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, June 19, 2011

The "warriors" amongst us

Photo by Southwest Photo Bank/
P.K. Weis
Representative Gabrielle Giffords has been released from the hospital and is now back home in Houston. This is all good news. But there is, of course, a down side. She shouldn't have become a diminished version of the person she was on January 7th of this year; but thanks to a young man with emotional and anger problems and a gun, here she is 5 months later, trying to get her life back. Such is the life of the many (70,000 a year) who suffer from gunshot injuries in America. Some people are lucky enough to be injured in places that don't affect mental and motor capacity. People can recover pretty well from some gunshot wounds. Colin Goddard is one example of that. Though having been shot 4 times by Seung-Hui Cho at the Virginia Tech shooting massacre, Colin's wounds were to his extremities and after therapy to re-learn how to walk, he is functioning normally and working at the Brady Campaign to lobby for sensible gun laws. Thanks to Colin, there is more awareness of the after affects of gun violence and his story is a powerful testament to victims. His physical injuries may be healed, but he is not the same person he was before April 16, 2007. Recovering from severe gunshot injuries requires fortitute, stamina, and perhaps being a bit of a warrior. There are short and long term physical, emotional and health care costs for people who have been injured from bullets. I will write more on this topic soon.

So pardon me for being cynical that in the aftermath of the many mass shootings in our country, the gun lobby has become even more forceful and resistant to changing our gun laws for the better. Wouldn't it be a good idea to have a national discussion about how we can reduce the likelihood of another mass shooting? Shouldn't we be discussing why it is too easy for people who shouldn't get guns to be able to get them anyway? Shouldn't we be talking about prevention measures like we do about all kinds of other things that cause serious deaths and injuries in America? Instead, here is an ad put out by a young man running for the seat now held by Gabrielle Giffords. You can check out Jesse Kelly's campaign page here. While reading his information, I can see that Kelly has stated positions on many issues. Why does he need to run an ad with a poster showing himself with an assault weapon and calling himself a "Warrior"? Is this some sort of code to the extreme conservatives and gun rights activists? Does carrying a gun make someone tougher on the issues or more of a warrior than someone who does not?

What is a "warrior" anyway? Here is one definition: "One who is engaged in or experienced in battle" or "One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict: neighborhood warriors fighting against developers." Ah, I get it now. Kelly assumes that we will think of him as a true fighter for our causes if he is pictured with an assault weapon in his hand. References to guns and the second amendment are sometimes used by candidates to assure the gun rights activists that they will fight for them and they will make sure their rights are protected. Many other candidates who have served in the Military have run ( like Jesse Kelly) and some have won seats to the U.S. Congress without having to call themselves warriors or pose with assault guns. I would suggest that serving in Congress is quite different than serving in the Military.

But really, what good does a gun do when fighting for holding down health care costs or fixing our Medicare and Social Security programs? What good does a gun do when negotiating with international leaders about sensitive issues concerning security, finances, etc.? What good does a gun do when finding ways to support our education system and programs for children? What good does a gun do when dealing with raising the debt ceiling and dealing with the national debt? What good does a gun do when dealing with poverty and housing issues? What good does a gun do to solve our energy, environmental and infrastructure needs? We don't need our leaders to depict themselves with guns in order for us to believe they will fight for what is right. We need them to be thoughtful, educated, articulate, reasonable, good listeners, good decision makers, willing to compromise, well versed on the issues, and with the integrity and tenacity to lead. Guns have nothing to do with this.

The ad above was called to my attention when I read this blog. Thomas Davis, the author of the blog, has taken a lot of time to explain how we got to the point of even thinking that someone like Jesse Kelly, who calls himself a "Warrior" could cynically run the linked ad in running for Gabrielle Giffords Congressional seat. If the folks in Tucson have common sense, they will reject Kelly resoundingly if his name appears on a future ballot. Anyone who so boldly runs a campaign ad in the district where one of the nation's worse mass shootings occurred just 5 months ago, using a picture of himself with an assault weapon, should be sent "packing".

34 comments:

  1. I suppose the idea that he is sharing with his perspective constituents that he is, by your first definition, a warrior and they may like that is out of the question?

    There is a shortage of folks who have zero knowledge of war committing our forces to battle. More who know intimately the horrors of ground would be a good thing.

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  2. Anyone who would intentionally conflate a soldier who carried arms in service of our country with a troubled lunatic who should never have been let loose to wander the streets, simply for political purposes, should be sent packing.

    Do you really see some sort of connection between military service and gunning down innocents in a psychotic rage?

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  3. He's an Iraq veteral, japete. Soldiers often refer to themselves as "warriors," and carry assault rifles - the real thing, BTW, select-fire and everything. And he's hardly the first, or the last, politician to trade on his military service in support of a political career.

    Yeesh.

    Moreover, many of us are warriors, in our own ways - though in comparison with Mr. Kelly, we hardly deserve to use the same term. I've had a son in Iraq, and as hard as you or I work on our causes, it does not compare to what our "warriors" - the real thing - go through.

    In any case, You fight your fight, and are a warrior for your cause. I disagree with your cause, but that does not make you any less a warrior for it.

    I, too, am a warrior, in several ways. First, I advocate for causes I favor - one of which is diametricitally opposite your favorite cause, of course. I actually believe in the Constitution - all of it. You do not.

    I'm committed to keeping myself and my family safe and, among other things, procuring, keeping, and becoming proficient in the tools to do so. I will not surrender them. I will not disarm.
    I'm committed to making sure gov't actually abides by the Constitution that limits it powers; I do so by practicing criminal law as a defense attorney.
    There's more, but that will do for now.

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  4. "Why does he need to run an ad with a poster showing himself with an assault weapon and calling himself a "Warrior"?"

    Perhaps he thinks that by letting voters know that he is a combat veteran they might be more inclined to vote for him?

    "I would suggest that serving in Congress is quite different than serving in the Military."

    I am sure it is but the author, Robert Heinlein, in his novel, Starship Troopers, said that you shouldn't be able to hold office unless you had military or other public service experience. His reasoning was that you should know what you are committing other people to do. I think that is an excellent idea. We have for the first time in history a majority of senators and representatives with absolutely no military service behind them.

    I agree with you that Gabrielle Gifford's shooter should not have been able to get a gun. Perhaps if the Sheriff had done his job on the many death threats the young man made or if someone had done taken responsibility for his obvious mental issues he wouldn't have been able to.

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  5. You so totally missed my point, jdege. Not surprising.

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  6. We have an all volunteer military service right now. It's less and less likely that people will have served. I disagree with the idea proposed by Robert Heinlein about military service. I don't know what he means by public service. That could be a lot of things and that makes sense given that we understand what the words public service mean. If it means that you shouldn't serve in public office unless you've served in public office, it would be mighty difficult to find people to serve.

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  7. Since he is a Marine Combat Vet, and he's using pics from is time in service to highlight that, posing with an assault RIFLE, not weapon, is normal.

    Btw, Congresswoman Giffords is the proud owner of a Glock. Gabrielle Giffords boasted in an interview last year: "I have a Glock 9 millimeter and I'm a pretty good shot."

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  8. Yes, Cargo, I knew that. What does that have to do with anything? I know more than a few people who are proud owners of their guns and who agree with me that we need to do something sensible to prevent gun deaths and injuries. Being a gun owner does not preclude you from being in favor of common sense gun laws. You missed the part of the insensitivity of Kelly running that ad right after the horrendous Tucson shooting. Bad taste I would call it, and unnecessary.

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  9. Have you ever read Starship Troopers, japete? Perhaps you should . . . .

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  10. Nope and I don't intend to- totally and completely unappealing to me " In the distant future high school kids are encouraged to become citizens by joining the military. What they don't know is that they'll soon be engaged in a full scale war against a planet of alien insects. The fight is on to ensure the safety of humanity. Written by Christopher Van Pelt "

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  11. Dear Patriot,

    Your comments are offensive and sexually explicit. You will not be published on this blog and please don't make any more comments. No one should have to read that kind of inane and offensive stuff.

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  12. Joan,

    Why is being a warrior a bad thing?

    George Washington was definitely a Warrior, wasn't he?

    Grant, Eisenhower both were warriors.

    What I see is a concerted effort by groups like yours to move away from all violence; without differentiating between protectionary or predatory violence.

    I get it now. Kelly assumes that we will think of him as a true fighter for our causes if he is pictured with an assault weapon in his hand. References to guns and the second amendment are sometimes used by candidates to assure the gun rights activists that they will fight for them and they will make sure their rights are protected.

    Why would I want to vote for someone who wasn't going to protect my rights?

    Should you -- as a gun owner vote for someone who will fight to protect your right to keep and bear arms?

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  13. I don't think George Washington touted himself as a "warrior". I have never seen a candidate use the term to define themself as a candidate. And no, one of the things I am least concerned about as someone who has hunting guns in the home that are used occasionally, is protecting my 2nd amendment rights. They are already protected by the recent Supreme Court rulings but that doesn't seem to be enough for you guys. Nothing is going to happen to the second amendment. There are way too many other issues in this country to be thinking about right now. That is my concern with putting a focus on being a warrior as a candidate. I hope he has a lot more on his mind but he seems to have to remind us that he is macho and has guns.

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  14. japete wrote [of reading Heinlein]: Nope and I don't intend to- totally and completely unappealing to me

    I can understand that, japete. However, you might reconsider. It's a classic Robert Heinlein book. And while yes, it's about a "bug war," that's not what it's really about at all. It's about organizing a society where full citizenship and decisionmaking in the society is earned by service, not something one gets by merely being born. The story, as is much science fiction, is just an enjoyable means to a much more significant philosophical point.

    Just a thought.

    Personally, I want a candidate who thinks of himself as a warrior, in the broad sense. And any candidate who is not committed to the Constitution - all of it - is not acceptable.

    japete wrote: And no, one of the things I am least concerned about as someone who has hunting guns in the home that are used occasionally, is protecting my 2nd amendment rights.

    Your "hunting guns" have not been under attack for decades - at least not yet. Give your allies an inch, and they will be. Your hunting rifle will suddenly become a "sniper rifle," and be characterized as a threat to police officers. If you think that your allies would not do exactly that in a heartbeat, given the opportunity, you're fooling yourself.

    And - the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting. It never was. It's about securing liberties against the possibility of a runaway gov't that does not respect its limits and the rights of its citizens. It is very much a deterrence. And in that sense, I hope very much that all of us resolve to protect the 2nd Amendment. I also hope very much that it never comes to that - but the best way to ensure that it does not is to guarantee that deterrent is alive and well.

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  15. "Why does he need to run an ad with a poster showing himself with an assault weapon and calling himself a "Warrior""

    It might have something to do with him being a Marine. Last I heard, Marines called themselves warriors and they didn't carry around stuffed animals while doing so. They carried rifles.

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  16. There is a lot of symbology involved. Someone that explicitly supports the individual right to bear arms is saying that he trusts the citizens with that right. It is a basic litmus test. Someone that was willing to step up and put his life on the line in defense of the nation has EARNED the right to refer to himself as a warrior and the respect that goes with it. He has also demonstrated that he knows the costs of war and is implying that we can better trust decisions he may make that would put our sons and daughters in harms way. So your question about what does appearing with a gun have to do with various issues. The answer is nothing, and everything. You made it a point to note that he is running against Gabrielle Giffords. I could ask the same question. Why bring her up? He was running for the seat long before she was shot. I'm sure his was as appalled at what happened as everyone else. Why conflate his holding a gun with the fact that he is running against her? He used his rifle against enemies of our country, not innocents. The two events are as far apart as can be.

    "Shouldn't we be discussing why it is too easy for people who shouldn't get guns to be able to get them anyway? Shouldn't we be talking about prevention measures like we do about all kinds of other things that cause serious deaths and injuries in America? "

    Sure, but the discussions have to answer two questions first. Most importantly. "Is it the federal governments JOB to do so?" Life comes with risks. Some we take willingly and some that are part and parcel of the freedoms we enjoy. When we talk about protected rights the standard for government intervention is MUCH higher than other areas of our lives and it must be tightly targeted.

    The usual first objection is that most proposed laws would make it harder for millions of people to exercise a protected right in order to stop a very few (how many mass shooting are there per year?) that would abuse the right or are crazy. The government is a blunt instrument of force, not a scalpel so any sort of law must not affect the many to stop the few.

    Secondly, all we ever hear from the other side are demands. They use the word compromise, but if you ask them exactly WHAT they are willing to compromise on, the answer is either "nothing" or some form of "we will let you keep something you already have". In affect they say; "We demand that you let us enact law "A" or you are inflexible and unreasonable if you say no to our "compromise".

    For better or worse we have the money and raw political power to thwart almost any new gun legislation and to challenge almost every existing law, even if we have to do them one city at a time so we don't need to 'compromise' over things we already have.

    My point is that if your side really wants to see changes they they are going to have to take a different approach. You are going to have to find a way to offer REAL compromise, where we are offered something so desirable that we will be willing to support some law that you want.

    You say that the gun lobby prevents "changing our gun laws for the better." I promise you that the moment the gun lobby sees a law that THEY think is better you will see support

    What we see now is all stick and no carrot and as long as that is the proposed compromise nothing will change.

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  17. The man is a Marine who served in Iraq. He earned the ability to rightfully call himself a "warrior", and I sincerely hope he continues to do so in the future.

    I get the distinct feeling you have never really been around a Marine, or anyone in the military, Joan, so let me in on a little not-so-secret: his being a Marine and a veteran is as much part of his personal identity as his being male and white. The only difference is that he earned, through his "blood, sweat, and tears", the ability to self-identify as "Marine" and "veteran", and for that he has my, and countless other Americans', thanks and support.

    His holding a firearm has nothing to do with the attack on Representative Giffords, and your attempt to conflate the two situations is in remarkably poor taste and shows poor judgement indeed.

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  18. Well then, anon, you would be totally wrong. I don't need you to lecture me about veterans. Many comments have assumed that because I called into question a candidate's use of his assault gun and calling himself a warrior, that must mean I am anti military. I love how you guys make assumptions about me and you have it wrong. I have written before about my brother and his problems with PTSD years after serving in Viet Nam. Have I mentioned ( yes I have) that my Dad was a WWII veteran. Have I mentioned that many of my friends and acquaintances are veterans of various wars? Have I mentioned that they agree with me and not you? Your condescending remarks say a whole lot more about you than they do about me. I will repeat what I have already said in my comments if you had bothered to read them. This is not about conflating two situations, it is about the insensitivity of using the ad in the district where that horrendous shooting occurred. It is also about the fact that most veterans who run for office don't need to remind us so vividly of their war credentials.

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  19. What the problem here is that you think showing a firearm in the ad is insensitive and we don't see the problem.

    However, even if Congresswoman Giffords HAD NOT been shot, you would STILL have an objection because you don't like the imagery in and of itself? You don't appear to think such imagery is appropriate in any case. In his case though, his putative supporters LIKE the imagery. They support the ad.

    Showing that rifle is not insensitive anymore than it would be if he was shown driving a car and Congressman Giffords had been purposely run over with a vehicle.

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  20. I was with you, Cargo, until your last sentence which is just not to the point at all. Guns are designed as weapons to kill someone. Cars are not. It is rare for someone to be purposely run over by a car though admittedly it happens. Murders by guns, are, as you know and as facts support, one of the leading causes of intentional death. That makes your example inapplicable.

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  21. Though I know you guys would love to take a bird walk into car accidents vs. gun deaths, etc., I'm not going on the walk. You are so good at distracting from the topic of the post. Save your fingers and don't bother writing about car accidents because I won't be printing those comments. They are not relevant to what I wrote and we have discussed these things ad nauseum before on this blog.

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  22. "It is also about the fact that most veterans who run for office don't need to remind us so vividly of their war credentials. "

    We need more politicians with military leadership experience - particularly at the federal level. If he wants to tout his experience in this way, it's certainly better than a candidate talking about how they've spent their whole life as a lawyer, or as a professional politician.

    B

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  23. "I would suggest that serving in Congress is quite different than serving in the Military."

    I would totally agree. Those that serve in the military almost always have some sense of honor and responsibility. Congress, well.

    They're Congress.
    b

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  24. Debatable Bryan and your opinion which I don't share.

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  25. To some extent I can agree with you Bryan but don't forget the atrocities committed by our military during war time. My Lai comes to mind and Abu Graib for just 2. Also the rapes of women in the military by men which is covered up and not dealt with. There is plenty of bad behavior to go around.

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  26. "My Lai comes to mind and Abu Graib for just 2. Also the rapes of women in the military by men which is covered up and not dealt with. "

    All of which were isolated incidents committed by a few individuals - not at all representative of the military as a whole.
    b

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  27. Did I say otherwise, Bryan? You really don't have to comment on my every comment. Give it a rest.

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  28. "Did I say otherwise, Bryan?"

    You said "don't forget the atrocities committed by our military", which certainly implies that you considered these incidents as representative of the whole.

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  29. You, as usual, are picking away at the minutia. You know what I meant but you insist on parsing every single word and coming to your own faulty conclusions. But that is how you keep the fear going, I guess. You guys need to relax. I've never seen such a bunch of folks who are paranoid about every single word written by a gun control advocate.

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  30. Japete, you wrote:

    To some extent I can agree with you Bryan but don't forget the atrocities committed by our military during war time. My Lai comes to mind and Abu Graib for just 2. Also the rapes of women in the military by men which is covered up and not dealt with. There is plenty of bad behavior to go around.

    I have a few points for you to consider.

    I agree, those of us in uniform are judged by the actions of everyone else in uniform too. Which is why we air our dirty laundry in public, such as Mai Lai and Abu Ghraib.

    As far as "unreported rape covered up" I think you have no damn clue what you are talking about. The military takes Sexual Assault VERY SERIOUSLY. So serious that until cleared by an independent investigation an accused servicemember is routinely held in custody. Rape is no laughing matter, and it woe be to the officer who "covers it up".

    And because we do air our dirty laundry, and because we are an all volunteer force that reflects the demographics of America the US Military continually ranks as the most trusted government organization, while Congress is near the bottom.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/121214/americans-confidence-military-banks-down.aspx

    So I see someone trying to leverage the public confidence given to him as a MARINE and use that to build confidence in his bid to represent the people of Arizona. That he was holding a piece of government issue equipment in the photo is of no consequence. He could have been in a Tank, or in a fully armed Apache Helicopter. It is just a tool of our trade.

    How would you feel if it was a COP who posed with his sidearm in his pistol belt? Would you have had the same reaction? Because I think you may just be a tad biased here.

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  31. Yes I would have the same reaction. It is just not necessary to display a weapon when running for public office no matter if you served in the military or on the police force. You guys are getting yourselves twisted into a pretzel imagining what I meant. I refer you to this article about the 2003 rapes at the Air Force academy- ignored by the leadership- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_United_States_Air_Force_Academy_sexual_assault_scandal. And this one- http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/mar2003/acad-m29.shtml

    I refer you to this article about sexual abuse in the military- http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/us/16military.html

    And before you guys start taking a bird walk about the military and sexual abuse and rape, this is the end of the discussion. This post is not about this topic. So let's not get distracted about my intentions in the first place. As I have said before, my intentions and my opinions and my facts are in the original post. I know you all want to take them apart and comment on the small or large details and get me to take them back. Unless I have made a glaring mistake, my post stands and it says what it says- not what you guys say it says. We've gone around about this before. If you don't agree, you don't agree. That does not mean that I'm wrong and you are right. It means you don't agree. I don't expect you to agree with me, actually. But I am not wrong about what I said in my comment about rape in the military. And, for the record, nothing in my post can be taken to assume that I don't respect the military or that I don't like the military.

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  32. So you are saying that no political candidate should ever be seen carrying a gun? Like John Kerry with the shotgun over his shoulder in the 2004 election cycle?

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  33. John Kerry is a Veteran and knew plenty about using guns. He had to have a photo op to try to prove that he was macho enough to be elected since the Swift Boaters tried to bring him down with their lies.

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  34. In the strict sense, since you all are so black and white about the world, I suppose so. But he didn't have to advertise himself as such and I'm betting he would not have done so in the same district where a heinous mass shooting had occurred.

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