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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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guns in the produce section

In response to a comment made on my last post, I found myself remembering all of the times I have posted about people shooting themselves with their own guns in and around grocery stores. The comment was in response to a gun permit holder who held someone at bay who had stabbed some folks at a grocery store. I wondered what the point of sending me the article was and one commenter noted that "Because everyone knows you don't need a gun at the grocery store." Sarcasm. That comment reflects the difference between those who feel that they have to carry their guns everywhere and that danger is lurking in every nook and cranny of our communities, and those ( the majority of Americans) who go to the grocery store several times a week without thinking about taking their loaded gun with them into the produce section. Do you find that you are looking around your shoulder to see if someone with a gun is following you into the grocery store and will surely nab you in aisle 5? Or maybe the dairy aisle? If someone is following you with a gun, it may be a legal gun permit holder who seems to be scared of you perhaps. What do you intend with that squash? Or what about that 2 liter Coke bottle? Better yet, the watermelon? They can be dangerous.

So let's take a look at a few incidents at grocery stores where nearly everyone goes regularly.

This one in Oklahoma is interesting. A woman and man sitting in a car outside of a grocery store at 1:00 a.m. when a passerby claimed to have spotted a gun. When the police came, the woman refused to get out of the car and made a "threatening move". They did not find a gun on her person. Does this sound familiar at all? Suspicion that someone may have a gun is real. The first response is to shoot because police officers ( and others) know how easy it is to become the targets of someone with a gun on the streets. After conceal and carry laws passed in most states, not only criminals but now "law abiding" people carry guns on our streets and in public places. How do officers know the difference between a permit holder and a criminal? How will a permit holder know the difference? Fatal decisions are made. That is the vicious circle of having so many people carrying guns around in public. There is fear, suspicion and paranoia, often ending in injury and death. Without the suspicion that this woman had a gun, as reported by a passerby, how would this have ended differently?

I wrote about this one before. Here is a Wisconsin permit holder who shot an armed robber in the process of robbing a clerk at a grocery store. What would have happened if he had not come in with his gun and shot the robber? We won't know. But there is another scenario. The robber could have taken the money and run and maybe gotten away with the robbery but no one would have been shot. The man with the gun could have actually shot one of the other customers which would have been obviously bad. And he could have noticed the sign on the door saying weapons were not allowed and he, himself, would have gone elsewhere to shop and would have been none the wiser. Another scenario is that the permit holder could have been shot himself once he aimed his gun at the robber.

These are but a few incidents. I have also written about people shooting themselves as they jam their loaded guns into their waistbands on the way into a store. In those cases, they would have been safer without their guns. Then there was the one about a man who shot himself in the car outside of a grocery store as he was unbuckling his seat belt. The man died. Or what about this tragedy when a 3 year old child got out of his car seat while his parents left 2 small children alone in the car with a loaded gun. It ended with a death while the parents were in the convenience store. The father was a "law abiding" gun permit holder. About 3% of Americans eligible to do so have permits to carry loaded guns around in public. That is not a lot of people. They tell me, these permit holders, that they need their guns for self defense of themselves and their families wherever they find themselves. They can't be everywhere to presumably take care of unexpected violence in unexpected places. So to presume that they can prevent shootings or other violence whenever a shooting or some other crime takes place is a false assumption. We would have to presume that a permit holder would be present wherever and whenever a crazed person or felon decides to commit a shooting or other crime in order to stop it. Such, of course, is not the case nor can it be expected to be the case. There are occasions when someone is available in an instance of unexpected violence to "save the day". Instances of guns used for self defense, however, do not come close to incidents of shootings and gun crimes. This article shows us some facts about guns for self defense in comparison to guns used in instances of crime:
Proponents justify these laws by invoking the most frightening scenarios, in which people are confronted by armed assailants and possession of a gun would purportedly save their lives. Indeed, there are documented cases in which the display or discharge of a gun did ward off or immobilize/kill an attacker. Sound public policy, however, requires that we move beyond anecdotes and examine the evidence exploring the net benefits or costs of defensive gun use.
FBI statistics for 2010 indicate that for every justifiable homicide by a private citizen using a firearm there were approximately 50 criminal homicides with a firearm. When suicides by firearm and fatal gun accidents are considered, there were about 115 deaths through the misuse of a firearm for every justifiable homicide in which a private citizen shot and killed another in self-defense.
When all violent crimes are considered, the Department of Justice's National Crime Survey reports that in 2010 there were 338,000 violent victimizations with a firearm - excluding another 9,000 gun homicides. That was four times as many as the estimated 85,000 defensive gun uses per year. Two national surveys by Harvard's Injury Control Research Center found that respondents, over a five-year period, were three to four times more likely to report hostile gun displays at them than to report self-defense gun uses.
Those who have made the choice to carry a loaded gun believe they are doing so for good reasons. The majority of us who do not also have our good reasons for not doing so. But from the article above:
The number of gun owners who can actually use their weapons to ward off an attacker is very low. A Justice Department study found that each year just 1 percent of all victims reported using a firearm to defend themselves, even though 25 percent of American adults are gun owners. Moreover, gun experts note that combat in the real world is highly stressful, and a very small percentage of bullets hit the target.
Furthermore, stressful situations can lead to errors in judgment and to overreaction, which may have been factors in the Martin tragedy. The evidence is overwhelming that the use of firearms in a conflict increases the likelihood of a fatality.
So we have a health and public safety problem in this country. We have a gun culture that suggests that we should accept the carrying of guns in public places to make us safer. That is what we were told when the conceal and carry laws were passed in almost every state in the nation. And yet, it just isn't working out that way. Permit holders are shooting people in public places and private places alike. This report from the Violence Policy Center is keeping track of the fatal shootings. Does the gun lobby and its' minions think that these 402 people killed by permit holders are collateral damage and the price we should pay for their freedom to carry loaded guns in public? I'm just asking. In addition to the statistics in this report, there are numerous incidents of shooting accidents by permit holders that don't result in death and some of them occur in places where gun permit holders are supposed to be learning about safety ( this one at a gun safety class)  or just practicing their skills ( this one at a gun shooting range).

I write about permit holders discharging guns accidentally or purposely in public all the time on this blog and provide evidence of actual incidents of such. George Zimmerman was the most recent high profile example of a gun permit holder using a gun in a situation that could have ended without someone being killed. Without a gun in Zimmerman's hand, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. Yes, there are incidents of shootings in and around grocery stores. There are incidents in churches, in bank buildings, in schools, in parks, in restaurants and just about everywhere. Most gun deaths and injuries do not occur in grocery stores, however. They often occur on the streets of the poorest urban neighborhoods in the country, like Philadelphia as one glaring example. This week-end, police chiefs are meeting in Washington D.C. to try to figure out why gun crimes are so prevalent in some cities and not others:
The survey found that, using conservative estimates, the cost to taxpayers of the crimes committed with firearms during the week of April 4 to April 10 was more than $38 million in medical care, social services, criminal justice costs and other expenses.
In many cases, the victims of the crimes resembled the perpetrators. During the week in Philadelphia, for example, a 20-year-old woman known as Peanut who had five prior criminal convictions and arrests stretching back to the age of 13, was responsible for two shootings on two different days. Her second victim, shot 16 times, was a drug dealer who is now in a wheelchair but refused to cooperate with the police. (...) 
Chief Flynn recounted pleading with a state senator to include a provision in Wisconsin’s concealed weapons law that would ban habitual criminal offenders from obtaining permits. The senator, he said, told him, “Here’s the phone number of the National Rifle Association lobbyist in Washington, D.C. If it’s O.K. with him, it will be O.K. with us.” The provision was not included, Chief Flynn said.
Straw purchasing, in which a proxy buys guns for convicted felons, is another problem, participants said. Chief Art Acevedo of Austin said his officers regularly observed women buying as many as 30 guns, including semiautomatic weapons, at gun shows and then passing them on to men. Austin had 39 gun crimes during the survey week, including 20 robberies at gunpoint and 11 aggravated assaults.
Identifying the causes of gun violence, however, is easier than finding solutions, the police chiefs present conceded, and better policing will not be enough to solve it.
Laws can make a difference. To think otherwise is stupid and dangerous. When laws regarding gun policy can be made only by contacting the lobbyist of the NRA for permission, we have a problem. So, back to where shootings occur, other than on the streets of major cities where guns are easily obtained and readily available. Let's talk about guns in the home. Shooting accidents, suicides and domestic homicides occur often in homes or places people call home such as apartments. From the linked article above about guns and self defense:
Another study by Dr. Kellermann and his colleagues found that guns kept in the home were four times as likely to be involved in accidents, seven times as likely to be involved in criminal assaults or homicides and 11 times as likely to be involved in attempted or completed suicides than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.
Guns in the home are often bought for self defense. People who make that choice need to practice safe storage and common sense so that the gun is not used by accident or on purpose. If you don't believe that guns in the home are dangerous or that gun owners are not careless with those guns, please check out the Kid Shootings blog for proof positive. Every day, posts to this blog provide us with real life examples that show that guns do not make us safer and do not make for a more polite society. Children are dying at the rate of 8 a day from gunshot wounds. Children in public places and in homes face dangerous situations that can end their lives. Take a look at the latest article on the site:
A 58-year old fan was using "loud and profane" language while watching a Little League game in Quilcene, Washington.  When another fan told him to watch his language in front of the kids, the man went to his vehicle, retrieved a .32-caliber handgun, then came back and threatened the other man with it, then pointed the gun up into the bleachers where other adults and children were seated.
I rest my case. Presumably this man was a "law abiding" gun owner. Was he a permit holder? Likely. What if he had shot off that gun as it was aimed at children and parents alike sitting innocently in the stands of the Little League game? People shouldn't have to worry about going to a Little League game and being faced with a stupid gun owner in a rage, ready to shoot of his gun instead of or in addition to his mouth. The gun rights extremists like to tell us that these situations don't happen or if they do, it's because someone is stupid. Exactly. When our crazy gun culture thinks it's perfectly O.K. and safe for so many more people to carry loaded guns in more public places, the incident linked above, and many others like it, happen in real life. They can turn into tragedies in a matter of the seconds it takes to pull the trigger. When a gun is available, every day confrontations can elevate to dangerous situations endangering lives. Guns are dangerous. Guns make a difference. Guns can be the difference of the taking of an innocent life when it just plain does not have to happen and wouldn't happen if a gun were not at the ready.

UPDATE:

I added some comments but have decided to include an update to this post. The Violence Policy Center has just released this new report about conceal carry permit holder shootings. Here is what they found:
From July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011, 38 lives were ended by Michigan concealed handgun permit holders in non-self defense deaths according to the April update of the Violence Policy Center's (VPC) Concealed Carry Killers on-line resource (http://www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm. The Michigan concealed handgun permit deaths are comprised of: five pending criminal homicides (including the murder of a law enforcement officer); four criminal homicide convictions; and 29 suicides. With these latest additions, the total number of people killed since May 2007 in incidents not ruled self-defense involving private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns as tallied by Concealed Carry Killers has reached 440. (Besides the fatality category and legal status, no other additional information is available regarding the Michigan deaths.)
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "Michigan is one of the few states that releases any data about non-self defense deaths associated with concealed handgun permit holders. The Michigan deaths represent only a 12-month period from a single state. If we could obtain similar data for every state that issues concealed handgun permits, the numbers would be staggering. The public deserves to know the truth. The Violence Policy Center urges that information on crimes committed by private citizens legally allowed to carry concealed handguns be collected and analyzed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports."
Why, again, does the NRA and its' minions lobby against releasing data about permit holders crimes? I guess the answer lies in this new report.

And speaking of "law abiding" gun owners shooting people in places like gun ranges and gun shows where presumably people should be safer from shootings, here is a new blog post by New Trajectory showing how many shooting incidents actually happen in these places where gun rights extremists hang out. From the post:
So I would say that shooting ranges and firearms safety classes should be pretty foolproof for safety.  Wouldn't you agree?
Except they aren't.
In fact, so far in 2012, I've counted at least 10 incidents at shooting ranges, some deadly, some injuries, some near-misses.  Let's review, shall we?
And then the blog's author goes on to list the incidents. I guess maybe hanging out at the gun range is rather dangerous. No place is safe as long as their are loaded guns.

15 comments:

  1. Here's another one...

    http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/04/bedford_heights_homeowner_shoo.html What would have happened if he had not come in with his gun and shot the robber? We won't know. But there is another scenario. The robber could have taken whatever he was after and run and maybe gotten away with the robbery.

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    1. This one was in the home rather than a public place, Robin. But what you are saying is that all robbers deserve to be shot to death. It could be someone's 19 year old son who is on drugs and robs a house to get money or guns, in fact, to help him with his bad habits. This would be someone with a family who loves him and hopes he will change his ways. To shoot someone to death as a first resort rather that a last resort over "stuff" is saying that human life is expendable. Many of these cases could be resolved in other ways. Yes, someone might get away with your stuff. To take the life of another is an awesome responsibility- something many people, including law enforcement never get over. This is the difference between our points of view.

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  2. "I wondered what the point of sending me the article was"

    That story demonstrates a few gun control fallacies:

    1) Knives aren't a threat

    2) Civilians aren't highly trained law enforcement professionals and they aren't capable of responding to an actual attack.

    3) Civilians will either shoot innocent bystanders or they will get shot by the cops who respond.

    Either you or other gun control advocates have said all of those things.

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  3. What???? Do you have any idea what you are talking about Patrick Henry?? 1. Did you find me saying knives are not a threat? NO. But death and injuries by knives don't even begin to compare to those by guns. That is a fact and not a gun control fallacy. 2. You are right about that one. That is not a fallacy. That is your myth. There is no way a civilian is as highly trained as an officer to respond to threats. 3. It's interesting that you call this a fallacy when the risk is there for that very thing to happen. Consider the Tucson shooting where the guy with a loaded gun almost shot the wrong person who had tackled Jared Loughner to the ground. The cops would have had no idea if this guy was a part of the shooting scene or a permit holder responding. Indeed, we say these things for very good reasons because they are truths.

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  4. This article goes with what I posted today- http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/29/us/stand-your-ground/index.html

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  5. Now we know why loaded guns are not allowed inside of gun shows. They are dangerous. Why should we allow them everywhere else then? This man shot himself in the parking log of a gun show event- http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/06/police-man-accidentally-shoots-self-at-gun-show/?intcmp=obinsite

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    1. Yes japete. Handling LOADED guns can be dangerous. That is why loaded guns are not allowed in gun shows. With 1000's of them lying around and 100's of people handling them, it is not an ideal environment. That is completely different than me being allowed to carry a loaded firearm in the general public, because no one will be handling my firearm, not even myself, as it is secured in its holster. My argument is solid. There is no rebuttal.

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  6. If a woman was being threatened by a criminal intent on rape, would you advocate the use of lethal force? Would you advocate that woman being allowed and able to carry any and all tools that would prevent that rape?

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    1. Here are some good suggestions for women to avoid rape and what to do during and after a rape- http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/center-for-women-childrens-health/diseases-and-conditions/social-and-emotional-issues/rape/

      You will notice that carrying a weapon or using a weapon is not mentioned. It is not considered to be a good idea for people who counsel women about avoiding rape in the first place. But, Pat, I know you think a gun will do the trick. That is your opinion but is not backed up by facts.

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    2. Pretty sure you didn't read that full story at the link:

      "•Fight back. There is no guarantee that fighting back will work, and it may increase your chances of becoming seriously injured – so you may decide not to, especially if he’s threatening you with a weapon. If you do choose to fight, fight dirty and decisively with improvised weapons like car keys, a fork, pen or book. Your attacker may be much bigger than you – but everyone has sensitive areas, including the groin, eyes and the instep of the foot. According to the Nashville Police Department, 55 percent of rape victims who choose not to fight back get injured anyway – so fighting back may be a good option. "

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    3. No Pat, I read it fully. Did you see anywhere the mention of guns? Maybe you didn't read it well.

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  7. To continue along the line of "law abiding" gun owners making tragic mistakes this one is among the worst- " t should be noted that Jones' concealed weapons permit was issued by Florida, not Pennsylvania. While reports did not indicate if Jones had been denied a Pennsylvania permit, it is possible for those denied a permit in Pennsylvania to apply for a permit in Florida that will be recognized in Pennsylvania. A bill to close this concealed weapons permit loophole was introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature but failed to pass." From- http://ohhshoot.blogspot.com/2012/04/man-showing-off-gun-for-new-security.html

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  8. Speaking of shootings at gun ranges, please read this latest blog post from New Trajectory- http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2012/05/where-is-safest-place-to-avoid-gun.html

    I guess gun safety rules don't always apply at the places where shooters are supposed to be practicing their skills and learning about safety. So much for finding a safe place to shoot a gun.

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    1. Thanks for the link, japete! The Four Rules of Gun Safety are important, but clearly it's not enough. Even well-trained people, like firearms instructors, police, and people who grew up shooting make mistakes. And yet, the gun guys nonetheless insist that bringing guns in public are somehow going to make us safer.

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  9. Speaking of permit holders shooting people, see this new report from the Violence Policy Center to update the numbers killed by permit holders- http://www.vpc.org/press/1204ccw.htm

    It's now 440 people shot, up from 402 as I reported above. One was a police officer and all from Michigan, which releases data about CCW permit holders. So if there are that many in just one state, we can surmise that in states that don't report the data, there are many other shootings by permit holders. This is why the NRA doesn't want figures released. It just doesn't look good does it?

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