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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Violence against women

Today I will walk in an event for Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP)- specifically, to remember Kay Marie Sisto who was shot to death by her estranged husband not quite 2 years ago. Kay's family will be there to remember her. We will all remember women who are shot in domestic disputes- too many of them. I will be remembering my sister, who was shot almost 20 years ago now. As we did last year at the first memorial walk for Kay Marie Sisto, people will be asked to ring the bell as a reminder that a person died because of a bullet. Over half of the deaths from domestic violence are due to shootings. And further, from this article: "Nearly two-thirds of all women killed by firearms were killed by an intimate partner." Guns and domestic abuse do not go together. Guns and angry men do not go together. Guns and marriage difficulties do not go together. Guns and the need for power and control do not go together.

Here is Kay's story as told by her son. As is often the case in these intimate partner shootings, the shooter also took his own life. Kay's sister Kim writes a beautiful blog, My Inner Chick, in which she shares stories about her soul mate, her best friend- her beautiful sister. I have come to know Kim through our common bond as women who have lost sisters to domestic violence and as fellow bloggers. Our sisters were both beautiful and vivacious. They both were shot to death by estranged husbands who sought control over them and in the end, managed the ultimate control- death. Too often women lose their lives because they have resisted this power and control and are attempting to get out of the relationship. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is trying to leave the marriage/relationship or just after she has left.

The bell will also be rung today for April Oles, who was shot to death by her husband, an Iraq war Vet. The couple lived in Superior, Wisconsin. Matthew Magdzas shot April, their 13 month old daughter and their unborn daughter, due to be born the day after the shooting. He then shot himself. This heinous shooting shook the community, as you can imagine, for its' awful violence. How can someone shoot a 13 month old toddler and a woman who is days away from delivering another child? Why? The shooter was an Iraq war veteran and an NRA gun permit class instructor. He knew how to use a gun. He had guns. Reports indicate the possibility that Matthew could have been suffering from PTSD. This is another problem about which I have written before. Guns and veterans with PTSD also do not go together. In the case of Kay Marie Sisto, my sister and April Oles, the shooters were all "law abiding" gun owners who used a gun in a moment of anger, passion, and/or depression over a relationship gone wrong. The availability of a gun made the ultimate difference between life and death more likely. Guns in homes are more likely to be used against someone in the home than for self defense:
"Whereas most men are murdered away from home," wrote Hemenway. "Most children, older adults, and women are murdered at home. A gun in the home is a particularly strong risk factor for female homicide victimization."
It's not just the increased risk by others in a home with a gun, but also an increased risk of suicide.
Guns are dangerous. The violence continues every day. In Minnesota there have been three recent domestic shootings. This one in April in Brooklyn Center , this one in Brooklyn Park, and this one in Lake City in which no one died but a gun was at the scene. The suspect in the Brooklyn Park triple homicide has been arrested and had some possible relationship with the day care provider in the home as well as a 15 year old girl who frequented the home. This is not a case of partner domestic violence but because of a "relationship" gone wrong, the suspect shot everyone in the home. In the following case, the police shot the abuser who approached them with a knife in Plymouth, Mn. This also happens with relative frequency. The lives of Police Offices are put in danger every day by domestic abusers who turn violent. And most recently, this shooting in St. Anthony, resulted in the death of two people because of a domestic dispute.

Events such as the walk for DAIP today remind us that domestic abuse and domestic violence continues to be a problem. At a national level, Congress has attempted to pass a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). But the House Republicans have insisted on passing their own version that the President intendes to veto. Apparently some in Congress think it's O.K. for domestic violence to be allowed for some classes of women. Reauthorizing this act has never been a controversy before because it is just plain common sense to pass measures to stop violence against women. But politics has superseded common sense and has allowed us to understand that rights of women to be safe from domestic violence have been ignored in favor of a political agenda. From the article:
During the House debate, Democrats charged that the GOP bill would actually leave victims of domestic violence worse off than they are under current law. Unlike the Senate bill, the House proposal discourages undocumented immigrant women from reporting abuse without the threat of being deported. It also makes it harder for Native American women to seek justice against their abusers, and it leaves out protections for the LGBT community altogether.
Republicans "rarely miss an opportunity to exclude LGBT Americans from important rights and benefits," Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said. "They're saying if you're a woman in a relationship with another woman, then you don't deserve the same protections from domestic abuse or sexual assault."
Many organizations encouraged Congress to support the VAWA with provisions included to protect additional classes of women that reflect the realities of the American population of women. Never mind. The House Republicans had something else on their minds- the 2012 Presidential election. From the article:
The bill's passage came despite opposition from more than 320 advocacy groups, including faith-based groups, women's organizations, civil rights groups and domestic violence workers groups. During the debate, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) pressed Adams to name groups that supported her bill.
"Well, Mr. Conyers, I can say I do," Adams said.
"I'm glad to know that," Conyers replied. "I think that just about tells everybody where the logic and the support for this bill is. There is none."
That isn't entirely correct, though: The National Coalition of Men endorsed the bill on Tuesday. 
Ah yes, a coalition of men endorsed the bill. Whatever. Meanwhile, this fight over women's issues continues and it reflects a side of American politics that pits politics against what is best for public health and safety. Violence against women is not political. It is a problem that needs a solution. My own Congressman, Chip Cravaack, voted in favor of the Republican version of the VAWA. Our elected leaders need to be held accountable for their votes. It's time to stand up for victims. Today I will be doing just that and I will be joined by hundreds who know the importance of supporting measures to stop the violence.


  1. japete writes: "The shooter was an Iraq war veteran and an NRA gun permit class instructor."

    The NRA does not have a class called the "gun permit class" and there's no such thing as a "NRA Gun Permit Instructor".

    The courses that the NRA teaches and certifies instructors in can be seen here: http://www.nrainstructors.org/CourseCatalog.aspx

    Some states accept NRA Basic Pistol as proof of training - but the course itself has nothing to do with gun permits.

    1. Good grief, Bryan. Give it a rest. Here are classes for Minnesota permit holders- http://mnpermittocarrytraining.com/

      " Certified NRA Instructor – Home Firearms Safety, Shotgun, Basic Pistol,

      Personal Protection

      · Certified NRA Range Safety Officer"

      You guys take yourselves way too seriously.

  2. ***The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is trying to leave the marriage/relationship or just after she has left.**

    Sweet Joan, I wish I would have known this before. I wish. I wish.

    Loved seeing you today. I adore your PASSION & Dynamic Voice.

    Our pain has become our mission. No?

    Keep telling your story!

    Love Love Love. xx