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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Law abiding until you're not

Often on this blog, I show that there are plenty of shootings committed by "law abiding" gun owners. That is anathema to the mantra of the NRA and its' minions. They want us to believe that it's only criminals who shoot other people with their guns. That is simply not true. A prime example and the most recent is this Arizona man who shot his friend in the chest with his rifle while allegedly intoxicated:
"Venola is a contributing writer and former editor of Guns & Ammo magazine.
Agency spokeswoman Trish Carter said Venola used a "high-caliber" rifle to shoot his friend in the chest. She said James Patrick O'Neill, 39, of Golden Valley was dead at the scene of the shooting outside Venola's home in the 4800 block of Mayan Drive.
In a report, Detective Larry Matthews said Venola appeared to be intoxicated when contacted by officers. Neighbors told investigators that Venola was "having words" with the victim before they heard a gunshot.
"Mr. Venola came over to the neighbors carrying a rifle and stated he just killed a man," the report said. "Mr. Venola acknowledged he killed the man, but didn't say why."
Carter said three weapons were taken from Venola's property."
Bad things happen with loaded guns and they happen far too often in our country- more than just about any other high income country not at war. Guns and alcohol don't mix for sure. This man was clearly a gun rights advocate having worked for Guns & Ammo magazine. Didn't he know better? Law abiding gun owners don't shoot people or commit crimes do they? Law abiding gun owners don't drink and carry do they? They know better. Editors for gun magazines must give gun owners advice and write about safety with their guns don't they? Don't they have influence on their readers? Instead, this is what Venola advised his readers:
After President Barack Obama took office in 2009, Venola used his position as editor to warn readers that they should join his “largest business competitor,” the National Rifle Association (NRA), or “those in the new administration who drool at the chance of neutering the Second Amendment will become emboldened.”
Good advice, that. While I was looking at the website of the magazine, I found this interesting article, titled: Why the Media Doesn't Understand Gun Owners, by Kyle Wintersteen. The writer sets up 8 vignettes, complete with pictures, to prove his point that the "liberal media" just doesn't get it. In the first one, he takes New Yorker writer Jill Lepore to task for suggesting that gun owners are at fault for shootings. Yes, really. Let me get this straight. If gun owners are not responsible for gun deaths, I wonder who is? Here's what article author Kyle Wintesteen has to say about this perceived wrong:
Journalists always want to point the finger at gun owners after such tragedies, as if there’s some way to legislate away the actions of a madman intent on mayhem without expunging the freedoms of law-abiding Americans. They ignore the failures of liberal social programs and instead want to create “gun free zones,” forgetting that this is in fact where most mass shootings occur (even in highly firearm-restrictive European countries). And, perhaps most frustrating of all, they deny that an average armed citizen can halt a mass shooting.
So now I have to wonder exactly what failure of liberal social programs could have led to the shooting committed by the law abiding gun owner who happens to have contributed to this very magazine? The author is referring to mass shooters. Guns are not the problem of course. They never are to these folks. Actually, shouldn't all zones be gun free? What are we doing with guns in every nook and cranny of our country? I remind my readers that these loaded weapons of mass destruction are carried by none other than law abiding gun owners in many cases. But I digress. Let's look at some more of these fallacies. Here's the next slight by us "liberal media" types. "When we read about an “AK-47” used in a crime that turns out to have been a regular old bolt-action, or when journalists use such terms as “.12-caliber shotgun”, “automatic revolver” or “spray fire assault rifle,” he reveals his ignorance. He entirely discredits himself. And that’s one of the reasons why so many of us tend toward media skepticism even when it comes to non-gun issues." So the media sometimes gets the type of gun wrong when describing a crime gun? Hmmm. That must mean that the gun wasn't the problem after all. No, it's just that we don't understand the gun guys. Never mind that a crime was committed and someone may be dead. Details, details. 

In reality, here is what Lepore had to say in her article ( linked above):

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

Men are far more likely to own guns than women are, but the rate of gun ownership among men fell from one in two in 1980 to one in three in 2010, while, in that same stretch of time, the rate among women remained one in ten. What may have held that rate steady in an age of decline was the aggressive marketing of handguns to women for self-defense, which is how a great many guns are marketed. Gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, higher in the country than in the city, and higher among older people than among younger people. One reason that gun ownership is declining, nationwide, might be that high-school shooting clubs and rifle ranges at summer camps are no longer common.
So there are plenty of gun owners in America and plenty of shootings in America- the most in the world of countries not at war, actually. There just has to be a connection here. Not to the NRA, of course. The next assertion is just as ridiculous as the first one was. Now the "liberal media" doesn't understand the "gun show loophole". In fact there isn't one according to this author:

You can’t just single out a freedom you don’t like and call it a “loophole.” In the United States, we have the right to own firearms. We have the right to sell firearms. If I want to walk across the street and sell my 1911 to a neighbor right now, I have that freedom, as long as he’s legally able to buy a gun and I’m a legal seller. These same transactions occur at gun shows between private sellers. To require a background check between such individuals would essentially end all private transactions—and that is of course the goal of those who push such legislation. So please, journalists, quit griping about gun shows and we won’t touch your “Free Speech Loophole.”
Right. I get it now. Because people have a right to own firearms, they should be able to buy and sell them indiscriminately to whomever they want to. Never mind that a sale could be made to a criminal or a domestic abuser or someone who is adjudicated mentally ill. No matter. It's just a case of not understanding gun owners. They are all law abiding after all. Until they are not.

Next up, according to Wintersteen, the author Jill Lepore made the mistake of suggesting that the right to own a gun is a collective right after all rather than the Supreme Court's recent Heller decision that stated that, according to the 5 justices who decided with the majority that the Second Amendment is an individual right to own a gun. It's interesting isn't it, when the Supreme Court makes a 5-4 decision that people on both sides get their undies in a bundle when the decision doesn't go their way? Yes, the Supreme Court has decided what it decided. I don't like it much but it is the "law of the land." So Wintersteen is right- "Let's move on." I agree. I also then wonder why the far right, presumably many of them the poor misunderstood gun owners, can't let the most recent Supreme Court decision finding the Affordable Care Act to be constitutional go. They can't move on. The Republican led U.S. House just voted to repeal the act even though the Supreme Court found it to be constitutional ( for the 33rd time, mind you!). What the heck? No one in the liberal media has suggested we repeal the Heller decision. Just imagine the outcry and the attacks from the right if we did. But when it goes the other way- not so much. Details. They get in the way of common sense.

Well, you get the idea. The rest of the reasons given for why the "liberal media" does not understand gun owners fits with my last post. More lies. More hyperbole. More fear and paranoia. I wonder what this writer will write about his fellow editor now that he has shot someone to death? Will there be more excuses? Will the media get that wrong, too? And I am wondering how Wintersteen can explain this illegal gun owner shooting himself in the penis

He told police he bought a gun on the street in Kansas and had planned to sell it in a convenience store parking lot near SE 44 and Shields Boulevard. On the way there, he pulled over to make sure the gun functioned properly.
The gun went off while he was in his car in a parking lot near SE 15 and Interstate 35. He panicked and drove himself to the hospital, he told police.
Police arrested the man at the hospital after he was medically cleared.
Tavares Donnell Colbert, 36, was arrested on a complaint of possession of a firearm.
Colbert is a felon with convictions including a 2003 charge for possession of a controlled and dangerous substance with intent to distribute, according to police.
Does this man fit the description of a gun owner who doesn't shoot people as Wintersteen has claimed? After all, the man in the above story bought his gun on a street in Kansas. He owned it. He shouldn't have but he did anyway. And stupidly he was going to a convenience store to sell this gun.  First of all- a convenience store? Really? This private seller didn't need to do a background check on the seller. I wonder what kind of a person was going to buy a gun from this guy? And by now, how many times has this gun changed hands since it's original purchase, most likely in the legal market? And how do those guns get to be used in shootings? Stupid and dangerous gun owners, legal and illegal alike, are causing mayhem on our streets. And they shoot themselves and others on a regular basis. If you don't believe me check out these great blogs- Kid Shootings which highlights the number of time law abiding gun owners leave their guns around for kids to get their hands on them; and Ohh Shoot which highlights the number of times law abiding gun owners shoot their guns by accident and kill or injure someone. If the stories in these blogs weren't so tragic, they'd be laughable. Kyle Wintersteen should read them. They are full of misunderstood gun owners gone wrong.

I will end with the latest mass shooting in America. It took place at a bar in Alabama. Was there a lack of a social program here that accounts for someone shooting up a bar and injuring 17 people? Dang it. We just don't understand those gun owners. If we did, we surely would get why some of them decide to shoot people with their guns. If gun owners aren't responsible for gun deaths, again I wonder, who is? Where is common sense?


  1. I looked up that writer/editor for Guns & Ammo who became a drunken murderer, Richard Venola. He wasn't just writing about gun accessories, he was also a writer about gun safety and usage. Not so safe, after all. But more interestingly, he was also a rabid proponent of the "conspiracy theory" pushed by the NRA about how the government is out to get your guns and how the ATF's concern about illegal gun trafficking was a ploy to destroy the 2nd Amendment. A real nutcase and NRA echo chamber. Conspiratorial thinking like this is indicative of an unstable mind, and sadly his instability led to murder.
    My blog post on this: http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com/2012/07/upstanding-authority-on-guns-and-gun.html

  2. As for comparisons of shootings of civilians in the U.S. vs. Yemen, it's shocking what the difference is. Yemen is a hostile nation which harbors Al Qaeda, is mostly ruled by warlords, and has been torn for decades by civil war, yet you are far more likely to be shot to death in the U.S. than to be killed by ANY method in Yemen. Same goes for war-torn Somalia. Correspondingly, civilian firearm ownership is far higher in the U.S. than either of those chaotic countries.

    See the surprising data at my blog post:

  3. If the NRA really wanted to promote legal gun use and ownership, they would get rid of Ted draft-dodger Nugent, for his illegal hunting crimes.
    They don't - which shows their actions speak louder than their claims about legal guns and gun use.

    I wrote about the guy shooting himself in the crotch over on MikB's blog - the arguments were badly flawed from the gun nuts, like their belief that gun regulation wouldn't work because clearly the guy was a felon, who wouldn't obey laws anyway.

    Knock knock puddinhead, if the person who sold the shot-in-the-penis felon the gun had been required to do a background check for private sales, at some point the transfer of guns from legal buyers to criminals would stop, because of that background check.

    There is no evidence in the reporting that the person who sold the gun to the dick-shooter felon did so knowing his criminal background.

    But at some point EVERY gun is starting out as a legal firearm, so clearly with the problem we have of prohibited people getting guns, we have a problem with private transactions and straw buyers.

    The guns in the hands of criminals aren't being stolen from the gun manufacturers; they're being sold, making those gun manufacturers for whom the NRA really works a lot of bloody money.

  4. Thanks, Dog Gone. And as we know from a recent study, around 49% of guns used in crime were privately purchased. And since nearly everywhere in the U.S. private sales don't require background checks, ID, or any questions at all, the seller isn't accountable for selling to the criminal, and therefore can claim ignorance. Requiring a background check would make them culpable too, thus reducing sales and driving up black market prices.

  5. Different places have very different experiences regarding guns. Washington DC has the most extreme gun control of any American city. In 2010 DC had twenty seven times more murders than the slightly larger city of El Paso, Texas. Chicago is the "Second City" when it comes to gun control. Chicago had a murder rate nineteen times higher than El Paso in the same year.

    California is the state with the most gun control laws according to the Brady Campaign and Utah has the least. The FBI tells us California's murder rate is over 400% higher than Utah's.

    The nation with the most extreme gun control near the U.S. is Mexico. In a medium sized Mexican community there were over 3000 murders in 2010, more than the six largest U.S. cities combined. Historically, Mexico has not had extreme gun control and they have not had high crime rates. Before 1996 the crime rate of almost all crimes was lower than in the U.S. Often much lower.

    Politicians in DC and Chicago blame "outside" sources of guns for their troubles. This is a hollow argument. If availability of firearms causes crime, the states where gun buying is easy and instant would have the crime, not the places with extreme restrictions, licensing, and waiting periods. The problem is the people, folks. Either accept this or explain why DC had twenty seven times more murders than a larger city where every responsible adult citizen can carry a concealed handgun.

  6. Zach. I am not commenting on this blog post any more. You can check my other posts to know the answers to your comments. I don't agree with your assertions.