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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Traveling through gun country

Today we left for Pennsylvania on a road trip to visit our daughter and her family for the Easter break. While driving I thought I would take a look at the gun laws in the states through which we will travel in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting.  First of course is Minnesota where Governor Dayton recently vetoed the " Shoot First" bill. This article  by a former prosecutor looks at the differences and similarities between Minnesota's proposal and the Florida Stand Your Ground law:

"So whats wrong with Minnesota's proposed Castle Doctrine bill?
Most important is the fact that there is no duty to retreat in a person\'s home if someone enters illegally. That has been the major factor expressed by many in support of the proposal  Come into my house and you\'re toast.
There are a number of other parts of the proposal that I find troublesome.
The proposal sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas would have allowed for the use of deadly force without a duty to retreat in a great many places other than a person\'s home. 
It also allowed a person to use deadly force if they reasonably feared harm. The proposal contained a provision that creates a presumption that the fear is reasonable. Current law requires the use of the reasonable-man standard and leaves the question up to the jury. Whether someones fear is reasonable is something a jury can understand. Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not reasonable, as the proposed law would have required, would seem to be nearly impossible. 
The Cornish/Hoffman proposal allowed the use of deadly force if someone is threatened with substantial bodily harm (SBH). The law defines that as including a temporary disfigurement. That means a punch to the face and a black eye would allow the use of deadly force. Current law limits the right to use deadly force only when threatened with great bodily harm (GBH) or death.  The definition of GBH includes a permanent disfigurement or broken bone."
You may remember that Rep. Tony Cornish said this after governor Dayton vetoed the bill: 

"We'll have to jam it down their throat," he said. "It may take two or three years, but we'll do it."
Cornish's castle bill offered armed property owners immunity from prosecuting for shooting or killing a person who entered a home by "stealth or force" and it expanded the so-called castle to include cars, business places and even a tent.
"We just want more latitude for the citizen who's grabbed by the throat and beaten up," he said.
The former small-town police chief, deputy and game warden says he doesn't blame Dayton for the veto. Instead, he blames law enforcement.
"The one that disappoints me most is gun-grabber Tim Dolan," Cornish said frankly.
Tim Dolan is the Minneapolis Chief of Police. The NRA and its' friends don't much like law enforcement even though Cornish and several legislators pushing the bill were themselves members of law enforcement. Go figure. By the way, Minnesota got a score of 14/100 on the recent Brady Campaign state scorecard for gun laws.
Speaking of the NRA, the NRA and ALEC will do anything to get their way. Check out this article:
The money trail leading to the watershed law in Florida—the first of the 24 across the nation—traces primarily to one source: the National Rifle Association. When Gov. Bush conducted the 2005 signing ceremony, standing alongside him was Marion Hammer, a leader and familiar face from the pro-gun lobbying powerhouse. But the NRA's support for the Stand Your Ground law was far more than symbolic. An analysis by Mother Jones of election and lobbying records reveals that the NRA was instrumental in creating Stand Your Ground: Over a nine-year period the organization gave more than $73,000 in campaign donations to the 43 Florida legislators who backed the law. That money was buttressed by intense lobbying activity and additional funds spent by the NRA in support of the bill's introduction and passage.
The NRA's point man in the Florida legislature was state Rep. Dennis Baxley (R). In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Baxley, a card-carrying NRA member and an ally of Bush's, reaped financial support from the NRA's Political Victory Fund. In 2000 Baxley received a $500 campaign donation from the NRA (the state's legal limit per election cycle) on top of nearly a thousand dollars more in independent spending backing him. By 2004, the NRA awarded Baxley its "Defender of Freedom" award. And in 2007, the NRA spent a whopping $35,000 on radio advertising to support Baxley in a primary fight. (He lost.)
So on to Wisconsin where a conceal and carry law passed finally after the unpopular Republican Governor Scott Walker took over the State House and the equally unpopular legislature couldn't wait to get that Shall Issue law passed. 

Advocacy group Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort says making available concealed carry permit information would allow groups to ensure people who carry concealed handguns, knives or electric weapons are "as law-abiding as the lawmakers promised," said Jeri Bonavia, the organization's executive director.
"Since we don't know who concealed carry weapon holders are, we don't know what they're doing" or if they're the ones committing violent crimes, she said. "That's really frustrating. Are these people as law-abiding as the senators promised us, or have we been kind of duped?"
But the National Rifle Association says making sure concealed carry permit holders are abiding the law isn't a job for the general public.
"That's the function of law enforcement," said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA. "There's no need for these people to have their privacy compromised. Anyone who makes any other argument is not being honest."
The Green Bay Press-Gazette examined Wisconsin's concealed carry law as part of Sunshine Week, an effort to spotlight freedom of information and public access to government records. Wisconsin is one of 20 states that doesn't allow any access to concealed carry permit records. Twenty-five states, including California, Indiana and New York, allow the public to access concealed carry permit records, according to Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization. 
Wisconsin also now has an expanded castle doctrine law which has come under question after the Trayvon Martin shooting and a recent self defense shooting in Wisconsin. From the article: 

We return to the District Attorney’s decision relating to the fear of imminent danger needed to use lethal force in Wisconsin. Deadly force is only justified if a person reasonably believes such force is necessary to defend against imminent death or substantial harm under Section 939.48(1)
So at the time Mr. Kind reached the closed door, there was no imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. All he had to do was lock the door to secure his home and guard what he knew to be safe from harm. This is probably why the District Attorney added the presumption of the Castle Doctrine being applied secondary.
Wisconsin received a score of 3/100 on the Brady Campaign's scorecard. So Illinois is next. It is the one state that has resisted the NRA's push for a conceal and carry law in all 50 states, but not for lack of trying. From the article:
Downstate lawmakers have been supporting some sort of concealed carry measure for years, but they have repeatedly failed to get something passed. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vowed to veto any concealed carry bill that landed on his desk.
Frustrated by a lack of action on Springfield, U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) introduced a measure in Washington that would allow nonresidents with valid permits in their home states to carry concealed weapons in Illinois.
"Forty-nine other states understand this and have reasonable policies in place to ensure that only law-abiding people willing to go through authorized safety training are permitted this right," Johnson said in a statement late last year. "The only reason Illinois is the exception is Cook County. This is not acceptable."
The NRA loves to challenge laws in court. Illinois received a score of 35/100 on the Brady Campaign scorecard. Indiana, on the other hand, received a score of 4/100. There are reasons for this. Indiana has a version of a Stand Your Ground law which has also being examined with new eyes after the Trayvon Martin shooting.
As part of a national push to strengthen self-defense laws, Indiana tweaked its law in 2006, a year after Florida enacted its version.
Florida's law states that a person who is attacked in any place he or she has a right to be "has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."
Indiana law already had said that people are justified in using deadly force if a person reasonably believed it was necessary to prevent themselves or someone else from being seriously injured; to prevent a "forcible felony"; or to counter an attack or unlawful entry on your home or to prevent a hijacking.
Just in case that wasn't clear, lawmakers in 2006 added that people had "no duty to retreat" before using that deadly force.
Ohio is next. Until recently, Ohio was the state of the latest big media discussion about gun violence when a teen-ager got access to a gun and shot up a high school in Charden, Ohio. I have already written about that one. Enough said. But Ohio legislators would love to have students carrying guns on college campuses. This article does not agree:
I have no problem with guns. I'm from Texas — I was born with a holster.
I support the Second Amendment, and there is nothing I enjoy more than an afternoon of shooting. There's a time and a place for guns.
During class at a university is not one of them.
Proponents of guns on campus will argue that it creates a safer environment in the classroom and deters crime. They are wrong.
Do I believe that I could safely carry a concealed weapon on campus? Yes, because I've known how to responsibly handle a gun since I was a child. But that doesn't mean that I trust everyone else to carry guns.
Let's be honest, the majority of Americans are idiots. I can safely say that I know more dumb people than smart people.
I wouldn't even trust my most intelligent of friends to carry a gun on campus, much less an idiot.
Accidents happen. People bump into one another. Guns can go off. This is a situation we should all avoid, especially at school.
As far as guns being a deterrent for crime, they are. LSU Police Department officers have a large presence on campus, and they just so happen to carry guns. LSUPD deters crime, not students.
I don't trust some wild-eyed vigilante to keep me safe.
Crazy, indeed. Ohio's score on the Brady Campaign score card was 7/100. So finally we will get to Pennsylvania, my favorite part of our drive. Something happens at the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania, where it immediately becomes hilly and there is an iconic looking farm right across the border on the north side of the Turnpike. Now we know it will only be hours instead of days to our destination. Speaking of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, this incident doesn't make me feel particularly safe while on the road. 
For one Pennsylvania man, landing a gig after a job hunt prompted him to shoot his guns and one of those shots might have gone over the Pennsylvania Turnpike, according to police outside Harrisburg.
Dmico Davenport, Jr. of Middletown, Pa. was charged Tuesday with five counts of reckless endangerment, three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of propulsion of a missile onto a roadway, according to Middletown (Dauphin County) Police.
I think I will just celebrate getting to our destination without being shot by a "law abiding" gun owner. Pennsylvania has a Stand Your Ground law as well. 
A fundamental change in Pennsylvania’s self-defense law was that it no longer requires a homeowner or an average citizen in almost any location to retreat from an attacker. If there is a threat, violence can be the first response.
The law also protects a person who acts in self-defense from civil lawsuits by an attacker or attacker’s family.
There are 21 laws like this that have been adopted across the nation in recent years.
In many states, including Pennsylvania and Florida, the National Rifle Association campaigned for the law’s passage.
Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-19th District (Photo: newpittsburghcourieronline.com)
Rep. Jake Wheatley, a Democrat who represents a large portion of the City of Pittsburgh, said he argued for the law because it meant people who felt they were in danger didn't have to stop to question whether to retreat or whether they might be sued later.
Ah yes, why stop to ask questions when you have a gun in your hand? The Brady Campaign gave Pennsylvania a score of 26/100. So I can't wait to see my family and celebrate the Easter holiday with them. If you celebrate Easter, I hope you will enjoy the holiday and your families as well. Unfortunately, the families of 7 more people will not get to do so. In yet another average day in America, there has been a mass shooting at a California college.
Seven people died and three others were wounded in a shooting at a small California religious college Monday, Oakland police said.
An Asian male in his 40s was detained as a suspect, but he has not yet been charged in the shooting, according to police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said.
Where is common sense? There are too many victims. Isn't enough about enough?


  1. Hmmm, a mass shooting in yet another "gun free" school zone located in what is probably the gun control utopia of the US. I can't wait to see how you spin this to be the fault of concealed carriers, castle doctrine laws and redneck, gun-totin' cowboy NRA members in general.

    Have a safe trip to my adopted home state though. Lots to see and do here for sure.

  2. Hmmm- no spin. Just that someone with easy access to a gun, possibly a law abiding gun owner but we don't know that yet, deciding to act on an impulse or anger or depression or maybe mental illness. He was a former student- did he have a gripe? Gotta gripe? Grab your gun and go shoot someone.

  3. But I don't see how anyone could do harm with a gun in California, with it's Brady Campaign 'B' rating, no open carry, concealed carry limited only to the wealthy elites, no so-called assault weapons/clips and in a gun free school zone to boot. It's kind of like all that gun control failed or something...

    1. As we all know, many of the guns in CA are coming from the states nearby where there are loose gun laws- Nevada, for example.

    2. Well that's just one potential hypothesis; let's just wait and see where the gun actually came from. If it was indeed purchased legally in California, you're not really going to have much wiggle room on this one. And even if it was purchased in another state, that still wouldn't address the failure of any of the common gun control laws that I mentioned in my previous comment (open/concealed carry, "gun free" school zone, etc).

    3. I just love how you have arrogantly determined how this will come out for me. Wiggle room? Guns can easily be purchase without background checks I states all around CA. Guns are sold illegally in every state. Straw purchase happen in every state. CA has made it harder. It has nothi g to do with guy free school zones. Do you have more wiggle room than I do?

  4. At last a semi cogent argument against Castle Doctrine. I understand your argument of substantial bodily harm vs great bodily harm even if I don't agree with it. However I disagree with you on the "proving beyond a reasonable doubt." This is not true.

    from http://volokh.com/2012/03/24/lethal-self-defense-the-quantum-of-proof-the-duty-to-retreat-and-the-aggressor-exception/

    b. Allowing convictions unless the defendant proves self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence: This appears to be the old common-law rule: While a murder defendant’s identity, intentional action, and the like have to be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt, the affirmative defense of self-defense has to be proven by the defense by a preponderance of the evidence. If the jury thinks that, say, there’s a 40% chance that the defendant is telling the truth when he says he heard the victim threaten to kill, and reach for his waistband, then the defendant would be convicted of murder (or manslaughter, if that’s what he’s charged with).

    This approach was upheld as constitutional in Martin v. Ohio (1987), but is now the law in only one state, Ohio. In all other states, once the defense introduces some evidence of self-defense, the prosecution must rebut that with proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury thinks there’s a 40% chance that the defendant is telling the truth when he says he heard the victim threaten to kill, and reach for his waistband, then the defendant would be acquitted. The theory that “better that [say] 10 guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted” extends to self-defense claims: “Better that 10 men who committed murder and lied about the need for self-defense go free than one man who killed in justifiable self-defense be convicted.” The worry about fake claims of self-defense has not been seen as serious enough to retain the old common-law/now just Ohio rule.

  5. "As we all know, many of the guns in CA are coming from the states nearby where there are loose gun laws- Nevada, for example."

    You keep holding to this falsehood. Read quotes in the news today from Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.

    "Police were still looking for the gun used, which Jordan described as a semiautomatic handgun that was purchased legally."

    So, DESPITE jumping through all the legal hoops to own a handgun in California, we still have crime and criminals -- amazing isn't it?

    1. So then he was another law abiding gun owner committing a crime. How does this happen? By the way it is legal to buy a gun without a background check in states surrounding CA. All gun sales require background checks in CA. Yes it will be interesting to see where the gun came from. I didn't say one way or the other though, Pat. I was responding to a snotty question about how this could happen in CA where there are strict gun laws.

    2. Its NOT legal for CA residents (or any other state) to buy handguns in the states surrounding CA and bring them back across state lines. A "legally purchased handgun" would have been purchased in-state only.

    3. Pat you are wrong. You can buy a handgun in Nevada at a gun show with no background check if the seller does not ask for any ID which we know has happened from the many hidden camera videos. No one is checking for guns at the border, as you know. The Iron Pipeline that goes from Virginia and states South of there provide many of the guns to NY and Northeast states where gun laws are more strict. I don't why you guys can't admit to this? Is it because if you do, you would have to recognize that we have a problem with our gun laws? The facts are the facts. I say it again, people can buy guns out of state and not necessarily have to show a state ID. It happens on a regular basis. I am not making it up. It is a fact.

    4. No, a CA resident cannot legally buy a gun in NV at a gun show without a background check PERIOD.

      Regardless of whether the buyer volunteers that he is not a resident of NV or the seller asks for proof that he is, a non-resident CANNOT legally purchase a gun from a private party in any state. To do so is a violation of federal law.

      Also, one cannot be "a law abiding gun owner committing a crime." The two are mutually exclusive.

    5. David- I have been over this one many times on this blog. Apparently you don't understand that some private sellers sell to anyone and don't ask even for ID. That has been proven on hidden camera video after hidden camera video so I'm not making this up. It is out there for anyone to see. They don't always ask for drivers' licenses. They sell anyway and people walk away with guns with no background checks and no ID in states that don't require background checks on all sales. That is a fact. And no, it is simply not true that a law abiding gun owner is a criminal before he/she shoots someone in a homicide. Until they pull the trigger, they are law abiding. They have, in many cases, purchased their guns legally and gone through background checks if they bought at FFLs or got a permit to carry ( though it's up for question as to whether everyone in some states is still law abiding when they get their permits in the first place). Many homicides are domestic in nature. The shooter was a person who was not a criminal. They pulled the trigger in anger, despair, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or mental illness and suddenly became a criminal. Someone on this blog tried to say that most of these law abiding folks had been criminals prior to the shooting. That is not true. George Zimmerman for example- was he law abiding before he pulled the trigger in February? That is also up for question but supposedly he was. He was walking around the neighborhood under the assumption that he was law abiding though he had been charged with a crime and had the charge reduced so he wasn't a felon thereby making it legal for him to retain his permit. What about the Utah gun blogger who shot his girlfriend, her 5 year old daughter and then himself? Was he a criminal before he pulled the trigger? He was a law abiding gun owner and permit holder who, in a second of anger or whatever happened, shot 3 people.

      So as to violation of a federal law, indeed, it likely is to sell to someone without asking for ID. I wonder why so many do it anyway? We need to make sure that all gun sales go through a system of background checks. Then we won't be having this argument. If no one is checking on those private sellers, they will sell. Some advertise over the internet and exchange the guns in parking lots, as a recent video showed. No ID, no background check, no questions asked. Legal? No.But people do it anyway. We should be making it much harder for these things to happen. This is a long way of saying that you are right about the law. But you are wrong in assuming that private sales don't ever happen without asking for state ID. And you are wrong about your last assertion. I know you guys just hate to admit that law abiding gun owners can shoot someone or commit a crime. It happens every day though to prove you are wrong.

    6. It is true that a VERY small number of legal gun owners do sometimes commit crimes with their firearms. (Approximately 80 million legal gun owners, approximately 17,000 homicide by gun, the vast majority are likely not legally owned).

      Anyone who would shoot another person in anger or despair is unstable and should not possess weapons. Anyone who uses a firearm under the influence of alcohol or a drug is already violating various state laws.

      Not going to get into an argument over Zimmerman, he may or may not be guilty. The state attorney refused to press charges for lack of evidence.

      Not sure about the gun blogger, but if he shot himself he was likely depressed and/or suicidal, both of which prohibit one from purchasing and possessing firearms.

      You admit that these acts are already illegal. How exactly do you plan on making it harder. Laws only work if they are enforceable, and it would be exceedingly difficult to enforce a law requiring every private seller to ask for an ID before the sale. Would most comply? likely so, but the majority of those who would comply likely already attempt to verify that the transaction is legal.

    7. David, you are wrong on almost all counts. Do you have any facts that show that homicides by guns are committed by guns that are not legally owned? As a matter of fact, over half of gun homicides are committed by people who know each other- many of those domestic in nature and many of those by people who are law abiding and have no mental problems. They shoot in anger or are depressed but not labeled as adjudicated mentally ill. My sister was shot by one of these kind of law abiding gun owners. I know of many many others similar. The gun blogger had no apparent problems. He was labeled as a nice ordinary guy. He shot in anger over a domestic dispute. This happens far too often in this country. Those law abiding gun owners under the temporary influence of alcohol? Are they illegal? Hmmm. There have been shootings in bars by permit holders who are drunk. They are not supposed to carry when drinking but they do. Bar tenders are not charged with asking people if they are carrying a gun when they serve them. Who is going to monitor this? This website will show you how many permit holders have been involved in shootings. http://www.vpc.org/ccwkillers.htm I don't make this stuff up. The news is full of these kind of shootings. We make it too easy for people who shouldn't have guns to get them. I have gone over the solutions on this blog many many times and don't intend to go over it right now. You are new to the blog. You can read my views in my posts. What I say in my posts is what I believe. I link to actual articles about actual shootings and provide facts.I know you don't believe them. That is your problem, not mine.

    8. japete writes: "They sell anyway and people walk away with guns with no background checks and no ID in states that don't require background checks on all sales."

      In states that currently require this, do you believe that everyone is following the law? That criminals can no longer buy firearms?

    9. No. Do you have a better idea? It works for FFLs where we know that they deny people who are prohibited from buying guns. Why would the same thing not work for private sellers? It's the same system. We haven't tried it yet. It would be simple. It's workable and it would work to stop some but not all criminals. Then we have to do other things like making sure people store their guns safely so they aren't stolen, blah, blah, blah, blah. I have gone around the block hundreds of times about this Bryan. Why keep asking? You know how I feel. You disagree. That's the way it is. So why not stop asking me the same questions or do you guys get a kick our of harassing me?

    10. I'm not sure how this situation changes by requiring sales to go through a FFL or some sort of background check process. The criminal is still going to purchase / trade for their firearms in a way that bypasses that system.

    11. Of course, Bryan. Everyone knows that criminals have ways to get their guns. This is but one. Why would we not close off one of the ways we know criminals get their guns. Guns don't fall from the sky. One of the arguments used over the years is that criminals get their guns from the trunks of cars. When 20/20 did their video with Omar Samaha, giving him $5000 to go to a Virginia gun show and buy guns from private sellers without a background check, he came out time after time to his car and put the guns in the trunk. On camera, someone walked by and asked if he had a certain type of gun in his trunk. If he had, he could have sold it right there from the trunk of his car. If the gun lobby just purposely opposes any measure to stop gun sales to criminals, they are part of the problem. The NRA can't keep getting away with the argument that if we pass gun control measures only criminals will have guns.That argument doesn't work and it's a lie.

  6. This article- http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/03/us/california-shooting/index.html sheds more light on the CA shooting and how it occurred. " This was a calculated, cold-blooded execution in the classroom," Jordan said. The suspect "just felt a certain urge to inflict pain on them," he said.
    After the shooting, the man left the classroom, reloaded his semiautomatic weapon and returned, firing into several classrooms, Jordan said.
    He ended his rampage by driving off in a victim's car, police said. In all, seven people were killed and three were wounded.
    "This happened within minutes," Jordan said. "We don't think the victims had any opportunity to resist, any opportunity to surrender."
    The suspect was arrested a short time after the shooting, when he surrendered to police at a grocery store in the Oakland suburb of Alameda, Jordan said.
    Goh offered no resistance when arrested, Jordan said, and was "very cooperative, very matter-of-fact, very calm." Under questioning, Goh "remembered very good details" about the incident, he said.
    "He planned this several weeks in advance," Jordan told KTVU on Tuesday. "He was so upset he went out and purchased a weapon and had every intent to kill people yesterday.""

    Even someone with a gun could not have stopped this attack. When they tried to resist, he shot them dead on the spot.

  7. Was this guy ( http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8607168) a law abiding gun owner? He allegedly pointed his gun at some kids over balloons. Not a good idea. Is it worth doing this over balloons or property?

  8. Joan, people CAN do lots of things. Just because someone CAN do something, doesn't make it legal.

    I pointed out that your argument regarding the CA incident was invalid, as the shooter "legally" obtained his gun within California -- not from a surrounding state, despite your comments to the contrary. Furthermore, it is not LEGAL for anyone to buy a handgun in a state other than their own and bring it back across state lines. Regardless of the fact that people CAN break the law, it doesn't make their actions legal.

    The fatc that the shooter had enough time to line people up, exit the classroom, reload and return indicates to me that an armed resistor would have had adequate time to defend themselves. Unfortunately for the poor students, the Brady Campaign mentality has prevailed in California, and they were unarmed since colleges are a "gun free zone".

    1. Good grief, Pat. Now you blame this on the Brady Campaign? Come on. You can do better than that. Didn't you read the article? It clearly said there was no time for anyone to resist. But never mind- you can have your own take on this if you'd like. I'm done with this thread. We don't agree on the laws even though we have proven that private sellers DO indeed sell guns to people without checking their IDs and we know that no one is on the borders between states checking for guns. Who is to know whether you bought that gun from a FFL or from a private seller?