of gun deaths and injuries and makes it harder to convince people that more guns make us safer. Read this moving letter from a friend of a recent victim of gun violence in Minnesota. Her words are perfect as she describes who the victim was- much more than just a number in the daily toll. This is the human side of gun violence and it is why victims' voices are so important.

Speaking of gun violence, I am wondering if those who promote their rights to own and carry guns anywhere think it is acceptable to produce such a cavalier promotion of violence as we see in the video game linked above? Is it acceptable to attack victims of gun violence? Agreeing or disagreeing with the philosophy or policy based on the facts is one thing, but comments made on this blog at times fall into the unacceptable category. Sometimes they surprise me in their audacity. Read here some of the comments attacking victims of gun violence ( in this case Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shootings). Decide for yourself if these are offensive:
  • Colin Goddard, on the other hand, is most definitely not an expert on defensive gun fighting; he’s an expert on getting shot and calling 911 but that’s about it. His claim that he (or anyone else in his classroom) couldn’t have done anything to defend themselves is specious. I can draw my concealed firearm from under my shirt and hit a target at seven yards in less than three seconds, which is actually kind of slow compared to the self-defense experts out there. Given that fact, and the fact that Cho didn’t just magically teleport next to Goddard and shoot him, there would have been plenty of time to draw a concealed firearm, take a position of cover and/or concealment, and await Cho’s entry through the door (the “fatal funnel” as it’s known in military and police circles because it forces an opponent to come through one easily targeted location). "
  • Hiding under a desk, being shot and calling 911 doesn’t make Goddard a hero—a survivor for sure, a coward maybe, but definitely not a hero. He didn’t “help” police neutralize Cho by calling them either; Cho shot himself before the police arrived, although their imminent arrival may have hastened his decision. Before you retort that I wasn’t there and therefore don’t know what really happened, let me remind you that I do have access to his description of the event as well as my personal knowledge of defensive firearm use (although I’m admittedly not an “expert witness” but am certainly more knowledgeable than him). I’d also like to point out that I’m an Iraq war veteran, so I have been under similar conditions and thus know how I would react. Being legally barred from having a firearm in that situation, I may not have been able to do much better, although I dang sure would’ve tried to intercept him in the doorway—with my pocket knife, an improvised club or even my fists—and get him before he got me, so to speak. I do know that if I had been in his position WITH my carry gun I’d put better than even odds on my chances of prevailing (again, success is defined as stopping the attack, not necessarily avoiding being shot myself in the process) over an untrained and deranged individual like Cho. "
  • Goddard was and is a coward. If I had been in his shoes I would have drawn my knife and killed Cho even if I died in the process. The Marine Corps taught me to run at ambushes and counter-attack the threat. I'm not a hero, just a former grunt who isn't a coward. ...They cowered in fear. That's what a coward does. Are you completely unfamiliar with how language works?"
  • Cowering in the dark isn't what a responsible adult does. It doesn't work on fires and it doesn't work on murderers. You say it would "probably get the person killed" - but it's dang rare when an armed citizen is killed while defending themselves or others. Usually it's the bad guy who dies/surrenders/runs away/gets incapacitated. "
  •  ...just how do you see a person defending themselves as "vigilante justice?" Would you prefer that victims simply roll over and die? It's already been demonstrated that the defensive use of firearms happens hundreds of thousands of times a year, the vast majority without firing a shot. Further, the kind of "active shooters" spoke of in this thread(Columbine, VT) almost always 1) choose "gun free zones" to do their shooting (coincidence? - I think not), and 2) commit suicide when confronted. That one victim of VT doesn't believe a gun would have done him any good speaks volumes about him - but tells us nothing about whether if someone had been armed at VT, the outcome could have been different. More importantly, given what happened, just how could the outcome have been any worse?"
Speaking of attacks on victims, I wonder why those who attack think it is acceptable to  "shoot the messenger" rather than the message. They do both on my blog. But it is particularly insensitive and crude when they actually call victims cowards.  These are the folks who have the current ear of our elected leaders. Congressmen and women and state legislators foolishly and mistakenly listen to the gun lobby instead of those who represent common sense and victims. To turn victims into cowards is inexcusable and unacceptable. So if you agree with me, please tell your elected leaders to represent the majority and stop pandering to this kind of extremism.


  1. Video Games themselves do little in terms of enhancing real training on how to use a firearm.

    Small arms group tactics, sure - which is why the military uses them for training.

    But training in how to actually use a firearm, develop marksmanship skills, teach gun safety, etc - - videogames aren't the way to do it.

  2. Joan,
    First off, the "video game" you linked is what's known as a "mod", where somebody takes an existing game (in this case, the Source physics engine from Valve) and uses it to make their own content. please note the dark rooms, the lack of any AI, the silly music. It's a joke. One in extreme bad taste to be sure.

    Regarding victims: You are absolutely correct. Anybody can be subjected to crime or violence. I can't see the future. I don't know if I'll be selected for attack by a criminal. I don't know if an insane person will come shoot up my school. This is why I carry a gun. I haven't had to use it so far. It is my fervent wish that I never have to use it. I do not have rambo fantasies where I save the day with my gun. I carry it because a firearm is the most effective tool for escaping a dangerous situation.

    You're also right about school shootings. If there were to be a shooting at my school, a state college in ohio, there is no way I could defend myself. I can't react in time. I can't hit the bad guy with my concealed weapon. I can't do any of these things because my school is a GUN FREE ZONE and I have to leave my pistol at home. None of your laws stop school shootings: They only create large concentrations of unarmed people ripe for the slaughter.

    Please note: In Brazil all guns must be registered. Carrying them outside the home is virtually impossible. Minimum age to own one is 25. Brazil has 110 million less population than the US, and 50% more gun deaths. Brazilian gun control laws didn't stop this shooting. What makes you think similar laws would reduce violence in the United States?

    If there's ever a school shooting at my university, I will not hide under my desk. I will try to escape, if possible. If escape is impossible, I'm going down fighting. I refuse to be a victim. I refuse to crawl under a desk and wait for my turn for execution. I'll grab whatever I can - a chair, my bookbag, the projector, and do my damndest to stop the attacker. I know I'll probably die in the attempt. If so, I'll take bullets that then can't hurt other people. I might cause the attacker to fire hastily and miss, wasting ammo. I might scare the attacker off. Hiding under a desk didn't prevent Cho from shooting Goddard, it won't protect me either. I'd rather die fighting. That is my personal choice, and you cannot take that away from me, no matter what laws you pass.

  3. So then, Bryan, I take it by these comments that you think this video game is an O.K. thing to market to kids and adults?

  4. "Secondly, some "gun guys" are so convinced that they could have defended themselves and others at Virginia Tech that surely fewer people would have died."

    If I had to I would use my teeth to stop a murderer. I'm not just saying that. I strength train my jaw muscles.

    No one can say for sure what would have happened if they had been there, but I know I would have at least died trying and not died hiding under my desk like a coward.

    "But it is particularly insensitive and crude when they actually call victims cowards."

    If someone attacks you then you aren't at fault. If someone attacks you and you have the chance to defend yourself and instead you cower in fear then you are a coward. You still aren't responsible for the attack, but you are responsible for not defending yourself. All the blame for the attack belongs to the criminal. All the blame for the lack of defense goes to the victim, and to you and those others who encourage people to be victims.

    The blame also rests with those who don't just encourage victimhood, but mandate it via government order. You might eventually be able to take away my guns - but if you personally try to rob me, rape me, kill me, or anyone else near me - watch out for the teeth.

  5. "To turn victims into cowards is inexcusable and unacceptable"

    Colin Goddard wasn't a woman, he wasn't a child, he was supposed to be a man at that age, and wasn't he in the Army ROTC? He didn't act like a man. Men don't hide when the bullets start flying. They fight back. Real women do that too.

    He was and is a weak human being. He couldn't protect himself and now he wants to make sure we are all as weak and defenseless as he was and is. No thanks - I'm gonna keep my warrior nature to the end.

  6. I read the letter you linked to. The writer says "Gunshots took her away."

    If she had been stabbed, would the writer say "Knife wounds took her away"?

    The writer also says "Please people, stop the killing." While we are at it, let's stop cancer, death, poverty, and ignorance. And let's get rid of some of this gravity too! And I want a unicorn!

    Killing is a part of life. It sucks but the only way to prevent it is to kill everything, which really doesn't make any sense.

  7. Anon. Thode who feel s need to boast about their bravery andmanhood are making empty prized and are guilty of braggadocio And seriously - anyone who tells me they do jaw exercises so he can use his teeth for self defense is just plain paranoid and over the top.

  8. Just keep it up you guys. You sre making a parody of yourselves and thereby proving my point.

  9. More distractions anon. People write letters about a myriad of things that cause deaths of a friend or loved one. I suspect if knives caused anywhere near the number of deaths that guns do letters would be written. Such is not the case.

  10. Well, japete, you have at least one reader who has defended their own life with the firearm they were carrying that day.

    I was 14 years old at the time.

    You might want to learn about it to gain some insight.

    And yes, I was carrying it legally.

  11. "So then, Bryan, I take it by these comments that you think this video game is an O.K. thing to market to kids and adults? "

    I never said that.

    What I'm saying is that portraying something like this as a way to teach kids to be school shooters is disingenuous at best.


  12. Less than 1/8 of school shooters were known to play violent video games according to the US Secret Service http://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/preventingattacksreport.pdf. When LTC Grossman started selling that BS soundbite to CNN in the mid 1990's it played well to the crowd, but more current research has found no causal link between violent video games and actual violence.

    If video games were in fact helping train civilians to be better shooters we wouldn't have such dismal candidates reporting to Basic Training.

  13. Dear readers- there seems to be some confusion here. I am not saying that school shooters played violent video games. I am saying that the video game in question is unacceptable and inappropriate and totally unnecessary and could, I think, give some kids some ideas.

  14. That game clip looks like a pretty accurate representation of what VT must have looked like: a free fire zone for Cho, absolutely no resistance and plenty of time to reload as he went from room to room executing in cold blood.

  15. Knives and guns do not cause death. No one has been killed by a knife or a gun. Many have been killed with a knife or a gun. Cicero said, over 2000 years ago, that the sword kills no one, it is only the tool in the hands of a killer! Throughout history the worst mass killers have been governments ie: China, Russia, Cambodia, Germany, Turkey, and on and on. The single common denominator has been first the disarming of the population in order to effectivly eliminate resistance. This was done on the premise of making society safe for everyone.
    I am saddened when I read in the news of anyone murdered for any reason with any weapon, a gun knife, club, bare hands, poison, it makes little difference how someone is murdered. I can remember when I attended High School in Barnum, Minn. bringing my deer rifle, on the bus, to school so after class my friends and I could go deer hunting. (He had the pickup truck) I also remember never thinking about shooting one of my classmates.
    In response to the coward comments, I think everyone needs to consider that no one is a coward all the time and no one is a hero all the time. Until you are shot at you have no idea how you will react so I for one, will avoid the label "coward"
    Paul in Texas

  16. Good for you, Paul. Knives and guns do actually kill people- the wounds from a knife and the injuries from the bullets coming from the gun kill. I know because 3 bullets killed my sister. It's a matter of semantics but it makes absolutely no difference to the outcome whether or not a gun or the person with the gun killed someone. To me it didn't matter. I just knew that a gun took my sister's life.

  17. What a thoroughly erudite breakdown of the crossover between murder simulators and video games.

    As long as you're engaging in critiques of alternative media artforms, would you mind doing a postmodern analysis of this video:


    I think you'll find relevant content to the gun debate at about the one minute mark.

  18. equally as disturbing and difficult to watch...though not sure I got what was "said" at the one minute mark.

  19. "Secondly, some "gun guys" are so convinced that they could have defended themselves and others at Virginia Tech that surely fewer people would have died. Their accuracy is better than most, of course, and in their fantasy world, they can shoot down anyone who may come at them with a gun. That, in their minds, would have resulted in fewer victims."

    Actually, I don't think that at all. I would have been just as hamstrung as the rest of the students at Virginia Tech were due to the "gun free zone".

  20. While the video you link to is not a real game, there are far too many such games on the market and marketed toward children.

    I'll go further and say that banning these sick games as well as limiting children to fewer programming with violence in TV, Movies and other Media would go a lot further towards curbing school violence than banning guns.

  21. C'mon, japete.

    Experts in the self-defense field do research, training, and practice in situational awareness and tactics. They pour over reports of shooting incidents, noting what was successful and why, and what was not and why. They then attempt to put that knowledge to use to prepare themseves for dealing with such circumstances.

    Colin Goddard's hidden under a desk.

    Colin Goddard is no expert on defending oneself in case of a mass shooting, any more than getting hit by lightning makes one an expert on thunderstorms.

    The fact is that persons confronted with danger defend themselves daily. Sometimes that defense is successful, and prevents or reduces the negative outcomes of an attack; sometimes it is not. But without a doubt one is far more likely to be successful if 1) they have a weapon available, and 2) they train and practice with that weapon. Had Mr. Goddard had a weapon available, and had he trained with that weapon, would the outcome have been different?

    There's no way to know for sure, of course, but consider this: could it have been any worse?

    I don't think so.

    I don't know how I would react; I don't think anyone knows until that moment comes. I DO know that I will not be caught without my weapon to defend myself, and I have and will continue to train with that weapon. I hope very much I never have to use it. Given Mr. Goddard's description of what happened to him, I am certain that I could have, in those particular factual circumstances, put up a credible fight. I sure as hell will not surrender my weapon.

    You started this thread by trotting out the the "victims as cowards" meme. Can victims be cowards? Sometimes. It depends on the circumstances and how one reacts.

    But no one "attacked" Mr. Goddard. The fact is, Mr. Goddard has chosen to put himself out there as an advocate. When one does so, one is subject to criticism. His experience does not make him immune from criticism; if he makes unsupportable statements, he'll get called on it. And he should be. Just as you are, and should be.

    You've obviously had a horrific experience in your life. You've chosen to use that experience to advocate as you do. That's great, and I sincerely hope it helps you deal with your loss. But it doesn't make you a hero, or an expert. And it does not immunize you from criticism.

    - GMC70

  22. FatWhiteMan, I completely agree. Children, nor adults, should be allowed to play violent video games.

    There should be more games that give high scores for cooperation, nurturing, and working things out.

    Of course, that should only be undertaken after instituting a ban on assault weapons, assault clips, and prohibiting concealed carry.

    There's far too much rhetoric from wannabe Tea Party revolutionaries, along with their support for violent media and those who produce it, and unfettered access to military style guns meant to do nothing but kill.

    Frankly, they should all be banned.


  23. So, Joan. why have you not posted the comment I left on this blog yesterday? Have I been banned as well? Here it is again:


    This is a tired argument: violent video games cause violent crime because they de-sensitize kids to killing. Bunk.

    It is almost as tired as your position: reducing the presence of guns in society will reduce the amount of violent crime. Also bunk, as can be shown by the fact that there are more guns owned by more people in the U.S. than at any other time, but the violent crime rate has been falling steadily for years.


    Oh, well. I know I will never convince you with a logical argument, because you approach the issue from an emotional viewpoint: you simply hate guns, and you want to eliminate them from society.

    That, ultimately, is your common sense gun law, in my opinion. You will never succeed.

    I have posted this on my blog as well:


  24. "I'll go further and say that banning these sick games as well as limiting children to fewer programming with violence in TV, Movies and other Media would go a lot further towards curbing school violence than banning guns"

    Disagree. Parenting one's children will go A LOT further towards curbing violence that banning video games. This is the day of the Internet - you can't control content.

    PARENT your children - teach them right from wrong, and to make good decisions.

  25. Yes I'm trotting. I never said I was an expert or a hero. I am not immune from criticism. Thanks to you guys, I get plenty of it, much of it undeserved and rude. Criticizing fact is one thing- going after someone personally is quite another.

  26. lcc- this is why you are not published "
    Oh, well. I know I will never convince you with a logical argument, because you approach the issue from an emotional viewpoint: you simply hate guns, and you want to eliminate them from society.

    That, ultimately, is your common sense gun law, in my opinion. You will never succeed. "

    When someone keeps haranging me with the same old crap, I don't publish it because it does nothing for the discussion. Go ahead and put that on your own blpg if it makes you feel better. Meanwhile find some facts about which to criticize or challenge me and then maybe I will publish. All you have done is say I hate guns and want to ban them. What's that? Is that a fact? It is your erroneous opinion. Try something else.

  27. Fat White Man is right that limiting childrens' exposure to violence in video games and movies and TV would help. But so would limiting the availability of guns. In fact, why can't we do both? Pro-gun guys keep talking like it's an either/or deal. It's not.

  28. Pat,

    I agree. It is ultimately the parent's responsibility to protect their children from violent content. The ban should start in the home.

  29. "I agree. It is ultimately the parent's responsibility to protect their children from violent content. The ban should start in the home."

    While we may have a "ban" on it in my home (which we do - my young children don't watch/play those types of games), I disagree with putting a lid on these games/movies/internet in public, and the Internet makes it impossible to control content. We MUST start explaining right and wrong to our own children before they get out into public and witness what the world is actually like for themselves. This will empower them to make good decisions when the time comes for them to choose.
    Just like Joan is worried about people mis-using firearms, I worry about people mis-using firearms. In order to prevent my children from suffering harm - I teach them to make good decisions in life.

  30. I absolutely agree with Mike and Joan that video games need to be regulated or banned if they contain overly-violent content.

    Guns absolutely should be prohibited, and frankly, I would be unsurprised if Mike agrees with me that right-wing hate speech should be banned or regulated as well. After all, many European countries do this.