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.

Friday, September 9, 2011

To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question

I can hardly put my thoughts into words better than Dan K. Thomasson from Scripps Howard News Service who wrote this great article about the hypocrisy of the gun lobby when it comes to guns in public places. On this very same topic, there has been a most interesting discussion here on my blog in response to my post about the 2 mass shootings of a few days ago. It came in response to this idea as expressed in the link above, Most important was that the law abiding gun packer's explanation about his own actions just shot down the gun lobby's main argument for arming every able bodied American, man, woman, and child. That contention is that with everyone loaded for bear, we would stop a lot of these unwarranted attacks on civilization. Right! What the man who might have been a hero did is follow an instinct that nine out of ten other persons in his shoes would. When under assault by superior firepower, the best solution is to duck and run for the nearest cover and stay there."

The way this "discussion" evolved was a back and forth that happened when some of commenters changed their tune and insisted that they only want to carry their loaded guns in public to protect themselves and their families. These comments revealed the lengths to which the gun guys will go to defend their nonsensical argument that guns are needed everywhere. In this case, they are making the point for my view- that a loaded gun in a public place will not, in most cases, save the day. Now mind you, these are the same folks who have argued with me in previous posts that someone with a loaded gun in schools or other public places would save lives and protect the public because the police can't necessarily get there in short order. But suddenly, the argument has turned into the idea that guns are only for self defense of themselves and their family. What happened to the idea that an armed permit holder would serve as the protector of everyone in the room? 

I have heard many times that an incident would certainly have turned out differently if only someone had had their gun. The one most frequently cited is that of Suzanna Hupp whose parents were killed in a shooting at a Texas restaurant. From the linked article, "She said that had there been a second chance to prevent the slaughter, she would have violated the Texas law and carried the handgun inside her purse into the restaurant.[4]" It's pretty clear to me that what Hupp meant was that she could have prevented the carnage had she only had her gun. The gun lobby just can't have it both ways here. If the idea that you must have a loaded gun in public places is only for your own protection, why don't we go back to the "may issue" permitting system which required that a permit applicant give proof that there is a reason or a need for a gun at all times? But if the idea is that you must carry your loaded gun around in public to protect the public from harm, it's different concept. This is more of the "make my day" idea that has been perpetuated by the gun lobby. There is absolutely no proof that having a loaded gun in public does what the gun lobby claims. In fact, what has happened instead are the many times that permit holders have shot others accidentally or purposely in public. I post about such things frequently on this blog. 

At any rate, I digress. Here are the comments made on this blog about the new contention that guns in public are not to protect us all from shooters:
  • At that range four joes with pistols can take one guy with an AK. A pity the soldiers were disarmed."
  • Sure, having a gun doesn't guarantee you will magically never get hurt. But it sure gives you a better chance to fight back than not having a gun."
  • My carry handgun is to defend me and mine -- I'm not the police."
  • That depends on a lot of things. Do I have a shot? Am I in his line of fire? What weapon is he using, and what is its status? What is my available weapon, it's effective range, etc. What are my surroundings; i.e. if I fire, do I have a clear background? Do I have cover to fire from?"
  • If the answer is yes I do have a reasonable chance of success, then yes, I hope I would engage this goblin. I can't really say, however, because I've never been in that situation, and probably will never be. I frankly don't think most of us can answer honestly one way or another; we don't really know unless we've faced that kind of situation. I hope I never have to. I also hope and believe that I am ever there, and if I can take on such a shooter with a reasonable chance of success, I would do so."
  • To remind you of your common refrain, how many persons in that IHOP that day would have thought they needed a weapon? That they did not "expect" to need a weapon for lunch that day was small comfort when they were facing the business end of a weapon. As you've often heard: one cannot predict when one will need a weapon, and when you need it, you need it RIGHT NOW and you need it BAD. "
  • Don't confuse attempting to assess the situation and determine if one can act successfully with unwillingness to use force. And frankly, anyone who's not reluctant to use force is a fool. Cops are, or at least should be, reluctant to use force. I have no desire to use force, and would be reluctant to do so. It's simple: one should use force only when necessary, and only when it can be employed effectively. "
  • In this instance, Mr. Swagler had no duty to leave his place of business - and his family - to engage this shooter. His priority is his family. He is not a cop. CC holders do not imagine we are cops to ride to the rescue. That is your personal fantasy."
  • Perhaps. Carrying a weapon is not a magic bullet (pun intended); it does not solve all problems. It is no guarantee of safety (there ARE, of course, no guarantees of safety). But the fact that they might not have had an ability to respond in this situation does not mean they should not have that option. Each situation is different, and all are unpredictible. More importantly - had they been armed, could it have been worse?"
  • And the fact that he could "overwhelm" anyone who though they could defend themselves with his magazines is an argument for permittingstandard capacity magazines for lawful citizens, not banning them. Or perhaps - as has been accused - you prefer your victims effectively disarmed?"
  • Our right to carry does not come with an OBLIGATION to engage when not directly threatened and that right is not contingent on us serving any need for the unarmed citizen."
  • You can't make up the idea that "everyone that carries can't wait to get into a gun fight" then chastise people for not living up to your imagined motives for carrying. Like someone else said. We are not the police. We WILL call them for you once we are at a safe distance from the fight but we are not firing unless there is no other way to survive."
  • This one might actually address what the true situation is about people wanting to carry loaded guns in public- options-No, what he's saying is that we want the OPTION to use force. Sometimes crawling away might be the safest method, and sometimes not. There is no hard and fast rule for these kinds of things, it depends on the situation. If you aren't armed, your only option is to cower and try to run, which might work out great if they're not focused on you and there is an exit nearby. Otherwise you're at the attacker's mercy."
And then we went from the "sublime to the ridiculous" (a phrase my now deceased mother used frequently) :
  • "Every person there, that was legally ABLE to carry, made a choice to be unarmed that day. That's THEIR choice. Once the shooting started what happened was decided for them because they gave up the ability to have a say in it. They bear the consequences of that choice. If I was IN the restaurant and could not escape, then I would engage, If I was across the street, then that is where I would have dialed 911 from. It's not about bravery. It's about the simple fact that my family and friend come first and we all know that gunfights don't always go to the good guys. Why should I risk leaving my family without a father to save people that choose to be unarmed when that is why we have police and 911? You worry that permit holders are itching for a fight. We are not. We simply have more options to save OUR lives than other people."
  • Isn't this what you wanted though? I don't think any of us are eager to shoot at someone unless it's necessary and we're sure we can do so with safety. What happened to us going 'shoot first, ask questions later'? I wasn't there at the IHOP, but unless there's other facts to go by I'm going to assume he made the right decision for himself. Look what happened with the Loughner shooting too. Zamudio arrived at the scene with his gun still holstered and made the correct decision not to shoot, and the media goes 'he almost shot innocent bystanders!'. He never even drew his weapon, and they made it sound like a bad thing when he had exercised restraint. It's damned if we do, damned if we don't."
  • I carry to protect my family and myself in that order. Beyond that, no. If I was a half block away and saw you being mugged I would call 911 on my cell phone but my gun would stay in my holster. Why? Because if I pull my weapon I will do so to shoot someone. When I shoot someone, even if it is justified I am going to be arrested, I am going to have my weapon confiscated and I am going to have my case taken before a grand jury. This is going to cost me between 6 and 10 thousand dollars. My family is worth that. You aren't. I ain't John Wayne, he died."
  • There are 2 ways to handle your personal security.
    #1) Rely on the police
    #2) Rely on yourself.
    In the Ihop, and the Tucson shootings, there is a recurring theme. The people who chose #1, died. The people who chose #2, lived"
  • And I do love this one. Suddenly it's my idea that carrying loaded guns in public is to save the day. " What we have told you, over and over, is that those of us who carry do so to protect ourselves and our families. We have no other responsibilities, and do not imagine ourselves to be police to save the day. THAT particular idea is your spin, not ours."
  • No, I think that is how you want to interpret what they are saying. If someone had had a gun in the IHOP they could have fought back and might have won. If someone has a gun during any mass shooting they have a chance to shoot back just like Jeanie Assam. I don't recall anyone telling you that having a CHL makes you part of the police auxilary. If I was in IHOP and someone was shooting up the place I would shoot him to save me and mine. If I was across the parking lot like in Carson City, then that is what cell phones are for. I can't speak for anyone but me but I carry to protect me and mine and I think if you look back through my replies to your posts I have said the same thing before."
  • People being shot at have a direct threat, and a good reason to shoot back. Bystanders, across the street for instance, SHOULD call 911. They might choose to step in, but that shouldn't be plan A."
  • The key to reacting in time in a situation like this is not necessarily to have a gun, but to have mentally prepared a reaction so that you don't freeze up. You can observe the freeze up happening in the video of the Florida school board shooting. when that guy pulled his gun, only one person did anything, she hit the deck and crawled away from danger. Everyone else froze. They couldn't believe it was happening. It's a perfectly normal human reaction, which is why police and military train so much to condition their minds to function in such a stressful circumstance.
    We carry guns to address threats to our own lives. The life of every single person in that IHOP was in danger from that gunman, so even one person acting in self defense would have a benefit of saving everyone else's life as well. That's not the same as a concealed carrier swooping in to save the day. Most people would probably have the same reaction as the other restaurant owner, act to protect yourself and your family, and get away at the first opportunity.
    The police have a duty to go confront the mass killer, the concealed carrier only has a duty to protect himself, which has the added effect of protecting everyone else, if they succeed. If you really wish to understand the difference you should attend a concealed carry class, or read In The Gravest Extreme by Massad Ayoob.... "
  • And last, this one- If only someone at that IHOP would have thought about getting shot up while eating breakfast on that particular day ( requiring some sort of clairvoyance) , they could have had their gun at the ready to protect themselves better:It's better to be able to fight back. That lady at the Florida school board could have easily been shot as she cleared the edge of the desk. If someone at the IHOP had thought of this type of situation beforehand, they would have had plenty of time to have their gun out and shoot the crazy man as soon as he walked in the door. They would be acting with pure self preservation in mind, but they would save the life of everyone in the restaurant, as well as their own, by eliminating the threat. "
And so, dear readers, I have argued that someone with a loaded gun in a public place will not be able to save the day to protect themselves or others for some of the very reasons expressed in the comments above. I mean, the shooter might have an overwhelming arsenal making your pistol ineffective; people freeze up and can't believe it's happening; this is a perfectly normal human reaction; the police are actually trained to deal with situations like this and permit holders are not necessarily, etc. etc. It is amusing to watch these folks turn themselves into pretzels to argue with common sense and then say common sense things themselves. If only our elected leaders would realize how disengenuous these arguments are. As Thomasson says above:" What those loyal members of the NRA seem unaware of -- if they really care at all -- is that Wayne and his boys really are shilling for the nation's arms manufacturers, spending millions upon millions of their members' dues greasing the palms of congressmen with campaign donations to do their bidding. And, boy, are they good at it! There's hardly a lawmaker on either side of the aisle in both houses of the national legislature brave enough to take them on. The ATF can't even get a permanent director confirmed by the Senate. That probably would be true even if the nominee had the NRA's quick draw seal of approval. Even the White House is cowed."


  1. What the man who might have been a hero did is follow an instinct that nine out of ten other persons in his shoes would.

    So what you are saying is there should have been 9 more people with guns there so one could stop the shooter?

  2. odd you would think that at #30 with a BUNCH of blue above them the NRA would have less pull with at least the Democrat party.


  3. Phony balonies. First they give us all that macho wanna-be tough-guy talk then make lengthy excuses for the guy who decides not to save the day.

    The fact that sticks in their craw is that a gun is very unlikely to help and much more likely to be MISused in some way. That makes them guilty of having made a bad decision in the first place, and nobody likes to admit that.

    Upon further examination it's clear their wrong decision about guns was fear-driven. This is doubly embarrassing.

    Poor gun-rights advocates.

  4. japete, you conclude with a quote of gun-control dogma that's bogus:

    "What those loyal members of the NRA seem unaware of -- if they really care at all -- is that Wayne and his boys really are shilling for the nation's arms manufacturers"

    As usual, a statement without fact. The loyal members of the NRA are well aware that the NRA is carrying out the wishes of the loyal members of the NRA.

    Those gunowner advocates (such as the gun rights bloggers you know) who are most active in the gun issue and the NRA...

    ...devote much time directing the NRA to do what THEY want -- and most of the time that's what the NRA does, sometimes not aligned with the preferences of "the nation's arms manufacturers."

    japete, blogging and debating should have shown you that -- but I supposes dogma is dogma.

  5. @MikeB302000:
    When have we ever put up "macho wanna-be tough guy talk"? What's been said, over and over, by many commentors, is that we carry to protect ourselves and our families. If, while performing that duty to ourselves and our families, other lives are made safer, that's a Good Thing. Nobody here WANTS to get into a fight or face violence, but we want to have the tools to counter it IF we do. You don't have to go looking for violence for it to find you. Just ask the soldiers in the Carson City IHOP.

    To draw another analogy, if a member of your family was choking, or collapsed clutching their chest, or was bleeding profusely, would you know what to do? Did you take a First Aid or CPR class? If so, why would you do that, if you could just call 911 and have someone else take care of it? It'll only take them 5-30 minutes to arrive if you're in town; I'm sure your choking child will be OK without oxygen that long. (japete, you didn't ever look up the "CPR Corollary," did you?)

    Why do you keep a fire extinguisher, if you don't ever want to have a fire in your house?

    Why do you wear seat belts, if you don't want to get into a car accident?

    Why do you wear a life jacket on a boat, if you know how to swim?

    Preparedness is a choice, and has many facets. Nobody WANTS the unthinkable to happen, but sometimes it does anyway.

  6. "If only someone at that IHOP would have thought about getting shot up while eating breakfast on that particular day ( requiring some sort of clairvoyance) , they could have had their gun at the ready to protect themselves better:"

    Would you prefer that someone who carries a weapon in public never ever thinks about any scenarios where they have to defend themselves? That they just buy a gun, mount it on their belt, and then never think about it again? How responsible would that be?

    How effective would it be to carry a gun, but leave it in your car because surely nothing bad could ever happen in an IHOP, or the bank, or the grocery store, or the Trolley Square mall, or Virginia Tech, or New Life Church? And then one day, against all odds, a guy walks in and starts shooting people, and your weapon is a half mile away in your car. Woops. Maybe someone else around you has their weapon and will come save you.

    Also, a concealed carrier across the street is in a much different position than someone who is cornered by the shooter inside the IHOP. Our comments about Virginia Tech are not, "If only someone on the other side of campus had a gun, they could have come running, jumped through a window and saved the day."

    The line is usually, "If any of those 30 murdered students had been carrying a gun that day, then they would have been able to stop the lunatic." There is a difference between flying in for the rescue and fighting off someone who has backed you into a corner.
    It's a difference that you seem to be unwilling to acknowledge.

  7. "When have we ever put up "macho wanna-be tough guy talk"? What's been said, over and over, by many commentors, is that we carry to protect ourselves and our families."

    One of MikeB302000's hobbies is building strawmen, when he's not busy making mountains out of molehills, that is.

  8. Of course, we all understand that those words are your opinion, RuffRidr.

  9. "And so, dear readers, I have argued that someone with a loaded gun in a public place will not be able to save the day to protect themselves or others for some of the very reasons expressed in the comments above."

    That blanket statement is not so. All of that is true if you replace the 'will' with a 'may.' The firearm may help help you save yourself or others near by. It may not.

    Having firearm gives you options that may, or may not, save your life when faced with deadly violent peril.


    P.S. No, a pistol is not going to help the peril associated with driving in bad weather, but we all know this.

  10. "...a loaded gun in a public place will not, in most cases, save the day."

    People who carry loaded guns are aware of this. But they carry their guns as a precautionary measure for the few cases where it WILL save the day. And they train to recognize the difference between those two types of situations.