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, October 25, 2011

Gun extremists afraid of Occupy Wall Street

Cross posted at Media Matters Gun Facts

The inevitable has happened. A man with a license to carry his gun was arrested in Oregon after taking a video of the group at the Occupy Portland venue. An argument ensued with the folks at the "occupy" movement and the man flashed his gun. This was inevitable. With the extreme right wing nuts making provocative statements about the folks involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, it was just a matter of time before a gun rights extremist would claim to be threatened by the group. These folks are afraid of the people who are, for the most part, peacefully gathered in cities all over this country. The group does not have people carrying guns around.

Remember the tea party movement at it's height in the summer of 2009? You can look here, here, herehere, and here to see photos and signs of and references to guns and gun carrying during the Tea Party demonstrations. A simple Google search reveals a myriad of photos and articles.  Check out the video in this article of Congressman Cleaver being spit upon by a tea partier. This was one angry crowd. Does anyone remember the angry taunts and rants and the ugly signs then? Did Fox news criticize those folks?

To continue with the discussion about the use of guns in public political debates and protests, the right wing's own Andrew Breitbart seemed to be bating the groups from the liberal side in this article and video. Can you say this?
Bring it on. Because I know who’s on our side. They can only win a rhetorical and propaganda war. They cannot win. We outnumber them in this country, and we have the guns. (laughter) I’m not kidding. They talk a mean game, but they will not cross that line because they know what they’re dealing with.
And I have people who come up to me in the military, major named people in the military, who grab me and they go, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing, we’ve got your back.’
They understand that. These are the unspoken things we know, they know. They know who’s on their side, they’ve got Janeane Garofalo, we are freaked out by that. When push comes to shove, they know who’s on our side. They are the bullies on the playground, and they’re starting to realize, what if we were to fight back, what if we were to slap back? 
So is that what this Second Amendment rally meant in the spring of 2010? And from this article in Human Events, a conservative magazine, rally organizer Skip Coryell wrote:
Without the right to keep and bear arms, we revert to humanity’s default state of “law of the jungle”, where only the strong survive, where the big rule the small, and where the weak die in a puddle of blood, flesh and urine. We need the firearm and the freedom to use it or our children will live in a binary world of masters and slaves, with no check on immorality, no governor to hold the strong accountable, and no way to protect the weak from the strong.
My question to everyone reading this article is this: "For you, as an individual, when do you draw your saber? When do you say "Yes, I am willing to rise up and overthrow an oppressive, totalitarian government?"
Is it when the government takes away your private business?
Is it when the government rigs elections?
Is it when the government imposes martial law?
Is it when the government takes away your firearms?
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating the immediate use of force against the government. It isn't time, and hopefully that time will never come. But one thing is certain: "Now is the time to rattle your sabers." If not now, then when?
... I understand that sounds harsh, but these are harsh times. ...
I hear the clank of metal on metal getting closer, but that's not enough. The politicians have to hear it too. They have to hear it, and they have to believe it.
Come and support me at the Second Amendment March on April 19th on the Washington Monument grounds. Let's rattle some sabers and show the government we're still here.
It's clear to me what these writings mean. Being armed makes you ready to "rattle those sabers" against the lawfully elected government. Get ready for the insurrection. It's coming. And further, not only are these far right extremists prepared to use their guns against the government but possibly against selected groups who they fear. The radical talk from the gun guys includes ridding our country of any gun laws so the guys with the guns can make the rules. This article by Adam Winkler exposes the intent of politicians and gun rights extremists alike here:
Despite gussying up their arguments in the language of federalism and states’ rights, these laws are intended to eliminate gun control. Advocates have no intention of pushing state legislatures to require background checks. And the impact of these laws, if upheld, would be far broader than background checks. Federal bans on the possession of firearms by drug users and domestic batterers could also be undermined, as would basic gun dealer record-keeping laws used to solve gang crime.
Now a major player in the Tea Party, Pratt is also usually credited with starting the crazed patriot militia movement in the 1990s. Although the militias lost their luster after one of their supporters, Timothy McVeigh, bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, they’re seeing a comeback under the Obama Administration—despite the fact that the President has shown no interest in new, restrictive gun laws. Obama has actually loosened rules on guns in national parks and on Amtrak, disappointing activists in his party and earning the President an “F” rating from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In the world of the Tea Party, however, facts don’t matter. They seem to know for certain that Obama is coming to get their guns.
From Winkler in the linked article: " The Tea Party candidates want Americans to believe they’re only interested in economics or federalism. Make no mistake: when it comes to guns, they’re talking about a revolution." Is that what this new talk about the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about?  I believe common sense may not prevail if that is the intent of those on the far right claiming to be afraid of the Occupy movements. Questions need to be asked.

So what are we to think of guns drawn against Occupy participants such as what happened in Portland, Oregon?  One of my commenters said this recently in response to the incident in Portland (linked above):
Given the way the law is usually written, these days, showing a gun as a way of discouraging unwanted attention is generally a bad idea. He'd have been better off, legally, had he waited for them to attempt to assault him, and then to shoot them in the attempt.
And then this when I challenged him about what he meant by the comment:
And in most states, any use of a firearm is considered to be a threat of deadly force. So while shooting someone who is attacking you is legal, pointing a gun at someone in order to convince him not to attack you is not. The first is justified self defense, the second is aggravated assault.
I agree it makes no sense, but it is the state of the law, right now. Which is why carry instructors are pretty much unanimous on teaching that you should only draw when you intend to shoot.
So yes. He was legally in the wrong, in displaying his gun in response to a threat.
He'd have been in a better legal position if he'd waited until they'd decided to act, and then shot them. 
"If he'd waited until they'd decided to act, and then shot them"... This statement should give us pause. Another comment, in regards to some of the above comments:
...Yes, I do live with the restrictions. Some, like background checks, I can agree with. Others I'm against: registration, bans on cosmetic features or normal-capacity magazines (and probably not for the reasons you think). But they are the law of the land, so I must abide by them until they can be changed. The lovely thing about our system of government is that the laws can be changed by the will of the People, within the limits of the Constitution. 
And believe it or not, I don't hate the government. They do have a valid purpose, and I agree with you that part of that purpose is to ensure public safety. However, judging by the budget and staffing cuts most police and fire departments are undergoing, public safety is a much lower priority than it should be. With fewer officers patrolling or "on-call," it's increasingly up to us as citizens to protect ourselves, our families, and our property; to look out for our neighbors and communities; and to uphold public safety (I'll expand on that if you like, but it's beyond the scope of this post).
And yet another: " He's said absolutely nothing of the sort that would even indicate that he would take this sort of action. The same use of force laws apply in a protest as they do in other circumstances."

So I leave it to my readers to interpret what these comments are all about. Can a person with a gun bate another to get them to "act" in order then to shoot them? Should we believe that cuts to police officers should be cause for more citizens to get guns to use in self defense because with fewer police officers, you won't be safe? Is it possible that cuts to police officers are purposeful in order for the guys with the guns to have an excuse to use them for self defense in the absence of law enforcement? I think the question should be asked. You can read my comments and questions on the blog site here.

So, back to the Occupy movement, check out this video exchange between Fox News' John Stossel and  Bill O'Reilly, who also made the claim that the Occupy groups are druggies. Casting aspersions only hypes up the fear and paranoia about these people. From the linked article:
Let me set the record straight on drugs, because the right wing media's descriptions of Occupy Wall Street are both distortions and distractions, drawing attention away from the desperately real and pressing challenges that all Americans face today.
As for "crackhead drug users and dealers," if Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and other commentators who have demonized OWS by characterizing it as a drug fest are genuinely troubled about drug use they should round up a posse of their compatriots and join the police in a raid on Wall Street firms. It's been well known for decades that the Wall Street folks are among the biggest users and abusers of illegal substances and prescription drugs. And there are solid facts and sources to confirm this.
Here is some interesting data from Douglas Schoen, so-called Democratic pollster, about the Occupy group. Regarding the use of force against the group, here is what Schoen found.
There are differences along political lines over force being used to end the protests. Democrats say no force by a 70% to 9% margin with 21% not having an opinion. Independents are also firmly against force with 69% saying no versus 18% saying yes. Thirteen percent of Independents did not have an opinion.
Republicans were opposed to using force, but by a narrow margin. Forty-two percent said not to use force but 37% thought force should be used to break up the demonstrations. Twenty-one percent of Republicans did not offer an opinion.
As to the Occupy group themselves, Schoen found that 31%, when asked, said they would use force if necessary to achieve their goals. That is not reassuring to those who fear that the group could become violent. And why did he even ask the question in the first place? But what O'Reilly says at 2:13 of the video is that "31% of them would use force to take your stuff." Force should not be condoned by anyone during these volatile times in our country and/or at Tea Party rallies or Occupy Wall Street events. I would suggest, however, that the Occupy Wall Street folks would not actually resort to forceful means and they won't be coming to get your stuff in your homes any time soon. That is an interpretation of the data meant to ramp up the fear of the group as a whole and a disingenuous and false assertion by O'Reilly.

And then Rush Limbaugh and other in the right wing media, as usual, are screaming nutty and frightening statements. They may just encourage people to act on their fears. And that would be a tragedy.

And with all of this going on, with our political atmosphere as charged as it is now, here is what the gun rights extremists in California think will make a point. They say their point is that they can legally carry their unloaded long guns in public and they're mad that California just banned the open carry of unloaded handguns in public. So to prove some stupid and dangerous point, they have decided to carry their long guns. Cute. The general public just plain does not want guns carried around in public. This show of disrespect for public safety and their own community is wrong headed. Where is common sense? Guns and politics are not a good mix.

In the end, this article may describe how things are today as opposed to how they were yesterday or during the Revolutionary War where many in the gun rights and tea party groups still seem to reside:
Today’s uprisings don’t require guns – they require brains. They don’t call for violence – they call for the massive organization that exists in this age of instantaneous communication.
This is no longer the 18th century. The British aren’t coming except to spend a nice holiday at the beach. If you want lower taxes, elect representatives who will vote your point of view. If you think government is too big, choose a president who will reduce the size.
Get active and organized if you like– that’s the American way.
But please, put down the guns already. Wal-Mart will manage to find some other way to make lots of money without having to sell you all that ammunition.
Put down the guns because it’s time to face reality –  violent revolution is just so yesterday.
Remember this going forward as we observe the Occupy movement and make inevitable comparisons to the recent Tea Party rallies. Time will tell how this will turn out. But I am hoping for common sense all the way around.

(This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program. The fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.)


  1. You dismiss that some occupiers say that violence may be an option, but what if you found out some of those sympathetic to the occupy movement, or attending the rallies were gun owners? (some of them are.)

  2. I'm sure some of them are gun owners. What's your point?

  3. You dismiss the fact that 31% responded they would resort to violent means if necessary. I'm not here to debate if that is right or wrong, or the validity of the claim, but to brush it off while going into hysterics whenever someone you disagree with alludes to the use of force even in self defense confounds me.

    In political movements such as these, no matter what side of the political spectrum it originates from, there are some who are involved because they want to change things, and some that are just there for the violence. And yes, sometimes violence is necessary to bring about change, but I don't think we are at that point, nor do I ever want us to reach that point.

    But to dismiss actions and words from one side, while chastising the same actions and words from the other side makes it difficult for you to be taken seriously.

    I've been an observer since the beginning of the whole Occupy movement, and both sides are thoroughly nauseating me.

  4. I am not dismissing it. I would not be happy if the Occupy Wall Street movement actually turned violent. I found it interesting that the Hennepin County Sheriff's office( Minneapolis) found a box of bricks with a note that they should be used for a riot ( or something to that affect). It turns out that it was left by someone not involved with the movement who was trying to make trouble. That was my point. But if any of the folks in the Occupy movement become violent themselves, they will lose any support they have and the momentum of their message. The Tea Party didn't seem to take a lot of criticism when they carried their signs with violent and repugnant photos and words. Nor did people pay as much attention as they should have, in my opinion, to people carrying guns at those tea party rallies. So far, we have not seen that at the Occupy rallies. Time will tell.

  5. "And further, not only are these far right extremists prepared to use their guns against the government but possibly against selected groups who they fear. "

    Do you have any proof of the "possibly against selected groups" part of your statement?

    What group could we possibly fear? The OWS people? The core of them will leave after the first frost or the free soup goes away, so no there is nothing to fear from them. Half of them can't even explain why they are there. I do see that they have picked up endorsements from The American Nazi party , The American Communist Party and SEIU so I suppose the real worry would be that they are infiltrated by people that are not afraid to cause trouble, but that would require "them" initiating violence. I'm with you. I don't think they have it in them and the police can deal with anyone that crosses the line.

    Really, I can't think of a single group that I fear beyond our local drug gangs and I try to not go where they are. The only group that even registers on my "dislike enough to care" scale is the Westboro Baptist mutts that protest at soldiers funerals and ever there my real reaction is disgust, not fear..

    We generally believe that the INITIATION of violence is evil so I really can't imagine what a group could do peacefully and on public property that would cause me to be so fearful as to think that personal, preemptive violence would be justified.

    So what groups are you thinking of?

  6. Why do you have to ask? My words in the post are what I mean. The anecdotes speak for themselves.

  7. This one is not about violence, but shows the misrepresentation of the Occupy groups that leads to ramping up the fears of the group-
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-green/the-right-wing-attempt-to_b_1030562.html and from this one: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/66764.html
    " “Glenn Beck was right: Says Leading Occupy Activist: #Occupy Wall Street Wants Revolution,” and “Timothy McVeigh Smiling Up at #OccupyWall St Protestors,”

    and this one- http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2011/oct/23/conservative-tea-party-humans-vs-leftist-occupy-wa/- Savages?? Really? " The protesters by and large are Communists, Socialists, anarchists, environmental activists, animal rights activists, and other leftist basket cases using the guise of Wall Street to further their agenda." and then this one, " This is a dangerous movement. Violence has broken out all over the place as these leftists try to turn America into Greece and London. Wisconsin was a taste of the destruction they desire. Now we see the whole enchilada. Several hundred protesters have been arrested, and the number is rising. Vandalism is out of control." And finally, " There is no Constitutional right to violent protest. The sooner the fire hoses, tear gas, and billy clubs are dispensed on these leftist loons, the sooner America can get back to being about capitalism, freedom and liberty, with a new leader who truly brings people together rather than using his office to pit us all against each other as America gets ripped asunder."
    And these are just a few examples of what the far right is saying to ramp up the rhetoric against the Occupy movement. It might not be you personally, 18 Echo, but there are people who are encouraging violence against the group.

  8. Ok. I see, just the OWS people. You had me worried that there was a "list" that I should know about and wasn't in the loop..

    Truly, the OWS people barely make it to "minor annoyance" If they spent half as much time "Occupying a JOB" instead of Wall Street, they might figure out why there isn't much of a counter protest. We are too busy paying the police, fire and sanitation workers to clean up after them. A lot of these people are my kids age or a little older. All I can think of is that we 'parents' are still cleaning up after them while they throw tantrums.

    That's why I said they won't last past the first frost. They don't have the outdoor skills to go much beyond that and also why the original people are more amusing than threat. I do worry about infiltrators though, hijacking their gathering. Like the Anarchy folks..

    Say what you want about the Tea Party, but they were a fastidious bunch that left a place cleaner than they found it. Not so much for these kids.

    To the guy that wants to turn the fire hoses on them I'd suggest he wait until they leave, THEN use the hose. Perhaps toss in some bleach and some soap while he's at it.

  9. Insulting and unnecessary 18 Echo. We disagree.

  10. Here's an interesting article about police treatment of the Occupy movement. http://www.nationofchange.org/police-state-targets-occupy-movements-1319549762

  11. Pro-gun extremists fear peaceful protest, whether on Wall Street, or Egypt, or peace marches. Like a bully on the playground, they ridicule and mock those who don't share their violent leanings, but secretly fear that peaceful activists will succeed, since success would mean that violence *isn't* the way to get what they want. Pro-gun extremists are already on the fringes of our culture. Every peaceful resolution pushes them further to the fringe.

  12. "So far, we have not seen that at the Occupy rallies. Time will tell."

    Well time did tell. Oh no guns show up to support the occupy protesters in Phoenix!


  13. Anthony, Anthony- you have to be kidding me. These are your guys showing up at an Occupy rally. Listen to them spout the NRA rhetoric. I suppose guys like this in uniform with their guns are going to show up at the rallies now to make a point. I remind you- they are not part of the Occupy group. They are citizens who thought they'd show up to talk about their second amendment rights. I wonder why you sent me this? It only makes my point, not yours. But thanks for the heads up. Now I know what your side is up to.

  14. Not good enough. Even though I think the guy was there to support protesters.

    You must have not looked very hard

    Segal is one of the Occupiers who has brought guns to meetings, a matter of much debate within the group. (New Hampshire laws allow gun owners to openly carry firearms.) On Monday Segal's black Bersa Thunder 380 handgun stuck out against his gray Old Navy sweatshirt, khaki pants, a scuffed white sneakers.

    From here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/occupy-new-hampshire_n_1030047.html

  15. Well this cleas things up a but the guy in question is not a Tea party member but a NEO-NAZI as you may know the American Nazi party has backed the Occupy protesters so He is on their side like it or not.


  16. You are wrong, Anthony. Segal brought a gun in New Hampshire and it sounds like it has been controversial for the occupy group there. Is he really all about what they are there for? It sounds like the occupy group is attracting some nuts who don't really believe in the initial cause but are there to express their own beefs about all kinds of things. It could turn interesting all right. At least the occupy folks didn't just accept Segal without wondering if it was a good idea as opposed to the tea party rallies where it seemed to be accepted by the group.

  17. Yes, Anthony. I already know about J.T Ready and his neo-Nazi crazy ideas. he is an extremist and is not supporting the occupy rally. Don't get him mixed up with the folks who are there for the original purpose. Neo-Nazis supporting Occupy rallies? You guys are good.

  18. The neo-Nazi in the video is also a tea party member, Anthony.