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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Inappropriate and bizarre behavior

The news of the past few days has me thinking about men behaving badly. I wonder why? My last post was about grumpy old white guys, the Republican party and guns. Many people have read that particular post. I would like to think that's because it addressed an actual phenomenon. But now we have a whole new gaggle of guys exhibiting what I call testosterone poisoning. What else can be said about CIA Director David Petraeus and General John Allen with their affairs and e-mails? And then there's the FBI agent who seems to be involved inappropriately and sending e-mails to Allen's "friend" (who first went to him with her complaint of threatening e-mails of Petraeus's mistress) containing a bare chested photos of himself? These are truly men behaving badly. So we have potentially two affairs ( sex scandals?) of an American hero and a sitting American Army General causing the resignation of Petraeus as CIA Director and Allen's now being bypassed for a promotion. You just can't make this stuff up. And we thought J. Edgar Hoover's behavior and running of the FBI was questionable! Whether or not all of this stuff should have been made public or caused resignations may be relegated to the annals of history. For now, at least, there appears to be a lot more where this came from. One obvious question is why are folks like this so careless? Is it the power? Is it the hubris? Is it the egos? Is it narcissism? And what is with the ( mostly) younger women who give up their own privacy and their own personal lives to be involved with the guys with all the power? Power is attractive apparently. Where is common sense?

And what does this have to do with guns you might ask? You must know that I will always talk about the guns when writing posts for this blog. I believe that guns give the people who own them a feeling of power and control. Some people have guns for hunting and shooting sports that they keep (hopefully) locked up most of the time. Their guns are not an extension of their manhood. They are perfectly happy to walk around in their daily lives without a gun strapped to their hip, or their legs or wherever they heck they carry them. They don't need arsenals of weapons in order to be in control of their lives. They don't need guns to intimidate others in anger or situations of domestic abuse to gain control over a spouse/partner. They likely don't have a gun when their nose gets out of joint over a misunderstanding or perceived threat. Petty things can set off some guys and when a gun is handy, it is a symbol for revenge, hate, paranoia, power and control.

What happens then, to guys whose lives are out of control or whose tempers get the best of them? This one in Sacramento is particularly awful:
“My brother never got into any fights, any trouble, always stayed clear of things like that,” Melissa said.
Witnesses told family members that Ruben went to the store to get a soda and was not involved in any altercation.
“This guy came down, the shooter, he went home, came back with a gun, and he went right by and started shooting everyone that was standing,” Ruben’s aunt Marcie Mora said.
A patrol officer responded after hearing gunshots. The offficer found both victims. Ruben died in front of the store and Abel in the emergency room.
Witnesses led police to 25-year-old Ryan Mazzariello. He was arrested at his home in Oakdale and charged with double homicide.
How did this situation get so terribly out of control? What snapped in a young man to lead him to go home for his gun and come back shooting at anyone standing? We don't know the whole story yet about this one. But over and over, the reason for so many shootings has to do with a guy who got angry and took out his anger with a deadly weapon. I don't get it. Why a gun? Guns do represent power. Everyone knows that once a gun is introduced, the situation changes. Everyone knows that it's hard to get away from someone when a gun is pointed your way. Guns are dangerous, lethal and intimidating. They can be used for hunting and good clean recreation but more and more mass shootings and everyday gun deaths have nothing to do with hunting or self defense.

There are law abiding gun owners who always use their guns appropriately and never consider the taking of a human life or using a gun to threaten or intimidate someone. But when more and more people own guns with fewer restrictions on who they are and where they can carry them, we have begun to see more situations like the following example. A Minnesota man brought out his AK 47 and threatened innocent kids over Halloween candy:
A St. Louis Park man has been charged with pulling an AK-47 assault weapon on a group of young men after accusing them of stealing his child’s Halloween candy.
Orrin John Hager, 44, is charged with second-degree assault with a firearm, a felony with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of three years in prison and a $4,200 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, signed by St. Louis Park Police Officer Aaron Balvin, officers were called to the area of 27th Street and Brunswick Avenue just after 9 p.m. on Oct. 31 when someone reported hearing shots fired.
Police found a group of juvenile boys, who said a man had driven up, pulled over and began to yell at them, accusing them of stealing candy from his child. When the man pulled out a “long gun,” the boys ran away.
The boys described the suspect as a white male with an Asian female passenger in his car, the same description of a driver who was stopped earlier in the evening for driving erratically. During that traffic stop, the driver, identified as Hager, told officers that he was looking for “older kids” who had stolen candy from his child.
Police went to Hager’s home and found him “very eager” to talk to them. He told them that he was angry that someone had stolen candy from his child, so he got into his car – accompanied by his wife and two children – and went searching for the “kids” who were responsible for the theft, according to the complaint.
When he saw the group at 27th and Brunswick, he got out of his car to confront them, he told police. However, it appeared that none of them were taking him seriously and they were giving him “attitude,” he said, so he pulled a gun from his car, the complaint says.
Hager said he held the gun near his side, but never pointed or fired it. He said he got back into his car and followed one of the boys whom he thought had stolen the candy, then stopped the car, put the gun in his trunk and went home, according to the complaint.
Police arrested Hager and confiscated the unloaded AK-47. They later determined that the report of shots fired in the area was unrelated to the case.
Yowza! This bears repeating: "... so he got into his car-accompanied by his wife and two children-and went searching for the "kids" who were responsible for the theft,..." Really? What in the world could go wrong when a mad man puts his kids in his car with his AK 47 in search of other kids who he thinks stole some Halloween candy? It must have been a scary Halloween indeed for those innocent kids who saw an assault weapon in the hand of the angry man. How can this behavior be justified? It can't, obviously. But this guy thought he could get away with his behavior. He was stupid and dangerous and he got caught. He was another man behaving badly who left a lasting impression on his vulnerable children. Let's hope they will grow up to behave better than their father. He obviously should not have had that gun.

This is the culture promoted by the gun lobby. Got a problem? Get out your gun. Feel threatened? Get out your gun. Kids fooling around in your yard?
A 13-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico boy is recovering after being shot by a neighbor in a case that is reminding many of the Trayvon Martin killing. 
The boy in this case is an 8th grade basketball player who also plays first chair viola at school.
His mom says he’s a good kid, who snuck out of a friend’s house early Saturday morning but wasn’t up to trouble. 
“I was at my friend’s home and I was walking to my friend’s home,” said the boy in an exclusive interview with NBC affiliate KOB Eyewitness News 4. 
“And on the way there we were just running around just playing and just hiding from each other and I hid under a truck.” 
The moments that followed could have cost the boy his life. 
A criminal complaint states the homeowner, Michael Zamora, heard noises and went outside with a gun thinking someone was stealing his truck. 
It had recently been stolen and recovered. 
“He told me to get the f’ on the ground so I put my hands up and I got on my knees. And then he grabbed me by the back of my shirt,” said the boy. 
The 42-year-old claims the boy punched him in the face. 
The boy told police Zamora dragged him into his garage and zip-tied his wrists. 
“My heart just dropped and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said the boy. 
Zamora then took the 5’2″, 90 lbs. boy inside his house until police arrived, according to court documents. 
When police found the boy they realized he had been shot in the shoulder. 
When police asked Zamora about it, he first told them that he had the gun it fell and went off.
He then clarified his story to police saying he had the gun in his hand the whole time and then it went off by accident. 
When asked if he meant to shoot the boy, Zamora replied, “no, I didn’t!  It was 3 o’clock in the morning. There’s a kid messing around with my truck, what do you expect? You know?”
“I’ve never been so scared in my life,” said the boy’s mother, Alysha Colbert. “I could’ve lost my son,” she said. “If he would have turned around and took off running would he have shot him in the back, because he was black?” 
Zamora allegedly told police, “I saw the guy right there, it was dark, he was black, I didn’t know what to expect.” 
“Trayvon Martin. That’s the first thing that popped into my mind was Trayvon Martin,” said Colbert. 
To that, Zamora responded: “That’s ridiculous. I was just protecting my property and my family you know. That’s all I can do. I think any other red-blooded American would have done the same thing.” 
Whoa there. Where this guy who behaved badly got it wrong was in thinking that any"red-blooded American" would have done the same thing. Most Americans would have either called 911 or handled it without a gun. When you have a gun, things can go terribly wrong. Guns can lead to men behaving badly. This guy was just plain lucky that this case didn't turn into another Trayvon Martin shooting.  But many gun rights extremists would rather take matters into their own hands. They don't trust law enforcement as you can read in this blog post over at New Trajectory.

Lives depend on people with guns acting appropriately when they have one in their home and/or in their hand. I wish I could say that was the norm. But since I am writing a blog about the daily incidents of not only bad gun behavior but also deadly gun behavior, I know that too often, even those who believe they would always be safe with their guns do stupid things. And before you get your "shorts" in a bundle, I know that some of the stupid and dangerous behavior comes from criminal behavior which is inexcusable. But one can go from law abiding to criminal status in a matter of seconds. We can't explain human nature and the ability to engage in self destructive behavior. Since humans have walked the face of the earth, they have "fallen from grace" and sometimes picked themselves up to carry on. But often, they leave behind them a wake of problems, pain and sometimes injury and death. In the case of Petraeus and Allen, their personal lives are now in shambles and their professional lives have become entwined with national security issues. Many men ( and sometimes women) before them have been caught up in their own need to be powerful and famous no matter the cost. We can name them by reading our history books. The need for great or better sex, the need to be loved and adored or to maintain power have brought down some very powerful people throughout history. These two just happen to be the latest to get caught. At least no one was killed as a result.


A new incident just came to my attention. This Colorado man was ready to shoot children on Halloween and kill President Obama. Luckily for him and everyone else concerned, he confessed and was placed in a mental facility. Let's make sure this man NEVER EVER can buy a gun. From the article:
A suburban Denver man has been arrested after accusations that he threatened to shoot children, kill people on Halloween and kill President Barack Obama.
Mitchell Kenneth Kusick, of Westminster, was being held Tuesday on a federal charge of threats against a president. He identified himself as a student at Colorado Mesa University in western Colorado.
According to KUSA-TV in Denver (http://on9news.tv/T2rbYC ), Jefferson County court records show he told his therapist about wanting to shoot students at a trick-or-treat event at Standley Lake High School.
Federal court records say Kusick took a shotgun from his aunt's house, tried to buy ammunition, then told his therapist about his plan.
The therapist called police, and Kusick went to a hospital, where he was placed on a mental health hold.
The incident doesn't relate to the others in this post which appeared to be shootings by angry guys with guns. But it was another incident of men with guns who could have caused a whole lot of trouble on Halloween night. Guns and Halloween don't go together. Guns and anger don't go together. Guns and mental illness don't go together. Inappropriate behavior also doesn't go with guns. We are all bent out of shape ranting about men in positions of power abusing their power and acting inappropriately but not so much about the guys with guns used to gain the ultimate power over people. We should care more about shootings than we do about sex scandals. But this is America. Guns are sacred to some.


  1. japete writes: "This is the culture promoted by the gun lobby. Got a problem? Get out your gun. Feel threatened? Get out your gun. Kids fooling around in your yard?"


    I don't know any instructor, NRA member, or NRA leader who believes that the two stories you posted are in any way, shape, or form - acceptable - or a part of a culture that we promote individually or that the NRA promotes as an organization.

    1. Good grief Bryan. Are you just sitting waiting to pounce? It took you two minutes to respond once I posted this. Go do something else with yourself. The NRA promotes policies that lead to people who shouldn't have guns getting them. They resist all attempts at reasonable gun laws. They promote a culture of guns that encourages everyone to have one.

    2. It's a long dark road from being opposed to "reasonable gun laws" that we know won't work to creating a culture that makes the behaviors above acceptable.

      No one supports or condones that sort of behavior - certainly not NRA instructors, members, or the organization. Frankly, I'm not sure how you connect the two - but I'm not quite sure how you connect the behavior of a current General, a retired General, and your anti-gun agenda either.

    3. Let me provide you with a cogent example of NRA thinking. Ted Nugent, NRA Board member had a lot of ugly things to say after President Obama was elected. Tell me he doesn't represent the NRA and the gun rights extremists. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/ted-nugent-on-obama-election-twitter-rant-economic-spiritual-suicide_n_2094490.html

      From the article -" Detroit rocker and right-winger Ted Nugent was not too happy when President Barack Obama was reelected, so he took to Twitter to denounce the "pimps," "whores" and "welfare brats" who voted for America's "economic [and] spiritual suicide."

      Nugent tweeted some choice words on Wednesday after Obama earned four more years in the White House in an electoral college landslide victory over GOP candidate Mitt Romney. He bid America "Goodluk" [sic] and good riddance."

      You guys have a problem when Nugent mouths off with his inappropriate and bizarre words. Who will believe him and decide to act on his words? You should vote him off of the NRA Board if you don't believe he represents you. That would speak volumes. Otherwise you don't have much to say about what the NRA condones and supports.

    4. Bryan Strawser wrote:

      I don't know any instructor, NRA member, or NRA leader who believes that the two stories you posted are in any way, shape, or form - acceptable - or a part of a culture that we promote individually or that the NRA promotes as an organization.

      You cannot claim that Bryan, given that the NRA was behind the drafting of the shoot first laws, which have been used to shoot a LOT of unarmed people who were really not any threat at all -- including through a locked door, or leaving a situation of conflict.

      You have people like Trevor Dooley, who was screaming at a kid for skateboarding -- which was perfectly legal conduct, there was no law, or ordinance or rule being broken. Dooley told the kid he couldn't do that -- when in fact he could. When Iraq war veteran David James, at the same part with his daughter shooting hoops, took the side of the kid, pointing out that there was no prohibition against his skate boarding, Dooley got his crabby old man knickers in a twist, went home, came back with his gun and began threatening the skate boarding kid, David James, and James' daughter. When James attempted to protect the kids from the old nut job with a gun -- who could have called police, but he admitted they would not have done anything since nothing illegal took place --- he shot James.

      That is EXACTLY what the NRA made legal, deliberately. That is exactly the conduct that they intended to make legal, as the authors of the original legislation have stated -- that people can shoot other people without legal consequences.
      That is EXACTLY the NRA gun culture, no matter how you try to deny it. That is the same crap that your pro-gunners tried to promote in Minnesota, but it was rejected, and will continue to be rejected here.
      And that is exactly, as japete noted, the kind of crazy and irresponsible conduct that the NRA board members and executives continue to display.

      Apparently Keith Milligan over on pagunblog has failed to grasp the actual point made here by japete -- but I get it. There is a rational way to behave, and there are people who believe that they have power, or influence, who act as though the law doesn't apply to them the way it applies to other people. Being in positions of authority for long periods of time has throughout our history often resulted in the men in power doing things they would condemn in others, arguably out of a misplaced sense of privilege or entitlement. The give in to a temptation.
      That is what happens when someone has a gun that shouldn't have a gun, and gives in to the temptation of anger, of using a gun to harm someone or intimidate someone with whom they are angry. They lose the perspective that they would have without a gun, where they have to come to terms with others instead of doing violence out of that hostility. They have a misplaced sense of permission to act wrongly.

      It is a subtle, but absolutely valid connection. I have yet to see any arguments here that refute it.

    5. Thank you dog gone. Though I have not read what Keith has up on pagunblog I can tell by a few comments that someone is misconstruing what I wrote on this post and passing ia around in the gun blogosphere where they love to make things up and broadcast paranoia to keep people all "up in arms." . All one has to do is to read what I wrote and they will understand the point I was making which is exactly what you said. To write otherwise is dishonest. But that is what I have come to expect from the gun rights extremists. Facts don't matter.

  2. The recent events involving the three officers exhibits a serious lack of judgement and all will recieve consequences for their actions. When discovered, the military tends to step on it pretty hard and results in long term punishments.
    I've noticed what seems to be an increase in people acting out in whatever way they wish with seemingly little regard to possible outcomes. And when things do go badly, they seldom seem willing to recognise they did something stupid. Plus there often seems to be a callous disregard for anything not involving themselves.
    I dont know what can be done in the broad sense. I'm just trying my best to teach my children to think before acting.
    My gun isnt an extension of my manhood, it doesnt intimidate, petty things are indeed petty and not deserving of anger. The men you write of will be tried by a jury of their peers and likely get to spend some quality time in prison paying for their acts.

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.


  3. I've legally carried a gun for about 12 years now. If anything, I know that if I am in an altercation, there is a HEAVY burden on me to make sure that I don't do anything threatening, intimidating, dangerous or misguided, as the consequences will be MUCH harsher for me if I act rashly, whether or not I even draw my weapon.

    I have walked away from scenarios that, before, I would have at least responded verbally, possibly even physically.

    If anything, I am far more careful of my deportment since I began carrying. As a result, I have never drawn my gun a single time in anger, or even exchanged words with someone. I just walk away.

    1. You might be a rare person but glad to hear it.

    2. Of course, Moron obot, we only have your statement that this is how you conduct yourself. You don't provide any additional information.

      On the other hand, there are numerous others who have licences to carry who are not so law abiding. The problem with providing this information is that the pro-gun side prefers to use ignorance as one of its many tools. The ignorance of the general public that these laws are being passed and the actual effects of them.

      We can also add apathy on the part of the general public, but that is just an aside.

      The problem with the lack of data is that not only can't we back up our statements, but your side is also stuck with its anecdotal data. Short of some group such as VPC or the media collecting this information, it is not readily available for either side.

      What is out there tends to point to gun control being the much more factually supported side.

  4. Get a grip Mr. Dickson-Hunt. Read my blog again. You are way off base. But that's what comes of the paranoia of the gun guys.

  5. Japete,

    I read Baldr's post that you had linked on your article. One thing I noticed in describing the situation in sounthern Oregon forming a posse is that the sheriff doesnt seem too concerned. Why would that be? Perhaps the members of the posse started out by talking with the sheriff about their intent first. Though whether that was done isnt detailed in the article.
    As for The Violence Policy Center's statistic that one in five officers are killed with an assault weapon, the data is over ten years old. Going to the same site they used for their data, last year 174 officers were killed in the line of duty, 37 by gunfire, four were killed by an assault weapon. One of the four was killed while in Mexico, so I might be in error by assuming it was an assault weapon.
    Using current data is usually better.


    1. So then it must be O.K. now that we have the stats correct for that many officers to be killed by gunfire, no matter what kind of gun? Or what is your point exactly? 37 are 37 too many. The numbers have increased. That is a bad thing. What do you suggest?

  6. Japete,
    I was suggesting that the VPC's statistic was out of date and therefor inaccurate. I got my data from 2011 which was the most recent full year. And the site states that officer deaths by gunfire are down 33% this year.

    1. Law enforcement officer deaths have been climbing for years. It's nice to know they went down from 2011. Check out this article though about the increases in the recent past years. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2010/1228/Why-police-officer-deaths-rose-37-percent-in-2010

      From the article: " The FBI says violent crime is down in the United States, but don't tell the nation's police officers that. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty rose by 37 percent in 2010 from the year before, presenting a complicated picture of the danger on American streets.

      Variances in the number of police officers killed from year to year are common. In 2009, 117 were killed, a 50-year low, compared with 160 killed in 2010 – 59 of them in shootouts. But in five of the past 10 years, the number of police officer deaths topped 160, making the decade almost as dangerous for police as the street wars of the 1970s, when the average number of officers killed per year hovered around 200. And in the gangster heyday of the 1920s, about 150 died every year."

    2. Mark- I can see that you would like to have a long discussion about police officer shootings and differing stats. That was not the topic of this post. Time to move on.