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

Reckless and careless gun owners

Is it just me? Is there an increase in the number of incidents of law abiding gun owners acting carelessly with their guns? Or is is that the media and public are finally sitting up and taking notice of the daily carnage in our communities? After so many shootings, finally the level of consciousness is being raised. Once the public gets fed up with hearing about these daily incidents, something might just change in our country. When the extreme gun culture that has been flying under the radar for too long is exposed, it is not a pretty picture. When too many people have too many guns in too many places, shootings are likely to happen. And too many gun owners have been careless, dangerous, stupid and downright unlucky with their guns. The problem is, when you are careless with a gun or unlucky, someone is likely to get hurt or killed and their luck runs out. It's different than being careless with a hammer or a curling iron or something of the sort. So let's just get to it. This first incident would not be the first time I have written about a brand new gun owner discharging his/her new weapon accidentally. An Oregon man purchased a gun, walked into the parking lot and shot himself in the hand:
A Bend man who bought a handgun at Fred Meyer Tuesday morning went back inside just minutes later -- not to return it or ask a question, but to seek medical help, having shot himself in the hand while loading it, police said.
Officers say the man, in his late 20s, went back into the store just before noon and told employees he'd just shot himself.
They said he had just bought the .22 Magnum Derringer and was in his pickup, loading it when it went off. The round went through his left hand and into the truck's door, officers said.
Police said no one was around the truck when it happened, and it's unlikely any charges will be filed. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out, but officers said the injury did not appear to be serious.
This raises the obvious concern about people who know next to nothing about guns buying them and going on their merry way with no training or qualifications other than not being a felon, domestic abuser, adjudicated mentally ill or a drug addict. Anyone else- step right up and buy your guns. What if the bullet had ended up somewhere else, say, in the body of an innocent person who happened by as the gun discharged? Guns are dangerous. They should be treated as such. People who buy them should be trained in how to use them. Perhaps some sort of test of ability to operate a dangerous weapon should be added to the purchase of the gun. Basic competency, both of the person purchasing, and how to shoot a dangerous weapon, should be requirements. But they aren't of course. The gun lobby wants anyone to have any kind of gun they want. The gun industry wants to sell guns to as many people as they can. Consequences and accountability aren't part of the plan when making money is the bottom line. I digress. Let's get to the second incident of this post:

A Pennsylvania father shot his 7 year old son while in the parking lot of a gun store, thinking the chamber was empty:
A seven-year-old boy was shot to death when his father’s handgun went off in the parking lot of a western Pennsylvania gun store. The boy, Craig Loughrey, was settling into his safety seat in the back of his father’s car when the gun accidentally went off and pierced his chest, reports the Associated Press. The boy died at the scene. Joseph Loughrey, 44, had gone to the gun store to sell a rifle and his 9mm handgun but the owner wasn’t interested, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Although he had unloaded the gun at home, Loughrey failed to realize there was still a bullet in the chamber.
Police are describing the case as an accident and say it’s unlikely there will be charges, although that’s up to the district attorney. “It’s obviously negligent and reckless to some degree,” a law enforcement official said. “It’s obviously in that gray area, where it’s a true accident. But is there negligence or recklessness with him not clearing the chamber?”
I would say that last question is the question of the day. Is there negligence or recklessness here? You decide. Whenever someone is shot accidentally in this manner, there is recklessness, carelessness, stupidity and danger involved. And a little boy is dead as a result. Tragic, senseless and avoidable.

And the last one, just for this post of course because there will be many many more, is the sad story of a Minnesota man who accidentally shot his granddaughter when he thought she was someone trying to break in to his house:
A 61-year-old Rochester man shot his granddaughter at the patio door of his home late Monday night, telling police he had armed himself with a pistol to investigate a suspected intruder, police said.
Authorities are still investigating the incident involving the 16-year-old girl, who lives at the house with her grandparents. Shot in the upper torso, she was taken to the hospital in critical condition but was expected to survive, Police Capt. Brian Winters said.
When the couple went to bed Monday night, the girl was at home, Winters said. When they woke to a noise outside around 11 p.m., the man got a 9 mm pistol and went to investigate while the grandmother called police.
The man saw a figure at the patio door and fired two rounds, striking his granddaughter once, Winters said. He declined to give the family's name.
Having a gun around in the home makes it much more likely that it will be used against you or someone you love. I call this dangerous and stupid. Do some gun owners just shoot first and ask questions later in their paranoia and fear? I added this incident to my recent post about Minnesota gun owners going "looney". I wanted to highlight it again as another example of reckless, careless, and stupid behavior by law abiding gun owners. The gun culture that promotes that everybody have guns for self protection seems to be responsible for too many senseless shootings. For when the NRA and its' minions have so many people convinced that they must have a gun at all times, it leads to far too many accidental shootings, intentional homicides and gun suicides. You can read more about careless behavior with guns leading to accidental and purposeful shootings at the Kid Shootings and Ohh Shoot blogs. When 32 Americans a day are murdered by guns, we have a problem. When 80 Americans a day are killed by bullets due to gun homicides, suicides and accidents, we have a problem. What are we going to do about the gun violence?

Our elected leaders should be asked to answer this question and should be ready and willing to address this national public health and safety problem. Instead, some of them throw up the second amendment as a barrier to any discussion as happened last night when CNN's Piers Morgan asked three Senators about the need for gun control. This morning, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign commented on the latest mass shooting in Oregon and on holding elected leaders accountable for their own statements about guns:

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So, Senator Graham told Piers Morgan last night that he has 8 guns and uses them for hunting. He doesn't want any gun control laws because it would infringe on his second amendment rights and his ability to use his guns, he said in the clip above (taken from his appearance on CNN's Piers Morgan show). What about Graham's love of guns should stop the country from having a serious debate about our gun culture and our gun laws? That is just an excuse to not have the discussion. For if we do, we will have to talk about the daily carnage in our communities. We will have to admit that there are too many senseless shootings and way too many victims. That is uncomfortable to talk about. Further, we will have to discuss the fact that the NRA has had a strangle hold on our nation's politicians for far too long and that might change if we dare to have the conversation we must have. It should also be embarrassing for those politicians who have fallen under the spell of the NRA and have failed to act. If the NRA loses its' power, something will change in our country for the better. Common sense might break out. We might just prevent senseless shootings. What we won't do is take away any one's second amendment rights or their guns. That excuse is pale, false, flimsy and disingenuous. It's also dangerous and stupid.

It's past time to act. The NRA would love to have a national black out about guns and gun violence after heinous shootings like the Oregon shopping mall shooting. That would make it permanent which is exactly what the NRA wants. If we wait until 24 yours after a mass shooting or high profile shooting to talk about what we should do about gun violence, we will have to wait until the cows come home. It's shameful and inexcusable that we are not having a national discussion about senseless gun deaths. We are better than this as a country.


  1. Howdy Japete,

    I did some checking and discovered that things are improving a bit. As of last year, the daily number of gun homicides is down to 24. Which would also suggest that you other statistic would also be down to at least 72, and possibly more.
    These improvement shown in these new statistics doesn't mean that we don't need to work at finding ways to further reduce the numbers of gun deaths.


  2. Since baseball bats are statistically more likely to be involved in violent crime (according to FBI statistics), I suggest a more reasonable approach: change this blog to one decrying the outrage that is getting bludgeoned to death via a Mizuno or Easton!

    1. ...he says, tongue in cheek. Or else, stupidly- not sure which.


      Gun deaths surpass all other weapons in killing people. I am, as you know, talking about gun deaths and injuries here. Not all crimes result in death and injury. But you knew that, right?

    2. You would be wrong again; you didn't check the correct stats. Non-fatal shootings are up sharply, and the only reason they are non-fatal has to do with medical intervention, not any improvement on the side of the gun owners.

      We still have far more gun violence than other similarly developed countries. Our gun culture is a massive failure; we are not more free because of guns, we only have more people killed and injured than anyone else.

      The guns and the gun culture need to go away. NOW.

  3. You neglect the amount of non-fatal shootings. Fortunately, medical knowledge has gotten much better making the survival rate higher. If this weren't the case, the death rate from firearms in the US would be staggering.

    We can also add in that the amount of non-fatal shootings are only those which are reported into the system. I think it's a safe guess that there are probably more ADs out there than are reported.

    This is a bit old, but makes my point:

    The problem, Mark, is that this information is hard to come by, but we can guess that firearms cost the American public quite a bit of money in terms of medical treatment, lost work hours, law enforment and other services, legal costs, prisons, and so on.

    You really think that's so good? Do you mind paying the taxes to cover the cost to society?

    Usagi, if baseball bats are so lethal--why don't you carry one of those? We all know the answer is that you are using yet another gunloon BS argument.

    1. When 32 Americans a day are murdered by guns, we have a problem. When 80 Americans a day are killed by bullets due to gun homicides, suicides and accidents, we have a problem.


      My comment was addressing the portion on the above comment dealing with homicides. Nonfatal shootings aren't part of that number.
      I did look at the CDC site yesterday to try to find current data for accidents and suicides, but their data conflicts with the FBI's numbers regarding homicides, so I need to try to discover why. You are correct that data is hard to come by. I haven't had a chance to look at Usagi's claim about sports equipment.

    2. Mark, several reasons why there isn't any good data on non-fatal firearms injury--the first one is that there is a law which prevents any agency that receives federal funds from producing any studies that could be used to promote gun control.

      Nice and vague isn't that? But, it's good since the amount of accurate data isn't out there. That means guesstimates. And I would also wager that the figures are pretty outrageous if they could be obtained. That means any data out there is probably very harmful to the "pro-gun" side, but anyone who sift through the "pro-gun" BS finds it precisely that--spurious argument that don't withstand serious scrutiny.

      Thus, getting any data which might prove useful to the debate is very hard to come by, unless you want to manually sort through news and crime reports. That's how most data is found.

      The blunt instrument category is what there is since the crime stats don't specifically list "baseball bats". Of course, there are ways to play games with the stats as I saw one person divided them up into homicide and accidental death.

      Dead is dead and if it's by a gun.

      Anyway, it also been proven that the amount of DGUs out there is hardly the ultra-inflated 2.5 million. In fact, there are far more mass shootings than DGUs. And where there is an armed citizen at a mass shooting, they usually tend to not do anything.

      I'm just waiting for the multiplier of someone starting to shoot in one of the incidents.

      Also, anyone dumb enough to pull a gun in one of these situations seriously risk getting shot when the LEOs show. I'd also say that they risk being assumed to be one of the perps if found with a gun.

      Anyone with any experience of one of these situations from the LE standpoint knows that LE is going to assume that anyone is a threat until proven otherwise. Thus its best to come out with your hands up and no weapon on you.

      You can see a recent example of this in the Clackamass shooting video where people were told to have their hands out. I would also suggest boning up on the active shooter protocol.

      But, that isn't gun loon wisdom--having a gun and trying to shoot it out is the best course of action.


    3. "You neglect the amount of non-fatal shootings."

      Those are called aggravate assault and also tracked by the FBI. Aggravated assaults with a firearm in 2004 was 164,997 and in 2011 the figure had dropped to 138,336. These numbers could potentially include the totals for gun homicides. But it seems to indicate a drop of 16%. The trend is not a smooth one during that period.
      Do you have a source for your contention that there are more mass shootings than defensive gun uses? I'd also be very interested in reading of your examples of armed citizens not doing anything during mass shootings.

      "Also, anyone dumb enough to pull a gun in one of these situations seriously risk getting shot when the LEOs show."
      That would likely fall under a choice between who you trust more to make a good decision as to when to use deadly force. The mass shooter? Or the police?
      Part of the training I received for my permit training was what to do afterwards. Including having empty hands if possible, and doing whatever the excited policemen say.

    4. Apologies,

      I think I forgot to include a link to my data source for aggravated assaults. If I did remember it, please disregard, but here it is.


    5. ssgmarkcr, the reason the numbers between FBI and CDC are different, related to homicides and firearms, is because the CDC doesn't categorize legal intervention by a civilian as ICD-10 Y35.xx (legal intervention). All homicides, by non-law enforcement, even if justified, is listed as ICD-10 X93, 94, or 95, which are all fatal assaults where a firearm is used.

      Also, the CDC includes ICD-10 X95.0x (paintball, bb/pellet, and spring operated devices)fatalities under firearm related fatalities.

      Regarding the increase in non-fatal gunshot wounds. It's puzzling that there would be increase in the number of gun shot wounds, but not an increase in Aggravated Assaults reported to the Uniform Crime Report unless, it's good guys shooting bad guys and no charges were filed.

    6. I find this link and accompanying chart to be confusing and not particularly helpful to what I am talking about on this blog. The definition of aggravated assault- " A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he or she attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or causes such injury purposely, knowingly, or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; or attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. In all jurisdictions statutes punish such aggravated assaults as assault with intent to murder (or rob or kill or rape) and assault with a dangerous (or deadly) weapon more severely than "simple" assaults."

      So an aggravated assault may or may not result in an injury. I don't believe these numbers can be used to prove anything. I trust the police, by the way.

      According to this source, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map- there have been at least 61 mass shootings since 1982. As far as I know there have not been reports of an armed citizen doing anything to change a mass shooting. In fact there was a shooting at a Nevada IHOP restaurant where an armed person said specifically that he couldn't have done anything and didn't do anything to change the outcome. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2011/0907/IHOP-shooting-Four-dead-including-3-Guard-members . From the article- " The gunfire prompted Ralph Swagler, the owner of a nearby barbecue restaurant, to grab his weapon. But when Sencion started toward him, Swagler backed away.

      "I wish I had shot at him when he was going in the IHOP," said Swagler, who owns Locals BBQ & Grill. "But when he came at me, when somebody is pointing an automatic weapon at you — you can't believe the firepower, the kind of rounds coming out of that weapon." You must remember the permit holder who decided not to shoot at the scene of the Tucson mass shooting.

    7. And Bill, I believe that is because aggravated assaults do not necessarily result in injuries. It includes intent to injure.

    8. Japete,

      The issue of mass shootings is another difficult area to quantify because like the definition of assault weapons, there isnt a uniform standard. The article and statistic seems to confirm another opinion I read,

      "On average, there are about 20 mass murders every year, and the trend has been steady since the 1970s, said James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston and author of five books on mass murder."


      Yet in another article in the same website, they speak of larger numbers and increasing frequency. The author though defines a mass shooting as two or more victims. Though the FBI tends to define mass shootings as four or more victims.

      This wandering definition issue can make it appear that the authors of the articles are trying to inject bias in one direction or the other, even though their only might be what they used as a source for the article.
      I give kudos to Mr Swagler for at least making an attempt. I cant really fault him for his decision. As for the permit holder in the shooting in Tuscon, you and I have discussed that situation before. By the time he arrived on the scene, he saw that the shooter had been disarmed and made a good decision by not shooting.

    9. Are you suddenly an expert on all things concerning guns? You don't have to comment on every comment or every word said on this blog. Take a rest, Mark. A mass shooting is a mass shooting. I think the public recognizes that when more than 2 folks are killed at one time by one person, we have a mass shooting. We have lots of them in our country. No bias there- it's a fact. Stop quibbling over things like this. People are dying every day in single shootings, mass shootings, suicides, accidental shootings. Too many people are being shot to death.

    10. japete wrote..."And Bill, I believe that is because aggravated assaults do not necessarily result in injuries. It includes intent to injure.

      I'm not exactly sure what you're saying. If you're suggesting that people have moved from using baseball bats and knives to firearms, and that instead of AA going up, there's just shift from one weapon to another, you'd be incorrect. Firearms have been used in about 26% of all violent crimes for at least the past 11 years.

    11. I didn't say that Bill. That was another commenter on this blog. Your information is not correct. I don't know where you got it. Check this- http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/gun-violence/welcome.htm

      " In 2006, firearms were used in 68 percent of murders, 42 percent of robbery offenses and 22 percent of aggravated assaults nationwide. "

      That's 22% of aggravated assaults, not all of which end in injury. Clearly firearms account for most of our murders and a good percentage of robbery offenses, not to mention the source for many more non-fatal injuries.

  4. As I recall, the NRA spent around $17 million on the 2012 election but basically got nothing in return. Studies, including Brady's recent statement, have indicated the NRA's ineffectiveness in electing Congress or a President. But where is the public uproar, probably the only way anything positive on gun control will happen?

  5. Poll after poll shows that there is popular support for change, including among NRA members, like having every gun sale require a background check.

    The NRA spreads a lot of money around, not all of it in legal lobbying (as in ALEC) putting it in the pocket of the right wing, just enough people to block change for the better.

    I think in future election cycles you can expect that to begin to change after the results of 2012.

  6. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-154307/Gun-crime-soars-35.html

    1. This is from 2003 Robin and from the Daily Mail- not a credible source of information.

  7. watching the CNN coverage of the elementary school shooting in CT, this is so horrendous, such an obvious and undeniable failure of the gun culture in this country, that it may finally be the tipping point that restores law and sanity.

    If this doesn't result in greater efforts to regulate and restrict guns so as to keep them out of the hands of dangerous people, I don't know what can.

    The answer is not guns in schools the answer is to take guns out of the hands of too many people who are dangerous with them. There is no merit in the argument that guns are just tools. Without THIS particular kind of tool, these events would not be happening.

    Time to follow the civilized world, and majorly reduce the guns and the gun violence in this country. A civil and civilized society is one where people are polite not because of guns, but in the absence of the threat of guns and of violence.

    We ARE better than this. Time to throw out the bull-oney arguments that the right and the gun nuts have promulgated for too long, and to restore reason and more stringent regulation.

    Anyone who promotes the notion that all of these guns is a good thing is part of the problem, and needs to be treated as such by those looking for a solution.

    1. How then would you characterize the actions of Joel Myrick in Pearl, Mississippi in 1997 and their outcome? Or the similar actions of Kenneth Hammond in at Trolley Square, in Salt Lake City in 2007? Can you honestly state that you believe that these men's actions did not prevent further carnage? Do you really believe that Officer Hammond's LEO training makes him that much more qualified than Myrick? How then do you explain Lee Paige?

    2. How do you explain Lee Paige who famously shot himself in a video while demonstrating his competence with a gun? http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/01/17/agent-loses-appeal-over-accidental-shooting-video/

      How do you explain Kenneth Hammond? http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705273825/Trolley-Square-hero-cop-faces-criminal-charge.html?pg=all

      He faced criminal charges- " A decorated hero for stopping the killing spree at Trolley Square, Ogden Police Officer Ken Hammond now finds himself facing a criminal charge.

      Weber County prosecutors charged Hammond late Monday afternoon with a single count of third-degree felony unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old, accusing him of engaging in a sexual act with someone at least 10 years younger than he is."

      Sounds like a fine upstanding law abiding citizen to me.And law abiding as well.

      Guns are not the answer and would not have helped. How do you explain that the shooter in the Connecticut school shooting took his mother's guns and killed her with her own gun? A lot of good her guns did her.

    3. Sigh. Read for comprehension. You get my point exactly about Lee Paige. And yet, you and your organization repeatedly push the idea that the military and police are somehow more competent than the citizenry and are the only ones with a legitimate reason to possess firearms. Regardless of any charges officer Hammond may be facing, one armed man helped to prevent the further shedding of innocent blood. As for Hammond being "a fine upstanding citizen", your organization, not law abiding gun owners, is the one that places the police on a pedestal, acting as if they were more law abiding and more competent than the average citizen.

    4. Good grief, Ken. Go look at someone else's blog. We have nothing to discuss.