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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Is it self defense?

A lawnmower bill is unpaid in Ohio. Two guys come to the house to repossess the lawnmower. A young man and his family become scared of the two who have come to repossess it. The young man is nervous after two hours of door knocking and harassment by the guys who have come to look for their money. A gun is thought to be the way to protect the young man so he straps it on though his wife says not to. He assumes it will protect him and his young family ( 3 young children). He goes outside. No one will say if he pointed the gun at the two. One of the two starts shooting and hits the man 5 times, killing him:
A man is dead -- a store employee accused of the shooting -- and it was all over a lawn mower. The shooter, though, remains free -- claiming self-defense -- while a grieving widow is left behind to care for three young children.
“He took the father of my sons, and my baby will never know him,” cried Jennifer Holsinger.
Her late husband Steve was only 33.
“He made me so happy," Jennifer said. "They took something very precious to me away."
She says there was a dispute between her husband and Robert and Tyler Staker of Staker's Sales and Service in Portsmouth. It reportedly involved money owed on a lawn mower. The amount in question was $700.
Is this the usual way in which business owners operate? I don't know- just asking. Why did the employees have their guns while at work? I don't know- just asking. Do they get into arguments like this all the time? Was it necessary to go to the house and treat the family in this way? Was there another way to solve the situation? Is a gun a good answer? Did someone deserve to die over a lawn mower and $700.00? I'm just asking.

The shooter claims self defense and is not arrested. Which one of these people actually needed a gun for self defense? It's convoluted and unnecessary. What would have happened if the young man hadn't put on a gun? Would the guy have shot him anyway? If the young man had shot one of the respossessers, could he have claimed self defense? When there are more guns in the hands of more people, isn't it a self fulfilling prophecy that then more people are convinced they need more guns to protect themselves from all the people with more guns? I'm just asking.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes guns used in self defense work out the way the gun owner pictures it will. Not often but sometimes. What would have happened in this case had this Florida permit holder not had a gun? We don't know. The man with the gun shot and injured 2 men who came into an Internet Cafe with guns. Would they have shot people inside? We won't know that. Were they up to no good? Clearly. Sometimes people rob businesses with guns and get away with the money with no deaths or injuries. Should they be shot over money when others could be caught in the cross fire or when bringing a gun into the situation can escalate the violence? We don't know if the permit holder saved lives. We will never know that. Wouldn't it be great if we could prevent more people like these robbers from getting their guns in the first place rather than ascribe to the view of the world that says that when criminals have guns, we all need them? I'm just asking. One of my questions may have been answered in the linked article above:
Hours after his release from the hospital, Henderson, who talked about the pain he feels in his buttock and hip, said the plan was to “barge in, get the money and leave.” He said “he never expected anyone to be armed.”
“The gun was broken and rusty and wasn’t loaded. Nobody was going to get hurt,” he said, standing with crutches.
Retrieving the customers’ phones was what he said was their “main priority.” That way, he said, the customers could not call law enforcement officials.
What would have happened if George Zimmerman hadn't had a gun the night he shot Travyon Martin? We know the answer to that one. Trayvon was unarmed. He would be alive today without the gun. George Zimmerman wouldn't be accused of murder without the gun. Without the gun, everything would have been different. George Zimmerman has no regrets, or so he said when he actually appeared live on FOX news. Seriously? He did. But I digress. God was involved, apparently. Then it must be O.K. From the article:
Tonight, George Zimmerman — who is currently facing second degree murder charges for killing Trayvon Martin — participated in a highly unusual interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity.
Hannity asked Zimmerman if he regretted getting out of his car to follow Trayvon, carrying a gun, or anything at all about the night he killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman said he regretted nothing because he believed “it was all God’s plan.” He also said there isn’t anything he would do differently in retrospect.
Whatever. I learned something new from George Zimmerman's interview. If God had a plan on the night of Trayvon Martin's shooting, then we're good, right? That's the first time I've heard that justification for shooting someone. It's useful information since it might now help some other folks who claim self defense for shooting someone when they didn't have to. "Your honor, God planned for this to happen. I didn't have much to do with it really." This article about the same interview with Zimmerman explains what he meant by his "God" comment. The "no regret's" comment is more concerning to the author of the linked article:
No regrets about getting out of his car? No regrets at all? Not even of taking another life? In the capias request written by Sanford Police Detective Christopher Serino on March 13, which sought to have Zimmerman arrested for manslaughter — a request that was denied — he noted, “The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement.” There’s no arguing with that assessment.
Zimmerman is but one of many, unfortunately. Guns are prolific in America. So are gun deaths and injuries. There are a lot of senseless shootings. There are too many victims- more than any high income country not at war. Shootings are an every day occurrence in America. Not so in other civilized countries. What would happen if we have, say, gun laws similar to Canada's? Canada has far fewer guns and far fewer gun deaths by comparison. News stories like the ones I write about every day are not being read and heard in the Canadian media on a daily basis. We all know there are occasional tragic shootings in other countries. But the facts speak for themselves. America is number one. That's not something about which we should be proud.

So why do Americans feel such a need to have so many guns and to "need" them for self defense? How do people in other countries manage to get through their lives from day to day. Could it be that they practice common sense? Could it be that they don't have a Second Amendment behind which the NRA hides whenever sensible gun laws are promoted? I'm just asking.

As I was ready to post this one I saw the breaking news of yet another mass shooting in the Denver, Colorado area. We will find out much more in the coming days about the incident and the shooter. Could anyone with a gun have defended themselves against this totally surprise attack on innocent people? Who was the shooter? Where did he get the guns? Was he a prohibited purchaser? Oh, and the death toll was revised down to 12 from 14. Phew- that's a relief. Only 12 dead!!!!! 50 injured people. A 3 month old baby is injured. Senseless. These shootings happen on a regular basis in America. They are rare in other countries where gun laws are stricter and the gun culture isn't gun crazed as it is in America. When you have a culture that accepts the idea that guns should be carried into every nook and cranny of our communities, you get shootings. When you have a culture that promotes guns for self defense in the home and on the streets, you get more shootings. When you have a culture that promotes fear and paranoia, you get more shootings. When you have elected leaders who have been bulled by the extremist NRA into passing or not passing gun laws that could keep us safer and protect us from senseless shootings like the one that just happened, you get more shootings. Now 12 more people have died for no reason while going about their lives- watching the newly released Batman movie. More are injured. More deaths. More grief. What will we do about it? Will we let the NRA dictate our gun laws or will common sense dictate public health and safety? We can offer our sympathies to the families of those shot to death early this morning and I certainly do, as someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one to bullets. In the end, sympathy isn't enough. Action is what is required. Shooting people over lawn mowers is not acceptable. Shooting innocent people sitting in a movie theater is not acceptable. 


This article names the movie theater shooter. " The apartment is believed to be the home of 24-year-old James Holmes. ABC News said Holmes was arrested after the deadly shooting at a theater in Aurora." I just heard that the man is not on the terror watch list nor is he thought to be an extremist. Police have said his only apparent infraction of the law was a traffic ticket. More information will reveal whether the man was a "law abiding" gun owner.


  1. This is unrelated but I just found this item and thought you'd be interested:

    My husband was "forced to resign" today from an NRA call center for being an atheist.

    The part that really got me was not the atheist stuff, it was this:

    "He sat in the class for 5 hours, and everything was going well until the old woman who was in charge of the class mentioned that they all had to become members of the NRA in order to work for them. I feel that they probably should have told him this information before he agreed to take the job. Anyway, my husband (admittedly, probably very stupidly) asked if there was any way he could "opt out" of having to do this. The old woman became very mean and asked "Why would you ever want to do that." My husbands response was that the NRA was a lobbyist organization and while he had no problem working in a call center for them, he really did not want to have to become member. She said "Yeah, so?" and pretty much told him that there was no way out of having to become a member, and my husband conceded that he would do so if he must."

    We've heard so many reports about the NRA inflating their numbers, so if this is true -- coercing call center workers to become members -- then I find that really interesting.

    Apparently American gun policy is completely hamstrung by a very small minority of radicals who do everything they can to make themselves appear more influential. How the NRA was given such power is something we need to explore.

    1. Thank you for providing this article. It reveals the paranoia and desperation of the NRA to continue its' power and control of our elected leaders.

    2. Firing someone because they follow a religion of their choice, or alternatively are atheist, is illegal discrimination. I hope they sue the NRA for that illegality.

      Coercing someone to joing an organization as a condition of employement is probably illegal as well, and certainly unethical.

    3. There are simple answers to your question about the repro of a lawn mower.

      1. Either party would have been better served and done less harm if they simply contacted police. Repro guys CAN request the police accompany them to any location for lawful reposession -- as in supported by a court finding, which I doubt these guys had.

      2. The guy who got shot could have called for police help as well instead of 'strapping on his gun'.

      Like the shooting in Utah, you have two sets of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, using a degree of force NOT appropriate for the sitution, and which would not be condoned if used by law enforcement.

      We should not EVER allow a level of force to be used by private citizens that exceeds the level permitted to law enforcement. Doing so increases death and injuries, as we have seen clearly in the shoot first states, while not appreciably making anyone safer, or reducing crime.

    4. I'm sure the NRA crowd would say that having people join a union was coercion, yet having someone become a member of their organisation.

      Unfortunately, SoBeale, the NRA's inflation of its influence is well documented, but it nevertheless wields more power than it should in the political arena: see this article from MediaMatters.


    5. Wow. But it doesn't surprise me. I've heard about how at least some of the companies that manufacture guns and ammo require all of their employees to be NRA members. And I've heard of how shooting ranges will often require NRA membership of their members.

      What an amazing change it would be if companies required their members to instead become members of non-violence organizations.

  2. Many shooting ranges require their members to have NRA memberships because it allows the range to obtain insurance through the NRA. It significantly reduces operating costs. It makes sense to me that any organization promoting the NRA require its members to be NRA members. Even though I'm a non-violent person, I doubt a non-violence organization would allow me to be a member or attend their meetings if I insisted on my right to conceal carry. As for the question, "Could anyone with a gun have defended themselves against this totally surprise attack on innocent people?", there is no way that anyone could know that without having been there. I would never pull out my gun unless I was absolutely certain it wasn't a joke and I wouldn't hurt an innocent person.

  3. Thank you for bringing attention to the Ohio case which resulted in the murder of Steve Holsinger (over a lawnmower!). Myself and many other locals are trying to get this case its deserved day in court so evidence and not cronyism can be the deciding factor for justice. The Ohio concealed carry laws clearly show that the Stakers are not covered in a justifiable self defense yet no arrests still.