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 28, 2013

Two stories about guns and gun violence

The two stories I am going to write about here are the perfect examples of the dichotomy of the current debate we are having as a country after 12/14. The first is about a man who apparently ( though we don't know for sure) was just exercising his second amendment rights and set off a predictable reaction:
"An unidentified 22-year-old man carrying a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday was questioned and released by police at the  Kroger at  Hydraulic Road and Emmet Street.
Charlottesville police Lt. Ronnie Roberts said the man did not break any laws. Since he legally owned the rifle and it was not concealed, he was within his rights, Roberts said.
Virginia requires a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but has no such restriction on guns in plain view.
According to police, the man originally entered the store unarmed, then went back to his car and retrieved his rifle. He then walked back into the store briefly before leaving again.
Though he was not arrested, store managers barred him from the property, officials said.
Shopper Monica Green said she fled the store and called 911 after she saw the man. Green said she warned people in the parking lot not to enter the store.
"It's amazing because some people didn't want to believe it was true, they just stood there like sitting ducks," Green said. When she saw the man in was in custody, Green finished her shopping.
Roberts was not sure why the man was carrying a gun.
"It was most likely a demonstration of his Second Amendment rights," he said. "Open carry laws allow you to do that ... the difference here is he had an AR-15, which you can't conceal. You can do the same thing with a gun on your hip.""
What are we to make of someone who would be so bold and so stupid? Did he think he could just carry an AR 15 into a grocery store to make a statement and not cause a sh**load of trouble? I suppose he must have because he thought he had a right to do anything he pleased with the same assault type rifle that just massacred 20 small school children and 6 adults on 12/14. The insanity, defiance and insensitivity of some gun rights extremists begs credulity. He could have shot someone purposely or by accident. He didn't but he could have. Those things have happened. That is why people don't want to see folks carrying guns around in public. Not only is it offensive and rude, it's downright dangerous and yes, scary. Or perhaps another "law abiding" gun owner could have decided the guy was trouble and taken him out and who knows how many others in some sort of shoot-out? Why do it at all? The thing is, the overreaction from the far rights gun advocates and NRA lobbyists to sensible proposals to strengthen  gun laws shows how out of touch they are with reality and the rest of America. This is no way to tell your side of the story. Most people know that we are better than this as a country.

The second story is one about a victim, told so beautifully and sincerely, and is what this discussion is and should be about. This writer and story teller carried a sign with a woman's name on it at the march in DC on Sunday. From his blog post:
I met her this morning for the first time. I gazed down upon her until suddenly we were face to face. She was introduced to me as someone I would have to carry and protect in the freezing cold for the duration of the day. She was a stranger to me, as plain as the black lettering on a white placard that was used to personify her existence.  She was important to this day and so too were the other faceless names written on placards that were carried by the masses as we marched. These were the  names of the victims of our inertia, they were the victims of gun violence over the years–gone too soon. (...) 
As I marched down Pennsylvania Avenue I thought about her. Who was she? What was her life like? Did she ever love or was she ever loved? What were her dreams, her fears? What were her goals in life? Was she young or old, black or white? What did she feel in those final moments before her life was stolen from her? As we marched past police holding the oncoming traffic in place for us, I held her name up for all to behold for I knew she was important. I know she mattered–to me.
Her name was Diane Trent. She died on December 5, 2007 at the age of 53. Diane was one of eight victims of the Omaha mall massacre. She was an employee of Von Maur, a department store chain with a presence primarily in the Midwest. Ms. Trent was divorced and had no children. She was once described as being a sweet, middle of the road American and dedicated worker. (...) I am proud to have carried Diane’s name through Washington D.C. yesterday. We marched for all the victims of gun violence because we don’t want to have to write down more names on placards. We carried the names of the dead because they cannot speak for themselves; so we speak with their memory in our hearts so that all may hear.
Which man's story do you think is more important to saving lives? Which man is ready to be involved in common sense solutions to our nation's public health and safety epidemic? Which man cares about lives lost and how to save lives? Which man should our politicians listen to when they make decisions, as they must and they will, to pass stronger gun laws? Will our politicians believe that the first man should be given a louder voice than the second man? Let's hope not for, if so, they will be standing for the wrong cause. It's time to change the way things have been for far too long in America. Both stories explain the way things have been. Who is the "good guy" to whom NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre referred when he spoke to the public in response to 12/14? Clearly not the first man. When "good guys" with guns act like the man in the first story, we have a serious problem. Up until now the "guys with the guns have been making the rules". As a result, we have had far too many shootings of too many innocent people. It's time for that to change. Reasonable gun owners understand that and are ready to support efforts to reduce and prevent gun injuries and deaths. They understand that too many people have been devastated by the grief and horror of shootings of loved ones and friends. They understand that there are too many military style weapons available to too many people. They understand that too many people get guns who shouldn't and that we can reduce the probability that that will continue by passing stronger gun laws. Telling stories about real victims will lead to preventing the need to tell more stories. And being unreasonable like the "good guy with the gun" in the first story just adds to the public mistrust of gun rights extremists.


When gun rights extremists interrupt a hearing about the Sandy Hook school massacre by heckling the father of one of the child victims, we know that things have gone too far. Here was a man, telling his story and still in mourning for his little son, and people have the nerve to call out "second amendment" in his face. It is despicable and utterly boorish. From the article:
"The Second Amendment!" was shouted by several gun enthusiasts in the meeting room as Neil Heslin, holding a photo of his 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, asked why Bushmaster assault-style weapons are allowed to be sold in the state.
"There are a lot of things that should be changed to prevent what happened," said Heslin, who grew up using guns and seemed undisturbed by the interruption of his testimony.
Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney, co-chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, threatened to empty the meeting room in the Legislative Office Building -- jammed with hundreds of people -- if the outbursts and chatter from the audience continued.
"That wasn't just a killing, it was a massacre," said Heslin, who recalled dropping off his son at Sandy Hook Elementary School shortly before Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults. "I just hope some good can come out of this."
Another father of a 6-year-old boy murdered in the shootings fought back tears as he told lawmakers to make any changes in gun laws simple.
"I don't believe it's so complex," said Mark Mattioli, whose son, James, was among the first-graders slaughtered on Dec.14.
"We need civility across our nation," said Mattioli, who appeared with his wife, Cindy, before the legislative panel. "The problem is not gun laws. It's a lack of civility."
Veronique Posner, whose son, Noah, was killed in the massacre, said his grave is only a five-minute drive from Chalk Hill School in Monroe.
Posner said her two other children, both Sandy Hook School students, are haunted by their brother's death, especially his twin sister.
"It is our feeling that assault weapons should be comprehensively banned in the state of Connecticut," she said. "Faster weapons equal more fatalities."
As many as 2,000 people descended on the Capitol for the day-long hearing on gun control.
At one point, about 90 minutes into the morning portion of the hearing, a false fire alarm nearly emptied the room before Capitol Police said the alarm was erroneously reported after an equipment malfunction.
This is a story that must be told in order for the county to understand the vile extremism and paranoia exhibited by the gun rights bullies. If these "second amendment" folks thought they were doing something to further their cause, they were sorely mistaken. The word is getting out and in the media. This is why the public is turning against the NRA lobbyists and extremists. This is not the time for them to exhibit their ugliness. It's time for them to either be quiet or contribute to a civil discussion. The story told by the victims of 12/14 needs to be heard. The gun rights extremists are trying to silence the voices of the victims. Shame on them.


Here is a video clip from the MSNBC Martin Bashir program yesterday showing the father of one of the Sandy Hook shooting victims heckled by a gun rights extremist:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


  1. The jackass who is now barred from the Kroger store is exactly the sort of person who is going to push people into making this kind of conduct illegal. The story underlines that NO, thank you, we DON'T trust our fellow citizens, nor should we based on their conduct with firearms.

    The pro-gunners are working overtime to alienate and antagonize anyone who is still undecided by their conduct. The factually inaccurate claim about the school where the Obama daughters attend being guarded by eleven armed guards was another (apparently going for a false claim of an even dozen struck the NRA as too incredible for even their sheep followers to give credence).

    If they keep it up like this, more people will be fed up with and offended by the gun nuts, and they will make sure that the tipping point of the controversy stays tipped against guns.

  2. I'm not sure how this nonsense is allowed to be called "pro-gun". As Doggone pointed out, this sort of crap is going to result in a serious pushback because people can be apathetic for only so long.

    Of course, they want to lay claim to the "Second Amendment Right". Alas, that right makes it quite clear that the right is related to the duty of being in a well-regulated (that is set up under Article I, Section 8, Clause 16 of the US Constitution). There are "scholars" who are more than willing to push rubbish that tries to make this seem a real proposition. The 5 justices that promulgated Heller-McDonald were unwilling to say that this is an obsolete section of the Constitution due to institutional changes.

    This confusion is due to people who want to make something which should be a public safety issue into something they know can sway the ignorant for their own political gain. I wanted to learn more about the people who died on 5 December 2007 at that Omaha mall massacre. This seemed to be a common trait: “They were just nice, ordinary people who didn’t deserve this.”

    Maybe if more people get upset about the senseless death cause by something which puts us in peril, yet is portrayed as a "right", but it is more likely to be a detriment. The nice thing is that we may now be able to make informed decisions on this issue after 17 years of junk science.

  3. This "Heckling" story is a bunch of dishonest editing by the media. Here is a video of the father in question's testimony. The incident in question is at the fifteen minute point.


    If you watch it, you'll see why there is the obvious cut in Bashir's dishonest edit. The father posed a question to the room at large and looked to the gallery for an answer. When they didn't break in with an answer, he stated that nobody could answer the question and looked to the gallery again. That was when the people started citing the Second Amendment.

    There was no heckling. Nobody spoke until he repeatedly challenged them for an answer. This isn't even making a mountain out of a molehill, this is making up a controversy out of whole cloth.

    Bashir and the Media should be ashamed of such dishonesty in reporting and editing. This rises to the level of the NBC edit of Zimmerman's 911 call. NBC and their subsidiaries need to return to reporting the news instead of making it up, and everyone else needs to take obviously edited video with a large pinch of salt--especially when the cut comes between the question asked and the supposed heckling for asking the question.

    1. I saw the entire video. The fact that anyone would yell out "second amendment' as an answer to the question asked by the father says all we need to know about the mentality of the people who said it. They didn't have to say anything. No one else did. But they just had to do it in spite of the pain of the man asking the question. "Second amendment" is no answer to the question asked.

  4. Reputable media outlets including the Washington Post (which has recently penned strong editorials in favor of gun control) have debunked the "heckling" story:

    Some parents of victims from the terrible crime in CT oppose more gun control. Mr. Mark Mattioli's testimony is reported here:

    How can you justify criticizing Mr. Mattioli? He lost his child. His views are as valid as any other victim of gun violence and he opposes gun control.

    Was it respectful for the pro-gun control Representative Beth Bye to be on facebook and twitter during the CT testimony complaining about "being stuck at this hearing" while people like Mark Mattioli were speaking?

    I doubt this will be posted because you seem to strongly dislike victims who disagree with you politically but it is worth pointing out some relevant truths.

    1. Wow Chris. Get a grip. Did I criticize Mr. Mattioli? He has a right to his opinion. Do you really think he was one of the "gun guys" in the room who yelled out "second amendment". The room was packed with people of opposing opinions. That doesn't mean Mr. Mattioli or the people who stood up to applaud were right. Mattioli thinks one thing. Most of the parents think the other way. In fact most Americans think the other way. Even NRA members are in favor of stronger gun laws. I dont' know if Mattioli truly understands the fact that the ATF is so underfunded that they can't monitor gun dealers often enough to catch violations. Most likely, before his child was shot, he didn't think about this issue at all. But once people are educated about the real problems, they are willing to consider some measures to make us all safer.

      You have a lot of nerve criticizing me, by the way. I posted this. I guess you were wrong. Stop the accusations. I have no idea where you came up with the idea that I dislike victims who disagree with me politically. Did I ever say that? NO. But that's what you naturally assumed and are probably telling all your friends. That is no way to a reasonable discussion. Stop lying about me and others. What are the "relevant truths" I have missed? Because you are so sure that you have all of the "truths" and I don't you have made some assumptions about me that are not true. Perhaps I have done the same but the comments here speak for themselves.

  5. Perhaps Chris and whoever the heck the other commenter is would like to read this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-response-to-newtown-shootings-think-of-daniel/2013/01/29/b658933a-6a48-11e2-95b3-272d604a10a3_story.html?hpid=z2

    This was written by another parent of a child shot on 12/14- " Daniel would listen and be respectful. Our country needs a new dialogue, one that doesn’t follow the tired script of political squabbling. Any improvement to our laws, no matter how small or reasonable, should not be decried as the forward wave of an attempt to “ban guns” or “take away rights.” Even those of us who have lost the most are suggesting no such thing.

    Daniel would be honest. We know that there are no easy answers to these multifaceted issues. Anyone who suggests that a single law would “solve the problem” isn’t telling the truth. But neither is anyone who says that changes in our laws can’t make a difference.

    Daniel wouldn’t give up hope. We refuse to accept the status quo. Making our society safer will require sustained, comprehensive action by individuals as well as by communities and government. As parents, there is nothing more important to us than our relationship with our children. Every parent can start right there, in their own home. On a broader level, it is urgent that we address the gaps in our mental health system and examine school security. We must have the same open dialogue about gun responsibility and accountability. The parental desire to love and protect our children is common ground for gun owners and non-gun owners alike."

  6. The type of firearm used is irrelivant to all crime statistics because almost all firearms are semi-automatic (with the exception of pump action shotguns and bolt action rifles, even most revolvers are semi-automatic because the are duel action) and also different environments have a drastic impact on statistics. In an urban environment someone is more likely to use a handgun or knife in a violent crime for convienience and concealability. In less urban areas is where you see more rifle and shotgun related incidents because of the change in environment. So banning one type of gun does not solve the gunviolence proble.

    In banning certain types of firearms you are just taking rights away from law abiding citizens. Most Crimes are committed with stolen firearms or firearms purchased secondhand to inelligable gunowners and that is the stone cold truth. By holding the actual legal owner also responsible it discourages secondhand firearm sales and encourages owners to keep there firearm in physical possesion or locked away in a secure manner. I support the second amendment fully but I strongly believe gunowners need to be responsible with their given rights.

  7. Almost every firearm related incident boils down to one thing, a person allowed their firearm to get into possesion of someone elses hands beit seconhand hand sales or just plain neglegence. Its not the type of gun that should be on trial because you cannot put responsibility on an inanimate object when the blame is in the hands of the assailent and the registered owner of the firearm. If you excercise your legal rights you must also be responsible; if you drive a car you are expected to wear a seatbelt and are liable for any damages unless the car is reported stolen. The same should be said about firearms.

    Law abiding gunonwers statiscally are not a threat to the general public and should not be told what they can and can't own; just like you cannot tell someone they cannot by a corvette because it travels faster and they have been involved in high speed collisions. But there are certain traffic laws to follow making the road a relatively safe place to drive. The point being that law abiding citezens do dont pose a threat, but just like a stolen car an illegally obtained firearm poses a threat to the surrounding pubic.

    Cars have antitheft devices to prevent theft just like gunsafes are an antitheft device. A responsible gun owner should either have their firearm under control at all times beit physically or under lock-and-key. If instead of banning specific types of firearms (which is more of a political stance issue and does not solve the fact that guns are being obtained illegally and used to commit crimes.) By holding gunowers resposible for the bullets discharged from the firearm you encourage them to keep their firearms in a safe place.

    There is absolutely no reason for a firearm to be in the hands of someone other than the owner. only the owner should have access to their firearm, just like only the person who has insurance on the vehical is legally allowed to drive.

    In conclusion Gunowners should be resposible for every bullet fired becausde they allowed their firearm to get into someone elses hands by being negligent. Firearms need to be under the owners control at all times. kepp them locked in a safe that nobody else knows the combinatio0n to because the future is unpredictable some one can easily take it otherwise. Guns are not the problem it is the irresposibility of the owner that causes poblems.