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 22, 2012

What kind of world do you want?

This article gets to the very crux of the matter of the gun rights advocates versus the gun violence prevention advocates. From the article:
"At heart, this case is really about the type of society some want to have versus the one the National Rifle Association wants to foist on an unsuspecting public. Just imagine for a minute that Trayvon Martin was an adult instead of a juvenile; further, that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon; and still further, that he had a gun on his person when Zimmerman approached him. Under “Stand Your Ground” laws Martin could have just as easily shot and killed Zimmerman instead, and (if not for the fact he was black, and that laws—when race enters into the picture—have been applied unequally in this country for centuries) he then could have made the same self-defense claim. Under this type of Wild West mentality fistfights can (and will) escalate into murders.
Nonetheless, more laws are being proposed in some states to allow concealed weapons to be carried into bars, schools, and public buildings, all in the name of creating a safer society.
According to a study published in the prestigious American Journal of Epidemiology, however, “Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home …”"
And there's much more. Certainly, I have addressed this many times on this blog. And when I do, I get the usual push back from some who read my blog, replete with NRA "talking points". Obviously we will disagree. I believe that American communities should be safe from shootings. The way to aspire to that kind of community is not to allow more people who shouldn't have guns in the first place to carry loaded guns into more places. It is a country where there are some places where guns are not only not wanted, but not necessary. It is a country where we do a background check on all purchasers of guns. It is a country where it should be harder for assault type weapons, designed for war use, are harder to get as well as the high capacity magazines that go with them. It's a world where even law abiding gun owners don't get out their guns in arguments, domestic disputes, while depressed or under the influence of drugs and alcohol and shoot a loved one or acquaintance. So far, the gun culture created by the NRA and the gun rights extremists is not working very well. We have too many victims. The U.S. rate of gun deaths per 100,000 has been consistently higher than other civilized, industrialized countries not at war. In our country, we have daily shootings such as those below, as recent examples:

A Michigan grandmother shoots her own 17 year old grandson in the home they shared, because he was "troubled."  Really? Why? Do you just get out your gun and shoot a loved one because you have determined he or she is troubled? Yes, he was troubled and there had been prior domestic related incidents at the home because of drug related incidents with the teen. Did he deserve to die because of that? Wasn't there another way to deal with this? Surely we will find out more but from the article:
Hoffman had been attending an alternative high school in nearby Farmington and living with his maternal grandparents so he could complete his senior year while his divorced parents settled in Arizona, according to his father, Michael Hoffman of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Layne's attorneys have said there were problems at the condo, and Layne was afraid of her grandson. One of her attorneys, Mitchell Ribitwer, told reporters Monday that drugs and drug paraphernalia apparently belonging to the teen were found at the condo after Hoffman was killed. (...) 
"I spoke to the officer who responded, and he indicated this young man was totally out of control in the street," defense attorney Ribitwer told reporters Monday. "He was derogatory to his grandmother. He was yelling and shouting and almost got into it with the police."
Police said Layne had recently purchased her .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun for protection, reports WWJ correspondent Marie Osborne.
Was there another way to deal with a troubled grandson? Why was a gun chosen? Without the gun, this boy would be alive.

A shooting after an NBA game in Oklahoma City results in the shooting of 8 people. Someone fired into the crowd. Why? How could anyone possibly have defended themselves from something like this? A gun made the difference. Who was carrying that loaded gun in public? Why did that person decide to fire into a crowd? A knife or other weapon could not have accomplished the same result. From the article:
"Some girls got into it with a group of guys, and the guys opened fire on the women," Nelson said.
He said the shooting occurred at 11:35 p.m. Police know of at least eight people wounded in the incident, but Nelson did not have information on their ages or genders. He said one victim was in critical condition but that the others did not have life-threatening injuries.
So an argument breaks out in a nightclub area and someone shoots a gun into a crowd? We will learn more about this but for now, one could make a guess that alcohol was involved. Guns are not needed and should not be around where there are a lot of people gathered, emotions high, and alcohol. But that is the world we now have with guns everywhere carried by too many people who shouldn't be carrying.

In our gun culture, we have people like this man, who talked of shooting President Obama, being able to get his gun collection back because it is legal to give it back to him. After one of my recent posts, some of my commenters were incensed that I thought it was a problem for people plotting to overthrow the government to get their guns back after they were found to be not guilty of a felony. It's legal. Is it a good idea? I'm just asking. There are people who should not have guns. The man above, in my opinion, is one of them. Raise your hand if you think this guy is someone you think should have a bunch of guns easily accessible to him. Let's hope he doesn't decide to act on his words and use one of those guns to shoot someone.

The gun culture we have is starting to result in an increase in gun deaths versus other means of death as this article about a new study released by the Violence Policy Center shows-10 states now have higher rates of gun death than deaths due to car accidents:
More Arizonans were killed in firearms-related incidents in 2009 than in motor vehicle crashes, a new study said. While 809 people died in vehicle crashes, there were 856 gun deaths, a state-by-state analysis by the Violence Policy Center showed.
Arizona was one of ten states where more people were killed by guns than in crashes, the gun-control advocacy group said Tuesday in a call for more regulation of firearms.
A local gun-rights activist dismissed the call for more gun control, but said gun safety education could be better.
"There are more people who die in car accidents than from guns, nationally," said Charles Heller of the Arizona Citizens Defense League. "50,000 people die in crashes, and about 32,000 from guns—and how much of that is suicide?"
You can see here that a local Arizona gun rights advocate thinks that suicide deaths by gun shouldn't count. Why not? These people are dead, just the same as people who died because of gun homicide and accidents. Car accidents are almost always that- accidents. The victims are dead no matter how it happened. Heller went on to say this:
The comparison between gun deaths and those in car crashes isn't valid, said Heller.
"Japan has a higher suicide rate than the U.S., and none of that is from guns," he said. He called the center's report politically motivated.
"They want to get rid of all handguns," he said.
In Arizona, there were 12.98 gun deaths per 100,000 residents in 2009, compared to 12.27 motor vehicle deaths, the group said.
Of the nine other states, Nevada showed the greatest differential, with 15.36 gun deaths per 100,000 versus 9.65 vehicle deaths.
"Between 1966 and 2000, the combined efforts of government and advocacy organizations reduced the rate of death per 100,000 population by 43 percent which represents a 72 percent decrease in deaths per vehicle miles traveled," the Violence Policy Center said in its report.
"America is reaping the benefits of decades of successful injury prevention strategies on its highways, but continues to pay an unacceptable, yet equally preventable, price in lives lost every year to gun violence," the group said.
Did Heller see anything about getting rid of handguns in this report? No. And why compare suicides to Japan's rate of suicide? What does that have to do with the fact that more Americans in 10 states in our country are now dying from bullets than from car accidents. What does Heller want to do about this? Nothing, of course. But diverting the public from the real problem is a favorite trick of the NRA types. Let's have better gun safety education but don't pass any laws like we have done to lower death rates from car accidents. Heller ends with a ridiculous statement that shows the kind of world the NRA and its' minions want:
Heller rejected calls for design changes in firearms.
"You want them to be dangerous or they're no damn good," he said.
"Making them safer adds complexity, and that has unintended consequences," said the gun-rights activist. "The only true safety in firearms is the person using it."
"Could the state of training be better? Absolutely," he said. "We ought to make gun-safety training mandatory in the schools."
Indeed. Guns are dangerous. Making them safer from children or from those who obtain them who shouldn't have access to them should be of utmost importance. But the gun lobby wants to be able to make sure those guns are as dangerous as possible. Now there's an agenda worth pursuing! Where is common sense? And then, of course, Heller wants to add gun safety training to what our schools are already doing to educate children. I have had that argument many times before on this blog. It is ridiculous. Let's take a look at the actual press release about this report from the Violence Policy Center:
The 10 states which experienced more firearm deaths than motor vehicle deaths in 2009 are: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington (see alphabetical listing of states with mortality figures below). Nationally, there were 31,236 firearm deaths in 2009 and 36,361 motor vehicle deaths according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Alaska: 104 gun deaths, 84 motor vehicle deaths
Arizona: 856 gun deaths, 809 motor vehicle deaths
Colorado: 583 gun deaths, 565 motor vehicle deaths
Indiana: 735 gun deaths, 715 motor vehicle deaths
Michigan: 1,095 gun deaths, 977 motor vehicle deaths
Nevada: 406 gun deaths, 255 motor vehicle deaths
Oregon: 417 gun deaths, 394 motor vehicle deaths
Utah: 260 gun deaths, 256 motor vehicle deaths
Virginia: 836 gun deaths, 827 motor vehicle deaths
Washington: 623 gun deaths, 580 motor vehicle deaths
And a conclusion that should make us all stand up and demand action, from the link to the study above:
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Americans are reaping the benefits of smart safety regulation of motor vehicles. The idea that gun deaths exceed motor vehicle deaths in 10 states is stunning when one considers that 90 percent of American households own a car while fewer than a third own firearms. It is also important to consider that motor vehicles--unlike guns--are essential to the functioning of the entire U.S. economy. It is time to end firearms’ status as the last unregulated consumer product.”
The thing is, we need to decide as a country what kind of communities we want. Do we want public health and safety? Do we want to keep our citizens from being shot to death? Do we want common sense gun laws that can prevent and reduce gun deaths and injuries? Or do we want to keep pandering to a decreasing number of gun owners who believe in a different kind of America? Our elected leaders should be taking notice of this new report. The numbers are the numbers. What more do they need? What more do we, as citizens, need to demand action? Where do you stand? Are you on the side of saving lives or are you on the side of saving the gun industry and the extreme agenda of the gun lobby?

UPDATE:

Just after I published this post, I was sent this article about a pilot who was arrested with a gun in his bag without permission to carry it. From the article:
A Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said pilots cannot carry weapons on board aircraft unless they are members of a federal Flight Deck Officer Program. She said Dieter is not a member of the program, and TSA is investigating what routes he took to board planes he previously piloted. She said that in many airports, pilots can reach the aircraft through "access points" other than checkpoints.
This is our gun culture.

UPDATE #2:

As another example of our gun culture, here is an article about a man whose 4 year old shot him in the leg. What was this Iowa gun permit holder, law abiding citizen that he was, thinking? Guns and kids do not go together. But the crazy gun culture in this country allows for a mind set that results in incidents like this happening quite often in our country. Is this the kind of communities we want?



5 comments:

  1. Sarcasm font: The results are quite clear. We must ban cars. It's for the children. Sarcasm off.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The guy that is getting his guns back is getting them back because

    a) He didn't commit any crime (he was found not guilty).
    b) The state didn't follow it's laws to be able to legally seize his property.



    The kind of world I want is one where the government is obligated to follow it's own laws and cannot punish people whom they have not proven to have committed some crime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously, that stands against "common sense". Anyone accused of a crime but found not guilty is still guilty somehow and a threat to us and our safety!

      Delete
  3. The deaths of innocents are inconvenient for the NRA's "more guns in more places and in more hands" argument for "public safety." And, of course, their policy is not to comment on actual shootings. It would draw too much attention to the fact that they are wrong about their philosophy.

    And yet, our lawmakers listen to them. This, as shootings steadily rise, year after year, while more and more gun regulations are relaxed.

    As the VPC study shows, regulation of cars has drastically reduced car-related deaths (especially if you go farther back, to the 60's, and look at the dramatic decrease). Remember, 90% of America households have vehicles, while only 33% of households have guns, yet the numbers are already higher for gun deaths now in 10 states. More will follow soon. Regulation of guns similar to cars would likely help, but we aren't speaking out loudly enough to bring such common sense back to America.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd like to see a world in which people had to qualify to own guns. Proper qualifications along mental health lines as well as past history of violence or drug and alcohol problems would probably disqualify half the current lawful gun owners, We would me redefining what it means to be a lawful gun owner, and the world would be a better place.

    The half who are disqualified would in some cases ignore the law and become hidden criminals. When caught they'd be out-and-out criminals. The rest, being law abiding folks, would obey the law even though they don't like it.

    Among those disarmed would be most of those responsible for the present gun flow to criminals. So, besides improving the quality of the pool of legitimate gun owners, we'd also diminish the flow of guns into the criminal world.

    ReplyDelete