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, January 16, 2013

Thank you President Obama

President Obama delivered a powerful and emotional speech today when he released the recommendations from Vice President Biden's task force in response to the Newtown shooting. I give it a "thumbs up" and more. He said all the right things in a non confrontational manner that invited the public to join him in urging action from Congress on his recommendations. From his speech:
"At the end of his remarks President Obama said he would sign a “directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professional, and the public health community some of “tools they need to reduce gun violence.”
The President proposed strengthening the background check system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Later the President said would push for universal background checks for all gun purchases, whether from a licensed dealer or private seller.
President Obama called for Congress to restore the ban on “military assault weapons and a ten-round limit for magazines.” The President said that “weapons designed for the theater of war have no business in a movie theater.” Obama stressed that President Reagan supported this law as well.
The President said he would help schools hire more resource officers, if they want them, and to develop emergency plans.
The President stated that he would make sure that mental health professional know their options in reporting threats.
The President announced that he would direct the Centers for Disease Control to study the causes of gun violence.
The President called for Congress to finance research on the effects of violent video games on young minds."
These recommendations were made in order to save lives. And, if passed, they would save lives and reduce the probability, as Vice President Biden said, that more horrific mass shootings will happen. The recommended measures are all common sense measures designed to do what the public supports and has long been asking to happen. I applaud President Obama for his brave and reasonable stand in the name of the 20 children who were so violently murdered last Dec. 14th. He is representing the American public who want to be free from gun violence in their communities. He is representing the 100,000 Americans who are shot every year, 30,000 of whom die from their gunshot injuries. He is engaging in the national conversation the public wants to have.

Here are some of the responses to the President's proposals. Opinions come down on many sides and will contribute to the discussion we are now going to have. I hope it will be a reasonable discussion, free from accusations and hyperbole but I fear that it will not be. It is already starting and from some of the usual and not so usual places.

Here is what one Minnesota Sheriff had to say in anticipation of President Obama's proposals to pass new gun laws:
On a day when President Obama was preparing a slate of proposals to stem gun violence in America, Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole said he would consider any new federal regulation on guns to be illegal and would “refuse to carry it out.”
“We will not enforce that,” Cole told the News Tribune of any potential federal regulation that could lead to confiscation of firearms.
Obama is expected to announce proposals today including limits on the sale of assault weapons and strengthening background checks, but not confiscating existing guns.
Cole’s position first appeared Tuesday in an open letter he sent to residents of the east-central Minnesota county, disseminated through the media. The sheriff said he made the statement in response to questions from his constituents who are scared about potential new gun laws. Cole said it took him a month to craft the response. The letter outlines his contention that the Second Amendment on the right to bear arms is “fundamental to our individual freedoms and that firearms are part of life in our country.”
“We have been inundated,” Cole said of questions about gun laws since the Newtown, Conn., massacre in December.
Pine County Commissioner Doug Carlson said he wasn’t surprised to hear about Cole’s stand, calling the sheriff “opinionated.”
“Here’s a sheriff riding cowboy saying he’s going to do what he’s going to do,” Carlson said.
“Is he going to put us on a county level in a liable position?” Carlson asked, about local law enforcement versus the federal government. “If he can do that, where does that put us as a county board?”
I submit that this Sheriff has made an unfortunate decision to determine ahead of the recommendation that anything proposed by the President will be unconstitutional. Reasonable gun laws are not unconstitutional. He is on shaky ground here and should re-think his ludicrous statements before he regrets them. I thought when you swore an oath to the Constitution, especially as a law enforcement officer, you had to follow the Constitution. The remarks by the Sheriff are insulting to the families of the children who were massacred at Sandy Hook elementary school. This is not the time for statements such as this one. Now is the time to put our collective heads together to solve a serious problem.

It's hardly worth mentioning what the NRA lobbyists and the far right media have said in response. But Media Matters has shown just a few of the hyberbolic comments from some of those folks. Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America tried to get us to believe that Reagan's support of reasonable gun laws only came in his "later years":
"President Reagan owned an AR-15, Senator Jay Rockefeller -- " Pratt said.
"And he supported gun control, and he advocated for it," Mitchell responded.
"In his later years, and I think we have to keep that in account," Pratt continued.
"In his later years he was almost killed by John Hinckley," shot back Mitchell, referring to the 1981 attempt on Reagan's life.
"All through his presidency, he opposed gun control, that's my point," Pratt replied.
Pratt's comment about the former president's "later years" appeared to be a reference to Reagan's well-known senility, which began while he was still president and worsened after his retirement.
Regardless, Reagan's record on gun control is not black and white. In 1986 he signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which according to the Hartford Courant, "was hailed by gun rights advocates because it included numerous protections for gun owners. However, it also banned ownership of any fully automatic rifles that were not already registered on the day the law was signed."
In 1967, as governor of California, Reagan signed the Mulford Act, which prohibited carrying loaded firearms in public. The Black Panthers protested the bill because they carried loaded weapons openly in police patrols. He also supported a 15-day waiting period. He supported the Brady Bill post-presidency, but did not support or oppose it as president.
Pratt was wrong. But never mind the facts. And in the days following the one month anniversary of the Newtown shooting, the NRA's hypocrisy is on full view for all of us to see. First of all, the organization released an App for a violent video game. Here it is:
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has released a "Practice Range" Shooting App for iOS, according to Apple's App Store description. The app combines the NRA's facts and educational materials with a 3-D shooting game, which, according to the description, "instills safe and responsible ownership through fun challenges and realistic simulations."
The game was first released in the App Store on Sunday, Jan. 13 for children ages 4 and up; the description of the app was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 15 to reflect that it was rated for ages 12 and up.
The game includes nine firearms and three different shooting ranges, though you have to pay 99 cents to unlock some of weapons, including a Beretta, MK11 and a Colt pistol. The game is rated for children ages four and up, and says it "strikes the right balance of gaming and safety education, allowing you to enjoy the most authentic experience possible."
The app, which is available for the iPhone and iPad was created by MEDL Mobile, and is described in Apple's App Store as an "Official NRA Licensed Product." The NRA and MEDL Mobile did not respond to ABC News' repeated request for comment.
NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre has argued since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that video games and movies are to blame for the culture of violence in the United States. "There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games with names like 'Bullet Storm,' 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Mortal Combat,' and 'Splatterhouse,' " LaPierre said at a press conference on Dec. 21.
The app was released just as the NRA finished meeting with Vice President Joe Biden about gun violence. "We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the NRA said in a statement following the meetings last week.
So much for wanting to blame violent video games for the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting as Wayne LaPierre famously said in his press event after the shooting. Facts matter. And the NRA's leadership was not done with its' outrageous and false claims. A controversial video appeared on its' web page:
Posted at a Web site called N.R.A. Stand and Fight, the video starts by asking, “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?”
The video does not show Mr. Obama’s daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11. But it suggests that Mr. Obama holds their safety to a different standard than he is willing to offer for other children in the country.
In a strongly worded statement, the White House press secretary Jay Carney lashed out at the N.R.A.
“Most Americans agree that a president’s children should not be used as pawns in a political fight,” Mr. Carney said. “But to go so far as to make the safety of the President’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly.”
The N.R.A. video is a reference to Mr. Obama’s stated skepticism about the group’s idea to prevent school massacres by posting armed guards at every one of the nation’s schools.
“I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools,” Mr. Obama said during a recent interview on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.” “And I think the vast majority of the American people are skeptical that that somehow is going to solve our problem.”
A week after the shootings at a school in Newtown, Conn., Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive and vice president of the N.R.A., held a news conference in which he called for more security in schools and an end to the “gun-free zones” that are common around many school buildings.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Mr. LaPierre said at the time.
This is a sad and cynical attempt to deflect from the real problems facing the country. These are shameful and unwarranted attacks on the President and show the depths to which the NRA lobbyists will go to keep their influence and protect the gun industry profits. The response from the White House was swift.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney excoriated the National Rifle Association Wednesday for a TV ad released by the group that called President Obama an "elitist hypocrite" because his daughters have armed protection at school. 
"Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight," Carney said in a statement. "But to go so far as to make the safety of the President's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly."
Earlier today the NRA claimed the ad was not about the President's children, maintaing that to argue so was an "attempted calculated distraction."
"Whoever thinks the ad is about President Obama's daughters are missing the point completely or they're trying to change the subject," an NRA spokesman said in a statement. "This ad is about keeping our children safe. And the President said he was skeptical about the NRA proposal to put policemen in all schools in this country. Yet he and his family are beneficiaries of multiple law enforcement officers surrounding them 24 hours a day."
Indeed. "Repugnant and ugly". What is this really all about? Selling more guns is what this is all about. Keeping children safe is not the NRA's lobbyists primary concern. Thankfully, the scrutiny of the organization is growing stronger with each statement or action taken by those who would have us do nothing about the gun violence epidemic in our country. Yesterday, Joe Scarborough, of Morning Joe gave this assessment of the NRA's extreme leaders and lobbyists:

And today, he continued his scrutiny of the NRA:

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Thank you, Joe Scarborough, conservative and former Republican Congressman. He speaks truth to power and has an audience who listens. Support is coming from many groups and individuals for President Obama's recommendations, as well it should. This statement came from the National Education Association today:
“There’s a huge distinction between the NRA proposal and what the administration has proposed,” she said. “The NRA proposed arming educators and volunteer security guards and private security personnel. The school resource officer program is an actual program that was funded a number of years ago by Joe Biden’s bill to put law enforcement — actual police offers — in schools after they’ve received adequate training.”
“So there’s a huge distinction between police officers who live in the community, who are from the community, and who are wanted by the community,” she said, “as opposed to forcing school districts to accept untrained personnel who really don’t understand how to work in a school setting.”
Obama’s proposal gives school leaders the choice to spend federal dollars on more school resource officers or other violence reduction programs, such as mental health counselors. It’s based on a Clinton-era law. At its post-Newtown press conference in December, the NRA offered to train armed volunteers to serve in schools.
Anderson said teachers aren’t interested in that idea.
More support will surely come. Support is strong. The public is ahead of Congress on this issue and others, as usual. The public will speak out and I believe Congress will act and do the right thing for public health and safety. We've had enough. The time is now and we must ask our leaders to explain why they would oppose reasonable laws to protect our communities. 926 Americans, some of them children, have died from gunshot injuries since the Newtown shooting. What number is too many for Congress to act? We know that as a country, we are better than this. Let's get to work.


It's just the beginning and here is yet another ridiculous video from the NRA. You just can't make this stuff up:

The NRA leadership is lying, of course. The American public clearly does not agree with them. But facts don't matter when you're desperate.


  1. hough I would suggest that the NRA's game,is pretty dull compared to most video games that involve shooting since the game only seems to involve shooting targets with safety rules interspersed.
    Someone has now released a somewhat more violent anti-NRA video game. As I've said before, there seems to be extremes on both sides of this issue.

    "LaPierre himself is the target of a new anti-NRA video game called “Bullet to the Head of the NRA.” The online game depicts LaPierre giving a speech at a podium, cross hairs over his head, then allows users to shoot him."


    1. I abhor all of these games. If the NRA hadn't upped the anti, my guess is the other game would not have been created. And give me a break- until Sensenbrenner is critical of the NRA and it's video and violent game, he is not credible on the issue at all. You should be calling the NRA out yourself but you won't will you? As long as you defend it, you are part of the problem, Mark.

    2. I just tried the NRA app. Hardly violent being that all shooting is done at targets, as opposed to most games that involve shooting at people. No people or animals are harmed using this app.

    3. No excuses, Mark. Shame on you for trying to excuse the NRA. Shooting at coffins?

  2. Dear Douglas Hester,

    Your comment was pathetic, offensive, rude and boorish. It will not be published nor will any of your comments be published on this blog. Please go trolling somewhere else.