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, August 27, 2012

Just the facts, ma'am

There are facts in the gun policy debate. You'd never know it from the comments of the gun guys on my blog and on the blogs and articles written by people like me who are interested in stopping the senseless shootings in our country. Let's look at a few of the things the gun guys have been saying in light of the latest mass shooting in New York City on Friday.

1. Friday's shooting in NYC wasn't a mass shooting. Yes,it was. By any definition, when 3 or more people are shot in a single shooting incident, it is a mass shooting. Sometimes it is when 2 or more are shot. Who cares, really? Quibbling over the definition of a mass shooting is just childish. Dead is dead. Injured is injured. One of my commenters tried to tell me that this shooting was just an "ordinary murder." There are no ordinary murders. 32 people a day die from gun murders in the U.S. That is extraordinary. That is unacceptable. When many are shot at once, it makes big news. When just one or two at a time are shot, it makes smaller news. And not only was it a mass shooting, according to the linked article, above, it is a trend in America:
Without exception, all of these incidents were carried out by men, the vast majority of them had financial and emotional problems. While calls for increased gun controls have been issued, there has to be another problem associated with this.
This blogger thinks the society has institutionalized anti-social behavior to a point that people are disconnected from each other. The person who would have others to talk to in the past, now finds themselves alone more often. We don't know our neighbors, and we don't talk to them. People are not complicated – we need to feel a connection with each other. When that feeling is gone, what we have seen today occurs.
America needs to institutionalize ways for people to connect: block parties, and not just for National Night Out, will help us at least know our neighbors. Tax credits for people who hold large neighborhood events. The USA must take steps to fuse a culture that's become split apart due to digital communications and a move toward incivility.
Indeed, these kind of shootings indicate a trend. This blogger listed 13 mass shootings since the beginning of 2012. That is more than one a month. And yes, we need to feel more connected. We need to deal with mental illness in general. We need to keep people who are mentally ill from getting guns. Guns are clearly the common theme in mass shootings. We just don't have mass knifings or mass beatings.

2. Officers shouldn't have shot those innocent people in the melee of the shooting. It is true that officers shot all of the injured after an "ordinary law abiding gun owner" took out his revenge on a work colleague by executing him at close range outside of his place of business. Officers were doing their job on Friday which involved the use of guns in chaotic situations. We should be happy that police officers responded as quickly as they did or more damage could surely have been done. In the linked article, above, by Sanjay Sanghoee, we must think about the idea that armed citizens wouldn't have done the same thing or worse given the situation:
Now consider what would have happened in that situation if all New Yorkers were armed. With more guns in the mix and more citizens deciding to take matters into their own hands, many more shots would have been fired, and if the professionals themselves could miss their target and shoot innocent bystanders instead, you can imagine how ordinary citizens, most of them with only amateur shooting experience, would have done a hell of a lot more damage. In the madness that would have erupted, a simple take-down of a suspect by police would have turned into a modern day shootout at the OK Corral. Anyone who believes that a scenario like that would have resulted in fewer casualties is patently insane.
The other important thing to recognize is why our police need to carry guns in the first place. It is because we have a proliferation of guns in America in private hands. As I have said earlier, the cowboy culture and the spread of heavy duty weapons like the AR-15 semi-automatic rifles make our society a dangerous place, which then necessitates a strong armed response by law enforcement.
3. Gun permit holders wouldn't have shot any of the injured because they are better shots and better trained than police officers. To even think or say that is ludicrous and strains the bounds of credulity. According to the above article, police had a split second decision to make when Johnson aimed his gun at them. There are so many shootings and shootings of officers that their reaction is to not natural in order to protect the public from more bullets but also to protect themselves. Officers lives are on the line every day. Armed citizens do not face the same kind of every day life threatening situations faced by our law enforcement officers. Though we all know that police officers are not immune from over reacting or using force when not needed, those are rare cases. Officers are trained in tactical techniques and are also in better physical condition than ordinary citizens to handle situations such as that presented to them in New York City.

Let's talk some about training requirements for gun permit holders. Here is an article about the differences between states for training to carry a loaded gun around in public. From that article:
Not all states require training, or hands-on training. For example, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Washington[45] have no training/safety certification requirement. Mississippi has a basic permit that requires no training but greatly restricts where a firearm may be carried, and an enhanced permit as of July 1, 2011, that allows concealed carry in all but a very few places.
Wisconsin requires no training or hands-on experience with a gun. In Virginia, one can get a permit over the computer without ever handling a gun. You can watch for yourself as Virginia Tech shooting victim Lilly Habtu applies for her permit:

So don't believe the gun rights extremists who claim they could have done a better job than the police in a volatile situation and that they are better trained than police officers. They are lying. And we should all be very nervous about the lack of training requirements for ordinary "law abiding" citizens. These folks are carrying loaded guns in public places and arrogantly assume they can do the job of a police officer and do it better. Jared Loughner, in case you forgot, was a "law abiding" concealed carrier in Arizona where no permit is even required to carry a loaded gun in public. So was George Zimmerman. Raise your hand if you think this method of "training" citizens to carry loaded lethal weapons around in public is a good idea.

4. How could this have happened in New York? There are strict gun laws there. Yes, New York City, in particular, has strict gun laws but that doesn't mean there are no shootings in New York. Most of the crime guns found at crime scenes are traced to guns purchased from states with looser gun laws. You can see on the map in this report that though a good number of traced guns come from New York itself,  the majority of crime guns traced in New York City came from other states. This report from the Brady Center highlights how the NRA has made it more difficult to trace crime guns to their sources. The ATF and law enforcement have their hands tied by unreasonable laws passed by Congress under the spell of the NRA's mythical power. This is more evidence that we shouldn't listen to the paranoia and hyperbole from the gun rights extremists. As it turns out, Virginia was one of the states responsible for a large number of traced crime guns in New York. Recall how easy it is to get a permit to carry in Virginia from the above video.

5. We'd be safer if more people carried guns. No, our streets are not safer because of armed citizens walking around with loaded guns. I provide ample evidence of gun permit holders involved in shootings in public places in almost every blog post. There are too many on which to report. No other country has laws allowing people to legally carry guns around in public. We don't see other developed countries not at war with rates of gun deaths and injuries as high as those in the U.S. There has been blood running in our streets on a daily basis. That has not only not changed since almost every state in the country has passed a form of conceal and carry, but the gun rights extremists said it would get better. It has not. On average, over the last 10 years or so, about 30,000 Americans lose their lives to bullets. Of these, about 10.000-12,000 ( give or take) are gun murders. And many of these are due to law abiding citizens shooting innocent citizens and some in high profile shootings such as Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora theater shooting, Sikh temple shooting, the recent New York City shooting and others. The shooters were not listed as prohibited purchasers which made them legal purchasers of guns. They shouldn't have been but they were. That is the direct result of our loose gun laws.

6. We should just not bother to work towards better gun laws because gun control doesn't work. No, we are better than this. If we aren't, we will just continue to let innocent people be gunned down in shooting after shooting after shooting, as has actually happened in recent weeks. There have been 4 high profile mass shootings in the space of about 4 weeks.

7. The NRA doesn't much like Mayor Bloomberg and his coalition of Mayors. That is because he actually has money to spend on advocating for better gun laws, monitoring what goes on at gun shows and getting involved in legal matters concerning guns.  But the NRA is vastly out spending organizations that are working to prevent gun deaths and injuries. They may not be spending on federal elections though. It looks like they would rather pay their executive salaries than use the money to seek influence:
Tax returns show the NRA spends far more on staff than on federal races. In 2010, for example, it spent $51.6 million on salaries and benefits for its employees, including more than $1 million for Kayne B. Robinson, the executive director for general operations, and nearly $1 million for Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.
That election cycle, it reported spending less than $8.4 million on independent campaigns for congressional candidates, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The NRA handed out $1.28 million directly to federal candidates, 70% of it to Republicans.
Nowadays, the NRA's political activity is dwarfed by that of GOP-allied advocacy groups such as Crossroads GPS that pump tens of millions of dollars into races around the country. As those groups help elect conservatives, who are almost uniformly pro-gun rights, they also further the NRA's agenda.
As one of its major victories this year, the NRA bragged about taking out Sen. Richard G. Lugar(R-Ind.), who received an F rating from the group after he voted to confirm President Obama's Supreme Court nominees. But it contributed just one-fifth of the $3.3 million in outside money spent against Lugar in the GOP primary, which was won by a tea party-backed challenger.
Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York at Cortland and author of "The Politics of Gun Control," said that the NRA's electoral influence has been exaggerated, adding that the group's "bark is a lot more annoying than their bite."
But the NRA's reputation as a political behemoth has been enough to freeze the gun control debate on Capitol Hill.
8. Organizations like the ones I belong to don't have any members or money so don't have influence on politicians.  Organizations working to prevent gun deaths and injuries represent the majority of Americans, including gun owners, who want to prevent Americans from being gunned down in public places. They are not ideologues and don't vote on one issue but see that something must be done. From the latest CNN polling data  (above and quoted below) that is similar to recent polling by Republican pollster Frank Luntz:
The poll indicates that two meet with almost unanimous approval: Ninety-six percent are in favor of background checks and 91% support laws to prevent convicted felons or people with mental health problems from owning guns.
Three-quarters of people questioned favor gun registration with local governments, and roughly six in ten favor bans on the sale or possession of semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. But 54% oppose a limit on the number of guns an individual can own, and only one in ten think that all Americans should be prevented from owning guns.
Luntz's poll found similar results:
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. 
9. Law abiding citizens with permits ( or without) don't shoot people.Yes, law abiding gun permit holders shoot and kill people on our streets and in our homes. They also carelessly discharge their weapons in public places killing or injuring others or themselves. These incidents are too numerous to list here but I have written about them often. On average, so say the gun guys, permit holders commit crimes at a somewhat lower rate than non permit holders. But that is a straw man argument. The very premise of issuing a permit to someone to carry a loaded lethal weapon around in public is that they are and will remain law abiding. Otherwise, why allow anyone to carry loaded guns in public? They must be law abiding. Carrying loaded weapons is an awesome responsibility that should not be left to just anyone. The Violence Policy Center is keeping track of Conceal Carry Killers on it's website. They list real live ( or should I say real dead) incidents of actual shootings by legal gun permit holders. The gun lobby takes issue with this report. They have no standing to do so. Facts are facts. Denying them is a favorite trick of the gun lobby. When facts are inconvenient, they try to claim the facts are not the facts. This comment from one of my readers highlights efforts to discredit the above report:"VPC published a cherry picked list of information that fits their agenda - and yours. " No, they didn't.

These facts or lack thereof add up to a major public health and safety problem in the U.S. Our politicians are trying to ignore it. The NRA is trying to ignore it or make lame excuses that don't hold water. The public should be demanding a plan from our elected leaders. ( According to the demandaplan website 48,000 Americans will be murdered by guns in the next President's 4 year term). If you think that is unacceptable, sign on to wearebetterthanthis.org. Our politicians should be listening to the people with the facts instead of the paranoid bullies who use fear to get their way. The public knows that common sense gun laws will lead to a safer America. They are way ahead of the elected leaders. Let's lead the way and show them some courage. They can learn a lot from us but they need our help. Enough is enough. Use the clout of what is right and in the best interest of families and communities to influence elected leaders. We can take our country back from the extremists and big money exhibited by the NRA.


  1. The NYC police have a policy against shooting where there are other people in or near the line of fire.

    It has already been reported that three people were actually injured by bullets, while the reaminder were injured by shrapnel from bullets striking other objects -- and it is not at all clear that those objects were close to them rather than the shrapnel (apparently mostly bits of masonry) flying some distance.

    It has not been established yet either that the police directly shot the individuals wounded by bullets - and of the three, two were only apparently grazed, while one poor soul was shot in the buttocks. What we don't know yet, but what has been mentioned in articles to date consistently is that at least some of the bullet wounds appear to be ricochets rather than direct injury where a police officer shot someone.

    Unless the gun lunatics wish to claim they have the superhuman ability to never have a ricochet - which we know they can't do (but who knows what nut fantasies about their abilities they hold).

    So while we know the injuries are from police fire, we don't know at this juncture if they were actually from police shooting bystanders accidentally, or not.

    What we DO know though is that there are mass shootings, like the drive-by shootings in Chicago between over the weekend, beginning on Friday, which have a dead and injured total in the 30s. We also know that while workplace shootings, including mass shootings, are a problem, it is a problem that is diminishing in frequency because of people learning to intervene (read complain, speak up, however you wish to phrase it) so as to head off dangerous people doing bad things to others.

    This is in part the essence of the difference between shall issue, where there has to be a good reason to deny a permit on the one hand, balanced by giving law enforcement discretion to deny a dangerous person a firearm on the other (at least a legal firearm). The guild and blame is directly on the doorstep of the NRA for making private sale legal firearms and outright illegal purchase of firearms so easy that dangerous people and crazy people can obtain them with minimal risk and effort.

    The solution is to make it LESS EASY for bad people, for sick people, for paranoid people to get their hands on firearms, not simply to arm more crazy people, more sick people, and more paranoid people.

    The comments written here suggest that some of the commenters are dangerously close to being paranoid people, if not outright obviously are.

    For example the claims about criminals carrying guns at the state fair in Minnesota -- this is not a problem. IDIOTS who see threats behind every tree and booth to such a paranoid extent that they need their firearms on them at all times, ready to start shooting down who-knows-what or whom, THAT is a mentality and a culture that is at the foundation of our problem.

    It is not about self-defense; it is about a provocative attitude and a dangerously warped expectation of threats in a world where places like the State Fair are safe and where appropriate safety is provided not by armed vigilantes (who almost certainly lack any insurance to pay for mistakes they make that injure others, unlike law enforcement) but by law enforcement and people who behave in a civilized manner.

    We had a knife fight apparently at the fair this weekend. It was not random, and the only people who were hurt were the people who brought their private grudges onto public property. Law enforcement dealt with it. Had the fight involved guns instead of knives, far more people than the assorted aggressors would likely have been injured, and the danger to law enforcement would have been much higher.

    It was a perfect example of why we DON'T want the gun nuts carrying their fetish objects around and endangering others. We don't want knives being brandished either, but they hurt fewer people and tend to be less lethal as weapons compared to firearms.

  2. In the NYC mass shooting, I think too little recognition has been given that the officers responding were from the anti-terrorist squad who regularly patrol certain landmarks that are likely to be terrorist targets -in this case the Empire State building.

    While the police appear to be fortunate in having a very brave construction worker who helped give them reliable and accurate information about the shooter, I think it should be considered in the 'what if' scenarios that had a citizen pulled out a firearm and begun shooting, even if it was meant to assist the police, at that point it would have been reasonable for those specific police to be concerned and oriented to expect other kinds of attack as a likelihood, just because of the proximity to the Empire State building. That kind of shooting would not only have confused the situation, it would have been even more likely to get a well-intentioned gun carrier killed as an additional threat.

    Law enforcement has been quite eloquent about their concerns that it makes situations much more difficult to sort out, and that it makes it much much much harder to identify who is the bad guy and who is not when citizens act as armed vigilantes.

    It is stupid to believe that the gun nuts are better at law enforcement action than law enforcement; there is NO rational support for that whatsoever. Further, unlike this pair of NYCPD, they are unable to coordinate the way the two officers did as partners, and the way they could coordinate with the larger PD force by radio. To ignore the value of that kind of coordinated effort is simply ludicrous, an an affront to reason. It is why it is a good thing for law enforcement to be armed, and a bad thing for the public to be armed in public spaces.

  3. While not the full-blown gun nut arsenal acquiring gun nut, this shooter appears to have been at least moderately obsessed with weapons, based on his book collection, and that he told people he had served as some kind of special sharpshoter /sniper (which appears not to be true, as of information to date).

    He hadn't gone the full expanded magazine / assault rifle route, but that may be more from lack of funds than lack of desire.

    Do your pro-gun commenters believe this guy SHOULD have had a firearm? Are they going to argue that he wouldn't hurt anyone, that he was a law abiding citizen? Because apparently he had no criminal record prior to executing someone leaving blood running in the street.

    I would argue that anyone with a restraining order against them should be required to turn over to police their firearms until such time as the restraining order is either lifted, or expires if it is not renewed. The existence of a restraining order should be sufficient grounds for concern about conduct and judgment / impulse control and aggression issues, even if an actual violent crime has not been committed.

    It could have prevented this incident.

    Not eveyone should have a gun, and cleary there are too many who do that should not. The answer to that is NOT to put more guns in the hands of delusional people who think they can outshoot the police with absolutely NOTHING to support that assertion other than they want it to be true even if it isn't.

    Anyone who thinks that way can't correctly asses when shooting or not shooting is appropriate.

  4. Sure.

    It was a mass shooting. No doubt. In addition to the gunman, the gunman's intended target, 9 people were also shot.

    By incompetent cops. Incompetent cops who will be heralded as heroic, even as the city is sued for millions. Not shocking, in a place where no civil rights are sacrosanct, especially if you're black - see the Bloomberg/Kelly Stop And Frisk policy, which has yet to net much in the way of firearms and drugs, but tons in racial emnity.

    The big apple is a rotten example of civil rights abuses, that folks like yourself conveniently overlook.

    1. And, sir, you have conveniently overlooked the fact that many of the injuries were from bullet fragments that ricocheted and not direct hits to the bodies of the people. There were absolutely no civil rights abuses here. What the heck are you talking about? It doesn't even make sense in this context. You must have some other anger over something else. What could it be?

    2. you have conveniently overlooked the fact that many of the injuries were from bullet fragments that ricocheted and not direct hits to the bodies of the people.

      And naturally if a civilian had injured people with richochets you would cut them slack.

      He never said that in this instance the police violated civil rights other than the one where your public servants shouldn't shoot you. He said that this was going to cost the city a bunch of money. They just paid one woman 4 million dollars after they shot her while aiming at someone else. So 8 time 4 million almost comes up to real money.

      After he said that he said he wasn't surprised that the public servants shot the public because NYC doesn't recognize the Constitution or civil rights. The God of gunbanners recognizes no higher authority than himself.

    3. Robin, your comments are bordering on crazy. There no civil rights violated here and you know that.

    4. It is not at all clear that the cops were incompetent.

      If it does turn out that the shots which injured people were in fact ricochets, there is clearly no incompetence whatsoever. The other part you leave out is how many people were protected from the shooter firing on cops and others.

      And why is one murder somehow ok?

      I don't overlook civil rights abuses, btw, nor do I have any reason to believe that Japete does either. Please be more factually accurate; so far, you are sloppy and unpersuasive.

      But at least UNLIKE 'shoot first' states where civilians who shoot people are NOT held accountable, in NYC the police shootings are reviewed, and there is ample video to supplement people's accounts, with all the flaws inherent in human recollection.

      I am always stunned that people give passes to civilian shooters for the most egregious offenses of shooting people, but then are unfairly hypercritical of law enforcement.

      It DOES follow a larger pattern of the NRA attacking law enforcement, so perhaps that tells us more about the commenter than it does the shooting in NYC.

    5. Robin wrote:And naturally if a civilian had injured people with richochets you would cut them slack.

      No. We pay police and authorize police, giving them not only training, but also insuring that if they mess up - and inevitably some will - that those harmed can be compensated, as part of requiring them to risk their lives to protect others.

      I cut the LEOs more slack because they HAVE to act; civilian gun nut vigilantes don't. I cut them more slack because they really are better prepared than civilian gun nut vigilantes, who may or may not have a minimum necessary vision, or meet other physical requirements that should be part of shooting at someone where people, including the person you are shooting at intentionally, may be harmed.

      I'm pretty darn sure as well that LEOs know the actual law better than the arm chair perry masons who get their notions of legality from television, movies, and fictional books -- or worse, the notions promulgated by right wing media, especially talk radio, which is exceptionally inaccurate and factually deficient.

      But lastly, I cut them slack because they DO get payoffs when a law enforcment officer makes a mistake, or even acts properly but someone collects. When YOU carry that kind of insurance, YOU get to take those chances and make those wrong decisions as well.

      UNTIL YOU DO -- when it comes to shooting or even just carrying, DON'T. Because clearly YOU are not prepared to be AS accountable and responsable for your actions as the police are.

      He never said that in this instance the police violated civil rights other than the one where your public servants shouldn't shoot you. He said that this was going to cost the city a bunch of money. They just paid one woman 4 million dollars after they shot her while aiming at someone else. So 8 time 4 million almost comes up to real money.

      After he said that he said he wasn't surprised that the public servants shot the public because NYC doesn't recognize the Constitution or civil rights. The God of gunbanners recognizes no higher authority than himself.

  5. Dear Mr. DeRoma

    Your last 2 comments were rude, accusatory, without merit or proof, hyperbolic and, frankly, crazy. They are out of the bounds of normal and average thinking. There is no point in your reading my blog. Your comments are not welcome on this blog and will not be published. Go trolling with your nastiness and crazy lies somewhere else.

  6. What everyone is missing here is that if the public didn't have any guns at all, police wouldn't need them either, and we would not be talking about this incident because it never would have happened! Distinctions between "shall" and "may" issue, hunting or target guns vs criminals guns, cops or citizens able or not able to NOT shoot someone... they're all just band aids. The cure is to ban, prohibit, turn over, confiscate all guns.

    1. Other nations which have stricter gun laws, such as requiring that one belong to some sort of accredited gun club or organization that provides a range, etc. have been successful.

      There is clearly strong opposition to total gun bans in this country, but there is also strong support for background checks on ALL gun transactions (which the NRA opposes and obstructs) and other gun regulation, such as banning assualt-style weapons and large capacity magazines, ditto making the NICS data base complete and accurate.

      I'm surprised at how many people oppose giving so many former felons their gun rights back -- again supported by the NRA, despite evidence it has had a bad outcome, but the same people oppose giving back voting rights, which DO have a significant positive outcome when people who were formerly criminals vote. The latter is supported by every major corrections professinal organization.https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:0814XCUDzpYJ:www.aclu.org/pdfs/votingrights/righttovote_20080125.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShJdKFiLEIOXQ_FsxDWnduT7wLByQutnkfcrx0F5nM9X0vehM9L7NzJzvFz4qOSui7ZYBCCaNF47mFTQ-onF8dkIhSK41anDiqs84WwaGEw4fHF3lDC1q1iBsIZlcpFTyQAJsow&sig=AHIEtbSLHyFelgeF__w5EhpGij_71sEYOQ&pli=1

      While the former is opposed by most law enforcement organizations.

      What the NRA and gun nuts push through as legislation is just.......NUTS, dangerous, extreme and radical.

      If we take normal steps to restrict guns from being too easily in the hands of the wrong people, we could avoid more drastic measures to clean up the mess the NRA has created.

  7. I came over to read your blog because I am pretty sick of the invective on both sides of the issue, and the name promised something a little more promising. As an (otherwise) liberal gun owner, I just don't agree with many of your arguments and feel there is a huge gaping hole (which I am used to) where we don't talk about the larger causes of violence in general. I am not sure how that makes me a "paranoid bully" or how throwing that out to detractors (me?) qualifies as "thoughtful discussion".

    I totally don't agree the Empire State shooting qualifies as a mass shooting. I re-read your assertion above and I have to disagree. Perhaps on a list of shootings where the number of casualties is the only metric, it would be included, but it is offensive to even suggest that trained police opening fire on a crowded street equates to a "mass shooting" as we have all unfortunately come to understand them. My understanding it that the perpetrator did not even fire a round on the street. And why do gun rights people flock to "set the record straight" regarding these kinds of details? . . . because organizations like Ceasefire do not go back and update their rhetoric to reflect reality (when it became known), leaving it to ardent gun advocates to weigh in instead. It is all so dishonest. FWIW, I too find it distasteful to armchair quarterback the officers involved. I can only imagine how hard it must be for them in the aftermath, police work is generally pretty thankless.

    It turns out Jeffrey Johnson, the shooter, was about to be evicted. As a person who hates violence in general and gun violence in particular, how many of the fatal shootings in the US have been precipitated by economics in whole or part? Why isn't anyone talking about that? I found most of Bowling for Columbine distasteful, but I did appreciate the contrast Moore drew with Canada, and I think we need to do more of that. When gun rights folks on the Right go off about assault weapons (real ones mind you) being in every house in Switzerland, I immediately ask "what is fundamentally different about the situation there". Why is it that nobody can seem to have a sane discussion about any of this? Given opinion polls/trends and the sheer number of firearms in private hands . . . there is no conceivable future where an individual in the United States could not get some kind of gun and murder a former coworker if they were bound and determined to do so. None. Postulate strict restrictions and licensing . . . enter Anders Behring Breivik . . . these things happen even in places with the types of restrictions gun control advocates want. The Oikos University shooting was perpetrated with a CA-legal handgun bought in accordance with that state's comparatively strict gun controls. I wanna know, what do you have to say about that? What actually would have prevented that shooting, if anything?

    1. Ethan, there is a lot of talk on this blog about getting to some of the factors contributing to violence. I am writing a blog about preventing gun violence. I am concerned that so many people who shouldn't have guns get them and commit acts of violence. Such was Johnson. He did take a shot on the street. He shot his former co-worker. When police confronted him, he drew his gun and pointed. The police did what anyone would have done. They shot him to prevent getting shot themselves and from him shooting a lot of other folks which was very possible given the magazine and an extra one. If he intended to shoot only the one man, why did he need an extra magazine? Thank you for agreeing that police work is hard. I disagree that this was not a mass shooting. 9 people were injured by bullets or fragments in one shooting event. Another was murdered in cold blood and the shooter was shot. That's a lot of people if you ask me. I am not ever saying that every shooting can be prevented. I never say that. But we can't just let this go on the way it has. If we don't start somewhere what else should we do? Working on mental illness- yes. Working on work place violence- yes. But we can't do those and not work on preventing gun violence. The folks on the gun rights side don't ever want to work on the gun part of the problem. There is true denial there because they have been led to believe, not by me, that people are coming for their guns. That is why the argument gets ugly in a hurry. They are wrong and accuse me of all sorts of things of which I am not guilty or doing. I fight back because my integrity is being attacked.

  8. If the answer is "ban most all private ownership of firearms" you should come out and say it clearly, and articulate some kind of plan to amend the 2nd Amendment. You may not agree that individual gun rights are enshrined by the Constitution, but clearly the only way to make a sweeping change would be to get that kind of consensus. I suspect you are well aware that the odds of success in that endeavor are far from good, but the running battle of attempts to essentially do end runs around gun rights is no path at all, and to my eyes is no better than what was done after 9/11 to erode our privacy and due process rights.

    Don't like the 2nd Amendment provision, like to quibble the militia part so sacred to the NRA and the like? Here's my liberal take. If we had a bone-fide militia/draft system instead of a massive, bankrupting professional standing army (which the framers clearly did not want for a host of reasons), there would have been no way to sell citizens an Iraq or protracted Afghanistan). As someone who wants an end to violence, think about how many have died (soldiers and civilians) because we let the cold war erode the system of calling up citizen soldiers when they are truly needed. If we halved the defense budget think what could be done in our inner city schools, health care and a whole host of other programs to actually lift youth up out of gang life.

    I expect "thoughtful discussion" to mean arguments against concealed carry will contain the actual incidence rate of those who commit crimes with a valid permit contrasted contrasted with the general population. Instead, what I see is an attempt to lump a gunman in NYC (almost nobody there has a carry permit) with permit holders elsewhere, which is as disingenuous as those on the Right who, when a permit holder commits a crime say "if he/she had no permit they would still be able to carry illegally to do the same crime". People on both sides avoid the truth in the middle. And that is why we cannot close the gun show loopholes and do a whole host of practical things which do not abridge the rights of the law abiding . . . because nobody is being honest or even attempting to listen. I'll poke around at some older posts, but I hope that is not the case here.

    1. The reason permit holders are lumped in with the ones who commit shootings is because there is denial that permit holders ever shoot people. You can read that in comments on my blog. If permit holders would just fess up and admit that some of their own are problems and that the laws allow for people who shouldn't get permits to get them anyway resulting in dangerous situations, then maybe we could talk. The fact is that quite a few permit holders are shooting themselves or others accidentally or on purpose with increasing frequency. I find that a problem, don't you? If people carrying loaded guns around in public places are causing problems, we need to take a good look at the laws. That doesn't mean that all permit holders are a problem. But we really can't have any permit holders causing problems because we are dealing with deadly weapons in public places.

      Further, I agree with your assessment about the war. I have liberal gun carrying friends who agree with me about my positions. I hope you will, too. There is a lot on which to agree and in polling, even gun owners and NRA members agree with me. It is the folks commenting on this blog who fight so hard and don't agree. They would be in the minority actually.

    2. Every time we go round and round with this. Maybe someone somewhere some time said that all permit holders would act responsible. It was not me or many others on this blog. I have said and given links that prove that here in MN they commit less crime than the general public.

    3. japete writes: "The reason permit holders are lumped in with the ones who commit shootings is because there is denial that permit holders ever shoot people. You can read that in comments on my blog. If permit holders would just fess up and admit that some of their own are problems and that the laws allow for people who shouldn't get permits to get them anyway resulting in dangerous situations, then maybe we could talk. The fact is that quite a few permit holders are shooting themselves or others accidentally or on purpose with increasing frequency."

      None of us are of the believe that some permit holders don't commit crimes - we know they do - including violent crimes with firearms. The data, however, shows that the trend regarding permit holders is that they commit crimes at a rate significantly lower than that of the general population. You can't argue those facts. Look at the BCA reports here in Minnesota - that data is quite clear.

  9. Anthony, part of the reasn we are so skeptical that permit holder are so much more law abiding than other gun owners is that there is ample evidence that while they aren't necessarily felons many are far from law abiding using the criteria of misdemeanors on their records. Although some are former felons who have had their gun rights restored and therefore must be allowed permits under shall issue --- and who have something like an 8 times greater chance of committing another act of gun violence than others.

    So, I challenge your assertion about them not committing the same frequency of crime as the general public. For example, gun ownership has been found to equate to binge drinking and drunk driving. One is a sign of seriously impaired judgment that affects the human brain adversely over time, and the other is illegal activity.


    Because there IS NO tracking of permit holders in the context of crimes, it is entirely catch-as-catch-can and anectdotal, you have no basis for that claim being accurate about either permit holders behaving responsibly, or more legally than the general public, particularly given the frequency with which crimes that are booked as felonies are pleas bargained down.

    So, if you are wondering why we keep going round and round with this, it is because you aren't quoting valid, verifiable, or even particularly plausible statistics. Come up with a less bogus claim and it won't be so firmly rejected.

    We might actually HAVE valid data on which to form a conclusion, but the NRA suprresses efforts to legally gather that kind of information. I don't think that is an accident; I think they KNOW what the results would be and are suppressing the information intentionally, on this and other aspects of guns and gun ownership.

    1. dog gone writes: "Because there IS NO tracking of permit holders in the context of crimes, it is entirely catch-as-catch-can and anectdotal, you have no basis for that claim being accurate about either permit holders behaving responsibly, or more legally than the general public, particularly given the frequency with which crimes that are booked as felonies are pleas bargained down.

      So, if you are wondering why we keep going round and round with this, it is because you aren't quoting valid, verifiable, or even particularly plausible statistics. Come up with a less bogus claim and it won't be so firmly rejected."

      This is completely untrue. Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Florida are among the states that publish government data on permit holders - including tracking of crimes they commit, etc. That data is publicly available and not at all difficult to research.

      For example, looking at the 2010 Minnesota data - we can conclude the following:

      * MN Permit Holders commit crime at a rate that is approximately 1/10th that of the general population (234 versus 2,582 on a per capita rate)
      * MN Permit Holders commit violent crime at a rate that is approximately 1/3rd that of the general population (88 versus 236 on a per capita rate)
      * Only 7 violent crimes were committed by permit holders involving a firearm, including zero arrests for threats with a firearm.

    2. Bryan- I have conceded that point to you. I hold permit holders to a higher standard because they are carrying deadly weapons that can result in death and injury. One violent crime committed by a permit holder is one too many. You guys are supposed to be law abiding folks. That was the deal when the law was passed. And yet, in many states, people who have committed misdemeanors are allowed to carry guns. Dangerously mentally ill people get permits. They shouldn't. The laws are too loose. We don't need people with guns walking around in public. Prevention is better than taking a chance. You guys have not made us any safer. That is also very true. You have no proof otherwise. So we could easily go back to May Issue laws and we would be none the worse for it and we wouldn't be taking a chance on giving out permits to people who are potentially irresponsible with guns. Permit holders shouldn't be committing any crimes. They are supposed to be law abiding.