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.
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The "good guys" with guns

It is disturbing that Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the NRA uses the term "good guys with guns" and gets away with it. Yes, we are all aware that most gun owners are careful with their guns. They hunt. They target shoot. They have hand guns for self protection if they so choose. And they live their lives without incident. The problem is, guns are inherently dangerous and designed to kill. That makes them different from any other consumer product on the market. The cavalier manner with which we treat guns is of concern. And the fear and paranoia fostered by the NRA lobbyists is leading to more people buying guns leading to more profits for the gun industry. Offering up a false sense of safety and ramping up fear of the duly elected government as a reason to buy guns is dangerous to us all. Convincing those gun rights extremists that their guns will be confiscated and that they may need them in an uprising against the government is cynicism at its' worst. An insurrection is on their minds. This dangerous view of gun rights and the second amendment is leading to more money for the gun industry and for individuals involved in gun sales. But what will happen as a result? We should be concerned about this mentality. In the end that is what this is all about. It is not about making us safer. More guns do not make us safer.

There are way too many gun homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. There are way too many guns in circulation that end up on our streets, in our schools, at malls, at places of worship and in the hands of people who should not have them. The result- far too many senseless shootings that are preventable. Guns are more likely to be used in a gun homicide, suicide or accident than to be used in self defense. The media is full of the headlines of the actual incidents so we know this to be true. If it were true that thousands of guns used in self defense incidents were happening and outnumbered the non self defense shootings, we would hear about it. But we don't. Below are what we do hear about and it's not a pretty picture.

This "good guy" from Ohio was actually a bad guy with a gun but sold himself as the former:
A Toledo man whose Bowling Green store was recently searched for counterfeit sports memorabilia was indicted in federal court today on multiple weapons charges, including being a felon in possession of firearms.
Richard Schmidt, 47, of Marlow Road, was charged with crimes related to his possession of 18 firearms, body armor, and more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition.
The indictment was unsealed today in U.S. District Court in Toledo more than three weeks after federal authorities searched Schmidt’s Toledo home and sports memorabilia store at Woodland Mall. At the time, authorities said they searched Spindletop Sports Zone at the mall, at trailers behind the store, and Schmidt’s home to find suspected counterfeit merchandise.
Schmidt was arrested Dec. 21 and has since been held in custody.
According to an affidavit filed in federal court by a special agent with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, several firearms and ammunition were found during the search, including parts and ammunition for assault rifles. The affidavit also indicated that Schmidt had previously been convicted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in 1990 for manslaughter.
In a statement released today, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach said it was “deeply troubling” that Schmidt was in possession of “an arsenal.”
“We owe the FBI and our other law enforcement partners our thanks that they caught this man, with 18 firearms -- some of them assault weapons – high-capacity magazines, more than 40,000 rounds of ammunition, and a bulletproof vest stored in a locked room in a mall, before anyone was hurt,” he said.
Schmidt is charged with two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and one count each of being a felon in possession of body armor and trafficking in counterfeit goods.
A California man was found with an arsenal of illegal guns in his home recently:
A San Mateo man suspected of running an illegal gun sales operation out of his home faces nearly a dozen felony charges, including selling a firearm to a minor, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Police allegedly caught Antonio Infante, 35, with an SKS assault rifle, high-capacity magazines, three pistols and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Officers moved in on him after arresting one of his customers, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Infante didn't enter a plea Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court and was being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Agents from the county's narcotics task force arrested Infante during a raid Friday at his home on the 1300 block of
Police siezed an assault rifle and several pistols in San Mateo during a investigation into an illegal gun selling operation. (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office )
Speers Avenue. They found the weapons as well as the cell phone that he allegedly used to set up the sale that led police to him.
San Mateo officers had been watching the house on Speers because of complaints about possible drug dealing there. A break came when officers pulled over a car carrying Victor Avelar, 20, of East Palo Alto moments after he drove away from Infante's house, Wagstaffe said.
Police say they found a Ruger handgun in the vehicle and Avelar had messages on his cell phone discussing the price of the gun with its alleged seller, Infante. The phone also contained a photo of the weapon, said Wagstaffe.
Avelar pleaded not guilty Monday to carrying a concealed gun and was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Though Avelar is 20, prosecutors have charged Infante with selling to a minor because handgun buyers must be 21 in California, said Wagstaffe.
Another "good guy" was caught in New York with an illegal supply of carelessly stored guns in his home:
Spota suggested that Andersen may have been supplying guns to scores of suspected criminals.
“One again we have a bad apple here,” Spota said. “Andersen was accumulating guns without care or concern for their lethal nature. He makes it very, very clear that there’s no inventory, there’s no nothing. It’s being sold under the table.”(...) 
Andersen is also accused of buying a fully-automatic .30 caliber M2 machine gun from an undercover detective.
Hundreds of weapons and ammunition were also found inside the garage of Andersen’s East Patchogue home, including 10 unregistered handguns, a submachine gun and seven stolen guns.
“We were stunned to find the defendant carelessly storing hundreds of lethal weapons and ammo in the loft of his unlocked garage,” Spota said. “It is not unreasonable to wonder what could have happened if a mischievous teenager simply opened the door and found what we found.”
Is it O.K. for people to target shoot with AK 47s in their neighborhood? These Ohio "good guys" thought so.
53-year-old Mark Bornino and 45-year-old Daniel Volpone of Montville Twp, Ohio were target shooting with an AK-47 in Bornino's backyard. They were shooting at paper targets without any backstop to stop the bullets. 
Mary Kuruc, who lives about a third of a mile away, called the police to report the gunfire and was waiting for them to arrive when a bullet came through the wall and shot into her microwave. 
Police confronted the shooters as they were being another volley. "Both men were ordered to the ground and taken into custody," said a police spokesperson.
Bornino and Volpone had been drinking alcohol and police also found some marijuana. They were arrested and charged with discharging a firearm in a public place. 
Police seized an AK-47, two high-capacity magazines, three handguns and over 700 rounds of ammunition. 
And how about these 5 injuries at three different gun shows in the U.S in one day. One in Ohio, one in North Carolina and one in Indiana. I thought gun shows were for those law abiding gun owners who are careful with their guns. Not so much. And, of course, these happened on "gun appreciation day". I certainly hope that the folks who were just injured appreciate that more damage was not done. The irony of articles about protests against any and all reasonable gun laws along side the articles about the shootings at gun shows made "gun appreciation day" a joke. It was not lost on the public since most of the media ran stories about the gun show shootings. Gun accidents like this happen with enough frequency to question gun show safety practices and also the stupid and dangerous people who hang out at gun shows. Apparently places where guns and gun dealers hang out can be dangerous to public safety.

Gun ranges where, of course, a lot of shooting happens, are also potentially dangerous. This latest shooting accident at a gun range in Colorado shows that when there are a lot of loaded guns around, there is no guarantee that anyone will be safe. From the article:
Witnesses told 11 News it was an accident. According to those nearby the woman was reloading her gun when it misfired and hit a trash can. The shot ricocheted and hit the woman causing a minor injury.
"I’ve seen a lot of injuries before so it was nothing new to me,” said Brian Torczynski, certified by the Red Cross to provide emergency assistance. “The wound wasn't terrible; it just looked like it just grazed her leg, not a whole lot of blood."
Moments after the accident a ceasefire was called at the range and safety measures went into place. Another woman was slightly hurt at the time of the accident. Specifics of her injury were not provided.
"not a whole lot of blood" but no matter. I suppose a little blood just goes with the territory.

These are just a few of many. They are the very reason we need to beef up the ATF and allow more research on guns, gun deaths, gun injury, gun transactions, etc. These incidents are the very reason we need more robust gun policy to screen people like the Ohio ex felon who is a prohibited purchaser on the NICS list but can easily get guns anyway. These folks are "good guys" because they act as if they are and are not prohibited from buying guns. They are "good guys" because they can purchase guns legally in our country from licensed dealers and private sellers alike. Luckily, they have been caught and will now be in the category of "bad guys" with guns. But we are not doing a good enough job of stopping this kind of activity that could lead to more senseless gun deaths. Guns are illegally trafficked to people who shouldn't have them. It's time to focus our attention on how the guns get into the wrong hands. It will require a many faceted approach which is exactly what President Obama has proposed. And this approach will not infringe on anyone's rights. Don't believe those who say it will.

My next post will provide a follow-up and a real life dangerous example of why we need common sense gun laws in our states and nation-wide.

UPDATE:

As we have grown to expect, there was another mass shooting in New Mexico yesterday. A teen aged boy got his hands on someone's guns and killed 5  inside of a home:
A teenage boy fatally shot two adults and three children at a home near Albuquerque, authorities said Sunday.
The boy, who police believe to be about 15 years old, was arrested and booked on murder and other charges in connection with the shootings Saturday night at the home in an unincorporated area 10 miles southwest of downtown Albuquerque, Bernalillo County sheriff's spokesman Aaron Williamson said.
The victims' identities haven't been released, and the boy's motive and connection to the five victims weren't immediately known. Williamson said investigators were trying to determine if the victims were related.
"We are trying to identify the victims," Williamson said.
Each victim suffered more than one gunshot wound.
Investigators also were seeking to determine who owned several guns that were found at the home, one of which was a semi-automatic military-style rifle.
Authorities weren't releasing the name or age of the teenager accused in the attack or details of any conversation that he had with investigators.
So which "good guy" owned the guns that were so easily accessed by a 15 year old and do note that one of the guns was a military-style rifle. When those kinds of guns are sitting around in a home, they just might get used by someone in the home. Enough. But I know there will be more. We have to get serious about the national discussion about what will prevent senseless shootings.

UPDATE #2:

Yet another gun range accidental shooting on "gun appreciation" day has occurred in Wisconsin:
Authorities in central Wisconsin say a man accidentally shot and critically injured his 25-year-old son while the father was clearing his weapon at a rifle range.
Deputies say the shooting happened Saturday about 3 p.m. at the Wood County Rifle and Pistol Range.
Investigators say 53-year-old Stephen Sammartino was clearing his weapon when it accidentally went off, hitting Joseph Sammartino in the back. The son was airlifted to a hospital, where he was in critical condition.
Deputies say they're treating the case as an accident but they're continuing to investigate.
This, dear readers, is a "good guy" with a gun.

UPDATE #3:

This editorial mentions the terrible "gun appreciation day" across the country and adds a few more accidental shootings. And then, a quote from the folks who sponsored the day that says it all:
Gun enthusiasts issued an irritated news release Sunday: “The media is pathetically trying to portray yesterday as ‘Bloody Saturday’ because of some accidental fire,” they wrote of the gun shows. “While we pray for the injured patriots’ speedy recovery ... it is no different than a car accident at a car show. IT IS AN ACCIDENT, not even worth discussing.”
Right. To be fair, throwing a gun luau and expecting no gun violence is like hosting an outdoor wedding in stormy April. Saturday’s event plainly illustrated why it’s not a good idea to have guns in homes, schools, hospitals, movie theaters or other public places: It only leads to more accidents, homicides and suicides.
Not worth discussing? The fact that so many people were injured in gun accidents is ridiculous given the nature of "gun appreciation day". It is different than a car accident. Guns are designed to injure and kill. Cars are not. Guns have an extreme advocacy group trying to convince us that we will all be safer if only we are all armed. This group advocates for no gun laws while we have plenty of laws to keep us safer in cars. This argument is bogus and specious.

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