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.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

What can be said anymore about regular mass shootings?

This article has been updated since the original post. See new information at the end of the post.

What's left to say? We have had another mass shooting in our country. This time in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple. Seven dead so far, including the shooter. Next week in Montana. The following week in New Jersey and after that in Alabama. Yawn. The elected leaders will fail to lead and we will all go on our merry way. Unless we don't, of course. It doesn't have to be like this. We have let it be this way. The NRA has promoted this gun culture and this is what we get. Our elected leaders are failing us, all the way to the top.

One of my readers sent me this great article about our gun culture:
"That’s about the sum total of leadership these days. Avoid the core issue, pray, and extend sympathies to the families of the victims. No mention of systemic and endemic factors, or of taking action to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future. (...) 
That’s a mind-boggling figure. Indeed, we live in a country where firepower, both that held by individuals and by the state, is, frankly, pretty deranged. No other country on earth so bristles with means of killing—and no other country thinks it is quite so healthy an entertainment for us and our children to sit at a console for hours and try to “kill” other people—including civilians. No other country thinks it is moral behavior to use pilotless drones to kill—in large part—people whose only crime is that they’re young men of military age.
We just love our violence—so how surprising is it that violence for fun begets the real thing? (...) 
Understandably, the violence that pervades our lives just makes us more angry and more dangerous to each other. We are, in short, a sick society on many levels—and we need to do something about it.
That’s a conversation we could be having. But our major media and our elected leaders would have to get it started.
In the meantime, we can talk among ourselves, in a civilized way, about how to become a more peaceable people. Here are a couple of openers:
□ An interesting study in which inexperienced players of violent video games showed more of a need to cleanse themselves afterwards than the veteran gamers. What does this tell us about acclimatization to violence?
□ More information on possible solutions can be found at sites such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence."
I love the title of the above article: " Did You Hear About the Shooting?" Several people have already called me to ask if I had heard about this latest mass shooting in Wisconsin. Yes, I had. It's Sunday. We have been at our cabin with our family. It's a beautiful day in Duluth, Minnesota. Why does another mass shooting have to intrude into our lives? It intruded into the Olympic coverage. It's on Facebook. It's on Twitter. Did you hear? Seven more are dead. A police officer is injured. Yawn! Leave me alone. Let me live my life. Don't tell me about the violence. What can I do about it anyway?


There. I feel better now. Is there any common sense out there? I will be updating this article when more information is known about the situation. For now, all I can do is cry and scream. What is the matter with us? Ask the NRA for the answer.


This latest shooting is the 4th mass shooting in Wisconsin since 2004. From this article:
Nov. 21, 2004: Six people are killed when Chai Soua Vang, a 35-year-old Hmong immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, shoots eight people while deer hunting east of Birchwood in northern Wisconsin. A truck driver from St. Paul, Minn., Vang is sentenced to six consecutive life terms in prison, plus 165 years in confinement, on Nov. 9, 2005.
March 12, 2005: Seven people are killed and four wounded when Terry Michael Ratzmann opens fire at a Living Church of God service at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield. Ratzmann, a 44-year-old computer technician, then committed suicide.
Oct. 7, 2007: Six people are killed and one wounded when Forest County Sheriff's Department Deputy Tyler James Peterson goes on a shooting rampage at his ex-girlfriend's apartment. Peterson, 20, then shot and killed himself.
We won't know yet whether this shooting in Wisconsin was a hate crime. But this article reveals there is some concern about hate crimes specifically against the Sikh community:
Ninety-two members of U.S. Congress signed a letter to the Department of Justice in April urging the FBI to collect information on hate crimes committed against Sikh Americans, according to Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.)
Crowley's Web page says Sikh Americans are members of a community "that is acutely susceptible to violence because of their appearance."
"The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence against Sikh-Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these crimes and bring those who commit them to justice," Crowley says in a statement posted on his Web page.
"The Department of Justice and FBI have carried out important outreach efforts in coalition with the Sikh community, but these efforts must also be paired with data collection to ensure we are doing everything possible," it says.
The letter asks the FBI to update the Hate Crimes Incident Report Form to include crimes committed against Sikh Americans.

UPDATE: ( 8/6/12)

Now we know that the shooter ( Wade Michael Page) was a neo-Nazi. From this article:
Authorities have identified the alleged gunman as Wade Michael Page. Sources say that Page had once served in the U.S. military, according to CBS News. Police officials have described the suspect as a stocky, 40-something Caucasian male with multiple tattoos. Unspecified evidence suggests ethnicity or race may have motivated the shooting; however, police have not identified any links to extremist groups.
An unnamed US defense official says that Page is a 40-year-old Army veteran who was honorably discharged in 1998 after six years of service, Bloomberg reports. Page served as a Hawk missile repairman and a "psychological operations specialist."
The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified Page as "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band." (The frontman of the band End Apathy, named Wade, gave this interview to the white supremacist website Label 56 in 2010.) SPLC also claim to have been tracking Page ever since he tried to buy goods from the neo-Nazi National Alliance in 2000. The National Alliance was led by Dr. William Luther Pierce, the author of the infamous 1978 novel The Turner Diaries. Pierce, who died in 2002, is considered one of the ideological godfathers of the modern American white nationalist movement. Pierce promoted white power music ventures, racist video games, weekly radio addresses, and online forums to advance his organization's cause.
This article confirms that Page was a "law abiding" gun owner:
CBS NEWS has confirmed the alleged shooter in Sunday's Sikh temple shooting is U.S. military veteran Wade Michael Page. Law enforcement sources say the 40-year-old was armed with a 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol that was purchased legally in a local gun shop.
The NRA and its' minions always claim that shooters like this are criminals. I would remind them that they become criminals in an instant once they have pulled the trigger. But they start out as legal and law abiding gun owners who fly under the radar. If Page was already identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, he was someone known as a racist and a neo-Nazi. We can talk about sensible gun laws here but even they would likely not have prevented this shooting. What we have here is a country awash in guns and a dangerous mentality of some gun rights extremists. These are people who don't like anyone different from themselves. Fear and paranoia reign. It is promoted by the extreme leadership of the NRA. We need to change the gun culture in America. If our leaders stepped up and starting talking differently about gun rights, we could go a long way to doing that. As long as our leaders let the NRA's agenda rule, our country will continue to see shootings such as this one. If we make it clear that we will strengthen our gun laws and we will challenge the current thinking about gun rights and what they actually mean, maybe we will get somewhere. We are the only country with the sort of gun culture that allows for mass shootings and every day shootings without challenging ourselves to do better. We are better than this. We must be better than this. Maybe common sense will rule the day instead of the dangerous agenda of the NRA's extremist leadership.


  1. I believe one of your quotes is inaccurate; I read a couple of sources that indicated the Sikh Temple shooter (alleged) had a dishonorable discharge.

    Per MSNBC
    U.S. Army officials say Page was first stationed at Fort Still, then Fort Bliss and then Fort Bragg. He rose to the rank of sergeant while in the Army, but was given a dishonorable discharge in 1998, reduced in rank to a specialist for acts of misconduct.

    75% of Mass shootings are committed with legal firearms. That strongly suggests that we are allowing the wrong people to buy legal firearms, and should be more restrictive.

    1. I had actually heard that Page had been dishonorably discharged as well for unspecified behaviors. I couldn't agree more with your last statement.

    2. If he was dishonorably discharged then the US federal law prohibits ownership of firearms by those who have been discharged under dishonorable conditions.

      How then is it a legally owned firearm?

    3. He bought his gun legally from a FFL. What do you think, Anthony? Do we have a problem with the people to whom we sell guns? If his name was not on the prohibited purchaser list, why not? Can you prohibit a military person from buying a gun? It seems to me the NRA has something to do with that as well. They were against even placing the names of "comatose" military and veterans on the prohibited purchasers list. We can thank the NRA for the loose way in which we sell guns in this country.

    4. Odd the NICS does bar dishonorable discharges. Unless the firearm was purchased before the discharge. He then would have been breaking the law from the moment he was discharged. That seems not to be Law abiding to me. If it turns out that he did pass the NICS check (and in fact was dishonorably discharged) and he was not denied then I would agree we need to address that!

      NICS List of people bared from purchase


    5. My understanding is that it was a "other than Honorable discharge" not a Dishonorable Discharge.

      "Page was demoted in June 1998 for getting drunk while on duty and going AWOL, two defense officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information about the gunman."


      Had his discharge been dishonorable he would have been blocked from buying a gun through an FFL.

    6. He was at least demoted. I have not heard for sure that he was dishonorably discharged. Yes, indeed, there are many issues that need to be fixed with our gun policy to stop these things from happening. Will you stand in the way or will you fight the fixes?

    7. If you come up with something that will demonstrably work and will not do more harm than good I might support it. Nothing you have proposed yet meets that criteria. None of us want to have more people shot but neither do we want to give up our right just to make you feel good.

    8. First of all Robin, this is not about me and what will make ME feel good. This is about saving lives. Secondly nothing that has been proposed will take away your rights unless you are a felon or domestic abuser or dangerously mentally I'll.

  2. It's time to realize that the commonsense approach would be to ban ownership of guns by the American public. As long as one person is shot, that's one gun, one bullet too many. Reducing gun violence in our country is not enough any more. Not after another mass murder, with many more undoubtedly to come. Gun violence needs to -- and can -- be eliminated. We have the technology and the knowledge. We just need the will. Who cares about the NRA? The last time I checked, there are more voters that are not NRA members than who are, and that's how our elections are won or lost.

    1. Gun violence can not be eliminated as long as guns exist. That's a simple, accurate statement. Private ownership is practically banned in Puerto Rico, yet gun violence persists at rates much higher than here in the US. In 2010, half of all new firearms in the US were imported, so even it were possible to destroy all 300 million domestic firearms and all firearm manufacturing facilities (and how likely is that given that our military and police still need firearms), there would still be imports to contend with that would most likely find their way into criminal organizations, much like cocaine. Guess what happened with the last constitutional amendment that tried to prohibit something?

      Yes, we have the technology, the knowledge, and the will to manufacture firearms illegally if they were banned, much like meth is manufactured illegally. I know mechanical engineers that have designed and manufactured gun parts using basic CAD and CNC tools. Guns are very easy to make.

      If you want less guns in society, then the solution is to make them culturally less attractive. It's the media and the entertainment industry that is constantly promoting guns to the masses, not the NRA.

    2. Yes, Migo. What's your point about Puerto Rico again? It is an official territory of the U.S. so perhaps it is just doing what the rest of America does. it has a lot of gun homicides. So I say let's just do nothing and let people keep shooting each other. Is that what you are suggesting? That is simply not an option. No other civilized country acts this way. But then no other civilized country has an NRA. And yes, it most certainly is the NRA. Our elected leaders won't even mention the word guns during elections because of the NRA and no one else. You are fooling yourself if you think otherwise. The entertainment industry is not the one lobbying Congress against reasonable gun laws. The NRA is. It's reassuring by the way to hear you talk about all the people who will just make guns. I know people who make guns and yet are in favor of reasonable gun laws. I am not suggesting a constitutional amendment. I am suggesting laws to stop at least some of the shootings and prevent at least some of the deaths. If you can't get on board with that, then I can't talk to you.

    3. I was responding to the previous post about banning the private ownership of guns. My point is simple. Banning doesn't work. History has shown that when something is banned, it either proliferates illegally or a substitute is discovered. Banning large capacity magazines or assault rifles wouldn't have helped the murdered Sikh's because the Army trained killer used a common pistol with ordinary multiple magazines, as I described could happen in a recent post.

      I only want to keep guns away from those who shouldn't have them, so I've written to my representative about the idea of allowing mental health professionals access to NICS to instigate temporary restrictions on acquiring firearms as long as the mental health professional deems their patient to be a danger to themselves or others. The restriction is not permanent and could be lifted later, otherwise those who really need help would avoid it. This would be part of the doctor/patient "Contract for Safety".

      I also told my representative that I support NICS being used at gun shows as long as there are provisions to prevent NICS from being abused. You're correct in believing that I can't have a conversation with someone who hates guns, but I can have a conversation with those that want to keep guns out of the wrong hands and only the wrong hands.

    4. I don't hate guns. I hate it that people shoot other people with them. There is a difference. You must have forgotten that I grew up in a hunting family and have learned how to shoot a hunting gun. My husband is a hunter. There is a huge difference between people who respect guns and use them for recreational purposes and those who think they must have arsenals in their homes and carry them around with them wherever they go.

    5. Migo, all guns start out as intended for those who "should" have them. Until they don't. Half measures don't help us. More checks, more restrictions have little impact, if any. More decades pass, more people die. A complete ban might not work overnight, but over time would reduce lethal violence to zero.

      IMHO, I hate all guns. Assault rifles, automatic pistols, dirty harry guns, hunting guns, shot guns. They all kill. And they all need to go. Just as I hate the sin but not the sinner, guns don't make people hate, but they make haters killers. Hate can be changed. Death can not. And hunters should try walking through nature without unnatural orange clothes and the sickly crack of a gun. Keep in mind that the Aurora shooter used a shot gun that is in the home of many a hunter, I'm sure. In my observation, hunters get more out of the camaraderie with other hunters than they do killing animals. They should invite friends over for a BBQ and to watch the Olympics for the same -- and safer -- effect.

    6. I know you don't hate guns Joan. I was referring to some of your readers.

      Sam, I can understand how you feel. I got my first gun only a few years ago, having spent the majority of my life, gunless. One of the factors in my switching was an assault on members of my family in Puerto Rico by a gang wielding illegal guns. As Joan points out, I keep mentioning PR because areas in PR are microcosms of much of the US. PR is similar to the US, except that it also has very strict gun-control. That translates to good, honest people being killed or abused by illegal guns in the wrong hands. It's almost impossible to legally obtain a gun in PR and equally difficult to conceal carry them. PR seems to be exactly what most gun-control proponents desire for the US, except that it's bloody violent.

      I respectfully disagree with you Sam because society will never eliminate violence. Consequently, we will never eliminate illegal guns because they are easy to make. Do you remember when junk guns were so popular, years ago when there was more gun control? I strongly believe one reason the majority of the US is not as violent as PR is because here in the US, thugs don't know who is armed and who isn't. In PR it's simple to know who's unarmed. Violence in the US decreases year after year. PR is just hell. I don't want to live in hell.

  3. How about trying to explain it this way since we have some people who are unclear on the issue.

    3/4 of the guns used in these shootings are LEGALLY PURCHASED.

    YET, the people who are legally purchasing them are technically disqualified under federal law from purchasing, let alone owning, a firearm.

    Another 1/4 of the people can also come by firearms, which were once legal commodities, yet they have mysteriously become part of the black market.

    Obviously the current framework is not preventing people who should not have these deadly weapons from getting them.

    It's silly to say that since these people can get deadly weapons, that the laws need to be relaxed even further since we see the effects of relaxing the laws is MORE violence, not less.

    So, something needs to be done to FIX the situation.

    According to the Heller-McDonald decisions Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose. For example, the majority of the 19th-century courts to consider the question held that prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues. Although we do not undertake an exhaustive historical analysis today of the full scope of the Second Amendment, nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on 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, which the court said was not an exhaustive list. I will also add that registration and licensing were allowed by the Court and Heller was originally denied a permit for his gun!

    So, you're kinda on shaky ground trying to use the "Second Amendment Right" as a reason to not enact reasonable laws which would prevent disqualified people from getting their hands on guns.

    Not everyone has a "right" to own a gun. In fact, prior to Heller, there was nothing preventing firearms from being banned from civilian ownership. Now, Heller-McDonald have said that gun bans are the only thing off the table, but reasonable restrictions are acceptable.

  4. Migo. We see the same problems but we have different solutions. Mine won't affect you and your guns but could start the process of dealing with illegal guns Changing the culture is hard work. I'm up for it. Are you?

  5. Migo, the guns that you would use to protect yourself are the same that are used for mass murders. Today we learn that the Wisconsin shooter used an automatic handgun with high capacity clips. Why does anyone need these? Even 10 bullets is insane. Are you really going to be attacked by 10 people? Or how about a hunting rifle that can take down an elephant that holds 5 bullets? Oh sure, this country is simply overrun with elephants. I need protection!

    I didn't say a ban on guns would eliminate violence. A ban would eliminate "lethal" violence. I'm sorry that your family was attacked. I really am. But imagine if the attackers didn't have guns. We'd have a world of bloody noses and bruised knuckles, fixed with some bandages and ice packs. Not over crowded emergency rooms and morgues.

    Joan is a master (mistress?) of diplomacy and as she said simple solutions could start slowing our epidemic of guns and death. I applaud any start or forward progress. But I think we can all agree that if no one had any guns at all, we'd live in a safer, happier world.

    1. Are you really going to be attacked by 10 people? Honestly, it's unlikely I will ever be attacked again, because I grew up in tough areas of Chicago and I developed street smart skills, after several assaults, before I ever owned a gun. Still, I remember two incidents in the Portland area, closer to home, where victims were bludgeoned to death by multiple assailants. My ex-wife was also injured here in Portland when she was beaten in the head by a gang of kids on bicycles. I myself had a knife pressed along my face while I was robbed in Chicago. Knives can do much more than bloody a nose.

      Dying is easy. Living a life on disability after receiving severe brain injuries from a beating with a baseball bat is not so easy, especially for those like me who are paid to think. My ex-wife has some serious neurological issues that have forced her on disability, and I wonder if that beating years ago did something. I wear a full face helmet when I ride my motorcycle. I carry a gun for similar reasons.

      I want to live in your world Sam, but those people who have attacked me and my family won't let me.

    2. The gun used was not an automatic handgun as far as I can tell it was a Springfield 9mm SEMIautomatic. I can also not find any news reports that state he used anything other than multiple standard magazines for the handgun. I would appreciate any links you have that state otherwise.

    3. We are missing something here. Migo, you have chosen this way of responding. Not everyone does. Sam and I, for example have not chosen to live like that. Most Americans have not. But doingbsomething sensible to stop some of the violence still allows you to live that way of you choose but may actually make it less likely that you will be so earful.

    4. It is a choice, Joan. I made my choice because I've trained with firearms and because I believe we are all responsible for ourselves and our actions. I don't choose violence, but violence has chosen me many times, and nobody was around to help until after the crime.

      I respect that you, Sam, and countless others don't choose to respond the way I've responded. I don't believe everyone should be armed. Guns are not for everyone, especially those who would use them to harm themselves or others.

      The problem with gun control measures though, is that as long as guns are available from some source, foreign or domestic, gun crimes continue. Guns larger than a .22 are illegal in India, yet several MP's recently increased their personal arsenals with some serious firepower that was legally confiscated by Indian customs officials. Here in Portland, several gun control measures were enacted last year that targeted gang violence, yet I believe gang violence and gang shootouts are at an all time high this year.

      I believe any law that targets the gun instead of the individual will fail because people are smarter than that. Even stupid people are smarter than guns. People adapt and innovate. The solution lies in changing that young gang member's belief that killing is the solution to his problem.

  6. Yes Migo. You will have your choice. Some people should not. We need to change that. How is that not targeting the individual? When we stop certain individuals from getting guns, we will have made a choice to make our communities, and even you, safer.

    1. On that we agree!

    2. On what? Sorry for the typos. I am traveling and using my iPhone.

    3. Sorry, I was trying to reduce my word count, since my responses tend to be wordy. I agree with When we stop certain individuals from getting guns, we will have made a choice to make our communities, and even you, safer. LIke I've said before, I don't believe everyone should be armed, and I especially don't believe that people who have expressed thoughts about harming themselves or others should be allowed to obtain guns either from an FFL dealer, or from gun shows.

      We have a shooting range here in Portland that will not rent guns to people who walk into the range who don't already bring a gun with them. Of course, the rentals can only be used within the building. Many people think this is silly, because why would anyone want to rent a gun at the range if they already have one? Many people want to rent guns before they own one to determine what gun is best for them, but the policy remains to prevent someone from walking into the range and committing suicide or worse.

      I appreciate this kind of common sense thinking.

  7. When we have the volume of gun violence that we do, and when we have such poor, illogical, inconsistent and often ineffective lenient gun laws, we need to take responsibility for fixing what is broken.

    It is logical to address the how, which we can improve on - the weapon used - and not the why. It is logical as well, to address the who of who does the violence, and who should or should not have access to firearms.

    That means restricting some people from some weapons, some of the time - in some cases a lot of the time.

    We have many ways of analyzing our problem. We know what that problem is; it is possible to define it clearly. At the moment effective action is blocked, and the people doing the blocking are directly benefitting from that blockage.

    Look at who benefits from the mass shootings. Look at the number of instances where - as with Loughner, Holmes, and numerous other mass shooters, law enforcement knew they had dangerous mental illness. BUT WERE UNABLE to STOP THEM FROM LEGALLY BUYING THE WEAPONS THEY USED.

    Then look at the jump in sales EVERY time there is one of these mass shootings, and try to tell me that there are not special interests deliberately and directly benefitting from those mass shootings.

    1. That means restricting some people from some weapons, some of the time - in some cases a lot of the time.

      I agree with this, in fact, it's similar to what I suggested earlier. Give mental health professionals the ability to enter a temporary restriction in NICS as part of a patient's safety contract.

      The NRA has certain triggers that will activate them like wolves on fresh kill, but all of these involve some restriction on the use of firearms by law-abiding citizens for legal uses. I doubt the NRA would defend the rights of an individual who mailed drawings of how he was going to kill people to his psychiatrist.

      The jump in sales is caused by people who are afraid. Some for their safety, others who believe that certain guns or gun parts will disappear with a new law to follow the massacre. If gun sales were frozen at 2006 levels, we would have almost 10 million less guns in circulation today. Many of those sales were based on legislative fears that never saw the light of day.

  8. I know that Joan and "dog gone" want to plug the holes in our laws to try to stop the killing. But really, we have to point towards the goal of no guns in any hands. Any gun can be used to kill. Banning assault weapons will push people towards equally lethal "hunting rifles". Banning one kind of handgun will push people towards another. The supply must dry up somehow. The semantics over "legal" guns and "illegal" guns might be useful in trying to write legislation, but I don't think they get us anywhere. Guns are simply bad, and our species would be better off if they had never been invented. We can conquer epidemics and diseases. Let's conquer guns.

    Migo, I am really sorry for the violence committed against you and your ex wife. And I hope the perpetrators were caught, brought to justice, and rehabilitated into valuable members of our society. That may be very difficult, but it is possible. What is not possible would be to bring you or your ex wife back if those people had been using guns. Or if you or your ex wife had tried to defend yourselves and either had the gun taken from you, used against you, then used again in future lethal crimes, or you had missed and killed an innocent bystander. Those things are permanent -- and caused by guns. In a strange way, then, maybe providence was on your side at those moments.

    1. Sam I respect you honesty about the fact you want a ban on all firearms. All that would take is a amendment to the constitution.

    2. Sam, you're absolutely right in many of the points you make. Unfortunately, once something is invented, it can never be taken back. Look at how troublesome nuclear fission has been. The supply will never dry up without first implementing an unprecedented cultural change that stops global violence and changes the desire that people have to own guns. There will always be guns as long as people want guns.

      Thank you for the kind words. The perpetrators that attacked my wife were caught. I don't know anything about those that attacked me.

      My ex-wife would never have defended herself with a gun, because she would never have been armed. She's the kindest person you could ever meet, but she's not good with mechanical things. Not everyone should be armed. Sometimes violence happens and nothing can be done to stop it.

      As for me, nobody is going to take my gun away from me in a self defense incident. That's not bravado, but explaining the rules of engagement, AOJ, civil liability, weapon retention, and tactics to protect nearby innocents is beyond the scope of this forum.

      The gun is a tool, not a solution. More important tools exist, like compassion, empathy, tolerance, and understanding. These are the most difficult tools to use, but if any one of them were used by Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin might still be alive today.

    3. Migo- you don't know for sure that someone won't take away your gun in a self defense situation. There is no guarantee of that. Secondly, a gun is not a tool by definition. It is a deadly weapon designed to kill. Tools are not designed to kill. Occasionally they do but that is not their purpose. The emotions you list are not tools either. They are emotions and feelings by definition. How would any of those come in handy as a tool to keep Trayvon Martin from being killed? The fact of the matter is that when a gun is available, it escalates a situation that without one, could end differently. George Zimmerman was a vigilante who made a terrible mistake. Without the gun ( a weapon) Trayvon would be alive.

    4. I'm confident that my gun won't be taken away because when the gun comes out, I've already made the decision to kill. It's the nuclear option that is going to ruin many lives, including my own, but the alternative would have been worse. People lose their guns when they use them incorrectly, like to intimidate, frighten, warning, etc. Clearly, before anyone even knows I have a gun, I'm going to try a variety of other options, or tools, like those I mentioned above.

      Assuming I can't avoid a physical fight and I am down on the ground being beaten and tossed, my gun isn't going to fly off my body like in the movies. My gun has stayed attached to me even through a motorcycle crash.

      You're right that those are emotions, but using them successfully to diffuse a situation is a skill. Counselors do call the application of these emotional skills, tools. I can pull a gun out and shoot someone, but I can also try talking to the person and trying to understand why he's angry with me. I imagine all of these options like tools in a bag, and in a hostile situation I'm going to pull out a variety of tools to help diffuse the situation, with the gun being the last.

      How would any of those come in handy as a tool to keep Trayvon Martin from being killed?

      Let's pretend I'm Zimmerman and I'm past the point where I stupidly provoked him after stalking him. Martin's clearly angry with me now. My gun is still concealed. I would back away slowly, not fix my gaze into his eyes, and try:

      "Look I'm really sorry. I made a terrible mistake. I can understand why you're pissed at me. I'd be pissed too at some dumb-ass white guy that was stalking me. If it's OK with you, I'll just haul my sorry ass back home and let you be. Is that OK with you?"

      It's really hard to do this, but Martin might still be alive with this approach. Of course, the odds of success improve if I hadn't stalked him in the first place. This thing I just did might have deescalated the situation, much like a screwdriver might help me pry moulding off the wall. Deescalation is better than escalation. It's a tool to me and it's much better to try empathizing than to be where Zimmerman is today.

    5. Migo- you are making things up. You have no earthly idea that any of your scenario is even possible. It is in your head and you assume things would turn out the way you have imagined. In way too many cases, it just doesn't. As to if you were George Zimmerman- you weren't were you? Zimmerman and others in Florida have shot people in claimed self defense. The number of "self defense "shootings have gone up as a result of the Stand Your Ground Law. Even the girl scouts have had guns drawn on them when going door to door to sell cookies by idiots who assume the worst when someone comes to their door. Such fear and paranoia is a result of the extremes of the NRA. I hope you haven't fallen under the spell of their nonsense.