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.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

NRA's poster boys

You have to hand it to the NRA. They have, over the years, created a gun climate in the U.S. that has fostered all sorts of interesting bedfellows. But the "You reap what you sow" adage comes to mind here. What they have sowed is growing into an ugly, irresponsible, extremist and dangerous group of gun nuts. These guys don't represent all gun owners but the gun culture espoused by the NRA has created an atmosphere where vigilantism, fear, paranoia, and violence has become more frequent. Such is the case with J.T. Ready who just yesterday committed mass murder and then suicide. Here is the story:

" J.T. Ready, the avowed White supremacist and militant critic of illegal immigration who authorities believe was the gunman in Wednesday’s multiple murder-suicide in Gilbert, cut a swath through Arizona politics before — and after — it became apparent he represented the far-right fringe of the political spectrum.

Along the way the barrel-chested former Marine became entwined for a time with one of the state’s most powerful political leaders and appeared on the radar of at least two national groups that track potentially violent extremist movements for his views and armed patrols of the Mexico border."

The group’s website describes Ready as a “neo-Nazi and anti-immigrant extremist,” tracing his activities in Arizona from 2004 onward.
“We have monitored J.T. Ready for many years now,” Pitcavage said. It began with Ready’s early activities as a border vigilante but soon led to the realization that Ready was “a full-fledged White supremacist.”
For a time, Pitcavage said, Ready was a “mover and shaker” for the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group with about 330 members nationwide. Ready was one of the group’s two principal leaders in the Phoenix area, Pitcavage said.
An online biography of Ready includes several quotes in which he advocated restoring the country as a “White, European homeland,” called for militant action against Jews and advocated using “lawful, deadly force” when appropriate to protect the Mexican border.
Pitcavage said it would be premature to link Ready’s extreme political views to the explosion of violence that ended five lives on Wednesday. “When the shooting spree is directed toward family members, or what were essentially the closest thing he had to family members, those are usually personal rather than ideological motives,” Pitcavage said.
Ready also had been tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil-rights organization that monitors hate and extremist groups. Like the ADL, the center carries a biography of Ready on its website.
It notes that Ready apparently got his start in politics as president of the Mesa Community College Republican Club and became increasingly involved in local issues in the early 2000s.
According to the SPLC biography, Ready received a bad-conduct discharge from the Marines in 1996, after being court-martialed twice — once for larceny and going AWOL, and once for conspiracy and assault.
The site also lists a 1992 criminal conviction for property damage and assault after he and a friend destroyed a car mirror with a baseball bat.
Nice guy, that Ready. And now he has shot 4 people, including a toddler, and then himself. You may remember that I wrote about him once before on this blog last fall. One of my readers sent me a video of Ready wanting me to believe that "Occupiers" had guns at their rallies. It turns out that Ready was the "occupier" who was outed in an interview as a true gun rights extremist. Hypocrisy and lies all around. But then, the NRA and its' minions don't deal with facts well.

Raise your hand if you think this guy (Ready) should have had guns at all. Raise your hand if you think Ready should have been elected to public office. Raise your hand if you think his version of the second amendment is the one we should believe. Raise your hand if you think the NRA will denounce extremists like Ready. Let me know how many times you raised your hand. The NRA doubles down when incidents like this happen. Yesterday, for example, on the NRA website we see this defense of "Shoot First" laws:
It’s a natural right. No law "gives" it or can take it away. It's yours. It works. And its only alternative – the idea that distant, disinterested third parties can dictate after the fact that "you must retreat" – will never be accepted by the American people.
For these reasons, the National Rifle Association will work to protect self-defense laws on the books and advocate for their passage in those states that do not fully respect this fundamental right.
After the Trayvon Martin shooting and the national discussion about Stand Your Ground laws, what are they thinking? Not much, apparently. This is the response from the Brady Campaign about this irresponsible behavior on the part of the NRA:
"Since George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin, America’s outrage over the gun lobby's deadly "Shoot First" laws forced the NRA into a two-month self-imposed silent exile. The darkness and danger of their vision was exposed with unusual clarity.  Their reaction was to remain unusually silent.

Unfortunately, it seems they are now back to their usual business of using fear and paranoia, tinged with racism, to justify their agenda of political extremism and selling as many guns to as many people as possible.

The NRA has now issued another ridiculous and misleading statement saying "Shoot First" laws are needed to protect the “innocent.”  We wonder whether Trayvon Martin’s parents would agree with that.

This time, the American people are not going to let the gun lobby just go back to business as usual -- using lies and deception to sell more guns to people like George Zimmerman.  They claim they are supporting our freedom and our right to bear arms.  A convicted felon or a terrorist can walk into a gun show in most states and buy a gun without a background check.  The NRA has fought to keep it that way.  Those are the only rights they are protecting – and just to make a profit.
You must remember that just a few short months ago, another of the NRA poster boys also committed murder/suicide. Landon Jorgensen, "law abiding" gun owner and Utah gun permit holder as well as firearms instructor and blogger also killed a young child in addition to his girlfriend and himself:
Jorgensen is a former U.S. Marine and gun enthusiast, according to neighbors and investigators. He had a blog, "Guns, Freedom and Politics: One young man's perspective," in which he said he aspired to own a gun shop and shooting range one day. Jorgensen was also the former president of the Red Cliff rifle group.
Jorgensen taught a tactical pistol class as late as June, a post on the Southern Utah Pistol & Revolver website states. He also offered to teach a class for people to receive their Utah concealed firearms permit.
Both of these guys were former Marines. I don't know what that means but there have been other incidents of gun homicides and an increase in gun suicides of active and former military members. It should be a wake-up call that it's not necessarily a good idea for these guys to have guns around at the ready once they get home. That's a topic for another blog post. These are the guys who represent the gun culture gone wrong in America. This radical group has unfortunately fooled our elected leaders into doing their bidding. Shame on all of them. Until our leaders realize how they have been duped, they won't stand for up for the citizens in this country who believe that the above poster boys are not only stupid, but dangerous and pose threats to the rights of all of us to be free of their violence and their paranoia.

Of course, the most famous poster boy of late is George Zimmerman who we all remember shot a teen-ager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida a while ago. George Zimmerman just can't seem to make himself into a good guy with a gun. This article came out yesterday showing that Zimmerman made some crude comments on an old My Space account. Nice guy, that Zimmerman. From the article about Zimmerman:
Then, in a riff about why he does not miss his childhood home outside of Washington, he makes remarks about Mexicans, using slang as he seemingly discussed recent immigrants.
"I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!"
Hmmmm. What is this all about? Time will tell how this plays out during the trial for George Zimmerman. He is one of the guys with the guns that the NRA thinks get to make the rules. Remember Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive VP saying that in this video?

And last, is the incident of some "law abiding" gun rights extremists in Georgia holding two actual law abiding citizens hostage as they tried to move into a home. Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence writes about that incident and more in his latest post on Huffington Post. But the gun guys got caught in their vigilantism because some folks just don't let the guys with the guns make the rules. From the article:
That's when they met their new neighbors, the Canoles. Robert and Brandon snuck up behind them with their semiautomatic rifles and, confronting the couple, told them to shut up and get their hands in the air, or else they'd be shot. Robert Canoles demanded to see the couples' paperwork for the home closing, but the Kalonjis did not have it with them. The Canoles called 911 and when deputies arrived, told them they had detained the couple on suspicion of burglary. The Kalonjis pleaded with the deputies to call their son to verify their ownership of the home. They refused to. The Kalonjis were handcuffed, arrested for loitering and prowling, and jailed. The Canoles were told "good job" and never so much as questioned.
It must have been a terrifying and shocking experience for the Kalonjis. Jean grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire). Angelica is originally from Romania. They moved to the U.S. in the late 1990s to escape persecution by the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko. During one traumatic experience there, armed men accosted Jean. Jean and Angelica thought they were forever free from such wanton violence. But as Jean told the media, "There, they put me down with the gun to my head, and come here, the same." [Interesting side note: In 1995, NRA Board Member Grover Norquist and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked to obtain a U.S. visa for Mobutu, who had been banned from entering the country because of massive corruption and human rights abuses in Zaire.]
Thankfully for the Kalonjis, they had something that most Americans do not: Access to a high-profile, experienced lawyer. Atlanta criminal defense attorney Don Samuel knows the Kalonjis through their son Bruno, who coaches his children in soccer. He quickly learned about what happened to Bruno's parents and agreed to represent them in the case.
The tide turned quickly. Two days after the incident, the Kalonjis and Samuel met with the Newton County Sheriff's Office and District Attorney. The charges against them were dropped. On the same day, the Canoles were summoned for an interview with Newton County officials and told to bring their guns. They are now being charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal trespass, and have been released from jail on bond of $8,450 each.
Common sense just might be breaking out regarding vigilantes with guns. Americans are learning more and more every day about the extreme agenda of the NRA and other groups in the powerful and well funded gun lobby. It is not a pretty picture and should be rejected. If our elected leaders have any common sense, they, too, will reject this extreme agenda leading to stupid and dangerous situations in our country. We are not safer because of the NRA. The guys with the guns are making us all less safe.

UPDATE- 5/7/12

This article just came across my e-mail. A Virginia man was arrested for threatening to kill President Obama. Here is what he had to say about NRA Board member Ted Nugent:
"I sent a bomb threat to the White House today and to several radio stations," Hecker wrote. "Sooner or later I will grab someone, maybe in the woods, on the trail, and beat the life out of them."
Continued Hecker: "[Obama] is the one that is destroying patriotism in the U.S.A. Ted Nugent is right. So, Obama is allowing me to be tortured to the point that I may murder someone, rather than deal with the mess he made. Your president is a coward."
Thank you Ted Nugent for your violent remarks. Some people are paying attention to them and are prepared to take action.


  1. This guy was the worst kind of vigilante.

    By no functioanl definition, no effective sense of the word could he be described as law abiding, even if he was running for sheriff.

    He was a nut with a gun; a gun nut. An obsessive miltia white supremacist gun nut.

    He was just exactly like Anders Breivik, only more obese and less well groomed, and he Ready shot fewer people,but only apparently because he ran out of them.

  2. The extremists react to the shooting of and by J.T. Ready- http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/05/03/extremists-react-to-neo-nazis-apparent-mass-murder-suicide/

  3. Here's a profile of J.T. Ready- the gun rights extremist who died yesterday in the mass murder/suicide in Arizona referenced above- http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/profiles/jt-ready

    1. Wasn't this the J T Ready who wanted to run for Sheriff as a Democrat? The same one who was part of Occupy Phoenix? You know, those occupiers that we said were criminals and you said were wonderful? How could he be a gun rights extremist when he couldn't legally have guns both because he was a convicted felon and had a less than honorable military discharge?

    2. Dear readers,

      I printed this comment as an example of a gun rights extremist on full display. Robin is being facetious and provocative- a favorite tactic of the NRA and those who believe in its' agenda. This is exactly why the majority, who believe that people like J T Ready should not have guns, want to pass laws to stop them from getting them in the first place. But Robin, and those who believe in the nonsense spouted by the NRA, believe otherwise. Apparently Robin thinks that people like Ready are fine with guns. That is the gun culture he, and others who think like him, espouse. And of course, Robin chose to ignore the previous post I wrote about the occupy Arizona group and Ready trying to make himself look like one of them. J T Ready was a dangerous man and a gun nut on full display. He had radical views that others like him also have. They are a growing number of extremists who are ready to fight against their own country and people who don't look like them or believe in the same things. Their twisted views are frightening. If Robin is one of them, I hope he reconsiders. Robin, do you believe in this radical view of the world?

    3. No, Robin is not fine with Mr. Ready having guns. Mr. Ready, as Robin stated, is twice prohibited from having guns. Once because he was a felon, and once because he was discharged from the military under less than honorable circumstances.

      What Robin said was that Mr. Ready was not the kind of person that would make a good gun rights extremist because legally he could not own guns. There were already laws against it. Of course being of a criminal bent he did not obey those laws but if we make it more illegal then he will.

      Robin was also commenting on the fact that Mr. Ready seems to be on the left of the political spectrum, not the right. Mr. Ready did not make himself look like a occupy member, he was one. He provided their security.

    4. What's with using the third person to refer to yourself? Whatever. Robin is wrong. Clearly Mr. Ready was a right wing extremist- hating immigrants, militia member, gun rights extremist. Clearly Mr. Ready was not a member of Occupy. Mr. Ready in no way provided security for the Occupy movement. He was not asked to be there by the group and when interviewed, it was obvious. But apparently facts don't matter to you, Robin.