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 has changed since my sister was shot?

There are some anniversaries that are not happy ones. Such is the case for my family on Aug. 5th. It is the 20 year anniversary of the shooting of my sister, Barbara Lund. Barbara was involved in a contentious divorce. She was shot by her estranged husband because he was angry and depressed over the divorce. Is that a reason to shoot someone? No, of course not. It happens almost every day in America. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is trying to leave a bad marriage or just after she has left. When guns are available, the argument can change instantly into a deadly one. When guns are available, things can go terribly wrong. Guns are deadly. Guns are designed to kill. And kill they do. When guns are readily available, it is too easy to "solve a problem" or deal with anger and strife. Guns are efficient. They do what they were designed to do. They kill people when they are in the hands of someone who has bad intentions. They kill people by accident. I'm against being shot. I'm against loved ones being shot. On August 5, 1992, my life took an unexpected turn.

So what has changed since 1992? For one thing, we've had a lot of mass shootings. This chart shows very well where and when they have occurred. These only include those where 5 or more were shot. One could argue that a mass shooting is when 3 or more are shot. Isn't it amazing that we have to categorize mass shootings?

The NRA is still resisting any attempt to save the lives of our military personnel after returning to America from tours of duty. Shameful. From the article:
The problem, say US military commanders, is that a new NRA-backed law prohibits them from engaging in discussions about weapons and safety.
"I am not allowed to ask a soldier who lives off-post whether that soldier has a privately owned weapon," Chiarelli says. The legislation took effect at the end of 2010.
While commanders are permitted to ask troops who appear to be an imminent danger to themselves or others about private firearms — or to suggest locking them temporarily in a base depot — the law requires that if the soldier denies that he or she is thinking about harming anyone, then the commander cannot pursue the discussion further, he adds.
Yet determining whether a service member is an imminent danger to himself or others has been an elusive and frustrating pursuit for the Pentagon.
"I'm struck by the number of folks who come in for behavioral health counseling and are rated as 'low to medium risk' [of harming themselves or others] and two weeks later commit the irrevocable act of suicide," Chiarelli says.
"Suicide in most cases is a spontaneous event" that is often fueled by drugs and alcohol. But "if you can separate the individual from the weapon," he added, "you can lower the incidences of suicide."
The problem, Chairelli says, is that "we have issues in even being able to do that."
The Brady Act was passed and enacted in 1993. That is one of the few highlights after my sister was killed. Since that time, almost 2 million people who shouldn't have guns have been prohibited from purchasing them because Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers are now required to do a background check on all gun sales. Unfortunately, a gaping hole was left in the law. Private sellers can sell their guns to anyone with no background check at gun shows and other venues. Nothing has been done to close the gap. As a result, we have no way of knowing how many prohibited purchasers are buying guns without background checks. So criminals, domestic abusers, drug abusers, dangerously mentally ill people and terrorists can get guns. Where is common sense?

The Assault Weapons ban was allowed to sunset in 2004 after 10 years. That is a national mistake. Most other countries not at war do not allow civilians to own such guns. They are not necessary for anything really- except to kill a lot of people at once.

Since 9/11, a national list of people considered to be terrorists was established. Naturally, we wouldn't want those whose intent is to kill innocent Americans flying on planes. But we do allow them to buy guns and we even know they are doing so but we can't stop them. That is another gap in our nation's gun laws that has not been closed. Why not? Just ask the NRA. They know.

All attempts to stop small arms trafficking around the world have been stymied by the NRA. For years now, there has been a proposed United Nations Small Arms Treaty proposed. It never gets passed. Guess why? If you guessed the NRA, you are correct. This article exposes the blatant lies coming from the NRA concerning this treaty. Why, oh why, are the lies believed? Again, the NRA has created a myth that it so powerful it can stop an international treaty. And the myth turns into inaction. Shame. Women and children all over the world are being shot to death and raped at gun point. We are better than this. The NRA should not be allowed to stop a common sense treaty. Such power and control is obscene.

Any attempts to pass reasonable gun laws, such as one banning high capacity magazines after Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot are languishing in Congress. There is a bill introduced in Congress to stop the sale of such deadly ammunition. Why doesn't it pass? Ask the NRA. They know. There is renewed interest in a bill after the recent shooting at the Aurora, CO movie theater. Will it go anywhere? Ask the NRA. They will know.

Since 1992, 500,000 Americans have list their lives to bullets. Really; about 30,000 a year, give or take, including homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Let's just look at homicides then if you don't like this number. Gun homicides have accounted for anywhere from 9000 roughly to 12,000 roughly per year. Let's settle on an average figure. So about 10,000 a year since 1992 equals about 200,000 dead from bullets. And we have just let it happen. That's what is alarming. The NRA's extreme leadership has made it possible for gun deaths and injuries to continue almost unabated. There is no talk about reducing gun deaths and injuries because the NRA won't have it. They are in charge, apparently, of our public health and safety policy. Do you find that reprehensible? If so, demand that our politicians stop heeding the threats and lies of the NRA's extreme leadership and stand with the victims and the majority of Americans, including NRA members and gun owners, in favor of common sense.

Since my sister was shot, all but one state ( Illinois) has passed a form of carrying concealed ( or openly carried) weapons laws. Have gun deaths and injuries reduced as a result? No. See the Violence Policy Center report on Concealed Carry Killers for why these laws are not a good idea. In addition, as if passing the laws was not enough for the NRA's extreme leadership and extremists in many states, laws have been loosened to allow loaded guns into more public places.

Since my sister was shot, many states have passed some form of Stand Your Ground laws. Are they a good idea? See this article:
A working paper (PDF) released this week with the National Bureau of Economics Research found that states that have passed controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws, such as the one George Zimmerman is using as his defense to charges that he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida this February, actually ended up seeing more homicides after the laws were passed.
Doctoral student Chandler B. McClellan and Professor Erdal Tekin at Georgia State University decided to test the claim that such laws were “making America safer.”
“Our evidence and certainly some other studies floating around out there find that these laws don’t work in the way they were intended to work,” McClellan said in an interview with Raw Story. “What we do see is a net increase in deaths.”
Passing such laws “with no evidence to back up the logic can lead to unintended results, which is what we see here. We have informed the public policy debate with this,” McClellan said.
Using homicide data from 2006 to 2008, the years after a wave of legislatures passed such laws in 2006, the researchers found that “Stand Your Ground” laws, which provide protection for deadly use of force in self-defense in a public place, results in a “significant increase in the number of homicides among whites, especially white males.” The results are found to be specific to “Stand Your Ground” laws and the effect doesn’t extend to other laws passed in the interest of self-defense.
“According to our estimates, between 4.4 and 7.4 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks,” the researchers write in the paper. “Our findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make America safer.”
“At least some of the people getting killed are bystanders, which is more than enough to raise serious concerns about these laws,” Professor Tekin told Raw Story. He said in research they’re prepping for a published journal article that includes more recent data, they’re actually finding their results will show a stronger effect on net deaths as more data is included.
The working paper also finds, “[Stand Your Ground] states have a higher percentage of black population, more likely to have a Republican governor, higher incarceration rates and more police officers. These states also tend to be more urban, and have a higher poverty rate.”
We all know how Stand Your Ground laws work after Trayvon Martin was shot by self professed neighborhood watch gun owner, George Zimmerman.

Oh yes, since Barack Obama was elected President, militia groups have increased in number. Scary.

Domestic shootings, similar to the one that took my sister's life, continue. We don't pay enough attention to keeping domestic abusers from getting guns. No one ever thinks the estranged husband or boyfriend would shoot someone. Not him. He'd never do that. People don't pay attention to guns in the home as a possible threat. And yet, from this source:
American women who are killed by their intimate partners are more likely to be killed with guns than by all other methods combined. (Rothman E. F., Hemenway D, Miller M, and Azael D. Batterers' Use of Guns to Threaten Intimate Partners. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 2005. 60 (1): p. 62- 68.)
A recent study shows that access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times compared to instances where there are no weapons. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners. (J.C. Campbell, Webster J, Koziol-McLain, CR, et al. 2003. Risk Factors For Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results From A Multi-Site Case Control Study. (American Journal of Public Health. 93 (7).)
Women are twice as likely to be shot and killed by intimate partners as they are to be murdered by strangers using any type of weapon. (Tjaden P., Thoennes N. Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice: 2000. NCJ 18781.) (Rothman E. F., Hemenway D, Miller M, and Azael D. Batterers' Use of Guns to Threaten Intimate Partners. Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, 2005. 60 (1): p. 62- 68.) 
Firearms- especially handguns- were the most common weapon used by males to murder females in 2003. (When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2003 Homicide Data: Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/ Single Offender Incidents. September 2005. Violence Policy Center. Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2005.pdf.)
In homicides where males used firearms to kill females, handguns were clearly the weapon of choice over rifles and shotguns. In 2003, 77 percent of female firearm homicide victims were killed with handguns. (When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2003 Homicide Data: Females Murdered by Males in Single Victim/ Single Offender Incidents. September 2005. Violence Policy Center. Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2005.pdf.)
Approximately 700 American women are shot and killed by intimate partners each year. (Homicide trends in the U.S Intimate homicide and Homicides by relationships and weapon type. Washington D.C.: U.S Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics; 2002.)
The cost of domestic violence is nearly $67 billion per year, roughly 15% of total U.S crime costs. (Miller T, Cohen M, Wiersema B. Victim costs and consequences: a new look. Washington, D.C.: U.S Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice; 1996.NCJ 155282)
Far from passing reasonable gun laws, Congress has gone out of its' way to pass laws to allow more guns in more places. See the guns in National Parks amendment passed by Congress recently and the guns on Amtrak amendment. See also the National Conceal Carry Reciprocity act passed by the House but sitting in the Senate. Will they dare pass this law now after the Aurora shooting? Ask the NRA. NRA members don't like to be inconvenienced at all when it comes to carrying their guns. I must say it was pretty inconvenient to go to my sister's funeral. But I digress.

The American gun culture is alive and well. Or is it? Since 1992, fewer Americans own guns. The NRA has convinced everyone that they have 4 million members. Do they? I have recently spoken to a man who is a hunter and joined the NRA many years ago when it was an organization to support hunters and teach gun safety. As the organization changed and became too extreme, this man tried to stop his NRA membership. But they still send him the magazine and act as if he is still a member. He can't quit! I have another friend who belongs to a local shooting club. He likes to target shoot but he is fully on board with common sense gun laws and supports what I do. He hates the NRA and is not one bit interested in its' extremism. But to become a member of the shooting club, he has to become an NRA member. The NRA counts him yet he does not believe in its' agenda. We have only to look at the most recent Frank Luntz poll to know that this is true. The NRA leadership is extreme and does not represent even its' own members let alone the public in general.

And after all of their  legislative successes, what is the NRA's response? Here is just one from Executive V.P. Wayne LaPierre:

These folks act as if they haven't already accomplished almost everything they wanted. They are having a pity party while people are shot every day. They are on a cynical and hypocritical rant about their rights while people are shot every day. They want politicians to fear them. They want politicians to feel sorry for them. This kind of behavior is like a child who doesn't get his or her way and throws a tantrum. Parents give in and create a little monster. That is the NRA. They throw tantrums and threaten. They make people believe in their ridiculous nonsense under the guise of the Second Amendment. Whenever the advocates for prevention of gun deaths and injuries propose a new law to reduce such deaths, the NRA cries that we should just enforce the laws already on the books. Look at the laws they have managed to get passed in the name of gun rights. Of course they don't want new laws- only when they do. The laws have to be their laws. They have fooled way too many people while people become shooting victims every day in America. Don't believe in their pity party. They are not to be pitied. Our pity should be reserved for the way too many victims of every day shootings.

Shame on Congress and state legislators for allowing themselves to be manipulated by this extremist group of cynical people. It doesn't have to be like this. We are better than this. Nothing will change if we don't make it happen. When our country is run by an extreme group of people who put the Constitution ahead of human lives, we are not living in a democracy any more. When those who peddle fear and paranoia to get their way, the public is damned to living in communities fraught with stray bullets and shootings in public places. Women's lives are at risk from domestic shootings. Children are dying at 8 per day because of bullets. In what other country is this happening?

Demand the change that will make us safer. If I have learned anything since my sister was shot, I have learned that the NRA is not to be feared. I also have learned that the public is way ahead of the politicians on this issue and are just waiting for common sense to break out.

In my sister's name and her memory, I will continue advocating for common sense. I will continue speaking up and speaking out. I will continue to demand change. I will continue to remind our politicians that we are better than this and we can do better than this. I will continue to educate the public on the many misperceptions and lies pushed by the NRA. Please join me in my efforts. Join one of the many state and national organizations working to reduce and prevent gun violence. Write letters to the editor. Sign petitions. Call your legislators and Congress members. Volunteer to help out and donate so that those who work on the issue can continue their work. Demand change. Remember the victims.


I forgot to add that the NRA's leadership has become more extreme over the years which may explain why they do not represent many of their own members. See Meet The NRA for biographies and quotes from the NRA leadership and Board, including, of course, the ever crazy and dangerous Ted Nugent.

And one more- follow the money. The NRA and the gun industry have become more and more cozy over time. They serve on each other's boards. They protect each other. As more laws are passed allowing more people to carry more loaded guns into more public places, the industry manufacturers more small concealable guns. The industry targets women with small pink guns. The industry has even targeted children in ads showing kids holding guns. As more of the guns come onto the market, more people buy them and more people want to protect their guns and their rights. It's a vicious circle and a sick relationship that keeps our country from being able to pass reasonable gun laws. They are trying to normalize the carrying of guns by everyone. What else is new? Our country is now pretty much run by big money interests but when lives are at stake, the game changes.


  1. --You. Are. My. Hero.

    Keep Fighting The Fight.

    Love. Always. Forever. x

  2. And we see yet another mass shooting in Wisconsin.

    Of course, we will hear the usual rubbish that "gun control wouldn't prevent these incidents", yet has anyone really tried gun control in the US? Where there is stringent gun control, on NFA firearms, there is virtually no crime committed with properly registered firearms. More guns is exactly why the US has such a gun violence problem.

    WhoWhatWhy had a great piece on this topic: whowhatwhy.com/2012/07/20/did-you-hear-about-the-shooting/

    "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."

    1. Thank you Laci. I had just heard about this new mass shooting. When will we ever learn? I am numb. That's what the gun lobby wants. If we all stay numb, we won't stand up and take action. I really love the article you linked. It gets to the nub of the matter. We all need to be more direct about the causes of these shootings. Our gun culture is crazy in America. It allows for just about anyone to have guns and then promotes a culture of fear and paranoia so people actually use their guns on a daily basis to take the lives of other Americans. It is sick and twisted.

    2. One reason NFA firearms aren't used in crimes is because they are incredibly expensive. Many NFA firearms can be $10,000 or more which is typically outside the budget of most murderous losers. I don't understand how stringent gun control would have prevented the two recent massacres, since the guns used in those tragedies were purchased legally from FFLs. That means the BATFE has a paper trail with detailed information about those gun's history and the murderers that bought them, which had little to no impact on the resulting tragedies.

      I agree with the last paragraph, except I would change violence to extremism.

      More importantly, I'm sorry Joan that this is an anniversary that you have to observe.

    3. Here's how more stringent firearms regulation would have prevented the two most recent massacres -- and nearly all of them dating back to Jared Loughner and before.

      The difference is that we have very few problems with people getting legal firearms under may issue; they can't stop even known mentally ill people under shall issue. More than 75% of all mass shootings involve legally purchased firearms - we could reduce that.

      Under gun regulation, we would ban assault style weapons and expanded capacity magazines - probably should add body armor to the list. ALL of those are common to mass shootings. When we have that kind of ban, those kinds of shootings go down markedly, if not disappear entirely.

      Every damned time we have one of these mass shootings, gun sales go up -- ESPECIALLY of the variety of weapon used by the mass shooter. How sick is THAT?

      Ask yourself the all important question of who profits from mass shootings. The answer is gun manufacturers and retail outlets like Walmart. Who FUNDS making firearms laws more lenient, including tying the hands of law enforcement from stopping dangerously crazy people from buying the assault style rifles and the expanded capacity magazines? Same people.

      I elaborate about it here:

      Who ELSE engages in these violent crimes far more often than anyone else? Oh, yeah - former felons who get their gun rights restored (even though common sense says they shouldn't). Who pushed that through?
      Same people who make money on the guns and ammo sales.

      Gun control works; those who make money off of gun sales to people who shouldn't have those firearms don't want it to work because it would cut into their blood money profits. It's as $imple as that.

      While all other crime stats were going down steadily, after making the WI gun laws more lenient, homicides and non-fatal shootings went up. Studies in the major WI cities determined the single largest contributor to that happening were domestic abusers who could now, under the more lenient gun laws, acquire weapons where they wouldn't have before because of may issue restraint by law enforcement.

      Who profits from those killings and woundings -- see above.