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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

guns, yes; cigarettes, no

(This article has been updated since it was published.)

In my home town, we have a lovely wooden walk way extending along the shores of Lake Superior from the Canal Park area of downtown to the far eastern end of Duluth. I walk on this Lakewalk often with friends and go there for gatherings ( it is near the Memorial for gun violence victims). The City Council in Duluth just recently decided that people will no longer be allowed to smoke cigarettes along this walk way. From the article:
"Duluth police said they believe the resolution passed by the City Council on Monday forbidding smoking along the Lakewalk and adjacent parks will give them another tool to deal with those who create a public nuisance there.
Police Lt. Eric Rish said police have 30 days to work on developing a strategy on enforcement before the ordinance goes into effect.
“A lot of the ordinance is designated for Lake Place Park and the Lakewalk. Will it make it easier to do some enforcement? Yes,” Rish said. “We’re always trying to eliminate nuisance crimes and quality-of-life crimes, and I think the experience on the Lakewalk will be improved by having it in place. We’re going to be working on a strategy of how to enforce it.”"
So, to stop nuisance crimes and improve the quality of life along the Lakewalk, there will be no smoking. Guns?- allowed on city property and can't be prohibited. Is there something wrong with protecting citizens from gun crimes and gun violence along the Lakewalk by telling people their guns are not welcome along the walkway? In all the years I have walked this area, I have never seen an incident that frightened me enough to think my safety was at risk. I don't walk there at night alone. There have been a few crimes of violence along the walkway. I don't walk there in the dark or alone. That is just common sense. I think it will be nice to not see cigarette butts along this beautiful walk or not smell smoke. There is something jarring about being in this place of so much beauty and walking behind someone who is smoking. There is also absolutely no need for a gun here. Why don't we tell people they can't bring their guns to the Lakewalk? It's the Second Amendment stupid. The NRA and its' minions use it to stop any reasonable laws to keep the public safe. There aren't a lot of crimes along the Lakewalk but allowing people with guns here just doesn't make sense. I write enough about permit holders and ordinary law abiding gun owners misusing their guns in public that preventing any potential for a problem makes a lot of sense.

Guns are generally treated differently than just about anything else when it comes to public safety. What about this court case decided in favor of a Walmart store that sold ammunition to a minor and then it was later used in a murder? The Mississippi store was found to be not liable for the sale of the ammunition to a minor. Hmmm. Stores can't sell cigarettes or alcohol to minors and must see ID to make sure they aren't. Ammunition and guns? Maybe not so much. From the article:
Walmart, the largest seller of firearms in America, expanded sales of guns from 1,300 to 1,750 stores -- about half of its U.S. fleet -- last year, according to Hargrove.
Walmart fired Martha Parker, the worker who sold Moore the ammunition, a few days after the shooting occurred. Parker claimed in court that she had not known the bullets were for the underage Moore, and thought she was selling them to his friend, Ladarius White, who was shopping with Moore. But the shooter claimed he had given White money in plain view and lied to say he had forgotten his ID.
The court said that even if Parker knew she was selling to someone underage, Walmart wasn't responsible for the death because it was impossible to know that Moore would use the bullets to commit a violent crime. But dissenting judges argued that anyone could guess that a minor is more likely than an adult to misuse a firearm, the very reason why there is a law prohibiting young people from possessing guns in the first place.
"Though 18- to 20-year-olds make up only about 5 percent of the population, they account for about 20 percent of homicide and manslaughter arrests," said Daniel Vice, the chief attorney at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit that lobbies for gun control. "This was a flawed ruling."
A 2005 law gives gun sellers and manufacturers broad protection against lawsuits. Gun control groups, like the Brady Center, have been fighting the law in courts ever since, Vice said.
The National Rifle Association, the largest gun rights lobby, did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
The NRA doesn't want to comment on cases like this. It makes them look bad. Minors should not be able to buy guns and ammunition. We are talking about lethal weapons designed to kill people. If you but read the Kid Shootings blog, you can find more than a few incidents of kids and teens misusing guns in shooting accidents and homicides. There is a reason guns, ammunition, cigarettes and alcohol shouldn't be sold to minors. It makes common sense for the safety of our young people and public safety in general. We are better than this.

And speaking of law abiding gun owners misusing their guns, here is yet another example of how stupid and dangerous law abiding gun owners can be and are. This Michigan business executive had an arsenal of guns and used them:
A businessman who gunned down a police officer at his suburban Detroit home held authorities at bay for hours with an arsenal of high-powered rifles and other weapons before finally killing himself, officials said Tuesday.
Officers were responding to a report of a possible suicide attempt Sunday night at the home in West Bloomfield Township when Ricky Coley shot Officer Pat O'Rourke, authorities said. About 15 families were evacuated from nearby homes during the subsequent 20-hour standoff that ended when Coley was found dead in his bed Monday evening.
More than 1,000 people attend a memorial vigil for O'Rourke outside the township police headquarters Tuesday night.
Sheriff Michael Bouchard told reporters Tuesday that the standoff lasted so long because relatives had warned investigators about his weapons, and because of a barrage of gunfire from Coley.
"It appeared to be just a battle mindset," Bouchard said. "He had the firepower. He had barricaded windows and covered doors. And the way he was firing — probably because part of his military background — he knew the best way to fire and not be spotted by a sniper."
Yesterday I asked, are we at war? A "battle mindset"? More from the article:
Coley, a military veteran, had "a fully automatic Uzi" in addition to high-powered rifles, handguns, knives, a bullet-resistant vest and protective goggles, Bouchard said.
Coley, 50, was recently divorced and had been ordered to leave the home by Monday. He also faced financial and legal turmoil, including a lawsuit from federal authorities accusing him of mishandling employee's insurance funds. West Bloomfield Township police said they had also been called to Coley's home about a month ago because he was reportedly suicidal.
These are the kind of people the NRA supports and encourages. Who needs weapons, ammunition and equipment like this man? People who comment on my blog have arsenals like this and defend their right to have them. It is stupid and dangerous. A police officer is now dead senselessly. Where is common sense? Even the neighbors were at risk from this man's bullets:
Residents who live in the upscale neighborhood where the standoff happened were back home Tuesday.
Jeannie Zimbalatti pointed to a bullet hole in one of her bedrooms. She said her family was "trying to reconcile how we knew Rick to what we were seeing on TV."
"We were unaware of what was transpiring in his personal life," she said. "I'd had conversations with him about his business, and we knew things were tough. But there were no signs of any of this coming. He was an incredibly nice person to us."
"He was an incredibly nice person to us." Why do the neighbors and friends often say this? We have angry and unstable people with arsenals of guns in their homes. One or two small or large things can set them off and they start shooting. They walk around looking and acting like everyone else. They are normal law abiding gun owners until suddenly they aren't. This man was a firecracker waiting to go off.  Guns are dangerous. People die.

Surely we are better than this.


Within minutes of posting this one, I ran across yet another shooting in a domestic case. This one involved a South Dakota man with an order for protection who shot an innocent woman when he was headed to a beauty salon to likely do harm to his estranged wife. How many more of these? How many? Why do we tolerate a culture where angry men with power and control issues are able to get their hands on guns when they clearly shouldn't? This one is just one of way too many. And what's with domestic abusers shooting women in beauty salons? Anyone remember this one? 8 dead in 2011 California beauty shop shooting. Where is common sense?


9/13- As I was saying, the smallest of slights can lead to a law abiding citizen getting out his/her gun and shooting someone. Here, now, is the latest from St. Louis, MO:
The shooting happened during an argument early Monday. Police say the men were arguing over whether the cuts of meat they were planning to cook were pork steaks or pork chops. Cunningham said they were pork steaks, but Lowe disagreed.
Police say the argument became physical and the two had to be separated by someone else in the house. Cunningham then allegedly retrieved a shotgun and shot Lowe, who died later at a hospital.
What are you having for dinner tonight? I suggest you ask your relatives and friends to check their guns at the door.

And another. Here is a man who could afford an AR-15 and other guns but was turned down for food stamps after Hurricane Isaac:
Louisiana State Police say a claims processor in LaPlace told officers a man became irate after being denied aid Tuesday evening after recent Hurricane Isaac. They say officers providing security at the location saw the man go to his vehicle and troopers, sheriff's deputies and national guard troops surrounded and disarmed him.
Trooper Melissa Matey says investigators also found a handgun and several loaded ammunition magazines. She says 46-year-old Mark Knight of LaPlace was booked on charges of terrorizing and aggravated assault. Bond was set at $20,000.
That's right. Food stamps, no; guns, yes. Why not? Is this another law abiding citizen who didn't get what he wanted so decided he would use force and maybe even injury and death to get it? Where is common sense?


  1. Surprise surprise - looks like this guy fits the archtype of the NRA supporter - old white flabby and crabby, who thinks having an arsenal gives him the power to take on the world, to harm and punish and take revenge on others because a gun gives them the power to do so, and lots of guns gives him lots of power.

    Women are far less likely to think this way; teenagers are more likely to think this way, and apparently regress when they become old crabby unhappy adults. They can't point the finger of blame at themselves, they have to find others to point at for the blame for their life being a mess. Only they point with a gun in their hand, and kill and injure innocent people.

    Clearly there are too many people who are NOT safe with firearms, not safe in the context of accidents, like the recent instance of the guy shooting himself in the leg moving a gun from under his pillow to guys like this who commit murder suicides, of which we have multiples every single week of the year.

    Enough. The Constitution was never a suicide pact, and too darned many of these men are doing exactly that, committing murder and then suicide.

    It's time to take away some of these guns in order to stop it. In many instances without the lethality of a firearm, suicides do not go to completion, and many others are contemplated but not acted upon. These people need help, some of them need incarceration. What we don't need is more people dead or injured.

    This is another gun culture failure, another lax regulation failure, another NRA failure.

  2. japete writes: "Is there something wrong with protecting citizens from gun crimes and gun violence along the Lakewalk by telling people their guns are not welcome along the walkway?"

    It's illegal to carry a firearm in Minnesota without a Permit to Carry. We already know that in Minnesota, Permit to Carry holders commit crime at a rate 1/10th that of the general population.

    It's not the permit holders you should be concerned with - it's the folks that aren't following the law.

    1. I'm concerned will all people carrying loaded guns around in public. That's the point. Read my post.

    2. Bryan says, "We already know that in Minnesota, Permit to Carry holders commit crime at a rate 1/10th that of the general population."

      We know no such thing. Those are only the ones we know about. The reporting is faulty to say the least because in many crimes no one is checking.

      Japete is right, it's absolutely ridiculous that they'll outlaw smoking and allow all you inadequately screened and trained, but licensed, guys carry guns.

    3. "We know no such thing. Those are only the ones we know about."

      We've been over this many,many times. The statistics are pretty consistent from state to state. Permit holders are FAR less likely to commit gun crimes.. Bryan was being really generous by saying 1/10 it's more like 1/100th..

      I know it doesn't fit your narrative, but just think about it for a second. In any state that requires a permit, the holder has to pass a criminal background check before the permit is issued. Often at he state and federal level.

      There is usually a comprehensive 'life history' form to be filled out as well as some sort of training requirement. None of that is free..

      Criminals don't BOTHER with all that. By the time someone goes though all the hassle and expense of getting a permit, they are more likely to be law abiding than the average (randomly sampled) citizen.

      They self select for "law abiding" by the nature of the application process and the cost involved.

      As a sample state, Texas keeps compressive records of all crimes committed with guns and how many of those crimes are by permit holders. It's on their GOV website. I'll let you look it up for yourself, since you won't believe it unless you find the data yourself.

    4. And yet-" But the real statistical problem lies in the comparison in felony conviction rates between the general public (21-and-older) and concealed handgun licensees. This type of comparison is often referred to as a "two-island model," referring to similar populations from two islands, where no one ever moves from one island to the other. Herein lies the flaw: individuals are frequently moving between the general population and the CHL subset - in both directions - so the two-island model is inappropriate.

      Proponents of concealed carry rest their arguments on the filter that prevents high-risk genpop individuals from moving to the CHL "island." If the filter is successful, they say, only law-abiding citizens will be licensed.

      They neglect to address the lack of an effective filter in the other direction. A CHL holder may commit a crime - and faced with either poor lawyers, a good prosecutor, or strong evidence - that individual reverts to the general population. The relevant felony conviction is added to the CHL tally, but - importantly - the statistics do not follow the ex-licensee through repeat offenses.

      Recidivism is an old problem in criminal justice. A 2002 Department of Justice study reported a re-arrest rate of 67.5% - as high as 78.8% for auto thieves - within three years of release from prison.

      So, a more accurate comparison would examine the group of individuals who have at some point possessed concealed handgun licenses, in tandem with a random selection of people who never sought licenses. The study would have to be done retrospectively, taking into account recidivism over a period of at least a decade.

      The concealed handgun licensing program is not without merit. It is possible that an appropriately chosen filter could identify individuals who are unlikely to commit crimes not just on the basis of a past blank slate. Such filters are less important at, say, age 40, where many have become settled in their habits, than at age 21, when most people are still making youthful mistakes. This hypothesis finds support in the DOJ recidivism study, which notes a negative correlation between age and re-arrest."

      From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-woods/concealed-handguns-the-st_b_822459.html

    5. The above paragraphs copied from the huffingtonpost are the words of an activist/scientist biased against guns because of a personal tragedy. His experience with molecular biology hardly qualifies him as an expert in the complex social issues that surround gun ownership and use. Just because the two-island model works well in biology, doesn't mean that it can be extended into gun use in our society. This activist's credibility is more suspect than John Lotts, because at least Lott's degree in economics provides him with experience in social modeling.

      Herein lies the flaw: individuals are frequently moving between the general population and the CHL subset... Not true. Once an individual applies for a CHL, they generally continue to renew their CHLs, so those individuals will remain on the CHL island. For example, in Florida, the renewal rate is fairly consistent over the years.

      So, a more accurate comparison would examine the group of individuals who have at some point possessed concealed handgun licenses, in tandem with a random selection of people who never sought licenses. This is what is essentially being done today, because a random selection of people who never sought licenses is very close to a random selection of the general population since the number of people in the general population who have CHLs is very small. This sampling also can't be compared to those who once held a CHL, because the number of people who don't renew CHLs is small, therefore a sampling of those who once had CHLs but no longer have them would be biased with those who had their licenses revoked. This is like trying to compare a sampling of people who were once in prison with a sampling of people in the general population who have never been in prison. It's a flawed sampling scheme.

      It is possible that an appropriately chosen filter could identify individuals who are unlikely to commit crimes not just on the basis of a past blank slate. This is impossible. This is the holy grail of psychology and sociology. It is presently impossible to predict with legal certainty what crimes an 18 year old might commit 20 years or even 5 years from now.

      These flaws in this activist's thinking make me suspect anything else he has to say outside of his area of expertise in molecular biology.

    6. Really Migo, you guys just continue to amaze me. So my side has "activists" who don't know what they are talking about and your side never does that? Give me a break. More people are on my side, by the way, than yours. Be careful about your criticisms. You are in the minority even though your side are the bullies who have gotten their way by lying and intimidating. I prefer my side for that reason and many more. I actually like Scientists. The are smart and they think through problems. I happen to think that's a good idea. And let's see- a personal tragedy would bias someone against guns? I wonder why that would be anyway????? Are you serous?