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.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The time is now to pass reasonable gun laws

On the same day as an article about gun rights advocates protesting against any reasonable gun laws, another alarming article appeared in the same edition of the newspaper. First from the article about the protesters at the Minnesota capitol in St. Paul ( linked above):
""The problem is we are now using our emotions to guide our actions," Rieschl told the crowd. "Gun laws do not work. Gun laws do not solve violent crimes. Gun laws reduce the rights of good law-abiding citizens to defend themselves."
Several legislators spoke at the event, including Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, who told the crowd that a number of bills unfavorable to gun-rights advocates could be introduced this session. Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center, added that he'll instead push for legislation to allow teachers to be armed at schools regardless of a principal or superintendent's approval and to allow 21-year-olds to carry guns on college campuses.
"Basically, we're going to be playing defense," he said."
Let's dispel some myths and inaccuracies here. First of all, if we can't be emotional about the massacre of twenty 6 and 7 year olds then we are a cold hearted and uncaring nation. The emotion about the Sandy Hook school shooting is exactly what is driving the movement to change our current gun laws so that more parents won't send their children to school in the morning and get a call that their child is one that didn't make it home that afternoon. That's emotion. The emotion felt by those families was felt by the entire country. If the protesters who showed up on Saturday don't or can't feel that emotion, what is wrong with them? Their emotion is all about fear and paranoia that is fueled by the NRA lobbyists. Those folks have never shied away from emotion. Theirs is more about anger and fear. They are free to use emotion when it suits them but when the majority of Americans are emotional about shooting little children, they don't want to deal with it or hear it. That emotion upends their agenda of fear and paranoia. And how can you deny that the real true emotion of despair and grief of the families and friends of the victims is real? For the NRA extremist lobbyists and leaders, the only way to deal with the actual devastation and grief is to deny it and denigrate it.

Second, here is something you should know about Rep/ Tom Hackbarth, who spoke at this event. In November of 2012, his loaded gun was seized by law enforcement after he was seen lurking near a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul and some other shady goings on:
Republican state Rep. Tom Hackbarth went looking for a date the other day in a Highland Park alley, with his Smith and Wesson .38 strapped to his waist.
He chose an odd place to park his pickup truck, too: The Planned Parenthood clinic lot, where security cameras caught him on tape.

A justifiably skittish guard at the Ford Parkway clinic called the cops to report an unidentified man carrying a gun on the property. No surprise there.
But Hackbarth was surprised. When the cops showed up, they suspected him of stalking and harassment, cuffed him and took away the pistol.
Turns out Hackbarth is in the middle of a divorce, and was looking for a woman he said he met online. Police described him as angry and jealous, which he denied to WCCO:
"She gave me some line of baloney, and I thought, 'well, she's fibbing to me.' You could tell, and I thought, 'well, I'm going to check it out.' and I went there to see if she was around and her vehicle was not there."
It does say something about the folks gathered at the event that Tom Hackbarth is considered to be one of those "good guys" with guns who is admired by the crowd. Here is something you should know about Representative Cornish, also a speaker at the event. He wants teachers and just about everyone else in schools armed. Also, his grandfather served time in prison for what he says is a minor offense and should have had his gun rights restored:
The ban on firearms for felons is already getting push back.
“My grandpa served time in Stillwater State Prison,” said longtime gun rights advocate Rep. Tony Cornish, who represents District 24B.
He says his grandfather went to prison for 18 months during The Great Depression over a land deal worth $44.
“Not being able to hunt, it would have drove him crazy, and probably [would have] made him more likely to go off the edge, because it meant so much to him,” Cornish said.
Goodwin, the lawmaker who wants the lifetime ban, says other states are much stricter than Minnesota, and that the lifetime ban should include hunting weapons.
“It’s too big a chance for society,” she said.
The firearms ban for felons would not only be restricted to crimes committed with guns, but other violent crimes like rape, she said.
But are there cases of felons getting firearms and committing more violent crimes?
Goodwin cites two cases, one in Hennepin County and one in Wright County.
Cornish says those cases are rare. But like many other statistics involving guns, there’s no once place that keeps track of it.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, we are looking at things through a different prism. Rep. Cornish is stuck in a place where letting felons getting their guns back is O.K. with him. Just because his own grandfather committed what appears to be a minor crime compared to others, doesn't mean we should not consider bills to keep people who have committed heinous crimes from getting their guns and their gun rights back. It's time to re-look at everything we have thought before December 14th. And after December 14th, our members of Congress are feeling the pressure from their constituents who want them to do the right thing. In Minnesota, the rural Representatives are hearing from the majority who are asking them to support reasonable gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting. People who have held positions favorable to the NRA's extreme positions are now reconsidering their own close association with the organization and their "A" rating from an organization that is now finally being exposed as the radical group it has become. It may be uncomfortable for rural legislators and Congress members to confront the issue of gun violence, as it says in the linked article above, but it's truly uncomfortable to bury a 7 year old child after a senseless and preventable school shooting. I believe they understand that and I believe they will act this year in the name of the little children killed on December 14th.

So for those protesters who want no new gun laws, it will be mighty interesting to see how those same folks react to this article that appeared in the same edition of the Star Tribune as the article about the protesters. If this article about a young mentally ill man who managed to get a permit to carry and amass a dangerous arsenal of weapons and ammunition isn't enough to change hearts and minds, then nothing will. There is so much in this article to instruct us about the need for common sense gun laws going forward that it's hard to know where to begin. From the linked article:
What Olson's deputies found in the home was chilling: 13 guns, including semi-automatic rifles, an AK-47, a Tommy gun, assorted shotguns and handguns, including a .50-caliber Desert Eagle.
Even more disturbing was the letter Oberender had written recently to his late mother, Mary: "I am so homicide,'' it said in broken sentences. "I think about killing all the time. The monster want out. He only been out one time and someone die.''
Today, Oberender sits in a Carver County jail cell on a charge of being a felon in possession of firearms. And Olson, who investigated the 1995 murder as a young detective, finds his investigators at the center of a case that exposes the dangerous loopholes in the nation's gun laws and Minnesota's system of criminal background checks.
Even though Oberender killed his mother with a firearm, even though he was committed to the state hospital in St. Peter as mentally ill and dangerous more than a decade ago, he was able to obtain a permit to purchase firearms last May. That piece of paper gave Oberender, now 32, the ability to walk into any licensed Minnesota retailer and buy any assault weapon or pistol on the rack.
Dozens of other Minnesotans judged by a court to be mentally ill have also found that designation no barrier to obtaining deadly weapons.
A Star Tribune review of state court records found case after case in which individuals deemed mentally ill in judicial proceedings later wound up in possession of guns and accused of violent crimes.
At least 84 people have been charged since 2000 with illegal gun possession or assault with a dangerous weapon even though they had previously been committed by a judge as mentally ill. Of that group, 29 were charged with multiple counts of weapons possession and nine were considered by a judge to be mentally ill and dangerous.
Additionally, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has more than 168,000 "suspense files'' -- records on Minnesotans who have been arrested since 1990 but whose files are so incomplete that the state can't determine if they should have the right to buy guns.
This is frightening, to say the least. For those gun rights extremists who have so much fear in their hearts, this is what should keep them up at night. This is exactly why we need to strengthen our gun laws. If we can't do so after this story and others like it, who are we as a state and a country? If our leaders can't do something sensible after reading this article, who do they really represent? We know the answer. The many loopholes and deceit that allowed for this mentally ill young man to obtain a permit to carry and to be able to legally purchase guns even though his name should clearly have been on the FBI's prohibited purchasers list is a wake up call for Minnesota legislators and all leaders. I hope you will read the full report. But here is how the article ends:
Oberender received three years of intensive treatment for his mental illness as a juvenile, but in late 1998 was ordered committed as "mentally ill and dangerous" to the St. Peter state hospital. Mental health professionals wrote in court findings that they believed there was "a substantial likelihood that Oberender will engage in acts capable of inflicting serious physical harm to another." There are apparently no public records of when he was released from St. Peter. In a 2003 interview with the Star Tribune, Oberender said he spent a year in a halfway house after his release and believed he was turning his life around thanks to "all kinds of treatment."
The felony charge he now faces could put him in prison for up to five years, or it could lead a judge to send him back to St. Peter for psychiatric care.
Before his arrest, Oberender had been working as a skilled mechanic at a local sanitation hauling company.
David Peterson, a co-worker and friend, said he believes his friend must have been living two lives.
The two often spent time shooting guns behind Oberender's home, at targets ranging from old television sets to junk cars and pop cans, all the while critiquing each weapon, he said. He said that Oberender told him that he bought most of his guns at two licensed retail stores in the area and that the weapons were all registered.
Oberender, he said, rarely mentioned his past, sharing only brief snippets about the murder.
Still, Peterson said he felt so comfortable with Oberender that he invited him to his home for social occasions and was planning on setting him up with a date. "He is an excellent, great friend," Peterson said.
Then there was the other life, the one where a self-described "monster" lived inside the quiet young man.
"I think about killing all the time,'' Oberender wrote. "Why god do I feel like this? The monster want to hurt people. Guns are too fast. The monster want it to be slow and painful. There is so much pain in my heart and soul. Me want other to feel it."
Sheriff Olson read the letter after his investigators inventoried their evidence.
"It was chilling," he said.
"Chilling." Indeed. As a country, we are better than this. The Columbine shooting was chilling. The Virginia Tech shooting was chilling. The Tucson shooting was chilling. The Aurora movie theater shooting was chilling. 8 children a day shot to death in America is chilling. 80 Americans a day losing their lives to bullets is chilling. Let's get to work to prevent the easy access to guns by way too many people who get them anyway. Way too many people who shouldn't have them have permits to carry guns in way too many places. Way too many children and adults are shot to death or injured every day in America. This is up to us, as a country, to change. And change it we will. The time is here. The time is now. Enough is enough.

On this, the day to celebrate the birthday of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., let our leaders follow in his example and speak out for peaceful solutions to our nation's problems even though it may make them uncomfortable. King was not afraid to speak out. For that, his life was taken by a bullet. Let us not sink to the use of violence to silence the voices who speak for change. The fear and paranoia fostered by some on the far right is frightening and should not be tolerated. When extremists threaten my own Representative Nolan, and others, over support for reasonable gun laws, we are in a bad place as a country. From the article:
The tactics that the NRA has chosen have put them on the path to a fight that they can’t win. They have to hope that they can scare Democrats and Independents into backing down. But after Newtown, the majority of this nation doesn’t fear the NRA and won’t be backing down.
So, if we want to be emotional, let's be emotional about doing the right thing as a country to make our communities free from gun violence. That is what this time is about. Our future as a country depends on what we do this time about this national public health and safety epidemic. It's time to act.


Some of my gun rights readers are trying to make Martin Luther King into a "gun guy". The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence posted this photo today on its' Facebook page.

I would also suggest that you check out the Facebook page of the CSGV to see the offensive and threatening comments made in response to President Obama's proposals. This is why reasonable gun owners are leaving the extremist leaders of the NRA and joining with those of us working on gun violence prevention.


  1. emotion is fine, in fact, I was using plenty of it when I spoke before 2500 people in Boston on Saturday, in defense of my civil right to keep and bear arms. I used emotion, but I also tempered it with facts and a steadfast defiance towards laws that are being based on ignorance of firearms and made solely to advance political agendas and careers.

    See, for all the talk of reasonable gun control and promises that guns wouldn't be taken away, our crowd was motivated by anger and insult - that we were facing 7 round magazine limits and insurance policy mandates to own a gun and exercise our rights. While its not an outright confiscation (although in NY, it is), it is a ban through legislative fiat - to tax and insure gun ownership so high that its impossible to justify.

    The problem with that is simple - where will it end? Will it end with 7 rounds until someone uses a 1911 to kill? WIll it end with insurance on guns? why not insure the media? after all, their reporting on Abu Gharab lead to US troop casualties and the Duke LaCrosse scandal and its misinformation ruined the lives of several young men.

    Use your emotion, but please, stop attacking us. You act as if we don't care that children were killed, when many of us are parents or in my case, a father to be. You call us heartless and defame our preservation of the second amendment as racist (your other post) when the very first speaker at our Boston rally was a naturalized immigrant who survived the Tiannamenn square massacre.

    We are not the sum of the stereotypes that the media and you on your side make us out to be. We are entrepeneurs, business professionals, doctors, lawyers and eveything in between. JUst as you don't want to back down, we are refusing to as well - we're drawing lines in the sand and encourgaing others in the pro gun side - especially here in the Northeastern bastion of liberalism, to come out of the gun safe, get active, and vocal.

    We are not trying to scare anyone, but we are not going to sit idly by as politicians use tragedy to make laws that affect the law abiding. WIth all due respect, we're ready for this fight and we will continue to do so - you ignore us at your peril - we WILL have a place in this conversation with respect to both gun rights and violence prevention.

    In Freedom -


    1. Max, you will have to explain how this will affect law abiding citizens. Further, the majority of Americans want reasonable gun laws. Those are doctors, lawyers, hunters, accountants, teachers, etc. Your group is smaller right now and will not win this argument. Where will it end? It will end when we see fewer gun deaths and no more massacres of small children. That's a pretty good beginning, actually, not an end.

      Either that or all my gun violence prevention friends are going to amass and start coming to your doors to take away your guns. Since that's what you stupidly believe, wouldn't you be surprised if we showed up?

      Have a nice evening. I hope you are safe sitting in your living room with your guns ready for just about anything.

  2. "On this, the day to celebrate the birthday of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., let our leaders follow in his example and speak out for peaceful solutions to our nation's problems even though it may make them uncomfortable."

    Please keep in mind that while King prefered peaceful protests, his life was constantly under threat because of his activities and he did make use of firearms for self defense, and at one point attempted to aquire a carry permit, but was unsuccessful due to racist law enforcement officials misusing discretionary permit policies.

    1. http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/politics&id=8962437 " Bernice King addressed the annual commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where her father preached. She described how he calmed an armed, angry crowd when the King family's home in Montgomery, Ala., was bombed. He stood on the porch and urged the crowd to fight not with guns but with Christian love. His daughter calls it "one of the bravest experiences of gun control that we've ever heard of in the history of our nation.""

    2. "He stood on the porch and urged the crowd to fight not with guns but with Christian love. His daughter calls it "one of the bravest experiences of gun control that we've ever heard of in the history of our nation.""
      I heartily agree that the Rev. King walked the walk, and talked the talk. However, he also believed in self defense. If the crowd had gone on a violent rampage, there would have been many hurt and possibly killed on both sides. However I dont believe that he would have been averse to using deadly force if he had been able to confront the people setting the bomb at his house.

  3. Japete writes: "Max, you will have to explain how this will affect law abiding citizens. Further, the majority of Americans want reasonable gun laws. Those are doctors, lawyers, hunters, accountants, teachers, etc. Your group is smaller right now and will not win this argument. Where will it end? It will end when we see fewer gun deaths and no more massacres of small children. That's a pretty good beginning, actually, not an end.

    Either that or all my gun violence prevention friends are going to amass and start coming to your doors to take away your guns. Since that's what you stupidly believe, wouldn't you be surprised if we showed up? "

    Law Abiding citizens in NY are impacted significantly by the bill that was signed into law last week - restricting ownership of weapons currently owned. Requiring registration of firearms that are already owned. Restricting transfer of those weapons, limiting magazine sizes, and so on. Requiring owners to give up ownership of those legally owned firearms if not registered or transfered by the required deadline.

    Criminals will not follow this law - it is the law abiding that will be impacted.

    The NY law requires confiscation. Some in Congress, in Iowa, in Illinois, and elsewhere are proposing similar laws.

    Your own organization in MN, Protect MN, has called for an assault weapons ban. Are you proposing a similar law to what we've seen in New York? Because that impacts the law abiding - and requires, again, confiscation.

    To say that law abiding citizens won't be impacted by this law is completely dishonest. And we see the same sort of laws being proposed in Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, and elsewhere.

    1. That's just a false argument Bryan. The public isn't buying it any more. How do you guys think you can get away with saying the criminals will get their guns anyway when you guys are the ones who are making certain that they can. We are going to pass reasonable gun laws to keep them from doing so. Didn't you read the article from the Star Tribune? Do you think that young man should have had a permit to carry and those guns? Until you can answer that question with a straight face, you have no argument. How will law abiding citizens be affected? You still haven"t made a good case for this argument and I don't think you can.

    2. I don't at all believe this individual should have had a permit to purchase (there's nothing in the article about a permit to carry that I saw) nor should he have been able to purchase firearms. As a convicted felon, he's a prohibited purchaser under both federal and Minnesota law.

      Existing law and processes cover this situation - there are multiple failures here on the part of state and county/local agencies that should be addressed. New legislation should be the last option.

      "We are going to pass reasonable gun laws to keep them from doing so"

      Is NY's new law that calls for registration, bans, and confiscation, reasonable from your perspective?

    3. You make me tired, Mark. Give it up. What's your point? MLK was threatened every day. Are you threatened every day? No. So what's your point? Further, I am tired of your old hackneyed arguments. They don't fit with what's going on today. Have a nice evening. I hope you are safe with your guns in your house and that no one, on this below zero night will decide to invade your home.

    4. Did you miss the point on purpose or by accident? Existing law didn't stop this guy from getting a permit to purchase. It is unclear in the article about a permit to carry. Both would have the applicant go through a similar background check process. We need stronger gun laws to stop this from happening.

      I applaud Governor Cuomo for his courage in getting a strong gun violence prevention law passed in his state. I support his efforts. The laws are reasonable given the massacre of small children and the daily carnage.