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.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's all about the women and doing the right thing

The 2012 Presidential election brought women's views front and center. And not by choice. Women's issues came to the forefront because men on the far right started speaking the truth about their views of women. The media and women all over the country stood up and confronted and challenged the misogynistic views of some of the men on the campaign trail. The result? President Obama was re-elected and more votes were cast in total for Democrats in the House races; the Senate added to the Democratic majority. In addition, more women than ever are now serving in Congress. This can only be good for America. Women think differently than men. They tend to be more collaborative and compromising than men.

And, further, as of a few days ago, Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, announced that women can now serve in combat roles in the military. Some may not agree with this decision. As always, the details will be worked out but in principle, it is an acknowledgement that women have actually been on the front lines of battle in recent wars and have the wounds as proof. Newly elected Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is one such example. Women are generally tired of being denied equal access to jobs, to health care, to promotions in the military and at other jobs, to vote ( thankfully that has been taken care of a long time ago), to be elected to office, to being told what to do with their bodies and being victims of domestic abuse and rape.

Women are standing up in great numbers to change the gun violence prevention discussion. This article shows the gender gap for support for reasonable gun legislation.
Women are more likely than men to support stronger gun laws, even before any specific gun laws are described. In the Post-Newtown climate, all major outlets releasing data by gender show a nearly identical pattern. CBS/New York Times shows a gender gap of +14 points for support for "more strict" gun laws (women: 61 percent "more strict"). And Democratic-leaning outlet PPP shows a similar +16 point gap in support for "Congress passing stricter gun laws" (women: 61 percent support). Pew also shows a 13-point gender gap in support for "controlling gun ownership" over "protecting the right of Americans to own a gun" (women: 57 percent "control gun ownership").
Wow. That is significant. And there's more from this article (above):

"There is also a clear gender gap in concern about school shootings. The same Washington Post/ABC poll shows nearly two-thirds of women are concerned about a mass shooting in their communities (62 percent), but fewer than half of men (46 percent) have similar concerns. Gallup shows nearly identical results with 60 percent of women feeling it is very or somewhat likely something similar to Newtown could happen in their community, compared to just 43 percent of men.
Women are also far more likely to worry that gun ownership makes them less safe. In the immediate aftermath of Newtown, Pew found a majority of men felt gun ownership does more to "protect people from crime" than "put people's safety at risk" (men: 55 percent, 30 percent). But a plurality of women (43 percent) agreed with the latter. And nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of women said allowing citizens to own assault rifles makes the country "more dangerous" compared to 58 percent of men.
Men may be favorable toward the NRA, but women are not
When you read a headline about the NRA being a "popular organization" (such as herehere and here), remember that it is only true among men. PPP finds nearly half of women unfavorable toward the group (48 percent unfavorable), and even in December before the NRA's blustery press conference women were slightly unfavorable toward the group (43 percent unfavorable, 41 percent favorable). The Washington Post/ABC poll shows women unfavorable toward the "NRA leadership" by almost 2-to-1 (50 percent unfavorable, 28 percent favorable), while men are more favorable (45 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable).
Further, in the Washington Post/ABC poll a plurality of women (42 percent) feel the NRA has too much influence; fewer men feel the same (34 percent).
This isn't just a post-Newtown phenomenon
The Washington Post/ABC poll reveals women are more likely than men to say Newtown has made them more supportive of stronger gun laws (58 percent among women, 45 percent among men). But this gender gap existed pre-Newtown. Since 1991 Gallup has consistently found a double-digit gender gap in support for "more strict" gun laws. Similarly, Pew data in recent years shows majorities of women prioritize "controlling gun ownership" while majorities of men prioritize "protecting the right of Americans to own a gun." "
Women leaders ( and others) in the Catholic church are taking the lead to call on pro-life Congress members to support reasonable gun laws. Their point is well taken. From the article:
“Our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart. There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona. More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy,” wrote the dozens of Catholic leaders. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently renewed their call for measures to address gun violence by echoing their 2000 statement, ‘Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice.’ Bishops have called for ‘measures that control the sale and use of firearms’ and ‘sensible regulations of handguns.’ The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, in a 1994 document, ‘The International Arms Trade,’ urges political leaders ‘to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms’ and states that ‘limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone.’
“All of us need to work against the glorification of violence, remedy our inadequate mental health services and address the breakdown of family support structures. No single law or set of regulations will prevent all tragedies, but the complexity of this urgent challenge must not be an excuse for protecting the status quo when it comes to regulating the sale and use of lethal weapons,” write the Catholic leaders. “President Obama and Members of Congress can honor the memories of those killed in Newtown, Conn., and work to prevent future tragedies by acting now.”
Americans can and do disagree over reproductive rights and gun control, and even about the precise definition of the term pro-life.”
But what these Catholic leaders have done is about more than just language. They are challenging Paul Ryan and his congressional compatriots to think more deeply—not just about the positions and policies they espouse but “to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.”
Listen to the moral and religious leaders of the Catholic church and many other denominations who are calling out our leaders for standing by the NRA lobbyists instead of the victims. When we see preventing gun violence as a moral imperative, it changes the discussion. Listen to women. Women see things differently as do religious leaders. Sure, some women own guns and share the views of some of the men gun owners. They are clearly in the minority there, too, and may have changed their views since 20 small children were massacred on 12/14/12. The polling shows that to be true, including gun owners (some of whom are women) who believe in reasonable gun laws.

The first Million Mom March in 2000 was organized by women and largely attended by women. A new group is making waves. They are the One Million Moms for Gun Control. Supporters are added every day and the group is gaining national attention. In only one month several women organized a march on the national Mall in Washington D.C., held yesterday:
While she’s never organized a political march before, Smith said she was compelled to press for a change in the law. The march organizers support Obama’s call for gun control measures. They also want lawmakers to require gun safety training for all buyers of firearms.
“With the drum roll, the consistency of the mass murders and the shock of it, it is always something that is moving and devastating to me. And then, it’s as if I move on,” Smith said. “And in this moment, I can’t move on. I can’t move on.
“I think it’s because it was children, babies,” she said. “I was horrified by it.”
After the Connecticut shootings, Smith began organizing on Facebook. The group One Million Moms for Gun Control, the Washington National Cathedral and two other churches eventually signed on to co-sponsor the march. Organizers have raised more than $50,000 online to pay for equipment and fees to stage the rally, Smith said.
Lawmakers from the District of Columbia and Maryland rallied the crowd, along with Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund and Colin Goddard, a survivor from the Virginia Tech massacre.
Goddard said he was shot four times at Virginia Tech and is motivated to keep fighting for gun control because what happened to him keeps happening — and nothing’s been done to stop it.
“We are Americans,” he said, drawing big cheers. “We have overcome difficulties when we realize we are better than this.”
Smith said she supports a comprehensive look at mental health and violence in video games and films. But she said the mass killings at Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., all began with guns.
“The issue is guns. The Second Amendment gives us the right to own guns, but it’s not the right to own any gun,” she said. “These are assault weapons, made for killing people.”
Women, religious groups and others are working hand in hand with other gun violence prevention groups to make sure that common sense gun laws are passed. These women represent also the majority of Americans who are now women ( by a slim majority) and they know we are better than this. They want action. Everyone has a mom and when it comes to children, don't mess with the moms. We all know that making our gun laws stronger is not going to be easy. We are facing a strong group of powerful lobbyists "armed" with money and bravado. Though they don't represent the majority of Americans, the NRA lobbyists have won the messaging and influence battles for way too long. They don't intend to give one inch, even after 12/14; even after 20 little children were massacred. Their claim that gun laws won't matter are specious. Of course they will matter. They have mattered with new drunk driving laws. They have mattered with smoking prohibitions in public places. They have mattered in safety requirements for manufacturing many of our products. Laws matter.

Changing the culture also matters. MADD not only changed laws, they changed the culture around drunk driving. The same is true of the smoking issue and the environment. When the public views important and controversial issues through the lens of what's in the best interest of all of us and for protecting lives of innocent people, a culture change occurs. When the culture change occurs, stronger laws have more support. It was Mothers Against Drunk Driving who managed the culture change around driving while drunk. And it will be with broad support from women who are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and good friends of victims who will drive the conversation around gun violence prevention. When our children and our communities are threatened, women come forward to demand change. And these women are joined by the men who care more about public health and safety than they do about gun rights lobbyists. As Virginia Tech survivor Colin Goddard said at the march in DC yesterday, ""We need to challenge any politician who thinks it's easier to ask an elementary school teacher to stand up to a gunman with an AR-15 than it is to ask them to stand up to a gun lobbyist with a checkbook."" And I challenge politicians to stand up for the victims and stand up with the mothers and others nation-wide demanding a plan. The many mothers now engaged because they thought of their own small children in schools all over the country after the 12/14 massacre are standing up and marching. One woman whose voice is going to make a difference is Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She is speaking out loudly and clearly for doing the right thing. From an article:
“We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced. We have representatives who look at gun violence, not as a problem to solve, but as the white elephant in the room to ignore,” he said. “As a nation we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine; after Virginia Tech; after Tucson and after Aurora, we have done nothing.”
The killing of 20 first-graders in a Newtown, Conn., school late last year was like “getting hit in the head with a 2-by-4,” Kelly said. That’s what moved them to start the new SuperPAC, which received its first million-dollar donation earlier this month.
“We’re going to have all the money we need to play in every relevant race, in ‘13 and ‘14 and beyond,” said Pia Carusone, who is executive director of both organizations.
This time, they won't let Congress ignore the voices of women and victims as has been too often the case. They are going to organize women and men alike to do the same and they are going to make sure that something happens in our country to stop the devastation left behind by gun deaths and injuries.


  1. To rebut bogus surveys by pollsters on the payroll of antigun groups, NRA-ILA conducted a national scientific poll of NRA members and found near unanimity among NRA members on a wide range of issues involving mental health reform and firearm rights.

    Gun control advocates including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as various media outlets, have released data claiming to represent the views of NRA members, despite the fact that none of those surveys had access to the NRA's membership list. The NRA survey of 1,000 randomly-selected NRA members across the country is the only legitimate survey of NRA members on these issues.

    The data from this survey indicates that NRA members are united in their desire for Washington to focus on keeping firearms from the mentally ill and to reject unconstitutional gun control measures that infringe on Second Amendment rights.

    "Mayor Bloomberg's claims that gun owners are divided are totally false. It is nothing more than an attempt by anti-gun activists to further their long-standing political agenda," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox. "American gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are ready for Washington to put politics aside and come together to fix our broken mental health system."

    Key Findings:

    91% of NRA members support laws keeping firearms away from the mentally ill.

    92% of NRA members oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws.

    89% oppose banning semi-automatic firearms, often mistakenly called "assault rifles."

    93% oppose a law requiring gun owners to register with the federal government.

    92% oppose a federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.

    Methodology--The national survey was conducted by OnMessage Inc. Telephone interviews were conducted January 13-14, 2013. This survey consists of 1,000 NRA members and was stratified by state to reflect voter distribution in the 2012 presidential election. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.09%.

  2. I can't believe you sent me this. The NRA, which has an obvious vested interest and also paid for the poll polled only its' own members. I'm just sure the results are less biased than, say, Frank Luntz, Republican pollster who has spoken out about the issue himself after seeing the results. Almost all polling has shown the same results as Luntz. We already know that rabid NRA members will answer those questions the way they did. The poll asked if they wanted guns confiscated. There will be no confiscation. A loaded question? There is no proposed law banning firearm sales between private sellers. And the use of the word "mistaken"- really? If you think this was a valid poll, you are drinking something funny. This is just more of the NRA fear, paranoia and hyperbole.

  3. Oh, I forgot to mention that gun registration is also not proposed. But you knew all of this, right? I wonder how NRA members think guns should be kept out of the hands of dangerously mentally ill people if we don't pass some stronger laws to do just that.

  4. japete writes : "Oh, I forgot to mention that gun registration is also not proposed."

    "The poll asked if they wanted guns confiscated. There will be no confiscation. A loaded question? There is no proposed law banning firearm sales between private sellers."

    I'm not sure why you keep claiming that when it's untrue.

    Feinstein's proposed 2013 Assault Weapons Ban requires registration of grandfathered "Assault Weapons" - and charges can be brought for failing to registration.

    The NY Gun Control Law recently passed, that you mentioned that you supported, required registration and empowered confiscation by the police following charges being brought for failing to register.

    Similar laws have been proposed in Iowa, NJ, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

    The various "Gun Show Loophole" bills all ban transactions between private sellers without the government and a FFL being the intermediary.

    Are you claiming that these laws really don't require any of the above? You can read the clear statutory language in any of these laws - and what they require.

    1. I fail to understand your objection to background checks on all gun sales given that you are willing to undergo them when you buy from an FFL. Private sellers in many states that require background checks have managed to stay in business. There was no ban on their doing business. That is just another hyperbolic and untrue statement. I do support the NY law. There has been no mention of registration of guns in President Obama's proposals. I'm sure you know that though right? And what exactly is your problem with gun registration? Your car is registered and no one has come to confiscate it from you have they? These measures are not done to punish gun owners but to help solve crimes and stop senseless shootings. That's what is most important here.