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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Monday, May 30, 2011

I couldn't have said it better myself

There is an increasingly loud choir of voices asking for common sense when it comes to guns and gun policy. I love this article from an advocate for safe gun policy in Utah.  As more of us assail our elected leaders to do the right thing instead of doing the bidding of the NRA, just maybe the choir will sing even louder. What is it about elected representatives acting in concert with a special interest group rather than in the interest of public safety? Why do I even ask this question? It's a well known fact that the NRA is so powerful that some are afraid to sing out against the most powerful lobby in Washington D.C. Some of the gun rights activists commenting on my blog write that a few gun deaths are the cost of their freedom to own their guns and have their unfettered rights to their guns. What are a few dead people when there are guns to be bought and readied just in case of.... well, I'm not sure exactly what. But back to the influence of the NRA... In our state Capitol buildings all over the country, the NRA sends their lobbyists from Fairfax, Virginia to work legislators and write bills. They park themselves in the offices of the legislators who do their bidding. I know that because I saw them at the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul. Sometimes they win, but in Minnesota they didn't this year ( see my previous post). In Texas, they are having a hard time, and, in fact, it appears that "Guns on Campus" has lost there. In Tennessee they lost.

The NRA's power is a myth, as is written in the linked article above. To quote the article above, " The more complex answer is that the NRA and many of its members have bamboozled an entire generation of legislators into believing that support for any restriction on the availability of firearms is a third-rail issue: Touch it and your re-election possibilities are history. But, acceptance of this political “wisdom” shows a serious lack of responsible leadership and a distressing disregard of public safety." This is so incredibly true. Inquiring minds need to know from their elected leaders why they have allowed this to happen. They also need to ask them some simple questions.
  • Why are there so many shootings every day in America (more than any civilized country not at war)?
  • Why do the gun rights activists push back so hard at me and other gun control activists when we ask that question?
  • And why, oh why, do we have to endure mass shootings by mentally ill people like Jared Loughner ( Tucson shooting) and Seung Hui- Cho ( Virginia Tech shooting). Is it because we are too afraid of the NRA to actually do something legal to stop them
  • Why are there so many accidental discharges of guns? It matters that there are because the gun rights activists have tried to assure us and our leaders that nothing bad will happen if they only are allowed to have their guns wherever they want to carry them. And don't make any laws telling them to safely store their guns. That is intrusion into the their personal lives. If a loaded gun is found in a home or a car by a child who shoots someone or even him/herself, well, that is the price to pay, I guess. Or more likely the answer is that responsible people don't leave their locked guns around. Until they do, of course and something awful happens.
  • Why are many of the trafficked illegal guns stolen? What are we doing about this? Does the ATF have enough funding and personnel to enforce the laws already on the books for gun dealers? (" ATF reports that over a quarter of its criminal gun trafficking investigations involve stolen guns."and " In 2007, after inspecting just 9.3% of federal firearms licensees nationwide, ATF reported that more than 30,000 guns in the dealers' inventories had been lost or stolen. "Do home owners report their guns lost or stolen so that law enforcement can trace crime guns and solve crimes?
  • I get asked this a lot: "What's your point in posting articles about permit holders and/or accidental gun discharges?" I assume this to mean that since they often result in no one being injured or killed, I shouldn't bother illuminating the incidents. Take this one in my home town. After this Duluth Police Officer accidentally discharged his gun, here is what he had to say: " “I have always had respect for firearms, but that level of respect, and my humility, have increased as a result of this event,’’ the officer wrote in his report." Respect for the power of guns to injure and kill should be the operative word for all. Even those who are trained to operate guns and use them as a profession can't always control what happens. 
  • Why are we not doing everything we can to stop terrorists from getting guns? This time, even the NRA was opposed to an amendment by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, to make it harder for obtaining and investigating firearms records. The amendment to the Patriot Act failed by a large margin and likely only because even the NRA didn't think it was a good idea to let their supporters vote for terrorists arming themselves. But where are we now that the Patriot act has passed without this amendment? Does anyone think the NRA will back New Jersey Senator Lautenberg's bill to close the gap in our gun laws that allows terrorists on the no fly list to buy guns?
  • Why are we not doing everything we can to stop felons, domestic abusers, drug abusers, and adjudicated mentally ill people from getting guns? The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011 is sitting in Congress waiting for enough co-sponsors to get a hearing. Is there any doubt that the chorus of voices against this sensible bill will sing loudly and in harmony, especially in the 2012 election year? Is there any doubt that the NRA will conduct their choir of voices to intimidate candidates into thinking they shouldn't support this bill without incurring the wrath of the gun rights choir? There are many more questions that need to be asked and I will keep asking them. And shame on our leaders and us, as citizens, for letting the NRA sing off key when there should be harmony and common sense.

41 comments:

  1. Thank you, Joan, for bringing these questions together. It's a sad time when our elected leaders don't pay enough attention to these important questions. The pro-gun side likes to justify their gun rights by saying that there are too many criminals with guns, but the don't suggest ways to keep guns out of their hands, or support the ways that we suggest. Solutions are out there, and you've summarized them here.

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  2. The second sentence:

    "And, in such a civilized society, it should be a simple matter to enact legislation that would produce such results in the name of sane and rational public safety."

    is false. And so everything that follows that is premised on that statement is false.

    There is no legislation that could be passed, simple or not, that would have those results.

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  3. "Even those who are trained to operate guns and use them as a profession can't always control what happens. "

    The officer's negligent discharge was the result of a failure to follow basic fundamental safety guidelines in handling his pistol.

    It wasn't accidental - it was negligent. There are several actions that he could have taken differently that would have prevented this from occurring.

    B

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  4. "Sometimes they win, but in Minnesota they didn't this year ( see my previous post)"

    It took several years for GOCRA (not the NRA, GOCRA) to get MPPA passed. It will take a few more for firearms reform legislation to pass here in Minnesota - but pass, it will.

    Bryan

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  5. That is your opinion jdege and only that.

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  6. Yes, Bryan, isn't it interesting how often negligence happens concerning accidental gun discharges? That's my point.

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  7. It was the NRA. Senator Hoffman admitted as such herself at the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee. Joe Olsen himself said he represented the NRA at the hearing at the House Public Safety Committee hearing. GOCRA was also involved but the NRA had a huge hand in it. Their lobbyist was in Minnesota staying at the Kelly Inn.

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  8. The fundamental premise of your post - that the NRA is a "special interest" group while the Brady Bunch is a "public safety" group - is flawed. I'll fully concede that the NRA serves a narrow interest. So too does the Brady Campaign. BOTH are "special interests."

    As to your items, one by one:
    1) There's aren't, by any sort of statistical basis. But it's a big country. So on any given day, there are lots of incidents which can be hilighted. That's what happens when we have lots of people.
    2) Why push back? Because we oppose your ultimate agenda: to register, ban, and seize handguns. I will oppose ANY measure which moves toward that goal.
    3) Why? Because they cannot be stopped. NO LAW that you can possible pass - that has any constitutional basis - can stop such incidents. Ever.
    4) The fact, of course, is that there are fewer accidental deaths - from negligent discharges - than ever before. As gun ownership goes up (check gun sales if you don't think so) gun deaths continue to go down, as does violent crime.
    5) You're really asking why people steal guns? Really? BTW - you might ask ATF about trafficing in guns; it turns out they are one of the prime trafficers.
    6) OK - so just what is your point? You've still not said.
    7) "Stop terrorists." Do you not understand this little item called due process, japete? Or is the rest of the Constitution as meaningless to you as the 2nd Am?
    8) Got no problem with background checks. Just understand their limits - it just isn't possible to background check every sale. However, I'd agree to give on this issue, in return for concessions from your side.

    But your side isn't interested in compromise. Just demands. As long as that's the case, the answer will be the same: No. Hell no.

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  9. If guns are so dangerous, how come, in over a decade of handling firearms on a daily basis, I have yet to have a negligent discharge?

    How come, of all of the, quite literally, tens of thousands of gun owners I've encountered, the number of them that have had a negligent discharge is well less than 1%?

    Do you propose that the civil rights of 99.99% of gun owners who handle firearms safely should be infringed?

    If not, then what is your proposed solution to ending or reducing the number of negligent discharges?

    kthanxbai!

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  10. It's always nice to know that you guys are such compromising folks and interested in discussing issues. Yes, the Brady Campaign is a special interest group. But as far as funding goes, nothing compares to the NRA and that gives them the power they have. We can stop terrorists from getting guns without interfering with due process or rights. No, the ATF is not the primary trafficer of guns. Where do you get that idea? I don't know if you can prove that as gun sales go up, accidental gun deaths go down. By the way, fewer people than ever now own guns. About 1 in 5 households say there are guns in them. I do not have an agenda to ban and seize handguns. That is a figment of your imagination and the gun lobby's myth.

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  11. Japete, Schumer’s Fix Gun Check Act has enough issues that even Helmke has problems with it:

    “It’s a concern we’ve raised about this proposal, too. I’ve got the same concerns,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign. “[There is] the whole innocent-until-proven-guilty concept coming into play here. So that alone is a legitimate concern.”

    It is not surprising that it is not getting co-sponsors as written.

    Japete: “We can stop terrorists from getting guns without interfering with due process or rights.”

    How do you envision the due process part working under this bill? Let’s say they pulled the name “Robert Jones” off of Bin Laden’s computer as a US based terrorist mole. Certainly that name gets added to the watch list. What is the next step for removing gun rights while preserving due process?

    Japete: “Does anyone think the NRA will back New Jersey Senator Lautenberg's bill to close the gap in our gun laws that allows terrorists on the no fly list to buy guns?”

    Be careful with your wording here. Are you talking about just the “no-fly” list, or the entire watch list? There is a very significant difference.

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  12. japete: "We can stop terrorists from getting guns without interfering with due process or rights."

    Excellent! I would support stopping terrorists from getting guns without interfering with due process or rights.

    But the only proposal I have seen lately would deny due process and Second Amendment rights to anyone that bureaucrats merely place on a secret list using secret criteria.

    japete, do you have something new or different?

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  13. To me and my bank account, this isn't a threat to my liberty, more of a threat to a hobby.

    Why can't I just enjoy recreational shooting in the same care free way as fishing or bicycle riding?

    Of course I support the 2A, and thus the NRA, but none of that is any fun. It's like driving a restored classic convertible, while having some climate change alarmist yelling at you for melting icebergs. It kind of kills the vibe.

    I keep hoping, with each renewal check, or $1.00 donation I make to the NRA that the war will eventually be won. Then we can discuss hand load ammunition recipes, competitive shooting events and hunting.

    You want to defeat the NRA? Then don't give them any ammunition (pun intended) in the way of threatening our right to arm ourselves - for any purpose.

    If gun owners didn't feel threatened, I bet the NRA's revenue would drop. Yeah I know, the military industrial complex "gun lobby" is the primary supporter (*scratching head*) and I'm the only individual "sportsman" type who's a paying member.

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  14. "I don't know if you can prove that as gun sales go up, accidental gun deaths go down"

    Sure you can, all of that data is available - it's even data available from the federal government.

    B

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  15. "Just lucky, perhaps anon? "

    There's no luck involved in firearms safety.

    Following simple guidelines that one learns through training and instruction keeps this from happening.

    I learned the rules of firearm safety as a teenage boy from my grandfather - they're the same rules taught today by responsible parents and instructors.

    Do doctors learn these rules when they are instructing patients on firearms safety?

    B

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  16. "Yes, Bryan, isn't it interesting how often negligence happens concerning accidental gun discharges?"

    They're not accidents when there is negligence involved.

    B

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  17. Bryan- do doctors instruct patients on firearms safety? I don't think so. They ask patients if there are guns in the home and talk to them about safely storing them. They don't teach them how to shoot safely.

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  18. Can you provide the data, Bryan?

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  19. "Can you provide the data, Bryan? "

    I could. Am I going to? No.

    You can easily look it up if you are interested.

    CDC has accidental shooting information. FBI releases NICS data on a monthly basis.

    But I doubt you'll look it up - as it doesn't support your agenda.

    b

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  20. "Bryan- do doctors instruct patients on firearms safety? I don't think so."

    By the way, I consider firearms safety to be holistic - as should anyone that is providing instruction on this topic.

    1) How to safely handle a firearm.
    2) How to safely unload a firearm
    3) How to safely use a firearm
    4) How to safely store a firearm

    And they should receive instruction on how to do this for a handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun - along with the various action types.

    I suspect physicians are not equipped with the proper training to do this responsibly. Do you think they are?
    b

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  21. "By the way, fewer people than ever now own guns"

    That is not entirely true. I believe the new stats you are quoting come from a survey that concluded fewer households have guns than in the 1970's. When you adjust for population increases there are actually more gun owners (in number) than in the period compared but fewer than there would have been had the supposed rate of gun ownership remained constant.

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  22. "Sure you can, all of that data is available - it's even data available from the federal government."

    Let me help.

    CDC

    Select firearm deaths.. All types, All ages, All races. (As broad as possible)

    2005 12,352, 2006, 12,791, 2007, 12632

    Now go find the National Instant Background Check. With rare exception, Each check represents as gun sale. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/bcft06st.pdf

    See table by years.. same period (2005, 8,278,000, 2006, 8,612,000, 2007, 8,650,000)

    Of those about 4.5 million per year are new.


    So each year there are, at the very least, 4 MILLION more guns in america. Over the period 12 Million more guns but gun deaths are about the same.

    That proves that a significant increase in firearms has NOT led to more deaths. Or to turn the statement around. the number of deaths PER FIREARM has declined.


    You also mentioned that you don't know where we get the idea that you want to ban handguns.

    I accept that perhaps YOU don't but the VPC does.

    "http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/hgbanfs.htm"

    ".... The public health model as well as the traditional approaches employed in protecting consumer health and safety lead to one inevitable conclusion: handguns should be banned."

    The VPC supported the Assault Weapon Ban

    National Coalition to Ban Handguns changed it's name to Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, in part because the group felt that "assault rifles" as well as handguns, should be outlawed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coalition_to_Stop_Gun_Violence

    It's stated goal was

    " "the high rates of gun-related crime and death in American society" by licensing gun owners, registering firearms, and banning private ownership of handguns with "reasonable limited exceptions" for “police, military, licensed security guards, antique dealers "

    So while I accept that you may not desire to ban handguns. VPC et. al. have a history of calling for just that, so you can understand why we are skeptical of such claims.

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  23. "We can stop terrorists from getting guns without interfering with due process or rights."

    How?

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  24. Just so I have this straight

    Representatives that listen to the NRA a minority group= BAD because it is a small group of people

    Representatives that listen to the Brady Campaign a group smaller than the NRA= Good because you believe it and think that they should listen to the minority.

    Unless you can show there are more people that are part of your group how do you reconcile that you are also in the minority. The majority could care less as indicated by the membership of both groups ( I know you dont have a true membership and even that is an interesting fact)

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  25. " Why are there so many shootings every day in America (more than any civilized country not at war)?"

    Isn't that obvious? America has the third largest population and the largest number of guns. More people & guns = more shootings.

    Look at this: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_mot_veh_dea-health-motor-vehicle-deaths

    Why does America have more auto accident deaths than any other country in the world? Why aren't you calling to ban automobiles?

    "Why do the gun rights activists push back so hard at me and other gun control activists when we ask that question?"

    It's pretty simple. You are pushing for a totalitarian police state, something that would have gotten Stalin and Hitler's seal of approval, and you are asking questions that are as meaningful as "why is the sky blue" in order to do so. Cars kill more people than guns in this country, and we have the leading number of deaths from cars in the world, yet you don't want to ban cars. You don't care about preventing deaths, you care about restricting liberty and expanding the totalitarian police state. That's why we push back so hard - you are a bad person pushing for an evil cause and your methods are dishonest and disgusting.

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  26. "KWhy are there so many accidental discharges of guns? "

    To err is human. Are you really so ignorant that you don't know that human beings are creatures prone to making mistakes?

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  27. The majority is the people who respond to polling year after year after year telling us that they support reasonable gun laws. That is who the Brady Campaign represents when they do their work. These people are not all people who pay "dues" or contribute. They are the majority of Americans. The NRA has millions of members but still represents the minority of Americans whether or not they have joined the NRA or another pro gun rights group. Bur remember, even gun owners and NRA members support what the Brady Campaign is working for. One of the huge problems here is that many in the gun rights community have been fooled into thinking that groups such as the Brady Campaign are all about gun confiscation. But when asked specific questions about specific issues regarding gun policy, they say they are in favor.

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  28. Good grief- anon- do we have to do this again? As you know, the data shows that the U.S. has more gun deaths per 100,000 than any other country. It doesn't matter what the population is. It is the comparison per 100,000 that makes a fair comparison. You know that but have likely chosen to ignore it to try to make a flawed point. I am working on preventing gun deaths and injuries on this blog. Others are working hard to reduce auto accidents which take more lives than guns. If you want to work on that one, go ahead. But you do remember all the laws regarding car safety right? Mandatory seat belts? mandatory air bags? safety regulations regarding the manufacture of autos? speed limits? road signs to warn drivers? licenses to drive? registration of vehicles? rules regarding teen drivers and when they can drive ( not after midnight in some states or with more than one passenger)?, mandatory child car seats and when kids can sit in a car without one?

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  29. Yes, indeed, to err is human. We try as a society to make sure those errors don't result in death. We can't stop them all but we sure should try. But when more deadly weapons are owned and carried by gun owners, making an error can result in tragedy. That is why there shouldn't be so many guns in so many public places where errors can happen.

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  30. If you ask someone simply if they support "common sense" laws - most will say yes. When you give them the specifics instead of pithy slogans - they'll say no.
    Your marketing is failing, just look at the freedoms regained over the last 10 years...

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  31. Pat, it is actually just the opposite of what you said. If you ask people about gun control in general, there is less support than there used to be. But if you ask about specific things like background checks on all sales, stopping terrorists from getting guns, etc. the numbers go up.

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  32. Do you support common sense? Yes
    Do you support prohibitively expensive, time-consuming and ultimately ineffective gun control legislation? No

    Seems simple enough.

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  33. "The majority is the people who respond to polling year after year after year telling us that they support reasonable gun laws."

    Except that the polls that ask people what they mean by "reasonable" indicate that most people agree with the NRA"s definition of "reasonable".

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  34. Simply not true, jdege. We've gone around the block about this one many times.

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  35. "We try as a society to make sure those errors don't result in death. We can't stop them all but we sure should try."

    How about mandatory firearms safety training in schools as a part of the curriculum - taught by NRA Certified Instructors? The existing Home Firearms Safety class (3-4 hours) is a perfect fit.

    That should help cut down on the number of errors.

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  36. You guys have talked about this before. It's just not going to happen. As you know, our schools are having lots of budget cuts and teachers have a heck of time getting in the required subject matter as it is. To think a teacher would now teach gun safety is a non starter. I think you all should abandon that idea since it just isn't going to happen. Not to mention that people like me would show up at School Board meetings and lobby heavily against it. And I would get a lot of people to that meeting. Since I used to be on the School Board, I know how those things work.

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  37. ". To think a teacher would now teach gun safety is a non starter. I think you all should abandon that idea since it just isn't going to happen. Not to mention that people like me would show up at School Board meetings and lobby heavily against it."

    Why would you lobby against something that would clearly improve the "errors" that are contributing to deaths?

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  38. You can't prove that the NRA gun training improves errors. Look at all of the people who supposedly know what they are doing and there are still errors. Look at all of the permit holders who have made mistakes or purposely shot others. Since such a small number of families even own guns, people can choose to have their kids and themselves get instruction privately after school hours.

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  39. Actually I think that the accidental gun death rate is pretty low I just find it funny that you are against teaching the safe handling of firearms.

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  40. No Anthony, I didn't say that I am against teaching the safe handling of firearms. If you read my comment, I said that it shouldn't be taught in school as part of the curriculum. People can take the good classes offered by the NRA or other organizations if they so choose.

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