Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Death on a drive home from day care

from the Star Tribune
Every day in America, on average, 8 children die from gunshot injuries. Many are due to suicides and some to accidental shootings. These are posted on my blog often. But if you take a look at the Kid Shootings blog, you will see a pretty comprehensive summary of deaths of and by children. It's a pretty sad slice of American life not seen in other democratized countries. Why? It's the guns. There is no other explanation. Will laws prevent all of these deaths? No. Some will, some won't. But it's the culture of guns- the idolatry of guns- the cavalier way in which we Americans view gun ownership as an inherent right- a "God given" right even. Yes, we have the second amendment. Does anyone think our "founding fathers" would have looked into the future at the daily carnage and thought this was how the amendment would be used? When weak laws are in place, the message is that it's O.K. to have any kind of gun desired and that just about anyone can have one. As a result, many people have chosen to own guns for self defense, sport and hunting. Most are legal gun owners and nothing ever happens in their lives to cause them to think that guns can be a problem. But for many, that is not the case. For the common good of the country, preventing the devastation in our communities is necessary. In most other countries, the message is that gun deaths and injuries will not be tolerated. Guns and who can own them are closely regulated. The result? Very few people are shot to death in senseless shootings. Laws do make a difference. The thing is, when guns are around, even legal gun owners can and do use them in moments of rage, depression, too much alcohol, mental illness, jealousy, minor slights, suspicion, road rage, random shooting at cars, etc. This is our culture. It has led to too many senseless deaths. Adhering to a different culture makes a difference.

In America, though, we have come to the point where mass shootings are regular events. We have come to the point where 32 gun homicides a day is just a way of life. We have come to the point where people with grudges against relatives, friends, employers and the government result in manhunts like the one we have just seen in the past week in California. An ex police officer who was fired from his job, as we now know, decided to go on a shooting rampage and cause a week long man hunt:
The extraordinary manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders converged Tuesday on a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.
A single gunshot was heard from within, and a charred body was found inside.
If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, as authorities suspect, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected - death, with the police pursuing him.
Thousands of officers had been on the hunt for the former Navy reservist since police said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing. They say he threatened to bring "warfare" to officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across the Southwest and Mexico.
Thankfully the terror caused by one angry legal gun owner is now over.

And then yesterday, the unthinkable happened to yet another Minnesota family. Devin Aryal aged 9 was riding home from daycare with his mother in Oakdale:
But on an ordinary Monday night, in a minivan on the same old Oakdale streets he always traveled with his mother, the chatty, happy-go-lucky 9-year-old's immediate objective was simply to get home and play with his dog Niko.
As the van headed east on 7th Street just after 6 p.m. and was poised to turn left on Hadley Avenue, a heavily armed stranger who lived just half a block away raked the vehicle with gunfire, killing Devin and wounding his mother.
Police said 34-year-old Nhan L. Tran then turned the gun on three other vehicles, injuring a woman in another minivan before surrendering to a Washington County deputy.
"It appears it was completely random," said Oakdale Police Chief Bill Sullivan, who was at a loss to explain the burst of deadly violence from a man who had no criminal record and lived with his parents.
Tran was in the Washington County jail on suspicion of second-degree murder and felony assault Tuesday night and likely will be arraigned Wednesday morning.
Melissa Aryal recalled the shooting Tuesday morning, her wounded arm bandaged in a sling and hospital slippers still on her feet.
"We were just leaving day care," she said. "He was so proud because he did all of his homework at day care. He wanted to come home and play for the evening."
Then she and Devin heard a sound that they'd never heard before. Near a snowbank, she caught something out of the corner of her right eye.
"Just as we stopped, he had time to reload," she said.
As she turned the minivan, she felt her right arm go numb and saw blood. Stunned, she pulled into the parking lot of Rainbow Foods and dialed 911.
"And then I looked and saw him slumped over," she said.
Store workers and customers ran out. "My baby! My baby! Help!" she screamed.
"I dropped my phone and went and hugged him. He was still breathing at that time," she said, burying her face in her hands.
Devin had been shot several times, including in the head, and she knew it was bad. They were rushed to Regions Hospital in St. Paul in separate ambulances. Her son died soon after arriving, she said. (...) 
"He was walking very erratically," Lowen said. "He kept doing full 360s looking behind him, looking very paranoid. He was making sure no one saw him, is what it looked like."
Investigators and prosecutors were meeting Tuesday, trying to reconstruct events.
Four vehicles were hit by many rounds of gunfire, Sullivan said, and it's possible one home also was struck. Two vehicles ended up in the grocery store parking lot. Police have no evidence that Tran "had any knowledge of the identities of the victims prior to the shootings."
Sullivan declined to confirm what type of handgun was used, but it's believed to have been a 9-millimeter semiautomatic. "He had a substantial number of rounds with him," the chief said.
Sullivan said state law bars gun permit information from being disclosed, but he added, "We are comfortable that Tran was not in possession unlawfully."
It's unclear whether Tran was employed and there is no indication he had mental health issues.
Tran's motive and intent will guide the charges and prosecution, said Pete Orput, Washington County attorney.
"It's everybody's nightmare: I can't go to Rainbow without taking a bullet?" he said, adding it's difficult to fathom. "It appears to have been so random, we all think 'It could have been me.'
State law prohibits us from knowing if this man was a legal gun permit holder? That's by design. For if the gun rights advocates had to admit that legal gun owners shoot people, laws might change to make it harder for people to get those permits and to carry loaded guns in public. That is why we need to make some changes to our laws. More will come forth about this shooter and his gun as information is released. But let's continue.

Wake up everyone. This could be your child or grandchild. We can't have more of these kind of shootings. Could Devin's mother ever have imagined that her son's life would be tragically and violently taken while he was sitting next to her in the car? Could anyone imagine that a supposed legal gun owner would casually walk down the street with his gun and open fire randomly on passing cars? What have we come to when 10 year old children are shot while happily talking to their parent in a car? What have we come to when 20 first graders are massacred in a Connecticut school? What have we come to when 12 are killed while attending a movie in Aurora, Colorado? Who are we as a country when this is acceptable? Why are we not rushing to change our laws which could prevent at least some of these shootings? Why are we not concerned that our love of guns is resulting in senseless gun deaths? Something has to change. We are better than this. Let's get to work and pass common sense gun laws. The time is now. We can do this together, as we must. As President Obama said in his State of the Union address last night, the victims deserve a vote:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for Congress to vote on a variety of gun control proposals that are currently up for debate, and he offered a heartfelt, but not sharply political, endorsement for the proposals.
Towards the end of his State of the Union address, as the speech reached a crescendo, the president turned to the topic of gun violence: "What I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource -- our children."
"This is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence," Obama said. But two months after the shooting of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., he said, "This time is different."
"Overwhelming majorities of Americans -– Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment -- have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun," Obama continued. "Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned."
Universal background checks, and the tougher penalties for "straw purchases" of guns, are some of the most popular gun-control proposals among voters, and both may eventually win bipartisan support. But a ban on military-style weapons faces an uphill battle in Congress, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has championed a renewal of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004.
A vote is what the American people want. For if a vote is taken, we will see who is on the side of the gun rights extremists and afraid to challenge the traditional mythical power of the NRA lobbyists. We will see who is bold and courageous and willing to stand up for the victims to do the right thing and do what the people's lobby wants them to do. Our Congress needs, at long last, to be held accountable for protecting our communities from gun violence. Take a vote. Enough now. In memory of Devin, of Reema, of Jessica, of Barbara, of Carin, of Hadiya, of Matthew, of Reuven, of Charlotte, of Daniel, of Ranjit, and of the way too many other victims, the time is now to get something done.

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