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, June 26, 2011

Happy summer vacation

I suggest that you check out if there are guns allowed in popular venues where you and your family will spend some of your summer vacation time. These poor people who innocently visited a popular Black Hills reenactment of a "Wild West" scene were sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds instead of spending the rest of the trip happily with their families enjoying their vacation. What I find the most interesting about this article is that authorities and those who were hit with the bullets didn't know at first whether the bullets had come from the guns of the actors or someone else at the scene. In America some people feel a need to carry guns everywhere they go and, as I have written many times on this blog, innocent people have been shot in public places either by accident or intentionally. All those guns supposedly needed for "self defense" and instead, what we have is careless use of them in public places and the shooting of innocent people. That is not to say that this is the case for this particular incident because, as it turns out, the "actors" themselves shot live bullets instead of blanks while re-enacting a shoot-out. The irony here is that that is exactly what happened during the days of the "Wild West". Real people got shot and were injured or died of the gunshot wounds.

This re-enactment group has some explaining to do and they are clearly going to pay for the damages one way or the other. The innocent victims of this shooting incident have already paid by having been shot. And luckily for all, the injuries were not life threatening. I do really like this, though, from the article: " “What it boils down to is was it accidental or was it intentional. It would be premature to speculate on that at this point,” Thom said. “I can say there was not a specific target in the crowd, if you will.”" What? Could the actors have used live bullets on purpose? And if so, for what reason? Even if the shootings were accidental, the total irresponsibility on the part of the actors and the hosts of the event is staggering. We are talking about real bullets here and real live people. Guns are dangerous. Bullets do not always hit intended targets and sometimes go astray. Incidents like this happen more frequently than they should. Common sense tells us that the care with which guns in public places should be used is of utmost importance for public safety. Senseless "accidents" like this just should not happen, period. 

And while I am talking about senseless accidents, I will throw in this unfortunate incident as well to make my point about how often gun use goes awry. The problem with guns on the job or in public is that when something goes wrong, people get hurt. One would think that a law enforcement officer would know better but this is not the first time I have written about guns going off unintentionally while in the hands of a law abiding "responsible" person- even a law enforcement officer. Guns don't always perform as expected. Or maybe it's the person using the gun? I really like this from the Mayor of Reno, Texas-" Cox said he doesn’t feel safe in a building where bullets could be flying." If that isn't the understatement of the week, I don't know what is. Guns are safe, until suddenly they are not. That's what makes guns different from other "tools"or equipment in public places. Guns are designed as weapons to injure or kill an animal or a human. Sure, the common wisdom, if that is what it can be called, coming from the gun lobby is that guns will make us safer. The trouble is, that hasn't happened so far. Otherwise we wouldn't have the most gun deaths per 100,000 of any other civilized country. I read a lot of articles about gun incidents that come across my "desk". Occasionally I read one about a legitimate use of a gun for self defense. But way more often, I read about incidents such as the ones linked in this post. That is not the story told by the gun lobby, but I don't make these things up.


  1. I suggest that you check out if there are guns allowed in popular venues where you and your family will spend some of your summer vacation time. These poor people who innocently visited a popular Black Hills reenactment of a "Wild West" scene were sent to the hospital with gunshot wounds instead of spending the rest of the trip happily with their families enjoying their vacation.

    I am a little puzzled. I think it's safe to say that a shootout re-enactment would have guns(it's common sense, no?), so I doubt these people went to the show not knowing whether there would be guns there. What sort of checking should they have done that they did not? How would it have helped?

    What? Could the actors have used live bullets on purpose? And if so, for what reason?

    Sure. It's called "attempted murder" and people do it for a variety of reasons ranging from greed to jealousy to sheer insanity.

    In regards to the Reno cop:
    Guns don't always perform as expected.

    They do perform as expected the vast majority of the time. Pull trigger, hear bang, see hole. That's what happened in this instance.

    Or maybe it's the person using the gun?

    It is. This isn't an accident, it's gross negligence on the part of the officer. Modern firearms in good repair do not mysteriously go off on their own. Even if the gun in question was defective (we know it wasn't worn, it was new), the first act of "examining" a gun is to unload it, which does not include placing any body part, including the pinky, in front of the muzzle.

    The fact that law enforcement officers can be so careless and/or poorly trained is rather lamentable.

  2. "I suggest that you check out if there are guns allowed in popular venues where you and your family will spend some of your summer vacation time"

    Do you follow this advice? Somehow I'm doubtful. You live in MN, where guns and concealed carry permits relatively easy to obtain. Do you call your local Wal Mart and make sure they have a no firearms sign before you enter?

    When you are out shopping and see a new restaurant you'd like to try, do you refuse to enter if they do not specifically have a "No Firearms" sign out front? Or do you stay huddled in the parking lot and call the manager on your cell phone if nothing is posted?

    But, of course, guns are allowed in parking lots, so do you avoid those as well?

    It seems as though your fears are being exaggerated.

  3. Haven't you seen me crouching in parking lots? I'm the one with the blue crocks, blue jeans and pink shirt on. My shirt says: "Minnesotans against being shot".

  4. "I suggest that you check out if there are guns allowed in popular venues where you and your family will spend some of your summer vacation time."

    I do. Which is why I will never voluntarily go to DC, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York or Chicago. I usually go to http://handgunlaw.us/LicMaps/ccwmap.php and put in my permit. Any state that is not blue doesn't get my money.

    Thanks for the advice. Looks like your choices are pretty limited. One no carry state and DC and nine may issue (but probably won't) states. Fortunately they are all the first places you think of when you think vacation.

  5. "Otherwise we wouldn't have the most gun deaths per 100,000 of any other civilized country."

    Yet if we move away from the artificial "gun deaths" and just move to intentional murders or violent crime rate the United States is much better.

    The UK (the model of gun control), Canada (the recent anti-rights poster child), Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Luxemburg & France are more violent than we are. We didn't even make the top 10. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html

  6. Once again, Robin, you are trying to compare apples to oranges. I am blogging about gun deaths and injuries. I recognize that there is crime in every country, including our own. I advocate for non violence in general. But when comparing gun deaths, the U.S. is at the top. This is likely to take us on another walk around the block and I don't intend to go there in the comment section. We all can agree that we need to work together to lower overall crime rates. Can we agree that part of that is working to prevent criminals with guns from shooting people? And, to repeat myself from another comment, the majority of gun homicides are domestic - either partner violence or among people who know each other rather than random.

  7. Me Again said:

    japete wrote: Guns don't always perform as expected.

    Actually, overwhelmingly, they perform EXACTLY as expected. Pull trigger, it goes bang. 99.99999% of the time, when someone says the gun "went off," the truth is that the trigger was pulled, whether accidentially or on purpose, and the gun did exactly what it was designed to do.

    I've kept loaded guns around for years, and have yet to have a single one jump up and go postal on its own . . . perhaps someday?

  8. "the majority of gun homicides are domestic "

    I am afraid that is not true either. The Dept. of Justice statistics for 1976-2005 breaks down as follows ...

    Stranger 13.9%
    Spouse 7.0%
    Other Family 8.0%
    Boyfriend/girlfriend 3.8%
    Other Aquaintance 32.1%
    Undetermined 35.2%

    Other aquaintance could be anything from extended family to drug dealer/client.


    Perhaps you misread because of homicides of all types are more likely to be committed with a gun but Homicides committed by friends/acquaintances and strangers are more likely to involve guns than those committed by intimates or family members

  9. Robin- I have seen this graph before. These things are a bit confusing, I think but I don't read it the same way you do. From the link you sent-"In 14% of all murders, the victim and the offender were strangers." That indicates to me that most homicides then are among non strangers or people who are acquainted and (below) and most homicides occur over an argument of some kind between people who know each other. In your link, 51% are non strangers.

    From this link: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5801a1.htm

    " Approximately two thirds of all homicides and approximately one half of all suicides in the United States are committed with a firearm (1). In the 16 states included in this report, firearms were the most common method used in homicides, incidents involving multiple victims, and incidents of homicide followed by suicide. Previous research indicates that interpersonal disputes can escalate and cause serious violent injury or death, especially when weapons of lethal means (e.g., firearms) are involved in the dispute (21,22). Firearms also were the most common method used in suicides, although methods differed by sex. Firearms were the most common method used by males to complete suicide followed by hanging/strangulation/suffocation. Poisoning was the most common method used by females, followed closely by firearms."

    This is from the CDC and indicates something different. The first sentence confirms what I have said.
    Arguments and conflicts are immediate motivations for the majority of both male and female homicides in the United States (16). One factor that distinguishes male from female homicides is the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. In the United States, approximately one in three homicides of females is committed by a current or former spouse or partner (17). Among male homicide victims, approximately 5% are killed by intimate partners. The findings of this report indicate that male homicide decedents mostly were killed following arguments or conflicts with persons other than an intimate partner or for other reasons, whereas more than half of homicides involving a female victim involved intimate-partner--related violence.

    What I said is true based on both your link and mine.

  10. In intentional homicide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate we are pretty much middle of the pack. I have no reason to believe that would change if access to firearms were significantly altered. Consider;

    37% of all women were murdered by their current or former intimate partner compared to 6% of men.

    In England.

    Lasest FBI stats say 26 percent of murdered women are murdered by a husband or boyfriend in the US..

    Since the UK has much stricter gun control laws, there must be something else at work here. Perhaps just human nature and passions run amok.

    Personally, I believe that fundamental human nature hasn't changed in thousands of years and is not likely to change a thousand years from now.

    We have predatory violent people, and I don't think that the tools they have access to significantly changes their nature either way. Humans are tool users and quite "creative" when it comes to killing each other. I've seen no signs of that changing anytime soon.

    In real life bad guys are going to have access to guns for the foreseeable future. Drug deals are going to go bad, turf wars are going to flare up and the people that invade homes will continue until stopped by a larger force and sadly, women will still be beaten and killed by men.

    We disagree about the solutions, but share the same desire for women to be free from fear of violence. I try to help by teaching women how to balance the force equation. Sometimes with a firearm, but mostly with education, awareness training and trying to always tell them that the first step in an abusive situation is distance and anonymity.

    I have a wife and two daughters that mean everything to me. I will spend my life trying to keep them safe.

  11. Echo- a gun in the home actually makes people less safe. On the issue of domestic violence, a gun in the home is particulary dangerous for women in a domestic abuse case. Guns account for about 70% of domestic abuse homicides. The UK has laws quite different from our own. There is domestic violence all over the world. I just attended a presentation about Colombia and violence. Domestic violence is very high there as is gun ownership. I agree with what you are doing with your family except for the idea of the force equation. I will admit that there are cases where women can be justified in killing an abuser. If it comes to that, and a gun or other method is available, that certainly does happen. But just as often, a gun can be wrestled away and that also happens. That is why police officers are so nervous about domestic cases. They themselves get shot in these cases and in one recent case in Minnesota, the abuser grabbed the gun from the officer's hand and shot the officer to death. It doesn't always work out as intended which was my point and is my continuing point about how things don't work out the way you guys think they will. But because you are going to take us off into another area where I have already blogged and posted and we have already had the discussion, I don't intend to get into domestic violence and percentages of homicides in this particular comment section. Can we stick to the main point which is that where there are guns, there may be accidents or intentional shootings. Guns can turn situations and public places into a homicide scene or a 911 call very quickly.

  12. BTW I like the color change!

  13. Thanks. It's time for a little change.

  14. "Arguments and conflicts are immediate motivations for the majority of both male and female homicides in the United States."

    The critical question that isn't being asked is whether the firearms involved were legally possessed, and if they weren't, how were they obtained.

    The studies I've seen that address these questions seem to suggest that a large majority of these homicides are committed by someone who already suffered a lifetime prohibition from gun ownership due to prior criminal record. This means that passing more laws can have no more than a marginal effect.

    Ditto for the "how did they get it" question. Studies on how criminals get their guns indicate that relatively few of them get them through legal channels. This also means that putting more restrictions on legal channels - no matter how severe - simply can't have much of an impact.

    What is needed is more enforcement. If you want to stop criminal use of guns, you need to get criminals caught with guns off the street. There's a federal law imposing a five-year mandatory prison term on felons caught in possession of a firearm - but only a couple of dozen people are convicted of this, every year.

    It's not because it's a hard case to prove. And it's not because these people are hard to catch. Every major city police department picks up dozens of felons in possession every night. But they let them walk. Arraign them on lesser charges, release them on their own recognizance, and send them back out into the community.

    Because they know from experience that the US Attorneys' Offices have no interest in prosecuting these cases. There's no glamor, no political benefit, no chance at significant asset forfeiture, no press coverage. Simply a community with fewer predators wandering the streets.

    Odds are there will be another high-profile shooting, some time in the next few weeks or months. When it happens, while you're sitting there, tut-tut-ing about the evil guns, do a little reading on the criminal history of the thug who pulled the trigger. Odds are you'll find that he'd been in and out of the system for years. That he'd had a prior felony conviction. That he'll probably have outstanding warrants against him, and that he'll have been arrested, at least once in the previous five years, in possession of a firearm.

    And they ask yourself - why was he walking the streets?

  15. The facts just don't support what you are saying, Jdege. Many if not most of the domestic murders are husband/wife or family members who were law abiding citizens and shot in anger/depression, etc. Killings by gang members is another story. Many of them may have obtained their guns in other ways. But I am not going to have this discussion again with you. It is a dead end. You keep giving me the wrong information and I keep countering it. You don't like my facts so there is no sense in continuing down this path. It's off topic.

  16. "The facts just don't support what you are saying, Jdege."

    Actually, yes, they do.

    "Many if not most of the domestic murders are husband/wife or family members who were law abiding citizens and shot in anger/depression,"

    Domestic homicide isn't a spur-of-the-moment thing, it's the culmination of what is usually years of violence and abuse.

    In more than 90% of domestic homicides, the police had been called to the address at least once in the previous two years. In more than half the cases police had been called more than five times.

    You refuse to see the truth, because you can't see anything but the gun...

  17. Jdege- we are now officially going around the block with arguments we have had many times before. Your refusal to quit "killing a dead horse" is more than annoying. It won't lead to any discussion that will result in something productive. This post was not about domestic homicides. That topic has been argued about before.

  18. So if gun safety is the goal, shouldn't you be very supportive of Eddie Eagle and other safe handling programs to avoid negligent discharges?

  19. I haven't said I'm not in favor of Eddie Eagle programs. I think it's great that the NRA and other groups teach it.

  20. She is just against it being taught at schools like other programs that are controversial.

  21. No Anthony- you put words in my mouth. I don't think I mentioned about other programs that are controversial. The NRA and Eddie Eagle do their job teaching to kids after school hours for those who are interested in hunting. Many homes don't even own guns and are not interested in their kids learning how to shoot them. The NRA would just love to get into the schools for a new market for guns. But it's not going to happen so you might as well quit talking about it.

  22. you are correct I meant to say "unlike" instead of like. I went back to the thread and I guess you did not publish my comment about other unpopular things taught at school.

    BTW Eddy the eagle does not teach how to shoot he teaches

    If you see a gun:

    Don't Touch.
    Leave the Area.
    Tell an Adult.

  23. Joan,

    If your argument against teaching gun safety in public schools is that it's not applicable to everyone, then that opens a can of worms for public education in general.

    I don't think it needs to be mandated, but seems appropriate as an elective perhaps.

    We've been socially conditioned against discussing guns in polite company. I should be able to discuss my day at the range with casual acquaintances same as a day of golfing. Obviously I'm free to do so, but we all understand there can be negative social consequences.

    I think this stigma can make us (gun folks) anxious or even paranoid. When someone feels like the world is working against him, that can plant seeds of extremism.

    I have to admit I've strongly considered buying military patterned rifles during times of political uncertainty, only because the fear of a future ban.

    Ever hear the gun lobby slogan "Obama is the greatest gun salesman ever."?

    Take care

  24. Nonsense, Sean. What has President Obama done to even whisper the word- "GUN BAN"? Nothing. Exactly nothing. You guys are so paranoid that if it didn't bother me so much, I'd laugh. But it's no laughing matter when people on your side of this issue go out an buy guns when a Democrat ( and a Black person at that) wins the Presidency. Relax. I guess you all forgot that Heller and McDonald preserved your rights to own guns for self defense. You won that one. Do you really feel like the world is against you? What's that all about? I have friends who discuss hunting and shooting at the range in my company. They know my positions but they are not afraid to talk about it. Just last week, a woman friend who lives in a rural area near Duluth told me a story about shooting squirrels with her .22 from the deck of her house. It sounds like I'm more tolerant than some of your own friends. And you are all paranoid about me and the organizations to which I belong coming after your guns? Think about this carefully, Sean. No one is coming for your guns. Have your guns. Just don't shoot anyone and lock them up so your kids don't find them and they aren't stolen from your home or your car.

  25. Here is the problem. From May 25, AP

    "Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, "to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda," she said.

    "I just want you to know that we are working on it," Brady recalled the president telling them. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."

    UNDER THER RADAR? That instills me with confidence that Obama will follow a fair and open process to discuss gun issues in the US. NOT..

    So when you think we are paranoid about the behavior of an avowed anti-gun liberal administration you are right, but sometimes paranoia is justified.

    Do we know how he actually thinks? Sure. From his interview when he was running for the Senate.

    35. Do you support state legislation to:
    a. ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? Yes.
    b. ban assault weapons? Yes.
    c. mandatory waiting periods and background checks? Yes.

    (from Fact Check )

    So we know what he would do if he COULD.

    Knowing that, we would be crazy to take what he now says at face value. We think that "under the radar" is where attacks on rights come from when you can't do it "above board" as they say, and the best thing to do is to always warn people that what he says and what he believes are likely totally at odds with each other.

    As for not shooting anyone and locking up guns.. No problem, we agree on all that. Already do it. All my friends do it. Trying to steal guns from my house would be difficult unless you bring a jack-hammer so that's covered too. After all, I want to have a happy summer vacation too.

  26. Japete: “What has President Obama done to even whisper the word- "GUN BAN"? Nothing. Exactly nothing.”

    Obama specifically campaigned on reinstating the expired assault weapon ban and making it permanent. It was an official platform listed on the whitehouse.gov website after being inaugurated. It has since been removed. He either changed his mind, or finds it unrealistic with today’s political comment. The fact that citizens went out and bought the weapons he pledged to ban is not paranoid. When Obama backed down from the ban, sales also backed down. Holder repeated this many times as well:

    "As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters.


  27. Japete: “Relax. I guess you all forgot that Heller and McDonald preserved your rights to own guns for self defense. You won that one.”

    Those decisions only preserve the right to own some type of handgun. Heller and McDonald still allow for banning most semi-automatic handguns and rifles as DC and Chicago currently do. Bans are most definitely not off the table.

  28. So if you agree that the Supreme Court finds that reasonable restrictions are constitutional, why do you keep saying they are not and using your second amendment rights to stop reasonable restrictions. Most reasonable people don't think a ban on some assault type guns is unreasonable because they don't see a need for them. I don't know how you guys got along for the 10 years of the ban. It must have been a terrible inconvenience but maybe not as much of an inconvenience as that of the families of the victims of mass shootings where shooters used high capacity magazines in assault type guns to mow down innocent people.

  29. The Supreme Court never examined the constitutionality of “assault weapon” bans- thus they are still on the table. I don’t agree that there should be extra restrictions on certain semi-auto guns, so I (as well as many others) continue to fight against these bans. I don’t consider the fact that I can be thrown into prison for having the wrong shaped muzzle compensator to be a reasonable restriction.

    The point is that even after Heller/McDonald there are still those out to ban some guns (not all guns- but whatever they can). At least in the past, Obama was one of those. Though he dropped talk of it, he hasn’t exactly come out against it- so no, we can’t “relax” as you suggested.

    Japete: “…but maybe not as much of an inconvenience as that of the families of the victims of mass shootings where shooters used high capacity magazines in assault type guns to mow down innocent people.”

    I’m sure they’d find it just as inconvenient if they were killed by any other type of gun (or by any other means for that matter).

  30. Speaking of the "assault weapons," when was the last time that a bayonet mounted on an "assault rifle" was used in a crime?

    I ask, because bayonet lugs are one of those features that makes a rifle an "assault weapon," and if they are not used in crime, then banning bayonet lugs is not "common sense."