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.
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Friday, September 28, 2012

Minnesota shootings and other carnage

This post has been updated since first posted.


Yesterday my home state was the latest place for a high profile mass shooting. There were actually two shooting incidents in two days in Minneapolis. But let's get to the first one. There was a work place shooting leaving 5 dead, including the shooter, and 4 critically injured:
"A man who apparently had just lost his job at a small business in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood returned to the building Thursday afternoon and opened fire, killing the company's founder and three others and wounding four others before taking his own life.
Two other company executives, director of operations John Souter and production manager Eric Rivers, were in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Hospital officials said one other victim was in critical condition and a fourth was in satisfactory condition. Those two wounded victims have not been identified."
Work place shootings are rare but happen often enough to be of concern. Check out the list of them on the linked site which does not include a few of the more recent work place shootings. The majority of these occurred in the U.S. where the term "going postal" began after a number of infamous shootings at  U.S. post office facilities by disgruntled workers. Of course, whenever anyone is shot to death, it is of major concern. What makes someone so upset about being fired that their first reaction is to get their gun and shoot the person responsible for the firing? If the shooter hadn't had a gun handy, how would he have accomplished this awful killing? You just don't hear about work place knifing or poisoning or beating. It's the guns. People intent on killing a lot of people understand that a gun will do the job very well. This is the American solution to problems. Angry? Upset? Lost a job? Trouble with your marriage? Money problems? Had too much to drink and got in a fight? Mad at your neighbor? Suspicious of someone in your yard? Just grab your gun and take care of it. Simple. Fast. Deadly. More from the article:
Gov. Mark Dayton condemned "this senseless violence," adding, "There is no place for it anywhere in Minnesota. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the innocent people killed or wounded."
Indeed. Senseless. And more senseless shootings in Minneapolis, also yesterday. Four people were injured when stray bullets started flying in a neighborhood and found their way into a house where innocent people were just going about their business inside:
Shots fired from outside during the night at a home in north Minneapolis wounded four people, one of them a teenage boy.
The incident occurred about 9:25 p.m. Wednesday at a home in the 1500 block of Queen Avenue N., said police Sgt. Stephen McCarty.
Two men, a woman and a juvenile were taken to nearby North Memorial Medical Center and were expected to survive, McCarty said.
No arrests have been made, and McCarty said he does not believe the public is at risk.
Emma Mercer, who lives in the house, said she was taking a bath at the time of the shootings. Mercer said the victims were men ages 21 and 19, a 39-year-old woman who is related to Mercer and a 17-year-old boy.
Are we at war? More from the article:
Mercer said the group was about to leave for a concert in the Warehouse District when the shots peppered the home. She said police collected 11 bullet casings at the home, which she moved into a few months ago.
A south-facing window of the house had at least eight bullet holes, and an interior wall took at least three bullets.
Eight bullet holes. Eleven bullet casings. At least three bullets in one wall. Four injured.

Where is common sense? Some days the news of shooting incidents that come "across my desk" is just overwhelming. Above, I mentioned in my list of times when people use their guns in the heat of the moment or in "self defense" shooting someone who you suspect is outside your home. When people are so paranoid and scared into getting out a gun at the least noise or suspicion, things like the next linked incident happen. A Connecticut man thought an intruder at the house next door had a shiny object in his hand so he shot him. This is a terrible tragedy because the intruder was the man's son. From the article:
New Fairfield man fatally shot a masked teenager in self-defense, only to discover the teenager was his son.
Tyler Giuliano, 15, was shot to death outside a home on Meetinghouse Hill Circle at about 1 a.m. Thursday in what appeared to be an attempted burglary. A woman in the home believed someone was trying to break in so she called her brother, Jeffrey Giuliano, who lives next door, CBS 2′s Lou Young reported.
Jeffrey Giuliano charged across the lawn with his personal gun in his hand and confronted a man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask, Young reported.
There appeared to be a weapon in the masked intruder’s hand, Young reported. Jeffrey Giuliano fired and the intruder fell to the ground. It was then that he realized that the person he shot and killed was his own son.
More from this article:
“He’s just always nice, like funny,” friend Chelsea Lopez added. “It just doesn’t make sense to me. Like I would never think he could do that. I would never picture him doing that either.”
And that’s perhaps the question police may never get an answer to: what was the 15-year-old doing at his aunt’s home and why did he lunge at his father who was carrying a gun?
The entire community appeared to be in a state of shock, CBS 2′s Young reported.
“When I first received the call, needless to say, I’ve been in office eight years and you don’t hear about such things in New Fairfield,” Hodge said. “The town is a close-knit community. It’s going to take us a while to get over.”
As a father prepares to bury his son, the events were being investigated by police. No charges were immediately filed.
Of course we could do all sorts of second guessing here. It is easy to say this could have turned out differently. The boy was apparently trying to break into a nearby home- his aunt's in fact. That happens sometimes. It's someone who knows what's inside the house or just knows the house and breaks in. My son's house had a break-in during the middle of the day while he and his wife were at work. The police think it was someone in the neighborhood who knew their work patterns and knew the house. One young man in the neighborhood was even questioned but the burglar was never found, nor were the things taken ever recovered. They now have a security system and do some things differently, thanks to local law enforcement and a city employee who gave them many good suggestions. Having a gun was not one of them. How would this have ended differently had the father of the boy not brought a gun to the situation? What about calling law enforcement? Would they have thought a shiny object was a gun and shot or would they have told the boy to drop what he had and the incident would have resulted in an arrest? Would the boy have been so frightened of the police that he would have just put his hands up and cooperated with them? He would have been alive today. Since he didn't actually have a gun, he might have broken into his aunt's home and scared her but done no harm. He might have taken some things and run. Or she might have scared him by being awake and yelling and he might have run away without even being identified as her own nephew. Or the father could have not had a gun and come to stop a burglar by yelling or scaring him away somehow. Without the gun, everything would have been different. This is a terrible and senseless tragedy. It is not the only one like this, however. I have written in this blog about shooters killing their own husbands, wives, etc. in a moment of fear, suspicion or accidental discharge.

All I know is that I am seeing and writing about way too many senseless shootings and many, if not most of them, are committed by law abiding gun owners. As a country we need to do more to stop senseless shootings like the ones above. Too many people are injured and dead. Doing nothing it simply not an option. We are better than this and we need to demand a plan from our elected leaders.

UPDATE:

It has been confirmed that the Minneapolis work place shooter had a Minnesota permit to carry: 
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -
Andrew Engeldinger, the gunman in Thursday afternoon's shooting at the Minneapolis offices of Accent Signage Systems, had a permit to carry, police sources told FOX 9.
Engeldinger had no criminal record.
The office shooting was reported around 4:25 p.m. Thursday at Accent Signage Systems Inc. on Chestnut Ave. W. in the Bryn Mawr area of Minneapolis, near Interstate 394 and Penn Avenue.
Shortly after 5:30 p.m. Thursday, police found Engeldinger dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the corner of the office basement. The shooting left four others dead, including company founder Reuven Rahamim.
Two other company executives -- John Souter and Eric Rivers -- were in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Souter has since been upgraded to serious condition, but Rivers, remains critical.
Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said Engeldinger used a 9mm semi-automatic Glock handgun in Thursday's shooting. Officers searched his south Minneapolis home, where they found another gun and packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
"He's had this gun for a while and he's obviously been practicing how to use it," Dolan said.
This bears repeating: "...he's obviously been practicing how to use it" ( the gun). And yet another law abiding gun permit holder shooting people. Hmmm. I thought these folks were supposed to be good law abiding citizens. We wouldn't give those permits to just anybody would we?

UPDATE #2

It turns out that the law abiding permit holder who shot and killed now 5 people plus himself and left 3 others injured, had mental illness:
Later Friday, Engeldinger's family released a statement saying that Andrew struggled with mental illness for years and had lost contact with the family. "This is not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation," said the statement, which also said their hearts go out to the families of those killed and wounded.
Engeldinger's family hadn't had contact with him for about 21 months after he had shown signs of possible mental illness, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of Minnesota National Alliance on Mental Illness, who has been providing support for the family.  
"They were trying to get him to seek treatment; they did think something was wrong," she said, but that he didn't appear to be a threat to himself or others--criteria for petitioning for his commitment.
Abderholden said he had been paranoid with some delusions, symptoms of possible schizophrenia, but was working and able to live alone.
"He was, to the outside world, doing okay," she said.
Why, oh why, do people like this get legal permits to carry loaded guns around in public places? He should not have had guns. He should not have had a gun permit. But that is the version of American the NRA has managed to manipulate with their fear and paranoia and their uber influence on our elected officials. Shame on everyone for allowing this to happen.

UPDATE #3

Are these two Minnesota guys permit holders?:
A man was shot in the face Saturday afternoon following a road-rage incident that ended in the parking lot of the Isanti Police Department, north of the Twin Cities.
Isanti Police Chief Ron Sager said it wasn't exactly clear why the two men were in the police parking lot, which is just west of Hwy. 65.
Neither the shooter nor the victim was an officer, he said. The dispute appears to have started as a road-rage dispute on Hwy. 65, Sager said.
The shooter was booked into the Isanti County jail and was awaiting formal charges. The victim was conscious and airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, police said.
Christine Hill, an Isanti resident, said she heard shots around 4 p.m. as she stopped at a nearby thrift store.
When she and her daughter approached the scene, they saw two motorcycles and two men, one of whom appeared to be in the custody of an officer and another on the ground without his shirt on.

UPDATE #3

As I suspected, it turns out that one of these guys was a "law abiding" permit holder. From this article about the incident of last week's road rage: 
Despite knowing about a string of recent road-rage incidents involving a 71-year-old man, the Isanti County sheriff said Wednesday that he was legally obligated to issue a permit to carry a gun to the man who is now charged with shooting a motorcyclist in the face after cat-and-mouse highway incident over the weekend.
Joseph D. Kadlec, 71, of Cambridge, Minn., was charged Tuesday with three felonies in the shooting outside the Isanti Police Department parking lot on Saturday. Authorities say Kadlec has been involved in at least five other road rage incidents since 2008.
"The reason he was issued a permit is because there was no indication in the required background check that indicated [Kadlec] was a danger to himself or others or was not allowed, by statute, to be issued a permit," Sheriff Russ Monson said in response to an inquiry Tuesday from the Star Tribune.
Monson then went on to explain that in each of the five earlier cases, "we have on record [Kadlec] was angry at someone for their driving conduct but never used any weapons, never assaulted anyone, never made threats and was never arrested."
The sheriff added that each of the cases ended in a warning and with those involved encouraged to calm down.
Kadlec received his permit on Dec. 12, 2011. The earlier incidents spanned from Sept. 6, 2008, to March 28, 2010.
And herein lies the problem with issuing gun permits to just about anyone who applies. There are just plain some people who should not have guns or gun permits. This should be a wake-up call to Minnesotans who care about gun safety.



27 comments:

  1. Thoughts and prayers out to the families of the lost and injured.

    That being said, I don't see any "plan", other than the annihilation of all guns that could have prevented this.

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    1. That's because to you guys, anything that is suggested automatically confiscates all guns no matter what it is.

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    2. If not confiscation, then what would you have done to prevent the office tragedy?

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    3. Stop giving gun permits to anybody who wants them.

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. How is a permit relevant? Holmes didn't have a permit. Anyone can conceal and carry a gun with or without a permit.

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    7. MN Carry - YOU DON'T SEE ANY PLAN?

      How about screening people better, and having a higher threshold for who is given a permit to own OR carry? We should be regulating who has possession of firearms better.

      That should include things like, oh -- regulating private transfers of firearms better, requiring more stringent storage / security of firearms to prevent them being easily stolen.

      HEALTH TESTING -- to be sure someone can see what they are shooting, a core safety rule; to be sure someone doesn't have a mental health issue (yes, I'm suggesting mental health screening) and how about a few other good smart requirements, like requiring insurance to compensate people who are wrongfully injured, or the survivors of those who are killed?

      The problem is the assumption that we should let bad people who are not safe have guns rather than limit the ownership of anyone else. Stop giving gun permits on a shall issue basis, stop letting so many people have guns because clearly this isn't working. And ending the incredibly stupid notion that the solution to gun violence is more guns would be a GREAT start.

      The NRA and the gun manufacturers do not genuinely object to these occurrences, because they are making money selling guns.

      These occurrences just do NOT happen in other countries where there are much stricter firearms laws, and where there are simply fewer guns in the hands of far fewer people.

      Our gun culture is a massive massive failure.

      Another person has died in the recent workplace shooting, from the injuries.

      In the case of the man who shot his son - a tragedy - why the heck did this woman not simply call the police?

      This shows precisely what is wrong with the gun culture characterizing people as 'goblins' who gun extremists claim should have no rights if they attempt a crime.

      The reality is that property is less valuable than human life, and that people are not 'goblins', they are people who matter to their families and friends. It is as bad when someone is shot who could be apprehended and held accountable instead if the shooter knows the criminal as it is if they are a stranger.

      That shooting underlines how important it is to let law enforcement do their jobs, instead of taking the law into their own hands.

      I would also imagine that the CT case will demonstrate that once again, there is no need for shoot first laws, that the father will not be charged for shooting his son.

      Poor man - I hope this leads him to get rid of his guns and to change his beliefs about self-defensive shooting to something more sane and civilized.

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  2. It's sad that we have to be concerned about safety in the places we work.

    It's become such a concern, that the City of Houston has even made a film, advising people what to do in case of a workplace shooting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0&feature=player_embedded

    Thankfully, my company has a no-gun policy. I shudder to think what some of my more "emotional" coworkers would do if they were armed and had conflicts with others. Still, my company hasn't bothered to post a sign on the doors, despite my asking. That's a problem in pro-gun Oregon, where conceal carry laws are being weakened (this year, for instance, the pro-gun lobby was able to pass a bill that hides the names of those who have permits from being requested, even by the media).

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  3. "This bears repeating: "...he's obviously been practicing how to use it" ( the gun). And yet another law abiding gun permit holder shooting people. Hmmm. I thought these folks were supposed to be good law abiding citizens. We wouldn't give those permits to just anybody would we?"

    Permit holders are orders of magnitude more law abiding than the general public. The BCA publishes a yearly report detailing how many permit holders have had their permits revoked or suspended.
    And yes, permit holders practice with their firearm. At least I hope they do. If they dont practice ,they're considered undertrained and untrustworthy, yet if they do practice they must have some ulterior motive.

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    1. That's really not true. We can't get the records in most states to find that out for sure. In addition, permit holders and people who own guns shoot people much more often than people without permits or guns.

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    2. It should be a simple matter for state legislatures to require a report similar to the one published by the BCA. It provides accurate information about the behavior of permit holders and also protects the privacy of the permit holder.

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    3. Yes, it should be simple. Some states don't provide information or much of it. MN does have a BCA report which shows plenty of misdemeanors and other crimes of permit holders.

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    4. Every state with statistics that I've checked show that permit holders commit crimes less often than the general population. It's not orders of magnitude, but it's always less than the general population. Are you aware of a state where that's not true?

      And yes, I agree absolutely with no argument that people who own guns shoot people much more often than people without guns.

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    5. Lumping law abiding permit holders in with criminals gives an inaccurate view of permit holders. The BCA repost documents 231 crimes of all types committed by permit holders. This is out of a total of just over 91,000 permits. In 2006 the city of Duluth with a population of 86,000 reported 4077 crimes. What is your definition of plenty?

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    6. You can see here- https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/bca/bca-divisions/administrative/Documents/2010PTSReport.pdf

      the many reasons permits were denied or revoked- over 300 denied because of danger to self or other. That many people wanted to get a permit to carry a gun and were denied. Scary stuff. Why would they even try? 58 revoked for same reason-37 convicted of domestic violence tried to get a permit to carry; in 2010- 700 denials, 110 suspensions, 58 revocations. We are talking about people carrying deadly weapons around in public. We can't afford any errors in giving out permits to people who shouldn't have them. Lives depend on it. No matter how many you think are too many or too few, there should be no crimes committed by legal permit holders. They are supposed to be law abiding citizens in order to have the right and the responsibility to carry loaded guns around in public. No excuses.

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    7. While a perfect world would be a good thing it likely isnt attainable with us running it. Police officers are no more perfect than we are. They also are people with all the built in weaknesses.
      Then the question becomes who do you trust? As a rule we tend to trust police officers because we believe that for the most part they are honorable people. The same could be said of the military. And like police officers and others, so are citizens.

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    8. No sir, ordinary citizens with guns are in no way like police officers and the military who are trained to do their jobs and use guns as part of their job description. I wager that police officers don't commit crimes at the same rate as gun permit holders. Nor does the military. What the heck are you talking about? It's total nonsense.

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    9. In your blog post yesterday, you described how a soldier shot a buddy while watching a football game. Yesterday a Minnesota State Trooper was arrested in Duluth when he reported for in-service training while intoxicated.
      I know the training police officers go through to be licensed and I've been a soldier for quite a while and am still serving. While I applaude and respect their commitment to service, they're still people with human faults. I havent been able to find any sources of crimes commited by law enforcement as of yet. If I do I'll pass it on to you.
      I think you might misunderstand me. I'm not trying to suggest that police officers and the military are worse than you believe them to be. I'm suggesting that permit holders are better than you believe them to be. Most permit holders take the responsibility that comes with carrying a firearm quite seriously.

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    10. People with guns kill people - sometimes other people, sometimes themselves, and too often children are dead or injured.

      We have law enforcement to deal with criminals.

      We have far too many instances where self-defensive shootings are not the correct response, where they are excessive when lesser measures, including passive defensive measures like alarms, are better alternatives.

      Crazy people should not have guns; where mental illness is a concern, crazy people should have to PROVE they are not dangerous rather than being given the benefit of the doubt until they prove that. The reason is that they are DANGEROUS to others and themselves, where that is not at issue in other 'rights'. The harm merits the greater stringency.

      And before someone trots out the innocent until proven guilty analogy, that is for putting people in jail or executing them as criminals, not for allowing people to endanger themselves or others.

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    11. There is actually an article in today's Duluth News Tribune about a police officer who assaulted a man in a detox center. The man was in a wheel chair. The officer has had a previous reprimand and he may be charged with a crime.

      I think you misunderstand me as well. Until 2003/2005 when Minnesota ( and many other states) changed their CCW laws, we had far fewer "law abiding" citizens allowed to carry guns in public places. Since the state laws have changed we are seeing permit holders committing crimes and shooting people. Yes, these people may have committed these crimes anyway. But they shouldn't be carrying loaded guns around while committing the crimes. The attitude of entitlement that comes with some permit holders leads to reckless behavior on their part and can have deadly results. The shooter in the Minneapolis incident has now been revealed to have had some mental illness. His family was worried. He shouldn't have been allowed to have his guns or permit. But the gun rights advocates advocate for just about anyone to get a permit and buy a gun. Why don't families report people like this guy to L.E. And then, would they have enough reason to revoke a permit? The onus is on L.E. to prove someone shouldn't have a permit rather than on the permittee to prove competence with that gun and permit. We have it backwards. It is an awesome responsibility to own and carry a loaded weapon. Guns are meant to kill. There should be fewer people carrying them rather than more. That is why police and military training is so important. In the military, are you not trained to make sure you know your target and not to shoot unless you are sure?

      This guy had designs on harming a lot of people. He had 10,000 rounds of ammunition in his home. That is partly the result of the fear and paranoia promoted by the NRA. Normal people do not need to have 10,000 rounds of ammunition laying around their homes. This is all part of a gun culture that has grown in our country and we are starting to see the results of it. There appears to be a trend here. More mass shootings. More crazy people with guns. I don't believe this is a coincident.

      Meanwhile, if you care, you will work with me to engage in a national discussion about what we can do to reduce and prevent senseless shootings. If you care, you will know that anything suggested by people like me will not affect you but in fact, might actually make you safer as well. There may very well be law abiding citizens who always use their guns wisely and carefully. But the fact that we have so many who don't should alarm us. One life is one life too many. That is why we have made seat belts and air bags mandatory and that is why we have changed laws regarding driving while drunk and that is why we have speed limit signs. We are trying to save lives. That is why people have to fence their personal swimming pools. That is why baby cribs that cause even one death because of their faulty design are recalled and the designs change- by law. Guns should be treated the same as well as the people who own and carry them.

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    12. Joan said: ...over 300 denied because of danger to self or other. That many people wanted to get a permit to carry a gun and were denied... You are upset because people are having licenses denied or revoked? That sounds like a good thing and like the process is working correctly. Why does this bother you?

      The NRA doesn't create ammunition stockpiling fears, in fact they dispel them as you can see in this link. The fear of the apocalypse is founded in religion. It's difficult to have a common sense discussion on preventing senseless gun murders when you fill your posts with hate and hyperbole and when you block posts that contain facts that don't support your beliefs.

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    13. You are wrong Migo. The NRA regularly scares people about guns and ammunition and encourages people to buy lots of both.

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    14. From what I read in the article, the police found packaging for 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Not quite the same thing. How much ammunition you have doesnt matter unless you have it with you. The most I carried in Iraq was a bit over 250 rounds. I'd be interested what kind of packaging it was. He might have had 10,000 and had used it up in range firing and only the box was left.
      The army places a lot of importance in that training. It's actually split into two subjects, Rules of Engagement and Escalation of Force. But soldiers still make mistakes. And sometimes your handed a situation where there are no good outcomes, just bad and less bad.
      My law enforcement training was back in the 80's so it might have changed since I last looked. When I read something in the news where someone defended themselves with a gun, I try to think about it and what could have been done to make it turn out better.
      The mental illness issue has been cropping up a lot lately. And that breaks down into several issues. People that fall under the definition of prohibited person under federal law should be getting their name put on the NICS data base.
      If you look on the BCA's yearly permit report many permits are denied,or revoked because of "danger to self or others". This seems a very vague term, and I need to look into what falls under that. Perhaps that is where the family reporting these mental issues would have fit in.
      Actually I've been contemplating a different approach in dealing with gun violence. For example,Switzerland has a very high level of ownership of military grade firearms in the home yet they have a very low incidence of gun crime. I need to look into it and see what they're doing right, and us wrong.
      The FBI statistics for violent crime have been going down fairly steadily for the past 20 years or so. And the crime levels in cities like Chicago and Washington DC which both have very strict gun control laws seems to bring into question the efficacy of laws restricting the ownership of firearms.

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    15. It seems like you might have a reasonable approach to the problem. I would like to hear more about what you find.

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    16. I believe you will find that Switzerland's gun laws are actually quite strict which makes the difference. But it doesn't prevent people from owning their guns and using them.

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    17. (3) deny the application on the grounds that there exists a substantial likelihood that the applicant is a danger to self or the public if authorized to carry a pistol under a permit.

      From my readings, this seems to be a catch all for circumstances that dont fit into any other disqualifying factor. The person applying for the permit can appeal the denial which is heard by a judge. The sheriff has to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the applicant is a danger to self or others if the permit is approved. If the applicant wins the appeal, the sheriff must pay reasonable costs and expenses.
      The section of the annual report listing reasons for denial is interesting reading.

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