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.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Victims and crime scenes

Yesterday, the families of the Norway terror attack went to Utoya Island to visit the exact place where their loved one took his or her last breath. It must have been an unbelievably emotional time for all concerned.They left flowers and candles in memory as Norwegian citizens had done in downtown Oslo after the attacks. I know how this is. When a loved one is shot to death, it is such a shock because of the suddenness and violence involved. It feels like you, yourself, are violated. I was surprised that the Norwegian government allowed the families to visit the scene of the shootings. Perhaps it was because it was such a horrendous act of national violence. I am not sure that would happen in this country. Usually sites of murders become crime scenes with no one allowed to enter. We could not visit the place where my sister was murdered. It was at her estranged husband's home where she and her friend had gone to deliver some papers to him. It was there that she took her last breath. I had been to the house once after my sister left him so I could imagine the scene. But I couldn't imagine the horror that took place inside.

When people are shot in the head and chest, it is a terrible sight. I couldn't bear to view my sister's body before she was cremated. But my mother, many years older than me, who lost her first husband to a bullet, went to see her oldest daughter lying with bullet wounds to her body. She left a rose on her body just as we did on my mother's own casket when she died last November.

Months after my sister's murder, the man who took my sister's life killed himself. It was only then that we got to meet with the local Police Chief, my brother-in-law's divorce lawyer, a Psychiatrist, a Victims' Advocate, the County Attorney, other attorneys and the families of my sister's friend. The case was closed. We could now know the details that would have come out in a trial when the case went to court. It was gruesome. I will never forget that day. I wanted to know as much as I could about what was going through my brother-in-law's head when he pulled the trigger at least 6 times as he killed 2 innocent people. I learned a bit about what goes through the mind of a murderer. He was a man I used to like. He was married to my sister. He wasn't capable of this awful crime, was he? We will never know it all. And maybe that's O.K. If we knew it all, it would be harder to carry on with our lives after such a loss.

Anders Breivik has supposedly been helpful to law enforcement, but unrepentant. And oddly, much like my ex brother-in-law, he is interested in his public image post murder.  "Breivik's lawyer said his client was concerned about appearing smart and respectably dressed for Friday's  court appearance, state broadcaster NRK reported." It doesn't matter, of course, to anyone else. But there is something about the narcissism of murderers that is fascinating and dangerous. Their actions put them front and center in the media and in Breivik's case, news media all over world. Perversely, that is where they want to be. There is little empathy for the victims. It is almost as if they are in a different place in their heads than in their bodies while committing these awful acts. That is how it is often described.

Breivik, like my brother-in-law, had a point to prove. Or at least, that is how they viewed their acts. A gun can certainly prove a point. Guns can provide ultimate control over people. When you point one at someone, they can't really hide and they know that if they run, a bullet travels a long ways and will find them. It is why people fear guns when they see someone with one in public. Who knows if a bullet is meant for them? Common sense tells us that guns are inherently dangerous when used by the wrong people in the wrong way. They are used too often by people who are not expected to use them- my brother-in-law, for one; Anders Breivik for another. And what do people say when someone like them shoots other people? How often do we hear and read comments from neighbors or loved ones who say that the shooter was such a nice person, or such a quiet person, or the person kept to him or herself and seemed just a little bit odd, or that they might have been angry or depressed but no one could believe they were capable of murder? As long as people like this believe that guns are the answer to some problem or some ideology or to end a divorce or to seek revenge or gain the ultimate power and control over a woman ( as is often the case) we will continue to have shootings like the one experienced by my family and the families in Norway. We need a change of laws, change of culture, change of political reality, and a change of minds of those who believe that guns are not a problem but a solution. 


  1. Dear readers, There is a commenter on my blog who is so disgusting that his comments would make you sick if you read them. I am wondering what you all think about people who send totally inappropriate, ugly and offensive sexually explicit comments and then tell you that he knows where you live? He knows who he is. I have called him out before. Do any of you think I should do something about this? If so, what?

  2. Feel free to post this or not post it and treat it as a personal message.

    While we have our disagreements about the issues you write about on your blog, I believe that we all have a right to personal security.

    If he has made an actual threat, then I think you should report it to the police. I would be very alarmed at anyone in the cyber-world making a threat and referring to my home address.

    Usually, such people are bullies, and if resisted, they will back off. Resist! I sometimes think that we are too civil in modern society, avoiding a sharp retort for the sake of not appearing to be uncivil. Bullies take advantage of our good natures all too often.

    I believe you have the power to ban people from posting on your blog. If so, then do it. Your blog, your rules.

    And if the comments become overtly threatening, take action and report it to the police.

    Sorry. I don't mean to preach. You, of course, must make the decision as to what to do about this person.

  3. Internet anonymity is not as anonymous as we might think.

    "Anonymous" comments can often be traced to the source computer -- it just needs to be worth it for law enforcement.

    Someone just being an internet troll is not worth that trouble -- but your would-be commenter may have stepped over the line.

  4. I believe he has stepped over the line. Thanks. He is a pervert.

  5. People that send comments of that type do so because they can not argue with your opinion. I had to deal with one of these years ago on behalf of my now wife. You need to save and print everything he sends you. Documentation will go a long way. If he already knows your address, get the police involved. If he is from another city, your local PD might give them a call. Good luck and stay safe.

  6. Thanks, Robert. I have saved all of the comments as well as screen shots of the comments and the IP address so I can deal with this if I have to through law enforcement.

  7. See Cyberstalking laws, Lebanon or Kalispell- http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13495

  8. Absolutely. As your own post says, it is possible for someone that seems relatively normal to be or become violent in reality. So when someone starts from the level of 'pervert' why not assume they are worth worrying about and just 'anyone' on the net really opens it up an entire nuthouse of creeps.

    I love arguing with you, but when it comes to this sort of thing, that all drops away. You need to be SURE you are safe and you need to take whatever steps you deem necessary to ensure that. You know we always say that the police is Plan A.. If what ever he is sending rises to the level of a threat then there is no reason to not take him at his word.

    I hate the very idea of this sort of crap going on. I bet all of your loyal "opponents" on this blog feel the same way. Feel free to post this or not, but know that we worry about you.

  9. Definitely call the police. It is one thing for someone that disagrees with you to post a nasty comment or two--after all, this is the internet--but to have someone send disgusting posts continually then threaten you outright is quite another. Expose him.

  10. Seems like the anonymous feature is gone from the blog, no worries if it was causing so many issues with impolite and abusive posts.

    It just forced me to overcome my computer illeteracy and make an account.

    Sorry you are having issues. I disagree profoundly with you but such disagreements are not grounds to treat other people poorly.

    Heinlein's "An armed society is a polite society" is simply a pointed way of saying "a society without consequences is an impolite society."

    Make things truly anonymous and there is no civility. It doesnt have to be guns or physical consequences, shaming, banning, public ridicule, being identified in public are all mechanisms that give us social order and manners.

    Here's to civil, if occasionally passionate, argument...