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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Stupid is as stupid does"

The line in the post title, of course, comes from the Forrest Gump movie. It seems to apply here. Once again, gun play is in the news in Minnesota. These guys said they were actually playing with guns.In a subsequent statement, Dahl said he had never handled a gun before and did not know about them. He said all three had been pointing empty guns at each other, just playing around. He said the shooting was an accident and he did not know  the gun had been reloaded." One man is dead and another facing serious charges. Police found several guns just lying around in the house when they got to the scene. 

What gets into guys when they get together to clean their guns and play around with them? Many of my readers know that I write about these incidents often. I do so because they happen often. They are not supposed to happen but they do. On the face of it, they are stupid and senseless shootings. In reality, they are tragic. Guns are dangerous. Guns have bullets which kill people. Stupid people kill people frequently. Dangerous people, such as Anders Breivik also shoot people on a regular basis. My last post was about the shootings in America that occurred around the same time as the shooting in Norway. These people are not stupid. They are dangerous and should not have guns. Stupid people should not have guns either. Unfortunately they do. Where is common sense?

What about the man who was checking his gun at the New Orleans airport on Monday while checking in and either willfully or stupidly left it loaded? Of course, the gun discharged and shot an airport employee in the leg when he took the gun case from the man. Stupid or dangerous? Where is common sense

I am working on a post about those dangerous people amongst us who have evil and crazy ideas. You might be surprised at how many of them there are. We should all be concerned about the potential for home grown terror attacks. 


  1. Shame they don't require actual gun training for safety and proficiency prior to being able to purchase a gun. But that would require some sort of certification.

    Oh, dear, the evils of a license. I can predict the howls of disapproval from the gun guys. But you can't drive a car without having a license to prove your proficiency. You can't own a dog without a license. You can't operate heavy machinery without a license. But purchasing, owning, and using a gun in your home? No problem, apparently.

  2. If it weren’t so deadly serious I would find it quite amusing that anti-gun activists get all bent out of shape and claim they feel threatened when millions of people peaceably carry concealed firearms in public every day. Yet they advocate passing laws that would mandate those same peaceable people give up their defensive tools at the point of a policeman’s gun and claim we are the ones threatening violence.
    - Joe Huffman

  3. Baldr, you should really understand the difference between rights, and privileges. Cars, dogs, heavy machinery are not guaranteed Constitutional rights.

  4. Baldr,

    If you are going to license rights:

    Why not license the right to speak - not just in public but in your own home.
    (Then the cops would have another tool to use to stop criminal conspiracies)

    Why not license the right to assemble - not just in public but at any private establishment or home. Have to show just cause why you need to meet with 2 or more of your friends.
    (see this would be a powerful tool against gangs).

    Why not license the right to worship -- you anti-rights cultists are always blaming the extremists in Christianity...why not have everyone - yourselves included - have to get state approval before attending church?

    Why not license the right to have kids - surely that would cut down on all those 'gun deaths' you anti-rights cultists rail about -- and the child abuse/deaths. Can anyone say Andrea Yates?

    In for a penny, in for a pound. Go all the way, don't just stop at the rights you don't like.

  5. Baldr,
    Show me evidence that gun owners compelled by the state to take a safety course have safety outcomes that are different than gun owners who are not compelled to take a course.

  6. Sure. Why not? Sounds pretty stupid to me. But then, sometimes the ideas that show up on this blog are that way.

  7. The problem is its hard to defend these instances when they happen. However, they just dont happen that often. they are in fact, so unique, that they do warrant news coverage. There are 300 million guns in the US, some polls say one half of all males own a gun. thats about 75 million American males, and some studies put ownership by females at about 30 percent. Thats roughly 45 million Female gun owners, so out of 120 million people, thats, 120,000,000 we have a few instances of incompetence. If we can find three examples a day of something going wrong, well, thats roughly a thousand a year, or one instance in 120,000. or .0008% screw up rate. Thats pretty hard to determine that as epidemic.

  8. When someone is killed by gunfire, it deserves press coverage. When stupid people with loaded guns shoot other innocent people, it deserves press coverage. I am not sure these incidents are so unique. They seem to be happening more and more often. Why am I reading so many stories about shootings in public places or accidental discharges? I think these "accidental discharges" happen more often than get reported in the news. This morning, some friends and I were talking about these 2 incidents, and both of them remembered a man who they used to work with in the school system who was a gun lover and a hunter. He once shot himself in the groin while either cleaning his gun or handling it. They knew about it because it made the rounds in the teacher lounges. It didn't make the news. People hate to admit to doing something that stupid with a gun. But when they do something stupid that kills another human being or it happens in public with witnesses, then it makes the news. Accidental discharges of guns can result in someone dying senselessly. That is why I write about them. Accidents happen with all kinds of things. People can be stupid around knives, swimming pools, cars, etc. My purpose is to get people to think differently about guns and the gun culture. It is assumed that gun owners are careful with their guns and that we should not be worried about those loaded guns at home or in public- or even those supposed unloaded guns. But guns are designed to kill. That is their purpose. More care needs to be taken with them because of that.

  9. In the first case, pointing guns at each other goes beyond stupid. Having been taught from a young age, I know to always check and clear a weapon when you pick it up. Because of the behavior they exhibited there is one dead, one going to prison and a black mark on gun owners.

    The rifle incident is another case of stupidity. He should have known that the rifle was supposed to be unloaded. The also seems to be a defect in the rifle. It should not just "go off". There has to be a explanation for that that wasn't reported.

    There is no excuse for the conduct of some of these people. Especially if you have never handled a gun before. A quick safety lesson from a professional only takes a short amount of time and could save a life.

  10. You keep saying "accidental discharge". Every time a gun is discharged when it is not planned is a "negligent discharge". The reason for this is because the people that caused the discharge were "negligent" in their handling. There are a lot of people injured and killed with "unloaded" guns. There is no excuse for it. It is negligence and laziness. Anyone that comes into my AO that does not show common sense in gun handling gets a ass chewing and a lesson. I do not intend to die because of someone else's stupidity.

  11. Baldr: “But you can't drive a car without having a license to prove your proficiency…. But purchasing, owning, and using a gun in your home? No problem, apparently.”

    Let’s compare apples to apple. Are you allowed to purchase, own and drive a car on your property without a license? No problem, actually. Likewise with the exception of a few states, you need a license to carry a gun in public.

  12. Japete, the fact that we heard about the New Orleans airport incident is indicative of it being an extremely rare occurrence. Yes, he was negligent in this case and someone got hurt. Do you think we would have heard about it if he were incompetent with his car and hopped the curb and drove over a baggage handler’s foot?

  13. Just found your site and enjoy the writings I have read thus far.

    One thing that I always notice about websites that lean anit-gun or as they call it, something/someone for "common sense" laws; where are your gun safety tips? You have all kinds of links to anti-gun sites right there on the right side of the webpage.

    Why not have a small blurb with the 3 basic rules of gun safety? Even non-gun owners could read them and know when someone was violating one of the rules, them make a decision to say something or leave.

    It won't take up much space and would go a long way in helping remind people how to be safe with three, simple, "common sense" rules.

    Just in case you don't know them:
    1. ALWAYS assume the firearm is LOADED.
    2. ALWAYS keep the firearm pointed in a SAFE DIRECTION.
    3. Keep your finger OFF the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

    Pretty simple. If only everyone followed those rules we wouldn't have any "I didn't know the gun was loaded" negligent shootings.


  14. Thanks, John. Usually, the pro gun folks who comment here talk about these things. These are good tips, of course, but don't always work.

  15. japete,

    What John posted are not tips. They are the rules that are taught in every NRA class. If everyone would follow these rules then it would work every time. It is literally that simple. Guns are not complicated.

    It really is this simple to avoid the negligent discharge of a firearm and to prevent accidental deaths.

    Next time you read about someone shooting someone else, ask yourself which rule they broke. It is most likely all three. The idiots in your post thought the guns were unloaded, thus breaking rule number 1. Then they pointed them at each other, broke rule 2, then someone put a finger on the trigger and pulled it, rule 3.

    Pretty simple. You break one of the rules and someone is going to get hurt.

    There is a fourth rule that is sometimes added, Know your target and what is beyond. This applies to all shooting whether target, hunting, or self defense.

    I think John has a good point, can't you post those rules and do your part to make people aware of some safety measures? Might save a life or two in the process.

  16. The Four Rules of safe gun handling work EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. If you follow all four, you will never be party to a negligent discharge or injure someone "accidentally." It is only when someone breaks one or more of the Four Rules that bad things happen.

    --JMB's Ghost

  17. Of course the odd thing is that the anti-gun people simultaneously don't want people, especially children, to see, hear touch or learn about guns but they expect them to know how to handle them safely when they, inevitably, come in contact with one

    It is illogical to fight against education and then lament the problems caused by ignorance but that obvious fact seems to either be lost on them or a solution that can only be arrived at by government regulation rather than simple education.

    When my children were in school I offered gun safety training to the other parents, especially the anti-gun people. My argument to them was, and is, this. No matter your stance on gun ownership and control, there is a high likelihood that you or your children are going to be come in contact with a gun at some point in your lives. It is better to be educated about the rules of safe gun handling, even if you never INTEND to be around them, than to remain ignorant. It is absolutely possible to teach gun safety without advocating gun ownership. We teach our children countless safety tips. If I say "stop drop and roll" you know what I'm talking about. Why not teach "don't touch, leave and tell an adult" the same way?

    Japete, you argue for common sense. Does not common sense start with an acceptance of reality as well as a desire to change?

    Like it or not, we are a country where personal gun ownership is a protected right that millions of people exercise. That is not going to change in our lifetimes. How many lives could be saved if we accepted that fact and taught the basics of safe gun handling to everyone from an early age?

  18. 18Echo- You will not find me saying that I am against education about handling guns for children. That's all well and good. The problem is, it doesn't always prevent a child from picking up a gun and accidentally using it or commiting suicide with it. Studies have shown that, educated or not, children are curious and will pick up guns. My organization, Protect Minnesota, has a brochure about Kids and Guns in which we educate people about the dangers of guns in the homes and also what to tell children about guns they might find at home or somewhere else. I am not anti gun as you love to portray me. It makes is so much easier to vilify someone if you claim they are gun banners or anti gun. You may remember that I grew up in a hunting household and around guns. We have hunting guns in our home. I have friends who are hunters and gun smiths and gun collectors and also who own guns for self defense. I am in favor of not being shot and of prevention of gun injuries and deaths.

  19. So do your part and put the gun safety rules on your blog so that all your many readers who are not gun savvy can learn.

    You presume that because your pro-gun guys talk about it so often on your blog that people will see it. I'm betting many don't bother reading comments.

  20. The purpose of this blog is not to provide gun safety tips to my readers. You can put it on your own blog, however.

  21. japete,
    "This blog explores various issues around guns and gun violence, including prevention,..."

    I would say that adding a small side bar or even a link to (god forbid, the NRA safety page) or some other website that explains the rules, would fall under the PREVENTION part of your mission statement.

    You could truly save lives by making the rules of safe gun handling more accessbile to your readers. Many non-gun people may not know where to look for that education. It seems like a sensible thing to do. But that's just my opinion.


  22. John- as I said to another commenter, you can write a blog if that is what you want to do. That is not my intent. I provide links to all sorts of things on the sidebar, including to the Citizens for a Safer Minnesota website, now Protect Minnesota, which has information about kids and guns. That is not my intent. I write about it on some blogs but that is not what this blog is about.

  23. japete,

    I truly believe you want to help people through education. Part of that is educating them about the dangers and results of events involving firearms. You also seem to be active in serveral organizations that look to implement legislation to try and reduce the number of firearm incidents. These are great goals. But they can take a long time to achieve and require the effort of a large organization.

    Something one person, such as yourself, can do that can have an immediate effect, is to provide those reading your blog with resources on how to be safe. You certainly don't have to support the NRA or any other pro gun institutions but directing people to common sense rules can save lives.

    I attempted to find safe gun handling rules at the websites you have linked on the right, but I have not found anything that educated people on what to do if they see a gun or see someone else handling a gun. Thus the only link I have for you is one to the NRA website: http://www.nrahq.org/education/guide.asp

    It would also be nice to see a link to the Minnesote brochure you referenced above so that readers can see the tips and educate themselves.


  24. By popular request, I have added the specific link to the Protect Minnesota brochure titled "Kids and Guns" on the side bar under Sites of Interest. That link takes you to the brochure we designed about safety in the home regarding guns. This is specifically for kids. I'm quite sure you can find safety tips on the NRA website and other gun rights sites. That is the end of this discussion about whether or not I should provide safety tips for handling guns. I am not an expert in that area but rely on other good people who are.

  25. japete,

    Thanks for posting the link to the brochure.

    There is a lot of very good information in that brochure and I hope your readers take the time to examine it and talk to their children/grandchildren, etc about guns and safety.

    Thanks again,

  26. John,

    The Kids and Guns brochure is linked in the sites. Thanks. As to the NRA website, I will check it out.

  27. Dear readers, In the interest of common ground and sensible discussion about issues and at the request of some of my readers, I have put a link under "Other Sites of Interest" to the NRA's gun safety rules. They are all reasonable and good safety rules. Now if only those gun users out there would follow those rules. Unfortunately, many of them do not.