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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Sunday, May 15, 2011

What other countries do about mass shootings

As predicted, Brazil is now encouraging citizens to follow the 2003 law that asks that gun owners turn in their guns. This comes in the aftermath of the terrible school shooting in Rio de Janeiro last month. This article highlights the struggle with gun policy in Brazil and the influence of our very own NRA even in other country's politics about guns. In the U.S., of course, we are going in the total opposite direction. We have bills in the state houses of many states to allow guns on college campuses, to allow people to shoot someone they presume to be threatening and not have to pay the consequences, to eliminate state background checks and to fine doctors for asking someone if they have guns in the home. I wrote about those in my last post.

Since we have experienced a recent mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, including the severe injury of Arizona Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords and the shooting deaths of 6 on January 8th, 2011, gun laws to loosen requirements and allow more people to carry guns have passed or are being considered in states all over the country. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we are crazy. They have good reason to wonder how anyone with an ounce of common sense could contemplate the gun proposals now in front of elected leaders. But we don't have common sense in this country. We have the NRA and its' loud members, its' influential and well funded lobbying effort and its' myth that any gun law will lead to the inevitable gun confiscation. Oh yes, and also any reasonable bill will take away their rights to own any kind of gun they want and their ability to carry said guns anywhere they go. And when it comes to gun laws, they love their own laws but claim that when the gun control side proposes a law we should just enforce the laws already on the books. If it wasn't such a continued mantra coming from the NRA it wouldn't be so hypocritical.

I believe the public is catching on as NRA sponsored legislation is taking us down the wrong road. House members in my own state of Minnesota recently voted on a "Shoot First" bill and the Senate will follow next week. It passed, of course, as expected, but with fewer votes than the proponents wanted. One Senator mentioned at a hearing last week that he has always voted with the NRA as a Senator, but not this time. This bill is going too far. I have had recent conversations with other Minnesota state legislators who are frankly so afraid of the gun lobby that even though they know my side is right they dare not challenge the NRA. They themselves don't support the legislation but they can't vote against it out of fear. What kind of public policy making is that? The NRA as a group has an increasing minority of gun owners trying to hang on for dear life. Only about 1/3 of households own guns any more. This is a drop of 40% since 1977, according to the linked study. In addition, " In 2010, slightly more than one out of five Americans reported personally owning a gun." Of those gun owners, many own a lot of guns. The NRA leadership is blustering hard to get their bills passed before leaders realize that they are voting for bills that are supported by a minority of their constituents. Is this Democracy?

Taking all of this into consideration, who, then, are our elected leaders representing when they vote in favor of NRA supported and written legislation? Certainly not the majority of us. And why are they so afraid of 20% of Americans? It defies logic. Public opinion, even among NRA members and gun owners, is on the side of common sense when it comes to gun policy. The public is often ahead of the media and elected leaders. But the wind will blow soon enough towards common sense. If we put the letters NRA in the sign that the woman is hanging on to in the clip art picture above and substitute elected leader for the woman, we have the reality of gun policy in the U.S. Sad and shameful but true. I'm waiting for our leaders to get their courage. Who will give it to them? Maybe the answer is "Blowin' in the Wind."

30 comments:

  1. "The NRA leadership is blustering hard to get their bills passed before leaders realize that they are voting for bills that are supported by a minority of their constituents."

    See, there's the thing. It's not the NRA's blustering that has turned elections, it's the pro-gun voters.

    And while yes, there are only 20-30 million pro-gun voters in the US, that's 19.95-20.95 more than there are pro-gun-control voters.

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  2. "The NRA leadership is blustering hard to get their bills passed before leaders realize that they are voting for bills that are supported by a minority of their constituents."

    The NRA has had little to do with passing the firearms law changes in Minnesota. These efforts have been driven almost entirely by the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (GOCRA) - but more importantly, by individual gun owners who engage with their elected representatives - and tell the factual truth about legislation.

    Bryan

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  3. "House members in my own state of Minnesota recently voted on a "Shoot First" bill and the Senate will follow next week."

    Nothing in this law makes this a "Shoot First" bill. I've even seen it called a "License to Murder" by your side - nothing in this proposed law comes even close to that.

    Bryan

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  4. I would point out that when there is strict gun control and shootings continue (as they usually do) attempts at gun bans are usually next.

    But using Brazil, you have done that for me.

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  5. I have had recent conversations with other Minnesota state legislators who are frankly so afraid of the gun lobby that even though they know my side is right they dare not challenge the NRA. They themselves don't support the legislation but they can't vote against it out of fear.

    Joan, what are they telling you they are afraid of? Not getting re-elected if they vote against the bill? I'm sure I would not want that politician representing me anyway. The word for that type of behavior is hypocrite - they believe one thing and say or do another. Or they are just telling you that - in which case they are a liar. Neither character defect is desirable in a public official.

    I would rather have a politician that votes for what their constituents tell them to vote for (or against as the case may be).

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  6. Japete, you oppose what they are doing in Brazil, right? Time and time again you have told us that this is not your intention in this country. You are just after the bad guys, right? Brazil has long had every regulation that you have been asking for here, and then some. Their program is voluntary only because they didn’t get the votes in 2005 to make it mandatory.

    No homes will be invaded in a National Rifle Association (NRA) style nightmare of a 2nd Amendment apocalypse. However, the Ministry of Justice said in an official news release that it will meet with other political councils on April 18 to discuss further measures to disarm citizens.

    Make no mistake about it, this is a civilian disarmament campaign. They are not even trying to hide it.

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  7. Senator Hoffman said the NRA helped write the bill. Joe Olson said he helped write the bill and represented himself as part of the NRA at the hearing.

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  8. Anon- they are telling me they are afraid of not being re-elected and in a few cases, of actual threats they have received. They are genuinly afraid of the gun nuts.

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  9. TS- I didn't say I favored it or not. I'm just reporting what other countries are doing.

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  10. Joan,

    Where does your world view of gun control laws eventually lead if not to total civilian disarmament?

    You've stated before that you won't stop calling for restrictive laws until there are Zero firearm related murders.

    Do you still stand by that statement?

    Given human nature if an object is available to be misused, it will eventually get misused, don't you think?

    So, whether you call for it in one act or in piecemeal "reasonable" "compromises" laws, how can disarmament not be your eventual goal given you want zero firearm related murders?

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  11. Anon- that's what you guys think we are about. You are very wrong.

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  12. [Don't know if this sent earlier, been having connectivity issues]

    "and its' myth that any gun law will lead to the inevitable gun confiscation."

    A myth? Kind of like in other countries where, as you gleefully report, "As predicted, Brazil is now encouraging citizens to follow the 2003 law that asks that gun owners turn in their guns"

    "Is this Democracy?"

    No, it is not, as several of your readers have pointed out repeatedly. You claim that your view of gun control is just because you believe a majority support your opinion. Thereby the second amendment can be abridged because a majority approve. Yet you fail to follow your beliefs to the logical conclusion that if such an action were justifiable in a democracy then so would the infringment of womens' suffrage or the return of slavery. Should a majority wish it, then who are we to judge?

    "We have bills in the state houses of many states to allow guns on college campuses..."

    Since your current gun free zones don't seem to be having any effect on mass shooters, why not allow students to fire back? Honestly, putting your faith in a silly sign that prevents psychopaths from coming and doing harm is preposterous.

    "to allow people to shoot someone they presume to be threatening and not have to pay the consequences,..."

    Which of course you know is not true. Every defensive shooting that takes places is reviewed by the police and the state's attorney. You can't just shoot someone, say "self defense!" and have no questions asked.

    "and to fine doctors for asking someone if they have guns in the home."

    Many of your readers agree with you that this is a first amendment violation. I wonder, however, if you would feel the same way about a law that prevented doctors from encouraging their patients to own guns? I'm guessing your side of the debate would be mute for that discussion.

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  13. Japette Quote:"The NRA leadership is blustering hard to get their bills passed before leaders realize that they are voting for bills that are supported by a minority of their constituents. Is this Democracy?"

    The USA is NOT a democracy. We are a Representative Republic, which is much fairer than democracy. Democracy is *Majority Rule*, plain and simple. As an example, 100 Christian-Right heterosexuals and 99 Liberal-Left homosexuals voting on Gay marriage, will ALWAYS result in the Gay Marriage issue being defeated. With a representative republic, the smaller voice carries just as much weight as the larger voice, and their chances of compromise are greater.

    Japette Quote:"Taking all of this into consideration, who, then, are our elected leaders representing when they vote in favor of NRA supported and written legislation? Certainly not the majority of us."

    Firstly, we don't elect *leaders*. We in the USA are not sheep that need to be *led*....we are people who elect *representatives*, and place our trust in those representatives that they will be cognizant of *everyones* rights, not just the majority. So, if as you claim the NRA is a minority in the USA, a true representative of *the people* must ensure that *all of his constituents* have their voices heard, not just the ones who wish to trample on the rights enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    I must admit, tho, at this point I'm not understanding your argument, Japette...I mean, on the one hand you claim that the NRA is a powerful lobby with very vocal voting blocs, and on the other hand you claim that they are an insignificant minority who are somehow cowing the politicians to vote for something out of fear. It can't be both. If an elected official disagrees with legislation, but the people who voted him in *support* the legislation, he can do one of two things...vote the way his bosses (ie: the constituents, or the people who gave him the job in the first place...) tell him to, or he votes the way he feels like voting (ie: ignoring the will of the voters). He does what the voters want, and he gets re-elected and keeps his cushy job. He votes the way *he* wants, and the voters kick him to the curb.

    It really is that simple. Politicians who feel that they are *elected leaders* are the ones, historically, who have the shortest political careers. Those who realize that they are *elected representatives* and understand that the *will of the people* trumps what his personal feelings are about a matter, are the ones who have a long and successful career in politics.

    Now, I can tell you with utmost certainty, that if your elected *representative* is voting for the Stand your Ground legislation (or as you call it, Shoot First) then said rep has looked at the political landscape, tallied the votes that he or she would collect or lose in the next election, done the math when compared to other votes he has placed, and realized that his political future hinges on how he votes on this issue. I can also guarantee with certainty that he wants to get re-elected. What your specific rep is doing (unbeknownst to you, but I'll shine the light of truth on it for you...) is playing both sides to the middle.

    In other words, for the hard core right wing gun-totin' crowd, he's saying *Yeah, don't worry, I'm not going to piss you off*. To the liberal left leaning touchy-feely crowd, he's saying *I really want you to know that I'm on your side, but I have no choice because I won't get re-elected next time if I vote this down*.

    Looking at it politically, its probably also a real close vote, meaning that one vote either way could swing the result...thats even MORE reason for a politician to be mindful of what the voters will is, and if his vote is the one to piss off a large motivated voting bloc, his political career is sunk. Your rep is trying to appease both sides...your side with lip service, and the NRA side with his vote.

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  14. You totally missed my point, anon. " on the one hand you claim that the NRA is a powerful lobby with very vocal voting blocs, and on the other hand you claim that they are an insignificant minority who are somehow cowing the politicians to vote for something out of fear. It can't be both." It can and is both. That is the problem. Thanks for the history lecture. I'm sure you are an expert in the field and can prove everything you say with certainty.

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  15. Anon- they are telling me they are afraid of not being re-elected and in a few cases, of actual threats they have received. They are genuinly afraid of the gun nuts.

    I think this was meant for me so I will take the liberty of responding.

    It's interesting in the initial post you say:

    I have had recent conversations with other Minnesota state legislators who are frankly so afraid of the gun lobby that even though they know my side is right they dare not challenge the NRA. (emphasis added by me)

    and then in your response you say:

    They are genuinly afraid of the gun nuts. (emphasis added by me).

    I'm not trying to read anything into this, however it appears you are equating the NRA to gun nuts, a rather broad categorization.

    In your response you also indicated your representatives are afraid of actual threats as well as not getting re-elected. If the threats are of physical violence I would hope your representatives have contacted local authorities. If the threats are about how a particular constituent will vote then I don't see a problem.

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  16. Alcade: “Many of your readers agree with you that this is a first amendment violation.”

    Count me as one of those people who disagree with this bill, Japete. However, I want to point out that the bill is not what you have been making it out to be. In order to make a proper judgment, I like to look at the actual text of the bill as opposed to listening to the Brady Campaign, or even the NRA for that matter. Here is a summary:

    Privacy of Firearm Owners: Provides that licensed practitioner or facility may not record firearm ownership information in patient's medical record; provides exception; provides that unless information is relevant to patient's medical care or safety or safety of others, inquiries regarding firearm ownership or possession should not be made; provides exception for EMTS & paramedics; provides that patient may decline to provide information regarding ownership or possession of firearms; clarifies that physician's authority to choose patients is not altered; prohibits discrimination by licensed practitioners or facilities based solely on patient's firearm ownership or possession; prohibits harassment of patient regarding firearm ownership during examination; prohibits denial of insurance coverage, increased premiums, or other discrimination by insurance companies issuing policies on basis of insured's or applicant's ownership, possession, or storage of firearms or ammunition; clarifies that insurer is not prohibited from considering value of firearms or ammunition in setting personal property premiums; provides for disciplinary action.

    And here is the link where I found it which also contains a link to the full text of the bill.

    http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=44993

    The key is that it DOES NOT prevent doctors from discussing gun safety- it merely prevents them from asking about personal ownership and/or recording that information. It is perfectly acceptable under this bill for a doctor to say “if you have firearms, be sure to keep them away from children”, or to hand out pamphlets about child-proofing your home with tips on outlet safety, poisons, stair gates, and yes, firearm access. You’ll also notice it has exceptions and the doctor is allowed to take liberties with individual cases that she feels warrants intrusion. Though there are some good things in this bill (particularly about insurance carriers), I still oppose it as a first amendment violation.

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  17. Yes, Mark, they have contacted authorities. I don't know that this was meant for you. The NRA can be equated with gun nuts when they themselves act that way. When a lot of NRA members respond on blogs and in comments and act as "gun nuts" what is one to think?

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  18. Thanks for the info. TS. While what you say may make sense, there was no need for this law. It is clearly an attempt to interfere with doctor/patient relationship in the name of telling doctors what they can keep on record or whatever else the bill says. Why is this happening now when doctors have been telling patients this for years now with no ill effect? I suggest it is because the NRA is more and more extreme and needs to keep passing extreme laws to keep up their memberships. In addition, state houses have switched to more Republicans where bills like are more likely to pass. And, for the record, many of the folks commenting on this blog do not agree with you. They are ready to sue their doctors if the word gun even comes out of their mouth and ready to switch physicians. Those are the people for whom this bill was written and who think it is necessary. They are a small minority of loud folks who insist on causing trouble where there is none.

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  19. Japete: “While what you say may make sense, there was no need for this law.”

    I agree that this bill does not seem all that necessary (though I am not familiar enough with what is going on in Florida to say there are no issues at all- but it probably doesn’t require legislative action). Also I am of the mindset that doctors should be more protected against malpractice than they currently are, which would help stem out of control health care costs.

    I think we made some progress today. You have listened to me, and it sounds like I changed your mind about what the bill actually does. In turn I have admitted that this pro-gun bill is neither necessary nor constitutional. I hope you can see your way to realize that there are unnecessary and/or unconstitutional bills proposed by the gun control side as well. I can give many examples that we haven’t debated yet if you wish. Dropping support for those bills will aide you in getting support for the sensible ones.

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  20. I would love to hear what you have to say TS.

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  21. If the NRA only has a small minority then why are politicians scared of them? A minority of people isn't a majority

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  22. I have dealt with that many times on this blog and not going to get into that one again right now.

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  23. Joan,

    As I understand it, you currently support requiring background checks on all firearm sales; private or commercial; correct?

    You support "May Issue" Carry permits over shall issue permitting; correct?

    I am not sure if you are for repealing concealed or open carry laws. Could you comment on that?

    You are for strengthening laws against people accused of domestic violence being disarmed; correct?

    You are for mental health evaluations for firearm ownership; correct?

    You are for licensing all firearm owners; correct?

    If all these laws passed (they won't but let's pretend) and firearm related murders don't stop; what do you purpose we do next?

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  24. Yes
    Yes
    No
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    I have never said I or anyone else in the gun control movement thinks these measures would top all firearm related murders, suicides or accidental deaths. We want to prevent or reduce them. Just as with measures to prevent or reduce breast cancer, colon cancer, car accidents- nothing will work 100% but people recognize that there are things that can be done about them. Why not? The last time I checked, we were working to prevent all of the above and/or reduce their occurrence or the severity.

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  25. I don't always post all comments if they are off topic or they are about a topic I need more time to think about or just don't have time to do the research to respond. Also, if I have stated that I would work on this cause until there were zero gun deaths, that is, of course, a goal. Isn't that the goal of preventing breast cancer, or car accidents, etc? Everyone would love to have the death rate be zero. That is why we got into this in the first place. But realistically, I know that the policies I lobby for and the education efforts that I propose or support will result in only a reduction in the gun deaths and injuries I want also to prevent in the first place. I do live in a real world but have my fantasies about a perfert world. I'm sure you all do, too, and yours is likely different from mine.

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  26. "Isn't that the goal of preventing breast cancer, or car accidents, etc?"

    No, it's not.

    Because life is a series of trade-offs. Talk to the public health professionals about mammograms, or anything else. They talk about the probability of early detecting versus cost, the expected incidence of false positives vs. actual incidents detected, etc.

    You, on the other hand, refuse to discuss trade-offs. You've repeatedly dismissed discussions of non-gun injury and non-gun violence as being irrelevant. You've advocated more rigorous background checks, despite evidence that they are not likely to reduce criminal violence, and with no concern for the innocents who will be unjustly burdened by your proposals.

    If your goal were to reduce violence, you'd be discussing these trade-offs. That you refuse to is a clear indication that your goal is to reinforce your own self-image as a caring person, regardless of the consequences.

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  27. Great logic jedge. I think I will skip my next scheduled mammogram and colonscopy because there is a cost. Are you a doctor now, too, by the way? My mother had breast cancer and my Dad had colon cancer. So my trade off would be not having the test because of some false positives and the cost and possibly dying early of either disease ( also costing a lot of money for treating a cancer that could have been caught in an earlier stage) or getting the suggested tests and preventing a long and costly illness with all the treatments involved and living to enjoy my life and my grandchildren. Hmmm. I wonder which of these 2 options I will choose.

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  28. Do you not remember the ruckuss caused when a government task force recommended most women wait until they are 50 to get bi-annual mammograms?

    http://articles.cnn.com/2009-12-02/health/breast.cancer.guidelines_1_mammogram-guidelines-task-force-routine-mammograms?_s=PM:HEALTH

    "The group reviews medical data and bases recommendations on effectiveness and risks involved.

    While roughly 15 percent of women in their 40s detect breast cancer through mammography, many other women experience false positives, anxiety, and unnecessary biopsies as a result of the test, according to data."

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  29. Guys guys guys- suddenly you are all health care experts? Give me a break. I will follow my doctor's recommendations and sure as &^&%$% hope that other people don't take your expert medical advice.

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  30. Oh yes, jdege, I understand the scope of the problem.

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