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, August 10, 2012

Mourning more victims

Mourners grieve at the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wis. (AP) from http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/08/10/sikh-temple-memorial
Today we are mourning more victims of senseless gun deaths. The Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin has invited the public to its' memorial service for the latest victims of an American mass shooting. There are tears. There are words of sympathy. There are prayers. There is grief. You can see it in the faces of the mourners. There are open caskets. Why? Why again? There are politicians like Governor Scott Walker. I wonder if he is thinking of the loose conceal and carry law he signed after being elected that even allows felons to get guns? I posted about that one recently. Representative Paul Ryan was there. I wonder if he is thinking about his vote in favor of allowing just about anyone to carry guns just about everywhere, even if they don't have any training, when he supported the National Conceal Carry Reciprocity Act? Hypocrites. They come to the funerals. They express sympathies and then they vote in favor of laws that make it easier for crazy people, felons and domestic abusers to name just a few, to get their guns. The NRA has profited from and taken advantage of the fears of Americans after mass shootings. Read this blog post for more on this. The old adage, "actions speak louder than words" fits well here doesn't it? From the blog:
On the other hand, the NRA’s fundraising has seen significant benefits from the 1996 law that did away with interstate sale of ammunition to consumers.  That means that gun nuts, as well as mass-killers, can now buy as much ammunition online as they want to.  And that’s just what Aurora, Colorado shooter Holmes did; he purchased 6,000 rounds.  Then he used it to kill and maim 70 people.  Naturally, the NRA praised the law as the “greatest legislative milestone.” 
But in addition to a law aiding mass-killers like Loughner, Holmes and Page, the NRA has taken in $9.3 million since 1992 in connection with the MidwayUSA website that sells ammunition—like James Holmes purchased—and which kicks back a portion of the proceeds to the NRA.  Owner Larry Potterfield simply asks customers to “round up” their orders to the nearest dollar for the NRA.  It is this kind of despicable collaboration between gun nuts that keeps the killings going.
We are better than this. We shouldn't be having funerals like this on a regular basis. We can stop mass shooters from getting guns if we but try. We can make our gun laws more in sync with what the public supports if we but try. We can make reasonable gun laws that don't infringe on rights if we but try. We can talk about guns and gun policy at election time if we but try. We can have that necessary national conversation about the gun culture in America and gun policy in America if we but try. And many, even on the right, are suggesting that we should. This article written by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the conservative Washington Post should be heeded by those who think the NRA and its' minions don't want sensible gun laws. Actually, NRA members want sensible gun laws. It's their leadership and a few gun rights extremists that don't appear to want anything to interfere with the agenda of fear and paranoia. From Luntz's comments in the article:
Once again, we found that gun owners passionately believe in their Second Amendment rights but also think those rights can and must be balanced with public safety and national security. For example:
85 percent of gun owners agree with the statement, “Support for Second Amendment rights goes hand in hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.” Among members of the NRA, even more agreed — a full 87 percent.
82 percent of gun owners support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun.
80 percent of gun owners support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees to ensure they are not felons.
76 percent support prohibiting people on terror watch lists from purchasing guns.
80 percent also agree that concealed-carry permits should be granted only to applicants who have completed gun safety training.
78 percent think concealed-carry permits should be granted only to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, such as assault.
In most cases, NRA member support for these reforms was slightly lower than that of the gun-owner population, but in all cases, it was well above a majority. NRA members aren’t extremist outliers; they are good Americans who happen to think like the rest of America.
The truth is that gun owners, including significant majorities of NRA members, prize public safety and national security. They think gun rights should be balanced with measures to protect America’s citizens and communities. They think those who abuse gun laws should be punished to the maximum extent of the law.
Some conservatives will read this and think it’s a sellout to advocates of gun control. Some liberals will read this and think it’s a sellout to the NRA. The fact is, virtually all Americans think that with rights come responsibilities, and gun ownership is no different. Few believe in absolutes, including members of the NRA.
The debate about Second Amendment rights is complex, and it will continue long after the TV trucks leave Aurora. Yes, we are a divided nation. But when it comes to keeping illegal guns out of the hands of those who would use them for harm, Americans are much closer than they may realize.
Again, there are so many articles and blogs about our gun culture and the call for changing our laws that I can't even begin to do justice to them. The last two weeks has provided many opportunities to write about gun violence in America. I will provide links to just some of them here:

Why the NRA is responsible for mass shootings- from Penigma

It's time to challenge the Second Amendment by Sanjay Sanghoee for Huffington Post

Countless Lives Sacrificed to NRA Conceits by Michele Swenson for Huffington Post

The Random Musings blog writes: Dear NRA. What's the magic number?

New CNN polling is showing support for specific measures in gun policy that would have the affect of reducing and preventing gun deaths and injuries. From the article about the polling:
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.
"It's important to note that the numbers on those proposals have also remained essentially unchanged in the wake of the recent shootings," adds Holland.
Do I sense a drum beat? Do I sense consensus? Do I sense that the tide is changing? Do I sense an organization shirking it's responsibilities to American citizens and hiding behind the Second Amendment to get its' way while protecting the gun industry? Do I sense that when a country experiences too many mass shootings in too short a time, patience is waning for the NRA's extreme agenda?

In memory of the victims, let's get started. It's time for common sense and even NRA members know it. Who will convince their leadership that the time is now? Certainly not me. Who will convince our elected leaders that the time for common sense about guns and gun laws is now? I will try but it has to be the public, including gun owners, who will demand a plan from our elected leaders. Speak up. Don't be afraid of the conversation. Don't let our elected leaders run away from their responsibilities fo keep our communities safe from senseless gun deaths. If not now, when? After the next funeral of mass shooting victims? Or the one after that? Here are the names of the victims of the Sikh temple shooting. Please remember them today:

Bhai Seeta Singh

Bhai Parkash Singh

Bhai Ranjit Singh

Satwant Singh Kaleka

Subegh Singh

Parmjit Kaur Toor

UPDATE ( 8/10/12):

There's been another mass shooting in America. This time in Alabama. Just another day in America.


I simply must add this article that just came to my attention: Guns, Butter and Then Some:
We’ve experimented with little or no gun control. It doesn’t work. Let’s try something else: real gun control. That will work; after all, it was law enforcement officials and unarmed citizens — not vigilantes — who apprehended Mr. Loughner, Mr. Holmes and Mr. Page. Then perhaps we’ll be encouraged to move in better directions on other issues we need to tackle: Health care. Diet. Climate change. Our lives ride on all of these.
Also this post from New Trajectory:- How Many Shootings Does It Take? From the post:
So, what will it take??  At what point will our leaders take action to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, such as by demanding background checks for all gun sales, including private sales?  How many mass murders will it take to finally ban assault weapons?  At what point will the background check system actually be strengthened?  At what point will we mandate safe storage of guns in homes with children?
Will it take running gun battles in every town, every week? 
Will every school and theater have to have an armed guard in every room?
Will every family in America have to lose someone to gun violence first?
Will every city and organization have to make evacuation plans for shootings, as the city of Houston did with a recently produced video?
How much of a war zone are we willing to tolerate?  How much blood will it take?
Or will the gun lobby continue pressing for gun deregulation and more guns in more hands until we’re all dead or living in fortresses?
I want to know, Mr. LaPierre.  How many deaths does it take?


  1. How many more deaths does it take for our leaders and citizens to demand a change?


    1. Thank you Baldr. What a great post exposing the NRA's selfishness in the face of death. One does have to ask how many mass shootings and how many deaths it will take before our leaders wake up from the NRA induced coma on the issue of gun deaths and injuries.

  2. How many shootings? How many deaths? NONE! It is time we speak as a single voice to ban guns -- all guns -- from our country. How? A buy back. If there are 350,000,000 guns in this country, and we buy each one back for $1,000, that would cost $350 billion. Wow, that's a lot of money! Or is it? To eliminate guns in our society and reap all the rewards from that, we'd spend about half of the Pentagon's budget for one year. Or one half of the Medicaid budget. And health care costs would drop as there are fewer and fewer gun shot victims. Plus, all that money plugged directly into people hands would do more to stimulate the economy than all the fancy schemes put forth by Wall Street economists.

    1. Sam,

      Great idea -- let's start today! You mail me a money order for $1000. I will then mail one of my firearms to a Federal Firearms Licensee of your choice; I'll include instructions on how to destroy it. You can then destroy it and take a gun off the streets.

      I'll even cover S&H and chip in $50 towards the FFL's fee because I'm a nice guy.

      Alternatively, for 1/2 price (five hundred bucks), I'll destroy one of my firearms and send you photographic evidence of the destruction and some key parts. That saves us all the S&H hassles and you don't have to dirty yourself by touching an icky gun.

      Interested? Or do you just want to use other people's money and armed law enforcement agents to enforce your firearms confiscation scheme?

      Chris from AK

    2. And this is why we can't have civil discussions. Chris- not necessary to get your point across. Sam is expressing the view that many Americans actually have. You know as well as I do that because of the Heller decision, this will never happen. So maybe you could actually engage in a discussion that would be productive. We know that you would hate Sam's plan. Some people don't. He has a view. You have a view. Neither are totally right or totally wrong. So maybe next time you will actually try to engage Sam in a serious discussion about the gun issue. Do you really think Sam wants other people's money? Come on. Do you really think law enforcement is going to enforce firearms confiscation? What are you so afraid of? Stop and think for a minute. You might actually realize that your fears are unfounded. And then relax. Have a nice day.

    3. You yourself have advocated an Australia-style "buyback" in the past on this very blog. That was a confiscation scheme: Australians could either turn in their firearms for a cash bounty, or they could retain their now-banned firearms and become felons who would then be subject to raids and arrest by law enforcement.

      I suspect that the reason that neither you nor Sam will actually personally put up money to back the offer is because either (A) y'all know that a buy back would be ineffective without an accompanying total ban & confiscation (a la Australia) or (B) y'all would prefer to use the taxpayer's money and public servants to execute such a program because you know the ban is off the table, so you don't want to waste your own money.

      I personally dislike the voluntary buy backs because they provide a "no questions asked" opportunity for criminals to fence their hot stolen goods, or to convert their unserviceable weapons into liquid cash (money is fungible). I don't really like supporting laundering the assets of criminals, personally.

      I'll even broaden my offer and will destroy a single standard capacity magazine for $10 apiece to take a dangerous item "off the streets;" if you order up five destroyed mags then I'll throw in one for free! Again photographic and/or video evidence will be provided, or if you order 10 broken mags I'll ship you the wreckage assuming it is legal in your state. I doubt you or Sam will take me up on the offer, though!

    4. And yet, here is some truth about what happened in Austraiia- http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp
      There was actually no confiscation scheme. Get your facts right and then we can talk.

      Turns out it wasn't as the gun guys say it was. What do you know? Gun deaths per 100,000 in Australia? .24 Gun deaths per 100,000 in the U.S. 3.98. These figures vary according to reports but are always in these ranges.

    5. If a gun confiscation is attempted, you will be shown new meaning of the term "deaths per capita." It will be apparent that anyone willing to confiscate our guns has a death wish.

    6. William- this sounds pretty threatening to me. Are you sure you want to say these things publicly? No one is going to confiscate your guns. Get over yourself.

    7. William, you're an idiot.

      If it becomes the law that you have guns which are illegal, you will be arrested at some point as this reaches the attention of law enforcement, the exact same way that any person who is prohibited from having a weapon is treated.

      I'm not particularly impressed by your intention to shoot your fellow Americans; I consider it bordering on treason.

      The SCOTUS in Heller made it clear that the governments - state, federal and local - have the right to limit and regulate firearms.

      If that regulation means you have an illegal gun, then you should cooperate with the law.

      No one is banning guns or coming for your guns or any of the other bull-oney that the NRA promulgates. It is quite likely however that there might be a return to the assault-style weapon ban, or a ban on expanded capacity magazines in the future. Those have typically been on a go-forward basis however, not a confiscatory one.

      Don't threaten people - it just makes you look thuggish, and fails utterly to impress the rest of us, and to make it clear that you are prone to violence.

  3. Most of the guns turned in during buy back programs are junk that the owners wanted to get rid of anyway, or guns that were in the possession of those who didn't have a need for them. Working guns don't find their way to buy back programs. Portland had a buy back program a year or so ago that was a dismal failure for two reasons. First, they haven't tried doing it again, and two, the number of gang related shootings we've had this year in Portland is still high.

    Yes, the Portland buy back program only handed out $50 gift certificates to a local store similar to Target in other parts of the country, but even at $1000, I wouldn't turn in any of my guns. They are worth more than $1000 each to me.

    The criminal economics is worse. A Chinese AK-47 costs about $125, so a broken revolver turned in for $1000 could allow a criminal to purchase 8 functional, more dangerous imported guns, since I'm assuming your plan has also banned all domestic manufacturing and transfers of firearms.

    Please don't think that I'm personally attacking you Sam, because I'm not. I'm just presenting some realistic points of discussion. I've been studying the United States gun culture for several years from the inside.

  4. @ Migo: Ceasefire Oregon has one or two gun buy-back programs a year in Portland, OR, dating back to 1999. We are about to have another. We give out $75 gift certificates for working guns, to a Fred Meyer store. Broken guns and BB guns get fast food gift certificates, $15 each. In theory someone could trade the gift certificates, but guns and ammo are not available at Fred Meyer, thus no one could get more guns with them. There is no "$1000" turn-in for any gun.

  5. Oh, I should also add that most of the guns turned in with our buy-back program are fully-functioning, though there are always a handful that aren't.

    They are also checked by police (who are there to handle and take the guns) to see if they are stolen. If they are reported missing, the police return them to the rightful owner. So far I am not aware of any that have been reported stolen.

  6. Those buy back programs must not be getting enough media coverage. The last one I heard about was the one I mentioned with Mayor Adams. One woman submitted a gun to that event that another participant noticed had greater value than the $50 gift certificate, and I think Adams allowed that participant to buy it after Adams was convinced it was a legal transfer. That woman really didn't know what she had in her hands. It was just a gun.

    I support people getting rid of guns they don't want or need, but I still believe the guns that find their way to these programs are not working guns, which is to say guns that are actually in use for legal or illegal reasons.

    I researched nationwide gun confiscation/buy back and discovered the following: After the UK 1997 Firearms Act, 57,000 people turned in 162,000 pistols to the police between July 1997 and February 1998. Here in the United States, 2,000,000 pistols were sold in 2010 alone! Recent polls suggest that some 85,000,000 Americans own something like 300,000,000 guns! Gun control works in the UK because UK subjects never really had a need for guns, even before the 1997 Act. Guns were never part of their culture. United States history is diametrically opposite.

    Oh, and you can buy handguns at the Medford Fred Meyer. AR-15's too. I saw M&Ps, XDms, Berettas, and Walthers. I don't think people turning in their guns will be shopping there though, because they really didn't have a need for a gun in the first place.

    1. Migo, why do you think the UK residents don't have a need for a gun? What's different about the U.S.? Why do people here feel they have a need for a gun? I say, like you, that it's the culture. But when you just dismiss as our culture and say we shouldn't do anything about it even though we have proof that changing the culture and changing the laws work in other countries, your arguments make no sense. Just because our history is opposite, and I believe you have taken that out of context, doesn't mean we shouldn't do something. What is the history? The Second Amendment does not say there are unfettered rights to any gun and any ammunition you want. Remember when it was written? I'm sure you do. If you know your history, you know that the entire country was a different place- no standing army, no national guard, no police force, no semi-automatic weapons, no small concealable hand guns, no NRA. That is the problem. There are solutions. What are yours?

  7. Is 225 years a long time for you? The Chinese haven't been innovative in millennia because of a culture that forbids free thinking. They struggle in their space program and succeed mostly through stolen technology. I'm fully aware of this through my dealings with Chinese manufacturing.

    The UK culture was long based on a monarchy. UK subjects are accustomed to accepting government control over their lives. Americans fought that monarchy. Freedom is synonymous with America. Fighting is synonymous with freedom. The gun represents freedom for a very large number of Americans. The gun was used to protect the Mormon flight from Illinois only 150 years ago. A dear friend of mine is related to Brigham Young. While she doesn't own any guns, her sister does, as does her mother, and her aunt who's a rancher in Colorado. Do you believe that countless Western families like this are going to so easily forget their rich and powerful heritage in such a relatively short time?

    UK citizens have had the struggle bred out of them. Americans have not. This was very apparent in World War II. I believe that Americans in large urban areas have largely forgotten this having grown accustomed to having their food production, personal protection, and survival delegated to others outside their lives. I agree with you that the Wild West is dead and we don't need to defend ourselves from Indians and foul-mouthed miners at the local saloon, but the heritage of how the gun was used to tame the West is still a very large part of the culture and heritage out here.

    My solutions involve restricting access to firearms. We can all succeed if we focus on that instead of the gun itself.

    1. Sounds like semantics to me. We do want the same thing then. Restricting access to firearms. You can say it doesn't focus on the gun itself but I have no idea what you mean by that. If we have decided that some people shouldn't have guns, then we focus on the system and we may also focus on the kinds of guns we are talking about as well. I believe we are a lot closer than you think, Migo.

    2. Lots of other countries with more stringent and restrictive firearms are very successful and excel at innovation.

      Guns DO NOT promote thinking, of any kind.