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 24, 2012

Swine and guns at the Minnesota State Fair

photo: http://www.mnstatefair.org/general_info/visitor_guide/index.html
For a while it looked like pigs may have been unwelcome guests at the Minnesota State Fair. Why? Because a case of Swine Flu has been found in a child and his sibling and there is fear that other cases could be spread through the pigs and their handlers gathered together in one place at the State Fair. So there was talk of banning pigs. It now appears that pigs will be allowed but Public Health experts are still cautious. From the linked article:
But to Osterholm, the severity of illnesses being caused by the current flu virus isn't the central issue.
"The primary concern is that, with each
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy to Pioneer Press)
one of these transmissions, there's more opportunity for this virus to mutate," Osterholm said. "Is this, in fact, the breeding ground for the next pandemic strain?"
The origins of the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 can be traced to pigs in Mexico, Osterholm said, although public health officials learned that lesson only after the fact. The virus jumped to humans and mutated so that it could efficiently spread from person to person, he said.
By late 2009, federal officials estimated that H1N1 pandemic flu had sickened 50 million Americans and killed about 10,000.
"It was a swine-based H1N1 virus that became transmissible in humans," Osterholm said. "What we don't know is what led up to that."
Guns? Any talk of gun restrictions in public places, such as at the Minnesota State Fair, is questioned by the gun rights extremists. Some of these folks believe that no one can restrict their rights for any reason whatsoever. Pigs are not protected by the Second Amendment. Actually, unfettered access to guns and gun rights are not protected by the Second Amendment either:
As a matter of law, this was an easy case. The Ninth Circuit now joins the Third, Sixth, and Eighth Circuits which have all rejected claims that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to own machine guns. Nevertheless, it is an important reminder that the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment cases still permit robust gun regulation. As conservative Justice Scalia explained in his Heller opinion, the Second Amendment not only does not apply to “dangerous and unusual” weapons, it also does not apply to “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”
Restrictions on where guns can be carried are constitutional. So are restrictions on who can carry them and what types of guns can be owned. Because elected leaders wrongly believe they can't engage in a discussion about gun policy, people are dying every day from bullets. People are not dying every day from Swine Flu. But we take precautions anyway because we know that if we don't, more people could be infected with this disease, get sick and potentially die. That is the right thing to do. We should be treating guns the same way. Prevention is prudent and in the best interests of public health and safety.

I will be attending the Minnesota State Fair this week-end. I'm happy to know that public health officials are looking out for my health by considering whether the swine at the fair will be disease free and therefore safe for visitors. Fair officials are also letting visitors know that guns are not welcomed at the fair. Check out this article for the response from the Minnesota gun rights extremists about banning guns from the fair. Never mind what makes common sense. The gun guys will come with their guns anyway. They don't care that the good folks running the fairgrounds don't want to see guns in a place packed with humanity where crowds are gathered and people might cut in line. Remember my post about the 2 men at the Rite Aid store where one gun guy is now dead and another in jail- all over cutting in line. It can happen. Why would we let it? Check out this interesting discussion about carrying loaded guns at state fairs. I particularly like this comment from the article:
"One person wrote on the website: "I really hope the authorities will be looking for guns this year. With all you posting about bringing your guns I am really scared to go this year."
Another person writes: "Despite the 'rules' of the Fairgrounds, despite what we all know happens when a gun is fired into a crowd of people, despite the pleas of mothers BEGGING for a gun free fair, despite the fact that everyone who has a permit to carry SHOULD KNOW BETTER than to take a gun to the fair some are hell bent on carrying a gun at the fair. ... The only responsible thing to do to prevent you who cannot eat a corndog without your gun from ruining the fair for the majority of residents is to install metal detectors to KEEP YOU OUT!""
One person on this website wisely said he would store his gun in his car because he would be going on rides with his kids. I guess that makes sense. He must realize that being on rides with a loaded gun is not only inconvenient but potentially dangerous for so many reasons. But storing guns in cars is also not a good idea. They get stolen. That is why carrying loaded guns around is so ridiculous. There's no safe place to put them when you want to just have a good time or you are prohibited. They are inconvenient. It's also inconvenient when a loaded gun discharges accidentally or gets stolen. It's inconvenient if a law abiding gun owner makes a mistake and shoots someone unnecessarily in a crowd or when someone takes cuts in the Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookie line. There is always a crowd and long lines at that venue as it is one of the most popular places at the Minnesota State Fair.

Gun rights advocates believe they can carry their guns at the state fair and advise their friends to go ahead and carry. But here is an interesting comment from this article that lends some better advice:
I read your section on Carry at the State Fair.  I am a retired Duluth police officer and have worked as part-time Minnesota State Fair police officer. I only worked during the Minnesota State Fair, a.k.a the Great Minnesota Get Together. I became very disturbed with the position you posted on this matter. 
During the fair the state fairgrounds becomes a business, you pay to get in, thus the Ag. Society reserves the right to restrict gun permit holders in their place of business.  The Minnesota State Fair police are instructed to remove any violators without a big scene being created for the CCRN. 
I am a LIFE Member NRA and certified by the State of Minnesota to Instruct Concealed Carry.  I do not advocate to my students that they have the right to enter the Minnesota State Fair grounds during the fair with a concealed handgun.  During paid events the fairgrounds are every much a business, and a big business at that, as the Miller Hill Mall. During non-paid events to enter you can carry on the property.  The position you list encourages permit holders to trespass during paid events.  It only serves to undermine the idea that permit holders are law abiding.  It would be foolish to challenge the law in this manner.  I quit the CCRN over their position on this matter.  
It just plain makes common sense to keep loaded guns away from families who are at the fair for a good time. That is what the fair is all about and that is why public health officials are looking out for us by carefully watching the pigs for a disease that can spread and infect people. And that is why fair officials understand that allowing loaded guns inside the fairgrounds has the potential for causing harm to the public.


  1. The Minnesota State Legislature prohibits government entities, like the State Agricultural Society, from prohibiting an individuals right under MN 624.714 to carry a firearm. Actions by the State Agricultural Society to prohibit that right are not legal. State statutes around this are explicitly clear.

    I realize you may hold a different view and that's fine. Until the statute changes, which I do not see happening, removing an individual from the fairgrounds because they are carrying under MN 624.714 is illegal. I imagine there will eventually be litigation over this.

    I was at the Fair yesterday and entered through an entrance that was not posted. Said signing would have carried no legal weight anyways.

    1. Yes, Bryan, I know that you pay no attention to signs banning your guns. Whatever.

  2. So guns should be banned from the fair because someone might pull a gun in response to being cut in line? The starting premise of that scenario is that only a paranoid potential killer with minimal impulse control would ever want to carry a gun. As usual, the sheer contempt with which the hoplophobes regard the intelligence and responsibility of the average citizen is appalling. Let me assure you that no one gets a MN permit to carry without proving their clean record and their willingness to abide by the law.

    1. No assumptions can be made of folks who get their permits. Experience in many places shows us that there are questionable folks who get permits to carry. The examples I have provided are, yes, of people with minimal impulse control who, nonetheless, have legal permits to carry in public places. I'm sure, based on the stories, they were just guys like you who, when provoked, decided to shoot. That is the problem. Why take the chance that there are folks like that out there? I say, err on the side of caution and safety and not allow loaded guns into places where families and crowds gather for a good time. It's just common sense, as I said. As to your "hopolophobia"- that is a perjorative word thrown around by the gun guys but doesn't have anything to do with what you say it does. It is totally invented use of an old Greek term used to describe "people who believe guns have a will of their own." Let's talk about real stuff here. Your friend and author Jeff Cooper tried to make it all about the fear of guns of people on the side of gun control. There is no medical definition of such a term as an actual phobia. So you can stop throwing that term around when referring to people like me. It's irrelevant.

    2. I would also remind you Michael that I have guns in my home. I learned to hunt as a teen ager. Many of the folks who support what I am doing are gun owners.

    3. Actually, the claims by carry permitees that they are all so safe and law abiding relies on their not being a comprehensive tracking of how often they are NOT safe or legal in their conduct.

      From road rage incidents to so many other examples of bad conduct, we would all be better off with fewer guns in public. They are unnecessary, they represent a danger, both from accidental discharge -- let me point out that a Walmart has an accidental discharge roughly every two to three weeks, and that is in addition to all the firearm accidents, and frankly there is no reason that I should have to trust that you have good impulse control. The fact that you WANT to carry a gun, feel a NEED to carry a gun, or derive some sort of pleasure or reassurance from lethal weapons that are known to appeal to bad impulses doesn't fill me with confidence in you.

      Carrying guns by some people ruins the fair experience for many others. That is true of open or concealed carry generally, but more so in situations like the state fair with such large concentrations of people -- and alcohol, among other things.

      Spontaneous gun violence to the self or others is indicative of an impulsivity and emotionally instability, dispositions that are both neurologically and genetically detectable. For example, a December 2010 report by John R. Kelsoe reviews the possibility of an impulsivity gene related to neurotransmitter functioning. Specifically, mutations that deplete the serotonin 2B receptor (HTR2B) results increased impulsive behavior by reducing the release of serotonin and dopamine, mood and pleasure related chemical messengers, in the nucleus accumbens. Correspondingly, this mutation was prevalent in violent offenders and can be inherited alongside psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. Even the presence of a gun can provoke aggressive behavior, regardless of innate impulsivity. In a 2006 study Francis T. McAndrew and colleagues found that males who interacted with a real gun acted more aggressively than those who handled a children’s toy gun (from the neurolaw blog)

      Neurolaw, like neuro-economics, is a relatively new interdisciplinary area of study. It provides a lot of understanding and concrete, scientifically verifiable explanations for what is a catalyst for impulses of violence.

      Guns are one of those things which increase violent impulses, upon which people act.


    4. dog gone writes: "Actually, the claims by carry permitees that they are all so safe and law abiding relies on their not being a comprehensive tracking of how often they are NOT safe or legal in their conduct."

      Not sure what you're referencing. Minnesota law requires the Department of Public Safety, through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to report a significant amount of permit holder information on an annual basis. There's nearly a decade worth of information to review at the BCA website. The data, however, isn't exactly favorable to your argument.

    5. Give it a test Brysn. You are like a bulldog.

  3. Michael writes: "So guns should be banned from the fair because someone might pull a gun in response to being cut in line?"

    How many shootings in Minnesota have been committed by permit holders at the State Fair since shall-issue became the law in 2003? And how many individuals were shot for cutting in line since 2003 by a permit holder in MN?

    This argument is the same "blood in the streets" argument that we continue to hear from folks from Protect Minnesota, VPC, CSGV, the Brady Campaign, and other anti-gun groups. The facts show something entirely different.

    1. Oh but there has been plenty of blood on our streets and in buildings. Some of it shed as the result of a permit holder shooting innocent people. That is well documented. Just because there haven't been incidents in Minnesota doesn't mean there won't be.

    2. The Violence Policy Center keeps records of concealed carry killers. There are facts. I don't know how you guys think you can continue to get away with statements contrary to the facts. I would say that, given the latest shootings, your arguments are falling on deaf ears. Just this morning there was another mass shooting in NYC. A disgruntled employee brou

    3. Sorry. I am responding on my iPad in the car so connections are dicey. The shooter this morning was a disgruntled employee who brought his gun to his workplace. Two are dead. Nine are injured. Some of the injured from police gunfire showing what CCW holders shouldn't try to save the day. There is more than enough blood o. Our streets. You can work with me on prevention efforts.

    4. japete: "The Violence Policy Center keeps records of concealed carry killers. There are facts. I don't know how you guys think you can continue to get away with statements contrary to the facts."

      VPC published a cherry picked list of information that fits their agenda - and yours.

      An honest, fact based analysis of the data yields a very different conclusion that what you would have others believe - and quite different than what your organization (Protect MN and the Brady Campaign) have portrayed in public before the MN legislature and others.

    5. No Bryan they didn't. Stop it. You have said enough. You guys need to just be quiet. You have no more arguments that are worth considering.

  4. How are state fair authorities going to keep criminals with illegal guns from entering the fair? I'm talking about those with a felony or two to their name and obviously no permit. I'm trying to understand how it makes sense to ask the permit holders to leave their guns at home but allow criminals to enter the fair grounds with their guns. It doesn't appear that there are metal detectors and screeners at all entrances.

    1. I doubt that many criminals hang around at State fairs. Info oneis allowed in with guns at least we would know that anyone with a gun is potentially dangerous.

    2. If we don't allow permittees with guns, it will be much more obvious who the criminals are with guns -- who will then also be removed.

      The notion that anyone is allowing criminals with guns into the fair is ludicrous.

      Let's turn the tables on your question. How many incidents of criminals with guns have their been at the state fair?

      I didn't do an exhaustive search, but I haven't founnd any. So if you expectation is that you need YOUR gun along so you can have that fantasy shootout in the midway, heroically saving the day with your firearm by blowing away some armed criminal........NO. Save it for your day dreams. We don't have a problem with armed criminals at the Minnesota State Fair.

      Similarly, Iowa and other states also ban firearms at their state fairs.

    3. So if you expectation is that you need YOUR gun along so you can have that fantasy shootout in the midway, heroically saving the day with your firearm by blowing away some armed criminal........NO. You concluded all of that from my question? Wow. I’m glad you don’t have a gun. Please read my previous posts. I don’t think like that.

      My point was that people are going to carry guns illegally wherever they want to go, so why all the focus on those with permits? The recent spate of shootings in Chicago and NYC couldn’t have been done by permit holders because permits aren’t issued or honored by those cities.

      A murderer with a permit is no different than a murderer without a permit. They are both murderers. They both broke the law. They both will go to prison when caught. Why are you implying that there is a difference? Are you angry at your government for issuing a permit to a murderer in the first place? Are you more angry at the Rite-Aid permit holder than the permit-less Chicago teens that shot up the South Side last night?

    4. Yes, a murder is a murder is a murder. Sort of like rape is rape is rape. But you guys have said that permit holders would be law abiding so the rest of us don't need to worry. That has not been the case. The gun guys sold us a bill of goods. There are way too many permit holders shooting people. We need to stop the criminals from getting guns. But arming the rest of you isn't the answer to that.

  5. I inadvertently deleted a comment from Bryan who wanted to point out that permit holders commit crime at a lower level than non permit holders. That is a straw man argument. Permit holders are supposed to be law abiding. They have beem entrusted with the permit to carry a loaded gun around in public. As such they should not be committing crimes. People whe don't carry guns in public won't be shooting anyone.

  6. Keeping the legal Permit to Carry individuals out makes "common sense" how? Gun free zones only make the nut job, with the illegal gun, safe. Aurora is one example. The anti crowd has been spewing about shoot outs in the streets for years by legal carriers, it isn't happening. Personally I find it irresponsible to be in a crowd that large unarmed. I refuse to lay there like a sheep and be murdered by an unstable nut job that is intent on killing people. I want to at least have a chance to protect my family. I love the portrayal this site has of those of us that carry. My wife and I would be the last two people you would ever suspect of carrying.

    Keep up the good fight though I'm sure that when you get all of us law abiding citizens disarmed we will all be safer......

    1. Your "gun free" zone stuff just doesn't cut it anymore. Mass shootings happen everywhere. Gun free zones make no difference to shooters whatsoever. The NYC shooter intended to do harm and he didn't care if someone had a gun or nut. The police were right nearby. What good did that do? The police shot and killed him but then also possibly injured some of the folks who were shot in the confusion. The police are trained to do this stuff. They got the shooter. But even they can hit others when people are panicked and running. The chances of your using your gun to a good end in this situation is slim to none. But carry if you want. I believe you would meet the same end as the rest of us. What we need to do is make sure people who shouldn't have guns don't get them so there are so many shootings in places where innocent people are going about their business. Then you guys wouldn't be so paranoid that you think you need a gun for self protection wherever you go. And who said anything about disarming all of you "law abiding citizens?" That's your take, not mine.

  7. Dear gun guys ,

    Given the latest mass shooting, you all have no standing to be criticizing me or the people who are trying to prevent them. I am in no mood to listen to your lame excuses for why everyone should be armed. I am not going to publish any more of those comments. If I were you, I would be quiet. Now is not a good time for you all to be defending more guns in more places. Please all, have a nice week-end and leave my blog alone for a while. One of you wrote that I had made an emotional rant. I will not be demeaned and dismissed by you guys in that manner. It is rude and unbecoming and totally unnecessary.

  8. So you agree then that gun free zones are pointless. Bad people, shouldn't have guns, I agree with you 100%. However the NYC shooters are out there. The cops were there great! But as you know that is not always going to be the case. I'll take slim to none over nothing any day. If paranoia is buckling up when I get into the car, teaching me children to be wary of strangers, buying insurance etc. Then so be it I'm paranoid. The State Fair doesn't want me to carry, you agree therefore you want me disarmed.

    1. Just at the fair and other places where you don't need a gun. You just want a gun. More people were taken away in ambulances today from the heat than for anything else. You couldn't be sure you would save yourself or anyone else I'm a situation like the NYC shooting. Yhat is your fantasy.