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, December 20, 2011

What are we fighting about?

Some of you don't like what I write. I know that. We don't agree. I know that. That does not make you right and me wrong. It means that I am stating some strongly held opinions and views that I have held most of my life that are different from yours. I am not writing a pro gun blog. I am writing a blog advocating for reasonable and common sense gun laws and a gun culture that recognizes that such laws will not confiscate guns or take away rights. But we continue to go around and around with some of you wanting me to answer every question or comment submitted. If I don't, I'm cutting off debate.  Sometimes a topic gets exhausted and further discussion doesn't go anywhere or lead us to further understanding. But I want to talk on this post about some of the broad questions of public policy that have been enacted for the common good.

There has been an exchange about my views and my facts about bans on consumer products and whether there should be any restrictions on anything. Some of you think bans and restrictions on products don't do any good- particularly on drugs and synthetic drugs, such as bath salts to which I referred in my previous post. I don't agree. I believe that some things should be more difficult to get and in some cases banned. I get that prohibition doesn't always work. We learned that during the 1920s during the days of alcohol prohibition. Most of the time, the prohibition or ban of products or how they are used come about for good reasons. From the linked article:
By using pressure politics on legislators, the Anti-Saloon League achieved the goal of nationwide prohibition during World War I, emphasizing the need to destroy the political corruption of the saloons, the political power of the German-based brewing industry, and the need to reduce domestic violence in the home.
But then, Prohibition actually led to worse problems, including a lot of gun violence and mobsters on our streets causing mayhem.
The repeal movement was started by a wealthy Republican, Pauline Sabin, who said that prohibition should be repealed because it made the US a nation of hypocrites and undermined its respect for the rule of law. Her fellow Republicans were put in office by the "drys" and, even though they eagerly partook in consumption of the adult beverages at her parties, in public they presented themselves as opposing repeal of prohibition, lest they be thrown out of office by the dry voting blocks. This hypocrisy and the fact that women led the prohibition movement convinced her to start the organization that eventually led to the repeal of prohibition. When her fellow Republicans would not support her efforts she went to the Democrats and who changed from drys to supporting repeal led by conservative Democrats and Catholics, emphasized that repeal would generate enormous sums of much needed tax revenue, and weaken the base of organized crime.
So aside from the fact that the prohibition of alcohol did not necessarily stop Americans from drinking alcohol, there was an economic benefit to repealing it- tax revenues. Repeal of prohibition did not solve problems of alcoholism, drunk driving, health and family problems, etc. We have gradually instituted legal limits on alcohol and established programs for alcoholics. Drinking while driving leads to many senseless deaths of innocent people. We have legal limits over which people can be arrested if they are caught driving or shooting or beating on their spouses or partners, etc. Making it harder and more strict, in the case of alcohol consumption, has raised our collective consciousness and changed behaviors. People now often use designated drivers when partying or call a cab instead of driving home from a bar or a party. And people are more open in talking about alcoholism as a disease and some even admitting to having been an alcoholic. The culture has changed over time but alcoholism has not been eliminated. That was likely never the goal in the first place.

The medical profession knows that the use of bath salts has led to terrible consequences. Those who abuse them are found in emergency rooms out of control and often need to be subdued so they don't harm those around them. They are found in the streets having overdosed. It has caused an increase in costs to health care and in costs to emotional and physical well being of the users and their families. Emergency room staff are in harm's way when users come in having overdosed and in need of emergency health care. Thus, laws are being passed to ban the drugs. At the least we will make it harder for folks to get their hands on them and hopefully reduce the visits to emergency rooms and the harm to innocent people. Such is the case with other products as well. We can not always stop people from doing harmful things but we shouldn't, as a society and a government, make it easier to do so. That is why laws are passed. If they don't work, other solutions will be found or laws will be altered, amended or reconsidered.

As a country, we have come to understand, through advocacy, fact gathering and public policy, that  smoking is a health risk that has not only raised insurance premiums for all of us, but causes life threatening illnesses and harm to innocent people from second hand smoke. State after state have passed laws about where people can and cannot smoke in public. This is a sacrifice by smokers but it has nonetheless become law and is now pretty much accepted. Advertising for cigarrettes has pretty much disappeared and warning labels appear on cigarette packages.

Similar measures happened with seat belts and air bags in cars. It took years of horrible accidents, law suits against car manufacturers, public advocacy and now public policy but we have come to accept that when we get into our cars, most people buckle up. We have regulations on child safety car seats and the ages for each type of seat and when children are safe to sit in a car without a special seat. It has become common practice and is for the good of individuals and society.

And so to the topic of gun restrictions. I do not live in the gun culture where guns are sacrosanct and necessary for my well being. I live in a different culture. Most Americans do not live in the world of those whose guns have become part of their religion. They may even own guns but understand that there can be reasonable limits on the guns, who has them, where they can be carried, and how they are used. We have come to understand that we, as a society, accept some limits on things for the common good. That is why I advocate for gun violence prevention measures that can lead to better public safety and will be for the common good. Thus far, public advocacy has not worked to change public policy. That is mostly because of the fierce resistance from the well funded and powerful gun lobby and its' followers. Gun violence has become institutionalized in America just as once upon a time, smoking, car accidents and alcoholism were- until people decided they had had enough and changes happened to call attention to the public dangers. When the public came to realize that these safety and health concerns could affect their own lives and their own families, solutions for prevention were enacted and are now part of our every day lives. Shootings don't have to part of our every day lives. How to prevent them is where the resistance occurs and where the battle of words takes place on blogs, in legislatures, in Congress and in the media.

Similar resistance occurred with smoking bans, mandatory seat belt laws, prohibition and now bath salts, as some examples. But none of those fights were as fierce as the one put up by the NRA. Why is that? I believe it is because the second amendment is trotted out as a show stopper. It is used by advocates and law makers alike to avoid having to make tough public safety and policy decisions that should be happening. In spite of claims of the "slippery slope", it's been sliding in the direction of the gun lobby. Below is a video from the Public Broadcasting Show, "Need to Know" featuring John Meacham. I like this one because he says so eloquently what most of us in the gun violence prevention community believe. Please watch.

There are some kinds of ammunition that should be banned. There are even some kinds of guns that should be banned. There are places where guns should be banned. There is a broader view here. Sometimes things are advocated for and enacted because they are just plain right to do. Maybe one mass shooting too many will finally seep into the consciousness of the American public and  there will be a demand for public policy changes to prevent senseless shootings. Perhaps elected leaders will decide to stand up for the victims and for what's right and lead the effort towards public policy that will be the right thing to do for public health and safety and the common good.


  1. The problem you have, japete, is statistical.

    Sure, statistics bear out that smoking can cause lung cancer.

    Statistics bear out that seatbelts probably save more lives in crashes.

    Statistics bear out that snorting bath salts probably isn't a healthy thing to do.

    However, statistics do not support more guns = more crime. Statistics don't support that an increase in CCW leads to wild west shootouts. Statistics don't prove that open carry in starbucks causes dead baristas being stacked like cord wood. Statistics don't support that gun free zones prevent mass shootings. Statistics don't prove that CCW on college campuses are a safety concern. Statistics don't prove that banning rifles because they have a 'shoulder thing that goes up in the back' affects crime rates. Statistics don't prove that hi-cap mags are any more 'dangerous' than standard capacity.

    Couple that with the fact that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a COTUS right (as opposed to the right to keep and sniff bath salts), and what you're asking is for the government to regulate a COTUS right based on hypothetical "what if's" and for people other than your target audience to buy into that ideology.

    You're never going to get what you want. Your time has passed. This isn't the early 90's anymore. The current climate of today is less intrusive government, and focus on individuals needing to provide and protect themselves because an inept government is unable to.

    You don't believe me? 1% of Wisconsin's population applied for CCW permits in 6 weeks.


    Emotionalism used to be a strong advantage for pro-gun controllers. It used to take the place of being able to support your argument, statistically.

    That's not the case anymore. You're going to need to change an ideology supported by a majority of americans with something more than a "click here to donate now" campaign, or candle light vigils.

  2. Hmmm- nice molon. I'm working on it and I think you are wrong.

  3. "Hmmm- nice molon. I'm working on it and I think you are wrong. "

    Honest question, Joan. Is there a piece of data that could be presented to you where you WOULD change your mind?

    Note I say this as a Gun Control advocate who DID change his mind when I was presented with said data.

  4. I don't rule anything out. You?

  5. japete,

    Even if you disagree with the data, you have to at least acknowledge the fact that pro-gun supporters are justified in what seems to you as a "no compromise" approach seeing as though as a society, we are completely ignoring the root causes of violence and the individuals responsible for crime and instead, perpetually attacking a COTUS right?

    If that were the argument, I could accept it. But it's the "guns as religion", "guns in every nook and cranny", "Wyatt Earps with their guns", "arming children to the teeth", that anti-gunners cannot help themselves from engaging in which after time, starts sounding like an elitist PETA "meat is murder" diatribe, which no one other than extremists who follow that ideology takes seriously.

    In order to start opening up serious dialogue about compromise, you first have to realize that any compromise on our end involves giving up pieces of rights and liberty. So you better be willing to present concrete and convincing evidence that attacking those rights in lieu of addressing the real root causes of violence is not only a necessity, but logical.

    Would you accept the fact that semi-auto rifles like the AR-15 are the most popular civilian shooting platform and a protected (according to Heller) weapon from bans, and lay off the crusade to regulate them if pro-gunners agreed to mandatory background checks?

    If not, you have to ask yourself why? Anything you compromise to is a net gain from zero. Any thing we compromise to is a net loss from an already established right.

  6. That's not compromise. Maybe your side will cease making uncompromising, demeaning, aggressive, rude and even threatening comments. That might help.

  7. Meacham showed two magazines in his video. The first was the standard capacity Glock magazine used by police (and millions of citizens). The second was an extended magazine used by Loughner. He then went on explaining why he thinks the second should be banned. It is very important to point out that under the current magazine ban text, BOTH those magazines would be banned.

  8. weer'd writes:

    "Note I say this as a Gun Control advocate who DID change his mind when I was presented with said data. "

    Like you I was a gun control advocate when I was growing up and even at the beginning of my career in law enforcement - it was the 1994 debate around the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons ban that caused me to look at the issue more seriously.

    I was in college as a criminal justice major at the time - the data and statistics simply did not support the argument - then or now. Understanding the underlying data made a huge impact on my thought process - and it still does.

  9. If you don't like open debate, then why publish comments at all? Just close down the comments and preach to your hearts content.

  10. Bryan, et al. There is no serious discussion about an assault weapons ban. I am just raising the issue because it needs to be raised and it makes a lot of sense. All I know is that we need a reasonable ban on some guns and some ammunition and we need it to be effective and actually work well. As to specifics, it isn't being discussed at this point so I will not be getting into specific guns, etc. As you all know, I am one person blogging and I am not making policy. Relax. I am raising general and broad issues here and you guys are into the minutia. I'll not be answering questions about specific guns and ammunition.

  11. That's a good idea. I might consider it. Thanks Ruff.