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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gun rights, voter rights, women's rights and elections

I've been thinking about this blog post by Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence ever since I first read it. He lays out the agenda of the NRA well and puts words to some important ideas that should be further explored and more publicly examined. From the article:
"Threat to the rule of law? It's not going to come from recess appointments, federal grants to community organizations, mandates for reproductive health care, relaxed deportation rules for young immigrants or a discontinued operation run out an ATF field office in Phoenix, as the right wing would like us to believe. The ATF and Justice Department clearly betrayed their own principles in allowing "Fast and Furious" (and the earlier "Wide Receiver" operation) to happen in the first place, but there is no evidence the "gun-walking" strategy was ever adopted on a national (or even statewide) scale. Furthermore, Attorney General Holder has made it clear the operation was "unacceptable" and will not be repeated under his watch."
The right loves to hate Attorney General Eric Holder. Why are they so furious at him? What has he done to incur their wrath? Their disrespect for the man and the office is offensive, rude, unprecedented and frightening in its' intensity. The NRA has managed to whip up fear, paranoia and anger among its' minions. Not only do these folks want anyone to carry loaded guns around in every public place, but they want people to get ready for a war against their own country. According to the Horwitz blog post, they accomplished that once before in our own country's Civil War. And do they care that guns from our own country are trafficked into our neighboring country of Mexico causing the senseless deaths of tens of thousands? What they care most about, instead of preventing guns from being bought legally or illegally and trafficked to Mexico, is to attack the man who has ended a practice begun under President George W. Bush's ATF. Most particularly, they are making dangerous statements about public officials and their intimidating tactics, as described in the linked article above, are meant to let people know they mean business. Why else would people with loaded guns show up at a public meeting in Michigan? Again, from the article:
Two days later, the practical effect of decades of such rhetoric could be seen when pro-gun activists -- openly bearing loaded assault rifles and handguns -- crammed into the chambers of the Birmingham City Commission in Michigan to protest the arrest of a young man on charges of brandishing a weapon in public, disturbing the peace, and obstructing a police officer. Sean Michael Combs, 18, was arrested on April 13 for walking through downtown Birmingham with a battlefield rifle from World War II and refusing to show police identification to prove he was of legal age to "Open Carry." The show of force by his supporters at the city council meeting was straight out of the NRA playbook and sent the following message: "Make a law we don't like, enforce a law we don't like, and 'Second Amendment remedies' are always available to us."
Do these folks believe in the law? Do they want to make their own? Do they care about democracy as it is framed in our own Constitution which they love to tout and throw up when they talk about their own favorite issues? Democracy as we know it and as our Founding Fathers envisioned it is in trouble if the guys with the guns get to make the rules. When the far right attacks voting rights to disenfranchise Americans from exercising their right to vote, we have a serious problem. Voter ID laws have been passed in some states and are considered in others. In my own state of Minnesota there is a Voter ID amendment on the ballot. Voters will be asked to decide if there are some people who should not be allowed to vote. We don't have a problem with voter fraud. We have a problem with voter disenfranchisement. It is under challenge now as the Minnesota League of Women Voters and others have sued over the confusing and unspecified language of the amendment.That is how the right wing extremists want it. The NRA supports these measures.

Gun rights are sacrosanct to these folks. Voting rights? Not so much. Reproductive rights? Immigration and gay/lesbian rights? Not so much. Women's rights? Those, too, are under attack by the far right. They don't much like Planned Parenthood which provides basic health care to thousands of women. Birth control, long held as something women not only have a right to but should be considered as a private decision made by a woman and her partner/spouse is now also under attack. From this article:
These ads and the product they're hawking are a chilling reminder of a time when most women had limited access to birth control or reliable medical knowledge about contraception. Corporate muscle moved into the void to advertise Lysol as contraception under the widely recognized euphemism of “feminine hygiene,” and as Tone writes, “the strategy won sales by jeopardizing women’s health."
In case the far right hasn't noticed, it is not 1933 any more. In what century are we living? Do these folks really want to take away the right to birth control? Rights to health care? Not so much. Publicly disrespecting the President at a recent press conference? That, too, is now considered to be O.K. by those on the far right. Engaging in a vitriolic back and forth with our country's Attorney General at a recent U.S. House hearing the result of which was to ask for his resignation can only be seen as an attempt to take down President Obama and his administration. Is anything O.K. for these folks? It's even O.K. by them for a U.S. Congressman to call the President of the United States a liar out loud at a State of the Union address. Free speech? It depends. I guess it's free speech when a sitting U.S. Congressman can call the President a liar at a public speech but not when a Democratic woman Michigan legislator uses the word vagina during a hearing on an anti-abortion vote. In Michigan, Democratic women candidates were chastised and banned from saying the word vagina at a legislative session

Can a Democratic woman not utter a word the right considers offensive- a reference to a woman's body part? From the writer of this blog:" What’s more offensive than the word ‘vagina’? Not being able to say it." Indeed. People in other countries are looking in at our "democracy" and seeing some disturbing things. There are too many commentaries, articles and blogs about "Vaginagate" to which to link but suffice it to say, this incident has attracted world wide attention to the intolerance of the far right in the state of Michigan. I did like the reference in the linked blog above to The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Little did I know when I read this book for my book club years ago that the fictional concepts in the book would be coming to fruition in 2012. It was scary when it was written and it's even scarier now that it is actually happening.

But it's not just happening in Michigan. It's happening in Republican led legislatures all over the country. Let's hope that this extremism has awakened a sleeping giant. Women vote. Women are, in fact, the majority of American voters. They have noticed that something bad is happening to their rights? Women and minorities had to fight for their rights to vote and now are fighting again in 2012. While attacking Democrats and administration officials the far right is also attacking the very roots of what makes us a democracy. And to make matters worse, the very rich can now buy our elections. See this video of the recent MSNBC Hardball show with Chris Matthews

This is not a democracy, The hypocrisy is bold and cynical. In addition to the other issues, the powerful and well funded NRA is influencing American elections. The Koch Brothers and their billionaire friends are influencing American elections. ALEC led legislation and legislators funded by the Koch Brothers and a dwindling number of American corporations are influencing our elections. The Supreme Court, with their Citizens United decision is now influencing American elections. 

In the 2010 elections there were plenty of guys with guns who showed up at tea party rallies and places where the President spoke. You can see some images here and also some commentary. What do people mean when they come to town hall meetings, political rallies, hearings at state houses, city council meetings, or just walking around on the streets with loaded guns? What do people like Joe the Plumber and others mean when they run campaign T.V. ads showing them shooting their guns?Are they really just exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms? I think not. They are sending a clear message. The message is coming straight from the NRA when it's Executive V.P. Wayne LaPierrie says:

So back to the Josh Horwitz article that started this post. What is the NRA doing about issues outside of gun rights? Plenty. And what is the NRA doing about potential violent solutions to what they perceive as threats to their rights? Plenty. From the Horwitz blog ( linked above):
But a powerful special interest group that continues to promote the "legitimacy" of political violence after the attempted assassination of a congresswoman in Tucson, without either shame or remorse? That is a very serious threat to the rule of law. As are NRA policies that promote the unnecessary use of lethal violence on our streets. As Trayvon Martin's mother recently noted, "There is something very wrong if there's a law that a person is using to defend himself for killing a kid."
"Solutions" to non-existent problems are alive and well. "Second amendment remedies" are alive and well. Attacks on women are alive and well. Attacks on long held democratic rights to vote are alive and well. Attacks on free speech are alive and well. Attacks on our whole election system are alive and well and therefore on our democracy. Except that things are not alive and well. They are sick and twisted. Where is common sense?


  1. I thought gun registries were supposed to stop criminals from getting guns


    I hope you stayed safe during the flooding. good luck out there!

    1. Doesn't appear to be a reason to get rid of their gun registry. It looks like they have some issues on which to work, however. I guess criminals are enterprising folks which is why we need to prevent them, in any way possible, from getting their hands on guns. That's what I'm all about.

      Thanks for asking about how I'm doing up in Duluth. We were lucky. Our home sustained no damage and just a few rivulets in the basement. But only a few blocks a way, one of Duluth's creeks ran over it's banks and made some nearby streets its' new river bed. One of the streets is totally disintegrated. I believe it will be on live news casts in the Twin Cities tonight. I saw the T.V. trucks parked with their satellite dishes, at the end of this street. I have really never seen anything like this before. It is a once in 150 year event. I may blog about it since it is so all encompassing of what is going on up here right now.

  2. The young man you talked about here is not guilty on all counts. Maybe people were right in showing that OC is not against the law. Now the real question should his arrest be used against him in the future even though he was acquitted?


    1. " In closing arguments Wednesday, Kucharek told jurors that the case was not about the Second Amendment or any of Combs' civil rights, but rather his interest in "showing off" an antique 1940s rifle his brother had given him for his 18th birthday.

      "It was about choices, choices he made that night," she said. "He made a choice to conduct himself in a loud, boisterous manner when questioned by police.

      "He wanted to open carry, because it is something he always wanted to do. He and his girlfriend spent an hour and a half walking around the downtown 'doing laps.' He was feeling good about himself and showing off to his girlfriend."

      She stressed that Combs was arrested only after he repeatedly refused to provide identification showing he was of legal age, at least 18, to be carrying a weapon. While Combs never pointed or threatened anyone with the weapon, he carried it in an "ostentatious" manner, she said, which is defined as brandishing in dictionaries.

      "He was showing off," she told the jury. "He liked the attention. He wanted to shock people."

      Makowski stressed that it is not a legal requirement to provide identification to police.

      He was showing off. No one needs this in our communities. When police and others see what looks to be an underaged kid carrying a rifle around the town openly carried, of course they will be alarmed. We have way too many teen shooters in this country who have carried out tragedies. Keep the guns inside or concealed and this won't happen. Showing off deadly weapons serves no one's rights well. We all have a right to walk down our streets without worrying about being shot by a teen-ager with a rifle. People who want to exercise their gun rights in this way are irresponsible.