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.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Appreciate children, not guns

Today is "gun appreciation day". Everyone, go out and buy more guns. After all, more guns lead to more safety and fewer shootings, right? Isn't that the American way? The day is co-sponsored by a less than stellar group. In fact, one could say the group sponsoring this cynical appreciation day is suspect. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that American Third Position, partly responsible for this show, is a white nationalist hate group. From the article:
In its mission statement, A3P writes that it "believes that government policy in the United States discriminates against white Americans, the majority population, and that white Americans need their own political party to fight this discrimination."
It goes on, saying that the group aims to "stop the immigrant invasion" in order to put "America first!"
A3P has been listed as a white nationalist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In an email to The Huffington Post last year, A3P's chairman candidly admitted to his white nationalism, saying that he found it a "just and proper position for all white people to hold." 
Nice. On the week-end before Martin Luther King celebrations and the Inauguration of President Obama for his second term, people, most especially white people, are encouraged to buy guns. More from the article about this:
Gun Appreciation Day has raised some eyebrows for reasons apart from its questionable ties. The event's founder, Larry Ward has rejected claims that he's an extremist, but earlier this week he sparked outrage when he suggested that slavery could have been prevented in the United States if African Americans were allowed to carry guns.
"I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history," Ward said.
Can you just make things like this up? I watched the interview with Larry Ward in which he made these cynical and false claims. But when it comes to guns, facts don't matter. These are not your average Americans, dear readers. According to this article in Media Matters:
According to its mission statement, "The American Third Position Party believes that government policy in the United States discriminates against white Americans, the majority population, and that white Americans need their own political party to fight this discrimination." The group also states that it "exists to represent the unique political interests of white Americans. It exists to maintain the identity, culture, and way of life of the American people, whose forefathers, from a vast wilderness, carved out an awe-inspiring extension of Western civilization, in order that their progeny--us--might live in relative peace and prosperity."
One could say that this group already has its' own party- the Tea Party Republicans-who have become more and more extreme in recent years and represent the interests of mostly white men, many of them with guns and their belief in "second amendment remedies", more rightly called anarchy. These folks are hateful and have been making incendiary and dangerous remarks since President Obama was first elected in 2008. Plus, they have guns. Their willingness to go to extreme lengths to hang on to their version of the second amendment is now exposed for all to see. Oh, except that once the group was called out for their association with a white supremacist group, they tried to back off. From the linked article above:
Gun Appreciation Day also wrote on its Facebook page: "Guys, the screening process of our sponsors was apparently not deep enough - We have corrected the problem, but you should know the left wing media called us out on it as they should have. We know better and I apologize for not catching this...but we are forging ahead - This is about Gun Liberty for all."
Had the "left wing media" not called them out, would they have proceeded with the group's more than welcomed sponsorship from a white supremacist group? You know the answer.

Meanwhile, let's remember that a little more than a month ago, 20 young children were massacred by someone who should not have had a gun but was able to get one easily. About 8 children a day die in American from gun injuries. If that was the case for any other disease or accident that took the lives of so many of our children, we would be "up in arms". Instead people are "up in arms" about any reasonable attempts to stop senseless shootings. The thing is, public opinion is galvanizing behind the President's proposals for gun violence prevention. In this NBC poll, taken a few days ago, here is what the public is supporting:
*** On gun control….56% believe that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, compared with a combined 42 percent who want them less strict or kept the same. That’s the most support on this particular question since 2006, but it’s less than the 60%-70% who supported stricter gun laws during the 1990s, including when Congress passed an assault-weapons ban in 1994. But here’s the bigger challenge for the White House and Democrats: There’s a big divide between gun owners and non-gun owners. Per the poll, 55% of Republicans say they (or someone in their household) own a gun, compared with just 27% of Democrats who say that and 48% of independents. In addition, 61% of rural respondents have a gun in their households, versus 42% of suburban respondents and only 29% of urban dwellers. And nearly half of whites own guns (47%), while just 24% of African Americans, 24% of Latinos, and 34% of those ages 18-34. Bottom line: The members of the Obama coalition DON’T own guns, while those who are probably represented by a GOP member Congress DO own guns. If one were to map gun ownership in American, you’d see most of those folks living in the red congressional districts. And what does that mean? It’s unlikely the Republican House will budge on these issues because THEIR constituents will have a different view.
In general, the public as a whole supports common sense gun laws in almost all recent and not so recent polling. A CBS news poll found similar recent results:
The New York Times/CBS News poll found that 54 percent of Americans say they think gun-control laws should be tightened, up markedly from a CBS News poll in April that found that only 39 percent backed stricter laws. (...)
The poll also found that most of 1,110 respondents -- about 90 percent -- said they would support a background-check requirement for all gun purchases, and about 60 percent of respondents said they would support a ban on high-capacity magazines, such as the 15- and 30-round magazines that have been used in several recent mass shootings.
"I'm from a rural area in the South, I grew up in a gun culture, my father hunted," Leslie Hodges, a 64-year-old gun owner from Atlanta, said in a follow-up interview. "However, I don't believe being able to have a gun keeps you from thinking reasonably about changes that would keep someone from walking into a school and being able to kill 20 children in 20 seconds. I think that we can say, O.K., we want the freedom to have guns in this country, but there are rules we can all agree to that will make us all safer."
The national poll was conducted Jan. 11 to Jan. 15, before the president announced his proposals to curb gun violence. It has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Another poll, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, showed that the National Rifle Association is more popular than Hollywood.
I'm not sure what that last statement means but I'm sure the NRA will find something good about it. In addition, in the CBS polling, a majority of Americans seem to favor having armed guards in schools. I don't agree with this but President Obama took this into account when he proposed that school districts could develop plans for school safety that may include armed guards if they so choose. And yet, this armed guard doesn't appear to have made a Michigan school safer:
School officials at The Chatfield School in Lapeer, Mich., told mlive.com the officer left an unloaded weapon in a restroom "for a few moments" on Monday. No children were put in danger or exposed to the handgun, school director Matt Young told mlive.com.
In a Jan. 7 newsletter, the school told families it had hired the school security officer, a veteran of the Lapeer County Sheriff Department who had retired.
"After the recent events in Connecticut, it is prudent to review and to revise our plan and procedures," the letter said.
I do hope this school reviews its' plan and procedures again now that a retired sheriff's officer has been so careless with his gun. Are these the people school districts will hire when they make a decision to have armed guards? Who will the armed guards be who will be protecting our children and grandchildren? We don't have enough police officers right now to protect our communities. Of course, this could create a whole new market for guns and training programs which is always a goal for the gun lobby extremists. But I digress.

I submit to you, dear readers, that this response to the shooting massacre of 20 small children is an insult to the memories of those children. I submit to you that the priorities of this radical minority are seriously out of whack. We shouldn't tolerate this cynical response to the most heinous school shooting in our history. There needs not only to be a change in our nation's gun laws but a change in our gun culture. It's beginning to happen. Reasonable gun owners are leaving the NRA after its' nonsensical response to the Newtown shooting. The ludicrous and mean spirited ad run by the NRA has turned off the majority of Americans. The ad was not only "diabolical", it was factually inaccurate. Facts matter. The NRA lobbyists turn facts upside down and abuses them regularly. Their leaders need to be questioned and Josh Horwitz, of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence does so in this article:
New investigative reporting by Frank Smyth in Mother Jones -- that complements my organization's Meet the NRA website -- reveals the NRA's eerie connection to the Newtown tragedy. Smyth discovered that the NRA nominating committee that plays a key role in deciding who is on the NRA's board is run by Newtown resident Patricia Clark, and also includes George K. Kollitides II, the chief executive of the company that made the AR-15 used in the shooting.
Then there is board member and .50-caliber sniper rifle manufacturer Ronnie G. Barrett, who provides further evidence that the NRA's leadership is committed to pushing unrestricted civilian access to weapons that belong on the battlefield. Guys like Kollitides and Barrett split the money with the NRA and America gets homicidal killers armed to inflict maximum damage.
Beyond its financial links to makers of military-style weapons, the NRA's leadership is made up of the worst types of extremists that America's conservative movement has to offer.
The threatening personal attacks of long-time board member Ted Nugent are both shocking and well documented. Nugent's election year message to "ride into the battlefield and chop [Democrats'] heads off in November" earned him a visit from the Secret Service, but no condemnation whatsoever from the NRA. Nugent's violent vitriol has been coming nonstop for decades, yet there's every reason to believe he'll be singing his "I Am the NRA" anthem at their 2013 annual meeting.
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, now nationally known for his surreal post-Newtown press conference, is little better than Nugent. LaPierre openly foments anger at federal officials, having once referred to law enforcement agents at "jack-booted thugs." He also accused former President Bill Clinton of having "blood on his hands" for signing important gun violence prevention legislation into law. 
LaPierre's inflammatory rhetoric is also openly insurrectionist. "We will never surrender our guns," LaPierre told the NRA convention in 2012. "When all is said and done, we may have nothing left but our gun rights. But that's the one right that gives us a fighting chance to reclaim freedoms lost."
The public is awakening to the true agenda of the NRA extremists. It is not a pretty picture. As a result of this extremism reasonable gun owners are joining the majority of Americans who want what President Obama wants. They have always been in favor of common sense but now they are saying so publicly and with more force. Passing reasonable gun laws should not be a divisive issue. The fact that it is tells us all we need to know about the most extreme among us. The fear and paranoia that defines this group has led to a nation awash in guns. Inevitably, shootings have and will occur with regularity.  School shootings are actually rare but the Sandy Hook school shooting has focused our national attention on our public health and safety problem too long ignored. Every day ordinary shootings are killing 80 Americans a day, many of them children, in gun homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. That should be more than enough for us to say we've had enough.

As Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign says in this article:
But make no mistake... This is only the first step toward making America a safer, more secure nation. Those who oppose common-sense measures to prevent gun violence are counting on fear, misinformation campaigns, and political gridlock going forward. Now it's up to the American people to make sure Congress takes action.
That's why it's so important for all of us to stay engaged on this issue. In the coming weeks, the Brady Campaign will work with President Obama and members of Congress to ensure all Americans have a voice in our ongoing national conversation about gun violence.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or Independent; whether you own a gun or you don't, we all want a safer nation, and your voice is crucial. We all want an America where our children can go to school, a house of worship, or a movie theater without the horror of deadly violence.
So today, when you see the folks participating in "gun appreciation day", remember the children. We all have rights to be safe in our communities. I am betting that we will see a lot of bravado and swaggering today. I hope the public is angered and sickened by this show of defiance. For if this is our response to the massacre of little children who are we? If we can't get this right in honor of Grace, Noah, Charlotte, Dylan, Catherine and the others who died on December 14th, we won't get anything right. If we can't proceed with the reasonable discussion we need to have, who are we? We are better than this.


An article in the Huffington Post caught my eye after I had written this post. They, too, are disturbed by the idea of an annual "gun appreciation day." So they put together a video to "honor" the idiots who espouse the extreme positions of the NRA lobbyists and the stupid and dangerous gun owners who, according to Wayne LaPierre, are the "good guys" with the guns. Here is the video from the article. Enjoy:


  1. "And yet, this armed guard doesn't appear to have made a Michigan school safer
    I do hope this school reviews its' plan and procedures again now that a retired sheriff's officer has been so careless with his gun."

    I can appreciate your feelings on the subject of armed security in the schools, however all of the proposed legislation proposed so far, has very long lead times. Increasing security levels in the schools to protect children is something that can be implimented much more quickly.

    No one is immune to complacency, be they military, law enforcement or regular citizen. The security guard in the article had likely enjoyed a successful career in law enforcement, but it doesnt excuse his error.

    "A Secret Service agent left a gun in the bathroom of a plane carrying Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney."

    "The loaded .45-caliber Glock handgun left in a crowded Denver International Airport bathroom belonged to a Drug Enforcement Administration agent based in Houston, according to records obtained on Tuesday."

    1. There's no room for complacency or error when it comes to guns. It's different than leaving a purse, or a book or something else lying around. Anyone with a gun can be dangerous- not just the "bad guys". That's my point. We don't need more guns around everywhere- it can lead to lethal errors.