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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Friday, January 13, 2012

Children in the crossfire

This new article by Dr. Arthur Kamm provides us with a lot to think about. Much thought and study by Kamm has gone into the idea that the second amendment is actually interfering with the life expectancy of American children. Let's take a look at some of the views expressed in this piece. From the article:
"That our elected representatives continue to enact firearm market expansion policies, without implementing tougher regulatory restraints on gun sales to curb firearm deaths in minors, represents the worst of special interest-driven politics and is nothing short of a dereliction of duty in governance."
Well put, Dr. Kamm. One would think that elected official would realize that implementing stricter policies on guns and who can have them, etc. would just make common sense. There is nothing about reasonable gun laws that interferes with the second amendment. But there is everything about the misuse of the second amendment arguments perpetrated by the gun lobby to thwart reasonable restrictions that makes common sense. And what's more, Kamm accurately reports and concludes that the U.S. high rate of firearm deaths among children and teens is alarming in that it actually reduces life expectancy of American children.
The US experiences a grossly disproportionately higher rate of firearm deaths in children than other industrialized countries (ref).  According to the CDC, the rate of firearm deaths in children under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the US than 25 other industrialized countries combined.  American children are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die in a firearm accident than children in those other countries. 
Yikes. This is amazing. If you don't believe that these things are happening, I suggest that you check out a new blog called Kid Shootings. The latest post is a photo of a 4 month old baby who was kidnapped by a father who then shot a relative. At least he didn't shoot the baby for goodness sake! Some days there are multiple postings of children either shot and injured or killed or kids shooting themselves or someone else. This should be a big fat red flag for our elected officials and anyone who cares about the health and safety of children in America.

Back to Dr. Hamm's article. He provides graphs just to make sure we get the picture. There is just so much to think about in this article that it's hard to know which sections to highlight. But here is just one of the stunning paragraphs about the risks of guns for our children:
As reported in a University of Michigan Health System report (ref), “when researchers studied the 30,000 accidental gun deaths of Americans of all ages that occurred between 1979-1997, they found that preschoolers aged 0-4 were 17 times more likely to die from a gun accident in the 4 states with the most guns versus the 4 states with the least guns.  Likewise, school kids aged 5-14 were over 13  times more at risk of accidental firearm death in the states with high gun ownership rates.  The findings indicate that gun availability is associated with accidental death by shooting”.  Additionally, it was noted that more than 90% of suicide attempts with guns are deadly and teens in homes with firearms are at higher risk for committing suicide.
So, no, more guns do not and, in fact, have not made us safer. That myth needs to be popped post haste. I don't know how the gun lobby has gotten away with that one for so long. Shame on anyone for believing it. And remember when the NRA tried to put a gag order on Florida Physicians who know the risks for guns in the home and think it's wise to keep their patients safe and healthy? Here's more on that.
And despite the role physicians have played in counseling families and patients on risks to children (e.g., household poisons, unsupervised swimming pools, riding bikes without safety helmets), the law prohibited physicians from even asking parents whether they have a gun in the home (unless the doctor has a “good faith” belief that it is “relevant to the patient’s medical care or safety”).  Represented by lawyers from The Brady Center and the law firm of Ropes & Gray, three Florida physicians organizations, as well as several individual doctors, filed suit to strike down the law as a violation of the First Amendment; a preliminary injunction was granted by US District Judge Marcia G. Cooke, Southern District of Florida – Miami (ref).
I have written about this one many times. The whole thing is so ludicrous that if you didn't scoff at it, you would cry for the mean and self serving nature of a measure such as this one. But it won't go away. The gun lobby would love to introduce this ridiculous and dangerous bill in other states. Good luck to them. This one is a step way too far. It exposes the NRA for the extreme organization it is. It is not representing its' members when bills like this are pushed. So who is the NRA representing? The gun industry, of course, and their own existence. More from Kamm:
This activity represents a 180-degree turn from the organization’s position as noted in Americans and Their Guns, an official history of the organization published in 1967, which stated that the NRA “…is not affiliated with any manufacturer of arms or ammunition or with any jobber or dealer who sells firearms and ammunition”.  Such a link of a not-for-profit organization to profit-making corporations raises valid concerns regarding the objectivity of the organization, such as the effectiveness of its Eddie Eagle “gun safety” program (the effectiveness of such programs in children is questionable as was discussed above).
Kamm also discusses the nonsensical National Conceal and Carry Reciprocity bill that, in effect, would put more guns in more places, thus endangering more lives, and some of them children. Stupidly, the bill passed in the U.S. House in November. Let's hope that Senators have more common sense than to make guns more available everywhere we go. In addition, Kamm aptly discusses the fact that gun ownership is actually lower now than in many years in America making the NRA and its' members and associates desperate to gin up gun sales by getting stopping any sensible gun laws and supporting laws that will loosen up who carries guns in which places. Though Kamm does cite the hype about increased gun sales that Josh Horowitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence recently disputed. There is also the paranoia about "gun grabbing" so famously shouted by any attempts to pass reasonable laws. The gun blogs are full of this sort of talk and they regularly inhabit the blogs and articles written by those in the gun violence prevention movement, accusing us of wanting their guns and much more. ( much of what they say can't be repeated). This paranoia has led to some pretty scary stuff, including the stock piles of more militaristic weapons ( study by the Violence Policy Center) owned by average citizens and by a small group of militia groups and gun rights extremists.( I will be exploring this more later) From the article:
NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre issued the following: “But it’s a big stinking lie, just like all the other lies that have come out of this corrupt administration.  It’s all part – it’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in this country…Before the President was even sworn into office, they met and they hatched a conspiracy of public deception to try to guarantee his re-election in 2012″.  This was followed by another statement from La Pierre that a “second term by President Obama would break the back” of the Second Amendment.  As was noted by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “The NRA says the way you can tell Obama is coming for your guns, is that he’s not coming for your guns.  It’s genius!  That is the insane paranoid message from the NRA this year”.  The article delves into other such manipulation of fear and paranoia by the organization.
And after examining what the uber influence of the NRA means for our country, especially in light of abrogating responsibility to our children, he offers some conclusions. Here is one:
Although it is well-known that special interests buy influence in our government, our legislators should find themselves in a particularly troublesome position in advocating legislation that expands public exposure to guns without addressing the substantial loss life with which the product is associated, especially in minors.  We enact laws to protect minors in this country, and yet in this case our legislators are failing to take legislative action that could help prevent unnecessary loss of life.  In fact, they are moving in the opposite direction.  I submit that it was not the intent of the Second Amendment to justify the unnecessary loss of American lives.   And for our legislators to be engaged in enacting market expansion policy for gun products, without implementing tougher regulatory restraints on gun sales to curb firearm deaths in minors, represents the worst of special interest-driven politics and is nothing short of a dereliction of duty in governance.
I can hardly say more. This article and the research it contains, speaks for itself. Once again, we need to understand how policy is made, or not, in this country. If we just but follow the money, we will find out. Where is common sense?
 


25 comments:

  1. The Florida gag law is a bad law that should be repealed. The government has no business telling doctors what they can or can't say.

    However, it was a well intentioned law to deal with a real problem. Anti-gun doctors have no business lecturing families about things they clearly know nothing about. If you want tips on safe and effective firearm storage, you get them from firearms instructors, cops, other gun professionals, or any other person knowledgable on this subject. You don't get them from someone who not only knows nothing about guns, but has an anti-gun agenda to promote.

    As I said, the Florida law is wrong. If patients don't like having a doctor who lectures them on subjects he/she has no business or qualifications for giving advice on, they can simply find another doctor. They don't need government mandates to aid them. But at the same time, the concerns and complaints that led to the passage of the law were very well founded.

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  2. It was in no way well intentioned. It was a power grab by the NRA and a way to shut up anyone who dares to disagree with them. Ruthless, ludicrous and sleazy at best.

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  3. My children's doctor asked me whether we had any firearms in our house -- I asked her if she had any matches.

    This led to an interesting conversation, and an invitation by me for her to come to the range with me. She obliged, and proceeded to take a firearm's safety and MN carry course in the coming months.

    Now, when she asks that question, she's coming from a more educated background on firearm's safety.

    Education Joan -- that and better parenting are the keys to the aims you seek.

    Pat

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  4. I don't need any advice from you on this topic Pat. We disagree.

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  5. Far be it from me to offer you advice Joan -- I'm well aware of your position, and we've debated many times.

    I happen to be on the side of educating people about firearms. I feel this is the best way to insure the rate of accidental shootings will continue to decline!

    Of course, your efforts may also achieve results...

    Pat

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  6. Don't kid yourself japete, the law was passed because of anti-gun doctors trying to ram their agenda down their patient's throats. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually has gun bans as part of their official policy.

    However wrong the law was, the gun banners have only themselves to blame for it's passage.

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  7. Hum. A quick perusing of Dr. Kamm's website and one will find other articles bashing the Bush tax cuts, various Conservative politicians, the Citizen's United decision, and just about anything else which isn't centered around a Progressive Ideology.

    No bias there.

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  8. That is total and utter nonsense.

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    1. If this is to the AAP comment

      From here http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;105/4/888


      This statement reaffirms the 1992 position of the American Academy of Pediatrics that the absence of guns from children's homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. A number of specific measures are supported to reduce the destructive effects of guns in the lives of children and adolescents, including the regulation of the manufacture, sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms; [B]a ban on handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons[/B]; and expanded regulations of handguns for civilian use. In addition, this statement reviews recent data, trends, prevention, and intervention strategies of the past 5 years.

      Abbreviations: AAP = American Academy of Pediatrics

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  9. Did anyone say people on my side don't have a bias? Did anyone say people on your side don't have a bias?

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  10. The Florida law was horribly written, had a poor purpose, and I believe will ultimately be struck down by the courts, as it should be.

    I don't believe doctors untrained in firearms safety should be giving out firearms safety advice, but that doesn't mean that we need to make it illegal for them to do so.

    Individuals trained in firearms safety should be the ones giving that sort of advice. NRA Home Firearms Safety can be taught by most NRA Instructors and addresses this quite well.

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  11. Bryan- we've gone over this one before ad nauseum. Doctors are trained to keep their patients safe from disease and harmful things. That is why they talk to parents about poisons, bicycle helmets, etc. This is not about how to operate guns. It is about the dangers of having guns in the home when you have children. Anyone can talk about that because it has been proven that guns in the home are dangerous to children and cause accidents and suicides, etc.

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  12. Guns don't cause accidents or suicides. They don't just out of holsters or storage cabinets and shoot people on their own. A gun accident or suicide requires human action, pure and simple.

    There is nothing wrong explaining to people the proper way to keep a gun secure from authorized users while still ready to use when needed for self defense, if one actually has the knowledge and expertise to properly do so. But that's very different from just trying to and scare people away from owning them.

    What motivated the passing of the law was doctors who were unqualified to do the first thing. Instead they put all their effort into doing the second.

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  13. Are you a doctor or what makes you qualified to advise patients on what is safe and healthy? And as to your first few sentences- please- can't you guys find something else to say? That's a trite, tired old myth. If people didn't have guns during arguments, depression, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, when mentally ill or in a domestic dispute, a lot more people would be alive today. That one needs to be retired from your lexicon. It just doesn't resonate.

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  14. No I'm not a doctor, so I don't advise people on things like cancer treatment. In the same manner, doctors should not be advising people on things outside their field, such as proper effective ownership and storage of defensive firearms, unless they actually are trained and experienced to do so.

    If my doctor is a gun expert, and he wants to talk to me about the best concealed carry methods, or the best way to store my guns so they are safe from unauthorized users but still readily accessible for self defense, that's fine. I'll talk to him about that all day. I'll even invite him over to my home for a discussion on the matter, and invite him to join me at the firing range so we can compare our methods.

    However, if he's just some anti-gun zealot who's trying to scare me away from owning them, or insisting the only way to store them is a method that makes their defensive use impossible, I'll be leaving his office and finding myself a new doctor as soon as I get home.

    japete said: "And as to your first few sentences- please- can't you guys find something else to say?"

    Whether or not it resonates with you doesn't change the fact that it's true. You can complain about it being "old" all you want, but as long as it remains an obvious fact, we will keep pointing it out. A gun is only as safe or as dangerous as the person who uses it, just like cars, knives, power tools, prescription drugs, and the many other potentially harmful things we deal with every day.

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  15. Good grief kid- this is ridiculous. When the NRA starts telling doctors how to practice medicine, we are in trouble. Doctors don't have to be gun experts to know the risks involved in having guns in the home. Some are not bicyclists either but they know that kids should wear helmets, etc. Your arguments mean nothing in the real world. Your world is so tainted by your paranoia about gun grabbing that you have failed to see what's really important. That is the last comment on this subject. We have exhausted any reasonable discussion if there ever was any in the first place. I have given you the latitude to say things that make no sense. You should stop while you are ahead.

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  16. Indeed I am ahead since you havn't been able to dispute any of my points by using facts or logic. If you stop posting these comments because you can't offer any reasonable rebuttal to them, that only confirms you have no case

    Again, the Florida law is wrong, but so are anti-gun doctors who try to scare their patients away from owning guns or convince them to keep them in a method that makes them impossible to use. There is a difference between telling someone to use a helmet when riding a bike vs telling them they should not own a bike, or that they should keep their bike disassembled so it can never be used for it's intended purpose. There is a very clear cut line between safety advice as opposed to scare tactics, and it's a shame you can't see it

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  17. Once more, kid9- the last time I checked, bikes were not weapons designed to kill people.

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  18. japete writes: "This is not about how to operate guns. It is about the dangers of having guns in the home when you have children. Anyone can talk about that because it has been proven that guns in the home are dangerous to children and cause accidents and suicides, etc."

    The NRA Home Firearms Safety course covers nothing about how to operate guns. The purpose of the course is to teach the proper methods of securing a firearm in the home - including a very frank discussion of risks and potentially deciding not to have a gun in the home.

    I think it's poor practice for a Doctor to bring up firearms safety and only be focused on not having a gun in the home - of course, they're not qualified to talk about actual firearms safety.

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  19. I totally disagree Bryan and so do the majority of Americans. You are no the wrong side of this one.

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  20. This is one of the best reviews I've read on the problem of gun violence with children and the public's perception, along with the shameless NRA attempts to perpetuate the problem.

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  21. Polling about reasonable gun control measures

    http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr012-09.shtml

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/PPP_Release_AZ_0203.pdf

    http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2011/01/poll-/1

    http://www.capitolandwashington.com/articles/state-politics/poll-challenges-political-assumptions-of-gun-control

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/144887/continuing-record-low-support-stricter-gun-control.aspx

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  22. I have read articles recently stating that firearms sales are higher than ever. I also recently read that homicide is no longer in the CDC top 15 causes of deaths in the US (first time it has dropped out since the 1960s)

    I would also like to see the statistics adjusted by removing accidents and suicides involving prohibited persons who obtained guns illegally. If they committed a felony and made it through a NICS check, fine include them since the system didnt work. But a person accidently shot with their felon uncle's gun while in a house where drugs are sold...that should not count.

    Why should it not count? Because the supply of guns in the US is large and that is a fact of life. We could go a long way down the road towards the kind of gun control you would like to see Joan and the supply would still be enough that people who are not allowed to own guns would still obtain them. Britain's gun crime is rising (albeit at a rate lower than ours) and their starting point was with an absurdly low number of guns in civilian hands next to the US. The US political reality will never let you reduce gun ownership that much. Even the British gun owners who advocate for guns are almost embarrassed by their gun advocacy, that is why gun control has gotten as far as it has there.

    American gun owners are not like that and you will not be able to curb ownership and the number of unregistered weapons enough to make and impact. The number of people likely to murder in the US is relatively low and it is simply impossible to reduce the number of guns (legal and illegal) circulating to a level that would really impair the ability of these people to obtain firearms.

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    1. I don't consider anything impossible, George. Today is MLK day. Who would have thought what he was advocating for would be possible but Civil Rights happened. It's not perfect. We still have a ways to go with Civil rights and anti racism. But if we don't try, nothing will get better.

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