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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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April is a cruel month

Today is the anniversary of the shooting death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday, yet another mass school shooting occurred at a California college. "Only" 7 were shot in this shooting. This letter to the editor from the Minneapolis Star Tribune reflects what has become the American way of life:
"On Monday, I heard of the shootings at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif. Another college shooting. I was relieved to hear there were only seven dead this time, yet horrified at that thought. Only seven? I've been desensitized by the repeated college shootings, high school shootings, workplace shootings, restaurant shootings, drive-by shootings, and stray bullets that pierce homes and kill small children. Maybe we need to look at our society the way the commentator on the BBC does. If we could step outside of our history, outside of the NRA propaganda, outside of our court decisions, perhaps we could see a cultural flaw that is maiming the American dream."
How sad it is. There is a list of mass shootings in the U.S. No other country has a list like this. We hear of an occasional mass or school shooting in another country. But they are rare. It's American. We have a love affair with guns in America. We also have the most gun deaths per 100,000 than any other advanced industrialized country not at war. We have daily carnage. 80 Americans a day die from gun injuries. 32 a day die from gun homicides. Yawn. What else is new? But I digress.

April 16th will mark the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech mass shooting which took the lives of 32 plus the shooter- Seung-Hui Cho and injured 25 others.

April 20th will mark the 13th anniversary of the Columbine shootings- 12 students, 1 teacher dead; 21 injured.

April 19th marks the 17th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by Timothy McVeigh leaving 168 dead. Though this was not a shooting death, it is a symbolic event. Here are some of the suggested motivations:
The chief conspirators, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, met in 1988 at Fort Benning during basic training for the U.S. Army.[17] Michael Fortier, McVeigh's accomplice, was his Army roommate.[18] The three shared interests in survivalism, opposed gun control, and supported the militia movement.[19][20] They expressed anger at the federal government's handling of the 1992 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) standoff with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge as well as the Waco Siege—a 1993 51-day standoff between the FBI and Branch Davidian members which began with a botched ATF attempt to execute a search warrant leading to a fire fight (it is unknown whether ATF agents or Branch Davidians fired the first shot) and ended with the burning and shooting deaths of David Koresh and 75 others.[21] In March 1993, McVeigh visited the Waco site during the standoff, and then again after its conclusion.[22] McVeigh later decided to bomb a federal building as a response to the raids.[
It's only April 4th. What else will happen? April is the cruelest month as this poem, The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot suggests:
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding  
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing  
Memory and desire, stirring  
Dull roots with spring rain.  
Winter kept us warm, covering          
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding  
A little life with dried tubers
I am not as pessimistic as was T.S. Eliot when he wrote this poem about the inevitable changing of the seasons in April that exposes the dead plants left over from the fall before the winter snows covered them up. Now they are exposed along with all sorts of other dark and brooding thoughts in the poem. Our American gun culture has been on vivid display and exposed in the last few weeks with a school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Florida and now the most recent school shooting in California. These are not things we want our country to be known for. But people in other parts of the world are both horrified and mystified by the continuous shootings in America. People from other countries who choose to live and work in American wonder about our gun culture and gun laws. Such is this statement from CNN's Piers Morgan ( born in Britain):
“I find the gun laws in this country incomprehensible,” Morgan told Maher, and the latter took a shot at explaining them by explaining the culture. “I look at guns like antibiotics… sometimes you need them, but I don’t kiss my antibiotics, I don’t worship them” the way some worship guns, he explained. “Rick Santorum likes to talk about theology… this is a theology in this country, this is a religion.”
While Maher understood the value of having a Second Amendment, he noted that the context in which that amendment was written could not have anticipated the way guns evolved in the ability to do harm. “The Constitution could not foresee assault weapons,” he noted, adding once again that “no one is saying that we are attempting to create a gun free society, just reasonable limits."
Reasonable limits. That's all. Why can't they happen? Why do the shootings continue? These are important questions. One thing is for certain, along with everything else that will be examined, our gun laws should be on the list. With a little common sense we can come together to prevent April and every other month from the sadness of remembering the victims of too many shootings. From this article:
Pro- and anti-gun forces continue to quarrel, flaunting competing and conflicting statistics about whether the prevalence of guns in American society makes us more or less safe. But in a land where guns are a central part of our heritage, where we prize individualism and self-reliance, but also where the violence done by guns vastly exceeds that of any other advanced nation, the sides in the eternal gun debate will likely never fully agree. Still, they surely can get along better.
Sanford Levinson wrote his landmark study of the Second Amendment partly to convince his fellow liberals that they should stop jumping to the conclusion that the amendment narrows the right to gun ownership. He concluded by writing, “Perhaps ‘we’ might be led to stop referring casually to ‘gun nuts’ just as, maybe, members of the NRA could be brought to understand the real fear that the currently almost uncontrolled system of gun ownership sparks in the minds of many whom they casually dismiss as ‘bleeding-heart liberals.’ Is not, after all, the possibility of serious, engaged discussion about political issues at the heart of what is most attractive in both liberal and republican versions of politics?”

14 comments:

  1. "Reasonable limits. That's all. Why can't they happen?"

    Because it's the very definition of what both sides consider 'reasonable' that stalls any progress toward reducing homicide and violence. There's extremists on both sides of the debate. Those who want to own tanks, and those who want to reduce a COTUS right to something 'allowed' or determined by a politician or law enforcement agency.

    Every inch gained by either side will be fought for through legislation. As well it should be. If the Travon Martin tragedy showed us anything, it's that if we allow laws and constitutionality of rights to be based on emotionalism and opinion, we don't really have rights at all.

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  2. CJM asked for more recent data comparing the U.S. to other advanced and developed countries not at war. Here is one http://bradycampaign.org/studies/view/191

    It's been consistent over years.

    This one is still older- http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ficap/resourcebook/Final%20Resource%20Book%20Updated%202009%20Section%201.pdf

    This one- http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2012/jan/27/jim-moran/rep-jim-moran-says-us-gun-homicide-rate-20-times-h/ and this one- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20571454

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/01/11/whats_senseless_is_our_tolerance_for_guns/

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  3. If you need to introduce qualifiers to make a point, i.e., "advanced industrialized countries not at war", then not including countries like Mexico, Jamaica, South Africa, Brazil, etc... means that there must be social, socio-economic, or other variables affecting instances of homicide, with or without guns, and guns are not the primary cause or reason for the death tolls.

    Though I am very impressed with how the "not at war" qualifier has been added to this argument recently when it used to be only "Industrialized nations" in order to exclude South Africa, Mexico, and Brazil.

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  4. "Reasonable limits. That's all. Why can't they happen?"

    Ten mansions - why can't you buy them?

    Here's a longer answer:

    There are only so many taxdollars.

    There are only so many prisons and most of them are overfull.

    We already have the world's biggest prison population in the world and in all of history.

    It is not economical, feasible, or even actually possible to do what you want done. It's completely impossible to pass and enforce McCarthy's ban.

    That's why we can't have "reasonable" limits - it's because what you consider "reasonable" is far beyond that which is even technically possible.

    Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you want to discuss this in private (I won't share anything you don't want shared). This is a pretty important matter and if you want to understand why you and the Brady Campaign are failing miserably while we and the NRA are succeeding wildly then you should put in a whole lot of time and effort into understanding it.

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    1. Thanks. I won't be e-mailing you.

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  5. The facts are the facts. Unless you think that by our large numbers of gun deaths, we are actually at war which could be argued actually since more people have died from gun violence in this country-- "Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the U.S. in an average two-year period.4

    In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.- http://www.lcav.org/statistics-polling/gun_violence_statistics.asp

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    Replies
    1. Here's a question: Why don't other countries with strong gun control but high gun deaths count?

      If, as the Brady Campaign says "Strong gun laws work", why isn't this the case in those countries? Is it perhaps that there are many other factors, besides legal gun ownership? After all, guns are ILLEGAL in Jamaica, and their gun-death rate is 5 times ours. Brazil? Nearly 40% more.

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  6. That's a good question CJM. I don't have the answer. Nothing is perfect but in general strong gun laws work in most countries and most states as a matter of fact where, for the most part, states with strong gun laws have fewer gun deaths per 100,000. And don't bother sending me examples of those that don't. I'm done arguing with you. Take a rest.

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  7. Apparently people who comment on this blog think it is their right to be answered, no matter how petty or niggling are the questions or how harassing they are when they keep insisting that I respond. They have also forgotten that this is my blog and one of the very few that allows comments and then answers them. I don't even have to allow comments nor do I need to answer any of them. So your telling me that I don't want to engage in a discussion is disingenuous and ridiculous.

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  8. it seems like April is cruel everywhere and has been like that since very long. April 13 was day one of a long cruel war in my country. I wrote about one of the incidents of April in my last blog post.
    http://nikkysstrengthandweakness-nikky44.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nikky for posting this comment. I empathize with citizens of your country. It is a difficult time, to say the least.

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  9. Dear J.

    Keep Using Your ***V O I C E****

    People are Listening <3

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  10. Crime rates falling, accidental firearm injury/death rates falling...leaves only the criminal element using firearms illegally for the most part.

    What makes criminals want to use firearms? To protect drug trade and other illegal activities? Simple logic says, don't do illegal activities and your risk of injury/death by firearm goes down to nearly insignificant.

    Concentrate your efforts on the criminals and we'll talk.

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    Replies
    1. For Pete's sake, Pat. Give it up. We don't do nearly enough to keep criminals from getting guns thanks to the NRA who doesn't seem to want to do anything about this. As to the rest- you are wrong. Was George Zimmerman and criminal before he pulled the trigger? It could be argued that he shouldn't have been able to get that permit because of his prior run ins with the law. At least half or more of homicides are committed by people who know each other in domestic cases, etc. and many of these are law abiding people who shoot others in anger or a moment of passion. There is enough evidence of that on the front pages of our papers every day. If the NRA was willing to close the gap in background checks and do more to stop straw purchasing and keep people from buying more than one handgun a month, and make sure that purchases of multiple handguns and assault weapons are reported, adequately fund the ATF, approve of a director of the ATF, allow L.E. to share and get information from the ATF and others, stop immunity from law suits, ban high capacity ammunition magazines, etc. then we can talk. Until then, I guess it's hopeless, according to you.

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