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.
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bans on "dangerous" consumer products

Isn't it curious that there are bans on some products, and/or their use, but not on others? When it comes to guns, which we know will kill and otherwise do serious harm to people, not so much. For starters, let's take the ban on bath salts. We have come to understand that this product mimics cocaine and other illegal drugs in its' effects and has caused people to be hospitalized and even to die. In Duluth we have a large problem with bath salts sold by one particular store. There is an ongoing kerfuffle between city authorities and the store owner.

What about cameras in state Capitol buildings? In Wisconsin- cameras are not allowed, but guns? Yes. Stephen Colbert gets it right in this video about what can be so easily parodied.




Cameras have been banned in the Supreme Court. But some think they should not be.

Here are some products not banned in the U.S. but banned elsewhere:
This article takes a look at products that should not be banned but are anyway due to archaic laws or for reasons that seem questionable.

Should we ban cell phones in cars while driving? The NTSB has recommended that we do. And yet, according to this article, most people would object to this kind of interference with their personal lives. From the article, concerning dangerous things that people do anyway, in spite of risks and warnings:
Guns. About 32,000 Americans die from firearms each year, including 1,500 kids. Yet vigorous activity by the gun lobby and a laissez-faire attitude among the majority of Americans have institutionalized gun violence as a fact of life. Occasional massacres, like the Gabrielle Giffords shooting earlier this year in Tucson, in which 19 people were shot and six killed, or the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 died and 25 others were hurt, rarely lead to stricter gun laws
A little humor is sometimes a good way to approach something new. This editorial by Washington Post writer Dana Milbank explains why a ban on cell phones may not be a good idea.
So, to be evenhanded, the NTSB should also propose a ban on back-seat driving, a ban on transporting children, a ban on radios and cup holders, and a ban on GPS devices, so that we can go back to those safer times when we blocked the windshield with gas-station maps. The agency should also ban cellphone use by pedestrians, to keep them from wandering into intersections.
You can find recently recalled or banned products on the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These banned items just make common sense. Such products include girls' shoes, battery cases and glass vases. Glass vases? Yes indeed. Apparently when broken some vases can lacerate people. "One person had surgery, two got stitches." Yup. That's dangerous all right. But compared to the damage done by guns and most particularly the ones previously banned in the Assault Weapons Ban, not so much. How about high capacity magazines, the likes of which were used in the Jan. 8th shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords which also killed 6 innocent people? Nope. We can see the damage caused by such bullets whenever Giffords appears in public. Sure, even if the magazines used by Jared Loughner had only contained 15 bullets instead of 30, Giffords would still be having trouble putting words together to make sentences and not able to move her right side as she used to before she was shot. But come on. Anyone can understand that the more bullets contained in a magazine, the more people can be shot more quickly. That is why they are made. But suggesting banning them? Not so much for the gun rights extremists. They love these magazines. They can cause a lot of damage. They are needed for self defense because, after all, you never know when 10 people or so might decide to attack you in public or in your home. Or you might enjoy target practice at the range with these magazines because they are so powerful and fun. So because some people enjoy the power of shooting off this many bullets in a short amount of time, we are willing to endanger the lives of American citizens? Yup. I guess so.

There are other consumer products that are banned for good reason, such as toy guns. This article shows why it is not a good idea to have a toy gun when encountering law enforcement. And what about real guns then? Are there places where they should be banned? Yes. Places where the elected officials themselves do business for one. I really like this article written by mystery writer, Carl Hiassan about guns in the Florida capitol.  He gets it right when he says:
Upon hearing such an alarm, Capitol police should assume that a House member is facing a gun-wielding Floridian who is disgruntled, deranged or possibly both. At this point, Second Amendment concerns should be set aside and all diligent efforts should be aimed at stopping this nut job by whatever means necessary (and we’re not talking about Tasering his butt, okay?).
Also, we wish to formally inquire about the availability of body armor. Does it come with pockets?
In the Florida legislature a panic button is the answer to resolving any problems if someone carrying a gun gets teed off at an official. The public in general would not have that option of course and would have to figure out what to do if an angry voter pulls out a gun at a hearing. I know- we should all have guns then. That would solve the problem. I think guns should be required, in fact, rather than banned from places where city councils, school boards, county boards and legislators meet. Then we could have a free-for-all if gunfire erupts. It would be fun- just like the old west when people shot at each other when they had a beef. Or just like it is in America today when people shoot other people when they have a beef. More guns in public places= more shootings in public places. Why not? And the solution could become the problem. Maybe they should just go back to banning guns in the Florida Capitol. I'm just saying.....

Why would legislators think it's a good idea for armed people to roam the halls of their work place when they are deciding on controversial topics almost every day while in session? In Minnesota, people come to the capitol building openly carrying their loaded guns.
But not everyone follows the rules.
At a Tea Party rally last year, several protesters openly carried guns, saying they were unaware of the law requiring disclosure.
“It’s my constitutional right,” said one.
For many lawmakers, permit holders who follow the rules when they bring guns to the Capitol aren’t a problem: It’s the gun carriers who do not.
“What are the threats here at the Capitol?” asked Rep. Kelby Woodard, R-Belle Plaine, who is a member of the Capitol Security Committee.
Indeed. What are the threats? I am not sure if people carry because they are afraid of people like me who testify in favor of not allowing guns in all nooks and crannies. Or maybe they are afraid of the legislators who carry guns themselves, as in Minnesota we know some do.

Shootings in America are, sadly, a fact of life ( and death). And so are many other things that cause people to die or be injured. We can't stop people from engaging in activities that have been shown to be a risk to their health, well being and even public safety. But we can't just ignore the health and safety problems either.  The NTSB and other organizations working on public health and safety issues can certainly raise awareness and just maybe, some changes will be made as a result to prevent some of the accidents, some of the injuries, some of the illnesses, some of the deaths. Is that too much to ask? I think not. Common sense does work.


29 comments:

  1. "compared to the damage done by guns and most particularly the ones previously banned in the Assault Weapons Ban"

    Thanks for the link, japete. It was interesting to follow it and read that:

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) stated it "can in no way vouch for the validity" of Brady Campaign's claim that the ban was responsible for violent crime's decline.[3]

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the "assault weapon" ban and other gun control schemes, and found "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence."[4]

    It was noted by the National Institute of Justice that should the ban be renewed, its effects on gun violence would likely be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement due to assault weapons rarely being used in gun crimes even before the ban.[8]

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  2. japete, you don't mention why no federal agency has been given the power to ban "assault weapons" or "high capacity magazines": because gunowners don't believe that they would stop there and not continue to ban other guns, ammo, etc.

    Set those gunowners straight -- tell them that a federal gun regulation agency would only ban "assault weapons" and "high capacity magazines, and not continue to ban other guns, ammo, etc.

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  3. A ban on some guns and some ammunition will not lead to a ban on all. But you won't believe it.

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  4. "A ban on some guns and some ammunition will not lead to a ban on all. But you won't believe it."

    No -- I believe you: A ban on some guns and some ammunition will not lead to a ban on all.

    But a ban on some guns and some ammunition will assuredly lead to a ban on more guns and ammunition. And without a set limit (that falls far short of a ban on all) that is unacceptable to gunowners.

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  5. " Nonetheless, reducing criminal use of AWs and especially LCMs could have nontrivial effects on gunshot victimizations. The few available studies suggest that
    attacks with semiautomatics – including AWs and other semiautomatics equipped
    with LCMs – result in more shots fired, more persons hit, and more wounds
    inflicted per victim than do attacks with other firearms. Further, a study of
    handgun attacks in one city found that 3% of the gunfire incidents resulted in
    more than 10 shots fired, and those attacks produced almost 5% of the gunshot
    victims.
    • Restricting the flow of LCMs into the country from abroad may be necessary to
    achieve desired effects from the ban, particularly in the near future. Whether
    mandating further design changes in the outward features of semiautomatic
    weapons (such as removing all military-style features) will produce measurable
    benefits beyond those of restricting ammunition capacity is unknown. Past
    experience also suggests that Congressional discussion of broadening the AW ban
    to new models or features would raise prices and production of the weapons under
    discussion. "

    from http://www.sas.upenn.edu/jerrylee/research/aw_exec2004.pdf

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  6. Several other articles about the AWB- http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2004-09-12-weapons-ban_x.htm

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/24/world/americas/24iht-gun.html
    " "The whole time that the American public thought there was an assault weapons ban, there never really was one," said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group. What's more, law-enforcement officials say that military-style weapons, which were never used in many gun crimes but did enjoy some vogue in the years before the ban took effect, seem to have gone out of style in criminal circles."

    http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/pdf/assault/awb_violence.pdf

    http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/RugerBackgrounderJuly2011.pdf

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  7. Ah- so you just proved my point. No matter what the gvp community says, you won't believe them and therefore be against anything reasonable.

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  8. "No matter what the gvp community says, you won't believe them and therefore be against anything reasonable."

    Huh? I just wrote that I did believe you (all guns won't be banned).

    My problem is that the "gvp community" usually won't say where the partial bans will stop -- and when they did (when passing the AWB) they indisputably reneged later.

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  9. From your comment: "Whether mandating further design changes in the outward features of semiautomatic weapons (such as removing all military-style features) will produce measurable benefits beyond those of restricting ammunition capacity is unknown."

    While I suspect "no," I may be willing to agree with "unknown."

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  10. From your comment: "The whole time that the American public thought there was an assault weapons ban, there never really was one," said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group."

    So if some gun control advocates claim that the AWB was working, others like Rand say that it was ineffective. I find that to be typical.

    From the same NY Times article: "Despite dire predictions that America's streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban in September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several city police departments."

    Who made those "dire predictions" that police departments say were wrong?

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  11. Can you provide me with an example of this Jay?

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  12. Rand was making the point that there were loopholes in the AWB that allowed people to add features to guns sold to make the guns like the ones banned. As to your question- I don't know.

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  13. 1) Example of what (we have touched on several sub-topics)?

    2) Yes -- Rand claims that those loopholes are such that "there never really was" an AWB. That contradicts those gun control advocates who claim that the AWB was effective or beneficial.

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  14. Jay- this- " My problem is that the "gvp community" usually won't say where the partial bans will stop -- and when they did (when passing the AWB) they indisputably reneged later."

    I included some articles about the lowering of the shooting of police officers with assault guns in my links. The "ban" was in effect for 10 years. There is evidence that the numbers of deaths due to assault weapons were changing as the 10 years was up given that it takes a while for change to happen.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2004-09-07-assaultweapons-ourview_x.htm
    " Fewer assault weapons at crime scenes. Since enactment of the law, the number of assault weapons traced to crime scenes has dropped 45%, according to Crime Gun Solutions LLC, a consulting firm.

    Fewer gun fatalities. Deaths caused by guns dropped from 38,505 in 1994 to 29,573 in 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While crime experts say the drop resulted from several factors, such as fewer gang shootings involving crack cocaine, they cite the assault weapons ban and other gun controls passed in 1993 and 1994 as among the causes.

    The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups that have lobbied Congress to let the ban die say it is too arbitrary: Many weapons still legal are essentially the same as those banned.

    The NRA is right. But the solution is to eliminate the loopholes, not the law. California has shown the way by banning the sale of large ammo clips and weapons with grenade launchers, bayonet mounts or other features that turn rifles into killing machines."

    http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/news/blog/2010/11/Expired-assault-weapons-ban-was-flawed/ " During the 22 months before the ban expired in 2004, according to the News, Buffalo police confiscated 40 assault weapons. Over the past 22 months they've confiscated 84, largely AK-47's."

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  15. The AWB contained a list of about 650 sporting and hunting guns that gun control advocates promised (with much fanfare) to exempt. However, the "renewal" bills supported by most gun control advocates would have revoked those exemptions and would have specifically banned some guns that gun control advocates had promised not to ban.

    I have posted that here before, with supporting links -- do you need them again?

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  16. Jay, I believe you have made your points. Thank you.

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  17. japete writes:

    "What about cameras in state Capitol buildings? In Wisconsin- cameras are not allowed, but guns? Yes"

    Firearms have been allowed in the MN Capitol since at least 2003 - if not before. How many shootings and acts of gun violence have there been?

    "But compared to the damage done by guns and most particularly the ones previously banned in the Assault Weapons Ban, not so much. "

    How much gun violence has been done by weapons made since the expiration of the AWB with firearms that were previously banned from manufacture during the AWB?

    In other words, break this down for us to understand the impact of the Assault Weapons Ban so that we can better understand how effective it was.

    "They love these magazines. They can cause a lot of damage. They are needed for self defense because, after all, you never know when 10 people or so might decide to attack you in public or in your home. Or you might enjoy target practice at the range with these magazines because they are so powerful and fun. So because some people enjoy the power of shooting off this many bullets in a short amount of time, we are willing to endanger the lives of American citizens?"

    Magazines themselves do nothing to add (or subtract) to a weapon's power - that's driven by the caliber, the barrel length, and the particular ammunition being used.

    What's this power that you're talking about?

    "I think guns should be required, in fact, rather than banned from places where city councils, school boards, county boards and legislators meet. Then we could have a free-for-all if gunfire erupts. It would be fun- just like the old west when people shot at each other when they had a beef. "

    I'm still waiting for this "old west" to happen as some claimed would happen when shall-issue became the law in Minnesota.

    "Maybe they should just go back to banning guns in the Florida Capitol. I'm just saying....."

    Why? We've been able to carry here in the MN capitol for nearly a decade - has there been a rash of shootings?

    "I am not sure if people carry because they are afraid of people like me who testify in favor of not allowing guns in all nooks and crannies."

    What? Are you trying to say that you're some sort of deadly threat? I don't understand the analogy.

    Guns are already highly regulated - more so than many consumer products with some permitting and registration laws present (unconstitutionally in my mind) in some jurisdictions. We should remember that the possession of a firearm isn't like another consumer product - it's a constitutionally protected item whose regulation, consumer protection or otherwise, deserves a particular level of constitutional scrutiny.

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  18. "weapons with grenade launchers, bayonet mounts or other features that turn rifles into killing machines." Can you give me one instance of anyone being killed by the grenade launcher? (bearing in mind that the grenades are unobtainable) Has there been a rash of drive by bayonetings? It was taking these things off that made them the loophole weapons you complain about?

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  19. As you know, I am into prevention. There is no reason that grenade launchers are needed by the average citizen. There are "home grown" terrorists and other terrorists out there who would love to have things like this. Who needs bayonets on guns? It happens that these weapons of war we know are dangerous because they have been proven so during military conflicts. Are we at war in our country? These features and types of weapon are not needed and have nothing to do with rights or the second amendment.

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  20. "Who needs bayonets on guns? It happens that these weapons of war we know are dangerous because they have been proven so during military conflicts. Are we at war in our country? These features and types of weapon are not needed and have nothing to do with rights or the second amendment."

    It is illegal to buy or sell the grenades. Even if it weren't grenade launchers of this tyhpe are no longer used by the military because they have been replaced with 40mm grenades that are selflaunching. The US military no longer trains soldiers to use the bayonet so we can see how effective it is.

    The fact is that the majority of rifles with these features were military surplus from the 50's. It is just another case of banning something that isn't really danger because it looks scary.

    When someone actually harms anyone with the grenade launcher or the bayonet get back to me. Until then it seems like a non-existent danger.

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  21. "As you know, I am into prevention."

    Yep. And prevention is inherently tyrannical.

    In a first amendment context, it's called prior restraint. And it's an authority we simply cannot trust to government.

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  22. jdege- I find your comment to be scary. Are you sure you want to have this in print?

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  23. "In a first amendment context, it's called prior restraint. And it's an authority we simply cannot trust to government. "

    "jdege- I find your comment to be scary. Are you sure you want to have this in print?"

    Why not? It is a legal term that pretty much says what jdege said.

    "One of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the freedom from prior restraint. Derived from English Common Law, the rule against prior restraint prohibits government from banning expression of ideas prior to their publication. The rule against prior restraint is based on the principle that Freedom of the Press is essential to a free society. Attempts by government to obtain a prior restraint have largely been unsuccessful." (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Prior+Restraint)

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  24. Why do you trust the government so much?

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  25. "I have no good reason not to."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democide

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  26. Still have no reason not to trust my own government. You?

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  27. Speaking of bans, check out this article about a recent Virginia state poll about uranium mining and guns on college campuses- http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/V/VA_POLL_URANIUM_AND_GUNS_VAOL-?SITE=VAPET&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Guess which one is more popular in Virginia? Mining of course. Overwhelmingly, Virginia residents do not want to over turn the ban on guns on campuses.

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