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.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Accountability and responsibility for the guns everywhere mentality

In the last few weeks, an awakening has occurred. We have always known that public opinion comes down on the side of reasonable measures concerning gun control in America. (Here and here)We have also always known that too many of our elected leaders have chosen to ignore the support for reasonable gun control measures in deference to an organization called the NRA whose uber power and influence in America has led to the passage of gun laws which have made us all less safe instead of safer as is the job of our leaders.

Who is accountable for the culture in America where guns have become more important than people? This article makes it clear:
"How many students have to be shot to death in their schools before this country has a serious discussion about guns? Are the 10 who have been gunned down just since Feb. 27 enough?
The question of the constitutional right to own guns is irrelevant here—even if you believe that the Constitution gives every last American the right to own a firearm (which The Times editorial board does not, but many other reasonable people do).
There is simply no defending the many states that allow people not just to keep guns in their homes, but to buy an unlimited number of weapons each month, and to carry guns, concealed or visible, into public areas, including schools and churches and libraries. The culture of permissiveness is now so out of control that the city attorney in Tampa has said he cannot stop people from carrying guns into the security perimeter that will be established around the site of the Republican convention in August."
There is no defense for what is going on in our country. But yet, the NRA, its' bought and paid for politicians, the entire gun lobby, those involved in ALEC, and the public (who have been lulled into complacency by the onslaught of laws they did not want but got anyway) are all responsible. But Congress and our legislators are the ones who pass the laws and make the rules. They should be making the rules, not the NRA. The guys with the guns should not be making the rules:

The gun lobby won the early arguments that it was a good idea for people to carry guns around in public for self defense. Only they weren't always used in self defense. I have written countless posts about how many gun permit holders have either been careless in public with their guns or have very purposely killed others in a public place. The lie is that guns have made us safer. The lie is that guns don't kill people, people do. We all know that there are not mass knifings, or mass car killings or mass killings with blunt objects even though there are commenters on this blog who have tried in vain to make that claim. They must be desperate.

Others have also weighed in, as retired Federal Judge, H. Lee Sarokin writes:
Why is it that every regulation is fought and every effort to expand the number of guns and where they can be carried and concealed is supported? The example I always hear is that if a car kills someone you don't ban cars. But if there is something that can be done with the car without banning it, such as regulating who drives it or how it is made and sold, why would anybody fight that? I also have heard the argument that regulations only affect law abiding citizens and not the criminals who will ignore them anyway. But many deaths are caused by persons who have obtained and own the weapon legally.
I know the slogan -- "Guns don't kill people; people kill people", but without a gun present there would be no killing. I have no doubt that some crimes, injury or deaths have been prevented by the victim having a weapon or the criminal merely fearing that the victim may have one. I wonder, on the other hand, how many deaths occurred which could have been avoided if the victim or the shooter did not have a weapon (the Trayvon Martin case being a prime example). I truly do not understand the push to allow guns everywhere -- in schools, in churches, in bars, at political rallies, at Starbucks, etc., and I am sincere in saying I want to understand.
We are all trying to understand this mentality. And then there is the ALEC/NRA influence on our gun laws and gun violence. It seems that the public and the media have become more than aware of how corporate America has knowingly or unknowingly contributed to our bad gun laws which have led to actual more shootings rather than public safety. Increased scrutiny of the Stand Your Ground laws after the shooting of Trayvon Martin has highlighted those who supported such laws and is holding them accountable for what they have supported. Some of the corporate sponsors of ALEC are now withdrawing their support for the conservative organization that has been responsible for Stand Your Ground laws in over 20 states, Voter ID and other conservative laws pushed in state legislatures. From the article:
Coca-Cola and other ALEC member companies were targeted last year by the civil rights group ColorOfChange for their support of ALEC, which is also behind what ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson calls "voter suppression laws" in many states. The laws require voters to show identification.
Since Martin's killing, Robinson said ColorOfChange has let the corporations know that ALEC was behind a push for states to adopt legislation modeled after Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Robinson declined to name which other companies the group is pursuing, saying their strategy is to give corporations a chance to withdraw from ALEC before escalating the issue publicly.
Sometimes a cartoon can explain things that words just can't. This one, for example:

Where does the buck stop? Let's just call it like it is. The responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of our elected officials who have decided that it's more expedient to go along with the gun lobby than try to fight them. They have decided that even mentioning the word "gun" in an election cycle is forbidden. Don't mess with the guys with the guns. They can make a lot of trouble. Never mind that they represent a minority of Americans. They also represent a culture unique to American where spree shootings and school shootings ( sometimes the same) occur on a regular basis with little or no examination of why or what can be done. Any attempts to change laws get drowned out by the gun rights extremists and also by the media who have also been fooled into thinking talking about guns just cannot happen. What kind of country are we when common sense is drowned out by big lobby groups  and corporate influence? Er ah, what am I saying? That is our country today. Not only about guns but so many other issues. But I digress.

We can do something about this. We will do something about this. Elected leaders can and will be held responsible for their votes on gun laws. And not just by the NRA who gives letter grades to our leaders who run scared in some cases from the very organization who has fooled them. As President George W. Bush famously said:

Oops. His getting this one wrong is just a prime example of our nation's problems. If we just sit back and allow the continual and daily carnage on our nation's streets and in our homes, we will be fooled too many times. And don't sit back and think this can't happen to you. I never thought it would happen in my family either. Nor did the many others of us for whom a gunshot changed our own lives and took a loved one from us or left them with life long debilitating injuries. This is no time for fools. This is no time for foolishness. This is not time for running away from responsibility and accountability. Where does the buck stop? In your home? At a school where your child could be the next victim? At a restaurant where you are eating on an average day? On a rainy night when your teen-aged ( or even adult) son is walking around doing nothing wrong? Check out this story about a Florida white man walking too fast on a street and being confronted by a black man with a gun because he was walking too fast behind the man? The writer wonders if the Stand Your Ground law is good for business or good for anyone for that matter:
But the young man, who is my son, was just walking home from his classes at Valencia College. To be sure, he was power-walking. But that’s because he was tired, hot and just wanted to get home, thinking about what he would cook for dinner that night for his family.
Fortunately, this situation did not end in tragedy, as did the Trayvon Martin case.
As my son quickly walked up behind him, the older man whirled around and pointed his gun in Jason’s face, screaming obscenities at him. But in the midst of his rant, instead of shooting, he bellowed, “Why are you following me?”
And then, thankfully, he gave my son a chance to answer: “I’m just walking home from school. See? The school is right there. I’m just going home to see my kids.”
At that point, the two just stood there, looking at each other. Then the older man lowered his gun. My son edged his way around the man. And then ran home.
In Florida, I believe it was perfectly legal for that man to pull a gun because he felt threatened. In fact, if I understand Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law correctly, he also legally could have killed my son. Because he genuinely felt threatened.
What kind of communities do we want? Do we want everyone to be so afraid of someone walking towards them or walking fast that they believe it is threatening and they can shoot them? This paranoia and fear is just not good for anyone. Who will be next? What will it take? Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign has made it clear that, not only is the NRA the problem, but is responsible for pushing laws that allow many people who shouldn't be able to carry loaded guns carry them anyway into every nook and cranny of our country. The mentality of carrying loaded guns everywhere has seeped, unwanted by most, into our culture. Thus was George Zimmerman carrying a gun the night of February 26th when he shot Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman should not have been carrying while on that neighborhood watch. Because he was, one teen is dead and Zimmerman will most likely face consequences for his actions.

This is a Holy week for many. Easter and Passover celebrations will happen all over the world. It is a time for reflection and hope. No matter your faith or whether you participate in a faith community at all, I think we can all agree that non-violence is a better way of life. Faith communities espouse non-violence. We can all agree that there is too much violence all over the world, some of it actually coming from religious beliefs, unfortunately. Human nature seems bent on the destruction of others. That doesn't mean we should sit back and do nothing about it. Most of us agree that in America, we have a problem. There are too many victims of gun violence. This is unacceptable and should be a clarion call to get busy and do something to prevent the daily human tragedy all around us. Where is common sense?

Apparently I am not the only one thinking along the same line about holding the NRA responsible for the lax gun laws in our country. This blog by Josh Sugarman of the Violence Policy Center talks about the gun industry, their advertising to make people want ( and need) to buy their guns and the laws that have allowed for more people to buy more guns and carry them in more places:
Despite the national controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin, the U.S. Senate may soon take up legislation that would actually expand the rights of concealed carry permit holders to carry their loaded handguns outside their home states and across the nation. The NRA-backed S. 2188 would force all states that issue concealed carry permits to recognize all out-of-state permits, even if the person could not qualify for a permit in that state. Gun violence prevention advocates have labeled this bill the George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act.
An even more extreme version of this bill is being pushed by Gun Owners of America (GOA), which views itself as the hard-line conscience of the pro-gun movement. Sponsored by John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA), S. 2213 grants national carry "rights" to gun carriers from states that don't even require their residents to obtain permits to carry concealed, loaded handguns in public.
And while without doubt pro-gun advocates will inevitably voice their support for these bills in terms of self-defense and individual rights, in the end the greatest beneficiary of national concealed carry will be the gun industry.
Sugarman starts his blog with these words:
The gun used to kill Trayvon Martin didn't find its way into George Zimmerman's hands by happenstance. Like the killing itself, it is the predictable result of an aggressive decades-long campaign by the National Rifle Association to promote lax concealed carry laws and attendant "Shoot First" laws. The primary and intended beneficiary of these laws has been the firearms industry.
Faced with long-term declines in household gun ownership since the mid-1970s, the firearms industry has worked to exploit these NRA-backed laws to re-sell old customers and entice new ones. As Tanya Metaksa, then the chief lobbyist for the NRA told the Wall Street Journal in 1996--"The gun industry should send me a basket of fruit--our efforts have created a new market."


  1. I just came across this article about George Zimmerman and his past behavior with violent tendencies and blaming others for his own mistakes- http://www.care2.com/causes/trayvon-martin-tragedy-could-it-have-been-prevented.html

  2. Unsurprisingly the NYT forgot that the school shooting that they condemned gun laws over took place in the state that Brady's list as the best in the nation for gun control. Nearly every law that the editorial touched on is in place where the shooting took place.

    The killer didn't buy more than one gun in a month. He didn't have a hi capacity magazine and he passed a background check. In fact, even Brady supporters realize that these laws are useless in stopping a slaughter in a gun free zone:

    "It wasn't a failure of laws," said Amanda Wilcox, who along with her husband, Nick, lobbies for the California chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "I just don't see how our gun laws could have stopped something like that."

    1. FWM- we are well aware that laws won't stop all shootings. We have never said they would. But to ignore sensible laws and not pass that could prevent some shootings is irresponsible. Laws do set a tone, however. They can actually change the culture of violence by letting people know that gun violence is not acceptable in our communities.

  3. Japete said "But to ignore sensible laws and not pass that could prevent some shootings is irresponsible."

    According to this article, there are about 300 major state and federal gun laws (under Conclusion on page 2) http://www.brookings.edu/es/urban/publications/gunbook4.pdf

    How many more laws will it take to accomplish what you want? Passing more laws appears not to be the answer. When will you and your others start discussing the other underlying issues which cause these problems? Passing more laws is not a one size fits all solution and I believe you know that. Whether you are willing to admit it or not.

  4. I know nothing of the sort. Passing a federal law to require background checks on all gun sales would mean someone can't buy a gun from a private seller in one state and bring it into another state where laws are stricter. It's simple and easy to do. And it would prevent some people who shouldn't have guns from getting them. There are a lot of gun laws indeed- they are a patchwork and vary state to state. Some of them aren't working or allow people who shouldn't have guns to get permits. Some require reporting of people adjudicated mentally ill to be reported to the FBI NICS system. Others do not. Even if they are required, the names are not getting to the system. Nor are all the names of felons reported as they should be. We could start with enforcing the laws already on the books and then go from there. Of course, you know where this is leading- to an all out and total ban on guns and those of us in the gvp prevention movement are getting ready, as I write, to come around to your houses to start collecting your guns. It's that simple!!!!! Have a nice day and a nice holiday week-end, Will.

    1. japete writes; "Passing a federal law to require background checks on all gun sales would mean someone can't buy a gun from a private seller in one state and bring it into another state where laws are stricter"

      It's already illegal for a private buyer to cross a state line to buy a handgun from a private seller.

    2. Good grief, Bryan. Not this again. Of course it is. But who's checking? The hidden camera videos of which there are many, show plainly that private sellers don't always ask for IDs and sell anyway. I'm not making it up. Denying this is just plain putting your head in the sand. But whatever. If you guys want to persist in this lie, fine. Have a nice day and a nice week-end and find something new to comment about. We've been over this one many times. It's a tired and ineffective argument.

  5. Colin- I tire of you and your insistence that I restate all positions already stated in my blog. Perhaps we should just meet in Downingtown and have it out. I am just around the corner. Have a nice day.

  6. I actually don't live in Downingtown, but good try on "outing me" anyway. I would be glad to meet you face to face and have a rational discussion about anything you'd like though. Although I don't live in D'town, there's an excellent microbrewery and restaurant there, and I don't live that far away myself. I would be happy to treat you and your husband (I assume you are traveling together) if you'd like to see firsthand that despite your preconceived notions, us "insurrectionists" are pretty normal, decent folks.

    1. And maybe you would find that I am actually a perfectly nice person who is not out to get your guns but just wants to stop the shootings and prevent more people from becoming victims. Yes, we have been to the microbrewery there and several others around the area. It's beautiful countryside.

    2. I never said you weren't a nice person, but you have certainly disparaged us gunnies in general on many occasions. I believed you even referred to me as "snotty," which comes across as pretty pedantic and condescending as if you were my teacher or parent and I just a wayward child.

      Be careful if you visit any brewery/restuarants or pubs in PA, though; we're allowed to carry our guns in if we want (the horror!) and even to consume a beverage or two as though we driving (think of the children!).

    3. Are you kidding me, Colin? That's a joke considering the things I've been called as have many on my side. They are downright rude, obnoxious, scary, demeaning, disrespectful, misogynistic and sometimes threatening. Snotty fits sometimes. How else can I characterize someone who arrogantly almost demands that I answer questions that have already been answered in my post. And right back at you about the breweries. If you drink and carry, you may find yourself in trouble. Be careful out there. It's ridiculous that anyone should carry a loaded gun in a bar or restaurant. That is how the NRA has distorted public safety all over the country. Have a nice week-end. Don't drink and carry.

    4. How is carrying a gun into a bar or restaurant "ridiculous?" It wasn't ridiculous when I was carrying it in my car, or while walking across the parking lot or any other place I have a right to be while carrying out my day-to-day business. Should it just magically disappear off my hip when I walk through the door of the restaurant (that happens to serve alcohol)? Or would you rather I fumble with it in the dark jammed in my car to increase the odds that I have a negligent discharge? However, I suspect that your side rejoices every time some has an "accident" because of trying to contort themselves into a pretzel to comply with some inane feel good anti-gun law, you get another statistic with which to try to beat us over the head. As for "drink[ing] and carry[ing]," I don't have to worry about getting in any trouble, because having a beer with dinner while armed is no different than having a beer and driving home (cars are much more complex and dangerous in unintentional, accidental situations). Before you retort, allow me to point out that in the "European socialist utopian country" that I grew up in as a child, we used to see the security guards enjoying their two beer ration with lunch--while carrying full-loaded, fully-automatic Uzis slung over their shoulders, in addition to the sidearms on their hips.

      As for the name calling, I've never called you any names, so I would appreciate the same courtesy in return. I have no control over what others may or may not have said to you in the past, merely what comes from my mouth (or fingers in this case). I'm sorry if my writing style is a bit direct and occasionally sarcastic, but I will always give you the respect that you earn. Regardless, the offer of the free dinner still stands if you would like to come out and try Victory Brew Pub--I assume you have my gmail address from posting here. I sincerely mean it and hope you accept.

    5. Colin- there are no excuses for drinking more than the legal limit and driving or drinking while carrying. Both are a bad idea. As you know, I don't come from a perspective of needing a gun with me wherever I go. So far, I haven't ever felt the need for it. So I don't get the culture of carrying loaded guns around in public. As to Europeans, some of them have very strict laws about driving while drinking. We visited relatives in Norway and they would not serve alcohol to the driver. They also don't carry guns around nor do the Europeans. I have not had the experience of security guards drinking and carrying their automatic weapons around. That is your story to tell. Does that make it right? Or what was your point there about the "European socialist utopian country" whatever the heck that means? No, you have not called me names but please don't tell me about my doing so because it is nothing compared to what I have been called on this blog before I stopped allowing anonymous comments. They still appear on gvp blogs and they are ugly. It doesn't make for a good feeling to say the least. As to the rest, I have been to the Liberty Brew Pub several times when visiting. It is my son-in-law's favorite brew pub around here. I will be busy with the family for the next few days before heading back to Minnesota. Thanks for the offer.

  7. This is a great post, japete, one of my favorites from you. Who is responsible, indeed! The NRA is so extreme that they are now causing their own membership to doubt their motives.

    Just yesterday I was trading emails with a college student who founded a gun club at his university. He was wanting some advice about running a public gun turn-in, and was interested in gun safety training. They promote the NRA on their website.

    I mentioned how hypocritical it was of the NRA to, on the one hand, offer a good safety course, but on the other hand oppose any and all legislation to keep us safe from guns and keep guns out of the hands of those who would abuse them. Here is what he replied: "I personally do not care for a lot of the things the NRA does or who they endorse, though I joined for the insurance and the benefits for the club."

    I suggested "I recommend you communicate to their leadership the ways that you and your club disagree with them. They are supposed to represent their members, after all." At some point, the value of insurance will no longer outweigh the NRA's extremism.