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.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Confessions of an advocate for "civilian disarmament"

Two days ago I noticed a "tweet" from @Gun Truth linking to this article, posted by Robert Farago, Editor of The Truth About Guns. The linked article is a view of the "gun banners" and how the gun rights people can deal with us. The article is written by Sarah Thompson, M.D. who was a past Executive Director of Utah Gunowners Alliance.  My interest was peaked by the article and the claims contained therein. So I wanted to know more about the author and her views. I found many references to doctors named Sarah Thompson. But I noticed other references to articles apparently written by the Dr. Thompson in question such as: Rights vs. Social Utility and Hoplophobia Explored (" This is the original article that started the debate on gun rights as a medical issue. Col. Jeff Cooper coined the term "hoplophobia," but it was Dr. Thompson who initially examined it from a medical point of view.") For my readers' edification, hoplophobia is: " a "mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons."[6" Jeffrey Cooper is not a mental health professional and this "condition" is not identified as a phobia in any medical definitions. But never mind. Facts don't often matter to some whose agenda is to attack gun control advocates. So, who is this mysterious woman who claims to be some sort of expert on "anti-gunners" and their psychological processes common to every person who wants to confiscate the guns of law abiding citizens?

A little more sleuthing led me to more articles supposedly written by Dr.Thompson. Here is a website associated with Sarah Thompson, M.D.- righter@therighter.com. I checked and found that this site no longer exists. Then I checked on this site- Fearless Life- listed on the linked article above. Now we're getting somewhere. Here is the story of Dr. Thompson, as shared by her on this site. If you read this account of her life, it doesn't seem to fit with her writings about guns. She is a now a retired physician who tried her hand at Emergency Medicine and then Psychiatry but didn't enjoy either medical practice. In her own words, I am gentle and patient and am able to Work with people who are new to The Work or who are having difficulty finding their way, as well as those more experienced. I work from a meditative place of deep silence. I know that all the answers you need are already inside you." She admits to having been a citizen lobbyist, activist and founder of several non profit organizations but doesn't mention the Utah Gunowners Alliance. 

So, to continue with the sleuthing, I could not find that the Utah Gunowners Alliance exists any more. When "googling" the alliance, I ran across this reference: " Most Gun Owners Disgust Me!with a subtitle indicating that Dr. Sarah Thompson had "called it quits"  at the Utah Gunowners Alliance. I found this quite old article written by Dr. Sarah Thompson. I also found this one which clearly shows that Dr. Thompson was with the Utah Gunowners Alliance. Based on her story about herself and where she finds herself now, and the undocumented statement about gun owners disgusting her, perhaps she has changed her mind about her prior views. It would be interesting if she had since her article was all about the gun rights advocates working to change the minds of people like me. 

According to the "astute" psychological analysis provided by Dr. Sarah Thompson, I have some pretty interesting psychological problems. O.K. I confess. I am projecting my feelings of rage and repressed violent and homicidal impulses onto inanimate objects. My defense mechanisms are showing. Should I deny that I am really coming to get the guns of the gun rights extremists or pretend that I am just a "professional victim" and carry on about my God given rights as a victim? Thompson writes: Anti-gun people who refuse to accept the reality of the proven and very serious dangers of civilian disarmament are using denial to protect themselves from the anxiety of feeling helpless and vulnerable." Surely that is me. Anyone who knows me knows that I feel helpless and vulnerable all the time. What I actually want is " ...to outlaw self-defense and believe(s) innocent people have the obligations to be raped and murdered for the good of society." Yup. That fits. Oh, also I have "gun phobia- an excessive and completely irrational fear of firearms." I'm going to tell my husband to get rid of his hunting guns immediately. I didn't realize it until I read this article but this phobia is "usually caused by the anti-gun conditioning they've been subjected to by the media, politicians, so-called "educators," and others." Wow. And now I am the one subjecting people to this phobia. Oh dear.

Further, I learned that this particular problem is common to all "anti-gun" people- rage! "Because they can't handle their own feelings of rage, they are forced to use defense mechanisms in an unhealthy manner." What would that be? Ah- the "largest and most hysterical anti-gun groups include disproportionately large numbers of women, African-Americans and Jews. And virtually all of the organizations that claim to speak for these "oppressed people" are stridently anti-gun." Really? What kind of people are these? I do fall into one of those hysterical and "oppressed" categories-women. I am feeling relieved that my unexplained urges to argue with gun rights extremists can be chalked up to my psychological processes, which, as Thompson assures us, are not really mental illness. Phew! For a while there, I was getting worried.

There is so much to talk about here that I hardly know where to begin or end. The article was possibly written in 1997( though the date was not on the article but I saw something that indicated that year- and yet some of the references were to artlcles printed in 2000), first of all, so much of the information is dated and no longer makes sense given current organizations and realities. Thompson seems to have disappeared from gun rights writings when she walked out of the Utah Gunowners Alliance. Her sources include a lot of gun rights advocates and writings by people with clear biases against gun control such as John LottGary Kleck and others. As a "target" of her writings, I find this article to be arrogant and offensive and quite astounding for its' lack of scientific research or actual medical research. I would call it junk science. But the worst of it comes at the end of the article when Thompson attempts to educate her readers about how to talk to people like me- gun violence prevention advocates, or, excuse me, "advocates for civilian disarmament":
  • Try to reverse my irrational thoughts by repeating what I say back to me and make me question my thoughts. I'll come to my senses and agree with you for sure.
  • Ask me what I would do in situations like this- ( this is an example given by Thompson- I didn't make this up)-" Why do you think that your children's schoolteachers would shoot them?" You might follow this up with something like, "Why do you entrust your precious children to someone you believe would murder them?" Huh? Is she serious here? (In reading some of this stuff, I wonder if Thompson is writing a parody.) This is, of course, the wrong question to ask. How about asking me if I think it's a good idea for teachers to carry guns in classrooms because children might get their hands on the gun? Or how about asking if I think teachers should be shooting at a shooter in the school while leaving the children unattended? How about asking if I think guns should be allowed in schools? The question used as an example is just inane and puzzling.
  • Insert me into a hypothetical scenario by asking me how I would deal with a "difficult or annoying co-worker." Really? What's the right answer here? Should I say I would shoot that person or what in the world is Thompson trying to get at here? I'll admit it. I don't understand this one at all. What kind of a question is this? Is it relevant to what most gun control advocates really believe? No.
  • Oh, and, please be gentle with me. That way you can help me to have a more realistic and rational view of the world. Anger won't work with me. It never does. You might have to deal with my irrational reactions, however, so be careful. Remember, I have a lot of rage. You never know what might happen next.
  • Empathy helps. "Imagine for a moment how you would feel if you believed your neighbors and co-workers wanted to kill you and your family, and you could do nothing at all about it except to wait for the inevitable to occur." Seriously, readers, what is this about? Thompson assumes that us poor "professional victims" walk around thinking that our neighbors and co-workers are out to kill us. This is the pot calling the kettle black. This is actually the mind set of the gun rights extremists. I write about this all the time. I wonder what the gun rights advocates are so afraid of everywhere they go that they need their guns with them? Let's see, is this projection or a distortion of reality? To whom does Thompson's statement above actually apply?     
  • And then there's this one- "corrective experiences." This one, I imagine, is sort of like curing the gays. If you just but "...casually talk about your M.B.A., your trip to the Shakespeare festival, your vegetable garden, or your daughter's ballet recital, you will provide him with the opportunity to correct his misconceptions." I didn't make this stuff up. So now, because Mr. "gun guy" has convinced me that he is really a hippie or a liberal type, I will trust him and let him convince me that I was, after all, wrong about my long held beliefs and convictions. Fine, go to your daughter's ballet recital. Just don't carry your gun. You won't need it. But I digress. Surely I will be cured of my thoughts about guns now that the "gun guy" has an M.B.A. and hangs out at the ballet. This should work! He is not scary any more, or dangerous. Phew- I'm relieved. All along I thought these guys were abusive and "subhuman monsters" but they aren't after all. With the exception, of course, of all of the commenters on my blog and on any blog or article written by "anti-gunners" who have been abusive, scary, offensive, and generally big jerks. Perhaps if they would stop doing that, we would change our opinions of the gun rights extremists. 
  • And then, of course, what this is all building up to is, that once I trust you, you should take me to a shooting range and teach me that guns are not so bad. This is a form of "de-conditioning" that helps with phobias. Maybe you should have me just look at the guns at first because, you know, I have a "gun phobia". What if I have no desire to go to a shooting range? What does that say about me? According to Thompson, it means that I hate everyone who does go to a shooting range and find them all dangerous and scary. Oh, and Thompson reminds her readers:... "and remember this is not the time to launch into anti-government rants, the New World Order, conspiracy theories, or any kind of political talk!" I would say it's too late for that one.
  • Now these techniques don't always work, according to Thompson. Some of us are just too terrified and have some very strong defenses. Maybe we've had a traumatic experience with a gun. Or, "you will also not succeed with the anti-gun ideologues, people like Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein." The reason is that they have "made a conscious choice to oppose firearms ownership and self-defense. " and "They know the facts and understand the consequences of their actions, and will happily sacrifice innocent people if it furthers their selfish agenda." Wow. Those are some strong words. Can Thompson prove what she says here?
  • I've also recently been told that I have "..."confirmation bias." And you've got it, bad." ( This, from one of my readers, of course) From Wikipedia, that great unbiased source of information, here is the entry for "confirmation bias": " The biases appear in particular for emotionally significant issues and for established beliefs. For example, in reading about gun control, people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing attitudes. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. Biased search, interpretation and/or recall have been invoked to explain attitude polarization (when a disagreement becomes more extreme even though the different parties are exposed to the same evidence), belief perseverance (when beliefs persist after the evidence for them is shown to be false), the irrational primacy effect (a stronger weighting for data encountered early in an arbitrary series) and illusory correlation (in which people falsely perceive an association between two events or situations)." Hmmm. I wonder who wrote that entry? Anyway, here is another source for the phrase. 
  • The commenter is right. I am guilty of this one. But then, of course, so are the gun rights advocates. They send me articles from their sources and I send them articles from my sources. The twain will likely not meet. I usually do not use the NRA as a source for my information. And they don't use the Brady Campaign as a source for their information. I could be wrong but I am guessing that many of my readers watch the Fox news network and/or listen to Rush Limbaugh. I get my news from reading the New York Times, Washington Post, and watching CNN or MSNBC and other such news sources. In the 24/7 news cycle dominated by cable news and Internet sources our tendencies to read, watch and listen to that which confirms our own beliefs has made our discourse poisonous and polarized. Our country would be better off if we would have more reasoned discourse and look at all sides of issues. We need calm and rational national discussions about all of the important issues of the day. This blog has helped me to see what the "other side" is thinking. Occasionally, I am persuaded by someone who has presented me with a rational argument about something I have written. Unfortunately, many readers choose not to wade into the discussion because way too often, it turns ugly and we are going nowhere. And as long as the gun rights advocates are willing to call me names and accuse me of all sorts of things, such as "confirmation bias", "rage", "hysteria", "dancing in the blood of victims", etc., we will go nowhere towards a better understanding of and better information about gun policy and gun rights.

Let's get back to this mysterious article which was posted on August 30th. Reading the article by Dr. Sarah Thompson was instructive. It revealed to what great lengths the gun rights people have gone to advance their agenda. Some of my commenters must have read the article at some point because they have been practicing the techniques suggested by Thompson to try to persuade me and to offer "corrective experiences". So far, most of what they have said has not worked because, remember, some of us are hard to persuade and you just can't deal with us.

Common sense is what is needed. Dr. Thompson's article has resurfaced on a web page, for some reason, but her old ideas still resonate with some in 2011. Rather than rage, it's outrage we ( gun control advocates, aka "advocates for civilian disarmament") feel over the fact that the gun lobby is too powerful in the national discourse about gun rights. The majority agrees with our gun violence prevention efforts but our concerns are not heard. Or if they are heard, they are ignored because of fear of speaking out against the powerful and well funded gun lobby. "Corrective experiences" should involve talking about how we can prevent gun injuries and deaths and how we can work together on sensible measures to stop the shootings.

So until that happens, expect to see me walking around in a permanent rage with steam coming out of my ears; expect to see me cowering behind bushes and around corners afraid that my neighbors or co-workers are going to shoot me; expect to see me using my status as the sister of a shooting victim irrationally to get my way or else; expect to see me so afraid of a gun that if I see one I will break out into a sweat and decompensate at the mere sight of it; expect to see me not going to a shooting range, not because I think others shouldn't be there but because I have no interest in doing so just as the majority of Americans who don't choose to do so; expect to hear me delighting in the idea that when guns are not allowed everywhere by everyone, someone will surely get shot because they didn't have a gun; expect to see me using more "confirmation bias" to persuade my readers; and finally, expect to see me continuing on my quest for common sense to prevent and reduce senseless shootings.

Addendum- in checking again for more information about the Thompson article, I noticed  that it had been posted at "Gun Nation". When I went to that site, I was so horrified by a doctored photo of President Obama that I stopped looking further. I suggest that you check this out if you want to know what the gun rights extremists are thinking and talking about. What does this photo mean anyway? Is the President the "Terminator" of all gun rights? Maybe these gun rights extremists should try some of the techniques suggested above to change his mind. Or maybe they should stop trying to scare their supporters into believing in a fictional world where "advocates for civilian disarmament" are wandering the streets with their phobias trying to take away everyone's guns.


  1. Wow. Talk about stereotypes of gun control! Sarah Thompson's piece is nothing but an extremist's view of us, full of the worst sort of slur of our viewpoints, and projecting their own fears and bias! Eeesh.

    I have yet to meet someone who fights against gun violence who is full of rage and homicidal tendencies, who fears everyone, and who cowers at the sight of a gun (with the possible exception of shooting victims who have just emerged from their trauma). Quite the opposite. They are peaceful people who have great trust in others, who work to reduce violence, and usual volunteer for a number of organizations to promote peace and community health. And many of us have prior experience with guns (despite the extremists asserting that we are completely ignorant of firearms).

    That article is utter nonsense and serves no other purpose than to heighten the extremist dogma.

  2. And what about us who have used firearms in the past? Are we hoplophobes?

    One of the tricks in propaganda is to use and "us v. them" attitude. That's where the speaker or writer challenges you to join with reasonable people to oppose the enemy. Such language is inherently divisive and erects barriers to working together to solve problems.

    This is pretty obviously that type of propaganda--we are the reasonable people. The Hoplophobes are crazy, mentally ill.

    But, as you point out, the term hoplophobia isn't a real medical term, it's not in the DSM.

    It's something made up by Jeff Cooper, but it sounds like a form of insanity.

    I strongly suggest that our side learn the techniques of propaganda and how to spot it because that is what most of the "pro-gun" arguments are.

    See this and this for more info on how to spot propaganda and counter it.

  3. @Baldr said. "I have yet to meet someone who fights against gun violence who is full of rage and homicidal tendencies,"

    You think the people that made "The Death of a President" where they graphically portrayed a sitting President being killed (Bush) were "pro gun" people? Somehow I think not, yet try and find the anti-gun folks commenting one way or the other on the movie,

    As for the general anti-gun folks,

    AWe have their comments nicely aggregated in an easy to read spot called "Why are anti-gun activists so violent?"


    it will take you two clicks to get to the original comment.

    It is simply amazing how violent the rhetoric is from these folks. They must think we don't notice or that we don't know how to run a good web search..

    As an exercise someday, trying showing up on the DemocraticUnderground site and pose as a pro gun person with a polite disagreement. Try something like "I've read the 2nd, and I have come to believe it means "the people" "

    I bet you won't get two exchanges before the name calling starts. Nice folks over there.

    Then we have Black Panther KING SAMIR SHABAZZ being videoed on how to hold a gun, shoot people and use a machete.

    There are kids in the audience for pete's sake. Imagine an NRA guys doing this..


    BTW: His grip sucks. We call that the "Tea Cup, Jack Bauer" grip. You learn that on TV, it does not work well.

    Want me to post the links to the Mayors against Guns that have been convicted of GUN violations? Like owning an illegal .38 revolver? Or the one guilty of domestic violence, like beating and threatening his wife? (that would be "rage" right?)

    I have them them or you can google them quickly.

    So yes, Baldar, the anti-gun left is not all unicorns and rainbows. Just like japete has to deal with the rude or obnoxious gun person, the anti-gun left is full of people wishing death, and violence on us despite the seeming contradiction. I guess they think we don't notice.

    Next time you are tempted to call for a more "civil discourse" do a quick search to see how your folks are behaving first.

    Of course one does NOT excuse the other, but it does provide some insight to both sides attitude's.

    It's also why your site and joan's is so rare and the only reason I bother to still comment. On joan's last post we cam perilously close to agreeing on something. (Shocking, I know) We have fought like cats and dogs on posts before that and somehow we managed to be civil and to not wish ill of each other or to call each other names but we still held to our positions.

    It can be done. That's doesn't mean we will ever agree, it does mean that we will gain insight into the other persons thinking. Something that can never be done once the name calling starts on either side.

  4. It's a shame, 18Echo, that you decided to go on an attack about "anti-gun" people you claim are attacking pro gun people on blogs. The link you have is full of attacks on "anti-gun" people and full of statements not backed up by an quotations or links and remarks taken totally out of context to try to make "anti-gun" people look bad. Unfortunately, this is just more of the same coming from your side. I will let the readers decide for themselves, though, if this link you provided proves your point or mine. http://www.saysuncle.com/2010/11/15/why-are-anti-gun-activists-so-violent-24/ The remarks are all uncategorized- no names or even screen names and I strongly suspect that the remarks that you claim are coming from "anti-gun" advocates are coming from your side. I can't believe you decided that this would prove that "anti-gun" people are violent. It actually proves the opposite. I'm sorry you sent your comment going after Baldr and Laci and me. We did, as you mentioned, "almost" agree on something a while ago. I should have known that wouldn't last long. There are those occasional moments and then, for some unexplainable reason, anyone who may agree with me comes back the next time with something ugly as if it is a bad thing that we agree. It puzzles me that you guys have to keep this up.

    As to the Black Panther video- what's your point? What does that have to do with anything discussed here? As to the film, "Death of a President", I didn't even know it existed. What does it have to do with me or "anti-gun" advocates? Nothing, of course. I posted the link to the pro gun website with the doctored picture of President Obama because it appeared on a pro gun website. There is a huge difference here. I can't believe you are trying to use the film as some sort of proof that "anti-gun" people are violent. If you have something that proves it, please send it to me. Otherwise you have no reason to bring it up.

    We've gone over the Mayors Against Illegal Gun thing. There is nothing to the claims you guys keep making. I know you hate the group but you just can't leave them alone. What's that all about? You are actually proving my point 18Echo with your attacks against those who don't agree with you. There are Mayors who have been involved in criminal activity. There are Senators and Representatives who have been involved in criminal activity. There are CEOs who have been involved in criminal activity, there are companies who have been involved in criminal activity. Do we paint them all with the same brush then? I have consistently said that there are people on your side who attack and are offensive. I have not painted you all that way. Yet your side continues with the name calling and the attacks. I'm disappointed in you, actually.

    Have a nice Labor Day and take a rest from commenting on my blog.

  5. 18Echo, interesting that you mention the Black Panthers, they were all for exercising their Second Amendment rights.

    Point 7 of their 10 Point programme says:

    We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.

    We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.

    I found another from video you mention titled "Black Panther's evoke 2nd amendment! then state 'We will eat this Tea Party for Breakfast'"?

    You have a problem with that?

    You hve a problem with Black People exercising their Second Amendment right?


  6. @Laci The Dog.

    "You hve a problem with Black People exercising their Second Amendment right?"

    Don't put words in my mouth. I have absolutely no problem with ANYONE exercising their 2nd amendment rights ever. You may or may not know it but MOST of the laws that forbid carrying guns without the sheriffs permission were laws passed IN THE SOUTH to keep Blacks from arming themselves. I'm all for people arming themselves. I'm not for people that preach violence. That preach hatred toward anyone of any color and the Black Panthers have a public and video record of doing BOTH and a socialist founding..

    It appears my point was totally missed. I assume it's because I made it poorly.

    @Baldr said. "I have yet to meet someone who fights against gun violence who is full of rage and homicidal tendencies,"

    I was pointing out that he must not be looking very hard.

    I mentioned and linked the Black Panthers specifically because japete likes to point out guns and training around children as being inappropriate, and here we have a notable LEFT organization teaching how to shoot and fight with an audience including KIDS.

    My problem was the Hypocrisy of pretending the left doesn't have it's own problems with violence and people preaching violence, around KIDS.

    As for the link. I see the confusion. This is an aggregation WITH COMMENTS that FURTHER links to the original, and often vile, comments by anti-gun folks. Sorry if it wasn't clear that this site was just the jumping off point if you want to see what was said that provoked the comments. Perhaps to confusing.. If so I apologize for that.

    As for the Mayors Against Guns. Hypocrite IS the term I would for the ones that get in trouble involving guns. That's all I was saying.

    I think I'll take japete's advice and drop it for awhile. I hope she will allow me this post to clarify that it was not about Blacks, but about violence, hatred, weapons and kids.

  7. Joan, Baldr, and Laci all miss the point.

    There is extremism on both sides. There is hate rhetoric on both sides. 18echo was merely pointing out the fact that this issue is one that many people are unwilling or unable to deal with rationally.

    Lacy, no one on our side disagrees with BPP sentiment that the Second must apply to all people. After all, we must agree that the initial force behind gun control was racism.

    He was merely pointing out the BPP spokesman on the video was inept in his gunhandling AND openly talking to kids about killing people. That greatly diminishes his credibility.

    If you feel that Hal ms should have full access to the Second then do you acknowledge that all Citizens have the right to full access under the Second?

  8. 18Echo, Hate speech shouldn't be tolerated, no matter the source. But don't go calling the Black Panthers a gun control group. They weren't, nor are they comparable to our side. Leftist, yes, by one definition, but radical and advocating violence. Not at all comparable. Though I support African American rights, coming from an integrated family, the view taken by the Black Panthers isn't at all a view I would endorse, nor would any other gun control advocate I have ever heard of.

    And yes, they have as much right as any other demographic to brandish, own, and shoot weapons, however inappropriate it may be for someone, white or black.