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.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Truth is stranger than fiction

Yesterday, a young Ohio Amish girl was shot in the head as she was driving her buggy home after a Christmas party. She died of the bullet wound. Today, it was revealed that a man who was cleaning his muzzle loading rifle fired it into the air and the bullet found it's target over a mile away from where it started. Some hunter friends of mine tell me that this is irresponsible. No one should fire a gun into the air. What goes up comes down. My friend Joe knows this and lives with it every day. When Joe was just 11 years old, a 1998 New Year's Eve celebratory bullet shot into the air by a "law abiding" gun owner came down into his brain. He is now in a wheel chair and has gone through many many medical procedures, costing he and his family a lot of physical, emotional and mental distress, not to mention the cost to the health care system. Joe's life and that of his family were forever changed because of a stupid and dangerous tradition of celebrating good things with gunfire. Guns are dangerous. And now the family of the young Amish girl will be spending Christmas without her presence and living with their grief because a gun owner irresponsibly shot a gun into the air. It was an accident. But it shouldn't have happened.

The incidents above seem like the stuff of fiction. I have just finished reading Chris Bohjalian's book, Before You Knew Kindness. From this link:
For ten summers, the Seton family --- all three generations --- met at their country home in New England to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and savoring gin and tonics on the wraparound porch to celebrate the end of the season. In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test the values that unite the family --- and the convictions that just may pull it apart.
An accidental shooting of a father by his young teen-aged daughter tears this family apart. In a series of fateful decisions, a man who has just begun to hunt can't dislodge one bullet from the chamber after a hunting trip. Because his life is so busy, he leaves the gun in this state until the following summer when he intends to have someone fix it. But his daughter and her cousin find the gun in the trunk of the car and though the cousin knows she shouldn't, she picks up the gun and accidentally shoots it into the garden in the dark and shoots her own father in the arm, leaving him permanently disabled. There is much much more to this story. But the  novel touched on children and guns, safety features of guns, hunting, animal rights, liability of gun manufacturers, family values and relationships, etc. Though it is fiction, it could be real life.

In real life, accidents with guns happen. They are unfortunate and sometimes tragic. They shouldn't happen but we all know that accidents happen every day- car accidents, falls, bicycle accidents, sports accidents, and so many others. So why did I write this post? Because when we have so many guns in common use in our country and guns in homes or in public places, accidental shootings happen with a fairly regular occurrence. Common sense with guns means being responsible. Guns are designed as weapons which injure or kill animals and people. They need to be stored safely and kept away from children and others who should not have them. Guns are not meant to use in a celebratory manner. Guns should not be shot into the air. I have written before about guns discharging when their owners are cleaning them. One could make a mistake while cleaning other things but a mistake while cleaning a gun can be deadly. Let's hope that no guns will be shot into the air this holiday season. Some people won't be celebrating because of carelessness.


  1. There has been some discussion about this on the gun forums. I am actually surprised that a black powder round would have enough energy after 1.5 miles to kill and wonder if he was not much closer. The story is tragic add to that the family had recently lost their mother due to a car accident. Firearm safety should not be taken for granted even with these black powder rifles and watch for slow moving vehicles on the road!

  2. Yes, Anthony- agreed. When I talked to several friends who collect muzzle loading guns they were surprised about this as well. One of them thought it seemed almost impossible for that round to go so far. It was truly a freak accident as many other accidents are. And, as people are headed out on the roads for the holidays ( my husband and I for 2) watch out for slow and fast moving vehicles on the road. Since my daughter lives fairly close to Amish country, we have seen many of these "slow moving" buggies on the road and even had a tour of Amish country in Lancaster in a horse drawn vehicle. It's interesting to witness this life style, so different from how many of us live.

  3. I'm inclined to be a little more harsh concerning the individual that shot the Amish girl. It was pure negligence (which is different than accidental in my opinion) and should be treated as such. Not to say it was intentional, but this person needs to be held accountable. We should all be aware that we are responsible for where the rounds that we fire end up. Safe handling of this firearm, which includes adherence to the four rules, would have prevented this tragedy.




    RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET (and what is behind it)

    There is no law that would have prevented this tragedy. All that can be done is to hold this individual accountable for his negligence, and pray for this girls family.

  4. I agree with Jim. This is more negligence than it is an accident and the punishment should be reflected as such. A truly avoidable tragedy.

  5. in other news the Madison 5 case was settled recently.


  6. Interesting- " Catherine M. Rottier, the private attorney who represented the city in the case, said "The settlement is at a moderately modest level. It's an attempt to buy peace and move on. The other option is you put lots of money and time into the case."

    The city settled the case without admitting wrong-doing. A condition of the settlement was it had to be accepted by all five plaintiffs against all of the defendants, which included the city and Police Chief Noble Wray.

    "I think I had good arguments to make, but I don't want to be a Pollyanna either," Rottier said. "Risk is something you have to factor in.""

  7. Dear posters,

    I'm one of Japete's hunting friends (of which she spoke). I make and hunt with muzzle loading guns and rifles.

    To back up what she's saying here: Some muzzle loading rifles, especially today, use bullets that are very similar to those used in the big, late 19th Century single shot rifles, and with powder charges to match. (.45-70 and up, in other words.) Those can shoot a long way if pointed up into the air at radical angles.

    I would think the round ball ballistics are nowhere near as impressive, but even these can fly pretty far.