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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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Odds and deadly ends

Many in the gun crowd don't believe we have a problem with loopholes that allow people who shouldn't have guns to get them anyway. Their real agenda is all about themselves. As long as they can get a permit to carry or buy a gun legally, why should they worry about the people who shouldn't be able to? And then, they argue that any gun control law passed would only result in criminals still getting guns. Can you see the vicious circle and cynicism in this argument? This article about two men in Philadelphia paints the picture accurately. Here's the story of two men and their guns:
"Police say Wiggins, 31, stammered, "My bad, officer," and took off running down nearby Cleveland Street.
The cops caught up with him quickly. After a brief struggle, they cuffed Wiggins and found that he was carrying a Smith & Wesson Sigma .40-caliber that had been stolen in 2004, according to law-enforcement records.
He was charged with receiving stolen property, possessing an instrument of crime, weapons violations and public urination.
Stewart, 31, was carrying a .40-caliber Glock 27 that he legally purchased several years ago. He also had a valid permit to carry from Florida, despite the 11 prior arrests — but no convictions — on his record for charges including aggravated assault and drug possession.
Stewart’s permit was obtained through the so-called Florida loophole, a policy that’s been driving local cops mad for years.
The loophole allows Pennsylvania residents to get a permit through the mail from Florida, where officials check to see only if an applicant has any criminal convictions before issuing a permit.
The Philadelphia Police Department can weigh an applicant’s overall background — including arrest history — before deciding whether to issue a permit.
Stewart, who lives in Feltonville, said he figured he wouldn’t be able to get a permit in Philly.
"They go by your character [here]. I have arrest charges," he told my colleague Barbara Laker.
"They arrest you for everything and judge you. I haven’t been convicted of nothing."
The cops confiscated Stewart’s gun and permit on May 19 because, according to court records, he was wanted on a traffic warrant in Florida and was in the presence of another man — Wiggins — who had a stolen gun."
Stewart plans to sue to get his guns back. Whatever. Raise your hand if you think these two men should be carrying loaded guns around in public. Raise your hand again if you think Stewart ( above) should have been able to get a permit to carry. And finally, raise your hand if you think he deserves to get his gun back.

And let's hope that one or more people in the state of Indiana won't decide to blow a police officer away and do so legally. Really? Indeed. It's a new law. One can shoot a police officer now in Indiana and do so legally:
Hubbard, a 17-year veteran of the Police Department in Jeffersonville, Ind., says his apprehension stems from a state law approved this year that allows residents to use deadly force in response to the "unlawful intrusion" by a "public servant" to protect themselves and others, or their property.
"If I pull over a car and I walk up to it and the guy shoots me, he's going to say, 'Well, he was trying to illegally enter my property,' " said Hubbard, 40, president of Jeffersonville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 100. "Somebody is going get away with killing a cop because of this law."
Indiana is the first U.S. state to specifically allow force against officers, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in Washington, which represents and supports prosecutors. The National Rifle Association pushed for the law, saying an unfavorable court decision made the need clear and that it would allow homeowners to defend themselves during a violent, unjustified attack. Police lobbied against it.
So these are examples of the NRA's dark version of America coming to fruition. The two men caught peeing on a street in Philadelphia and also with guns are an example of our loose gun laws that don't even come close to preventing potentially dangerous people from getting guns. Instead, we enable them and then someone will ultimately pay the final price. And if just one police officer in Indiana is shot by a "law abiding" gun owner who claims that the officer was illegally entering property doing a traffic stop, woe be unto the lawmakers who did the bidding of the NRA. Where is common sense?

On another front, this Georgia college student was caught with way too many weapons of mass destruction. She loves blowing things up. Whatever. From the article:
Celia Savage allegedly told an FBI agent she likes to blow up toilets in the woods, and said she has made five to seven pipe bombs because "manufacturing explosive devices and detonating them for recreation was her hobby," according to an ATF report.
A YouTube video -- her father confirmed its authenticity -- shows one of her detonations. But it was taken down from the site Friday.
Her Facebook profile, which is public, contains numerous pictures and statements regarding her love of guns and distaste for law enforcement. Colleges she attended, according to the profile, include Gainesville State College and North Georgia Technical College.
"I despise all law enforcement and any governing authority," she states in her profile. "I am not one for selective targeting but mass destruction."
Still, Tommy Savage said, his daughter is no militia member and isn't planning a terror attack.
"I think everybody ought to be able to stay on their property, do whatever the heck they want to," he said.
Right. People with guns and other methods of killing people who also hate law enforcement just plain don't get to do whatever the heck they want to on their own property. This woman had something in mind and thankfully her gig is up. And then there's the NRA itself, co-host of the regional CPAC conference. The extremists have come out of the woodwork once again. Their gig is not up yet, that's for sure. NRA President David Keene is spewing his hatred, fear and paranoia and will certainly do so at this conference because that is what the NRA does best. From this Media Matters article:
"KEENE: The future is fraught with danger. Our political, cultural and ideological enemies are as determined to defeat us as ever, even if we force them to change their tactics. In Barack Obama we have a president who is more opposed to gun ownership than any in our history, and who still believes he will prevail. He's used every excuse to seek support for gun control measures. His team at the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is harassing dealers and he has signaled the United Nations that his administration may look favorably on a treaty that would weaken or gut our Second Amendment. And most importantly he is fairly drooling at the prospect of another Supreme Court vacancy so that he can appoint someone who will empower liberals on the court to rewrite the Constitution and the Bill of Rights withouta Second Amendment. Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama, his minions in the Justice Department, his allies in the Congress, and his friends in the media would take our guns if they could, and they will if they can. [National Rifle Association, 4/30/11] "
Other illustrative speakers will grace this conference with their version of America that loves to blame President Obama, Nazis, gun control advocates and whoever else stands in their way of making sure anyone can carry a loaded gun everywhere in America. Sick. Lies. But the NRA thrives on them. And finally, there is this report of May shootings from Nasty Jack.
The figures are more alarming than April where there was a 37.5 percent increase over March.  In April there were 66 dead from 69 shootings.  The month of May gave us 90 shootings, 69 deaths with 131 wounded, the latter added in this report.  Doing the numbers, that’s a 76.7 percent increase in shootings, an increase of 3 deaths and scores wounded, some of which may have resulted in death by now.
Amazing. Senseless. Tragic. Will the people attending the CPAC conference hosted by NRA Board members hear about the real people who were shot to death just in the past few months? And if they did, would they care? Doubtful.

And one more tragic story. Yes,  it's really bad that gangs have guns and shoot at each other. Often enough, though, innocent people having nothing to do with members of a gang literally get caught in the cross fire. Something is terribly wrong when a 14 month old boy is shot and killed by an alleged gang member on a bicycle in Los Angeles? Where do gang members get their guns? Does anyone ask that simple but important question? The gun guys will tell you that gangs and criminals will get their guns no matter what gun laws we have. But since we have failed to pass any laws of late that would actually prevent them from getting guns in the first place, their glib answer is cynical at best. We should all be demanding that something be done about the increasing number of gun deaths in America. Nasty Jack, above, has shown us the numbers. They are not pretty. They are shameful. The dark version of the NRA is playing itself out on the streets of America every day. If this version of America is one you don't like, demand that your elected leaders do something about it. Without the majority making a noise, nothing will change.

But as we know money and power speak louder than the majority will of the people. We just saw that happen in the state of Wisconsin where Governor Walker and his friends outspent Tom Barrett 7-1 in the recall election. This is the what the Supreme Court has left our country with its' "Citizens United" decision.
"We cannot compete with the Koch brothers and all of Walker's millionaire and billionaire megalomaniac friends who want to take control of the government," Chris Fleming, media director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) told Yahoo News Tuesday.
Walker personally raised about $30 million, significantly more than the $4 million raised by Barrett. But outside spending, for which there are no concrete figures available, pushed Walker even further ahead in the fundraising race. One of his major supporters was Americans for Prosperity, the non-profit super PAC created by the Koch brothers.
But with super PACs remaining in place for the 2012 election, labor groups, unions and others were asked Wednesday exactly how they plan to compete against outside GOP spending for the remainder of this cycle.
Does anyone remember that the Koch Brothers have heavily influenced gun laws in this country through their membership of and contributions to ALEC? Thanks to all of that we have Stand Your Ground laws in many states, now much in the news after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Is ours truly a country where those with the money can buy elections and thus the influence to make decisions that are not in the best interest of the majority? This is just the beginning as we move closer to the November Presidential election. Too much money and power in the hands of just a few can lead to not only elections swayed by big money, large corporations and influential lobby groups like the NRA but to actual death. We live in America where things like this are not supposed to happen. Our democracy is at risk. Do we want a plutocracy in America? Citizens' lives are at risk. It's time to stand up to the power and influence of people who don't care about the senseless deaths of innocent people or taking away voting rights, rights to be safe, rights to make an honest living, rights to health care access, rights to live a decent life in a country that began with fighting against these very things.

UPDATE:

Almost immediately, I had to update this post with this horrendous example of Stand Your Ground laws gone wrong in Texas in 2010. The case is now coming to trial and has caught some media attention, as well is should given the circumstances and current highlighting of Stand Your Ground laws. So your neighbors are disturbing you with loud music and you claim your life is in danger? You go to confront them with your gun and then they also say maybe they'll get a gun. You call 911. You bait your neighbors.You get out your video camera and start shooting up the party claiming self defense? You kill one person and injure two. Really? This is so wrong it's hard to know where to begin. From the article:
It was after midnight when Rodriguez, complaining to police over the phone that the music was too loud, walked up to Danaher's driveway with a flashlight and gun.
On the video, Rodriguez can be heard talking to a 911 operator, saying, "I'm running the video camera right now and I'm talking to you and I mean, I'm scared to death here."
In the unfolding confrontation between Rodriguez and several unidentified men, one yells, "Tell you what, pal, you just pulled a gun on the wrong [expletive], OK?"
When one of the party-goers saw Rodriguez's gun, he suggested he is getting his own. "When I go in that house and come back," he warned, "don't think I won't be equal to you, baby."
"It's about to get out of hand sir, please help me. Please help me, my life is in danger now…," Rodriguez told police over the phone. "Now, I'm standing my ground here. Now, these people are going to try and kill me."
Seconds later, a fight about loud music ends with the crack of gunfire.
"Look, I'm not losing to these people anymore," Rodriguez said. "I'm just totally going to stay back, because they're drunk, they're…"
Rodriguez is interrupted by wild laughter, and then the sound of gunfire, before the tape stops as Rodriguez is tackled to the ground. In addition to the shot that killed Danaher, Houston Fire Capt. Ricky Johnson and Marshall Stetson received multiple gunshot wounds after the camera stopped recording. Rodriguez, a father of six, walked away from the incident unharmed.
The trial is expected to last about a week.
Where is common sense?

UPDATE #2

I guess I can't finish this post yet because stupid and dangerous things keep happening. So now a man who has threatened to kill President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder has been arrested. Good grief. This is scary stuff. I don't think this guy is the only one with these sorts of ideas, unfortunately. From the article:
A detention hearing will be held Monday for a self-described racist from Virginia who allegedly made threats against President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder before illegally taking possession of a machine gun.
Douglas Howard Story, 48, of Manassas, Va., was arrested Wednesday by the FBI in a shopping mall parking lot, after taking delivery of a semi-automatic AK-47 assault rifle that he had paid $125 to have converted to fully automatic, officials said.
At the detention hearing in Alexandria, Va., federal prosecutors are expected to argue that Story poses either a flight risk or a danger to the public, or both, and that he be detained in custody until his federal trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.  He has worked for the Virginia Department of Transportation and lived in Virginia for several years, according to court documents.
Story, who was active on several white nationalist websites including Stormfront, Vanguard News Network (VNN), and New Saxon, has a long history of vocal racism.
He made national news in April 2010 when a photo of his pickup truck, its rear window plastered with a full-color sticker featuring a photo of the Twin Towers in flames and the slogan, “Everything I ever needed to know about Islam I learned on 9/11,” went viral, and viewers noticed that his custom license plate read “14CV88.” Fourteen and 88 are potent numbers on the racist right – the first a reference to deceased terrorist David Lane’s 14-word slogan, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children”; the second a code for “H.H.,” or “Heil Hitler” (H is the 8th letter in the alphabet). (...) 
In a November 2008 comment on Stormfront, where he posted as “Confederado,” Story describing his AK-47 as a potential “homeland defense rifle should I need to protect micelf [sic] and my wife from rioting neeegroes [sic].” The same month, he described the president as “brown-filth mulatto,” and wrote, “Now I’m not advocating violence against him, I’m just saying there are White folks out there that are none to [sic] happy with his ‘election.’
Though his work at the Virginia DOT required him to assist stranded drivers, the Anti-Defamation League reports that Story in 2007 wrote on a white nationalist website that, “if I see an accident involving a negro or other kind of brown filth, I just drive on by. Screw ‘em, let ‘em die.” (...) 
In March meeting, Story asked the FBI informant if he could help modify Story’s AK-47 “from semi-automatic to fully automatic.” The informant later introduced Story to “Ricky” who claimed to have been an armorer in the U.S. Marine Corps and could easily modify the weapon. In the conversations that were secretly recorded by the FBI, Story acknowledged knowing that possessing a fully automatic weapon that wasn’t federally registered was illegal.
After a number of follow-up discussions, Story met with “Ricky” and the FBI informant on May 9 in Chantilly, Va., and turned over his AK-47 and $125 cash to have it converted to full automatic, the affidavit says.
The FBI modified the weapon to full automatic and “Ricky” delivered it to Story on Wednesday in the Bull Run Shopping Plaza in Manassas. Story was arrested as he walked across the parking lot with his newly modified machine gun.
And where do those illegal guns come from again? And machine guns? Some of the folks on this blog tell me they are very hard to get. They must be registered with the federal government. Does anyone think this man registered his home-made machine gun? Raise your hand if you think this guy should have had guns in the first place or any time soon.

UPDATE #3

OOPS- another law abiding gun permit holder goes wrong. This Pennsylvania man thought he needed his gun at a softball field and had been drinking while carrying:
Investigators said Madrid told police that he feared for his life after a fight at the field, and that’s why he had a gun.
According to police, Madrid had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but was charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.
Police said Madrid admitted to drinking earlier in the night.
Authorities said Madrid’s gun and license were seized.
At least there's one more person who shouldn't have a gun or a license to carry now does not. There are many more where he came from.

16 comments:

  1. So again in Texas a man claims self defense in a stand your ground state and it is not a get out of ail free card.

    I wonder how many of there you will read before you realize that you have been misleading people about how stand your ground laws work.

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    1. No Anthony. It is the NRA and the gun nuts who have tragically deceived the public. Why did the guy say he was standing his ground? Because that's the way the law was written. That is the very reason these laws were passed. Idiots with guns, law abiding citizens at that, do stupid and dangerous things. Just because you think you wouldn't doesn't mean others won't. As long as the laws are in existence, these shootings will happen. A license to kill is a dangerous thing.

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  2. OH and arrest != conviction. I wonder how weak the cases were if they could not get a conviction on any of them. It seems as if this cop phrase fits well here "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride" One would think that if this guy was as bad as you think they would have been able to make something stick. remember innocent until PROVEN guilty. I is not innocent until arrested.

    As a FYI all PA would have to do is pass/amend the law so that Florida permits no longer have reciprocity.

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    1. Anthony, your naivite is showing- or is it cynicism? I'm quite sure some people in PA would love to pass that law. But the NRA will make darned sure they don't. You knew that though, right?

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    2. More recent death threats on a politician. Lets see how many get arrested. As a FYI I am glad that Douglas Howard was arrested

      http://twitchy.com/2012/06/06/kill-scott-walker-angry-libs-flood-twitter-with-death-threats-after-wisconsin-recall-defeat/

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    3. Bad stuff no matter who does it. And you are quite sure these are all liberals doing this? This web site doesn't look like a neutral site.

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  3. http://twitchy.com/- not a neutral site at all.

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    1. " http://twitchy.com/rush-limbaugh-press-release/" Twitchy.com joins Rush Limbaugh advertisers. I take nothing they say seriously.

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  4. This better?
    http://www.todaystmj4.com/news/local/157664325.html

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    1. I appreciate your finding it somewhere else.

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    2. But what does this have to do with my post? Are you just wanting to distract from the many militia groups and anti-government groups in existence? From the two, actually, that I wrote about today, we know for sure that they had guns and other weapons. We don't know for sure whether the folks who wrote the threats against Walker have weapons because we don't know who they are. They could, of course. There are plenty of threats on internet sites, twitter sites, blog sites and articles to go around. It doesn't mean we shouldn't pass better laws to prevent senseless gun deaths which was, of course, my main point.

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  5. Excellent post, japete. "the NRAs dark version of America..." is exactly right. It's only to the constricted segment of the country whose members comment so frequently on your blog that this dark version seems appealing. The rest of us are thankful for the light you shed on it.

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  6. "Indeed. It's a new law. One can shoot a police officer now in Indiana and do so legally"

    And WHY is that? It's because the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that you cannot prevent a police officer from entering your house ILLEGALLY!

    So they can enter with a search warrant at any time and they can enter at ANY other time, warrant or not...

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/no-right-to-resist-unlawful-police-entry/

    So.. In a blatant violation of the 4th amendment, the Indiana court said that the police are exempt. At the hearing this, extreme case, was brought up.

    If a policeman enters your home and rapes your wife do you have the right to resist? Their answer.. you have NO right to resist. Only sue afterwards.

    How is that not a police state? If the Indiana constitution could be read that way, then the legislature was totally correct in correction that mistake.

    Remember that a policeman is a CIVILIAN.. (If he breaks the law he is tried in a civilian court, not a military court)

    Forget the NRA wanting this bill, every citizen in the state should have been demanding that change after such a stupid ruling.

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    1. So I see here 18Echo that you would rather a woman and her children get shot or beaten by a man who is causing a disturbance or threatening people than to allow police to enter to save the lives or injuries to people who are in harm's way. That is what this is about. I don't believe it says anything about police officers entering to rape your wife. A case like that has to be pretty darned rare. Your mistrust of law enforcement and the government have led you to your conclusion that you need guns to protect yourself from them, or indeed, to shoot to kill just because of your paranoia and fear. This is pure and simply a case of the guys with the guns making the rules. Of course, we all know that there are police officers who do things they shouldn't. But they are, for the most part, human beings who put their lives on the line every day in the name of public safety. Your cynical and dark view of the world informs you that these are people who are out to get you and to do harm to you. I don't agree with it, obviously. This is a bad law and a total over reaction on the part of the NRA. You are the ones who tell us we shouldn't pass better background check laws just because a few ( or maybe more than a few) people do something wrong. Then when the shoe is no the other foot, your reaction is to pass a law because of a few incidents. Hypocrisy.

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  7. "So I see here 18Echo that you would rather a woman and her children get shot or beaten by a man who is causing a disturbance or threatening people than to allow police to enter to save the lives or injuries to people who are in harm's way."

    No, no no..

    If that is the case it would not be an ILLEGAL act. You are simply refusing to answer the fact that the ruling had to do will ILLEGAL actions by the police, not legal ones and that is why the legislature had to step in.

    So please answer the question directly. Do you believe that a policeman, acting ILLEGALLY should still have the protections of his job, if he enters your home?

    Under what circumstances could the police be DENIED entry then? Ever? In the example you stated, entering without a warrant is totally legal.

    "Of course, we all know that there are police officers who do things they shouldn't. But they are, for the most part, human beings who put their lives on the line every day in the name of public safety"

    and you think the Indiana Supreme ruled correctly that the bad ones should not have to obey the laws that everyone else must obey and can enter your home illegally just because they are police.

    As for my mistrust of law enforcement. I believe in the rule of law, not the rule of men. I have many, many law enforcement friend that I see as a part of my training efforts on a regular basis. I love those guys.

    If they break the law, I expect them to be held to the same standard as me.

    Period. There is no magic fairy dust that makes them special if they break the law. The Indiana court should have realized this. The law made the will of the people clear, since the court blew it.

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  8. Giving people license to kill police officers and then immunity from doing so is plain and simply the wrong solution to the problem.

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