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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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

American cities at war?

While perusing my Twitter account, I came across the following articles about the gun wars going on in cities all over America:
  1. Albany, New York has been plagued by recent shootings: " But Memorial Day weekend started ominously in Albany just hours earlier, as a flurry of violence left two persons in critical condition in Albany Medical Center Hospital. One of the victims — Kedar Morton of Schenectady, suffered his third gunshot wound in Albany in less than five years, according to police. Few details were available, but police said he was shot in the stomach near 472 First St., around midnight."
  2. In Seattle, citizens just walking around on the streets have been shot by bullets apparently meant for others: " A man waiting to cross the street near Seattle Center was shot in the leg Saturday night, the second bystander in three days — and the third in recent weeks — to be caught in gunfire, continuing a troubling increase in the number of shootings in Seattle since the start of the year. More violence erupted early Sunday: In four drive-by shootings in South Seattle, gunmen fired more than 60 rounds, riddling four houses and several cars with bullets. Miraculously, no one was hit; a teenage girl dived to her bedroom floor to avoid being shot."
3. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois is also concerned about recent shootings:
With three shooting deaths in Champaign-Urbana in the last week, local law enforcement officials and community leaders are beefing up their efforts to warn people about gun violence.
Police departments in Champaign and Urbana say cases of shots being fired are on the rise, and so are incidents in which young people use fake guns to intimate other people. From 2011 to 2012, the number of reported shots fired went up from 47-to-76 In Champaign and 17-to-49 in Urbana.
Speaking Thursday at the Champaign City Building, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said parents play an important role in curbing gun violence.
“Parents must have a real conversation with their children about the dangers of firearms,” Cobb said. “In the past two months, officers have seen an increase in gun violence as well as young people intimidating violence with fake guns. This is not acceptable, and cannot be tolerated.”
Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly said it is important to treat all firearms as if they are real and loaded, and to call 911 for help on safely securing a weapon, especially if children are around.
And that's just a few of many; our cities are at war with gun violence; bullets are flying on the streets of cities all over America. Where is common sense? Let's talk about some recent blog posts that highlight the gun war happening in our country. The latest New Trajectory post does some comparisons between American gun deaths and deaths of American military personnel in wars since WWI. It is not a pretty picture. The charts on the blog are well done and illustrative of a very real, but ignored problem right under our noses. From the blog post:
Make no bones about it:  The number and rate of shootings here in America shows that we are at war, a war more deadly than any other war we've fought since WWII.  But the enemy isn't across a trench or hiding in a cave.  The enemy is our lax gun laws, allowing with surprising ease the ability of guns to get into the hands of those who shouldn't have them.  The battlefield is anywhere guns are present:  our towns, our streets, our homes.  It's time to make a new trajectory for our nation away from gun violence.
Another blogger had the same idea this Memorial Day. Nasty Jack writes about the true agenda of the NRA:
It is interesting that the NRA initially supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 and even helped draft portions of the bill that was introduced by Senator Thomas J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut.  Then it later turned to its true nature and opposed the law.  Wayne LaPierre has served as the NRA head since 1991 and during his reign has produced the loosest gun laws ever enacted in the U.S., perhaps the world, which have resulted in a rapid increase in gun deaths. 
So, why is this happening and what can we do about it? For one, we don't have to accept the NRA's version of America where just about anyone can carry a gun everywhere they go. That is a stupid and dangerous version of public safety. The core of the ridiculous arguments of the NRA and the gun lobby go something like what this author from Crooks and Liars just wrote:
Guns fall into the wrong hands all the time. More guns and fewer requirements for ownership doesn’t curb this. George Zimmerman was the wrong hands. Zimmerman, a Florida man now infamous for shooting an unarmed black teenager at close range after a 911 operator told him not to engage the alleged suspect and wait for police to arrive, is now being defended by said hyper-political gun owners. There’s no reason a Neighborhood Watch captain should be patrolling his block with a criminal record and a pistol. Zimmerman was a catastrophe realized. Even in the wake of new evidence about this case, the fact remains if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun, 16-year-old Trayvon Martin would be alive.
And once again, Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central has it right about the ridiculous gun culture in America. Here is a video of some of his skits about the "hot button" gun issue:




Is this the world we want? Felons getting gun rights back? Fear of President Obama because he hasn't done anything to take away guns and gun rights? Crazy stuff, but nonetheless espoused by the NRA and its minions. The NRA doesn't care if guns fall into the wrong hands as long as their members have their own and, by the way, their own arsenals just in case.... just in case of what? Oh yes, in case the "jack booted government thugs" come a knockin' at their doors. And, oh, by the way, some of these folks have formed their own militia groups about which I have written and now, another great post from New Trajectory, lists some of the groups and their suspect activities:
But as we consider our patriotism, think for a moment about those who espouse a more violent interpretation of what it means to be patriotic.  In particular, so-called "citizen militias."  They like to pass themselves off as average citizens who are concerned with helping to protect their communities.  In reality they are gun nuts who, if you visit their websites, are insurrectionist anti-government types who stockpile weapons, play soldier in the woods, and often have racist views, hiding their extremist views behind a radical interpretation of the Second Amendment and glorification of a slanted interpretation of Revolutionary War history.  It is an insurrectionist philosophy which the NRA actively supports.  Sadly, these philosophies attract people who are violent and sometimes terroristic, often with tragic consequences. 
This, too, is the version and the vision of America espoused by the ever more extreme NRA and others in the gun lobby, some of whom are amassing weapons in huge supplies just in case...... Any excuse to use a gun is just the thing for these folks. And not only that, but the fact that reasonable gun laws are turned aside and fought against by the version of the NRA now on display means that felons, adjudicated mentally ill people, domestic abusers, teens, terrorists, drug abusers and others are walking our streets with guns because we've done little or nothing to stop them. And so we have gun battles on the streets and in the homes of our cities. People are shot to death every day in senseless acts of violence. People shoot themselves every day in gun suicides. Children shoot themselves, siblings or friends every day because an adult in their life had no common sense. You can read about the many times this happens at the Kid Shootings blog, to which I contribute stories. Tragic, stupid and dangerous things happen every day. As we say on the blog: "Every gun in the hands of a child or teen must first pass through the hands of an adult." As adults, we are responsible for the safety of our children. As adults, we are responsible for doing the right thing to keep Americans safe from gun deaths and injuries. As adults, we can demand that something be done to change the gun culture and the gun laws to make us all safer. So let's get busy and do something about this irresponsible lack of attention to and action about a public health and safety problem in our communities.

UPDATE:
I find that I must add yet another tragedy of stray bullets flying in the streets of America. This senseless shooting of a young man happened in Seattle and was mentioned in the above article. Here is another article from the Ohh Shoot blog about this shooting:
A stray bullet hit Justin in the head. Justin died at the scene, in his father's arms. 
This is the second Seattle resident to be killed in a random shooting in the past month. In April, Nicole Westbook, 21, was walking in Pioneer Square when she was killed by gunshots from a moving car. 
No arrest has been made in either killing.
Saturday afternoon a man was walking near the Folklife Festival in Seattle when he was hit by a stray bullet. Ryan Burr was waiting at a crosswalk with two men started fighting nearby. One of them pulled out a gun and opened fire. A bullet passed through Ryan's calf. He was taken to the hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries. Police have arrested a suspect in the case.

UPDATE: 5/30
Some of my readers have insisted that the war in our cities is due primarily to gangs. That is because they love to have someone to blame for all of the gun violence. This new article proves them wrong. From this article:
Seattle police officials Tuesday told the City Council that the outbreak of violence through Memorial Day weekend and since the beginning of the year has more to do with guns than with gangs.
Deputy Police Chief Nick Metz and Assistant Chief for Operations Paul McDonagh said that while gang activity has played a role in the 20 percent jump in homicides this year, the common denominator is guns.
"A person who has a gun is more likely to use a gun," said Metz after the weekly council briefing.
The police officials outlined plans to curb violence, including an increase in emphasis patrols in areas with high crime and a high number of violent incidents. They also called on community members with information about crime to contact police, even anonymously.
Well said, and oh so true. It's the guns, stupid.

UPDATE: 5/31
Five more are now dead in a shooting in Seattle. Read about it in this article. " Gunfire erupted late Wednesday morning at Cafe Racer, a restaurant and music venue north of the University of Washington." Gunfire erupted. These are words used to describe gun battles in war zones.




19 comments:

  1. Point 1: Seems all three cities listed have gang problems, not "gun problems." Instead of making laws banning objects, lets enforce laws which ban actions that harm other people.

    Point 2: If there are more gun laws put into place, that would mean these gangs would still be in illegal possession of firearms (no different than now). Only difference would be that fewer law-abiding citizens would have guns with which to lawfully defend themselves against said gangs.

    Point 3: New York and Chicago have some of the most stringent gun control laws around, and yet these gang members still had the guns. Gun control never disarms the criminal.

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    1. So what do you suggest doing about the gangs with guns problem? If it's a problem, let's do something to make sure gang members don't get their guns in the first place. Or don't you want to stop them from getting their guns? If we don't start by making sure we have background checks on all guns sales, prevent straw purchasing, stop the illegal gun market, we won't be able to stop them from getting their guns. If guns are stolen from homes and go unreported or they are not locked up properly and get stolen, how can we stop the flow of guns to gangs? The problems in New York and Chicago come from guns trafficked from other states with looser gun laws. that is why we need to deal with this head-on at a national level. What is your solution?

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    2. "What is your solution?"

      Life sentences for gun runners and straw purchasers.

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    3. That, of course, is after the fact and after the shootings have happened that take so many lives. What is your preventative solution? I'm all about stopping and preventing before someone gets shot. And you?

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    4. Wrong oh- first, you have to demonstrate with evidence that these occurrences were related to gangs or gang violence. We don't know that to be true, and given the number of non-gang related individuals who take matters into their own hands - as in the case of the many murder suicides every WEEK - this could as easily be from other causes.

      Second, anything which reduces the egregiously excessive number of guns we have, and closes the gun loopholes that make it entirely too easy for bad people to acquire guns, there will be fewer guns in the hands of the wrong people, ie fewer illegal guns.

      We know this because in other countries where there is any normal civilized control whatsoever by law enforcement, the number of crimes with firearms declines dramatically after such laws go into effect, and the number of crimes committed with firearms dries up to a trickle.

      Provide some facts, and lets do what we know works, instead of pandering to stupid reasoning, fact free arguments, and the NRA lobbying to make money for the gun industry. We are not more free with more guns. We are just expeiencing more lawlessness, more violence, more dead and injured people - that is NOT freedom. It is a different kind of subjugation. It is gun oppression.

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    5. Blaming the problem on "gangs," and pretending gun availability has no part in it is nonsense. That's what biased gun defenders do.

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  2. Thank you for the links, Japete.

    What do we do about the increasing violence in our cities?

    Prince George's County, Maryland, is considering instating a registry, to keep track of gun ownership by people previously convicted of gun-related crimes. Such registries have been shown to greatly reduce crimes, particularly shooting crime, by such people in D.C. and Baltimore:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/plagued-by-gun-crime-pr-georges-considers-making-offenders-register/2012/05/28/gJQAn5CJxU_story.html

    Of course the NRA is opposing it. Even though they say we should be tough on criminals, when it comes to common sense legislation to keep guns out of criminal hands (and *only* criminal hands, in this case), the NRA is against it.

    But here's the real crux: only in America would be debating if registering guns to gun-wielding criminals is a good idea! If you are convicted of a crime where a gun is used, you shouldn't be able to legally buy a gun again - period!

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    1. Odd then that both the NRA and the Brady Campaign supported Project Exile. I find it odd that there had to be a program to charge prohibited people fully. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Exile

      As you know if you are a felon then you would not be able to legally buy a firearm.

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    2. Anthony- that is simply not true. Felons can buy guns from private sellers with no background check to find out if they are a felon- no questions asked. That has been proven over and over again. Apparently you have chosen not to believe it.

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    3. @ Anthony: it's not just felonies. Not all gun crimes are felonies, such as assault. Some are even considered misdemeanors. In many states, if you were to hold a loaded gun to my head and threaten to shoot me unless I do as you say, you may not be charged with a felony and may not be added to the NICS background check system. Thus, your gun rights would be restored upon getting out of jail. If we can't stop such people from legally owning guns, the least we can do is track them with a registry.

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    4. Japete...It is illegal for felons to buy guns through private sellers. If a private seller is selling firearms to known felons then they are in fact breaking the law. Anthony is correct.

      Baldr.... Can you tell me which states allows the example that you've posted. Also, with a registry they would have to register all guns which is something that I personally have a problem with but I'm getting off of my original thought. Remove citizens ability to own guns won't stop the death and violence that you are concerned about. Ask the Jews and Hitler. Look at Syria. Ask the british how peaceful England has been with a gun ban in place.They have a higher violent crime rate than most of the UAE, South Africa, Astralia, N.America and Canada. Removing guns done nothing to fix your concern. One thing you can do if release mental health information the FBI that is doing the background checks. It was the rules about Hippa nobody thought about its uses.

      The bottom line is....if someone wants to kill you or a mass kill they don need a gun. Humans have been killing one another for thousand years without guns. If people want to hill people they'll find a way to do it.

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    5. Give me a break, Gregory. Private sellers don't ask people anything when they are selling their guns. They have no idea to whom they are selling and it could very well be to a felon. Yes, if they knowingly sell, that's a problem. But in my own state, someone who is working with us told a private seller at a gun show that he couldn't pass a background check and the guy told him it was no problem. There we are. Indeed, keeping some people from getting guns, as with the man in Seattle who clearly should not have had guns, could save lives. To say it wouldn't is a lie and disingenuous.Do you want me to drag out the Stats about gun deaths in England compared to the U.S.? I don't think you do. There aren't a lot of mass knivings in the world or mass clubbings. Come on. You are making excuses for the stupid and dangerous people with guns, some of them law abiding. You can't keep hiding behind the second amendment.

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    6. japete writes: "Private sellers don't ask people anything when they are selling their guns. They have no idea to whom they are selling and it could very well be to a felon."

      Many private sellers do ask. Some do not. You're making extremely broad assumptions here that are simply not true.

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    7. The many hidden camera videos show very plainly what I am "asserting". Facts don't lie.

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  3. Why no mention of the Memorial Day weekend shootings in Chicago? 40 shot, 10 killed? How did that possibly happen in place with the nation's most protective gun laws?

    Was that an oversight, or perhaps deliberate as it conflicts with your narrative on the topic? I'll give the benefit of the doubt.

    Criminals get their hands on all sorts of contraband every day. Everything from unregistered "chopped" cars to narcotics. Does anyone believe that inner city gang members in Chicago went to a gun show or yard sale to get their guns?

    I'm not a regular at gun shows, but the ones I've seen were mainly attended by middle aged white males wearing flannels and carhartts. Not doubting the possibility of ethnic minority teenagers with baggy pants and gold chains visiting gun shows, but that stereotypical gang banger would visually stand out just a bit in that environment.

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    1. Chicago has had a lot of shootings of late. I have mentioned them in other posts. Many of the guns come from nearby states where gun laws are much looser as I have discussed many times on this blog. That is a fact. As to gangs,, you guys would love it if all gun violence was coming from gangs. It is not, of course. But some of it is. Guns don't fall from the sky. They all start out in the legal market. After that, folks steal them, buy them through straw purchasing, traffic them to others on our streets, sell privately to people in parking lots or at gun shows where no background checks are required, etc. Where do you think the illegal guns come from in the first place? Perhaps some of those flabby middle aged white males wearing flannels and carharts are selling guns privately to people they don't even know. Do you have other explanations for how gang members get their guns? Where do you think they come from? Private sellers surely are responsible for some of the guns that get into the illegal market. That is just one way but it is a way.

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  4. I would like to focus on gangs, because that's perhaps an aspect of this problem BOTH sides can support. If we can stop the "evil", later we can focus on the "stupid" (leaving loaded guns in wrong place, etc.)

    Without a doubt, at least some amount of criminal guns were originally purchased legally. I've no idea what % of gangster guns were stolen, bought at shows, yard sales, or sold by corrupt owners.

    As long as a gun may be purchased legally, it's physically possible for that gun to come into possession by a bad guy.

    It's not impossible that law enforcement or military weapons could be "misplaced" if the demand from criminals made it lucrative enough.

    In summary, as long as there are any guns, the wrong people will eventually get some of them. Everything else is just a mitigation.

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    1. You do realize that it is legal to buy guns from private sellers with no background checks in most states. So you are wrong about it being "physically impossible for that gun to come into possession of a bad guy." But you knew that, right? Should we just go along and let these folks get their guns without stopping them? What's your answer again? Mine is to prevent the sale of guns to people who shouldn't have them for starters.

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    2. Sorry, I misquoted what Sean said. He said it was "physically possible" not "physically impossible" for that gun to come into possession by a bad guy. This was not intentional, as some want to claim but a mistake on my part.

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