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, December 12, 2012

Assault type weapons and holiday mall shootings

This post has been updated since first posted.

This is not what I was intending to write about today. But, unless you have been living under a rock, you now know about the latest horrific mall shooting in America. This latest one was at a mall in Portland, Oregon. As if to put an exclamation point on my previous post about assault weapons, the gun used by this gunman was described as a military style weapon. From the linked article:
"A masked gunman wearing camouflage opened fire Tuesday in a busy Portland mall, leaving the gunman and two others dead and forcing the mall's Santa Claus and hundreds of Christmas shoppers and employees to flee or hide among store displays.
Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy's, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest. He heard the gunman say, "I am the shooter," as if announcing himself. A series of rapid-fire shots in short succession followed as Christmas music played. Patty said he ducked to the ground and then ran.
His Macy's co-worker, Pam Moore, told The Associated Press the gunman was short, with dark hair. Witnesses said he started firing his military-style weapon just outside Macy's in the food court of Clackamas Town Center.
Brance Wilson, the mall Santa, said he heard gunshots and dove for the floor. By the time he looked up, seconds later, everyone around him had cleared out. Merchandise was scattered in some stores as he made his way to the door.
"Santa will be back," Wilson said. "It's not going to keep Santa away from the mall."
Workers and shoppers rushed out of the mall and into stores' backrooms for safety as teams of police officers came inside to find the shooter.
The gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Clackamas County sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes said. A shopper told KATU-TV he saw a man lying on the floor with a gun next to him."
"...the mall Santa, said he heard gunshots and dove for the floor." I love the classic "Christmas Story" movie- a family favorite. Just imagine those little boys, visiting the store Santa, having to dive for cover instead of being sent down the shoot after sitting on Santa's lap. And even though that Santa is a bit testy with the kids, the thought of him and the impatient children having to hide from a crazed gunman is just not the picture we have of the holiday shopping season. If this keeps up, our image of holiday shopping will be of people fleeing from gunmen with assault rifles shooting at shoppers at random. Insane. From another article about the shooting:
Clackamas Country Sheriff Craig Roberts said that the shooter didn't appear to be targeting anyone when he entered the Clackamas Town Center on Tuesday and fired as many as 60 shots.
"It looked as though it was a random shooting," Roberts told NBC's Today show Wednesday. "It's very apparent he had a mission set forth to take the lives of people in that mall."
60 shots. "Targeting anyone." "Masked gunman." Really folks. When military assault type weapons are readily available with high capacity magazines, crazed people dressed in camouflage clothing and masks can kill lots of people. This is the America in which we are living. Is this the America we want? Can't we go shopping during the Christmas season without fearing that a gunman will mow us down? This insane gun culture has to change. This is not the only of this type of shooting. Does everyone remember the mass shooting at a Nebraska mall that killed 8 people and the gunman? It, too, was during the holiday shopping season. From an article about that shooting:
A teenage gunman carried his AK-47 into a Nebraska department store, took the elevator up to the third floor and immediately opened gunfire on innocent customers and store employees, officials said Thursday.
The victims, ranging from ages 24 to 66, sought cover in dressing rooms and clothing racks at the Westroads Mall but lost their lives at the hands of a 19-year-old gunman.
The incident left eight dead and five wounded before the shooter, Robert A. Hawkins, killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot, Omaha Police Chief Thomas Warren said.
A young man stole an AK-47 from his father after he broke up with his girlfriend and lost his job. He took it to a local mall and shot innocent people. I wonder where he got the idea that he could do anything like this? Assault type weapons are killing people. All guns are killing people. It's easy to shoot a lot of people at once when someone is intent on doing so with an assault weapon. Only in America do we see shootings like this. Are we at war? This is the NRA's version of America where easy access to any kind of gun by just about anyone has led to shootings in malls, movie theaters, churches and other places where people gather to celebrate and do the things people do in their every day lives.  Surely we are better than this.

Merry Christmas everyone. Where is common sense?


The name of the Oregon mall shooter has been released:
The masked gunman who opened fire in a crowded Oregon shopping mall, killing two people and wounding a third before taking his own life, was 22 years old and used a rifle he stole from someone he knew, officials said today.
The gunman acted in a blind rampage with no known motive, authorities said. There was no known connection between the gunman and his victims.
The Tuesday afternoon shooting frenzy at the Clackamas Town Center in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley triggered pandemonium inside the mall at the height of the busy holiday season, sending thousands of shoppers streaming out of the complex as authorities arrived on the scene.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said the body count in the rampage could have been higher. Roberts told NBC's "Today" show that the as-yet-unidentified masked gunman had "a mission set forth to take the lives of people in that mall."
"A variety of things" helped reduce the loss of lives, he said, including the gunman's weapon jamming. The gunman shot and killed two people, seriously wounded a 15-year-old girl and then took his own life.
The wounded teenage girl, Kristina Shevchenko, is in serious condition, a hospital official said today.
It's always ridiculous and sad to say that more people could have been killed if only...... if but for the fact that the weapon jammed, more would have been killed. That was the intention. That was the reason to take this type of gun to the mall. The shooter seemed to want to kill as many as he could. Enough is enough.


The victims of the Oregon mall shooting have now been identified. Let's see their names and their faces and say their names. From the article:
One of the victims of the shooting spree Tuesday at the Clackamas Town Center was a father of two children and a local marketing business owner. He lived in West Linn.
Steve Forsyth, 45, founded and operated Big Feat Marketing and had a long history of working in the marketing business in the Portland area, according to a bio post on his website.
"Steven Mathew Forsyth was a loving husband, father of two children, a son, a brother, an uncle, a longtime youth sports coach and a friend to the many people who had the privilege to meet him," a family statement said.
"Steve was one of the most passionate people with a true entrepreneurial spirit," the family said. "He had a great sense of humor and zest for life. He had a vision and a belief in others that brought great joy and value to many lives. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him." (...) 
The woman killed in the shooting was identified as 54-year-old Cindy Ann Yuille. 
In a statement, Yuille's family said "Cindy was everybody's friend. She was a wonderful person who was very caring and put others first."
Cindy was a hospice care nurse for Kaiser Permanente in Portland.
Co-workers contacted by KATU News on Wednesday were devastated by the news of her death.
She lived in Northeast Portland.
Kristina Shevchenko, 15
A teenage girl who was shot and injured is recovering at Oregon Health and Science University.
A hospital spokeswoman said Kristina Shevchenko, 15, is in “serious” condition at the hospital. Shevchenko’s family said they did not want to hospital to release any more details.
Their names again- Steve. Cindy. Kristina. You can see photos of Steve and Cindy. They were killed. They were friends, loving family members, parents, professionals. They were killed. Kristina is fighting for her life. She is a 15 year old girl who was just out shopping at a mall. Steve and Cindy were at a mall shopping. No one should be shot while out shopping at a mall during the holiday season or any other season, for that matter. I am saddened and despair over the daily shootings of innocent people just out doing what people do during a day. Enough is enough.


Thank goodness that the military style gun used by the Oregon mall shooter jammed. Otherwise many more would have died. That is what the shooter had in mind and that is why he brought the assault weapon to the mall. From the linked article:
A man who killed two and injured one on Tuesday in a Portland, Ore., mall packed with holiday shoppers might have taken many more lives, authorities said, had his military-style assault rifle not jammed in the midst of his shooting spree.
Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, was armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which he stole from an acquaintance, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts (no relation) said at a press conference Wednesday.
The sheriff said the gun jammed as Roberts sprayed bullets into the Clackamas Town Center's food court, allowing potential victims to escape. Police estimated 10,000 shoppers were in the mall at the time of the shooting.
Roberts wore a hockey mask and a military-style vest holding multiple ammunition clips, the sheriff said.
"I think we all need to be very thankful that this incident wasn't much worse," he said. "Based on the evidence we obtained, it appeared that the suspect's rifle did jam while he was attacking individuals in the food court."
Roberts was able to get the gun working again, the sheriff said, and fatally shot himself after fleeing to another area of the mall.
The AR-15 is the same type of semi-automatic assault rifle used in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater rampage this summer by James Holmes, a mentally unbalanced graduate student, accused of killing 17 and injuring more than 70.
A federal ban on manufacturing and importing the AR-15 and similar military-style rifles was passed in 1994 by the Clinton administration, but was allowed to expire in 2004. The law restricted the sale of bullet clips holding more than 10 rounds.
Gun control advocates said it was unsurprising that Roberts used theAR-15 during his spree. The semi-automatic rifle is modeled on the automatic M-16, until recently the primary U.S. infantry weapon. It features a pistol grip and fires a large, fast and especially deadly round.
"It was designed for war," said Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "It's not a coincidence that people on shooting sprees don't go into malls carrying a long, cumbersome hunting rifle."
The 1994 assault weapon ban greatly reduced the availability of guns like the AR-15, but since the law expired, the market has boomed, Horowitz said.
"They're pouring off the assembly line," he said.
A spokesman for the National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment.
During this year's campaign, President Barack Obama spoke little about gun control, but did say he believed the assault weapons ban needed to be re-introduced. While governor of Massachusetts, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney signed a bill banning assault weapons, but during his presidential campaign, Romney said no additional federal gun-control legislation was necessary.
Gun rights groups have fought tenaciously against attempts to reintroduce the assault weapons ban, saying the guns vary little from ordinary hunting rifles.
A number of recent polls suggest a majority of Americans support limited gun control legislation, such as an assault weapons ban, or a prohibition on high-capacity magazines, such as those used in the Aurora theater shooting.
"It's time to put the genie back in the bottle," Horowitz said. "The country is ready for this."


  1. I grant you AR-15s are generally easier to shoot accurately and faster than an old deer rifle or shotgun. By the same token, I've seen extremely talented cowboy action shooters who can work a lever gun from 1894 as fast as a modern combat veteran with an AR-15.

    The assassination attempts on Bobby Kennedy (successful) and later Reagan were done with .22 caliber revolvers. Both of those high profile victims had some of most highly trained security detail guarding them too. (I've often wondered why the Brady campaign didn't target the specific weapon style that was the catalyst for their organization, but I digress)

    Suppose we re-wind gun technology to 1939, and civilians are left with revolvers, shotguns and hunting rifles.

    1) there would still be the same number of "crazy" people willing to harm others
    2) you may have a reduced body count, but some quantity of innocent people will still be killed

    If you want to end all gun violence, you need to ban all guns.

    Otherwise, by focusing only on certain weapon styles it will continue to be taken as a personal attack by the gun culture.

    1. Nonsense. An AR 15 is more dangerous to more people than something you have to stop and reload after firing a few rounds. There is also a significant difference in the lethality of calibre, despite a 22 being capable of killing in some instances.

      You are trying to make a false equivalency argument. You can make a huge improvement with at least banning the worst offending weapons. It is easier, more reasonable, and more feasible than trying to ban all guns.

      You make an invalid argument.

  2. I suppose we should be surprised it wasn't a WalMart but a mall that got shot up.

    Apparently at some point, the semi-automatic assault style weapon jammed. These weapons are used in so many many mass shootings by crazy people, and have such limited use other than for killing large numbers of people that we should return to the assault style weapons ban again, along with expanded magazines, either of the 'banana' variety or the drum variety.

    More to the point, this underlines the massive, epic fail of our gun culture. The court decision that was rendered on the Illinois concealed carry ban is trying to extend Heller to a right to bear arms outside the home; that is not consistent with SCOTUS ruling - a bad ruling at that, since it ignores the clear and dominant clause of the 2nd Amendment relating to government approved 'well regulated' militias that have been replaced by our modern state entity, the national guard.

    Enough is enough; the NFL has a PROBLEM with guns, we all have a problem with crazy people waaaaaaaaaaay too easily obtaining guns, and there is a clear problem with guns used in murder / suicides, which this appears to be.

    This qualifies as another mass shooting - 3 people dead, more injured.

    ENOUGH. T'is the season for the reassertion of sweet reason, and fewer guns, and more stringent regulations of who has them and who can get them.

    1. Are you saying it's perfectly O,K. for people to own and use assault type weapons designed to kill as many people as possible? Did you read my post? Of course all guns kill people. That is a terrible tragedy. But when someone gets off 60 rounds in a crowded mall, the chances of killing many go way up. It seems ridiculous to be even having this discussion. Your arguments are just not working with the public. People understand that crazed and angry gunmen with assault type weapons are killing too many people in our country. Your arguments are not going to keep working as long as these shootings continue.

    2. Dog Gone writes: "a bad ruling at that, since it ignores the clear and dominant clause of the 2nd Amendment relating to government approved 'well regulated' militias that have been replaced by our modern state entity, the national guard."

      This is clearly not what the court has held in Heller & McDonald - which clearly found an individual right to own firearms for self-defense. And that precedent will carry forward from here in future court decisions.

    3. japete writes: "Are you saying it's perfectly O,K. for people to own and use assault type weapons designed to kill as many people as possible? "

      I've still never seen you define what an "Assault Type" weapon is - but the short answer to your question is that owning most firearms is perfectly legal, including AR-15 type firearms. And I'd argue strongly that these should remain legal.

      The 1994 assault weapons ban on manufacturing would have done nothing to prevent this - and a future assault weapons ban on manufacturing wouldn't either. The DOJ's own data on the 1994 law makes that pretty clear.

      "People understand that crazed and angry gunmen with assault type weapons are killing too many people in our country."

      How many crimes were these weapons used in compared to other weapons?

      "Your arguments are just not working with the public. "

      But they are - we continue to see gun rights expand around the country, the courts ruling in our favor, and voters even supporting new constitutional amendments such as we saw in Louisiana... and not all of this is being driven by the NRA either.

    4. Of course you don't know that, Bryan.

    5. Really Bryan? Are court cases going in your favor? Some. Many are not. http://smartgunlaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/web-victories-in-the-courts.pdf

      We all know the gun lobby includes other gun rights organizations and far right groups who want to over turn all gun laws.

    6. "Gun rights" like the Michigan Right to Work law tend to by pass the popular opinion. CCW laws in MIssouri and Illinois were not popular, yet they were rammed through the legislatures. Use my argument with Matty for how the "gun rights" movement has by passed popular opinion and messed up with the judiciary. Another case--The Heller decision.

      DC's gun laws were popular, but people outside the district disliked them. They did everything they could to overturn them, eventually the Cato Institute cynically used the same method used by civil rights and environmental groups by plaintiff shopping.

      We can get into things such as disregarding legal precedent, judicial lawmaking, among other things.

      QUestion, Bryan, what are congress's powers under Article I, Section 8, clause 16 of the Constitution? That is highly germane to "Second Amendment jurisprudence".

      In fact, Bryan, tell me--where in the Constitution does the power of judicial review come from?

      I wouldn't use New Orleans or Louisiana as a good thing:

    7. Actually, let's get hypothetical and pretend that there really was a right to keep and bear arms outside the militia context (despite the revisionism of five justices).

      Does it make sense that a right so detrimental to public safety would exist? After all, aren't rights supposed to be for the public benefit, rather than detriment?

      If you are arguing that the right to keep and bear arms is tied to the doctrine of self-defense--remember that at the time of the US's founding--one needed to have pretty much exhausted every other option before one could use deadly force ("back to the wall"). Even then, the force used would have had to have been reasonable to stop the threat. Reasonableness being judged by the tribunal, not the defendant.

      So, deadly force was not a first option, but a last resort.

      To be quite honest, Bryan, if you can provide me with an authenticated quote from that period which doesn't turn out to be about the militia v. standing army issue in regard to the Second Amendment--then I will accept your opinion.

      But, you can't.

      As for the Illinois CCW decision--you might want to read this article by the judge who wrote it:

      I'd say something more subtle is going on there than you understand, Bryan

    8. "Laci" writes: "QUestion, Bryan, what are congress's powers under Article I, Section 8, clause 16 of the Constitution? That is highly germane to "Second Amendment jurisprudence".

      In fact, Bryan, tell me--where in the Constitution does the power of judicial review come from?"

      Nothing in Heller or McDonald references Congress's power to regulate the militia being a principal component of the decision. Not sure what you're trying to get at here - the whole concept of militia regulation being the legal underpinnings for gun control legislation went away a long time ago.

      Judicial revised as established in Marbury v. Madison (1803), but you already knew that. I'd consider that quite well settled doctrine at this point.

    9. Strawser writes "This is clearly not what the court has held in Heller & McDonald - which clearly found an individual right to own firearms for self-defense. And that precedent will carry forward from here in future court decisions."

      And the court ignored, going forward 70 years give or take that says otherwise about Supreme Court decisions, so there is no guarantee that the court will not in future act differently, being consistent with the larger body of precedence. As we know from Dredd Scott, SCOTUS can render bad decisions that are later undone. Heller is in line to be one of those for ignoring that precedent that you are relying on going forward.

      Heller threw out precedent, so don't be too sure that precedent will carry this forward. Sandidge v U.S. was the precedent that the 2nd Amendment is about the militias. So we could revert to that and ignore Heller in future.

    10. I see that you aren't going to tell me what Congress' power over the milita were since they blow holes in your argument--Right, Bryan?

      Here they are:

      "To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;"

      Are you saying that something in the constitution is without meaning? Don't you believe in the Constitution?

      Really, Judicial Review was established by Marbury v. Madison and something which had a settled interpretation for 200 years couldn't be discontinued?

      Marbury also says that no clause in the Constitution is without meaning, yet Heller-McDonald say that the first clause is preferatory and without meaning.

      Can't have it both ways--Judicial review and saying that parts of the constitution are meaningless--or can you?

      Anyway, the Court on Miller did address the issue of preferatory and operative, except they used the terms "declaration" and "guarantee".

      "With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."

      Oh, and that cryptic Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys (Tenn.) 154, 158 gives you:

      "To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, "bear arms," is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, "that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law." Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive."

      Miller is definitely not a helpful precedent if you want to find a right to keep and bear arms outside the militia. And it made clear the Second Amendment relates to Congress's power to arm the milita, not private arms.

      Gotcha Bryan! Judges don't have the power to amend the Constitution--only the legislative branch can do that. Unless, you don't really care about the Constitution.

      And, Heller-McDonald said that precedent is worthless--you can ignore it if you choose.

      Heller and McDonald rewrote the Constitution by neglecting precedent--so, don't tell me that Marbury is still valid.

      And if we can ignore precedent, why do we have to follow judicial review when it invalidates properly created legislation--That's a really wonderful concept for you lot on the right because you can ram through laws the way they just did in Michigan.

      That what you want, Bryan? Is that a good thing to thwart democracy?

      And don't pull the usual, out of context half quotations about the Second Amendment from the founding fathers, because they only prove my interpretation is correct when read in their entirety.

      So, keep on babbling, Bryan, you only prove that you lot believe what you are told without any serious inquiry. And you are seriously losing this argument.

    11. "Heller threw out precedent, so don't be too sure that precedent will carry this forward. Sandidge v U.S. was the precedent that the 2nd Amendment is about the militias. So we could revert to that and ignore Heller in future."

      Again, if you're correct, then lobby for the repeal of the 2nd amendment, and we can all stop arguing.

      Anything less is a cultural attack on gun enthusiasts. If you have the moral high ground, act on it.

    12. Sean, the Second Amendment doesn't need to be repealed--only understood. It has never meant private arms, which you might understand had you actually understood what I posted.

      But, are you proud to see the exercise of gun rights in Connecticut?

      Isn't this what you advocate, Sean.

      I hope that your heart bursts with pride for all the people who are killed or injured from firearms in the US since that is the cost of the "right" which you claim.

    13. Laci,

      I think you're a bit out of line on your last comment. I cant imagine anyone here being happy or approving over mass murder.

    14. Wouldn't be so sure of that one.

  3. "Are you saying it's perfectly O,K. for people to own and use assault type weapons designed to kill as many people as possible?"

    If a person is legally permitted to own any firearm - then yes it's perfectly OK for them to own one that scares Diane Feinstein.

    "But when someone gets off 60 rounds in a crowded mall, the chances of killing many go way up."

    True. So what odds are acceptable for you? Personally I wouldn't feel any better about this tragedy if the "Jason" lookalike killed one person with a antique musket.

    " Your arguments are just not working with the public. "

    I'm not talking to the public, I'm talking to you and the readers of this blog.

    Also, the "public", for reasons not fully understood yet, purchased a record number of guns this past Black Friday. I cannot know for sure if these were existing gun nuts adding to their collection, or if new people joined the gun culture.

  4. "Assault rifle"--the Original was called the SturmGewehr44 (which means assault rifle 44). The StG44 combined the characteristics of a carbine, submachine gun, and automatic rifle. SMG's fire pistol calibre rounds, whereas the StG44 used a shorter cartridge than the standard German rifle (33mm for the StG v 57mm).

    The shorter version of the standard rifle round combined with the weapon's selective-fire design, provided a compromise between the controllable firepower of a submachine gun (which use pistol rounds) at close quarters with the accuracy and power of a Standard German army bolt action rifle at intermediate ranges. That meant the StG44 had less range and power than the more powerful infantry rifles of the day, but German Army studies had shown that most combat engagements occurred at less than 300 m, with the majority within 200 m. Full-power rifle cartridges were excessive for the vast majority of uses for the average soldier.

    In other words, an AW will spray bullets in closer quarters combat.

    I will add that the semi-automatic are probably more deadly since they lack the muzzle climb found in fully-automatic weapons.

    So, using the StG44, which is the archetypal "assault rifle" these things are meant for killing people in combat, not sporting purposes.

  5. Dear "CargoSquid"- no more of your comments will be accepted on this blog.