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 12, 2012

The peace/piece of the countryside

I have been busy with things other than my blog in the past few days. My daughter and her two kids are visiting from Pennsylvania. We have been busy enjoying the beauty of the north woods and Lake Superior. But yesterday we did something that was about as cool as any of the things I have done in my life. We visited the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Amazing. Both are very well done with helpful volunteers and staff to make the experience meaningful. One of the wolves was on display for us to see so close we could have touched him through the glass windows of the observation area. He paced and he planted himself on a big rock right in front of us. Denali is pictured in the photo above. My grandchildren were enthralled with the pups that were brought into the room- Boltz and Luna. Both will soon be let free to roam in the enclosed area of woods surrounding the center.

We ended the day at the Bear Center where we met Ted and Lucky. Ted put on a show for us as he got up from his reclining position to eat literally from the palms of the volunteer bear handlers. He sat up and almost licked the face of the volunteer he has grown fond of. Lucky came around just briefly. He wasn't interested in food; his interests were in the woods where the female bear, Honey was in "heat". This is the first time there has been a love triangle at the center so the staff and volunteers were quite excited about this new occurence. If a cub is conceived, they won't know until January when cubs are typically born in the dens. Meet Ted, pictured on the right.

It felt so peaceful and relaxing to be in an area dotted with some of the many lakes located in northern Minnesota. They are surrounded by the Superior National Forest filled with wild animals and beauty. What does any of this have to do with gun violence or the gun issue? Not much you might say. I didn't even think about the issue at all while spending time with family and experiencing nature with my grandchildren. They drank it all in. They are innocent and curious. That's what childhood should be about. But I am always aware that gun violence does not take a break. Many shootings happened while I was away from my blog.

Can't people go anywhere in peace without a piece interfering with the quiet and safety of the countryside? One West Virginia man found out the hard way that trying to make his way across Montana while engaging in a project for his photography website can be dangerous business. From the article:
A West Virginia man who told authorities he was hitchhiking across the country and writing a memoir about kindness was injured in a seemingly random drive-by shooting near Montana’s booming Bakken oil patch.
Ray Dolin, 39, of West Virginia, was shot in the arm as he approached a pickup Saturday evening, thinking the driver was offering him a ride, said Valley County Sheriff Glen Meier.
The shooting took place about three miles west of the town of Glasgow, along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route into and out of the oil patch.
A 52-year-old man from Washington state, Lloyd Christopher Danielson III, was arrested about four hours later near Culbertson. Authorities said Danielson was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They released no motive in the shooting.
“He was sitting down to have a little lunch and this guy drives up. He thought he was going to give him a ride and as he approached the vehicle, the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him. It’s as simple as that,” Meier said.
Danielson was apparently headed to Williston, N.D., for work tied to the oil boom, although Meier said he offered few details.
What was Danielson doing with a gun in the first place? More from the article:
Danielson was jailed on suspicion of felony assault with a weapon and driving under the influence. He did not enter a plea during an initial court appearance Monday, and City Judge Traci Harada set bail for Danielson at $50,000 on the assault charge and $685 for the DUI. He was expected to make another court appearance Tuesday.
The sheriff’s office had identified Danielson as a resident of Olympia, Wash., but he said in court that he was from Tumwater, Wash., Harada said. Danielson has criminal convictions in King County, Wash., for assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, obstruction of law enforcement and exhibiting or carrying a weapon with intent to intimidate. Records show he was sentenced in 2005 to 8 months in jail on the charges.
Did he have a permit for that gun? The opening of the oil fields in North Dakota have led to incidences of men behaving badly. Some communities have seen an increase in violence and general threats to public safety. In addition, the number of gun permits issued in North Dakota has increased dramatically. The oil patch workers have them. Residents of the towns in the oil patch have them. People are coming from all over for the boom in the oil business creating stress on local housing, law enforcement, population of small rural towns and the sense of security of local residents. It's a vicious circle. People feel insecure because of an increase in crime and a feeling that they are not safe from the workers who live temporarily in their area. The people who work in the fields are there to make money for their families but often come from far away living in trailer towns or wherever they can find a room. There isn't a lot to do during time off. Some people get involved in over indulgence in alcohol and drugs and criminal activity. Guns do not fit with this scenario.

Why the need for guns in the oil fields anyway? I don't understand that mind set as is obvious from my blog posts. I do understand guns for hunting and recreation. It's very popular where I live. My family is a hunting family. I tried it myself but didn't like it. People in northern Minnesota hunt as they do all over this country. But the NRA has become an organization supporting the gun industry rather than hunters as it started out- much changed from its' original purpose. Many who are hunters and not interested in carrying loaded pieces around don't care for the NRA. Here is one who wrote about it.
I’m a hunter and a sportswoman. I own guns, but not for self-defense. I support gun control laws. I would happily vote to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in my home state of Oregon. In other words, the N.R.A. does not represent me.
Among gun owners, I’m hardly alone. The N.R.A. has just over four million members. That sounds like a lot until you consider that about one in five American adults own one or more guns. That’s nearly 50 million people. That means roughly 90 percent of gun owners do not belong to the N.R.A.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that every N.R.A. member is also a hunter — which is highly unlikely, considering that the most comprehensive national survey of firearm ownership to date found that only 35 percent of gun-owning households say they hunt. Even then, the N.R.A. would represent only about one-third of all hunters in the United States. (...) 
The N.R.A. has never had much to do with hunting. It was founded in 1871 by two veteran Union officers who were dismayed by the poor marksmanship of their Civil War troops. The organization promoted safe gun handling and target practice. By the 1970s, after rising gun violence prompted a national debate over the interpretation of the Second Amendment, the N.R.A. also made it its business to oppose gun control.
On its Web site, the N.R.A. calls itself the “largest pro-hunting organization in the world.” Yet during election season, the N.R.A. makes endorsements based largely on candidates’ voting records on gun control — with little if any concern for their views on other issues of interest to hunters. Candidates who voted to allow the ban on assault weapons to expire, for example, are labeled “pro-sportsmen” often despite their weak voting records on environmental issues.
Even if the N.R.A.’s worst nightmare were to come true nationwide — expanded background checks, mandatory waiting periods, limits to the number of guns purchased by an individual per month — hunting could continue as it has for more than a century, with rifles and shotguns.
And this writer shares my love of the outdoors and nature when she writes this:
To hunt, yes, we need guns. We also need wildlife. We need healthy habitat that is protected from development and pollution. We need land that is open and accessible to hunters.
If Americans’ hunting traditions are threatened, it isn’t because of bans on rifles and shotguns. The more likely culprit is the oil and gas drilling proposed in the San Juan Mountains of New Mexico — a beloved destination for elk and antelope hunters. Or the devastating effects of global warming on migratory game birds like snow geese and sandhill cranes. Or the fact that thousands of acres of United States farmland — and deer habitat — are lost to sprawling development every day.
So where is all of this going anyway, you may be asking? I got to thinking about how the NRA's dark version of America began. What happened to cause the organization to go from one that supported hunters and taught gun safety to one that had managed to change the entire gun culture in our country?The change started with the idea that just ordinary every day people should be convinced that they "need" loaded guns around to protect themselves from sometimes real but mostly imaginary criminals lurking everywhere waiting to pounce. These people do sometimes threaten people and break into homes. Home burglaries most often happen when the owner is not home. There are other ways to reduce your chances of being robbed without using a gun. In addition, home invasions and robberies are at a low in recent years. Never mind that. The NRA is still scared and making its' members so scared that they go out and buy guns. Follow the money. This scare tactic benefits the gun industry, obviously. But then, the NRA moved on from guns for protection from home burglaries and invasions to convincing gun rights folks that they simply have to protect themselves from the "zombies"out there roaming the street.  I wrote a blog about that one, too. It's scary out there isn't it? Or is it? The late Jeff Cooper thinks so and has this to say about defensive gun carrying: 
Cooper, known for his color coded suggestions for preparedness of mind set to use a handgun in self defense, sets up a paradox for modern day gun politics. He likens these mind sets to the military thinking when it comes to using guns for self defense. Here is the code:
White: Unaware and unprepared. If attacked in Condition White, the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy or ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty, your reaction will probably be "Oh my God! This can't be happening to me."
Yellow: Relaxed alert. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that "today could be the day I may have to defend myself". You are simply aware that the world is a potentially unfriendly place and that you are prepared to defend yourself, if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and realize that "I may have to shoot today". You don't have to be armed in this state, but if you are armed you should be in Condition Yellow. You should always be in Yellow whenever you are in unfamiliar surroundings or among people you don't know. You can remain in Yellow for long periods, as long as you are able to "Watch your six." (In aviation 12 o'clock refers to the direction in front of the aircraft's nose. Six o'clock is the blind spot behind the pilot.) In Yellow, you are "taking in" surrounding information in a relaxed but alert manner, like a continuous 360 degree radar sweep. As Cooper put it, "I might have to shoot."
Orange: Specific alert. Something is not quite right and has your attention. Your radar has picked up a specific alert. You shift your primary focus to determine if there is a threat (but you do not drop your six). Your mindset shifts to "I may have to shoot that person today", focusing on the specific target which has caused the escalation in alert status. In Condition Orange, you set a mental trigger: "If that person does "X", I will need to stop them". Your pistol usually remains holstered in this state. Staying in Orange can be a bit of a mental strain, but you can stay in it for as long as you need to. If the threat proves to be nothing, you shift back to Condition Yellow.
Red: Condition Red is fight. Your mental trigger (established back in Condition Orange) has been tripped. "If 'X' happens I will shoot that person".
This set of situations that Cooper has set up provide believers with all they need to justify carrying loaded guns around in public places. Stand Your Ground laws changed all of that. With Stand Your Ground rationale, you don't need to think through which mind set you are in. You are always in condition "Red". You are ready to use your mental trigger to set in motion the actions to pull the actual trigger. You can ignore the "White","Yellow" and the "Orange". Just go straight to "Red". This is a dangerous mindset that has caused a lot of senseless shootings. In addition:
The USMC uses condition Black, although it was not originally part of Cooper's Color Code. Condition Black: Catastrophic breakdown of mental and physical performance. Usually over 175 heartbeats per minute, increased heart rate becomes counter productive. May have stopped thinking correctly. This can happen when going from Condition White or Yellow immediately to Condition Red.
In short, the Color Code helps you "think" in a fight. As the level of danger increases, your willingness to take certain actions increases. If you ever do go to Condition Red, the decision to use lethal force has already been made (your "mental trigger" has been tripped).
So, again, as I have said before: Are we at war? What is going on in America that the gun nuts actually believe in the stuff Jeff Cooper was saying? He was training people in a military mindset with their civilian guns that are carried around in public places and by people who should not be carrying them. He got people to believe they are an extension of the military or the police. Paradoxically, some of these folks distrust both the military and law enforcement. And the very same folks, untrained to act as if they are in the military while walking around on our urban streets and in the more peaceful rural areas, are ready to fight against America's military. This kind of thought process is dangerous and insane. It is leading to people being shot to death or injured senselessly by paranoid people with "legally"owned guns or gun permit holders who should not have permits to carry. It is leading to accidental gun discharges every day. It is leading to the deaths of small children. It is leading to a dark version of America perpetrated by the NRA and foisted on the public by a powerful and well funded lobby group and the gun industry it is supporting and protecting. How do we know who are the bad guys with guns and who are the good guys? Can we trust the "good guys" when they are in "condition red" most of the time? Even Cooper ( above) suggests that you should not necessarily go to "condition red" unless you are very sure. The good guys make mistakes as well as the bad guys. We are in an endless cycle of mistrust, fear, and paranoia created by people like Cooper. He is a hero to some. Should he be? Where is common sense?

Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy my family time and explore the peace and quiet of the abundant natural resources surrounding my home. There should be peace on our streets. There should not be "pieces" on our streets. I am less afraid of the wild bears and wolves than I am of the armed citizens "patrolling" our streets ready for code red.


  1. Funny from the WIKI article you posted but must only skimmed.

    The color code, as originally introduced by Jeff Cooper, had nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels, but rather with one's state of mind. As taught by Cooper, it relates to the degree of peril you are willing to do something about and which allows you to move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle a given situation. Cooper did not claim to have invented anything in particular with the color code, but he was apparently the first to use it as an indication of mental state

    1. And so what is your beef with what I wrote?

  2. Anthony, The colour codes come from Cooper's Book, Principles of Personal Defense and they relate to a specific mindset--the combat mindset.

    Are you saying that these codes apply in situations other than combat?

    How applicable are they to most civilian tasks?

    I reiterate Japete's question are you at war? Are you in a combat situation?

    1. Your conclusions about the color codes are wrong. They have everyday life applications.

      Just like defensive driving teaches you to have situational awareness so you can AVOID an accident, so does the color code.

      Coopers point was about being armed, but the color code of awareness makes sense.

      Let's select driving..

      People in white, are clueless to their surroundings. You see these people. Driving down the road, talking on their cell phones. Doing makeup. Reading.. They are TOTALLY unprepared for an unexpected situation. If a car suddenly stops in from of them. They WILL rear end them.

      Thinking people drive in YELLOW.. Aware of their surroundings. Alert but not worried. Keeping a causal eye on the other drivers.. What we call 'defensive driving' (wow, here is a combat word used to describe driving..)

      Orange.. You are driving a see someone coming towards you, having trouble holding their lane.. you think "Are they Drunk?" do they have a medical problem.. What is UP with that driver.. and what do you do?

      You keep an eye on them.. You think "If he swerves towards me.. I'll slow down.. I'll pass him quickly... I'll call the highway patrol..."

      That is condition orange..

      Red... "He is in your lane, coming at you.. you MUST take action.."

      If you were in condition WHITE.. you are now in a head on collision because you didn't even see it coming..

      IF you were in yellow to start with... You went to Orange, then Red.. slowed down and pulled off the road and called the cops..

      He missed you...

      See.. Not a gun in sight... People live in white and get killed everyday.. Nothing to do with combat, yet reminding yourself to be aware makes perfect sense..

    2. Seriously 18 Echo? You expect people to believe this ridiculous comparison? Cars are not designed as weapons. Guns are. Cooper had no intention of making his color codes into anything but being at the ready to shoot someone. Your assertions here just show how far to the extreme and how clueless you guys are.

    3. I didn't say that Cooper had any other intentions, I'm sure he didn't..

      I was answering Laci The Dog's question.

      "How applicable are they to most civilian tasks?"

      Using color codes to identify the various levels of awareness are TOTALLY applicable to many life situations and Cooper's description of the levels is the easiest to remember I've seen.

      It's how I taught my children to be aware when they are driving. It makes it easy to say.. You were driving in "White" weren't you.. and we all know what is meant.

      You can stop with his first sentence and use it for all sorts of situations where being aware matters.

      White: Unaware and unprepared.
      Yellow: Relaxed Alert..

      and so on..

      Her question of Anthony was "Are you saying that these codes apply in situations other than combat?"

      The answer is yes they do. (Regardless of what Cooper had in mind)

      In my family if "orange" gets mentioned out of context it means 'There is something not right going on here, pay attention..'

      My point was that it doesn't "have" to be about guns it can just be about safety and awareness

      Which is what she asked I believe.

    4. i don't know one single person who taught their children to drive that way. Nor do I know of a driver's training school that teaches that way. This one is unique to the gun world. That is what it's for.

  3. Jeff Cooper?

    Oh, yeah, he's that racist former NRA board member who wrote about "equipping your own private army", called for a holy war for Christians, longed for a race war against Black people, wrote a poem celebrating a 1994 incident where a man fired 29 rounds from an assault rifle at the White House which read, in part, “The White House, it was shot up/It was only tit for tat/Shame on the fellow with the SKS/He shot like a Democrat", and who celebrated gun violence incidents in Los Angeles by stating, "It would seem a valid social service to keep them well-supplied with ammunition."

    Is that the Jeff Cooper you mean? Yeah, he's a regular NRA hero....


    1. Thanks to Baldr for providing the link to the MeettheNRA site with all of the wonderful quotes from Jeff Cooper. They speak for themselves.

  4. Looks like the W.Va. "victim" is the criminal.


    I hope the guy that was wrongly arrested sues everyone involved.

    1. Yes, Robert. Someone else pointed this out on another of my posts. I am aware. Apparently the guy who was wrongly accused is still under suspicion for drugs. The man who shot himself and accused another should be evaluated for mental illness among other things. He was stupid and dangerous with his gun.