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, October 15, 2011

Standing up to the NRA

The new Wisconsin gun permit law is changing by the minute. Here is the latest challenge to common sense. Governor Walker has decided that maybe it is a good idea after all to require some training for people who want to carry loaded guns around in public. The NRA disagreed with this idea ( see my post from yesterday- "In My Neck of the Woods" for more information.
"The rules have created an unusual schism between some Wisconsin Republicans and the NRA, a powerful lobbying force and a staunch GOP ally. The gun group has argued that Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen overstepped his authority by inserting mandates in the rules that people take at least four hours of training and get instructors' signatures on completion certificates - requirements that weren't included in the legislation.
Sensitive to the NRA's might, Walker issued a statement saying he had to approve the rules so that concealed carry can begin on Nov. 1. But he told DOJ he wants to see changes in the permanent regulations."
Will Walker equivocate later and give in or will common sense prevail? Of course the Governor is under some different pressures since there will be a recall effort starting in November. Maybe he is figuring that adding no training requirements for gun permit holders would not sit well with the majority, as it doesn't, of course. The NRA has different priorities- that would be freedom over responsibility- whatever the word freedom means in this context. It is thrown around as if it is a conversation stopper by the far right gun extremists.
"Make no mistake," Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's legislative arm, wrote in a letter to Van Hollen last week, "the final law was meant to enact a broad and accessible right to carry for responsible, peaceable persons within the state, with a presumption of freedom, rather than of extensive regulation."
I hope all of those "responsible, peacable persons" with only four hours of training will keep their guns in their holsters in public places.  But we wouldn't want to alienate the 2%ers after all.
The governor can't officially demand changes in agency rules, but the rules committee can. Republicans control the committee, but it's unclear whether they'll seek changes in light of the NRA's complaints and Walker's displeasure and, if so, if they would wait until after the law takes effect before making a move. Any delay that pushes rule approval past Nov. 1 likely would alienate gun supporters, who have been waiting years to be able to legally carry concealed firearms.
Closer to home for me, the campuses in and near Superior, Wisconsin have taken a stand as well. They don't want concealed firearms in college dorms and sporting events.
“The university can prohibit firearms from being brought into their buildings, but they cannot prohibit them from being brought into parking lots and left in cars,” he said. “They might get their car broken into and the gun could be stolen.” 
The new law also will affect private colleges. In Ashland, Northland College spokesman David Wahlberg said he is concerned that concealed firearms would be a major distraction in the classroom.
“If our focus is going to be on the quality of education, we want to keep that focus on those activities. The presence of concealed weapons hasn’t been connected with improvements in student outcomes. We don’t see a reason to permit concealed weapons in classrooms.”
Wahlberg said they will be putting up signs at Northland College at all building entrances.


  1. japete writes:
    "The gun group has argued that Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen overstepped his authority by inserting mandates in the rules that people take at least four hours of training and get instructors' signatures on completion certificates - requirements that weren't included in the legislation."

    I think there's a valid complaint here that the AG has overstepped the bounds of the legislation by adding additional requirements above and beyond what was spelled out in the legislation.

    Wisconsin has a clear training requirement that is outlined in the statute. I'm certainly not arguing that the training requirements should be waived or eliminated.

    That said, I much prefer Minnesota's approach, which outlines the minimum topical areas that must be covered - provides for certification of training associations that meet that criteria with their curriculum by the BCA, and generally bans the sort of overreach that appears to be going on in Wisconsin.

    A good Minnesota permit class will take 5-7 hours, depending upon the size of the class, and the length of the live-fire portion of the class.

    As far as the college issue goes, I think again the Minnesota law takes the better approach. Universities and colleges can prohibit carry by students and faculty staff under their roles - but public universities and colleges, operated by a branch of government, cannot ban carry by the general public.

    On a related note, I'm not sure there's any statistical evidence that shows that states with more rigid training requirements (like MN) have any difference in negligent behavior, negligent discharges, or illegal use of force than states (like Indiana, for example) that have less stringent training requirements.


  2. I believe that requiring training is redundant in most cases. I don't care for the requirement, but I won't argue against it. My state requires the class, but has no live-fire training requirement. I wouldn't carry without live-fire training and neither would anyone I know, but that's our personal common sense talking, not the law. The responsibility is too important to not take seriously.

    I also believe that requiring a certain number of hours of training (i.e. four hours under the proposes WI amendment you wrote about) is significantly less important than demonstrating an understanding of the law and competence in carrying, drawing, and firing a defensive handgun. I've gone shooting with people who can't hit anything, despite hours of practice. Thankfully, they don't carry, and I wouldn't either unless I were utterly confident I could hit my target if needed. That takes live-fire training, and a prayer to God that it's never needed.

    My opinion (and you can call it that) on colleges and universities is this: they need to follow the laws of their state. Around here we have a state preemption, which means only governing bodies authorized by the state legislature can pass laws restricting firearms. Colleges and universities are not on the list, and still it took a lawsuit to decide that licensed adult students should be allowed to carry on campus. You might argue that this lawsuit opens the door to trivial shootings and violence, but so far the only shootings here on any campus - college or not - have been by people who couldn't get a permit, and in most cases couldn't legally get a firearm. Legal concealed carry on campus has not been and will not be a problem.

    May Peace favor you.

  3. Thanks, Archer. And, of course, there is absolutely no evidence to show that an armed "legal" permit holder would inevitably stop a school shooter. In fact without any evidence one way or the other, most colleges do not want their students carrying guns around their peers in dorms and in classes. Alcohol, drugs, stress over academic success, mental illness, etc. can lead to a student using a gun illegally or in suicide, which, in fact, takes more lives than homicide in this country- by gun that is. Students and guns don't mix well; alcohol and guns don't mix well; drug use and guns don't mix well; emotional and mental problems don't mix well; excess stress and anger and guns don't mix well- better not to have them on campus. They are unlikely to stop a school shooter and may even lead to confusion as to who is the original attacker. One would have to assume that a legal gun carrier is in the right class at the right time. Since only 2-3% of folks even carry guns in this country that is a tall order. Campus security and police are trained to handle these situations. Ordinary citizens are not. Students have a lot of other things on their minds. They don't need to add guns to the mix.

  4. "[O]f course, there is absolutely no evidence to show that an armed "legal" permit holder would inevitably stop a school shooter."

    I agree, but then again, it's only recently been recognized that adult student permit holders are allowed to carry. Therefore it follows that there's no evidence they won't be able to stop a school shooter. It's not been tried before. I'd argue that disarming students and faculty has been tried, and we've seen how that turns out.

    I also agree with you that college students have a lot on their minds, but when I say "adult student," that's what I mean. Not the 18-year-old freshman. Actual adults. The lawsuit I mentioned was brought on behalf of a 30-year-old student, an ex-Marine with a carry permit.

    Sure, it's unlikely that 2-3% will be in the right place at the right time to stop a tragedy, but they still need to be allowed the choice. Saying that they shouldn't be allowed the choice because they probably wouldn't be able to help is the same as saying I'm not allowed to learn CPR because I probably won't be there when someone collapses. It's missing the point. When "official" first responders aren't available, the People are their own first responders, and need to be allowed the tools to fill that role if we so choose. It's a big responsibility, but we're adults, we can handle it.

    May Peace favor you.

  5. No Archer, that is not saying the same thing. Guns are inherently more dangerous when someone is carrying one than someone who can administer CPR. Wrong comparison.

  6. "Guns are inherently more dangerous when someone is carrying one than someone who can administer CPR. Wrong comparison."

    Only if the person is trained in CPR. Otherwise they can be just as deadly trying to "help"

    You argue that, since there is no promise that someone WILL be in the right class room at the right time, and that there is no evidence that it would help, that it should not be allowed.

    To me, this is a circular argument. It has not been allowed in the past so, of course, there is no evidence that it would help. Anything either side says about the future is just conjecture.

    All we can look at is the PAST and ask. "How is being unarmed working out for the students when they are attacked?" "How fast is the typical police response and what, if any, difference does it make in the outcome?" and then ask if it makes sense to try something different.

    I think Archer is right when he says "Not the 18-year-old freshman. Actual adults."

    The Adults (that happen to be students) are presumably already carrying everywhere else in their life EXCEPT at school. At the local WalMart etc. Before we condemn the idea of them being allowed to ALSO carry at school doesn't it make sense to ask if they are a danger everywhere else they carry?

    Yes or no, it seems to me that that is the only valid predictor of the day to day threat they pose on campus. It's not like they turn into different people when they step across the campus boundary.

  7. There is no need for 2% of people to impose their fear and paranoia on the rest of the public by carrying wherever they go. There is no evidence that it would work. We have enough evidence to show that carrying a gun or even having one in the home has not led to fewer gun deaths and has, in fact contributed to more than the lives that have been saved in self defense. Schools don't want people with guns. Aren't you listening? School administrators know more about their student populations than you guys do. And yes, if you had your way, 18 year olds would be allowed to carry on campus. That was the failed law suit in Texas. It's the slippery slope. If you get to carry on campus, you will push for younger and younger people to carry. It will increase gun sales but not make people more safe on campus.

  8. I'm an instructor at a community college, and i have a concealed carry license. What are your concerns about me carrying? I've seen three or four security officers on a campus of thousands. If we're attacked, my students and I will be reduced to cowering under the desks. I'd much rather be able to respond effectively.

    You do keep pointing out that licensees represent two percent of the population. Perhaps so, but one of America's strengths is that it insists on protecting individual rights over what a majority might want to take away.

    In addition, if you accept a right of self defense, you then have to explain how that right means anything if we can't have an effective means of exercising that right. Your argument is the equivalent of saying that we have the right to express ourselves, but not to own a computer and Internet connection.

  9. Except that, in several situations, adults with firearms HAVE stopped a school shooting. Appalachian School of Law, Pearl High School is another.

  10. Except that no one stopped the Pearl High School shooting-" However, assistant principal Joel Myrick had retrieved a .45 pistol from the glove compartment of his truck and subdued Woodham inside his mother's car. " It was only after Woodham had already shot and killed 2 and wounded 7 that someone finally was able to stop him.

    Except that no one stopped the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law before or during the incident. " When Odighizuwa left the building where the shooting took place, he was approached by two students with personal firearms[4] and one unarmed student.[5] There are two versions of the events that transpired at that moment, one by Tracy Bridges and one by Ted Besen.
    According to Bridges: at the first sound of gunfire, he and fellow student Mikael Gross, unbeknownst to each other, ran to their vehicles to retrieve their personally-owned firearms[6] placed in their glove compartments. Mikael Gross, a police officer from Grifton, North Carolina retrieved a 9 mm pistol and body armor.[7] Bridges, a county sheriff's deputy from Asheville, North Carolina[8] retrieved his .357 Magnum pistol from beneath the driver's seat of his Chevrolet Tahoe.[9] Bridges and Gross approached Odighizuwa from different angles, with Bridges yelling at Odighizuwa to drop his gun.[10] Odighizuwa then dropped his firearm and was subdued by several other unarmed students, including Ted Besen and Todd Ross.[11]
    According to Besen: Before Odighizuwa saw Bridges and Gross with their weapons, Odighizuwa set down his gun and raised his arms like he was mocking people.[12] Besen, a former Marine and police officer in Wilmington, North Carolina, engaged in a physical confrontation with Odighizuwa, and knocked him to the ground. Bridges and Gross then arrived with their guns once Odighizuwa was tackled.[5] Additional witnesses at the scene stated they did not see Bridges or Gross with their guns at the time Besen started subduing Odighizuwa.[13] Once Odighizuwa was securely held down, Gross went back to his vehicle and retrieved handcuffs to detain Odighizuwa until police could arrive.
    Police reports later noted that two empty eight round magazines designed for Odighizuwa’s handgun were recovered. Most sources (including those quoting Virginia State Police spokesman Mike Stater) state that when Odighizuwa dropped the gun the magazine was empty,[14] although an initial report suggested the gun still held three rounds of ammunition.[15]" This was after 3 had been shot dead and 3 injured.

  11. Joan, you can't say they weren't stopped. You have no way of knowing how much more damage would have been done had they not been stopped by others with firearms.

  12. Sure I can. They were not stopped before they happened. That is what you guys are always telling me you need your guns for on campuses. It didn't work in these cases.

  13. No, you are misunderstanding. It is impossible to stop these things BEFORE they happen. We're not mind-readers. We can, however, defend ourselves if we are unfortunate enough to be in one of those situations. Who knows how many lives were saved in the two situations I mentioned earlier?

  14. We've gone over this ad nauseous. When you guys stop saying you need your guns to defend yourself and others in public then we can talk.

  15. "When you guys stop saying you need your guns to defend yourself and others in public then we can talk."

    When you can guarantee to us that no one will ever again face a threat of death or grievous bodily injury from another, we'll stop saying that there are people who need their guns to defend themselves or others.

  16. Please keep blogging. Your efforts are commendable.