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, July 24, 2012

Excuses from the "gun guys"

Please note that new information on this post is included at the bottom about new polling data showing support from even NRA members for reasonable gun restrictions. Now what excuses will be made?

Again, it's so hard to decide what to write about after the latest mass shooting in Colorado. The airwaves and print media are full of comments, articles and blogs. Opinions run the gamut. It appears to me that most Americans are appalled by one more mass shooting. After a while people become numb and feel helpless. I can't blame them. It's just too much to see photos of more victims and hear the stories of their lives. Another young child is dead. Too much.

Meanwhile, the gun rights advocates are busy with their excuses to make sure those who listen to them understand that this is not about guns at all. Here are just a few of their excuses heard and seen in the past few days by me and others:
  1. This guy would certainly have found another killing method if he couldn't have used a gun.
  2. 100 round ammunition magazines aren't the problem. 
  3. Let's deal with the mental illness rather than the guns.
  4. Guns don't kill people. People do.
  5. If we consider any restrictions on types of assault weapons or ammunition, it will inevitably lead to confiscation of all weapons.
  6. One person had the nerve to say, on a public live radio debate with me on the opposite side, that it's a federal law to require a NICS check on all gun sales so there is not loophole for private sellers. He was dead wrong, of course.
  7. Some have lectured me about the terminology. Assault rifles are automatic guns. Assault weapons are just semi-automatic. People are dead no matter what we call the gun used to kill them.
These are just a few. So if the shooter had only been able to use another method of killing, he would have killed just as many. Really? Then why don't shooters try something else? Bombing? Well this guy did have his apartment booby trapped and had he himself committed suicide or been killed, yes indeed, many more would have died when going to his apartment after the shooting. Luckily he warned law enforcement so that didn't happen. Why didn't he bomb the theater then? He chose guns. Guns are easy. You don't have to make anything. Ammunition is easy to acquire. In fact, so easy, that this guy ordered 6000 rounds of it on the Internet in 3 months' time. We can't buy "Sudafed" over the counter any more but we can buy thousands of rounds of ammunition on-line?

This writer and hunter has no excuses. He is writing about the common sense that most hunters have when it comes to guns and shooting sports. They love hunting. They don't need assault weapons to hunt and they don't need high capacity magazines. They just want to enjoy the sport and be responsible. No excuses.
Think about that. One shot from that rifle took down a deer weighing several hundred pounds that likely was as far from us as half the length of a football field. In comparison the rifle used in the Colorado shootings had a drum magazine attachment that holds as many as 100 bullets. Attachments like that were also banned from 1994-2004. 
It took my dad and me some time to climb down the tree and walk across that field. The deer was still alive when we got there. It was an awful sight, his eyes were wide open looking panicked or maybe shocked. I looked away as my father put him down and then we carried the carcass to the pickup truck and headed back to town. My dad dropped me off at school with the deer still in the truck bed, with enough time to change out of my camo coveralls before class. In all the time I hunted with my father, he was a loyal NRA member and I never heard him once complain that his rifle held too few bullets.
In the wake of the theater shooting, more men with and without guns are threatening and acting like idiots, but dangerous idiots. Here are a few:

  • A man in Maine was pulled over for speeding and several guns and ammunition were found in his car. The man admitted to sneaking a concealed gun into a showing of "The Dark Night Rising" at a local theater. " Maine State Police say after they arrested Timothy Courtois, 49, around 10 a.m. yesterday morning, they found even more firearms at his Biddeford home, including a machine gun, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.After police stopped his Mustang on the southbound side of the Maine Turnpike, he told them he was heading to Derry, N.H., to shoot his “former employer,” authorities said. He also admitted to hiding a loaded gun in his backpack during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at a Saco, Maine, theater the night before, police said. Inside his car, which police clocked at 112 mph, troopers found an AK-47 assault weapon, four handguns and several boxes of ammunition, police said." A machine gun? Was this man a law abiding gun permit holder? Time will tell. 
  • So far, others are just threats with no weapons found. Let's hope we won't see another mass shooting soon. There should be no excuses for incidents like this. 
For your perusal, I am going to list a number of pertinent articles I have seen in the last few days.

NRA profits from on-line ammunition sales ( Josh Sugarman)

States United to prevent gun violence newsletter with many articles about the Aurora shooting

Professor Jeffrey Swanson wrote an article for CNN about the many aspects of mass shootings and what we should be looking at.

The New York times wrote an editorial about the 6000 bullets bought by the Aurora shooter

The Violence Policy center has information about assault weapons- what they are, what they do, etc.

There are so many more that it's hard to choose just a few. The ones from the NRA and its' supporters are few. What can they say? Not much. We can't accept their excuses this time. Not this time. We can do better than this.

As usual Jon Stewart captures the hypocrisy of the arguments coming from the right and those who want us to forget about the fact that guns are the common denominator in mass shootings. Watch it here:

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Aurora & Gun Control
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Nothing more needs to be said. Except that Lawrence O'Donnell does have some more to say and he said it last night on his show, The Last Word. Here are his comments about the NRA Executive VP Wayne LaPierre and his ability to hide after the many mass shootings in our country. The NRA avoids the discussion and deflects any arguments with more excuses:

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When you look at it all from the perspective of this writer, excuses from the gun guys seem puny and insignificant, as they should:
There is a Lewis Carroll, looking-glass corner of this world:
It's a place where your "rights" are trampled by New York City's handgun restrictions, but not by its parking restrictions.
It's a place where people will sacrifice liberties they claim to hold dear to avoid terrorist attacks, but are outraged at the thought of filling out a form which would make those attacks less likely.
It's a place where people would violate someone's civil liberties because of the language they use for prayer, but will talk of revolution at the thought of checking someone's background when they want to buy instruments of death.
That place is called is the United States of America.
Is this the kind of country we want? We can do better. But will we? When money is involved, most other things come off the table- even saving lives. More from the linked article above:

As is the case with so many other forms of profit in the United States, gun money is other people's money - specifically, offshore money. Three of the top five manufacturers are non-US and, as industry researcher IBISWorld reports, "Imports will satisfy a growing portion of domestic demand, rising at a substantial rate over the next five years."

The more we shoot each other, the more of our wealth is acquired by other countries.
But the real money behind our gunplay isn't in the guns or ammunition themselves. The real money is in the fear and the hate. There's a reason why gun manufacturers called Barack Obama "the best gun salesman of all time" after the 2009 election. The polite explanation for the surge in gun sales that followed is that people were afraid Obama would "take away their guns." The less polite explanation lies embedded in all that rhetoric about "taking our country back." (...) 

There's big money behind fear, and guns, and death. Where's the money that supports courage, strength, and life? "Violence isn't always evil," Jim Morrison once said in an interview. "What's evil is the infatuation with violence." What's even more evil is the exploitation of that infatuation for financial gain and political power.
But as another songwriter, Bob Dylan, once said: Money doesn't talk, it swears.
I end with this video of Brady Campaign President Dan Gross on the Andrea Mitchell show. His remarks are spot on. If we can't do better than this, we have failed as a civilized country to protect our citizens from harm:

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In the end, we need to remember the victims and then start talking. Doing nothing is not an option. Watching this video of Colorado Governor John Higenlooper read the names of the 12 victims aloud and the response from the attendees at the memorial service should make the message loud and clear. It is moving. Whenever I see it, I tear up. Does Wayne LaPierre cry when people are shot in senseless acts of violence? We will remember that there are too many victims of gun violence in America. One is too many. Watch:

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There are no excuses for this carnage. Let's get started. The time is now. We can do better.

UPDATE: As if to prove my point, what excuses will our politicians have now? Even NRA members support strong gun legislation. A brand new poll by Republican pollster Frank Luntz was just released. Here are some of the findings:
It seems obvious to many that advocating for regulating the sale, ownership, and use of guns is a political loser. Indeed, there is a wealth of polling data suggesting Americans oppose “gun control” and favor “gun rights.” However, new research obtained by ThinkProgress indicates that this opposition exists only in the abstract. According to a poll conducted in May by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the group Mayors against Illegal Guns, gun-owning Americans, including National Rifle Association (NRA) members, overwhelmingly support a raft of common-sense measures typically described as “gun control:”
1. Requiring criminal background checks on gun owners and gun shop employees. 87 percent of non-NRA gun-owners and 74 percent of NRA gun owners support the former, and 80 percent and 79 percent, respectively, endorse the latter.
2. Prohibiting terrorist watch list members from acquiring guns. Support ranges from 80 percent among non-NRA gun-owners to 71 percent among NRA members.
3. Mandating that gun-owners tell the police when their gun is stolen. 71 percent non-NRA gun-owners support this measure, as do 64 percent of NRA members.
4. Concealed carry permits should only be restricted to individuals who have completed a safety training course and are 21 and older. 84 percent of non-NRA and 74 percent of NRA member gun-owners support the safety training restriction, and the numbers are 74 percent and 63 percent for the age restriction.
5. Concealed carry permits shouldn’t be given to perpetrators of violent misdemeanors or individuals arrested for domestic violence. The NRA/non-NRA gun-owner split on these issues is 81 percent and 75 percent in favor of the violent misdemeanors provision and 78 percent/68 percent in favor of the domestic violence restriction.
The poll, which sampled 945 gun owners around the country and had a margin of error of +/- 3, also found broad support gun-owners for the principle that “support for 2nd Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.” In fact, more NRA members (87 percent) supported the statement than non-NRA members (83 percent). One wonders if the views of its supporters will be heard at NRA headquarters, as the organization opposes laws that attempt to implement several of the positions that Luntz’ poll established gun-owners support.
There are no excuses. We can do better and even the NRA members agree. 


  1. So, let me see if I have this straight: gun owners OVERWHELMINGLY support stronger gun regulation (background checks for all sales, closing the terror loophole, reporting lost/stolen guns, mandated safety training, and keeping guns out of violent hands), but the NRA opposes these measures?

    Who, exactly, is the NRA representing then? (hint: they make metal objects that go "boom")

  2. Let's combine this with the Heller-McDonald that:

    Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

    Scalia also said that " identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive."

    WIlliam Rawle pointed out in his A View of the Constitution of the United States 125--26 1829 (2d ed.) that:

    This right ought not, however, in any government, to be abused to the disturbance of the public peace.

    An assemblage of persons with arms, for an unlawful purpose, is an indictable offence, and even the carrying of arms abroad by a single individual, attended with circumstances giving just reason to fear that he purposes to make an unlawful use of them, would be sufficient cause to require him to give surety of the peace. If he refused he would be liable to imprisonment.

    If lettuce can be taken of the shelves because three people died, there is no reason that lethal weapons can be regulated if they pose a threat to the public welfare. To try to say the Second amendment gives an unlimited right to "guns" is historically inaccurate.

    And that someone could seriously suggest that costumes should be banned from movie theatres is unreal to the point of absurdity.

    Unfortunately, this advice from Madison was not heeded:

    Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.–James Madison

  3. If we wait for a "respectful" period after mass shootings, or even just the regular couple of people killed at a time shootings, there will never be a discussion.

    There were TWO mass shootings last week, in the U.S.; one in Canada, and one a month ago in Canada.

    We have too many shootings for there to be a respectful waiting period; they are frequent, chronic, daily events. Does the single shooting death, say of an innocent sleeping child deserve a different waiting period than 12 people being killed? Are assholes like Huckabee, who likes to jam with Ted Nugent, going to tell us how long per dead body is appropriate?

    I'm pretty sure the experts on formal manners and etiquette have NEVER EVER ANYWHERE specified that there is a waiting period to discuss mass murder events, or any other murder events.

    Let's have waiting periods to buy guns, not have discussions. Let's have moratoiums on dancing around with gun promoter Ted Nugent, in the name of good taste and respect for the dead, all the gun shot dead, and wounded, and threatened, not just the Aurora, Colorado dead and injured.

    Shame on you for a scumbag hypocrite, Mike Huckabee. How much money has lined your pockets from the NRA? You are a gun pimp, not a leader of any kind; you are an embarassment to the conscience of this country. Go away, Mike Huckabee, and hide in shame.

    I saw an interesting article this morning on the 6 most offensive statements regarding the Aurora Colorado shootings; they included claims that any victim of the shooting who was not a 'suitable' Christian was going to hell, and that it was the victims fault they were shot - for various reasons. On a par with that the Westboro conservative Christian bigots are planning to picket their usual hate message at Aurora Colorado prayer vigils.

    Maybe they should invite Mike Huckabee to join their religious hatred; his religious and political views would seem to fit in with theirs; they are all proponents of hateful religion and hateful politics.

    1. "There were TWO mass shootings last week, in the U.S.; one in Canada, and one a month ago in Canada."

      Canada doesn't have a 2nd Amendment and I think they have stronger gun control, don't they?

      "Let's have waiting periods to buy guns..."

      How long of a waiting period? Holmes legally purchased guns between May 22 and July 6, so a 60 day waiting period? 90 days? 1 year? Would that have stopped an intelligent loner who has been troubled at least since 2010 when he graduated and began to realize he couldn't find a job? The waiting period might have just delayed his plans until the release of The Expendables 2.

      "...and that it was the victims fault they were shot..."

      Why do you waste your time processing this trash? How is this relevant to preventing another tragedy like this?

      I want to offer my own solutions, but like the politicians, I can't think of any control/legal based solution that couldn't be circumvented by an obsessed intelligent man over a long period of time. I can only think of simple solutions that we can all do on a daily basis by either reaching out to people like this, or getting to know them well enough to obtain enough intel to send to the FBI.

  4. Joan, respectfully, which new gun control laws do you believe would have been truly effective in preventing the Aurora tragedy? Holmes purchased the guns legally, in stores, with all the required background checks, not at gun shows. There was no history of mental illness. There was nothing but a speeding ticket on his record. Most, if not all, conceal carry permits already don't allow conceal carrying long guns. Loughner didn't use a 100 drum magazine nor even a rifle in the Arizona tragedy. We're fortunate that Loughner wasn't clever enough to realize that a stadium seating theater, where the only exits are next to the killer, is dangerously more effective in corralling and killing a large number of people than a parking lot. Here in Oregon there is less gun control than most of the nation, but I'm very certain that the Portland Police would arrest me (if they don't kill me first) for walking into a Century theater with any rifle and/or shotgun.

    Honestly, the only gun control solution I can conclude that might have been effective in Aurora is to ban the possession of all guns, which seems a bit far from common sense, and hope that guys like this in the future won't get their hands on illegal guns. Is that hope strong enough for you?

    I went to see Batman in a stadium theater last weekend and I exited through an emergency exit door similar to the one Holmes illegally used for his illegal crime and, there are several solutions that could be implemented to make theaters like this less effective killing zones.

    1. Well Migo, every other country in the civilized world has much more strict gun control. And guess what, they don't have anywhere near the number of gun deaths we have. But you knew that right? I wrote about it in this post and in many others. So gun control works. Loughner only used 30 round magazines. Had the first one not jammed and people not tackled him, he would have done a lot more damage. Come on Migo. You just can't defend those magazines but I know you are going to try anyway. If someone had flagged the amount of ammunition this guy bought, perhaps he would have had a harder time getting it. We have a sick gun culture in this country. If we had reasonable gun laws, there would be a culture that understood that guns are not the answer, they are the problem.

    2. "If we had reasonable gun laws, there would be a culture that understood that guns are not the answer, they are the problem"

      And sometimes they are the solution to a problem.


    3. Well Anthony, you have surpassed even yourself with this comment. Guns should never be the solution. That is what I'm talking about.

    4. I'm not trying to defend high capacity magazines, although we might argue over what high means. Ironically, the very reason I think high cap mags are stupid, is exactly the reason more lives were saved. They jam! There's a reason why I don't see too many pictures of professionals using those things.

      If I honestly believed that high cap mags were the problem, then I would support a ban on them, but in both cases those stupid things saved lives by jamming. Regardless, I don't believe a killer is going to change his plans just because they're banned. He will just change his tactics. I've played 30 rd. timed IPSC matches using a 1911 with 8 rd. mags competing against players with higher cap mags, and as bad as I was, I seriously doubt anyone would have tried to disarm me as I dropped empty mags on the field and slapped in fresh ones from a belt full of loaded mags. My jam rate with those 8 rd. mags was about 1 in 1000.

      Suppose the only victims were Jessica and Veronica, because he used a .500 S&W revolver and missed a few times. That's still too many victims for me.

    5. Wow Migo. That is a convoluted way to say- go ahead and have high capacity magazines because they don't kill as many people as they could when they jam? That's sick and twisted and the very reason they need to be banned. Come on. Please say you don't mean that. How many lives are O.K to take at one time then? If only one dies, that's O.K. then? That's an insult to the victims. Stop saying stuff like that.

  5. I'm sorry I wasn't clear enough. I don't want killers to have anything, not even a revolver. I simply believe an obsessed, intelligent mass murderer will work within his environment to kill. Consequently, I can't believe that banning high cap mags will stop future murderers, but I understand that you, and others in this forum do. Please go ahead and try to ban them. The cycle will then continue as our nation argues and fights over ineffective laws instead of doing the much harder work of correcting whatever it is in our culture or society that causes these mass murders to occur more frequently in the US, than say Australia.

    The reason I don't believe high cap mag bans would be successful is because I've trained to put 2 bullets in each of 13 targets from behind cover with some targets behind cover, and some targets 60 feet away, very, very fast, with deadly accuracy using a pistol with 8 round magazines. Experts can do this in about 25 seconds. I only needed three spare 8 round magazines on my belt to do that. Wouldn't a crowded theater with restricted exits full of confused people be easier?

    Incidentally, word has come out that the killer left clues about what he was going to do, but they went unnoticed. That happens a lot in our culture.

    1. To do nothing is not an option. You just want to do nothing. What is your solutions? You haven't offered one valuable thing that will change the mass carnage in our country. Stopping the sale of high capacity magazines would do just that. Of course it would. Tell me why it wouldn't. As to your last statement, what does it mean? Of course it happens a lot. What's your solution to that? If warnings had been heeded, perhaps 12 people would be alive today. But they aren't. The guy was able to get lots of guns and lots of ammunition because that's what we do in this country.