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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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The new year and the real solutions to gun violence

This post has been updated since first posted.


In talking about gun violence, we often use numbers and then argue back and forth about them. I usually provide links to research about the number of victims, the number of permit holders who shoot people, the number of bullets in a magazine, the number of guns owned by Americans, blah, blah, blah. But the numbers represent real people. They represent real gun injuries that lead to the death of real people. Too often the names and faces of the victims get lost in all of this back and forth about the numbers. I get the feeling that many of the gun rights advocates don't even think about what happens to a human body when a bullet enters and causes enough internal damage to kill someone. The real consequences of all of the murders and all of the nonsense about assault rifles and ammunition are not discussed. If you, like me, have lost a loved one to bullets, you have an image in your head of what that person looked like and then what that person looked like after the bullets did their damage. It is sickening and victims' families have nightmares about this. Just ask Emergency Room Physicians or Coroners what examining the bodies of the people shot to death look like. They will forever have nightmares. That's because the damage is real. The excuses from the gun lobby should not be accepted in the face of the real people who have died and the real people they left behind.

A commentary from Jim Vance, NBC Washington news anchor asks us to think about what the bodies of the 20 children must have looked like after being shot point blank with many bullets on December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary school. The video appears below since I could not get it to display here.Vance is right. What if we all saw the real damage done from bullets? It's too easy to ignore gun injuries if we just but turn away or not think about what it must be like. But the parents of the little children in Newtown couldn't do that. We need to hope that in 2013 no more parents will have to view the dead bodies of their children after being riddled by bullets. President Obama hoped the same in his interview on Sunday on Meet the Press:
“The question then becomes whether we are actually shook up enough by what happened here that it does not just become another one of these routine episodes where it gets a lot of attention for a couple of weeks and then it drifts way,” Mr. Obama said, speaking of the Newtown shooting.
“This is something that, you know, that was the worst day of my presidency. And it’s not something that I want to see repeated.”
We could hope in the New Year that the NRA will actually sit down and talk common sense about reasonable gun laws that affect real people. Is that impossible? Some think it is. When you bully the very person, Vice President Joe Biden, who is holding the discussions centered around solutions to our gun violence problem, you probably won't be asked to sit at the table. It's cynical to be upset about not being invited to the conversation when you refuse to discuss the issue:
NRA President David Keene said neither Biden nor his staff has contacted the organization since President Barack Obama unveiled the effort on Dec. 19.
Keene said he was not surprised, given Biden's past support for new gun control laws. "He's not even a friendly antagonist," Keene told Reuters in an interview.
The lack of communication between the White House and the largest U.S. lobbying group for gun owners is a sign that the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has so far failed to change long-held stances on gun politics. In that tragedy, a young man shot his mother with her own gun before killing 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
And, by the way, if you want to know the true agenda of NRA President David Keene, I suggest you read more at Meet The NRA, a website that publishes actual comments and facts about NRA leaders. O.K. Did you read about Keene? After you read it, did you find a man who is interested in working with the administration on reasonable gun legislation? I don't think so. To get a better idea of just how ridiculous David Keene and Wayne LaPierre's crazy ideas are, please read this sarcastic editorial from the New York Times with a mock letter from NRA President David Keene to CEO Wayne LaPierre about what the NRA should do now: 
Therefore I think we need to gear up for Phase Two, with the option of executing early in the new year if the public fails to return to its standard level of indifference.
To recap, Phase Two is tentatively called Arm Our Kids — A.O.K. — and its objective is a comprehensive K-12 carry program. If an armed guard in every school is prudent, how much more secure will we feel to have a Smith & Wesson in every cubby? We all know (as the media scolds keep pointing out) there was an armed sheriff’s deputy on duty at Columbine High School the day Harris and Klebold committed their mayhem; but he was eating lunch. So let’s up the ante to full coverage, from toddler to teen, from assembly to dismissal. Even the most deranged killer will think twice about entering a classroom knowing any of those adorable youngsters could be a licensed, trained, locked and loaded, Glock-packing Good Guy.
I know a few board members have expressed concern that this campaign could encounter significant backlash, and not just from the nanny-state brigade. But it is the logical evolution of our safety argument, and it appeals to a core American value, individual responsibility. I anticipate that with our usual combination of messaging and political muscle, we can enroll a significant number of school districts. But even if we fall short on penetration, A.O.K. will give the chatterers something to chatter about besides ammo clips and the gun-show loophole.
If you read the entire article, you will see the illogical conclusions of the NRA when it comes to preventing shootings. When you refuse to offer any reasonable solutions yourself except for the impractical arming of teachers, then you most likely won't get to help decide how any new gun laws will look. For far too long, the NRA has had its' way and shaped our gun laws to be less restrictive. I have provided many examples of this on my blog. As a recently revealed example, check out a little known provision in the Affordable Health Care Act, written by the NRA. It is meant to restrict Physician's ability to gather helpful information that might actually help in the fight against gun violence. Check it out here. From the article:
The language, pushed by the National Rifle Association in the final weeks of the 2010 debate over health care and discovered only in recent days by some lawmakers and medical groups, is drawing criticism in the wake of this month’s schoolhouse massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Conn. Some public health advocates, worried that the measure will hinder research and medical care, are calling on the White House to amend the language as it prepares to launch a gun-control initiative in January. 
The senator said that if Obama nominates Hagel to be the next secretary of defense, he wouldn't vote to confirm him.
NRA officials say they requested the provision out of concern that insurance companies could use such data to raise premiums on gun owners. The measure’s supporters in the Senate say they did not intend to interfere with the work of doctors or researchers.
But physician groups and researchers see the provision as part of a decades-long strategy by the gun lobby to choke off federal support for studies of firearms violence.
The research restrictions began in the 1990s, when the NRA urged Congress to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division that studied gun violence. In 1996, Congress sharply limited the agency’s ability to fund that type of research.
More limits came last year in a spending bill setting restrictions on the National Institutes of Health after complaints from gun rights advocates about an NIH-backed study drawing links between alcoholism and gun violence. The provision, added by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), prohibits the NIH from spending money to “advocate or promote gun control” — language that researchers say does not explicitly forbid studies but sends a signal to federal research agencies to steer clear of the topic.
The NRA push has extended into state capitals as well, with Florida lawmakers last year crafting a plan to impose jail time on doctors for inquiring about their patients’ gun ownership. Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a scaled-back version of the proposal requiring health-care workers to “refrain” from asking patients about their ownership or possession of firearms unless the providers believe “in good faith” that such information would be relevant. A federal judge this year declared the law unconstitutional and blocked its enforcement, but the ruling was appealed by the state and is under review.
You just can't make this stuff up. Much of the NRA's interference in legislation is done with little discussion about the bills or by ramming laws through one-sided state legislatures. The most recent is a bill passed in the Indiana legislature allowing people to shoot police officers and not be held responsible:
Republicans claim the bill actually protects police officers, but what it really does is give paranoid gun toting anti-government nut jobs the legal ability to shoot any officer that steps in their home or on their property. It allows those who commit a crime to have a safe haven from police officers who pursue them. All a criminal needs to do is run home to legally resist arrest. Like many laws, people will more than likely misinterpret it to mean they can kill any police officer in their home as long as they think they are there illegally. And many people aren’t going to see a difference between an officer with a warrant and an officer without one. Many people believe that police have no right to exercise authority in their homes whatsoever, even if a crime may have been or is being committed, even if there is a warrant. This bill takes home defense to an entirely new level. We aren’t talking about thieves or murderers, or rapists entering homes. This bill is about police, who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep people safe. Nobody has the right to shoot and kill a police officer for doing their job. Instead of letting judges and juries sort things out, Republicans in Indiana believe more gun play is the answer to keep police in check, and such beliefs are going to result in more dead civilians and dead police.
Raise your hand if you think this is a good idea. Seriously folks. This is the lengths to which the NRA is willing to go. And if it shows up in one state, we can be sure it will show up in another because the NRA has a dangerous agenda and pushes it wherever it can. Because of new conceal and carry laws, new Stand Your Ground laws, the lapse of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, we now have more guns in circulation than ever and the shootings have continued almost unabated. Follow the money. If the NRA sits at the table, they may have to support some laws that might cut into the profits of the gun industry with whom they have a symbiotic relationship. The fear and paranoia that has come from the NRA in response to any reasonable solutions to gun violence has ramped up gun purchases and done nothing but cause more gun deaths. How can you ignore the fact that ordinary gun owners are so afraid of "monsters" out there that they kill their own relatives or friends without thinking through whether firing off a shot is a good idea? How can you ignore the almost every day incidents of angry exchanges between people that turn needlessly deadly because someone had a gun? Below are some recent examples:
  1. A Rochester, Minnesota man shot his own granddaughter when he thought someone was breaking into his home.
  2. A Little Falls, Minnesota man killed two teens in cold blood after they broke into his home.
  3. A retired Chicago police officer shot his own son, mistaking him for a burglar.
  4. A Connecticut man shot and killed his own son thinking he was a burglar.
  5. A North Carolina man shot and killed his 15 year old neighbor when the boy walked into his open door.
  6. A Maine man shot and killed 2 of his tenants over parking spots during a snowstorm. Seriously.
  7. An argument at a Sacramento bar ended in 2 killed and several wounded on New Year's Eve. An armed guard at the bar tried to intervene but was wounded along with the shooter.
Do I have to go on? If you want to read more of these ridiculous mistakes made by law abiding gun owners, check out the Ohh Shoot blog. The last example is not a mistake but an argument that would not have ended in death had the aggressor not had a gun. As long as the NRA continues with its' shadowy proposals to make it easier for someone with a gun to kill more people, how can we take them seriously? As long as the NRA makes gun owners fear their own shadows, people with guns will shoot innocent people in their state of anger, fear and paranoia. It is a cynical and dangerous view of the world. Cynicism should not prevail when children are being shot in large numbers in schools and movie goers are mowed down by a crazed gunman.

Speaking of cynicism,this attempt to get gun silencers removed from the National Registry is not to be believed:
The exercise starts with a militarized baseline, as both shooters unloaded designed-for-damage rounds from high-capacity magazines loaded into assault rifles. Improving their killing efficiency would require one of two things: the ability to shoot more bullets faster, or more time. A fully automatic machine gun would provide the first. More minutes to hunt, meanwhile, might be gained by employing a noise suppressor, those metallic tubes better known as silencers. By muffling the noise generated with every shot by sonic booms and gas release, a silencer would provide a new degree of intimacy for public mass murder, delaying by crucial seconds or minutes the moment when someone calls the police after overhearing strange bangs coming from Theater 4 or Classroom D. The same qualities that make silencers the accessory of choice for targeted assassination offer advantages to the armed psychopath set on indiscriminate mass murder.
It should surprise no one that the NRA has recently thrown its weight behind an industry campaign to deregulate and promote the use of silencers. Under the trade banner of the American Silencer Association, manufacturers have come together with the support of the NRA to rebrand the silencer as a safety device belonging in every all-American gun closet. To nurture this potentially large and untapped market, the ASA last April sponsored the first annual all-silencer gun shoot and trade show in Dallas. America’s silencer makers are each doing their part. SWR Suppressors is asking survivalists to send a picture of their “bugout bag” for a chance to win an assault rifle silencer. The firm Silencero — “We Dig Suppressors and What They Do” — has put together a helpful “Silencers Are Legal” website and produced a series of would-be viral videos featuring this asshole.
This Silencer Awareness Campaign is today’s gun lobby in a bottle. The coordinated effort brings together the whole family: manufacturers, dealers, the gun press, rightwing lawmakers at every level of government, and the NRA. Each are doing their part to chip away at federal gun regulation in the name of profits and ideology. Together, they plan to strip the longstanding regulatory regime around silencers, and reintroduce them to the gun-buying public as wholesome, children-friendly accessories, as harmless as car mufflers.
In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes, the gun lobby’s grand strategy rests grotesquely on fake concern for child hearing health. Among the opening shots in the campaign was a feature in the February 2011 issue of Gun World, “Silence is Golden,” penned by the veteran gun writer Jim Dickson. “One only has to look at children in the rest of the world learning to shoot with silencers, protecting their tender young ears, to see what an innocent safety device we are talking about here,” writes Dickson. “To use an overworked propaganda phrase, legalize silencers ‘for the sake of the children.’” [Emphasis mine.]
Raise your hand if you believe the NRA cares about the hearing of children. Really? How many children are out there shooting guns? Too many, actually, but it is the adults who are doing most of the shooting. And the gun rights advocates will claim they need silencers because they are afraid of hearing loss? I have an idea. Don't shoot so much. That is called prevention. Yes, ear plugs can be worn at gun ranges. That's the best idea yet. Don't count on the NRA sitting at the table talking about reasonable gun laws when all they can think about is making more profits for the industry and making sure that more people can get killed in a mass shooting.

I found this article written by someone whose hopes for 2013 are different than some:
The Friday in Newtown has directed my gaze. The murders have pierced my subconscious, such that I now behave differently. I am not free to behave as myself because of the killings. I am not free to walk on a street without fearing that someone might whip a firearm from inside a coat, or out of a purse. I am not free to react when another driver cuts me off on the road, weighing the odds of what might be in his glove compartment. I am not free to send my kids to school without worrying that someone might fire up the front door and gain entry. I think, now, of the vestibule of the high school and how, once buzzed into the building, a person can choose where to go -- left to the office to show his identification, or straight into the hall to escape the cold, or roam, or enter a classroom and shoot. His choice. I never thought of the vestibule before. In this free country, people are free to own and carry weapons of mass murder and, clearly, without proper checks, are free to destroy whatever and whomever they want with them. But I am not free to live without threat.
This is backwards, terrifyingly backwards. My freedom should be protected first.
I am heartened that the president, lawmakers and gun control advocates have acted quickly to try to make change, this time. They should be thinking broadly though, and from the perspective of the many citizens who want nothing to do with weapons, the ones who are duly scared by the sight of one, the ones who still get the quiver in the belly when they see one on a movie screen or in a policeman's holster, even. The ones who are not immune to violence. People in power, now, should be thinking only of what they can do to return our psyches to their natural state of peace and equanimity, to the time when soldiers and law enforcement were entrusted with weapons,and kids in inner cities and sweet suburbs alike feared getting pushed around on the way home, maybe, but not shot dead.
Lawmakers, now, should not entertain what gun manufacturers and their lobbyists think. Journalists shouldn't be interviewing them. When corporate polluters kill the environment for financial gain, does the EPA ask them what they think? When food companies drench children's snacks with fat for financial gain, does the FDA ask what they think? Ask me what I think. Ask the parents in Newtown what they think. Get rid of the guns. Period. You want to kill a deer because there is not enough to choose from in the supermarket? Rent a hunting rifle, like you do ice skates, and give it back when you are done. You feel a jolt of machismo when you've got a weapon strapped to your loin? See a shrink.
Will we all have to be afraid of the guys with the guns in 2013?



LaPierre's arguments are becoming more and more irrelevant to any national discussion about how to prevent senseless shootings and real people's children becoming the latest bullet ridden victims. The writer of the article above meant to address the actual "monsters" in our communities and they are not the "monsters" the NRA references. The real monster is the intent to arm everyone so they can shoot at the NRA's mythical monsters. The real monster is the far too easy access to guns and the gun culture promoted by the NRA's lobbyists. They, with complicity of our elected leaders all over the country, have created this monster. The way to deal with the monster is not to introduce more guns into the lives of our children but to prevent access to guns in the first place.

So in the New Year, watch out for more cynical attempts by the NRA to instill fear and paranoia in Americans and scare elected leaders into doing the wrong things to keep our communities safer. Watch out for an increase in tactics to hide the real agenda of the NRA. Their agenda is to arm more people instead of fewer. This leads to increases in gun sales. The organization is a front for the gun industry. Any attempts to make us think the leaders of this mythically powerful organization should be viewed with skepticism. Their agenda and fear mongering are now being exposed to the daylight and 2013 will provide us with an opportunity to move beyond the fear and cynicism of the NRA. NRA members and politicians are changing their support for the NRA's agenda. As a country, we are better than this. We can still hope that the NRA will join in the common sense national conversation. If they are willing to compromise, it might still happen. But for now, we are a laughing stock to the world because of our failure to protect our children from senseless shootings. The family and friends of the victims of the horrific and daily shootings in America are not laughing. The posters below are just a few of the many going around on social media sites. Pictures speak louder than words sometimes and reflect reality.

UPDATE:

I just came across this article written by an Emergency Room Physician about the real affects of gun violence:
I do not know exactly what measures should be taken to reduce gun violence like this. But I know that most homicides and suicides in America are carried out with guns. Research suggests that homes with a gun are two to three times more likely to experience a firearm death than homes without guns, and that members of the household are 18 times more likely to be the victim than intruders.
I know that in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, nearly 400 American children (age 14 and under) were killed with a firearm and nearly 1,000 were injured. That means that this week we can expect 26 more children to be injured or killed with a firearm.
Emergency rooms are themselves volatile environments, not immune to violence. Over the last decade, a quarter of gun crimes in American E.R.’s were committed with guns wrested from armed guards.
I have sworn an oath to heal and to protect humans. Guns, invented to maim and destroy, are my natural enemy.  
Sally Cox, a school nurse in Newtown, told Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” that when state troopers led her out of the school after the mass shooting they instructed her to cover her eyes. This was humane, and right. But some of us see every day what no one should, ever. If the carnage remains undiscussed, we risk complacency about an American epidemic — one that is profoundly difficult, but necessary, to watch, and to confront. That is why I bear witness.













From the London Times






















13 comments:

  1. Supressors have been legal in most states for over a century. For example, they're perfectly legal in Wisconsin. In fact, they're entirely legal in most European countries (and even encouraged).

    How many crimes have been committed with them in the United States?

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    1. You have totally missed the point, Bryan. Happy New Year.

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    2. Looking just at federal prosecutions covered in a study on silencers and crime, at least 65.

      "Looking solely at cases involving silencers, Lexis lists 65 federal criminal filings over the last two years," and 'table 2', which is described as incomplete, showed 167 between 1995 and 2005. From Western Criminology Review, "Criminal Use of Firearms Silencers". It appears that silencers are associated with certain categories of violent crime, notably gang and drug traffickers and for execution style killings.

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  2. "The most recent is a bill passed in the Indiana legislature allowing people to shoot police officers and not be held responsible:"

    Actually, that isnt the case. The law was passed in response to their state supreme course ruling on a case and saying that you can NEVER argue that you were acting in self defense, no matter what the officer was doing. The law doesnt allow you to argue self defense if you're engaging in criminal activity and it still has a requirement that the decision to use force and the amount of force used must pass the reasonableness test just like any other use of force.

    "Moreover, an Indiana resident's mere assertion that he shot a police officer because he thought the cop had entered his home illegally and presented a threat doesn't necessarily get him off the hook. If a prosecutor thinks the homeowner acted unreasonably, he or she can still press charges. And if members of a jury then determine that that the homeowner's assessment of the threat wasn't reasonable, they can still convict him."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko/myths-and-misconceptions-_b_1596846.html

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    1. Any way you look at this, the bill allows people to shoot officers and get away with it. So you are defending this unnecessary legal shooting of officers? Cynical.

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    2. "Any way you look at this, the bill allows people to shoot officers and get away with it. So you are defending this unnecessary legal shooting of officers?"

      It's just holding citizens and law enforcement to the same standard. As the article I referenced said, all it does is allow a citizen to defend themselves before a jury of their peers. There is already a bias in regards to trying to convince a jury that using force against law enforcement is justified.
      Just like citizens, police officers make mistakes, sometimes they will conduct a forced entrance on a residence and somehow go to the wrong address. And there have been deaths that occurred in some. An example is given in the article I referenced.
      There was a similar incident that happened in Minnesota in 1979. The defendant was convicted of first degree assault but the conviction was overturned on appeal because they failed to prove he wasnt acting in self defense.

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  3. "It should surprise no one that the NRA has recently thrown its weight behind an industry campaign to deregulate and promote the use of silencers."

    Suprisingly, it is quite legal to aquire a silencer in England,to use when hunting of all things. And they seem to also make mention of protection from hearing loss.


    "In the United Kingdom, sales of suppressors fall into four categories of use. For replica and air weapons, the purchase of a suppressor requires no license and in most cases, no identification requirement. For shotguns, these will probably require the presentation of the buyer's shotgun certificate but will not be recorded. If the shotgun is classified as a firearm (where capacity exceeds 3 cartridges) the firearm certificate (FAC) will need to show permission for the purchase of a suppressor. For a small- or full-bore rifle, the firearm certificate (FAC) will need to show permission for the purchase of a suppressor and also the gun for which it is intended. All firearms certificates have the firearm and caliber approved by the police and annotated to the document before a suppressor may be purchased. Police forces usually approve applications for a suppressor for hunting and target shooters, as the risks of litigation for personal injury, especially high-tone deafness resulting from shooting-induced hearing loss, are significant; and noise pollution in general is a problem for shooting sports."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suppressor

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    1. England's gun laws are much stricter than ours. People are not using assault rifles on an every day basis. That don't have an NRA protecting profits of the gun sellers. Apple tomoranges. The article is claiming this is to protect the hearing of children. That is specious. Comparing apples to oranges.

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    2. According to one site-http://www.solware.co.uk/air-pistol-air-rifle/air-rifle-silencer.shtml
      New gun laws in the UK don't allow for internet sales of suppressors

      Semi automatic weapons are not legal for citizens in the U.K. to own http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/united-kingdom

      I would also suggest you check out firearm owner licensing requirements in the U.K. from above website.

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    3. Good grief, Mark. This law is an excuse to shoot officers plain and simply. It is really bothersome that you support it.

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    4. I disagree Japete, this law merely returns Indiana law back to the same level as other states in response to a ruling by their state Supreme Court. Citizens in Indiana are no more free to assault police officers than citizens in Minnesota.

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    5. Get your facts straight, Mark. "Indiana is the first U.S. state to specifically allow force against officers, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in Washington, which represents prosecutors." http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/guns/new-indiana-law-allows-citizens-shoot-police-officers

      Stop arguing about this. It is a bad law. I bet if I did a poll right now, 95% of people would be opposed to it. You are on the wrong side of this one and I wouldn't broadcast your support for it to very many people. There is no reason to have such a law. The disdain for which you guys hold law enforcement is frightening to me.

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    6. Also, this article- http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Indiana-law-lets-citizens-shoot-at-police-3612347.php

      It also states that Indiana is the first state to pass such a law. It's only because they have a totally Republican right wing legislature and Governor that it even got a hearing and then passed.

      " Indiana is the first U.S. state to specifically allow force against officers, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in Washington, which represents and supports prosecutors. The National Rifle Association pushed for the law, saying an unfavorable court decision made the need clear and that it would allow homeowners to defend themselves during a violent, unjustified attack. Police lobbied against it.
      The NRA has worked to spread permissive gun laws around the country. Among them is the stand-your-ground self-defense measure in Florida, which generated nationwide controversy after the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teenager.
      The measure amends the 2006 so-called Castle Doctrine bill that allows deadly force to stop illegal entry into a home or car.
      The bill's author, Republican state Sen. Michael Young, said there haven't been any cases in which suspects have used the law to justify shooting police.
      "Public servant" was added to clarify the law after a state Supreme Court ruling last year that "there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers," he said. The case was based on a man charged with assaulting an officer during a domestic-violence call.
      Young cited a hypothetical situation of a homeowner returning to see an officer raping his daughter or wife. Under the court's ruling, the homeowner could not touch the officer and only file a lawsuit later, he said. Young said he devised the idea for the law after the court ruling."

      The hypothetical situation given here is ridiculous. Come on.


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