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.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just the facts please- story of a local protest

We need to get our facts straight. First of all, in new polling data taken by several polls, anywhere from 85-92% of Americans are in favor of background checks on all gun sales. When is the last time you saw a poll with so much agreement amongst a wide swath of the country's population? I would say this is about as close to unanimous as you can get. It is, at the very least, consensus. The public wants background checks on all gun sales. That's why a group of us stood in protest today outside of the entrance to a gun show. The local media was very interested in our protest and that of some anti-government, pro gun tea partiers who showed up a little ways down the road. The press were also interested in the fact that they couldn't bring their T.V. cameras inside of the gun show. Why not? Is there something to hide? Aren't cameras allowed at boat shows, home shows, other trade shows? Is it inconvenient for the public to see the guns, ammunition, and propaganda exhibited inside? What's to hide?

Because it feels like the NRA lobbyists and those who believe them have something to hide, it leaves them open to satire and parody. Because there is so much hypocrisy and paranoia, it begs for some sort of logical explanation. Because it doesn't make sense, the public has now seen what many of us have known for many years. There is no logic to the pro gun extremist explanations about their opposition to any common sense gun legislation. And so, the parodies and satire keep coming. After 12/14, the public has had enough of the lies and hypocrisy. Let's take a look at a few of the parodies. Here is one about President Obama doing some skeet shooting at Camp David. Andy Borowitz gets to the unreasonable fears of some on the pro gun side when he wrote this from the article above:
The White House’s attempt to portray President Obama as a gun user may have had unintended consequences today, as a newly released photo of Mr. Obama firing a rifle at Camp David set off a panic of gun buying across the US.
Right-wing opponents of Mr. Obama were behind the frenzied gun sales, saying that they were terrified by the image of an armed and shooting President.
“I don’t want to sound paranoid or anything, but now everything Obama has been doing makes sense,” said Harland Dorrinson, who was waiting on a blocks-long line outside a West Virginia Wal-Mart. “He wants to take away all our guns and then he’s going to come shoot us.”
Learning that Mr. Obama only uses his rifle for skeet-shooting did little to calm Mr. Dorrinson: “Somebody owning a gun just for sporting purposes? Yeah, right.”
In an effort to stem the panic, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters today that skeet-shooting took up relatively little of the President’s time at Camp David, and that his favorite leisure activities were “actually badminton and frisbee.”
The White House later released a photo of Mr. Obama putting away his gun and never using it again.
Now we know that some on the pro gun side actually believe that the President and the government is coming for their guns. In fact today, a group of brave supporters of common sense gun laws protested outside of the sight of the Duluth Gun and Knife Show. The photo above shows how cold it was but people committed to preventing gun deaths and injuries are a hearty bunch. About 20 folks braved the cold, near zero temperatures to raise the awareness that background checks are not required on all gun sales. Private sellers at gun shows and other venues are not required to ask for background checks. About 40% of gun sales in American go without background checks. The public, as I said above, agrees that this is not a good idea and wants 100% of gun sales to be accompanied by a background check. This makes sense. Why would we want domestic abusers, felons, adjudicated mentally ill people, drug abusers, minors or terrorists to be able to buy guns so easily without trying to stop them? The NRA lobbyists don't have a good answer for that one. They are grasping at old arguments that just aren't working any more. And leave it to Jon Stewart, Daily Show host, to find the hypocrisy in Wayne LaPierre's tired and fact free arguments. Here is the video from a recent show:

LaPierre was for background checks before he was against them. You can watch the entire segment about the Judiciary hearings on Jon Stewart's web page. The rest is also great fun to watch.

Jon Stewart and Andy Borowitz have a way of finding the flaws in the arguments of the pro gun side. At today's protest in Duluth, some of the pro gun folks who also showed up with signs wanted to argue with us. As it turned out, they couldn't find argument with background checks on all gun sales. But one woman wanted to know if we understood what "well regulated militia" meant. It was on one of our signs. When asked if she could tell us what it meant, she couldn't. So someone in our group explained to her that Justice Scalia wrote in his majority opinion in the Supreme Court's Heller decision, that guns and who could own them, where they could be and certain types could, indeed, be regulated. The woman's answer to that? "Who's Scalia?" Oh dear. I guess she needs to do some studying before opening her mouth. A photo of the anti-government group is to the right.

Another nice young man came along to see if he could talk to real "gun control" people. He seemed surprised that we were actually reasonable people. In fact, he agreed with background checks but then was quite confused about the universal part thinking it meant that his guns would be registered if we required universal checks. I guess he didn't understand that universal just means on ALL sales and would make the private sales just the same as the licensed dealer sales. I couldn't get him to understand what the word universal meant. Perhaps we need to travel with a dictionary.

Where we parted ways is where he said he didn't trust the government and was sure the government might just come for his guns and he wanted to be prepared. He thought that friends of his who are in a militia group were just trying to defend their families from the government. This was all O.K. with him. The problem? He's in the National Guard. He is the government. Who does he think will be coming for his guns? It has to be the National Guard and the military- all government employees paid for by us taxpayers. I guess logic was not his strong suit in school. And do we really see the world so differently? What is this about? Rights? Life? Politics? Kim Siegal wrote for Huffington post trying to figure out the world of the folks who believe they need assault rifles to protect themselves from the bad guys. Here is what she wrote:
To quote Wayne LaPierre, the executive VP of the NRA, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
You know who else thinks of the world this way, where the bad guys need to be beaten and the good guys save the day?
My 4-year-old son.
It's a storyline he enjoys because it makes the world easier to understand, less confusing and unpredictable. You talk to good guys, and you stay away from the bad guys. You befriend the good guys and you fight the bad guys.
Sophisticated adults understand that there are people, most of whom are flawed and some of whom make horrible choices, who cannot be neatly divided into such distinct categories, one to be armed and the other to be defended against. No one in the history of time has done this effectively. It's a fairy tale. You can only hope that fallible humans don't have their mistakes turn into tragedies by getting hold of easy instruments of death.
Take Philip Sailors, a Vietnam veteran with no criminal history; a man who volunteered on mission trips. You might brand him a "good guy" if forced to choose. Or you could say he is a person who made a horrible irrevocable decision when he allegedly shot dead a young man parked incorrectly -- the result of bad GPS directions -- in his driveway. And it might just have been this simplistic good guy/bad guy world view combined with paranoia and easy access to firearms that turned his fear into tragedy.
But I won't borrow their terminology. I still won't call him a "bad guy." People are more complex than that.
My 4-year-old will learn that lesson as he grows and learns about the world. I just hope the world he learns about looks a bit more sane by then.
So let's get this story straight. President Obama is not coming for your guns. The government is not coming for your guns. Who is the government anyway? Congress members? Legislators? City Councilors or County Commissioners? Mayors? Social workers? Teachers? Police officers? State license bureau employees? The DNR? Who? Aren't we a government of, by and for the people? What happened to that idea in all of this discussion? I am betting there are no answers to this question. Or least none that make sense. What I told reporters today, when asked, is that requiring background checks on all gun sales will save lives. The fact that we are not doing that now is an abrogation of our responsibilities as a society. We have made it too easy for those who shouldn't have guns to get them anyway. We should be making it hard. Guns are dangerous and are responsible for way too many homicides, suicides and accidental deaths. We can, at the least, try to stop the carnage. Why would we not? Universal background checks, along with other measures proposed by President Obama, Congress, the Minnesota legislature and other state legislatures, are going to make a difference. If we can save at least one life, why would we not? Saving lives is what this is all about. Americans have a right to be free from gun violence and the devastation caused by it in our communities. It's time for that to change. It's time to demand a plan. From Mayors Against Illegal Guns, this ad will run during the Super Bowl:

We are better than this. Let's get to work.


Here is the article from the Duluth News Tribune about our protest outside of the gun show yesterday. From the article:
Asked why he was out in the cold when he could have been inside Pioneer Hall looking at guns, Rudd said, “This is more important; much more important. These firearms are the one thing that makes a 90-pound woman as strong as a 290-pound male attacker.”
Rudd doesn’t want background checks expanded to include private sales, he said.
“Once you allow the government more control in that area you find that it gets away from you,” Rudd said.
But one of the ways criminals get guns is through private sales, said Joan Peterson, a longtime gun control advocate and one of the leaders of the Protect Minnesota group.
“At the very least we can stop this way for them to get their guns,” Peterson said. “We should be making it harder for people to access guns.”
Peterson and other members of the group also argued that background checks have wide support, even among members of the National Rifle Association.
“The polls show 90 percent of people are in favor of it, not just in Minnesota but across the country,” said Gay Trachsel, another longtime gun-control advocate.
The gun show, which continues today, has about 60 exhibitors, said organizer Jim Wright in an interview on Friday. Wright is owner of Crocodile Productions, based in Blaine, Minn., which runs the show. He said the Duluth show is one his larger shows.
Wright had been told about plans for a pro-gun control demonstration near the show, he said, and he had been assured the group wouldn’t enter the DECC. He was dismissive of the protest.
“I don’t understand why people in the north woods would want to protest guns when that’s part of their livelihood,” Wright said.
They've got this all wrong. 90% of Americans want background checks. Minnesota would be represented in those average Americans. Even 75% of NRA members want background checks. These gun rights extremists are in denial of the facts.


  1. Id accept background checks if attacks on magazines and rifles were off the table. Til then we intend to maintain an all or nothing approach

  2. I agree. If universal background checks were passed, I wouldn't really care all that much. But the assault weapons ban and magazine restrictions cannot be tolerated.