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.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your ID please

So today I went shopping at the local Target store to get some things for our week at our cabin with the family. I decided to get some "Pop Its"- little firecrackers that can be thrown against the pavement and make a popping noise with a little smoke. The clerk asked me for my ID!! Not only that, she had to physically scan my driver's license. Let's take a look at fireworks and firecrackers going into the July 4th holiday. What are restrictions on firecrackers? Here is an article about restrictions in my state of Minnesota and attempts to loosen the restrictions:
"In Minnesota, what are called "novelties" -- sparklers, snakes and small fizzy fountains -- were legalized in 2002. The bigger consumer fireworks, such as bottle rockets, firecrackers and multi-tube skyrockets that blossom at 150 feet, remain illegal, but stubbornly popular. In the Twin Cities area, Wisconsin's thriving border fireworks marketplace is often the source.
Those who deal with the aftermath of fireworks displays gone awry are solidly opposed. Police and fire chiefs associations, burn centers at Regions Hospital and Hennepin County Medical Center, Children's Hospitals and Clinics, the Academy of Ophthalmology, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the League of Minnesota Cities are among the dozens of groups lined up against the proposals.
"It's a recreational toy that does terrible, disastrous damage," Daniel Bernardi, a former deputy state fire marshal who represents Twin Cities burn centers, told a Senate committee."
There was testimony from a man who owns a fireworks company. Of course, we can follow the money. Where there's money to be made, public safety be damned. This man, along with some legislators, did not consider the expansion of fireworks sales to be a problem. But others did:
Dan Winkel, the Andover fire chief and an official of the Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association is unmoved by Kriesel's arguments. He says fireworks have been responsible for several major grass fires in recent years, and the number of fireworks-related injuries tripled in the year after the 2002 law was passed. "We continue to oppose any and all expansion of fireworks, in that they will cause more injuries and fires that we will have to respond to," he told a Senate committee.
William Mohr, medical director of the Burn Center at Regions Hospital, said the number of burn injuries from fireworks is directly related to the availability of the product. "I don't think you can possibly put an economic value on either the catastrophic injury or mortality as a result of these devices," he told legislators.
"Eleven-year-old kids who lose their eye ... that's what I want you to think about, when you're trying to decide if we can get a little more income from surrounding states off fireworks sales."
Whew. Thankfully Governor Dayton vetoed this bill too. ( He also vetoed the Shoot First bill in this legislative session. ) In doing a little research, I found out that even "Pop Its" can cause some injuries so need to be used carefully. I will be sure to do so. You can see here that deaths and injuries from fireworks don't show up on the top 10 leading causes of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Deaths from homicides and suicides do, though and most of those come from firearms. Let's check this article so find out how many deaths and injuries occur from fireworks. From the article:
CPSC staff has reports of two fireworks-related deaths during 2009.  Both fatalities involved aerial shells.  In the first incident, a 41 year-old male was killed in an explosion of a professional display mortar shell that he lit in his backyard.  In the second incident, a 26 year-old male lit a consumer grade mortar shell that was in a launching tube that he held over his head.  The shell discharged from the bottom of the tube resulting in a skull fracture.  CPSC staff has reports of seven fireworks-related deaths in 2008.  Reporting is not complete for either year and the actual number of deaths may be higher.
• Fireworks were involved in an estimated 8,800 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2009 (95 percent confidence interval 6,800 – 10,800).  CPSC staff estimated that there were 7,000 fireworks-related injuries during 2008.  
• An estimated 5,900 fireworks-related injuries (or 67 percent of the total fireworks-related injuries) were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month special study period between June 19, 2009 and July 19, 2009 (95 percent confidence interval 4,200 – 7,600).  CPSC staff estimated that there were 5,000 fireworks-related injuries during the 2008 special study period.
So there were 2 deaths from fireworks in 2009 and 8800 injuries in the U.S. I remind my readers that firearms take the lives of 30,000 Americans every year ( including 8 children a day) and another 70,000 injuries costing the country billions of dollars. And yet, I needed to produce my driver's license to buy 2 boxes of "Pop Its" today! There is widespread recognition that fireworks and firecrackers can be and are dangerous. Guns? Not so much. I should say that most people understand the dangers of guns but the NRA and its' minions won't allow any common sense laws to pass to prevent deaths and injuries. I also remind my readers that private sellers of firearms are supposed to ask for a driver's license but many do not.  In hidden camera video after hidden camera video, we have the proof that many people buy guns without producing one piece of identification. Here is just one of the latest exposés about how easy it is to buy guns, no questions asked. It's easier to buy a gun than it is to buy fireworks. And fireworks cause a very small number of deaths and injuries to Americans in a given year. Where is common sense?

I wish all of my readers a very good Fourth of July celebration. Stay safe out there. And don't celebrate by shooting your gun into the air. I have a friend, Joe Jaskolka, whose life was forever changed when a bullet from celebratory gunfire landed in his brain while he was celebrating New Year's Eve in 1998 in Philadelphia:
He was 11 years old. Now 24, he is paralyzed on the right side of his body and face and has undergone nearly 55 surgeries to his brain and eyes.
“He’s in a wheelchair…doesn’t have to be. Doesn’t have to be,” says his father, Gregory.
I will be taking a few days away from my blog while spending some family time at our cabin. I know that gun deaths and injuries will not take a vacation and I will have plenty to write about when I post again.



  1. Here in Oregon, you aren't allowed to possess or fire a wide range of fireworks, particularly any that fly, like bottle rockets or Roman candles. "Fountain" fireworks have to be under a certain size. The concern is that people will be hit and injured by them or that they can start fires.

    While those may be legitimate concerns, it is at odds with the lack of concern over something FAR more deadly to innocents: firearms. Here in Oregon, you can buy any gun from anyone in a private sale with no background check, ID, paperwork, or questions of any kind. I have yet to hear of anyone being killed from fireworks here in the last few years. People die from firearms all the time, though.

  2. My blog post on the dangers of celebratory gunfire, all too common on the 4th of July and New Year's Eve: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2012/07/celebratory-gunfire-kills-keep-your.html

  3. I just read my copy of the COTUS and nowhere am I finding where the inalienable right of the people to keep and bear fireworks is protected by the BOR.

    I'm being sarcastic, of course. But again, this highlights the entire failure of the anti-gun argument. You're comparing a privilege to a right. Inconvenient for your side, yes. But a right none the less. The anti-violence movement would be much better served if they finally acknowledged this fact instead of staying the current course which attempts to link anecdotal scenarios as representative of the entire gun owning populace. Well, that and the smear campaign against the NRA. Here's a hint.....it's not working.

    You state that gun owners don't care about the violence. Another misinformed and agenda-driven position. As a gun owner, i certainly do have a vested interest in seeing violence reduced, ESPECIALLY violence with firearms, because I don't want to be generalized as a contributor to this violence. The difference is that when you cut through the anecdotes, you realize that the vast majority of gun violence is perpetuated by criminals, gangs, repeat offenders, violent individuals not properly punished with lengthy mandatory sentences, and suicides. So gun owners are left scratching their heads as to why the anti-gun movement is so hell-bent on demonizing us rather than addressing the real problems and major contributors to violence.

    There's plenty of room for compromise because I believe that the vast majority of gun owners are moderate thinking individuals and not the extremist neanderthal racist baby-killers the anti-gun movement wishes we were. But when the foundation of your position is built on the premise that the 2nd Amendment doesn't mean what it actually says, and is not a right which should garner protection equal to the rest, you're not going to find too many people who are willing to meet you half way.

    1. You have just contributed to the problem. You assert that the foundation of my position is built on the premise that the 2nd Amendment doesn't mean what it actually says. Where do you find that in what I have said? You can't and you won't because it simply isn't true. Did I say it was not a right? NO! You are wrong and have therefore perpetuated the problem. We can meet halfway all right, but not if you are lying about my position. In addition, you are wrong about the majority of gun deaths due to criminals. That is not true. The majority of gun deaths, first of all, are suicides. Easy access to guns make that a whole lot easier. I have gone around on this blog about that but you are new to commenting so may have missed something. Secondly, it is actually people who know each other who commit most of the gun murders- over 50%. Some of these could be gangs. But most of the murders are not random murders by criminals on the streets. You are just wrong. In fact, check out the "Shoot First" blog and "Kid Shootings" blog for how often "law abiding gun owners" shoot people by accident or kids get their hands on guns to shoot themselves or others. So if we can deal in facts, I think we will get some place. I agree with you that most gun owners are law abiding and don't intend harm. But unfortunately they do. As for criminals, I think we can all agree that we should stop them from getting their guns. But the NRA doesn't want to. And that is a fact that can't be denied. Law abiding citizens shouldn't be worried about universal background checks if they can pass one. That does nothing to take away anyone's rights to own a gun. So?

  4. Do you support Chicago's gun ban in the city? Did you support DC's gun ban pre- Heller? Do you support restrictions on firearms based on cosmetic features? Do you support the denial of a COTUS right based on being 'suspected' of terrorism? Do you support restrictions on firearm ownership based on geographical location/residence of an individual? Do support restrictions on concealed carry? Open carry? Do you support mandatory storage laws? Do you support mandatory trigger locks? Do you support a ban on semi-automatic weapons? Do you support regulation based on caliber? Do you support confiscation of firearms in times of declared emergency? Do you support 'may-issue' over 'shall-issue'? Do you believe that gun policy should be determined as a public health issue?

    You can't, with a straight face, tell me that you truly believe that the 2A means what is says, while supporting a majority, if not, all of the aforementioned.

    When you choose to ignore the constitutionality of the same laws you support and instead, argue based on emotionalism and anecdotal evidence and routinely imply that gun owners are some sort of fringe outfit, you're not going to elicit any willingness to compromise.

    1. You really ought to read the Second Amendment. It says nothing about any of the things you suggested. The Court determined that the Chicago gun ban was not Constitutional. So be it. That doesn't mean just anyone can have any gun they want or to carry just anywhere. Remember when it was written? None of the weapons you guys love were available or manufactured. Life changes. The second amendment does not mean what you say it means either. Find in the amendment where it enumerates what you mentioned above.

    2. If you and I were playing poker, I'd say that I just saw your 'tell.'

      Heller defined 'guns in common use of the time.' That would include just about all the ones you guys want to see banned. Using the argument that none of the firearms of today were around when the 2A was written is the first indication that you have a problem with the 2A and more specifically, as defined in the Heller decision.

      And 'so be it' is an admission of defeat and having to deal with the decision rather than supporting the logical conclusion that a gun ban is unconstitutional. Would you oppose a decision which upheld a ban on handguns in Chicago if that had been the case?

      And you really ought to read my post. I never implied that i disagreed with any reasonable restrictions. I support prohibiting certain individuals from exercising the right. Perhaps some 'sensitive areas' although they would be a lot more limited in scope than what is currently considered a sensitive area. And I'd even go for mandatory background checks, although i disagree that the scourage of violence is from me and my friend/family member bartering in arms behind closed doors. What are YOU willing to compromise on?

      The point you're missing is that there's going to be no compromise because the anti-gun camp has not acknowledged the 2A for what it means. Not only that, but aside from the oft debunked Kellerman 'study', you can't support your position statistically without manipulating the data.

      I do have to thank you for posting 3 of my posts in a row without moderation, though. that is by far a personal record for me.

    3. Up til now, the pro gun side has compromise on nothing.

    4. I thought the NCIC was a compromise? Just to name one.

    5. Are you serious? Good grief. If we can't even stop criminals, domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill people and others from buying guns at FFLs, we are in serious trouble. They can get guns anyway from unlicensed dealers as part of the NICS. Was that your compromise? You guys are crazy if you think NICS was a compromise. It was necessary for public safety. Try something else.That one doesn't fly.

    6. How many people were injured/killed from negligent use of fireworks this year?

      You'd define it as a problem with fireworks. I'd define it as a problem with the way individuals are using them.

    7. Why don't you Google it and find out for yourself?

  5. This post is an excellent example where some people want something, and they ignore anything and everything to the contrary, regardless of the evidence, regardless of the expert opinion, and regardless of any logic.

    The "I want it, so I'm going to get it" mentality is a strong part of the gun culture, and anyone else's safety --- or their own - be damned.

    That is not the premise of sound policy, not for public safety, not for public health, not for national defense.

  6. I would actually consider making the sale of fireworks legal in Minnesota if we taxed heck out of it, AND if we made it legal ONLY to buy fireworks made in the U.S. -- and if we could get the other states in the region to support that too.

    Here's why:

    $231.8 million: Value of U.S. manufacturers' shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics (including flares, igniters, etc.) in 2007.

    $232.3 million: Value of fireworks imported from China in 2011, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported. U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $15.8 million in 2011, with Australia purchasing more than any other country ($4.5 million).

    If we limit the lega fireworks to American made fireworks, we would have a greater amount of control over safety and quality, AND we would be reducing our trade imbalance and creating U.S. jobs.

    Otherwise.........all these foreign made fireworks, heck -- they're not only dangerous.........THEY ARE DOAWNRIGHT UNAMERICAN!!!!!

    Ok, so China invented fireworks a very long time ago -- time to live in the 21st century! Happy 4th Japete, common gunsense readers!

    1. I believe if you tried to pass a law such as that you would have a problem with the WTO when China files an unfair trade policy lawsuit against us.

  7. Unfortunately, someone was shot in the head with a celebratory bullet last night. http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/Stray-bullet-hits-woman-in-head-at-Lansing-fireworks-show#ixzz1zmw5qF9D

    1. And another- http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2012/jul/05/10/stray-bullet-injures-man-during-safety-harbor-fire-ar-424104/

  8. And now I must report on another bullet fired in celebration- http://www.myfoxal.com/story/18966975/officer-struck-by-gunfire-during-fourth-of-july-celebration- this time hitting a Texas police officer