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.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Opting out of the NRA

The list of NRA members who want out or have already abandoned the extremist organization and its' crazy leaders grows every day. I can hardly keep up with the many public articles written about why folks are rejecting the extremism of the NRA and opting out. Let's look at the many common sense arguments for reasonable gun laws posed by these folks.

The former Montana Secretary of State and State Senate leader has this to say:
"The trouble is the modern NRA, like other time-honored institutions, has become hijacked and radicalized. While its membership is overwhelmingly law abiding and freedom-loving Americans, it has become the protector of armed extremists and a front for gun and ammunition manufacturers.
The screams of the Sandy Hook Elementary School 6 year olds with as many as 11 bullet wounds in their tiny bodies speaks far more persuasively to me than the lifeless arguments of the NRA to do as little as possible in response to this tragedy. We Americans have more freedoms than citizens in most countries, but we also have more abuse of those freedoms. We own an estimated 300 million firearms but also lead the world in gun violence.  Modern assault style weapons are capable of firing five rounds per second and are commonly equipped with 30-round magazines. We can obtain them about as easily as ordering a Big Mac.
Neither armed resistance to a potentially tyrannical government, nor self-defense from a criminal assailant, provides rational justification for such a weapon. The same goes for any semiautomatic firearm with more than a ten-shot capacity. Is there any legitimate need for sound suppressors?  rmor-piercing bullets? Apparently the NRA thinks so.
How about background checks to identify those who have criminal records or a history of mental instability? Well, maybe, says the NRA, but lack of enforcement of the checks at gun shows amounts to a loophole big enough to drive a self-propelled howitzer through.
It’s not sufficient to simply recognize that the world contains evil, and we are powerless to do anything about it but shed tears and offer prayers. With 31 school-related shootings since Columbine, it is time for both preventative and protective action."
Next up, a former Minnesota FBI agent who wrote recently about the scene of destruction at the Red Lake, Minnesota school shooting and why we need reasonable gun laws: 
I am an NRA member (at least as of this writing), a supporter of the Second Amendment, a firearms instructor and the possessor of a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I live in a very rural area, but was raised in New York City and grew up under its restrictive gun laws. I still have a few friends back there (again at least as of this moment) and much of my family still lives there. (...) 
All that said, the NRA and we gun owners have tolerated an intolerable situation: the profusion of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines; the ridiculous loophole of gun shows and private sales evading the instant background check; the inability of the background check to be integrated with the National Crime Information Center; the lack of due diligence in transferring firearms to those who should not have them; the lack of cooperation with law enforcement to report problematic behavior; the selfishness of our desires to have more and more lethal weapons and technology without concern for our terrified fellow citizens who do not share the belief that such weapons better secure us.
If we cherish our right to bear arms, we must be vigilant in assuring others that it is being exercised responsibly. The proliferation of weapons that are made for high-capacity magazines is out of control.
When I came out of the FBI Academy in 1984, I was issued a six-shot revolver and 18 rounds of ammunition, and I felt well-armed. To this day I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want to own, much less carry, a weapon with a magazine holding 15 rounds and more. If you need to do that, join the Armed Forces.
I cannot imagine any reasonable use of defensive deadly force by a citizen that would require more than a couple shots.
Yet open a gun magazine or go into a gun shop, and you will see weapons being marketed to the public that mount flashlights, flash suppressors, laser beams and electronic sights and can accept magazines holding up to 100 rounds.
You can buy a pistol (the FN-Hertsal FiveSeven) that fires a cartridge designed for military use only, intended to penetrate helmets and body armor. A perfect terrorist's or mass killer's tool, it holds 23 rounds in its magazine and is manufactured in Belgium -- which, of course, does not allow its own citizens to possess it.
My attempts to convince my elected representatives of both political parties to ban this weapon years ago fell upon deaf ears. Soon after, this same weapon was used in the Fort Hood shootings.
I say ban the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines -- or put them under the National Firearms Act as Class III ATF regulated destructive devices requiring yearly, restrictive federal licensing provisions. They've become the tools of choice for the mass killer.
And yet another NRA member comes forward with all the logic spoken by gun violence prevention advocates only he goes even further. Check it out what this Ohio writer has to say: 
Sandy Hook and half a dozen other recent gun tragedies have now told us all we need to know about gun violence. Australia, a nation similarly lax on gun control, learned the same hard lesson at Port Arthur in 1996 when 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded by a single gunman. Almost overnight, gun laws changed in Australia.
I am stupefied by the silence of the NRA and its belated and tone-deaf response after Newtown. Many now see Wayne LaPierre’s obtuse and ham-handed attack of the video game industry and the media for what it is: a diversion and a clear abdication of responsibility on the part of the NRA and the gun industry.  It expresses an attitude that is both reactionary and delusional.
Ban assault rifles now. They have been the weapon of choice in almost every mass shooting to date. Citizens do not need them. Hunters do not need them. They won’t need them until buck deer begin building blinds of their own and shooting back.
Stop selling weapons and concealed carry licenses without extensive background checks. Stop internet and gunshow sales. Institute a waiting period, a cooling off for gun purchases. Limit the number of guns a person may buy and the number of places they can buy them. Limit the ammunition he may load them with. Restrict the places where guns can be carried.
Do it now.
Otherwise you can bet your life on the inevitability of more massacres, as well as an increase in gun-related accidents, domestic homicides, vigilantism, and gunfights in the streets that would ultimately be preventable only by martial law.
As a shooter and gun owner I am ready and willing to sacrifice some of my rights in order to save American lives. Whatever regulations and laws come from these extreme times I will follow to the letter. I will do so in order to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
This powerful piece from an Iraq war veteran and extreme far right gun owner is important to the national discussion:
Like many people I know and public figures I’ve seen recently, the killings in Newtown’s elementary school have made me reconsider my position on gun control. As a hunter, a veteran, and a dyed-in-the-wool radical, I write this to show fellow gun owners and, more important, my fellow Americans who are distrustful of an armed government with an unarmed populace that the logic I espoused for most of my life is bankrupt. 
Until last week my stance on the Second Amendment was essentially, “Our government can’t be trusted with a monopoly on lethal power. As such, the right to resist tyranny embedded in our constitution justified the tragic deaths that would inevitably result from the proliferation of these incredibly deadly weapons.” (...) 
But my reverence is irrelevant. The Second Amendment stopped giving the insurrectionists among us a chance as soon as military technology advanced beyond the rifle. No modern Shays’ Rebellion is viable, militarily speaking, unless the Second Amendment is read to protect an individual’s right to bear surface-to-air missiles, personally owned Abrams tanks and state-sanctioned depleted uranium artillery. Who in their right mind would want to live in a place that gave access to these things to any person, no matter how law abiding or responsible? 
Even if you would prefer that much more dangerous world, it doesn’t exist, thankfully. Because no group of armed citizens is on par with U.S. military power, the “guns guard our freedom” argument is hollow and insane. The “guns guard our freedom” perspective is the bedrock of the anti–gun control movement, and until we speak to it with respect and honesty, we will not sway the disenchanted and angry among us who feel the pain of the mothers in Newtown but fear, rightly or wrongly, the Orwellian implications of disarming. Frankly, arguments to anyone else is preaching to the choir. 
As I reconsidered my logic and let go of my previous rationale, the only remaining argument in my mind was the old standby,”Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That is undeniable. But given the fact that the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia collectively have more people than the U.S. and only 0.05% the gun deaths, it is now obvious to me that the complete story veiled behind the “guns don’t kill people” half-truth is: “Guns don’t kill people, but when people have access to guns, they kill a lot more innocent people than they otherwise could.” 
The right to defend ourselves, whether from home intruders or tyrants, is a right I understand and cherish. Through the risk of tragedy, I want to trust my fellow human to exercise their rights responsibly. However, I am also willing to accept that our culture is in need of healing, and we may well heal faster and deeper with less access to our guns, or even no guns at all. The vast majority of us are smart and trustworthy people; if we can lift people into the stars above, why couldn’t we establish systems in which both we and the government are less armed while maintaining contingencies for each to have access to appropriate weapons at appropriate times? Denying this potential is denying the arc of humanity: our intelligence, our compassion and our creativity. 
Patriots and rebels alike, lovers of freedom, please take a new point of view with me. If your freedom feels vulnerable, I remind you that an ounce of prevention (read “real community”) is worth a pound of emergency room care, which is revolting. We should not dismiss the NRA’s seed of truth that, in fact, people do kill people. I admit it speaks to the root of the problem. But we would be foolish to allow a treatable symptom like gun violence to run amok before we devote our attention to curing our disease: whether you see it as untreated mental illness, cultural glorification of violence or, as I see it, the worldview that we are separated individuals, alone in our struggles, and that our power to create a more beautiful world is limited by anything but our imagination, our courage and our love.
Some of these NRA members are still struggling with the long held myths of the organization. They have and are struggling with how they can still believe in what they have lived in contrast with the photos of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook elementary school. The images of those children and thinking about the damage done to their bodies by the AR-15 assault type rifle used in the shooting is just too much even for them. They have had the courage to speak out and I'm sure it has cost them some friends. I am betting they have been suffering the ugly and offensive comments always made by the pro gun side when their beliefs are challenged. But they spoke out anyway. These brave writers represent the majority of Americans and gun owners and even NRA members but they've been silent until the news that 20 innocent little children were gunned down on December 14th.

The Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was too much for the entire country. These kinds of shootings should have been too much long ago. But it took the brutal massacre of little children to change minds and hearts. Almost every day, another NRA member speaks out for common sense. My own newspaper has had more than a few letters calling for banning assault rifles and other gun violence prevention methods. The people speaking out understand that as a country, we are better than this. Will it be enough to change the hearts and minds of the NRA bought and paid for politicians? Will they have the courage that these people have? Will they do the right thing for our children and their future?  If they don't, how can they look themselves in the mirror? The NRA members who revealed their opinions in the articles above took a long look in the mirror and decided they needed to act. They understood that things have changed forever and they are ready for change that can save lives. Is Congress ready? Are our legislators ready? If we aren't better than this, how can we lead? How can we maintain the respect of the world? How can we look our children in the eyes and tell them we care about their futures and their safety?

UPDATE- 1/6/13

As predicted, another NRA member has gone public with his support for reasonable gun laws:
I quit the NRA when they supported the public sale of armored vest-piercing ammo. Their propaganda was, say no to any form of registration because when the communists take over, the government would confiscate their guns.
There is no doubt that mental illness plays a role in mass killings. However, many owners of military-type weapons are crazy also.
We need reasonable gun legislation. The true sportsmen and hunters are law-abiding citizens and have respect for rifles, shotguns and revolvers used for self-defense in certain instances. Fear is spiraling us into a situation where we will live in an armed camp.
My recommendations for starters are as follows:
  1. Assault rifles should be banned for sale to the public. Those owned should be confiscated.
  2. Magazines for guns over five rounds should be banned and confiscated.
  3. Background checks should be made for all gun sales, with no exceptions. Training should be required as part of a firearm purchase.
These recommendations would not affect legitimate hunters, sportsmen or target shooters.
Why are we such a fearful nation? It is ridiculous to suggest that we arm teachers.
Can you imagine requiring all teachers to become gun-qualified to obtain a teaching certificate? That is what we have policemen for in a civil
I have never seen an assault rifle in a hunting camp, as the owner would be laughed at.
I can defend my home if necessary with one gun and five cartridges. Why would anyone need an assault rifle?
Let’s hear from the assault rifle owners.


  1. It's interesting to probe the history of NRAs. (That's correct, as in PLURAL.) There were, and still are, a hogshead of them throughout the world. Contrary to what many might think, shooting organizations are alive and well and under no viable assault by any parties (except perhaps a few misguided animal rights groups that nobody takes seriously anyway).
    The one exception is the NRA here in the United States. It is definitely under assault, and rightfully so! Because, unlike the other NRAs around the globe, it continually takes extreme positions which counter public safety.
    I have many buddies who are NRA members - and they're all good folks. Like me, they enjoy their guns and the use of them. But, sad to say, they seem generally unwilling to take an objective look at the organization they support and fund.
    It's not the American NRA of old that, in 1870, kindly accepted the Irish NRAs' challenge to a long range target match to determine the best marksmen in the English-speaking world. (The Irish NRA team had won the honor that year. But no such match ever included an American team because we had no NRA then to assemble one.) These long range shooters, Irish, U.S., Australian, Canadian, etc, were real men shooting real rifles: ranges were from 800 to 1200 yards, sometimes further, shot with rifles built like Swiss watches. No 30-rd magazines and "suppressors" here!
    When, after our NRA was established and the U.S. & Irish team met, in '72 at Creedmoor, Long Island (I think - someone can look up year & location to check me) I'm happy to report that we edged the Irish out by a few points (75 to 73, or something). Our Remington and Sharps breech loaders defeated their Rigby, Medford and Dickson muzzle loaders, which was the real shocker at the time.
    Well, I guess things have truly changed.
    The current NRA Board of Directors aren't worthy to hold these 19th Century riflemen's wiping sticks, let alone dictate public safety policy to the rest of us. Oh, and that's the U.S.A. NRA - all the other NRAs in the world are excepted, of course.

  2. I am a target shooter, and a hunter, and a shooting sport enthusiast. Banning AR15s would impact me as I shoot 3gun. Banning AR15s would impact me as I hunt deer with one. Banning AR15s would impact me because I target shoot with one.

    Why ban AR15s when they are used in so few crimes? Why ban standard capacity magazines when they can be changed so quickly? I can't see any ban not grandfathering previously sold guns and magazines and with so many out there whats the point?

    You demonize the NRA so much and say they have no ability to compromise, but what compromise are you offering? If you want to negotiate then offer something in exchange, say, we put AR15s (read: "assault weapons" as stupid as that title is) on the NFA list, but allow people to buy fully automatic guns again. That's a compromise. I'd personally have to carefully consider that. Your side's version of compromise is only our side loosing ground.

    1. You don't need AR-15s to hunt deer. Other rifles can do the job just fine. What about the high capacity magazines? Do you use those to hunt deer? If you can't get your deer in one or two shots, you might as well not hunt. I think putting AR-15s on the NFA list is a good idea, actually but whey would anyone want a machine gun? Do you intend to hunt with that, too? AR 15s are the weapon of choice in massacres in the U.S. There is not a compromise when it comes to saving the lives of little children. And to say my side has not compromised is lunacy. The NRA had had its' way for way too many years with no compromising involved. No restrictions on guns, who can buy them or where they can be carried for the NRA. The second amendment does not say that there can be on restrictions on anything. I don't think you really want to offer up the lives of little children in exchange for having whatever you want. How does your side lose any ground when lives are saved? That seems like a win for us all.

  3. Lawson,

    There truly is some middle ground on this issue & you're pointing to it! Making AR 15s, AKs, etc, sorta' quasi-Class III is a possibility. If these weapons were properly stored (which, with many owners, would require a legal mandate to be effective) and if the weapons were only sold via a thorough background check system, my bet is that most of their illicit use would drop off the map. And, as you say, they're only used in a small percentage of crimes anyway.

    The big life-saving ticket item, as far as gun laws are concerned, is safe storage and thorough background checks for handguns.